Two giants from opposite ends of the age of steam, Stanier and Stephenson. Stanier’s Black 5 was the maid of all work, ‘Sans Pareil’, a real go anywhere, pull anything, kind of engine; LMS and BR crews loved them, and so did I. I did a lot of learning on the Black 5s; how to build the brick arch, by helping the boiler man do it, how to lift the fire bars to clean the fire, using a pair of tongs, how to light up and raise steam after a wash out, and, eventually, how to fire one out on the main line, crossing the Pennines from Leeds to Manchester. Spending time cleaning them was the day job, all of the above were ‘extra curricula activities’ – they were also the ‘unofficial’ apprenticeship to becoming that most exulted of beings, ‘the passed cleaner’.
Stanier and Stephenson weren’t just at opposite ends of the steam age in terms of time. When Stephenson began building his locomotives everything was ‘hand made’ there were no ‘standard’ parts, not even the nuts and bolts: Stanier’s restocking of the LMS was a very serious attempt at ‘standardisation’ across the entire range of locomotive types and his Black 5s and Class 8F 2-8-0s were the most numerous of any class on British Railways.
In the photograph, No.44767, with outside Stephensonlink motion, and named George Stephenson is piloting, No.44871, with a Keighley – Oxenhope service during one of the K&WVR gala weekends.
If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:by