Tag Archives: National Railway Museum

Crewe – August 1958

My sister-in-law recently unearthed one of her Dad’s old spotters note books and, not unsurprisingly, handed it to me. On August 2nd 1958 he travelled from Leeds to Crewe for a day’s spotting and shed bashing. There are close to 300 numbers recorded, 12 Coronations and 3 Princess Royals, the ‘preserved’ No.46115 Scots Guardsman was one of 24 Scots and there was a supporting cast of Patriots both rebuilt and original(ish) served with a garnish of Jubilees.

There are also one or two notables in the un-named ‘also rans’ category; the now preserved Black 5s No.45110, of 15 Guineas fame, and No.45305, which was ‘preserved’ by the scrapman who bought her, Mr. Draper of Hull, were both there on the day, along with the 8F No.48188. No.48188 was the engine involved in the accident at Chapel-en-le-Frith, in February 1957, in which driver John Axon died whilst trying to stop his runaway train and avert casualties. For his bravery, in staying at the controls of his stricken engine, driver Axon was posthumously awarded the George Cross, in May 1957, in 1978, his medal was donated to the National Railway Museum.

Three days after the Crewe visit, on August 5th, the notebook records a visit to York, only 60 engines this time, though one of them was the now preserved Fairburn 2-6-4T No.42073. There are also some ‘wish we still had them’ amongst the engines present, including a Midland design 3 cylinder Compound No.41101, former P2 No.60502 Earl Marischal, and lesser lights like K3s, B16s, and, of course, V2s. Can we please have our ‘Green Arrow’ back mister!!

No.48188 did not escape the chop, the photo shows classmate 48624 with the same kind of a loose coupled working that 48188 was on, on that fatefull day in 1957.

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

Joe who? & Tommy who?

A couple of days ago, on the 3rd of July, it was the 80th anniversary of Mallard’s epic thrash down Stoke bank. There were the usual plaudits, a half hour talk on the radio and even a whinge about the duckless statue. One word out of any of you and the duck is pate!! Joking aside, what is frequently missing in these celebrations is any understanding of how vital a part the crew played in setting the record.

Despite the magnificence of the machine itself, all the drawbar horse power readings, and flickering needles, pored over by technicians in the dynamometer coach, it was Duddington and Bray who made the record, their skills, knowledge, and efforts, not to mention bravery was what coaxed 126mph out of No.4468 Mallard. The steam locomotive is, by its very nature, dependent on the crew for its power output. No amount of engineering design will overcome the limitations of the crew – optimum performance is only achived if the crew are likewise performing to their best.

During the mid/late 1990s I was a regular visitor to the reading room at the NRM and, at lunchtime, I would sit and eat my sandwiches beside the exhibit of No.35029 Ellerman lines, the sectioned Bulleid, Merchant Navy Class, Pacific, just yards away from Mallard. No.35029 sits on rollers which slowly move the wheels so you can see the valve and piston motions. Alongside the engine display boards told the viewer what the bits were but, nowhere did it explain the role of the crew in making it all happen – a glaring omission and not the only one.

The most glaring omission was that there was not one word about Joe Duddington and Tommy Bray on, in, or around the Mallard display, at the time, circa 1995 – 7, which was more than 20 years after the NRM opened. When I raised the issue I was told the reason was ‘insufficient funds’ – what an insult. Over a period of 20 or more years,  they expected me to believe, they didn’t have the money for a few boards and a pot of paint to celebrate the two most important men in the creation of the 126mph record – not only an insult to Duddington and Bray but to anyone with an ounce of nous.

To see how things changed follow this link. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2002/may/01/arts.artsnews

The photo shows visiting A4, No.60019 Bittern, at New Bridge crossing, approaching Pickering, on the NYMR.

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 essential ingredients

cescoal&waterFor several years, during the mid-1990s, I was involved in some research on the Railway Races to the North and Railway Labour using the facilities of the reading room of the National Railway Museum. During my lunch breaks I would go into the museum and sit on an old ‘waiting room’ bench, with a sandwich and a flask of coffee. The bench was opposite a locomotive I had fired, many times, 30 years previously, over the LSWR main lines from Waterloo to Bournemouth or Salisbury and back. The engine concerned is the ‘sectioned’ display No. 35029 Ellerman Lines, and a fine machine she was too.

What struck me most, apart from the very odd conversations that folk had about the engine and what did what, was that despite being cut in half, and the motion slowly turning, so that the actions of valves and pistons were clearly visible, there was a glaring omission. In the attempt to show how the locomotive worked, and what its constituent parts were, there was not one word about the essential ingredients, no not the coal and water – it was the footplate crew who were missing. There was no explanation of how it was the skill, effort, and team work of the footplatemen that really made the steam engine steam and create the power to turn the wheels and haul the train. Nor, for that matter, was there any explanation of the countless others, fitters, boilersmiths, steam risers, etc. etc. who worked, behind the scenes, to keep the engine available for traffic. Just as there was only ‘half’ an engine to see there was, sadly, only ‘half’ a tale being told.

The photograph is at Andrews House Station on the Tanfield Railway.

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!

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Scarborough Spa Express?


Yesterday’s post, ‘Bit of a departure’, featured a photograph of No.62712 Morayshire, rusting gently, in the yard at Inverurie Locomotive Works – a photograph for which I had a lot of information. This photograph I know very little about, save what you can see. It was gifted to me, along with many more, there’s no information as to who took it, or on what day it was taken. The signal box is Falsgrave and the platform sign says Scarborough Central, the locomotive is a 3cylinder class B16/2, a 1937 Gresley rebuild of the Vincent Raven original, which was introduce on the North Eastern Railway in 1920 and, when new was fitted with Stephenson link motion.

According to my 1960 shed book No.61437 was allocated to 50A York, now the National Railway Museum. York had quite a few of the B16s on the allocation in 1960 – non of them survived the ‘grand cull’. According to the LNER data base, these engines were very commonly used on seaside excursions, and particularly to Scarborough, a classic 1950s seaside destination, deep in the heartlands of North Eastern Railway territory, all of which suggests the photograph was of a ‘common place’. Mum and son sat on the platform seem oblivious to the passing, certainly no ‘trainspotting’ going on!

The B16s were, essentially North Easter Railway engines, and for much of their working lives, most were allocated around York, Hull, Leeds, Tyne Dock, and Scarborough. Late in the day they also made their way onto the Great Central section with allocations at Woodford Halse and Banbury.

PS If anyone does have any information on this photograph – please do let me know.

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/   - with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.
If you enjoy my photos and writing - I'm sure you'd enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running. The links below will take you to it. You can read a sample for free and you don't need a Kindle - there's a free app so you can read it, and view the photos at screen size, on you PC.
or for British readers.
Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Once a Knight


The disc being carried by No.30777 Sir Lamiel, is probably meant to signify that she is hauling a stopping passenger service. In her Southern days it would have indicated something rather different. It could have indicated that No.30777 Sir Lamiel, was working Victoria – Dover via Chatham, a turn she would no doubt have been familiar with, or Woking – Reading via Virginia Water west curve, a route she might have taken less often, or even Exeter Central – Ilfracombe, amongst several other possible routes. The essential thing, I suppose, is that the disc gives the signalman important information about the train, just as the tail lamp, or lack of one, does.

No. 30777 Sir Lamiel is part of the National Collection and is, as a result, in the custody of the National Railway Museum. In practice however, she is cared for, on a day to day basis, by the 5305 Locomotive Association at Loughborough. No.30777 Sir Lamiel is also part of the pool of engines certified for use on the main line and has, over many years, put in some fine performances, particularly on the Settle – Carlisle route and her old stamping grounds on the LSWR routes from London Waterloo to Weymouth via Southampton or Waterloo to Exeter via Salisbury, both routes I know from my own footplate days.

For most of their independent existence the Great Western and the London South Western / Southern Railway were bitter rivals in almost everything from the carriage of Atlantic Mails, to milk traffic and summer specials full of holiday makers. Having worked for BR Southern region I know a little about this rivalry at ground level,  so there’s always this little frisson when I see sights like one in the photograph, Southern engine, chocolate and cream rolling stock, and on GW metals. However, Sir Lamiel, or to give him his full title Sir Lamiel of Cardiff, obviously had some GWR in his veins, as he  does look quite at home with the rake of GWR stock, approaching Leigh Lane crossing on the West Somerset Railway between Williton and Crowcombe Heathfield.

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather