Tag Archives: corporations

Not every day is sunny

5164&7802-bewdmpd

I once read about a tribe of people, living on a little island in the pacific, who got up everyday and did a dance to ensure the sun came up – I guess every now and again they have a lie in. On a less flippant note, we do assume that tomorrow will be just like today and live our lives accordingly, though there is no law which says tomorrow will be like today. The Severn may still be flowing, but the water in it isn’t the same water – the photograph could be 1950, but it’s 2010, cameras do lie and memory is a very selective beast.

In our rose tinted pasts things were black & white, or good or bad, we were young, invincible, devoid of the responsibilities of life – of course it was wonderful. The philosopher Walter Benjamin held that this ‘rose tinted past’ was a place of mourning, a place of loss, and went on to say that it had a political dimension too. It is hard to argue with this point of view. The overwhelming thread in social media, in the railway magazines, books, videos, and ‘gala events’ is a sense of loss, of a hankering for those ‘good olde days’. Days when we didn’t have to think about the uncertainties of life, aching knees, or stomach disorders.

1950 something; only one TV channel, BBC, and that really was black and white – no, now I come to think of it, more of a sort of several shades of soft, furry, greys, the programmes ended around 10.30, and everyone on the box had terribly posh BBC accents. Homes had coal fires not central heating, the dishwasher, in 1950 something, was yer Ma,   a tablet was something you got from the chemists and a laptop was a copy of the latest Combined Volume.

Do we really want to go back to no mobile phone, no HD colour TV, no SatNav, NO Google, do away with huge swathes of medical advances, not to mention moving on from a diet of boiled potato, cabbage and a cooked meat.

The photograph is early morning at Bewdley station, ‘Large Prairie’ No. 5164 is running light engine to Kidderminster as No.7802 Bradley Manor sits in Bewdley MPD with a ‘not to be moved’ notice on the buffer.

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‘Rainhill, next stop Rainhill’

rocket

Good morning customers, I’m your train manager and I’d like to welcome you all to the 18.29 service from Liverpool to the future.  Please have your travel documents ready for inspection, customers traveling 3rd class air conditioned are standing in coach D, towards the rear of the train, anyone wishing to travel in the quiet carriage please proceed towards the front of the train, the restaurant car will be added when we leave 1879. Our driver today is Mr. George Stephenson, he’s the bloke in the top hat, with his hand on the regulator. On the shovel, and suitably cloth capped, one of Mr. Stephenson’s pals from Tyneside.

(In those early railway days the men on the footplate were often recruited  Pit enginemen from Tyneside, Wales, or Cornwall – they became what one of my former Nine Elms colleagues, Clive Groome, described, in his book the Decline & Fall of the Engine Driver, as ‘the footplate clan’.)

There is no doubting that from Rocket to the Javelin is ‘one giant leap’ in less than 200 years. However, by far the greatest part of that leap has taken place in the last 40 years. No.92220 Evening Star was, for the most part, Rocket on steroids. Over the 131 years between Rocket in 1829, and 1960 when No.92220 became the ‘last steam engine’ little changed, yes there were a few tweaks here and there but coal, water, and human sweat produced the steam which powered them both, and, almost, the entire rail travel machine, from 1804 to 1968. After 1968 it wasn’t just the steam locomotives which were swept away, engine sheds, coal towers, signal boxes and goods sheds, coal yards and sidings, stations, branch lines,  a railway landscape and a railway architecture disappeared too.

Not everything changed though, for the customers, there’s surprisingly little difference. Men in top hats still control things and those in cloth caps still do their bidding. Just one head peeps through the window in first class luxury, 3rd class is rammed – barely room for the train manager to stand!

The Rocket replica with its replica train, suitably costumed crew and firmly entrenched class system, is departing from Quorn & Woodhouse Station en route to Loughborough during the Great Central Railway’s Golden Oldies gala.

If you’ve enjoyed my photographs and blog, you might enjoy my book “Gricing: The Real story of the Railway Children”

These are some of the totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing:  ‘ treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’  ‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot.’  ‘ I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This is the link to my book “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

 

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Fair day Fairburn

42085pass

My abiding memory of these engines are from Leeds City Station in the late 1950s. Bradford bound  trains from London, and the famous ‘Devonian’, would be hauled in and out of Leeds, en route to or from Bradford Forster Square, by these Fairburn 2-6-4Ts or, their immediate ancestors, the Stanier version with their slightly longer wheelbase, occasionally, by the still earlier Fowler versions, which were, by then, 30 years old.

Today, I have a rather different view of ‘back then’. Today, I’m amazed that both during, and in the aftermath, of WWII so many new locomotives were being built, or were on the drawing boards. The Merchant Navy class and their smaller sisters, the West Country and Battle of Britain classes, were rolling out of the workshops on the Southern, on the LMS, these Fairburn tanks, then the Ivatts, not to mention the continued production of Black 5s and 8Fs, the LNER were weighing in with A1, A2, and B1 classes most, if not all, of which were built between 1942 and 1949. I know not all of the engines were being built ‘in house’ and that major manufactures, such as, the North British Locomotive Co., Vulcan Foundry, or Armstrong Whitworth, were also adding to the numbers, but even so, it is still a pretty phenomenal achievement.

Another phenomenal achievement, from ‘back then’, was the number of miles of railway built between 1839 and 1849. Currently we are planning to take between 13 and 17 years to build a line from London, through Birmingham to Manchester and eventually Leeds – around 300 miles. In those ten years, 1839 -1849, in Olde Victorian Tymes, with not so  much as a hard hat or JCB in sight,  ‘railway navvies’, men with picks and shovels, dynamite and donkeys built 4,000 miles of railway, across Britain. To do that 400 miles a year was being built, complete with tunnels, bridges, cuttings, embankments, stations, goods yards –   that is progress! It also gives some perspective on new build projects. More on this later.

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
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49ers

49er

If you look carefully, you’ll see the guard waving his flag and the driver just getting back on the footplate of No.49. The 49ers, well they were a different prospect altogether. The 49ers is a term used, loosely, to cover the multitudes who flocked to San Fransisco in search of ‘GOLD’ in 1849 – No.49 has a very different sort of mining pedigree – National Coal Board. Built by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn in 1943, she joined the NCB in 1947 and, in 1959, was sent to Backworth shed, No.49 was still in action at Backworth Colliery in the 1970s, where household and steam coal was still being mined, as it had been since the first shaft was sunk in 1818.

Coal mining and railways are practically joined at the hip, the owners of both had their hands in each others pockets – and those pockets were stuffed with gold, or, at the very least, filthy lucre! Coal miners and railway workers, of all grades, made some men, and more than a few aristocrats, a great deal of wealth – it never trickled down. The Coal Barons, and their chums the Railway barons, were the Bill Gates and Warren Buffets of the 19th Century – ‘Loadsa’ money. Coal drove everything, from the boilers in the mills, to the boilers on wheels, traction engines and railway locomotives and then there’s the navy, from trawlers to battle ships – ‘cooking with  the gas’ was ‘coal’ gas.

In Durham, Tyneside, and Northumberland, the Lords Lambton, Percy & Londonderry, had lands and coal, they made the most of it. The 3rd Marquess of Londonderry was a particularly nasty piece of work, and few in Seaham and districts would shed a tear on his behalf. The Lords Lambton, along with Baron Joicey, created what became one of the larger of the pre-nationalisation colliery railways – the Lambton Hetton & Joicey Colliery Railway. The Hetton Railway bit, of this ‘conglomerate’, was built by George Stephenson and is credited as the first to be constructed primarily for steam locomotive traction – railways and coal, coal and railways – ‘joined at the hip’.

Despite the black smoke and roaring safety valves No.49 is about to trundled, down to East Tanfield, from Andrews House, with a rake of empty coal hoppers. The photograph is a scan from one of my pre-digital era slides, and I believe No.49 is currently under overhaul at the Tanfield Railway.

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
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Not the Queen’s Christmas Message

christmasNo7

In a departure from the usual shots of locomotives in the snow, elves, reindeer, and some fat bloke in a red suit I have gone for the traditional Russian ‘railway’ Doll look, for this festive posting! So, as you tuck into your  turkey and all the trimmings, followed by Christmas pud with Rum Sauce,  and right before pulling a cracker, remember what the door mouse said, ‘feed your head’.

What a charming illustration of the nature of the world we live in, this little tableaux is. We have engine No.7 into which the dolls all fit – a fitting metaphor for the state / economy. A powerful machine consuming raw materials and industrialising time and space. Next in line, the Station ‘Master’ with his watch, running, ordering, ‘mastering’ – the managerial class. He keeps the clock ticking, the machine functioning, and the crew in order.

The ticket inspector / conductor, the perfect middle manager, bow-tied, and white collard, just like the Station Master he aspires to be, one day. With his sheaf of tickets and his ticket clippers – he’s  the epitome of what Marlon Brando said, of the character Martin Sheen played in the movie Apocalypse Now, ‘an errand boy sent by  grocery clerks to collect a debt’.

Now we come to the crew of old No.7, the driver and his fireman. No bow ties and white collars here you’ll notice. These ‘little’ guys are the guys who do the ‘heavy’ lifting, they oil the wheels and tend the fires. These blue collar labourers mix those raw materials with the sweat of their labours and turn them into the continent crossing, goods hauling, passenger carrying, travel machine we lovingly call the railway. The fireman, the littlest of all the figures, is at the very centre of the Doll, and it is upon his skill and ability that the all the rest depend  – because if there’s no steam there’s no show! Merry Christmas fireboys – you really are the stars!!

*

Other parables, stories, myths, shibboleths, and tenets are available, always read the small print.

A further selection of my photos can be seen here: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Steam-Age-Daydreams-2017-Dave-Wilson/9781325225453?ref=grid-view

and on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steam-Daydreams-2017-Wilson-Dave/dp/1325225452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479291987&sr=8-1&keywords=steam+age+daydreams+calendar

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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Unlike signals some things never change

41241banker

Bankers and railways have been connected to each other, practically umbilically, since the creation of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, by, amongst others,  Quaker Bankers, in the 1820s. In 1866, dodgy goings on at the Overend Gurney Bank, involving share dealings in major railway companies, created a national banking scandal – some things never change. Today, major banking corporations fund railway by-outs and railway construction projects, rolling stock leasing companies and train operators, to name just some of the pies their fingers are in.

On the steam railways of old, however, the term Banker has a very different interpretation. On the railways a ‘Banker’ is an engine assisting a train, usually up an incline or gradient, by pushing from behind. Some sheds, (Motive Power Depots), Bromsgrove or Tebay, for instance, have almost mythical status for their provision of Bankers. In Tebay’s case, this is for the supply of Bankers on the  famous climb to Shap summit, on the West Coast route from London to Glasgow. Bromsgrove MPD provided the oomph on the famous Lickey incline with it’s 1 in 37 gradient, the steepest on any main line in Britain.  Others, like Weymouth, are less well known;  Weymouth MPD provided Bankers for the climb out of the town to the summit of Bincombe Bank en route to Dorchester and Bournemouth.

In the photograph Ex-LMS 2-6-2T No.41241  banks, Ex-Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway 0-6-0 No.957, out of Damems loop with a demonstration goods working on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.

 

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