Short back and sides

barbergfBank Holiday Monday and the sun is shining – now there’s a surprise. Not wishing to pass up such good fortune, I cranked up the old jalopy and headed for the hills in search of steam – the gricing equivalent of a paddle in the briny and a bag of whelks.  The ‘heading for the hills’ was literal as well as metaphorical – Alston is, reputedly, the highest market town in England and where this photograph was taken.

Alston was the end point of a branch line which ran from Haltwhistle, on the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, later the North Eastern Railway – it was closed, cut by cut, between 1965, when goods traffic ceased, and May 1976 when passenger services were withdrawn. 5,000 travelled during the final day of operation and the last train departed to the sound of pipers playing a lament and the noise of exploding detonators.

Today, the South Tynedale Railway, operate a 2′ gauge railway, on a section of the old standard gauge trackbed, between Alston and Lintley. The locomotive, ‘Barber’, was formerly in service with the Harrogate Gas Works Co. – Mr. Barber was the Chairman. Built in Leeds, by Thomas Green & Co., in 1908, Barber is on loan from Leeds Industrial Museum.

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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Taking the mickey

44871gbblackfordThere was a time when these engines were so commonplace that we barely noticed them – just another Mickey, just like the one before and all the other 842. Yes, I know some had Caprotti valve gear and a double chimney, there was one with outside Stephenson link motion and an odd self-weighing tender or two – I suspect, as much as anything, they were built, simply,  to relieve the monotony. Oh! and mustn’t forget those Timken roller bearings and that flash of yellow paint on their axle boxes.

My journey, nay pilgrimage, to Blackford to take this shot was around 40 miles; followed by ‘chasing the train’ to Blair Atholl and over Crubenmore to capture the slog up to Slochd summit. A whole day’s journey,  200 miles of motoring, through the highlands of Scotland, to take pictures of the same Black 5 at three other locations. If any of my chums, in the 1950s, had told me that I would spend loadsa money, a whole day,  and  drive 200 miles, just to photograph a Black 5 – I would have known they were taking the mickey.

No.44871 is just about to pass under the A9, between Blackford and Gleneagles, with this year’s GB Rail tour.

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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4.40a.m Salisbury papers

75078top23.43a.m Vauxhall station was the time and location for the start of the day’s work for the crew of the 4.40a.m Waterloo, Woking, and all stations to Salisbury, except Idmiston Halt, where trains called only by special request. The motive power for this turn was, almost always, a BR Class 4 Standard of the 75xxx class – and No.75078 was, during my years al Nine Elms, a regular on the turn. As a consequence I have fired, and sometimes driven,  No.75078 many times between Waterloo and Salisbury.

The 4.40a.m might have been the archetypal ‘stopper’ but the return working was another kettle of fish altogether – an ‘up’ fast, calling at Andover and next stop Waterloo.  The timings, if memory serves, for the Andover to Waterloo section was almost mile a minute. The start out of Salisbury is roughly 10 miles of climbing, nothing too severe, just a few miles between Laverstock box and Porton, around the 1:140 to 1:170 mark, being the steepest section. Andover is at the bottom of a slight dip and after a short section of downhill and level the line climbs again almost all the way to Worting Jct., though there’s a little dip around Hurstbourne.

Next came the fun of flying through Basingstoke hanging on the whistle and pretty easy running all the way to London. The .4.40a.m might not have been to everybody’s taste, and many a young fireman would gladly swap the turn, tho’ not me – it was one of my favourites.

This back working was, for me, the reward for getting out of bed to go to work at 2.30a.m – on arrival at Waterloo it was job done and a relief crew took the engine back to Nine Elms.

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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Tynetravel

nerrmapThe hereabouts to be seen on this map, is, in many ways, where ‘industrialisation’  all kicked off – coal, iron, and the permanent way all feeding off each other.  ‘Talking coals to Newcastle’ was a euphemism for an exercise in futility – as for the relentless growth of the NER resistance was, pretty much, futile. This lovely old, tiled, map, of the extent of the NER’s territory,  circa 1882, isn’t in the National Railway Museum, it’s on a wall in Tynemouth Railway station on, what is now, the Tyne & Wear Metro system.

Tynemouth station, opened in 1882, was designed by the NER’s Chief Architect William Bell and is now a Grade II listed building. There is, however, more to Tynemouth Station than fine old maps as may be seen in the following photos of the interior of the station buildings.

tynecanopyThis station replaced two, which faced each other, and had originally been constructed by competing companies.  The The Newcastle & North Shields Railway, later the NER, and the Blyth & Tyne, which was absorbed by the NER in 1874, were the companies in question. One commentator, observed, about the new station, that it seemed to have been ‘constructed without concern for cost’; there’s certainly no shortage of glass, or wrought iron columns, there’s over one hundred of them.

tynecolumn

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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Tickets please

60103hexamIn this photo, No.60103 Flying Scotsman, has just passed through Hexham en route to Carlisle; on what was the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway.  The line between Newcastle and Carlisle, proposed as early as 1825, first opened between Blaydon and Hexham in 1834 for mineral traffic and to passengers the following year. By 1837 the line was open from Gateshead to Carlisle, though entry into Newcastle itself did not take place until 1839 and only in 1851 did it reach Newcastle Central.

In railway terms the N&CR was never one of the ‘glamour’ routes but it does, however, have a very special place in railway history, for it was an employee of the N&CR who introduced a ticketing system which was to become, in time, the industry standard.  In 1837 Thomas Edmondson,   the station master at Milton, introduced the printed paste board ticketing system, still in general use on almost all the ‘preserved’ railways.

Speaking of preserved railways, the N&CR, in 1846, opened a branch line between Haltwhistle and Alston a section of which is now laid on a two foot gauge and operated by the South Tynedale Railway. The South Tynedale Railway currently operates between Alston and Lintley, with an extension into Slaggyford planned for 2017.  Slaggyford was the first stop for services between Alston  and Haltwhistle, when the line was part of the national network.

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 Blaydon Races

60103stocksfieldThis is ‘Scotsman’s’ trip from York to Carlisle, last Sunday, the location is Stocksfield, a few stations down the line from Blaydon. Being new to the area I did the usual ‘Googling’ before setting out to take the pictures and – as you do, discovered something new.

I had always thought that ‘gadding along the Scotswood road to see the Blaydon races’ was a song about the ‘Sport of Kings’ – horse racing. However, it turns out that the song was as much about an accident, which happened to a party travelling to  the races. The bus, presumably horse drawn, the date was 1862, lost a wheel and the resulting accident left several folk with black eyes, broken noses and cracked ribs. In the words of the song – ‘When we gat the wheel put on away we went agyen, But them that had their noses broke they cam back ower hyem; Sum went to the Dispensary an’ uthers to Doctor Gibbs,
An’ sum sought out the Infirmary to mend their broken ribs.

I did a share of racing myself, back in the 1960s. For months, before work started electrifying the LSWR route to Southampton and Bournemouth, a group of Nine Elms enginemen, myself included, set out to see if steam traction could keep time with what was rumoured to be the timings for the new electric services. These events centred on the start to stop timings from Waterloo to Basingstoke and a number of attempts to ‘top the ton’ – a feat which No.60103 Flying Scotsman herself managed, on occasion.  If you want to know more about this check out the article in the archive ’15/05/1965 &105mph’

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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Dollies, Dodgers and The Great Marquess

61994dollyIn the foreground of this photo is a ‘ground’ or ‘subsidiary’ signal. These signals are shunting signals, and, in the right circumstances, allow the driver to pass ordinary signals at danger.  Sometimes, as in this photo, the signals are round discs with with a bar, in red or yellow across a white background. (The view of the signal, in the photo, is from the rear.) However, they can also be miniature versions of ordinary signals; when modernisation came they were replaced by coloured light ground signals, red when ‘on’ and two white lights, displayed diagonally, when ‘off’.

In addition to the types of shunting signals seen and mentioned above there are ‘calling on arms’, which serve a similar purpose though they are more generally found in goods yards, loops, and sidings than within station limits. This type of signal is scaled down version of a ‘home’ signal and they are usually placed, on posts, in prominent line of sight. By now, I suspect, you’ve guessed that these signals are known to railwaymen as ‘dollies’ and ‘dodgers’ – they quite probably have other names too – dollies and dodgers were the ones most frequently used at the depots, at which I worked, in the 1960s.

The Great Marquess, well he /she is steaming out of Bewdley with a train for Kidderminster, during one of the Severn Valley Railway’s Gala events. And sadly this is one of her last trips doing this – she is now in a museum at Bo’ness awaiting transfer to one in Fife – if it ever gets planning permission.

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.

 

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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Semi on the fast

In those far off 1950s, and early 1960s, school summer holidays I was lucky enough to be able to spend a couple of weeks, during some of them, beside the West Coast main line at Rugby. Rugby has a long railway history which includes not only the famous testing plant and the works of British Thomson Houston Co. but, in the very early days, a notorious local Publican doubled as an engine driver for the London & Birmingham Railway /London North Western Railway. Having two jobs isn’t a new phenomena, though I’m sure being a publican and an engine driver might raise a few eyebrows, rather than glasses, in today’s ‘health and safety gorn mad’ culture.

Rugby, for me, was approaching Nirvana, no school, and a constant a procession of Scots, Jubes, Pates / Baby Scots, Brits and Semis was only the half of it. We were being given a taste of what was coming with Nos 10000 and 10001 making an appearance from time to time; and there was no shortage of freight workings either. The goods workings provided us with an eclectic mixture of Stanier 8F and Black 5s, Derby 4s and former LNWR ‘Coffee pots’, Bowen-Cooke’s 0-8-0 G1 / G2 goods engines; all ably supported by the clanking of the Dubdees and sundry tank engines both ancient and modern. Like so many other things from the 1950s and 60s, it didn’t last.

Today only the echoes and shadows remain – No.46233 Duchess of Sutherland is doing her best to bring back those halcyon summers as she heads towards Wakefield with a Liverpool / Scarborough working in July 2013.

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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New Shed Allocation

34101&90775pdAn inter-regional transfer, possibly, but still an unlikely meeting between a Scottish ‘Dubdee’ and a Southern Pacific on North Eastern metals. As a fireman in the 1960s I worked on both classes and, in the case of the Southern Pacific, the actual locomotive was one I fired, on many occasions, over the route from Waterloo to Bournemouth and back. My footplate work on the Dubdees was, at least in part, over North Eastern metals, during an 18 month spell at 56A Belle Vue (Wakefield).

Over the past few weeks I have, myself, been the subject of an inter-regional transfer, re-allocated from Scotland to North East England. Safely ensconced in the new shed, my first turn will be to see the ‘national treasure’ – No.60103 Flying Scotsman at work over the Newcastle – Carlisle route, on Sunday. I dare say I will be just one amongst thousands if previous outings for No.60103 Flying Scotsman are any guide. Quite how such levels of hysteria have been arrived at is something of a mystery, given the general public’s view of ‘trainspotters’ as a bunch of badly dressed, socially awkward, ‘anoraks’.  I won’t go into detail of how the rail fans see the general public, but suffice to say it isn’t in a good light.

Hopefully once the boxes are all unpacked, Steam Age Daydreams will return on a slightly more regular basis, especially as there are many more photo opportunities at my new shed, with Tanfield on my doorstep and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway a little over an hour away.

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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