Tag Archives: 1948 Locomotive Exchanges

“Nice bit of Wensleydale Gromit”

Back in 1964 I was one of, if not the last, firemen to work on this engine before she was sent for scrap. We had her on Bournemouth – Waterloo service and then next thing she was withdrawn – no idea why, she certainly wasn’t a failure when we stepped off at Waterloo.

I could never have imagined then, that 54 years later I would be standing in a meadow, in the heart of Wensleydale, watching her steam by on her way to Redmire. Even now, several hours later, it still borders on surreal, a Merchant Navy Class Pacific sauntering along a North Eastern Railway branch line. Sometimes the truth really is stranger than the fiction.

The reason behind No.35018 British India Line being there was the 1940s event in Leyburn, the principal village along the line. When the Wensleydale Railway didn’t have a steam engine for the event, West Coast Railways stepped up to the plate and offered them the use of No.35018 British India Line, for the weekend – top marks to WCR for that.

While there every chance that this is  the first time a MN that has been up this line, there is at least some connection with the 1940s event, as the MNs rolled off the drawing board and onto the rails in the middle of WWII, 21C1, (later No.35001 Channel Packet) entered service in June 1941 and the first ten were all in service by July 1942. No.35018 British India Line was one of the second batch of 10 and was built in 1945, she was the 1st to be ‘converted’ and also played a part in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials, so she’s a bit of a star.

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 fireman’s lot

On this day 70 years ago Ex-GWR King Class 4-6-0, No.6018 Henry VI pulled out of Central Station, in Leeds, with the 13:10 departure  for London Kings Cross. Coupled to the North Eastern Railway Dynamometer coach, she was on the return working of her assessment in the Locomotive Exchange trials. In their trial, on the the London – Leeds runs, burning Yorkshire hard coal, the Kings didn’t fare well against their opposition. One part of the problem was their lack of ‘superheating’ and following the trials the whole class were fitted with larger super-heaters and later double-chimneys, both of which made improvements.

When you see it written down, like that, it all sounds quite mechanical and matter of fact. However, you can bet your life that on the footplate things were very different; and the fireman, who would have been doing all the work, is the last person to get a mention. Reading between the lines the supply of steam seems to have been a part of the equation – struggling to keep pressure up isn’t a great way to spend your day at work.  Being able to shovel coal through a hole doesn’t make you a fireman, it’s the ablity to coax a few extra flames out of a half-dead fire and get another pound or two of pressure in the boiler when things are rough, that’s where you earn the name and the corn!

No.6024 King Edward I, photographed here on the West Somerset Railway, at Leigh Lane, shows the King in its final form with the double-chimney; and just how I remember seeing one for the first time, at Birmingham Snow Hill, in 1959.

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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A trial survivor

Seen here pulling out of Loughborough shed, on the GCR, in 2016, No 6990 Witherslack Hall was, 70 years ago, on 24th June 1948, pulling out of Marylebone Station, heading for Manchester, over the former Great Central Railway route, as part of the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials. Hauling the NER dynamometer coach to record her performance, she returned from Manchester the following day with the 08.25 Manchester London Rd. – Marylebone service; and again with the NER dynamometer coach in tow.

No.6990 Witherslack Hall, was built at Swindon works and entered  service, just a couple of weeks before the trials began, on 8th April 1948. Her competitors, over the same route between London and Manchester, and with the same services, were the Black 5 No.45253 and the Bulleid ‘light’ Pacific No.34006 Bude. The latter was the only one of the three to keep time, though it has to be said that No.34006 Bude was a bigger and more powerful engine and that p-way slacks and signal checks didn’t help time-keeping.

Of the mere two dozen locomotives involved in the trails several have, miraculously, survived the great steam cull and they are; No.6990 Witherslack Hall and ‘heavy freight’ engine, 2-8-0 No.3803, from the GWR contingent, No.35018 British India Line was one of the three Southern Railway Merchant Navy Class entrants and E22, or No.60022 Mallard, was one of the chosen representatives for the LNER. However, on her first run, on the 8th June, with the 11:00 departure from Waterloo, the Atlantic Coast Express, she failed at Exeter and her place, for the continuation of the trials was taken by No.60033 Seagull, which did not survive.

If you want to know more abot the 1948 Exchanges, a longer account of the trials and a dozen or so photos can be found by following this link: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=4942

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 Last Pacific

One  might argue that this locomotive, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, was the final outcome of the Locomotive Exchange Trials, held 70 years ago this month, so far as express passenger designs are concerned. In a class of one, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, was, sadly, never entirely successful during her BR career, and gained a reputation for being heavy on coal and water, as well as being an indifferent steamer, at times. Her construction, at Crewe Works, in 1954, came at almost the same time as a number of major changes to the railway industry, which meant there was little enthusiasm to resolve the issues and less than a decade after entering service, in 1962, she was put out to grass.

Rescued from Barry in 1974 The Duke returned to steam on the Great Central Railway in 1986. The preservationists not only restored a locomotive thought to be beyond repair, by many, they also delved into the steaming and coal eating issues too. The subsequent modifications, especially to the draughting arragements, improved matters substantially. And some of her performances, during  rail tour appearances, particularly on the Appleby – Aisgill climb and over Shap were a revelation.

No.71000 Duke of Gloucester is also the last engine I travelled behind, as an invited guest, on  a tour  in June 1990,  over the Settle  – Carlisle line. The  occasion formed  part of celebrations for  the Middleton Railway’s 30 years in preservation.  I recall spending some time, with my head out of the window, listening to the racket being made by The Duke  – a very different sound to the Bulleid Pacifics I had worked on during my own footplate days.

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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And 54 years later …….

The last time I saw No.35018 British India Line in action I was her fireman, and we were heading to Waterloo from Bournemouth, after working down with the 08.35 Ex – Waterloo. Today, 54 years later, along with a horde of others, I was standing beside the Settle -Carlisle line, with Pen – y Ghent in the background, enjoying her passing with the York – Carlisle leg of the GB XI rail tour. Watching a piece of your own history steaming past you, like this, certainly stirs the memory cells. And those three years at Nine Elms in the 1960s really did seem like yesterday – tho’ I doubt, very much, that I’d be able to fire an MN from York to Carlisle today but, I’d have no trouble sitting in the driver’s seat and rendering a couple of fire boys!!

I don’t know how many times I worked on this engine, firing out on the main line or cleaning her fire on shed but, what I do know is that like all the Merchant Navy class she was a joy to work on, as a fireman. Coincidently, it is also almost 70 years ago, June 1948, that No.35018 British India Line set out from Waterloo, with the Atlantic Coast Express, as part of the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials. No.35018 British India Line was one of three MNs in the trials, the others were No.35017 Belgian Marine and No.35019 French Line CGT. No.35020 Bibby Line was the reserve engine. And, in my time at 70A, I met and fired for Driver Bert Hooker who was himself a fireman during the Exchange Trials – it’s a small world.

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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Farewell Postman Pat

The shadows are lengthening as, No.46115 Scots Guardsman, sails through Kirkby Stephen with the ‘up’ Thames Clyde Express. (actually the return leg of the Fellsman.) This is the final working before she has her a ten year overhaul, let’s hope she gets a fast track. I had hoped she’d be ‘shoveling white steam over her shoulder’ – just a bit too warm for that, sadly.

Affectionately known as ‘Postman Pat’, because, in her original form she hauled ‘The Night Mail’,  a classic  of British documentary film making, accompanyed by Auden’s wonderful poem, about the operation of the Travelling Post Office and the journey of the ‘Night Mail’ from Euston to Glasgow.

I’ve worked a few mail trains, one of them was the 22:35 Ex-Waterloo, a turned I enjoyed quite a few times whilst a fireman at Nine Elms. One of the more memorable journeys on this turn was a run with No.34006 Bude and driver Gordon Porter. Driver Porter was a lovely bloke to work with and he enjoyed a fast run. We left Basingstoke with the rockets flying and reached 95mph as we headed down the bank to Winchester.  Only the need to stop prevented us hitting the ton.

No.34006 Bude was in still in her original ‘air smoothed’ form and was a bit of a pet – having been one of the participants in the ‘mixed traffic’ class, during the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trails. No 34006 Bude worked over the GWR main line between Plymouth and Brristol and the Great Central Railway route between London (Marylebone) and Manchester.

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 last train to Skaville

1948 was a year of firsts and lasts, it was the year British Railways came into being and the ‘Big Four’ the GWR/ Southern / LMS /LNER all went out of existence. The names and coats of arms lingered on fading paint work, the company motto’s were all pensioned off, though the shareholders still got a divi. There would be new liveries, new locomotive designs and a series of trials to see which were the best bits of whose engines to be incorporated into those designs. And one of the engines selected for those trials is the one pictured above, No.6990 Witherslack Hall.

Another of the engines which participated in those trials has just been returned to steam, for the first time since she was withdrawn, in August 1964. No.35018 British India Line was one of the three Southern Railway, Merchant Navy Class, representatives in the trials, though she stayed on the Southern, working the Atlantic Coast Express, for her part in the trials. During my own railway service I was a fireman, on No.35018 BIL, on numerous occasions and had several turns of duty with driver Bert Hooker, who was a fireman  in the 1948 exchanges and my first turn with an MN was 35014 Nederland Line on the Sunday ACE – at that time a Nine Elms, link 4 duty, Sundays only and first stop Basingstoke.

During the time I was at Nine Elms, in mid-sixties London, I became aware of the music brought over to Britain by the workers from the Caribbean, who had begun to arrive, in 1948, aboard the Empire Windrush. The music of the Skatalites was a particular favourite and whilst I was at Wakefield, the Ethiopians released Train to Skaville – a classic of the genre. My own ‘last train to Skaville’ came when Wakefield closed and I joined the dole queue.

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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Limited clearance

Ex-LNER Class B1 4-6-0, No.61264, is seen here passing Grosmont MPD, on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.  Two of No.61264’s classmates, No.61251 Oliver Bury, and No.61292, were used in the  Locomotive Exchange Trials,  2018 is the 70th anniversary. No.61251 Oliver Bury worked over the South Devon main line and the Midland route from St.Pancras  to Manchester. No.61292 did her stint on the Highland main line from Perth to Inverness, where she was up against the Southern’s entry in the trials WC class 4-6-2 No.34004 Yeovil.

Having worked on a B1, Leeds to Grimsby and back, and on No.34004 Yeovil, on more than a few turns over the former LSWR routes out of Waterloo, in her rebuilt form, of course, I know which I would have chosen; even if she did burn more coal! I also have a little bit of personal history with one of the firemen in the Trials, Bert Hooker, who was, by that time, a driver at Nine Elms when I moved there in the 1960s.

I’m sure preparations are already underway to celebrate the Trials, especially as one of the actual participants, Ex-GWR Hall class 4-6-0, No.6990 Witherslack Hall, has just recently returned to active duty.  My own ‘daydream’ celebration would be seeing a B1 and West Country /B-o-B giving it some 2nd valve over the Highland main line – Oh!  and some snow cover on the hills would be nice too!

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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1 Hall a hauling

6990bridge

In April 1948 the newly formed British Railways, under the direction of RA Riddles, its new CME, held a series of ‘Locomotive Exchange Trials’, ostensibly to determine best practice for a range of new ‘Standard’ locomotive types. These quasi scientific trials lasted from April until September and involved, freight, mixed traffic, and express locomotive designs.

In the mixed traffic class, representing the Southern Railway, were the Bulleid ‘light’ Pacifics, the LNER chose B1s, and the LMSR Black 5s,  flying the GWR flag were the Halls, one of which was none other than the one in this photograph – No.6990 Witherslack Hall, which was virtually brand new at the time. Completing the circle, as it were, is the fact that No.6990 Witherslack Hall was involved in trials held over the Great Central Railway, the very track she is on.

It is now just two years to the 70th anniversary of the trials and probably the perfect time to begin planning some events to celebrate them. We have working examples of most of the classes involved, tho’ sadly not the LNER 01 and 07s which were amongst the freight engine trialists. A main line tour over the routes involved and with classes used in the trials – a sort of Great Britain tour – ‘ The Trialist’, would be fun too.

Maybe some sort of social media campaign to promote the idea might be worth exploring.

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

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing: Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.

‘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’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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Mytholmes, Pullmans, and the 1948 Exchange Trials

43924mythMytholmes, a word which reeks of  the Pennines and Yorkshire, you can almost hear the clogs and see the cloth caps and whippets. Tho’ there’ll be no cloth caps or whippets in yon Pullman cars, thank you very much. All stereotypes of course, but, and there’s always a but, stereotypes are not without some basis in reality. The reality is that, in this photograph, No.43924, the first engine to leave Woodhams scrapyard in Barry, is hauling the ‘Pullman Cream tea’ service, on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway during Good Friday, this year.

I’m partial to a cream tea myself, and, back in March 1988, I enjoyed having my birthday party, in the ‘Old Gentleman’s coach’,  as we chugged up and down the valley being served tea, sandwiches cut into triangles, cakes, and scones with jam and cream, all  very civilised and genteel, cloth on the table and doilies on the plates. Maybe for 2018 I’ll do it again, only this time in the Pullman coach. There’s another thing which would be fun to celebrate in 2018 – the Locomotive Exchange Trials of 1948. I would love to see No.34067 Tangmere, disguised as classmate 34004 Yeovil tackling Drumochter and Slochd.

The fireman, on No.34004 Yeovil, during the exchanges, was Bert Hooker, who, when I went to work there in 1963, was, a 70A Nine Elms driver. I did a few firing turns with him myself and, many years later, (1990 or 1991), I went to his birthday party on the Bluebell, where we had dinner served in their Pullmans.

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

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing: Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.

‘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’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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