Tag Archives: No.35005 Canadian Pacific

The Ghost Train

Over fifty years ago, in 1965, the scene at Waterloo, before the departure of the 2.45am ‘Bournemouth’ papers was quite a spectacle. Fleets of newspaper vans in the varied liveries of their day; Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Financial Times, Guardian and Telegraph, but not the Sun, which wasn’t being published under this banner in 1965, would be coming and going disgorging their contents onto barrows, marshalled like trains. Tons of newsprint off loaded  into the waiting vans of the paper train, where, just like the mails in the TPO, gangs of men sorted, labelled, and re-packed the lot, as the train rolled through the night.

The 2.45am ‘Weymouth’ paper train, was not the most popular of turns it has to be said and absenteeism, by the young firemen, was not uncommon. I myself enjoyed the turn and, on occasions, I was able to swap with the booked fireman – particularly if my shift was a day turn. The 2.45am papers was a turn usually entrusted to a Bulleid Pacific, and frequently a Merchant Navy, the return working, from Bournemouth West, was almost always a ‘Packet’. On one especially memorable occasion the engine was No.35004 Cunard White Star and we were to be joined on the footplate, from Southampton, by an engineer from Swindon Works.

No. 35004 Cunard White Star was unusual amongst her class in as much as she steamed best with a light bright fire rather than being ‘boxed up’ under the door and in the back corners of the firebox, which was the ‘common’ method of firing on these engines. However, if she was fired light and bright, a half dozen or so well placed shovel-fulls would put up a white feather. From Southampton up to Worting Junction is the most difficult section of the return working from Bournemouth – with the section from Winchester, our final stop, up past Micheldever to Roundwood Box being one continuous slog. Our footplate visitor was treated to a display of copy-book firing – more by accident than design I should add. 35004’s penchant for light, tight and bright was not the only accident as I was also with my regular three link mate ‘Sooty’ Saunders – though this was not a three link duty.

The route from leaving Southampton Central is fairly leisurely round St. Denys to Eastleigh, where the line straightens and the long climb to Roundwood begins. Sooty and I had already decided beforehand we would ‘entertain’ our guest and as we passed Eastleigh Works and the MPD, Sooty put the handle in the roof. Charging through Eastleigh station the rockets were really beginning to fly, our speed climbing into the upper sixties as we passed Shawford Box, heading for our final stop at Winchester. However, the real show was yet to come – leaving Winchester is where the continuous against the collar gradient really begins to create some ‘chimney chatter’  – almost eleven miles with a ruling gradient of 1 in 250 from a standing start with a train of approximately 450 tons and next stop Waterloo.

By the time we passed Winchester Junction two miles out from Winchester station it was time to put the second injector on as Sooty had No. 4 in full second valve and 35% cut-off – even the normally soft beat Bulleid coughs a little when being driven along like this. The engineer from Swindon was sitting in my seat, not that there was much chance to sit down as firing was now almost continuous. By Wallers Ash our speed was rising sixty – no firing through the tunnel, just time to watch the rockets hitting the tunnel roof and enjoy a lid of tea before starting to shovel again for the last five miles up to Litchfield. Once the summit has been reached the road to Waterloo is mostly easy running, a little hump between Farnborough and milepost 31 – a pull away from the pws at Clapham Jct is about as tough as it gets. Apart from keeping the footplate clean and sprinkling a few shovels full round every now and then the graft is really over once you passed Worting Jct. It would have been very interesting to have been a fly on the wall when the engineer from Swindon returned to the home of the Great Way Round to tell of his footplate trip on one of Mr. Bulleid’s Pacifics.

The paper train has long since passed into history, TNT saw to that, and their recreation in preservation has yet to happen – but for more than a century these trains put the Times on the table for breakfast – now only the ghosts remain.

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 – Andover – Waterloo

My driver, Eric ‘Sooty’ Saunders, lived in Feltham and when we were on this turn he liked to get to Waterloo a few minutes early, if we could, because that gave him time to have a quick word with our relief crew at Waterloo and catch his train home. To do this we needed to run to an average of more than mile a minute and our start out of Andover reflected this.

Three miles of 1:170 and then a short dip down towards Hurstbourne saw our speed  nudging into the 60s as we passed the box. On the short rise to Whitchurch, ‘Sooty’ dropped the lever a couple of notches and the gradient was barely noticed. On a tight schedule, this was where you could gain time, build up speed on the downhill bits and then use the momentum and a couple of extra turns on the reverser to keep speed up as the gradient ramped up.

I’d been firing steadily, 6 to 8 shovels full, wait for the exhaust to clear then another round of 6 or more, ever since we left Andover, and, as we sped through Overton my shovelling was almost done for the day. Beyond Worting Jct. much of the route is on falling gradients, apart from a little hump between Farnborough and MP31. Roaring through Basingstoke, hanging on the whistle, we were now into one of the fastest sections; under clear signals we shot through Hook at well over 80mph and the dust was beginning to fly, time for a splash round with the pet pipe and finish the dregs in the tea can.

The 18 miles from Hook to Woking were completed in under 15 minutes, we had our ‘time in hand’ and the clear road through Woking meant we were still on course for ‘Sooty’ to catch his train home to Feltham. All that was left to do, as we cleared Surbiton, was put some water in the bucket for a quick wash before we got off the footplate and headed home.

The locomotive in the photograph, No.35005 Canadian Pacific, is pictured at the GCR before the track was doubled. I have a lot of history with this engine and have added this link to the article which gives some further details of that history. http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=1848

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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Ton ups – then & now

Like many of you, I dare say, I watched the programme about No.60163 Tornado doing a ton on the ECML, and, for the telly, it wasn’t a bad effort. By coincidence the programme was broadcast exactly 52 years after my own ton up moment on the LSWR main line on the night of May 15th 1965, with locomotive No.35005 Canadian Pacific.

The first, and probably most notable difference was there was no day long fitness to run exam;  No.35005’s exam was made by the driver in the course of oiling up. There were no special preparations of any sort, it was a regular turn, the 21:20 Waterloo – Weymouth mails. Driver, Gordon Hooper, wasn’t my regular mate and he never said a word about record setting or doing the ton – we did both.  However, some things were very similar, both engines rode well at speed and though I didn’t have a second fireman, I did have Inspector Brian Smith working the fire doors for me.

There wasn’t an invited audience, Press pack, or camera crew but, there were a number of performance loggers riding in the train; no GPS either, back then, it was all done with stop watches, tablets were what the bobby or the doctor gave you. We didn’t get three chances to reach the ton, just the one before we had to slam the brakes on to stop at Winchester.  By this point we were less than half-way through our working day. We worked the train forward from Winchester to Southampton where we were relieved – and then worked back to Waterloo. Just another day at the office – well not quite!

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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