A field in England


Steam railway photography is the sort of hobby where you spend a lot of time standing in fields; with very little happening between the passage of trains, there’s plenty of time to indulge in metaphysics. Speculating on the nature of life, the universe, and everything can be as enjoyable a pastime as taking photographs of steam engines – combining the two, even better.

This particular field is between Oakworth and Crossroads, in the Worth valley. In the distance behind the train is Keighley and it’s suburbs. I’ve been visiting Keighley since I was a schoolboy – I once won the jackpot on a fruit machine in a working mens club right alongside Keighley Railway Station. The club was for dyers and weaving,  spinning,  along with many other occupations in the cloth trade was a major source of employment in the town. During a brief spell in my own railway career I  worked at Holbeck MPD, and as a result worked trains through Keighley en route to Morecambe via Skipton, Settle Jct, Gargrave, Bentham, and Wennington.  So I guess you could say that ‘me and Keighley have some history’.

The locomotive in the photograph, and its coaches, have some history too. The engine was designed by F W Webb in 1881 and built by the London North Western Railway in 1888.  To generations of railwaymen these engines became known as ‘Coal Tanks’ because they were ‘tank’ versions of Webb’s standard 17″ ‘coal engines’ – an 0-6-0 designed for ‘slow’ goods work. The coach behind the engine was to a design by OVS Bulleid though this example was built in 1950 by British Railway Southern Region. Behind the Bulleid coach is a ‘matchbox’ brake third built to a design for the SECR. However, this particular coach was built in 1924 and became part of the stock of the newly formed Southern Railway.

Some of you might be interested to know that my book, Railway Tales, about my own footplate work during the last years of BR steam, is now available as an ebook here’s the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Railway-Tales-C-D-Wilson-ebook/dp/B07H38XV1V/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1536155603&sr=1-2&keywords=railway+tales+ebook

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics.  They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the existing webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway will still be available on Amazon – Below, is the link to it.


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A full head of steam


Just south of Montrose is a deserted fishing village, Fishtown of Usan, the signal box in the left background is Usan Box, unlike the village, which still stands, Usan Box has, now, been demolished. Just north of Montrose is, or rather was, Kinnaber Junction, which played such an important role in the Railway Races to the North of 1895, when trains from London Kings Cross and London Euston raced each other to Aberdeen, via the East and West coast routes respectively. Kinnaber Junction was where the two routes met and which ever Box, Hillside or Dubton offered Kinnaber Junction Box the train first would, effectively, be on the winning side.

The double-headed Black 5s in the photograph would have been a more common sight on the Caledonian / West Coast route from Aberdeen to Perth, now, like Usan Box, demolished. The former North British route which is now the only route to Aberdeen from the south was the domain of the LNER and their A1,2,3,and 4 class Pacific’s or the maids of all work the V2s. The V2s were regular performers on the Aberdeen fish trains, these trains were smartly timed and often heavily loaded a duty ideally suited to the V2s.

I wrote about the Railway Races to the North in my book ‘Racing Trains’ – my latest book ‘Gricing the real story of the Railway Children’ is available as an ebook, from Amazon. the link is attached below.



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The joy of telephoto


The light at the end of the tunnel, tunnel vision, or some similar cliche too predictable to be droll. In the light at the far end of the tunnel we see No.63601 a 2-8-0 goods engine, an engine with its origins in WWI, an event we are currently remembering. We often hear about light at the end of the tunnel in times of war or crisis – but that’s another story.

No.63601, a Robinson designed locomotive, built for the Great Central Railway in 1911 is a member of the select band of locomotives which form ‘the National collection’. To many Gricers these engines are known as RODs, short for Railway Operating Division, a division of the Royal Engineers who ran the wartime railways during the period from 1915. However, in the case of 63601 she wasn’t a ROD but one of the GCR original O4 class. A batch of the O4s were turned out for the ROD, who had designated the O4s as their standard freight engine. Built in 1917, these engines became class O4/3s, it is these engines which led to the class, as a whole, being nick-named RODs.

The location here is Mytholmes tunnel on the K&WVR Railway and the engine, No.63601, was a guest for the gala weekend a year or two ago now.

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The Little Things


Sometimes it’s not the big dramatic action shots which please it’s the ones filled with little vignettes. The driver oblivious to the photographers behind him, the pile of suitcases, baskets, and boxes on the porter’s barrow, the dappled light on the cobbled path leading to the platform, the station sign ‘ Andrews House’ neatly fitted between dome and chimney.

The tiny Wainwright P class 0-6-0 , built for the South Eastern & Chatham Railway in 1910, seems quite at home in the setting, despite the fact that it’s at the Tanfield Railway in North East England. There’s a timeless quality in the pose of the engine and driver, and a moment of frozen action provided by the photographers with their camera’s, ready to shoot, the  old station lamp, and the pile of luggage dividing the two scenes.

For any of you wanting to know more, or enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs, in them why not buy yourselves a copy of my book. “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘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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Industrial Power!


The pilot engine bears the name Sir Berkeley – I’d hazard a guess that Sir Berleley isn’t related to Bishop Berkeley, an 18th century cleric with some rather quirky notions about the existence of matter, or not, in his case.

The Sir Berkeley in the photograph was built by Manning Wardle, in Leeds, in 1890, and is photographed here, in Leeds, having just passed under the M1 motorway. The railway Sir Berkeley is running on first saw steam locomotion in 1809, and it was in commercial use by 1811 moving loads of up to 90 tons, a huge amount 203 years before this photo was taken. The train engine is named Matthew Murray, who, along with John Blenkinsop, was responsible for putting steam locomotives to work on the line 205 years ago. The line was Charles Brandling’s Colliery Railway, it conveyed coal from his mine to wharves on the river Aire, and the locomotives used a crude / early form of rack and pinion. Matthew Murray was a flax machinery engineer and Blenkinsop was the colliery manager and between them they cooked up something which was seen by the Czar of Russia and George Stephenson, the latter whilst in the process of constructing his first engine ‘Blucher’.

Leeds had quite a tradition of locomotive building from the very earliest days of the railway age and locomotives built in Leeds by the likes of Manning Wardle, and, of course, Hunslet were exported world wide.

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Trains of thought

Trains of thought.

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The Banker


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


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.


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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The clag monster


Sometimes being ready early gets you a bonus. I heard the guard blow his whistle and the driver gave a whistle back, and then this happened, the most almighty cloud of clag erupted from the chimney of Ex-GWR 2-8-0 No.2807. Fortunately I was already looking through the viewfinder with my finger over the shutter release – and ‘hey presto!’

The location is at Goathland, the mythical village Aidenfield, in the Heartbeat TV series, and the event is the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s autumn steam gala. No 2807 was one of a number of Ex-GWR engines which were making guest appearances at the event.

There are lots more of my photos and 37000 words, all about railways, in my ebook, now available on Amazon.

Follow the link for more information:


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Steam Age Daydreams in the Valley


Over the three days of 10th to 12th of October it was the Autumn Gala at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. Steam Age Daydreams was there with his camera to capture this image of WD ‘Austerity’ 2-8-0 No.90733, banked by Ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 No43924 heading the afternoon freight up the valley to Oxenhope. There’s no real need for the banker, it’s all part of the K&WVR ‘show’, which included the use of ‘vintage’ carriages, Express trains and double-heading on some services.


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Trains of thought

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