Fast Fitted

In Heritage Railway Magazine, some years ago now, I wrote an article entitled, ‘Things that went clank in the night’, it was, as you might guess, about the humble world of the over-night freights. Some goods workings achieved almost legendary status, such as the Aberdeen fish trains, which, in the later years of steam, would see anything from a V2 to a ‘Duchess’ turning up. The legendary driver William (Bill) Sparshatt, was reputed to have ‘run down’ i.e caught up, The Talisman with a fitted freight, quite what the guard thought about his wild ride was probably unprintable.

Leaving aside the legends, fishy and otherwise, the fitted freight was bread and butter work and much of it went on during the hours of darkness. The doyen of the V2s No.4771 Green Arrow was named in conjunction with the LNER’s fast fitted freight service ‘Green Arrow’ which had its initial outing as early as 1928, though 4771 Green Arrow wasn’t built until 1936. The LNER wasn’t the only ‘Green Arrow’ service on offer, the GWR advertised one too. Unofficially they also named a London – Worcester ‘fitted’ ‘The Sauce’, and the railway companies did not discourage these ad hoc names.

Surprisingly, in my own railway service, the only fast fitted I worked were the ‘Banana’ trains from Southampton docks to Nine Elms goods; none of which were ‘regular’ services. I did work a regular turn of fully fitted stone hoppers, which originated from Meldon Quarry. We worked down with a passenger service and relieved the crew at Salisbury working back to Feltham engineers yard. The usual motive power was an S15 and it was out for some hours before we stepped aboard – a very rough turn for the fireman, coal back in the tender and plenty of clinker in the fire.

The photo shows No 92214, a BR Class 9F, the last of the ‘Express’ freight engines, with a fitted freight recreation, on the Great Central Railway, near Loughborough.

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

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