Tag Archives: Great Central Railway

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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The Black 5’s turn

Today, June 16th, it is 70 years since Black 5 No.45253 worked from Manchester to Marylebone with the return working of her ‘Locomotive Exchange Trial’ test run, having worked North on the 15th. Later in the year Canon Roger Lloyd penned a piece for the Spectator magazine, on BR’s first year, in which he covers the trials.  Lloyd refers to B1s, as ‘Antelopes’ and Bulleid Pacifics as ‘Southern Streamliners’, quaint terms to modern ears. The good reverend suggests that the B1s were highly thought of, but doesn’t mention the Black 5s at all, though he is rather fond of the Royal Scots, which he considers to be the most handsome design.

Lloyd also questions why the Castles, V2s, Nelsons, and Jubilees were not included in the testing programme. More importantly from a travellers point of view, perhaps, he writes about how services are being restored after the ravages of WWII, blaming the lack of steel allocated for railway use for the shortages of sleeping and restaurant coaches before remarking that most of the ‘named’ trains had been restored and the cross country services were also – ‘vastly improved’. The article, which is titled “BR’s First Year”, paints a generally favourable picture of the progress made by BR during its first year of operations.

However, there is a hint of things to come with talk of country station closures, or reducing the number of stops to speed up services. For me though, the little gem in the piece concerned men I knew. Lloyd talks about the Southern crew, (Driver George Swain and Fireman Bert Hooker), working over the Highland route to Inverness with WC Class 4-6-2 No.34006 Bude. His comment was that they needed an interpreter as much as they needed a pilotman – having fired on the Southern and lived in Scotland for many years – I know exactly what he means.

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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The driver, the guard, and the mail bag catcher.

The humble 0-6-0 tank engine, guards van in tow, could be seen anywhere from bucolic country branch lines to a colliery siding in Barnsley. And the first recorded 0-6-0, ‘Royal George’, built by Timothy Hackworth, for the Stockton & Darlington Railway, in 1827, is credited, by some commentators, with ensuring the success of steam haulage on the S&D, which, at the time, was said to be ‘in the balance’.

These ‘Fowler’ LMS Class 3F, 0-6-0Ts are, essentially, updates of an earlier Midland Railway design of Samuel Waite Johnson, the 2441 Class, introduced in 1899. The ‘Jinties’, as they are commonly and collectively known, were introduced in 1924 and many of them were built by private contactors. The Hunselt Engine Co. built 90, the North British Locomotive Co. made 75, and Vulcan Foundry constructed 120, including No.47406, in 1926.

WG Bagnall was another one of the private companies given an order to build the 3Fs,  seven of which, in 1929,  went to the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway – S&DJR Nos. 19 – 25, in 1930 they were absorbed into LMS stock. And, in one of those you learn something new everyday moments, I discovered that 90 Jinties were built by William Beardmore & Co. a Glasgow ship building corporation.

Nine Jinties made it into preservation 4 from Vulcan Foundries, 3 of the North British ones and 2 of the Hunslets but, the Bagnalls and all the Beardmore’s bit the dust; as did the last 15 of the Class, built at Horwich works, in 1931. Quite a number of the preserved examples have run in the past but, currently No.47406 is the only operational Jinty. No.47298 and 47324 are ‘under overhaul’ at Rileys and the ELR with No. 47324 being expected back later this year or early in 2019 as is No.47298 – watch this space, as they say.

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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Express connections

If railways are about connections there are a lot of them, for me, in this picture. My first long distance journey, on my own, was on the South Yorkshireman. I was taken, by my folks, to Bradford Exchange, where they put me on the train and asked the guard to keep an eye on me; my Aunt met me off the train at Rugby Central station – I was 10. And for the following two weeks I would spend most of my time sat by the girder bridge, where the Great Central crossed the WCML, just south of Rugby Midland station, sadly not with a camera.

Six years later I was at work on the railway in London whilst one of my former classmates was working as a steward on the Pullmans; working between Leeds and Kings Cross. This particular connection gave me the opportunity to sample the joy of Pullman travel from Kings Cross up to Leeds and a very enjoyable dinner for the princely sum of zero. When one of the engines I worked on, during my 3 year spell in London, was returned to steam, it was at the Great Central. No.35005 Canadian Pacific was returned to active duty by the engineering team at Loughborough; and at the ‘ceremony’ to mark her return I was an invited guest and enjoyed a ‘Pullman’ lunch with the CEO of CP Europe as No.35005 hauled us up and down the line.

My first outing, as fireman, on the former London South Western main line out of Waterloo, was with the 19:54 service to Basingstoke, calling at Woking and all stations thereafter. The engine was one of the ‘Standard Arthurs’, identical to the one in the photo except it had a name. And, in a final twist, when I took this photo I was standing chatting to a couple of chaps from Epsom who had stood, train spotting, on the platform at Surbiton during the very time I had been working trains through there on a daily basis with Bulleid Pacifics and BR Class 5 Standards.

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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From main line to minerals

After a star-studded career on the main line Britannia Class 4-6-2, No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, is seen here hauling 9S10 the 10:20 Loughborough – Swithland ‘windcutter’ / ‘runner’ re-enactment, during the Great Central Railway’s Goods Galore Gala, on Saturday last.

When steam was on its way out engines which were once the pride of the fleet could be seen, often in filthy condition, performing all manner of lesser turns and duties – as above. The question was raised, about my previous post, did we really need the ‘Standards’, of all classes. They began to appear in 1951 and all of them were withdrawn by 1968, some of them went to scrap at less than 10 years old. It matters little which side of the political divide you’re on – this is a criminal waste, by any standard.

The twenty years between 1948 when BR was born and 1968 when steam was finally withdrawn, were twenty years of missed opportunities, poor decision making, botched planning and, for much of that time, a government antipathetic to the very idea of Nationalisation.  This is hardly a recipe for success and successes were thin on the ground. Did the railway need new classes and designs, probably not. If more locomotives were needed, until the network could be ‘electrified’, it would have made more sense to build additional locos of pre-existing classes – Black 5 or Std 5?

In my own railway career I witnessed the debacle unfolding, at the blunt end. The dereliction, decay, and loss of morale, the queues of trucks blocking the roads, no motorways then, not to mention the failures of the new fangled diesels but, the badly run down and poorly mainted steam fleet too.

On that note the S&C beckons, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

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Double standards

70 years since the formation of British Railways and 24 years since it was privatised; and in the photo two engines of British Railway’s Standard Classes in action on a Heritage railway. The Standard Classes began with number 70000, which they named Britannia, the last one built at Swindon, No. 92220, they named Evening Star.  Between No.70000 and No. 92220 were these classes of engines No.78018 of BR Standard Class 2MT introduced in 1953 and designed at Derby and No.73156 of BR Standard Class 5 introduced in 1951 and designed at Doncaster, No.73156 being amongst the last of the class to be delivered, at the end of 1956.

No.73156 was built in Doncaster  and initially allocated to Neasden, which made her something of a regular on Ex-GCR metals during that period. No.73156 saw a number of allocations on the Midland region and it was an allocation to Leicester which led to her eventual arrival at the GCR, after a less than succesful spell languishing at Bury. No.78018 was built at North Road Works in Darlington in 1953 allocated to West Auckland she began service over the Stainmore route in March 1954, she was withdrawn from Shrewsbury depot in November 1966 after less than 13 years of service.  No.73156 saw even less service, 11 years, and was withdrawn from service at her last allocation Bolton.

Both engines ended up in Woodham’s scrap yard in South Wales where No.78018 spent the next eleven years – No.73156 spent 18 years in the yard – 7 years more than she was in service. No.78018 became the property of the Darlington Railway Preservation Society and was returned to steam at the GCR where she will remain for the 10 years of her boiler certificate. No.73156 is also in a similar arrangement and both engines are in the custody of the Loughborough Standard Locomotive Group.

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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A trial survivor

Seen here pulling out of Loughborough shed, on the GCR, in 2016, No 6990 Witherslack Hall was, 70 years ago, on 24th June 1948, pulling out of Marylebone Station, heading for Manchester, over the former Great Central Railway route, as part of the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials. Hauling the NER dynamometer coach to record her performance, she returned from Manchester the following day with the 08.25 Manchester London Rd. – Marylebone service; and again with the NER dynamometer coach in tow.

No.6990 Witherslack Hall, was built at Swindon works and entered  service, just a couple of weeks before the trials began, on 8th April 1948. Her competitors, over the same route between London and Manchester, and with the same services, were the Black 5 No.45253 and the Bulleid ‘light’ Pacific No.34006 Bude. The latter was the only one of the three to keep time, though it has to be said that No.34006 Bude was a bigger and more powerful engine and that p-way slacks and signal checks didn’t help time-keeping.

Of the mere two dozen locomotives involved in the trails several have, miraculously, survived the great steam cull and they are; No.6990 Witherslack Hall and ‘heavy freight’ engine, 2-8-0 No.3803, from the GWR contingent, No.35018 British India Line was one of the three Southern Railway Merchant Navy Class entrants and E22, or No.60022 Mallard, was one of the chosen representatives for the LNER. However, on her first run, on the 8th June, with the 11:00 departure from Waterloo, the Atlantic Coast Express, she failed at Exeter and her place, for the continuation of the trials was taken by No.60033 Seagull, which did not survive.

If you want to know more abot the 1948 Exchanges, a longer account of the trials and a dozen or so photos can be found by following this link: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=4942

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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The grate and the goods

In the ‘Mixed Traffic’ section of the 1948 Locomotive Exchange trials the Southern Railway entered 3 locomotives, the West Country Class Pacifics Nos. 34004 Yeovil, 34005 Barnstaple and 34006 Bude; all engines I worked on in the 60s. According to C.J.Allen, these three engines put on some of the finest ‘performances’ of the trials and he singles out a run by 34006 Bude from Leicester to St. Pancras. I have a log from a run I did with Driver Gordon Porter, on No.34006Bude, in 1965, working the 22.35 Ex- Waterloo. The log covers the Basingstoke to Winchester section and we passed Micheldever at 82mph, Wallers Ash at 91mph, and reached 95 at Winchester Jct., before throwing the anchor out to stop at Winchester.

Allen also gives ‘honourable mention’ to the work put in by No.34004 Yeovil on the Highland Main Line. Including this little gem; “the diverting part of this run was that after the banker – Pickersgill 4-4-0 No.14501 – had come on the rear of the 380 ton train to assist up to Dalnaspidal, Swain started with such vigour as to ‘wind’  his supposed helper, and the stop at Struan had to be prolonged while the latter recovered its breath.” (CJ Allen,  British Pacific Locomotives)

It has to be said that the ‘mixed traffic’ status of the WC Class was opportunistic rather than actual; opportunistic, because that designation was used to get them built, at a time of ‘austerity’, rather than any real intention to have them hauling goods wagons. That is not to say they didn’t haul goods trains, they did. I have worked van trains, like that pictured above, from Southampton Docks to Nine Elms goods with WC class engines, though it was much more common to find a Standard Class 5 or an S15 on these turns.

In as built status these engines had what was termed a ‘dropgrate’, that is the middle section of the firegrate could be opened when cleaning the fire and the ash and clinker then raked through the opening – it made fire cleaning a lot quicker and easier than shoveling it out through the firehole, the same way it went in. The rebuilds were all fitted with conventional rocking grates. The operating mechanism, for both types, was a bar which fitted over or into levers set into the footplate – commonly known as a ‘rocker bar’.

The rocker bar, dropgrate, and I have ‘history’ but that’s a story for another day.

The photo shows fresh from overhaul No.34081 92 Squadron, with a train of newly painted box vans, approaching Kinchley Lane, on the Great Central Railway, during a recent gala visit.

If you want to know more abot the 1948 Exchanges, a longer account of the trials and a dozen or so photos can be found by following this link: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=4942

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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The Last Pacific

One  might argue that this locomotive, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, was the final outcome of the Locomotive Exchange Trials, held 70 years ago this month, so far as express passenger designs are concerned. In a class of one, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, was, sadly, never entirely successful during her BR career, and gained a reputation for being heavy on coal and water, as well as being an indifferent steamer, at times. Her construction, at Crewe Works, in 1954, came at almost the same time as a number of major changes to the railway industry, which meant there was little enthusiasm to resolve the issues and less than a decade after entering service, in 1962, she was put out to grass.

Rescued from Barry in 1974 The Duke returned to steam on the Great Central Railway in 1986. The preservationists not only restored a locomotive thought to be beyond repair, by many, they also delved into the steaming and coal eating issues too. The subsequent modifications, especially to the draughting arragements, improved matters substantially. And some of her performances, during  rail tour appearances, particularly on the Appleby – Aisgill climb and over Shap were a revelation.

No.71000 Duke of Gloucester is also the last engine I travelled behind, as an invited guest, on  a tour  in June 1990,  over the Settle  – Carlisle line. The  occasion formed  part of celebrations for  the Middleton Railway’s 30 years in preservation.  I recall spending some time, with my head out of the window, listening to the racket being made by The Duke  – a very different sound to the Bulleid Pacifics I had worked on during my own footplate 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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A special day

70 years ago today the Locomotive Exchange Trials began and this locomotive, No.35018 British India Line, was one of the trialists. On June 3rd 1948 No.35018 made her first run in the trails, with the GWR dynamometer coach added to the train, she left Waterloo with the 11.00 departure, the ‘ Atlantic Coast Express, returning with the ‘up’ working of the same train the following day, June 4th.

On the 28th February 1965 I made the very same journey myself, as the fireman on No.35022 Holland Amerika Line, working the East Devon Rail Tour. We ran non-stop to Yeovil and, unlike the crew on 35018, we worked back the same day, with the same engine. – so I know exactly what was involved in those 1948 trials.

The Bulleid Paifics were never going to come out top in the lbs of coal per mile stakes and some of the crews involved opted to ‘ put on a show’ instead. The performances of the WC No.34006 Bude  on the tricky Marylebone – Manchester service and that of No.34004 Yeovil on the Highland main line were particularly note worthy. And as one observant Steam Age Daydreams regular noted Bert Hooker, who was himself a fireman in the trials, on the 13th June 1963, took MN No.35012 United States Lines over the S&C and ran the Appleby – Aisgill climb in 17 minutes and 30 seconds, pass to pass.

A longer account of the trials and a dozen or so photos can be found by following this link: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=4942

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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