Tag Archives: Middleton Railway

Christmas Special

From Friday 1st of December, until New Years Day, the e-book version of Gricing is at the Special Offer Price of £3:95

“Gricing” – 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 wet Sunday afternoon

A wet Sunday afternoon, in Northern England, in the 1950s, was a pretty grey place. The pubs closed at 2pm, the shops didn’t open at all and the highlight of the proceedings was a brass band concert in the local park, if you were lucky. It was enough to drive any self-respecting eleven year old into train spotting – and Leeds was a great place to do it.

After the Yorkshire puds, and Dad had gone to sleep with the Sunday paper, it was time to get the push bike out for an afternoon of shed bashing, starting at Farnley Jct., which was nearest to my home, then Holbeck and Stourton. Neville Hill and Copley Hill were both very difficult sheds to bunk and, as a result, were visited less often. Strangely, we knew little, and were taught even less, about Leeds’ great locomotive building and railway history. Cops were what mattered, another number to underline.

To give you some idea of the variety, on Saturday April 12th 1958, during a day at Leeds City Station there were 25 Black 5s, including the now preserved 45407. On the LNER side there were 6 B1s 2 Hunts, 2 V2s, a K3, a B16, an N1, and a J39. There were class 5 Standards, a couple of 9Fs a handful of WDs, Derby 4s and Flying Pigs, a brace of Jinties, a  couple of Midland 2P 4-4-0s, an Aspinall 3F 0-6-0, a Class 4 Standard 2-6-4T,  a Fairburn 2-6-4T, several 8Fs,  the Royal Scot No. 46158 The Loyal Regiment and 4 Jubes, including the fireman’s friend No 45651 Shovell.

The locomotive in the photograph is named after one of the pioneering Leeds locomotive builders, Matthew Murray, who, along with John Blenkinsop, built and operated steam locomotives, in 1812, on Charles Brand;ing’s colliery railway. The locomotive itself, is also a product of the Leeds railway building industry, having been built by Manning Wardle, whose works were in Jack Lane, close to the site of this picture. And, like Matthew Murray, Manning Wardle’s antecedants can be traced back to the beginning of engine building in Leeds.

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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Little green engine

Roaring out of M1 tunnel, Ex-NER H Class 0-4-0, No1310, heads the 12:20 Birthday Express to Park Halt, on the Middleton Railway. No.1310  was built in 1891 and weighs just 22tons 14cwt, her final owners were the National Coal Board and she was bought from the NCB by the Steam Power Trust, in 1965.

Last Sunday I was on the remote Cumbrian fells, at Aisgill, photographing ‘Flying Scotsman’, there were around 50 other people there with me.  Today I was a mile from Leeds city centre, with the M621 motorway running above the tunnel, with no one for company, with, or without, a camera. Though they would probably never say so themselves the Middleton Railway, Britain’s first preserved standard gauge line, has been pretty shabbily treated by the council, who, for many years practically ignored it.

Leeds and the antecedants of the Middleton Railway, Charles Brandling’s colliery railway, have some serious railway pedigree pre-dating Stephenson’s engine Blucher. Stephenson is reported to have visted Brandling’s railway to see Murray & Blenkinsop’s engines at work on th line, in 1812. Leeds was home to the Round Foundry, Murray, Fenton & Wood, Manning Wardle, and of course the Hunslet Engine Co. whose works were less than 1/2 a mile from the Middleton Railway’s Moor Road terminus.  David Joy, credited with the design of the famous ‘Jenny Lind’, and the Joy valve gear, was born in Leeds and worked for EB Wilson at the Railway Foundry.

These Leeds based locomotive manufacturers built ‘little engines’ in green, and many other colours too, in a history which stretches back over 200 years: A history which the city seems to want to ignore, which is a great pity.

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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The Steam Elephant

The words ‘weird and wonderful contraption’ were invented to describe this early 19th century masterpiece. The original was built in 1815 to work on the Wallsend Waggonway. The one in the photograph is a replica,  which was constructed from details derived mainly from paintings, and the strange barrel at the base of the chimney is, in fact, a feed water heater. Despite some early problems, due, in the main, to the nature of the wooden waggonway she first worked on, the locomotive remained active at Wallsend into the 1820s and reports suggest that, after some modifications, she saw a further decade, or so, of service at Hetton Colliery.

The Steam Elephant was the work of colliery manager John Buddle and his associate William Chapman, a civil engineer with an interest in mechanical engineering too, who worked on a number of other locomotive projects in the early decades of the 19th century including a chain driven locomotive, for Heaton colliery, which was built at Butterley in Derbyshire. The Durham and Northumberland coalfields were a hot bed of locomotive experimentation during the period between 1810 and 1830 with Stephenson and his associate Ralph Dodds, at Killingworth, William Hedley at Wylam. and mention must also be made of Murray & Blenkinsop, in Leeds, who supplied locomotives to Brandlings Colliery railway in Leeds and to the Kenton & Coxlodge colliery on Tyneside. Brandling himself was one of the ‘Grand Allies’ and had coal and railway interests in the North East as well as those in Leeds. The remains of Brandling’s colliery railway in Leeds form part of what is now the Middleton Railway.

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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Ebook special offer

To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

 

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On the bridge

The classic ‘spotters view’ from the bridge, or banking side, looking down on the engine, crew, and train. This particular bridge is at Woodthorpe Lane, between Loughborough and Quorn & Woodhouse, on the Great Central Railway, whose Spring gala it will be,  a week on Friday. No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell, will be in action along with the Bluebell Railway’s Q class 0-6-0 No.30541, a class of engine I did a few turns on myself, I might even have fired No.30541.

However, replicating this picture is now becoming impossible, as a new housing development is beginning to take shape here. What are the chances that the ‘new’ residents will complain about the steam engines, the smoke, the whistles, and blah, blah, blah. Over the fifty years of preservation many views, once popularised by photographers, have gone. The Mill at Ingrow on the K&WVR, the shot of Grosmont, from the top of the tunnel,  the once tree lined cutting at Beck Hole with its lovely dappled light – and I’m sure many of you can add your own lost views to these. Even in preservation nothing stays the same, as the lines have developed new buildings have been erected, bridges built, cafes, museums, and more have all been added – it’s all come a very long way from those shaky beginnings at Middleton and Bluebell in 1960.

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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Coals from Newcastle

twizellahouse
Andrews House Station on a sleepy Sunday morning, Twizell No.3 simmers impatiently, as the crew chat on the platform. Tanfield has a lineage right back to the birth of the Industrial Revolution, horse drawn wagons, rope worked inclines and the famous Causey Arch but, and this is probably the bit that matters, all the property of some of the richest men in the country, at that time, the so called ‘Grand Allies’.

The Grand Allies were; the Russell family, one of whom was, in the 18th century, reputedly, the richest ‘commoner’ in the country, the Liddells of Ravensworth, the Bowes family, (Earls of Strathmore), the Brandlings, who owned a colliery in Leeds, which became, in time, the Middleton Railway and the first to use steam locomotives on a commercial basis, in 1811 / 12. The huge fortunes these men amassed was at the expense of those they employed to mine, move, and ship the coals. Children, some as young as six, worked in the mines, often employed to work the ‘flaps’ which helped to circulate air around the mine – they sat in the pitch back to do this.

The mine owners were an unscrupulous and greedy lot; workers were frequently paid in ‘company’ money which could only be spent in ‘company’ shops and at ‘inflated’ company prices. Homes too were owned by the coal owners and if you were out of work, you were ‘out of home too’. Should a miner die, at work, or otherwise, his wife and kids would be ‘out on the street’ and with only ‘company’ money they were headed for the dreaded ‘workhouse’. All of which is a long way from the sylvan setting in the photograph.

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

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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who ate all the pies?

matmurraycracker

The last cracker’s been pulled the cakes, pies, and puddings are just a memory now, the tinsel, lights, and baubles all packed away for another year. It’s now 2016 and 50 years ago I was enjoying a few months as a fireman at 55A Holbeck, which, as the crow flies, is less than a mile from where I was standing taking this picture, a picture with connections and deceptions in equal measure.

Despite the photograph’s sylvan setting this isn’t some rural idyll, the line is a little over a mile from the centre of Leeds and surrounded by industrial estates. A few hundred yards behind the last coach is a six lane motorway, the main route out of the city to the south. The scene is deceptive but, it’s the locomotive, which has the connections.  Named “Matthew Murray” she is an 0-6-0ST and was built by the Leeds firm of Manning Wardle, which grew out of the E.B.Wilson locomotive building Co. – my surname is Wilson and during my time as a pupil, at Leeds Central High School, I was a member of Murray House.

The whole story of the Leeds Foundry, E.B.Wilson, Murray, Fenton & Wood, Manning Wardle, and others, is fascinating. Manning Wardle built the engines for the Lynton & Barnstaple and E.B.Wilson employed Joy who was  credited with the design of the famous ‘Jenny Lind’ class, one of which is credited with being the first locomotive to run in India, during the building of the Ganges canal.

Quite a journey, in a couple of hundred words,  from the banks of the river Aire in Leeds to the Ganges in India!

If you’ve enjoyed my photographs and blog, you might enjoy my book “Gricing: The Real story of the Railway Children”

These are some of the totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing:  ‘ 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’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This is the link to my book “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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‘Down in the woods something stirred’

no2banked

It was the Sunday before Christmas, down in Causey woods, and not a snowflake in sight. However, No.2 and Sir Cecil A. Cochrane were doing their very best to bring a little festive magic – attacking the climb from East Tanfield to the ‘North Pole’ with some gusto. Five fully laden coaches of excited children enjoying the trip to see Santa on board their very own ‘North Pole Express’.

The crackers now have all been cracked, the pudding has all been eaten and the left over turkey is in the dog, maybe a moment to thank all those volunteers who worked long and hard in the run up to Christmas. A big thank you to the ones wrapping the presents, dressing as elves, pixies, or Santa, the ones on car park duty or washing dishes in the buffet, all those behind the scenes carriage cleaners, ticket clerks and we mustn’t forget the signalmen, firemen, drivers and guards.

And finally a big shout for those who turned out to get their lines open after the dreadful flooding, especially the K&WVR and East Lancashire. Fantastic effort all of you, take a bow. You’ve earned it.

For any of you wanting to know more, or who enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs in them, why not buy yourselves a copy of my book, “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘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’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This is the link to my book “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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Festive Clag

matmurraysad

Before becoming too full of turkey and pud I ventured forth in search of a little Festive steam – and here we have it, in the form of Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST “Matthew Murray”, blinking in the unaccustomed sunlight, as she emerges from the M1 tunnel on the Middleton Railway.

For those of you who have followed Steam Age Daydreams from the beginning – thank you. It’s been an interesting year; 60,000 people from 108 different countries around the world have read one or more of the stories and, presumably, enjoyed the photos too. Being, as I am, a lad who grew up in the steam age there’s an almost ‘magical’ air about the digital age’s ability to reach so many people in so many different parts of the world.

2016 promises much, with the long awaited return of 60103 Flying Scotsman probably at the top of many people’s list. Speaking personally, I’m rather looking forward to the returns of 35006 Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation and 34101 Hartland, both of which I had the fun of working on in the 1960s. I might also find time to add some more of the black and white photos I inherited, perhaps a few from the selection of A3s might be a good place to begin!

For any of you wanting to know more, or who enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs in them, why not buy yourselves a copy of my book, “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘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’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This is the link to my book “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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