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Down stopper – back fast

One Saturday, early in January 1965, I was booked on a regular three link duty, the 08.35 Waterloo – Weymouth stopper. It was a turn where you might get a Merchant Navy, West Country, or even a BR class 5 Standard. On the day our engine was No.34022 Exmoor and we left Waterloo with 11 on for 395 tons gross. Our first stop was Surbiton and we arrived 50 seconds late, we pulled into Woking, our next stop, 25 seconds to the good.

The 08.35 down wasn’t a flyer but, we did have a bit of fun accelerating all the way, from our start out of Working, to the summit at MP31 which we passed at 54mph – we kept up a pretty even mid seventies all the way from Farnborough to Hook where we were stopped by signals.  However, despite being brought to a dead stand we still rolled into Basingstoke only 38 seconds adrift.

Twenty four minutes was the time allowed from Basingstoke to Winchester – we passed Wallers Ash box at over 80mph arriving in   Winchester a shade over two minutes early. After leaving Winchester things carried on in much the same style and we went through Eastleigh nudging 70 and nearly a minute up. It wasn’t to last, signal checks between St Denys and Northam Jct. saw us roll into Southampton almost 3 minutes late.

The journey onwards from Southampton wasn’t logged but we called at Brockenhurst and then  all stations to Bournemouth, where we were relieved. After being relieved, the usual routine was to walk back down the platform, to the London end, where there was a BRSA club. A couple of pints of brown and mild, a Cornish pastie and agame of bar billiards before crossing over to the up road for the back working. The back working, an ‘up fast’ from Weymouth, was almost always a Merchant Navy, and a very different run altogether, of which, more later.

Sadly, No.34022 Exmoor, wasn’t one of the survivors and the photo shows No.34053 Sir Keith Park getting into her stride after departing from Quorn & Woodhouse station on the Great Central Railway. I did work on No.34053 Sir Keith Park but I don’t have access to the details of any of my runs with her.

My thanks to Terry Jackson whose log of the run I made with 34022 Exmoor on 02 / 01 / 1965, between Waterloo and Southampton, was used to provide the details of the trip recounted above.

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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Down stopper – back fast

One Saturday, early in January 1965, I was booked on a regular three link duty, the 08.35 Waterloo – Weymouth stopper. It was a turn where you might get a Merchant Navy, West Country, or even a BR class 5 Standard. On the day our engine was No.34022 Exmoor and we left Waterloo with 11 on for 395 tons gross. Our first stop was Surbiton and we arrived 50 seconds late, we pulled into Woking, our next stop, 25 seconds to the good.

The 08.35 down wasn’t a flyer but, we did have a bit of fun accelerating all the way, from our start out of Working, to the summit at MP31 which we passed at 54mph – we kept up a pretty even mid seventies all the way from Farnborough to Hook where we were stopped by signals.  However, despite being brought to a dead stand we still rolled into Basingstoke only 38 seconds adrift.

Twenty four minutes was the time allowed from Basingstoke to Winchester – we passed Wallers Ash box at over 80mph arriving in   Winchester a shade over two minutes early. After leaving Winchester things carried on in much the same style and we went through Eastleigh nudging 70 and nearly a minute up. It wasn’t to last, signal checks between St Denys and Northam Jct. saw us roll into Southampton almost 3 minutes late.

The journey onwards from Southampton wasn’t logged but we called at Brockenhurst and then  all stations to Bournemouth, where we were relieved. After being relieved, the usual routine was to walk back down the platform, to the London end, where there was a BRSA club. A couple of pints of brown and mild, a Cornish pastie and agame of bar billiards before crossing over to the up road for the back working. The back working, an ‘up fast’ from Weymouth, was almost always a Merchant Navy, and a very different run altogether, of which, more later.

Sadly, No.34022 Exmoor, wasn’t one of the survivors and the photo shows No.34053 Sir Keith Park getting into her stride after departing from Quorn & Woodhouse station on the Great Central Railway. I did work on No.34053 Sir Keith Park but I don’t have access to the details of any of my runs with her.

My thanks to Terry Jackson whose log of the run I made with 34022 Exmoor on 02 / 01 / 1965, between Waterloo and Southampton, was used to provide the details of the trip recounted above.

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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Turning back the clock

When the future’s uncertain, there’s always the past. Mourning for what has gone, disparaging its replacement. It was better then, it’s dreadful now. Nowt wrong wi canals, why would thi want to be rushin around at 30 miles an hour, I don’t know how they manage to breathe at that speed – it’s all a matter of perspective.

2017 saw numerous galas and events, at quite a few of the major heritage lines, commemorating the end of Southern steam, in 1967. 2017 was also 70 years since the Big Four, LNER / LMS / SR / GWR, were Nationalised but, I don’t recall any major gala commemorating their demise. And to date, I haven’t spotted any events to mark the creation of British Railways, in theory at least, a more important event than the end of Southern steam, in so far as it was an Act of Parliament, rather than simply an operational objective in the modernisation of the railway network.  What we remember and what is commemorated or celebrated, from the past, are two very different things.

There’s even a certain degree of irony here too because, despite the rhetoric, the re-privatisation of the railways, which was sold on ‘nostalgic images and iconography’ drawn from the days of the Big Four, has been a far cry from what was promised in the sell off prospectus. And there is now, in 2018, a high level of public support for the re-Nationalisation of the railway network and the slim, but growing, possibility it might happen.

Cycling Lion anyone?

The photo is of 8F No.48624, with a train of mineral empties, passing Quorn & Woodhouse signal box, on the Great Central Railway.

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 L&Y

What sort of railway was the L&YR? This question has several different answers depending on whether you are a traveller or shareholder and at what point in the life of the L&Y you were talking about. In the early days, from the traveller’s point of view it was diabolical. O.S.Nock  in his, The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (A concise history), quoting  E.L.Ahrons, states “In the middle of the 1870s it was probably the most degenerate railway in the kingdom, to which even the South Eastern or the London, Chatham & Dover could have only run a bad second.”

Things were so bad that the L&Y was the butt of Pantomime jokes – quoting from Nock again, “He went to Bradford for to dine By the Lancashire & Yorkshire line; He waited three weeks at bleak Low Moor And when he complained the porter swore That he ought to have started the month before”… etc, etc. Nock says, “To sum up, the L&Y of 1876 was a railway of ugly inconvenient stations, of old broken-down engines and dirty carriages, and of a superlative unpunctuality, to which no pen could do justice.”

However, if you were a shareholder between 1866 and 1880 things were rather less bleak and ugly. Dividends were a healthy 6 to 8%, and only in the years 1878 and 1880 when 5 3/8% was paid and 1879 when only 4 5/8% paid did they fall below the 6% mark – in 1872 the L&Y paid 8 3/8%.

The photograph, taken on the K&WVR, shows Ex-L&YR 0-6-0 No.957, built in 1887 to a design by Barton Wright, whose locomotives  are credited with vastly improving the L&YR’s punctuality and speed of services. The coach behind the engine is the beautifully restored ‘Club Car’ No.47.

The ‘Club Car’ owes its existence to the sensitivities of  Fylde coast businessmen and their desire for a comfortable journey unencumbered by such unpleasantness as having to rub shoulders with the ‘great unwashed’. In 1896 a group of these businessmen, the Lytham St. Anne’s & Blackpool Travelling Club approached the L&Y with a view to securing their ‘own’ coach on the morning and evening expresses to and from Manchester.

Following the successful outcome of these negotiations the L&Y first provided some converted 6 wheel saloons and then in 1912 produced a unique carriage for the service which ran Monday to Saturday from Blackpool Central to Manchester Victoria. This coach continued in service until 1934 and then spent the next 17 years on secondary duties until 1951 when it was sold for use as a cricket pavilion in Spondon, near Derby.

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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2017 A personal review

A year of firsts and farewells, though for me 2017 was the year of the ‘End of Southern Steam’; an event celebrated, if that’s the right word, at quite a few heritage lines; and I very much enjoyed seeing Nos. 34081 92 Squadron and 34053 Sir Keith Park, at the Great Central Railway’s offering.  There was even a brief glimpse of No.73156 running as No.73084 Tintagel, like Nos. 34081 and 34053, another engine I’d worked on back in the 60s.

No.73156 / 73084 was one of the firsts too, as she was making her debut appearance after being rescued from Dai Woodhams yard in Barry and restored to operational condition at Loughborough. Sadly, teething problems with the brakes curtailed her official workings, to just one passenger turn on the first day of the gala.

Earlier, in February, there was a bold experiment on the Settle & Carlisle line with No.60163 Tornado hauling regular service trains, for a 3 day spell, between Skipton and Appleby. There were two runs each day and I managed to photograph the first return working, at Selside, on Valentine’s Day. No.60163 also set a first, being given a trial run at 100mph on the ECML, a thrill for all concerned, I’m sure. The data being gathered was intended to support the case for raising the speed limit for steam, on the main line, from 75mph to 90mph.

Sticking with the main line theme, 2017 saw the S&C officially re-opened, after major repairs, with a run behind No.60103 Flying Scotsman, to Carlisle and the S&C also saw main line stalwart, No.46115 Scots Guardsman, bow out when her boiler ticket expired in August – she is pictured at the top of the article, at Kirkby Stephen station , on her last run over the S&C.

No.60103 Flying Scotsman, crossing Lunds viaduct, on the S&C.

Being a Leeds lad I’m rather fond of the Scots which, for many years, were the principal express engines on the former LMS / MR /LNWR routes in and out of the City. In line to replace her, out on the main line, is another engine steaming for the first time since being saved from the scrap yard, No.35018 British India Line, and again one of the engines I have fired on passenger services, out of Waterloo, in the 60s.

Continuing the Southern theme, I never worked on the Schools, though there were several in store at 70A when I started there. 2017 saw Schools Class, No.926 Repton, return to traffic on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, following her ten year overhaul. She is pictured above, slogging up the last half mile of the steep climb from Grosmont to Goathland during the NYMR gala.

On a personal note, I made my first ever visit to the narrow gauge system at Threlkeld Quarry, a little gem in the midst of some wonderful scenery. The locomotive in the photograph is, Sir Tom, a Bagnall 0-4-0ST of 1926 vintage. Sir Tom was employed at BICC in Kent until 1968 and moved to Threlkeld in 2001. Sir Tom was overhauled and rebuilt at Threlkeld and re-entered traffic in 2010.

As the year drew to a close it was farewell to Black 5 No.44806 at the NYMR and No.7812 Erlestoke Manor at the Severn Valley. No.61994 The Great Marquess, and shortly No.60009 Union of South Africa, are to become museum exhibits, no longer gracing the main lines and flying a flag for the LNER, which is sad, especially as the locomotives, of constituents of the LNER, are few in number when compared with the other members of the Big Four.

Not to end on sour note No.7812 Erlestoke Manor, pictured above approaching Bewdley tunnel with a Bridgnorth – Kidderminster service, is to have a fast track overhaul and is expected back by 2020. Good progress is being made with the new build No.82045, a project of which I’m a keen supporter. The 82xxxs were great fun to work on and the ideal engine for a heritage railway operation. I’m very much looking forward to seeing and photographing the finished item.

All of you, I’m sure, have your own highlights from 2017 and I could have added a few more of my own, seeing the Steam Elephant in operation at Beamish was a treat, as was having the Tanfield Railway just 15 minutes drive away, and I leave you with one of my favourite shots from Tanfield in 2017.

Keighley Gasworks No.2, with Bobgins cabin in the background, is heading for Andrews House with a train from East Tanfield.

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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All the best for 2018

70 years ago British Railways came into being and 50 years ago they called a halt to regular steam hauled services. On the 8th & 9th of June 1948, Bulleid Light Pacific No.34006 Bude, as part of the hastily arranged ‘Locomtive Exchange Trails’  worked over the Great Central Railway route between Marylebone and Manchester London Road, working north on the 8th and returning south on the 9th. Cecil J. Allen decribed her perfomance as, ‘amazing’.

2017 saw the usual crop of farewells and returns to steam, and I’m sure we all have our favourites in both categories. I enjoyed seeing, and hearing, the last few runs of No.46115 Scots Guardsman over the S&C route, she certainly bowed out in style. In the fresh from scrapyard condition, I was very much looking forward to the return of No.35018 British India Line, an engine I worked on in the 1960s – I’ve seen the videos but, yet to see her, in the flesh. A treat for 2018 I hope.  Winner of the fresh from overhaul prize is the engine in the photograph above, B-o-B Class 4-6-2 No.34081 92 Squadron, pictured shortly after departing from Loughborough.

One of No.46115 Scots Guardsman’s last runs, at Aisgill, earlier in 2017.

Over the last 50 years I have visited lines all over Britain and in Europe but, a first for me in 2017 was a visit to the narrow gauge system at Threlkeld Quarry, and what a charming place it is, like Arnie ‘I’ll be back’.

All that remains now is to wish everyone a very happy and prosperous New Year and leave you with the knowledge that our hobby, it would seem, is in good hands.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:

 

 

 

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A salutary lesson

You’ve seen this photo before, I posted it on the 7th of October in the blog, ‘Hitting the Buffers’.  Quite by chance, I visited the Railway Grapevine page on Facebook and discovered this very photograph in their post on October 7th. The only difference was they’d cut off the bit with my (C) steamagedaydreams.co.uk. copyright logo and put their own in its place.

I made a polite comment on the post and waited, no reply, so I messaged them, politely. Their answer was to remove my comment on the post and block me from the page and from further messaging them. I ended up having to contact Facebook’s copyright team to get my photograph removed from the Railway Grapevine’s page. Naturally I have not received any form of apology for the theft of my image by the Railway Grapevine, whoever he / she is.

I don’t have an issue with sharing my photos and have, when asked, provided hi-res copies for both owning groups and for individual footplate crew. I don’t mind them being shared on other sites, or on Facebook, so long as they remain credited to me. However, I seriously object to my work being taken, without so much as a by your leave, not being credited, having my logo removed from the photo and then being effectively shut down from making any kind of complaint.

The Railway Grapevine say their page is ‘just for fun’ – well I’m not laughing. And nor should anyone else when this is how they behave.

Please feel free to share this post and alert other photographers  to the less than savoury activities of whoever is behind the Railway Grapevine page.

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Old rivals

In the West country there was a great deal of rivalry between the London & South Western and the GWR, especially over the Atlantic traffic and in 1906 an accident at Salisbury, to a non-stop Plymouth – Waterloo Atlantic liner service, in which 28 people were kiled, led the London & South Western, subsequently, to stop all London bound trains at Salisbury. There was a stop for an engine change at Templecombe, but not for passengers, prior to this.

A couple of years earlier, in 1904, it was on one of the GWR’s Trans-Atlantic services that the did she didn’t she reach 100mph saga with No.3440 City of Truro began. After 1906 and the opening of the Reading – Taunton route the GWR had the advantage of a more direct route than the one via Bristol; and there have been some suggestions that the driver of the LSWR express, in 1906, had been trying to prove that they could still compete. However, there is little direct evidence to support this.

In my own time on the Southern, during the 1960s, I worked an LCGB rail tour from Waterloo to Exeter and back which was booked to run non-stop Waterloo to Yeovil and Yeovil to Waterloo. We did run through Salisbury on the down run but, on the return we were checked by signals as we approached. The non-stop running was a ‘special dispensation’ and we had a footplate inspector, Arthur Jupp, along with us all the way there and back.  The driver was ‘Spot’ King and our engine was No.35022 Holland-America Line.

The photograph shows B-o-B Class 4-6-2 No.34053 Sir Keith Park at Kinchley Lane, during the Great Central Railway’s ‘Southern Gala’ earlier this year.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

 

 

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Scot Free?

Sadly, during the Christmas period, graffiti vandals have struck again on a heritage railway, this time the Severn Valley Railway. These acts of vandalism are not new and nor are they confined to dim and disaffected teenagers. The destruction of huge chunks of the railway network was industrial scale vandalism, and, in some senses, every bit as mindless as the actions of the graffiti sprayers. It was more good luck than good management which kept the line in the photograph open for business. For those who don’t know, this is the Settle – Carlisle route, close to Aisgill summit. If you were a lover of the original ‘Royal Scot’ class you might consider Stanier a vandal for his rebuilding. However, rebuilds are a can of worms I’m not going to open here.

In the case of the national network it wasn’t thousands of volunteer hours of labour that was being trashed, it was the deaths of thousands of navvies, their wives and children too, who died in building routes like the Woodhead route across the Pennines or the Waverley route through the borders. To some extent our current hobby is the result of this vandalism, all in the name of progress, naturally.

I don’t condone the vandalism, be it state sponsored or the mindless moron variety; we do, however, seem to display a certain degree of ambivalence to the former and a quite alarming degree of ferocity towards the latter. Some of the comments I’ve seen on social media advocate chopping hands off, a practice the same commentators would, in all probability, condemn as barbaric if it was being perpetrated by Saudi Arabia.

The unfortunate thing is that the vandals, who have been around for thousands of years, will still be vandals and their mindless activities, whether on the small scale or the large,  will continue to rile people. And if the history of dealing with vandals shows us anything, it is that all the solutions, tried in order to prevent it, have failed, even the barbaric ones.

The recent vandalising  of the teak coaches at the NYMR brought a great community response and the coaches were back in service, almost, before you could say Jack Robinson. Hopefully, this current act will draw a similar response. The vandalism may well be distressing to many but, the railway community response to it is a much more positive and longer lasting effect than a few cans of aerosol paint.

So, on that positive note may I wish  Steam Age Daydreams fans and followers all the steaming best for 2018.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

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Merry Christmas relief

The Tanfield Railway, and Twizell No.3 ‘s exhaust catches the setting sun, as she crosses Causey Arch car park bridge, heading for Andrews House, with the last North Pole Express of the day. The festive season is upon us and once the Mince Pie specials have run their course many of our heritage lines take a winter break, though Tanfield isn’t one of them.

My own memories of working for BR, during the festive season, are somewhat less than festive, I don’t remember joyful passengers bringing us a plate of mince pies, or a slice of Christmas cake, the engines weren’t decked with tinsel and no one wore reindeer antlers. On Boxing day the railway provided a skeleton service and single blokes often dropped for a Boxing day shift. When I drew the short straw, my reward could have been a lot worse than the time and three quarters plus a day in lieu for a mundane day at the office on an ECS, station pilot, and train heating duties, turn.

From the day after Boxing day it was pretty much business as usual until New Year’s Eve. And I have a vague memory of working a boat train special, down to Ocean Liner terminal, during this time, in 1963, with driver Gordon Porter and No.35001 Channel Packet.  Gordon was a lovely bloke to work with and I was fortunate enough to have had a few runs with him during my time at Nine Elms; including a fine run with No.34006 Bude, one of the engines chosen for the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials, on the 22:35 Ex-Waterloo, where we reached 95mph on the run down to Winchester. RIP Gordon.

Well that’s the ‘relief’ – now where’s that plate of mince pies?

Merry Christmas to all who follow and enjoy Steam Age Daydreams.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

 

 

 

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