Tag Archives: austerity

Coach window

The East Coast Main Line, well sort of. All the ingredients are there Ex-NER fixtures and fittings, an Ex-LNER A4, 1950s rolling stock and it does go to the coast. It could almost be the Elizabethan streaking south through Northumberland. This isn’t the only fantasy though, as this particular location is to be found in Harry Potter movies and TV series, Heartbeat. It is the view from the window of a poll winning bus service too; The four times daily, route 840 from Leeds to Whitby, which won the title of Britain’s most scenic route earlier this year.

The idea that a line from Leeds to Whitby via York and Malton might provide a scenic attraction for visitors from around the world seemed strangely absent when the section of line from Rillington Jct to Whitby was closed.  Like the other East Coast line; the one that ran through Staithes, Sandsend, Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay and on to Scarborough which closed in 1965. This route was unquestionably a tricky one in winter when sea mist made visibility poor and the rails wet – but from Easter to October – well that’s a different kettle of fish.

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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Gricing – The Real Story of the Railway Children

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 “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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Passing time?

It started in the classroom as some boring old fart droned on about the square on the hypothenuse, or how many pecks to the bushel, (Google that one). Now I’m the boring old fart musing  about the passing of time.  I have to admit I quite like the passing shot too and sometimes the results turn out better than the shot you lined up for.

Passing time has its own railway connections, of course, and many a railway photographer is grateful for knowing them – it cuts down the time standing in a field, expectantly. It must be said that passing times aren’t published for the benefit of railway photographers, even if many of us believe that is exactly why they are!!

I passed a fair bit of time on the footplate of this engine, in 1963 and 64, before her premature withdrawal in 1964, though not in this super shiney condition, nor on the Settle – Carlisle line. My own passage over the Pennines was via Copy Pit or Diggle with Dub Dees and usually with rafts of coal.

If you’ve more time to pass, check out the archive, there are over 500 articles to choose from on all manner of time wasting topics but, no algebra.

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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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When I’m cleaning smokeboxes

George Formby used to do one of his dirty ditties about ‘The Wigan Boat Express’, not that Metropolitan No.1 ever went anywhere near Wigan with an express boat train. And to the best of my knowledge there never was a Wigan Boat Express either. It’s more that cleaning smokeboxes is a dirty little duty, a chore with the wrong kind of char. On a prepare and dispose turn you’d get 3 or 4 of them to shovel out, sometimes more. Emptying the smokebox was only one part of the disposal process, for the fireman, there was cleaning the fire and raking out the ash pans too. The whole ritual seemed designed to create sufficient sweat that every stray partical of ash and coal dust ended up sticking to you.

Not all smokeboxes are equal – I’ve opened the smokebox door on many a West Country Class, 34101 Hartland included, with char up to the dart, still glowing hot at the bottom. Those Bulleid smokeboxes  go a long way back too. You did sometimes wonder if the fireman who disposed her last had actually bothered to clean the smokebox.

And some are not so very big at all, like this one on the Burrows Well Tank ‘Willy’ which  barely holds enough char to fill a wheel barrow.

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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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When the last fires dropped

50 years ago I stepped off one of these work horses for the last time, collected my final pay packet – redundancy beckoned. No more baked onion, cooked on the manifold, or cheese toasties done on the shovel. No more signing on at 04.00 for, a freezing cold, tender first run down the Dearne valley line either. The last six months of terminal decline did little for moral.

In my all to brief footplate career, I count myself lucky to have been able to experience a whole range of different workings from a humble branch line goods to the Royal Wessex. I fired for young drivers only a few years older than me and for others who had begun their railway service in World War I. At Wakefield, my final depot, even the link system was scrapped, because so many turns were now single-manned diesel jobs. All the firemen were put in one long link covering the remaining steam jobs and diesel turns requiring a second man. A situation which could see you working with a different driver every day you were on duty.

More and more duties were signing on and off at Healy Mills and I was spending quite a bit of time on English Electric Class 3s, not what I signed on for. Once I knew that I hadn’t got the vacancy I applied for at Blyth, it was all over. No fairy tale ending, no big send off, just mount the bike jump on the kick-start and go home. I didn’t even take a souvenir, though I do now have a 55C shed plate – the place where it all began. Amazingly railway preservation and operation has now been going for longer than British Railways was in existence and some of the preserved locomotives have spent more time at work, in private hands, than they did during their BR service.

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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Party poopers

I remember visting Keighley in 1965, whilst I was still a BR fireman at Nine Elms, and seeing No.69523, a little later she became No.4744, later still No.1744, as she is now, sat in the yard at Haworth along with No.51218. One of my chums lived in Ingrow, so I got all the local gossip too. I don’t think any of us, at the time, ever imagined the line would become the attraction it has – I doubt any of us imagined being fifty, let alone seeing the railway it all became – 50 years on.

Not a picture from 50 years ago but, another of the very earliest arrivals and a personal favourite, sadly not in action at the party.

No.78022 when she was fitted wih the Giesl ejector, a short lived experiment. No.78022 is soon to be returned to traffic, minus the Giesl.

No. 957 aka No.52044 and ‘The Green Dragon’ of Railway Children fame, another very early arrival – 1965.

Scanned from a slide, the train engine is old stalwart, the 8F No.48431, which arrived in 1972 and first ran in 1975.

And here’s the real 5775 piloting No.48431, a scan from an old black and white print.

Sir Berkeley was another of the 1965 arrivals – I do have pics of her at Haworth but not scanned. This shot shows her at East Tanfield some years ago.

The Ex-Haydock Foundry loco – ‘Bellerophon’ was an early arrival, in 1966, though she didn’t return to steam until late in 1985.

Last, but by no means least is another old favourite which didn’t make it to the party, Jinty No.47279 – a class of engine I made my first ever footplate ride on; age 14, and a trip along the leeds Fireclay branch from Farnley Junction.

This is not an exhaustive list of the engines which have over the years been a part of the K&WVR line, rather a little snapshot of some of the old favourites which didn’t make the 50th Birthday Bash.

All that remains is to say top marks to all the volunteeers and everyone else who, over the last 50 years have, through thick and thin, made the K&WVR what it is today. And, for the splendid 50th Birthday Celebrations of the last 8 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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Summer Special

July only – enjoy Gricing for less. From July 1st to 31st the Ebook version of Gricing is on special offer at just £3.99

Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B011D1WBWY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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The Leg Ends of Industry

This weekend was the Tanfield Railway’s Legends of Industry Gala and, on Sunday morning, the two visiting engines, Ex-CEGB, Dunston Power Station RSH 0-4-0ST No.15 and former NCB No.2 Durham Area, (Lambton Railway),  Hunslet ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST No.60, are side by side at Andrews House Station.

No.15 was built in Newcastle and spent her entire working life there, in Dunston Power Station. No.60 was built in Leeds, in 1948, and was the first new locomotive supplied to the recently created NCB Durham Area No.2. In 1962 she was fitted with a mechanical stoker, removed in 1967,  at the Lambton workshops before she went to Dawdon Colliery; where she remained, until being withdrawn in 1974 and moved, eventually, to the Strathspey Railway at Aviemore.

Between turns, No.60 stands alongside No.20 outside Marley Hill shed; this 1850s engine shed, still doing what it was built for, is having repairs to the gable end and new doors have been fitted, all the work being carried out by the volunteers. Down at East Tanfield a brand new carriage shed is taking shape; and all the new track work associated with it has also been done by the volunteers. And all this is going on whilst organising and running the gala – everything from stringing up the bunting to handing out Flyers, transporting engines across the country, ensuring a goodly supply of tea and buns for the visitors and directing traffic in the car park, (well done to Colin Fish for this little chore).

No.60 arriving at East Tanfield earlier in the week – the NCB lettering on the tanks was just another of those little jobs on the ‘to do list’ before the gala began. TV crews covered the arrival and the gala with a nice little piece being shown on the local news, in which yours truly was to be seen, though I had no idea I was!

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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Bit of a mis-match

On the 1st of June 1948 Black 5 No.45253 left St. Pancras, bound for Manchester, on the first of her runs in the Mixed Traffic section of the 1948 Locomotibe Exchange Trials. The other locomotives in her pool were the B1 No.61251 Oliver Bury and the Bulleid West Country Class No.34005 Barnstaple, which was crewed by Nine Elms pair, George James driving, and George Reynolds firing.

During my own footplate service I worked on all three types; and in the case of No.34005 Barnstaple I worked on the actual engine. All I can say is that putting the Black 5 and B1 in the same category as a Bulleid ‘light’ Pacific was a bit of a mis-match, to put it mildly. And it wasn’t the only mis-match. The Southern engines were coupled to LMS tenders during their running on the Midland and the LMS  engines were coupled to ‘Austerity’ tenders, when doing their turn on Southern metals. This was all brought about by of the lack of troughs on the Southern which meant that the tenders on the Southern engines didn’t have scoops.

However, despite these minor issues, the performance of the selected crews was highly professional, under what must have been challenging conditions, on a railway still recovering from the ravages of 5 years of warfare. And not just the hardware of the railway landscape and the p-way, but the railwaymen themselves who had been working on the footplate, in the stations, goods yards, and signal boxes, or on the p-way throughout the hostilities. To even be in a position, after less than 3 years since the war’s end, and only 4 months after the formation of British Railways, to organise and run the Locomotive Exchanges was, perhaps, miraculous.

The photo shows No.44806, now out of service, passing Esk Valley, on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, with a Grosmont – Pickering service.

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 ‘starred’ 8F

Tuesday’s Dalesman was again in the hands of the ‘starred’ 8F No.48151, and she is seen here northbound, at Langcliffe, just a couple of miles beyond Settle Junction.  Built at Crewe in 1942 No.48151 spent her first seven years at Grangemouth before becoming a Canklow engine in 1949, where, apart from a brief spell at Wellingborough, she remained until 1962 – I very much doubt that she saw much by way of passenger duties at either location. Somewhat more surprising is that ‘in preservation’ she has worked freight trains, a stone hopper train from  Ribblehead quarry over the S&C to Carlisle and at Tunstead quarry during a short spell on loan there.

Canklow, 19C later 41D, (Rotherham), opened in 1875 and closed to steam in 1965 and the nearest I could find to a passenger engine, on the books, was a ‘Flying Pig’ No.43037 which spent quite some time there in the 1950s and 60s. At Grangemouth No.48151 would have been rubbing shoulders with WD 2-10-0s and ancient Ex-Caledonian Railway Drummond, Pickersgill, and McIntosh 0-6-0s, like the 1899 vintage, McIntosh 3F, No.828, (BR No.57566), which is still running on the Strathspey Railway.

Grangemouth was one of the Scottish sheds I visited during a round Scotland track and shed bash in 1964, not the most accessible spot to reach using public transport, like Thornton Jct., which was another one on the list we visited. I had my one and only footplate trip on an A4 during this tour, riding on No.60026 Miles Beevor from Aberdeen up to Stonehaven – a very different experience from the Bulleid Pacifics I was working on, out of Waterloo. Quite what the Aberdeen men made of me I don’t know, the fireman was old enough to be my dad and the driver my grandad!

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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