Tanks and teaks

Winter still seems to be hanging on here, at Goathland, more dead leaves than fresh shoots. Unusually, No.80136 is engine facing Grosmont and not quite what I was expecting but, hey ho.  These engines worked the line in the months before closure and probably hauling the odd Gresley coach or two.  My own memories of them is working the ‘Kenny Belle’ between Clapham Junction and Kennsington Olympia.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the ‘Kenny Belle’, it was a special, untimetabled, service for postal workers, at the giant mail sorting centre at Kennsington. It ran every morning and evening during the week and was reserved for postal workers only. During my brief spell at Stewarts Lane I worked beyond Kennsington and up to North Pole Junction, over the GWR /LNWR West London Joint line, with inter-regional freights which we worked to or from Norwood. Sadly almost all these workings were with the 53xx Cromptons, not quite my cup of tea. I made less than a handful of trips with steam, N or U class moguls. The only other turn I worked over this route, was after moving to 70A, it was known on the roster as the Vauxhall Milk. A real snip of a job we  worked the train forward from Kennsington, with one of the BR 82xxx class 3 2-6-2Ts, to Vauxhall station. Once there we spent the next few hours, ‘kipping’, whilst the tanks were emptied – a fine night’s work!!

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

Crossing the Esk & herding sheep!

Under clear blue skies and with a stiff on shore breeze, Jubilee  No.45690 Leander, is seen here, hauling the Cumbrian Coast Express, crossing Eskmeals viaduct, over the meandering estuary of the river Esk, a few miles south of Ravenglass, the home of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. 11 on and ‘going like a train’ we could see and hear her almost all the way from Ravenglass; reportedly 2 late off the Sellafield water stop, she was certainly making every effort to regain it.

It would have been rude to come all the way out here and not make a brief visit to the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. And so, before coming down here to Eskmeals, I went for a look at Irton Road station, the only original station on the line, still in use. I hadn’t really planned the visit but, within a few minutes of my arrival I heard the chime whistle of, Northern Rock, and turned to see her approaching Irton Road from the Dalegarth end of the line. However, the Herdwick sheep, which had been grazing contentedly, along the trackside, was even more surprised than I was by Northern Rock’s arrival and set off at a trot, down the line, ahead of the train.

The sheep didn’t appear too have been too distressed by Northern Rock’s impromptu display of sheep herding as, after the train departed, it strolled nonchalently across in front of the car pausing, briefly, to give a baleful stare in our direction, before wandering away down the lane and away from the station.

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

Out with the old

Working on the railway during the transition from steam to diesel, in the 1960s, presented its only little idiocyncracies. You turned up for work expecting, and dressed for, a day on a diesel, only to find it had failed earlier and been replaced by a steam engine. In my case this was a bonus – I had little time for ‘modern traction’, give me a steamer any day.

In the late summer of 65 I moved into No.2 link at Nine Elms, traditionally the Salisbury link. The Western region had sent over its decrepit Warship class diesels for us to use on the West of England services. Not only did they fail with ‘unfailing’ regularity, they were also hard pushed to keep time. My new regular mate, one of the railway’s more obnoxious characters, only added to the disenchantment of being in a link where the steam turns were being dieselised. Stareing out of a window for eight hours, in the company of someone you loathe and detest, isn’t a good day at the office.

Being young and impulsive I decided to return to my home county and start again.  At the beginning of January 1966 I walked through the gate at Holbeck to sign on. One of the first people I bumped into was an ex-Farnley Jct. driver, Walter Thurlow, who was now a loco inspector. He took me to see the shed master and I was passed for firing, on the spot. No oily rags and paraffin, back on the road with a shovel. Almost immediately I was sent on a week long loan to Stourton, 55B, where I did a few very interesting little trips around the goods yards and sidings of Leeds and had a run out as far as Skipton with a goods working from Stourton yard, for Carlisle. The return working was parcels train, with a diesel on the front, one of the BR Sulzer Type 2 Bo-Bo, if memory serves me.

There was no longer any escape, the advancing dieselisation was the future. I moved from Holbeck to Wakefield but, even here the diesels were making inroads, in less than 18 months it would be over.

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

Ancient and Modern

On the right is 1888 vintage Webb ‘Coal Tank’ No.1054 and on the left, 1951 vintage Riddles Britannia Class Pacific No.70013 Oliver Cromwell. Several years ago now, I wrote an article, for Heritage Railway magazine, about the Britannias, ‘The Last Pacifics’. On test, on the S&C, they proved capable of hauling prodigious loads and producing steam at phenomenal rates, using two firemen and top grade hard coal. I remember a quote from some footplate wag, when talking about building bigger engines, along the lines of, ‘they don’t build bigger men to fire them though.’

Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to fire a ‘Brit’ but, I did fire on all the Merchant Navies, a very high percentage of the WC / B-o-Bs, and even did a round trip Waterloo – Exeter, with an enthusiast special, so I know what it takes to keep a beast like this steaming, over long periods of time. However, we all started like the young lad leaning from the cab of No.1054, firing on a little tank engine; and at some rural depots or sub-sheds you might never work on anything bigger. The trade off was that these guys went home to their own beds, whilst the crews on the big Pacifics would be spending half a week sleeping in the railway lodging houses, and not just the crews on the Pacifics, long distance freight workings could also be lodging turns.

The lodging houses themselves varied enormously, for best part of a year I lived in the one at Old Oak Common, 24 hour canteen, snooker tables, nice little rooms, room cleaning service, all mod cons. Others were little better than a camp bed in a cubicle, and living in them would have been a prison sentence. When lodging turns were re-introduced in the 1990s, the crew were booked into hotel accomodation. A slightly more modern approach than a wooden cubicle with a curtain across the entrance and a camp type bed to sleep on.

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

“Tha’ll need thi big coit”

The winter of 62/3, is the last time I remember so much snow and over such a period. It was my first year at work on the railway and I earned an extra few shillings in my pay packet, doing overtime to keep the braziers burning around the water coloumns, preventing them from freezing up. Everyone does their best in these situations, crews were walking in because buses were stuck, or not running, but, even with dedicated men, as most at 55C were, there are times when the conditions become impossible, or should that be impassable.

The braziers were one thing, there was a host of other ‘additional duties’, general snow clearing,  spreading ash from the ash pits along walk ways,  to the lodging house and, most importantly, the canteen. Around the shed yard we were clearing snow and ice from frozen points and those beyond the lodging house and in the head shunt, to keep the turning triangle useable, Farnley didn’t have a turntable.

Many of the goods workings were being caped because of frozen point work and if crews did make it in, a few hours ‘waiting orders’ and playing Rummy before being sent home was pretty much par for the course. The snow plough was in operation on several days, and if my memory serves, at least one of the Black 5s on the allocation had a pair of small snow ploughs attached by the fitters. If your job was caped and you ‘dropped unlucky’ a few hours out with the snow plough rather than a few hands of ‘Chase the lady’ could be your lot. Nothing like spending half your day running tender first into sub-arctic temperatures.

The photo shows Robert Stephenson & Haworthorn 0-4-0ST Sir Cecil A. Cochrane approaching Bobgins crossing with a train  for Andrews House on the Tanfield Railway, during their Great War Weekend event on Sunday.

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

Snow, sheep, and steam

As the nation grinds to a standstill the sheep just couldn’t seem to care less, oblivious to the travel doom engulfing all around them. It was Great War Weekend on the Tanfield Railway, on a day, probably, more suited to an impromtu game of football in no man’s land, or possibly the station car park. The locomotive is Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn 0-4-0ST Sir Cecil A. Cochrane and she is seen here drifting gently towards Causey Arch with the first train of the day from Andrews House.

Sadly, a little while after this picture was taken, the decision was made, reluctantly, to abandon the remainder of the day’s services, in the interests of safety. Credit where it’s due though, the volunteers all turned up for duty, the plaform edges had been cleared of snow, and the first train left Andrews House, on time. A squad of squaddies all tin hats and Khaki trooped down to the station and, as the train to Sunniside was departing, a very vintage motor bike and sidecar was being unloaded from the back of a van. It’s a shame for all concerned, railway volunteers and re-enactors alike, when they’ve put so much effort in, that things outside of their control put a dampner on the events.

A good show, lads and lasses – shame about the weather.

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

Modern Britain

When the class, of which No.75078 is a member, was introduced in 1951 they were designated  as  British Railways ‘standard class’ 4. The ‘standard classes’ were to be the face of ‘Modern British Railways’, and 75078’s big sister, No.70004 William Shakespeare was exhibited at the Festival of Britain, held in the same year. In 1963 I began working on them, out of Waterloo, on trains carrying the very same headcode – Waterloo – West of England, and No.75078 was one of the ones I worked on.

One of the services we used them on were the ‘stoppers’ to Basingstoke, Woking and then ‘all stations’. They were nippy little engines and would gallop away from the stops and flew along quite happily with full regulator and 25% cut-off. I don’t know if anyone ever bothered to time these stoppers but we had a lot of fun seeing just how quickly the intermediate sprints could be done.  The first one was Woking to Farnborough which included the pull up to MP 31 but, a bit of a dip down into Farnborough as compensation.

The distance from Woking to Farnborough is almost 9 miles and passing times of 11 minutes, give or take,  for WC/B-o-B were regularly achieved with around 350 – 375 ton trains. A stopping time would, of course, be slower, and a smaller engine would, likewise, be a tad off the pace.  Quite by chance one of my runs with the 02.45 papers was recorded on 22/05/65, the locomotive was B-o-B No. 34086 219 Squadron, our start to pass time was 11mins.20secs and we went through Farnborough at 70mph, the load was 350 tons. We completed the start to stop Woking – Basingstoke journey in even time 23.5 miles in 23.45

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

On the branch

Through social media I have made the aquaintance of a Russian railwayman and railway enthusiast. He doesn’t speak English and I can neither read nor speak Russian so ‘autotranslate’ get’s us through, sort of.  Today he said, ‘we are the keepers of the railway’s history, you and I’. What I understood by that is that TOCs and the rest have come and gone, blown like confetti on the wind. Yet here, and before your very eyes, is an engine from what was once, by and large, the biggest company on the planet, the London & North Western Railway, it is over 100 years old and still in active service, this is the very essence of his remark.

The locomotive, FW Webb’s ‘coal tank’, 0-6-2T No.1054 is hauling coaches which belonged to the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and they are all travelling along, what is today, the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, a line originally built by the Midland Railway. These companies, the Midland, L&YR, and LNWR, in the fullness of time became the London Midland and Scottish Railway and eventually a part of the nationalised British Railways.  This history though, isn’t simply one of dates rolling stock and locomotive it involves the lives of millions, of our parents, grand parents and their grand parents too.  From the poorest navvy camped in a ‘sod hut’ on Shap to the ‘finest’ in their wing collared shirts at Euston – it is their history we keep alive.

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

Neither Somerset nor Dorset

Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway No.88, now No. 53808, was built in Darlington, by Robert Stephenson & Co., in 1925. The first 6 engines in the class were introduced in 1914, to work the coal and goods traffic on the heavily graded route over the Mendip Hills. In 1925, post-Grouping, 5 more were ordered and No.53808 was one of them, which, I suppose, would make her an LMS rather than S&DJR engine. No.53808 was a one shed engine, allocated new to Bath Green Park where she remained  until withdrawn in March 1964.

Despatched to Woodhams scrapyard she was saved by the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust; and is usaully to be found at work on the West Somerset Railway. However, in the photograph she is en-route to Ingrow with the 14:20 goods from Keighley; the banker is K&WVR resident, Ex-Taff Vale Railway 0-6-2T, No.85. In addition to their intended freight duties the S&DJR Class 7F 2-8-0s frequently saw service on passenger duties, between Bath and Bournemouth, especially during the Summer timetable.

Motive power over the S&D’s Bath – Bournemouth route was a mix of LMS and Southern, the line’s joint owners, and in the later years Bulleid Pacifics were a not uncommon sight. The British Railways 9F 2-10-0s were also used for a time and in 1960, the now preserved No.92203, was one of number allocated to Bath Green Park. The S&D was, to all intents an purposes, immortalised in the work of the photographer Ivo Peters and in the footplate work and writings of Bath Green Park enginemen Donald Beale and Peter Smith. It was very nice, to have had a distant echo them and the line they loved right here in Yorkshire.

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

Goodnight Olly you must leave us!

Blasting out of Keighley, well almost, actually a fortuitous slip. No.70013 Oliver Cromwell on her swansong gala performance was carrying the Master Cutler headboard, a train I always wanted to travel on. We would see it sometimes when we changed trains and stations at Sheffield, on our journey down from Leeds to Rugby.

What follows is a small photo essay -a selection of some of my favourite photos of No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, to mark her imminent retirement for a 10-year overhaul.

Here she is a Qourn & Woodhouse, in a scene straight out of the 1950s/60s on the very line I travelled over to Rugby and along which the Master Cutler passed. From the flat lands of the East Midlands, this next shot of ‘Olly’ was taken in the Highlands of Scotland, the southbound summit of Druimauchdar to be precise.

In this photo, No.70013 Oliver Cromwell was putting in the lion’s share of the effort, even though No.61993 Great Marquess seems to be making the lion’s share of the clag. Earlier in the same tour I was at Blackford, in Perthshire, to witness Ollie heading north with the climbs of Druimauchdar and Slochd still to come.

Behind the train is Blackford Crossing Box, a mile or two further up the line is the famous Gleneagles hotel and golf course. The station at Gleneagles, and departures from it, featured regularly in magazine photographs of Scottish railways.

For about a year in late 1963 through into 1964 I was a resident in the notorious ‘huts’ at Old Oak Common enginemen’s hostel, sadly, the only things I saw carrying the Red Dragon head board were Warship class diesels. If you put a few more coaches, and express lamps and the headboard on this picture …….

Still on the GCR we see Ollie with the TPO heading for Quorn & Woodhouse and the mail drop.  I dare say, that back in the day, the Brits would have worked their share of mail trains and with several, at one time, sheded at Holyhead, they would have worked the titled train ‘The Irish Mail’ Euston – Holyhead service..

This final image is Ollie crossing the Tay. In the background is Dundee and at the top left of the picture you can see a white tower it’s a war memorial and it sits atop Dundee Law, an extinct volcano. The Law provides a panoramic viewing platform for the whole of the Tay estuary, and around the perimeter has  a series of etched plaques detailing what features are in the landscape that you are looking at.

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