On the bank

44871chimorieThese two Black 5s, Nos. 45407, and piloting, 44871, are about a mile and a half into the 4 miles of 1 in 54 from Girvan to Pinmore, the 8 mile slog,  much of it at gradients between 1 in 67  and 1 in 73, from Pinwherry, up through Barrhill, is yet to come. The train had stopped in Girvan and the climb begins just before the station, dragging ten coaches, something like 350 tons, away from a dead stop on a gradient of 1 in 67 would have been a taxing effort for engines and crew, yet No. 44871 is flying a white feather, she must be right on the red line.

This tour, which was run in 2010, was the first steam over the Stranraer route from Glasgow via Ayr for many years.The return leg saw the engines working top-and-tail back to Glasgow tender first, over some equally demanding gradients, from Stranraer it’s pretty much all up hill for the first 20 miles. How long Stranraer remains a destination is a moot point now the Irish sea ferry trade, which gave it a reason to stay open, has moved to Cairnryan and rail passengers are bussed there from Ayr.

I cannot close without mention of two things about the route, the first is, naturally, Robert Burns who was born in Alloway, just south of Ayr and, secondly, Electric Brae, which is a mile or two off the route near Maybole. I have put in a link to the Electric Brae phenomena, so you can check out for yourselves exactly what an oddity it is.

Above is the link to Part I of my memories of footplate life in the 1960s. The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway is still  available on Amazon – Below, is the link to that work.

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

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics.  They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the existing webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

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Bobbies in their box by night

bewdboxnightedit1

A huddle of churns await the milk train and the Bewdley Bobby is perusing his train register, during the all night running on the Severn Valley Railway – I know, the milk train is just poetic license. There’s something about the railway at night, the sprinklings of light from the home signals, or the dollies beside the track, distant sounds carried on the still night air, the firelight glow, from the locomotive’s cab, flickering and illuminating the exhaust steam.

Block bells ringing, a flurry of activity, calls sent, and received, a light changes from red to green. ‘The next train to arrive at platform 1 will be the 23.15 Bridgnorth service calling at …..’ so much for reverie. 120 years ago, in 1895, trains literally ‘raced through the night’ during the 1895 Railway Races to the North – thousands turned out, along the rival routes, to watch the racing train go by – the events, which went on for a month, were making headlines in the Times, no telly, smart phones or satnav then.

In the buffet, condensation coats the windows, a tea urn steams gently, India pale ale is being poured into a glass, the last, sad, growler, (pork pie), sits on a plate, under a plastic lid, tobacco smoke hangs in the air – a black and white movie from the fifties; the 23.15 service rolls into the platform, all sizzling safety valves, and more echoing announcements are made.

A whistle blows, a green lamp is waved, with a short pop, the driver answers – a jolt of couplings and a woof from the loco and the 23.15 rolls away into the night, the green goes back to red, the block bell rings, the bobby returns to his train register – only the pork pie and the faint whiff of sulphur remain.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

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You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' which contains around 100 of my photos and 37,000 words, on all things railway, and the sales of which help to keep this blog running.

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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Double heading and a Banker

4F&Pigsadd

Autumn on the Worth valley and ‘Derby 4’, No.43924, pilots the visiting ‘Flying Pig’, No.43106, with an all stations from Keighley to Oxenhope service – pushing, at the rear, is Ivatt 2-6-2 No.41241, on her last gala appearance before overhaul. In a little under a week it will be the K&WVR’s Winter 2015 gala and No.43924, as one of the K&WVR resident locos, will be featuring in it.

Not the longest of preserved lines the K&WVR does, however, have quite a range of photographic locations from almost moorland settings above Haworth to gritty, old, stone buildings around Keighley. There’s a nice tunnel and viaduct at Mytholmes or a backdrop of trees as in the location in this photograph which is known as GN straight and I’m standing, almost, on the spot where the former Great Northern Railway line, from Keighley to Queensbury, for Halifax or Bradford, diverged. The GNR route, it is said, was expensive to maintain and it did have two tunnels and two major viaducts, on the roughly 10 mile long stretch, between Ingrow and Queensbury, how much impact these features had on its closure can only be guessed at. Opened throughout in 1884 it was closed in sections between 1956 and 1965.

1965 was the year No.43924 was sold to the famous Woodhams scrapyard at Barry in South Wales, five years later she was the first, of around 200 engines, to leave the yard and escape being cut up. Returned to traffic, in 2011, after a lengthy overhaul, No.43924 should still be ‘in ticket’ when her 100th birthday comes up in 2020.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' which contains around 100 of my photos and 37,000 words, on all things railway, and the sales of which help to keep this blog running.

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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The view from the bridge

dubdeepass

How often, as kids in the 50s, did we stand on some railway over bridge and watch the engines go by, getting just this view as they passed. I would hazard a guess that we stood on the bridge enjoying such a view far more times than we saw a clean WD, ‘Dubdee’. Clean and Dubdee words you just didn’t see next to each other.

Though we didn’t recognise it at the time, a way of life was passing into history beneath our feet. Coal and iron ore mining, ship and locomotive building, steel making and forging were, one by one, pit by pit, railway workshop by steel mill, slipping into oblivion, or the production moved to somewhere the peasants would work for a dollar a day. Railway jobs were going too, steam risers and washout men, became bygone trades, automatic crossing barriers, colour light signalling and power boxes were making ‘Bobbies’ redundant.

The WDs were also known as ‘Austerities’ – in the 1950s an all too grim reminder of war time rationing, and post war shortages, not least of which was oil. I suppose, building new, coal burning, steam locomotives made sense when the oil supply was poor or even perilous, as it was in the early 1950s.

My final year and a bit on the footplate was spent working on the WDs, and I’d had a few trips with them whilst a passed cleaner at Farnley Junction, at the start of my footplate life. I have to say I rather enjoyed working on them. On the footplate you practically felt every power stroke as they clanked, wheezed, and lurched along, but they’d drag the town hall behind them.

No.90775 is pictured from Darnholme bridge, as she climbs the last half mile or so into Goathland, on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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: ‘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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Postman Pat?

34039mails

Two of the depots I worked at had mail train duties on the roster, Farnley Junction men worked the Leeds – Stockport section of the York – Swansea Mails and at Nine Elms they worked the 21.20 Weymouth Mails, between Waterloo and Southampton. I never fired on the York – Swansea Mails but, I did, from time to time, clean the engines which worked the train. The 21.20 Weymouth Mails is a very different story and one which will be told, in full, later this year.

Some mail trains, also known, by the traveling public, as milk trains, were late night departures that crawled through the darkened countryside from one, dimly-lit, one eyed station to the next. Each stop being accompanied by the loading and unloading of barrows filled with mail bags and or milk churns, often both, before doors slammed, whistles blew, and the whole circus chugged off to the next performance 15 or 20 miles further down the line.

One such train took me on my first ever trip to London, without adult supervision. The train left Leeds City Station at 22.15, if I remember, though it might have been a little later than that, and arrived in London St.Pancras around 6 ish the next morning. There was a special excursion ticket available on this train which, at the time, made it the cheapest way to do a round trip Leeds to London. It gave you a whole day to bash round the London sheds before setting off home and falling asleep as you chugged along, at a leisurely  pace, ‘back up t’ north’

I’m sure that today, if 3 or 4 fourteen year old boys were to take an overnight train from Leeds to London and spend the following day trespassing on railway property, the parents of said boys would be charged with child abuse and the kids put in care – hey ho!

Scanned from one of my slides, the photograph shows the TPO pulling out of Loughborough Central Station, on the Great Central Railway, sometime prior to the completion of the twin track project. The locomotive, Ex-SR  West Country Class 4-6-2 No.34039 Boscastle, is an engine I worked on many times, and, in all probability, on a mail train.

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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Trains of a certain vintage

phon&3coach

Bellerophon, the name of the locomotive in the photograph, was a Greek, mythological, dragon slayer, well Chimera slayer, to be more precise, whose tale is told in Homer’s epic, The Iliad. The Chimera, a lion’s head, on a goat’s body, with a serpent’s tail, is finally nailed by Bellerophon, with the help of his trusty winged steed Pegasus. Classic stuff, sounds a bit George and the Dragon myth to me, but he came later – that’s the thing with all this classical antiquity, myths mixed with philosophy, and a dash of Chinese whispers thrown in, nearly as good as modern propaganda.

There’s nothing mythological about the  Bellerophon in the picture, a scan of one of my old photographs, in her day Bellerophon was quite an innovative bit of machinery, having outside motion and piston valves, the latter being particularly state of the art in 1870s Britain.  Built for Haydock Colliery, in 1874, she is the last of the only six engines ever built by the Haydock Foundry. The Haydock Colliery / Foundry complex had more than 60 miles of private railway and a fleet of locomotives operating over them. The Haydock Colliery railway system maintained connections with the London & North Western Railway and the Liverpool & Manchester Railway for the onward shipment of the company’s coal and manufactured goods. ‘Where there’s muck there’s brass’, the old saying goes, and in the case of Haydock Colliery there was plenty of muck and brass.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' which contains around 100 of my photos and 37,000 words, on all things railway, and the sales of which help to keep this blog running.

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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‘It takes a lot to laugh it takes a train to cry’

yugosteam

This photograph, taken in the former Jugoslavia, is of one, of a line of engines awaiting scrap, at Belgrade MPD, in the 1980s, before the civil war divided the country. What happened just after I pushed the shutter was a tad scary, I was arrested. The Jugoslavian railway police weren’t too pleased to have some bearded foreign chap wandering around taking photographs, fortunately, my explanation of what I was doing satisfied them I wasn’t a spy and thus I avoided ten years in a gulag. Much to my surprise and delight not only was I not heading off to jail I was going to be given a personally escorted trip around the Jugoslav Railway museum, or at least that part of it which was, at the time, housed in an anonymous office building in the centre of Belgrade.

There were no big shiny engines or luxurious coaches, just small exhibits, one of which is this wonderful model, made entirely from match sticks, by a former driver of that engine.

yugomuseum

We have been very fortunate here in Britain, not only have we been able to save a fair sized chunk of industrial archeology, we’ve also had the means to be able to make something of it. Money, co-operation, connections, and a lot of very dirty hard graft, selling cakes and raffle tickets, filling out forms for lottery grants and wheedling quids out of industrial sponsors – even dosh from the EU has found its way into railway preservation’s pocket.

‘It takes a lot to laugh it takes a train to cry’ – a line from another age, an age when men sat and made models of their engines, from match sticks – the days before TV got Smart and Google knew everything.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

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You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running.

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

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Nearly, could’ve been, maybe.

3440side

Never mind which number No.3440 or No.3717 City of Truro should or shouldn’t carry, or whether she might, or might not, have  attained 100mph, there’ll never be a definite answer either way. Instead, just imagine, if you can, what it must have been like, 111 years ago, in 1904, to be on that footplate, with a  cab and  tender offering little by way of protection from the elements, or anything else for that matter. Everything about you is hard and hot, it would be noisy, the ride would be somewhat like standing in the vestibule between two coaches, with a foot in each coach, the floor beneath your feet moving in several directions as you try to keep your balance. The fireman, would, in all probability, have been firing during the build up to the give or take 100mph, keeping your balance, at speed, as you shovel, is a skill you don’t learn overnight.

The reality of the vast majority of railway work isn’t about heroic crew and doing the ton, it’s mundane, frequently dirty, and physically demanding. And, moreover, not all footplatemen are railway enthusiasts, for many firemen, and drivers, it is just a job. Footplate work for such men was just what they did all week to pay the rent, buy the groceries, and have a few quid left for some baccy and a few beers. Not for them setting records or going the extra mile, to coax the last out of some ailing, steam shy, nag, in a vain attempt to keep time. If you were a keen young fireman, wanting to be a firebrand, it could be a frustrating shift being with a driver who only wanted to do what had to be done and not a fraction more – I know because I worked for a few.

The photo shows No.3440 City of Truro, steaming towards Carrog, on the Llangollen Railway, with a demonstration freight working from Llangollen.

This is the link to my book “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.

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

Below are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing:

‘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’.

and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

HAVE YOU GOT YOUR COPY YET?

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Not the beast of Bodmin

30585boscarne

When we visited the Bodmin & Wenford Railway, where this photograph was taken, we stayed in a cottage, on the edge of Bodmin Moor, and very nice it was too. However, on our first evening we discovered the farm buildings, a few hundred yards down the lane, housed the kennels of the local hunt, a proximity which gave the whole place an air of the Hound of the Baskervilles – ‘grab your Bradshaws Watson, the game’s afoot’, I could have cried, but didn’t. There was enough barking madness without my intervention. I know Sherlock Holmes’ Hound of the Baskervilles was largely set on Dartmoor, and we were on Bodmin Moor, but it was still baying hounds, moon light and moor!!

The former London & South Western Railway 2-4-0WT 0298 class, more commonly known as ‘Beattie’s well tanks’ would have been familiar to Holmes’ Victorian Londoners, in the 1870s and 1880s, scurrying about the capital with the suburban services of the day. When bigger and faster engines displaced them from these duties some went to work the Sidmouth and Exmouth branches and three went to the Bodmin & Wenford Railway, in 1895, to haul china clay. These three engines continued to do this from 1895 until 1962, when they were withdrawn from service. This was not to be the end, however, and two of them survived into preservation, No.30585, pictured, is owned by the Quainton Railway Society and No.30587 is owned by the National Railway Museum as part of the national collection.

Most of the original engines were built by Beyer Peacock, they had no cabs, a large and ornate firebox dome and safety valve, stove pipe chimneys and rectangular splashers. They looked, by comparison with the engine in the picture, nothing like them. The modifications by Adams, Urie and Maunsell made them the handsome little engines we see today, as Holmes might have said, ‘the differences, Watson, are elementary’!!

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

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You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running.

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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Sir Berkeley goes on holiday

sirberkeleyeasttansadd

Sir Berkeley, seems an incongruous name for a contractor’s engine, built by Manning Wardle at their Boyne works in Leeds, and used, for some time, in the building of the Great Central Railway around Nottingham. Sir Berkeley should not be confused with Earl Berkeley bits of which ended up in the Ex-GWR ‘Dukedog’ 4-4-0 No.3217. I’m not a big fan of titles and ‘nobility’, they frequently cover up a multitude of sins and sociopathic behaviour ranging from merciless greed to the outer reaches of cant and hypocrisy.

Anyway, moving swiftly on – spent a few weeks studying a chap called Berkeley, in my undergraduate days at Leeds. George Berkeley, more usually known as Bishop Berkeley, was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, on the 12th March 1685 making this year, 2015, the 330 anniversary of his birth. Berkeley was more philosopher than Bishop, though he was the Bishop of Cloyne. Old George had some rather whacky views on perception and its relationship to the nature of life, the universe, and everything in it – I won’t tire you with the details.

In many respects Berkeley was a fairly obscure philosopher but, through his influence on others, his teachings had far reaching consequences. He left a lasting impression in the USA where his educational work and ideas influenced the men who wrote the country’s constitution and his importance is recognised, at one of the country’s most prestigious and radical Universities, Berkeley California, which was named in his honour.

The rather less philosophical Sir Berkeley, in the photograph, was guest engine at one of the Tanfield Railway’s annual galas and is just pulling out of East Tanfield station with a train for Causey Arch and Andrews House.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running.

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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