All the best for 2016

6990offshed

Imagine it’s 1948 and No.6990 Witherslack Hall is just rolling off shed to begin her duties in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials. No.6990 Witherslack Hall was completed, at Swindon, just as the trials were about to commence and, as a ‘Modified Hall’, she had all the latest additions and ‘improvements’, making her the obvious choice as GWR representative in her class.  Like No.6990, British Railways was ‘new’ in 1948, the railway, rolling stock  motive power, and workforce were the same, but it was ‘a new era’  – public ownership.

I will resist the temptation to open the can of worms which was created by the Nationalisation of the railways, save to say that there is a significant, and growing, body of public opinion that views the  re-Nationalisation of the railways as a very desirable goal. The connections which drew me to choose this photo were those of ‘new’ start of a new day, new engine, new beginning for the railways and the railway workers, new names, new paint jobs and yes New Year – and a Happy New Year to you all.

In real life No.6990 Witherslack Hall is just rolling off Loughborough MPD to begin her duties during the recent ‘Last Hurrah’ gala.

For any of you wanting to know more, or who 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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‘Down in the woods something stirred’

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It was the Sunday before Christmas, down in Causey woods, and not a snowflake in sight. However, No.2 and Sir Cecil A. Cochrane were doing their very best to bring a little festive magic – attacking the climb from East Tanfield to the ‘North Pole’ with some gusto. Five fully laden coaches of excited children enjoying the trip to see Santa on board their very own ‘North Pole Express’.

The crackers now have all been cracked, the pudding has all been eaten and the left over turkey is in the dog, maybe a moment to thank all those volunteers who worked long and hard in the run up to Christmas. A big thank you to the ones wrapping the presents, dressing as elves, pixies, or Santa, the ones on car park duty or washing dishes in the buffet, all those behind the scenes carriage cleaners, ticket clerks and we mustn’t forget the signalmen, firemen, drivers and guards.

And finally a big shout for those who turned out to get their lines open after the dreadful flooding, especially the K&WVR and East Lancashire. Fantastic effort all of you, take a bow. You’ve earned it.

For any of you wanting to know more, or who 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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Festive Clag

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Before becoming too full of turkey and pud I ventured forth in search of a little Festive steam – and here we have it, in the form of Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST “Matthew Murray”, blinking in the unaccustomed sunlight, as she emerges from the M1 tunnel on the Middleton Railway.

For those of you who have followed Steam Age Daydreams from the beginning – thank you. It’s been an interesting year; 60,000 people from 108 different countries around the world have read one or more of the stories and, presumably, enjoyed the photos too. Being, as I am, a lad who grew up in the steam age there’s an almost ‘magical’ air about the digital age’s ability to reach so many people in so many different parts of the world.

2016 promises much, with the long awaited return of 60103 Flying Scotsman probably at the top of many people’s list. Speaking personally, I’m rather looking forward to the returns of 35006 Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation and 34101 Hartland, both of which I had the fun of working on in the 1960s. I might also find time to add some more of the black and white photos I inherited, perhaps a few from the selection of A3s might be a good place to begin!

For any of you wanting to know more, or who 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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The Round Table

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With just a week to go to Christmas; it is now a little over a year since I began this page – ‘time flies by when you’re the driver of a train’, and the year has certainly flown by. No.46100 Royal Scot returned to active duty, No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley and No. 35028 Clan Line bowed out. Signals were passed at danger, rumours were rife, prosecutions pending, was this to be steam’s ending? There was certainly a sense of passing when Ian Allan combined his last volume and joined the eternal Loco Spotters Club.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, a new railway ‘the Borders Railway’ re-opened part of the former Waverley route between Edinburgh and Carlisle.  No.60009 Union of South Africa was given some serious spit and polish before hauling the Royal Train over the route, which now runs between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, on opening day. Once the brass bands, brass hats, and ‘ladies in frocks’ departed No. 60009 Union of South Africa provided the motive power for a programme of rail tours, all of them sell outs, over the re-opened line.

And here we are at the ‘Last Hurrah’  with No.777 Sir Lamiel in Southern Railway Malachite livery, a chocolate and cream GWR coach, behind the tender and running on the Great Central Railway.

Merry Christmas & A happy New Year to all my readers.

For any of you wanting to know more, or who 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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Loco Blog Book

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Hi everyone, if you’ve enjoyed my blogs and photographs you can now buy them in book form. “Steam Age Daydreams Loco Blog Book”  contains a selection of the most popular pieces from the 1st year.

If you want your own copy  – here’s the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-Loco-Blog-Book/dp/1519329261/

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Merry Christmas

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Sauna Take-away

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In what is believed to be a heritage railway first, at their recent ‘mini Gala’, the GCR ran a ‘Sauna for a tenner’ service between Loughborough and Leicester North. This innovative new service was aimed at the ‘executive class’ traveller looking for that extra bit of luxury after a hard morning’s gricing.   Using the railway’s recently re-engineered, and refurbished, BR MK1 sleeping car, specially trained volunteers were on hand providing customers with souvenir bath robes and a glass of Martini.

Apparently, specially designed piston and valve packings allow No.1744 to provide large quantities of fresh steam with each piston stroke. This otherwise wasted steam is then drawn directly into the sauna, by Turbo fans, fitted into what were, once, the windows. The former MK1 Sleeping car, now exquisitely finished in Scandinavian wood, slate,  and stone has been designated “Sauna car Susan”, – I’m joking . ‘Tis the season to be jolly’, ho, ho, ho!

However, joking aside, No1744 does seem to have something of a steam leak going on, as she rolls out of Loughborough with her train for Leicester North.

For any of you wanting to know more, or who 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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Box, chocolate, cream

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With the long shadows already beginning to fall there’s more than a hint of ‘the dying of the light’ about 9F No.92214 pulling away from Quorn & Woodhouse, past the the beautifully repainted signal box, which is in new colours too. I must say the new paint job suits her / it. No. 92214 has had several paint jobs recently, currently she’s green, but has been black and even became No.92220 Evening Star for a little while.

There was something of the dying of steam’s light when No.92214 was built. The writing was on the wall and it would be fair to say that it read ‘no future’ – No.92214 rolled out into the light of day in October 1959, in 1965 she was sent for scrap – a criminal waste, when she would have had a working life of, at the very least, 30 years and probably many more.  Her working life in preservation, will far exceed her service to the national railway system, and she is currently ticketed until 2023.

Speaking personally, I think she looks very nice in her Brunswick Green livery, even if it isn’t her original one. The whole ensemble, with the chocolate and cream coaches especially, has a very ‘end of steam’ over the former GWR feel to it. As it happens, I saw my very first GWR engine a little further down the line where the old GCR crossed the West Coast main Line at Rugby – a 43xx Class from Banbury.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

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