Tag Archives: Southern Railway

My kind of engine

34070ykbomo

We all have our favourites when it comes to locomotive types, big or small, passenger or goods, and this is how it should be – it’s our hobby – it’s about the things that matter in life, not money, power, or fame, but what brings us pleasure and enjoyment.

I’ve been away down south, the last few days, visiting my kids, one of them gave me a half-crown from the year of my birth, that’s 12.5 pence in today’s money. Back when I was a kid, this tiny sum of money would have bought me a brand new copy of Ian Allan’s Locomotive Shed Book, a cheap and cheerful version of the Combined Volume.

In those days, before my own footplate career began, I was very much a Northerner, I loved the rebuilt Scots, and Patriots but most of all I was inspired by the A4s which came and went from Leeds Central Station. However, when I went to work for BR a very different set of values kicked in, how well the engines steamed and performed began to influence the choice of ‘favourite’, every bit as much as peer pressure and personal idiosyncrasies, had previously coloured my tastes in ‘favourite’ engines.

Stanier’s Black 5s, those humble maids of all work, began to rise up the rankings, free steaming, reliable, many an engineman would refer to them as ‘the fireman’s friend’, and I learned why. The Jinties too were great fun and a joy to work on, as were those ugly ducklings Hughes’ ‘Crab’. And then I transferred away from 55C Farnley Junction and headed for the ‘Smoke’ – aka London. A decision which, to this day, informs my choice of favourite engines.

My home for 3 years, in the early to mid 60s, was 70A Nine Elms, the London & South Western Railway’s ‘top shed’. Here, along with the U-boats, Charlies, and Standard Arthur’s I was introduced to Oliver Bulleid’s West Country, Battle of Britain, and Merchant Navy classes – what an eye opener. I grew to love that chifferty-chafferty sound they made as they pulled out of Waterloo with 12 or 13 coaches heading for the ‘Sunny South’ or to the Atlantic Coast.

There’s a little post script to this. I went to 56A Wakefield, in 1966, and began working train loads of coal from the pits in the Yorkshire coal fields, to the yards at Healy Mills or dragging them over the Pennines to Rose Grove or Padiham power station. These turns were  the domain of the WDs, or ‘Dubdees’ – unglamourous, filthy dirty, wheezing, clanking beasts, they might have been, but from the fireman’s side of the cab they did everything it said on the tin – even if, in places, you could see through the ‘tin’ of the cabsides.

34070 Manston is pictured leaving Loughborough during a recent GCR gala.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running.

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

A little light relief

53lightengine

Just after sunrise, and the first rays, softly, lighting up the exhaust, of  Ex-Southern Railway Class M7 0-4-4T No.53, aka No.30053, as she scuttles along, light engine, from Loughborogh to Quorn & Woodhouse during a Great Central Railway gala weekend – and coming up this weekend, hopefully a repeat performance, though not with No.53. However, No 1501 or No. 7820 Dinmore Manor are great substitutes, all that glinting brass and copperwork … mmmm!

Galas at the GCR are like no other, with trains nearly every 15 minutes from sunrise to sunset, goods, minerals, the TPO, and light engine movements, it is the nearest thing to ‘how it was’. To add to the eclectic mix of services, there’s a nice blend of semaphore and colour light signalling and a working turntable – with demonstration engine turnings to go with it.

This weekend, if the weather men are right, there might even be sun, steam, and snow – a more magical combination I cannot imagine. The weathered 8F No.48624, a fine rake of mineral empties, semaphore signals, clouds of billowing white exhaust – you can add your own day dreams I’m sure. In my book heritage railways, of whatever, size shape, or length are very much a dream come true. In 1968 I doubt if even the most far sighted and starry eyed enthusiasts ever dreamed that we’d have the numbers of engines and lines to run them on that we enjoy today.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running.

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Woolies & U-boats

31806oldbury

U class No.31806, is one of the members of the class rebuilt from a K or ‘River’ Class 2-6-4T, (A806 River Torridge), all of which were rebuilt as tender engines following a serious accident at Sevenoaks, in 1927, which left 13 dead and 40 injured.  The original K class 2-6-4Ts were intended for ‘high-speed’ commuter work over the former SECR metals, and they did achieve speeds of 80mph. However, they were reputed to be rough riding especially on anything other than first class track and their tendency to roll earned them the nickname ‘Rolling Rivers’.

The design and construction of these engines was constrained by the use of some of the railway workshops, Ashford in particular, to supplement the war effort, during the Great War 1914 -1918. This resulted in a building programme which began in 1917, but ended in 1926, and involved parts for the locomotive and some construction work being undertaken by a variety of suppliers and workshops. Woolwich Arsenal was one of the external suppliers and it was this factor which led to the N & U / U1 classes, in general, being referred to as Woolies and the designation U-boats came, naturally, from their designation as U class. Other companies involved in the building of these engines included the North British Locomotive Company who supplied a number of the boilers and Armstrong Whitworth and  the loco works at Brighton built a few too .

My own involvement with these engines was on goods trains between London and Basingstoke and during a very brief spell at Stewarts Lane MPD. It was one of the very few steam turns left at the depot – a Saturdays only service from Tunbridge Wells to London Bridge, if memory serves. We arrived in London with enough fire in the firebox to take the train over Shap. Despite the driver’s best efforts to blast it out of the chimney, on the way back to the shed, we arrived with a box full of red hot coals – which all had to be paddled out. ( The paddle is a metal shovel on the end of 7 feet of metal handle) You can imagine how this might be a tricky, getting roughly 8 foot of hot metal and burning coals maneuvered  round in the cab, before throwing it out of the door onto the piles of ash on the ash pit road. This could, at times, be painful job, and nasty burns were not uncommon. The shovel end would get red hot and bend over, then you had to take the coal hammer to it and flatten it out, with a big box full of fire this could be repeated several times before the job was done. The true romance of the footplate – well maybe not.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing'

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Modernisation – 60 years on.

73129gnstsadd

The plan to modernise British Railways, was published, in draft, in December 1954 – and the plans, or at least a part of them, were put into practice from 1955 onwards, which makes 2015 the 60th anniversary of this change in railway fortunes, or not as the case may be. However, some sort of ‘modernisation’ had been in progress from the 1st of January 1948, when the railways were taken into public ownership. The locomotive in the photograph is one of the results of that putative modernisation – though just how modern it is very debatable.

Caprotti valve gear, or rotary poppet valves, had been trialed in Britain in the 1920s /30s, the LMS fitted  them on several of the Black 5s, during 1948 so that was hardly new or innovative, though probably more modern than fitting one of the Black 5s with outside Stephenson’s link motion, which they did, in 1947, to the unique No.44767. The locomotives built under the original BR ‘modernisation’ plan – the BR ‘standard’ classes were, in reality,  little more than rehashes of existing practices and locomotives, particularly those of HG Ivatt, with a smattering of other LMS/LNER/SR bits and bobs thrown in for good measure – and they didn’t even go so far is to include electric lighting.  Trying to see the water levels, in the light of a guttering paraffin fueled gauge glass lamp, at 3a.m on a cold winter’s morning, can be frustating – and paraffin lighting most definitely isn’t ‘modern’ – not even in  in 1950s Britain.

There are days when I wonder if ‘modernity’ ever came to Britain, and there are no shortages of people who, if it had, wished it hadn’t. There reasons are many and varied as to why the newly nationalised railways eschewed going straight down the road of dieselisation or electrification, but the reasons for any real modernisation of the locomotive fleet are less clear cut. It has been said that the Standard classes were just a stop gap, yet there were plans to build more of the Britannia class pacifics, and some in the railway industry, at the time, saw steam traction still being utilised on Britan’s railways into the 1980s and possibly beyond – obviously not the visionary types.

The photograph is slightly unusual in that most engines which work on the K&WVR face towards Oxenhope.  No.73129, visiting from the Midland Railway centre, is facing Keighley and is seen here just as she shut off steam on the GN straight approaching Keighley.

If you've enjoyed this, or any other of my  posts, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing'

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

‘Greyhounds’

30120bodmin

‘Once upon a time’ these elegant 4-4-0s hauled the fastest expresses of the day on, the London & South Western Railway’s main lines, to Weymouth or Exeter and the West Country. When new they hauled trains such as, the North Cornwall Express / North Cornwall & Bude Express, which commenced in 1900. Rebranded as the  Atlantic Coast Express, in 1926, in the post-war era, it became one of the first services on the Southern to run to mile a minute timings, which it did between Waterloo & Salisbury. For many years during peak holiday times, such was the level of traffic for this train, that several ‘relief’ services were timetabled, winter was very different, and, in 1964, like so many other trains and services, the ACE hit the buffers.

Back to the T9s – before they ended their railway service the T9s played ‘express engines’ once more, not with the mile a minute flyer at 11.00 from Waterloo – but they were hauling the ACE again. This time their involvement was working forward from Exeter, with the divided portions for destinations such as Padstow and Bude or Ilfracombe. In the photograph, the location of which is shortly after leaving Bodmin Parkway, heading towards Bodmin General, on what is now the Bodmin & Wenford Railway, we see No.30120  carrying  the headcode  for an Exeter to Padstow service, just for old time’s sake.

Despite their Southern heritage the T9s have, in their simple, almost Spartan outlines, a touch of Scottish railway practice about them, which is not surprising when you know they were designed by Dugald Drummond, who was born in Ardrossan, in Ayrshire. Drummond began his career on the railways of Scotland, working for the Caledonian, Highland, and North British Railways, amongst others before taking up the post of Chief Locomotive Engineer on the L&SWR in 1895. Drummond designed quite a few ‘well regarded’ locomotives for the L&SWR, the ubiquitous M7 class 0-4-4Ts and the L700 class 0-6-0 goods engines, known to many as ‘Black Motors’, in addition to the T9 ‘Greyhounds’ – though his 4-6-0 designs, like the T14s,  were less than successful.

‘Greyhounds’ you say – that’s because the T9s were fast runners and free steaming – but you knew that.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.
http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing'

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Screen savour

957damloopsadd

For quite a while this photo was my computer screen ‘wall paper’, there was something about the light, both on the escaping steam and in the background. I liked the way the driver was watching the road ahead whilst his fireman stands looking out of the open window. The bobby stood on the verandah, watching the approaching train, the looping telephone wires and shining rails each, and all, in their own way seemed to add something. All very subjective, of course.

Just as with most things, our own personal preferences, ‘baggage’, and experience loom large when we decide what we like, or don’t, as the case may be. One man’s Kandinsky is another mans, ‘my dog can paint better than that’ – in case you’re wondering – I quite like Kandinsky and I don’t have a dog.

Railways, and steam railways in particular, often raise personal preferences to a verbal version of the ‘Battle of the Somme’ – charges, counter charges, thundering verbal barrages, explosive outbursts,  – thankfully, thus far, the carnage has been kept to the odd threat of fisticuffs, rendered in cyberland. Naturally, people are passionate about their hobby; and with all things railway there’s always the hint of tribalism too. Great Western fans like their engines brassy, revere Churchward and Collett, chocolate and cream and Swindon. LMS devotees love 5s, 8s and Black, closely followed by Crimson Lake, and Scots. Over on the East Coast they like their Garter Blue and teak, wedge fronts, and classes A1 to Y9. Southern lovers champion Bulleid, ‘air smoothed casing’, King Arthur, Charlies and the Devon Belle! There’s much more to it than that, but I’m sure you get the drift.

In the photograph, Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway 0-6-0 No. 957 , is trundling through Damems loop, on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway fans love Pugs, Club Coaches, Hughes and Aspinall, tripe and black pudding – not entirely sure if the last two are true, ‘cos I like Pugs but can’t stand offal!!

 If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.
http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing'

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2
Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Once a Knight

30777leighlane

The disc being carried by No.30777 Sir Lamiel, is probably meant to signify that she is hauling a stopping passenger service. In her Southern days it would have indicated something rather different. It could have indicated that No.30777 Sir Lamiel, was working Victoria – Dover via Chatham, a turn she would no doubt have been familiar with, or Woking – Reading via Virginia Water west curve, a route she might have taken less often, or even Exeter Central – Ilfracombe, amongst several other possible routes. The essential thing, I suppose, is that the disc gives the signalman important information about the train, just as the tail lamp, or lack of one, does.

No. 30777 Sir Lamiel is part of the National Collection and is, as a result, in the custody of the National Railway Museum. In practice however, she is cared for, on a day to day basis, by the 5305 Locomotive Association at Loughborough. No.30777 Sir Lamiel is also part of the pool of engines certified for use on the main line and has, over many years, put in some fine performances, particularly on the Settle – Carlisle route and her old stamping grounds on the LSWR routes from London Waterloo to Weymouth via Southampton or Waterloo to Exeter via Salisbury, both routes I know from my own footplate days.

For most of their independent existence the Great Western and the London South Western / Southern Railway were bitter rivals in almost everything from the carriage of Atlantic Mails, to milk traffic and summer specials full of holiday makers. Having worked for BR Southern region I know a little about this rivalry at ground level,  so there’s always this little frisson when I see sights like one in the photograph, Southern engine, chocolate and cream rolling stock, and on GW metals. However, Sir Lamiel, or to give him his full title Sir Lamiel of Cardiff, obviously had some GWR in his veins, as he  does look quite at home with the rake of GWR stock, approaching Leigh Lane crossing on the West Somerset Railway between Williton and Crowcombe Heathfield.

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Rebuilt or Un-rebuilt that is the question

34070eardlight

I have recently seen some discussion of the possibility of un-rebuilding, is there such a word, a Merchant Navy class Bulleid pacific. There were all the usual suspects, can’t be done, can be done but will cost loadsa wonga, wouldn’t it be great, and why bother. Discussion didn’t quite get as far as which form of streamlining, widows peak or not, long or short smoke deflectors and / or the highly contentions issue of livery – 21C1 in wartime black and with the widows peak, Malachite with yellow  and so on.

The discussion also mentioned the fact that at Riley’s loco-works in Bury were the wheel sets for No.35022 Holland-America Line, which, apparently, is one the way to becoming a working loco again. I have a rather special link with this engine from my days as a fireman at Nine Elms. In February 1965 No. 35022 Holland-America Line was selected to work the first RCTS East Devon Railtour from Waterloo to Exeter and back, with side trips down the Seaton Branch and to Exmouth.

I was the fireman for the trip which ran non-stop from Waterloo to Yeovil, a distance of 123 miles, and there are no troughs on the Southern. This required careful enginemanship and boiler management to achieve. The acid test was, did we have water in the tap at Worting Junction, needless to say we did and did run to Yeovil without stopping, apart from a signal check, near Woking.

Because the water was such a vital issue we, unusually for such a run, prepared our own engine and if you add the miles from Nine Elms up to Waterloo and to Exeter and back the it was  a prodigious distance for one fireman, approximately 350 miles. If No.35022 Holland-America Line does run again it will be wonderful to see her in action.

The photograph is Battle of Britain class ‘light’ pacific No.34070 Manston and the location is close to the summit of Eardington Bank on the Severn Valley Railway – not really Bulleid country, but a fine sight nonetheless.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather