Tag Archives: 1948 Locomotive Exchanges

Autumnal Hall

Everything’s gone to seed and the leaves are turning – the season of mellow fruitfulness has descended and the autumn gala season is in full swing. This is the scene on Sunday last, at the Great Central Railway’s Autumn Gala, as No.6990 Witherslack Hall romps along the Quorn straight with a train for Leicester North.

The gala was also a celebration of the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials in which, No.6990 Witherslack Hall was not only a participant, she worked trains over this very line during the trials. On 24th June she worked from Marylebone to Manchester Central with the North Eastern Railway Dynamometer Car added to the train. She worked back to London on the 25th; again with the NER dynamometer car in the train.

Just as there are those who see the trials as little more than a publicity stunt for the newly formed British Railways, there are no shortages of those who see the closure of the Great Central as not only folly but, as the result  little more than  political skullduggery.  When 35005 Canadian Pacific returned to steam on the GCR; I had lunch with the MD of CP Europe – who, as a company, had just spent £2 million on a study into the feasability of reopening the GCR between Rugby and London – it wasn’t.

Still musn’t grumble we wouldn’t have the joys of main line steam on a heritage line!!

Above is the link to Part I of my memories of footplate life in the 1960s. The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway is still  available on Amazon – Below, is the link to that work.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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.

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Bongo on the mins

‘Who’s Oliver Bury’, I heard someone ask. He was Oliver Robert Hawke Bury, who was born in 1861 and died in 1946, before No.1251 was named in his honour. His first major railway posting was as CME for the Great Western Railway of Brazil. Bury began his railway life as an apprentice, under William Adams on the LSWR, in 1879 before emigrating to South America in 1892. Bury returned  to the UK in 1902 to take up the post of General Manager of the Great Northern.; eventually becoming a member of the Board of Directors on the LNER.

No1251 Oliver Bury, aka No.1264 / 61264, was the LNER entry in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials. No.1251 Oliver Bury hauled the test train over the Midland route from St.Pancras to Manchester and return on the 15th and 18th of June 1948 and ran from Plymouth to Bristol on the 7th of July.

Above is the link to Part I of my memories of footplate life in the 1960s. The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway is still  available on Amazon – Below, is the link to that work.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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.

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Stopped for a starter

After being stopped by Loughborough’s advance starter, Stanier 8F No.48624 puts some effort into restarting her train of vans. It’s almost like the old days with the ‘healthy’ front end blow obscuring the motion, though not quite bad enough to obscure the driver’s view.

In my own footplate career, the nearer it came to the end of steam the worse the state of repair of many of the engines. There was a kind of ‘if it broke don’t fix it scrap it’ attitude; blowing valve and piston packings were, ‘minor’ issues, until they were so awful you really couldn’t see beyond the smokebox. And if that wasn’t bad enough simply finding the necessary footplate equipment, bucket, brush, shovel, fire irons and the rest was a nightmare. You might have to climb on half a dozen engines, or more, to find everything you needed; time you should have been spending making up the fire.

It’s the GCR gala again in a little under two weeks and they are paying tribute to the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials – don’t know if they are going to renumber 48624 as the 8F trialist 48189 which worked Brent – Toton freights in June and July, Ferme Park – New England in August and Bristol – Eastleigh in August and September and on August 17th and 19th ran Acton to Severn Tunnel Jct.

I have my own little connection with the trials having spent time on the footplate with driver Bert Hooker, who was a fireman during the 1948 exchanges. The gala includes No.34092 City of Wells – they should renumber her 34006 Bude, which worked over the Great Central from Marylebone to Manchester on the 8th and 9th of June 1948.   No.34006 Bude was a fine machine and here is a log of one of my runs with her in 1965. My thanks to Terry Jackson for the copy of his log of our run.

  • REF.18.0660

    WATERLOO – EASTLEIGH

    ENGINE       : Class 7  West Country  4-6-2  34006 BUDE

    TRAIN           : 22.35 Waterloo-Weymouth

    LOAD             : 3 coaches 7vans 3 TPO, 367 tons tare, 400 tons gross

    CREW            : Driver Gordon Porter, Fireman Dave Wilson  (Nine Elms MPD)

    DATE                   : Friday 14 May 1965

    RECORDER      : Terry Jackson

    Dist               Location                                                                                         Sched.           Actual           Speed

    00.00             WATERLOO

  •                            00   00           –  0
    VAUXHALL
  •                           03   52           31½

    QUEENS ROAD

  •                           05   54           45½/49

    CLAPHAM JUNCTION

  •  7                    07   29           43

    EARLSFIELD

  •                          09   39           52

    WIMBLEDON

  •                          11   27           56

    pws             21½

    RAYNES PARK

  •                       14   15           44

    NEW MALDEN

  •                       15   41           53

    BERRYLANDS

  •                       16   55           57

    SURBITON

  •                       18   02           63

    Hampton Court Junc. SB

  • 18½            19   15           66½

    ESHER

  •                       20   13           67

    HERSHAM

  •                      21   38           63½

    WALTON

  •                     22   43           65½

    Oatlands SB

  •                     23   39           64½

    WEYBRIDGE

  •                     24   34           70½

    BYFLEET & NEW HAW

  •                     25   37           73

    WEST BYFLEET

  •                     26   40           73

           WOKING  

  • 31            30   01           –

    Woking Junc.

  •                   01   39           37

    BROOKWOOD

  •                   06   43           50

    MP 31

  •                   09   57           58

    Sturt Lane SB

  •                   11   08           63

    FARNBOROUGH

  •                   12   04           64

    BRAMSHOT HALT

  •                   14   16           68½

    FLEET

  •                   15   02           67/69½

    WINCHFIELD

  •                   17   58          68½/66½

    HOOK

  •                   20   00         68½/67½/75

             BASINGSTOKE  

  •  30          26   09           –

    Worting Junc. SB

  •  5½         05   48           43

    Wootton SB

  •                  08   31           57
  •            Waltham SB
  •                  10   54           70

    Roundwood SB

  •                  12   01           72½

    MICHELDEVER

  •                  13   18           82

    Weston SB

  •                 14   52           87

    Wallers Ash SB

  •                 15   52           88

    Winchester Junc. SB

  •  22         17   39           92

                    WINCHESTER CITY 

  • 25         19   51           –

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.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

 

 

 

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“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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