Tag Archives: thompson


34053awayquornOutside the gate of Nine Elms MPD was the Brooklands Arms – the ‘Brook’, was a den of iniquity if ever there was one, lock-ins, and card schools were a speciality. Inside the gate was another world altogether and one which, early in 1963, I was about to become immersed. I hadn’t planned to end up at 70A, that was just the way things turned out. My chances of becoming a ‘main line’ fireman at my first depot, 55C, were slim and the only chance seemed to be a move South were jobs were plentiful and railway shift work was rapidly becoming unpopular.

I had barely seen a Southern Railway locomotive let alone fired one, and to my eye, accustomed as it was, to the engines of Stanier, Gresley, Thompson and Fairburn, the Bulleid Pacifics did look a little alien. However, once I got to grips with soft coal, wide fireboxes, and the particular likes and dislikes of were to put the coal and in what quantities, I grew very fond of them, [Bulleid’s Pacifics], indeed. The hum, at night, of the Stones generator, and the electric lighting which resulted, the rocking grates which made disposal so much easier and above all their phenomenal steaming qualities, made it hard not to like them. And it was such fun, on trains like the ‘up Royal Wessex’, to hurtle through Basingstoke Station, it’s platforms packed with commuters, hanging on the whistle.

For anyone interested, I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, on many levels, 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: ‘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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Atomic Rooster!


In amongst all the schemes and plans to build new P2s, B17s, Patriots, Brighton Atlantics, and even the scheme I’m involved with myself, to build a BR Class 3MTT of the 82xxx class, I’m surprised no one launched a scheme to build a new ‘Bantam Cock’; this impression by, Ward, in Volume 1 of Modern Locomotives, Published by Rylee of Edgbaston, Birmingham, in 1947, shows what handsome machines they were.

3 cylinders, a 2-6-2 wheel arrangement, and the use of lightweight parts gave these engines great route availability, they were powerful too. However, only two were ever built, Bantam Cock No.3401 / No.1700 which became BR No.61700, and the putative ‘Bantam Hen’ No.3402 / No.1702, which became BR No.61701 and never did carry the name Bantam Hen. We will never know if the intention was to build more, Gresley’s death, in 1941, saw Thompson appointed CME and the advent of the B1s, which probably scuppered any chance of further engines, in the V4 class, being built. Trialled, initially, in the West Riding, both engines spent much of their later working life in Scotland at Eastfield, Stirling, and Aberdeen, from where they were withdrawn, in 1957.

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