I see no Railway Children

43924oakworthclagOakworth, a station immoratalised in the “Railway Children”, looking every bit the ‘well kept country station’ with the tubs of flowers on the platform and a host of golden daffodils alongside the trackbed. Cream teas are being served in the Pullman coaches, being hauled by ‘Derby 4’ No.43924. Rather fittingly, Pullman coaches and luxury travel were introduced to Britain, by the Midland Railway, in 1874 – the first coach, which arrived in kit form from the USA, was named “Midland”.

The sulphurous clag rolling from the chimney of No.43924 seems almost anachronistic in a scene of bucolic Britain coupled with the lavish luxury of  a cream tea, all doilies and white weskits, served whilst riding in a Pullman carriage. No.43924, a classic Midland Railway goods engine, was unlikely ever to have hauled a Pullman train, except, maybe, as empty stock. As for the Virol, advertised on the enameled sign on the platform, I had spoonfuls of the stuff shoved down my neck as a nipper, not sure if it improved ‘my health and vitality’, but I have lasted longer than the Virol, which seems to have vanished around 1980!

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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Standard 4 on the ’54’

75078bobbydamemsAn old favourite of mine and the first chance I’ve had, since she was returned to steam, to photograph her in action. There were a number of duties, at Nine Elms, which regularly utilised these engines, the ’54s’, (they were trains which left Waterloo for Basingstoke at 54 minutes to the hour), ‘Banana trains’ from Southampton Docks to Nine Elms goods, and the 04.40 Salisbury, which was another regular turn for them, and one which I enjoyed more than my fair share of.

The 04.40 Salisbury, for which the crew signed on at 03.43, wasn’t the most popular turn, but I enjoyed it. It was a regular turn in link 3, my link, and when I did the job with my regular mate I would often get a go on the regulator – always a real treat. The return working was the opposite of our journey down, which called at practically every station from Woking onwards. The ‘Up’ train called at Andover and then next stop Waterloo, on an almost mile a minute timing, one of the fastest trains of the day. A regular loco on this train, during late 1964 and early 1965, was No.35013 Blue Funnel, sadly no longer with us, but for my money the freest steaming of all the Merchants – and that’s saying something for a class renowned for their steam raising capabilities.

No. 75078 is photographed passing Damems Loop Box on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, with a train for all stations to Oxenhope.

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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Engines great and small

60163montrose

This will be the last post for the next couple of weeks, Steam Age Daydreams is having a holiday.

Some of my earliest memories of family holidays, in the 1950s, was boarding the train at Leeds Central Station and travelling to Lowestoft, changing trains in Peterborough and arriving in Lowestoft via Beccles and the Great Eastern. I remember the journey from Peterborough to Lowestoft taking longer than the run down the ECML. Though I do not have a precise memory of which locomotives pulled the trains, Copley Hill did have a decent allocation of A1s and it’s likely that we rode behind one, though obviously not the one in the photograph, the new build No.60163 Tornado, which is seen crossing Montrose basin

For me, at that time, Lowestoft had two major attractions, one was a boating lake, with electrically operated boats, a sort of dodgems on water and the other was a seafront railway with a Black 5 for motive power – here’s a link to some footage of the very train: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsm3AV4DjGA The locomotive has had quite a career and some of its history can be found here: http://www.stationroadsteam.co.uk/stock%20pages/5073/index.htm

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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”

‘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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Taking the Mickey

45305local copy

The most ubiquitous of locomotives, which saw service from Inverness to the Mendips, hauled anything from the express train to the coal train and everything in between was frequently seen, by ‘trainspotters’, as ‘just another nag’, barely worth a ‘cop’. However, despite their lack of ‘spotter’ appeal the men on the footplate loved them. They were capable of some prodigious feats, dragging 13 over Shap, southbound – and making time, over 6 minutes on the schedule, admittedly by some fast running going down the other side, 16 miles at an average of, just a tad over, 66mph.

At my first depot, Farnley Junction, they were used in pairs on the heavy Newcastle – Red Bank vans, the returning paper train empties, 17 on was a not uncommon loading on this turn. A fair train load to drag over the Pennines via Slaithwaite, Marsden, and Diggle. In the final days steam haulage on the Glasgow – Aberdeen service they could be found deputising for A4s on the Saint Mungo, and being able to pretty much keep time on this very demanding run.

The photo shows No.45305, approaching Quorn & Woodhouse with a 3 coach local, Loughborough to Rothley, service during the GCR’s Winter Gala.

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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”

‘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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Speedy

1501lnerwal

A little taster for the up coming SVR Gala, Ex-GWR 0-6-0 No.1501 with the teak set nearing the top of Eardington Bank. My old mate Walter Hobson, when he was a fireman at Old Oak Common, worked on these engines on empty stock duties in and out of Paddington. He wasn’t a big fan, it has to be said, but the drivers liked them because they were much easier to oil round than the GWR engines with their inside motion – and it was this fact which earned the class their nickname ‘Speedies’ – because they were quick and easy to oil!

Naming and nicknaming engines has been a long held tradition on the railway and often the nicknames given by working railwaymen differed from those given by the railway enthusiasts. Cauliflowers, Jumbos and Coffee pots rubbed shoulders with Black Motors, Jazzers, and Night Fighters, though not of course on the same bits of railway. It might be interesting, to spend some time actually collating all the various nicknames given to different classes of engines, some had more than one; Spam Cans / Flat Tops, Mickeys, Black uns and Black 5s are examples, and I’m sure you can supply many more if you sat and gave it some thought, Jubes, Red uns, 5xs, Dubdees, Iron Lungs, Austerities and so on.

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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”

‘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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1966 and all that

90711sideon1966 and all that fifty years ago stuff – no doubt we’ll be served up a load of old guff about World Cups. 1966 was the year the WCML leccy opened to Liverpool and Manchester and Camberwick Green, (Trumpton), began, on the telly.  Barclays Bank introduced the Barclaycard, the spy George Blake escaped from Wormwood Scrubs and ‘Buster’ Edwards was arrested, for his part in the Great Train Robbery, of 1963. Me, I was firing engines, which looked just like this one, over the Pennines, with train loads of coal.

Like many of you I’ve watched, with a mixture of incredulity and amazement, the scenes of the return to operational service of No.60103 Flying Scotsman, the crowds, the suicidal trespassers and the world’s media.  A couple of nights ago I watched the BBC’s 30 minute documentary on the subject, could have been worse, but that’s a matter of taste. It took me back to those final days at Wakefield, heading out of Healy Mills Yard, slogging through Calderdale and over Copy Pit; there were no crowds, no media frenzy, just work stained and clanking old war horses like the one above. 50 years ago railways were a very different place, the frenzy was one of destruction, rip it up, shut it down, burn the bridges wreck the stations – and we all know what happened next.

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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: ‘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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Three hundred

777exquorncloseThis, according to the stats, is my 300th ‘blog’ – that’s somewhere between a ‘Streak’ and ‘Brit’ number of words, and a little over 300 photographs – a sizeable and fairly lavishly illustrated book, if you put them all together. I don’t know exactly how many people see and read these posts on Facebook, but it averages 5000+ a week, so over the 16 months that’s around 320,000; on steamagedaydreams.co.uk the count is 64,053 and rising.

The most popular article, was the one posted on May 15th 2015 when 1,206 people visited the website and read this edition: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=1848 – a tale of my exploits with a shovel, on the former LSWR main line, that May night 50 years earlier. I have no idea how many people viewed it on Facebook, that day. Today, fifty years down the line, as it were, I shovel words into cyberspace. From ‘steam age’ footplateman to ‘information age’ Weblogger in 50 years – who’d have thought of that in 1965, but here we are. Still, you’ve got to do something to pass the time of day when you retire, and watching the Jeremy Kyle Show and re-runs of Location, Location, Location are simply not an option – unless of course it was “Trackside photography, location, location”!

The location is trackside at a very windy Quorn & Woodhouse during the GCR’s Winter Gala. The loco, Ex-SR 4-6-0 No.777 Sir Lamiel, is just departing with the Loughborough – Rothley local service.

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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: ‘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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Shadows

48624mailshadowOne of the inspirations behind my own attempts at railway photography was RJ Blenkinsop, who published a number of books of railway photographs with titles like, ‘Shadows of the GWR’, or ‘Shadows of the Big Four’. Monochrome photos of the black and white 1950s, when days were halcyon, when six weeks summer holidays weren’t long enough, when the Night Mail still crossed the border, bringing the cheque and the postal order.

By his own admission Blenkinsop was a GWR man, but didn’t let that deter him from photographing other railways and locomotives. He lived in the Leamington area, for some time, and photographs of the GCR, in several locations, are featured in his ‘Shadows of the Big 4’. There’s a photo of a very recognisable  Loughborough, from the banking below Beeches Road bridge, with a B1 on the South Yorkshireman, in 1953. Another of the photographs is of the ‘most famous locomotive in the world’ – no not Hogweirds Castle, that other one, No.60103 Flying Scotsman, again with the South Yorkshireman, this time at Staverton Rd. Staverton Road is also the location for a fine shot of A3 No.60059 Tracery with the ‘up’ Master Cutler, barely a year after the service had been inaugurated in 1951.

On a more mundane level there’s an O1, with a heavy south bound freight, crossing the Midland main line, right where the new bridge will go when the GCR (N) is re-united with the GCR (S)

My ‘shadows’ were a bit more literal, as the can be seen in 48624’s shadow being cast on the TPO rake, as she heads south with a train of mineral empties for Rothley Brook sidings.

Part 1 of my railway biography was published yesterday on Kindle below is the link to it. Part II will appear before Christmas.

I have  also written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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: ‘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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Drifting exhaust

34053closeup1Strong winds and a light load have created the very circumstances ‘smoke deflectors / blinkers’ were designed to overcome – drifting exhaust obscuring the driver’s view. Imagine this scene in the dark and looking out for semaphore signals, lit by a paraffin lamp, and you begin to appreciate some of the difficulties of driving a steam locomotive, safely, at speed, on the mainline.

Some ‘boat train services’ were regular workings, like the services to Dover, Folkestone, or, in my case, those from Waterloo to Weymouth and back. However, others, particularly those too and from Southampton docks, were ‘special duties’. The services such as the Cunarder, the Union Castle Line, and United States Lines boat trains tended to be ‘special duties’ and, on occasions, involved a trip, one way, on the ‘cushions’  – though not the plush 1st class ones!!

They were also, most often, duties given to the light-Pacifics rather than the Merchants, though they did do their share. The BR Standard class 5s had the odd turn on them too, which was a tough job for a class5, and you earned your corn if you dropped for one in place of a Bulleid. The BR Standard class 5s were good engines but, the ‘special duty’ boat train workings were getting towards the limits of their capabilities, with 10, or more, coaches plus 2 or 3 luggage vans and ‘right away’ Waterloo, or Southampton, on ‘express timings’, (roughly 80 mins), depending whether you were working ‘Up’ or ‘Down’.

No.34053 Sir Keith Park is seen here approaching Qourn & Woodhouse, on the Great Central Railway, with a recreation of a United States Lines boat train service.

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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: ‘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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Passing

34053pass48624Passing, ‘like ships in the night’ or, in this instance, like ‘steam engines in the day’! Many of us mourn the passing of the steam age, for many different reasons, one of the most common being the connections with  the happy carefree days of youth. It may be just my imagination but, it does seem that increasingly larger numbers of faces, at Steam Railway Gala events, were born long after the ending of main line steam in 1968; do they mourn the passing of an age they never experienced? Probably not, though I have to admit, I’ve never asked.

I wasn’t aware that just as I began to photograph No. 48624, on the Loughborough – Rothley Brook mineral empties, No.34053 Sir Keith Park was about to drift past on the ‘Down’, with a passenger service for Loughborough.  And it’s one of those happenstances with a great deal of relevance to my own ‘historical memory’. I can do a deal of ‘rose tinted’ nostalgic wallowing over the connections in this particular photograph. I worked on the footplates of both classes of locomotives, the West Country / Battle of Britain class and Stanier’s 8F, on the same kind of duties, passenger and mineral empties, though not on this railway – I traveled on that, during the summer, school, holidays, when I was a nipper!

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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: ‘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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