Tag Archives: North Yorkshire Moors

Different worlds

On a scorchingly hot Sunday afternoon I was asked, ‘what was it like, on days like this, working on the footplate’. Well, hot of course but, what they meant was how did we cope and how grim was it.   Bottled water, there wasn’t any of that in 1960s Britain and shorts, trainers, and a t-shirt, well let’s just say I never met a fireman dressed that way. I did however, come across quite few drivers who, even on roasters, turned up for duty in a shirt and tie – proper old school.

In engines with a very enclosed cab, it was often ridiculously hot, especially if the engine was in the shed and you were preparing the fire to go off-shed. It was equally bad on the ash pit cleaning the fire too. The term, ‘sweating like a pig in a lard factory’, was a relatively accurate, if colourful, description of the conditions. In the summers of 63,64, and 65 I was a fireman at Nine Elms on the Bulleid Pacifics and Q1s which did get very warm but, the BR Standards,  especially the ones with the big tenders, were fairly enclosed, and they were pretty warm too, when compared with the likes of an S15 or a U-boat. Once you got out on the road you could at least hang out the window for a breath of fresh air, between bouts of firing.

The really big difference between then and now is the attitude to alcohol.  Drinking on duty was a punishable offence, then as now, however, a very blind eye was often turned; and after a trip down to Bournemouth, on a hot day, a pint of Brown & Mild in th BRSA club, wasn’t drinking it was re-hydration! And right outside the gate at Nine Elms was the ‘Brook’ – The Brookland Arms, the ‘lock-ins’ were the stuff of legend.

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

Watch the birdy

Over the weekend the North Yorkshire Moors Railway held a behind the scenes event – having been ‘behind the scenes’ in my, one time,  day job I don’t normally go in for these events. However, the weather was fine and a drive over the moors from Kildale to Levisham via Rosedale Abbey and Pickering is lovely on such a day; and we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the way.

One of the options available was to view the signal box at Levisham; and as I hadn’t visited Levisham for over 20 years – well, hey ho, here we are at Levisham. I took some photos of the signal box, the station, and the lamp room. I also took this photo,  the reflection in the window of the general waiting room on the down platform.

When I began to look at the photo on the computer screen I noticed something I hadn’t seen when looking through the viewfinder. So, instead of the usual photo of ‘steam’ action I thought I’d post this one and see if you can spot the oddity. The only thing which has been done is a crop, no fancy photoshopping, it’s wizzywig.

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

Boys and the black stuff

Just short of 30 years ago I was writing a fortnightly column in the now defunct Steam Railway News, a fortnightly broadsheet newspaper covering preservation and heritage railways. The by-line for the column was Clag and Rockets and I had pretty much free rein to write what I liked, as I do now. The most controversial piece I penned was about the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and the proposal to bury huge amounts of nuclear waste very close by.

Weird, I know, but I have this thing about synchronicity and today I had one of those kinds of things. When I wrote the ‘Laal Ratty’ piece Steam Railway News was being published by East Lancashire Publications and I had to be fairly persuasive to get it into print. Today, I discovered that one of the people I was involved with, in the production of SRN, had previously lived  in Bentham. During a very brief spell as a fireman at Holbeck, I worked on just one passenger duty, a late afternoon Leeds to Morecambe service, first stop Keighley and then pretty much every station on the ‘little North Western” including Bentham. The engine was a Black 5, a locomotive for which the term Utilitarian, might have been written – Jeremy Bentham was the ‘Godfather’ of Utilitarianism. Basically – “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong” J. Bentham

However, this knowledge should be tempered by this comment he made about his conceptual prison, ‘The Panopticon’  ‘he described the Panopticon prison as, “a mill for grinding rogues honest”.  And it is here that weirdness kicks in; the chap from SRN is about to take up a post as a prison chaplin. When I began writing Clag & Rockets for SRN I had just finished my degree in Philosophy, in which Bentham and his ideas were a feature. And moments before I read about the Bentham connection I was wondering how to persuade my good lady that a trip to Laal Ratty, to see Synolda & Count Louis double-heading, is a wonderful journey through Lakeland – even if we do have to be up at 6a.m. for a 3 hour car trip. I’d even been on Google maps checking out the route! Must be something in the ether.

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

Ironic School Days

North Yorkshire Moors Railway resident, School Class 4-4-0 No.926 Repton, slogs up the last few hundred yards of the climb into Goathland station, on Maunday Thursday. In my mind there’s  a touch of irony in the relationship between ‘public’ school and Public School, where the latter is, of course, a fee paying ‘private’ school  and the former the school for the general public. Another connection is more personal and, possibly, more synchronous than ironic; it relates back to my time at ‘Junior’ school and those working on the railway.

Whenever possible we would go to Burley Park and watch the trains go by, the most common engines on the passenger trains,  along the Leeds – Harrogate line, that skirted the park, were the LNER version of the School Class, the 3Cyl 4-4-0 D49 Class, or ‘Hunts’ as we knew them. Often they were referred to by name rather than number; The Bilsdale, The Badsworth, The Quorn, The Fernie and, (No.62765) The Goathland, were just a few of the ‘regulars’ in 1955/6.

It was at Easter, in 1962, that I began work on British Railways North Eastern Region, (NER) transferring, at Easter 1963, to British Railways Southern Region, (SR). Though I began with the North Eastern Region and transferred to the Southern I didn’t fire on a Hunt, or a School, less unsurprisingly, I never attended Public School, nor rode with any Hunt. However, I did photograph a Public School on a Private Railway, once a part of the LNER, where the D49s worked, approaching Goathland where they hunted with hounds and had an engine named after them.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. In a few days I will be posting a feature length blog about engine swapping 1948 style, all about the 1948 Locomotive Exchanges.

PS – couldn’t leave school soon enough, ‘best days of your life’ – pah!

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

Old school brew

You could be forgiven for thinking that this is an all action shot of Schools Class 4-4-0, No.926 Repton, going hammer and tongs through Goathland when, in reality, she is absolutely stationary and ‘waiting time’ – the rest is courtesy of the fireman and the blower.

The School Class weren’t native to Yorkshire and as for ‘Repton’ well that would be more Midland / GCR territory than Southern Railway. Having said that, in a few weeks time it will be the 70th anniversary of the Locomotive Exchange trials, when the newly formed British Railways played mix and match with the nation’s locomotive fleet.  Think of it as ‘One man and his dog’ but, with steam engines and no sheep!

The Schools Class themselves played no part in the trials but, each of the ‘Big Four’ entered locomotives in the Express Locomotive, Mixed Traffic and Freight, categories, with the exception of the Southern, who did not enter any freight engines. The Freight classification also included both a 2-10-0 and 2-8-0 WD ‘Austerity’.  Being little more than a year old when the trials were taking place I have no recollection of them. However, I do know now that one of the routes chosen for the trials was  London Kings Cross – Leeds and that the Southern Railway locomotives No.35017 Belgian Marine was one of the trialists on that route.

Fifteen years later I made the trip from Leeds to London to become a fireman, and worked on No.35017 Belgian Marine, on services from Waterloo to Bournemouth or Salisbury. Even more remarkably, perhaps, I fired for one of the crew involved in the 1948 trials, fireman Bert Hooker, who was by then a driver at Nine Elms.

I am just putting the finishing touches to a ‘feature’ length blog, covering the trials, which I will be posting later this week. The article will provide some of the day to day details from the exchanges, by way of commemorating the events which began on the 22nd April 1948 and continued until 10th September.

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

Tanks and teaks

Winter still seems to be hanging on here, at Goathland, more dead leaves than fresh shoots. Unusually, No.80136 is engine facing Grosmont and not quite what I was expecting but, hey ho.  These engines worked the line in the months before closure and probably hauling the odd Gresley coach or two.  My own memories of them is working the ‘Kenny Belle’ between Clapham Junction and Kennsington Olympia.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the ‘Kenny Belle’, it was a special, untimetabled, service for postal workers, at the giant mail sorting centre at Kennsington. It ran every morning and evening during the week and was reserved for postal workers only. During my brief spell at Stewarts Lane I worked beyond Kennsington and up to North Pole Junction, over the GWR /LNWR West London Joint line, with inter-regional freights which we worked to or from Norwood. Sadly almost all these workings were with the 53xx Cromptons, not quite my cup of tea. I made less than a handful of trips with steam, N or U class moguls. The only other turn I worked over this route, was after moving to 70A, it was known on the roster as the Vauxhall Milk. A real snip of a job we  worked the train forward from Kennsington, with one of the BR 82xxx class 3 2-6-2Ts, to Vauxhall station. Once there we spent the next few hours, ‘kipping’, whilst the tanks were emptied – a fine night’s work!!

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

Out with the old

Working on the railway during the transition from steam to diesel, in the 1960s, presented its only little idiocyncracies. You turned up for work expecting, and dressed for, a day on a diesel, only to find it had failed earlier and been replaced by a steam engine. In my case this was a bonus – I had little time for ‘modern traction’, give me a steamer any day.

In the late summer of 65 I moved into No.2 link at Nine Elms, traditionally the Salisbury link. The Western region had sent over its decrepit Warship class diesels for us to use on the West of England services. Not only did they fail with ‘unfailing’ regularity, they were also hard pushed to keep time. My new regular mate, one of the railway’s more obnoxious characters, only added to the disenchantment of being in a link where the steam turns were being dieselised. Stareing out of a window for eight hours, in the company of someone you loathe and detest, isn’t a good day at the office.

Being young and impulsive I decided to return to my home county and start again.  At the beginning of January 1966 I walked through the gate at Holbeck to sign on. One of the first people I bumped into was an ex-Farnley Jct. driver, Walter Thurlow, who was now a loco inspector. He took me to see the shed master and I was passed for firing, on the spot. No oily rags and paraffin, back on the road with a shovel. Almost immediately I was sent on a week long loan to Stourton, 55B, where I did a few very interesting little trips around the goods yards and sidings of Leeds and had a run out as far as Skipton with a goods working from Stourton yard, for Carlisle. The return working was parcels train, with a diesel on the front, one of the BR Sulzer Type 2 Bo-Bo, if memory serves me.

There was no longer any escape, the advancing dieselisation was the future. I moved from Holbeck to Wakefield but, even here the diesels were making inroads, in less than 18 months it would be over.

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

Moors & Valley Tornado

My 1960/61 Locoshed Book has one of these engines, No.60133 Pommern, on the front cover. In one of those weird little twists of synchronicity, the photo shows her on the coal stage at Copley Hill, a very tough shed to bunk, it was also her home depot. In that 1960/61 edition, Copley Hill has 10 A1s on the allocation, they are Nos. 60117 /8/20/23/30/31/33/34/41 and 60148. In the 50s and early 60s they were the workhorses of the Leeds – London services from Central Station, in Leeds.

The Reverend Eric Treacy was rather fond of photographing the A1s as they departed from Central station and, in my view, some of his best photos of them were taken there. Back then these engines were our ‘local nags’, we used to hope that we’d get one of the Kings Cross or Gateshead ones. The Doncaster based ones were pretty regular visitors, I particularly remember Nos. 60119 and 22  – what would we give now to see 10 or more of them on a regular basis, never mind 10 even 5 would be nirvana, well close anyway. I travelled behind all of the Copley Hill allocation, and probably a few of the others too, at one time or another, on outings to spend the day spotting at Doncaster, or when we went to Lowestoft for our holidays.

Right at this moment No.60163 Tornado is working on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, where she will be in service until Sunday. Then, next week, she heads off, like me, to the Severn Valley to make a guest appearance at the Severn Valley Railway Spring gala, alongside No.8572 and NYMR based No.1264 – in her shiny new LNER guise.

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

A day of two halves

The day was set fair – bit breezy, but cold and bright and there were runs North and South over the S&C; with 60163 Tornado going north with the North Briton and 45699 Galatea heading the Winter Cumbrian Moutain Express south. First stop Lunds viaduct, about a mile and a half beyond Garsdale, for 60163 Tornado. However, the best laid plans and all that, because, instead of 60163 at the head of 12 coaches we were presented with, what is colloquially known as a ‘Shed’ – No.66014 piloting 60163 Tornado. The reason for this was an electrical failure connected with the TWPS. Someone did kindly point out that the resulting picture does have rarity value but, this is scant reward for the effort involved. All was not lost though as the south bound run was yet to come. And as you can see from the photo the sun god was shining, a little less breeze would have been nice – but hey, you can’t have it all!!

Shed, steam, and sun, as you can see not quite the desired effect!  Some folk suggested that I photoshop the ‘Shed’ out of the photo however, there was one suggestion, from Phil Cowle, which I do like; “I’ll just choose to believe the 66 was sick and Tornado came up from behind and banked it to a siding!!”  You can see the headlines in the steam comics – “Tornado rescues stricken Shed”, “Thunderbird ‘Tornado’ is go” – or something along those lines!!

The good news for anyone with tickets for the Tornado event at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is that, according to my source, she was going to the NYMR once the train arrived at Tyne Yard, where she was booked to leave the train. The TPWS fault should not prevent her from working over the moors line.

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

On the cushions

My first time ‘home pass’ or ‘back on the cushions’ was when I was still only a cleaner at Farnley Jct. I was riding out with the crew on a York – Swansea parcels service – we were relieved at Stalybridge, by Stockport Edgeley men, returning to Leeds by service train. When I moved south to 70A, early in 1963, I had few turns where the duty sheet  read book on at –  ‘and travel passenger to’. These were usually Special ‘boat trains’ or Special ‘banana trains’. The boat trains could be either work down to the docks and home pass or the other way round.

On the banana trains I only ever travelled down pass to Eastleigh; a stroll to the shed, and then light engine to the docks to collect the van train for Nine Elms goods. On these banana trains I fired WC / B-o-B pacifics, 73xxx Standard Class 5s, and the 75xxx Standard 4s but, sadly, never one of the 76xxx Class 4s, like the one in the photo. I recall, on one occasion, travelling down to Eastleigh, with another crew and, to pass the time, the four of us started playing cards, only to end up leaping off the train as it began to move off. Another 30 seconds and we would have had to explain how we ended up in Southampton – with egg on face.

The most famous ‘on the cushions’ job was, of course, the Flying Scotsman non-stop service where the relief crew rode in the train from Kings Cross to York and then made their way through the corridor tender, to the footplate, the relieved crew returning the same way back to the coaches. The corridor tender was  designed to allow crew changes to be made during the long non-stop services from London to Edinburgh, and were fitted to around 20 of Gresley’s A4 Class 4-6-2s, specifically for this purpose.

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