This page is for real die-hard cranks (and perhaps psychologists looking for interesting case studies). Call me a crank, I don’t care. Was it Schumacher who said a crank was ‘a useful object which causes revolutions’? This stuff celebrates my inner crank.
Trip to Severn Valley Railway
Steam on the Strathspey
During last year’s Scottish holiday we popped in to see the Stratehsepy Railway. We arrived at Boat of Garten just as 46512 pulled in with a decent load of 6 coaches – a challenge for a wee 2MT. Bolton had several of these excellent machines (following the closure of Bury shed in April 1966) – steam men affectionately called them ‘Mickey Mice’ and I remember one fireman saying of Bolton sister loco 46504 ‘it would steam off a candle’.
We went up to Broomhill and back and enjoyed the leisurely jaunt along the Spey. The lady in the booking office/bookshop was lovely and I made some good purchases from the wonderful range of second-hand books. These included the original Ian Allan booklets on the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.
The railway has launched a campaign to extend to Grantown-on-Spey which would be a great destination. There isn’t much at Broomhill itself, you have to admit (apart from second-hand railway books so it can’t be all bad). We’ll back – when, if not before, the extension opens and do the whole line this time.
My last Jubilee: the debate continues (From Weekly Salvo 32)
It may be a matter of complete irrelevance to some readers but I am always heartened by the number of correspondents who comment on sheer trivia. And what more trivial – or is it – then the question of ‘which was your last Jubilee?’
Now I realise some readers may never have ‘copped’ all their Jubilees, and a new reader confessed never having seen either 45720 or 45727, both Corkerhill (Glasgow) engines. I actually spotted them from a train heading for the ‘Leeds New Line’ over Farnley Junction – both nestling on Holbeck shed after working in over the S&C from Scotland. The story of my ‘last Jubilee’ is known to at least one reader of this website but that’s no reason why I shouldn’t share it with others. By the summer of 1964 I had managed to ‘cop’ all of my LMS Jubilees bar two (not Bar Fleur). These were 45557 New Brunswick – a Midlands-based engine, and 45682 Trafalgar, a long-time denizen of Bristol Barrow Road, which assiduous readers will know was 82E. York was actually a good place to spot Bristol ‘Jubs’ as they had a regular working on a Bristol – York express.
I saw Kempenfelt, Leander, Galatea and others, countless times. But never the elusive 45682, though I did catch up on it eventually (please wait). However, I may have seen 45557 on a summer Saturday in 1964. I was cycling back from a morning’s spotting at Leyland with my pal Chris, who was well aware of the all-consuming need for me to clear my Jubilees. We stopped for a sandwich by Chorley Viaduct, just off the Bolton road, and within minutes a Jubilee came roaring past heading south on what looked like a holiday special returning from Blackpool. I couldn’t see the number, but my friend’s eyesight was better than mine and he claimed that it was the much sought-after 45557.
Should I believe him? Well I did, but was never completely convinced, until…(please wait). However, I copped 45682 languishing on the scrap line at Bath Green Park (82F), a few months after its withdrawal in 1965. But for years after I was haunted by that summer afternoon’s sighting (or not) of New Brunswick. Then about 15 years ago I was at a railway film show in Bolton Library and what should appear but a clip of 45557 heading a return Blackpool – Nottingham special, passing Lostock Junction ( a few miles south of Chorley). The time of year fitted with my recollection and given how rare Midland Lines Jubs were in Lancashire it must have been that train which I saw crossing Chorley Viaduct. Vindicated at last! (please rate this article on a scale of pointlessness).
In praise of steam
Flann O’Brien, perhaps Ireland’s greatest writer after James Joyce, was an avid railway crank. The collection of his stories and journalism from The Irish Times– ‘The Best of Myles’ – has a chapter (‘For Steam Men’) devoted to his railway writings, published in the 1940s.
They show deep if sometimes flawed understanding of the workings of the steam locomotive and are recommended to anyone with an interest in surrealist literature and steam. He was born on October 4th 1911 and The Irish Times has been celebrating his centenary with excerpts from his writings, including some railway material. On the same subject, The Rat Race pub in Hartlepool (see ‘Railway Pubs and Cafes’) displays examples of the work of Belgian surrealist painter Paul Delvaux. It’s a good pint too.
Antonin Dvorak was a great steam enthusiast and often interrrupted his master classes in New York to pop out to see what was on ‘The 20th Century Limited’. Who can blame him?
The person on the left isn’t Dvorak but the distinguished train spotter and chip shop connoisseur known as ‘The Railway Doctor’ trying his hand at the controls of miniature B1 at Carlisle Community Rail Day.
Welcome suggestions in comments below on other great train spotters of history. Lenin? He did travel by train, to the Finland Station. Maybe he found time to get a cab ride. Certainly Stalin was featured in a socialist realist painting, reproduced by Roger Ford in ‘Modern Railways’, on the footplate of some Russian steam giant.
and it’s not just a man thing…
Here’s Janet Jobber, Labour Party activist, champion bread baker and stalwart of local railway model club trying out her re-gauged live steam saddletank at last Monday’s Garden Party at Bank Top.
34067 Southern Pacific ‘Tangmere’ on The Scarborough Spa Express from Crewe to the seaside. Friday evening July 29th 2011 saw it working hard through Golcar (site of old station). Who’d ha’ thowt it?