Introduction by David Hey
When asked by Coastline Radio 97.7FM - a local radio station on the Costa del Sol - to talk about train spotting in the Sixties, the idea did not sit easily with me - and just as I feared, when I opened my mouth to speak, a lot of emotional twaddle came out. That's because the shock of seeing so many once-proud (and still serviceable) steam locomotives being towed away for scrap is engraved in granite, and stuff like that doesn't go away that easily. It was the end of civilization as I knew it.
But the misery didn't end there. When Beeching became BR chairman in 1961 he turned the screw even further. Not only did he orchestrate thousands of station closures, he slashed the railway network by half, and had the radio station given me a chance to explain this perplexing - and, some would say, chaotic background to train spotting in the Sixties - then I could have voiced my opinions in a more rational manner. But the producer didn't want a mind-numbing lecture on railway history - 'It might send listeners into a coma,' he said.
Well, he couldn't have put it more eloquently, though how anyone can describe the twilight years of steam as being deadly dull is the same as saying that people like me should be pitied and that's just asking for trouble. What the producer couldn't possibly understand - he was too young to know, or care - is that train spotting was the national hobby for boys during the Fifties; it cut right across all social classes and I wouldn't have missed it for all the world.
That's why I started the 'David Hey's Collection' website back in 2007. It began as a rehabilitive form of exercise, a means of stimulating the few remaining grey cells I have in retirement. This site is meant to be a hobby, pure and simple; it gives me the chance to showcase some old rail photos on the web and for anyone to share their old train spotting memories with others. As a result, the site has just grown and grown, though this is not entirely down to me; it would not have been possible without the generous help of dozens of photographers, all of whom have searched through old negatives, prints and slides to find suitable pictures to fill the gaps of my own collection. I am grateful to everyone, of course, but in an odd sort of way their help has given rise to some misunderstanding.
Fast-forward a couple of years and the domain name, 'David Hey's Collection' is something of a misnomer. It implies that the site contains photographs from my own collection; that all the photographs belong to me...LET ME MAKE IT VERY CLEAR - THEY DON'T!
Worse still, I risk delivering a snub to the dozens of cameramen whose generosity allows me to post so many photos on the site in the first place, which is definitely not what I intended. And in case you're wondering, the name 'David Hey's Collection' was chosen because the 'Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway' and 'Lost Railways of West Yorkshire' websites adopted this name back in 2007 (I contributed photos to both sites) and so I merely followed their lead.
Getting to the point...the idea of this site is to rekindle fond memories of bygone days - well, the memories that an old fogey can dredge up, that is. Alas forgetfulness is one of the foibles of old age - a senior moment, as it's often called - and it's not until you dig deeper into your subconsciousness (ferreting through memories shoved furthermost to the back of your mind) that the foggy confusion suddenly clears...this nostalgia malarkey is nothing like a rehabilitive exercise at all!
SPOTTING MEMORIES 1
Jim Oakley's Spotting Notebook - 1961-62
If I was asked to explain the intricacies of train spotting I'd start by comparing it with another favourite pursuit for boys...fly fishing. The similarities are scarcely apparent at first, yet the basic principles are much the same. For starters, both groups are driven by the same Zion-style love of the great outdoors, they enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside and being close to nature. They experience long periods of suspenseful waiting and spend hours, often frozen to the bone or soaked to the skin, idling away the hours in all-weather conditions. But don't be fooled. On the face of it, they may appear to be in a docile state, but their senses are highly-tuned. They are homing-in on the first tell-tale signs that some action is about to kick off. For an angler this can be a float dipping teasingly on the water; for a train spotter it is the tantalizing rustle of signal wires which never fails to stimulate a sense of expectancy! This is the moment that both have been waiting for - a highly charged few minutes, a sudden surge of high-octane excitement!
The childhood memory is fallible, they say, but if I had to pick out my best spotting memories then I'd opt for the summer holidays spent watching express trains thundering through Thirsk station more than 50-odd years ago. The station is situated on the superbly-aligned East Coast Main Line between York and Northallerton; a stretch of line that has seen more high-speed running than any other in Britain.
In pre-diesel days the A4 'Streaks' were the star turns on the ECML, regularly topping 90mph in normal service. From the platform edge, it was easy to spot these streamlined machines; the sun caught their sloping wedge-shaped fronts which produced the effect of a beam of light in the distance; it was barely discernible at first, merely a pin prick of light shimmering through heat haze rising from the track. But there was no mistaking what was hurtling towards you; the apparition would slowly transform into the distinctive streamlined shape of a 'Streak - so sleek and dashing; a thoroughbred racing machine in full flight, rocking and swaying over the points like a wild stallion.
Then as the driver blew the melodious chimed whistle heralding his warning, the sleepy station was awakened to a crescendo of sound; the ferocity of it was spellbinding, a tumult of swirling smoke and steam engulfing everything in its wake. Then it was gone, the moment all too brief; yet the magic will stay with me forever...and that, I have to say, is the big difference between us...the sheer thrill of train spotting puts the pedestrian pace of fly fishing into the shade any day of the week!
(Above Left-Below) The steam action at Doncaster was a big draw for spotters, including Jim who made several pilgrimages there from his home in Oldham. Here he captures the distinctive wedge-shaped front of 60012 Commonwealth of Australia on shed at 36A, and below a more traditional three-quarter view of the now-preserved 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley heading south with an express for Kings Cross.
However, there is another disparity that exists between us that I haven't quite fathomed out. Why is the public's perception of train spotters so downbeat? What makes it doubly difficult to understand is that their slant on angling is far more possitive. Is it because the hoi-polloi knows so little about trains and railways? I suspect a good fifty per-cent think that all steam engines are one and the same; that train spotters are a bunch of loons.
So for the benefit of the uninitiated let me explain - train spotting is all about collecting ('copping') as many new engine numbers as possible; a simple task in the ordinary way - but therein lays a problem. You see, the rudiments of train spotting demanded a good measure of 'honesty' and 'integrity' - both admirable sentiments, but hardly the stuff you can rely upon when the very reason for collecting engine numbers was to push the 'cop'-rate as far as you could go.
So it gives me no pleasure to tell you that a small number in the spotting fraternity thought nothing of adding a whole raft of random numbers to their collection, perhaps thinking that cramming their Ian Allan abc chock-full of underlined 'cops' somehow absolved them from paying any attention to a credible story...like where and when the sightings were made?
These 'cheats' had no place in the club; they were offenders of the worst kind, whose indiscriminate spotting didn't depend on their powers of observation, it was down to the fertility of their youthful imagination. Not only were they cheating on others they were cheating themselves.
(Above Right-Below) Castle class No 7019 Fowey Castle departs from Wolverhampton. (Below) EE Co Type 1 D8077 (later TOPS Class 20) at Parkhead (65C) on 22nd April 1962; this was one of the shed's visited during the Northern RCailfan Club's marathon bash of 11 ScR sheds mentioned below...
This brings me to Jim Oakley's spotting notebook, which, on the face of it, contains nothing more than a list of loco numbers, but on closer examination it reveals a slice of our railway history. Prior to leaving Robin Hill Secondary Modern School in December 1959, fifteen year-old Jim became a member of the Northern Railfans Club (NRC). Based in Goostrey in Cheshire, the NRC was run by the enterprising Ray Hawley and Tom Smith who organised official visits to BR Locomotive Works and Motive Power Depots the length and breadth of the country. A monthly newsletter was circulated amongst members with details of forthcoming visits, and during the next 3½ years Jim went on numerous spotting trips.
(Above-Below) Jim can recall a NRC tour to Swindon Works - the highlight of which was seeing the newly-built 92220 Evening Star just two days after its naming ceremony on 18th March 1960. The starting point of the tour was Crewe station, where they caught a train to Birmingham then changed onto a train for Gloucester; a coach picked them up at Gloucester station for official visits to all three Bristol sheds, followed by Swindon Works and then the two Gloucester sheds on the return journey to Crewe. (Below) Another Swindon shot on that day shows 'King' class 6028 King George V1 in the Works yard.
The page (left) shows the total number of 'cops' Jim logged on a Northern Railfans Club Tour (No 699) on 17th September 1961. No less than ten steam motive power depots were visited in the East Midlands area, including March (31B); New England (34E); Kettering (15B); Market Harborough (15E); Leicester (Midland) 15C; Leicester (Central) 15E; Coalville (15D); Burton (17B); Uttoxeter (5F) and Stoke (5D) - the sum total of ten sheds and 398 'cops', just two short of 400...not bad for a day's spotting trip.
(Right) But there was another NRC trip he joined that produced an even better result than that! On the 22nd April 1962 he joined the Northern Railfans club's overnight trip from Manchester to Scotland. A coach picked them up at Manchester Victoria for the marathon bash of eleven ScR sheds. After a quick bite at the Transport Cafe in Carnforth, it was a case of grabbing what little sleep he could as the coach headed up the A6 to Scotland...no M6 in those days! Once north of the border the tour began with a visit to Motherwell (66B) followed by Hamilton (66C); Kipps (65E); Parkhead (65C); St Rollox (65B); Polmadie (66A); Eastfield (65A); Dawsholme (65D); Yoker (65G); Cockerhill (67A) and Greenock (66D) the most 'cops' he ever had in one day - 663 in all! But not content with that, the following weekend he was off again...this time to Doncaster, including a visit to the famous 'Plant' Locomotive Work on 17th September 1961...indeed If you were seeking an alternative title for this feature - 'Extreme Train Spotting' would fit the bill nicely.
(Below) Jim photographed the English Electric Company's Gas Turbine Locomotive GT3 on shed at 15E Leicester (Central) during a visit by the NRC featured above left. At that time this experimental one-off loco was less than a year old, having emerged from English Electric's Vulcan Foundry in May that year; GT3 was exhibited at the Institute of Locomotive Engineers exhibition at Marylebone before it was subjected to a number of proving and comparison tests on the stationary rollers at the famous Rugby testing station; this was followed by trials on the former Great Central Railway's Leicester-Woodford Halse. By this time, however, the British Transport Commission (BTC) had decided to invest in diesel and electric traction and this interesting gas-turbine experiment was abandoned. GT3 was returned to Vulcan Works in late 1962 and after the removal of components the chassis was sold to Wards of Salford for scrap.
It is quite remarkable that Jim has kept his spotting notebook all these years - we're talking here of 1961...the same year that the fleet of 'Deltics', 'Hymeks', Westerns' and EE Type 3 (Class 37) were introduced to traffic; when Angela Mortimer beat Christine Truman in an all-British women's final at Wimbledon and Tottenham Hotspur did the 'double' by winning both the English league and FA Cup. In January 1961, John F Kennedy succeeded Dwight D Eisenhower as the 35th President of the United States of America, and by May 25th he announced his goal to put a man on the Moon before the end of the decade. The Apollo space programme was born; the Beatles performed for the first time at the Cavern Club; the old black and white £5 notes cease to be legal tender; South Africa pulled out of the Commonwealth of Nations; Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the earth in space; Britain applied for membership in the European Economic Community and 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', 'Guns of Navarone' and 'West Side Story' became smash hits in cinemas. Also in 1961 Eden Kane 'Well I ask you' made it to the No 1 spot; the Everly Brothers 'Temptation' became their fourth UK No 1; John Leyton's 'Johnny Remember Me' topped the charts and in December 1961 Frankie Vaughan had his second UK No 1 with Burt Bacharach's 'Tower of Strength'. The Christmas hit was 'Moon River' from the Oscar-winning film 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' - the only UK No 1 for Danny Williams.
(Above-Below) 'Peak' class D25 awaits its next turn of duty at Holbeck. (Below) Here are two pages from Jim's notebook covering a small section of the Northern Railfan Club's Tour No 738 of the West Riding on 10th February 1962. The book contains nine pages covering a total of eight steam sheds visited: Farnley (55C); Copley Hill (56C); Neville Hill (55H); Stourton (55B); Ardsley (56B); Wakefield (56A); Mirfield (56D) and Low Moor (56F). For some reason Holbeck (55A) wasn't included in the itinerary...perhaps it had something to do with construction work then taling place on the new diesel facilites? Meanwhile, the Copley Hill visit reveals no fewer than 10 Class A1s in residence: 60113 Great Northern; 60115 Meg Merrilies; 60117 Bois Roussel; 60119 Patrick Stirling; 60120 Kittiwake; 60123 HA Ivatt; 60128 Bongrace; 60130 Kestrel; 60133 Pommern and 60134 Foxhunter - plus a solitary Class A4 60003 Andrew K McCosh. A good mix of steam and diesels were to be found at Neville Hill, where he finally 'copped' his last Class A3 60081 Shotover to 'bag a full house' of 78...
(Right-Below) This page from Jim's spotting notebook reveals the variety of locos in residence at Carlisle Kingmoor (12A) during a Northern Railfans Club visit on 1st October 1961. The numbers include two 'Princess Royal' class Pacifics 46201 Princess Elizabeth and 46210 Lady Patricia...the latter eking out its final days; it was withdrawn that same month - all twelve members of the class ended their days between October 1961 and November 1962.
Also on shed that day were no less than seven Stanier 'Duchesses', though only one of them, No 46226 Duchess of Norfolk, carried a Duchess name. Indeed out of a total of 38 only 10 members Nos 46225-46234 - had that distinction. The remainder noted in Jim's book are 46221 Queen Elizabeth; 46236 City of Bradford; 46244 King George 1V; 46247 City of Liverpool; 46249 City of Sheffield and 46255 City of Hereford....the entire class was withdrawn by October 1964.
The shed was also host to five BR Standard Class 6P5F 'Clans' Nos 72000/4-5/7-8, namely Clan Buchanan; Clan Macdonald; Clan Macgregor; Clan Mackintosh and Clan Macleod, though their life expectancy was a little over a year....withdrawal of the class began in December 1962 with 72000-4; the last to go being No 72008 in May 1966...the class became extinct when 72008 was scrapped in August 1966.
The two 'Britannias' spotted at Kingmoor that day were 70020 Mercury (withdrawn January 1967) and 70023 Venus (December 1967). The BR Standard class 7MT Pacifics were among the last survivors of WCML steam based at Carlisle Kingmoor before the shed closed its door to steam on January 1st 1968. No fewer than 13 engines survived up to the December 31st deadline.
Finally, three 'Jubilees' 45700 Amethyst, 45716 Swiftsure and 45727 Inflexible were noted on shed that day - a total of 39 'cops' for Jim, who, oddly enough opted to photograph EE Type 4 No D332 (introduced to traffic in February 1961) and sporting 1M22 in its route indicator boxes plus a 'Royal Scot' headboard in readiness for the southbound trip.
(Above) Back in the old days, a hooded duffel coat with pegs for buttons was very much the spotting attire! This is very much in evidence during a spotting trip to Doncaster in the early 1960s, when Jim Oakley's spotting pal Peter Jacques took this shot of the rest of the gang: Granville West, Neil Sinker and Keith Wilde, happily posing next to Class A3 60039 Sandwich awaiting departure with an 'up' express for Kings Cross.
Old photographs are a wonderful way of reviving memories of spotting days; they remind us that in spite of our strict upbringing or perhaps because of it (praise was strictly rationed by parents in those days) our behaviour was at best boisterous and at worst, a downright nuisance. So to run away with the notion that the train spotting fraternity was an angelic lot is something of a misnomer. The majority of boys I met were loyal, trustworthy, and because we shared a common interest in trains, there was a wonderful sense of belonging to a club that excluded no one from joining.
The hobby embraced youngsters and grown-ups from all walks of life: from the big-shot luminaries in high places to the average-Joe on the street, and all could be found congregated at the ends of platforms, drawing cries of Cop! or Cope! and Strake! and Streak!
Indeed if you were seeking to find a group of spotting stereotypes, a main line station was the place to go. There you'd see scruffy kids in anoraks chomping their way through jaw-aching jam butties whilst the posh kids donned natty school blazers and dined on a veritable banquet of chocolate éclairs - and, after they'd finished, they in all probability fluffed instead of farted - but so what? We were all committed to a single cause, and that made all the difference...we were family.
(Right-Below) Photographed by a young Trevor Ermel, both these shots show his 12 year-old brother Eric (in glasses) and cousin David during a 'spotting' expedition from Newcastle to Haymarket station, Edinburgh, on 3rd August 1965. The 'Black Five', with large Scottish Region cabside numbers, was working a Waverley to Carstairs passenger train. All three 'copped' it! (Below) Another posed shot at Haymarket on the same day, this time with David and Eric in front of a pair of Type 2 diesels, Nos D5338 and D5323. Trevor isn't sure of the actual working, but why would he? At 14 years-old, taking down numbers was the name of the game, and he 'copped' them both! Doubtless he probably hadn't noticed the tablet-catching apparatus for single line working on the cabside of D5338?
(Above) There's a lot more to train spotting than dashing around in the pursuit of 'cops'. This photo of a Rebuilt 'Patriot' class No 45528 REME entering Crewe with a southbound train somehow emphasises those chronic long periods of languor (when nothing exciting seemed to happen) which was all part and parcel of a spotter's itinerary.
These spotters had probably glanced up, jotted down the number, but since it wasn't a 'cop' it was of no further interest. One is leafing through his Ian Allan abc while the other is similarly apathetic seemingly contemplating nothing in particular or else he's nodded off! The photo might convey a total air of indifference, but it certainly struck a chord with Ian Cook, who writes...
'Hi David, just found your site and had a good wallow in the past which brought back lots of fond memories. Got to reading your page about spotters and came upon the picture of the bored spotters at Crewe, which made me smile and then stare open mouthed as the one looking at his combined is (now sadly was) my Uncle Geoff as a teenager. It was he who got me into train spotting and he later had a motorbike and took me to numerous engine sheds around Lancashire. He lived in Wigan with my grandparents and I would go and stay for weeks at a time and spot on the main London-Glasgow line.
We lived in Blackpool at the time so bizarrely I must be the only kid in history living in Blackpool who went for his holidays to Wigan!
When you think back to all the places we went spotting at only 11 or 12 years old and the freedom we had as kids it is hardly any wonder that as we all get older, each time there is a further curb on our freedom we want to start revolution and get even more crotchety.
Took my Grandsons to the station a couple of weeks ago to watch the trains and Princess Elizabeth steamed majestically through...you should have seen their faces, smiles from ear to ear, almost as big as their Granddad's!
Kind Regards, Ian Cook...'
(Below) The World Wide Web is just that - worldwide! Its muscle circumnavigates the globe and several ex-pats have written in to say how much they enjoy reviving fond memories of train spotting on these pages. I've received an email from Alan Grange, now residing in sunny California, who writes - 'Just spent the last couple of hours reliving my Scottish railway bashing via JP Stoddard's excellent recollections on page 71. Tremendous! I am sending a shot of some spotters standing alongside the now-preserved 'Taw Valley' at an unknown location on the Southern Region. Perhaps the lads might recognize themselves. Thanks again for all your efforts. Sincere regards, Alan Grange.'
(Above) What appears to be a conspiratorial discussion between three young spotters is caught on camera by Trevor Ermel at Newcastle on 5th August 1980...could this be you? It may be thirty-odd years ago, and you're probably suffering a mid-life crisis by now, but perhaps the following diary of events might jerk the memory - topping the charts that week was Odyssey's 'Use It Up and Wear It Out' and Newcastle United finished 9th in the old League Division 2. The 1980s kicked off with another all too familiar nationwide strike, this time by British Steel workers demanding a 20% pay rise. In February, figure skater Robin Cousins won an Olympic gold at the Winter Games in Lake Placid New York, and the BBC aired the first episode of the popular political television sitcom 'Yes Minister'. In April 1980 the SAS stormed the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge in Central London, Liverpool won the First Division title for the 12th time; West Ham won the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal and Nottingham Forest beat Hamburg SV 1-0 in the European Cup Final...but it wasn't all good news - by May inflation had risen to a whopping 21.8% and Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government was trailing James Callaghan's Labour in the opinion polls. In July, Alexandra Palace was gutted by fire, British athletes won 5 gold, 7 silver and 9 bronze medals at the Moscow Olympics Games, and Ford launched the Mark 3 Escort, a front-wheel drive hatchback rather than the traditional rear-wheel driven earlier models. By October, the 1980 Housing Act came into effect which gave council house tenants the right to buy their home; British Leyland launched the Austin Metro and Margaret Thatcher made her famous - 'The lady's not for turning' speech at the Conservative Party conference in response to complaints that her economic policy was largely responsible for the current recession and rising unemployment...ring a bell with anyone? It is amazing how history has a habit of repeating itself...
If you'd like to see your own spotting days featured here, drop me a line...
My email address can be found at the foot of the page
'LIFE AFTER BR STEAM'
Trevor Ermel's 2nd 'Rail Camerman' page
As a small boy during the 1950s Trevor Ermel lived in Gateshead within sight and sound of the East Coast Main Line, but it wasn't until the end of 1963 that his interest in railways was fully roused. By then he was a 13 year-old pupil at Gateshead Grammar School for Boys and his favourite spotting haunt was by the lineside at Low Fell - a ten-minute bicycle ride from home.
Once bitten by the 'spotting bug' Trevor chased steam throughout the 1960s and ended up visiting places the length and breadth of the country - from Aberdeen on the Scottish Region (ScR) to Weymouth on the Southern Region (SR) - all of which is recorded on his superb 'Spottings & Jottings' page here.
However, after the August 1968 deadline, Trevor's interest in a railway without steam began to wane - after all, the new diesels would be with us forever, so why bother photographing them? Eventually it dawned on him that green diesels, which he remembered as an integral (if unwelcome) part of the steam era, were themselves an endangered species, and he began to take a belated interest again. He also started visiting new locations for photography as he still enjoyed travelling by train, whatever the motive power up front...
So, with a little arm-twisting I am delighted Trevor has agreed to compile a second page - 'Life After BR Steam' - starting with 'D' for Diesel - click here to visit the page.
(Above) Trevor writes - 'Many of us on the East Coast main line blamed the Deltics for sounding the death knell of our beloved Pacifics but there is no doubt that, for a diesel, they were extremely impressive. Their two-tone green livery suited them very well, particularly when set off by the red-backed nameplates mounted amidships. I do remember several of them before their plates were fitted and the difference was quite noticeable. On the other hand I have no memories of them (or of any other diesel, for that matter), before they acquired the small yellow warning panels at each end, and judging by pictures of them 'as built' I do think that this addition certainly improved their looks. No doubt those who grew up with the all-green (or even the 1970s all-blue) versions will have a different view! Which just goes to show just how subjective is the matter of locomotive aesthetics! This picture shows the first Deltic (happily still with us today) D9000 Royal Scots Grey at Newcastle in 1964, in the condition I remember them best. The young lad on the left of the group is Peter Long, the next-door neighbour who originally prompted my interest in trains the previous year - thank you, Peter, wherever you are these days! - Canada, I believe?'
(Above) The Brush/Hawker Siddeley 4000hp prototype Kestrel, photographed from the train about to cross the King Edward Bridge into Newcastle on 1st November 1969. This loco had been on trials on the East Coast main line for a while and I took the opportunity of travelling behind it from Durham that day. A beautiful design in an attractive yellow and brown livery, it was hoped by the manufacturers to be the next stage of diesel development - more powerful, of course, than a 3300hp Deltic. But alas! BR did not regard the locomotive as a success and it finished its days in the USSR and was reported as having been scrapped in 1993.
Although Trevor's second page is still in its infancy, there is still so much more to come: Eastern and Western Rail Rovers, Deltics Galore, Chasing Steam in West Germany and South Africa...but next up - 'More Trains on Tyneside', which includes a series of superb colour shots. Click here to visit the page.
PORTRAITS OF STEAM DAYS
(Above-Right) Just as railway photography is a natural adjunct to train spotting, so too is railway art. Most train spotters will have dabbled in oils or water colours at one time or another, and as likely as not they were inspired by the works of Terence Cuneo, David Shepherd or a great photograph; indeed all artists nurture delusions of painting a masterpiece; it is the fabric that binds us together. We dream that one day it will bring instant success and recognition for our work and earn a 'pile' of money.
Well, sorry to disillusion anyone, but it doesn't work out that way. In the real world the pictures that fetch the highest prices have been painted by artists now deceased! This painting of 'Coronation' class No 46246 City of Manchester (right) on the down 'Royal Scot' was inspired by Eric Treacy's shots of steam at Penrith.
(Below) Few artists can claim not to be inspired by a great photograph. I certainly have. The one man who has fired my enthusiasm for the Western Region is Dick Blenkinsop, whose books on the Western Region: 'Silhouettes'; 'Shadows'; 'Reflections' and 'Echoes' - to say nothing of his similarly titled books on the 'Big Four' - inspired me to seek out the places he visited in South Devon.
Needless to say, I hadn't a hope of replicating the great man's shots of steam days but his photographs have always been a source of inspiration. In particular I recall his shot of 'Battle of Britain' class No 34061 73 Squadron heading a local Plymouth-Exeter train along the seal wall between Dawlish and Teignmouth. It appears in 'Echoes of the Big Four', in which he writes - 'it is not easy to obtain pictures of trains with a clear seascape in the background.'
But there is! It's called artistic licence! And this is the result; a painting of 'King' class No 6024 King Edward 1 heading the 'down' 'Cornish Riviera Express' towards Teignmouth. Okay, I've turned the Earth on its axis (hence the sun is shining from the north) which might be taking artistic licence a step too far, but surely that's one of the joys of painting pictures…
(Above) another case of artistic licence that should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt! In this case a major siesmic shift in the earth's crust has moved Durham Cathedral quite some distance south in relation to the viaduct straddling the city! But then railway art is like railway modelling; you can do whatever you please, so long as it looks right in the end. I suppose the jury is still out on that one...
A POT SHOT AT ANORAK BASHERS!
Why do the guys in the media label things so indiscriminately? They do! This is especially the case when it comes to mocking umpteen millions of train spotters - yes, millions! Make no mistake, the hobby is huge! Yet even at my age - I'm in my mid-Sixties by the way - I feel like a needy child, constantly striving to justify a lifelong passion for trains and railways, but it seems the media's tolerance is strictly rationed, or perhaps they think train spotters are just too plain stupid to warrant a serious investigative nod. Odd that, don't you think? After all the media does a wonderful job exposing any Government shenanigans that might otherwise remain hidden behind a wall of bureaucratic spin; it embarrasses minor-league celebrities, who'll cheerfully strut their stuff at every paparazzi opportunity, then just as quckly vanish into thin air when they're caught with their trousers down - metaphorically speaking, of course. But as soon as there is nothing newsworthy to report, some mean-spirited hack will bash out a few column inches on train spotters for a cheap laugh. Laugh? I could crush a grape! The very idea of turning inncocent people into fodder for satire is both unfair and infuriating in equal measure, especially when I'm on the receiving end of it.
Okay, call me a grumpy old fart, but this outpouring of bog-standard journalism is reprehensible in my view. Clearly the media have got their wires crossed somewhere, because when I look at today's spotting fraternity I don't see a gang of disaffected youths mooching about in shopping malls, blasting their brains into a mulch with mega-decibels of gangsta-rap from walkmans. Nor should train spotters be confused with the angst-ridden youngsters who wear back-to-front baseball caps, or hide behind a mask of hard-faced indifference under the hoods of anoraks.
And train spotting isn't a tribal thing either, so you won't find us squaring-up to a ritual punch-up with a rival gang of fans, or pestering rail passengers into handing over money to feed our drug habit. No, the kids I'm referring to are not lonely, insecure or desperately in need of a sense of purpose, but because of their passion for trains, they've become an easy target for ridicule.
(Below) Could this be you? The quintessential Sixties spotter (complete with tartan duffel bag) is caught by the official BR photographer at Doncaster station on 9 January 1961. The Metro-Cammell dmu awaits departure for Lincoln.
As for my own contemptuous views of the media? I suppose an old fogy like me should be impervious to their derision - and I am - but I'm also aware that today's youngsters lack the granite self-assuredness that comes with adulthood, so is it any wonder that fewer and fewer boys will declare an interest in railways when the very words 'train spotter' now carries snide overtures? Well, enough is enough - the boundaries of common decency have been pushed as far as it can go. If you ask me, the British media is no longer a byword for decent family principles because the values they promote seem unreasonably out of touch with general sentiment. That train spotting has become something of a national joke is undeniable, albeit in a light hearted way (I hope) since I suspect the populace is laughing 'with us' and not 'at us', yet the way in which the 'anorak' label has stuck in the nation's consciousness is a rather worrying story, in much the same way as the media's all-pervading influence on its readership is another.
Of course, the media didn't invent our image, they went to a railway station and found us there, and in case anyone is wondering what they found, then let me be quite honest about this. The interest in trains is huge, therefore the train spotting fraternity is bound to attract its fair share of nerds, geeks and wacky characters. Indeed the media's sideswipes at train spotters contains enough truth to gain wide currency, but since we can't exclude people from joining us it's pointless sinking into a mire of righteous complaining because it doesn't solve the problem. Instead we must find a way of improving the general public's perspective of us. Perhaps the solution can be found by looking at the country's obsession with boom-time consumerism and the crafty way some advertisers keep bombarding us with a stream of glitzy imagery. It seems immensely fashionable these days to have a scantily dressed girl draped over the bonnet of a new car at a motor show, or a beau idol stripping off his denims in a launderette, yet the public are not so easily fooled. We know some adverts are deliberately phony. For instance, I'm unlikely to find myself being seduced by a bevy of gorgeous girls because I've splashed on a certain men's fragrance - a sex symbol, me? In your dreams image-makers. I'm a train spotter, for goodness sake, and dullards like me are not supposed to have sex appeal!
(Above-Below) My own interest in train spotting has its roots in childhood, so I have no genuine nostalgia for the current scene. I lost interest in train spotting because from 1959 onwards visits to the lineside produced less evidence of Britain's railway past, which, until then, had always seemed so constant.
For example, my last Ian Allan abc Locospotters book - the winter 1958/59 edition - could not keep apace with the modernisation. By the early 1960s, unwelcome gaps began to appear among the steam classes (due to scrapping) and the proliferation of new diesels did not enter the equation because they were not yet listed. Call it a dereliction of duty, if you like, but the inconsistencies creeping into the hobby was totally at odds with the orderliness that spotters expected, and many disenchanted youngsters turned to something more rewarding, such as railway photography - a natural adjunct to train spotting.
Like it or not, image plays an important part in our lives, so if we create the right image, then all the rest will fall neatly into place. Create the wrong one, however, and we end up becoming a laughing stock.
This reminds me of the pair of jogging pants I once bought which came with the guarantee not to run in the wash. It was a faux pas I found only mildly amusing, whereas the multi-million pound advertising campaign launched by British Rail in 1973 wasn't even remotely funny...
'This is the age of the train,' trumpeted BR's publicity department.
'Time to get new ones,' commuters shot back.
Oops!...an own goal if ever there was one. Only the gaffes haven't stopped there. Whilst the private train companies now responsible for running our railways are making millions of pounds profit for their shareholders and fat-cat executives award themselves huge bonuses, is it any wonder that passengers (customers in case it's forgotten) demand more for their money rather than late trains, dirty trains, crowded trains, even cancelled trains.
Worse still, when the delays are blamed on the 'wrong kind of snow' and 'leaves on the line' what are the chances of train spotters soliciting approval from anyone?
Okay, let's not waste any more time complaining about the media's blatant intrusion on our lives. This page concerns the highs and lows of train spotting in the Fifties and Sixties, only in doing so I've had to trawl my own experiences, therefore I might be accused of throwing up a smoke-screen of romance which fuels the desire to believe that train spotters were somehow denied the best years of their lives when steam vanished from the scene. True, it did effect our lives but it wasn't only the demise off steam (tragic though it was) that brought my passion for spotting days to a premature end, it was the arrival of adolescence.
For many testosterone-fuelled boys, the fun-loving Sixties offered so many other distractions we simply outgrew the hobby, which is a crying shame really, and I do wonder how many of today's closet spotters wish they had the chance to do it all again? My guess is - all of us!
So, in the final analysis, rather than accusing the adult enthusiast of being trapped in adolescence, isn't it about time we were forgiven our passion for trains? For me, a steam train ride on a preserved railway is like a trip down memory lane - a poignant reminder of all the good times I missed all those years ago. Perhaps the reminiscences on this page may jog some memories of your own?
'SPOTTING MEMORIES 3'
by Barry Hilton.
Continuing Barry Hilton's childhood spotting memories (from the previous page) the highlight of a day's spotting at Rochdale was hearing the sound of a Bank Hall 'Jubilee' being thrashed on the Liverpool to Newcastle, known by local spotters as the 'Ten to Twelver'. Timed to leave Liverpool at 10.30am it was regularly worked by 'Jubilee' class No 45698 Mars, 45717 Dauntless or 45719 Glorious, however the engine crews had their work cut out to keep time as the train was only allowed 18 minutes to cover the 8½ miles or so from Manchester to Rochdale, and this included a steep climb up Cheetham Hill Bank from a dead start out of Manchester Victoria. The Bank Hall Jubilees were responsible for hauling the train as far as York where an A3 hooked on for the remainder of the trip to Newcastle. However, from 1962 this train terminated at York.
(Above) Awaiting the right away from Rochdale is No 45698 Mars on 11th May 1961, by which time the train had been cut back to York from 1st January 1961 after Trans-Pennine services were dieselised. On another day (right) No 45717 Dauntless departs from Rochdale; both locos were kept in relatively clean condition by Bank Hall staff.
On their return to Liverpool, the Bank Hall locos had an interesting working diagram. They worked the 5.15pm from York to Wakefield where they detached and then picked up the 4.42pm Newcastle to Liverpool Exchange from Wakefield through to Liverpool. The 10.30am was worked by a Bolton crew between from Liverpool to Manchester, where a Sowerby Bridge crew took over only to be relieved at Sowerby Bridge by another Sowerby Bridge crew. Adding to the loco variety in August 1958, was un-named Patriot No 45517 which joined the trio of Jubilees at Bank Hall and became a regular on the 10.30am Liverpool-Newcastle. On Sundays the train ran only as far as York and the Bank Hall locos worked the train throughout each way. This train, along with all other Calder valley passenger services (except the 2.8am York-Manchester) went dmu from 1st January 1962.
The other highlight of the day was the teatime Newcastle (Scotswood)-Manchester (Red Bank) Newspaper train seen here at Rochdale (above left) being worked by Class B1 No 61176 and an unidentified Stanier 8F.
(Above) Class B1 No 61337 and an unidentified Hughes 'Crab' class 2-6-0 head the Newcastle (Scotswood) -Manchester (Red Bank) Newspaper train through Castleton. The train was made up of empty newspaper vans from Newcastle and Leeds returning to Red Bank where they were re-marshalled with other empty vans from such places as Carlisle, Bangor, Colne and Blackpool etc before being sent out again full of newspapers that same night. The train was originally worked by two Newton Heath locos, but this later became one Newton Heath and one York engine, and then at a later date it was worked by two York locos, usually a pair of 'Black 5s' and sometimes a pair of B1s, but often York would use a Doncaster, Darlington or Darnall-based B1, and very occasionally a B16 or even a V2. On Tuesdays after a Bank Holiday weekend a Bristol Jubilee was often used - no doubt having worked up to York on a relief the previous day. On Sundays it was worked by a Farnley Junction plus a Patricroft loco most of the time, whereas on Saturdays for a period towards the end of steam, a Carlisle Britannia or rebuilt Patriot was one of the pair. The Sunday train went diesel at one time then reverted back to steam! The last steam operation was a Sunday in April 1966 when 70015 and 45200 worked the train. From then on it was normally handled by a Class 40 in later years although 45s and 47s occasionally turned up. (Below) Jubilee class No 45708 Resolution and unidentified 'Black 5' head the train at Belfield; the Rochdale Canal is in the right background. Click here to visit Barry's 'Rail Cameraman' page 56 - featuring 'Railways Around Rochdale'.
Like many train spotters, Barry started taking the monthly 'Trains Illustrated' magazine (left) which was an invaluable aid in keeping him up to date with the changing railway scene. Two years earlier the British Transport Commission (BTC) had announced its 1955 Modernisation Plan and by 1957 the first pilot scheme diesel locomotives were starting to appear. Clearly big changes were about to take place on Britain's railways, yet countless thousands of misty-eyed youngsters continued to collect engine numbers completely unaware of the full extent of the BTC's modernisation scheme, nor could they have imagined that within the next ten years they would witness the wholesale withdrawal of BR's main line steam locomotives.
Among the early casualties of steam's demise were the once-numerous L&Y Rly 27 Class 0-6-0s of 1889 vintage, including Nos 52456 and 52275 below, both minus coupling rods, awaiting their fate at Lees MPD on 28th July 1961.
(Above-Below) Also on shed at 26E that day was L&Y 27 class 0-6-0 No 52248 seen (above) being prepared for duty and a Fowler 2-6-4T No 42337 (below) visiting from Stockport. The remaining locos included three Fairburn 2-6-4Ts Nos 42114, 42115 and 42287, and three WD 2-8-0s Nos 90123, 90141 and 90718, plus L&Y 27 Class No 52271.
Keen to venture further afield, Barry joined the 'Northern Railfans Club' which organised various shed 'bashes' and Works visits, namely to Crewe, Doncaster and Darlington. However, the busy Manchester Victoria and Exchange staions, approximately 10 miles away, were relatively easy to reach on his own, and so with a couple of pals from school, he caught a No 1 bus on the Castleton to Rochdale route via Deeplish and Rochdale station which terminated in the town centre.
In those days the livery of Rochdale Corporation's bus fleet was monstral blue and ivory, with black lining. Prior to the advent of spray painting in 1961, the double deckers had the swept blue edge on the upper deck - and on the lower deck too until around 1955. The single deckers had the swept band on both sides of the lower deck, so the front was effectively all-over cream.
The No 1 bus route was operated by a single-decker (below) for clearance reasons beneath the railway bridge at the south end of Rochdale station, whereas the No 18 service (which could be caught at the same bus stop as the No 1) was operated by double deckers and took a different route to Rochdale passing beneath the railway on Oldham Road, just north of the station. If catching the No 1 service you could alight outside the station whereas the No 18 bus stop was about a five minute walk away.
The single fare was less than sixpence to the station, however if a bus from Rochdale arrived first, Barry would hop on it to Castleton station and then catch a train into Manchester. Not only was the bus journey to Castleton shorter, the cost of the bus fare combined with the rail fare from Castleton to Manchester was marginally cheaper than that from Rochdale station. He had to watch the pennies in those days!
Indeed, any little saving on fares might allow the purchase of an extra frozen Orange flavoured 'Jubbly' or even a chocolate bar from a station platform machine. Back in 1957 a 'Milky Way' or 'Wagon Wheel' cost as little as 3d (1¼p) and a bag of chips from the local fish 'n' chip shop set you back about a 'tanner' (sixpence) in old money.
However, if you multiply the 1950's price by a factor of about fifty to calculate today's equivalent, then a 'thrupenny bit' (3d) in 1957 would have the purchasing power of a little over 62p today - but of course, you must take into account the difference in contemporary living standards...a family's disposable income was much lower during the post-war Fifties, and with money being so tight you learned to be thrifty.
Still it wasn't unknown for some kids to spend the odd penny on a platform machine which produced aluminium labels. You selected each individual letter from a dial then punched the letter onto a metal strip - good spelling was essential! You had twenty or so letters for a penny, and engine names were popular as a souvenir of the day.
Manchester Victoria-Exchange was a Mecca for 'namers' such as Patriots, Jubilees, Royal Scots and a few Britannias and the odd Clan. Here is a busy scene at Exchange station in 1958 (above) showing a typical gathering of youngsters - spotters to left, spotters to right - paying homage to the doyen of the 'Royal Scot' class No 46100 Royal Scot awaiting departure from platform 3. On the same day Barry took a shot of one of his spotting mates posing in front of Jubilee class No 45643 Rodney. The main services at Exchange station were long-distance through trains between Liverpool Lime Street and Hull or Newcastle, both routed over the steeply-graded Standedge line across the Pennines, hence many trains were double-headed as seen (below) with a pair of 'Black 5s' piloted by No 44845.
Barry's first visit to York station (right) in early 1958 brings to mind one of his favourite train spotting moments when the distinctive chime whistle of an A4 was heard and No 60034 Lord Farringdon (his first A4 'cop') rushed non-stop through the station…as any spotter will tell you, seeing an A4 for the first time is an unforgettable experience! Anxious to try out his new Brownie camera, he captured another A4, 60017 Silver Fox heading the northbound Flying Scotsman express later that day.
However, Barry's trips from Rochdale to Doncaster via Leeds were far more adventurous. He and his spotting mates would clamber aboard the 8.41am from Rochdale aiming to catch the Kings Cross train departing Leeds Central at 10am, which at that time was regularly hauled by Class A3 60103 Flying Scotsman. The train from Rochdale invariably arrived at Leeds with only minutes to spare - and so, faced with sprinting across platforms for the Kings Cross train, he never had chance to take any photos of 60103, however now that Flying Scotsman is preserved he has more than made up for it since.
During the Fifties, the railway town of Doncaster was a Mecca for train spotters, its major attraction being the famous 'Plant' locomotive works. The superb condition of the outshopped locomotives acted like a magnet for the crowds of youngsters who congregated to pay homage at the main gates just off Hexthorpe Road.
When Barry wasn't on an official Northern Railfans Works visit, a wander around the perimeter fence of the Plant would sometimes reveal the sad sight of engines awaiting scrapping at the rear of the Works. He recalls a caper cooked-up by some scurrulous wag to trick the more gullible spotters into believing that a row of stationary boilers at the Works were Sandringham Class locomotives and at one point the numbers were chalked on the smoke box. Spotters were seen writing the numbers in their notebook...cruel!
(Right) Introduced to traffic in 1924, Gresley's experimental 4-6-4 W1 class No 10000 - dubbed the 'Hush-Hush' locomotive on account of the initial secrecy of the design - had a somewhat problematical career involving lengthy visits to both Doncaster and Darlington Works for repairs and modifications. In November 1937, Gresley decided to halt all further work and the loco was completely rebuilt with A4-style streamlining, although it retained its original number 10000 up until 1948 when it became BR No 60700. The solitary Class W1 was used as a standby engine at Doncaster station prior to withdrawal on 1st June 1959 and this shot may well show the loco being towed from Doncaster shed to the Works for disposal
(Below) Fifties spotters will remember the 'Plant streamer' - a cavalcade of immaculate engines fresh from the workshops; the locos were coupled together for transfer from the Plant to Doncaster shed before returning to traffic. Here, the tail end of the 'Plant Streamer' shows an immaculate ex-Works 'Britannia' Class 7MT 70013 Oliver Cromwell sporting newly-modified smoke deflectors in June 59. Introduced to traffic at Stratford (30A) in May 1951, No 70013 was transferred to Norwich Thorpe (32A) in January 1959 then to March (31B) in June 1961 before spending the remainder of her career on the London Midland Region based at Willesden (1A), Crewe North (5A), Crewe South (5B) and finally Newton Heath (9D) from where she was withdrawn in May 1966.
In ending Barry's early spotting reminiscences (his story continues elsewhere on this site) nothing defines our childhood memories more lucidly than the wise words expressed in old proverbs; the maxim - 'All good things come to those who wait,' must ring true for most of us.
Indeed rarely do we get a second chance at taking railway photographs, but this shot of 46252 City of Leicester (above) on the turntable at Kingmoor Shed (12A) on 13th May 1961, must go some way towards compensating Barry for the missed chance he had of photographing his first 'Duchess' No 46254 City of Stoke on Trent on the turntable at Manchester London Road station all those years ago.
And yet there's another truism - 'Better late than never'. In late 1959, Barry wisely replaced his old Brownie 127 with a SLR Dacora II camera, which improved the photographic potential enormously, and during the next six years or so he captured the bulk of his steam shots on 2¼" sq negatives until the camera was finally replaced by a 35mm camera up to the end of BR steam days - a gallery of Barry's photos can be found on the ScR page 24, including this shot (below) of J36 No 65297 at Bathgate (Upper) Station.
MEMORIES OF HORSFORTH STATION
If I had to find a plausible reason for compiling a website about train spotting, it is the chance of reviving memories of the best years of my life. I'd give anything to turn the clock back and re-enact the military-style hit-squad 'bunks' of engine sheds, the thrill of chasing 'cops' and the eye-popping moment I copped my las Class A4 'Streak' at Doncaster shed on May 23rd 1959. But then, sentimentality is a human condition that we all suffer from at one time or other, and this is especially the case as you get older and your memories become more distant.
Trouble is, this business of regressing into second childhood can also bring with it a bagful of insecurities long since forgotten, so I'll stick to writing a quirky account of spotting days peppered with anecdotes in an attempt to strip the hobby of its eccentric aura and make it look cool...some hope! It stIcks in the craw that the public's perception of train spotters will probably never change.
The question most frequently asked by friends is - 'What on earth do you see in trains?' It's simple. As a small boy, the fascination for trains was handed down by one's peers - an older brother, for example, though there were thousands of boys, myself included, whose penchant for collecting engine numbers came from the simple pleasure of collecting things: stamps, cigarette cards, even birds' eggs.
I'm harking back to a more innocent age when children fished for sticklebacks in the local beck or played hopscotch and marbles in the street. Indeed, there was little else to stimulate a boy's interest - no television, no computer games, and no emporium-style toy shops awash with expensive playthings to pervert a child's sensibilities. Instead, toddlers had to create their their amusement, and since I was born and raised within sight and sound of the Leeds-Harrogate line, the earliest childhood memory I have is watching the steady procession of steam trains(woo-woos) from my bedroom window overlooking Woodside in Horsforth.
(Above Left) A Sixties view of Brookfoot Beck running alongside Horsforth Station. (Right) I can't work out what was achieved by Beeching's orgy of cutbacks. Even if a station survived, the passenger facilities were often reduced to rubble then later replaced with so-called modern 'bus stop-type' shelters; it was a deplorable state of affairs. The demolition crew do their worst at Horsforth station in June 1972.
The best chance of seeing trains at close quarters came on a Sunday evening during a leisurely family stroll through the woods to the Fox & Hounds pub near Horsforth station. I remember the two evening expresses (one in each direction) both headed by the strikingly handsome Class A4s based on Tyneside. The booked time for the 'down' train was approximately 7pm which coined its nickname the 7 o'clocker and the 'up' train became known as the 8 o'clocker for the same reason.
The childhood memories of those two Sunday-night streaks will never go away, for the sight and sound of an A4 was the defining moment which kick-started my interest in trains. Better still, being a relative newcomer to the hobby, my visits to Horsforth station produced a 100% success rate of cops, all carefully logged in an Ian Allan abc Locospotters Book, costing a princely sum of 1/3d (6½p) and backed in brown wrapping paper to protect it from the rigours of a day's spotting. But it wasn't long before my cop-rate had reached saturation point and the same engines began to appear with monotonous regularity; even the more engaging express trains between Liverpool and Newcastle brought relatively few cops after a while. I decided it was time to move on to pastures new, and that's when I discovered another Horsforth station on the line between Leeds and Shipley - a four-track main line with engines galore...the chase was on!
(Above) I remember the steady procession of 'stoppers' and 'non-stoppers' on the Leeds-Harrogate line, but the most memorable train was the regal-sounding 'Queen of Scots', consisting of one train daily in each direction between London Kings Cross and Glasgow Queen Street. The swanky train was composed of flat-sided chocolate and cream Pullman cars with distinctive vestibule ends, each containing recessed doors, oval windows, even polished handrails and the cars had a fine feudal Pullman coat of arms and a feminine name on the side. Here the northbound Pullman tops the summit of Headingley Bank just north of Horsforth station in July 1962. The Pullman cars even had electric table lamps, which left an indelible impression on this youngster in the early Fifties. We lived in a house without electricity until 1954, and so there were no labour-saving devices such as fridge-freezers, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Instead the household chores had to be done the hard way, especially on a washday. First a peggy tub was filled with hot water from the gas boiler. Then, as the dirtiest clothes soaked, the more stubborn stains were removed on a scrubbing board followed by strenuous possing - yes, possing! - before the heavy sheets and towels were rinsed in a stone sink, the whites soaked in water laced with Dolly Blue. Then, the clothes were squeezed through a mangle and 'pegged' out on the washing line to dry - what a palaver! For the record, the 'Queen of Scots' coaching stock was made up of an almost uniform rake of the new Metro-Cammel Pullman cars, first introduced on the London-Sheffield 'Master Cutler' Pullman in September 1960. They appeared on the 'Yorkshire Pullman' and 'Tees-Tyne' Pullman duties in January the following year. The 44 vehicles were used entirely on the East Coast main line services, but as no Pullman brake cars were built in the same order, the elderly flat-sided Pullman brakes were utilised.
(Right) If I had to choose my best spotting moment, it was time I 'copped' my last Class A4 'Streak' 60031 Golden Plover at Doncaster shed on May 23rd 1959. It was a prized cop and I couldn't wait to tell my old spotting chum, Bonzo. Oh, big mistake! At one time he'd have blown up a storm, but Bonzo had more important things on his mind. He was all awash with debilitating testosterone - and Bonzo being Bonzo, it was more like a bloody tsunami! He was verging on the cusp of manhood and fallen madly in love with the delectable Sonia Barker, a curvaceous 5th Form girl at school. For some reason he had the crazy notion that she found him irresistible and spent most days hanging around the school gates hoping to walk her home.
Trouble is, Bonzo was the latest casualty that she'd hoodwinked into thinking her flirty sideways glances were meant especially for him - the truth is the only person she fancied was herself and, despite telling Bonzo for the umpteenth time that she wouldn't be seen dead in his company, he had some half-baked idea that she was playing hard to get.
And that's when Bonzo screwed up badly. She'd made it abundantly clear from the start that his feelings were not reciprocated, but he wouldn't take no for an answer and began shouting ribald invitations at her outside the school gates - more innuendo than anything else - then the obscenities began to flow.
Now I don't know why I didn't try to stop him - laddish bluster, peer pressure? - perhaps both or neither, I haven't a clue. One thing for certain, though, the only cure for his animal passion was a rabies jab. His behaviour was totally at odds with the far-reaching hopes I had of my own for Sonia Barker in the back row of the 'flicks'. I was acutely aware that a girl's perception of a potential suitor was based on the company a boy kept and, for me, Bonzo's outburst spelled the end of our friendship. Not only had he queered his own patch, he'd queered mine too - it was the first lesson I learned about the ways of the world...sometimes you have to leave someone behind in order to grow and develop yourself.
(Above-Below) It's extraordinary how some photographs can whisk you back to a moment in the past, overwhelming you with vivid, sometimes quite forgotten images of childhood. One such place for me was the retaining wall in Newlay Cutting on the Aire Valley line between Leeds and Shipley; it became a veritable hiding place where I could indulge my passion for watching trains without any bigoted gazes heading my way…the spotting fraternity was stigmatised even then. Here Class 8F No 48209 heads a Leeds-Carlisle goods on June 11th 1962. Amazingly, the Class 8F (introduced in 1935) was still doing the job for which it was designed - hauling heavy freight - right up to the end of steam days in 1968...a fitting testimony to Stanier's design.
With hindsight I must have cut a rather reclusive, enigmatic figure to the indigenous wildlife in the cutting; I'd sit there for hours on end beneath the overhanging trees, spending most of the day shaded from the sunlight shimmering through the canopy of leaves. But then most spotters have a love of the great outdoors and the solitude in the cutting was as close to nature as anyone could get.
In between the stately passage of trains (steam still carried considerable clout in those days) the peace and tranquillity was a rural idyll that few people knew about and so I claimed it as my own. But as the months passed by and my visits became more frequent, a tacit understanding seemed to develop with the local wildlife; the birds became more daring, the rabbits and squirrels more inquisitive, though I suspect this had more to do with the scraps of food I left behind, which had all gone when by the time I returned the next day...because there was always a next day, and the day after that - and in no time at all the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months and I was metamorphosing into Tarzan.
(Right) Yours truly aping around in anorak and jeans during an idle moment between trains...
Mind you I had good reason for my bohemian existence, and it's pointless hiding behind any fancy rhetoric to justify what I did. You see I should have been at school, but I hated the drudgery of school lessons and spent the best part of a year avoiding school. I became a serial truant; the prospect of going to school filled me with loathing, and the cutting was the only place I could escape.
Alas, I did get caught in the end though, but even today I'm not sure if it was a teacher who spotted me, or someone in class who'd snitched - whatever the reason, I was hauled before the Headmaster, who told me in no uncertain terms that unless I attended school for the remainder of the year, he would impose an extra term on my education…a whole year of school rules, regulations and discipline! It was my worst nightmare, and so I had no other choice. I went back pronto - and, realising how much catching up I had to do, I've lived to regret wasting such a precious education! (Below) the same spot forty years later, but looking quite different in 2004...click here to vist the first 'Aire Valley Line' page 49.
(Above) Holbeck's newly-acquired Class A3 No 60082 Neil Gow (named after the 1911 2,000 Guineas winner) passes the disused platforms at Holbeck Low Level with the 'up' 'Thames-Clyde Express' in May 1961. The lattice signal gantry on the right controlled traffic to Wellington Street Goods Depot and Leeds Central station. On the left are siding serving the gasworks, and in the middle distance the former MR Wortley Junction signalbox. The name Wortley Junction is now given to the present day divergence of the Harrogate line from the route to Bradford, Skipton and Ilkley near Armley Bridge. Holbeck Low Level station closed on 5th July 1958.
(Below) I have fond memories of photographing the two Anglo-Scottish expresses on my local line between Leeds and Shipley. Prior to the arrival of the BR/Sulzer 'Peak' class Type 4 diesels, a variety of steam power worked both expresses north of Leeds - 'Jubilees', 'Scots' and BR Standard 'Britannia' classes, all based at Holbeck shed - but the most surprising allocation was the eight Class A3s transferred from Tyneside due to the cascading effect of dieselisation on the ECML It was a welcome move for Holbeck crewmen, as most of the A3s were fitted with the double Kylchap blastpipe which produced a freer steaming engine and gave fireman an easier time over the steeply-graded Settle-Carlisle line. Here Class A3 No 60086 Gainsborough heads the northbound 'Thames-Clyde' though Whitehall Junction in May 1961. The two turntables at Holbeck shed were found unsuitable for turning the Gresley Pacifics - length 70ft 5ins - hence sister A3 No 60082 Neil Gow (just visible in the right background) is being turned on the triangular junction to the west of Leeds station, while an 'Austerity' is awaiting a clear road on a down freight.
(Above) Being Yorkshire-born and bred, I was brought up on a mix of ex-LMSR 'Royal Scot' and 'Jubilee' classes, together with the 'A' class Pacifics belonging to the former LNER, so the Southern Region engines were all foreign to me. I remember borrowing books of trains from the local library, and pictures of the ex-Southern Railway's 'Spam Cans' in their original form (with air-smooth casing) looked strange to me. Odder still, under the Southern Railway's numbering scheme the Bullied Pacifics carried a 21C prefix that represented the continental system of wheel arrangement - the number of axles on the bogie was denoted by a '2', followed by a '1' for the pony truck, and the six driving wheels were represented by the letter 'C'. It wasn't until I'd reached my teens in the early 1960s that I visited the Southern Region. By then, most of the Bullied Pacifics had been rebuilt - and, whilst not wishing to incur the wrath of SR fans, they looked like proper engines with their streamline casings removed. The Bullied Light Pacific was essentially a scaled-down version of the earlier 'Merchant Navy' class introduced in 1941. The new engines were named after cities, towns and tourist spots in south-west England, and became known as the 'West Country' class, whereas later examples had wartime commemorative names, mostly taken from RAF Squadrons associated with the Battle of Britain. Here, 'West Country' class No 34092 City of Wells (built at Brighton in 1949 - preserved in 1971) heads the 'Scarborough Spa Express' out of Leeds in the 1980s. Today, no fewer than 20 have been preserved, nine of them in unrebuilt condition, which is a fitting tribute to the Bulleid design.
(Below) Fast forward twenty-odd years and Whitehall Junction has radically changed. This 1983 view shows one of the 'First Generation' Class 108 dmus which were built to designs conceived during the 1950s, but by the time this photograph was taken the units were way past their best. BR refurbishment programme in 1975 (repainting, improved heating and ventilation, soundproofing and general improvements to the interior) may have been tangible proof of the worthiness of the old stock, but it underlined the desperate need for more modern vehicles; it wasn't until 1984 that BR embarked on the replacement of its existing fleet with the introduction of the second-generation dmus, including the new Class 14X 'Pacer' and Class 15X 'Sprinter' types. I sat here for hours watching trains coming and going; the junction is less than a mile from the city centre, yet the grassy bank was like a green oasis amidst the industrial setting and busy Armley gyratory road system, yet the distant hum of traffic was barely noticeable as the dmu rattled past on its way to Harrogate. Note: some photos on this page are 'super wide images' - click on photo once, then again to see the full wide-angle shots.
BEESTON JUNCTION MEMORIES
(Above-Below) These two super-wide photos of Beeston Junction show a scene that has changed dramatically over the years. With ever-increasing demands for modern housing and purpose-built industrial units, there's no stopping property developers making inroads into 'green-belt' areas. A modern out-of-town shopping centre now occupies the fields on the extreme left, whilst the post-war pre-fab housing at Cottingley in the distance has been replaced by high-rise tower blocks - and typical of the motorway extravagances in the region, the Leeds Ring Road has been upgraded to serve the busy M62 at Junction 28. (Top) Stanier 2-6-4T heads empty coal wagons towards Leeds. The loops on either side of the main line were once the start of a fly-over junction with the Batley Branch, which closed to passenger traffic on 29 October 1951. (Below) The same spot twenty years on, but a view already consigned to history following the completion of the ECML electrification scheme connecting Leeds with the main line at Doncaster - a 3-car Metro-Cammell dmu heads towards Wakefield in 1983.
A photograph doesn't necessarily have to be valuable archive material; it may simply trigger a distant memory. John Booth writes...
'Just found a picture of Class A1 60117 on your website page (BR Steam Days Leeds 1) which brings back many happy memories for me. Now aged 73, I recall spending countless hours train spotting at Beeston Junction as a boy.
My disabled grandmother lived in the ground floor flat of the first house facing Dewsbury Road; it is just visible behind the left hand side of clump of trees to the right of the roadside telegraph pole. My mother and I visited almost every other day to help care for her, and a kindly neighbour kept an eye on her when we were not there.
In the bottom left hand corner of the photo (below) can be seen a wooden fence on which I sat. Many a time the signalman would order us to get off the fence. I suppose (technically) we were trespassing, though I cannot recall ever actually doing anything wrong.
Although my favoured position was the other side of the bridge to where this photo was taken, the view as illustrated is the better vantage point. It may be that I was told not to cross to the other side of the line so that my mother could see me from my grandmother's flat; the door now has a white surround and can be seen on the gable end on the shaded side of the house.
Many thanks for bringing back so many memories, John…'
'SPOTTING MEMORIES 3'
Steam Days at Warrington Bank Quay
by George F McKie
(Above-Below) When I was about 12 years-old I was mad keen on steam engines and spent a lot of time train spotting at Warrington Bank Quay station on the West Coast Main Line. I recently discovered these fifty-odd year-old photos which were taken on a battered old Brownie 127 and Instamatic 50 long before the digital boom arrived. Not only do they bring back a flood of personal memories it is quite remarkable that they have survived all these years, and I'm glad David has given them a new lease of life in Adobe Photoshop. In the first shot, Stanier Class 5 No 44917 pauses at Warrington Bank Quay with a northbound train; more than likely destined for Blackpool. Before the driver got the right away, some of the lads on the platform were allowed on the footplate for a couple of minutes. (Below) The now-preserved 'Royal Scot' class No 46115 Scots Guardsman powers through Warrington Bank Quay with an enthusiasts special, its last official run on BR before withdrawal. A Longsight engine for most of its life, 46115 was the last member of the class to survive in BR service. Withdrawn from traffic in January 1966 the loco was restored to main-line running order in June 2008. In this photo is a lad from my school who died a few days later from leukemia - a dedicated spotter to the very end.
(Above-Below) Warrington Bank Quay station saw its fair share of diesel multiple units on the service between Chester and Liverpool or Manchester, though at the time I never understood why this should be the case since the station at Warrington Central on the Manchester-Liverpool route was better catered for these journeys. The Class 108 2-car unit in this shot was bound for Manchester. When I was a lad I hated these units as they were taking over all the local steam-hauled trains…and like most spotters at that time the DMUs were sneered at and called 'trash cans'. Today, however, I enjoy seeing them on preserved lines, as they bring back memories. (Below) This shot shows the larger destination code box as fitted on some later Class 108 vehicles. This 2-car set spent a lot of time sitting in platform 4 with a St Helens destination. From Bank Quay it would head north on the 'slow' line before branching off at Winwick Junction past the Vulcan Locomotive Works and on through Earlestown to St Helens.
(Above-Inset-Below) Working tender first, 'Jubilee' class No 45666 Cornwallis pauses at Bank Quay on a southbound empty stock movement. This loco and its classmate No 45590 Travencore were seen quite a lot in our area. Cornwallis was withdrawn from Warrington shed in April 1965 and cut up at Hayes of Bridgend five months later. In the background is part of the cardboard paper mill owned by Thames Board and shows the powerhouse with its own electricity generators and cooling tower. I and my father worked there and a great place it was. Just behind the tender of the loco is the location of Arpley sidings where goods traffic was sorted. Thames Board despatched quite a lot of products to customers by rail from here before the lorries took over completely. The company even had its own diesel shunter for the job. I was presented with the shunter's Acme Thunderer whistle as a keepsake by the driver. (Inset) Britannia class No 70017 Arrow heads through Warrington Bank Quay station with a southbound non-stopper for London Euston. A bell would ring on the station to warn waiting passengers of an approaching train passing through at speed. There were no yellow lines on the platforms in those days. In the background is Joseph Crosfields Soap Works where they made Persil. The firm was established in the town in 1814 and later became a subsidiary of Unilever. The 'Brits' were my favorite of all the steam classes and I saw all but one, No 70005 John Milton. At night we would try to get on the platform for the 'half seven' mail and 'half eight' flyer which were always Britannia hauled. On one particular cold drizzly night I was told that 70020 Mercury was at Dallam sheds. I dashed there on my bike and watched it being steamed up in ex-works condition. I only saw it that once. (Below) Stanier class 5 44937 taking on water on No. 1 platform with a train to Llandudno.
(Above-Below) Stanier class 5 passes Dallam sheds with a local passenger working, heading south probably to Llandudno. The shed in the background is part-full of the usual 9Fs, Fowler 4Fs and Stanier 8Fs. (Below) An unidentified Class 47 Brush Type 4 diesel passes Warrington Dallam Shed on a Saturday with a parcels train. It was uncommon at that time to see these Type 4s in our area - the majority being EE Co Type 4s - but within a few years many more Class 47s began to put in an appearance.
(Below) A view of Dallam sheds (8B) Warrington, on a weekday as very few locos are in the shed. It wasn't easy to get around here if the foreman 'Mona' was on duty. On some days it was easily accessed. I was chased off the premises more than once! This reminds me of the first time I visited the shed during the summer school holidays of 1959. I was just 7. My ten year-old friend Malcolm thought it would be a good idea to spend the day watching trains at Dallam shed. So we set off at about 8.00am, though I didn't tell my mother; she would have flatly refused to let me go!
We headed off through the back streets, past Malcolm grannies house up to Winwick Road then over the crossing under the Liverpool to Manchester loop - all of which has since been replaced by a major road junction near the Fire Station.
After crossing the railway bridge we squeezed though the wire fence surrounding the shed; I had never seen so many engines in one place before; a large engine was being turned on the turntable and the smell of smoke hung in the air. As we brazenly headed down the ramp into the busy shed yard a railwayman stopped us in our tracks. Malcolm told him that we just wanted to look at the trains.
Amazingly, rather than send us packing, the railwayman was most obliging, and for the next hour or so he kept a wary eye out for us as we moseyed around the shed; it was quite an experience to be so close up to these enormous engines and to some extent frightening, however we were very careful not to lose sight of the railwayman and he began to trust our vigilance.
After a while he showed us how he turned a loco on the turntable by connecting a pipe in the front of the engine and pulling a lever. Then at lunchtime (dinner time to me) our new-found friend offered us an 'egg butty' each and a drink of horribly-stewed tea from his billycan - more like vile brown sludge if you ask me! Not only that, the bread was smudged with his black finger marks and the sharp bits of eggshell took some getting used to, but not wishing to upset him we dutifully scoffed the lot!
He was indeed very kind to us and we were extremely lucky to have bumped into him (as future failed attempts to enter the shed, when I was older, later proved). He even gave us a ride on an engine from the turntable back into the shed, though he had to lift me up into the cab, which, I must admit, was scary; the firebox was a roaring inferno, yet the excitement of riding in the cab was a great experience.
We spent the rest of the day engrossed in watching trains and with the light fading fast Malcolm decided we had better head for home. Trouble is he couldn't remember the way back! Eventually, after several wrong directions, we finally reached the end of our street to find a police car waiting outside our house.
I was in big trouble!
According to my frantic mum, at 2.30pm that afternoon my dad had arrived home from his shift at the paper mill and found her searching high and low for me. The police was called. Worse still, there was always a cooked family meal prepared when dad came home from work; mine had been put in the oven to keep warm. After giving me a good hiding, he sat me at the table and forced me eat my shriveled-up dinner, which had turned to a crisp in the oven; it was marginally easier to swallow than the egg butty I'd had earlier.
After that I was told never to play with Malcolm again, but I did though…he was always good fun to be with. I still remember that day now 54 years on…
(Above-Below) An unidentified Black 5 heads south with a train of 16-ton mineral wagons. To the right is Warrington Gas Works which was part blown up by the IRA in 1993. In the distance is the Redpath Dorman Long Engineering Works on Hawleys Lane. Both the engineering factory and the gasometers were familiar landmarks in the town but they have long since gone. (Below) Britannia Class 7MT No 70048 The Territorial Army 1908-1958 was photographed at Dallam with a southbound local passenger train. This was the only time I ever saw this loco. When new, 70048 was among the batch of 'Britannias' allocated to Holyhead, but following the arrival of the EE Co Type diesels on the LMR, No 70048 was transferred to various depots including Chester, Willesden, Newton Heath, Annesley, Aston, Carlisle Upperby and finally ending its days at Carlisle Kingmoor from where it withdrawn in May 1967. By the time this photo was taken, electrification of the WCML from Euston to Liverpool and Manchester was well advanced and steam engines had their smokebox door lamp bracket moved to a lower position to prevent locomen climbing up to chimney height in the vicinity of the 25kV overhead wires. The official ban south of Crewe began on September 1st 1964.
(Above-Below) 'Britannia' Class 7MT No 70010 Owen Glendower pauses with a northbound mail train at Bank Quay station. In the photo are a few of my spotting mates, but none of whom I remember the names of. The driver chatted to us whilst the fireman put coal on the fire, hence the black smoke. (Below) This nameplate shot of 70010 Owen Glendower shows the LMS pattern smoke deflectors with hand holes instead of handrails; the deflectors were modified after the Milton incident where the handrails were blamed for the driver not seeing a signal at danger and the resulting accident. It was about this time that BR began to remove nameplates from locos because their value as collectors' items led to a wave of thefts from depots.
(Above-Below) Comparisons can be made between the different nose-ends on the English Electric Type 4 1Co-Co1s in these photos taken at Warrington Bank Quay's Platform 3. Sporting the old-fashioned doorway connection and headcode discs, EE Type 4 No D293 (later Class 40 40093) was allocated new to the LMR in October 1960. The driver is awaiting the 'nod' as mail is loaded into the full brakes at the rear of the northbound train. I remember seeing several pickups of mail each day from Bank Quay. (Below) Allocated new to the LMR in February 1962, this EE Type 4 1Co-Co1 D375 (Class 40 40175) is fitted with the much neater 4-character headcode panel, though the jumbled configuration on display doesn't help identify the train. At the time I took these photos the Type 4s were replacing the Stanier Coronation Pacifics and BR Standards on most long distance WCML expresses. This is a northbound express from London to Glasgow. Warrington No 2 box was a big box with many levers; it was later replaced by the new box on the east side of the station adjacent to platform 1. I was lucky to have been given a guided tour of the new box by a kindly station master during the 1970s.
(Above-Below) This 0-6-0 diesel-mechanical shunter No D2394 was a common sight at Dallam sidings. This photo was taken through a large hole in the perimeter fence courtesy of the older members of the spotting brigade who congregated there. (Below) The final photo shows Class A4 No 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley heading south through Warrington Bank Quay station on a special train to Shrewsbury. I waited 3 hours on a cold foggy October day to see this. I was just about to give up and go home when I heard a chimed whistle. Thinking it was a Britannia I rushed back on the platform, camera ready, and lo and behold it was 60007!
Bob Pearson writes - 'You've made my day!! I am working my way through your picture collection on the web and all the memories are flooding back! I was a train spotter of a similar era (66 years old now) which began at Didcot. It struck a chord with me when you mentioned the Milton accident, I was probably about ten years-old and recall seeing all the emergency vehicles rushing over Foxhall bridge; it was my first lesson that life can perhaps have a dark side to it. My trips to London with other lads used to result in similar troubles as George McKie's after spending the day in Warrington shed, although I can't compete with returning home and finding a police car waiting outside the door! I guess the term - How time flies when you are enjoying yourself - never applied more than in those days. Although I can see the problem now, when I was a small boy I never understood why my Mother got so worried about me catching a train to Paddington and then the underground to Kings Cross, spending the rest of the day running between Kings Cross and St Pancras! My infatuation with spotting ended abruptly when I was 15 and a young lady showed me an alternative form of entertainment. Back to your pictures...thanks again for the treat. Regards Bob...'
(Above-Below) This painting of 'Jubilee' class 45608 Gibraltar Is based on one of Footplate Cameraman, Jim Carter's panning shots. However, I'm not the only ex-train spotter interested in producing railway art - Don Marshall recently contacted the Guest Book Page - 'What a lovely site,' he wrote, 'Reading about the social conditions as a lad growing up in the West Riding at the same time as yourself with a train spotting madness brought back a flood of nostalgia. I could have been the lad on the fence near you when you took many of the photographs. Looking back occasionally is probably the reason I started my own website - 'Elegant Steam'. Those locomotives were the most beautiful things I could see within a fairly bleak and humdrum 1950s. The images remain clear to this day...'
I couldn't agree more.
Clearly Don's website is a labour of love. Click here to view his work...highly recommended.
Finally, in time-honoured fashion, I have saved the best until last! For me, Dick Blenksinsop represents the very best of a Sixties demigod that few people outside the spotting community know about - the railway photographer...this picture of 'County' class No 1015 County of Gloucester storming Dainton bank epitomises all that is great about steam railway photography. Having read Dick Blenkinsop's books on the Western Region: 'Silhouettes'; 'Shadows'; 'Reflections' and 'Echoes' - to say nothing of his similarly titled books on the 'Big Four' - it inspired me to seek out the locations he visited whilst holidaying in South Devon, albeit some twenty five years after steam had vanished from the scene. Needless to say, I didn't get anything quite like this! The eagle-eyed reader may spot Dick Blenkinsop's signature in the bottom left hand corner. This signed photograph is a treasured item in my collection of railway memorabilia.
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