Tag Archives: LNER A1 class

The dying of the light

Earlier this week I was listening to Richard Burton reciting Dylan Thomas’ poem, ‘Rage against the dying of the light’. A poem which could, in so many ways, be a leitmotiv for the railway preservation movement. That great engineman Norman McKillop titled his history of ASLEF, the footplatemen’s union, ‘The Lighted Flame’ a flame the preservationists have succeded in keeping alight ever since they revived the near extinct  one, at Talyllyn, almost 60 years ago now.

Such was the rage against the dying of the light of the steam locomotive that, over the ensuing years, the achievements of those who saught to keep the flames burning are mind-boggling. What began as the ‘perpetuation’ of the seven mile, narrow gauge, Talyllyn Railway, in a remote corner of Wales, is now a substantial sector of the Country’s tourism industry. Steam hauled main line tours like the ‘Great Britain’, seen above, with the city of Dundee in the backdrop and scheduled daily services, such as the Jacobite, are no longer the novelties they once were.

That diminutive quarry railway in Wales provided the inspiration for a thousand more preservation schemes large and small, branch lines, main lines, bridges, rolling stock, S&T equipment,  all the apparatus of an operational railway was rescued and what they couldn’t find or repair they made anew – up to and including a replica of an LNER A1 class Pacific. The sums of money and volunteer man hours are even more mind-boggling, hundreds of millions of pounds and literally billions of man hours – all of which is, of course, on going.

The photograph shows Black 5 No.45407, carrying a wreath on the smokebox door, passing Peace Hill Farm with the Dundee – Edinburgh leg of the GBII Tour.

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 little draughty

60163moorgatesfsJust a bit of a breeze blowing as No.60163 Tornado heads out across the moors towards Fen Bog. When  I took and look at this photo I’m reminded of a Bob Dylan song ‘Girl from the North Country’ and the opening  verse which reads; ‘If you’re traveling in the north country fair Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline Remember me to one who lives there For she was once a true love of mine.’ (B.Dylan) The wind was definitely ‘hitting heavy on the borderline’ and railways have been my passion for more years than I care to count.

In Leeds, where I lived, the A1s were a common sight in the 1950s and early 60s. Copley Hill shed, which serviced and maintained the locomotives on the ‘East Coast’ route from Leeds to London, had 10, or thereabouts, on their allocation during that time. The A1s were often to be found at work on the important trains of the day, The Queen of Scots, the Yorkshire Pullman, and the White Rose were all turns they shared with A3s and A4s.

The A1s were another of those locomotive types built post-Nationalisation, they were built between 1948 and 1949, to have very short working lives, some lasted a mere 17 years pitifully short for a steam locomotive. The last to be withdrawn was No.60145 St. Mungo in 1966. However, despite their short career they were much missed by fans of the old LNER – with the result that a new one was built from scratch – No.60163 Tornado. The people who did so are now working on another of the LNERs engines a P2 class 2-8-2 – we can only wish them every success.

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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