Diminutive

martellosigs

Diminutive A1X Class 0-6-0, No.662, (formerly named Martello), trundles away from Winchcombe, engine and brake, to Cheltenham (Racecourse) Station, on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway. There are certain words and phrases, words like diminutive, sidling, trundling, hammering, or phrases such as, blasting away from / storming out of, slogging over, a full head of steam, or, the journey was marred by a badly hunting bogie –  easily misinterpreted, which make up the railway enthusiast lexicon in those wonderful old books, and monthly magazines, full of black and white photographs of the way it was.

Today these same books and magazines are ‘Nostalgia’ – on sale on eBay, Amazon, and at heritage railway book shops and stalls, the rarer ones fetching many times their original cover price. The language in them is almost as black and white as the photographs, all proper and grammar schoolboy – innit. Don’t get me wrong, my bookshelves are full of these books, some I’ve owned since the 1950s, others acquired from e-Bay and the like.  The words and phrases are a sort of shorthand,  when we read ‘trundling down the branch’ or ‘slogging over Shap’, we can see the picture, the noise, the full head of steam, the Tebay banker pushing. Cut to today and Shap is flattened, leccies just swish up and down at line speed, no pounding roar from the chimney top, no sweating fireman heaving coal, just a different name and livery every couple of years, like re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

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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Windswept & Interesting

62005glenbend2

This is the scene a mile out of Glenfinnan Station, no Harry Potter fans lining the hill side here. I was standing,  at the side of the West Highland line, on the ‘Road to the Isles’, as a steady drizzle fell, grey skies as far as the eye could see – reminding myself I was on holiday!!

Despite the wet rails, gradients and curves, the K1, No.62005, didn’t miss a beat, it would also be fair to say that she was being driven along with some gusto – a fine piece of enginemanship, the start out of Glenfinnan Station is on a 1:52, and it’s a five mile climb to the summit on gradients varying between 1:122 / 1:355. The little white feather from the safety valves suggests the fireman had her well on the boil too.

Opened to carry train loads of herring, the West Highland line became known for the beauty of the scenery en-route, which is, perhaps, just as well, for the fish trains stopped running long ago – not even a faint whiff on the breeze remains. Now the reason for the line’s existence is tourism; the heroic tragedy of the Jacobite uprising, the international fame of J.K.Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ and the romance of a steam train ride from the foot of Ben Nevis, along the shores of Loch Eil and Loch Eilt, past Morar’s white sands to the ferry – ‘over the sea to Skye’.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/   - with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.
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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Unguarded moments

ballastsadd

Just over 50 years ago,  in the spring and summer of 1965, the electrification of the former London & South Western Railway Waterloo – Weymouth route was well under way and Nine Elms crew, I was a fireman there, got their share of the ballast train workings when this was going on. Ballast train jobs could be a bit of a doddle, or 12 hours of move, stop, move, stop, move, well you get the picture. On the doddle jobs, you could often get a couple of hours kip, a bacon buttie and a cuppa in the P-Way mess van – all on overtime and often at Sunday rates … double bubble.

The odd thing was, as the grand ‘modernisation’ scheme progressed and that 3rd rail went down, the more apparent it became that it meant the end of steam traction; and that we firemen were working ourselves out of a job. 30 Years later, my old pal Walter Hobson, by then a driver trainer at Gateshead, was road learning Edinburgh & Glasgow to Inverness, the Inverness drivers with whom he was learning the road, would lose their work, once enough of the Gateshead men signed the road.  This must, no make that was, an uncomfortable situation for all concerned. Not that railway management have ever given a fig over the well being of their employees, for most of the time they were treated little better than cattle.

In the photograph Ex-GWR 2-8-0 No.2807 is approaching Quorn & Woodhouse with a ballast working to Rothley Brook sidings during one the of Great Central Railway’s Galas. The ‘unguarded moments’ – well, may I suggest you take a close look at the guard, in the rear brake van, that’s all I’m saying on the matter.

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.

 

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Holiday Special

9017book

School’s out – and it’s time for the Hols, a week at the sea side catching crabs, riding donkeys, building castles, made of sand.  This year we’re going to see the Harry Potter train on ‘concrete’ Bob’s bridge – Ooooh! goody.

It’s been a very interesting experience writing 300ish words, every single day since the middle of December. Today, almost 8 months in,  30,000+ visits to the page,  have come from 102 different countries, Albania to Zimbabwe, Nepal to Kazakhstan – I wondered what it would have been like to have all those visitors, sitting around, at the same time, and place, while being shown photographs and read to. That’s the thing about cyberland, in cyberland we really could, with a little bit of prior organisation, have everyone sitting, with web access, and doing just that – in real life this would be way too time consuming, and in many instances, financially or physically impossible.

Anyway, back to the real world, in which steam age daydreams really is going on holiday and, therefore, this will be the last edition for a couple of weeks. There are around 290 posts in total, so you can always check out some of the things in the archive, that you might have missed.

‘Normal service will be resumed shortly’.

If you really can’t wait, you can always get a copy of Gricing, 37,000 words and 100+ photos – might keep you going till we get back!! The link to it is below.

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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Bike, pissoir, milk churn – Thomas meets Dada

1501bewdlocobike

Almost, but not quite, three random objects, thought Thomas, I wonder what Marcel would make of it all. Thomas’ old mate, Marcel,  had a thing about urinals and randomness, then there’s that odd upside down bucket – what was that all about. This is turning out to be a very strange day, thought Thomas. Maybe the bike belongs to the milk maid,  Thomas mused, it was a ladies bicycle, after all, and there was that milk churn; but where was she? The only figure Thomas could see was, Mr Twiddle, the fitter, marching briskly towards him, surely the milk maid wouldn’t be in the pissoir, would she – the sign clearly read Gentlemen.

Then there was the slightly worrying fact that the flap on the milk maid’s saddle bag was open and the back tyre looked a little flat, had something happened? Things always happened to Thomas; and why was Mr. Twiddle heading his way? Thomas thought about trying to whistle, nonchalantly, and a little wisp of steam drifted skywards.

It’s always like this, thought Thomas, when I have to deal with those troublesome trucks. Thomas was booked for the Bewdley – Highley goods – Thomas didn’t like trucks but, he loved making them clatter,  rattle, and squeal. The trucks didn’t like Thomas very much either and so to get their own back they’d run their axleboxes hot and have him kept in the loop for ages.

Me, oh!, I’ve been out of the loop, if not actually loopy for years now, the only notice I ever got – had redundancy in front of it. There’s always Sodor I thought …….

The photo shows ExBR 0-6-0T No1501 in the loco yard at Bewdley, the pissoir came from Scotland, I believe, the origins of the bicycle and milk churn are unknown, as are the whereabouts of the milk maid!!

For anyone who is interested, more can be found, about the Dadaists, by clicking on the word ‘Marcel’, highlighted in green.

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 Spotlight Kid

92214beckhole

This little circle of light, is at Beck Hole on the North Yorkshire Moors railway, and is visible from the little bridge which crosses the line here. When the trees are in full fig, the illuminated area is  fractionally more than an engine length, on a cooler day there’s usually some nice exhaust too, as the engine is working quite hard, on a tight bend, and steep gradient. The engine emerges from a tunnel of green leaves bursts into the light before diving under the road way and into the gloom of a short cutting – not so much fifteen minutes as fifteen seconds of fame.

At this point in her existence No.92214 was carrying the name, Cock O’ the North, the traditional epithet for the Chief of the Clan Gordon, and a name carried by the LNER Class P2 2-8-2 No.2001.  Currently a brand new P2 is under construction, just one of a number of projects building new locomotives, all of which will, no doubt, enjoy their fifteen minutes as Cock O’ the Walk, when they enter service.

Funny thing about those ‘fifteen minutes of fame’, your moment in the spotlight, blink and you missed it, is that when Andy Warhol talked about 15 minutes of fame, screen printed soup cans and Marylin Monroe, there was no Internet, no WWW, no Youtube, Twitter, or Facebook, even mass surveillance was still in its infancy. More recently someone, I forget who, expressed the view that ‘in the future we will want fifteen minutes of privacy’. Judging by the available evidence he might well have a point.

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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All the 5s 55

45407&44871Dunkeld

In that great cosmic bingo game of life some numbers are up, whilst others await the cry ‘full house’. In the slightly less cosmic bingo game of which locos made it and which didn’t, when the Grim Reaper came, not with a scythe, but a gas axe, has been the subject of much lamentation, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.  In some cases scattered bits of DNA have been pooled and cloned to grow missing gaps in the record, in others, ancient plans and runes have been read, incantations raised, and nut by bolt, drag box by valve rod, new machines have been raised from the dead.

In my own small way I too am involved in this process, as a supporter, and member of the 82045 Locomotive Trust. All the original BR 82xxx Class ended up in fridges, washing machines, and your car, so a new one is being built, at Bridgnorth, on the Severn Valley Railway. The 82xxx were hardly ‘stars’ not like a Brighton Atlantic, A1 or Patriot, but in almost every other respect they are the perfect Heritage Railway locomotive, easy to fire, reasonably weather proof cabs for all that bunker first running and an awful lot of fun when you open them out a bit.

In the 60s we raced Juicers out of Waterloo with 10,11, or 12 coaches, empty stock to Clapham carriage sidings, that made them bark. We had them on the ‘Kenny Belle’, a special train which ran between Clapham Junction Station and Kensington Olympia, just for the workers at the big GPO sorting office – bit of a hump away from Kenny up to Clapham and we made them chatter, just for the hell of it.

The photograph, taken just north of Inver tunnel on the Highland main line, near Dunkeld, shows Ian Riley’s Black 5s No.45407 and 44871, with their support coaches, passing the 55mph speed restriction, as they make their way to Inverness, for a rail tour working.

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

Please like & share:
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