‘dreamin’ in the midday sun’

On a hot summer’s day a shady spot, under the trees, watching the trains go by is as good as it gets. And every school holiday from 1954, until I began working on the railway, in 1962, was spent, ‘watching the trains go by’ – it’s why Steam Age Daydreams, is “Steam Age Daydreams”. The following details, from a recently acquired note book, are for a trip from Leeds to Doncaster at Whit weekend 1958 – I could, quite easily, have been there myself as my own trips to Doncaster were fairly frequent – with the ‘Plant stream’ being a highlight.

There are 168 numbers listed representing close to 30 different classes of locomotives, including the ‘one of’ W1 Class 4-6-4 No.60700. No.60017 Silver Fox was another on the list – in 1936 she held the British record of 113mph, attained on ‘Stoke bank’, hauling the ‘up’ “Silver Jubilee” service. The other A4s that day were No.60025 Falcon, 60029 Woodcock, 60032 Gannet, 60033 Seagull, 60006 Sir Ralph Wedgewood,  60010 Dominion of Canada, and the ‘preserved’ No.60007 Sir Nigel Gresley. One of the half-dozen A2s in the list was the rebuilt P2 No.60506 Wolf of Badenoch. In amongst the A3s was No.60103 Flying Scotsman and 60110 Robert the Devil. The 7 A1s present included No.60113 Great Northern, the controversial rebuild of Gresley’s first Pacific.

The bucolic scene photographed is in the open air museum at Beamish and the signal box and station are from Rowley, brought here brick by brick and re-assembled. The locomotive, 1938 built Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST ‘Wissington’, is, like me, visiting the museum.  Wissington’s working life was spent hauling sugar beet from farms in west Norfolk to the BSC ‘Wissington’ sugar refinery.

At the end of her working life Wissington was donated to the the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Preservation Society in 1978; following a lengthy overhaul she returned to steam in 2012. Both the Midland and the Great Northern were represented in the notebook, the GN by J52s and  J50s, the Midland, well Midland design, by 3F No.47405. There was also former GCR D11 ‘Director’ 62666 Zeebrugge and an Ex-GER 0-6-0 J69, just to round out the numbers.

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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