On the cushions

My first time ‘home pass’ or ‘back on the cushions’ was when I was still only a cleaner at Farnley Jct. I was riding out with the crew on a York – Swansea parcels service – we were relieved at Stalybridge, by Stockport Edgeley men, returning to Leeds by service train. When I moved south to 70A, early in 1963, I had few turns where the duty sheet  read book on at –  ‘and travel passenger to’. These were usually Special ‘boat trains’ or Special ‘banana trains’. The boat trains could be either work down to the docks and home pass or the other way round.

On the banana trains I only ever travelled down pass to Eastleigh; a stroll to the shed, and then light engine to the docks to collect the van train for Nine Elms goods. On these banana trains I fired WC / B-o-B pacifics, 73xxx Standard Class 5s, and the 75xxx Standard 4s but, sadly, never one of the 76xxx Class 4s, like the one in the photo. I recall, on one occasion, travelling down to Eastleigh, with another crew and, to pass the time, the four of us started playing cards, only to end up leaping off the train as it began to move off. Another 30 seconds and we would have had to explain how we ended up in Southampton – with egg on face.

The most famous ‘on the cushions’ job was, of course, the Flying Scotsman non-stop service where the relief crew rode in the train from Kings Cross to York and then made their way through the corridor tender, to the footplate, the relieved crew returning the same way back to the coaches. The corridor tender was  designed to allow crew changes to be made during the long non-stop services from London to Edinburgh, and were fitted to around 20 of Gresley’s A4 Class 4-6-2s, specifically for this purpose.

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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Coals to Newcastle

Taking coal to Newcastle, once a familiar euphemism for futility, has been rendered redundant by the closure of the coal industry. And coal  made its way to Newcastle, along this route, for the best part of two hundred and fifty years. The Tanfield waggon way was part of a network of lines which carried coal from the local pits to the Tyne at Dunston; initially utilising horses and rope worked inclines.

No.3 Twizell, an 0-6-0 of 1890s vintage, has just emerged from Causey Woods and is approaching Bobgins Crossing with the 14:15 East Tanfield – Sunniside service, during the Tanfield Railway’s ‘mixed train’ day, on Sunday last. There was once, during the line’s industrial past,  a short lived, Saturdays only, passenger service which operated between 1842 and 1844. It ran from Tanfield Lea to Redheugh where it met the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway. Initially there was a passenger coach provided but, this didn’t last and passengers were left to make their journey in coal trucks.

The Tanfield Railway was not unique in carrying passengers, quite a few colliery lines provided some basic level of passenger transport for their employees and their families, some, like the ‘Marsden Rattler’, (The South Shields, Marsden & Whitburn, which became a public line in 1899), even became popular / notorious, parts of the local transport network.  And some of the Tanfield Railway’s wooden bodied rolling stock, with wooden bench seating, reflects the type of carriages those Victorian Tynesiders enjoyed, or not.

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:

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A testing climb

56 years ago my day job was cleaning engines just like this one, they weren’t red though – BR green. We had four of them shededd at Farnley Jct. and they were our principal cleaning duty, especially if they were on the Liverpool Lime Street jobs. I never had enough seniority to be trusted with firing on one of these turns – Top Link men only! This was one of the main reasons I left Farnley Jct., not just to be promoted from passed cleaner to fireman but, to get some main line passenger work before the end of steam as the motive power for the national network.

No.45699 Galatea was, despite the fairly stiff cross/head wind, going well and was probably a minute or even two early. Assuming she had left Appleby, after the water stop, on time, a gain of two minutes at Aisgill was a good effort given the prevailing conditions. I don’t know if it still goes on but, a few years back there was a bit of an ‘unofficial’ contest for the fastest climb from the Appleby water stop to Aisgill summit. If memory serves, the Duke, a Duchess, and a Merchant Navy all held the Blue Riband at one time or another.

In the early 1950s when the Britannias were new, the section of the S&C between Crosby Garrett and Aisgill was used for their steaming trials, a test which reqired the services of two fireman. According to C.J.Allen’s account, the Britannia No.70005 John Milton, on the test, was consuming coal at the rate of 2.5 tons an hour and using 3,615 gallons of water in the same period. Phew!

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:

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Last Year’s Landscape

Our railways ran, and in some instances still do, over some of the most scenic and unspoiled bits of the country. Equally true is that they ran through some of the most despoiled and industrialised areas of the country too – they helped in creating much of it. This scene of bucolic bliss is Kildale on the Whitby – Middlesborough via Battersby Junction line.

Beamish Pit and Puffing Billy, mining coal and transporting it from the pits the very raison d’ etre of railways, of industrialisation, of ‘the modern world’ where coal is no longer king – but hey, ‘that’s progress folks’. The engine’s a replica, the site a museum, facsimilies, sanitised renditions of a past, a past without health care, sick pay, holidays, maternity leave, electricity, anesthetic, old age pensions: And photography!

Another route out of Whitby, the one which used to run to York, via Malton, now the heritage North Yorkshire Moors Railway, runs past the tiny hamlet of Esk Valley, the terrace of cottages and a scattering of farm houses in the lower part of the picture. This goods train hauled by Black 5 No.44806 and banked by BR Standard Class 4MTT No.80136 is at the start of the long and twisting climb to Goathland, high on the moors.

From the high moors to the high Pennines, at Lunds viaduct on the Settle  – Carlisle line. The S&C has its own rich folk lore which runs from engines spinning on turntables, (Garsdale), through murder most foul, to Jam Butty making and eating contests in the Temperance Hotel in Kirkby Stephen. This latter being inaugurated by the bands of roaming enthusiasts who flocked to the area, during the era when the S&C was under imminent threat of closure. (Thanks to Paul Screeton and his ‘Folklore of the Settle -Carlisle’ for the details about the Jam Butty contest.)

From the ‘romantic’ S&C to real ‘Jam Butty Land’, the prosaic Balm Road branch of the Middleton Railway, in Leeds. A wet day, a deserted street, on an industrial estate and the building in the back ground carries a sign reading Imageco – the future’s bleak, the future’s 50 shades of grey. The engine making all the smoke is ‘Slough Estates No.3’ and she spent her working life on an industrial estate in Slough – enough to create despondency in any soul.

From the slough of despond to God’s green acres and the Nation’s ‘favourite’ engine. In the background is one of Yorkshire’s best known landmarks, Pen-y-Ghent, in the foreground trackside buildings gently decay.  The location is about half a mile south of Ribblehead viaduct and No.60103 Flying Scotsman had just ‘shut-off’ for the slack – bleak Blea moor and wild Cumbrian fells beckon.

Lastly we have Ex-LMS 4-6-0 Jubilee class No.45690 Leander with the classic south bound location, at the summit of Aisgill, with the ‘up’ Waverley. One day I’ll do this shot and the sun will be shining – maybe 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

 

 

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Highland ‘oliday

With Blackford box and crossing in the background No.70013 Oliver Cromwell makes a fine sight at the head of the ‘down’ Great Britain III, back in April 2010. This year the Great Britain XI will be hauled from York to Carlisle, over the S & C, by the freshly restored Merchant Navy Class 4-6-2 No.35018 British India Line, an engine I worked on myself, as a fireman, back in the 1960s. I also worked a rail tour, in February 1965, with sister locomotive No.35022 Holland Amerika Line.

The LCGB organised East Devon Rail Tour was run on 28th February 1965 and was booked to run non-stop between Waterloo and Yeovil, a very rare event as there are no troughs on the Southern and 122 miles, without taking water, is a long way.  Careful boiler management was the order of the day, no excess blowing off, making sure the injectors weren’t ‘wasting’ water and I had to have ‘water in the tap’, i.e. around 1/2 a tenderful, at Worting Junction or we would have to stop for water at Salisbury – I had, we didn’t.

There were no ‘fireworks’ in the running, though we didn’t hang about and our overall net time for the 122 miles was 118 minutes, five minutes under the scheduled 123. There were several spells, around Andover and Sherbourne were we were in the 90s, we topped Grately at just short of 70 and reached 86 passing Porton. The return working was marred by checks and a dead stand at Salisbury. However, we did average a shade over 77mph from Grately to Fleet. And the net time from the Salisbury check to Waterloo was around 76 minutes for the 83 miles.

One commentator noted ‘it was a long day out for the crew’ – the Waterloo – Exeter round trip is 343 miles, throw in the light engine movements from Nine Elms to Waterloo and Exeter – Sidmouth Jct. and it was a 350 plus miles long day out – and we never did get to see the sea!!

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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I see no pasties

Ex-GWR Hall Class 4-6-0 No.4953 Pitchford Hall blasts away from Loughborough with a recreation of the Cornishman. Quite a few ‘Named Trains’ came to Leeds, where I grew up, in the 50s and early 60s, some, like the Yorkshire Pullman, Queen of Scots, or the West Riding arrived and departed from Leeds Central station whilst the Thames Clyde Express and the North Briton departed from City station – albeit from opposite ends of the station. In additon to these well known names there were one or two lesser lights, the Devonian and the Cornishman, and the latter has, at times, been the cause of some confusion.

This confusion arises from there being two services named ‘Cornishman’. The original ‘Cornishman’ was a GWR service from Paddington to Penzance which commenced in 1890 and finished in 1904. It was resurrected for a year 1935/6 and ceased thereafter. The ‘Cornishman’ which called at Leeds, originated in Bradford and served Kingswear and Penzance via Gloucester and Bristol. This service was initiated by BR and ran from 1951 to 1975.

In the 1950s, and early 60s this service was almost always hauled into and out of Leeds by a Jubilee. The leg from Leeds City station to Bradford Forster Sq. was usually hauled by one of the Stanier / Fairburn 2-6-4Ts and, if memory serves, the Fowler 2-6-4Ts also appeared on this working and both Holbeck and Manningham had allocations. And, there’s every possibility that the preserved Fairburn 2-6-4T No. 42073 actually worked the service as, in 1960, she was transferred to Manningham, from Huddersfield. No.42073 is pictured below emeging from the tunnel at Haverthwaite Station on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite 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:

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Snow fun and games

British Railways 2-6-0 No.78018 entered traffic in March 1954, and was allocated to West Auckland, less than a year later, according to my 1955 Shed Book, she was based at Kirkby Stephen, the opposite end of the line most commonly known as the Stainmore route.  And, in February 1955, whilst working the 04:20 goods from Kirkby Stephen,  she, and her train of eight 20 ton loaded hopper wagons and a guard’s van, became entombed in a snow drift just beyond Barras station, close to ‘Stainmore’ summit.

What began as an ordinary day’s work for the crew turned into a nightmare of epic proportions. Travelling eastwards out of Kirkby Stephen, No.78018 became fast in the snow at around 05.00 on Thursday 24th of February and it wasn’t until 15:00 the following Monday, the 28th February, that a rescue was made. 50 men, armed with little more than shovels, set out behind an engine and snow plough, from Barnard Castle, and headed west, they were accompanied by a film crew, hastily assembled by British Transport Film’s Producer, Edgar Anstey.

The film crew, Kenneth Fairbairn, Director, and cameraman Robert Paynter and his assistant David Watkin did much of the filming in darkness using Tilley lamps for lighting. Shot in black and white the results of their efforts became one of the most evocative and atmospheric BTF  documentaries ever filmed – ‘Snowdrift at Bleath Gill’.

The photograph shows the ‘film star’ No.78018 getting away from Loughborough with a local service for Leicester North, on the Great Central Railway; with not so much as a snowflake in sight.

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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Making a getaway

In 1954 No.76038 was one of a number the of BR Class 4 2-6-0s allocated, from new, to Neasden, just tweleve years later she was withdrawn, as we were winning the World Cup, from Machynlleth. Somewhat closer to where this photograph was taken, Goathland, on the North Yorkshire Moors, the sheds at West Auckland and Kirkby Stephen had an allocation of these 2-6-0s which were used on the ‘Stainmore route’, on both passenger and coal traffic. However, during the summer it was not unknown for them to take holiday makers from Tyneside to the Lancashire resorts.

I mentioned the World Cup because there’s a connection – West Auckland is the home of the First World Cup the Sir Thomas Lipton  Trophy; which was won ‘outright’ by the amatuer side West Auckland Town FC in 1911. Founded in 1893, the players were mainly local miners – they were up against teams put out by the Swiss, Italian, and German FAs, the English FA had declined to nominate a side – and the rest, as they say, is history. West Auckland Town FC are, unlike the mines and No. 76038, still going and playing in the Northern League.

The Stainmore route, which closed for pasenger traffic in 1962 and to goods in 1974, now has  a heritage line based at the former Kirkby Stephen East station. They recently won awards for their restoration of the NER water tower and crane at Kirkby Stephen but, more importantly they have secured Lottery funding to restore LNER J21 0-6-0 No.65033 to working order, for use on the line.

There is another connection between the Stainmore route and preservation which I will cover in a later posting.

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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Where are they now?

Looking through some old files I came across this scan of one of my pre-digital era slides. It shows Midland ‘half cab’ No.41708, drifting towards Keighley, with the Vintage Carriage Trust’s Metropolitan Railway carriages – it got me thinking about engines which have run in preservation but no longer do so – No.41708 being a case in point.

There are, I’m sure, many others locomotives which have had their time in the spot light, Castle No.5080 Defiant, WC No.34016 Bodmin, NBR 0-6-0 No.65243 Maude and Jinties No.47279 and No.47383 come to mind- ‘pending overhaul’ covers a multitude of sins. It is 50 years this year since steam ended on BR and, despite the passage of half a century, there are still engines out there which, although saved from being cut up, remain in ‘Ex-Barry condition’ or have been given ‘cosmetic’ restoration to prevent further decay. Included in this number are Bulleid Pacifics, GWR Halls, and BR Class 9F, amongst others.

The other side of the coin, as it were, there are quite a few ‘new builds’ being undertaken and one, No.60163 Tornado, has been around for quite some time now, out on the main line and appearing on heritage lines too. On a slightly different scale the 82045 Locomotive Trust, of which I am a member, are well down the road with a new build of the BR Standard Class 3 2-6-2T to be numbered No.82045. In many ways the ideal locomotive for a heritage railway operation, and good for the crew too with decent weather protection when running bunker first – unlike the poor souls running tender first in the half-cab!

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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