Not Metroland

metro-no.1

Scanned from an old print, the photograph shows Metropolitan Railway E Class 0-4-4T No.1, along with a pair of matching Metropolitan Railway carriages, in a location, a mill(ion) miles from Home counties suburbia, metaphorically speaking. The building behind the engine is Ingrow Mill, once upon a time it spun fine worsted for natty, city gent’s, suits – today, it’s an apartment building.

No.1 was built at Neasden, in 1896, a location well known to the readers of Private Eye and devotees of the legendary soccer manager Ron Knee, aged 59. The carriages, in No.1’s train, were built either side of WWI, Ingrow worsted mill dates to the 1820s, the first section of the Metropolitan Railway, between Paddington and Farringdon Street, opened to the public in January 1863. The Metropolitan Railway, the first underground railway in the World, was the brain child of Charles Pearson, sadly, Pearson died just months before the railway was opened to the public – one can scarcely imagine London without an Underground.

After the Metropolitan Railway extension opened, (‘Metroland’), in stages between 1869 and 1897, one could take tea with an heiress in St.John’s Wood, before travelling to Aylesbury and enjoying a duck, for supper….. Ilkla moor bhat ‘at ne’er saw ducks the like o’ they in Aylesbury – heiresses were thin on t’ ground an awl. (The actual Ilkley Moor is just a mile or two over the hill, the one closest to the main mill building, that is.)

Metropolitan No.1 is usually resident at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, at Quainton Rd. Station, her two coaches are part of the Vintage Carriage Trust’s collection. The VCT have a museum adjacent to Ingrow Station, on the K&WVR, and a fine collection of other vintage carriages and  associated exhibits, small and large can be found there.

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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Catching the tram

tram-no.1

In late afternoon sunshine, Tram No.1 runs round, at Park Halt, the Southern terminus of the Middleton Railway, in Leeds. Scanned from one of my old colour prints, I almost entitled this piece ‘Belgian Chocolates’, the engine was built by Cockerill of Liege, and it looks like a box, moving on. This tiny little 0-4-0 has a vertical boiler, Walschearts motion and was built by a Nationalised company.

In the late 18th century William Cockerill went to Belgium and set up as a blacksmith and engineer – business boomed, diversified into mining, and a whole lot more, and went bust in the Belgian banking collapse of 1839. To cut a long story short,  Mr. John Cockerill, (founder William’s son, who had taken over the business in 1825), died on the way home, from a trip to raise money, from Czar Nicholas 1st of Russia, to stop the firm collapsing. The Czar wasn’t the only aristocrat in the Cockerill story, until 1839, Cockerill’s business partner was William 1st of the Netherlands.

Cockerill’s was a huge undertaking for the time, employing more than 30,000 people and so, in 1842, the Belgian government stepped in rescued Cockerill’s business and created ‘Société anonyme pour l’Exploitation des Etablissements John Cockerill’ and it was under their jurisdiction, in 1890,  that Tram No. 1 was built.

The Cockerills, who hailed, originally, from Haslingden, were something of a dynasty in Belgium, they built the first Belgian steam locomotive, La Belge, and founded the Banque Belgique – John Cockerill’s statue stands in front of the Town Hall in Seraing, and another, depicting him standing alongside the industrial workers of Belgium,  stands in the Place Du Luxembourg in Brussels.

Sadly, Tram No. 1 is, like John Cockerill’s statue, only a static exhibit  – but one day, one day, maybe – we might catch the tram, running round again!

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

46115insch

If you lived in Leeds in the 50s, you’ll know the Scots were regular performers on the Thames Clyde Express, and the Waverley, the former running non-stop between Leeds and Carlisle. In 1955,  Holbeck MPD 20A,  had nine Scots on the books, including Welsh  and Irish Guardsman, but not No.46115 Scots Guardsman, which was based at 9A Longsight MPD, in Manchester. By 1960 Holbeck had become 55A and the complement of Scots was down to four and, as the swinging sixties began to swing, the  A3s were  turning up on the Waverley.

Speaking of Waverley – later this year we could see steam back on part of the old Waverley route between Edinburgh and Galashiels, which, at great expense, has just about re-opened, a proving train ran on the 8th of June and public services start in September, following driver training and route learning. For the steam fans there are to be a number, unspecified, of steam trips, after the public opening, ‘to gauge passenger interest in a summer service for 2016.’  The interest might be the 8 miles of 1:70 on the climb out of Edinburgh up to Falahill – make a nice debut season for No. 60103 Flying Scotsman – an A3 on the Waverley – how very 1960s!!

The Scot in the photograph, No.46115 Scots Guradsman, is passing Insch golf course, en-route from Aberdeen to Inverness, with one of the series of GB Rail Tours.

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.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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I see no sheeps

54sentinel

In a cameo role, reprising her lifetime in the service of mankind, in Darlington’s Geneva Permanent Way yard, Sentinel VBT, Departemental No.54, rolls towards Moor Road station on the Middleton Railway, in Leeds. Some engines are destined for greatness, others are required only to, do their duty, with as little fuss and as few mechanical breakdowns as the serviceability of their design permits.

Dept.No54 got to where she is today, not by virtue of her association with stars like Hoole, Sparshatt, or Duddington – No.54’s crew could only dream of heading up the Talisman, or racing down Stoke Bank – flat out, No.54 moved at a good trot, 12mph – 15mph, Sentinel claimed she’d  do a whole 21mph. No.54 probably owes her survival to the fact that she remained in active duty until 1961. Purchased, directly out of service, by the Middleton Railway, which had opened, in 1960, No.54, after decades back stage in Geneva Yard, found herself in the unlikely new role of ‘visitor attraction’.

No.54’s stock was on the rise and after her debut season on the Middleton Railway she went on to enjoy roles in Gala performances at other railways around the country. Few who were there, will ever forget her bravura performance, along with the Director’s Saloon, climbing the 1 in 49 between Grosmont and Goathland with aplomb. Nor are they likely to forget her wonderful encore piloting NER 0-6-0 No.2392, with a service train, over the same climb.

No.54, you will be pleased to know, is undergoing restorative therapy and will return to the stage in the near future. Much to the delight of her many admirers – the ‘potting shed’, a she has come to be, affectionately, known, will have a new ten year lease of life, a lick of fresh paint, and some nice new chains to rattle.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/   - with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.
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.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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A note of caution

5199billshake

Blind eye of Yellow fish tail, black newt chevron, fixed distant, short whistle – any more of that and yer barred! Now we’ve got the hideous Shakespeare puns out of the way we come to the issue of headboards. One of my favourite images of our railway, as was, is one taken by R.J.Blenkinsop, in August 1954, of the down Cambrian Coast Express awaiting the right away from Shrewsbury. A small band of trainspotters are standing at the end of the platform, note book in hand, a couple of platelayers are talking, stood in the middle of the tracks, seemingly without a care in the world – and not a hi-vis in sight.

At the head of the train is no shining Manor Class 4-6-0, all gleaming copper and brass, instead, a slightly care worn looking 53xx class, No5395, carries the famous Cambrian Coast headboard, which brings us to No.5199 and The William Shakespeare, alas alack the Wiki knows it not. The William Shakespeare doesn’t make it into Wikipedia’s list of named train services in the UK. Wikipedia’s list does, however, contain a couple of services I’d never heard of before, The Peaks Express, which ran between Manchester and London St.Pancras in 1938 & 1939 only, the Sunny South Express which ran between Liverpool Lime St. and Brighton from 1905 to 1939  and the Carmarthen Bay Express, which ran between Paddington and Tenby, during the 1920s.

Ere I take my leave, one Shakespeare connection was used, by the LNER, to advertise their services between Fife and Forfar. The link, as I’m sure you know, is Macbeth, who, amongst other things, was Thane of Fife and Glamis, which is by Forfar. The image they chose for their poster was of the, ‘weyward sisters’, more commonly know as the three witches. How do I know this, ‘hubble, bubble, toil’, no – the poster is on my wall!!

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/   - with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.
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.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

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Blasting into the past

46229webscan

A cold, frosty, morning on the East Lancshire Railway, and former LMS Coronation Class Pacific No.46229 Duchess of Hamilton, is  approaching Helmshore Road bridge, with a Bury – Rawtenstall service. Like the Royal Scot No.6100 Royal Scot, No.46229 Duchess of Hamilton is another one of those engines who had an identity swap before making a guest appearance in America. No.46229 swapped identities with class mate No.46220 Coronation, for a trip to the USA, and an appearance in the 1939 New York World Trade Fair.

Changing name and number plates, for an appearance in a trade show, is one thing but No. 46229 Duchess of Hamilton has had far more drastic changes during her lifetime. Constructed in 1938, at Crewe, she was the last of the second batch of five, finished in Maroon with gold speed lines, she remained in this form until 1944 when she was repainted in wartime Black. In 1947 her streamlining was removed, she was still in Black but now it was LMS Black. Several more repaints followed in quick succession, first into the BR Blue livery and then into Brunswick Green. In 1957 the semi-streamlined smokebox was replaced by a round one and in 1958 No.46229 Duchess of Hamilton went back into Maroon and remained that way until withdrawn. Now entombed in the National Railway Museum, No.46229 is, once again, finished in maroon, with gold speed lines and all her streamlining is back in place.

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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A mountain to climb

70013&61994drumpass

Against the collar, storming the bank, digging in for the climb, cliches, you can hear them from away off, Hemerdon, Ais Gill, Whiteball, still with us, others are just exhaust notes, echoing in the wind, Falahill, Whitrope, and Masbury. Bleak Scottish mountain sides, the moors and wild places of South Devon, mere back drops for legendary exploits, making up  lost time,  struggling with poor coal and a steam shy engine, pick the ingredients mix your own tale; six late off Newton Abbot, Dainton ahead.

You tried to imagine yourself, there, on the footplate, hand on the regulator, a steely gaze on the road ahead, as the rockets flew and the fireman shoveled. Then the gradient begins to bite and you drop the  reverser from 25% to 30%, the barking is louder now and you’re keeping an eye on the pressure gauge and the gauge glass, they’re holding up well, but speed is still slowly falling, 1 in 36 is heavy work. Around about this point some droning teacher would say ‘what did I just say lad’ – ‘ get some more rock on Tommy, there’s two more miles of this’, was the wrong answer. I was swiftly moved from railway lines to writing lines, ‘I must pay attention in class’ X 100.

The photograph was taken on the south bound climb of Druimauchdar and No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, piloting No.61994 The Great Marquess, is close to the summit, the highest on any of Britain’s main line routes at 1484ft.

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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A wave in passing

48624&78019blkwhtsaddJust like the old days, the crew on No.78019 exchange a friendly wave with their counterparts on No.48624, as she scurries south with a rake of mineral empties. Just like the locomotives they worked on, footplatemen come in all shapes and sizes, some jocular others dour, some good, some less so. For every one who gave his time to the MIC classes there was another who gave his time to beer glasses, some were gentlemen in every sense of the word, others were of a rougher hew.

No matter what their characters or foibles were, the reality is that their working lives have been subject to more literary endeavour than any other blue collar job you can think of – why? In 1963, when I was working in and out of Waterloo everyday – passengers didn’t even glance in your direction, to all intents and purposes the footplate crew were anonymous. The depot I was working at, 70 A Nine Elms, suffered regular staff shortages and rest day working was the norm. Things were so stretched, at times, that crew were borrowed from other depots, firemen especially. In swinging sixties London, young lads didn’t want dirty, demanding, work, with shifts which started or finished at every minute on the clock face.

In other parts of Britain things were very different, I often recall the looks on the faces of the Exmouth Jct. men, when we relieved them at Salisbury, the firemen were years old than my driver – men in their forties were still on the shovel, promotion for them was the time honoured dead men’s boots, it really was a ‘job for life’ – well that was how it seemed. Then came the redundancy and closure notices and the tidal wave of modernity swept lines away, turned sheds into supermarkets, and forged the dustbin of history from once handsome engines.

The location in the photograph is 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

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Disc Jockey

662fireboy

Hi there pop pickers’ – not quite the engine you’d expect to see on Don Lang’s 6.05 special, and those discs don’t look playable to me, Jukebox Jury would definitely have voted them a, ‘Miss’. The young fireman, oblivious to my presence, has got the blues and grease top off to a tee, he could have stepped straight out of the age of Juke Box Jury and Beatlemania. Preservation needs young lads like these if it is to carry on for another 50 years and more.

Former Pop impresario, Pete Waterman, has put his money where his mouth is, to support apprenticeships in the heritage railway industry, by selling part of his renowned collection of scale model, live steam, locomotives, at auction, to pay for them. Jools Holland, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, and Roger Daltry, are all, apparently, railway modellers, whose records have taken many a spin, on the DJs turntable.  Meanwhile down at Eastleigh, Lottery money is helping to fund apprenticeships on the project to return No.35005 Canadian Pacific to operational status, and there are, undoubtedly, other schemes and apprenticeships out there too, all of which is good news for the future of our railway heritage.

A1X Class 0-6-0T No.662 is photographed alongside Toddington signal box, on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Steam Railway, as she made her way to the station. Later she would work engine and brake to Cheltenham, giving a brake van ride to the lucky few at the front of the queue, for the first come first served tickets.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/   - with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.
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.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
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Drifting

61994gatehouse

One of the joys of railway photography is being able to sit beside a railway line, drifting back to those days when life was steam driven, whiling away the time till the next train appears. In this world of memory, fact, fiction, and romance never have to face reality, the gas bill, the slow moving car park that is the M6, or any of life’s travails, for that matter. In this world the needle on the red line isn’t, ‘any moment now a blood vessel will burst’, but the perfect trip, 3/4’s of a glass and bubbling as you hurtle through Tebay at 90mph and begin the assault on Shap, no stopping for a banker.

There’s little not to like about spending a day in the countryside, on a cool, but sunny, day watching the trains roll by. Away from the hubbub of the daily grind, the cctv, mind the gap, stand clear of the platform – a chance to slow the pace down. Not 15 minutes of fame but 15 minutes of privacy, a little oasis of peace and solitude beside a branch line in some bucolic bit of rural Britain, a rare treat in an all connected, wired up, on message, rolling news,  txt spk wrld.

In the distance a whistle, you check the settings, fire a test shot, now you can here the exhaust beat, steam on the horizon, and then, all too quickly, the whole event has rolled on, back to the reverie till that next whistle – maybe it’s not so different after all.

In the photograph, No.61994 The Great Marquess drifts past the the Crossing Keepers cottage, at the top of Eardington Bank, with a Bridgnorth – Kidderminster train, on the Severn Valley Railway.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/   - with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.
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.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

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