Tag Archives: Sharlston

School’s out

During the School Summer holidays, in the 50s and 60s, the railways  saw lots of ‘special traffic’, everything from day trip excursions to the races or the seaside, to entire trains hired by the big mills or the local ‘miner’s welfare’. All manner of motive power and coaching stock could be drafted in to work these trains. My old pal Walter Hobson, as a passed cleaner at Manningham, worked an excursion train full of mill workers, from Braford to Morecambe and back, with a Derby 4 and during my spell at Wakefield (Belle Vue) I took a train load of miners to Blackpool and back, though not with a Derby4.

It would have been around this time of year, in 1966, my recollections of the day are that we set out from Sharlston, and I have a memory of crates of beer and bottles of spirits being loaded onto the train, from a porter’s barrow. This trip was to be my one and only ‘short rest’ duty. The journey to Blackpool was pretty uneventful and we took the engine to the shed and booked off. I think we had about 5 hours before it was time to book on again and go to collect our train for the trip back to Wakefield. I can’t be certain, at this distance in time, about our engine but, No.45694 Bellerophon, does ring a bell.

It would be dark before we got back so I’d filled and lit the lamps before we went off-shed and, by the time we’d hooked up and I’d put the lamps on the front it, was time to go. Again, on the footplate, ‘it was just another day at the office’, until, that is, we were held by signals approaching Preston. I got down from the engine to carry out rule 55 and some of the miners on the train began to climb / drop from the carriages. It took the best part of twenty minutes, to half an hour, to get them back onto the train and make sure no one had been left wandering about on the track. God only knows how much disruption this caused as the bobby had to close the opposite running line to ensure safety, and departures out of Blackpool following us must have been spitting blood, or rubbing their hands at all the overtime they were earning!!

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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Indulge Me

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I don’t usually post photos I’ve played with in Photoshop, but I rather like this one – and it’s my blog, my birthday, and so here it is. The faux ‘Austerity’ in a faux photograph – nothing is ever what it seems. In my final year as a BR fireman I trundled around the Yorkshire coal fields and over the Pennines with these ‘beasts’ on turns with little romance and miles of tender first running, in hail, rain, wind or shine.

The good turns were those from Healy Mills to Rose Grove or Padiham with a rake of loaded coal wagons – a duty ideally suited to the WDs. The return workings, sometimes with one of Rose Grove’s Stanier 8Fs, were all empties back to Healy Mills. Once you got them over the top at Copy Pit you practically rolled back to Wakefield – a stark contrast with the outward run when, once you’d cleared Sowerby Bridge it was ‘time to get some rock on’ for the slog to Copy Pit summit – where you stopped to pin down brakes for the long descent to Gannow Junction.

The not so good turns were miles of tender first running down the Dearne valley line, or the former Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway route to Goole, calling at long gone collieries like Prince of Wales or Sharlston, in the heart of Rugby League country around Castleford  and Pontefract. In a cold northern winter running tender first you’d be firing in your Pea Jacket, a kind of heavy duty 3/4 length coat issued to footplate crew along with their blues and greased top. Stopping at pits along the way leaving empties and collecting the loaded, before dragging them back to Healy Mills and going light to loco.

Thing I remember about turns is, ‘if you can’t do a good one don’t do any’.

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

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.

http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

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