Tag Archives: Exeter

Southern Banker

30955exeterDesigned by Maunsell, built at Brighton, these engines first saw light of day in 1929, thanks to the ‘Great Depression’ of 1930 only 8 were built, though the intention was to build more. The Z class 0-8-0s were a bit of a hotch-potch utilising, as they did, a ‘standard’ Marsh C 3 class boiler, and having 3 cylinders with a ‘novel / one-off’ design for the inside cylinder motion. However, they did prove reasonably successful and lasted into the 1960s, finishing their days on banking duties between Exeter Central and Exeter St.Davids.

When new the Z class were used on heavy shunting duties and inter-yard movements in the London area around Hither Green and Norwood Jct, they also did similar work at Eastleigh and Exmouth. During my own time on the Southern I visited all these depots, Hither Green and Norwood Jct, during my brief spell at  72A Stewarts Lane, the others whilst I was at 70A Nine Elms. The visit to Exmouth was on 28th February 1965 when I worked the LCGB’s East Devon Rail tour, running Yeovil non-stop.

During WWII, in 1942, three of the Z class were sent to Scotland where they remind for six months, ‘helping the war effort’. In 1955 No.30955 was allocated to 74A Ashford, in 1960 she moved to Exmouth and she is seen here at Exeter, waiting for her next duty.

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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Going Wells


Once upon a time ago when the Oxenhope deviation was still a part of the L&SWR route to the West Country, we see Bulleid West Country Class 4-6-2, No.34092 City of Wells, coasting through a p-way slack approaching Haworth, with an Exeter – Ilfracombe service – yes I’m making it up. That’s the thing about ‘daydreams’, they’re not reality, they’re not meant to be – in this instance they’re not even in real space – only here, amongst the noughts and ones, in cyberland, where the Google knows all.

In reality, quite some years back, when the photograph this scan was taken from was taken, No.34092 City of Wells was, somewhat unusually, facing down hill towards Keighley, so, with the judicious use of the bridge and the line out of Haworth MPD, it was possible to make things look like a twin track main line route – but probably not Exeter – Ilfracombe, sadly.

The annual Winter Gala, at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway is now only a couple of weeks away and the fresh from overhaul No.34092 City of Wells will be in ‘volcanic’ action, pleasing the crowds and upsetting the neighbours, probably. The real treat for me at the Winter gala will, however, be another freshly restored long time K&WVR resident, BR Standard Class 4MT No. 75078, an engine I worked on many times during her service days with British Railways Southern Region. One turn in particular stands out, the 04.40 Waterloo – Salisbury, ‘the Salisbury papers’. Not everyone’s favourite turn, starting time for the crew was to book on at Vauxhall at 03.43 and travel pass to Waterloo. No, the reason the turn stood out was that if I was with my regular mate, I almost always got to do the driving from Woking to Andover and these Standard Class 4s were regularly put to use on this duty.

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You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running.


or for British readers.

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Once a Knight


The disc being carried by No.30777 Sir Lamiel, is probably meant to signify that she is hauling a stopping passenger service. In her Southern days it would have indicated something rather different. It could have indicated that No.30777 Sir Lamiel, was working Victoria – Dover via Chatham, a turn she would no doubt have been familiar with, or Woking – Reading via Virginia Water west curve, a route she might have taken less often, or even Exeter Central – Ilfracombe, amongst several other possible routes. The essential thing, I suppose, is that the disc gives the signalman important information about the train, just as the tail lamp, or lack of one, does.

No. 30777 Sir Lamiel is part of the National Collection and is, as a result, in the custody of the National Railway Museum. In practice however, she is cared for, on a day to day basis, by the 5305 Locomotive Association at Loughborough. No.30777 Sir Lamiel is also part of the pool of engines certified for use on the main line and has, over many years, put in some fine performances, particularly on the Settle – Carlisle route and her old stamping grounds on the LSWR routes from London Waterloo to Weymouth via Southampton or Waterloo to Exeter via Salisbury, both routes I know from my own footplate days.

For most of their independent existence the Great Western and the London South Western / Southern Railway were bitter rivals in almost everything from the carriage of Atlantic Mails, to milk traffic and summer specials full of holiday makers. Having worked for BR Southern region I know a little about this rivalry at ground level,  so there’s always this little frisson when I see sights like one in the photograph, Southern engine, chocolate and cream rolling stock, and on GW metals. However, Sir Lamiel, or to give him his full title Sir Lamiel of Cardiff, obviously had some GWR in his veins, as he  does look quite at home with the rake of GWR stock, approaching Leigh Lane crossing on the West Somerset Railway between Williton and Crowcombe Heathfield.

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Rebuilt or Un-rebuilt that is the question


I have recently seen some discussion of the possibility of un-rebuilding, is there such a word, a Merchant Navy class Bulleid pacific. There were all the usual suspects, can’t be done, can be done but will cost loadsa wonga, wouldn’t it be great, and why bother. Discussion didn’t quite get as far as which form of streamlining, widows peak or not, long or short smoke deflectors and / or the highly contentions issue of livery – 21C1 in wartime black and with the widows peak, Malachite with yellow  and so on.

The discussion also mentioned the fact that at Riley’s loco-works in Bury were the wheel sets for No.35022 Holland-America Line, which, apparently, is one the way to becoming a working loco again. I have a rather special link with this engine from my days as a fireman at Nine Elms. In February 1965 No. 35022 Holland-America Line was selected to work the first RCTS East Devon Railtour from Waterloo to Exeter and back, with side trips down the Seaton Branch and to Exmouth.

I was the fireman for the trip which ran non-stop from Waterloo to Yeovil, a distance of 123 miles, and there are no troughs on the Southern. This required careful enginemanship and boiler management to achieve. The acid test was, did we have water in the tap at Worting Junction, needless to say we did and did run to Yeovil without stopping, apart from a signal check, near Woking.

Because the water was such a vital issue we, unusually for such a run, prepared our own engine and if you add the miles from Nine Elms up to Waterloo and to Exeter and back the it was  a prodigious distance for one fireman, approximately 350 miles. If No.35022 Holland-America Line does run again it will be wonderful to see her in action.

The photograph is Battle of Britain class ‘light’ pacific No.34070 Manston and the location is close to the summit of Eardington Bank on the Severn Valley Railway – not really Bulleid country, but a fine sight nonetheless.

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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