Tag Archives: K&WVR

The L&Y

What sort of railway was the L&YR? This question has several different answers depending on whether you are a traveller or shareholder and at what point in the life of the L&Y you were talking about. In the early days, from the traveller’s point of view it was diabolical. O.S.Nock  in his, The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (A concise history), quoting  E.L.Ahrons, states “In the middle of the 1870s it was probably the most degenerate railway in the kingdom, to which even the South Eastern or the London, Chatham & Dover could have only run a bad second.”

Things were so bad that the L&Y was the butt of Pantomime jokes – quoting from Nock again, “He went to Bradford for to dine By the Lancashire & Yorkshire line; He waited three weeks at bleak Low Moor And when he complained the porter swore That he ought to have started the month before”… etc, etc. Nock says, “To sum up, the L&Y of 1876 was a railway of ugly inconvenient stations, of old broken-down engines and dirty carriages, and of a superlative unpunctuality, to which no pen could do justice.”

However, if you were a shareholder between 1866 and 1880 things were rather less bleak and ugly. Dividends were a healthy 6 to 8%, and only in the years 1878 and 1880 when 5 3/8% was paid and 1879 when only 4 5/8% paid did they fall below the 6% mark – in 1872 the L&Y paid 8 3/8%.

The photograph, taken on the K&WVR, shows Ex-L&YR 0-6-0 No.957, built in 1887 to a design by Barton Wright, whose locomotives  are credited with vastly improving the L&YR’s punctuality and speed of services. The coach behind the engine is the beautifully restored ‘Club Car’ No.47.

The ‘Club Car’ owes its existence to the sensitivities of  Fylde coast businessmen and their desire for a comfortable journey unencumbered by such unpleasantness as having to rub shoulders with the ‘great unwashed’. In 1896 a group of these businessmen, the Lytham St. Anne’s & Blackpool Travelling Club approached the L&Y with a view to securing their ‘own’ coach on the morning and evening expresses to and from Manchester.

Following the successful outcome of these negotiations the L&Y first provided some converted 6 wheel saloons and then in 1912 produced a unique carriage for the service which ran Monday to Saturday from Blackpool Central to Manchester Victoria. This coach continued in service until 1934 and then spent the next 17 years on secondary duties until 1951 when it was sold for use as a cricket pavilion in Spondon, near Derby.

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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Bookends

These wheezing, clanking, beasts bookend my time on the footplate, my first run out, as a very young cleaner,  on a goods working from Leeds to Mirfield, was on one and my last duties as a fireman, before being made redundant, were at Wakefield (Belle Vue), where I worked on little else.  My last Combined Volume, the Summer 1964 edition, lists 461 still at work, none of them survived the big cull. The one in the photograph, No.90733, seen emerging from Mytholmes Tunnel on the K&WVR, was rescued from Swedish Railways, who had bought it from the Dutch Railway.

They were almost never cleaned, certainly during my cleaning days they never saw more than an oily rag on the cab side numbers, ‘work stained’ was synonymous with any description of them. However, they did work and they did ‘deliver the goods’, coal and iron ore mostly but, I’ve worked fish trains from Hull with them, on occasion. It has to be said, they are not the most comfortable riders when you get them jogging along but, they’d drag the ‘town hall behind them’. They were absolutely in their element hauling heavy coal trains and I  really enjoyed working with them on the Healy Mills  – Rose Grove or Padiham workings during my spell at Wakefield.

On these runs over the Pennines, beyond Hall Royd Junction, there are around five miles at 1: 60 to 1:70 up through Cornholme and Portsmouth to Copy Pit summit, gradients like this, with a heavy train, really made them bark, you could feel every power stroke as the whole engine swayed side to side with the effort. However, once you made it to Copy Pit, and pinned a few brakes down, you could sit back, have a fag, and roll all the way to Gannow Junction. It was never quite so hard going back over the Pennines with the empties, sometimes you got one of Rose Grove’s Stanier 8Fs on the return working, which made a pleasant change.

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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Straight bananas

Fifty five years ago I was at work, cleaning engines, at Farnley Jct., one of five sheds in the city. It wasn’t ‘Top shed’ but, that didn’t detract, one iota, from the quality of the enginemanship possesed by the crews who worked there. Some of the old hand drivers had been there since before the Grouping, and worked through the Great Depression and WWII, these men, and those who were their firemen, were the ones who taught me.

Men with a pride in their work, respect for their engines and decades of experience. They didn’t teach in classrooms or lecture theatres, they taught by example, on the footplate, in the mess room, and in, and by, the institutions they created, the MIC, the Enginemen’s Mutual Assurance Fund, and their Trade Unions.  They knew which rules must be obeyed and those which could be bent a little, in short they were ‘professional’.

Fifty four years ago I was sharing the footplate with a driver who had been a fireman in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials and another who had been at the depot since WWI, and honing my own firing skills and railway knowledge, benefitting from their vast experience of working on one of the busiest parts of the railway network, out of Waterloo to Bournemouth and Salisbury, under every imaginable kind of difficulty, and weather condition.

Fifty two years ago, I had progressed to the point where my own skills as a fireman were being tested and records were being set on the runs on which I was working – records which still stand.

Twenty six years ago, after 3 years as a mature student, at the University of Leeds, I began four years of reseach, much of it in the reading room of the NRM, for my books on the Railway Races of 1895 and the changes in the lives of the footplatement between 1962 and 1996. Research which, eventually, ended up becoming a campaign to have Driver Duddington and Fireman Bray properly recognised, within the musem, and on the Locomotive, which they eventually were but, not before an article in a major national newspaper. You can read it for yourself by following this link: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2002/may/01/arts.artsnews

During this same period I persuaded the owner of 35005 Canadian Pacific, the Great Central Railway, and Steam Railway News, to hold a Red Nose event with 35005, on the GCR. The event took a whole train load of disabled children and their carers for a ride on the railway. Some of the more able bodied kids even ‘cabbed’ the engine. The railway featured on the telly, got some great publicity, the kids had a wonderful day out, and the Red Nose fund was Two-grand better off. Everyone was a winner.

No.35005 Canadian Pacific and some of the kids and their carers before setting off for their Red Nose Day train ride.  Picture Copyright John East.

Forty eight hours ago, for so much as daring to comment about the excessive use of cylinders cocks, I was, pretty much, branded a liar by one commentator and, in a stunning example debating eloquence,  a ‘Bell End’ by another, who, I might add, wasn’t even born when steam ran the national network.

Given the general levels of rudeness, ignorance, and abuse, so much in evidence, I rather think the term Unsocial media would be more appropriate way to describe Facebook, Twitter et.al.

PS ‘We have no straight bananas’ – and the box vans are being hauled past Kinchley Lane by Ivatt 2-6-0 No.46521.

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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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Railway timetable – my part in their downfall. Pt2

From home to the shed was a fifteen minute bike ride, less than five minutes in and a small boy rode his tricycle off the pavement, right in front of me, and I came a cropper.  Not the ideal start to the first firing turn.  It was a Saturday evening, in March, and the turn was station pilot, you booked on and got your engine ready, ours was one of the Ivatt 2-6-2Ts, just like that in the photo.

After signing on, the next job was  scanning the board to see which engine we were booked and what road she was on. I was, as you can imagine, well early and my driver hadn’t arrived so I set off for the engine, all clean blues and shiny grease top. Once on board, check the fire and the gauge glass whilst trying to remember all the little jobs to do, check the smoke box door is sealed tight, check and fill the sand boxes but, before I did that it was time to get the dart out and spread the fire, which the steam riser had kept going under the door, and put a few choice shovels full on.

After getting the fire cracking it was off to the stores for the bucket, spanners, detonators, and engine lamps, the gauge lamp was already on the engine. When I returned  my mate had arrived – he had me go  to the stores for a bottle of engine oil and one of steam oil. Back on the footplate I trimmed and lit the lamps, put more coal on the fire before  putting the brush and slacker pipe to use damping the coal and cleaning the cab.

You were given an hour to get your engine ready and it seemed to be gone in no time. However, before going off shed there were a couple of last little jobs, put the lamps on for ‘light engine’,  take coal and water, and most important of all go to the mess room and make a brew.

To be continued.

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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