God’s Wonderful Railway Comes to God’s green acres

7822b&csadd

On a crisp autumn evening Ex-GWR 4-6-0 No.7822 Foxcote Manor makes a fine sight as she steams across open moorland. The lengthening shadows, the dried bracken,  dry stone wall, and an almost cloudless sky all add to the autumnal feel. It wouldn’t be difficult to pretend that this was a photograph from 1962, somewhere deep in Great Western territory. There are no heads poking from windows, no video cameras being held out attempting to film the passage. However, truth be told the photo was taken in 2012 and on the opposite side of the country from GWR territory, high on the North Yorkshire Moors, at Moorgates about a mile and a half from Goathland – the mythical Aidensfield of the TV series Heartbeat.

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A genuinely unique survivor

Sir W.A.Stanier’s mixed traffic classic the ‘Black 5′ was one of the best loved and most versatile locomotives ever to run on British Railways, there were, at one time, 842 of them. However, only one of them was ever built with outside Stephenson’s link motion – and here she is No.44767, now named, possibly ironically, George Stephenson. No. 44767 was built the same year as I was, (1947), though she looks in better fettle!

The photograph was taken at one of the most photogenic locations on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Darnholme about 1/2 mile east of Goathland – the mythic Aidensfield of TV series Heartbeat fame.No. 44767 has spent much of here life in preservation, working on the NYMR, though she did have a spell out on the main line, some years ago now.

The driver has the sanders on which accounts for the steam at ground level, but the action is all at the chimney top as she blasts her way round the curve on the 1/49 climb up to Goathland – a fairly stiff test for both engine and crew.

via A genuinely unique survivor.

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

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The ‘Mickey Mouse’ mogul

46521mins

Shortly before Nationalisation, and the formation of British Railways, H G Ivatt took over as CME on the LMS and he added several new classes to the stock list. Never worked these little 2-6-0s but did my first ever firing turn on the 2-6-2 tank engine version, station pilot at Leeds City Station – it was a Saturday night!

They were fine little engines, steamed well, and fun to work on, they were fitted with rocking grates too, which always pleased the firemen – made dropping the fire so much easier, than paddling it out as some sheds did. At Farnley Jct., 55C, where I started we used to lift a few fire bars from under the door and then shove the clinker through the hole into the ashpan – only down side was you had to get into the pit under the engine and rake the clinker out of the ashpans – nasty work.

The photo shows No.46521, with a short train of mineral empties bound for Rothley Brook sidings, on the GCR, during one of the Gala weekends.

This engine also featured in the TV sitcom Oh! Dr. Beeching, filmed at the Severn Valley Railway, which is where she was based at the time. Today she is one of the ‘home’ fleet at the GCR.

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Steam Age Daydreams at the GCR gala

Star attraction, for me anyway, at the Great Central Railway gala was the Ex-LNER class D49 4-4-0 No.62712 Morayshire. Growing up, in Leeds, in the 1950s, these engines were a common sight on the lines around my home. No.62712 is seen here pulling away from Loughborough Central Station with a train for Quorn

via Steam Age Daydreams at the galas.

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A genuinely unique survivor

44767portraitedit1

Sir W.A.Stanier’s mixed traffic classic the ‘Black 5’ was one of the best loved and most versatile locomotives ever to run on British Railways, there were, at one time, 842 of them. However, only one of them was ever built with outside Stephenson’s link motion – and here she is No.44767, now named, possibly ironically, George Stephenson. No. 44767 was built the same year as I was, (1947), though she looks in better fettle!

The photograph was taken at one of the most photogenic locations on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Darnholme about 1/2 mile east of Goathland – the mythic Aidensfield of TV series Heartbeat fame. No. 44767 has spent much of here life in preservation, working on the NYMR, though she did have a spell out on the main line, some years ago now.

The driver has the sanders on which accounts for the steam at ground level, but the action is all at the chimney top as she blasts her way round the curve on the 1/49 climb up to Goathland – a fairly stiff test for both engine and crew.

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East Coast Evening

One of the most salient features on Scotland’s north east coast is the Montrose basin. This unique natural feature, a tidal basin, is home to many varieties of bird life and has a dedicated RSPB bird-watching centre. However, I wasn’t there for the birds but to see the new-build A1 class 4-6-2 No.60163 Tornado. The original A1 class Pacifics were all cut up following the ending of steam traction by British Railways in the 1960s. No.60163 Tornado was built partly in Britain and partly in the former East-Germany, they built the boiler, the construction was funded by enthusiasts, and the locomotive is maintained and operated by them.No. 60163 Tornado also starred in the rather notorious BBC television show Top Gear – in a faux re-run of the ‘Railway Races to the North’, of 1895′. In the show, the outspoken presenter Jeremy Clarkson rode on the footplate from London to Edinburgh and his co-presenters took the road route in a 1949 Jaguar and on a Vincent ‘Black shadow’ motorcycle – the locomotive and Clarkson won, but this was probably a slightly ‘fixed’ result!!In the photograph No.60163 Tornado is crossing the eastern edge of the Montrose basin, immediately south of Montrose Station. The train is the Aberdeen – Edinburgh leg of one of the Cathedrals Explorer series of rail tours.

via East Coast Evening.

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East Coast Evening

60163montrose

One of the most salient features on Scotland’s north east coast is the Montrose basin. This unique natural feature, a tidal basin, is home to many varieties of bird life and has a dedicated RSPB bird-watching centre. However, I wasn’t there for the birds but to see the new-build A1 class 4-6-2 No.60163 Tornado. The original A1 class Pacifics were all cut up following the ending of steam traction by British Railways in the 1960s. No.60163 Tornado was built partly in Britain and partly in the former East-Germany, they built the boiler, the construction was funded by enthusiasts, and the locomotive is maintained and operated by them.

No. 60163 Tornado also starred in the rather notorious BBC television show Top Gear – in a faux re-run of the ‘Railway Races to the North’, of 1895′. In the show, the outspoken presenter Jeremy Clarkson rode on the footplate from London to Edinburgh  and his co-presenters took the road route in a 1949 Jaguar and on a Vincent ‘Black shadow’ motorcycle – the locomotive and Clarkson won, but this was probably a slightly ‘fixed’ result!!

In the photograph No.60163 Tornado is crossing the eastern edge of the Montrose basin, immediately south of Montrose Station. The train is the Aberdeen – Edinburgh leg of one of the Cathedrals Explorer series of rail tours.

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A dirty job but someone has to do it

blk-whtsmokebox

As we all enjoy the beautiful images of steam at work in a whole gamut of settings, shades, and locations it is as well to remember that not everything associated with the operation of steam locomotives is picturesque – some of it is downright dirty, like this task being undertaken here.

Cleaning out the smokebox char is one of the most unpleasant jobs the fireman has to undertake. It’s hot and a little noisy too, the fine ash blows about everywhere, it gets in your eyes, ears, and yes up your nose and down your throat. I cleaned a great many a smokeboxes during my own time on the steam driven railway and I don’t envy today’s volunteers doing this job. The locomotive in the photo, Ex-Southern Railway 4-6-2 No.34101 Hartland, is a locomotive I worked on and one upon which I did this very task, during my time at 70A Nine Elms. In this photograph, the location is  Grosmont MPD on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, not the natural home for a Bulleid Pacific.

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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Railway Theatre

Lights, action, drama. The Severn Valley Railway, during its Autumn Gala, runs all night services and this year I tried my hand at ‘a little night photography’. The location is Highley Station and the engine is Drummond’s M7 0-4-4T No.30053, a guest at the Gala.There’s something about the railway at night time, the glow from the firebox through the cab windows, the warm yellow light in the coaches, the flickering paraffin lamps on the engine, all go towards creating a very different atmosphere from day time running. When the train departs the sounds of the engine at work seems to last longer and echo more in the still night air.It always reminds me of my childhood, in the 1950s, when I would visit relatives in Rugby. I would lie awake in bed at night listening to the sounds of clanking goods trains, hauled by Stanier’s 8Fs or Bowen-Cooke’s G2 0-8-0s, as they made their way up and down the West Coast main line. In the day time I would sit by the big girder bridge, where the Great Central line crossed the West Coast main line just south of Rugby Midland station, and watch the expresses hurtle by, hauled by Stanier’s Coronation Class pacifics, of Fowler’s Royal Scots – always a thrill but never quite the same atmosphere as those night time freights

via Railway Theatre.

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Railway Theatre

30053highnight

Lights, action, drama. The Severn Valley Railway, during its Autumn Gala, runs all night services and this year I tried my hand at ‘a little night photography’. The location is Highley Station and the engine is Drummond’s M7 0-4-4T No.30053, a guest at the Gala.

There’s something about the railway at night time, the glow from the firebox through the cab windows, the warm yellow light in the coaches, the flickering paraffin lamps on the engine, all go towards creating a very different atmosphere from day time running. When the train departs the sounds of the engine at work seems to last longer and echo more in the still night air.

It always reminds me of my childhood, in the 1950s, when I would visit relatives in Rugby. I would lie awake in bed at night listening to the sounds of clanking goods trains, hauled by Stanier’s 8Fs or Bowen-Cooke’s G2 0-8-0s, as they made their way up and down the West Coast main line. In the day time I would sit by the big girder bridge, where the Great Central line crossed the West Coast main line just south of Rugby Midland station, and watch the expresses hurtle by, hauled by Stanier’s Coronation Class pacifics, of Fowler’s Royal Scots – always a thrill but never quite the same atmosphere as those night time freights.

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