Tag Archives: Keighley

A brief review of my 2017 in words and pictures.

A year of firsts and farewells, though for me 2017 was the year of the ‘End of Southern Steam’; an event celebrated, if that’s the right word, at quite a few heritage lines; and I very much enjoyed seeing Nos. 34081 92 Squadron and 34053 Sir Keith Park, at the Great Central Railway’s offering.  There was even a brief glimpse of No.73156 running as No.73084 Tintagel, like Nos. 34081 and 34053, another engine I’d worked on back in the 60s.

No.73156 / 73084 was one of the firsts too, as she was making her debut appearance after being rescued from Dai Woodhams yard in Barry and restored to operational condition at Loughborough. Sadly, teething problems with the brakes curtailed her official workings, to just one passenger turn on the first day of the gala.

Earlier, in February, there was a bold experiment on the Settle & Carlisle line with No.60163 Tornado hauling regular service trains, for a 3 day spell, between Skipton and Appleby. There were two runs each day and I managed to photograph the first return working, at Selside, on Valentine’s Day. No.60163 also set a first, being given a trial run at 100mph on the ECML, a thrill for all concerned, I’m sure. The data being gathered was intended to support the case for raising the speed limit for steam, on the main line, from 75mph to 90mph.

Sticking with the main line theme, 2017 saw the S&C officially re-opened, after major repairs, with a run behind No.60103 Flying Scotsman, to Carlisle and the S&C also saw main line stalwart, No.46115 Scots Guardsman, bow out when her boiler ticket expired in August – she is pictured at the top of the article, at Kirkby Stephen station , on her last run over the S&C.

No.60103 Flying Scotsman, crossing Lunds viaduct, on the S&C.

Being a Leeds lad I’m rather fond of the Scots which, for many years, were the principal express engines on the former LMS / MR /LNWR routes in and out of the City. In line to replace her, out on the main line, is another engine steaming for the first time since being saved from the scrap yard, No.35018 British India Line, and again one of the engines I have fired on passenger services, out of Waterloo, in the 60s.

Continuing the Southern theme, I never worked on the Schools, though there were several in store at 70A when I started there. 2017 saw Schools Class, No.926 Repton, return to traffic on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, following her ten year overhaul. She is pictured above, slogging up the last half mile of the steep climb from Grosmont to Goathland during the NYMR gala.

On a personal note, I made my first ever visit to the narrow gauge system at Threlkeld Quarry, a little gem in the midst of some wonderful scenery. The locomotive in the photograph is, Sir Tom, a Bagnall 0-4-0ST of 1926 vintage. Sir Tom was employed at BICC in Kent until 1968 and moved to Threlkeld in 2001. Sir Tom was overhauled and rebuilt at Threlkeld and re-entered traffic in 2010.

As the year drew to a close it was farewell to Black 5 No.44806 at the NYMR and No.7812 Erlestoke Manor at the Severn Valley. No.61994 The Great Marquess, and shortly No.60009 Union of South Africa, are to become museum exhibits, no longer gracing the main lines and flying a flag for the LNER, which is sad, especially as the locomotives, of constituents of the LNER, are few in number when compared with the other members of the Big Four.

Not to end on sour note No.7812 Erlestoke Manor, pictured above approaching Bewdley tunnel with a Bridgnorth – Kidderminster service, is to have a fast track overhaul and is expected back by 2020. Good progress is being made with the new build No.82045, a project of which I’m a keen supporter. The 82xxxs were great fun to work on and the ideal engine for a heritage railway operation. I’m very much looking forward to seeing and photographing the finished item.

All of you, I’m sure, have your own highlights from 2017 and I could have added a few more of my own, seeing the Steam Elephant in operation at Beamish was a treat, as was having the Tanfield Railway just 15 minutes drive away, and I leave you with one of my favourite shots from Tanfield in 2017.

Keighley Gasworks No.2, with Bobgins cabin in the background, is heading for Andrews House with a train from East Tanfield.

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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Is that snow on t’ hills Arkwright?

On a cold and frosty morning, No.49395, masquerading as No.49442, slips a little as she eases her train into the head shunt at Keighley, where she was a Gala guest engine. I’ve seen these antique 0-8-0s hauling huge trains of wagons, on the WCML, through Rugby, back in the 1950s. First introduced, in 1912, by the LNWR, the G1 class was a development of an earlier non-superheated design. No.49395 was a further  modification, the G2 class, with higher boiler pressure and, in some cases, like No.49395, the fitting of Belpaire fireboxes.

In my 1955 shed book some of these engines are in far flung corners with numbers allocated to Abergavenny, from where the LNWR had a line down to Merthyr, with several  branches running down the Welsh valleys, one, to a junction with the GWR at Nine Mile Point, had a sub-shed to Abergavenny, at Tredegar.  Swansea Victoria, also had a handful still on the books in 1955, but they’d all gone by the 1960 edition. When she entered BR stock, in 1948, No.49395 was allocated at 2C Northampton, in 1955 she was at 8C Speke Junction. No,49442 was at 10B Preston in 1948 and in 1955 she was at 2D Coventry. In the 1960 Shed Book neither engine is listed, my 64 Combined shows just 5 G2 / G2a remain in service.

No.49395, being the first of the G2 class, was saved to become part of the National collection, No.49442, along with all her chums, met the grim cutter, and was transformed, in showers of sparks, to cars fridges, and ten million razor blades.

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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Steam Age Daydreams 2018 Calendar

This years calendar, featuring  engines great and small, including; No.6990 Witherslack Hall – 60 years after she was one of the engines in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials, the fresh from overhaul, Schools Class 4-4-0 No.926 Repton, the tiny ‘Sir Tom’ at Threlkeld Quarry and ‘Ugly’ at Tanfield, to name but a few, is now available via eBay. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/302485587635?ul_noapp=true

One satisfied customer had this to say,  “2018 Calendar arrived this morning  – superb and worth every penny. Thanks for the fast response”

Now less than a dozen left, so don’t miss out – order yours now.

 

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During fog or falling snow to the box you must go.

Rule 55 was a mantra learned by every cleaner, an essential feature in his becoming a ‘passed cleaner’ – the ‘passed’ meant, literally, that you had passed an examination, on the essential sections of the rule book, that allow you to act as a fireman on the national network.  Rule 55 was one you had to know, Rules 178 – 181, generally known as ‘protection’ also had to be committed to memory. Carrying out Rule 55 was a commonplace, you always hoped you didn’t have to carry out ‘protection’.

All of which reminds me of an incident with one of these BR standard class 4 MTs, possibly, even this very engine. I was with my regular driver Eric ‘sooty’ Saunders, working the 04:40 Ex-Waterloo to Salisbury, on a freezing cold February night in 1965. The turn was a regular 3 Link working, these Class 4s were the usual engines and we’d done the job dozens of times but, there’s always that one, that one where it doesn’t quite go to plan.

The 75xxxs were free steaming little engines and the 04:40 wasn’t too demanding, two or three coaches and half a dozen newspaper vans, so it wasn’t the toughest of jobs, you didn’t even have to prepare your own engine, just step on the footplate at Waterloo, and off you went. The only downside to that was that sometimes the guys who did the prep didn’t always do things right, like filling the gauge lamp. If the Standards did have a fault it was the failure to incorporate electric lighting.

The term ‘stopper’ summed up the 04:40 perfectly  and after leaving Basingstoke it was all stations to Andover. The first stop was at Oakley, where the station is on a rising gradient, the second Overton, is on a small gradient of about 1:500 down hill. As we set off from Oakley the gauge lamp went out, it hadn’t been properly filled and the reservior was empty.  It’s bad enough, at night, trying to see how much water is in the glass, with a gauge lamp, without one it’s mission impossible.

The long and the short is that this caused, as you can imagine, some distraction on the footplate. The next thing I know ‘sooty’ has dropped the handle and we are sliding gently through Overton station and out the other side – ooops. No damage, apart from ‘sooty’s pride and, after a word with the guard and the bobby, we set back into the station – ensuring that the good burgers of Overton had their morning papers. Very much doubt if you’d get away with that on today’s railway, things were different then.

The photograph shows Ex-BR Class 4MT No.75078 in Damems loop, on the K&WVR. The fireman is just getting back on the engine having handed the single line token to the bobby.

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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Ashton Goods II

Having eased our way out of the yard and onto the main line we began a steady plod, back past the shed, and on up to Morley tunnel. I made sure we had plenty in the box before we entered the tunnel, which is a couple of miles long with the summit of the drag out of Leeds in the middle of it.  Changing from going uphill, to going down, or vice versa, can be tricky with a loose coupled train. Some years later, when I was a fireman at Wakefield, an old driver told me, ‘wagons is like sheep lad you have to count ’em out and count ’em back in again.’

Clear of the tunnel Arthur shut off and we coasted down past Lady Ann Crossing, clanking our way through Batley  Station and on towards Dewsbury before he gently eased the regulator open again. There’d be no more ‘coasting’ until we cleared Diggle on the other side of the Pennines.

On the footplate, on the Dub Dees, you can feel every power stroke when they start to put some effort in. This, along with oscillations between the engine and tender, means there’s a tendency to rattle coal down from the shovelling plate all over the cab floor and various methods were employed to prevent this, the most common of which, was to put the brake stick across it, reducing its apperture.

We were checked at Battyeford, probably as a result of something crossing our path at Heaton Lodge Junction. Once we came to a stand I climbed off the footplate and made my way to the track side phone to call the bobby and carry out rule 55. Back on board and just time for a lid of tea and a fag before the board came off. Another mile or so, by Bradley Jct., the climbing starts in earnest with 3 miles of 1:147  and another of 1:104 to follow – it goes on like this for the next 10 miles or so………

TBC

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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Railway Timetables – my part in their downfall Pt3

When going off shed at Farnley Jct. you first phoned the bobby at Farnley & Wortley  – getting back on the footplate I felt a sharp pain in my ankle, which I’d twisted in colliding with the young lad on his tricycle. When the dolly came off  we trundled, bunker first, down to City station to begin our evening’s work.

Leeds City station was, back then, in two parts, the old station and the new, the old station had through platforms, through roads and a handfull of bay platforms, over on the new side there were parcels docks and platforms all ending in buffer stops. The station pilot’s job involved releasing engines from the buffer stops, shunting the parcels docks, and occasional steam heating duties, amongst other things.  On some shunts you were right out on to the viaduct carrying the Leeds – Manchester line, and overlooking, the seedier parts of town. In my enthusiasm I had enough fire on to take us to Manchester – safety valves open and boiler full to the whistle!  I had yet to grasp the skills of boiler management.

My duties, apart from the boiler management, were watching the guard / shunter / dollies when they were on my side, and relying the info to my mate. Nothing too demanding but, as the evening wore on the pain in my ankle grew worse and it was  so swollen I had to unlace my work boots – things weren’t going quite to plan. By 10 o’clock things were so bad my mate had to ask control to send a spare man to relieve me – and my first firing turn ended in A&E.

The photo is of an engine of the same class  I was working on that night and is taken on GN straight at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. No.41241 is currently in the restoration queue and the subject of an appeal for funding, if your felling rich.

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 moment of change

It’s all just about to happen, the bobby leans from his box to collect the token from the crew on No.43924, the guard and No.75078’s fireman look on.  When many of you reading this took up an interest in railways, this scene was played out, countless times a day, on single lines, both main and branch ones, across the country.  However, it was all about to change, before our very eyes, steam, semaphore and the bobby in his box disappeared.

The last steam sheds, works, and, as time went on, the great scrapyards of Barry, became places of pilgrimage; railway enthusiasts from far and wide came to pay their last respects and photograph it all one last time. In 1955 when the plan was hatched I was a train spotter, in 1968, when the steam and most of the semaphore was either going or gone, I too was surplus to requirements – redundant, after seven years as a British Railways fireman.

For more than 150 years steam locomotives had hauled ‘coals to Newcastle’ and taken us  from home to the seaside – in a little over a decade they’d gone. It might be said, that with the last steam locomotive being built in 1960 and their cessation in 1968, that they went in less than a decade. We were going to have modernity whether we liked or wanted it.

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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Techno Victoriana

In Victoria’s Britain the Taff Vale Railway was a fair to middling commercial operation with 23 branch lines in the Valleys of South Wales; its main line was the 24 miles from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil. It had workshops and headquarters in Butetown, the heart of Cardiff’s dockland, and the coal and iron export business. Incorporated in 1836, the line between  Navigation House and Abercynon opened in 1840 and Merthyr Tydfil was reached the following year. Cardiff Queen Street Station, also opened in 1840, was substantially rebuilt in 1887 and is still Cardiff’s principal station.

The lines of the Taff Vale Railway in the South Wales valleys are a veritable who’s who of railway names and locations. The TVR was engineered by Brunel, and served the Iron works at Cyfarthfa and Pen-y-Darren, with their connections to Trevithick. And, in 1873, it made Tom Hurry Riches the youngest CME in Britain; he remained in post until his death in 1911; his son, Charles Hurry Riches, became the CME on the Rhymney Railway. Tom Hurry Riches is credited with introducing the 0-6-2Ts to the Taff Vale Railway and the 02 class, No85, pictured above, at work on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, was one of the nine built, in 1899, by Neilson Reid of Glasgow, to one of Hurry Riches designs.

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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Stephenson to Stanier

Two giants from opposite ends of the age of steam, Stanier and Stephenson. Stanier’s Black 5 was the maid of all work, ‘Sans Pareil’, a real go anywhere, pull anything, kind of engine;  LMS and BR crews loved them, and so did I. I did a lot of learning on the Black 5s; how to build the brick arch, by helping the boiler man do it, how to lift the fire bars to clean the fire, using a pair of tongs, how to light up and raise steam after a wash out, and, eventually, how to fire one out on the main line, crossing the Pennines from Leeds to Manchester.  Spending time cleaning them was the day job, all of the above were ‘extra curricula activities’ – they were also the ‘unofficial’ apprenticeship to becoming that most exulted of beings, ‘the passed cleaner’.

Stanier and Stephenson weren’t just at opposite ends of the steam age in terms of time. When Stephenson began building his locomotives everything was ‘hand made’ there were no ‘standard’ parts, not even the nuts and bolts: Stanier’s restocking of the LMS was a very serious attempt at ‘standardisation’ across the entire range of locomotive types and his Black 5s and Class 8F 2-8-0s were the most numerous of any class on British Railways.

In the photograph, No.44767, with outside Stephensonlink motion,  and named George Stephenson is piloting, No.44871, with a Keighley – Oxenhope service during one of the K&WVR gala weekends.

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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One fine day

It was one fine day in 1911 when the first of a great many, MR/LMS 3835 / 4F class 0-6-0 s rolled off the production line. Designed by Henry Fowler there were 197 of the 3835 class. Post Grouping a further 575 were built; designated Class 4F they continued to be built right into Stanier’s reign at Derby, with the final batch, of 45, being built between 1937 & 41. Their construction took place at Derby, Crewe, Horwich and St. Rollox, as well as quite a few built by outside contractors, including five,  by Armstrong Whitworth, for the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway, in 1922. Kerr Stewart and Andrew Barclay, names more associated with small industrial locomotives built 50 and 25 respectively, the North British Locomotive Co. built 80 and Armstrong Whitworth’s final total was 55.

Like many ‘nominally’ ‘goods engines’ the Derby Fours / Duck sixes would be put to service on branch line passenger duties or, in busy times, they could easily wind up on ‘Excursion’ duties with a train load of day trippers ‘off to the seaside’. My pal, the late Walter Hobson, made just such a trip with one, from Bradford Forster Square to Morecambe, when he was a passed cleaner at Manningham, in the 1960s.

In this photograph we see, No.43924, a Midland Railway example of 1920 vintage, on a Midland Railway branch line, hauling a Midland railway innovation, the Pullman coach; first used by the Midland Railway in 1874/5. Though the Pullman coaches No.43924 is hauling are not Midland Railway examples but those of the rival LNER. Despite their apparent opulence these two coaches, LNER Nos. 83 & 84, were 3rd Class Pullman ‘Parlour’ cars; they have now been named Ann & Mary.

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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