Old school, you push I’ll pull

385MR

If ever a line was ‘ the wrong side of the tracks’ it’s the Middleton Railway. There’s something rather obtuse about a city, with a  locomotive building, and railway pioneering,  pedigree second to none, choosing to ignore one of the most historic pieces of railway in the country / world – the first to be sanctioned, as such, by Parliament, in 1758.

If we move on from the claim of being home to the world’s oldest railway, to Leeds’ locomotive building credentials, there are some equally important historic and pioneering companies, along with the attendant engineers. David Joy was one such engineer – Joy, along with his boss at the Railway Foundry, James Fenton, designed ‘Jenny Lind’ for the London Brighton Railway, whilst working for Shepherd & Todd, who were successors to Todd, Kitson Laird. However, The names most people will know and recognise are those of the Hunslet Engine Co., Manning Wardle, Hudswell Clarke, and Fowler. Locomotives built by these companies, worked on railways of all gauges, in countries around the globe, in Asian jungles, African deserts and Caribbean plantations, little plates carried the legend ‘Built in Leeds’.

The old school bit is that, at Grammar school, I was allocated to ‘Murray’ house. Murray and Blenkinsop built the steam locomotives which were operating, commercially, on the Middleton Railway, aka Charles Brandlings’ Colliery Railway, in 1812. The large white tower in the left background of the picture is Leeds University and students and staff from there helped to save the Middleton from extinction in 1960 – they even (re)opened  the line before the, ‘much more well known’ Bluebell Railway, who claim to be the first Standard gauge line in preservation.

The picture, a scan from one of my old colour photographs, shows Hartmann 0-4-0WTNo.385  – this engine isn’t from Leeds – it was built by a German company and worked in Denmark, however, the little 0-4-0ST  banking, and making all the smoke, is Leeds built. The banking engine is Mirvale, a 1955 vintage 0-4-0ST from Hudswell Clarke, delivered, new, to the Mirvale Chemical Company, in Mirfield, where she worked until 1964.

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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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Chocolate rations

2857teaksedit

Impeccably turned out GWR 2-8-0, No.2857, gets the hammer down as she accelerates away, alongside Northwood Lane, from a stop at Northwood Halt. I do like the red ‘express’ lamps, and you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you, ‘she sounded wonderful’.

I remember chatting with another photographer, line side, one day, about nostalgia. He was of the opinion, so far as I could tell, that nostalgia needed to be served up ‘rose tinted’ – everyone knew that there were warts and that life really could be nasty, brutish, and short, and they didn’t want to be reminded of that. The past should be a nice, safe, secure, place to escape into, when the trials and tribulations, of life in late consumer capitalism, become one life style choice too many.

The choice of ‘Chocolate rations’, in the title, is an oblique reference to George Orwell’s ‘1984’, in which there’s a constant reference to increases in chocolate rations, though no actual increase is taking place. The landscape No.2857 is traveling across, is shot through with creamy and chocolatey tones, but there’s no ‘actual’ chocolate and cream rolling stock to truly complete the ‘rose tinted’ nostalgic version of the chocolate and cream Great Western Railway in its pomp.

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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Clanking on the banking

90733b&crake

Many moons ago, when 90733 was being put together from Swedish State Reserve loco No. 1931, I wrote a short article, in the now defunct Steam Railway News, to help raise the profile and bring in funds and support, so it was particularly pleasing to see her in the unaccustomed setting of Eardington Bank on the Severn Valley Railway.

Known, affectionately, by a number of epithets Dub Dees or ‘Austerities’ to name just two, I like to think of them as austere-ities. The tender looks as though it was hacked straight out of the main seam at Blidworth  – and the locomotive as a whole lacks any form of adornment  – the impression these engines evoke is of an almost brutal modernism, sparse, form determined by function – as utilitarian as Jeremy Bentham.

The tender water gauge on the WD is the very essence of form and function, a metal tube, shaped like a walking stick, is drilled with a series of small holes and attached by a pipe to the tender. When opened the water gauge lets a trickle of water out of each hole and thus you could determine the level of water, still in the tender, by how far up the walking stick water leaked from the drilled holes. Basic, yes, effective, well sort of. Water, metal tubes, and the metal moth sets to work.

This is what happened to me, on one turn of duty, on a less than well maintained ‘clank’. I needed to check the water level – turned the walking stick, which promptly sheared, about two inches above the connecting pipe to the tender. Result, spout of water is now gushing up the, broken, 2 inch stub of tube and I’m getting wet … mmm! Repair, whilst still trundling along, was copious use of the coal pick to mash over the remaining bit of pipe until the spout became a dribble. Ahhh! –  the good olde days!

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Puffin’ ‘n’ pantin’

1450&L92

14xx Class No.1450 is piloting GWR 57xx Class 0-6-0PT No L 92, formerly GWR No.5786, with the first train, south bound, at the beginning of the SVR’s 50th Anniversary, Spring Gala, it was a spring day, and a barely an hour before this photograph was taken, there had been a solar eclipse – omens and portents in the month of March, and all for my first day line side, this year,  bit special all round really.

The slightly unusual pairing is made a little moreso, by the knowledge, that  neither engine went to that ‘great scarp yard in Wales’, Woodhams.  No.L92 /5786 survived on London Transport until 1971, when she was withdrawn from Neasden LT depot. No.1450, on the other hand, was withdrawn from Exmouth Junction MPD in 1965 and purchased directly ‘out of service’ and transferred to what was then, the Dart Valley Railway, today’s South Devon Railway.

What the Exmouth Junction men thought about being given ‘Great Western’ engines to work with could, quite possibly, be unrepeatable in polite society. No. 1450 spent the majority of her working life around Oxford and Slough, followed by a spell at Taunton, before finally changing allegiance and going all Southern Railway on the Axminster – Lyme Regis branch.

Sister engine, No.1401, was used in the film The Titfield Thunderbolt and her crew, from Westbury depot, Driver Ted Burbidge and Fireman Frank Green,  were both given speaking parts and credited in the titles, as was the Guard Harold Alford.

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No.813 & the Arley Goods

813trip

The words ‘plucky survivor ‘ could have been invented for this engine. Despite the obvious Great Western hallmarks of copper and brass, No.813 was built, originally, by Hudswell Clarke, of Leeds, for the Port Talbot Railway & Docks Company, in 1901. No. 813 was ‘Swindonised’ after being absorbed into GWR stock when the PTR&D Co., was first, (from 1908), in cahoots with, and following the Railway Act of 1921, amalgamated into the GWR.

In a clear out of ‘non-standard’ GWR stock, No.813 was deemed surplus to requirements and was sold, in 1933, to Robert Stephenson  & Co. of Newcastle. Stephenson’s gave her a bit of a make over and sold No. 813 to Backworth Colliery Ltd. where No. 813 became BCR No. 12. In 1947 BCR No.12, formerly GWR No. 813, was renumbered NCB 11 and entered service with the newly created National Coal Board, still on the former Backworth Colliery Railway system, where she had been since 1934.  A new boiler and and then a  new firebox kept NCB No. 11 soldiering on, at Backworth,  until 1966, when the NCB decided it was time for No.11 to seek pastures new.

Once again No.813 / NCB 11 was ‘for sale’, but with the future for steam traction, withing the mining or contracting industries, looking less than rosy that  great scrap yard in the sky beckoned, until, that is, a dedicated bunch of railway enthusiasts the, ‘GWR 813 Preservation Fund’ stepped in and took No.813 to the newly opened Severn Valley Railway. The rest, as they say, is history, which you can find out more of from the link to GWR 813, above.

In this photograph No.813, with head lamps still lit, plods into the platform at Arley Station, with an early morning, demonstration, freight working from Bewdley.

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Heavy Freight

2807blkwhtNo.2807, Ex-works following a heavy general overhaul, is on a running in turn with, a lightly loaded, Gloucester – Swindon goods, near Chalford, in September 1947. Well, that’s the make believe – it’s actually Darnholme on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in 2014 and No.2807 was making a guest appearance at the Autumn Gala.

One hundred years earlier, in 1914, No.2807 was making guest appearances of a very different kind, in Lancashire. During WWI, from her base in south Wales, No.2807 was put to work hauling the ‘Jellicoe Specials‘, from Aberdare and Pontypool via Woofferton, Craven Arms, and Shrewsbury to Warrington. The Jellicoe Specials were part of a non-stop, round the clock, effort to supply steam coal, to the British Navy, in Scapa Flow on Orkney – a job to which the term, ‘heavy freight’, applied in full. The demands on the crew were no less than those on the locomotives and the miners, whose efforts, deep underground, were consumed by ship and loco alike.

In less bellicose times, No.2807 is usually to be found at work on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway at Toddington, a line she worked over regularly during her life time with British Railways, when she was allocated to Worcester in 1951, where she remained for much of the 50s, before spells at Pontypool Road, Ebbw Junction,  Newton Abbott and, finally, at Severn Tunnel Junction, from where she was withdrawn, in March 1963. No.2807 will be 110 years old this year.

For those of you who asked:

The printed edition of “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children” – is now on sale.

Below, is the link to it.

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

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50 years gold

5690passlight

Assuming the solar eclipse hasn’t trashed all forms of digital communications, I jest, you’ll be reading  this and I will be at the Severn Valley Railway’s 50th Anniversary Spring Gala. A photo of a Jubilee, one of which was named, ‘Silver Jubilee’, to celebrate  the  Silver Jubilee, of George V, in 1935, seems quite appropriate. The decision to name a locomotive in honour of the King’s Jubilee, later involved the well worn railway subterfuge of  swapping identities. The original engine named ‘Silver Jubilee’ was  No.5642, but the decision was made to have the ‘first’ loco in the class carry this name and and so  No.5642 became No5552 Silver Jubilee and No.5552 became No.5642 Boscawen and the ‘Jubilees’ were born.

So far as I know, No.5690 Leander hasn’t been involved in any surreptitious name swapping, but it is a racing certainty she’ll have swapped boilers, with others in her class, during major overhauls. Following a recent heavy overhaul LMS No5690 Leander has been painted in a lined Black livery and put to work doing what she did a thousand times before, working over Shap or the Settle – Carlisle line on services such as the Fellsman or the Waverley. However, we see her here, on the Severn Valley Railway, about a quarter of a mile from the entrance to Foley Park Tunnel, gold letters and numbers beautifully lit in the early morning autumn sun.

When I was an engine cleaner, at 55C Farnley Junction, one of the allocation of Jubilees was No.45581 Bihar & Orissa, for some reason she was a paler shade of green than her class mates, and the only engine, I know of, ever to receive a Christmas card, sent to the depot addressed to her and the crew who worked on her.

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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Shadows of the GWR

6695shadows

I have no doubt we all have our photographic heroes, be it the Reverend Eric Treacy, Colin Gifford, Gavin Morrison, or, as in my case, R.J.Blenkinsop and in particular the compilation of his photographs in ‘Shadows of the GWR’. His black and white images from the 1950s were my film noire, set in a landscape of cuttings and tunnels, signal gantries and bridges, were Castles and Kings, maids of all work, Grange,  Hall, and County. An industrial city in northern England, in the mid-1950s, was a million miles away from ‘The Cornish Riviera Express’,  Devon banks, and Sonning Cutting.

The shadows are all that’s left today, a ghostly No.5029 Nunney Castle whispers by on a trip from London to Bristol and back, or maybe it’s No 4965 Rood Ashton Hall ‘fretting her hour’ en route  to Stratford – upon – Avon, with a Shakespeare Express. We close one eye and make believe, until the next weekend, when another ghostly echo reminds us what has passed  – No 5051 Earl Bathurst with the Torbay Express storming those Devon banks, just one more time, once more.

The shadows in this scene are the ‘gallery’, people, like myself, standing by a railway line, beside the river Severn, at Hampton Loade, watching the trains go by and taking their picture – it’s good to have a hobby. I’ve stood here watching fishermen fish – at least we know we’ll get a bite – even if we can’t take it home and cook it for tea!

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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Shunting with the Pug

pugshunt

Yesterday’s post was about an 0-4-0ST with connections to Durham miners,  a black sheep in the Lambton family, and Beamish. Today’s 0-4-0ST has connections of a different kind – hanging around on the side of docks or loitering in factory sidings was what the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway built them for – and from 1891 until 1964 that is what members of this class did, in Goole, Hull, Liverpool, and Salford. Post Nationalisation they searched out new docks and wharves to ply their trade, in Swansea, Bristol and Bangor.

Affectionately known to many as ‘Pugs’, these are such chumbly little engines that I have a model of one, made from coal, on the shelf next to my desk. In the photograph, a scan from one of my slides, No.51218 is dragging the former Metropolitan Railway coaches out of the sidings alongside the Vintage Carriages Trust Museum at Ingrow. Unlike the other surviving Pug L&YR No.19, which was sold on by the LMSR in 1931, No.51218 remained in, LMS and British Railways service until 1964, when she was withdrawn, from her final allocation to 87A Neath MPD, before being sold and moved to the K&WVR in 1965.

Currently in the queue for overhaul, at Haworth Works, hopefully it won’t be too long before she is, once again, rattling up and down the line at the K&WVR.

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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Down among the weeds

sircecempties1

Sir Cecil A Cochrane was a latter day coal Baron, being either the Director or Chairman of a number of collieries including, Blackwell, Newbiggin, and Bolsover, he was also Director of the Consett Iron Co.. Between 1916 and 1918 he was MP for South Shields and received his Knighthood in 1933 – not even Google seems to know why he was knighted, though it does tell you that an engine was named after him, and can be seen on the Tanfield Railway – and here he / she is. An 0-4-0ST built by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn in 1948 she was supplied new to Newcastle upon Tyne & Gateshead Gas Co, Redheugh Gas Works, Gateshead.

Banking the train is another RSH locomotive, Twizell No.3, an 0-6-0T built in 1891 for service on the Beamish colliery system, owned by James Joicey, he of the Lambton, Hetton and Joicey Colliery Railway fame. The LH&JC Co. owned 22 pits in the Tanfield  / Beamish district and employed more than 20,000 people in these undertakings, in 1925. It is, perhaps, just as well that the Tanfield Railway chose not to name Twizell No. 3 “Lambton”  one of whom caused something of a scandal back in 1973. The second son of the 5th Earl of Durham, the late Anthony Claude Frederick Lambton,  was photographed, … ‘in bed with two prostitutes while smoking marijuana. When interviewed afterwards by Robin Day, he claimed he had often used “whores for sex” because “people sometimes like variety.’  Edward Pearce, Guardian, 02/01/2007.

Variety, they say, is the spice of life and his Lordship does appear to have taken that very much to heart, he certainly seems to have enjoyed a spicy life, if not a steamy one!!

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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