Tag Archives: Cragside

Arms race

no2tokenexAn odd choice of title, you might think, though there are  signal arms in the foreground and the outstretched arms of driver and signalman in the background. However, there are some rather interesting connections between armaments, the locomotive at the head of the train, No.2, and with the Tanfield railway’s decision to preserve and safeguard the area’s industrial locomotive building history.

No.2, built by Hawthorn Leslie, in 1911, was originally sold to Keighley Gas works, where she remained until around 1940. Just after the outbreak of WWII No.2 was in the employ of the Ministry of Supply and being used  at the Royal Ordnance Factory at Drungans, Kirkcudbrightshire.  Along with Hawthorn Leslie, another of the major locomotive building companies on Tyneside was Armstrong Whitworth who, amongst others, built a substantial number, (327), of Stanier’s Black 5s for the LMS.  Tanfield don’t have any Black 5s but the do have a 1933 vintage Armstrong Whitworth diesel – also numbered 2

Armstrong, had more than just locomotive building in their portfolio they were also major suppliers of ships and armaments. Such was their ‘fame’ in the armaments business, that their breach loading gun re-equipped the British Army after the Crimean War.  The Chairman, Sir W G Armstrong, entertained leading world figures and politicians in his home, with arms and armaments, undoubtedly, on the agenda. His home ‘Cragside’, the first in Britain to be lit entirely by electricity – hydro-electricity at that, is now open to the public.

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:


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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Nuts, screws, washers, and bolts

45407cowdenbeath1Scottish Railway Preservation Society’s ‘Fife Circle’ rail tour, in the capable hands of Ex-LMSR Class 5MT 4-6-0 No.45407, is about to pass Cowdenbeath station, as she heads towards her water stop at Culross, alonside the river Forth, in September 2015. No.45407 was built by Armstrong Whitworth, of Newcastle, in 1937 and worked until the last days of steam on British Railways, when she was allocated to Lostock Hall MPD, her first allocation was at Kettering.

Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Whitworth, have, as they say, ‘some form’. Mr. Whitworth is your standard screw thread man, he was also a Fellow of the Royal Society and produced a ‘sharp shooter rifle’. Mr. Armstrong was also something of an armaments type and his breach loading gun was used to re-equip the British artillery after the Crimean war – ‘charge of the Light Brigade’, and all that.. Mr. Armstrong had built,  for himself, a house at the very forefront of the technology of the day. ‘Cragside’, in the village of Rothbury, had hot a cold running water, central heating, and electric lighting utilising a water powered  generator, hydroelectricity was a very novel idea for 1878.

Not content with hydro electrics and building locomotives and guns, Armstrong Whitworth, built ships, they are credited with the first ‘ice breaker’ and another which was involved in the opening and operation of the Trans-Siberian Railway. And if that’s not enough they built some rather handsome motor cars too – the Armstrong Siddley Sapphire was one such – bank managers loved them!!

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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