Steam Age Daydreams 2018 Calendar

Some of the images from the calendar. Please be aware these are only thumbnails all the images, full size, are A4.

How many of you would be interested in a 2018 Calendar by Steam Age Daydreams. A donation of £ 1: 00 will be made, to the 82045 Locomotive Trust, for each copy sold.

These are A4 wall calendars printed on 250gsm gloss paper making the pages suitable for framing, should you wish.  They  will be priced £9 : 50 plus for £1 : 75 P&P

Copies would be available from the end of October, so in good time for overseas postage. Please note  if you want Steam Age Daydreams to post overseas, shipping will be charged at standard postal rates for the area concerned.

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Tanks for the memories

One of my turns of duty, after transferring to Nine Elms, in early 1963, was on empty coaching stock workings from Clapham Carriage Sidings to Waterloo and back. The ancient Drummond M7 0-4-4Ts, which used to haul these trains, had all retired by then and the duties were, generally, in the hands of Riddles’ standard designs, both his Class 4 2-6-4MTT 80xxx series and the Class 3  82xxx 2-6-2 MTTs  were used, with the latter predominating.

After booking on and getting the engine ready, preparing the fire, taking on coal and water, it was back to the mess room to make a brew before going off shed and travelling light engine up to Waterloo, to await the arrival of our first train. The run down to Clapham was uneventful; after uncoupling and running round it was time to await instructions from the shunters and we pulled up alongside their cabin.

My driver for the day chose to leave the footplate at this moment and disappeared, I know not where. Shortly after his departure from the footplate another driver approached the engine asking where my driver was – I didn’t know. He then asked me who he was – I didn’t know that either. The next question was, ‘did I know what he looked like’ – my description was rather less than flattering, ‘he’s got a big  nose and is wearing a cloth cap’, I replied.

The driver who was making the enquiries was, though I didn’t know it at the time, was the legendary Bert Hooker, who had been a fireman on the Locomotive Exchanges in 1948. Bert was fireman for Driver George Swain and together they put in some terrific performances over the Highland routes in Scotland with the Bulleid light pacific No. 34006 Bude.

Many years later, in 1990, I met up again with Bert Hooker, this time at the Bluebell Railway. The event was something of a Nine Elms footplateman’s reunion, Clive Groome, another Nine Elms man, had just started his famous Footplate Days and Ways courses at the Bluebell and it was Bert’s birthday. I had been invited, by Clive, to a special dinner, to be served on the Bluebell’s Wine and Dine train, and  Bert was guest of honour.

Having not seen Bert since I had left Nine Elms at the end of 1965 we struck up a conversation about what we had been up to in the intervening years and what he was doing with his well earned retirement. During this chat Bert told me about his occasional turns as an after dinner speaker at various railway events and he reminded me of our first meeting at Clapham Carriage sidings – yes the one in which I described my driver as, ‘big nosed and cloth capped’. I had forgotten all about the incident, but not Bert, he’d used it as one of his anecdotes. The driver himself was a West Country chap by the name of Jack Aplin – and I learned a little lesson, always know the name of your driver.

The ECS workings were, in their own way, an enjoyable turn. You could build up the fire and fill up the boiler and the engine would then complete the run without any further, coal or water being needed. What this meant, in practice, was that the drivers would, quite often, let the fireman do a spot of driving. If you fired like this you would arrive at Waterloo with plenty of room in the boiler, so you could keep adding water, to keep the engine quiet whilst it was time to bank the train away. A large part of the fire had also burned away and this helped to keep the smoke down – so it might not have been copy-book firing but it did have its benefits. Blacking out the concourse at Waterloo and constant blowing-off would get you a serious ‘bollocking’ from the Station Foreman – and from the driver.

Another regular form of entertainment on these turns was trying to race the ‘juicers’, (EMUs), – until you had to shut-off to stop at Clapham Carriage Sidings. Regulator ‘up in the roof’ and 50% cut-off  these free steaming little engines would go like the rockets which flew from the chimney top when they were worked like this – and by the time you were passing Queens Road Station, even with 11 or 12 coaches on, speed was somewhat higher than the schedules demanded. Station pilot at Waterloo was also a regular turn for the Nine Elms men. If you were booked on the late turn station pilot at Waterloo – throwing coal at the rats, which lived under the platforms, helped to pass the time between one shunt and the next, or whilst you were on ‘steam heating’ duties during the winter timetable .

There was another turn on which the Standard Tanks were the locomotives of choice – a turn which didn’t appear in any passenger timetables, but which did carry passengers. This turn, known to the crews as the ‘Kenny Belle’ or the ‘Kenny Flyer’ was a special service from Clapham Junction to Kensington Olympia via Latchmere Junction and the West London Extension line. There were services in the morning from Clapham to Kensington and an afternoon service in the opposite direction – these trains were for the use of Post Office workers from the large Royal Mail sorting offices at Kensington and were one of the last regular passenger duties performed by these engines. In fact this service was one of the last steam hauled suburban services in London.

The Standard Tanks were also regulars on  the ‘Vauxhall Milk’ – a.k.a the ‘Torrington Milk’. For Nine Elms footplatemen, this turn involved nothing more arduous than spending three or four hours at Vauxhall Station whilst the milk tanks were emptied – an hour or two kipped down on the footplate was a very common occurrence. One night, on this turn, I went to sleep with my foot resting against the firehole door, not knowingly of course. When I awoke I had slow roasted my big toe and utterly ruined an almost brand new pair of  Doc Martin’s ‘Airware’ shoes – it was a painful lesson, physically and financially.

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

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Pullman Diner

There used to be a lovely shot, of trains departing  Grosmont, from the location on top of the tunnel, before it was all closed off. Now, with the growth of the trees on the left, the only realistic photo, at this spot, is the exit from platorm 4, which is sad. However, practically everyone of our heritage railways has changed, and in some cases quite dramatically, but then the heritage railway movement has been around for over 50 years, so change was inevitable.

In many instances the changes have come about because the railway itself has grown, expanded its visitor facilites, added a carriage shed, or museum, etc.. Some changes, like the alterations to the old mill at Ingrow, with its walkway over the track, or the building of new houses, at places like Woodthorpe, are beyond the control of the railway. Along the line what was once a shrub is now a fine tree, and no one wants to be chopping down trees – well, not unless you’re a lumberjack!!

In the photograph,  with taps open, Black 5 No. 44806, eases the Sunday lunchtime Pullman Diner away from Platform 4 and over Grosmont crossing.  The Diner is a heavy load for a class 5, on the steep and winding climb to the moors at Goathland; and fifteen minutes of solid slog lie ahead.  Black 5s are usually pretty sure footed but, No.44806 slipped a couple of times as she crossed over on to the running line and into Grosmont tunnel; still with the taps open. We could hear her staccato exhaust as she climbed up, past the shed, and on towards Esk Valley as we made our way back to the station, but I didn’t hear any more slipping.

Watch out for another tale from my ‘footplate days’ later this week.

 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

 

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

A wet Sunday afternoon

A wet Sunday afternoon, in Northern England, in the 1950s, was a pretty grey place. The pubs closed at 2pm, the shops didn’t open at all and the highlight of the proceedings was a brass band concert in the local park, if you were lucky. It was enough to drive any self-respecting eleven year old into train spotting – and Leeds was a great place to do it.

After the Yorkshire puds, and Dad had gone to sleep with the Sunday paper, it was time to get the push bike out for an afternoon of shed bashing, starting at Farnley Jct., which was nearest to my home, then Holbeck and Stourton. Neville Hill and Copley Hill were both very difficult sheds to bunk and, as a result, were visited less often. Strangely, we knew little, and were taught even less, about Leeds’ great locomotive building and railway history. Cops were what mattered, another number to underline.

To give you some idea of the variety, on Saturday April 12th 1958, during a day at Leeds City Station there were 25 Black 5s, including the now preserved 45407. On the LNER side there were 6 B1s 2 Hunts, 2 V2s, a K3, a B16, an N1, and a J39. There were class 5 Standards, a couple of 9Fs a handful of WDs, Derby 4s and Flying Pigs, a brace of Jinties, a  couple of Midland 2P 4-4-0s, an Aspinall 3F 0-6-0, a Class 4 Standard 2-6-4T,  a Fairburn 2-6-4T, several 8Fs,  the Royal Scot No. 46158 The Loyal Regiment and 4 Jubes, including the fireman’s friend No 45651 Shovell.

The locomotive in the photograph is named after one of the pioneering Leeds locomotive builders, Matthew Murray, who, along with John Blenkinsop, built and operated steam locomotives, in 1812, on Charles Brand;ing’s colliery railway. The locomotive itself, is also a product of the Leeds railway building industry, having been built by Manning Wardle, whose works were in Jack Lane, close to the site of this picture. And, like Matthew Murray, Manning Wardle’s antecedants can be traced back to the beginning of engine building in Leeds.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

During fog or falling snow to the box you must go.

Rule 55 was a mantra learned by every cleaner, an essential feature in his becoming a ‘passed cleaner’ – the ‘passed’ meant, literally, that you had passed an examination, on the essential sections of the rule book, that allow you to act as a fireman on the national network.  Rule 55 was one you had to know, Rules 178 – 181, generally known as ‘protection’ also had to be committed to memory. Carrying out Rule 55 was a commonplace, you always hoped you didn’t have to carry out ‘protection’.

All of which reminds me of an incident with one of these BR standard class 4 MTs, possibly, even this very engine. I was with my regular driver Eric ‘sooty’ Saunders, working the 04:40 Ex-Waterloo to Salisbury, on a freezing cold February night in 1965. The turn was a regular 3 Link working, these Class 4s were the usual engines and we’d done the job dozens of times but, there’s always that one, that one where it doesn’t quite go to plan.

The 75xxxs were free steaming little engines and the 04:40 wasn’t too demanding, two or three coaches and half a dozen newspaper vans, so it wasn’t the toughest of jobs, you didn’t even have to prepare your own engine, just step on the footplate at Waterloo, and off you went. The only downside to that was that sometimes the guys who did the prep didn’t always do things right, like filling the gauge lamp. If the Standards did have a fault it was the failure to incorporate electric lighting.

The term ‘stopper’ summed up the 04:40 perfectly  and after leaving Basingstoke it was all stations to Andover. The first stop was at Oakley, where the station is on a rising gradient, the second Overton, is on a small gradient of about 1:500 down hill. As we set off from Oakley the gauge lamp went out, it hadn’t been properly filled and the reservior was empty.  It’s bad enough, at night, trying to see how much water is in the glass, with a gauge lamp, without one it’s mission impossible.

The long and the short is that this caused, as you can imagine, some distraction on the footplate. The next thing I know ‘sooty’ has dropped the handle and we are sliding gently through Overton station and out the other side – ooops. No damage, apart from ‘sooty’s pride and, after a word with the guard and the bobby, we set back into the station – ensuring that the good burgers of Overton had their morning papers. Very much doubt if you’d get away with that on today’s railway, things were different then.

The photograph shows Ex-BR Class 4MT No.75078 in Damems loop, on the K&WVR. The fireman is just getting back on the engine having handed the single line token to the bobby.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Not a Slough of despond

Slough Estate No.3 heads along the Balm Road branch, towards Moor Road, during the Middleton Railway’s Steam Gala, on Sunday last. The Slough, (industrial), Estate grew out of a first world war plan to repair and refurbish trucks before returning them to active duty in France. However, Armistice came before the plant really started and so, instead of repair and refurb and back to the front line, they started to sell them privately. Something very similar happened after WWII when Ex-military vehicles were sold off to private road hauliers.

So, in a way, this shot is quite fitting, as Slough Estate No.3 is trundling alongside a road, in the midst of an Industrial estate, a museum exhibit, in a country were road transport has supplanted the railway as the major carrier of goods traffic. When the Middleton Railway frst began operating, in 1960, they were moving train loads of scrap metal out of Clayton’s and Robinson & Birdsall’s scrap yard to a transfer with BR, at the point where the Balm Road branch enters the Midland line just to the Leeds side of Stourton. Not many preservationists can claim to have run regular freight workings.

Slough Estate No.3 is a Hudswell Clarke, of 1924 vintage, she spent 50 years at work on the Slough Estate but, she was built around a half a mile from where this photograph is taken, at Hudswell Clarke’s works in Jack Lane.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

In the beginning

I noticed, in a comment on Friday, that it was the anniversary of the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, which took place on 15th September 1830, this contraption, the ‘Steam Elephant’ was puffing about around Wallsend – on – Tyne 15 years earlier, in 1815, and ten years prior to the opening of the Stockton & Darlington in 1825. Not this exact one of course, this is a modern day replica.

In 1813 William Hedley, along with Johnatan Forster and Timothy Hackworth constructed ‘Puffing Billy’ and ‘Wylam Dilly’ to work coal hoppers, over the waggonway, from Wylam Colliery to Lemington – on – Tyne. The really wonderful thing about these engines is that both of them survive, Puffying Billy, at the Science Museum and, Wylam Dilly, at the National Museum of Scotland. There’s a working replica of ‘Puffying Billy’ at Beamish Open Air Museum, as can be seen in the photo below.

Despite appearances Puffying Billy was a pretty robust piece of kit remaining in service until 1862 when she was first loaned and then sold to the Patent Office – subsequetly the Science Museum.  Going back a little further, to 1809, and we come to Richard Trevithick’s ‘Catch me who can’. Trevithick is a fascinating character who deserves greater recognition for his achievements and pioneering spirit. ‘Catch me who can’ was a sort of fair ground attraction and an attempt to raise cash. It ran on a circle of track and ‘riders’ paid a shilling a go – a tidy sum in 1809.

There’s a modern day replica of  ‘Catch me who can’, which was, when I photographed it, at the Severn Valley Railway’s terminus at Bridgnorth.

‘Catch me who can’ wasn’t Trevithick’s first engine, he had built one in 1803/4 for the Pen – y – Darren iron works and his ‘Puffing Devil’, a steam powered road carriage, ran for the first time, in 1801. Two hundred and sixteen years on from that and we’ve gone from all of the above to Maglev trains that can travel at 350mph, not 3.5mph.

I know nothing about the head swinging from the gibbet!!

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

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

70A – Learning the ropes

It was the Spring of 1963 when I walked down Brooklands Road to book-on for my first day at Nine Elms – I had arrived there via spells at Farnley Junction and Stewarts Lane, so I wasn’t new to the job. After booking-on, at the time office, just inside the main gate, it was a short stroll to the driver’s lobby and mess room inside the ‘new’ running shed. For the next three years this was to be my home from home.

Nine Elms, in 1963, was a busy, bustling, place with an eclectic mix of motive power. The depot’s compliment of working locos ranged from Bulleid’s Q1 Class 0-6-0 ‘Charlies’ through Maunsell’s S15 4-6-0s and Moguls, (known to many as U-Boats or Woolies and by some as Mongolipers/Mongolifers?). Then there were Riddles’ Standards of several different classes, in both tank and tender varieties, and on to the ‘top of the range’ Bulleid ‘Light’ Pacifics  and his 8P Merchant Navy Class. In the back roads, ‘out of use’, there were Maunsell’s Schools class 4-4-0s and Drummond M7 tank engines.

The duties this range of motive power undertook were as varied as the engines themselves, ECS movements from Clapham Carriage Sidings to Waterloo, trip goods workings over the Chessington branch, fitted freights to and from Nine Elms Goods or Feltham Yard. Then there were the hurtling down the main line turns, with crack expresses, like the Royal Wessex, Bournemouth Belle, and Atlantic Coast Express, which were all in a day’s work for Nine Elms men. There was even the ‘Kenny Belle’ a special train for Post Office workers between Clapham Junction and Kensington Olympia – a turn often entrusted to one of Riddles’ tank engines.

After booking on, I had to see the running shed foreman on duty at the time, a gentleman by the name of Ted Edgington, as I recall. Mr. Edgington, I came to discover, was a very knowledgeable chap especially when it came to Greyhounds – and no I don’t mean Drummond’s T9 Class. It was time to find out what link I was in and who was to be my new regular mate. Link position was determined by seniority, (everything on the railway worked on seniority),  and it turned out that my seniority date had initially placed me in Link 4 as fireman to driver Fred Walker, he didn’t know what to expect and I had a lot to learn.

Although I had been at work on the railway for over a year my footplate experience was fairly limited. At Farnley Junction, as a passed-cleaner, I had worked; station pilot, the shed shunter turn which included a trip goods down the Leeds Fireclay branch, a few dozen freight workings between Copley Hill Yard and Hillhouse Goods and a dozen or two cross-Pennine freights to places such as Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne.

It will come as no surprise to learn that trundling twenty miles with a loose coupled goods train, or working station pilot, bears no comparison with a fast commuter service between London and Basingstoke. My previous experience of passenger workings amounted to a trip from Tunbridge Wells to London Bridge, one Saturday morning, during my brief stay at Stewarts Lane. This duty was, if memory serves, about five coaches, at a leisurely pace, with a couple of station stops thrown in for good measure. The motive power was one of Maunsell’s 2-6-0s either an N or U1 class; I don’t remember which. I do remember arriving at London Bridge with enough fire to get over Shap and the driver doing his best to blast it away on route back to Stewarts Lane. Proof, if ever it was needed, of the importance of route knowledge.

My first real taste of the South Western mainline was on one of Link 4’s ‘regular’ turns the 7.54pm service from Waterloo to Basingstoke, calling at Woking and then all stations to Basingstoke. The usual motive power for these turns was either a ‘Standard Arthur’ or its baby sister the Standard Class 4MT. My first few runs with the 7.54pm were a steep learning curve – and there were several instances where both steam and water were at a premium. If nothing else it had shown me the limitations of my experience – enthusiasm, whilst it may be welcome, is no substitute.

Driver Walker had no idea how green I was and I wasn’t about to enlighten him. To the uninitiated coal is coal, it’s black and dusty and makes a lot of smoke and ash when you burn it. In the tenders of the Stanier Black 5s, Crabs, Jinties, Jubes, and the ‘Dubdees’ that I’d fired whilst at Farnley Junction the coal was ‘hard’, (Anthracite), Yorkshire coal, shiny, and easy to crack along the seams using the coal pick. This type of coal is quick to ignite and is relatively fast burning; features which distinguished it from the coal in the tenders of engines coming off-shed at Nine Elms. The coal at Nine Elms was ‘soft’, (Lignacite), coal and it has very different characteristics, with important consequences for the way you fire the locomotive. Soft coal is slow to ignite, as it burns it swells to a slightly cauliflower like appearance and then burns away much more slowly than hard coal. Soft coal is also more prone to clinkering and could become a problem if the engine was worked hard followed by spells of relative inactivity – which allowed the clinker to set on the firebars cutting down the air supply to the fire.

 These factors make it much easier to create a ‘green’ fire with ‘soft’ coal. (A ‘green fire’ is the result of adding layers of coal on top of coal which itself is not properly ignited.) On the printed page these seem like trifling differences – out on the mainline they are the difference between steam and no steam.  Differences in types of coal were only part of the learning curve, getting to know when and where the engine was going to be worked was another vital element. For example, when getting away from the permanent slack through Clapham Junction station and climbing up the cutting through Earlsfield to Wimbledon the engine would be being worked quite hard, 35% or 40% cut-off and full regulator, accelerating the train away from the slack through Clapham Junction and tackling a short climb up through Earlsfield towards Wimbledon. After passing Wimbledon and travelling on towards Raynes Park cut-off would be shortened to 25% to 30% thus reducing the demand for steam, softening the beat, and lowering the pull on the fire.

Knowing when and where demands were going to be made on the boiler is not absolutely vital if the engine is steaming freely but, when things are not going to plan, this knowledge is the difference between stopping for a ‘blow-up’ and keeping going. Gaining this sort of knowledge only comes from having to deal with these circumstances and travelling the route time and time again. My early learning with Driver Walker avoided having to stop for a ‘blow-up’ but the margins were pretty thin on a couple of occasions.

There were other things which affected steaming, how long the engine had gone since its last boiler ‘wash-out’ and how long it had been in service since the fire had last been cleaned and  how full of ash the smokebox was. The way the driver drove the engine also altered the way the engine steamed. The Standard Arthurs, like the Black 5’s they were modelled on, enjoyed being worked with around twenty to twenty five percent cut-off using the regulator to moderate the power supply to the cylinders. Having too short a cut-off could result in a lack of draw on the fire, reducing its heat and lowering steam raising capability.

Having ‘survived’ my first couple of outings on the 7.54pm ‘down’ I slowly began to get the hang of things. One of the first lessons I learned was making sure that the fire was prepared properly before going off shed. The trick was to take time to build the fire up slowly, making sure that all the coal was well alight before adding more. Keeping spare boiler water capacity was helpful as this meant that you could await the right-away at Waterloo with the blower on, getting everything on the boil before the off and being able to top up the boiler water to prevent excess blowing-off. Thus when the lights went green and the guard blew his whistle you had 3/4qtrs of a glass of water and, if you’d done everything right, a well made fire burning through nicely.

That all makes it seem very simple, Boys Own Annual stuff, rattling rails and the flashing blade. Clunk, reality check! You’re with some bloke you hardly know, you’re a bit nervous, things aren’t going well, steam pressure is falling. Stopping for a ‘blow-up’ isn’t what you need, it creates delay and generates a ‘please explain’ or ‘No.1’ form for the driver to answer, a lost time ticket from the guard for good measure. It can also mean you have to get off the engine and trek to the nearest trackside phone or signal box to tell the bobby why you’ve stopped – all a bit embarrassing really. You know all this, as the sweat, quite literally, drops from the end of your nose, as you struggle, with shovel, dampers, and injectors, to keep steam pressure high enough to prevent the brakes from coming on.

The gap between the romance and the reality seldom becomes wider than it does at 3.0a.m on a freezing cold, wet, and windy, morning, struggling to keep steam up, see boiler water levels by the light of a guttering paraffin gauge lamp, all whilst trying to pull coal forward because it’s half-way back in the tender. Let’s not forget the charm of a week on P&D work, ( preparing and disposing), 42.5 hours, maybe more if there was overtime, which there usually was, of; cleaning fires, emptying smokeboxes, raking ashpans, coaling up, building fires from a few ‘cinders’ in some cases. Carrying buckets of sand to fill the sand boxes, checking fire irons and finding them if they were missing, as they commonly were. Then you can add making numerous trips to the stores for oil, paraffin, detonators, lamps / discs, for each engine you ‘prepared’.

The mess room door would open and the running shed foreman would tell you, ‘the next 4 on the pit are yours’. If your luck was in they’d all have rocking grates, or at least dropgrates, if not it was the long paddle, some serious sweat, and possibly the odd burn if you weren’t careful. On windy days the smokebox char flew everywhere, so did the coal dust and ashes, a couple of hours into your shift and you looked like an extra from the Black & White Minstrels, not a lot of romance here.

The real nature of railway work was that you’d haul a dozen coaches, filled with passengers, who had entrusted their very lives to your care, who would tip the waiter who served their wine and walk past you without some much as noticing you were there. Apart from a very few crew, at a very limited number of depots, railway work was anonymous toil. There’s only one Bournemouth Belle or Royal Wessex but hundreds of shunting, trip goods, and sundry other minor duties every day, unseen, unsung.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

The way they were

A couple of years ago I was given several boxes of ‘old’ photographs, mostly of locomotives with a  Scottish allocation / origin. However, in the boxes were a number of photos of A3s, including this one of No.2595 Trigo, later No.60084 Trigo. The legend on the back of the 6 x 4 postcard print reads, ‘entering Grantham on up Flying Scotsman’. It  is Published by Photomatic, the photographer isn’t named. There’s no date but my guess would be pre-war but, not by much, maybe 1936 /37. No.2595 Trigo entered service in February 1930 and was withdrawn, as BR No.60084 Trigo, in November 1964.

Coincidently, No.60084 Trigo, is one of those engines I remember from my own 1950s school days, when she was a regular on the ‘4 o’clocker’ through Burley Park, in Leeds, on the route to Harrogate. In 1955, according to my Locoshed Book she was allocated to Neville Hill, she was still sheded there, in the 1961 edition, which recently came into my possesion. Neville Hill was 50B in 1955, in 1961 it was 55H.

The guard, trudging up the platform, with his traps, and the fireman ‘posing’, in his seat add a nice human touch to the proceedings. However, what isn’t clear is whether the engine is moving, the caption and fireman’s pose would indicate the train was stood, or was about to stop. If it is stationary, presumably it is for signals, as in my understanding the ‘Flying Scotsman’ ran non-stop.

Later this week I will be posting a feature length Blog about my first few weeks at 70A – so if you like a ‘footplate tale’ – keep your eyes open!!

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Green Ivatt Black Riddles

I never imagined, three years ago, when I began writing ‘Steamagedaydreams’, that I would be having ‘online’ conversations with train drivers and railwaymen from Russia, the Philpines, Argentina, Australia, and Kenya, as well as those from Britain. It has, as they say, been an interesting and eye opening journey.

The universality of the railway, both as a means of transport and, for some of us, an enduring hobby too is, surely, one of the more positive aspects of an increasingly dystopian looking future.  The Great Central Railway’s ‘Bridge to the Future’ has, in recent days taken a major leap forward – with the new bridge being craned into position. On the locomotive front, one more of the ‘in Ex-Barry condition’ engines is back in steam with the return of former BR Class 5 4-6-0, No.73156.

No.73165 is, for the up coming GCR tribute to the ‘End of Southern steam’, going to be renumbered as No.73084 Tintagel, which, I know isn’t to everyone’s liking but, for me it will be a bit of a treat. No.73084 Tintagel was a Nine Elms engine, during the years when I worked there and an engine I fired on numerous trips.

Later this week I will be posting a feature length Blog about my first few weeks at 70A – so if you like a ‘footplate tale’ – keep your eyes open!!

In the photo we see Ivatt 2-6-0 No.46521 piloting Riddles 2-6-0 No.78018 making a ‘getaway’ from Loughborough during last year’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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather