Tag Archives: war

Summer Special

July only – enjoy Gricing for less. From July 1st to 31st the Ebook version of Gricing is on special offer at just £3.99

Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children-ebook/dp/B011D1WBWY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Bit of a mis-match

On the 1st of June 1948 Black 5 No.45253 left St. Pancras, bound for Manchester, on the first of her runs in the Mixed Traffic section of the 1948 Locomotibe Exchange Trials. The other locomotives in her pool were the B1 No.61251 Oliver Bury and the Bulleid West Country Class No.34005 Barnstaple, which was crewed by Nine Elms pair, George James driving, and George Reynolds firing.

During my own footplate service I worked on all three types; and in the case of No.34005 Barnstaple I worked on the actual engine. All I can say is that putting the Black 5 and B1 in the same category as a Bulleid ‘light’ Pacific was a bit of a mis-match, to put it mildly. And it wasn’t the only mis-match. The Southern engines were coupled to LMS tenders during their running on the Midland and the LMS  engines were coupled to ‘Austerity’ tenders, when doing their turn on Southern metals. This was all brought about by of the lack of troughs on the Southern which meant that the tenders on the Southern engines didn’t have scoops.

However, despite these minor issues, the performance of the selected crews was highly professional, under what must have been challenging conditions, on a railway still recovering from the ravages of 5 years of warfare. And not just the hardware of the railway landscape and the p-way, but the railwaymen themselves who had been working on the footplate, in the stations, goods yards, and signal boxes, or on the p-way throughout the hostilities. To even be in a position, after less than 3 years since the war’s end, and only 4 months after the formation of British Railways, to organise and run the Locomotive Exchanges was, perhaps, miraculous.

The photo shows No.44806, now out of service, passing Esk Valley, on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, with a Grosmont – Pickering service.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Christmas at the double

Well here we are again, tis the season of pies, cake, and Santa, so let me take the opportunity to wish all of you the very Merriest of Christmases.

The nearest thing I have to a nativity scene is this shot, at the top of Druimuachdar, you can see the summit marker just to the left of the lineside bothy, (stable) – and yes that’s snow on the hill behind. The double-headed Black 5s, or yonder stars,  are No. 44871 piloting No.45407 with the Inverness – Perth leg on one of the “GB” series of Rail Tours.

Double-headed fives over the Highland main line is very much the ghost of Christmas past.  I couldn’t help thinking about what it must have been like a hundred years ago, at Christmas 1917, when huge coal trains were being hauled over these desolate hills, not by Black5s of course, enroute to Scapa Flow and the bunkers of the Royal Navy’s high-seas fleet – they even gave them a name – ‘the Jellicoe Specials’. A lot of the coal being hauled  had been dug out of the ground hundreds of miles away in the Welsh valleys and these trains, which ran day and night, were an essential part of the war effort. And what an effort it must have been with Shap, Beattock, Druimuachdar, and Slochd all on the route.

For me it only remains to say, all the very 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.

 

 

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

1000 likes on FB offer

To celebrate Steam Age Day Dreams having reached 1000 Facebook followers, for the next 10 days the ebook version of “Gricing” is £1 off,  at just £3.95“Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children” –  a different take on our great railway heritage from someone who has 60 years of 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!

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

The last departure

In a hazy evening sunlight, Black 5 No 45407, with the 17.10 Whitby – Pickering service, plods away from Goathland. Everyone knows that this is a modern day photograph, not because the engine is clean and shiny but, because that air of fading neglect is no longer there. In the Britain of the 50s and 60s the worn out, tired and dilapidated, extended beyond the engine, the stations were dirty, unstaffed and unpainted, signal boxes, goods yards and sidings closed, the buildings in them showing signs of vandalism; this was the railway landscape in those first decades after WWII. No heritage railway, in its right mind, would dream of recreating this aspect of 1950s  / 60s BR.

It’s true that recreations go so far as to deliberately ‘weather’ locomotives’, however, they don’t cut the water supply to the station toilets, smash and board up several windows in the waiting room, and strip the paint from the rest.  Just for good measure they could remove all the glazing from the platform canopy and  pull the hoses off the water columns, for that ‘authentic 1960s’ appearance. Behind the scenes things were worse not better, cuts to shed staff left many shed yards and ash pits a risk to life and limb, and nothing was spent on building maintenance, even finding basic equipment became a task. Of course no one wants to bring this aspect of post-war Britain back, why would they?

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Ebook special offer

To celebrate the author’s up coming 70th birthday, grab yourself an eBook  copy of “Gricing, The Real Story of the Railway Children”, for just £2.99  – offer ends 13 / 03/ 2017.

This is the link to Amazon for your copy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011D1WBWY

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Tea and buns Worth

43924damloopI always knew them as ‘Derby Fours’ and I know some folk called them ‘Duck Sixes’, but one of my old railway pals, an Ex-Manningham fireman, later a driver at Gateshead, always referred to these engines as ‘night fighters’; the reason why escapes me. Sadly, he’s no longer with us so I can’t ask him to refresh my memory. ( If any one reading this knows the answer – please do tell.)

Speaking of ‘night fighters’, during WWII the LMS introduced ‘Iron Rations’ – the iron rations consisted of spoonfuls of tea and sugar for men who were stranded, by enemy air raids, away from their home depots. However, these rations weren’t  a generous offer, in the ‘Dunkirk spirit’,  made by th LMS to their footplate crew – they charged for them and turned a profit; about 300% on the tea and over 1300% on the sugar, which I’m sure left a bad taste. (Source: J A Carter, Chairman, Willesden  LDC 1941, Locomotive Journal)

In the Pullman coaches, behind No.43924, the passengers are, no doubt, enjoying ‘cream teas’ and in somewhat different circumstances, no iron rations for them. I have to admit I’ve enjoyed a ‘cream tea’ myself, on the K&WVR, riding in the ‘Old Gentleman’s coach’ – great fun.

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

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!

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Arms race

no2tokenexAn odd choice of title, you might think, though there are  signal arms in the foreground and the outstretched arms of driver and signalman in the background. However, there are some rather interesting connections between armaments, the locomotive at the head of the train, No.2, and with the Tanfield railway’s decision to preserve and safeguard the area’s industrial locomotive building history.

No.2, built by Hawthorn Leslie, in 1911, was originally sold to Keighley Gas works, where she remained until around 1940. Just after the outbreak of WWII No.2 was in the employ of the Ministry of Supply and being used  at the Royal Ordnance Factory at Drungans, Kirkcudbrightshire.  Along with Hawthorn Leslie, another of the major locomotive building companies on Tyneside was Armstrong Whitworth who, amongst others, built a substantial number, (327), of Stanier’s Black 5s for the LMS.  Tanfield don’t have any Black 5s but the do have a 1933 vintage Armstrong Whitworth diesel – also numbered 2

Armstrong, had more than just locomotive building in their portfolio they were also major suppliers of ships and armaments. Such was their ‘fame’ in the armaments business, that their breach loading gun re-equipped the British Army after the Crimean War.  The Chairman, Sir W G Armstrong, entertained leading world figures and politicians in his home, with arms and armaments, undoubtedly, on the agenda. His home ‘Cragside’, the first in Britain to be lit entirely by electricity – hydro-electricity at that, is now open to the public.

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

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!

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

In the pit with Maude

9673Maude(Photo by L Hanson)

This scene is Haymarket MPD, in August 1938, twenty years earlier, No.9673 Maude, was in France helping to ‘win’ WWI. Some way or other this engine survived the destruction and carnage of the Western front, she also survived World War II, which was about to break out shortly after this picture was taken. And if that wasn’t enough, she survived the mass steam cull when British Railways ‘modernised’. Overhauled and restored to working condition she traveled to the the S&D 150 celebrations, in 1975, under her own steam .

Built by  Neilson of Glasgow, for the North British Railway, in 1891, she was finally withdrawn, from Bathgate MPD, in 1966. Such longevity shows just how wasteful the decision was  to cut up steam locomotives which had worked a mere ten or twelve years in active service, as happened with a great many of the Riddles designed locomotives, the BR ‘standard’ classes. The destruction of the steam fleet, in the years from 1956 onwards, was little more than industrial scale vandalism. Rushed, botched, and cobbled together as it went along the ‘Modernisation’ of British Railways was a gravy train – it still is for some.

As for the chap cleaning the pit, I suspect he is now in the great engine shed in the sky – Maude is ‘awaiting’ an overhaul – though just when that might be is anyone’s guess.

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!

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

50 Sheds of Grey

60103rawten

Old Jack Frost’s cold fingers hold land and water in their grip, as the Country’s “most famous locomotive”, No.60103 Flying Scotsman, runs round her train, at Rawtenstall, on the very edge of the Pennines. This was weekend two of the Flying Circus, sorry, Flying Scotsman spectacular. The ‘great and good’ with their press pack entourage may have departed homewards,  but of devotees there was no shortage, packed trains, crowded platforms, swathes of camera totting photographers all along the lineside – paid testament to that.

There was very much a flavour of the moment, I thought, with this photograph, a bleak scene, in bleak times. At Summerseats, just a few miles down the line, the Christmas floods swept a 200 year old pub away, part of the road through the village is still closed. Flying Scotsman’s wartime austerity paint job gives an all too grim reminder of the current ‘austerity’. The livery may have helped to make  locomotives less visible as a target during WWII, it certainly made Flying Scotsman look a lot more like an industrial product than the work of art she appears – when pictured, in her LNER glory days, hauling the Flying Scotsman.

The balloon water tank, in matching grey, makes an austere accessory to the scene. It reminded me of my first winter on the railway, that of 62/3, a very severe winter as I recall,  when I seemed to spend weeks, keeping braziers burning, to stop the water columns from freezing up at my first SHED 55C.

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

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather