Tag Archives: Rugby

Express connections

If railways are about connections there are a lot of them, for me, in this picture. My first long distance journey, on my own, was on the South Yorkshireman. I was taken, by my folks, to Bradford Exchange, where they put me on the train and asked the guard to keep an eye on me; my Aunt met me off the train at Rugby Central station – I was 10. And for the following two weeks I would spend most of my time sat by the girder bridge, where the Great Central crossed the WCML, just south of Rugby Midland station, sadly not with a camera.

Six years later I was at work on the railway in London whilst one of my former classmates was working as a steward on the Pullmans; working between Leeds and Kings Cross. This particular connection gave me the opportunity to sample the joy of Pullman travel from Kings Cross up to Leeds and a very enjoyable dinner for the princely sum of zero. When one of the engines I worked on, during my 3 year spell in London, was returned to steam, it was at the Great Central. No.35005 Canadian Pacific was returned to active duty by the engineering team at Loughborough; and at the ‘ceremony’ to mark her return I was an invited guest and enjoyed a ‘Pullman’ lunch with the CEO of CP Europe as No.35005 hauled us up and down the line.

My first outing, as fireman, on the former London South Western main line out of Waterloo, was with the 19:54 service to Basingstoke, calling at Woking and all stations thereafter. The engine was one of the ‘Standard Arthurs’, identical to the one in the photo except it had a name. And, in a final twist, when I took this photo I was standing chatting to a couple of chaps from Epsom who had stood, train spotting, on the platform at Surbiton during the very time I had been working trains through there on a daily basis with Bulleid Pacifics and BR Class 5 Standards.

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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Is that snow on t’ hills Arkwright?

On a cold and frosty morning, No.49395, masquerading as No.49442, slips a little as she eases her train into the head shunt at Keighley, where she was a Gala guest engine. I’ve seen these antique 0-8-0s hauling huge trains of wagons, on the WCML, through Rugby, back in the 1950s. First introduced, in 1912, by the LNWR, the G1 class was a development of an earlier non-superheated design. No.49395 was a further  modification, the G2 class, with higher boiler pressure and, in some cases, like No.49395, the fitting of Belpaire fireboxes.

In my 1955 shed book some of these engines are in far flung corners with numbers allocated to Abergavenny, from where the LNWR had a line down to Merthyr, with several  branches running down the Welsh valleys, one, to a junction with the GWR at Nine Mile Point, had a sub-shed to Abergavenny, at Tredegar.  Swansea Victoria, also had a handful still on the books in 1955, but they’d all gone by the 1960 edition. When she entered BR stock, in 1948, No.49395 was allocated at 2C Northampton, in 1955 she was at 8C Speke Junction. No,49442 was at 10B Preston in 1948 and in 1955 she was at 2D Coventry. In the 1960 Shed Book neither engine is listed, my 64 Combined shows just 5 G2 / G2a remain in service.

No.49395, being the first of the G2 class, was saved to become part of the National collection, No.49442, along with all her chums, met the grim cutter, and was transformed, in showers of sparks, to cars fridges, and ten million razor blades.

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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1000 likes on FB offer

To celebrate Steam Age Day Dreams having reached 1000 Facebook followers, for the next 10 days the ebook version of “Gricing” is £1 off,  at just £3.95“Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children” –  a different take on our great railway heritage from someone who has 60 years of 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!

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When I grow up ……..

The young lad with his head out of the window could, quite easily, have been me, in 1957, when I travelled this very route to stay with relatives in Rugby, for a couple of weeks, in the school holidays. It was on the girder bridge at Rugby, where the GCR crosses the WCML, that I saw my first GWR engine – though I don’t ever recall seeing a 45xx class 2-6-2 there. Five years on, in 1962, and I was hanging my head out of the cab, not the coach, window.

I remember cycling up Royds Lane to sign on for the first time, I’d bunked round many times but, now I was here ‘on duty’.  Instead of sneaking past the stores, so as not to be seen, today the storeman was measuring me up, before issuing my overalls, grease top, and a copy of the BR Rule book and amendments, for which I had to sign. Next up were application forms for ASLEF and the Engineman’s Mutual Assurance Fund, Farnley Jct. was an ASLEF depot, not being in the union wasn’t an option and the ‘Mutual’ was for your own benefit too.

The stores themselves were a testament to order and cleanliness, unlike my fellow cleaners and passed cleaners whose capacity for creating chaos could be viewed as inspirational, or cruel, depending on whether it was you who had just been shut in the fire box, of an engine on washout, and oily, burning, smoking, cleaning waste put in the ash pans beneath you. Ah! – happy days!!

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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Ebook special offer

To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

 

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Semi on the fast

46233sadcoIn those far off 1950s, and early 1960s, school summer holidays I was lucky enough to be able to spend a couple of weeks, during some of them, beside the West Coast main line at Rugby. Rugby has a long railway history which includes not only the famous testing plant and the works of British Thomson Houston Co. but, in the very early days, a notorious local Publican doubled as an engine driver for the London & Birmingham Railway /London North Western Railway. Having two jobs isn’t a new phenomena, though I’m sure being a publican and an engine driver might raise a few eyebrows, rather than glasses, in today’s ‘health and safety gorn mad’ culture.

Rugby, for me, was approaching Nirvana, no school, and a constant a procession of Scots, Jubes, Pates / Baby Scots, Brits and Semis was only the half of it. We were being given a taste of what was coming with Nos 10000 and 10001 making an appearance from time to time; and there was no shortage of freight workings either. The goods workings provided us with an eclectic mixture of Stanier 8F and Black 5s, Derby 4s and former LNWR ‘Coffee pots’, Bowen-Cooke’s 0-8-0 G1 / G2 goods engines; all ably supported by the clanking of the Dubdees and sundry tank engines both ancient and modern. Like so many other things from the 1950s and 60s, it didn’t last.

Today only the echoes and shadows remain – No.46233 Duchess of Sutherland is doing her best to bring back those halcyon summers as she heads towards Wakefield with a Liverpool / Scarborough working in July 2013.

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!

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Sunny Days

2857portThose sunny days of yesteryear, where are they now? Those days when we sat on a wall, fence, or banking side, to watch the trains go by, are they just distant memories, or are we transported back there every time we visit a heritage railway or go to watch a main line tour whistle by? Being a northern lad we didn’t get to see too many GWR engines so, when we did, they tended to stick in the memory.

My own first sightings of GWR engines, one of the 43xx class moguls, came on trips to see relatives in Rugby, the Great Western engines would rumble by, on the GCR, which used to cross the WCML on a huge girder bridge, just south of Rugby (Midland) station.  My first major encounter though was when I went on a school ‘loco spotters club’ trip to Wolverhampton Stafford Road works, age tweleve. A properly organised trip with a works pass and school master in attendance. We all thought Birmingham Snow Hill station was amazing, though I doubt that many of the locals did, especially as  enormous flocks of Starlings used to congregate in  the area just outside the station. (Not so much Snow Hill as guano mound!!)

And yes, I know it’s not a girder bridge, nor a mogul, but this was the memory that this photo brought back, of sunny days by a railway line and my first sightings of the locomotives of the Great Western Railway. In the photograph, 2-8-0 28xx class No.2857 is crossing Oldbury viaduct on the Severn Valley Railway, with a Bridgnorth – Kidderminster service.

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!

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Shadows

48624mailshadowOne of the inspirations behind my own attempts at railway photography was RJ Blenkinsop, who published a number of books of railway photographs with titles like, ‘Shadows of the GWR’, or ‘Shadows of the Big Four’. Monochrome photos of the black and white 1950s, when days were halcyon, when six weeks summer holidays weren’t long enough, when the Night Mail still crossed the border, bringing the cheque and the postal order.

By his own admission Blenkinsop was a GWR man, but didn’t let that deter him from photographing other railways and locomotives. He lived in the Leamington area, for some time, and photographs of the GCR, in several locations, are featured in his ‘Shadows of the Big 4’. There’s a photo of a very recognisable  Loughborough, from the banking below Beeches Road bridge, with a B1 on the South Yorkshireman, in 1953. Another of the photographs is of the ‘most famous locomotive in the world’ – no not Hogweirds Castle, that other one, No.60103 Flying Scotsman, again with the South Yorkshireman, this time at Staverton Rd. Staverton Road is also the location for a fine shot of A3 No.60059 Tracery with the ‘up’ Master Cutler, barely a year after the service had been inaugurated in 1951.

On a more mundane level there’s an O1, with a heavy south bound freight, crossing the Midland main line, right where the new bridge will go when the GCR (N) is re-united with the GCR (S)

My ‘shadows’ were a bit more literal, as the can be seen in 48624’s shadow being cast on the TPO rake, as she heads south with a train of mineral empties for Rothley Brook sidings.

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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: ‘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!’

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Passing

34053pass48624Passing, ‘like ships in the night’ or, in this instance, like ‘steam engines in the day’! Many of us mourn the passing of the steam age, for many different reasons, one of the most common being the connections with  the happy carefree days of youth. It may be just my imagination but, it does seem that increasingly larger numbers of faces, at Steam Railway Gala events, were born long after the ending of main line steam in 1968; do they mourn the passing of an age they never experienced? Probably not, though I have to admit, I’ve never asked.

I wasn’t aware that just as I began to photograph No. 48624, on the Loughborough – Rothley Brook mineral empties, No.34053 Sir Keith Park was about to drift past on the ‘Down’, with a passenger service for Loughborough.  And it’s one of those happenstances with a great deal of relevance to my own ‘historical memory’. I can do a deal of ‘rose tinted’ nostalgic wallowing over the connections in this particular photograph. I worked on the footplates of both classes of locomotives, the West Country / Battle of Britain class and Stanier’s 8F, on the same kind of duties, passenger and mineral empties, though not on this railway – I traveled on that, during the summer, school, holidays, when I was a nipper!

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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: ‘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!’

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Black 5 Pilot

44801&6100

No44801, actually No.44806, piloting No.6100 Royal Scot, actually No.6152 The King’s Dragoon Guardsman, which became No.6100 Royal Scot for a trip to the USA and was never swapped back. I hope you got all that numerical legerdemain, I’ll be asking questions later!! I’m only asking but shouldn’t No.6100 Royal Scot, which is now painted Brunswick Green and numbered 46100, be numbered (4)6152 and named King’s Dragoon Guardsman?

Moving on, this classic LMS  pairing are seen here alongside the river Dee, heading west towards Carrog, during one the Llangollen Railway “Sun Steel & Steam” galas held to raise funds for the building of a new member of the  ‘Patriot Class’ to become No.45551 Unknown Warrior. This ambitious project intends to have No.45551 Unknown Warrior finished to main line standards and ready in time to be part of the Armistice celebrations in 2018. Having enjoyed the sight and sound of these engines throughout my early years it will be lovely to see one back in action, albeit a brand spanking new one.

If you’ve enjoyed my photographs and blog, you might enjoy my book “Gricing: The Real story of the Railway Children”. These are some of the totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing:  ‘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’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This is the link to my book “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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