50 Sheds of Grey


Old Jack Frost’s cold fingers hold land and water in their grip, as the Country’s “most famous locomotive”, No.60103 Flying Scotsman, runs round her train, at Rawtenstall, on the very edge of the Pennines. This was weekend two of the Flying Circus, sorry, Flying Scotsman spectacular. The ‘great and good’ with their press pack entourage may have departed homewards,  but of devotees there was no shortage, packed trains, crowded platforms, swathes of camera totting photographers all along the lineside – paid testament to that.

There was very much a flavour of the moment, I thought, with this photograph, a bleak scene, in bleak times. At Summerseats, just a few miles down the line, the Christmas floods swept a 200 year old pub away, part of the road through the village is still closed. Flying Scotsman’s wartime austerity paint job gives an all too grim reminder of the current ‘austerity’. The livery may have helped to make  locomotives less visible as a target during WWII, it certainly made Flying Scotsman look a lot more like an industrial product than the work of art she appears – when pictured, in her LNER glory days, hauling the Flying Scotsman.

The balloon water tank, in matching grey, makes an austere accessory to the scene. It reminded me of my first winter on the railway, that of 62/3, a very severe winter as I recall,  when I seemed to spend weeks, keeping braziers burning, to stop the water columns from freezing up at my first SHED 55C.

If you’ve enjoyed my photographs and blog, you might enjoy my book “Gricing: The Real story of the Railway Children”

These are some of the totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing:  ‘ treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’  ‘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 my book “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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