Tag Archives: travel

Speedy Goods

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These 0-6-0Ts were rather unusual for the very ‘standardisation’ conscious Great Western, in so much as they were fitted with Walschaerts motion, as opposed to the Stephenson’s motion which was standard for the GWR. It was this anomalous feature which led generations of Old Oak Common crews to nick name the 15xx Class ‘Speedies’ – not because the were fast but because they were quicker and easier to oil up than Stephenson’s motion fitted engines.

Designed by Hawksworth, for the GWR, ten of them were constructed and they entered service post-Nationalisation, in 1949. Described as ‘heavy shunting engines’ they saw a lot of service on empty stock workings in and out of Paddington. No.1501 was sold, after little more than a decade in British Railways ownership, to the NCB and it was this which kept her in service long enough to be purchased by the Severn Valley Railway, in 1970. The other 9 engines were not so lucky and all of them were scrapped after very short, in locomotive terms, working lives. However, given that only 10 were built, one survives and bits from another two have provided spares for No.1501, they fared better than many much larger classes of locomotives with no surviving members.

No.1501 is pictured on Oldbury Viaduct just south of Bridgnorth Station on the Severn Valley Railway.

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The Polar Express

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It’s that time of year again when the heritage railways run their Santa train services. Coaches filled with expectant kids, slightly frazzled adults, and volunteers dressed as elves, pixies, and, of course, one dressed as Santa himself.

For the heritage railways, Santa Trains, are an important revenue stream. My local line, the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway had sold out all the Santa trains before they even started running, if you didn’t book early, you missed it. However, spare a thought for the footplatemen. Santa services are a testing time for crews, wrestling with frozen cold vacuum pipes, hot steam heating pipes,  lugging heavy headboards and climbing onto the, frequently slippy, framing or tender to put them on the brackets, for the fireman, and for the driver, dealing with icy rails and, on occasions, poor visibility.

Off stage, presents, for the kids, have been wrapped, ‘ a wee dram’ for dad has been poured, and there’ll be mince pies lurking too.  There’s an awful lot of goodwill going on here and whether you’re  a member of the public or a railway afficionado spare a thought for all those hard-working volunteers who give up their weekends from now until Christmas to make it all happen – when you raise your ‘wee dram’ – make it a ‘cheer for the volunteers’.

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The Loop

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Austerity, such a loaded term these days. Back in those days ‘Austerity’ meant one of these things, a War Department 2-8-0, or, possibly, one of the rarer 2-10-0 variety. Words, like appearances, can be deceptive, and particularly so in this photograph. I know the locomotive looks like one of Riddles’, DubDees, I know it barks like one too – but is it? Well more or less sort of, is the short answer.

No.90773 has had several incarnations since she rolled out of the Vulcan Foundry, as works No.5200, and became WD No.79257, in 1945. Packed off to Europe she went to work on the railways of Holland becoming NS No.4464. It didn’t last though and No.4464 was sold, in 1953, leaving the flat lands of Holland for the Nordic delights of Swedish State Railways and a new number – now she was No.1931. It wasn’t just her number which changed, the Swedes tinkered around with her. The old tender, which looked like it had been cut from a slab of solid coal, was swapped for a ‘Nordic’ design – a kind of IKEA ‘Austerity’, and so she began to loose her identity as a WD.

What happened next is why she is here at all. The Swedish State Railway ‘mothballed’ No.1931 as part of a ‘State Reserve’ and parked her in a dark Swedish wood, now No.1931 was not so much IKEA as Scan Decor! Rescued from the wood by a handsome Prince, no I mean saved by members of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, No. 1931 arrived back in blighty after spending 28 years holidaying in Europe.

Now No.90733 she is pictured entering Damems Loop, not that many miles, as the crow flies, from Newton – le – Willows where she entered railway service.

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Get yer McIntosh!

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Into the light at the end of the tunnel, well, road over bridge anyway. This is the Strathspey Railway, near Aviemore, in the Scottish Highlands. The locomotive is a McIntosh 812 Class 0-6-0 ‘goods’ engine, Caledonian No. 828 / BR No.57566. These engines were, reputedly, the goods counterparts to the McIntosh ‘Dunalistair’ Class 4-4-0s and No.828 is the only surviving McIntosh designed 812 Class locomotive.

No. 828 was withdrawn from Ardrossan MPD, in 1963, she was preserved for posterity by the Scottish Locomotive Preservation Trust, in 1964, and was returned to Caledonian Railway livery, at Cowlairs works in Glasgow, in 1966.  No.828 then spent some time housed in the Scottish Transport museum, also in Glasgow, before being purchased by the Strathspey Railway, in 1980, and moved to Aviemore, where she was returned to active duty.

The 812 Class were, in 1899, the Caledonian Railway’s biggest goods engines and they also saw use, from time to time, on ‘holiday specials’ to the  resorts and ports along the  South Western Scottish coastline, to places just like  Ardrossan, in fact,  where, as No.57566, she was shedded during her final years of \BR service.

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Spaceship Enterprise

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If you look closely, you will see that the crew of the goods train, in the loop, are stood on the tender photographing the departing 9F, a quasi selfie? In yesterday’s post I mentioned signs and signals, there are more signs and signals in this post. The extenuated points of the finnials on the splendid signal gantry, York 21 on the mile post, the catch points in the loop, points camera and shoots.

The signs were all ill omens when the 9Fs were being built. The British Railways Modernisation plan was published almost at the same time as they were being constructed and then Ernest Marples, aka ‘Minister for Motorways’, was made Transport Secretary. (Marples was part and parcel of Marples – Ridgeway who built parts of the M1 motorway and Hammersmith flyover, amongst other things.) The last 9F to be built at Swindon came out in fully lined BR passenger green livery,  with a copper capped chimney, and named ‘Evening Star’ – another sign, another nail in the coffin of steam locomotion.

Several of the 9Fs survived into preservation, the artist David Sheperd, saved No. 92203 on her withdrawal, and gave her the name Black Prince. Paint, or rather the livery being carried by No. 92214  is something of a talking point, currently, and in the recent past. At present No.92214 is in lined green BR passenger livery, fictitious, naturally, prior to this current paint job she has been in lined black livery and named ‘Cock O’ the North’, equally fictitious. Fortunately, she is none of the foregoing in this photograph, no lines, no name, and black!

 

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A genuinely unique survivor

Sir W.A.Stanier’s mixed traffic classic the ‘Black 5′ was one of the best loved and most versatile locomotives ever to run on British Railways, there were, at one time, 842 of them. However, only one of them was ever built with outside Stephenson’s link motion – and here she is No.44767, now named, possibly ironically, George Stephenson. No. 44767 was built the same year as I was, (1947), though she looks in better fettle!

The photograph was taken at one of the most photogenic locations on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Darnholme about 1/2 mile east of Goathland – the mythic Aidensfield of TV series Heartbeat fame.No. 44767 has spent much of here life in preservation, working on the NYMR, though she did have a spell out on the main line, some years ago now.

The driver has the sanders on which accounts for the steam at ground level, but the action is all at the chimney top as she blasts her way round the curve on the 1/49 climb up to Goathland – a fairly stiff test for both engine and crew.

via A genuinely unique survivor.

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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The Banker

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This isn’t the kind of shot you see everyday, like most bankers these engines shun the limelight and don’t always put in as much effort as they should / could. The BR Std Class 4MTT were excellent little engines to work on and, sadly, No.80002, pictured here approaching Ingrow, on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, is now ‘pending’ overhaul – lets hope she’s not gone for too long.

The use of a banker isn’t operationally required, it’s just one of the little things they do at the KWVR galas to be a little different, they’re like that in Yorkshire. I can say that because I’m from Yorkshire and have been going to the KWVR for more than 40 years now.

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Trains of thought

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Some of the figures in this photo appear to be engrossed in thought, ‘trains of thought’.  Strangely, even now, in the 21st century, our everyday language is littered with railway references, from the steam age of the 19th and mid 20th century. There’s the approbation of the, ‘wrong side of the tracks’,  the expectation of, ‘building up a head of steam’, the threat of being, railroaded, the connotations of greed and corruption inherent in ‘the gravy train’, and ‘hitting the buffers’ when caught out riding the gravy train, or  letting off steam, and I’m sure you can add more of your own tales to that one!

Trains of thought has an almost philosophical turn, metaphysical musings on the everyday nature of consensual reality, you might say. Of course they could also be as mundane as, ‘what will we have for dinner’, or ‘did I turn the gas off’! I thought it was an interesting mix of figures, both railwaymen and travelers; a wet morning with puddles still on the edge of the platform and the damp air causing the steam to cling to the side of the engine, which had been slipping, badly, as it tried to pull its train clear of the siding at Oakworth.

Oakworth, the Railway Children’s station, an icon of British cinema and railway movies.  Gas lit and with a waiting room which boasts a coal fire in the winter months, Oakworth is still in the last decade of the 19th century / 1st decade of the 20th, a Star Trek time-warp to another life-style.

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Everyone on the station, apart from the young boy in the foreground, is watching the approaching train. I thought how different a picture this was from my own boyhood when the boy would have been watching the train and the adults looking elsewhere. The train end of the platform is lit by the late evening sun – a rose tinted view, whilst the crossing end of the platform, where the young boy stands, is already falling into shadow. The younger generation, who will emerge from our shadows, have their eyes on other things – the steam locomotives of our boyhood are low on the list of their enjoyable pastimes.

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