You could be forgiven for thinking that this is an all action shot of Schools Class 4-4-0, No.926 Repton, going hammer and tongs through Goathland when, in reality, she is absolutely stationary and ‘waiting time’ – the rest is courtesy of the fireman and the blower.
The School Class weren’t native to Yorkshire and as for ‘Repton’ well that would be more Midland / GCR territory than Southern Railway. Having said that, in a few weeks time it will be the 70th anniversary of the Locomotive Exchange trials, when the newly formed British Railways played mix and match with the nation’s locomotive fleet. Think of it as ‘One man and his dog’ but, with steam engines and no sheep!
The Schools Class themselves played no part in the trials but, each of the ‘Big Four’ entered locomotives in the Express Locomotive, Mixed Traffic and Freight, categories, with the exception of the Southern, who did not enter any freight engines. The Freight classification also included both a 2-10-0 and 2-8-0 WD ‘Austerity’. Being little more than a year old when the trials were taking place I have no recollection of them. However, I do know now that one of the routes chosen for the trials was London Kings Cross – Leeds and that the Southern Railway locomotives No.35017 Belgian Marine was one of the trialists on that route.
Fifteen years later I made the trip from Leeds to London to become a fireman, and worked on No.35017 Belgian Marine, on services from Waterloo to Bournemouth or Salisbury. Even more remarkably, perhaps, I fired for one of the crew involved in the 1948 trials, fireman Bert Hooker, who was by then a driver at Nine Elms.
I am just putting the finishing touches to a ‘feature’ length blog, covering the trials, which I will be posting later this week. The article will provide some of the day to day details from the exchanges, by way of commemorating the events which began on the 22nd April 1948 and continued until 10th September.
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: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751