A salutary lesson

You’ve seen this photo before, I posted it on the 7th of October in the blog, ‘Hitting the Buffers’.  Quite by chance, I visited the Railway Grapevine page on Facebook and discovered this very photograph in their post on October 7th. The only difference was they’d cut off the bit with my (C) steamagedaydreams.co.uk. copyright logo and put their own in its place.

I made a polite comment on the post and waited, no reply, so I messaged them, politely. Their answer was to remove my comment on the post and block me from the page and from further messaging them. I ended up having to contact Facebook’s copyright team to get my photograph removed from the Railway Grapevine’s page. Naturally I have not received any form of apology for the theft of my image by the Railway Grapevine, whoever he / she is.

I don’t have an issue with sharing my photos and have, when asked, provided hi-res copies for both owning groups and for individual footplate crew. I don’t mind them being shared on other sites, or on Facebook, so long as they remain credited to me. However, I seriously object to my work being taken, without so much as a by your leave, not being credited, having my logo removed from the photo and then being effectively shut down from making any kind of complaint.

The Railway Grapevine say their page is ‘just for fun’ – well I’m not laughing. And nor should anyone else when this is how they behave.

Please feel free to share this post and alert other photographers  to the less than savoury activities of whoever is behind the Railway Grapevine page.

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Old rivals

In the West country there was a great deal of rivalry between the London & South Western and the GWR, especially over the Atlantic traffic and in 1906 an accident at Salisbury, to a non-stop Plymouth – Waterloo Atlantic liner service, in which 28 people were kiled, led the London & South Western, subsequently, to stop all London bound trains at Salisbury. There was a stop for an engine change at Templecombe, but not for passengers, prior to this.

A couple of years earlier, in 1904, it was on one of the GWR’s Trans-Atlantic services that the did she didn’t she reach 100mph saga with No.3440 City of Truro began. After 1906 and the opening of the Reading – Taunton route the GWR had the advantage of a more direct route than the one via Bristol; and there have been some suggestions that the driver of the LSWR express, in 1906, had been trying to prove that they could still compete. However, there is little direct evidence to support this.

In my own time on the Southern, during the 1960s, I worked an LCGB rail tour from Waterloo to Exeter and back which was booked to run non-stop Waterloo to Yeovil and Yeovil to Waterloo. We did run through Salisbury on the down run but, on the return we were checked by signals as we approached. The non-stop running was a ‘special dispensation’ and we had a footplate inspector, Arthur Jupp, along with us all the way there and back.  The driver was ‘Spot’ King and our engine was No.35022 Holland-America Line.

The photograph shows B-o-B Class 4-6-2 No.34053 Sir Keith Park at Kinchley Lane, during the Great Central Railway’s ‘Southern Gala’ earlier this year.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

 

 

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Scot Free?

Sadly, during the Christmas period, graffiti vandals have struck again on a heritage railway, this time the Severn Valley Railway. These acts of vandalism are not new and nor are they confined to dim and disaffected teenagers. The destruction of huge chunks of the railway network was industrial scale vandalism, and, in some senses, every bit as mindless as the actions of the graffiti sprayers. It was more good luck than good management which kept the line in the photograph open for business. For those who don’t know, this is the Settle – Carlisle route, close to Aisgill summit. If you were a lover of the original ‘Royal Scot’ class you might consider Stanier a vandal for his rebuilding. However, rebuilds are a can of worms I’m not going to open here.

In the case of the national network it wasn’t thousands of volunteer hours of labour that was being trashed, it was the deaths of thousands of navvies, their wives and children too, who died in building routes like the Woodhead route across the Pennines or the Waverley route through the borders. To some extent our current hobby is the result of this vandalism, all in the name of progress, naturally.

I don’t condone the vandalism, be it state sponsored or the mindless moron variety; we do, however, seem to display a certain degree of ambivalence to the former and a quite alarming degree of ferocity towards the latter. Some of the comments I’ve seen on social media advocate chopping hands off, a practice the same commentators would, in all probability, condemn as barbaric if it was being perpetrated by Saudi Arabia.

The unfortunate thing is that the vandals, who have been around for thousands of years, will still be vandals and their mindless activities, whether on the small scale or the large,  will continue to rile people. And if the history of dealing with vandals shows us anything, it is that all the solutions, tried in order to prevent it, have failed, even the barbaric ones.

The recent vandalising  of the teak coaches at the NYMR brought a great community response and the coaches were back in service, almost, before you could say Jack Robinson. Hopefully, this current act will draw a similar response. The vandalism may well be distressing to many but, the railway community response to it is a much more positive and longer lasting effect than a few cans of aerosol paint.

So, on that positive note may I wish  Steam Age Daydreams fans and followers all the steaming best for 2018.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

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Merry Christmas relief

The Tanfield Railway, and Twizell No.3 ‘s exhaust catches the setting sun, as she crosses Causey Arch car park bridge, heading for Andrews House, with the last North Pole Express of the day. The festive season is upon us and once the Mince Pie specials have run their course many of our heritage lines take a winter break, though Tanfield isn’t one of them.

My own memories of working for BR, during the festive season, are somewhat less than festive, I don’t remember joyful passengers bringing us a plate of mince pies, or a slice of Christmas cake, the engines weren’t decked with tinsel and no one wore reindeer antlers. On Boxing day the railway provided a skeleton service and single blokes often dropped for a Boxing day shift. When I drew the short straw, my reward could have been a lot worse than the time and three quarters plus a day in lieu for a mundane day at the office on an ECS, station pilot, and train heating duties, turn.

From the day after Boxing day it was pretty much business as usual until New Year’s Eve. And I have a vague memory of working a boat train special, down to Ocean Liner terminal, during this time, in 1963, with driver Gordon Porter and No.35001 Channel Packet.  Gordon was a lovely bloke to work with and I was fortunate enough to have had a few runs with him during my time at Nine Elms; including a fine run with No.34006 Bude, one of the engines chosen for the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials, on the 22:35 Ex-Waterloo, where we reached 95mph on the run down to Winchester. RIP Gordon.

Well that’s the ‘relief’ – now where’s that plate of mince pies?

Merry Christmas to all who follow and enjoy Steam Age Daydreams.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

 

 

 

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Christmas at the double

Well here we are again, tis the season of pies, cake, and Santa, so let me take the opportunity to wish all of you the very Merriest of Christmases.

The nearest thing I have to a nativity scene is this shot, at the top of Druimuachdar, you can see the summit marker just to the left of the lineside bothy, (stable) – and yes that’s snow on the hill behind. The double-headed Black 5s, or yonder stars,  are No. 44871 piloting No.45407 with the Inverness – Perth leg on one of the “GB” series of Rail Tours.

Double-headed fives over the Highland main line is very much the ghost of Christmas past.  I couldn’t help thinking about what it must have been like a hundred years ago, at Christmas 1917, when huge coal trains were being hauled over these desolate hills, not by Black5s of course, enroute to Scapa Flow and the bunkers of the Royal Navy’s high-seas fleet – they even gave them a name – ‘the Jellicoe Specials’. A lot of the coal being hauled  had been dug out of the ground hundreds of miles away in the Welsh valleys and these trains, which ran day and night, were an essential part of the war effort. And what an effort it must have been with Shap, Beattock, Druimuachdar, and Slochd all on the route.

For me it only remains to say, all the very best for 2018.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas

On Tuesday December 22nd 1964 I was working the 17:30 departure from Waterloo, as far as Southampton,  with West Country Class No 34097 Holsworthy, the load was 12 for 435 tons. On the day the run was marred by two signal checks at Surbiton and Hook, where we stood for almost 10 minutes. The shift finished,  at Waterloo,  after working back with the 20:58 Ex- Southampton,  around 23.30.  I had one more trip to do, on the Wednesday, before trying to get back to Leeds, for Christmas with the folks, on the 24th. In the event I went to Kings Cross in my overalls and rode home in the back cab, a Deltic, and I swear my ears are still ringing!!

My first Christmas on the railway was a rather different affair, it was the winter of 1962 – 63, a bitterly cold winter with heavy snowfalls, I spent a lot of time keeping braziers alight and water columns unfrozen, with the odd snowball fight thrown in.

Whatever you are doing this Christmas I hope it’s a good one. Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to you all.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

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A Merry Christmas

I hope the thousands of you who have, over the last 4 years, liked and enjoyed my photos and posts, have a ‘Cracker’ of a Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

The photo shows ‘Matthew Murray’ pulling a “Christmas Cracker”, the Middleton Railway’s Santa Train, emerging from under the M621 motorway.  Crackers, in my experience, have tended to contain a  cheap toy, a terrible pun or joke, on a scrap of paper and a sad, paper hat, in the form of a crown, probably a flimsy reference to the crowning of the ‘Lord of Misrule’,  a form a Christmas celebration now confined to the history books, sadly.

A local peasant would be crowned  Lord of Misrule and he would organise the festivities for a month long blow-out of feasting and drunken debauchery. When the Puritans arrived it was all kicked into touch.

Anyway, that’s enough of the old curmudgeon MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my readers and to railwaymen and women everywhere.

 

 

 

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The fireman

The ‘Singing Fireman’, Don Bilston, wrote, ‘ driver sits there like a god, not a bad mate just an idle sod, though I be shovelling on my knees, he just sits there at his ease …..’  This is the footplate of one of the first locomotives, ‘The Steam Elephant’, not much room for anyone to sit at ease there. I’m not certain but, I can’t imagine many small boys growing up wanting to be ‘firemen’, it was just something you had to go through to reach that coveted driver’s seat.

The fireman was a second class citizen, they even became, in the fullness of time, ‘second’ men; being a fireman was to be anonymous. In all the logs and tales of the footplate it’s driver, this, that, and somebody or other, with barely a nod to the long suffering stoker. Not a word about his struggle with fire iron and shovel to coax an exta 10lbs of pressure out of some steam shy old nag, with a clinkered fire and a tender full of dust.  Every dirty job, from trimming the coal to raking out the ashpans was on the fireman’s to do list – and all the time there was that carrot, that hand on the regulator, the driver’s seat.

And then you get out on the main line with 12 on and begin to realise that the fireman isn’t anonymous, for it is his skill, or lack of, which determines what kind of ‘performance’ can be delivered. One footplate wag, many years ago, commented, ‘when they built bigger engines they should’ve built bigger men to fire them’ and relatively few British locomotives had mechanical stokers.

Being the season of good will to all men, when you go out a wassailing don’t forget to raise a toast to the fireman, the man who makes the puff ‘n’ go.  To firemen, long may your needle hover on the red line and the white feather show. – None of your ‘half a glass’ now – up to the top nut!

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

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And we wish you ……

Well here we are again, steaming into yo, ho, ho, and for some lucky folk, this week, sun, steam, and yo, ho, snow. We are also rapidly approaching the 70th anniversary of the birth of British Railways, on 01/01/1948. How different things were back then, very few had tv, computers were the size of a house and there were, probably, no more than a handful in the entire country; most people didn’t have a phone, and a mobile phone was pure science fiction.

The first objective for BR was to complete the repairs to the war ravaged network and catch up on the regular maintenance programme which had been almost abadonded during the war. Life expired and war damaged rolling stock and locomotives needed replacing; on top of these practical considerations was the need to bring together the management and operations of the four, nominally, competing companies into one publicly owned corporation.

When the newly Nationalised railway opened for business R A Riddles was sitting in what was, in effect, the CME’s chair, assisted by E S Cox and R Bond, this trio were responsible for the creation of British Railways ‘Standard’ classes. Riddles railway life began at Crewe, in the days of the LNWR, he rose to become principal assistant to Stanier at the  LMS, and in 1943, on secondement to the Ministry of Supply, he designed his 2-8-0 and 2-10-0 ‘Austerities’ – the forerunner to the 9Fs, one of which, No.92214, is pictured above departing from Loughborough.

Despite being ‘standard’ the 9Fs had their share of modifications, some were fitted with Franco-Crosti boilers, and then they weren’t, some were fitted with mechanical stokers, several more had air pumps fitted for working the Tyne Dock – Consett iron ore hoppers and No.92250, the last in the class, was fitted with a Giesel ejector. The 9Fs were built between 1954 and 1960, by  July 1964 Nos. 92169,70,71,75,76,77, which, in 1960 were all allocated to 36A Doncaster, had all been withdrawn.  In 1960 No.92214 was a Banbury engine and, in all probability, worked trains on this very line when she was – ironic really when you think she has spent more time in service on heritage railways than she did on British Railways.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

 

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Railway Royalty

In this photo of, No.46233 Duchess of Sutherland, she has just topped the climb out of Dunblane and is virtually coasting  through Blackford, heading for Perth. Strip out the head board and the beautifully done LMS in the buffers, this could quite easily be the last years of BR steam on the West Coast, before the wires went up. Some of the final duties these engines worked, over this route, were parcels and fish trains, a far cry from the Royal Highlander and further still from the Coronation Scot they were initially constructed to haul, though the Coronation Scot ran to Glasgow, not Perth and Inverness.

Somebody will correct me if I’m wrong but, I’m sure I’ve read somewhere, that back in the days, Perth men worked as far South as Crewe,  a duty which would have seen them tackling both Beattock and Shap; a real test of the fireman’s stamina and abilities. Having done a few years on the footplate of Bulleid’s Pacifics, including a run to Exeter and back from Waterloo, I know what it takes to keep one of these beasts of the main line steaming over long distances and at speed. Having said that, I always fancied having a go at firing a “Duchess” on a Crewe to Perth run, or even one of the Euston – Carlisle runs with the pre-war Coronation Scot – a 299 mile non-stop high speed journey. There’s a real sense of achievement in knowing your skills and effort provided the power to make this happen.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

 

 

 

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