Tag Archives: Bluebell Railway

On the bridge

The classic ‘spotters view’ from the bridge, or banking side, looking down on the engine, crew, and train. This particular bridge is at Woodthorpe Lane, between Loughborough and Quorn & Woodhouse, on the Great Central Railway, whose Spring gala it will be,  a week on Friday. No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell, will be in action along with the Bluebell Railway’s Q class 0-6-0 No.30541, a class of engine I did a few turns on myself, I might even have fired No.30541.

However, replicating this picture is now becoming impossible, as a new housing development is beginning to take shape here. What are the chances that the ‘new’ residents will complain about the steam engines, the smoke, the whistles, and blah, blah, blah. Over the fifty years of preservation many views, once popularised by photographers, have gone. The Mill at Ingrow on the K&WVR, the shot of Grosmont, from the top of the tunnel,  the once tree lined cutting at Beck Hole with its lovely dappled light – and I’m sure many of you can add your own lost views to these. Even in preservation nothing stays the same, as the lines have developed new buildings have been erected, bridges built, cafes, museums, and more have all been added – it’s all come a very long way from those shaky beginnings at Middleton and Bluebell in 1960.

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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Mytholmes, Pullmans, and the 1948 Exchange Trials

43924mythMytholmes, a word which reeks of  the Pennines and Yorkshire, you can almost hear the clogs and see the cloth caps and whippets. Tho’ there’ll be no cloth caps or whippets in yon Pullman cars, thank you very much. All stereotypes of course, but, and there’s always a but, stereotypes are not without some basis in reality. The reality is that, in this photograph, No.43924, the first engine to leave Woodhams scrapyard in Barry, is hauling the ‘Pullman Cream tea’ service, on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway during Good Friday, this year.

I’m partial to a cream tea myself, and, back in March 1988, I enjoyed having my birthday party, in the ‘Old Gentleman’s coach’,  as we chugged up and down the valley being served tea, sandwiches cut into triangles, cakes, and scones with jam and cream, all  very civilised and genteel, cloth on the table and doilies on the plates. Maybe for 2018 I’ll do it again, only this time in the Pullman coach. There’s another thing which would be fun to celebrate in 2018 – the Locomotive Exchange Trials of 1948. I would love to see No.34067 Tangmere, disguised as classmate 34004 Yeovil tackling Drumochter and Slochd.

The fireman, on No.34004 Yeovil, during the exchanges, was Bert Hooker, who, when I went to work there in 1963, was, a 70A Nine Elms driver. I did a few firing turns with him myself and, many years later, (1990 or 1991), I went to his birthday party on the Bluebell, where we had dinner served in their Pullmans.

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

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing: Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘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’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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Under the hopper


Hello, and welcome to 2015. This year the first two, standard gauge, lines to begin operation using volunteers will reach 55 – the Middleton and Bluebell Railways started their new incarnations in 1960. One was a genuinely historic piece of railway, in a less than pretty part of town, the other a scenic route through rural Sussex, two themes, the scenic and the historic, which loom large in a great many aspects of heritage railways and their connections with the wider public and enthusiast alike – though for very different reasons.

In those fifty five years an industry has grown up, there are fewer hare-brained schemes, more, lots more, health and safety – the driver on 80135 is wearing hi-vis overalls, not quite the ‘old steam days’ image. Industry of another sort has grown up too, the railway preservation industry. This industry involves everyone from Chinese workers making plastic models of Thomas the Tank Engine, to British heavy industry, casting cylinders, driving wheels, and cutting the frame plates for new build locomotives, such as No.60163 Tornado, or the P2 which is just getting underway.

The larger heritage railway undertakings employ paid staff, utilise out side contractors, some sub-contract engineering work, in their own workshops, for other heritage lines or act as wholesaler, supplying stock for the ‘station shop’. I haven’t even mentioned the things like public liability insurance, infrastructure maintenance, or film and television work.  Local shops, cafes, hotels and B&Bs, printers who print the membership mags, flyers, and posters, caterers who stock the buffet and buffet cars, post cards and greeting cards, jigsaws, mugs, tea towels, souvenirs of every ilk, all this trade and industry from those lads with a trolley and a hare-brained idea!

Well done guy’s – from the muck of the railways tha’s made a lorra brass, for a great many people!!

In the photograph Standard Class 4MTT No.80135 is about to ‘take coal’ one of the dirtier railway jobs, believe me, the coal dust gets to places you didn’t know there were places!

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