Tag Archives: austerity

Up ‘ill ‘n’ darn dale

In the 1960s, as a 15 year old, I learned how to fire steam locomotives working on Black 5s going from Leeds to Manchester and back.  This was very much an uphill and down dale route – which ever way you went you climbed the Pennines and then ran down the other side. A favourite turn, to take a ride out on, was the Red Bank vans, always double-headed, and often two of Farnley’s Black 5s.

There are two main line runs coming up which both remind me of my time on the footplate. The first, this Saturday, is the ‘Citadel’ booked for double-headed Black 5s and working from Manchester to Carlisle via the S&C, crossing and recrossing the Pennines. The second run is next month’s ‘Pennine Moors Explorer’ which reminds me of my time at Wakefield in the final days of steam and working over Copy Pit with wheezing clanking Dubdees and train loads of coal, returning whence we came with the empties.

The Pennine Moors Explorer might even be hauled by an engine I actually worked on whilst I was a fireman at Nine Elms – No.34046 Braunton, which would be wonderful to see, and hear, it’s quite a pull from Todmorden through Cornholme and Portsmouth and on up to Copy Pit summit where, with the coal trains, we would have to stop and pin down wagon brakes for the long roll down to Gannow Junction.

Just as the lights went out on my railway career they will very soon be going out on Steam Age Daydreams too.

I will still be passing my time photographing steam locomotives and for those of you who have enjoyed reading the Blog – I will be continuing to write, Part II of ‘In Memory’ will be available before the end of the month with parts III, IV and V to follow at intervals in the New Year. If you’ve enjoyed my photographs the Steam Age Daydreams 2019 Calendar is now on sale on eBay – here’s the link: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/302936132284

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 2019 Calendar is now on sale here’s the link:  https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/302936132284

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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Engine and van

Some years back, I enjoyed a day out on one of the ‘terriers’, (Stepney), at the Bluebell Railway. I spent the day with Clive Groome,  one of my old drivers from Nine Elms days, running up and down between Sheffield Park  and Kingscote, engine and van.  When I was at Wakefield, just before the end of steam, running engine and van became more of a commonplace as more and more coal and goods traffic was going by road.

We had little pick-up goods turns where you visited goods yards, coal yards, and mill sidings all around the Wakefield area and across the GN to Bradford – this is how most of them began. The essential difference was that we were doing it with a clapped out old WD and with each passing week there were fewer and fewer wagons to collect or empties to deliver. One by one the mills were closing, the local goods yard, with the coal merchant and his staithes, the goods agent and his parcels, were shutting down too. We might have won the World Cup but, the railways, the mines, and the mills were losing the battles. Before much longer the lines we were travelling would shut too. The future was rust, weeds, vandalism, and graffiti – and then came the wrecking balls.

The photo is of No.662 (Martello) leaving Winchcombe, on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway, heading for Cheltenham.

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 2019 Calendar is now on sale here’s the link:  https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/302929843008

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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Blue Fish

Blue Fish isn’t some new internet business it’s the third van back, the one framed neatly by the lineside TPO apperatus.  Insulfish vans came in blue or  a grey white and fish trains were run ‘fast fitted’. On the East Coast the fish trains out of Aberdeen became the stuff of ‘legend’ and the Robinson Class 8 4-6-0s of the GCR were known throughout their working lives as ‘fish engines’. In the last days of steam on the WCML it was not unheard of to see the fish train in the hands of a Duchess.

My own experience of fish train working, circa 1966, was from Hull Docks to Healy Mills and our ‘Duchess’ was one of Wakefields finest Dubdees. My experience with the class 5 BR standards, like the one pictured, was mostly with passenger workings between Waterloo and points West. However, I did work several van trains from Southampton docks to Nine Elms goods with them, usually when the Union Castle line boats came in loaded with bananas.

Several years ago now I wrote a piece for the magazine Steam Days, all about working one of these ‘banana’ trains and, rather foolishly, eating green bananas. There’s a shortend version in the archives – ‘Bananas to the Beat’, if you want to read more.

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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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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