Tag Archives: GWR

“What’s your favourite”

‘What’s your favourite’ is usually followed by engine or livery but, in this instance it’s, what’s your favourite train? There are all the usual suspects, Caledonian, Red Dragon, Talisman, Atlantic Coast Express, or the Devon Belle but, in my case, it’s none of the above.  My favourite is not only not a named service, it’s not even an express, it’s the ‘paper train’. A couple of coaches for the intrepid travellers and a dozen or more vans with tomorrow’s head lines and the day after’s chip wrappers.

I not only loved to travel on the paper trains, I equally enjoyed working on them. During the 60s as a fireman at 70A,  I worked regularly, on the Bulleid Pacifics, hauling paper trains out of Waterloo.  Just like the TPO, the newspapers were sorted and bundled on the train as we sped through the dark heading for Bournemouth. The frantic last minute activity with newspaper vans, from Fleet Street, still arriving just minutes before the off – the final, final editions. There’s something about the footplate of a Bulleid at night, the glow of the fire, the humming of the Stones generator powering the gauge glass and cab lights, the smell of wet wood and steam after you swilled round with the slacker pipe.

There were other little pleasures too, watching the sun coming up as we went through the New Forest and seeing the deer darting through the mist, swirling about the forest floor, startled by our approach. My favourite journey on one was out of Kings Cross in the mid-70s. Having boarded the train I opened the door to a compartement which had the blinds down and was greeted by the single occupant –  ‘come in take yer boots off and fart a bit, we don’t want anyone else joining us.’  My fellow traveller turned out to be something of a raconteur and his choice of greeting had been the result of his reading Lenny Bruce’s ‘How to talk dirty and influence people’. It seemed like no time and we were in Doncaster and my change of train.

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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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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Fast Fitted

In Heritage Railway Magazine, some years ago now, I wrote an article entitled, ‘Things that went clank in the night’, it was, as you might guess, about the humble world of the over-night freights. Some goods workings achieved almost legendary status, such as the Aberdeen fish trains, which, in the later years of steam, would see anything from a V2 to a ‘Duchess’ turning up. The legendary driver William (Bill) Sparshatt, was reputed to have ‘run down’ i.e caught up, The Talisman with a fitted freight, quite what the guard thought about his wild ride was probably unprintable.

Leaving aside the legends, fishy and otherwise, the fitted freight was bread and butter work and much of it went on during the hours of darkness. The doyen of the V2s No.4771 Green Arrow was named in conjunction with the LNER’s fast fitted freight service ‘Green Arrow’ which had its initial outing as early as 1928, though 4771 Green Arrow wasn’t built until 1936. The LNER wasn’t the only ‘Green Arrow’ service on offer, the GWR advertised one too. Unofficially they also named a London – Worcester ‘fitted’ ‘The Sauce’, and the railway companies did not discourage these ad hoc names.

Surprisingly, in my own railway service, the only fast fitted I worked were the ‘Banana’ trains from Southampton docks to Nine Elms goods; none of which were ‘regular’ services. I did work a regular turn of fully fitted stone hoppers, which originated from Meldon Quarry. We worked down with a passenger service and relieved the crew at Salisbury working back to Feltham engineers yard. The usual motive power was an S15 and it was out for some hours before we stepped aboard – a very rough turn for the fireman, coal back in the tender and plenty of clinker in the fire.

The photo shows No 92214, a BR Class 9F, the last of the ‘Express’ freight engines, with a fitted freight recreation, on the Great Central Railway, near Loughborough.

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 Mayflower

In 1620 The Mayflower carried ‘Puritans’ from Plymouth to North America; in 1957 British Railways named a Kingswear – Paddington passenger service ”The Mayflower”. Being of a certain generation, and political persuasion, whenever I hear of the ‘Mayflower’ I’m reminded of the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream, ‘I was riding on the Mayflower When I thought I spied some land, I yelled for Captain Arab, I have you understand, Who came running to the deck, Said, “Boys, forget the whale, Look on over yonder, Cut the engines, Change the sail.’ (C) B.Dylan

I took the photograph at one of the Llangollen Railway galas when No.1306 was one of the guest engines, she also carried the ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ head board on one of her runs, a service, unlike the Mayflower, for which there was just an outside possibility she might have hauled, at some point in her BR life. The B1s wouldn’t normally see service on the Yorkshire Pullman but, all kinds of engines may be pressed into service in the event of a failure, or possibly as a pilot engine – stranger things have happened.

In July 1948, during the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials, a B1 did work over the former GWR route between Plymouth and Bristol and on one memorable occasion in the early 60s I rode behind one from Bristol to Burton – upon – Trent, where it failed with a hot box and was replaced by a passing ‘Peak’. The failure was a real shame as the crew seemed to be enjoying themselves doing their best to make up time on a late departure from Bristol.

The photo shows B1 Class 4-6-0 No.(6)1306 departing from Berwyn station on the Llangollen Railway.

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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War Effort

One of a batch 90 engines, built by LIMA in 1945, USATC No.5820 was shipped directly to liberated France and eventually became Polish Railways Tr. 203.474. It was said at the time, 1942 – 45, that the American GIs were ‘over sexed, over paid, and over here’. I don’t know about that but, what I do know is that 398 of these American engines were allocated to the ‘Big Four’ with 50 of them going  to the LMS.

Whether the S160s ever worked through Keighley or up the Worth valley I cannot say. The engines which were sent to Britain were shipped to South Wales and taken, intially, to Ebbw Jct. for dispersal to the other members of the Big Four, and some to storage in preparation for the D-day landings. Some of the early arrivals went to Doncaster for completion and running in on the ECML. The LNER eventually had 168 on the books, the GWR 178, and the Southern just 6.

Built to be ‘expendable’ the S160s did have their problems. From a footplateman’s perspective having only one gauge glass, and that of a an unfamiliar type, which was less than 100% reliable, wasn’t a good thing. During the first year of their deployment there were 3 boiler explosions due to low levels of water in the boiler creating a sudden crown sheet collapse; and a GWR fireman was killed in one of them.

To the right of ‘Big Jim’ is Ex-S&DJR  Class 7F 2-8-0 No.53808 an engine which would, almost certainly, have played a role in WWII, on the S&D. During the war a hospital train was stationed at Templecombe, it was kept in a state of readiness to evacuate injured and wounded from the South coast ports to military hospitals. And, when Templecombe itself was bombed, it was used to treat the casualties; five railwaymen and eight passengers died in the attack.

The photo, taken at this year’s K&WVR Winter Gala, shows ‘Big Jim’, banked by Ex-Taff Vale Railway 0-6-2T No.85, pulling away from Keighley with the ‘demo’ goods train.

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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Let the trials begin

On the 22nd of April 1948 Stanier Pacific, No.46236 City of Bradford, left Euston, hauling the Royal Scot to Carlisle. This was the first run in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials; her return journey the following day was the second. Four days later, on the 27th of April, Bulleid Pacific No.35019 French Line CGT made her test appearance, heading for Plymouth with the GWR dynamometer car in the train. Like No. 46236 City of Bradford, she too made the return trip the following day.

On the 29th & 30th of April it was the turn of the ECML to act as host; and  Rebuilt Scot, No.46162 Queen’s Westminster Rifleman did her turn on a Kings Cross – Leeds working,  hauling the NER dynamometer car in both directions.

The earliest run on the former Southern Railway didn’t take place until the beginning of June, when No.35018 British India Line left Waterloo, heading for Exeter, hauling the Atlantic Coast Express, and with the GWR dynamometer car coupled behind the tender. Repeating the pattern set earlier, she worked the ‘up’ train the following day. The first GWR engine to enter the trial was King Class No.6018 King Henry VI, on 20th May, with a Kings Cross Leeds run, and again, making the return working the day after.

The first A4 to take part in the trials was No.60034 Lord Faringdon, hauling the Royal Scot and the LMS dynamometer car from Euston to Carlisle on May 27th. Two weeks earlier Bulleid Pacific No.35017 Belgian Marine did her turn on the Royal Scot, working north on the 13th, returning south the following day. The trials continued throughout May and on into June, in the ‘Express Locomotive’ category, with the final run being made, appropriately, after having opened the contest, by No.46236 City of Bradford, taking the ACE out of Exeter and heading to Waterloo.

Trials of the mixed traffic engines,  B1 4-6-0s,  Black 5 4-6-0s,  GWR Modified Halls and  SR West Country 4-6-2s, began on June 1st with Black 5 No.45253, on home territory, working a St. Pancras – Manchester service, returning to St. Pancras 3 days later.

Next up was WC Pacific No.34006 Bude working from London Marylebone to Manchester and back, over the GCR main line, on the 8th & 9th. CJ Allen notes that only this engine, of those  in this trial, on the test train over the GCR  route, kept to time, The fireman on No.34006 Bude was Bert Hooker, and I met and fired for him during my time at Nine Elms in the 60s, when he was a driver there.

One of the Modified Halls was the preserved, No.6990 Witherslack Hall, pictured below departing from Loughborough, and she had her turn on the Marylebone – Manchester run on on the 24th and 25th of June with the NER dynamometer car for company. The first B1 to enter the action was No.61251 Oliver Bury working over the Midland from St. Pancras to Manchester and back on 15th and 18th of June. The third member of the Southern trio was in this group, WC No.34005 Barnstaple, and she made her runs on the 22nd and 23rd of June, over the St.Pancras – Manchester route.

On the 7th of July B1 No.61251 made an ‘up’ run on the South Devon Main Line between Plymouth and Bristol a run duplicated by 45253 on the 14th and 34006 Bude on the 21st. From South Devon banks, we move next to the Highland Main Line between Perth and Inverness starting with WC No.34004 Yeovil working north on 13th July and back on the 14th. Also on the 14th Black 5, No.44799, was ‘trialled’ on the 11.55 Ex-Perth, in the ‘down’ direction only. B1 No.61292 made her runs from Perth to Inverness and back on the 20th / 21st. The runs on the 21st July brought to a close the mixed traffic locomotive trials, next up were the freight engines.

The freight types on trial were WD 2-10-0 and 2-8-0, Stanier 8F, LNER Classes 01 and 07 and GWR 2884 class. The four chosen routes were Bristol – Eastleigh, Southern, Ferme Park – New England, LNER, Brent – Toton, LMS, and Acton – Severn Tunnel Junction, GWR. Amazingly, one of the engines actually used in the freight trials, 2884 Class No. 3803, survived and is pictured below on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.

The other engines in the freight trial O1 No. 63773, 8F No.48189, LNER O7 No.63169, WD 2-10-0 No.73774 (90750) and 2-8-0 No.77000 (90101) did not survive. The first runs were made by the 8F No.48189 on a familiar route, Brent – Toton. The last trials, on the 8th and 10th of September, were undertaken by the LNER O7 and again on the Brent – Toton run.

The trials were conducted without sufficient rigour to be really described as ‘scientific’, they were, perhaps, more of PR stunt and a means to help mend the bruised egos, created by  Nationalisation and the resultant reshaping of railway management and engineering workshops. A means, maybe, of smoothing relations between rivals, regions, and egos, the tests were also meant to help create new ‘standard’ designs using best practice.

With the benefit of hindsight it is clear that creating yet more designs, with the consquent need for depots to stock yet more spares etc. was probably not the right thing to do. Building more  locos, to existing designs, would have prevented some of the inevitable waste. Having a more ordered, carefully thought out and planned transition from steam, to diesel and electric traction, would also have paid dividends.

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

The photographs, in sequence, are No.46229 Duchess of Hamilton on the East Lancs Railway, No.35005 Canadian Pacific on the GCR, No.46115 Scots Guardsman at Ais Gill, on the S&C route, No.6023 King Edward II on the GCR, No.60007 Sir Nigel Gresley on the East Lancs Railway, Nos.45231 & 45407 at Usan near Montrose, No.34092 City of Wells on the East Lancs Railway, No.6990 Witherslack Hall on the GCR, No.61264 on the NYMR, No.3803 on the GWSR, No.90711, (90733) on the K&WVR, No.48151 at Ais Gill on the S&C, and Nos. 73129 & 71000 Duke of Gloucester on the East Lancs Railway.

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Old school brew

You could be forgiven for thinking that this is an all action shot of Schools Class 4-4-0, No.926 Repton, going hammer and tongs through Goathland when, in reality, she is absolutely stationary and ‘waiting time’ – the rest is courtesy of the fireman and the blower.

The School Class weren’t native to Yorkshire and as for ‘Repton’ well that would be more Midland / GCR territory than Southern Railway. Having said that, in a few weeks time it will be the 70th anniversary of the Locomotive Exchange trials, when the newly formed British Railways played mix and match with the nation’s locomotive fleet.  Think of it as ‘One man and his dog’ but, with steam engines and no sheep!

The Schools Class themselves played no part in the trials but, each of the ‘Big Four’ entered locomotives in the Express Locomotive, Mixed Traffic and Freight, categories, with the exception of the Southern, who did not enter any freight engines. The Freight classification also included both a 2-10-0 and 2-8-0 WD ‘Austerity’.  Being little more than a year old when the trials were taking place I have no recollection of them. However, I do know now that one of the routes chosen for the trials was  London Kings Cross – Leeds and that the Southern Railway locomotives No.35017 Belgian Marine was one of the trialists on that route.

Fifteen years later I made the trip from Leeds to London to become a fireman, and worked on No.35017 Belgian Marine, on services from Waterloo to Bournemouth or Salisbury. Even more remarkably, perhaps, I fired for one of the crew involved in the 1948 trials, fireman Bert Hooker, who was by then a driver at Nine Elms.

I am just putting the finishing touches to a ‘feature’ length blog, covering the trials, which I will be posting later this week. The article will provide some of the day to day details from the exchanges, by way of commemorating the events which began on the 22nd April 1948 and continued until 10th September.

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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‘Goodnight Ollie, over and out’

A selection of some of my favourite photos of No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, to mark her imminent retirement for a 10-year overhaul. This photo of her steaming away from Quorn & Woodhouse, which could have been taken in the 1960s, and can be viewed as a fresh start or heading off into the sunset, seemed an ideal opener.

From the flat lands of the East Midlands, this next shot of ‘Ollie’ was taken in the Highlands of Scotland, the southbound summit of Druimauchdar to be precise.

In this photo, No.70013 Oliver Cromwell was putting in the lion’s share of the effort, even though No.61993 Great Marquess seems to be making the lion’s share of the clag. Earlier in the same tour I was at Blackford, in Perthshire, to witness Ollie heading north with the climbs of Druimauchdar and Slochd still to come.

Behind the train is Blackford Crossing Box, a mile or two further up the line is the famous Gleneagles hotel and golf course. The station at Gleneagles, and departures from it, featured regularly in magazine photographs of Scottish railways.

For about a year in late 1963 through into 1964 I was a resident in the notorious ‘huts’ at Old Oak Common enginemen’s hostel, sadly, the only things I saw carrying the Red Dragon head board were Warship class diesels. If you put a few more coaches, and express lamps and the headboard on this picture …….

Still on the GCR we see Ollie with the TPO heading for Quorn & Woodhouse and the mail drop.  I dare say, that back in the day, the Brits would have worked their share of mail trains and with several, at one time, sheded at Holyhead, they would have worked the titled train ‘The Irish Mail’ Euston – Holyhead service..

This final image is Ollie crossing the Tay. In the background is Dundee and at the top left of the picture you can see a white tower it’s a war memorial and it sits atop Dundee Law, an extinct volcano. The Law provides a panoramic viewing platform for the whole of the Tay estuary, and around the perimeter has  a series of etched plaques detailing what features are in the landscape that you are looking at.

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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Absent friends and the K&WVR galas

With the K&WVR gala now only days away I was looking back through some earlier events, this is from a bleak start to the 2011 gala, Jinty No.47279 passing the entrance to Haworth shed.

Earlier still is this scan of one of my slides, showing the LNWR ‘coal tank’, No.1054, with the Metropolitan coaches, passing what was I believe, British Mohair Spinners, Ingrow Mill. The chimny is gone and the mill is now flats, no idea what happened to the Moes.

From Autumn 2011 and the visiting guest is Ex-GWR 2-8-0 No.2807 with the newly outshopped L&Y ‘Club Car’,  which makes such a contrast with the rest of the stock, is seen here, in ‘top field’, as she heads to Oxenhope.

In 2009, at the Autumn gala, EX-L&YR 0-6-0 No.957 plods her way into the loop at Damems with the goods train. No.957 is being banked by Ex-LMS 2-6-2T No.41241 which, it is anticipated, will be fresh from overhaul and in her K&WVR colours, later this year, during the 50th anniversary events.

Unusually, for a guest loco, No.73129, visiting from the Midland Railway Centre, was facing south; she is seen here, about to depart from Oakworth, with a train for Keighley, during the 2010 gala.

And finally a reminder of absent friends the ‘weathered’ 90711 which, probably, ended up as a million packets of razor blades, is long gone. No.90711 was one of the very last engines of her class to work over K&WVR metals and she is, of course,  No.90733 in dsguise. No.90733 was, like this years ‘special’ guest, No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, to have bowed out at this gala – boiler issues have sadly meant she’s retired early for her 10 year overhaul – let’s hope it isn’t too long before we see them both again.

With Dundee in the background, No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, with one of the GB rail tours is dwarfed by the sheer scale of the Tay Bridge. It may be some time before we see such sights again and I leave you with this shot of, No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, piloting an off-colour, No.61994 Great Marquess, at the summit of Druimauchdar.

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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