Fully Loaded

A lone figure watches as Ex-Keighley Gasworks No.2 pulls out of Andrews House Station with the delayed 11:50 departure for Sunniside, earlier today. Appearances, however, can be very deceptive, all four coaches were packed to the rafters. The railway have been offering ‘kids travel for a quid’ during August and there were a few young families enjoying the day out but, they were well outnumbered by the comfortably retired, on this trip anyway.

What always amazes me is that 50 years have passed since regular steam hauled services finished and yet droves of people turn out, on a Thursday, to go for a trundle behind a steam engine. 50 years ago they couldn’t wait to see the back of them – and now they don’t seem to be able to get enough of them. People are a fickle lot!!

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics.  They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the existing webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway will still be available on Amazon – Below, is the link to it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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Bringing the cheque ……..

“The cheque’s in the post” – but hopefully not in this demonstation of the TPO on the Great Central Railway, it really would never get there. My first ever shed bash to London, from my home in Leeds, was on what would be described as the ‘mail train’. We left Leeds at around 10:15 and arrived in St. Pancras at about 06:00. The trip was  an advertised excursion; and the cost of the ticket must have been very small, we were all still schoolboys. Like the journey south we had to return on a designated service at around 18:00, as I recall; more than enough time for a trip round the London Termini and trips to Stratford, Old Oak Common, and Willesden sheds.

I say we because I did the trip on several occasions and with different travelling companions. The trips, made during 1960 and 61, also included visits to Kentish Town and a futile attempt to bunk Camden. Surprisingly, in view of my later time on the footplate, we didn’t go ‘south of the river’ during these excursions.  In today’s social climate the very idea of 3 or 4 teenage lads, from a city in northern England would travel to London and spend several hours tresspassing on railway property, would have folk going mental – the tabloid press would have a field day and the PC brigade would have had our parents locked up. My how times change.

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics.  They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the existing webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway will still be available on Amazon – Below, is the link to it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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Gricing – The Real Story of the Railway Children

For any of you wanting to know more, or enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs, in them why not buy yourselves a copy of my book. “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’ – ‘ I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This is the link to “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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9F ing

In the back of my mind I have a memory of just one trip with a 9F, from Stourton to Skipton, where we were relieved and worked back with a diesel on a parcels train.  It was in a week I spent working on loan at Stourton early in 1966;  during a 3 month spell at Holbeck; before I moved to Wakefield for the remaining year and a bit of steam on BR.

The big footplate and firebox reminded me of the Bulleid’s I’d been working on a few months earlier. I don’t recall any drama during the trip and to be honest you I wouldn’t expect any on a 30 mile run with an engine more than capable of performing the task in hand. The really sad bit about them is that their flangeless centre driver keeps them off the main line – on preserved lines they really are ‘caged beasts’.

The one in the photograph No.92214 was at the time sporting the name plate ‘Cock o’ the North’, now she’s ‘Leicester City’ and working on the GCR ; no longer a resident on the North Yorkshire Moors Raailway, which is where she is pictured.

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics.  They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the existing webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway will still be available on Amazon – Below, is the link to it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

 

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Horses for courses

The writer, philosopher, and opium eater, Thomas De Quincy wrote beautifully of the essential difference between travelling in a stage coach or a railway one. ‘Seated in the old mail-coach, we needed no evidence out of ourselves to indicate the velocity. … The vital experience of the glad animal sensibilities made doubts impossible on the question of our speed; we heard our speed, we saw it, we felt it as a thrilling; and this speed was not the product of blind insensate agencies, that had no sympathy to give, but was incarnated in the fiery eyeballs of the noblest among brutes, in his dilated nostril, spasmodic muscles, and thunder-beating hoofs.’ (De Quincy’s comments were first published in Blackwood’s Magazine during 1849, but the quote is taken from Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s The Railway Journey: The Industrialisation of Time and Space in the 19th Century)

I mention all this because, if you look closely you will see a man on horse back racing the train – a classic exercise in futility. The locomotive is the new build A1 No.60163 Tornado and she is pictured at Moorgates on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in the livery she sported in May 2009.

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics.  They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the current webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway will still be available on Amazon – Below, is the link to it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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Stopped for a blow-up

With nothing better to do yesterday afternoon I watched some steam action videos on Youtube, one of which was titled, “King in trouble”. Part of the action shows the struggle on the footplate as the fireman, aided by a traction inspector, try to maintain boiler pressure.  We see them turning the injectors on and off, both fireman and inspector have a go with the shovel and the fireman gets a fire iron in the fire – a lot of effort but, still the needle seemed stuck around 150lbs sq in.

I’ve had a few rough trips myself, and been brought to a stand with the brakes going on because steam pressure had fallen so low the ejector was no longer maintaining sufficient vacuum to keep them off.  Back in the day, when this happend you had to inform the signalman you’d stopped in section and why. Later the driver would have a No.1 form to complete to explain what went wrong.

Earlier this year the engine in the photo, Ex-LMS Jubilee Class 4-6-0 No.45690 Leander, was taken out of service at Carlisle after working over the Settle – Carlisle and having lost time due to ‘steaming issues’.  In their earliest form the Jubilees did have a reputation as indifferent steamers but, later modifications to the superheater and blast pipe improved matters. However, they never quite lost that ‘indifferent’ tag and in the wrong hands, or with poor coal, they could quickly turn sick, especially if they had to much fire under the brick arch.

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics.  They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the current webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway will still be available on Amazon – Below, is the link to it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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Pegged both ways

In 2019  it will be 65 years since I began writing down engine numbers in a note book.  For seven years,  in the 1960s, I was a British Railways fireman at numerous sheds including 3 years at 70A, working on the former LSWR routes to Bournemouth and Salisbury. After graduatng from the University of Leeds, in the late 1980s, I’ve written about railway life, work, and the railway itself, in books, magazines, and newspaper spplements, not to mention taking 1000s of photographs of  steam engines at sites and locations all round Britain.

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of topics. The most popular one, by a long way, was the  one from May 2015 about my 105mph run with Merchant Navy Class Pacific No.35005 Canadian Pacific – the link below will take you to it if you haven’t already read it. http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=1848

I am writing this to let you all know that when the current webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway will still be available on Amazon – Below, is the link to it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

 

 

 

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Passing time?

It started in the classroom as some boring old fart droned on about the square on the hypothenuse, or how many pecks to the bushel, (Google that one). Now I’m the boring old fart musing  about the passing of time.  I have to admit I quite like the passing shot too and sometimes the results turn out better than the shot you lined up for.

Passing time has its own railway connections, of course, and many a railway photographer is grateful for knowing them – it cuts down the time standing in a field, expectantly. It must be said that passing times aren’t published for the benefit of railway photographers, even if many of us believe that is exactly why they are!!

I passed a fair bit of time on the footplate of this engine, in 1963 and 64, before her premature withdrawal in 1964, though not in this super shiney condition, nor on the Settle – Carlisle line. My own passage over the Pennines was via Copy Pit or Diggle with Dub Dees and usually with rafts of coal.

If you’ve more time to pass, check out the archive, there are over 500 articles to choose from on all manner of time wasting topics but, no algebra.

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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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When I’m cleaning smokeboxes

George Formby used to do one of his dirty ditties about ‘The Wigan Boat Express’, not that Metropolitan No.1 ever went anywhere near Wigan with an express boat train. And to the best of my knowledge there never was a Wigan Boat Express either. It’s more that cleaning smokeboxes is a dirty little duty, a chore with the wrong kind of char. On a prepare and dispose turn you’d get 3 or 4 of them to shovel out, sometimes more. Emptying the smokebox was only one part of the disposal process, for the fireman, there was cleaning the fire and raking out the ash pans too. The whole ritual seemed designed to create sufficient sweat that every stray partical of ash and coal dust ended up sticking to you.

Not all smokeboxes are equal – I’ve opened the smokebox door on many a West Country Class, 34101 Hartland included, with char up to the dart, still glowing hot at the bottom. Those Bulleid smokeboxes  go a long way back too. You did sometimes wonder if the fireman who disposed her last had actually bothered to clean the smokebox.

And some are not so very big at all, like this one on the Burrows Well Tank ‘Willy’ which  barely holds enough char to fill a wheel barrow.

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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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No smoke without fire

How  very transitional, a steam engine coming to the rescue of a failed diesel, or even been given the job of piloting one. However, in this instance the diesel is there to alleviate the fire risk caused by this summer’s drought; though as can be seen, No.45699 Galatea was putting in a little effort too. And, if one can be thankful for small mercies, at least the diesel almost blends in; unlike the hideous blue one with the Union Jack, which sticks out further than a sore thumb.

No.45699 Galatea has just hit the 1:100 gradient, you can see that change about 4 coaches back, as she powers across Birkett common towards Birkett tunnel. This stretch of the line has, over the years, seen some memorable test running; during 1937 it was the turn of Leeds crew Driver W. North and Fireman H. George of Holbeck who with engine No.5660 Rooke completed the Carlisle – Leeds run of 113 miles in 115mins 38sec.  On that test run the section from Carlisle to Aisgill summit, a distance of 48.4 miles, was made in 48 mins 36 sec, the load was 305 tons.

On the marginally more difficult north bound working this same engine and crew made the Leeds – Carlisle run in 117 mins. In his book the “Jubilees of the LMS”, John Clay, (from which this information has been taken), notes that on the banks the engine was worked at 35 – 40% cut-off and full regulator. He also comments that the fireman was to be commended as there were no reports of steaming problems. Nice to see the fireman being given his dues.

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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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