Regular visitors will have noticed major changes to this website with several new pages added and existed pages recently updated. I had no idea this would turn into such a major overhaul but it involved reshuffling the site pages into groups to make navigation easier; apologies for any inconvenience cause. It is hoped the long-term benefits of maximizing webspace will compensate for any problems you have in finding which page went where! The best place to look is on the revised page menu on the left…
Meanwhile here's mention of just a few of the recently updated pages, starting with the 'Train Spotting 2' page 5 and the 'Western Region 2' page 22, featuring Jim Oakley's spotting notebook pages during visits by the Nothern Railfans Club to MPDs on the ScR and a week's holiday spent train spotting in Devon. On page 56, Barry Hilton's 'Railways around Rochdale' is updated with sections covering Castleton Junction and the Bacup branch, and Trevor Ermel's excellent Rail Cameraman page 70 'Life after BR Steam' now features stunning colour shots of BR Rail Blue diesels on Tyneside. And mention must be made of Derek Dean's remarkable in-depth study of the BR 'Britannia' class on his 'Changing Standards' page 90. Geoff Burch's latest SR page has also been updated with new maps, photos and galleries.
WELCOME TO THE REVISED COLLECTION.
This website is full of memories from a gentler, more innocent age when the post-war baby-boom was at its height and kids climbed trees, played hopscotch in the street and rode bikes without brakes, all of which is a far cry from today's mamby-pamby society. Life back then was something of a 'Boy's Own' adventure, if you like...but how time flies! Fast-forward 50-odd years and my doddering generation is now well past its prime, yet the ageing process does have its advantages - it gives us a chance to draw on feelings that we were unable to express as small boys.
That's why this website is pitched in a light-hearted fashion. After all, the hobby cuts no ice in today's hard-nosed society and this is especially the case at the parties I'm invited, where the people I meet are constantly looking over my shoulder in case someone more interesting enters the room.
Their behavioural tic becomes more frantic when I do my favourite party trick, a tongue-twister...it works best if you pinch your nose and speak in a high-pitched train announcer's voice; it adds pathos to the drama!....
'The train now standing at platform four is the five o' four for Forfar, calling at Fife. The first four coaches are for Forfar...the far five coaches for Fife. The first four coaches reach Forfar at four fifty-four and the far five reach Fife at five forty-five!
Okay, you're probably thinking there's a village missing an idiot somewhere so I'll stop larking around. After all, there is a serious side to this site too. It is the growing sense that if we lose sight of our past then we may as well say goodbye to the future. Indeed if I had to choose a photo that embraces everything that this website stands for...Derek Cross's superb shot of Dillicar Troughs (below) in the Lune Valley fits the bill perfectly!
For many spotters the end of steam overshadowed everything, but locking away one's feelings will not dispose of them, rather it evokes a lot more feelings besides. Once you start unearthing childhood memories long lost in the mists of time a much bigger story starts to unfold; you begin to develop an extraordinary affection for old red telephone boxes, Dinky Toys, Hornby Dublo trains, Vespa scooters, frog-eyed Sprites, old bangers with running boards and starting handles - even women PCs in stockings and suspenders. Indeed much of what has disappeared during the past fifty years means something special to someone in one form or other, especially BR steam in everyday service.
Today countless thousands of ex-spotters still bear the emotional scars of abandoning their allegiance to steam during the 1960s. Many abstained from the hobby as a matter of principle, others in reluctant surrender, but whatever the reason the overall feeling was that as steam had outlived its usefulness, then so had our interest in trains - a view in which we managed to persist until the bitter finale came in August 1968, and just five steam locomotives were left: 3 Black 5s Nos 44781, 44871, 45110; a solitary 8F No 48448 and the last working 'Britannia' No 70013 Olver Cromwell.
Alas, when it was all over, train spotting would never be the same again...
To witness such a large crowd of dedicated enthusiasts gathered at Manchester Victoria station for the departure of the '15 Guinea Special' in August 1968 was quite extraordinary!
Having said that, when you start to delve into the psyche of the spotting fraternity it is difficult to differentiate between out-and-out dedication and mental illness...
Take the enthusiast who bought two tickets for the last BR steam special. As he settled into his seat by the window, another man asked if anyone was sitting in the seat opposite him.
'No', he replied, 'the seat is empty….'
'Really!' said the man surprised, 'Who in their right mind would buy a 15 guinea ticket and not use it?'
'Well, actually the seat belongs to me. My wife was meant to be here, but she passed away.'
'Oh, I'm sorry to hear that...I guess you couldn't find someone else, such as a friend or relative to take the seat?'
'No, they're all at the funeral,' he replied.
Talking about the '15 Guinea Special', why not join the EAST LANCASHIRE RAILWAY for a two-day extravaganza marking the 45th anniversary of the end of main line steam on British Rail? The event will be held over the weekend of Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th July 2013 to commemorate this milestone of British railway history and to celebrate all things 1960s with activities, exhibitions, talks and tours aimed at the whole family...click below for details.
(Above-Below) Railway photographers are creatures of habit, invariably taking the traditional three-quarter shot a train to the exclusion of almost everything else in the surroundings. However, this ER Morten shot of Johnson Midland Class 3F 0-6-0 No 43612 at Gowhole Sidings with a heavy goods train on 21 April 1951 is refreshingly different since it shows the hustle and bustle of a busy railway yard chock-a-block with various loose-coupled freights. With a tractive effort of just 21,010lbs and weighing no more 43 tons, the Class 3F will require the help of a banker and the provision of four brake vans to assist the engine crew over the steeply-graded Peak Forest route to Rowsley. (Below) With the onset of dieselisation some 10-odd years later, the new generation of rail cameramen faced the task of making their pictures more interesting - photos of diesels on their own are nowhere near as photogenic as those of steam - hence the inclination to embrace more of the railway infrastructure or surrounding scenery as shown in this shot of the upper Aire Valley line at Steeton between Keighley and Skipton in the 1960s. Whatever the difference in photo-technique, however, the results are exactly the same - it records the railway scene for posterity.
NEW TO THE INTERNET? HERE'S A FEW TIPS...
(Left-Right) A warm welcome to the growing band of 'Silver Surfers' new to the Internet. You're never too old to learn. Harking back to the old days before the world wide web (www) was launched in 1989, there was nothing I liked better than browsing through the pages of old issues of 'Railway Magazine' and 'Trains Illustrated'.
Odd then, that it took me so long to surf one of the largest railway archives in the world on the Internet. I didn't start until 2007 - and although I found the 'drag and click mouse' jargon a bit baffling at first, once I got going it was great to log on and search through the thousands of railway sites. Trouble is, surfing the 'communications super highway' is a daunting task unless you know what you're doing. Over the years, the world wide web has become a victim of its own success, and the information overload - the sheer volume of material it contains - can take a lot of digesting.
(Below) I do get one or two complaints from visitors who've 'clicked-on' a link to this collection and find that it takes a long time to download.
The reason why some pages are slow is because of their huge size.
For example, a page made up of text is much easier to load than one made up of a 100 or more large photographs since it takes much longer to transmit. Many websites avoid this is by limiting the number of images. However, this website is primarily a collection of photographs in a 'magazine-format' so what you are actually opening are pages full of images of steam days…
So please be patient! You'll find it well worth the wait…
Indeed if you like these pages then why not bookmark them? Or if you're using Internet Explorer add them to your favourite list…I'm sure it will make your next visit a whole lot easier. Happy surfing!
(Below) Meanwhile you are welcome to visit the Guest Book (Page 50) to leave a message, but in particular if you are seeking help on a railway subject, please add your email address in your message...otherwise no one will be able to contact you!
SITE UPDATES! (Above-Below) Having recently purchased a Zennox Negative Scanner from a mail order catalogue (for less than fifty quid!) I'm making a start on trying to resuscitate some 50 year-old negatives which have never been printed and are like ghosts from the past crying out to be exhumed (digitalized). Over the years the 35mm negative strips have been kept in their original sleeves and are as good as new, though quite a few seem to have been 'got at' by a mysterious fungus, including this one of an unidentified EE Type 4 at Connonley between Skipton and Keighley in March 1961. This image was taken just a few weeks before the introduction of Type 4 diesels on the Anglo-Scottish expresses north of Leeds; it records a brief period of our railway history therefore it must be worth saving if only for old time's sake. Back in the spring of 1961, BR introduced a crew training programme involving footplate staff at Leeds Holbeck and using 'Peak' class locos between Leeds and Appleby, but on occasions EE Co Type 4s were employed. Now it has to be said that uploading an inferior photo onto the front page is hardly a ringing endorsement of the quality to be found on the rest of ther site, but it does illustrate the effort that goes into reviving old photos in a digital format (see restored photo below) which otherwise wouldn't get a look in on the web.
(Below) The marvel of the Internet! Whilst the World Wide Web allows you to wallow in unashamed nostalgia for the old days, it also brings you bang up to date with current goings-on...for example (below) even before the Railway Touring Company's 07-12 Crewe-Scarborough (1Z64) 'Scarborough Flyer' had reached its destination on September 3rd 2010, pictures of the train were already winging their way around the world. In the midst of delightful Pennine scenery at Diggle, Phil Spencer captures the scene of No 6233 Duchess of Sutherland seeking refuge in the goods loop beside the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The driver is awaiting the passage of a First TransPennine Express (FTPE) before rejoining the main line a few yards short of Standedge Tunnel.
(Below Left-Right) For the first-time 'Silver Surfer', the World Wide Web is a fantastic communications tool that allows people from all over the world to keep in touch via the miracle of electronic maill; it provides a wonderful opportunity to meet some really interesting people online…I say meet, you don't actually meet anyone in person, of course, we exist only in one another's hermitically-sealed world of cyberspace and exchange greetings on a keyboard.
Indeed there is something liberating about being online, particularly for the elderly whose mental agility might be impaired by advancing years. As you get older the mind can play the daftest tricks, and often when I'm in a conversation it seems as if my mind is a waste paper bin overflowing with unfinished sentences because I've forgotten a particular name or word; in other words I can't remember what I am about to say next!
In the most severe cases this missing word may take days, even weeks, before I can retrieve it, but by then it's too late - I have no use for a word like 'Steam Cock' when I'm queuing in a supermarket.
However, this lapse in concentration never happens to me online, but even if it did I still have the aid of a spell checker and thesaurus - and a 'save-draft' option - which means I can take as long as I like to communicate without lulling the recipient into a comatose state because my mind is a total blank.
Mind you I rarely get the chance to meet up personally, as David Platt and I did recently at Birch Services on the M62 - just a pair of old geezers gassing about trains, a subject very close to both our hearts.
In between infuriating long pauses - I was thinking about something quite different at the time; I was trying to remember if I'd left the immersion heater on at home. Well, it turns out that David is something of an expert on railway jigsaw puzzles and has created a new website dedicated to the subject - click here for link. The site includes an illustration of a painting I did (below left) for the Rocket 150 Celebrations at Rainhill in 1980, which was reproduced as a jigsaw puzzle along with 'Lion at Rainhill' (below right). David is also the author of a book - 'Steam Trains and Jigsaw Puzzles'.
LINKS TO BRITISH RAILWAYS REGIONS
Click photos below to visit the relevant web page.
Click on photo-links (below) for NOSTALGIA FOR THE OLD DAYS
A Silver Surfer's trip down memory lane...
THE FIRST GENERATION DIESELS
BR's Modernisation Plan didn't effect everyone. The 1960's spotting community was made up of countless thousands of youngsters, who, by virtue of their youth had no way of knowing what had gone before, so with the introduction of charismatic diesels like the 'Peaks', 'Deltics', 'Warships' and 'Westerns', the end of steam mattered little to them - and, if truth be told, even die-hard steam enthusiasts had to admire the performances of the new diesels. At the same time, BRs decision to name diesel locomotives was a commendable policy. The fitting of bodyside nameplates and, in some cases ornamental regimental crests, upheld a tradition going back donkey's years which added a certain panache to the new diesel fleet.
THE SECOND GENERATION DIESELS
By 1965, BR's diesel fleet entered the much-maligned era of the 'Corporate Identity Programme' and the newly-formed British Rail Board (BRB) decreed that everything had to conform to a given standard. The BRB's design panel advised British Rail on the best means of attaining a high level of appearance by introducing a new livery for diesel and electric locomotives, passenger coaches, freightliner rolling stock and ships, along with the use of a new barbed wire logo, based upon the idea of two-way traffic movement. The diesel fleet's unimaginative colour scheme (devoid of a two-tone livery and bodyside lining) wasn't helped by the BRB's strict policy forbidding any concession to livery changes, which deprived depot staff of any incentive to take a pride in their particular traction, and it wasn't until the late 1980's that the BRB finally adopted a more enlightening approach for its newly-launched Regional Services and Sectors.
AROUND THE REGIONS - STEAM DAYS
LOST AND FOUND! This site receives a lot of requests for photos and enquiries from visitors seeking information on trains and railway, but since I can't deal with them all myself I've launched a new 'Help' facility to help broaden your own search to a worldwide audience. Over the years, more and more visitors to this site are using the 'Guest Book' page in their search for information, and I am happy to oblige. If you are seeking assistance in your own search then visit the Guest Book page, but please include your email address in the message and deal with it yourself. I am not in the business of brokering any deals, nor am I an Estate Agent...some wag recently posted a house for sale - cheeky! But the facility has produced a result! Regular visitors to this site might recall Adam Parker contacting the Guest Book Page seeking information on a number of railway photos that he unwittingly became the custodian of. In fact, had it not been for Adam taking them under his wing the whole lot would have ended up on a bonfire! It was a most interesting story, and one I was happy to feature on the 'BR London Midland Region' page. Click here for link to 'Adam Parker's Album of Found Photos'. Since the appeal went out on the LMR page Adam has been contacted by the photographer, Richard Courtney and the material has been returned to the rightful owner...the wonder of the Internet - and ten out of ten to Adam for successfully tracking Richard down. It reaffirms one's faith in human nature...
Being a relatively newcomer to the web (better late than never, they say) the whole point of the collection is to try and build the best website possible and give something back to the community. At the same time I was keen to learn something about digitally enhancing old photos, such as 'burning' and 'dodging', sharpening, improving brightness and contrast, and removing spots or other unsightly blemishes. I began by practising in Adobe Photoshop; a powerful graphics tool that is used by cutting-edge designers who work at the sharp point in a studio, but since I have only modest ability, it is more like a computer darkroom that contains all the tools needed to work on old photographs - and, rather like a small boy rummaging in a toy cupboard, it allows me to zoom-in to a single pixel. I'm bound to get up close and personal with all photographers' work!
If you would like to contribute to the website I'll be pleased to include your spotting reminiscences from steam days, but be warned - the seasoned spotter can spot a 'porky' a mile off, so embellishing your story with fictional flourishes is hardly convincing. That's because train spotting captured the hearts of thousands of boys during the less-worldly Fifties, and although most of us are well past our prime (and forgotten what we did two minutes ago) the ageing process is surprisingly kind in another way. In the glow of memory we only remember the good stuff, so our spotting memories are bound to be mired in sentimentality. On the other hand, critics would argue that writing a personal account of 'bunking' sheds and chasing 'cops' is seldom illuminating or remarkable because all you are doing is regurgitating old anecdotes, which, by the very nature of the hobby, are exactly the same as everyone else's...RUBBISH! Call me an old-fashioned day dreamer, but any memory of bygone days is better than none. Just send me a favourite old photo accompanied by a meaningful caption and it will give visitors to this site a chance of escaping the grim reality of today's modern world...
On a final note, the most popular idols back in the Fifties were the comic 'cape crusaders' Spiderman, Batman or Superman, together with the Hollywood cowboy stars: Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger. However, the idols I worshipped above all others did not come from your usual ruck of pop singers, soccer players or film stars - and, unless you were a train spotter, none were household names. They were the railway photographers whose pictures appeared in the 1950-60s monthly magazines - the unsung heroes who helped shape my perception of the railway scene. So when I bumped into Jim Carter in the mid-Eighties, the fear of causing him even the slightest embarrassment deterred me from asking for his autograph. We met on the embankment overlooking Marsden's reverse curves at the Yorkshire end of Standedge Tunnel, a line he regularly worked during his days on the footplate. Mindful of those romantic tales about steam, I asked him - Did he really fry eggs and bacon on a shovel across the firebox? Jim left me in no doubt about his feelings - "Yon shovel is for feeding t'engine, not your gob!" So there you have it - straight from the horse's mouth. This shot of a Class 8F and WD on snow clearing duties at Diggle at the Lancashire end of Standedge Tunnel is a classic. Few photographs - or photographers, for that matter - can leave such a lasting impression. Thanks Jim, this site will always be dedicated to you...
PLEASE NOTE - IMAGES FROM THIS SITE SHOULD NOT BE PUBLISHED ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF THE RIGHTFUL COPYRIGHT OWNERS. IF YOU WISH TO USE A PICTURE ON THE WEB THEN YOU MUST ASK FIRST. A GOOD FIRST STEP IS TO MAKE CONTACT VIA THE E-MAIL ADDRESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE. YOU ONLY HAVE TO ASK...PERMISSION IS RARELY REFUSED, A RECIPROCAL LINK TO THIS SITE IS USUALLY THE CASE.
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