Steamy getaway

twizellmonoWith safety valves lifting and cylinder cocks open ‘Twizell’ makes a very steamy exit from Andrews House Station, on the Tanfield Railway, with the first train of the day, last Sunday. For me, ‘steamy exit’ is, forever, linked with the now defunct newspaper, the News of the World, and the phrase, ‘our reporter made a hurried excuse and left’.

In the 1960s, when the ‘Profumo ‘call girl’ scandal’ was at its height, I was a fireman at 70A Nine Elms where one of the turns I enjoyed was the 02.45a.m. ‘paper train’ – the return working for which was an ‘up fast’ passenger working. To cut to the chase, as they say; on one memorable occasion, amongst the passengers on our train, were the naughty girls themselves,  Mandy Rice Davis, and Christine Keeler, and not a News of the Screws reporter in sight.

Like the News of the World, the paper trains have long since disappeared, which is a shame, though there was little shame to be found amongst the journalists who so ‘hastily left’. Probably, the first ‘paper train’ was run by George Hudson, the Railway King, in 1845. The specially chartered train brought copies of The Times, which carried the news of his election victory, from London to Sunderland, where he’d just been elected MP. The famous station book stall company, WH Smith, began ‘paper train’ trials a couple of years later, sending newspapers, by rail, from London to Scotland in 1847 and again 1849,  their success may be judged from the fact that the newspaper trains went on to became a staple of railway income for many years thereafter.

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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing:  Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

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“Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.”

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

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Once upon a B1

61264gantryDuring the early part of 1966 I spent a couple of months at Holbeck MPD, as a fireman. During this brief spell, I did a trip with one of the B1s from Leeds to Cleethorpes and back; it wasn’t the  ‘best day at the office’ I ever had .  That trip was my one and only time firing on an Ex-LNER engine, and firing through the flap was something I had, previously, never done . Believe me when I tell you this is not an easy skill to learn and it was certainly a steep learning curve that day.

Holbeck had picked up some of the work from Copley Hill MPD, when it closed to steam, at the back end of 1964, and the Cleethorpes turn I worked on was one of those jobs. 50 years down the line I don’t recall the exact times of the service, though I do remember we made the return journey in darkness. One of the saving graces, I thought, was that the B1s had electric lighting. Oh! And a bucket seat, tres posh.  We didn’t have any problems with shortages of steam but, I have to admit I did, more than once, open the whole firehole door; the driver held the door open, with the chain attached to it, whilst I whaled a few hefty shovels full into the back corners and down the sides – this was not the best way to go about things – but sometimes needs must.

In the photograph, No.61264 is hauling empty stock, from the carriage sidings, into Grosmont, NYMR, station.

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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing:  Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

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“Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.”

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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Rumble in the jungle

hunslet-dieselNo this isn’t Zaire, it isn’t actually a jungle, but you knew that. The line is the South Tynedale Railway, built to a two foot gauge, on the old Alston – Haltwhistle branch. The locomotive, No.11 Cumbria, is a Hunslet Locomotive Co. product: And they did build engines which went to work in jungles, well sugar plantations in Java, if not an actual jungle. Hunslet’s locomotives were in use from Calcutta to Peru, South Africa to the Leek & Manifold Light. The company itself had roots which went back to the very beginning of locomotive building in Leeds in the first decade of the 19th century.

No.11, when new, was employed by  NATO, yes that one, at Maryport, on the Cumbrian coast. Built in 1967, as Hunslet Works No. 6646, No.11 Cumbria was originally constructed to a gauge of 2’6″. Purchased from a scrap yard, in 1987, by the Durham Narrow Gauge group, she was, subsequently, regauged to 2′  during her rebuild and repair on the South Tynedale Railway, circa 1990.  No.11 Cumbria may have worked for NATO, but she’s no cruise missile with a top speed of 7mph it’s definitely – ‘rumble’ along!

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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing:  Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

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“Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.”

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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Arms race

no2tokenexAn odd choice of title, you might think, though there are  signal arms in the foreground and the outstretched arms of driver and signalman in the background. However, there are some rather interesting connections between armaments, the locomotive at the head of the train, No.2, and with the Tanfield railway’s decision to preserve and safeguard the area’s industrial locomotive building history.

No.2, built by Hawthorn Leslie, in 1911, was originally sold to Keighley Gas works, where she remained until around 1940. Just after the outbreak of WWII No.2 was in the employ of the Ministry of Supply and being used  at the Royal Ordnance Factory at Drungans, Kirkcudbrightshire.  Along with Hawthorn Leslie, another of the major locomotive building companies on Tyneside was Armstrong Whitworth who, amongst others, built a substantial number, (327), of Stanier’s Black 5s for the LMS.  Tanfield don’t have any Black 5s but the do have a 1933 vintage Armstrong Whitworth diesel – also numbered 2

Armstrong, had more than just locomotive building in their portfolio they were also major suppliers of ships and armaments. Such was their ‘fame’ in the armaments business, that their breach loading gun re-equipped the British Army after the Crimean War.  The Chairman, Sir W G Armstrong, entertained leading world figures and politicians in his home, with arms and armaments, undoubtedly, on the agenda. His home ‘Cragside’, the first in Britain to be lit entirely by electricity – hydro-electricity at that, is now open to the public.

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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing:  Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

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“Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.”

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

 

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A dip in the briny

76079exgoathbcIf you squint a little you could imagine this was 1964 and No.76079 was enjoying a break from her more usual duties, hauling sand to Pilkington’s Glass factory, in St. Helens, by hauling holiday makers to the sands at the  sea side. Kids with buckets and spades, Dad, with one too many Light Ales, nodding off, as the train clickety-clacks her way home – mum rubbing on suntan lotion.

The crew on these weekend excursions were often booked on ‘short-rest’. ‘Short-rest’ meant that you worked the train to the destination, booked off for several hours before working the train back to home depot. Some crews enjoyed their day at the sea side, just like the passengers, well the one I worked on we did!

In real life it’s No.76079, doing her regular day job as part of the fleet on the NYMR,  hauling the 12.30 Grosmont – Pickering service getting away from Goathland or possibly Aidensfield if you wish to stick with the ‘mythical’. Generally thought of as freight engines the 76xxx Standards did enjoy a fair amount of use on passenger duties, and particularly on the Southern Region, though oddly I don’t remember ever actually working on one myself; unlike their cousins the 75xxx class – engines I did enjoy working on.

For several years, during preservation, No.76079 was used on the North Wales Coast where it gained the nickname ‘Pocket  Rocket’ for its powerful performances over some of the steeply graded sections of the route and the climb from Grosmont to Goathland is certainly a taxing one – I could hear No.76079 approaching, long before I could see her.

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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing:  Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

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“Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.”

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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Experiment

78022oakworth ‘Experiment’ has a long association with the railways – the first ‘passenger coach’, on the Stockton & Darlington, was known as ‘Experiment’. The S&D also had an engine of that name which, according to ‘More old tales of the S&D’,  came to grief on September 19th, 1833; ‘when travelling between Darlington and Stockton, [Experiment}, was thrown off the line into a ditch.  No-one was to blame.’  Many years later, in 1905, the LNWR began construction of an entire class of locomotives named ‘Experiment’. Designed by George Whale the Experiments were an extended version of his well known ‘Precursor’ class 4-4-0s.

One might say that the railway itself began as an experiment and there’s little doubt that experimentation of one kind or another has been a feature of its progress ever since. All manner of experiments were carried out over the years, some, like ‘Compounding’ or ‘Superheating’ became widespread others like,  the Franco – Crosti boiler and Giesl ejector were short lived innovations. In keeping with those long held railway traditions the K&WVR decided to ‘experitment’ with the ‘Preserved’ BR.Std Class 2 No.78022 by fitting a Giesl ejector – it didn’t last.

No. 78022 is seen departing Oakworth with a train for Oxenhope.

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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing:  Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

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“Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.”

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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Not Midsomer or summer

45305-pinesThe Pines Express began life, without title, in 1910; it ran from Manchester to Bournemouth and was launched, by the LNWR & the MR to compete with a service from Birkenhead to Bournemouth, which was operated by the LSWR & the GWR. The first ‘named’ Pines Express ran in September 1927, the last one to run over the Somerset & Dorset Joint, was in September 1962. The engine on the right, No.92220 Evening Star, hauled that train. (The engine in the photo is actually No.92214 mocked up as No.92220 Evening Star.)

The route and train were, perhaps, more well known than they might have been thanks to the photography of Ivo Peters and the writings of footplatemen Donald Beale and Peter Smith. The S&DJR also had a unique class of locos. Designed and built in Derby, (the Midland Railway was responsible for the motive power of the S&DJR),  the S&D 2-8-0 7Fs, apart from a brief interregnum when they were tried out on coal trains in the Midlands, spent their entire working lives on the S&D. 11 of these engines were built, in two phases, the first in 1914 and the second in 1925. They remained in service until 1959 when withdrawals began; the final engines were withdrawn in 1964. Remarkably for such a small, and ‘dedicated’ class of locomotives, 2 of them survived into preservation, Nos. 53808 and 53809 – both engines are, currently, operational.

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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing:  Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

“Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.”

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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Sunny Sunday

no2causeywoodslongA sunny Sunday morning and No.2 heads through Causey Woods with the first train of the day from East Tanfield. Looking at this sylvan setting it is very difficult to image that this was, once upon a time, a part of one of the biggest and busiest waggonways in the country. When the waggonway was under construction, in 1725, one commentator remarked, ‘over valleys filled up with earth, 100 foot high, 300 foot broad at the bottom other valleys as large have a stone bridge laid across them’. This is the famous Causey Arch the writer is referring to; and he continues – ‘in other places hills are cut through for half a mile together; and in this manner a road is made, and frames of timber laid, for five miles, to the river side’ – that’s the Tyne.

In the 1720s there was no other piece of civil engineering, in Britain, on this scale: Victorian engineering was still more than a hundred years into the future. People travelled from near and far to marvel at the embankment over the Causey burn, still used until the early 1960s, and to see the stone Causey Arch Bridge. To give you some idea of the level of activity; according to  the author, (unknown), of ‘A Short Guide to the Four Eras of the Tanfield Railway’, at its height the Tanfield waggonway saw a wagon passing at 45 second intervals some 930 wagon loads per day.

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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing:  Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

“Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.”

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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Sunny Sunday

no2causeywoodslongA sunny Sunday morning and No.2 heads through Causey Woods with the first train of the day from East Tanfield. Looking at this sylvan setting it is very difficult to image that this was, once upon a time, a part of one of the biggest and busiest waggonways in the country. When the waggonway was under construction, in 1725, one commentator remarked, ‘over valleys filled up with earth, 100 foot high, 300 foot broad at the bottom other valleys as large have a stone bridge laid across them’. This is the famous Causey Arch the writer is referring to; and he continues – ‘in other places hills are cut through for half a mile together; and in this manner a road is made, and frames of timber laid, for five miles, to the river side’ – that’s the Tyne.

In the 1720s there was no other piece of civil engineering, in Britain, on this scale: Victorian engineering was still more than a hundred years into the future. People travelled from near and far to marvel at the embankment over the Causey burn, still used until the early 1960s, and to see the stone Causey Arch Bridge. To give you some idea of the level of activity; according to  the author, (unknown), of ‘A Short Guide to the Four Eras of the Tanfield Railway’, at its height the Tanfield waggonway saw a wagon passing at 45 second intervals some 930 wagon loads per day.

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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing:  Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

“Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.”

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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Work – ‘I could watch it all day’

cesandhouseA study in concentration, as Sir Cecil’s fireman watches the injector waste pipe, to make sure the injector is ‘picking up’ and not simply watering the ballast. The driver has just set Sir Cecil ‘right for water’ – aka ‘putting the bag in’. In this photo the ‘bag’ is the piece of blue piping being held in place by the plank of wood leaning against it. The plank is, in fact, a dual purpose plank, it is used to support the pipe between the water tank and the engine’s tank too – crude, but effective!

The Tanfield Railway has now become my nearest local line, which is nice. The are several things which I enjoy about the line, it doesn’t use Ex-industrial locos to drag Ex-BR MkI coaches around; instead they have some wonderful old wooden bodied coaches, amongst which are,  a former MSLR – (GCR)  Brake 3rd of 1885 vintage,  an NER 5 compartment 3rd, and a GNR 5 compartment 3rd from 1885 to mention just a few of the Victorian coaches all of which are much more in scale with the motive power the line uses.

For good measure there’s a forge, used on occasions for demonstrations, a belt driven workshop, and a the MPD itself dates to 1855. Just like Arnie says in the movies  – ‘I’ll be back’ !!

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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing:  Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

“Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.”

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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