Tag Archives: Waterloo

Pegged both ways

In 2019  it will be 65 years since I began writing down engine numbers in a note book.  For seven years,  in the 1960s, I was a British Railways fireman at numerous sheds including 3 years at 70A, working on the former LSWR routes to Bournemouth and Salisbury. After graduatng from the University of Leeds, in the late 1980s, I’ve written about railway life, work, and the railway itself, in books, magazines, and newspaper spplements, not to mention taking 1000s of photographs of  steam engines at sites and locations all round Britain.

Steam Age Daydreams began in 2014 and since then over 600 blogs have appeared on all manner of topics. The most popular one, by a long way, was the  one from May 2015 about my 105mph run with Merchant Navy Class Pacific No.35005 Canadian Pacific – the link below will take you to it if you haven’t already read it. http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?p=1848

I am writing this to let you all know that when the current webhosting contract expires in December there are, currently, no plans to renew it – Steam Age Daydreams will cease.

The book about my lifetime of involvement with matters railway will still be available on Amazon – Below, is the link to it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

 

 

 

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Passing time?

It started in the classroom as some boring old fart droned on about the square on the hypothenuse, or how many pecks to the bushel, (Google that one). Now I’m the boring old fart musing  about the passing of time.  I have to admit I quite like the passing shot too and sometimes the results turn out better than the shot you lined up for.

Passing time has its own railway connections, of course, and many a railway photographer is grateful for knowing them – it cuts down the time standing in a field, expectantly. It must be said that passing times aren’t published for the benefit of railway photographers, even if many of us believe that is exactly why they are!!

I passed a fair bit of time on the footplate of this engine, in 1963 and 64, before her premature withdrawal in 1964, though not in this super shiney condition, nor on the Settle – Carlisle line. My own passage over the Pennines was via Copy Pit or Diggle with Dub Dees and usually with rafts of coal.

If you’ve more time to pass, check out the archive, there are over 500 articles to choose from on all manner of time wasting topics but, no algebra.

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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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September 64

Regular Steam Age Daydreams supporter, David Fisher, very kindly sent me a copy of Clive Groome’s book,  “British Steam The Final Years – (Extracts from the diary of a Nine Elms Engine Driver)”, and in there, under the entry for the 1st to 5th of September 1964, I was Clive’s fireman on the 19:54 Waterloo – Basingstoke service. I must have been covering for his regular mate as the 19:54 was a 4 Link duty and I was a 3 Link fireman,  where my regular mate was Eric ‘sooty’ Saunders.

The engines Clive lists on the down runs were all BR Standard Class 5s Nos. 73043, the now preserved 73050, and the ‘Standard Arthurs’  No.73083 Pendragon and 73112 Morgan Le Fay.  Clive comments on my efforts by saying I, ‘Worked hard to good effect’ – which is nice to know. The 19:54 Waterloo – Basingstoke had been my first real trip out on the former LSWR main line, after I arrived at Nine Elms in 1963, that Clive had noted in his diary, 18 months later,  working with me, and on this turn in particular, makes his comments even more enjoyable.

The return workings, which  Clive also comments on, were all made with West Country Class Pacifics; Nos. 34025 Whimple, 34047, Callington and 34104 Bere Alston.  The comments about this were that all of them got up to 50 plus from starting out of Farnborough to passing MP31 but, No.34025 made it over the top at 55mph on 35% cut-off and full regulator – I must have had three shredded wheat for breakfast that day!

It is no surprise that I was working with Driver Groome, as No.3 Link was very much a cover Link with whole weeks booked “HR”, ‘Holiday Relief’. On these weeks you might find yourself covering one fireman for a whole week or for a different one each day and, as a result, you fired for  different drivers and on different turns each day. In this instance it very much looks as though I was covering for Clive’s regular mate for the whole week.

I do find it strange sometimes to be able to read about events which took place in my life, more than fifty years ago. Knowing exactly where on the planet you were, at what time, and, were my efforts with the shovel feature in timing logs, knowing to the very second, is so unlike the usual experience of the past where everything is so much less precise.

The Photo, taken at Quorn & Woodhouse on the GCR, shows BR Class 5 Standard No.73084 Camelot, aka No.73156.

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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When the last fires dropped

50 years ago I stepped off one of these work horses for the last time, collected my final pay packet – redundancy beckoned. No more baked onion, cooked on the manifold, or cheese toasties done on the shovel. No more signing on at 04.00 for, a freezing cold, tender first run down the Dearne valley line either. The last six months of terminal decline did little for moral.

In my all to brief footplate career, I count myself lucky to have been able to experience a whole range of different workings from a humble branch line goods to the Royal Wessex. I fired for young drivers only a few years older than me and for others who had begun their railway service in World War I. At Wakefield, my final depot, even the link system was scrapped, because so many turns were now single-manned diesel jobs. All the firemen were put in one long link covering the remaining steam jobs and diesel turns requiring a second man. A situation which could see you working with a different driver every day you were on duty.

More and more duties were signing on and off at Healy Mills and I was spending quite a bit of time on English Electric Class 3s, not what I signed on for. Once I knew that I hadn’t got the vacancy I applied for at Blyth, it was all over. No fairy tale ending, no big send off, just mount the bike jump on the kick-start and go home. I didn’t even take a souvenir, though I do now have a 55C shed plate – the place where it all began. Amazingly railway preservation and operation has now been going for longer than British Railways was in existence and some of the preserved locomotives have spent more time at work, in private hands, than they did during their BR 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

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“Nice bit of Wensleydale Gromit”

Back in 1964 I was one of, if not the last, firemen to work on this engine before she was sent for scrap. We had her on Bournemouth – Waterloo service and then next thing she was withdrawn – no idea why, she certainly wasn’t a failure when we stepped off at Waterloo.

I could never have imagined then, that 54 years later I would be standing in a meadow, in the heart of Wensleydale, watching her steam by on her way to Redmire. Even now, several hours later, it still borders on surreal, a Merchant Navy Class Pacific sauntering along a North Eastern Railway branch line. Sometimes the truth really is stranger than the fiction.

The reason behind No.35018 British India Line being there was the 1940s event in Leyburn, the principal village along the line. When the Wensleydale Railway didn’t have a steam engine for the event, West Coast Railways stepped up to the plate and offered them the use of No.35018 British India Line, for the weekend – top marks to WCR for that.

While there every chance that this is  the first time a MN that has been up this line, there is at least some connection with the 1940s event, as the MNs rolled off the drawing board and onto the rails in the middle of WWII, 21C1, (later No.35001 Channel Packet) entered service in June 1941 and the first ten were all in service by July 1942. No.35018 British India Line was one of the second batch of 10 and was built in 1945, she was the 1st to be ‘converted’ and also played a part in the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials, so she’s a bit of a star.

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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Headgear

Footplatemen were issued with a uniform, bib and brace overalls, a smock jacket and greased topped cap. The attrition rate of the caps was high, taken away at high speed as you hung your head out of the cab to spot a distant signal. However, uniforms they might have been but, they were frequently worn with some small degree of ‘nonconformity’. One or two of the more senior drivers always wore their smock jacket with the top button fastened, some of us young firemen narrowed the legs of our overalls, in keeping with the fashions of the day.

The real non-uniform aspect though was hats; grease tops were worn pinned down at the sides, sat up like a pie, or all pulled down either on one side or the other or to the back, and I remember spending money, to buy an old ‘Southern Engineman’ cap badge, to replace my BR hotdog. Like so many others it ended up in a field or on embankment, somewhere along the line. Not everyone wore a grease top and my regular 3 link mate, Eric ‘sooty’ Saunders, always wore a cloth cap, often with motor bike goggles – he rode a motor bike and side car to work.  Another fashion was for ‘cheese cutters’ a cloth cap made from  corduroy,  black with stripes of yellow, blue, or red. For quite a while the style amongst the firemen was for a brightly coloured, knotted hanky, pulled over your hair – or used to wipe the sweat, as needs be.

I dare say that different regions and even sheds had their own styles and traditions – the NYMR footplateman in the photo has chosen a beret.

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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Standard Stopper

At the beginning of 1963, when I first arrived at Nine Elms, I spent a short time in Link 4 with driver Fred Walker and these BR class 4s were amongst the first engines I worked on, No.75078 was one of them. A regular duty for the 75xxxs was the Waterloo – Basingstoke stoppers, calling Woking then all stations to Basingstoke. The key to keeping time on these services was starting quickly and braking late – and the 75xxxs were very nippy, ideally suited to this task.

When stopping at the intermediate stations, once the train had been brought to a stand, Fred would blow the brakes off and hold the train on the engine’s steam brake while waiting for the tip. Starting in full forward gear he would ease away from the platform steadily opening the regulator before reeling in the cut-off, first to around 50% before giving her  full regulator and then notching up to around 25 – 30%, by which time speed would be nudging 50. A mile or two at 60 ish and then time to shut-off for the next stop and a repeat of the process.

On my side of the footplate it was keep a good fire under the door, thinning to the front and top it up each time we stopped. Between Woking and Farnborough there was a bit more to do because of the climb up to MP31 but, once over the hump that was it; apart, that is, from the top ups at the stops.

The train engine No.34092 City of Wells was one of the dozen or so Bulleid ‘light’ Pacifics I never worked on during my days at Nine Elms but, on the plus side, the preserved 34007 Wadebridge was the very first of the original Bulleids I fired. The photograph shows the pair departing Keighley with the 11:55 for Oxenhope on 26 June, during the 50th anniversary celebrations.

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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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=

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Arr nah braan car

A lovely summer’s afternoon in God’s green acres, the cows are in the meadow – I didn’t see no sheeps. When I rolled up at Nine Elms, fresh outta Yorksha, you can imagine some of the stick I got over my accent. To me a bass was a fish not something your boarded to go to work, I put butter and not batter on my bread, and so it went on. When I went back up home for a weekend – they extracted the ‘Miccy’ and called me ‘geezer’ – I couldn’t win!

London, in Spring 1963, was at the very beginnings of ‘the swinging 60s’ but the only swinging I was doing was with shovels full of coal. My pied a terre wasn’t in Chelsea or Pimlico it was a room, first floor front, on Lavendar Hill, Clapham. Not the easiest spot to sleep after a night shift, with a constant stream of traffic and no double glazing. I wasn’t long before I found something quieter.

There were a couple of the Maunsell 4-4-0 Class V, aka ‘Schools’,  at 70A when I arrived, but they were already ‘in store’ and never returned. It was the same with the Drummond M7s, which had been the main stay of the ECS from Clapham to Waterloo – until their duties were  taken by the BR 82xxx Class 2-6-2Ts. And it was on one of these ECS duties that I met one of the footplatemen from the 1948 Locomotive Exchanges – though at the time I had no idea that he had been and he was far too modest to advertise the fact.

Thing is, when I think back, it was this continuity, working with men who had years of experience, and who themselves had been taught by men who were railwaymen in Victoria’s reign – this was where the real strength of the railways lay, generations of hard won knowledge of how the rail travel machine worked and what is required to make it do so.

PS I was going to call this piece ’till the cows come home’ but, you’d still be waiting for it!! Did someone mention ‘train’?

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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The first convert

One of the locomotives from the 1948 Exchange Trials, and the first of the class to be rebuilt, No.35018 British India Line, is seen here, passing Rillington, at the head of the Scarborough Spa Express. I have to say it’s very nice to be able to see her in action on the main line, in my neck of the woods but, it’s a far cry from being on her footplate, speed in the 80s, on a Waterloo – Bournemouth express, as I have been in the past.

I’m sure there are good reasons but, I do find it a little odd that the chosen motive power allocation  sees class 8P No.35018 British India Line working the virtually flat York – Scarborough run with 10 on whilst a class 6 Jubilee, or the 8F, are allocated turns over the S&C with 11 or 12 on. Given the leisurely schedule on the SSE it is surely more suited to the 8F’s 50mph speed limit. An example of just how easy the SSE timings are can be seen from today’s run; No.35018 British India Line was 12 minutes late away from York, she passed Malton only 6 down, by the time she passed Seamer she was 4 to the good and arrived 7 early into Scarborough – and all without breaking sweat.

To put that into context, in 1964, working from Waterloo to Basingstoke a distance of 47.78 miles, on a Merchant Navy, with load 12 or 13  the booked time was 55 minutes. For those of you unfamiliar with the route it is almost all against the collar  with a bit of a dig, after the slack through Clapham Jct., up to Wimbledon and another from around West Byfleet up to MP 31. York to Scarborough is a little over 41 miles, relatively flat, and the SSE is given a pedestrian 73 minutes.

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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