Tag Archives: Middleton Railway

Summer Special

July only – enjoy Gricing for less. From July 1st to 31st the Ebook version of Gricing is on special offer at just £3.99

Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B011D1WBWY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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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

 

 

 

 

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Last Year’s Landscape

Our railways ran, and in some instances still do, over some of the most scenic and unspoiled bits of the country. Equally true is that they ran through some of the most despoiled and industrialised areas of the country too – they helped in creating much of it. This scene of bucolic bliss is Kildale on the Whitby – Middlesborough via Battersby Junction line.

Beamish Pit and Puffing Billy, mining coal and transporting it from the pits the very raison d’ etre of railways, of industrialisation, of ‘the modern world’ where coal is no longer king – but hey, ‘that’s progress folks’. The engine’s a replica, the site a museum, facsimilies, sanitised renditions of a past, a past without health care, sick pay, holidays, maternity leave, electricity, anesthetic, old age pensions: And photography!

Another route out of Whitby, the one which used to run to York, via Malton, now the heritage North Yorkshire Moors Railway, runs past the tiny hamlet of Esk Valley, the terrace of cottages and a scattering of farm houses in the lower part of the picture. This goods train hauled by Black 5 No.44806 and banked by BR Standard Class 4MTT No.80136 is at the start of the long and twisting climb to Goathland, high on the moors.

From the high moors to the high Pennines, at Lunds viaduct on the Settle  – Carlisle line. The S&C has its own rich folk lore which runs from engines spinning on turntables, (Garsdale), through murder most foul, to Jam Butty making and eating contests in the Temperance Hotel in Kirkby Stephen. This latter being inaugurated by the bands of roaming enthusiasts who flocked to the area, during the era when the S&C was under imminent threat of closure. (Thanks to Paul Screeton and his ‘Folklore of the Settle -Carlisle’ for the details about the Jam Butty contest.)

From the ‘romantic’ S&C to real ‘Jam Butty Land’, the prosaic Balm Road branch of the Middleton Railway, in Leeds. A wet day, a deserted street, on an industrial estate and the building in the back ground carries a sign reading Imageco – the future’s bleak, the future’s 50 shades of grey. The engine making all the smoke is ‘Slough Estates No.3’ and she spent her working life on an industrial estate in Slough – enough to create despondency in any soul.

From the slough of despond to God’s green acres and the Nation’s ‘favourite’ engine. In the background is one of Yorkshire’s best known landmarks, Pen-y-Ghent, in the foreground trackside buildings gently decay.  The location is about half a mile south of Ribblehead viaduct and No.60103 Flying Scotsman had just ‘shut-off’ for the slack – bleak Blea moor and wild Cumbrian fells beckon.

Lastly we have Ex-LMS 4-6-0 Jubilee class No.45690 Leander with the classic south bound location, at the summit of Aisgill, with the ‘up’ Waverley. One day I’ll do this shot and the sun will be shining – maybe this year!

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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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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