Walking into the tender

The fireman has the tender door open, to get at the coal, as No.45699 Galatea, photographed here at Birkett Common, continues the long slog up to Aisgill summit. Firing is hard enough work as it is and when you’re having to ‘walk’ into the tender, not only does it become harder work you are also firing with more dust and dross from the back of the tender, so just as the work gets harder the quality of the fuel goes down – Sodd’s Law?

I did work on the Jubilees but, not for very long, or very far, until just  before steam’s demise. In 1967 I was at Wakefield (Belle Vue) 56A and about 99% of the work I was doing was with Dub Dees on coal and goods trains; and then, out of the blue almost, a ‘short rest’ job to Blackpool with a ‘miner’s welfare’ outing to the seaside. Wakefield, at the time, had a couple of Ex-Holbeck Jubes, No.45694 Bellerophon and No.45739 Ulster, mostly used on parcels turns, and for just such eventualities as the local miners annual dip in the briny.  If my memory serves we had No.45694 Bellerophon.

We were slightly late getting away due to the time taken loading, not just the passengers, but substantial quantites of alcohol, crates of which were being doled out by the stewards, from an overladen porters trolley. Mostly beer with a few bottles of Sherry, ‘for the ladies’, and some crisps and pop for the nippers. Once under way I don’t recall any major hold ups or issues. I knew the road as far Burnley because that was one of our regular workings Healy Mill – Rose Grove, beyond there I was reliant on the driver, and after Preston, on the pilotman to let me know when to begin running the fire down for our arrival on the shed.

The return trip however, was a very different affair.  And of that, more later.

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:


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