Tag Archives: Golden Arrow


No.34092 City of Wells probably did haul the Golden Arrow,  the ‘Arrer’ as the ‘cockneys’ called it, but not hauling that coaching stock, the Golden Arrow was a Pullman service. I know there’s a Pullman train running around the Surrey hills but, what I’d love to see is a gala where not only do guest engines appear but, guest rolling stock too. It would be wonderful to recreate the Yorkshire Pullman and Harrogate Sunday Pullman, as well as the Bournemouth Belle and Golden Arrow, with appropriate motive power for each one. A whole weekend of gourmet Pullman dining and wining on board a 7 or 8  coach set of, all original, Pullman coaches. Maybe all the special events being planned for the various 2018 anniversaries is just the time to do this.

I’m not well up on my vintage rolling stock but, if it were possible, it would, I think, make a wonderful gala if there were sufficient rolling stock to run only pre-Grouping coaches with  appropriate motive power in matching liveries – an 1870 to 1920 weekend.

Early in 1963 I moved from Leeds to be made fireman at Stewarts Lane, the ancestral home of the engines booked to work the Golden Arrow. What I didn’t know was that practically all the steam workings at Stewarts Lane had finished, or that my little over 1 year of seniority would place me in No.1 link.

Sadly, the place was a bit like a morgue and the only steam I saw was a couple of BR 2-6-4 Class 4 tanks and a similar number of Maunsell moguls. There were a couple of trips up to North Pole Jct. with inter-regional freights, and the highlight a Saturday morning passenger service from Tunbridge Wells to London Bridge. The nearest I got to the Golden Arrow was using a dart to break up clinker, cleaning fires, on a P&D turn. And No.34092 City of Wells, pictured at Burrs on the East Lancashire Railway, is one of a little over a handful of ‘light’ Pacifics I didn’t get to work on before they were withdrawn.

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:


Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Time’s Frozen Arrow


This is our hobby in a nutshell, an ultimately futile attempt to stop the arrow of time somewhere around the summer of 59. A time when the real ‘Golden Arrow’ was still being hauled by Bulleid Pacifics and schoolboys still wore short trousers. No.34092 City of Wells looks the part in full ‘Arrer’ regalia, the less said about her train the better; the ‘real’ Golden Arrow would have been composed of Pullman coaches.

The Golden Arrow and its French counter-part, the Fleche d’Or, made the journey from London to Paris in 6 hours, ( today, thanks to the tunnel and TGVs, it’s around 2hrs 20mins), it was a ‘luxury’ alternative to flying – well that was the theory behind it. And now the weird bit. Santa brought me a bound volume of Railway Magazine, for the year 1959, and I thought I’ll see if there’s anything in it about the Golden Arrow. I opened it, more or less in the middle, the July edition to be precise, and there on the right hand page, No.475, was a photograph of No.34091 Weymouth on the very train and from almost the same angle and elevation as in my photograph on the East Lancashire Railway. If that wasn’t coincidence enough, the lower picture on the left hand page, was none other than No.34027 Taw Valley and in rebuilt form.

If you’ve enjoyed my photographs and blog, why not try my book “Gricing: The Real story of the Railway Children”. This is the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

Here are some  totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing:  ‘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’. – 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!’


Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Faster miles an hour


Shunting, that’s where we were yesterday, it’s where most footplatemen began the process of becoming ‘footplatemen’. It’s a long way from shunting, to the holy grail of the crack express, many never made it. I’m sure you know those trains, they’re the ones – the schoolboy story ones, with the famous names; the ACE, the Talisman, the Caledonian, the Bristolian and the Cheltenham Flyer, the Bournemouth Belle and the Yorkshire Pullman – the, ‘honour and glory jobs’, as some crews called them.

However, for some, the journey from shunting to the mainline express was ‘express’, myself included. When I moved, as a ‘passed cleaner’, from Farnley Junction, where promotion through the links was via dead men’s boots, to be made ‘fireman’ at Stewarts Lane 73A, which was the depot supplying the motive power for the ‘Golden Arrow’,  I went into No.1 link, I’d been on the railway for a whole year!!

In swinging 60s London, jobs were plenty and there were few who wanted to be going to work, at any hour on the clock, getting filthy dirty, sweating like a pig in a Lard factory, on a railway which seemed to be going nowhere but oblivion. This was the era of Christine Keeler, ‘we’d never had it so good’ and pigeon trains – the Beatles played Hammersmith, Mods and Rockers fought in Clacton. The A4s, like No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, were still working over the routes from Edinburgh and Glagow to Aberdeen – seeing service on the ‘Saint Mungo’ from Glasgow as well as being spotted on the Aberdeen – Ferry Hill fish. Fish trains, like those for pigeons, are little more than a whiff on the breeze today.

In the photograph, No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, is fast approaching the station at Dalgety Bay, a couple of miles north of the Forth Bridge, with the morning run, of one of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society’s ‘Fife Circle’ rail tours.  These popular tours, which run Spring and Autumn, have seen several locomotive types on duty, as well as the A4s, there have been, amongst others, Black 5s 44871,45407, 45231, the K4 61994 The Great Marquess, and last year, No.46233 Duchess of Sutherland.

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather