These wheezing, clanking, beasts bookend my time on the footplate, my first run out, as a very young cleaner, on a goods working from Leeds to Mirfield, was on one and my last duties as a fireman, before being made redundant, were at Wakefield (Belle Vue), where I worked on little else. My last Combined Volume, the Summer 1964 edition, lists 461 still at work, none of them survived the big cull. The one in the photograph, No.90733, seen emerging from Mytholmes Tunnel on the K&WVR, was rescued from Swedish Railways, who had bought it from the Dutch Railway.
They were almost never cleaned, certainly during my cleaning days they never saw more than an oily rag on the cab side numbers, ‘work stained’ was synonymous with any description of them. However, they did work and they did ‘deliver the goods’, coal and iron ore mostly but, I’ve worked fish trains from Hull with them, on occasion. It has to be said, they are not the most comfortable riders when you get them jogging along but, they’d drag the ‘town hall behind them’. They were absolutely in their element hauling heavy coal trains and I really enjoyed working with them on the Healy Mills – Rose Grove or Padiham workings during my spell at Wakefield.
On these runs over the Pennines, beyond Hall Royd Junction, there are around five miles at 1: 60 to 1:70 up through Cornholme and Portsmouth to Copy Pit summit, gradients like this, with a heavy train, really made them bark, you could feel every power stroke as the whole engine swayed side to side with the effort. However, once you made it to Copy Pit, and pinned a few brakes down, you could sit back, have a fag, and roll all the way to Gannow Junction. It was never quite so hard going back over the Pennines with the empties, sometimes you got one of Rose Grove’s Stanier 8Fs on the return working, which made a pleasant change.
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: