Fifty years ago, in 1967, I was hard at work on machines like this one, as a fireman, at 56A Wakefield (Belle Vue). We all knew what was coming but were powerless to prevent it – the steam powered railway was doomed, the game was up. We were going to have a clean bright future – reality, however, turned out rather differently. For a great many of us at 56A our future as railwaymen looked anything but bright. The growing dieselisation was not only bringing job losses it was also destroying the ‘link’ system – so much a part of footplate life.
The growth of single-manning led to the creation of ‘the fireman’s link’. No longer did you have a regular mate, now you were part of one huge link comprised solely of firemen – you could end up working a different turn every day, with a different driver, and having started on days – end up on nights. Fun, it wasn’t, and men started to drift away, finding new jobs. It wasn’t just the steam that was going the work was too. More and more goods and coal traffic was moving on to the roads, resulting in caped turns, and train loads dwindling from 40 or more wagons to a mere handful.
Now we make normally ‘clean bright engines’ dirty, like No.90711, aka(90733), in this photo, which shows her leaving Keighley, just as the early morning mist beings to lift, with a goods working to Oxenhope.
If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3
Here are the online links to it.:
and on Amazon 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: