Tag Archives: Locomotion

Let’s do the Locomotion

‘Ground control to Major Tom’ – please land your Rocket at Locomotion, Shildon, Co. Durham,  ‘roger, wilco, over and out’.  Not this Rocket and not Major Tom, but Major Tim Peake and his space capsule. This month, Locomotion will display the craft which returned our very own British ‘Rocket Man’ and space walker, Tim Peake, to Planet Earth, along with an exhibition of the very latest in Samsung, ‘space age’ VR techno.

Rocket’s crew might not have made it into orbit but, they were travelling at speeds previously unknown – when the railways really got going, engine drivers and firemen were the ‘fastest men on Earth’.  And, like space travel, it did give them a new view of the world, the one flashing by!  In 1957 the Russians launched Sputnik 1 and, in 1961, Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, became the first man in orbit, seven years before steam locomotion finished as the driving force of British railways.

Strangely, the Russian connection to Shildon goes right back to the beginng of the railway age. Timothy Hackworth, who, as many of you will know, built the locomotive, Sans Pereil, which competed against Rocket at Rainhill; a replica of his Sans Pereil is housed at Locomotion. Born in Shildon, Hackworth had a locomotive building workshop there, where, in 1836, he built an engine for the Tsarskoye Selo Railway, in Russia. Hackworth’s son, John Wesley Hackworth, travelled to Russia to help assemble the locomotive and teach them how to operate it. According to legend, Hackworth junior taught the Tsar how to drive too!

However, the real speed is that it took human society millenia to reach the point, technologically, where we could travel faster than the speed of the horse, it then took a mere 132 years after the Rainhill trials to put a man in space – escape velocity is, crudely speaking,  25,000mph.

In the photograph, the Rocket replica is departing from Quorn & Woodhouse station on the GCR, which is not a million miles from the National Space Centre in Leicester – eeeH, it’s a small world!!

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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Bon-Accord

Bon-Accord and Distemper, does anyone use ‘distemper’ today, do people even know what it is? The scene is Beamish open air museum’s Rowley Station, the signal box is just visible behind the foot bridge. Bon-Accord has been  a guest at Beamish for several weeks and is one of the attractions in the Great Northern Steam Festival, which came to a close on Sunday.  Built in Scotland, by Andrew Barclay of Kilmarnock, she spent her entire working life there before making a trip to Locomotion at Shildon, in 2016.

Bon-Accord began her railway career, in 1897, at Aberdeen Corporation Gas Works, where she remained, until 1964, before being  replaced by  a diesel; the gas works themselves were closed and demolished in 1975. Under her skirts she’s an 0-4-0 with 3’2″ wheels and 12″ x 20″ pistons. The skirts were fitted because Bon-Accord’s day job was hauling coal, through the streets of Aberdeen, from the docks to the  Gas Works. Saved for preservation in 1972 she was, initially, stored at Ferryhill along with Mr. Therm and No.3, before being moved to Brechin. I believe No.3 went to Alford and Mr.Therm became a static display in Aberdeen’s Seaton Park..

Bon-Accord returned from Brechin to Aberdeen, in 1999, for restoration work to be undertaken by the  Bon-Accord Locomotive Society, she was returned to steam in 2008 and in 2010  moved to the Royal Deeside Railway’s base at Milton of Crathes.

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:
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