Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Last Pacific

One  might argue that this locomotive, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, was the final outcome of the Locomotive Exchange Trials, held 70 years ago this month, so far as express passenger designs are concerned. In a class of one, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, was, sadly, never entirely successful during her BR career, and gained a reputation for being heavy on coal and water, as well as being an indifferent steamer, at times. Her construction, at Crewe Works, in 1954, came at almost the same time as a number of major changes to the railway industry, which meant there was little enthusiasm to resolve the issues and less than a decade after entering service, in 1962, she was put out to grass.

Rescued from Barry in 1974 The Duke returned to steam on the Great Central Railway in 1986. The preservationists not only restored a locomotive thought to be beyond repair, by many, they also delved into the steaming and coal eating issues too. The subsequent modifications, especially to the draughting arragements, improved matters substantially. And some of her performances, during  rail tour appearances, particularly on the Appleby – Aisgill climb and over Shap were a revelation.

No.71000 Duke of Gloucester is also the last engine I travelled behind, as an invited guest, on  a tour  in June 1990,  over the Settle  – Carlisle line. The  occasion formed  part of celebrations for  the Middleton Railway’s 30 years in preservation.  I recall spending some time, with my head out of the window, listening to the racket being made by The Duke  – a very different sound to the Bulleid Pacifics I had worked on during my own footplate days.

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

 

 

 

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

A special day

70 years ago today the Locomotive Exchange Trials began and this locomotive, No.35018 British India Line, was one of the trialists. On June 3rd 1948 No.35018 made her first run in the trails, with the GWR dynamometer coach added to the train, she left Waterloo with the 11.00 departure, the ‘ Atlantic Coast Express, returning with the ‘up’ working of the same train the following day, June 4th.

On the 28th February 1965 I made the very same journey myself, as the fireman on No.35022 Holland Amerika Line, working the East Devon Rail Tour. We ran non-stop to Yeovil and, unlike the crew on 35018, we worked back the same day, with the same engine. – so I know exactly what was involved in those 1948 trials.

The Bulleid Paifics were never going to come out top in the lbs of coal per mile stakes and some of the crews involved opted to ‘ put on a show’ instead. The performances of the WC No.34006 Bude  on the tricky Marylebone – Manchester service and that of No.34004 Yeovil on the Highland main line were particularly note worthy. And as one observant Steam Age Daydreams regular noted Bert Hooker, who was himself a fireman in the trials, on the 13th June 1963, took MN No.35012 United States Lines over the S&C and ran the Appleby – Aisgill climb in 17 minutes and 30 seconds, pass to pass.

A longer account of the trials and a dozen or so photos can be found by following this link: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=4942

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

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

And 54 years later …….

The last time I saw No.35018 British India Line in action I was her fireman, and we were heading to Waterloo from Bournemouth, after working down with the 08.35 Ex – Waterloo. Today, 54 years later, along with a horde of others, I was standing beside the Settle -Carlisle line, with Pen – y Ghent in the background, enjoying her passing with the York – Carlisle leg of the GB XI rail tour. Watching a piece of your own history steaming past you, like this, certainly stirs the memory cells. And those three years at Nine Elms in the 1960s really did seem like yesterday – tho’ I doubt, very much, that I’d be able to fire an MN from York to Carlisle today but, I’d have no trouble sitting in the driver’s seat and rendering a couple of fire boys!!

I don’t know how many times I worked on this engine, firing out on the main line or cleaning her fire on shed but, what I do know is that like all the Merchant Navy class she was a joy to work on, as a fireman. Coincidently, it is also almost 70 years ago, June 1948, that No.35018 British India Line set out from Waterloo, with the Atlantic Coast Express, as part of the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials. No.35018 British India Line was one of three MNs in the trials, the others were No.35017 Belgian Marine and No.35019 French Line CGT. No.35020 Bibby Line was the reserve engine. And, in my time at 70A, I met and fired for Driver Bert Hooker who was himself a fireman during the Exchange Trials – it’s a small world.

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

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

A spot a fettlin’

Sitting in the back of the former Pontop & Jarrow Railway engine shed, at Marley Hill, on the Tanfield Railway, Sir Cecil A. Cochrane, the engine in this photo, is moving towards the final stages of a retube and ‘light’ overhaul. (She’s back at work now). No, your eyes are not decieving you, the boiler cladding is made of wood. First a wooden frame is made by cutting, soaking, and bending, pieces of timber to the shape of the barrel   the wooden lagging strips are then attached to these frames, which is what you see here. The ‘finer’ details of the process of re-cladding were explained to me by Ian Cowan, the chap you see about to climb onto the footplate, with a small strip of wood which was being fitted to the cladding inside the cab – joinery and boiler making skills required!

I had no idea, until I saw this work being undertaken, that this was a method of boiler cladding for these enines – you do, as they say, ‘learn summat new every day’. When Marley Hill shed was part of a working colliery railway system this kind of work, retubing, and light general repairs, would have been a commonplace. Behind the white wall to the left of the picture, is a fully operational forge which would have allowed more substantial repairs to be carried out. And, from time to time during the year, volunteers operate the forge, to give visitors a taste of what was involved.

Should you wish you can see a photo of  the volunteers using the the forge,  one can be found in the steamagedaydreams archive for September 2015 – ‘A little forgery’.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Fast Fitted

In Heritage Railway Magazine, some years ago now, I wrote an article entitled, ‘Things that went clank in the night’, it was, as you might guess, about the humble world of the over-night freights. Some goods workings achieved almost legendary status, such as the Aberdeen fish trains, which, in the later years of steam, would see anything from a V2 to a ‘Duchess’ turning up. The legendary driver William (Bill) Sparshatt, was reputed to have ‘run down’ i.e caught up, The Talisman with a fitted freight, quite what the guard thought about his wild ride was probably unprintable.

Leaving aside the legends, fishy and otherwise, the fitted freight was bread and butter work and much of it went on during the hours of darkness. The doyen of the V2s No.4771 Green Arrow was named in conjunction with the LNER’s fast fitted freight service ‘Green Arrow’ which had its initial outing as early as 1928, though 4771 Green Arrow wasn’t built until 1936. The LNER wasn’t the only ‘Green Arrow’ service on offer, the GWR advertised one too. Unofficially they also named a London – Worcester ‘fitted’ ‘The Sauce’, and the railway companies did not discourage these ad hoc names.

Surprisingly, in my own railway service, the only fast fitted I worked were the ‘Banana’ trains from Southampton docks to Nine Elms goods; none of which were ‘regular’ services. I did work a regular turn of fully fitted stone hoppers, which originated from Meldon Quarry. We worked down with a passenger service and relieved the crew at Salisbury working back to Feltham engineers yard. The usual motive power was an S15 and it was out for some hours before we stepped aboard – a very rough turn for the fireman, coal back in the tender and plenty of clinker in the fire.

The photo shows No 92214, a BR Class 9F, the last of the ‘Express’ freight engines, with a fitted freight recreation, on the Great Central Railway, near Loughborough.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Bits of the old L&Y

Incorporated in 1847, one hundred years before I was born, the L&YR was, for many years,  being persued, in predatory fashion, by the much larger London North Western Railway, ‘the Euston Confederacy’ as it was sometimes referred to. The L&Y’s resistance only ended on 01/01/1922 and a year later the LNWR too became part of a bigger whole, the London Midland & Scottish Railway.

The L&Y itself, grew by acquisiton and grew out of amalgamation and absorbtion – some of its constituents were, oddly, owned jointly with the rival LNWR. Not content with running railways they also had their own fleet of ships and sailed to Europe and Ireland, from Goole, Hull, Fleetwood and Liverpool. They were also the first British railway company to introduce electric trains; with a service from Liverpool to Southport in 1904.

Before the opening of Horwich Works, the L&Y’s principal workshops were at Miles Platting, just up the bank from Manchester Exchange/Victoria. Railway workshops are never going to be situated in the ‘nice’ parts of town but, they must have been a dodgy lot around Miles Platting in the 1850s as an entire locomotive boiler was stolen, ‘spirited away in the middle of the night’, from the Works. Quite how this was achieved is a bit of a mystery, especially as  road transport was still at the horse and cart stage.

The coach behind the engine is Club car 47, a classic example of British snobbery in action. A bunch of Fylde coast ‘business men’ persuaded the L&Y, for a fee, naturally, to provide them with what was essentially a ‘private coach’ between Blackpool and Manchester, just so they didn’t have to travel alongside the ‘great unwashed’.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

The Mayflower

In 1620 The Mayflower carried ‘Puritans’ from Plymouth to North America; in 1957 British Railways named a Kingswear – Paddington passenger service ”The Mayflower”. Being of a certain generation, and political persuasion, whenever I hear of the ‘Mayflower’ I’m reminded of the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream, ‘I was riding on the Mayflower When I thought I spied some land, I yelled for Captain Arab, I have you understand, Who came running to the deck, Said, “Boys, forget the whale, Look on over yonder, Cut the engines, Change the sail.’ (C) B.Dylan

I took the photograph at one of the Llangollen Railway galas when No.1306 was one of the guest engines, she also carried the ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ head board on one of her runs, a service, unlike the Mayflower, for which there was just an outside possibility she might have hauled, at some point in her BR life. The B1s wouldn’t normally see service on the Yorkshire Pullman but, all kinds of engines may be pressed into service in the event of a failure, or possibly as a pilot engine – stranger things have happened.

In July 1948, during the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials, a B1 did work over the former GWR route between Plymouth and Bristol and on one memorable occasion in the early 60s I rode behind one from Bristol to Burton – upon – Trent, where it failed with a hot box and was replaced by a passing ‘Peak’. The failure was a real shame as the crew seemed to be enjoying themselves doing their best to make up time on a late departure from Bristol.

The photo shows B1 Class 4-6-0 No.(6)1306 departing from Berwyn station on the Llangollen Railway.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

56 years ago today

56 years ago today I began work with BR, at a shed, where I cleaned and fired engines just like the one in this photo. Unfortunately none of them survived ‘the great purge’. However, one that did survive was a fairly frequent visitor, when she was based at Stockport, No.45596 Bahamas; one of a handful of the Jubilee Class which were fitted with a double chimney.

Like the engine this photograph, No. 45690 Leander, No.45596 Bahamas is soon to be back in action, after lengthy overhaul. Just as some of my very first associations were with the Jubilees so were some of my last. There were very few passenger turns at Wakefield, where I ended my BR service, apart from a few jobs working the Bradford portions of London – Leeds services from Wakefield Westgate to Bradford Exchange, the only others, at the time, were ‘excursions’ for Rugby / Football matches and trips to the seaside.

My very last trip on a Jubilee was with a trip to Blackpool and back with a train load of miners, the details of which were the subject of an earlier post. Sadly, none of the engines I worked on at Farnley and at Wakefield survived, however, a goodly number of those I worked on at Nine Elms did; and a week on Friday I hope to see one of them, No.35018 British India Line, having a run over the S&C. I haven’t seen her in the flesh since she was withdrawn, over 50 years ago – quite looking forward to Friday 20th. My BR days migh have ended in 1968 but my attachment to those dim and distant days did not.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

War Effort

One of a batch 90 engines, built by LIMA in 1945, USATC No.5820 was shipped directly to liberated France and eventually became Polish Railways Tr. 203.474. It was said at the time, 1942 – 45, that the American GIs were ‘over sexed, over paid, and over here’. I don’t know about that but, what I do know is that 398 of these American engines were allocated to the ‘Big Four’ with 50 of them going  to the LMS.

Whether the S160s ever worked through Keighley or up the Worth valley I cannot say. The engines which were sent to Britain were shipped to South Wales and taken, intially, to Ebbw Jct. for dispersal to the other members of the Big Four, and some to storage in preparation for the D-day landings. Some of the early arrivals went to Doncaster for completion and running in on the ECML. The LNER eventually had 168 on the books, the GWR 178, and the Southern just 6.

Built to be ‘expendable’ the S160s did have their problems. From a footplateman’s perspective having only one gauge glass, and that of a an unfamiliar type, which was less than 100% reliable, wasn’t a good thing. During the first year of their deployment there were 3 boiler explosions due to low levels of water in the boiler creating a sudden crown sheet collapse; and a GWR fireman was killed in one of them.

To the right of ‘Big Jim’ is Ex-S&DJR  Class 7F 2-8-0 No.53808 an engine which would, almost certainly, have played a role in WWII, on the S&D. During the war a hospital train was stationed at Templecombe, it was kept in a state of readiness to evacuate injured and wounded from the South coast ports to military hospitals. And, when Templecombe itself was bombed, it was used to treat the casualties; five railwaymen and eight passengers died in the attack.

The photo, taken at this year’s K&WVR Winter Gala, shows ‘Big Jim’, banked by Ex-Taff Vale Railway 0-6-2T No.85, pulling away from Keighley with the ‘demo’ goods train.

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

 

 

 

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Let the trials begin

On the 22nd of April 1948 Stanier Pacific, No.46236 City of Bradford, left Euston, hauling the Royal Scot to Carlisle. This was the first run in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials; her return journey the following day was the second. Four days later, on the 27th of April, Bulleid Pacific No.35019 French Line CGT made her test appearance, heading for Plymouth with the GWR dynamometer car in the train. Like No. 46236 City of Bradford, she too made the return trip the following day.

On the 29th & 30th of April it was the turn of the ECML to act as host; and  Rebuilt Scot, No.46162 Queen’s Westminster Rifleman did her turn on a Kings Cross – Leeds working,  hauling the NER dynamometer car in both directions.

The earliest run on the former Southern Railway didn’t take place until the beginning of June, when No.35018 British India Line left Waterloo, heading for Exeter, hauling the Atlantic Coast Express, and with the GWR dynamometer car coupled behind the tender. Repeating the pattern set earlier, she worked the ‘up’ train the following day. The first GWR engine to enter the trial was King Class No.6018 King Henry VI, on 20th May, with a Kings Cross Leeds run, and again, making the return working the day after.

The first A4 to take part in the trials was No.60034 Lord Faringdon, hauling the Royal Scot and the LMS dynamometer car from Euston to Carlisle on May 27th. Two weeks earlier Bulleid Pacific No.35017 Belgian Marine did her turn on the Royal Scot, working north on the 13th, returning south the following day. The trials continued throughout May and on into June, in the ‘Express Locomotive’ category, with the final run being made, appropriately, after having opened the contest, by No.46236 City of Bradford, taking the ACE out of Exeter and heading to Waterloo.

Trials of the mixed traffic engines,  B1 4-6-0s,  Black 5 4-6-0s,  GWR Modified Halls and  SR West Country 4-6-2s, began on June 1st with Black 5 No.45253, on home territory, working a St. Pancras – Manchester service, returning to St. Pancras 3 days later.

Next up was WC Pacific No.34006 Bude working from London Marylebone to Manchester and back, over the GCR main line, on the 8th & 9th. CJ Allen notes that only this engine, of those  in this trial, on the test train over the GCR  route, kept to time, The fireman on No.34006 Bude was Bert Hooker, and I met and fired for him during my time at Nine Elms in the 60s, when he was a driver there.

One of the Modified Halls was the preserved, No.6990 Witherslack Hall, pictured below departing from Loughborough, and she had her turn on the Marylebone – Manchester run on on the 24th and 25th of June with the NER dynamometer car for company. The first B1 to enter the action was No.61251 Oliver Bury working over the Midland from St. Pancras to Manchester and back on 15th and 18th of June. The third member of the Southern trio was in this group, WC No.34005 Barnstaple, and she made her runs on the 22nd and 23rd of June, over the St.Pancras – Manchester route.

On the 7th of July B1 No.61251 made an ‘up’ run on the South Devon Main Line between Plymouth and Bristol a run duplicated by 45253 on the 14th and 34006 Bude on the 21st. From South Devon banks, we move next to the Highland Main Line between Perth and Inverness starting with WC No.34004 Yeovil working north on 13th July and back on the 14th. Also on the 14th Black 5, No.44799, was ‘trialled’ on the 11.55 Ex-Perth, in the ‘down’ direction only. B1 No.61292 made her runs from Perth to Inverness and back on the 20th / 21st. The runs on the 21st July brought to a close the mixed traffic locomotive trials, next up were the freight engines.

The freight types on trial were WD 2-10-0 and 2-8-0, Stanier 8F, LNER Classes 01 and 07 and GWR 2884 class. The four chosen routes were Bristol – Eastleigh, Southern, Ferme Park – New England, LNER, Brent – Toton, LMS, and Acton – Severn Tunnel Junction, GWR. Amazingly, one of the engines actually used in the freight trials, 2884 Class No. 3803, survived and is pictured below on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.

The other engines in the freight trial O1 No. 63773, 8F No.48189, LNER O7 No.63169, WD 2-10-0 No.73774 (90750) and 2-8-0 No.77000 (90101) did not survive. The first runs were made by the 8F No.48189 on a familiar route, Brent – Toton. The last trials, on the 8th and 10th of September, were undertaken by the LNER O7 and again on the Brent – Toton run.

The trials were conducted without sufficient rigour to be really described as ‘scientific’, they were, perhaps, more of PR stunt and a means to help mend the bruised egos, created by  Nationalisation and the resultant reshaping of railway management and engineering workshops. A means, maybe, of smoothing relations between rivals, regions, and egos, the tests were also meant to help create new ‘standard’ designs using best practice.

With the benefit of hindsight it is clear that creating yet more designs, with the consquent need for depots to stock yet more spares etc. was probably not the right thing to do. Building more  locos, to existing designs, would have prevented some of the inevitable waste. Having a more ordered, carefully thought out and planned transition from steam, to diesel and electric traction, would also have paid dividends.

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

The photographs, in sequence, are No.46229 Duchess of Hamilton on the East Lancs Railway, No.35005 Canadian Pacific on the GCR, No.46115 Scots Guardsman at Ais Gill, on the S&C route, No.6023 King Edward II on the GCR, No.60007 Sir Nigel Gresley on the East Lancs Railway, Nos.45231 & 45407 at Usan near Montrose, No.34092 City of Wells on the East Lancs Railway, No.6990 Witherslack Hall on the GCR, No.61264 on the NYMR, No.3803 on the GWSR, No.90711, (90733) on the K&WVR, No.48151 at Ais Gill on the S&C, and Nos. 73129 & 71000 Duke of Gloucester on the East Lancs Railway.

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather