After my first firing turn on the late shift station pilot, my next outing was a much more enticing prospect – a very early morning turn, and a run with a fitted goods from Copley Hill Goods to Hillhouse Yard in Huddersfield. Passed cleaners, generally, got all the turns that were ‘unsociable’; really early mornings and late afternoons where you were finishing at 2 and 3 in the morning – those were the jobs they copped for. I didn’t care, I was being let loose with a real train, not chugging up and down in station limits.
The journey is around 18 miles from Copley Hill, it begins with a climb to the middle of Morley tunnel a dip down through Dewsbury and then rising again, from Ravensthorpe, all the way to Huddersfield. I’d ridden out over the route before but, now I was the fireman it was a whole new ball game. Our engine was one of Farnley’s allocation of Crabs, I no longer have my old note books, so I can’t tell you which of them it was. What I can tell you is that I seriously over fired and we were sat in Hillhouse Yard, at about 5 / 5.30 a.m. with the boiler full to the whistle and blowing-off. I wasn’t popular with the locals, I’m guessing.
I didn’t have a photo of a Crab with a goods working, but I did have this one, from a while ago, when the ‘Crab’ was in her British Railways livery. She is pictured here crossing the Irwell, at Summerseats, with an early morning Bury – Rawrenstall service.
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: