Dr. Who?

60061ppolly

50 years ago today Dr. Richard Beeching officially resigned as Chairman of  British Railways Board, following Government opposition to his proposals,  he wasn’t missed. The consequences of Beeching’s cuts are still with us today. The Scottish Government have spent huge sums, over the last 5 years and more, to re-open part of the Waverley route, closed in 1969, after Beeching had resigned, though still as a result of his proposals. Few will forget the travel disruption caused by the closure of alternative routes to Cornwall, when part of the only line connecting this area to the rest of the country was severed, at Dawlish, following damage to the sea wall and trackbed.

The examples above are just a couple, drawn from a whole litany of slashed routes, axed services, withdrawn facilities, which, over the years, have been the subject of campaigns to re-open, replace or re-institute them, in various guises. A few narrow gauge and industrial lines excepted, the vast majority of heritage railways simply wouldn’t exist without the ill considered, and poorly executed, programme of closures instigated by the Beeching proposals. This is, quite possibly, the only saving grace in the entire debacle.

Many are the arguments and debates which have raged,  over the 50 years since Beeching walked the plank, I dare say they’ll still be arguing in another 50 years. On balance he should never have been given the post and the outcomes of his appointment were, almost entirely, predictable. The Government wanted to do things which weren’t very palatable, so they employed a bogey, (Beeching), man to do their dirty work for them. Later they used him as a scapegoat to deflect the blame from their own glaring ineptitude in formulating anything even remotely resembling a coherent transport policy, one which benefited the people of Britain; as opposed to entrenched capital, corporate greed, and political shenanigans, particularly that of Tory Minister of Transport, Ernest Marples,  the man who gave Beeching his job..

The photograph shows A3 class 4-6-2 No.60061 Pretty Polly, I think leaving York, for the North – but, as all I have is a black and white print, which has no details on it, I cannot be certain. If anyone recognises this as their photo, please leave details on Steam Age Daydreams Facebook page.

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

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Call attention

75019damems

There’s something about the use of monochrome, which instantly takes you back to the days when even the radio was in black and white. Many of us remember the railways as they were in the 50s and sixties, showing signs of wear and tear, needing a lick of paint, much more in many cases. This is why, even when using black & white images, everyone knows it’s this year not yesteryear. However, there must have been a time, back then, when signal cabins shone, stations gleamed, and pristine locomotives hauled immaculate rolling stock.

Maintaining that shining image, providing passenger and goods services, porters to carry bags, carriage cleaners to wash and to scrub, to sweep and to polish, gangs of engine cleaners keeping the locos impeccable, p-way men  clearing the wrong kind of leaves, maintaining the track, level crossings with crossing keepers and crossing gates, lamp men, ticket collectors, shed labourers, messenger boys – jobs ad infinitum, took numbers – pretty big numbers. In their pomp the railways employed 700,000 plus, in an almost encyclopedic array of occupations and positions.

The fact that in the 50s and 60s stations no longer gleamed,  nor signal cabins shone, were the consequences of a huge de-staffing of the railways, halts and stations became ‘unmanned’, paint peeled and fell off, no one came to do a repaint. Gutters and fall pipes began to leak, the vandalised toilets were sealed up, waiting room fires  burned no longer, grimy engines pulled dirty rolling stock into decrepit platforms. A national asset was allowed to become a national joke – this wasn’t an inevitability, this happened because choices were made, with hindsight, they were the wrong choices, made for the wrong reasons, generally speaking, by the wrong people.

The photograph, a scan from one of my black & white prints, shows BR Class 4 No.75019 rolling into Damems Station, on the K&WVR. If you look closely at the picture the signalman can be seen answering, or calling attention, on the telegraph.

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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It’s not Yorkshire and it’s not a Pullman

1306yorkspull

The Leeds and Bradford business traffic was an important consideration for the Great Northern and later the London & North Eastern Railway. Fast comfortable trains departed Leeds and Bradford to take ‘people’ to ‘town’ in time to do ‘business’ before getting them back to Yorkshire in time for G&Ts. In 1935 the Yorkshire Pullman, which had portions for Halifax, Bradford, and Hull, left Leeds central Station at 11.14am, arriving in Kings Cross at 2.40pm. The down train left Kings Cross at 4.45pm arriving in Leeds at 8.13 pm,  the  Hull portion, which detached at Doncaster,  arrived at 8.15 pm.

One of my old school chums went to work, stewarding, on the Pullmans, when he left school.  I enjoyed a couple of free dinners on the Yorkshire Pullman, traveling back to Leeds to see the folks, when I was working at Nine Elms MPD, during the early 60s, thanks to this particular ‘old school tie’. The Yorkshire Pullman wasn’t the only London – Yorkshire Pullman service, the Spa town of Harrogate had the Harrogate Sunday Pullman, which ran during the 1950s and 60s and included a Bradford portion.  The Queen of Scots, also a Pullman service,  which commenced in May 1928, running between Kings Cross and Glasgow Queen Street also called at Leeds and Harrogate, en route.

The photograph shows B1 class 4-6-0 No.1306, now named Mayflower, sans Pullman coaches, approaching Berwyn Station, on the Llangollen Railway, with a Llangollen – Carrog service, before the new extension to Corwen opened.

Check out Sunday’s post, for a very special anniversary.

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If you enjoy my photos and writing - I'm sure you'd enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running. The links below will take you to it. You can read a sample for free and you don't need a Kindle - there's a free app so you can read it, and view the photos at screen size, on you PC.
http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
or for British readers.
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The Grand Allies

cochtwizzcoal

Rusting iron, paint all but peeled, on the grey hopper wagon, the whole picture reminded me of a snatch of a line from an old folk song, ‘the mining gates closed and the red iron rotted’ and, as one thing leads to another, as it so often does, I got to thinking about music and railways, especially music with explicit railway links, one of which, ‘Johnny Green’s Trip to ‘Owdam to see the Liverpool Railway’, has its origins in the Liverpool & Manchester, which opened in 1830. My guess is, that most of you weren’t around when that one was top of the pops.

The line, or rather part of a line, I quoted, was from the Bob Dylan song ‘North Country Blues’, about a mining community, the closure of the mine and its effects on the inhabitants – most of which will be depressingly familiar to many folk in mining towns in the North of this country too. In the song, the mine had closed because production had moved to South America, where the miners work ‘almost for nothing’ – a trend which still continues, in many other industries.  Dylan’s near contemporaries, The Grateful Dead, rendered a version of the classic American folk song, about an American railroad engineer – engine driver to us Brits – Casey Jones, in which Casey Jones was, ‘driving his train  –  high on Cocaine’   – that South American thing again? Here in Britain, Ewan McColl was rendering the heroics of Driver John Axon, in song, back in 1958. Driver Axon was posthumously awarded the George Cross, for his bravery.

0-4-0ST Sir Cecil Cochrane is being banked by 0-6-0T No. 3 Frizell. and the pair are en route to Sunniside on the Tanfield Railway. Alongside the Tanfield Railway is Causey Arch, an arched bridge, built in 1725 – 6 to carry the Tanfield waggonway, which was part of a network of colliery waggonways operated by the Grand Allies.

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Gas lit, coal fired, steam driven

34027oakworth

A small celebration of the return to action of No.34027 Taw Valley. ‘Taw Valley’ on the Worth Valley, a lirrel bit a darn sarf, oop norf. Not one of the West Countries I worked on frequently, she was a Salisbury engine when I was at Nine Elms, but I did have a few runs with her over the Waterloo –  Salisbury route, during late 63 and early 64. In this photograph, a scan from one of my old black and white prints, No.34027 Taw Valley is rolling into Oakworth Station, home of the ‘Railway Children’ metaphorically speaking.

The siding, to the left of the engine, is the K&WVR’s Oakworth p-way yard which, as well as the piles of sleepers and chairs visible, houses a crane and a small assortment of p-way paraphenalia. Oakworth Station is gas lit and the station rooms are warmed by coal fires – a welcome sight after spending an hour or two trackside on a chilly day. Oakworth isn’t the only station on the line to be gas lit and heated, in winter, by coal fires, the platforms, waiting room and car park at Oxenhope are gas lit. Damems, the smallest station in Britain, once upon a time, is gas lit and enjoys a coal fire in the waiting room,  Ingrow station enjoys a coal fire too. The K&WVR’s gas lit stations, as a whole, form one of the largest gas lighting systems in Britain.

No.34027 Taw Valley, is currently a resident on the Severn Valley Railway and has just re-entered traffic after a full overhaul, so we can expect to see her running for another 10 years, which is nice. I do like my Bulleids and their chifferty-chafferty exhaust beat.

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If you enjoy my photos and writing - I'm sure you'd enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running. The links below will take you to it. You can read a sample for free and you don't need a Kindle - there's a free app so you can read it, and view the photos at screen size, on you PC.
http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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Black Magic

45305maroon

Line, locomotive, rolling stock, livery, all in harmony, the only heads visible those of the footplate crew, this has to be as close as it gets to time travel. No.45305 was one of the Black 5s built for the London Midland & Scottish Railway by Armstrong – Whitworth, in 1936, at their works in Newcastle – upon – Tyne. Armstrong was quite a character and his purpose built home, ‘Cragside’, was the first in the world to be lit by hydro-electric power and the incandescent light bulb, provided by Joseph Swan, in 1880.

Traveling back in time is where the Black Magic comes in. No.45305 had been booked to work a turn on the 15 Guinea Special and cleaned, appropriately, for the role, when she failed with a collapsed brick arch. The fact that No.45305 had been bulled up to take her place in railway folklore, and then fluffed her lines, in the end saved her bacon. Her place was taken by fellow survivor No.45110 and No.45305 was put out to grass at Lostock Hall MPD, her final allocation.

In the same month as the 15 Guinea Special had run, August 1968, No.45305 was sold to A E Draper’s scrap yard in Hull – the owner, Mr. Albert Draper, kept it because, ‘it was the cleanest engine in the yard’, and preserved it as, ‘a memorial to the age of steam’. Over the ensuing 47 years No.45305 has performed on the main line and preserved lines, she is still in active service and, with a recently acquired main line certificate, No.45305 looks set to deliver that old Black 5 magic for some time to come. No.45305 is still owned by the Draper family and is maintained by the 5305 Locomotive Association based at Loughborough on the GCR.

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If you enjoy my photos and writing - I'm sure you'd enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running. The links below will take you to it. You can read a sample for free and you don't need a Kindle - there's a free app so you can read it, and view the photos at screen size, on you PC.
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It was a normal day

4277exgros

Black faced miners, pit head winding gear, colliers and tramp steamers down the docks, all part of life’s rich tapestry, in a normal day for No.4277. The 42xx class were built for short-haul trips from  pit to port their narrow side tanks and prodigious water consumption earned them the nick name, in some parts,  of ‘water carts’. Weighing in at over 81 tons, these hefty 2-8-0Ts were capable of dealing with trains of 1000+ tons, and many of them spent their entire working lives slogging up and down the Welsh valleys, at the heart of the South Wales coal field.

When the railway’s were Nationalised, in 1948, No.4277 was 28 years old and allocated to Duffryn Yard MPD in Port Talbot, in 1955, according to my shed book, No.4277 was based at 86H Aberbeeg working to and from places like Ebbw Vale and Abertillery to Penarth Docks, she was still there in 1960 and was finally withdrawn, from there, in 1964. Like many other preserved locomotives No.4277 went to Woodhams scrap yard in Barry, just a stones throw down the line from Aberbeeg, and spent 22 years ‘resting’ there before being bought privately, for preservation, in 1986.

Following her rescue from Barry, subsequent restoration and overhaul, No.4277 spent some time at the Glouscetershire & Warwickshire Steam Railway as well as visiting other preserved lines before being purchased, in 2008, for service on the Paignton & Dartmouth Railway, where she was given the name Hercules. Now, for 4277, a normal day is sea, sand, and donkeys as she plies between Paignton and Dartmouth. However, in the photograph above, we see No.4277 leaving Grosmont with a service train to Pickering, on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

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On the bright side

48624passsigs

After yesterday’s 100th anniversary piece, on the Quintinshill tragedy, something in a similar, but slightly lighter vein, Black day to Black 8 could be the theme. There are connections, in a strange way, some of the Black 8s were shipped to foreign fields to help the war effort in World War 2, not all of them made it, a dozen or more being ‘lost at sea’. Closer to home, there’s Driver John Axon and his heroic actions on the footplate of 8F No.48188, which won him the George Cross, posthumously, sadly.

Take the 8 ball in a game of pool, and win, take 8 black on the roulette wheel of life’s lottery and who knows what the outcome will be. Those 215 Scottish soldiers, bound for the mud, death, and destruction of the First World War trenches, consumed instead, in a conflagration, not in some Flander’s field, but in a windswept passing loop, on a railway line near Gretna, such are the twists of fate, cruel fate. A roll of the dice, and No.48624 survived, 48625 didn’t – anyway moving on.

In the shiniest of shiny Black liveries, No.48624,  at her first public outing in her new black coat,  after so long in maroon, makes a fine sight in the spring sunshine, as she clears Loughborough’s advance starter. At the opposite end of the train, literally and figuratively, is No.78019, who was making her last Gala appearance before her boiler certificate expires and she takes her place in the overhaul queue.

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If you enjoy my photos and writing - I'm sure you'd enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running. The links below will take you to it. You can read a sample for free and you don't need a Kindle - there's a free app so you can read it, and view the photos at screen size, on you PC.
http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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All at Danger

46521bdgesigs

Signals, ‘do as you’re told because I say so’, exemplified in railway architecture of wood, steel, and coloured glass. Sometimes, however,  signals are false and at Quintinshill, 100 years ago today they were very false signals indeed. One hundred years ago today, the worst rail crash in British Railway history occurred,  on the Caledonian Railway route, between Carlisle and Glasgow, not far from Gretna Green.

The circumstances of the crash cover the whole gamut from gruesome to face palm. 215 soldiers, en-route to the trenches of WWI, were amongst the dead, when the train in which they were they were traveling collided head on with with a train which had been crossed over onto the same track – then, less than sixty seconds later, another express, traveling in the opposite direction, ploughed into the wreckage, setting the whole scene of carnage ablaze: the troop train included wooden framed  stock, which was lit by gas oil.

In addition to the mountain of burning wreckage a certain amount of controversy,  mystery / folklore, surrounds this crash. The event was hushed up in the press, at the time, very little has been said about it since, outside of railway circles. The damage to the troop train was so severe that uncertainty surrounds the exact numbers dead. In some quarters there were mutterings that some men choose to use the crash as a means of avoiding going to the front.

In a scene of unbeliveable destruction, not to mention loss of life, the two signalmen, upon whose shoulders much of the blame was placed, where given a grandstand view, from the signal box, of the entire proceedings.

RIP  all who have lost their lives in railway disasters.

The fine display of signals, is at Loughborough on the Great Central Railway.

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

6100edit

We still have No.46115 Scots Guardsman, but how many of you remember that not all the Scots began their lives carrying regimental names? Engines numbered (4)6125 to (4)6149, were, originally, given the names of older engines, names with a little bit of provenance attached. Provenance wasn’t the only thing which was attached, the nameplates also carried brass plaques, upon which were the etched outlines of the locomotive, whose name had been handed on to the Scot. Thus No.(4)6146 was Jenny Lind, later the Rifle Brigade, No. (4)6126 carried the name of Timothy Hackworth’s entry into the Rainhill trials, Sanspareil, later to become Royal Army Service Corps.

My own personal favourite in this name swapping game, was No.(4)6125 Lancashire Witch which went on to become 3rd Carabinier. The original Lancashire Witch was built by Robert Stephenson for the Bolton & Leigh Railway, she also saw service on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. Lancashire Witch was the first locomotive built by Robert Stephenson, a coke burner with a set of bellows mounted on the tender … different. Fortunately, the Scot which carried this illustrious name, burned coal in a very conventional manner and was a little faster too. The top speed for the Lancashire Witch, original, was 8mph.

No.6100 Royal Scot, aka No.46152The King’s Dragoon Guardsman, is seen here entering ‘pound field’ on the Llangollen Railway. No. 6100 Royal Scot is currently undergoing overhaul and will return to active duty in the not too distant future.

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If you enjoy my photos and writing - I'm sure you'd enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running. The links below will take you to it. You can read a sample for free and you don't need a Kindle - there's a free app so you can read it, and view the photos at screen size, on you PC.
http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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