Tag Archives: Stanier

56 years ago today

56 years ago today I began work with BR, at a shed, where I cleaned and fired engines just like the one in this photo. Unfortunately none of them survived ‘the great purge’. However, one that did survive was a fairly frequent visitor, when she was based at Stockport, No.45596 Bahamas; one of a handful of the Jubilee Class which were fitted with a double chimney.

Like the engine this photograph, No. 45690 Leander, No.45596 Bahamas is soon to be back in action, after lengthy overhaul. Just as some of my very first associations were with the Jubilees so were some of my last. There were very few passenger turns at Wakefield, where I ended my BR service, apart from a few jobs working the Bradford portions of London – Leeds services from Wakefield Westgate to Bradford Exchange, the only others, at the time, were ‘excursions’ for Rugby / Football matches and trips to the seaside.

My very last trip on a Jubilee was with a trip to Blackpool and back with a train load of miners, the details of which were the subject of an earlier post. Sadly, none of the engines I worked on at Farnley and at Wakefield survived, however, a goodly number of those I worked on at Nine Elms did; and a week on Friday I hope to see one of them, No.35018 British India Line, having a run over the S&C. I haven’t seen her in the flesh since she was withdrawn, over 50 years ago – quite looking forward to Friday 20th. My BR days migh have ended in 1968 but my attachment to those dim and distant days did not.

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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Let the trials begin

On the 22nd of April 1948 Stanier Pacific, No.46236 City of Bradford, left Euston, hauling the Royal Scot to Carlisle. This was the first run in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials; her return journey the following day was the second. Four days later, on the 27th of April, Bulleid Pacific No.35019 French Line CGT made her test appearance, heading for Plymouth with the GWR dynamometer car in the train. Like No. 46236 City of Bradford, she too made the return trip the following day.

On the 29th & 30th of April it was the turn of the ECML to act as host; and  Rebuilt Scot, No.46162 Queen’s Westminster Rifleman did her turn on a Kings Cross – Leeds working,  hauling the NER dynamometer car in both directions.

The earliest run on the former Southern Railway didn’t take place until the beginning of June, when No.35018 British India Line left Waterloo, heading for Exeter, hauling the Atlantic Coast Express, and with the GWR dynamometer car coupled behind the tender. Repeating the pattern set earlier, she worked the ‘up’ train the following day. The first GWR engine to enter the trial was King Class No.6018 King Henry VI, on 20th May, with a Kings Cross Leeds run, and again, making the return working the day after.

The first A4 to take part in the trials was No.60034 Lord Faringdon, hauling the Royal Scot and the LMS dynamometer car from Euston to Carlisle on May 27th. Two weeks earlier Bulleid Pacific No.35017 Belgian Marine did her turn on the Royal Scot, working north on the 13th, returning south the following day. The trials continued throughout May and on into June, in the ‘Express Locomotive’ category, with the final run being made, appropriately, after having opened the contest, by No.46236 City of Bradford, taking the ACE out of Exeter and heading to Waterloo.

Trials of the mixed traffic engines,  B1 4-6-0s,  Black 5 4-6-0s,  GWR Modified Halls and  SR West Country 4-6-2s, began on June 1st with Black 5 No.45253, on home territory, working a St. Pancras – Manchester service, returning to St. Pancras 3 days later.

Next up was WC Pacific No.34006 Bude working from London Marylebone to Manchester and back, over the GCR main line, on the 8th & 9th. CJ Allen notes that only this engine, of those  in this trial, on the test train over the GCR  route, kept to time, The fireman on No.34006 Bude was Bert Hooker, and I met and fired for him during my time at Nine Elms in the 60s, when he was a driver there.

One of the Modified Halls was the preserved, No.6990 Witherslack Hall, pictured below departing from Loughborough, and she had her turn on the Marylebone – Manchester run on on the 24th and 25th of June with the NER dynamometer car for company. The first B1 to enter the action was No.61251 Oliver Bury working over the Midland from St. Pancras to Manchester and back on 15th and 18th of June. The third member of the Southern trio was in this group, WC No.34005 Barnstaple, and she made her runs on the 22nd and 23rd of June, over the St.Pancras – Manchester route.

On the 7th of July B1 No.61251 made an ‘up’ run on the South Devon Main Line between Plymouth and Bristol a run duplicated by 45253 on the 14th and 34006 Bude on the 21st. From South Devon banks, we move next to the Highland Main Line between Perth and Inverness starting with WC No.34004 Yeovil working north on 13th July and back on the 14th. Also on the 14th Black 5, No.44799, was ‘trialled’ on the 11.55 Ex-Perth, in the ‘down’ direction only. B1 No.61292 made her runs from Perth to Inverness and back on the 20th / 21st. The runs on the 21st July brought to a close the mixed traffic locomotive trials, next up were the freight engines.

The freight types on trial were WD 2-10-0 and 2-8-0, Stanier 8F, LNER Classes 01 and 07 and GWR 2884 class. The four chosen routes were Bristol – Eastleigh, Southern, Ferme Park – New England, LNER, Brent – Toton, LMS, and Acton – Severn Tunnel Junction, GWR. Amazingly, one of the engines actually used in the freight trials, 2884 Class No. 3803, survived and is pictured below on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.

The other engines in the freight trial O1 No. 63773, 8F No.48189, LNER O7 No.63169, WD 2-10-0 No.73774 (90750) and 2-8-0 No.77000 (90101) did not survive. The first runs were made by the 8F No.48189 on a familiar route, Brent – Toton. The last trials, on the 8th and 10th of September, were undertaken by the LNER O7 and again on the Brent – Toton run.

The trials were conducted without sufficient rigour to be really described as ‘scientific’, they were, perhaps, more of PR stunt and a means to help mend the bruised egos, created by  Nationalisation and the resultant reshaping of railway management and engineering workshops. A means, maybe, of smoothing relations between rivals, regions, and egos, the tests were also meant to help create new ‘standard’ designs using best practice.

With the benefit of hindsight it is clear that creating yet more designs, with the consquent need for depots to stock yet more spares etc. was probably not the right thing to do. Building more  locos, to existing designs, would have prevented some of the inevitable waste. Having a more ordered, carefully thought out and planned transition from steam, to diesel and electric traction, would also have paid dividends.

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

The photographs, in sequence, are No.46229 Duchess of Hamilton on the East Lancs Railway, No.35005 Canadian Pacific on the GCR, No.46115 Scots Guardsman at Ais Gill, on the S&C route, No.6023 King Edward II on the GCR, No.60007 Sir Nigel Gresley on the East Lancs Railway, Nos.45231 & 45407 at Usan near Montrose, No.34092 City of Wells on the East Lancs Railway, No.6990 Witherslack Hall on the GCR, No.61264 on the NYMR, No.3803 on the GWSR, No.90711, (90733) on the K&WVR, No.48151 at Ais Gill on the S&C, and Nos. 73129 & 71000 Duke of Gloucester on the East Lancs Railway.

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Crossing the Esk & herding sheep!

Under clear blue skies and with a stiff on shore breeze, Jubilee  No.45690 Leander, is seen here, hauling the Cumbrian Coast Express, crossing Eskmeals viaduct, over the meandering estuary of the river Esk, a few miles south of Ravenglass, the home of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. 11 on and ‘going like a train’ we could see and hear her almost all the way from Ravenglass; reportedly 2 late off the Sellafield water stop, she was certainly making every effort to regain it.

It would have been rude to come all the way out here and not make a brief visit to the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. And so, before coming down here to Eskmeals, I went for a look at Irton Road station, the only original station on the line, still in use. I hadn’t really planned the visit but, within a few minutes of my arrival I heard the chime whistle of, Northern Rock, and turned to see her approaching Irton Road from the Dalegarth end of the line. However, the Herdwick sheep, which had been grazing contentedly, along the trackside, was even more surprised than I was by Northern Rock’s arrival and set off at a trot, down the line, ahead of the train.

The sheep didn’t appear too have been too distressed by Northern Rock’s impromptu display of sheep herding as, after the train departed, it strolled nonchalently across in front of the car pausing, briefly, to give a baleful stare in our direction, before wandering away down the lane and away from the station.

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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Absent friends and the K&WVR galas

With the K&WVR gala now only days away I was looking back through some earlier events, this is from a bleak start to the 2011 gala, Jinty No.47279 passing the entrance to Haworth shed.

Earlier still is this scan of one of my slides, showing the LNWR ‘coal tank’, No.1054, with the Metropolitan coaches, passing what was I believe, British Mohair Spinners, Ingrow Mill. The chimny is gone and the mill is now flats, no idea what happened to the Moes.

From Autumn 2011 and the visiting guest is Ex-GWR 2-8-0 No.2807 with the newly outshopped L&Y ‘Club Car’,  which makes such a contrast with the rest of the stock, is seen here, in ‘top field’, as she heads to Oxenhope.

In 2009, at the Autumn gala, EX-L&YR 0-6-0 No.957 plods her way into the loop at Damems with the goods train. No.957 is being banked by Ex-LMS 2-6-2T No.41241 which, it is anticipated, will be fresh from overhaul and in her K&WVR colours, later this year, during the 50th anniversary events.

Unusually, for a guest loco, No.73129, visiting from the Midland Railway Centre, was facing south; she is seen here, about to depart from Oakworth, with a train for Keighley, during the 2010 gala.

And finally a reminder of absent friends the ‘weathered’ 90711 which, probably, ended up as a million packets of razor blades, is long gone. No.90711 was one of the very last engines of her class to work over K&WVR metals and she is, of course,  No.90733 in dsguise. No.90733 was, like this years ‘special’ guest, No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, to have bowed out at this gala – boiler issues have sadly meant she’s retired early for her 10 year overhaul – let’s hope it isn’t too long before we see them both again.

With Dundee in the background, No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, with one of the GB rail tours is dwarfed by the sheer scale of the Tay Bridge. It may be some time before we see such sights again and I leave you with this shot of, No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, piloting an off-colour, No.61994 Great Marquess, at the summit of Druimauchdar.

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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A day at the sea side

In my last post, ‘Walking into the tender’, I began to tell the tale of working a ‘short rest’ excursion to Blackpool. We’d taken a train load of miners, their wives, and kids from collieries around Wakefield to the seaside and taken our engine down to Blackpool loco; now it was time to book off and take rest. What we actually did was take off our overalls, get washed, and make our way into town to enjoy a plate of whelks, washed down with a foaming ale – on second thoughts it was beer and fish ‘n’ chips.

I don’t recall the exact departure time of the return working but, if memory serves it was around the 7 /7.30pm mark. We needed the pilotman again for the run down to Preston and, as things turned out, it was a good job we did.  Not unsurprisingly, we were held by signals as we approached Preston and, unbelievably, some of the more well lubricated miners began opening the carriage doors and relieving themselves. This was not good, it became infinitely worse when several of them clambered / fell out of the train. The one saving grace was that they hadn’t climbed down into the 4′.

However, we still had to notify the bobby and tell him to block the down until we were sure the line was clear and that all the miners were back on the train. What a pantomime it was getting the idiots who had jumped down, back into the train. Myself, the guard, and a couple of the more sober stewards pulled, pushed, and heaved them back on board. The whole incident took the best part of half an hour to resolve, getting the men back on the train, checking the doors, and the trackside to make sure we hadn’t left some, worse for the wear, miner laid on the rails.

I don’t recall any footplate drama during the return trip but, we’d had enough of the drama already. What I do remember is that we had to stable the stock before heading light to loco – a short rest it might have been but, I was looking forward to a longer one before my next shift.

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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Walking into the tender

The fireman has the tender door open, to get at the coal, as No.45699 Galatea, photographed here at Birkett Common, continues the long slog up to Aisgill summit. Firing is hard enough work as it is and when you’re having to ‘walk’ into the tender, not only does it become harder work you are also firing with more dust and dross from the back of the tender, so just as the work gets harder the quality of the fuel goes down – Sodd’s Law?

I did work on the Jubilees but, not for very long, or very far, until just  before steam’s demise. In 1967 I was at Wakefield (Belle Vue) 56A and about 99% of the work I was doing was with Dub Dees on coal and goods trains; and then, out of the blue almost, a ‘short rest’ job to Blackpool with a ‘miner’s welfare’ outing to the seaside. Wakefield, at the time, had a couple of Ex-Holbeck Jubes, No.45694 Bellerophon and No.45739 Ulster, mostly used on parcels turns, and for just such eventualities as the local miners annual dip in the briny.  If my memory serves we had No.45694 Bellerophon.

We were slightly late getting away due to the time taken loading, not just the passengers, but substantial quantites of alcohol, crates of which were being doled out by the stewards, from an overladen porters trolley. Mostly beer with a few bottles of Sherry, ‘for the ladies’, and some crisps and pop for the nippers. Once under way I don’t recall any major hold ups or issues. I knew the road as far Burnley because that was one of our regular workings Healy Mill – Rose Grove, beyond there I was reliant on the driver, and after Preston, on the pilotman to let me know when to begin running the fire down for our arrival on the shed.

The return trip however, was a very different affair.  And of that, more later.

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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A testing climb

56 years ago my day job was cleaning engines just like this one, they weren’t red though – BR green. We had four of them shededd at Farnley Jct. and they were our principal cleaning duty, especially if they were on the Liverpool Lime Street jobs. I never had enough seniority to be trusted with firing on one of these turns – Top Link men only! This was one of the main reasons I left Farnley Jct., not just to be promoted from passed cleaner to fireman but, to get some main line passenger work before the end of steam as the motive power for the national network.

No.45699 Galatea was, despite the fairly stiff cross/head wind, going well and was probably a minute or even two early. Assuming she had left Appleby, after the water stop, on time, a gain of two minutes at Aisgill was a good effort given the prevailing conditions. I don’t know if it still goes on but, a few years back there was a bit of an ‘unofficial’ contest for the fastest climb from the Appleby water stop to Aisgill summit. If memory serves, the Duke, a Duchess, and a Merchant Navy all held the Blue Riband at one time or another.

In the early 1950s when the Britannias were new, the section of the S&C between Crosby Garrett and Aisgill was used for their steaming trials, a test which reqired the services of two fireman. According to C.J.Allen’s account, the Britannia No.70005 John Milton, on the test, was consuming coal at the rate of 2.5 tons an hour and using 3,615 gallons of water in the same period. Phew!

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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Last Year’s Landscape

Our railways ran, and in some instances still do, over some of the most scenic and unspoiled bits of the country. Equally true is that they ran through some of the most despoiled and industrialised areas of the country too – they helped in creating much of it. This scene of bucolic bliss is Kildale on the Whitby – Middlesborough via Battersby Junction line.

Beamish Pit and Puffing Billy, mining coal and transporting it from the pits the very raison d’ etre of railways, of industrialisation, of ‘the modern world’ where coal is no longer king – but hey, ‘that’s progress folks’. The engine’s a replica, the site a museum, facsimilies, sanitised renditions of a past, a past without health care, sick pay, holidays, maternity leave, electricity, anesthetic, old age pensions: And photography!

Another route out of Whitby, the one which used to run to York, via Malton, now the heritage North Yorkshire Moors Railway, runs past the tiny hamlet of Esk Valley, the terrace of cottages and a scattering of farm houses in the lower part of the picture. This goods train hauled by Black 5 No.44806 and banked by BR Standard Class 4MTT No.80136 is at the start of the long and twisting climb to Goathland, high on the moors.

From the high moors to the high Pennines, at Lunds viaduct on the Settle  – Carlisle line. The S&C has its own rich folk lore which runs from engines spinning on turntables, (Garsdale), through murder most foul, to Jam Butty making and eating contests in the Temperance Hotel in Kirkby Stephen. This latter being inaugurated by the bands of roaming enthusiasts who flocked to the area, during the era when the S&C was under imminent threat of closure. (Thanks to Paul Screeton and his ‘Folklore of the Settle -Carlisle’ for the details about the Jam Butty contest.)

From the ‘romantic’ S&C to real ‘Jam Butty Land’, the prosaic Balm Road branch of the Middleton Railway, in Leeds. A wet day, a deserted street, on an industrial estate and the building in the back ground carries a sign reading Imageco – the future’s bleak, the future’s 50 shades of grey. The engine making all the smoke is ‘Slough Estates No.3’ and she spent her working life on an industrial estate in Slough – enough to create despondency in any soul.

From the slough of despond to God’s green acres and the Nation’s ‘favourite’ engine. In the background is one of Yorkshire’s best known landmarks, Pen-y-Ghent, in the foreground trackside buildings gently decay.  The location is about half a mile south of Ribblehead viaduct and No.60103 Flying Scotsman had just ‘shut-off’ for the slack – bleak Blea moor and wild Cumbrian fells beckon.

Lastly we have Ex-LMS 4-6-0 Jubilee class No.45690 Leander with the classic south bound location, at the summit of Aisgill, with the ‘up’ Waverley. One day I’ll do this shot and the sun will be shining – maybe this year!

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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‘whatsa name’

Someone, on social media, asked the question ‘what famous name / hero would you like to see on an engine?’. There were all the ‘usual suspects’ and the odd surprise, as you might imagine. There is, however, a much more interesting question – why do we name locomotives?  When each engine was a one off, like Wylam Dilly, Salamanca, or Sans Pareil, hand built right down to making the nuts and bolts, a work of art(isan), it isn’t difficult to see a name being given. It becomes much less obvious when it’s a mass produced object, one of a hundred or more, identical, and interchangeable.

Within preservation naming engines, which were previously un-named, is something of a hot topic. Naming locomotives or units on the privatised railways is more a matter of money, and possibly decorum. Though having said that, one of the NBR,  ‘Scott Class’ 4-4-0s was called Wandering Willie. Personally I quite like the idea of a Notorious Class; with names like Rasputin, Jack the Ripper, Bloefeld,  Dr. Moriarty, Cruella De Ville, Davros, or even Caligula. None of which would be as odd as some of the names which have been bestowed; a GWR Bulldog was ‘One and All’, an LNWR 6′ Precursor was named ‘Glowworm’ others oddities include, ‘Autocrat’, ‘The Auditor’  and ‘Problem’.

The photograph shows Black 5 No.45231, now named ‘Sherwood Forester’, approaching Dalgety Bay station with one of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society ‘ Fife Circle’ rail tours.

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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Turning back the clock

When the future’s uncertain, there’s always the past. Mourning for what has gone, disparaging its replacement. It was better then, it’s dreadful now. Nowt wrong wi canals, why would thi want to be rushin around at 30 miles an hour, I don’t know how they manage to breathe at that speed – it’s all a matter of perspective.

2017 saw numerous galas and events, at quite a few of the major heritage lines, commemorating the end of Southern steam, in 1967. 2017 was also 70 years since the Big Four, LNER / LMS / SR / GWR, were Nationalised but, I don’t recall any major gala commemorating their demise. And to date, I haven’t spotted any events to mark the creation of British Railways, in theory at least, a more important event than the end of Southern steam, in so far as it was an Act of Parliament, rather than simply an operational objective in the modernisation of the railway network.  What we remember and what is commemorated or celebrated, from the past, are two very different things.

There’s even a certain degree of irony here too because, despite the rhetoric, the re-privatisation of the railways, which was sold on ‘nostalgic images and iconography’ drawn from the days of the Big Four, has been a far cry from what was promised in the sell off prospectus. And there is now, in 2018, a high level of public support for the re-Nationalisation of the railway network and the slim, but growing, possibility it might happen.

Cycling Lion anyone?

The photo is of 8F No.48624, with a train of mineral empties, passing Quorn & Woodhouse signal box, on the Great Central Railway.

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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