Tag Archives: Leeds

Express connections

If railways are about connections there are a lot of them, for me, in this picture. My first long distance journey, on my own, was on the South Yorkshireman. I was taken, by my folks, to Bradford Exchange, where they put me on the train and asked the guard to keep an eye on me; my Aunt met me off the train at Rugby Central station – I was 10. And for the following two weeks I would spend most of my time sat by the girder bridge, where the Great Central crossed the WCML, just south of Rugby Midland station, sadly not with a camera.

Six years later I was at work on the railway in London whilst one of my former classmates was working as a steward on the Pullmans; working between Leeds and Kings Cross. This particular connection gave me the opportunity to sample the joy of Pullman travel from Kings Cross up to Leeds and a very enjoyable dinner for the princely sum of zero. When one of the engines I worked on, during my 3 year spell in London, was returned to steam, it was at the Great Central. No.35005 Canadian Pacific was returned to active duty by the engineering team at Loughborough; and at the ‘ceremony’ to mark her return I was an invited guest and enjoyed a ‘Pullman’ lunch with the CEO of CP Europe as No.35005 hauled us up and down the line.

My first outing, as fireman, on the former London South Western main line out of Waterloo, was with the 19:54 service to Basingstoke, calling at Woking and all stations thereafter. The engine was one of the ‘Standard Arthurs’, identical to the one in the photo except it had a name. And, in a final twist, when I took this photo I was standing chatting to a couple of chaps from Epsom who had stood, train spotting, on the platform at Surbiton during the very time I had been working trains through there on a daily basis with Bulleid Pacifics and BR Class 5 Standards.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Boys and the black stuff

Just short of 30 years ago I was writing a fortnightly column in the now defunct Steam Railway News, a fortnightly broadsheet newspaper covering preservation and heritage railways. The by-line for the column was Clag and Rockets and I had pretty much free rein to write what I liked, as I do now. The most controversial piece I penned was about the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and the proposal to bury huge amounts of nuclear waste very close by.

Weird, I know, but I have this thing about synchronicity and today I had one of those kinds of things. When I wrote the ‘Laal Ratty’ piece Steam Railway News was being published by East Lancashire Publications and I had to be fairly persuasive to get it into print. Today, I discovered that one of the people I was involved with, in the production of SRN, had previously lived  in Bentham. During a very brief spell as a fireman at Holbeck, I worked on just one passenger duty, a late afternoon Leeds to Morecambe service, first stop Keighley and then pretty much every station on the ‘little North Western” including Bentham. The engine was a Black 5, a locomotive for which the term Utilitarian, might have been written – Jeremy Bentham was the ‘Godfather’ of Utilitarianism. Basically – “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong” J. Bentham

However, this knowledge should be tempered by this comment he made about his conceptual prison, ‘The Panopticon’  ‘he described the Panopticon prison as, “a mill for grinding rogues honest”.  And it is here that weirdness kicks in; the chap from SRN is about to take up a post as a prison chaplin. When I began writing Clag & Rockets for SRN I had just finished my degree in Philosophy, in which Bentham and his ideas were a feature. And moments before I read about the Bentham connection I was wondering how to persuade my good lady that a trip to Laal Ratty, to see Synolda & Count Louis double-heading, is a wonderful journey through Lakeland – even if we do have to be up at 6a.m. for a 3 hour car trip. I’d even been on Google maps checking out the route! Must be something in the ether.

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

 

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

The Last Pacific

One  might argue that this locomotive, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, was the final outcome of the Locomotive Exchange Trials, held 70 years ago this month, so far as express passenger designs are concerned. In a class of one, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, was, sadly, never entirely successful during her BR career, and gained a reputation for being heavy on coal and water, as well as being an indifferent steamer, at times. Her construction, at Crewe Works, in 1954, came at almost the same time as a number of major changes to the railway industry, which meant there was little enthusiasm to resolve the issues and less than a decade after entering service, in 1962, she was put out to grass.

Rescued from Barry in 1974 The Duke returned to steam on the Great Central Railway in 1986. The preservationists not only restored a locomotive thought to be beyond repair, by many, they also delved into the steaming and coal eating issues too. The subsequent modifications, especially to the draughting arragements, improved matters substantially. And some of her performances, during  rail tour appearances, particularly on the Appleby – Aisgill climb and over Shap were a revelation.

No.71000 Duke of Gloucester is also the last engine I travelled behind, as an invited guest, on  a tour  in June 1990,  over the Settle  – Carlisle line. The  occasion formed  part of celebrations for  the Middleton Railway’s 30 years in preservation.  I recall spending some time, with my head out of the window, listening to the racket being made by The Duke  – a very different sound to the Bulleid Pacifics I had worked on during my own footplate days.

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

 

 

 

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Ironic School Days

North Yorkshire Moors Railway resident, School Class 4-4-0 No.926 Repton, slogs up the last few hundred yards of the climb into Goathland station, on Maunday Thursday. In my mind there’s  a touch of irony in the relationship between ‘public’ school and Public School, where the latter is, of course, a fee paying ‘private’ school  and the former the school for the general public. Another connection is more personal and, possibly, more synchronous than ironic; it relates back to my time at ‘Junior’ school and those working on the railway.

Whenever possible we would go to Burley Park and watch the trains go by, the most common engines on the passenger trains,  along the Leeds – Harrogate line, that skirted the park, were the LNER version of the School Class, the 3Cyl 4-4-0 D49 Class, or ‘Hunts’ as we knew them. Often they were referred to by name rather than number; The Bilsdale, The Badsworth, The Quorn, The Fernie and, (No.62765) The Goathland, were just a few of the ‘regulars’ in 1955/6.

It was at Easter, in 1962, that I began work on British Railways North Eastern Region, (NER) transferring, at Easter 1963, to British Railways Southern Region, (SR). Though I began with the North Eastern Region and transferred to the Southern I didn’t fire on a Hunt, or a School, less unsurprisingly, I never attended Public School, nor rode with any Hunt. However, I did photograph a Public School on a Private Railway, once a part of the LNER, where the D49s worked, approaching Goathland where they hunted with hounds and had an engine named after them.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. In a few days I will be posting a feature length blog about engine swapping 1948 style, all about the 1948 Locomotive Exchanges.

PS – couldn’t leave school soon enough, ‘best days of your life’ – pah!

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

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

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

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Out with the old

Working on the railway during the transition from steam to diesel, in the 1960s, presented its only little idiocyncracies. You turned up for work expecting, and dressed for, a day on a diesel, only to find it had failed earlier and been replaced by a steam engine. In my case this was a bonus – I had little time for ‘modern traction’, give me a steamer any day.

In the late summer of 65 I moved into No.2 link at Nine Elms, traditionally the Salisbury link. The Western region had sent over its decrepit Warship class diesels for us to use on the West of England services. Not only did they fail with ‘unfailing’ regularity, they were also hard pushed to keep time. My new regular mate, one of the railway’s more obnoxious characters, only added to the disenchantment of being in a link where the steam turns were being dieselised. Stareing out of a window for eight hours, in the company of someone you loathe and detest, isn’t a good day at the office.

Being young and impulsive I decided to return to my home county and start again.  At the beginning of January 1966 I walked through the gate at Holbeck to sign on. One of the first people I bumped into was an ex-Farnley Jct. driver, Walter Thurlow, who was now a loco inspector. He took me to see the shed master and I was passed for firing, on the spot. No oily rags and paraffin, back on the road with a shovel. Almost immediately I was sent on a week long loan to Stourton, 55B, where I did a few very interesting little trips around the goods yards and sidings of Leeds and had a run out as far as Skipton with a goods working from Stourton yard, for Carlisle. The return working was parcels train, with a diesel on the front, one of the BR Sulzer Type 2 Bo-Bo, if memory serves me.

There was no longer any escape, the advancing dieselisation was the future. I moved from Holbeck to Wakefield but, even here the diesels were making inroads, in less than 18 months it would be over.

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

 

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

“Tha’ll need thi big coit”

The winter of 62/3, is the last time I remember so much snow and over such a period. It was my first year at work on the railway and I earned an extra few shillings in my pay packet, doing overtime to keep the braziers burning around the water coloumns, preventing them from freezing up. Everyone does their best in these situations, crews were walking in because buses were stuck, or not running, but, even with dedicated men, as most at 55C were, there are times when the conditions become impossible, or should that be impassable.

The braziers were one thing, there was a host of other ‘additional duties’, general snow clearing,  spreading ash from the ash pits along walk ways,  to the lodging house and, most importantly, the canteen. Around the shed yard we were clearing snow and ice from frozen points and those beyond the lodging house and in the head shunt, to keep the turning triangle useable, Farnley didn’t have a turntable.

Many of the goods workings were being caped because of frozen point work and if crews did make it in, a few hours ‘waiting orders’ and playing Rummy before being sent home was pretty much par for the course. The snow plough was in operation on several days, and if my memory serves, at least one of the Black 5s on the allocation had a pair of small snow ploughs attached by the fitters. If your job was caped and you ‘dropped unlucky’ a few hours out with the snow plough rather than a few hands of ‘Chase the lady’ could be your lot. Nothing like spending half your day running tender first into sub-arctic temperatures.

The photo shows Robert Stephenson & Haworthorn 0-4-0ST Sir Cecil A. Cochrane approaching Bobgins crossing with a train  for Andrews House on the Tanfield Railway, during their Great War Weekend event on Sunday.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Goodnight Olly you must leave us!

Blasting out of Keighley, well almost, actually a fortuitous slip. No.70013 Oliver Cromwell on her swansong gala performance was carrying the Master Cutler headboard, a train I always wanted to travel on. We would see it sometimes when we changed trains and stations at Sheffield, on our journey down from Leeds to Rugby.

What follows is a small photo essay -a selection of some of my favourite photos of No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, to mark her imminent retirement for a 10-year overhaul.

Here she is a Qourn & Woodhouse, in a scene straight out of the 1950s/60s on the very line I travelled over to Rugby and along which the Master Cutler passed. From the flat lands of the East Midlands, this next shot of ‘Olly’ 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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Moors & Valley Tornado

My 1960/61 Locoshed Book has one of these engines, No.60133 Pommern, on the front cover. In one of those weird little twists of synchronicity, the photo shows her on the coal stage at Copley Hill, a very tough shed to bunk, it was also her home depot. In that 1960/61 edition, Copley Hill has 10 A1s on the allocation, they are Nos. 60117 /8/20/23/30/31/33/34/41 and 60148. In the 50s and early 60s they were the workhorses of the Leeds – London services from Central Station, in Leeds.

The Reverend Eric Treacy was rather fond of photographing the A1s as they departed from Central station and, in my view, some of his best photos of them were taken there. Back then these engines were our ‘local nags’, we used to hope that we’d get one of the Kings Cross or Gateshead ones. The Doncaster based ones were pretty regular visitors, I particularly remember Nos. 60119 and 22  – what would we give now to see 10 or more of them on a regular basis, never mind 10 even 5 would be nirvana, well close anyway. I travelled behind all of the Copley Hill allocation, and probably a few of the others too, at one time or another, on outings to spend the day spotting at Doncaster, or when we went to Lowestoft for our holidays.

Right at this moment No.60163 Tornado is working on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, where she will be in service until Sunday. Then, next week, she heads off, like me, to the Severn Valley to make a guest appearance at the Severn Valley Railway Spring gala, alongside No.8572 and NYMR based No.1264 – in her shiny new LNER guise.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

A testing climb

56 years ago my day job was cleaning engines just like this one, they weren’t red though – BR green. We had four of them shededd at Farnley Jct. and they were our principal cleaning duty, especially if they were on the Liverpool Lime Street jobs. I never had enough seniority to be trusted with firing on one of these turns – Top Link men only! This was one of the main reasons I left Farnley Jct., not just to be promoted from passed cleaner to fireman but, to get some main line passenger work before the end of steam as the motive power for the national network.

No.45699 Galatea was, despite the fairly stiff cross/head wind, going well and was probably a minute or even two early. Assuming she had left Appleby, after the water stop, on time, a gain of two minutes at Aisgill was a good effort given the prevailing conditions. I don’t know if it still goes on but, a few years back there was a bit of an ‘unofficial’ contest for the fastest climb from the Appleby water stop to Aisgill summit. If memory serves, the Duke, a Duchess, and a Merchant Navy all held the Blue Riband at one time or another.

In the early 1950s when the Britannias were new, the section of the S&C between Crosby Garrett and Aisgill was used for their steaming trials, a test which reqired the services of two fireman. According to C.J.Allen’s account, the Britannia No.70005 John Milton, on the test, was consuming coal at the rate of 2.5 tons an hour and using 3,615 gallons of water in the same period. Phew!

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

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather