There comes a time in a spotter's life when they care little about collecting engine numbers, but a great deal more about embracing more grown-up things. They still have a strong, emotional attachment to the hobby, of course, the thrill of the chase will never go away, but with the demise of steam gathering pace during the 1960s many hormonal youngsters found bagging 'cops' on its own had lost its appeal during the 'youthquake' of the 'Swinging Sixties'.
It happened to me in 1964 when the Beatles came on the scene; the arrival of John, Paul, George and Ringo had a huge impact on teenagers during the Sixties. Not only did the 'Fab Four' reinvent pop music, they changed fashion too. The Mersey Sound paved the way for the new pop conveyor belt of the Seventies, with boy bands wearing girlie make-up and glittery sequins - and still to come: the extravagant 'loadsa' money era of the Eighties and the launch of a new genre of pop music with groups known collectively as the 'New Romantics' - Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Frankie Goes to Hollywood blasting us with an electronic wall of sound from simple, one note synthesisers.
It was the start of the rock anthems of the Eighties which simply took your breath away. In place of spectacular guitar riff and drum solos, DJ's pumped up the volume in strobe-lit discos and the kids were into 'gangsta-rap' and 'garage music', all of which makes me feel - well, prehistoric...
(Above) The ever-dwindling traces of closed branch lines are still comparatively easy to follow, while others have been obliterated with the passing of years. The former NE and Midland Railway route linking Arthington Junction on the Leeds-Harrogate line with the Leeds-Ilkley route at Burley in Wharfedale lost its passenger service on March 3rd 1965, involving the closure of Otley and Pool in Wharfedale stations. In misty conditions, Class J39 No 64920 takes the Otley branch at Arthington station with the daily pick-up goods from Leeds on 3 January 1961.(Above-Below) In between photographing the LMR's allocation of new EE Co Type 4s, including shots of the class working the 'Royal Scot' in both directions at Hest Bank. I had just about given up hope of catching a 'Coronation' class on an express until No 46242 City of Glasgow appeared heading a southbound train. (Below) After my Halina 35X camera let me down in such a ruinous fashion - see Tebay page 13 - I bought an Agfa Silette 35mm camera, but with slow film speeds and wild guesses on which f-stop to use, railway photography was still a hit and miss affair, and shots of fast moving trains in dull weather were usually avoided. However, if it looked good in the viewfinder, then it was always worth a chance. This shot of 'Coronation' class 8P No 46238 City of Carlisle is a case in point. The engine is scooping up more than enough water from Dillicar troughs during a sudden downpour in May 1961.-----------------------(Above) There are those with fallible memories who believe that station closures are exclusive to Beeching. Not so! Between 1948 and 1955 (from nationalisation to the Modernisation Plan) the British Transport Commission (BTC) approved the closure of 100 passenger services and 324 stations. The outer tracks at Beeston Junction once formed the start of a fly-over junction with the Batley Branch, which closed to passenger traffic on 29th October 1951. The 'down' track crossed the main line by a flyover, which can be seen in the background of this August 1961 shot of Class A1 60117 Bois Roussel heading a Leeds-bound goods. Tingley Gas Works can be seen on the horizon.----------------(Above-Below) Staying on the subject of valuable archive material (hope I'm not jumping the gun here!) I was trawling through my old railway negatives and came across these two oldies from 1960, both showing EE Co Type 4s 'whistling' up the bank from Leeds to Horsforth at the head of Liverpool-Newcastle expresses. There is nothing spectacular about these photos and they would never have seen the light of day in the normal way, but the location is the former AR Briggs & Co Ltd quarry in Clayton Woods which has recently been identified as a potential site for redevelopment. Among the proposals put forward is the provision of a new railway station, which (subject to putting in place the necessary highway infrastructure on the A6120 Ring Road) will help alleviate the parking congestion at Horsforth; the station at Horsforth is the last on the Leeds-Harrogate line to fall within the auspices of the WYPTE. The proposed Woodside station offers by far the best solution in minimising the need for commuting by road into Leeds - not to mention the prospect of easing the traffic congestion it causes. Indeed, why not go the full hog and provide a rail link to Leeds & Bradford airport? This could diverge from the Leeds-Harrogate line just beyond Horsforth station (see 'Queen of Scots' Pullman photo above). Ironically, the planned Park & Ride facilities at Woodside will occupy the site of the short-lived station opened by the NER in 1850, only to be closed fourteen years later…the words 'rising', 'ashes' and 'phoenix' spring to mind! ...Some helpful advice when viewing this website. Press F11 on the keyboard to empty the screen of all extraneous clutter (tool bars top-bottom etc) revealing a full-size webpage on screen. After clicking on images to view larger size, move cursor off the mage and right-click to return back to the page. You can press F11 on the keyboard again at any time to return to the original screen. (Above-Below) A Paddington-bound 1C125 powers through Sonning Cutting.-------(Above-Below) Now preserved on The Strathspey Railway, LH&JC No 60 passes north through the Lambton Engine Works & Philadelphia shed complex with a train of empty coal wagons for New Herrington Colliery on 25th February 1967. Behind the loco is the Philadelphia Running Shed, normally filled with the 0-6-2T locos built specially for the LH&JC Railway by Stephenson & Kitson loco builders. Above the shed roof can be seen the headgear of Dorothea (Newbottle) Colliery. Incidentally I enjoyed driving No 60 for 10 years on the Strathspey Railway. (Below) During the 1980s I was a regular weekend driver on The Strathspey Railway. In 1985 we experimented with Barclay 0-4-0ST 'Clyde' on passenger trains on the quiet Saturdays. We discovered that if we had both safety valves blowing off, with a huge fire for the size of the grate and with the boiler and saddle tank full of water, with 3 coaches, we could just keep to the 20-minute timing without stopping for a 'blow up'. On this day one of my PW friends took my camera to catch the train going over the summit at about 20 mph flat out! I had filled the firebox to my satisfaction at Boat of Garten, and with the 3 coaches there was just enough steam at the summit to keep the brakes off and still be able to use the injectors. Here you see my fireman sitting on the coal bunker with his back to the boiler, his job done for this trip, while I am driving, happy there is still plenty of fire to keep making steam while filling the boiler on the way down from the summit to Aviemore .
(Above-Below) The view from Nineveh Road overlooking Holbeck shed yard was a popular venue for weekend spotters in steam days. The shed (20A) came under the auspices of the North Eastern Region in 1957 and was subsequently re-coded 55A, along with its sub-depots bearing suffixes B-G in the regional reshuffle. Here, Class 8F No 48083 trundles empty flat wagons through Engine Shed Junction towards Stourton. In the shed yard, Stanier 'Black Fives' are accompanied by a pair of Class 25 diesels and a solitary Class 03 diesel shunter with its distinctive striped cab. The shed closed its doors to steam on September 30th 1967 and the buildings and No 1 type concrete coaling tower was demolished in 1970 - the structure had two bunkers that could hold 300 tons of coal and was able to service two engines at a time. (Below) This view was taken from the former LNW viaduct on 6th July 1982 during an ASLEF dispute. The scene shows the fuelling point (built on the site of the coaling stage) and the diesel maintenance depot (on the extreme right) containing two repair shops with 200ft tracks and a large overhead crane. In the foreground, a variety of diesel locomotives, including Class 08s, 31s, 40s and 45 'Peaks' - it's a far cry from shed's allocation of famous steam classes, which included 'Claughtons', unrebuilt 'Patriots', Stanier 'Jubilees' and rebuilt 'Scots', BR Standard 'Britannias' and Gresley A3s. Sadly, all are now but just a memory.(Above-Below) How many of today's adult enthusiasts wish they had taken more railway photographs when they had chance? I certainly do - and I would have done a lot more - but, as ever, reality was not so clear cut. For one thing, most of the kids I knocked around with didn't understand my passion for photographing trains. In their view, it was juvenile and 'square', and the question most frequently asked was - why did I do it? But why not? Perhaps they thought I was not quite the full shilling, unhinged, probably certifiable, but I felt neither shame, regret or even a shred of guilt for what I did. I had embarked on a personal crusade to record the railway scene before it vanished completely and no amount of peer pressure was going to intimidate me. But the rules of engagement were about to change. As dieselisation got into its stride, visits to the lineside might yield the odd photograph of steam, but for the most part I had to satisfy myself with taking pictures of dreary-looking diesel multiple units. Alas, railway photography had taken on a whole new meaning, since BR's stock of motive power seemed to consist of only run-down steam classes and equally drab-looking diesels and, if truth be told, the enjoyment gone out of railway photography. The lack-lustre railway scene was a truly depressing sight and I could see no point in watching steam's imminent demise in such a lametable state. At the beginning of 1961, an hourly service of 3-car dmus commenced between Leeds and Huddersfield. The Standedge route was complimented by a two-hourly service throughout to Manchester, along with the introduction of EE Type 4 (Class 40) haulage on the Newcastle-Liverpool service. In this vew, a 3-car Metro-Cammell set (Class 101) departs from Ravensthorpe station in April 1962.On the right are the Calder Valley lines looking towards Healey Mills and the site of the ex-L&Y Thornhill Station, closed in 1952. The aged semaphores were replaced when signalling came under the control of the power box at Healey Mills in 1970.------------(Above-Below) Class 45 'Peak' No 45111 Grenadier Guardsman emerges from Standedge Tunnel with the 12.05 Liverpool-Scarborough in May 1983. On the right is the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, less than 7fy wide, which enters the hillside through a 5,456 yard long bore at a lower level beneath the railway. The bridge carries overspill water from a local reservoir. (Below) Phil Spencer captures the whole scene looking in the opposite direction, as 6201 Princess Elizabeth heads the return leg of the Railway Touring Co's 'Scarborough Flyer' on 20th August 2010. Phil adds: What a wet, miserable night! Several photographers called it a day. The light faded so fast that I ended up taking this shot n virtual darkness at 8.35pm on a Nikon D3 using a 70-200mm Nikkor lens at 3200 iso - the exposure was 1/125 sec at f5. The train had been put into the Marsden Loop for some 25 minutes before getting up steam for the climb through Standedge Tunnel to Diggle.--------(Above-Below) The NYMR is host to several diesels - the first one being Class 24 No D5032 which arrived on the line following a request by the Forestry Commission for a cessation of steam working during the hot summer of 1976. The fire risk within the National Park is always a problem, and the introduction of a well balanced steam-diesel fleet has offered a solution to the hazard of steam operation through the coniferous forests. The tabular hills of the North Yorkshire Moors can be clearly seen as D5032 runs downhill through Newtondale in 1983. (Below) Following the reduction in rail traffic over the Settle-Carlisle line its future was in some doubt. Its decline as a major rail artery culminated with the re-routing of the scheduled Nottingham-Glasgow expresses via the Hope Valley line which clearly revealed BR's intention to demise the S&C (by re-routing traffic away from the S&C it effectively reduced its importance as a major rail link, thus making closure an easier option). The blunt disclosure by BR of the deterioration of the quarter mile long viaduct at Ribblehead and the cost of repair was given as the main reason for the decision to close the line. But it wasn't until August 1983 that the rumour of closure was confirmed. By then, only a modicum of freight, together with two daily passengers services in each direction formed the line's regular service. The announcement saw the start of the longest public hearing ever held by the Transport Users Consultative Committee. Here, Class 31 heads the 16.35 Carlisle-Leeds past the remote Blea Moor Sidings on 23rd June 1983. Super-wide image - click on image once, then again to see extra-wide view. THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES REMEMBERED...HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL-----------For countless thousands of post-war baby boomers, the less-worldy 1950s was the very foundation upon which society was formed. There was a wonderful sense of belonging and instilled in every child was an appreciation of traditional family respectability, and an even stronger sense of moral values. Even so, we didn't always see eye to eye with parents; throughout the Fifties wartime stringencies were very much in evidence and many families had to struggle to make ends meet therefore children had a somewhat repressive upbringing. Discipline was strict and when children stepped out of line, school teachers and parents didn't hesitate to give a child a hefty clip around the ear for daring to complain about their lot - 'Brave men fought and died in the war for your freedom' was the mantra. It was enough to silence even the most dissenting voices.---------------Clearly the rules of propriety were defined by World War 2 and children learned the differences between right and wrong from a very early age, which is more than can be said for the today. Too often, it seems, the traditional values that we were taught in the Fifties - no matter how authoritarian they now seem - has given way to a casual and selfish attitude, and the only thing that children seem to care about is themselves and the pretentious lifestyle that the celebrity culture brings. Crying out loud! - what today's kids lack is firm discipline and solid role models, not some Jumped-up 'here today, gone tomorrow' celebrity... For all its strictness, however, the Fifties was a great place to be; quite apart from halcyon days of train spotting, we were actively encouraged by parents to play outside in the fresh air; we ran errands for elderly neighbours and had a share in the household chores; we walked to school, climbed trees and played rough and tumble games in the street, we were even allowed to go train spotting to faraway places such as Crewe above and below (Brownie 127 shots) and if we minded our manners, a sweet was rewarded as a special treat.----------A well-mannered child was the embodiment of respectibility for parents, but in a child's mind the sweet was a bribe and just about sums up the hypocrisy of the 1950s. Because certain things about childhood still bug me today and it's taken me until now to speak of it.-----------I'm harking back to a more innocent age when coalmen delivered to the door, and rag 'n' bone men clip-clopped down the street with a horse and cart. In those day black people were an exotic rarity: they wore jazzy costumes, sang calypso songs and limbo danced under burning poles. Equally rare were fitted carpets; we had polished lino in the front room that looked like a wall-to-wall pizza with swirling colours that made me feel 'thee-thick'... ------As you can see I hadn't any social skills to speak of, but even at that age I was aware of an outpouring of deference by grown ups which led to children developing an inferiority complex that took years to shake off. I'm talking about the suffocating Hyacinth 'Bouquet'-style pretences that seemed to permeate the very fibre of the nation's consciousness; it had something to do with respectability, conformity and a firm belief in prurience, primness, restraint and trust; it was supposed to be the backbone of a society that taught children to respect their elders and neighbours.----------Now I'm not sure when I first became aware of this special kind of inverted snobbery that working class folk reserved for anyone better off than themselves, and I certainly had no idea why they had such high regard for posh folk. Even more curious, I couldn't understand why their heavily-accented 'Ee-bah gum! Ecky-thump!' voices suddenly changed into a hoity-toity pitch when addressing such company - in those days, getting ideas above your station, or social climbing in any shape or form, was seriously frowned upon by women exchanging idle gossip over back garden walls.-------Crazier still, this inverted snobbery wasn't confined to my family, everyone in the street seemed hell-bent on keeping up with the Jones's. Okay, you didn't see any fancy cars parked in the street (unless the Doctor called) nor would you find any telltale phone lines leading to a neighbour's roof (telephones were for toffs) yet there was plenty of evidence of houses boasting the fanciest white net curtains in front windows and the shiniest cardinal red doorsteps, though it wasn't a case of trying to outdo one's neighbours; it was more a question of ambition. In other words, working class people were simply trying to keep up appearances, which, in view of the harshness of those times, stands to reason, doesn't it?----------After all, where would this country be without pretensions? If we didn't try to make the most of ourselves, then nobody would budge an inch from the manner into which they were born, and society would end up reverting back to Dickensian days of waifs and serfs donning their hats to the gentry. That's the difference with a modern society; if everyone valued their ordinary surroundings we'd be a happier nation. The class neurosis began to wane in the 1960s; the social hierarchy may have subscribed to its stuck-up assumptions about the right order of things, but as more and more doors opened it became relatively easier for the less well-off to improve their lot - just as long as you didn't let go of your values nor forget the three 'Rs' - respect for yourself, respect for others and responsibility for your actions......(Below) Each time I look at this photo of Saltaire station in 1984, I hold my hands up in reluctant surrender - this could well be me in a few years time! Contrary to appearances, however, not all Yorkshire folk are grim 'up north' stereotypes, who wear cloth caps, shove ferrets down trousers, clog dance in streets, breed whippets and race pigeons, and live on a diet of pork scratchings. These gentlemen could well be ex-train spotters reminiscing about old times when the old MR Anglo-Scottish expresses plied the Aire Valley route between Leeds and Skipton and local passenger services were hauled by Midland 1P 0-4-4Ts. How times have changed! The station at Saltaire was demolished soon after closure on 20th March 1965, but the service was resumed on 9th April 1984 when the enterprising West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (WYPTE) financed a new station, built generously in local stone in keeping with the famous Sir Titus Salt's mill complex; the village of Saltaire is one of the finest examples of an intact Victorian industrial villages in England.-------------(Above) My first railway photographs were taken on my sister's battered Kodak Brownie 127 camera, which I borrowed for spotting trips to Doncaster and York; it was the most basic camera in the Kodak range and the results were poor, but it whetted my appetite for buying a new Halina 35X 35mm camera out of mum's mail order catalogue. Trouble is, I had such low expectations of success I daren't take the camera out of its leather case (I hadn't a clue what the range of shutter speeds and 'f' numbers on the lens barrel meant). Then a more experienced photographer gave me a quick lesson on aperture settings and optimum shutter speeds - he's the gentleman on the left winding the film on in his camera. He explained that my camera's maximum shutter speed was 1/200sec; the largest aperture f3.5 and the film I had loaded in the camera had an ASA rating too!------------Reassured by his five-minute lesson, I photographed Class A1 No 60116 Hal o' the Wynd on the 'up' 'Heart of Midlothian' on April 20th 1960. No 60116 was one of 17 locomotives in the class which perpetuated names borne by the former NBR 'Atlantics' and 'Scott' class engines after characters in the books of Sir Walter Scott - Hal o' the Wynd was the blacksmith in 'The Fair Maid of Perth'. The remainder were named after racehorses, birds and the names associated with the LNER's constituent companies and their loco superintendents.-----------(Below) Later that same day, I knew all there was to know about the basics of photography...a likely story! I was an impetuous clever-clogs, who hadn't the foggiest notion what I was doing! When I took this shot of Class A3 No 60064 Tagalie restarting a train for Newcastle beneath the great arched roof at York station on April 20th 1960, it's a marvel that I got any picture at all, I grant you that. The friendly photographer I mentioned earlier advised me to keep a record of shutter speeds and aperture setting for every photograph I took, so in the event of photographing a similar one in the future at least I'd have a guideline… excellent advice as it turned out. On the left, a BRCW 3-car set awaits departure for Scarborough. The dmu service commenced on March 17th 1960, replacing most of the weekday steam-hauled passenger services to the Yorkshire coast, the majority of which were through workings from Leeds..............
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