Tag Archives: Wensleydale Railway

“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 We had her on Bournemouth – Waterloo service and then next thing she was withdrawn – no idea why, she certainly wasn’t a failure when we stepped off at Waterloo.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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This is, without doubt, one of the strangest combinations I’ve ever photographed. Ex-GWR 0-6-2T, No.5643, hauling a DMU with a blue painted coach inserted into the two car unit. The location is the Wensleydale Railway, which on this occasion was operating between Leeming Bar, (Northallerton) and Redmire.

This is a line with some tremendous potential, running, as it does from Northallerton, which is practically beside the A1, through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales with stations at Bedale, Redmire and Leyburn, and, in the near future, they hope to open to Aysgarth, with its beautiful waterfalls. The line doesn’t have any of its own steam locomotives and relies on hiring engines, currently they use the Ex-LNER 0-6-0T No. 69023 Joem. In the past they have used the BR Std Class 4MTT 2-6-4 No. 80105, which is now awaiting overhaul at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway.

The original line ran all the way to Garsdale and the very long term aim of the Wensleydale Railway is to re-open the entire route, which would make it the longest preserved line in the country, even at its current length of 22 miles it is one of the longer ones. The original Garsdale to Hawes section was opened by the Midland Railway and the Northallerton to Hawes section was the domain of the North Eastern Railway, though the original act, to build the line from Northallerton to Bedale was gained by the Great North of England Railway – GNER.

If you want to know more about GNER – there’s a section of my book, “Gricing” which deals with those initials and their subsequent re-use by the Company Sea Containers Ltd., when they were the franchise holders on the ECML and ran their services under the GNER label.

For any of you wanting to know more, or enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs, in them why not buy yourselves a copy of my book. “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘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

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