Steam to spare

45305bdgeIt would be easy to imagine that No.45305 was travelling at some speed as she bursts out from under the bridge, safety valves roaring, and,  everywhere,  steam billowing. And – that’s the thing about photographing heritage steam operations – it’s really an attempt to time travel. Remember when – well some do, many do not. There are plenty of young faces around the railways who have no experience of what it was like when, practically, all services were steam hauled – how could they, they had all ended before they were born.

Speaking for myself I have 60 years of history with this piece of Britain’s former railway network, having travelled the route, as a boy, on the “South Yorkshireman” between Bradford  and Rugby. I have some history with the Black 5s too – working in their footplate over the Pennines from Leeds via Huddersfield  to Manchester and to Morecambe via Settle, Bentham and Wennington. I cleaned a few too, most of the ones we had at 55C Farnley Junction, were kept clean or cleanish, in 1962, by myself and a couple of other lads – the ‘cleaning’ gang – not as shiny as 45305 tho’!!

Above is the link to Part I of my memories of footplate life in the 1960s. The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway is still  available on Amazon – Below, is the link to that work.

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

Steam Age Daydreams 2019 Calendar is now on sale here’s the link:  https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/302929843008

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics.  They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the existing webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

 

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6990+45305shedIn the ‘green’ corner, ‘not to be moved’, we have the classic Great Western mixed traffic engine ‘Modified Hall’ No.6990 Witherslack Hall. Weighing in at 122.5 tons the Halls carried 4000 gallons of water and 6 tons of coal. They were a quarter of an inch more than 63ft.  long, with 6 ft. driving wheels, a boiler pressure of 225lb. sq. in. and a Tractive Effort of 27,275lb. The Hall class were designed by C. B. Collett, built at Swindon, and numbered 329 in total.

Simmering gently, in the ‘black’ corner, is the LMS version of the go anywhere do anything engine, Stanier’s Black 5 No 45305. No.45305 is 7.5inches longer than No.6990, weighs a little over two tons more carries 3 extra tons of coal and delivers a Tractive Effort of 25,455lb, 1,820lb less than No.6990 Witherslack Hall. 842 Black 5s were built 427 of them by outside contractors. The first engine to enter service was No.(4)5020 and she was built by Vulcan Foundry. The largest number were built, not by the LMS, but by William Armstrong & Co., who constructed 327 of them.

I worked on the Black 5s, but not on the Halls, I worked on the Standard 5s too, even a B1 once, from Leeds to Cleethorpes and back. When it comes to ‘which one is best’ – well you pays yer money and makes yer choice – me I like the Black5s.  You can read about my time on them in part 1 of my memories of  being a fireman in the last years of steam – here’s the link.

One happy customer commented – ‘Just read part 1 Enjoyed it – a lot.’

Here’s the link to Part I : https://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/embed?linkCode=kpd&ref_=k4w_oembed_gOoNjfwj3yip64&asin=B07HMKTWMT&tag=kpembed-20&amazonDeviceType=A2CLFWBIMVSE9N&from=Bookcard&preview=inline

This 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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Nutty Slack Hall

6990slack

I doubt whether folk today have the faintest idea what ‘nutty slack’ is, in case you’re wondering – it’s not some form of confection containing nuts – it’s poor grade coal, together with lumps of black stuff which aren’t coal at all. No.6990 Witherslack Hall on the other hand is a rather special engine – she was put on trial in 1948 along with a whole selection of other ‘mixed traffic’ engines, Stanier’s Black 5s and Thomson’s B1s, to name just two of them.

The trials, or ‘Locomotive Exchanges’ as they were known, seem to have been a mixture of PR stunt, an attempt to get all sections of the newly nationalised railways pulling together to form some kind of unity – and, undoubtedly, all the top turkeys fighting like ferrets in a sack for who got top jobs, most clout, and or fattest pay cheque. These trials were also taken, by the crews involved, as a chance to show what ‘their’ engines could do – they were also meant to be ‘scientific’ to find the best practices, to compare coal and water consumption, ease of maintenance, reliability, servicing times, etc. the consensus seems to be that there was little science involved.

It was also a ‘boys and their toys event’ which the railway enthusiasts were able to enjoy at the time and for decades since. I think we should demand a retrial, to be held in 2018, using the S&C and every main line certified engine and their crews. In my dreams!!

For any of you wanting to know more, or enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs, in them why not buy yourselves a copy of my book. “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘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’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This 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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“Catch me who can”

catchme

Once upon a time, a long, long, time ago a madcap inventor put wheels on his kettle – no that’s not right. In 1809, five years after his first ‘locomotive’ crushed the rails at Pen – Y – Darren, Richard Trevithick built this – ‘Catch me who can’.  He took it to London and set it running round a circular track, not far from where Euston station now stands. People paid a shilling, (5P), for a ride – a shilling was a very tidy sum in 1809. It wasn’t a great success the rails were still too weak.

 One of his ‘high pressure’ engines was displayed in a shop in London, and this led to probably one of the most mad cap adventures Trevithick ever became involved with – a project to build ‘high pressure’ pumping engines to pump water from silver mines 14,000ft up in the Andes mountains – it was the year 1816. Disagreements with the mine owners meant the project came to nothing and he began his own mines, mining for silver and copper, which, tho’ partially successful didn’t make Trevithick rich. The political situation deteriorated and he left almost £5000 pounds worth of metals un-shipped. This wasn’t the end of his South American escapades – he spent quite some time in South America and even served in the army of Simon Bolivar.

In many ways Trevithick was a man ‘ahead of his times’ he built a ‘road going’ steam carriage in 1801 ‘The Puffing Devil’ which is credited with inspiring the folk song Cambourne Hill. The Coalbookdale Iron Co. built a locomotive for him after he had supplied them with a high pressure stationary engine in 1802 – so maybe this photo of ‘Catch me who can’ – is quite appropriate, as it is taken at the Severn Valley Railway’s Bridgnorth terminus, a stones throw from Coalbrookdale.

For any of you wanting to know more, or enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs, in them why not buy yourselves a copy of my book. “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘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’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This 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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Shed shunting

5526shedshunt

No.5526 and her crew are doing one of the more mundane jobs, shunting the shed. Often the shed gang would be made up from older drivers who’d had to come off main line duties because of eyesight issues, they were usually assisted by the most junior of firemen / passed cleaners. You’d be surprised at how much work a busy shed could create for the shed gang.

Many depots had designated wash-out  / repair roads and moving engines onto or from these roads could take an hour or two. Other jobs included shunting the ‘stores’ vans, the ash pit wagons and loaded coal wagons for the coal plant or coal stage. Then there were odd jobs like dragging an engine up and down to get some draught on the fire when an engine was needed quickly and there was insufficient steam to make the blower work effectively.

When I was at Nine Elms depot, in the mid-60s, their shed gang were referred to as the ‘turntable gang’ and had their own mess room, appropriately enough, close to the turntable. At Farnley Junction, where I started on the footplate, engines were turned on a triangle and if engines needed turning this was another little task usually done by the shed gang. Being the railway, when these crews weren’t busy turning, shunting etc. they could be found in the mess room playing dominoes or cards!!

The photograph, which was taken at Buckfastleigh, on the South Devon Railway, shows No.5526 pulling No.3205. In the background on the right is 14xx class0-4-2T No.1420 and on the left, partially obscured by the water tank, is No.4920 Dumbleton Hall.

For any of you wanting to know more, or enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs, in them why not buy yourselves a copy of my book. “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘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’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This 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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Steamu

5643wensleydale

This is, without doubt, one of the strangest combinations I’ve ever photographed. Ex-GWR 0-6-2T, No.5643, hauling a DMU with a blue painted coach inserted into the two car unit. The location is the Wensleydale Railway, which on this occasion was operating between Leeming Bar, (Northallerton) and Redmire.

This is a line with some tremendous potential, running, as it does from Northallerton, which is practically beside the A1, through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales with stations at Bedale, Redmire and Leyburn, and, in the near future, they hope to open to Aysgarth, with its beautiful waterfalls. The line doesn’t have any of its own steam locomotives and relies on hiring engines, currently they use the Ex-LNER 0-6-0T No. 69023 Joem. In the past they have used the BR Std Class 4MTT 2-6-4 No. 80105, which is now awaiting overhaul at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway.

The original line ran all the way to Garsdale and the very long term aim of the Wensleydale Railway is to re-open the entire route, which would make it the longest preserved line in the country, even at its current length of 22 miles it is one of the longer ones. The original Garsdale to Hawes section was opened by the Midland Railway and the Northallerton to Hawes section was the domain of the North Eastern Railway, though the original act, to build the line from Northallerton to Bedale was gained by the Great North of England Railway – GNER.

If you want to know more about GNER – there’s a section of my book, “Gricing” which deals with those initials and their subsequent re-use by the Company Sea Containers Ltd., when they were the franchise holders on the ECML and ran their services under the GNER label.

For any of you wanting to know more, or enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs, in them why not buy yourselves a copy of my book. “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘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’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This 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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“Slow Train Coming”

5305mill

I’ve done a couple of essays using the names of B1s and Jubilees, which seemed to amuse some folk, so here’s one with a musical theme, using lines from Bob Dylan songs.

While riding on a train going west I fell asleep for to take my rest. The Lone Ranger and Tonto they are ridin’ down the line, fixin’ ev’rybody’s troubles, ev’rybodies ‘cept mine. The train leaves at half past ten – But it’ll be back tomorrow same time again. Well I’m walking down the line, there’s an iron train a travelin’, have you laid awake at night an wondered ’bout the same.

Well, if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair, Honey, just allow me one more chance to ride your passenger train, I ride on a mail train, baby Can’t buy a thrill.   My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains and rain – the evenin’ dusk was rollin’ I was walking down the track, there’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend.

I know the times they are a changing and the old railway’s never coming back, but I did enjoy the night train from City Station Leeds to St. Pancras, calling everywhere and taking hours to get there. There was a special excursion ticket on this train and the return – you got a whole day shed bashing in London, for just a few bob – that train and the sheds are never coming back either.

For any of you wanting to know more, or enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs, in them why not buy yourselves a copy of my book. “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘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’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This 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 “

5080-quorn

Remember when? This photograph was taken a little over 20 years ago, not only is this now a twin track railway, back then they didn’t even have arms on the signals – yes it’s Quorn in the 1990s. The engine in the photograph, No.5080 Defiant, is, at present, a static display at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. According to the BRC website there are no current plans to overhaul her, which is a shame.

No.5080 Defiant actually started out as No.5080 Ogmore Castle a name which was  given to No.5056, then to No.7007, before finally ending up on No.7035. Constructed in 1939, No. 5080 Ogmore Castle went to Old Oak Common when new, before being transferred to Cardiff Canton, where, in 1941, she was renamed Defiant, like several other members of the class, after aircraft which had been a part of the ‘Battle of Britain’. Nos 5071 to 5082 all had their names changed to those of Battle of Britain aircraft. Swapping the names on the Castles seems to have been something of a pastime for the GWR as Nos 5043 to 5065 inc. and 7001 and 7007 also had name changes during their working lives.

Maybe what is needed now, for No.5080 Defiant, is not a change of name but a change of mind.

For any of you wanting to know more, or enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs, in them why not buy yourselves a copy of my book. “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘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’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This 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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How green is my valley

5775upmill

There was a time when these little engines puffed and panted up and down practically every valley in Wales; when spoil heaps and pit head winding gear provided the back drop to the echo of their exhaust beats. So much has changed since then – the docks and wharves are marinas now, the sidings and sheds are supermarkets, car parks, or industrial estates. Whole communities of railwaymen and miners are now just pictures in a museum, or archive footage in some TV documentary of ‘times gone by’ – a nostalgia so thick you can cut it with a knife.

The past is presented as some golden idyll when everyone had work, everyone knew their place, and all was well with the world. We all know that really this is pure nonsense, but we prefer it to the grim reality, not only the grim reality of those long ago times, but the equally grim realities of today.

3612barry

This was Barry in  1966, No.3612, and behind her No.34027 Taw Valley, both of which have seen a new lease of life since then, as for No.9629, well she’s slowly on her way back, 50 years on – which gives a whole new meaning to ‘slow train’.

Just had an update from a reader – No.3612 was broken up an used for spares, not returned to traffic. Hope this hasn’t spoiled your enjoyment of the blog.

The photograph of No.5775 shows her at work on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, sometime in the 1990s. The mill chimney in the background, like the pit head winding gear, is now just a piece of history, as is the mill.

Above is the link to Part I of my memories of footplate life in the 1960s. The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway is still  available on Amazon – Below, is the link to that work.

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

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics.  They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the existing webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

 

 

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