In a parody of the Beatles song, Yellow Submarine, the band, Half Man Half Biscuit, sing the following lyric: ‘In the town where I was born Lived a man who went to work And he told us of his life Building spaceships on £40 a week’. I mention this because, it is entirely possible that the men who built this engine, the last steam locomotive to be built on British Railways, in 1960, earned less than £40 a week – for those of you who don’t know, one of the nicknames given to these handsome 2-10-0 giants was, ‘Spaceships’.
In this neck of the woods, the Great Central Railway near Loughborough, the 9Fs were most commonly associated with what became known as the ‘windcutters’, however, in the North East the 9Fs faced a very different and demanding challenge, which often required two of these engines, one on the train and one banking. I’m talking about the Tyne Dock – Consett iron ore trains, for which a number of these engines, (Nos 92060 – 92066 & 92097 – 92099), were specially fitted with air pumps to work the air operated doors on the 56 ton hopper wagons and the air brakes on the train.
The sight and sound of two of these engines, with an 800 ton train, being worked very hard on the gradients, between Tyne Dock and Annfield Plain, was awesome. They didn’t look all nice and shiny either. However, full marks to the volunteers at the GCR for making every effort to create the authentic image, copper capped chimney, name plates and even the little plaque, to commemorate her being the last engine built at Swindon too, on the smoke deflectors.
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”
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
‘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!