Tag Archives: No.34053 Sir Keith Park

2017 A personal review

A year of firsts and farewells, though for me 2017 was the year of the ‘End of Southern Steam’; an event celebrated, if that’s the right word, at quite a few heritage lines; and I very much enjoyed seeing Nos. 34081 92 Squadron and 34053 Sir Keith Park, at the Great Central Railway’s offering.  There was even a brief glimpse of No.73156 running as No.73084 Tintagel, like Nos. 34081 and 34053, another engine I’d worked on back in the 60s.

No.73156 / 73084 was one of the firsts too, as she was making her debut appearance after being rescued from Dai Woodhams yard in Barry and restored to operational condition at Loughborough. Sadly, teething problems with the brakes curtailed her official workings, to just one passenger turn on the first day of the gala.

Earlier, in February, there was a bold experiment on the Settle & Carlisle line with No.60163 Tornado hauling regular service trains, for a 3 day spell, between Skipton and Appleby. There were two runs each day and I managed to photograph the first return working, at Selside, on Valentine’s Day. No.60163 also set a first, being given a trial run at 100mph on the ECML, a thrill for all concerned, I’m sure. The data being gathered was intended to support the case for raising the speed limit for steam, on the main line, from 75mph to 90mph.

Sticking with the main line theme, 2017 saw the S&C officially re-opened, after major repairs, with a run behind No.60103 Flying Scotsman, to Carlisle and the S&C also saw main line stalwart, No.46115 Scots Guardsman, bow out when her boiler ticket expired in August – she is pictured at the top of the article, at Kirkby Stephen station , on her last run over the S&C.

No.60103 Flying Scotsman, crossing Lunds viaduct, on the S&C.

Being a Leeds lad I’m rather fond of the Scots which, for many years, were the principal express engines on the former LMS / MR /LNWR routes in and out of the City. In line to replace her, out on the main line, is another engine steaming for the first time since being saved from the scrap yard, No.35018 British India Line, and again one of the engines I have fired on passenger services, out of Waterloo, in the 60s.

Continuing the Southern theme, I never worked on the Schools, though there were several in store at 70A when I started there. 2017 saw Schools Class, No.926 Repton, return to traffic on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, following her ten year overhaul. She is pictured above, slogging up the last half mile of the steep climb from Grosmont to Goathland during the NYMR gala.

On a personal note, I made my first ever visit to the narrow gauge system at Threlkeld Quarry, a little gem in the midst of some wonderful scenery. The locomotive in the photograph is, Sir Tom, a Bagnall 0-4-0ST of 1926 vintage. Sir Tom was employed at BICC in Kent until 1968 and moved to Threlkeld in 2001. Sir Tom was overhauled and rebuilt at Threlkeld and re-entered traffic in 2010.

As the year drew to a close it was farewell to Black 5 No.44806 at the NYMR and No.7812 Erlestoke Manor at the Severn Valley. No.61994 The Great Marquess, and shortly No.60009 Union of South Africa, are to become museum exhibits, no longer gracing the main lines and flying a flag for the LNER, which is sad, especially as the locomotives, of constituents of the LNER, are few in number when compared with the other members of the Big Four.

Not to end on sour note No.7812 Erlestoke Manor, pictured above approaching Bewdley tunnel with a Bridgnorth – Kidderminster service, is to have a fast track overhaul and is expected back by 2020. Good progress is being made with the new build No.82045, a project of which I’m a keen supporter. The 82xxxs were great fun to work on and the ideal engine for a heritage railway operation. I’m very much looking forward to seeing and photographing the finished item.

All of you, I’m sure, have your own highlights from 2017 and I could have added a few more of my own, seeing the Steam Elephant in operation at Beamish was a treat, as was having the Tanfield Railway just 15 minutes drive away, and I leave you with one of my favourite shots from Tanfield in 2017.

Keighley Gasworks No.2, with Bobgins cabin in the background, is heading for Andrews House with a train from East Tanfield.

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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Flour Graders

In 1960s Britain, one of the big scandals of the day was the Profumo affair – it was the usual salacious nonesense involving a Government Minister, call girls / models, a Russian Attache, and military secrets. The girls, Mandy Rice Davies and Christine Keeler became headline news, with their photographs in all the ‘rags’. I, on the other hand. was stoking engines, like, and including, the one above, between Waterloo and points South and West.

Amongst the regular duties for Nine Elms men were the 2 hour services to and from Bournemouth .  One of these workings, which I enjoyed my fair share of, was the 07:20 from Bournemouth to Waterloo, last stop Winchester.  The down working was the 02:45 ‘paper train’  and going through the New Forest on a misty Autumn morning was always a treat. It was on the 07:20, at the height of the scandal, that the girls in question, travelled up from Southampton to Waterloo – I was the fireman  – they didn’t even blow us a kiss.

Yes but, ‘what about the flour graders’, I hear you say. Well, McDougall’s Flour began an ad-campaign based on ‘Fred the Flour Grader’ who was a black suited figure with a white shirt and bowler hat – a plastic, advertising replica, of the figures who lined the platforms at Bournemouth, Brockenhurst, Southampton, and Winchester, to board the 07:20. You would see them standing on the same spot each day, the same faces, bowlers, and brief cases.  If I was on the turn with my regular mate ‘Sooty’ Saunders we would, sometimes, give the ones at Winchester a ‘shower’.

The shower worked like this; full boiler, on the red line, shut off at the last minute, safety valves open, stop with a jerk and the safety valves will pick up water from the surge – and produce a mini shower!! Naughty I know but, it was funny watching them cover their hats with the morning paper or their brief case, in a most undignified manner.

The Photo shows Ex-SR B-o-B Class 4-6-2 No.34053 Sir Keith Park almost at the summit of Eardington bank on the Severn Valley 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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04:40 Salisbury, the back working

Having had our break, we relieved the crew of an ‘up’ who worked the train in from Exeter; they helped take water, whilst I pulled some coal forward in the tender. There was a decent fire in the box and plenty of water in the boiler but, when I’d finished pulling the coal forward I put a few rounds on, just to keep things going until we cleared Fisherton tunnel. We had the road and I was looking back, watching for the tip from the guard, when the safety valves opened;  time to stick the injector on, just to keep her quiet for a few more seconds.

As Tunnel Jct. Box rolled  by I was having a look round the fire to see if there were any thin spots. Things are fairly gentle up to Laverstock Box but, from there on, the next 7 or 8 miles through Porton and on up to the summit at Grateley gradients are in the 1:140 to 1:170 range, steep enough with 12 on for 425 tons. Parts of the line around Porton are in deep cuttings and I can hear the exhaust beat change as we enter them, no time to look though, as there’s some shovelling being done. We’re doing about 50mph and speed is increasing steadily Allington is passed at 60, just three more miles of climbing and then,, on the descent to our stop in Andover, we  get into the mid 70s before it’s time to shut off and begin braking.

On the run down into Andover I get time to enjoy a lid of the tea I brewed just before we left Salisbury. Time too to have a swill around with the ‘pet pipe’, damp the coal down, and get things ready for the pull away out of Andover, around three miles of 1:170. With a start to stop average, on this leg of the journey, from Andover to Waterloo, of a shade under mile a minute, we need to be away sharpish………

The photograph shows, WC class 4-6-2No.34054 Sir Keith Park, close to the summit of Eardington bank on the Severn Valley Railway.

TBC

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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