Leicester Bound

1744sigsOne from the GCR’s Winter Gala, earlier this year – Leicester bound N2, No, 1744, makes a steamy sight as she storms away from Loughborough, bound for Leicester North.   Not far from here, in 1852, in what became known as ‘the Battle of Nottingham’, Midland men, captured, towed away, and held captive for 7 months, a GNR locomotive. I dare say there are those who would, do it all again today – ‘just for the laugh’ – !!

If FB have done their usual crop you might need to click on the photo to see it in full.

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Black Smoke White steam

7608463395dholmeclagVisting BR Standard class 4MT, No. 76084, pilots NYMR resident, Ex-LNER  class Q6 0-8-0, No.63395, during the NYMR Autumn gala. Shame I don’t do video, the noise was awesome, and the clag was pretty impressive too.

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Transitions

92214monogdsIn a scene straight out of the 1960s a DMU heads into Loughborough Central as BR class 9F 2-10-0, No.92214, heads south with a train of mineral empties, during the Great Central Railway Autumn Gala.

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Marley Hill MPD

no-2shedroadfittersaddOf all the little gems at Tanfield, this Victorian engine house, workshop, and forge is probably the finest. Stone built with two roads, both with an inspection pit, a fully functioning, belt driven, workshop, there’s even a punch clock and cards, to complete the picture. In many respects it really is just as it must have been when the last shift clocked off.

Originally constructed for the Pontop & Jarrow Railway / Bowes Railway, in 1854, it is, reputedly, the oldest engine shed in the Europe  still doing what it was constructed for, housing and servicing a fleet of working locomotives. The locomotive being tended to is former Keighley Gas Works, Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST No.2, of 1911 vintage. Alongside her is LH&JCR No.14, also an 0-4-0ST and built by Hawthron Leslie in 1911. No.14 spent her working life on  the near by system – the Lambton Hetton & Joicey Colliery Railway.

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

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

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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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Coal train day

no3twizwoodsWe had coal delivered in sacks, 1 cwt in each, count them off to make sure the coal man didn’t cheat, 9 bags instead of ten. Like the coal trains at Tanfield, in the 1700s, the first coal man we had did his rounds with a horse and cart; on the back of the cart a huge set of scales.

Twizell No.3, that’s her in the photo, was built, in 1891, to work on a colliery railway system the, Beamish Railway, which later, in 1924, became part of the Lambton & Hetton & Joicey Colliery Railway. James Joicey owned the Beamish Railway which served his mines in Beamish and East Stanley.  In this picture No.3 has just left the present day East Tanfield station and is climbing towards Causey Arch with a rake of hopper wagons, much as she might have done at the end of her ‘working’ life  when she was allocated, by the NCB, to Morrison Busty colliery, from where, in 1972, she was acquired for the North of England Open Air Museum – or Beamish as most of us know it.

When you consider that No.3 had a working life of 81 years, (and she’s still working), it gives you some idea of the scale of the vandalism involved when locomotives, built for British Railways to the designs of R A Riddles, had working lives of less than 17 years.

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

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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Baht ‘at

80136moorgatesNot Ilkley Moor, the North Yorkshire Moors, and the first shades of Autumn as BR Standard Class 4MTT No.80136 hurries past Moorgates with a train for Pickering. Given the eclectic mix of liveries on the stock it could quite easily be 1963, especially as the Standard 4 tanks were regulars over the line, which, in them days, ran all t’ way t’  from Whitby to York.

Designed and built at Brighton the 2-6-4Ts were known, to a generation of railwaymen, as ‘bacon slicers’. They gained their nickname from the combination of the  shape  of the reversing gear, in the cab, and the number of turns it took to go from full forward to full reverse gear – a lot. The Standard 4 tanks, like the tender variations, were fine machines, though the Standard 4 tanks weren’t the most popular choice when shunting duties were involved.

According to my 1955 Combined Volume ‘members of the class are still being delivered’ and No.80136 was in that category, the last engine shown being No.80130. I did have a few trips on the Standard 4 tanks, but I had far more on the 75xxx tender version, particularly the ones allocated to BR Southern region.

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

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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Coals from Newcastle

twizellahouse
Andrews House Station on a sleepy Sunday morning, Twizell No.3 simmers impatiently, as the crew chat on the platform. Tanfield has a lineage right back to the birth of the Industrial Revolution, horse drawn wagons, rope worked inclines and the famous Causey Arch but, and this is probably the bit that matters, all the property of some of the richest men in the country, at that time, the so called ‘Grand Allies’.

The Grand Allies were; the Russell family, one of whom was, in the 18th century, reputedly, the richest ‘commoner’ in the country, the Liddells of Ravensworth, the Bowes family, (Earls of Strathmore), the Brandlings, who owned a colliery in Leeds, which became, in time, the Middleton Railway and the first to use steam locomotives on a commercial basis, in 1811 / 12. The huge fortunes these men amassed was at the expense of those they employed to mine, move, and ship the coals. Children, some as young as six, worked in the mines, often employed to work the ‘flaps’ which helped to circulate air around the mine – they sat in the pitch back to do this.

The mine owners were an unscrupulous and greedy lot; workers were frequently paid in ‘company’ money which could only be spent in ‘company’ shops and at ‘inflated’ company prices. Homes too were owned by the coal owners and if you were out of work, you were ‘out of home too’. Should a miner die, at work, or otherwise, his wife and kids would be ‘out on the street’ and with only ‘company’ money they were headed for the dreaded ‘workhouse’. All of which is a long way from the sylvan setting in the photograph.

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

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 Holy Grail

777blkwhtgdsNever did get a go on an ‘Arthur’ but, I did get more than one on the ‘goods Arthurs’ – the S15 4-6-0s, which were still in service in 1963, when I arrived on the Southern. Based on the S15, designed by Robert Urie, the REL Maunsell version gained a few refinements and lost a stove pipe chimney. Built at Eastleigh, the first batch of fifteen engines entered service between 1927 & 8, they continued in traffic until almost the end of steam on the Southern, a handful still being active in 1965.

Maunsell, like Urie, favoured designs offering easy maintenance a feature which extended to the footplate, Spartan utility pretty much sums them up. There may have been a certain sparseness about the cab, but they steamed well enough, and that’s what really counts. It’s a good few years back now, but I seem to recall a night goods turn where we worked down to Basingstoke yard and then worked back with the first commuter service the following morning. This turn was usually one of Maunsell’s engines, if not an S15, then a U or N class 2-6-0. The ‘up’ commuter working was usually a WC / B-o-B 4-6-2, sometimes a BR class 5 Standard – aka ‘Standard Arthurs’ owing to a number of them being given the names from scrapped members of the original N15 ‘King  Arthur’ class.

The photo shows the NRM’s N15 King Arthur Class 4-6-0  No.777 Sir Lamiel, oozing steam in true 1960s fashion, if not livery, with a ‘demo’ goods train during the GCR’s Autumn gala.

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

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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Station pilot

47406mailsStation pilot is where it begins for most footplatemen, myself included. In my case, a Saturday late turn, at Leeds City Station, pretty much par for the course for a junior-hand passed cleaner, the graveyard shift on a Saturday – you couldn’t give them away. When I went to Nine Elms, as a fireman, I still did the occasional turn on station pilot duties, at Waterloo. One of the more dubious forms of entertainment on the night pilot was chucking coal eggs at the rats, which were to be found scurrying around between the platforms.

The coal eggs were awful things to work with, they would continually spill off the shovelling plate, covering the cab floor, the dust from them stung your eyes and left them red ringed, whilst their steam rising capabilities left much to be desired. A bunker full on station pilot was one thing, a tender full on a n ‘up’  boat train from Ocean Liner Terminal and it was a whole different story – and I’ve read them both, more than once.

This photo is from Sunday morning, at the Great Central Railway Gala, and No.47406 is shunting the mails from the station to the ‘up’ sidings.

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

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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Only the numbers have been changed

45344exgoathIn the long running Radio 4 programme, ‘I’m sorry I haven’t a clue’, there was a feature, ‘one song to the tune of another’ – something like that is going on here. No.45428 is pretending to be No. 45344, an LMS engine, on a piece of North Eastern Railway, pretending to be a bit  Welsh for a few days. In 1948, No.45344’s first BR allocation was at 8A Edge Hill, in 1955 she was at 3C Walsall and in 1960 had a spell at 3A Bescot, in the photo it’s 6C Birkenhead – not sure what other allocations No.45344 had but those I’ve found in my own books and the shed code she’s carrying aren’t exactly Welsh depots – so ‘I’m sorry I don’t have a clue’ where she acquired a Welsh theme identity. I’m sure someone out there will though.

For some reason identity swapping is one of those subjects which seems to get some enthusiasts ‘all steamed up’ and there were several fulminations on the topic, to be found on social media, following the identity swaps for the NYMR gala. What never ceases to amaze me about these, often quite vitriolic,  rants is the seriousness with which the matter is taken.

I’ve been a railway enthusiast now for 60 years, I was a steam era footplateman, and am a preservation era photographer and author, on numerous railway topics, and one thing I can say is that railway preservation is to railways what Zoos are to living in the Amazon rain forest. The whole of railway preservation is one big theme park and swapping a few numbers around is just part of the entertainment, just the latest V 2.0 / update / reboot.  ‘I’ll get my coat / tin hat’.

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

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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