Tag Archives: Sir Nigel Gresley

Joe who? & Tommy who?

A couple of days ago, on the 3rd of July, it was the 80th anniversary of Mallard’s epic thrash down Stoke bank. There were the usual plaudits, a half hour talk on the radio and even a whinge about the duckless statue. One word out of any of you and the duck is pate!! Joking aside, what is frequently missing in these celebrations is any understanding of how vital a part the crew played in setting the record.

Despite the magnificence of the machine itself, all the drawbar horse power readings, and flickering needles, pored over by technicians in the dynamometer coach, it was Duddington and Bray who made the record, their skills, knowledge, and efforts, not to mention bravery was what coaxed 126mph out of No.4468 Mallard. The steam locomotive is, by its very nature, dependent on the crew for its power output. No amount of engineering design will overcome the limitations of the crew – optimum performance is only achived if the crew are likewise performing to their best.

During the mid/late 1990s I was a regular visitor to the reading room at the NRM and, at lunchtime, I would sit and eat my sandwiches beside the exhibit of No.35029 Ellerman lines, the sectioned Bulleid, Merchant Navy Class, Pacific, just yards away from Mallard. No.35029 sits on rollers which slowly move the wheels so you can see the valve and piston motions. Alongside the engine display boards told the viewer what the bits were but, nowhere did it explain the role of the crew in making it all happen – a glaring omission and not the only one.

The most glaring omission was that there was not one word about Joe Duddington and Tommy Bray on, in, or around the Mallard display, at the time, circa 1995 – 7, which was more than 20 years after the NRM opened. When I raised the issue I was told the reason was ‘insufficient funds’ – what an insult. Over a period of 20 or more years,  they expected me to believe, they didn’t have the money for a few boards and a pot of paint to celebrate the two most important men in the creation of the 126mph record – not only an insult to Duddington and Bray but to anyone with an ounce of nous.

To see how things changed follow this link. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2002/may/01/arts.artsnews

The photo shows visiting A4, No.60019 Bittern, at New Bridge crossing, approaching Pickering, on the NYMR.

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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Out in the cold

103blogLike many of you, no doubt, I watched ITVs ‘Flying Scotsman’, with Robson Green, last night. Imagine my surprise, when I woke up this morning, to hear that “103” was hors de combat and back in the workshop, in Bury, for ‘some remedial work’. My pal thinks the engine is ‘jinxed’ – he might have a point. I was beginning to think it was me. I went to photograph her at Bury, on a freezing cold day, she was ‘photographically’, the wrong way round and coupled to a diesel, because of ‘brake issues’. Went to North Yorkshire Moors to try again and, another failure. This time,  after reaching Moorgates, on the first run, the brake problems re-appeared.

Given the humongous sums of money that have disappeared into Flying Scotsman and the amount of loving care and attention which has been lavished upon her, the constant niggling problems do make you wonder if she’ll ever be right.

On a different note, it was very pleasing to see, in the TV programme, the number of ‘younger’ people who had been involved in carrying out the work on Flying Scotsman, and the pleasure and pride in what they had achieved. If steam operations are to have a future, it is these lads and lasses who will be be a part of it.  Last, but certainly not least, let’s hope the ‘issues’ are quickly resolved and N0.60103 Flying Scotsman gets back to doing what she was built for – hauling trains.

In the photograph, No.60103 Flying Scotsman is departing Rawtenstall, under a ‘yellow flag’, just visible in front of the smoke deflector.

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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2001 – not a space odyssey

2001conRailway Magazine, January 1936, and CJ Allen’s Locomotive Practice & Performance, with additions by OS Nock, is all about the P2s and, in particular, over the Edinburgh to Aberdeen route.  Train loadings in the detailed running logs were in the 475 to 500 ton range, over a very difficult stretch of railway – the very loads and railway these engines were designed for.  The ‘performances’ ranged from ‘a little disappointing’ to ‘very fine’ and seem to have been determined as much by the driver’s intentions as engine capabilities.

The P2s were all pretty ‘experimental’ locomotives being built with different types of valve gear, boiler, and firebox arrangements, even the shapes changed, some were built with Gresley’s ‘classic’ Bugatti style streamling, others, like No.2001 Cock O’ the North, began life with the V front design, as pictured, and then became streamlined.  In 1943 / 44 Gresley’s successor Edward Thompson rebuilt them all as A2 class 4-6-2s, a choice which was not without some rancour and division, but I am not going to add to it.

On the subject of rancour and division; one of the original P2s was named after one of the most unpleasant members of the Scottish ‘nobility’ ‘Wolf of Badenoch’, a.k.a Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan. Wolf of Badenoch, it seems, was a bit of a ladies man and not very fond of stroppy churchmen. His run in with Bishop Burr, Bishop of Elgin, ended with Badenoch burning down Elgin cathedral, a church, and monastic ‘hospital’. In today’s more enlightened times, a new P2 is under construction, by the same  dedicated group of enthusiasts, who built No.60163 Tornado – we can only wish them well.

Some of you might be interested to know that my book, Railway Tales, about my own footplate work during the last years of BR steam, is now available as an ebook here’s the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Railway-Tales-C-D-Wilson-ebook/dp/B07H38XV1V/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1536155603&sr=1-2&keywords=railway+tales+ebook

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of railway topics.  They are all still available to read in the ‘Archive’ section. I am writing this to let you all know that when the existing webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

 

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Things to Come

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I suspect that most of you are aware that No.60103 Flying Scotsman is about to hit the rails again, with an appearance, in black undercoat, at the East Lancashire Railway; which is becoming something of a proving ground for Ian Riley’s engineering firm, who have completed the overhaul and restoration of No.60103 Flying Scotsman.  Some of you may already know I inherited a whole box full of black and white photographs, and this is one of them. Others can be seen by clicking on the Pre-1948 Blk/Wht photos page button, above this article. On the back of the ‘postcard type’ print there is a hand written comment, “LNER A3 No.2597 Gainsborough, up Express near Durham,  8/1932”. I have added the copyright to the front, the photographer wasn’t named.

On an entirely different note; it is little short of amazing that, later this year we will, once again, see an A3 with an “up express near Durham” 84 years after this picture was taken and 48 years since steam ceased to be the driving force on our National railway network. Some of the A3s finished their days working in the unfamiliar territory of the former Midland railway line between Leeds, and Carlisle,  a chunk of which is the “legendary” S&C, and No.60103 is going to be making a run over this route too, a real ‘turn back the clock’ event, though not quite as far as 1932!

One of my own earliest memories, circa 1954/5, of the A3s, is seeing No.60077 The White Knight dragging an enormous train, filled with soldiers, along the Leeds to Harrogate line, past Burley Park. We could hear her coming, and going, long before she appeared in sight and long after she’d passed us. The A3s were quite common on this route and Nos. 60081 Shotover, 60074 Harvester, and 60084 Trigo were all regulars, as I recall.

I will be adding more photographs to the Pre-1948 page over the coming weeks, if you want to check back.

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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A four Art Deco

There’s some comment about ‘history repeating itself’ and there are certainly parallels to be drawn between 1930s Britain and the current ‘austerity’ programme. Glamour and glitz in the 1930s was to travel by train, in rolling stock with Art Deco interiors to match their streamlined exteriors; trains like the Coronation, or The Silver Jubilee which ran between London and Newcastle, in 1935.

The first of the A4s ‘Silver Link’, painted in Silvery / grey livery, hauling matching streamlined silver/ grey painted stock, reached 112mph on the inaugural Silver Jubilee run, made on the 29th September 1935; regular services commenced the following day. No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, the engine in the photograph, also attained 112mph – post-war, and a small laurel leaf plaque affixed to the casing attests to this. Like the Silver Jubilee, the Coronation was similarly streamlined, finished in 2-tone blue, rather than silver, it ran between Kings Cross and Edinburgh. Departing Kings Cross at 4pm and arriving in Edinburgh at 10pm. During the summer timetable a beaver tailed observation car was added to the formation, which was usually made up of two four coach articulated units.

Passengers on these trains paid a premium above the standard fare and the London to Newcastle journey, on the Silver Jubilee, with an intermediate stop in Darlington took just 4 hours to cover the 268.3miles, about 67mph average. The Coronation took just six hours for the journey from Edinburgh to London, this was in 1937. Sadly the Second World War saw this service discontinued and post war the stock entered general service – ‘austerity’ post war style didn’t run to Art Deco rolling stock, hauled by Art Deco styled locomotives, hurtling along the ECML at 100+ mph.

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If you enjoy my photos and writing - I'm sure you'd enjoy my ebook 'Gricing' the sales of which help to keep this blog running. The links below will take you to it. You can read a sample for free and you don't need a Kindle - there's a free app so you can read it, and view the photos at screen size, on you PC.
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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Here’s loching at you kid!

61994lochluichartedit1

On reflection, my punning choice of title probably only makes sense to anyone familiar with the old black and white movies of Humphrey Bogart, and ‘Casablanca’ in particular. Living, as we do, in a world which often seems ‘topsy turvy’ and reality little more than smoke and mirrors – here’s an image which turns smoking reality on its head, as it were. A train load of passengers, enjoying an Alice in Wonderland journey, watching themselves through a looking glass loch, they wend along Highland glens,  bark at steep gradients, climb over wild moors where the Red deer roam, as they ride the former Highland Railway  to the Kyle of Lochalsh.

This particular Loch is Lochluichart, not one of the better known lochs but, it does have its very own railway station and, as you can see, on this morning it was absolutely calm, the air cool and slightly damp, creating the wonderful trailing exhaust hanging in the quiet stillness, of an early, Spring, morning. The locomotive is Gresley’s K4 2-6-0, No.61994 The Great Marquess, an engine specifically built to work in the Highlands, on the Glasgow – Mallaig services. The train is the ‘Great Britain’ rail tour excursion from Inverness to the Kyle of Lochalsh, a tiny out post on Scotland’s west coast.

The line also passes through the little village of  Strome Ferry, the road sign for which reads Strome Ferry ( No Ferry). According to Wikipedia, a band of local Shinty players called their team, Strome Ferry ( No Ferry), about as surreal as capitalism and its portrayal in Alice in Wonderland!!

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with friends, rail fans, or railway groups.
http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/
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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Blue Streak

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The recent crop of photographs from this year’s East Lancashire Railway’s Winter Gala, which I was unable to attend, prompted me to look back through some of my own photos from previous ELR Galas and I came across this one, which I hope you will enjoy. The scan, from one of my  slides, dates back to 1998 when No.60007 Sir Nigel Gresley the ‘Blue Streak’ was starring in the East Lancashire Railway’s Winter Gala. ‘Blue Streak’, as it just so happened, was the name of the first drop-handlebar push-bike I owned, it was my Christmas present, in 1961, ‘racers’ we called them then. That Blue Streak was my passport to a wider railway circle and cycle rides to Normanton, Wakefield, Starbeck, and York, from my home in Leeds, were now on the agenda. Parts of the A64, between Leeds and York, even had a dedicated cycle path, though other bits of the A64 didn’t and you were, to some extent, risking life and limb cycling along such a main route.

‘Blue Streak’ was also the name given to the  rockets being designed for use in Britain’s nuclear missile development programme – by 1960 it was apparent that it was flop. To save embarrassment to Harold ‘Super Mac’ Macmillan’s Tory government,  plans were hatched to use the rockets as part of  a space mission. This being Britain, it turned out we couldn’t afford it, so a new plan, to cooperate with Europe, was devised and Blue Streak would now be  a part of a European Space Mission. However, after extensive testing at Woomera, in Australia, and Kourou in French Guiana, it proved to be rather unreliable and the project which, on paper, began in 1955, was over by 1972 – a huge and embarrassing waste of money all round.

Fortunately, Sir Nigel Gresley’s ‘Blue Streaks’ were a much more reliable piece of machinery  –  infinitely better looking and more desirable than inter-continental ballistic missiles.

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

http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/

You might also enjoy my ebook 'Gricing'

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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Faster miles an hour

60007dgbay

Shunting, that’s where we were yesterday, it’s where most footplatemen began the process of becoming ‘footplatemen’. It’s a long way from shunting, to the holy grail of the crack express, many never made it. I’m sure you know those trains, they’re the ones – the schoolboy story ones, with the famous names; the ACE, the Talisman, the Caledonian, the Bristolian and the Cheltenham Flyer, the Bournemouth Belle and the Yorkshire Pullman – the, ‘honour and glory jobs’, as some crews called them.

However, for some, the journey from shunting to the mainline express was ‘express’, myself included. When I moved, as a ‘passed cleaner’, from Farnley Junction, where promotion through the links was via dead men’s boots, to be made ‘fireman’ at Stewarts Lane 73A, which was the depot supplying the motive power for the ‘Golden Arrow’,  I went into No.1 link, I’d been on the railway for a whole year!!

In swinging 60s London, jobs were plenty and there were few who wanted to be going to work, at any hour on the clock, getting filthy dirty, sweating like a pig in a Lard factory, on a railway which seemed to be going nowhere but oblivion. This was the era of Christine Keeler, ‘we’d never had it so good’ and pigeon trains – the Beatles played Hammersmith, Mods and Rockers fought in Clacton. The A4s, like No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, were still working over the routes from Edinburgh and Glagow to Aberdeen – seeing service on the ‘Saint Mungo’ from Glasgow as well as being spotted on the Aberdeen – Ferry Hill fish. Fish trains, like those for pigeons, are little more than a whiff on the breeze today.

In the photograph, No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, is fast approaching the station at Dalgety Bay, a couple of miles north of the Forth Bridge, with the morning run, of one of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society’s ‘Fife Circle’ rail tours.  These popular tours, which run Spring and Autumn, have seen several locomotive types on duty, as well as the A4s, there have been, amongst others, Black 5s 44871,45407, 45231, the K4 61994 The Great Marquess, and last year, No.46233 Duchess of Sutherland.

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Tanfield & Joem in Black & White

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Sometimes I like to see what a photo looks like if it is turned to monochrome – every now and then it seems to work, as with this photo of 69023. 69023 , despite its rather dated appearance, was actually built after nationalisation, 1949 to be precise. The original design dates back to  1898, in the days of the North Eastern Railway and was designed Wilson Worsdell. Worsdell’s successor, Sir Vincent Raven had a further batch built in 1914  and Sir Nigel Gresley add to their numbers in 1925.

The photograph was taken at East Tanfield and the train is heading towards Causey Arch station. Causey arch is the oldest known arched railway bridge, dating back to 1725, though it is no longer used for rail traffic it is maintained as a site of industrial heritage, which it undoubtedly is.

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