On a chilly November morning GWR 2-8-0T, No.4270, sits waiting for the road at Bewdley, on the Severn Valley Railway. These engines and their variants the 5205 class, along with the ‘modified’ 72xx class 2-8-2Ts, were built, primarily, to haul coal from the Welsh valleys to the docks for export or to marshalling yards for distribution round Britain.
It is easy to forget today, just how important coal and coal traffic was. When these engines entered service most households in the country had coal fires, central heating was practically un-heard of. The cotton mills of Lancashire and the woollen mills of Yorkshire relied on coal fired boilers: when I finished off the footplate in 68 I worked for a spell, in a woollen mill, hand firing a Lancashire Industrial boiler. Much of the nation’s gas was also produced from coal and I haven’t mentioned the iron and steel industry, the electricity generating business was also pretty much totally reliant on coal fired power stations – that’s a lot of coal. The merchant and Royal Navy had coal fired ships – coal really was King in the power generation game – and the railways themselves burned a few tons too – I shovelled a few of them myself
Just as the lights went out on my railway career they will very soon be going out on Steam Age Daydreams too.
I will still be passing my time photographing steam locomotives and for those of you who have enjoyed reading the Blog – I will be continuing to write, Part II of ‘In Memory’ will be available before the end of the month with parts III, IV and V to follow at intervals in the New Year. If you’ve enjoyed my photographs the Steam Age Daydreams 2019 Calendar is now on sale on eBay – here’s the link: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/302936132284
Above is the link to Part I of my memories of footplate life in the 1960s. The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway is still available on Amazon – Below, is the link to that work.