A field in a green and pleasant land?

1054fieldeditThis particular field is between Oakworth and Crossroads, in the Worth valley. In the distance behind the train is Keighley and it’s suburbs. I’ve been visiting Keighley since I was a schoolboy – I once won the jackpot on a fruit machine in a working mens club right alongside Keighley Railway Station. The club was for dyers and weaving,  spinning,  along with many other occupations in the cloth trade was a major source of employment in the town. During a brief spell in my own railway career I  worked at Holbeck MPD, and as a result worked trains through Keighley en route to Morecambe via Skipton, Settle Jct, Gargrave, Bentham, and Wennington.  So I guess you could say that ‘me and Keighley have some history’.

The locomotive in the photograph, and its coaches, have some history too. The engine was designed by F W Webb in 1881 and built by the London North Western Railway in 1888.  To generations of railwaymen these engines became known as ‘Coal Tanks’ because they were ‘tank’ versions of Webb’s standard 17″ ‘coal engines’ – an 0-6-0 designed for ‘slow’ goods work. The coach behind the engine was to a design by OVS Bulleid though this example was built in 1950 by British Railway Southern Region. Behind the Bulleid coach is a ‘matchbox’ brake third built to a design for the SECR. However, this particular coach was built in 1924 and became part of the stock of the newly formed Southern Railway.

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”

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“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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Caped

957millblkwhtAt the ‘End of Steam’ job ‘caped’ was an all too familiar notice – the time has now come for Steam Age Daydreams to be ‘caped’. The entire household is  in boxes, the removal men are immanent and it is time to shut things down until we move to the new shed. Sadly, management have been unable to locate a suitable vehicle to provide a rail replacement bus services. It is hoped that his will not cause problems – or redundancies. Though it has to be said that in my own case redundancy was what happened, a brown envelope, a few extra quids and ‘au revoir’ – widely interpreted as, ‘rev up and piss orf’.

It is hoped that normal services, all steam, naturally, will be resumed on 21st July. In the mean time there are plenty of articles to be found in the archives.

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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Rough Trip

42968exloughIf you stepped onto a footplate, the firehole door was shut, and there was only half a glass of water, and the departing fireman says ‘ she’s a bit shy’ – you know it’s going to be a bad day at the office. Last night, on ‘Trainspotting Live’, I relived that experience.

Having seen the trailer, my expectations weren’t high, five minutes in and steam pressure was dropping rapidly and the tender seemed to be full of little but nutty slack. Lots of blue pins round Didcot, surely copper or brass ones were called for? Somewhere, in the distance a Horn hooted and we all had to ‘spot a class 66’, or ‘Shed’, ‘as trainspotters call them’.

Things were getting desperate now, water in the glass was still falling and steam pressure was down to 100lbs psi, there was little for it but to stop for a blow-up. Fortunately, this rough trip came with a few features old steam footplatemen didn’t have, one of which was a modern day version of ‘control’ – yes, it was  ‘remote control’. A quick press of the buttons and – hey presto we’d been turned into the goods loop – well a different channel to be strictly accurate.

Maybe things did get better, I don’t know, because after a little under ten minutes it was all I could stomach. And there are still two more episodes to suffer, I think I’ll be giving them a miss.

The photograph show stanier Mogul No.42968 departing from Loughborough with a train for Leicester North, during one of the GCR’s Winter galas.

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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Live trainspotting

46115rtyc‘And now for something completely different’ – ‘Trainspotting live’ – on the telly – BBC4 no less. Probably not the Irvine Welsh version though and I doubt that Monty Python are involved either. Like so many railway programmes ‘on the telly’ there will be those who love it and those who don’t. Speaking for myself, I’m usually wary of railway programmes on the TV, too often they are ever so slightly condescending and lacking any real substance.

However, if we interpret ‘live’ as live, then I can say that I have – live(d) ‘trainspotting, for six decades. I took numbers in the 1950s, worked on the footplate in the 1960s, penned half-a-dozen books and countless articles, produced a Preserved Steam Railway Timetable for 4 years in the 1980/90s, have taken 1000s of photographs and travelled from Penzance to Wick, Swansea to Sheringham – ‘doing it’ If ‘Trainspotting Live’ manages to capture any of the real flavour of those times  I’d be very surprised but, also very pleased.

By accident of birth I played witness to the ending of steam traction and the rise of ‘Preservation’. I visited Woodhams scrapyard, like a pilgrim, paying my last respects to engines I’d fired, only months before, out on the mainline. I was there ‘lighting the fire’ in Bulleid Pacific No.35005 Canadian Pacific when she was first brought back to service, by Andrew Naish and the team at the GCR. It truly has been the hobby of a ‘livetime. ‘ And one I’m hoping to continue for some time yet, especially as No. 35005 Canadian Pacific will, hopefully, be back in action next year.

The photograph shows No.46115 Scots Guardsman, passing West Ferry, alongside the River Tay, with one of the GB rail tours.

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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A little draughty

60163moorgatesfsJust a bit of a breeze blowing as No.60163 Tornado heads out across the moors towards Fen Bog. When  I took and look at this photo I’m reminded of a Bob Dylan song ‘Girl from the North Country’ and the opening  verse which reads; ‘If you’re traveling in the north country fair Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline Remember me to one who lives there For she was once a true love of mine.’ (B.Dylan) The wind was definitely ‘hitting heavy on the borderline’ and railways have been my passion for more years than I care to count.

In Leeds, where I lived, the A1s were a common sight in the 1950s and early 60s. Copley Hill shed, which serviced and maintained the locomotives on the ‘East Coast’ route from Leeds to London, had 10, or thereabouts, on their allocation during that time. The A1s were often to be found at work on the important trains of the day, The Queen of Scots, the Yorkshire Pullman, and the White Rose were all turns they shared with A3s and A4s.

The A1s were another of those locomotive types built post-Nationalisation, they were built between 1948 and 1949, to have very short working lives, some lasted a mere 17 years pitifully short for a steam locomotive. The last to be withdrawn was No.60145 St. Mungo in 1966. However, despite their short career they were much missed by fans of the old LNER – with the result that a new one was built from scratch – No.60163 Tornado. The people who did so are now working on another of the LNERs engines a P2 class 2-8-2 – we can only wish them every success.

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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The line to war

5322gdsThis week has seen the commemoration of the Battle of the Somme during WWI, a battle which saw 20,000 killed on the first day. Britain’s railways were an important part of the war effort and both men and locomotives went to the front. At the front, narrow guage lines  were built to supply the entrenchments with food and muntions and remove the wounded and the dead from the trenches. In today’s lanuage the railway was a vital component of the warfare logistics network.

The locomotive in the photo, Ex-GWR 2-6-0 No.5322, is in the Railway Operating Division livery, which she wore during her war time duties, hauling munitions and hospital trains, in France. Built in 1917 No.5322 was sent, along with ten other members of her class, straight from the workshop to the front, she is the only one to have survived. Demobbed in 1919 she returned to GWR service where she remained until withdrawn in April 1964.  Currently No.5322 is a static exhibit at Didcot Railway Centre.

There is another survivor from the contingent of British locomotives sent to France, though not an Ex-GWR one. EX-NBR 0-6-0 No.65243 Maude, named after one of the WWI Generals, when she returned to Blighty, is a static exhibit at the Scottish Railway Museum at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway.

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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Stone trains

3717ballastBallast for track laying or re-ballasting didn’t simply appear, ‘as if by magic’ in the engineer’s yard it came by train and the services were scheduled. During my spell at 70A, as a fireman in the 1960s, we regularly worked stone trains from Meldon Quarry to Feltham engineer’s yard. The turn involved working a passenger train from Waterloo to Salisbury and then, after having a PNB, relieving the crew who worked the train in from Meldon. Meldon quarry, which is on Dartmoor, provided much of the ballast for the London & South Western Railway, latterly the BR Southern Region (Western section).In the 1890s the quarry was producing around 100,000 tons a year, by the 1950s this was 340,000 tons.

The Southern Railway provided motive power for the quarry too and in the 1960s Ex-USA tank No.DS 682 was the choice. The usual loco for the Feltham Engineer’s Yard service was one of Urie’s 4-6-0 S15 class. The S15s were decent engines, if a little dated by the 1960s, however, the Feltham Yard stone train really tested the engine and crew. Several factors combined to make this a tricky job; the stone hoppers were heavy, they were also vacuum braked, then there was the little issue of how long the engine had been at work when you got on the footplate – and yes, you guessed, quite some time. Setting off, on the ‘up’,from Salisbury, with a clinkered fire, firing with the dross from the back of the tender and a heavy train isn’t a good combination – chuck in the gradient and it’s a recipe for ‘stopping for a blow up’. Ah! the joys of footplate life.

The photograph shows No.3717 City of Truro picking her way over the freshly ballasted ‘chicken curve’ on the G&WSR. Unusually for a Gala ‘demonstation train’ it is actually loaded with ballast.

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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