Tag Archives: Settle Carlisle line

And 54 years later …….

The last time I saw No.35018 British India Line in action I was her fireman, and we were heading to Waterloo from Bournemouth, after working down with the 08.35 Ex – Waterloo. Today, 54 years later, along with a horde of others, I was standing beside the Settle -Carlisle line, with Pen – y Ghent in the background, enjoying her passing with the York – Carlisle leg of the GB XI rail tour. Watching a piece of your own history steaming past you, like this, certainly stirs the memory cells. And those three years at Nine Elms in the 1960s really did seem like yesterday – tho’ I doubt, very much, that I’d be able to fire an MN from York to Carlisle today but, I’d have no trouble sitting in the driver’s seat and rendering a couple of fire boys!!

I don’t know how many times I worked on this engine, firing out on the main line or cleaning her fire on shed but, what I do know is that like all the Merchant Navy class she was a joy to work on, as a fireman. Coincidently, it is also almost 70 years ago, June 1948, that No.35018 British India Line set out from Waterloo, with the Atlantic Coast Express, as part of the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials. No.35018 British India Line was one of three MNs in the trials, the others were No.35017 Belgian Marine and No.35019 French Line CGT. No.35020 Bibby Line was the reserve engine. And, in my time at 70A, I met and fired for Driver Bert Hooker who was himself a fireman during the Exchange Trials – it’s a small world.

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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Scot Free?

Sadly, during the Christmas period, graffiti vandals have struck again on a heritage railway, this time the Severn Valley Railway. These acts of vandalism are not new and nor are they confined to dim and disaffected teenagers. The destruction of huge chunks of the railway network was industrial scale vandalism, and, in some senses, every bit as mindless as the actions of the graffiti sprayers. It was more good luck than good management which kept the line in the photograph open for business. For those who don’t know, this is the Settle – Carlisle route, close to Aisgill summit. If you were a lover of the original ‘Royal Scot’ class you might consider Stanier a vandal for his rebuilding. However, rebuilds are a can of worms I’m not going to open here.

In the case of the national network it wasn’t thousands of volunteer hours of labour that was being trashed, it was the deaths of thousands of navvies, their wives and children too, who died in building routes like the Woodhead route across the Pennines or the Waverley route through the borders. To some extent our current hobby is the result of this vandalism, all in the name of progress, naturally.

I don’t condone the vandalism, be it state sponsored or the mindless moron variety; we do, however, seem to display a certain degree of ambivalence to the former and a quite alarming degree of ferocity towards the latter. Some of the comments I’ve seen on social media advocate chopping hands off, a practice the same commentators would, in all probability, condemn as barbaric if it was being perpetrated by Saudi Arabia.

The unfortunate thing is that the vandals, who have been around for thousands of years, will still be vandals and their mindless activities, whether on the small scale or the large,  will continue to rile people. And if the history of dealing with vandals shows us anything, it is that all the solutions, tried in order to prevent it, have failed, even the barbaric ones.

The recent vandalising  of the teak coaches at the NYMR brought a great community response and the coaches were back in service, almost, before you could say Jack Robinson. Hopefully, this current act will draw a similar response. The vandalism may well be distressing to many but, the railway community response to it is a much more positive and longer lasting effect than a few cans of aerosol paint.

So, on that positive note may I wish  Steam Age Daydreams fans and followers all the steaming best for 2018.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

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“19four feet eight and a half”

Ground zero, for most of today’s enthusiasts, is 1948, the year British Railways was created from, the war time ashes, of the ‘Big Four’. Battered by the blitz and,  the threat of bankruptcy hanging in the air, the creation of British Railways was hardly cause for unbridled joy. Yes, the railways were now publicly owned, but shareholders were still being paid, and Victorian infrastructure, locomotives, and rolling stock were all in daily use.

There were some bright spots, fresh paint and new liveries and the Peppercorn A1s  were rolling out of  Darlington and Doncaster works. The A1s were regular visitors to Leeds,  where I grew up, and I remember riding behind them on journeys to Peterborough, change for Lowestoft, and a fortnight at the seaside. Later, in the 1950s, 37B Copley Hill, had an allocation of 10, in 1955 – Nos. 60117 – 60120, 60122, 60131, 33, 34, 39, and 60141, I rode behind many of them on  spotting trips to Doncaster. Travel there and back on a platform ticket, spend all day at ‘Donny’, beside the ECML .and catch the ‘plant stream’ and then the train back to Leeds Central Station and a bus back home. And no one was any he wiser!

The locomotive in the photo, the new build A1 No.60163 Tornado, is pictured at Selside with the first of the Plandampf services on the S&C on Saint Valentine’s Day.

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

or: To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, you could 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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50 years gold

5690passlight

Assuming the solar eclipse hasn’t trashed all forms of digital communications, I jest, you’ll be reading  this and I will be at the Severn Valley Railway’s 50th Anniversary Spring Gala. A photo of a Jubilee, one of which was named, ‘Silver Jubilee’, to celebrate  the  Silver Jubilee, of George V, in 1935, seems quite appropriate. The decision to name a locomotive in honour of the King’s Jubilee, later involved the well worn railway subterfuge of  swapping identities. The original engine named ‘Silver Jubilee’ was  No.5642, but the decision was made to have the ‘first’ loco in the class carry this name and and so  No.5642 became No5552 Silver Jubilee and No.5552 became No.5642 Boscawen and the ‘Jubilees’ were born.

So far as I know, No.5690 Leander hasn’t been involved in any surreptitious name swapping, but it is a racing certainty she’ll have swapped boilers, with others in her class, during major overhauls. Following a recent heavy overhaul LMS No5690 Leander has been painted in a lined Black livery and put to work doing what she did a thousand times before, working over Shap or the Settle – Carlisle line on services such as the Fellsman or the Waverley. However, we see her here, on the Severn Valley Railway, about a quarter of a mile from the entrance to Foley Park Tunnel, gold letters and numbers beautifully lit in the early morning autumn sun.

When I was an engine cleaner, at 55C Farnley Junction, one of the allocation of Jubilees was No.45581 Bihar & Orissa, for some reason she was a paler shade of green than her class mates, and the only engine, I know of, ever to receive a Christmas card, sent to the depot addressed to her and the crew who worked on her.

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You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running.

http://www.amazon.com/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

or for British readers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B00ML0QYK2

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