A little light and a lot of clag

Much is written about making clag, both serious stuff and the banter, some of it is written by former footplatemen and some by armchair critics. The engine making all the noise, and smoke, is Ex-LMS class 5 4-6-0, No.44767, now named George Stephenson, and fitted with outside Stephenson’s link motion. Not so much as making smoke but, bringing her own atmosphere, as she blasts under Darnholme bridge with a Grosmont – Pickering service.

During 7 years of footplate work I fired on 20+ different locomotive types from LMS Jinties to Bulleid’s Merchant Navy class, even had a go on a B1. I worked with hard coal, soft coal, and coal eggs and had jobs where you were walking into the tender to get to the coal. I worked every kind of service from the Royal Wessex to station pilot, engineers trains and ‘Spotters Specials’,  coal trains over the Pennines and fish trains from Hull docks, so it would, I think, be fair to say I have some experience in the clag making business.

In the books they tell you to fire light and bright, firing to a pattern with fist size lumps of coal – and sometimes you had to do just that. However, like any workman, on any job, you look for ways to make your days work easier. If it was easier to ‘box’ her up and sit down for a few miles, have a swig of tea and a fag, well that was what you did – the colour of the exhaust was of little consideration.

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:


or: To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, you could grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

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