Tag Archives: Jellicoe Specials

Christmas at the double

Well here we are again, tis the season of pies, cake, and Santa, so let me take the opportunity to wish all of you the very Merriest of Christmases.

The nearest thing I have to a nativity scene is this shot, at the top of Druimuachdar, you can see the summit marker just to the left of the lineside bothy, (stable) – and yes that’s snow on the hill behind. The double-headed Black 5s, or yonder stars,  are No. 44871 piloting No.45407 with the Inverness – Perth leg on one of the “GB” series of Rail Tours.

Double-headed fives over the Highland main line is very much the ghost of Christmas past.  I couldn’t help thinking about what it must have been like a hundred years ago, at Christmas 1917, when huge coal trains were being hauled over these desolate hills, not by Black5s of course, enroute to Scapa Flow and the bunkers of the Royal Navy’s high-seas fleet – they even gave them a name – ‘the Jellicoe Specials’. A lot of the coal being hauled  had been dug out of the ground hundreds of miles away in the Welsh valleys and these trains, which ran day and night, were an essential part of the war effort. And what an effort it must have been with Shap, Beattock, Druimuachdar, and Slochd all on the route.

For me it only remains to say, all the very best for 2018.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

 

 

 

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Heavy Freight

2807blkwhtNo.2807, Ex-works following a heavy general overhaul, is on a running in turn with, a lightly loaded, Gloucester – Swindon goods, near Chalford, in September 1947. Well, that’s the make believe – it’s actually Darnholme on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in 2014 and No.2807 was making a guest appearance at the Autumn Gala.

One hundred years earlier, in 1914, No.2807 was making guest appearances of a very different kind, in Lancashire. During WWI, from her base in south Wales, No.2807 was put to work hauling the ‘Jellicoe Specials‘, from Aberdare and Pontypool via Woofferton, Craven Arms, and Shrewsbury to Warrington. The Jellicoe Specials were part of a non-stop, round the clock, effort to supply steam coal, to the British Navy, in Scapa Flow on Orkney – a job to which the term, ‘heavy freight’, applied in full. The demands on the crew were no less than those on the locomotives and the miners, whose efforts, deep underground, were consumed by ship and loco alike.

In less bellicose times, No.2807 is usually to be found at work on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway at Toddington, a line she worked over regularly during her life time with British Railways, when she was allocated to Worcester in 1951, where she remained for much of the 50s, before spells at Pontypool Road, Ebbw Junction,  Newton Abbott and, finally, at Severn Tunnel Junction, from where she was withdrawn, in March 1963. No.2807 will be 110 years old this year.

For those of you who asked:

The printed edition of “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children” – is now on sale.

Below, is the link to it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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