Tag Archives: Kinnaber Junction

Modernity

dmufetteressoSteam age daydreaming, in rural Aberdeenshire, on a pleasant spring day. I tried to imagine  one of the Ferryhill V2s, they had 11 on the allocation in 1960, pounding by with a fully fitted ‘fish train’ – or an A4 with an Aberdeen – Glasgow service, just as they might have done 50 years, and more, ago. In the summer of 1964 I spent a couple of days camping at Cove Bay, (between Aberdeen & Stonehaven), watching just those scenes, before journeying to Glasgow, from Aberdeen, behind an A4, No.60024 Kingfisher, if my memory serves.

Fish trains and A4s on inter-city express trains may all be just the stuff of legend – consigned to memory; however, the line here is semaphore signaled and a mile or so beyond this point is New Mills where there is still a manned level crossing. Earlier on in our pootle we passed the long dead remains of Kinnaber Junction, made famous in the Railway Races to the North of 1895, literally just a few miles further down the line from this scene.  For all we live in the ‘modern world’ with a DMU, and not a B1, on the stopper – it’s still the same railway that opened in stages, from 1847 onwards, that the trains run on today. And, sadly,  nobody would dream of ‘racing’ trains.

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

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing: Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.

‘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’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

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A trip back in time

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Edinburgh – Aberdeen, a classic A4 turn of duty, and we see, here, Ex-LNER Class A4 4-6-2 No.60007 Sir Nigel Gresley powering her way through Cupar, in Fife, with an Edinburgh – Aberdeen – Edinburgh trip during one of the series of Great Britain rail tours. A case of right engine, right line – and, on the day, right time too.

In 1964, in the company of a couple of pals, I made a pilgrimage to Scotland, in a vain attempt to visit every shed and travel every route. We didn’t quite make it, missing out on the Inverness Kyle of Loch Alsh route and the Inverness Wick / Thurso line, on the plus side we did get to the sheds at Yoker and Kipps.

In 1964, the A4s were being used on the Aberdeen – Glasgow 2 hour trains and we did ride behind one over that route. Sadly, the old Caledonian Railway line from Kinnaber Junction, through Forfar, to Perth is closed now and all trains go via Dundee on the old North British Railway route. Many of the lines in Scotland were decimated by Beeching’s axe and not even the famous history behind the line from Perth to Kinnaber Junction saved it from closure.

2015 is the 120th anniversary of the Railway Races to the North and, despite all the huffing and puffing of the East coast route fans, the fastest time was set by the  crews on the London North Western / Caledonian route, taking just over 8.5 hours from London to Aberdeen, a record which stood until the advent of the HSTs in the 1970s.

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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Faster miles an hour

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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.

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A full head of steam

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Just south of Montrose is a deserted fishing village, Fishtown of Usan, the signal box in the left background is Usan Box, unlike the village, which still stands, Usan Box has, now, been demolished. Just north of Montrose is, or rather was, Kinnaber Junction, which played such an important role in the Railway Races to the North of 1895, when trains from London Kings Cross and London Euston raced each other to Aberdeen, via the East and West coast routes respectively. Kinnaber Junction was where the two routes met and which ever Box, Hillside or Dubton offered Kinnaber Junction Box the train first would, effectively, be on the winning side.

The double-headed Black 5s in the photograph would have been a more common sight on the Caledonian / West Coast route from Aberdeen to Perth, now, like Usan Box, demolished. The former North British route which is now the only route to Aberdeen from the south was the domain of the LNER and their A1,2,3,and 4 class Pacific’s or the maids of all work the V2s. The V2s were regular performers on the Aberdeen fish trains, these trains were smartly timed and often heavily loaded a duty ideally suited to the V2s.

I wrote about the Railway Races to the North in my book ‘Racing Trains’ – my latest book ‘Gricing the real story of the Railway Children’ is available as an ebook, from Amazon. the link is attached below.

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

 

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