Tag Archives: SVR

Moors & Valley Tornado

My 1960/61 Locoshed Book has one of these engines, No.60133 Pommern, on the front cover. In one of those weird little twists of synchronicity, the photo shows her on the coal stage at Copley Hill, a very tough shed to bunk, it was also her home depot. In that 1960/61 edition, Copley Hill has 10 A1s on the allocation, they are Nos. 60117 /8/20/23/30/31/33/34/41 and 60148. In the 50s and early 60s they were the workhorses of the Leeds – London services from Central Station, in Leeds.

The Reverend Eric Treacy was rather fond of photographing the A1s as they departed from Central station and, in my view, some of his best photos of them were taken there. Back then these engines were our ‘local nags’, we used to hope that we’d get one of the Kings Cross or Gateshead ones. The Doncaster based ones were pretty regular visitors, I particularly remember Nos. 60119 and 22  – what would we give now to see 10 or more of them on a regular basis, never mind 10 even 5 would be nirvana, well close anyway. I travelled behind all of the Copley Hill allocation, and probably a few of the others too, at one time or another, on outings to spend the day spotting at Doncaster, or when we went to Lowestoft for our holidays.

Right at this moment No.60163 Tornado is working on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, where she will be in service until Sunday. Then, next week, she heads off, like me, to the Severn Valley to make a guest appearance at the Severn Valley Railway Spring gala, alongside No.8572 and NYMR based No.1264 – in her shiny new LNER guise.

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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2017 A personal review

A year of firsts and farewells, though for me 2017 was the year of the ‘End of Southern Steam’; an event celebrated, if that’s the right word, at quite a few heritage lines; and I very much enjoyed seeing Nos. 34081 92 Squadron and 34053 Sir Keith Park, at the Great Central Railway’s offering.  There was even a brief glimpse of No.73156 running as No.73084 Tintagel, like Nos. 34081 and 34053, another engine I’d worked on back in the 60s.

No.73156 / 73084 was one of the firsts too, as she was making her debut appearance after being rescued from Dai Woodhams yard in Barry and restored to operational condition at Loughborough. Sadly, teething problems with the brakes curtailed her official workings, to just one passenger turn on the first day of the gala.

Earlier, in February, there was a bold experiment on the Settle & Carlisle line with No.60163 Tornado hauling regular service trains, for a 3 day spell, between Skipton and Appleby. There were two runs each day and I managed to photograph the first return working, at Selside, on Valentine’s Day. No.60163 also set a first, being given a trial run at 100mph on the ECML, a thrill for all concerned, I’m sure. The data being gathered was intended to support the case for raising the speed limit for steam, on the main line, from 75mph to 90mph.

Sticking with the main line theme, 2017 saw the S&C officially re-opened, after major repairs, with a run behind No.60103 Flying Scotsman, to Carlisle and the S&C also saw main line stalwart, No.46115 Scots Guardsman, bow out when her boiler ticket expired in August – she is pictured at the top of the article, at Kirkby Stephen station , on her last run over the S&C.

No.60103 Flying Scotsman, crossing Lunds viaduct, on the S&C.

Being a Leeds lad I’m rather fond of the Scots which, for many years, were the principal express engines on the former LMS / MR /LNWR routes in and out of the City. In line to replace her, out on the main line, is another engine steaming for the first time since being saved from the scrap yard, No.35018 British India Line, and again one of the engines I have fired on passenger services, out of Waterloo, in the 60s.

Continuing the Southern theme, I never worked on the Schools, though there were several in store at 70A when I started there. 2017 saw Schools Class, No.926 Repton, return to traffic on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, following her ten year overhaul. She is pictured above, slogging up the last half mile of the steep climb from Grosmont to Goathland during the NYMR gala.

On a personal note, I made my first ever visit to the narrow gauge system at Threlkeld Quarry, a little gem in the midst of some wonderful scenery. The locomotive in the photograph is, Sir Tom, a Bagnall 0-4-0ST of 1926 vintage. Sir Tom was employed at BICC in Kent until 1968 and moved to Threlkeld in 2001. Sir Tom was overhauled and rebuilt at Threlkeld and re-entered traffic in 2010.

As the year drew to a close it was farewell to Black 5 No.44806 at the NYMR and No.7812 Erlestoke Manor at the Severn Valley. No.61994 The Great Marquess, and shortly No.60009 Union of South Africa, are to become museum exhibits, no longer gracing the main lines and flying a flag for the LNER, which is sad, especially as the locomotives, of constituents of the LNER, are few in number when compared with the other members of the Big Four.

Not to end on sour note No.7812 Erlestoke Manor, pictured above approaching Bewdley tunnel with a Bridgnorth – Kidderminster service, is to have a fast track overhaul and is expected back by 2020. Good progress is being made with the new build No.82045, a project of which I’m a keen supporter. The 82xxxs were great fun to work on and the ideal engine for a heritage railway operation. I’m very much looking forward to seeing and photographing the finished item.

All of you, I’m sure, have your own highlights from 2017 and I could have added a few more of my own, seeing the Steam Elephant in operation at Beamish was a treat, as was having the Tanfield Railway just 15 minutes drive away, and I leave you with one of my favourite shots from Tanfield in 2017.

Keighley Gasworks No.2, with Bobgins cabin in the background, is heading for Andrews House with a train from East Tanfield.

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 brief review of my 2017 in words and pictures.

A year of firsts and farewells, though for me 2017 was the year of the ‘End of Southern Steam’; an event celebrated, if that’s the right word, at quite a few heritage lines; and I very much enjoyed seeing Nos. 34081 92 Squadron and 34053 Sir Keith Park, at the Great Central Railway’s offering.  There was even a brief glimpse of No.73156 running as No.73084 Tintagel, like Nos. 34081 and 34053, another engine I’d worked on back in the 60s.

No.73156 / 73084 was one of the firsts too, as she was making her debut appearance after being rescued from Dai Woodhams yard in Barry and restored to operational condition at Loughborough. Sadly, teething problems with the brakes curtailed her official workings, to just one passenger turn on the first day of the gala.

Earlier, in February, there was a bold experiment on the Settle & Carlisle line with No.60163 Tornado hauling regular service trains, for a 3 day spell, between Skipton and Appleby. There were two runs each day and I managed to photograph the first return working, at Selside, on Valentine’s Day. No.60163 also set a first, being given a trial run at 100mph on the ECML, a thrill for all concerned, I’m sure. The data being gathered was intended to support the case for raising the speed limit for steam, on the main line, from 75mph to 90mph.

Sticking with the main line theme, 2017 saw the S&C officially re-opened, after major repairs, with a run behind No.60103 Flying Scotsman, to Carlisle and the S&C also saw main line stalwart, No.46115 Scots Guardsman, bow out when her boiler ticket expired in August – she is pictured at the top of the article, at Kirkby Stephen station , on her last run over the S&C.

No.60103 Flying Scotsman, crossing Lunds viaduct, on the S&C.

Being a Leeds lad I’m rather fond of the Scots which, for many years, were the principal express engines on the former LMS / MR /LNWR routes in and out of the City. In line to replace her, out on the main line, is another engine steaming for the first time since being saved from the scrap yard, No.35018 British India Line, and again one of the engines I have fired on passenger services, out of Waterloo, in the 60s.

Continuing the Southern theme, I never worked on the Schools, though there were several in store at 70A when I started there. 2017 saw Schools Class, No.926 Repton, return to traffic on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, following her ten year overhaul. She is pictured above, slogging up the last half mile of the steep climb from Grosmont to Goathland during the NYMR gala.

On a personal note, I made my first ever visit to the narrow gauge system at Threlkeld Quarry, a little gem in the midst of some wonderful scenery. The locomotive in the photograph is, Sir Tom, a Bagnall 0-4-0ST of 1926 vintage. Sir Tom was employed at BICC in Kent until 1968 and moved to Threlkeld in 2001. Sir Tom was overhauled and rebuilt at Threlkeld and re-entered traffic in 2010.

As the year drew to a close it was farewell to Black 5 No.44806 at the NYMR and No.7812 Erlestoke Manor at the Severn Valley. No.61994 The Great Marquess, and shortly No.60009 Union of South Africa, are to become museum exhibits, no longer gracing the main lines and flying a flag for the LNER, which is sad, especially as the locomotives, of constituents of the LNER, are few in number when compared with the other members of the Big Four.

Not to end on sour note No.7812 Erlestoke Manor, pictured above approaching Bewdley tunnel with a Bridgnorth – Kidderminster service, is to have a fast track overhaul and is expected back by 2020. Good progress is being made with the new build No.82045, a project of which I’m a keen supporter. The 82xxxs were great fun to work on and the ideal engine for a heritage railway operation. I’m very much looking forward to seeing and photographing the finished item.

All of you, I’m sure, have your own highlights from 2017 and I could have added a few more of my own, seeing the Steam Elephant in operation at Beamish was a treat, as was having the Tanfield Railway just 15 minutes drive away, and I leave you with one of my favourite shots from Tanfield in 2017.

Keighley Gasworks No.2, with Bobgins cabin in the background, is heading for Andrews House with a train from East Tanfield.

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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Autumn morning & the cold light of dawn

On a branch line, far, far, away GWR 2-8-0T  No.4270 is hard at work hauling the morning goods. I’ve done these jobs; you got up at daft o’clock, in the pitch black, pot of tea, slice of toast, and then a couple of mile bike ride, in sub zero temperatures, to freshen you up. Invariably you got your own engine ready, you were given an hour to do this. Wrestling with the frozen leather bag, of the water column, whilst standing on the tank top was an art form, on a frosty morning. Get things wrong and your were going off-shed soaking wet.

An hour for prep might seem a long time but there was plenty to do from filling sand boxes to filling and trimming lamps. The steam riser would’ve left a few shovels full of fire under the door,  60 to 80lbs of steam and, more often than not, a boiler so full it was a wonder it wasn’t coming out of the whistle! It doesn’t sound much but, when you’ve got to check the injectors work, and check the gauge glasses, it’s a bit of a nuisance.

You made trips to the stores to draw the lamps, detonators, bucket, and tools, and a couple to the sand store – when you filled the sand boxes, you checked the smokebox door was tight shut. There was, usually, a taper kicking about on the footplate, if not, you made one and lit the lamps, the driver would use it to check for leaks and blows, if needs be. In between doing all this you steadily built up the fire, so that when you rolled off-shed it covered the whole grate and was burning through nicely.

The last and most important task was a trip to the mess room to make a brew, before calling the bobby to get the road.

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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Steam Age Daydreams 2018 Calendar

This years calendar, featuring  engines great and small, including; No.6990 Witherslack Hall – 60 years after she was one of the engines in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials, the fresh from overhaul, Schools Class 4-4-0 No.926 Repton, the tiny ‘Sir Tom’ at Threlkeld Quarry and ‘Ugly’ at Tanfield, to name but a few, is now available via eBay. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/302485587635?ul_noapp=true

One satisfied customer had this to say,  “2018 Calendar arrived this morning  – superb and worth every penny. Thanks for the fast response”

Now less than a dozen left, so don’t miss out – order yours now.

 

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Straight bananas

Fifty five years ago I was at work, cleaning engines, at Farnley Jct., one of five sheds in the city. It wasn’t ‘Top shed’ but, that didn’t detract, one iota, from the quality of the enginemanship possesed by the crews who worked there. Some of the old hand drivers had been there since before the Grouping, and worked through the Great Depression and WWII, these men, and those who were their firemen, were the ones who taught me.

Men with a pride in their work, respect for their engines and decades of experience. They didn’t teach in classrooms or lecture theatres, they taught by example, on the footplate, in the mess room, and in, and by, the institutions they created, the MIC, the Enginemen’s Mutual Assurance Fund, and their Trade Unions.  They knew which rules must be obeyed and those which could be bent a little, in short they were ‘professional’.

Fifty four years ago I was sharing the footplate with a driver who had been a fireman in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials and another who had been at the depot since WWI, and honing my own firing skills and railway knowledge, benefitting from their vast experience of working on one of the busiest parts of the railway network, out of Waterloo to Bournemouth and Salisbury, under every imaginable kind of difficulty, and weather condition.

Fifty two years ago, I had progressed to the point where my own skills as a fireman were being tested and records were being set on the runs on which I was working – records which still stand.

Twenty six years ago, after 3 years as a mature student, at the University of Leeds, I began four years of reseach, much of it in the reading room of the NRM, for my books on the Railway Races of 1895 and the changes in the lives of the footplatement between 1962 and 1996. Research which, eventually, ended up becoming a campaign to have Driver Duddington and Fireman Bray properly recognised, within the musem, and on the Locomotive, which they eventually were but, not before an article in a major national newspaper. You can read it for yourself by following this link: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2002/may/01/arts.artsnews

During this same period I persuaded the owner of 35005 Canadian Pacific, the Great Central Railway, and Steam Railway News, to hold a Red Nose event with 35005, on the GCR. The event took a whole train load of disabled children and their carers for a ride on the railway. Some of the more able bodied kids even ‘cabbed’ the engine. The railway featured on the telly, got some great publicity, the kids had a wonderful day out, and the Red Nose fund was Two-grand better off. Everyone was a winner.

No.35005 Canadian Pacific and some of the kids and their carers before setting off for their Red Nose Day train ride.  Picture Copyright John East.

Forty eight hours ago, for so much as daring to comment about the excessive use of cylinders cocks, I was, pretty much, branded a liar by one commentator and, in a stunning example debating eloquence,  a ‘Bell End’ by another, who, I might add, wasn’t even born when steam ran the national network.

Given the general levels of rudeness, ignorance, and abuse, so much in evidence, I rather think the term Unsocial media would be more appropriate way to describe Facebook, Twitter et.al.

PS ‘We have no straight bananas’ – and the box vans are being hauled past Kinchley Lane by Ivatt 2-6-0 No.46521.

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The Great West North Eastern Railway

Hauling the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s handsome teak set, visiting GWR pair, 0-6-0PT No.7714, and 2-6-2T No.5199, round the curve at Darnholme and emerge into the autumn light. It was nice to see No.7714 working again, the last time I had seen her was at Arley, during the night running, at one of the SVR galas 8 or 9 years ago.

In 1965, in the company of a couple of railway chums, I travelled all over South Wales, mostly by public transport, and being hauled by engines like those photographed here. We made our pilgrimage to Woodhams and stayed in a B&B, in Barry, which had  feather beds and a wash stand in the room; the landlady brought hot water in a jug.  Our first port of call was Severn Tunnel Jct. a mainly freight shed with a substantial allocation, including a handful of the 51xxs and 3 of the 61xxs; No.5199 was not amongst them. We went, on one evening, to the cinema in Port Talbot; Port Talbot looked like Hades, when we came out of the movies but, I couldn’t tell you what we watched. After bashing round Cardiff, we  eventually made it all the way out to Carmarthen, before I headed back to London and  my next turns of duty at 70A.

The visit to Woodhams was very strange for me, as there were engines there which, only months before, I had been firing out on the main line. No.35018 British India Line, which has just returned to active service, was one of them and No.34010 Sidmouth was another; though in her case the return to steam is ‘on going’. Nos.34016 Bodmin, 34028 Eddystone, and 34039 Boscastle were all there and, again, all engines I had recently worked  on – survivors all. Two years later the whole Southern fleet was withdrawn and steam on the SR was all over, until it wasn’t.

I made quite a few trips working the 08:35 Ex-Waterloo with the West Countries and with No. 35018 British India Line, on the return working, of the same duty, as well as on the 17:30 Ex-Waterloo. It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine, that after one of those trips, they were withdrawn, making me, possibly, the last fireman to have worked on them – we’ll never know.

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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Flour Graders

In 1960s Britain, one of the big scandals of the day was the Profumo affair – it was the usual salacious nonesense involving a Government Minister, call girls / models, a Russian Attache, and military secrets. The girls, Mandy Rice Davies and Christine Keeler became headline news, with their photographs in all the ‘rags’. I, on the other hand. was stoking engines, like, and including, the one above, between Waterloo and points South and West.

Amongst the regular duties for Nine Elms men were the 2 hour services to and from Bournemouth .  One of these workings, which I enjoyed my fair share of, was the 07:20 from Bournemouth to Waterloo, last stop Winchester.  The down working was the 02:45 ‘paper train’  and going through the New Forest on a misty Autumn morning was always a treat. It was on the 07:20, at the height of the scandal, that the girls in question, travelled up from Southampton to Waterloo – I was the fireman  – they didn’t even blow us a kiss.

Yes but, ‘what about the flour graders’, I hear you say. Well, McDougall’s Flour began an ad-campaign based on ‘Fred the Flour Grader’ who was a black suited figure with a white shirt and bowler hat – a plastic, advertising replica, of the figures who lined the platforms at Bournemouth, Brockenhurst, Southampton, and Winchester, to board the 07:20. You would see them standing on the same spot each day, the same faces, bowlers, and brief cases.  If I was on the turn with my regular mate ‘Sooty’ Saunders we would, sometimes, give the ones at Winchester a ‘shower’.

The shower worked like this; full boiler, on the red line, shut off at the last minute, safety valves open, stop with a jerk and the safety valves will pick up water from the surge – and produce a mini shower!! Naughty I know but, it was funny watching them cover their hats with the morning paper or their brief case, in a most undignified manner.

The Photo shows Ex-SR B-o-B Class 4-6-2 No.34053 Sir Keith Park almost at the summit of Eardington bank on the Severn Valley 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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Running backwards

I was, recently, in conversation with a driver who worked on the Appleby – Skipton ‘Plandampf’, with No.60163 Tornado, he reminded me just how cold it can be running mile after mile tender first – it’s marginally better when bunker first with a tank engine. This one is Ex-GWR 2-8-0 No.4270 and she is working the early morning goods from Bewdley to Bridgnorth, on the Severn Valley Railway, during their ‘Season Finale Gala’ in November, of 2016.

At my last shed, before being made redundant, Wakefield (Belle Vue), there was quite a lot of tender first work and almost all of it was done on WDs, to some of the most famous collieries in the Yorkshire coal fields.  Like the WDs the pits have all gone, Ackton Hall, Prince of Wales, Sharlston, and Grimethorpe, of brass band fame, and many, many, more – and not just in Yorkshire, you can repeat this for the whole of the coal mining industry.

The usual method of working on these colliery trip jobs was run out to Healy Mills engine first and then trundle off tender first with a string of empties to which ever pits were on your roster. On some turns you might do more than one trip. After returning to Healy Mills with the empties exchanged for loaded wagons you would pick up another train of empties and repeat the earlier run, though not necessarily to the same collieries. Needless to say that on these turns half of your shift was spent ‘running backwards’.

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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