When is a castle not a castle?

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The God’s Wonderful Railway line is at Moorthorpe, in God’s green acres, the locomotive, the Great Western Railway 4073 Castle Class 4-6-0, No.5043, is named Earl of Mount Edgecumbe, which, I’m sure, most of you knew. The title Earl of Mount Edgecumbe was bestowed upon the III Baron Edgecumbe in 1789, the same year the French began lopping the heads off their aristocrats. One of the more interesting titles / posts the Earl held was, Captain of the Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners, a post created in the 16th Century and first held by the Earl of Essex, from 1509 to 1539. Five centuries later the title is still going strong and one of the duties of the holder is  to act as Chief Whip in the House of Lords.

Thing is, No.5043 Earl of Mount Edgecumbe did actually start her life as a ‘castle’, originally, she was No.5043 Barbury Castle, only becoming Earl of Mount Edgecumbe, in September 1937, 18 months after entering service, during March 1936. His Lordship was a director of the GWR and No.5043 wasn’t the only name swapped castle, Nos.5043 to 5063 inc. were given the names of Earls and No.5095 became the new Barbury Castle.  Another batch, originally named after castles, were given the names of fighter aircraft, Nos. 5071 to 5082 inc. Some castles were never called castle in the first place 9 were Abbeys, No.5069 was IKB, No.5070 Sir Daniel Gooch, No.7017 GJ Churchwrd,  No.5086 was Viscount Horne, from new, as were No.7000 Viscount Portal and No.7037 Swindon.

If all that wasn’t enough, in 1952, No.4082 Windsor Castle swapped names and numbers with No.7013 Bristol Castle and the change became permanent. Ogmore Castle was affixed to Nos.5056, 5080, 7007 and 7035. Just so they don’t feel left out in all this swapping No.7001 Denbigh Castle became Sir James Milne and No.7007 Great Western.

No.5043 Earl of Mount Edgecumbe was working the Tyseley – York Christmas trip, a working she has done several times over the past few years.

For those of you who might be interested  – my Latest book, Steam Age Daydreams ‘Railway Tales’ is  out now.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Railway-Tales-David-Wilson-BA/dp/151705477X

Below 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

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Rose Bay Willow Herb

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In an odd sort of way this reminded me of the old  Blood & Custard livery, but then I thought – nah! – this is a different world now. Today, the coaches are full of customers, not passengers, clutching ‘Supersaver’, ‘away day’, buy online,  tickets to nowhere, riding the franchised alphabetti-spaghetti, corporate logoed, same old stock with a fresh coat of paint, that is our (un)-national railway, this bit of which is somewhere near Bannockburn.

The railway network isn’t what it was either – bits of it German bits of it Dutch, rented coaches, rented track, everything’s gone all ticketey tack, ticketey tock was sold off years ago.  Virgin and Schenker, Midland Mainline, Porterbrook Leasing, sell APT, buy Pendolino back, so many gravy trains, so little time kept.

Liveries of every hue and stripe, ergonomic seats, customer announcements, CCTV, ‘mind the gap’ – between the brochure and the real. Ticketing arrangements twinned with astrophysics, more frustrating than a Rubic’s cube, their primary function to fill the gravy boats, on the gravy train, mint sauce too – lambs to the slaughter – BR bad, this mess good?

Vanity projects, leaves on the line, over-running occupations, blown budgets, price hikes and cancellations – nae bother there’s public relations, spin a few lies, tell a few porkies, change the subject – look at that smoke.

 For those of you who might be interested  – my Latest book, Steam Age Daydreams ‘Railway Tales’ is  out now.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Railway-Tales-David-Wilson-BA/dp/151705477X

Below 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

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A clean bright future?

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The future’s bright – ‘black bright’ by the look of these two lads, enjoying their day on the footplate, in the rain! It is, however, a pleasing sight to see two young lads getting involved, without these new young recruits steam railways wouldn’t have much of a future. Recruiting and retaining volunteers is a regular feature in railway preservation society fliers and promotions, there are ‘volunteer days’ to encourage potential recruits by offering them a peek behind the scenes; giving them some ideas of what they could do to help? Many lines have a dedicated Volunteer Officer / member to deal with recruitment and new volunteers, all of which represents a not inconsiderable amount of time,  effort and, quite possibly, expense.

The photograph is at the Tanfield Railway and these aren’t the only young lads I’ve seen around the place – so they must be doing something right. I’ve been visiting Tanfield for many years now and it’s a line I have a lot of time for. A healthy no frills attitude, plenty of ‘common sense’, and a willingness to let the younger members have a go, is only a part of its charm. Marley Hill engine shed is a gem and the selection of industrial locomotives it houses are a reminder of the pits, power stations, and industrial railways which were swept away to give us the clean bright future of shopping malls, ‘Britain’s got talent’ and Jeremy Kyle.

They’re putting on an evening photo shoot at Marley Hill engine shed, on Friday the 11th of September – I might just stop by!!

For those of you who might be interested  – my Latest book, Steam Age Daydreams ‘Railway Tales’ is  out now.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Railway-Tales-David-Wilson-BA/dp/151705477X

Below 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

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“Only the names have been changed”

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No.43306, in ‘Virgin’ livery hauling a train in ‘East Coast’ colours, is seen here between Inverkeithing and the Forth Bridge, with a train from Aberdeen.

Many years ago now, there was a TV cop show called Dragnet – it involved a chap called Sgt. Joe Friday and, as the credits rolled, a voice intoned ‘the story you are about to see is true, only the names have been changed, to protect the innocent.’ There’s nothing innocent about the name changes in this photograph.

The coaches  in the livery of East Coast, a Government created and publicly owned franchise, a company whose existence was brought about by the failure of the previous franchise holder to fulfill the obligations of their franchise. The engine’s livery, is that of an entirely different kettle of fish. During the days of East Coast, the franchise was making money, for the public purse – this could not be allowed to continue – so – yes you’ve guessed the franchise was let again, this time to non other than the grinning Sir Richard Branson. I say grinning, but really it should be laughing, laughing all the way to the bank, with huge wodges of public dosh to stash. Quite how the public benefit from this mendacious chicanery is difficult, if not impossible, to discover.

The new liveries, of both East Coast and Virgin do little to hide the fact that the train itself, under all those different coats of paint, is actually an antique and the railway that it is running on was built by the Victorians. The rail services in the area local to the photograph are now under Dutch ownership and the track is maintained by a not for profit  company owned by the public. This company is in a huge amount of debt, a great deal of which is the result of a system of penalties for delays which favour the private franchise holders, more public money flowing into private hands….mmmm!

For those of you who may be interested – my new book:

Steam Age Daydreams “Railway Tales” is now on sale on Amazon and below is the link.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Railway-Tales-David-Wilson-BA/dp/151705477X

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Railway Tales

Now on sale on Amazon

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Now on sale – my new book Railway Tales. An account of my time as a footplateman during the final years of steam traction on Britain’s national railway network – and a selection of photos new and old to illustrate the text.

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Sun, steam, and speed!

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Looking every bit the express, No.44767 roars through Damems, at 15mph, with the ‘non-stop’, during a gala weekend on the Worth Valley. When I looked at this photograph I also noticed the ‘electric’ lights and the steam generator on the running plate – Black 5s I worked on never had electric lights, keep on like this and they’ll be retro fitting bucket seats too!

The autumn gala season will soon be upon us and there are some potential gems, No.46100 Royal Scot and the LMS set at the SVR, along with No.70000 Britannia and the teaks; if only they had a set of SR green MkIs for No.34027 Taw Valley!! The branch line event at Llangollen, with little and large prairies and the Jinty 47406, has possibilities too. Shame that Keighley’s plans were thrown into disarray, No.31806 and No.34053 Sir Keith Park would have been interesting guests. In what must surely be a first, the ELR’s ‘Crab’ No.10365, in ‘Crimson Lake’ livery, is appearing at the Mid-Hants Railway Gala, a route I worked over, myself, during my spell at 70A .

Down in deepest Zummerzet it’s all gone a bit GWR, with pair of Halls,  two Manors, a 28xx, and the last gala outing of No.4160 and ‘other guests are being sought’, they say. On the other side of the country the North Norfolk see No.34007 Wadebridge coming to town, along with the perfectly in keeping B1 No.61306 Mayflower.

Couple of local treats to look forward to with No.60009 Union of South Africa on the Fife circle and on the new Borders Railway – the climb to Falahill would seem to be the place to enjoy some chimney chatter on these trips. All we need now is some fair weather and cool air temperatures …mmmmmm!

 My Latest book, Steam Age Daydreams ‘Railway Tales’ is  out now.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Railway-Tales-David-Wilson-BA/dp/151705477X

Below 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

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Railway Tales

newcoversadd

Now on sale on Amazon – my new book Railway Tales. An account of my time as a footplateman during the final years of steam traction on Britain’s national railway network – and a selection of photos new and old to illustrate the text.

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Twice upon a time

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The railway children’s station – Oakworth on the K&WVR and one of the railway children’s engines No.957 a.k.a. the Green Dragon, featured in ‘The Railway Children’. Like ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ and  ‘Mary Poppins’, the Railway Children is one of those movies that gets trotted out at Christmas or when there’s a gap to fill in the usual schedule of dross, Bake Off Bikers on location, location, or Enema Dale and Constipation Street.

A great many of our heritage lines have earned film credits and revenue by catering to television and film makers – and the odd volunteer or two have had walk-on parts as a result. The Railway Children has been performed as a play on the platform at Keighley and on main line stations in London, such is its populist appeal.

On the other hand, I have just had published, a  book, “Gricing”, the subtitle of which is ‘The Real Story of the Railway Children’ – it has nothing to do with Mr.Perks, Jenny Agutter or  ‘old gentlemen’ – rather it is the story of all those lads who hung out on platforms, bridges, and line side fences, bunked sheds, rode the rails on platform tickets and filled combined volumes with underlinings.

Unlike the Railway Children it isn’t a rose tinted, nostalgic, hankering for yesteryear, but a trawl through the railway’s relationship with kids from the 50s and 60s, society, culture, politics, privatisation, and the very idea of ‘Heritage’ – Oh! – and it’s probably just a tad contentious, especially to those of a right wing bent.

This is the cover – and below it a link to Amazon – so now is the time to splash the cash and get yourself a copy – treat yourself to a read which one happy customer described as ‘a page turner, thought provoking and enjoyable’ .

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

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Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children

“Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children” –  a different take on our great railway heritage from someone who has 60 years of railway enthusiasm, work, and experience.

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“Gricing” – 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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Balloons to DMUs

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When you look at this scene and think that everything in it is part, not of the national transport system, but of a tourist and leisure attraction, you begin to realise just what an enormous feat of industrial archeology it is. From the mail van to the trap points, the shunting signal, and the engine lamp – all of it has been rescued, salvaged, saved, resurrected to live another day as a working museum piece.

The recreation of the railway landscape, with the levels of accuracy and attention to detail, that some lines deliver, is phenomenal. Multi-million pound undertakings with assets in land, buildings, rolling stock and much more, yet all of them, to a great or lesser extent, reliant on volunteers, charitable donations, lottery money and public funds from every corner, local and county councils, National government, and the EU in order to have achieved what they have and to continue to do so.

Recently, I published a book about the railways and preservation in which these topics amongst many, many, others are covered in greater detail. Sadly, despite numerous people, on a variety of social media sites, asking if I was going to publish my work, when I did, not one of the folk asking if there would be a book, has bought one. An object lesson in human nature here I think.

There is also a tendency, amongst some people on social media, to assume that because they can comment they can do so in the rudest and most unpleasant manner they can think of. Often their ill judged and intemperate comments, point only to their own levels of ignorance and arrogance, usually both.

To those of you who have enjoyed my words and pictures,  this will be my last posting on social media. However, there is my book, if you want to read my collected thoughts on 60 years of railway involvement, at many different levels, and enjoy a hundred or so of my photographs. I will continue to add new bits and bobs to Steam Age Daydreams, so check in from time to time for new articles, photos, etc.

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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