The Ups & Downs of being a trainspotter
15/4/74 Swindon Cocklebury yard. I was actually on a Grand Easter trip with the Northern Counties, by motor coach to the South East ,or thats what the trip was called. I needed to get a selfie with this, PWM650 and ventured into the yard to get it. I was very lucky as this trip ,then gave me PWM654 at Worcester depot, my last shunter on BR for all of the shunters still in existence then, (I didn't realise this fact and i have owned it for over ten years!!). Also a few hours before I had seen 33113 my last mainline loco for England, this left me wanting to see (cop), 26035 and 26041, just two locos to completely see all on BR left at the time.
Inverness Depot (IS)25/5/74 around a month from getting down to my last two (as above). I didn't hang around!! I had booked a week, All line Rail Rover and had departed from Sheffield Midland this morning behind D114 to Glasgow.
After getting my shot here of 26035 my penultimate loco, I went back to see the shed foreman re the whereabouts of 26041?, "St Rollox Works", was the reply, so I hot footed it around to the station to get a train back to Glasgow pulled by 26012 and D5337.
St Rollox works, Glasgow, 25/5/74. I had arrived around 20.00 hrs at the Works. I didn't know what kind of reception I would get, but with only needing to see D5341 or 26041 after it was shopped, to complete the first set, and explaining my dilemma to the night watchman he readily agreed to take me into the works to see it.
Not only that but he waited quite patiently till I had set up the camera on the tripod to get a rather nice shot of it before it got renumbered. You can see him on the far left of the photo probably hoping he wasn't going to be included!
Although as its 46 years,now since the photo has been seen, its unlikely to matter. I will always be grateful to this chap, who took the time and trouble to do me this favour, Thanks! Of course this was short lived and something of an anti climax because as I still had six days of the rover to use, it gave me the perfect opportunity to get a good start on my second set!! Why? I really can't tell you now, but the buzz from spotting will stay with me forever. Good harmless fun, that literally took me all over the Country on a very regular basis.
1977? As you may well imagine after finishing spotting all the locos, DMUs, Emus, when I then gravitated to BR coaching stock it all became a little intense when, I got down to one vehicle.....M99503 and for its sins, a bullion bogie.
These and the bullion vans were very hard to see in service and by the nature of the goods they carried, lets just say there was a hint of "Low profile", surrounding the duties they performed, and where they were kept. This is what prompted me one day in 1977? to walk off the one of the platforms of Euston station and just keep walking.......North!!
My theory was being a "M" for Midland one it must be stabled somewhere between Euston and Stonebridge Park yard, but more worrying in retrospect, somewhere directly adjacent to the London Euston to Glasgow Mainline .
My theory was if I didn't get arrested first I would invariably see it. Oh! the optimism of youth, but luckily this paid off as I believe this was when I reached Camden carriage sheds on the left hand side of the line going North.
The elation of course was quickly quashed when I realized that was "IT", and call me a wimp, but I certainly never gave spotting wagons a second thought!
After a brief interlude of just taking photos I went down the slippery slope of gravitating to photograph and record as many of the Ex BR shunters in industry as possible. Subsequently from this, then buying my first loco (why??) and it all went quickly downhill after that!! I joke of course as preservation has given me more pleasure, but also more pain than any other hobby I could imagine.
So no i wasn't cheeky enough to ask someone to take this photo for me, it was a very rudimentary selfie shot, with the camera perched on the bogie of an adjoining vehicle, and taken with the camera's self timer. Oh Happy days!! (Could you imagine how far you would get with this stunt today, and without any Hi Vis either??)
Newcastle Central station. With 03078 one of the possible three pilots to be found shunting within the station confines. Quite a sobering (read depressing), thought, just how much of this railway scene has been confined to history.
To the front of the loco can be seen a match wagon and the end of an "S" van as we always called them. The match wagon paired with the 03, is to operate the track circuits due to the short length of the loco. The "S" van usually ran in parcel or occasionally with passenger trains to convey goods. These were classed as "coaching stock", and each vehicle was registered and could usually be traced on tops, I know I did it !
The two vehicles in the background are a "Siphon G", so designated after being designed and built by the Great Western, while the vehicle to the left, is from the ubiquitous "Guv" class constructed by various BR workshops. Brute parcel trolleys can also be scene, which I have mentioned before are now something from the past.
No doubt all of these vehicles finished their days being recycled. The 03 however fared much better, after being secured by the Stephenson Railway Museum at Tyne and Wear in 1988. A very appropriate happy ending, as its only a few miles from Gateshead(GD), where it spent the latter part of its BR life, and its other depots had all been BR North Eastern sheds. If you haven't visited the Museum please do, a little hard to locate, but well worth the effort and their standard of restoration is absolutely exemplary.
In my own opinion the Gateshead 03's, were at the most interesting locations, in the Country, including Tyne and Wear NCL, Carville /Swan Hunters ship works, Consett steel works, Low Fell pw yard, Heaton (but usually could be an 08), and of course not forgetting, Berwick on Tweed, a thrash up the mainline for an 03, which were much faster than an 08, and allegedly had a wooden wedge, jammed in behind the throttle handle to attain maximum speed till the destination was reached, an absolute eye watering thought, and one which no doubt created plenty of work for the Gateshead fitters, when the final drive or gearbox gave up the ghost in a spectacular fashion!! Apologies for not dating the photo yet.
On Saturday 21st March 2020, I self isolated at Rowsley. Well very nearly as there was only Shaun and myself there, both I quickly add drove our own cars, preferring this to the "Russian Roulette" scenario of going by public transport, and being fair getting to Rowsley by service bus from Sheffield, is becoming increasingly difficult as the local bus companies juggle with their routes and timings. You could be almost be forgiven for thinking that they don't want to all work together, when a bus is timed to arrive in Bakewell, and a rival bus companies bus, is timed to depart for the onward second leg of the journey some two or three minutes later, but that might just be cynicism on my part. This is most probably an "Old Man Moan", BUT did you know that; GDPR was introduced, quite rightly to protect our privacy, and hopefully reduce the rain forests cut down every week in the interest of sending endless quantities of junk mail, e.g. No I don't want to buy a lawnmower with a lifetime guarantee ,that ensures my lawn looks like a grass court at Wimbledon and has a wireless connection, so I can operate it from my smart phone, trouble free, from the comfort of my lounge! (You get the idea), being serious I can understand the need for protecting people's privacy but did you also know that attached to this is now another "bureau", set up by the government, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which you now have to now register with if you hold personal details of people, pertinent of course if you have a membership base. Unsurprisingly this comes at a cost,,,,,,,,,,, of only £35 if you pay by Direct Debit, for our category, or £40 normally (Every Year by the way).. I may be tempting fate here, but fresh air to breath is still free, but for how much longer??
Getting back to the serious stuff, now's the time to catch up (electronically or phone ), to that mate, you saw two years ago and you had promised him that photo that no-one else had got, and you would supply him with a copy? I have still got to find an efficient way of cataloging and being able to retrieve any given slide when required, and before someone says "save them electronically", this opens up a whole new debate about the longevity of using this medium. After saying that I find colour slides far harder to manipulate, and colour negs even harder than these so for the time being they will all stay in little plastic boxes ,away from direct light.The worrying part being this has been the case for the last forty to fifty years. Finally isn't it just sods law that when the proper stuff was there to photograph, we were limited to the amount of film we could afford, using light meters either built into cameras or as an independent item. Cameras were relatively heavy compared to the DSLRs (digital cameras), of today that you can switch on put into auto mode and virtually guarantee a decent shot,or delete and repeat ,if of course the object of your attention is still in sight. I well remember gravitating to a Pentax 6x7 which is basically like an old 35mm SLR camera on steroids,but that large it had its own case as big as a small hat box and weighs an estimated 4 kilos! They take 120 roll film and boy are those cameras heavy. Memories of the slaughter of locos at Swindon works spring to mind, so the compulsion of visiting regularly, walking from the Station to the Works a guided tour of the Works and back to the station all on foot, a round trip of probably four miles, and boy did that camera weigh heavy!, I was nearly on my knees by the time I was travelling back on the train to Sheffield. Happy Days!!
Sunday 10th of May. Hi Everybody, I'm writing this after Boris Johnson has just told us, this evening, that we can use our road vehicles to go out from Wednesday onwards, as long as we social distance, so Yipee! Rowsley here I come!! Lets get stuck into the restoration work again! but enough of the celebrations. Stuart has provided us with some brilliant videos - See the Videos tab. If you have enjoyed these videos please consider making a donation to the Heritage Shunters Trust by using the paypal tab, this also helps to ensure we have a future, thank you and lets all hope that we continue to make progress with containing and reducing the "R" factor. You will also maybe notice, watching this that at the time, trains were terminating at Riverside Halt. Since then Peak Rail has made massive strides by connecting into the main Railway system and using one of the platforms at the main Matlock railway station to start and end their train services. So wearing my peak rail hat, I am proud to say we join the select few heritage railways in the Country, who have a direct connection onto the main system, so well done and thank you to all who achieved this amazing feat.
Its very sad to me that for all intents and purposes, the Dartmoor Railway may disappear without trace. I don't like anywhere closing, and for me the site of the quarry where it was based conjures up special memories of years ago. Our old spotting Club, would always visit this on an overnight Plymouth trip, by motor coach which was our usual mode of transport. Due to the intense itineraries we followed this meant leaving Manchester at around 20.00 hrs Saturday evening to return to Manchester for around 19.30 hrs on a Sunday evening. Most of our usual overnight tours worked to this format, but I suppose because of the distances involved on this particular trip you could "Cat Nap" more than say an over night midlands trip. However, and its a large one, Meldon Quarry situated on Dartmoor, had to be visited while we were travelling down rather than back up, for the purpose of continuity. On this particular trip that was run probably annually through the seventies/early eighties. This meant arriving on the main road, (around 2.00-3.00am?), approximately half a mile from the very small, open ended shed based in the quarry. As memory serves there were no gates to encounter or for that matter fences. They didn't really need them as standing between the main road and the shed was very uneven terrain with a very liberal sprinkling of clumps of saplings and soon to be mature trees. There was a very narrowish track that went from the road to the quarry, but this wound around various obstacles, with no lighting on it so for the purpose of a speedy visit remained largely for us unused. The other aspect to consider was, hardly anyone thought to bring a torch, the efficient ones were then, heavy and cumbersome and not as user friendly as torches of today. Its was dark, no black! with no distant lights nothing. With the lights from the interior of the coach quickly getting swallowed up in the night. We disembarked as a semblance of a group, heading off in the general direction of the usual location to see D3509. Oh. I forgot to say!, it was always, or should I say a given this was the loco to be seen or griced depending on your preference. Almost as soon as the main party had left the coach ,screams could be heard emanating from the darkness, lads falling over saplings, up and down banks, tripping up in rabbit holes etc,etc. Its fair to say ,(and some did give up enroute ,and turn back), that the party that departed from the coach wasn't the same party that returned to it, some thirty minutes later! Muddied, scratched by brambles, (that incidentally you don't want to get tangled up in the pitch black of Dartmoor!), nettled, leaves and twigs in their hair, you get the general idea! I have to say the brainier, more accomplished members who had been before and already seen D3509, would sometimes "wimp out", and not bother getting off the coach. I loved going there, as the masochist in me loved the challenge and hearing comrades literally fall by the wayside, or in reality into bushes etc. I did manage on at least one occasion to visit in daylight as you can seen from the photo below. However I am now mortified, as I never got a shot, showing its number as D3509 or 08394 as it went to the great loco shed in the sky from Vic Berry's at Leicester in 1989, or did I? I will have to double check all my slides again as I did a lot of photoing there just before its demise? oh for a decent slide filing system!
D3509,Meldon Quarry shed. Sorry not been able to date this, but got vague recollections it was a car trip (carbash), to the South West. As far as I am aware, the Buckley Wells or Northern Counties never did this location in daylight, it certainly was and still is to some extent a remote spot. This shed must have kept the worst of the weather off, but by no means could be termed as secure, and its a good job for us,as of then it wasnt.
Werent we spoilt in those days?these are on the same strip of negs as the shot at Meldon quarry.If it was a choice between still having days like this, or the Internet,I know which I would pick! The speed that the Westerns were decimated , was staggering,and probably just a clerk with a red biro who decided they were non - standard,what a waste.The wizzos ,with a look and sound all of their own,Brilliant ,i wouldnt have missed them for the World!!Notice the secondman ,adjusting the headcode by manual means of a key to connect a square drive in a hole.Today I believe the driver(What secondman??) just "twiddles "(A Technical term!) buttons,in the cab and hey presto the digital display is set.Fantastic till something goes wrong.....................
Titley junction on the Welsh borders,and unfortunately its not a junction anymore.Now truncated its still a nice little place to visit,privately owned so invitations are necessary,either through a Railway club or their website. The station is a taste of how GWR branchlines used to be.The loco in front of you is an escapee from Peak Rail.owned by Roy and Les Smethurst ,it had a nomadic lifestyle for a couple of years, (after they had decided to sell up and retire) before settling here.Witness the 17D Rowsley shedplate it still wears .It also still has the nameplates "Margaret Ann",also bestowed on it ,by the two brothers.Its a little off the beaten track but well worth a visit if you get the chance ,and the bonus being theres an 03 there too!!
Sorry should have mentioned its a dual braked 03, the number being 03158.
Donny Plant ,Early 1981,and the writings on the wall for the Deltics.As previously mentioned if they could have eeked out another five years ,when there was more awareness re presevation ,im sure many more may have been saved.Not sure this would have been 100% a good thing ,as with their inherent complexities ,and the care and attention and of course a great amount of skill plus knowledge to keep them in running order, it would have just diluted all of this down,in the diesel preservation world.Probably at no time before (or since),had seven been seen together,and just like the long lamented Finsbury Park their home depot,sadly still missed.
D601 Dai Woodhams Yard,Barry Island,South Wales. Another loco that could so easily have had a happy ending .Given that there were so many steam locos in Barry scrapyard ,200+ at its zenith,this sadly in my opinion could and would have been saved but it was just too early for the infant diesel preservation movement and it slipped into oblivion.For those that arent aware of its earlier history; D601 Ark Royal Built by the North British Locomotive Company,Queens Park works,Glasgow.One of the original "Warship" class ,of which only 5 were constructed ,this was completed in Febuary 1958.after being trialled for around three months ,it was allocated to 84A Plymouth Laira in June 1958.Reliabilty issue ensued with all of the five ,which meant that an order for a futhur batch of 32 was subsequently canceled .Yet another manufacturers with an trusted reputation ,for the construction of steam locomotives which somehow never quite lived up to the same reputation in their design and construction of diesel locomotives.Withdrawn after a short period of storage in December 1967,it was finally delivered to Dai Woodhams in November 1968.It sat in their yard for over TWELVE YEARS!,befor finally succumbing to the cutters torch in June 1980.A couple of preservation attempts were made ,but sufficient funds and interest meant that it suffered the same fate as the other four members ,and so rendering the Class 41's extinct ,and to paraphrase Colin Gifford ,"And Gone Forever". (And who was Colin Gifford?),in my humble opinion ,the greatest exponent of black and white railway photography ever.For evidence of this ,seek out a copy if you still can of "Transition",his latest publication,and see for yourselves.p.s.To the near left of the loco you may be able to spot the white roof of the Motor coach that we had arrived on as the Buckley Wells /Northern Counties Transport Society,another late lamented organisation from the past.
The North or should that be West end of Tinsley Traction Depot?Anyway its all the same now as its been demolished to build yet another car showroom .Comforting to think that the words "Car showroom ",will probably be a saying from the past by 2050.Along with the ubiquitous (At least then),class 47 stands the pioneering class 13 .Designed and constructed to propel trains,at slow speed to the summit of the hump before the wagons rolled down,powered by gravity ,to hopefully be slowed down by the Dowty retarders ,that had been fitted to most of the sorting sidings at an eye watering expense ,and as as a blatant advert for our publication;The Allocation History of Br Diesel Shunters ,(Still available direct from the address on this site,while you are whiling away your time), you could be reading up on this shunters history as well as every other BR shunters for a quite modest sum,and all proceeds of course go back to the restoration and upkeep of our Shunter collection.
D2132 "Lesley"an ex British Railways 03,named by the NCB ,and seen working at Pye Hill colliery ,Nottinghamsire circa 1980,and another personal favourite of mine.a nice touch by the signwriter was to include its origenal identity while on BR ,"D2132",above the data panel just discernable at the bottom of the cab side,above the running board..It would have made a great preservation candidate but after the Coal Strike ,was deemed surplus to requirements and made its way to Booths scrapyard at Rotherham,and was put to the torch almost as soon as it arrived ,no doubt to salvage and sell on ,if not already sold, the prized Gardner 8L3 power unit which are highly sought after ,still today ,in also having a marine application .
Did you also know that the Industrial Railway Society have recently published their 8BRD? ,which in laymans terms stands for ;The Eighth edition of Ex Br Diesels in Industry.researched and edited by Adrian Booth ,with a concise history of every ex BR loco diesel loco below 1000HP ,which generally means diesel shunters,similar in size to the one above.All the locos are listed from Classes 01 to 14,which had a second life in the industries they served ,in England ,Scotland and Wales and the few that escaped to foreign climes.Considered by those in the know,to be the benchmark ,definitive book on this particular subject ,and a much earlier edition being the one that fired my interest in ex BR Locos..Perfect bound with many glossy colour photographs,and with an easy to follow layout, depicting locos in Industry and the lucky ones like ours that have survived and been preserved.This is a must have for any fans of ex BR locos and is available for sale via the Industrial Railway Society website for the modest sum of £15.00+p&p. The perfect read to while away the hours ,during the long periods that we are all now confined indoors.
Collecting D9500,the pioneer 14 from Williton on the West Somerset Railway (see story below)
Another venture that didnt go strictly to plan.To set the scene ,the guy standing behind the tail board of the hire lorry ,is Ian Goddard now sadly missed ,but at this moment in time the new proud?owner of D9500 which is just behind him.This was to become a key part of our collection,being the "Pioneer 14",or so we thought when we where at Meadowhall ,although we werent to know at the time that our potential Railway ,would be sold without our knowledge by Sheffield City Council, , surreptiously to Footpaths Ltd for £1.00 the trackbed ,so effectively robbing us of a future in Sheffield ,which by the way is the biggest City in the country without some kind of standard guage railway within its boundaries,Didnt they do well?? anyway sorry I digress ,when purchasing the said loco we were given to understand that it was the basis for rebuilding it back to being a running loco ,but sadly the quality and quantity of the parts that came with it ,made the task virtually impossible ,infact if I didnt know better I could have been forgiven for thinking someone had swapped most of the decent parts for useless scrap if I hadnt have known better?Shaun is behind the lorry ,watching me trying not to alter the shape of the said hire wagon ,while lifting the flywheel of the Paxman 6YJ power unit onto the back with the hiab crane.The little blue ford escort estate belonged to myself.About six months after this photo was taken the car was stolen from outside my house.The police had somehow managed to trace it to a lock up garage on the South side of Sheffield,and now comes the bad news .For some reason that still escapes me after they had staked the "lock up" garage out ,they watched the lowlifes who had stolen it ,remove the engine and the gearbox before they arrested them!!When they broke the news to me they readily admitted ,"it will need the attention of a commercial garage,after you have had it recovered",and I cant remember the date being anywhere near the 1st of April !! Suffice to say regarding the 14 its now in the ownership of Pete and Andrew Briddon ,also based at Peak Rail, but near Darley Dale station where the loco can sometimes be seen from passing Peak Rail trains or by appointment only ,by direct contact to themselves for a visit ,(please see their website for contact details)
Newport Ebbw Junct ,shed yard and another ,personal favourite 1200 Falcon , (as far as I can recall,it never carried a "D",in front of its number.Another loco that I misguidedly thought would be with us forever ,and disappeared very quickly into Cashmores yard at Newport in 1975,and oblivion.I have also include the photo of the nameplate taken on the same date ,and there is a fascimile of this at the entrance to the Brush works at Loughboro ,a very distinctive and neat design.
"Trans Pennines",as they were commonly known,please correct me if im wrong ,but these slipped through the net ,as I dont believe one has been preserved ? Today this most certainly would have happened.With their distinctive wrap around front windows ,and better than average DMU seats ,these always seemed to me a joy to travel in comfort wise, ,but a liitle restricted on viewing out of the windows,as the seats were usually high backed .They were regular performers into Sheffield Midland ,where this one is pictured and as I recall ,the majority if not all were allocated to Hull Botanical Gardens,(and by the way ,what a marvellous name for a depot ! )All too soon they had vanished ,along with the blue "brutes" ,do you remember those in their hundreds ?,high mesh sided parcel trolleys with smallish swivelling wheels ,that seem to cluster in small to large groups near the ends of platforms on most of the major stations?These are items that you dont really miss till they have vanished .I cant ever recall taking a phot that included brutes ,but if I have when I rediscover it I will post on the site.As its Sheffield ,and generally we lived in the Dark ages ,there is an old fashioned four wheeled wooden porters trolley to the right of the DMU .Did you know that Sheffield Midland and Sheffield Victoria never had totem signs at either ?We had to make do with illuminated light fittings with the station name,painted on the sides of these. So its no surprise to learn after Sheffield City Council's invovelment ,that we arent going to get a direct service with HST2 either .Thats the "old man moan" , done for this week!!
Unlucky Number 13 !!
C.F.Booths scrapyard,Rotherham,May 1983 ,and the mass disposal(read utter waste),of the whole Class 76 is well underway , with Mr booth taking a fair share of this "scrap" infact roughly 75% of the Class that were left?You may not see many photos taken from this vantage point ,as its taken from the lofty confines ,within the cab , of the overhead travelling crane that i had some favoured access to.Of course we are talking of times when there was a fair measure of common sense thrown into the mix ,regarding health and safety ,Oh!, and of course the compensation culture was probably in its infancy .
I hope that guy with his head out of the window ,wasnt waiting for this to stop at Reading station ,as its on the through line !This is the very late 70's when the HSTs reined supreme on the Western Region's mainline.Although I was reluctant to admit at the time ,they did look the part for the job,no question about that.I also believe they played a major role in turning the Railway's fortunes around ,by uplifting its image out of the doldrums ,of "dirty and slow" .The shot is looking towards London ,and Im sure I have seen the photographer on the end of the platform before ,probably featured in books,I dont want to hazard a guess? ,so if you could enlighten me ,Grateful thanks!
Call me old fashioned and biased, but how could you find better entertainment on our big Railway , than wandering around Old Oak Common , and coming across the turntable with these magnificent locos stabled around it?? Just wonderful Stuff!!
Meadowhall ,home of the South Yorkshire Railway ,circa 1995. When Trevor Dean ,a late lamented friend mentioned to me that he wanted "A 40",I have to say I didnt really think about the implications of having it at Meadowhall. This was the forty he wanted and I successfully bid for it on his behalf (and we wont even talk about the spare pair of bogies we also bought at the same time! ),a wonderful idea he had that has benefited the whole sphere of the Class Forty Preservation movement.The implications started to dawn when it was delivered to Meadowhall ,by road from Brightside Freightliner terminal on a 130 wheel trailer!! The weight ,including tractor unit and trailer of course was so heavy that the consignment had to go via Rotherham ,because of the weight ,there were worries about it damaging Tinsley Viaduct! When it arrived and was unloaded in Mcalls or Rom River as it was known , (The old Yorkshire Engine Company next door) ,and very carefully and slowly brought up into our yard ,and placed on the first siding here.Thats where it stopped until it left a number of years later.Sadly Trevor ,a great fella ,and our presence at Meadowhall are now just memories,but what a marvelous legacy he left ,making this purchase ,at the time.
Taken 51 years ago to the week ,more or less ,May 1969.Its statements like this that make you feel old!
Its Stratford Depot ,and im at a loss to tell you which six ,these Class 15s were as there were seventeen of the blighters seen on shed that day.My old sparring partner ,Alan Buckley of Manchester can be seen leading our party of two,(him and myself!!) I have to say that Alan looked more at ease strolling round the London sheds that day than the shed foreman's did!! Fortunately ,i cant say why now ,but as well as bunking most of the sheds in London ,we had a break early afternoon after visiting Finsbury Park shed we went to the film matinee across the road at the Rainbow cinema.Never to be forgotten times, and aren't those 15s just magnificently eccentric machines?All too soon of course every single item on this picture has been wiped away ,apart from the sky! My very best regards go to the lads at Bury ,restoring the very last one of these, to hopefully working condition.Resurrecting a true icon ,please support them if you can,and also not forgetting the very understated George Atter now deceased ,who was brave enough in the first place to put the money up to purchase the loco from BR,thanks George and r.i.p. mate.