Tag Archives: 76079

Not so sacred cows

Given the lexical legerdemain practiced by advertisers and politicians alike, the railway preservation movement missed a trick when it comes to ‘ environmental considerations’ – they should have claimed to be water powered. Lots of pictures of fluffy clouds of white exhaust – and, just as ‘Basil’ wasn’t to, ‘mention the war’, say nothing of the oxides of Nitrogen, Sulphur, and Carbon, nor the fine particles of ash.

The fireman on No.76079 had just been putting a few rounds on when I took this shot – he was definitely hitting the right spots. The location is Esk Valley about half a mile into the 15 minute slog up to Goathland  from Grosmont.  The most testing section is the almost three miles at 1:49, which  they are already on, it eases slightly as you enter Goathland station which is on a gradient of 1:138 and the summit is a further 2 miles with sections of 1:90, and 1:100 and a tiny stretch at 1:171. The line twists and snakes its way up the valley and this only makes the climb harder. It is a real test of engine and crew and if you chuck in a wet rail when the weather’s bad and you have a really demanding piece of work for both driver and fireman.

The cows – well they, apparently, couldn’t care less, but don’t mention burgers!!

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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Different worlds

On a scorchingly hot Sunday afternoon I was asked, ‘what was it like, on days like this, working on the footplate’. Well, hot of course but, what they meant was how did we cope and how grim was it.   Bottled water, there wasn’t any of that in 1960s Britain and shorts, trainers, and a t-shirt, well let’s just say I never met a fireman dressed that way. I did however, come across quite few drivers who, even on roasters, turned up for duty in a shirt and tie – proper old school.

In engines with a very enclosed cab, it was often ridiculously hot, especially if the engine was in the shed and you were preparing the fire to go off-shed. It was equally bad on the ash pit cleaning the fire too. The term, ‘sweating like a pig in a lard factory’, was a relatively accurate, if colourful, description of the conditions. In the summers of 63,64, and 65 I was a fireman at Nine Elms on the Bulleid Pacifics and Q1s which did get very warm but, the BR Standards,  especially the ones with the big tenders, were fairly enclosed, and they were pretty warm too, when compared with the likes of an S15 or a U-boat. Once you got out on the road you could at least hang out the window for a breath of fresh air, between bouts of firing.

The really big difference between then and now is the attitude to alcohol.  Drinking on duty was a punishable offence, then as now, however, a very blind eye was often turned; and after a trip down to Bournemouth, on a hot day, a pint of Brown & Mild in th BRSA club, wasn’t drinking it was re-hydration! And right outside the gate at Nine Elms was the ‘Brook’ – The Brookland Arms, the ‘lock-ins’ were the stuff of legend.

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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