Scotsman Flying

Like many of you, no doubt, I watched the hour long trip down the Severn Valley on the footplate of Flying Scotsman. By TV standards it wasn’t too bad, far less patronising than many previous attempts to portray the fascination of railway enthusiasm.  The fireman was a deft hand with the shovel but, by his own admission, didn’t quite get the fire right – too much in the middle, not enough down the sides and back corners. It might just be me but, I thought the driver was rather nervous and a little frightened of the engine – he was certainly unfamiliar with it.

Personally speaking, I would much rather have seen an hour’s worth of action, on the main line, with an experienced crew, showing just what it takes to keep a main line express locomotive, and a 10 or 11 coach train, on the move, at speeds up to 75mph – or above, if the loco is permitted to run beyond that limit.  It’s not that I need to be shown what that is like – having done it for quite a few years in the 60s. However, it would have given the viewer a much greater understanding of what was involved, for tens of thousands of men, on a daily basis, often for the full 50 years of service.

Still mustn’t grumble, and, as  my wife remarked, it was a good recruiting ad to get young  lads involved and for the Severn Valley Railway too.

No.60103 Flying Scotsman is pictured at Stocksfield with the returning Carlisle – York ‘Waverley’ excursion, earlier this year.

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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

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Harvesting the Past

For more than 30 years now I’ve been visiting, riding upon, writing about, and photographing ‘heritage’ railways. And it never ceases to amaze me that people will moan and complain about the national railway network, the exorbitant fares, poor catering, wrong kind of snow / leaves / wind / sea wall, or perm any 3 from those 4, on a bad day, yet relish a day out trundling through the countryside, seated in creaking antique rolling stock, pulled by a smoke belching, steam oozing, clanking, beast of a steam engine, from nowhere to some other nowhere and back again.

Fifty years ago, when our railways were owned by the public and powered by steam, people then were moaning about the ‘sky high’ fares, the curled up sandwiches, in fact the entire sooty, smelly, stuck in a siding somewhere, railway was a national joke. Yes, the very same railway we so lovingly cherish today, the one  with the brass and copper gleaming on the engines,  cream teas, served by uniformed staff, in the chocolate and cream coaches,   passing fields of freshly mown hay,  and all those other cliches of a bucolic Britain that never actually existed, outside of imagination or Agatha Christie stories.

A little over fifty years ago I was a fireman working commuter trains in and out of Waterloo, Joe Public never wanted to be photographed with me then, in muck stained blues and with my coal dust covered face, they’d tip the porter a couple of bob to carry their bags and not even look at the footplate crew who had just brought them safely from Bournemouth or Salisbury to Waterloo and would take them home again at night – funny what the future does to things.

The photograph is overlooking Oldbury viaduct, just outside Bridgnorth, on the Severn Valley Railway and the engine, No.2857, is a resident locomotive on the SVR.

A further selection of my photos can be seen here: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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

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A Winter’s Tale

It’s that time of year, the time to be sitting by the fire listening to the tales of old enginemen. Days when white steam lights up a grey sky and a stirring account, of footplate exploits on the East Coast Main Line, penned by OS Nock, lit up the imagination. How that 12 minute delay was clawed back by running mile upon mile at 90mph and more.

Strangely there were no tales about climbing onto the footplate, at 8 o’clock on a freezing cold winter’s night, a gale blowing and the odd snow flurry. Well, at least, not ones where  you’re  climbing onto the footplate of  a grime ridden old goods engine, with a clinkered fire, coal back in the tender, low on steam, and water, as opposed to  some gleaming Pacific.  In the unrecorded scenario the departing crew mutter, she’s a bit of a rough ‘un and scurry off – these are nights you don’t forget in a hurry, when you’ve swallowed the school boy romance, started working on the footplate, and come up against reality.

No time to think about that though, the board’s off and you get the dart into the clinker and try and lift a slab or two off the bars to get some air through the fire. Despite the chill of the night you spend the rest of the shift sweating like the proverbial pig, grappling with fire irons, pulling coal forward, and shoveling in any permutation you like. You wouldn’t want the t-shirt believe me!

Pictured is No.90733 masquerading as No.90711 during the 2015 K&WVR Autumn gala, backing down into Keighley to work the early morning goods for Oxenhope.

A further selection of my photos can be seen here: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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

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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Not the Queens Speech

In a departure from the usual shots of locomotives in the snow, elves, reindeer, and some fat bloke in a red suit I have gone for the traditional Russian ‘railway’ Doll look, for this festive posting! So, as you tuck into your  turkey and all the trimmings, followed by Christmas pud with Rum Sauce,  and right before pulling a cracker, remember what the door mouse said, ‘feed your head’.

What a charming illustration of the nature of the world we live in, this little tableaux is. We have engine No.7 into which the dolls all fit – a fitting metaphor for the state / economy. A powerful machine consuming raw materials and industrialising time and space. Next in line, the Station ‘Master’ with his watch, running, ordering, ‘mastering’ – the managerial class. He keeps the clock ticking, the machine functioning, and the crew in order.

The ticket inspector / conductor, the perfect middle manager, bow-tied, and white collard, just like the Station Master he aspires to be, one day. With his sheaf of tickets and his ticket clippers – he’s  the epitome of what Marlon Brando said, of the character Martin Sheen played in the movie Apocalypse Now, ‘an errand boy sent by  grocery clerks to collect a debt’.

Now we come to the crew of old No.7, the driver and his fireman. No bow ties and white collars here you’ll notice. These ‘little’ guys are the guys who do the ‘heavy’ lifting, they oil the wheels and tend the fires. These blue collar labourers mix those raw materials with the sweat of their labours and turn them into the continent crossing, goods hauling, passenger carrying, travel machine we lovingly call the railway. The fireman, the littlest of all the figures, is at the very centre of the Doll, and it is upon his skill and ability that the all the rest depend  – because if there’s no steam there’s no show! Merry Christmas fireboys – you really are the stars!!

*

Other parables, stories, myths, shibboleths, and tenets are available, always read the small print.

A further selection of my photos can be seen here: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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

 

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Another passing year

The Santa specials are almost run, Flying Scotsman’s return to active service is now just a fading memory; 2016 is about to become history. 2017 will, amongst other things, see the 50th anniversary of the ending of Steam on the Southern, taking a little bit of my own history with it. The commemorative events and publications are all in the pipe line from the Nene Valley event, with the return to steam of 34081 92 Squadron, to the Swanage Railway’s Bulleid homage at the end of March. Later in the year a new book is due to be published revealing, in detail, some of the highlights of those last few years of main line steam power on the Southern.

For three fantastic years, (1963/4/5), I was very much a part of the daily operations of the former LSWR routes out of Waterloo – working on all types of services  expresses to Bournemouth, ECS to Clapham carriage sidings, milk trains, banana trains and ballast jobs on engines great and small – ‘those were the days’.

The photo shows Ex-LBSCR 0-6-0 No. 662 (Martello) shortly after leaving Winchcombe on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.

A further selection of my photos can be seen here: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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

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While Bobbys guard their box by night

As a young fireman, in the 1960s, a trudge up to the signal box, signing the register, and asking for a collar to be put on, was all part of a days work. Today, of course, the ‘cabin’ is a signalling centre somewhere near Alpha Centauri, or Basingstoke, take your pick, and the Bobby is watching a computer screen.

Rule 55, which was, then, mostly concerned with the ‘detention of trains on running lines’, had to be learned by heart. There were a number of little mental aides to help remember the ‘ten commandments’ one of which ran, ‘ during fog or falling snow, to the box Oh! you must go’ – always reminds me of this time of year with  misty days, and foggy nights, and the ever present possibility of snow.

It is easy to forget, today, just how difficult it was working in fog or heavy, snow eyes straining to see a paraffin lamp, on top of a pole, ears pricked, waiting for the crack of detonators. These were the times when knowing the road was paramount.

This little cameo, with the Bobby standing outside Marley Hill Box, is from the Tanfield Railway’s ‘night shoot’ held earlier this year.

A further selection of my photos can be seen here: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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

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T’wizz the week before Christmas

All decked out with tinsel, like the coaches, Robert Stephenson 0-6-0T, No.3 Twizell, banked by former Keighley Gas Works, Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST, No.2, makes a festive sight as she winds her way through Causey Woods, on Santa train duties, at the Tanfield Railway.

There was something just every so slightly surreal about standing in Causey Woods, an area steeped in the history of the industrial revolution, listening to pop Christmas tunes drifting on the breeze, whilst photographing a Victorian, industrial, locomotive  hauling a train load of children, with mums and dads in tow, paying a ‘visit to Santa’.

I don’t know about anyone else but, I would like Santa to send me  No.3 Twizell, working over the Tanfield Railway, with a dozen or so, wooden bodied mineral wagons, painted up in Victorian / Edwardian colliery liveries and names, a sort of ‘designer’ wagon gala.

A further selection of my photos can be seen here: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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

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Christmas Greetings

I would like to take this opportunity to wish Steam Age Daydreams fans and followers a very ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy  New Year’.

For any of you who might be interested I have just added a third selection of photographs to the ‘Gallery’ page which can be found at this link: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

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“School’s out”

Alice Cooper was never high on my list of Bands but, I was very sympathetic to the views expressed in School’s out. I spent most of my time at Grammar school wishing I wasn’t, and as often as possible skived off or threw a sickie. A very different story when I walked up Royds Lane to start work at 55C Farnley Jct.  where the nearest thing to school were the MIC classes. However, there was a great deal to be learned from Rule 55 to how to ‘cob ’em up’.

Funny how much you learn when you want to and how little when you don’t. Pythagoras wasn’t on my list of cops, and Archimedes, well he was screwed anyway. One of the few saving graces of my school days was a metal work teacher who built 5″ gauge locos, which he ran in  a local park, until the school discovered they were all made with materials supplied by the school – ooops!

Pictured is Ex-Southern Railway Schools class 4-4-0, No.925 Cheltenham, departing from Quorn & Woodhouse on the Great Central Railway, with a train for Leicester North

.A further selection of my photos can be seen here: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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

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“Mails”

Pictured pulling away from Quorn ‘up’ sidings, with the TPO empties for Rothley Brook, on the Great Central Railway, is Ex-BR Class 9F 2-10-0, No.92220 Evening Star, aka No.92214.  I have my fair share of connections, ‘romantic’ and somewhat less than, with mail trains, going right back to my days as an engine cleaner at Farnley Jct. 55C, though, sadly, I never worked one with a 9F.

Like the steam powered railway, the mail train and TPO are now just memories and the Post Office and Royal Mail were, like the railways themselves, sold to the highest bidder. No more ‘Night Mail crossing the border bring the cheque and the postal order’ – can you still get postal orders. I remember receiving them in the post, at Christmas time, from distant relatives, in equally distant towns and cities.

I have already posted a piece about my own ‘romance of the footplate’ trip firing Ex-SR MN Class 4-6-2 No. 35005 Canadian Pacific on the 21.20 Ex-Waterloo – the ‘Weymouth Mails’; if you haven’t already seen it, here’s the link: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=1848

Reference to the less romantic connections I have with the mail train can be found in this piece: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=2386

A further selection of my photos can be seen here: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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

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