THE MAGAZINE OF THE PENNINE RAILWAY
No. 104 Summer
Meet The Committee
It is the Sandtoft Transport Gathering on Sunday 26 July. Always
an interesting event, it will be well attended by members of the
Committee. Come along and buy them a drink.
Uncle David Whitlam tells us it is possible that Chesterfield
Club will move their home from Saltergate to a new ground in Clay
Cross. It may be named "Skinner Stadium" after the rent rebels of
l970's, a family equivalent to the Hooligans from Ireland, or the
To the British it was meant to have just the right foreign flavour
unfortunately for the Channel Tunnel, the name Le Shuttle left the
French giving that familiar shrug of Gallic incomprehension.
Research by Eurotunnel found that few French people understood what
Le Shuttle actually meant so, rather than try to explain the brand
name, it has been decided to scrap it.
Services will now be known simply as Eurotunnel.
Very Late Express
The most delayed train in history, the Heathrow Express is finally
running from Paddington. The service. was planned 42 years ago.
Journey time is 15 minutes but the £10 single fare is nearly three
times dearer than the Tube. The i4 purpose built trains each seat up
to 400 passengers.
Long suffering Doncaster Rovers fan David Bladen would like to know
who are the "mystery Irish consortium" who are prepared to pour
money into the club, now relegated from the league to the
He says he is looking forward to Visiting Rushden &
Diamonds, if only he knew where they played.
Western railway company has added torment to misery. It is making
mobile phones available to passengers on its London-Exeter service
to let them make calls when their train is running late.
Signal failures could be caused by electromagnetic interference from
cell phones and other electronic devices which confuse signalling
The situation is worst on London Underground's Central Line
where a new £800m electronic signalling system is regularly being
thrown into chaos. "Electronic smog" is a new phenomenon linked to
the proliferation of cell phones. laptop computers, pagers and
personal stereos. It is caused because every electric device emits
The danger has been recognised by airlines off electronic devices
during take-off and an electromagnetic field. who ask passengers to
switch landing. They are already banned in hospitals where they could
interfere with life-saving equipment and on garage forecourts where
they could ignite petrol.
Great Rail Slowdown
A study of Victorian
railway timetables shows that many of its services were faster then
than today. Some examples of the slowdown are shown below:-
Nottingham-Liverpool 2hrs 56 mins (l998) 2hrs 55mins (1898)
Portsmouth-Southampton 44mins (1998)
Stoke-Stafford 32mins 1998 28mins l898
Victoria-Uckfield 1 hr 42mins (1998 1 hr
Norwich-Yarmouth 36 mins (1998)
1 hr 25m1ns (1978)
London-G1asgow 5hrs 25mins (l998 5hrs
Richard Branson has ordered 54 160mph revolutionary tilting Italian Pendolino trains
for for the West Coast line. They will cut 90 mins
off journeys from London to Glasgow, 45 off London to Birmingham and
50 off London to Liverpool
Italy and Birmingham, they will enter service in 2001.
Wins Top Union Job
Left-winger Dave Rix, nicknamed Train Stopper has ousted Lew Adams
head of drivers' union ASLEF. He has been a General Election candidate
for miners' leader Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party.
Lew Adams was dubbed "The Black Prince" in keeping with the union's
tradition of nicknaming its leaders after steam locos.
Derailment on ECML
0n Tuesday 16 June the 17.50 King's Cross-Edinburgh derailed at
near Sandy. Amazingly only 9 people were hurt. Derailment of the
vehicle was caused by a broken wheel adding to concern over the
ability of train wheels to withstand long periods at high speeds.
Immediately after the derailment the fleet of l40mph trains were
withdrawn for checks. The all-clear was later given by engineers.
Red Light for Rails Fat Cats
Passenger Transport Authorities plan to stop fat-cat rail bosses
cashing in on the privatisation boom. The PTAs are banding together
to block buyouts and takeovers of train operating companies such as
the sale generated by seven directors of Great Western Holdings,
The move will mean the loss of millions of pounds to leading City
institutions, which earned massive fees for advising on the sale of
Great Western and the subsequent £6.lm buyout of Thames Trains.
The train operators affected by the measures are run by managers who
were awarded subsidised franchises by the last government and may
aim to sell them for massive profits. Of the 25 franchises, only
Great Western and Thames have been sold on so far, creating
millionaires such as former BR booking clerk Brian Scott who saw a
£50,000 investment in Great Western turn into £5million.
Virgin Hitched To Stagecoach
Stagecoach has surprised the rail industry by becoming a partner in
Richard Branson's Virgin Rail. The £l58m deal will give Stagecoach
a 49% stake in the company. The agreement has to be approved by the
franchising director and the rail regulator. Stagecoach rail
already include South Worst Trains and Porterbrook Leasing. Virgin
holds two franchises, CrossCountry and West Coast, until 2012. The
discussed upgrading of the West Coast route is now getting under way
with Virgin in a revenue-sharing deal with Railtrack.
Passenger services on the Derby to Sinfin branch line have been
formally withdrawn with the approval of John Swift, the rail
No trains had run since 1995 when they were replaced by a taxi
latterly provided by Central Trains for the seven people a day who
The service ceased on Friday 26 June despite calls for the line to
upgraded to take modern trains. The stations at Sinfin North and
Sinfin Central, in the Derby suburbs, have closed. The line remains
open to freight.
End of Edmondson's
Edmondson tickets, which were invented more than 160 years ago, will
cease to be valid for journeys across the national network from the
of July. They have not been issued to the public since 1990. The
staff Edmondson's were issued three months ago. They are replaced by
credit-card sized tickets.
A few companies may still issue Edmondson-type tickets for journeys
entirely on their own services and many preserved railways still
them. They were named after Thomas Edmondson. a stationmaster on the
Newcastle and Carlisle Railway. He invented the tickets, storage and
dating system in 1856.
East Coast Review
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has asked the franchising
to report on options for providing extra passenger capacity on the
Last October GNER asked Nr Prescott to extend its franchise from
to 15 years so it could justify further investment in rolling stock
meet a passenger boom.
Pendleton station in Salford, Greater Manchester has been given a
reprieve from closure after Salford City Council asked for time to
together a rescue package.
The Big "N"
Regional Railways North East has adopted a new name and a new look
for its trains. Its services now run under the Northern Spirit
although the Trans-Pennine Express brand remains for the company's
principal trains between the North East and the North West.
A new Trans-Pennine Express livery of burgundy with a large gold "N"
is being applied to the service's Class 158s which now have a first
class section. A Pacer has been repainted in Northern Spirit local
livery of all-over green with a lighter green italic-style full
body-height "N" on the side of each car.
Inside, the Pacer has been restyled with high-backed seats replacing
the old bus seats. Classes l55 and 156 are also to be painted in two
shades of green. Trains operating West Yorkshire PTE services will
keep the Metrotrain red and cream livery.
Luton Airport Parkway
The new £l2m station at Luton Airport Parkway is unlikely to open
before December. Although trackwork and the alteration of signals
electrification equipment have been completed and the platform
are in place, work has yet to start on the three-storey station
Railtrack Scotland has overhauled its main Highland route from Perth
to Inverness to take containers up to 8ft 6ins high. Other projects
increase freight traffic include a feasibility study to reopen the
Stirling-Alloa route and the completion of work on the Forth Bridge
so that it can take trains of up to 2000 tonnes compared with 1400
Welcome to the Summer 1998 issue of 'Trans Pennine'.
(Yes, it's still me!)
Those members of a nervous disposition are advised to be very ‘
careful when reading the last few pages.
Mrs Skinner's little boy, (that's Robin, not his brother Tim!)
has kindly offered to prepare a new section of the magazine, to be
known as 'The Back Pages'. I don't wish to steal any of Robin's
thunder, so curious readers are directed to the relevant section,
where all will be revealed! Suffice it to say, I am very grateful to
Robin for his contribution to the preparation of 'Trans Pennine'. David Bladen
A Green Engine
by Paul Slater
I arrived at Loughborough
station, headquarters of the Great Central Railway, just after
eleven o'clock, and joined the fringe of the crowd gathered round a
green engine which was standing, gently hissing steam, at the
platform. This was the Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust's engine, 4-6-0
no. 1264, and today it was going to haul its first proper train
since the completion of its restoration. A long-standing member of
the Trust, I had been invited ~ along with many others - to be
present at the ceremony to mark the engine's return to steam and
then to ride on its first train.
Speeches were made, but I could not
here them properly, as there was no public address system. I did,
however, see a bottle being broken against the engine in the
traditional manner, and managed to take two photographs of no. 1264
before I moved away to another part of the platform. While waiting
for the engine to collect its train from the yard, I thought back to
when I had first joined the group dedicated to its restoration. I
cannot now remember exactly when I joined the group, or why; I think
it was in the mid-7O‘s. at the same time as l joined the Great
Central Railway itself- or rather, its predecessor, the Main Line
Steam Trust. The only steam locomotive I had driven and fired, in
1963 while I was a student at Cambridge, was a B1, but, that apart,
they were not my favourite engines, and I think I joined the
Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust because I saw - or was sent - some of
their literature, and the idea of assisting in a long term
restoration project and so becoming part of the burgeoning railway
preservation movement appealed to me.
The restoration of no. 1264 proved to be a very long- term project
indeed. The locomotive had major deficiencies which at times made it
seem that bringing it back to working condition was an impossible
dream. I renewed my subscription annually, purchased shares in the
locomotive, made donations, and bought raffle tickets. I read the
reports in the Trust's journal "Thompson Steam", looked at the
dismembered hulk of no. 1264 whenever I visited the Great Central
Railway and wondered if I was foolishly wasting my expectations
and my money.
late 1970's I began writing articles for railway magazines, and
"Thompson Steam" was one of the first to print my pieces. Soon I had
a new hobby, and my membership of the group restoring no. 1264 took
on a new interest. "Thompson Steam" was at first hardly more than a
flimsy newsletter, but eventually it became quite a handsome little
magazine. I contributed reviews of railway books as well as articles
on a variety of railway subjects. "Thompson Steam" gave me a number
of successes to report at monthly meetings of the North Lincolnshire
Writers Circle, and it was one of the magazines which I lent for
displays of the Retford Writers' published work. My first article in
“Thompson Steam” recounted a long train joumey I made in Canada
during the summer of 1977, and two other substantial pieces which
appeared in the magazine were a detailed account of a shed-visiting
trip to South Wales with my school railway club back in the
all-steam days of 1958, and a description of a ride from Dublin to
Belfast to visit the Irish Transport Museum in June 1983.
My final piece
in "Thompson Steam" appeared in the
early months of 1985, and was a description of a ride
on the Isle of Man Steam Railway the previous
summer. I had further articles submitted, but the
magazine reverted to a newsletter format, and no
more of my work was published in it. I continued with
my membership of the Trust, and began to contribute
a small amount of money by monthly standing order in
addition to my other payments. Eventually, the reports
from the restoration team began to sound more
hopeful, and it seemed that what had once appeared
impossible might indeed happen in the not-too-distant
future; the major repairs to the engine had been
successfully completed, and now there was talk of
when the locomotive might actually be steamed.
At last came the final appeal for money, and, not long
afterwards, a letter of acknowledgement and a
notification that members and shareholders would
soon be invited to ride on no.1264's first train. Now, on
Good Friday 1997, I watched the engine, gleaming in
its bright new apple-green LNER livery, as it backed
down into the yard at Loughborough to collect its train.
When it had hauled a single guard's van down the
Great Central Railway a few weeks earlier, it had been
the first time it had moved under its own power for
No. 1264 brought its train into the station, and a crowd
of us got on board. The ride to Leicester North and
back was free, but the buffet lunch set out in two of
the carriages was not; I paid up cheerfully and was
soon enjoying my picnic-type meal as, whistling
triumphantly, the green engine hauled us through a
countryside which, under a bright sun and cold wind,
was itself becoming coloured by the first fresh green
I watched no.1264 run round its train at Leicester
North, finished my lunch, and enjoyed the ride back to Loughborough.
The train stopped at Rothley where, I
am told, my grandmothers family originated, and
Quorn & Woodhouse, the terminus of the line when I
first going to the Great Central Railway. I saw the
engine run into the yard at Loughborough, then went
to my car and drove to Woodthorpe to see no.1264
pass with a second special train. I followed a footpath
across the fields to a bridge over the line, once a
favourite viewpoint of mine. While I waited for the
train, l thought back over the twenty and more years
that I have been visiting the Great Central Railway.
The early days of railway preservation are themselves
historical now, and to recall my first interest and
enthusiasm is to remember a considerably younger
Soon I heard a whistle from the direction of
Loughborough, and then no.1264 came in sight. It
looked and sounded very good as it hauled its train up
the slight gradient, a cloud of white steam blowing
away in the wind. As I watched it pass, I felt pride and
satisfaction. The long years of restoration were over.
Now a green engine would steam through the
Leicestershire countryside, and in due course it might
give pleasure to passengers and spectators further
afield; there has already been talk of no.1264 working
the summer steam trains over the spectacular stretch
of line between Fort William and Mallaig.
I watched the train stop at Quorn & Woodhouse and
the re-start, and not until the white plume of steam
had disappeared did I turn away from the railway and
begin walking into the cold wind.
Pennine Quiz No.94
Ian has set a quiz with
locomotive names and numbers
as the theme.
Answers to the
editor by 30 August, please! Offers to set quiz 95 also
1) On what date was 60002 named 'High Peak'?
2) Which preserved railway has a steam loco
3) Which loco carries the unofficial name ‘Billy
4) What is the name of 87006?
5) What is the name of Great Orme tram no.7?
6) What is the name of 47370?
7) Who named 156477?
8) What is the name of the loco with works
9) Who named 43098 'Lady in Red'?
10) What was the name of 08629?
11) What was the name of 14522?
12) What was the number of the loco that carried
the name 'Clan Mackinnon'?
13) What was the name to be given to D226 but
14) Which loco carried the name 'Lady of
15) Name 158702
16) What did 47831 and 47807 have in common?
17) How many BR standard locos were built?
18) What is the name of the loco based at Woking
for "Thunderbird" duties?
19) What was the number of the loco designed by
20) What was the name of the 4000th loco built at
21) Which loco carried the name 'Lady of
22) Which GWR loco carried the name 'Pioneer'?
23) Which SR loco carried the name 'Dinard'?
24) What class of loco was 'Helmingham Hall'?
25) What was the name of LNER loco no.2003?
Pennine Quiz No.93 the answers!
1) Raised lip on front of chimney
3) Class 34
6) 119, class T9
7) Taff Vale
8) Calling-on arm permitting a train to pass a
stop signal at danger
9) The Tower Subway, linking Tower Hill and the
south bank of the Thames. (It opened in 1870
as a 2'6" gauge cable-operated line)
12) 'Gatwick Express' class 73/2s
13) Class D30 No. 62426
14) He was a man with a wooden leg (honest!)
employed to ride up and down the first
escalators installed in 1911 at Earls Court. The aim was
to give the public confidence in
the new mode of travel
15) Miniature Buffet Car with Trolley
16) D1062 Western Legionnaire
17) Midland Railway (the question was
inadvertently typed as Harrington Viaduct, not
Harringworth Viaduct, sorry!)
18) Mirlees MB275T and Ruston RK270T
19) Garstang and Knott End Railway
21) Desert sand
23) County of Lancashire
24) Rose Grove
Winner overall was Ken King, with lan Shenton
gaining second place and Malcolm Bell in third.
the Papers say!
And now for something
completely different! The
Guardian has been running a
series ca/led 'Doing the Sites'
about interesting websites to visit.
Paul MacInnes has produced this
brief guide to railway-related sites.
Strangers on a train
"Prepare yourself for a magic carpet ride into the best-
kept secret in the World today," claims Rob Dickinson
of Monmouth (http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/steam/java1997.htm). Certainly Rob‘s website is
enthusiastic enough, and the pictures of the
surrounding scenery are undeniably beautiful, but you
wonder how many people are going to take up the
offer of riding around the narrow gauge railways of
Indonesia this summer.
It is surely just an eerie coincidence that users of the
Internet also happen to be devotees of the train, but
there is no doubt that there are a lot of sites like
Dickinson's on the net. There are thousands of fan
sites, dedicated to specific journeys, and hundreds
more specialising in the romance of rolling stock.
Even the sites devoted to the more mundane aspects
of rail travel have this element to them. UK railways
on the net (http://www.rail.co.uk) is no exception.
Built in association with Railtrack, "UK Railways" does
give you everything you need for rail travel around
these sceptered isles. The timetable covers all journeys throughout
the country and will save you the multiple phone calls you used to
need to extract the correct details from BR staff. However, it is
possible to be put on electronic hold, thus recreating to some
extent those glorious moments of yore.
At the Eurostar site,
(http://www.eurostar.com) there is not even a hint of inefficiency,
and not even much smoke damage in sight. The site contains
everything you would expect: timetables, prices, and the obligatory
flashy pieces of animation. But while Eurostar can make it possible
for trains to dart from every comer of the page, there is still no
way of buying tickets on-line.
You can, however, buy rail passes
from Eurail (http://www.eurail.com/) and there are quite a few to
choose from. The roster includes the Bulgarian flexi- pass which, in
a perfect world, would be a piece of body-building equipment.
a bit further away from home, China Railways
(http://severn.dmu.ac.uk) asks if you like steam trains - if you do,
this is the place to see them. As well as extolling the virtues of
the Chinese railway system, this is a practical site too and
contains information on how to get around on a network that is
becoming ever more popular for British holidaymakers. Harnessing the
most information for travellers with a trainspotting zeal hardly
seen outside of Guilford, is the European Railway Server
(http://mercurio.iet.unipi.it/home. html). Guides to different
railway networks are written by the enthusiasts who know them best,
combined with more than enough timetabling and other sundry
information to satisfy the keenest desire for loco- knowledge. The
European Railway Stock List by Marco van Uden is my personal
favourite. Finally, for those who like the thought of trains but
don't particularly want to pay to ride in them, there is an enclave
of the net just for you. There are several sites dedicated to train
hopping (http://www.catalog.com/hop/ is one of them) and the
lifestyle of the hobo.
Most are concerned with passing on
information to other potential hobos, the most notable titbit being
often the same: "Never jump on a train when its moving". Just how
many potential hobos there are with Internet access is questionable;
a site far more likely to get a reasonable number of hits is the
Dead Train Bums page (http://www.deadtrainbums.com/), but that‘s the
Internet for you.
Overheard on the radio : The French tried to get a
more efficient organisation to handle World Cup ticket phone lines,
but National Rail Enquiries said they were too busy!
continues its acerbic look at rail privatisation in its ”Signal
InterCity RIP Performance statistics for the
privatised railway reflect how the once famous lnterCity system is
The latest bulletin from the office of passenger rail
franchising (Opraf) shows that in 1997/98 punctuality worsened on
every one of the seven former lnterCity franchises except the
southern half of Virgin West Coast (where punctuality is still worse
than in the last year before BR's fragmentation).
All bar the
Gatwick Express and Midland Main Line failed to meet even the soft
passengers charter target (90 percent of trains to arrive at
destinations no more than 10 minutes late; while figures overlook
Sundays and one-off timetable changes), let alone passengers'
expectations of an express service with high fares.
The only big
ex-lnterCity franchise to have retained the old branding is Great
Western Trains. Sadly, its performance last year was a disgrace to
the lnterCity concept and the memory of Brunel's Great Western
Railway. Even John O'Brien, spin-doctor general to the passenger
train companies, had to admit that GWT's average of 84.7 percent of
trains "on time" was unsatisfactory.
The franchisees seem to regard
punctuality as an optional element of the overall package and keep
finding more pressing things to tackle. Management time is spent on
new staff uniforms, train liveries and gimmicks in first class,
while the biggest area of concern to passengers, punctuality, is
GWT is considering a massage service for first class
passengers; Great North Eastem Railway frets about uniforms, new
bags and negotiating with unions over who has to wear a hat and the
vital matter of when to wear the waistcoats that come with their new
summer uniforms. Meanwhile, punctuality is down to 87.9 percent - a
shameful figure for a wholly modernised route.
Midland Main Line,
whose punctuality dropped to 90.2 percent, has devoted management
resources to upsetting first class customers by serving free meals
only to passengers who have bought a new alternative ticket- which
costs the same as first class.
But passengers ain't seen nothing
yet. The dumbing down of lnterCity will enter another dimension when
some franchisees take possession of the new trains they have
ordered. To save money and keep open their competitive options for
the future, GWT, MML and Anglia Railways chose a type of train
designed for local services or cash-strapped provincial ones.
Passengers accustomed to comfortable lnterCity carriages may find
themselves assailed for hours on end by noise and vibration from the
whopping great engines strapped under the carriage floors.
by Martin Hall
In June of this year I had a week‘s annual leave booked and was
wondering how best to fill the days when I had a chance telephone
conversation with my close friend Geoff Broadhead. As
some of you will know, Geoff is a professional railwayman and it
just so happened that he was
not rostered to work for the majority of the week I had booked as
Following our telephone conversation, plans were drawn which would
enable us to make a
tour of the following preserved railways, all with a Great Western
theme, The Sevem Valley
Railway, The West Somerset Railway and The Paignton and Dartmouth
Railway. The plans
were completed by Geoff arranging two nights accommodation at the
Forester's Arms in
Williton, a short distance from Williton Railway Station on the West
Geoff drove the hundred miles from Doncaster to my flat in
Edgbaston, Birmingham on the
Tuesday and that afternoon we made our way by car to Kidderminster
on the Severn Valley
Railway. This was familiar territory to us both and myself in
particular, as I work on the SVR
as a volunteer most weekends.
There was just time for us to pay a visit to Captain Cod's fish bar
and enjoy a pint of Bathams
in the King and Castle which adjoins the SVR station at
Kidderminster, before joining our
train, the 14.00 Kidderminster to Bridgnorth. Our locomotive for the
round trip was GWR
2-6-0 number 7325. The joumey to Bridgnorth took us through the
surrounding the border between Worcestershire and Shropshire, the
latter being entered
around the midpoint of the joumey between Arley and Highley.
Once at Bridgnorth, a wait of about 40 minutes was required whilst
7325 took water and ran
around its train and in the meantime, further refreshment in the
form of a pint of Hobson's
bitter was taken in the Railwayman's Arms on the station. It was
soon time to make the trip
back to Kidderminster and thence to Birmingham where the delights of
Al Mougal's Balti and
Tandoori Restaurant were sampled before retiring to my flat for an
evening in front of the box
with some beers.
The next day saw us leave Birmingham by car and make the two and a
half hour journey to
Williton. On our arrival there we introduced ourselves to the
landlord of the Forrester's Arms
before driving on to Minehead. We were somewhat pressed for time if
we wanted to make the
first train available to us, the 12. 10 Minehead to Bishops Lydeard,
so a swift visit was made to
the local chippy before obtaining day rover tickets and joining the
train. Our locomotive was
7820 Dinmore Manor which we took as far as Watchet. We had
considered a cross at Williton
but as neither of us new the precise timing of a crossover there and
did not feel particularly
athletic, the safer option was chosen.
Some twenty minutes later, 4920 Dumbleton Hall eased the 12.20
Bishops Lydeard to
Minehead into the station and we boarded the train for the journey
back to Minehead. Both
Geoff and myself agreed that the condition of the permanent way on
the WSR was
considerably better than that which we had experienced the previous
day, with the trains in both directions running consistently at
between 20 - 25 mph. Our journey, the previous day,
on SVR metals had been somewhat bedevilled with 5 mph slacks in a
number of places.
On arrival at Minehead we had just under an hour to wait before the
next train and so we
made the short walk across the road from the station to The Head of
Steam for a couple of
Worthington's and a frame of pool.
Our arrival back at the station was awaited by 4920 Dumbleton Hall
and 7828 Odney Manor
at the head of the 14.25 Minehead to Bishops Lydeard. This time we
made the joumey the
entire length of the line to Bishops Lydeard, our train hugging the
northem coastline before
traversing the Quantock Hills. The "Hall" and the "Manor" made easy
work of the seven
coaches which consisted our train and we arrived at Bishops Lydeard
on time, in the rain.
A change of motive power resulted in our having 7820 Dinmore Manor
and 7828 Odney
Manor on the 16.05 Bishops Lydeard to Minehead the full length of
the line, passing the DMU
service, which we had successfully managed to avoid, at Williton.
Once at Minehead we made
the eight or so mile journey by car back to Williton and the
Forester's Arms, our base for the
next two nights. The pub is located on the Williton to Bridgwater
road some 200 yards from
Williton Railway Station and comes equipped with a range of
Cotleighs ales and an alleged
resident ghost. Geoff and myself wasted no time in getting stuck
into numerous pints of
Cotleighs Tawny Owl and a mixed grill, retiring to our room shortly
After a good night's doss, despite the squeaking pub sign which was
outside our window, we took breakfast early at 7.30am. Breakfast was
not due to be served
until 8.30am, but we had to make an early start that morning and the
landlord obliged by
starting proceedings an hour earlier than usual in order that we
could get away. Our objective
today was to take in the third GWR railway of the trilogy, The
Paignton and Dartmouth
Following our thirteen or so mile drive to Taunton, the information
screens on the station
greeted us with the news that our train, the loco hauled 07.12
Wolverhampton' to Plymouth
was running some 85 minutes late. This placed us in something of a
dilemma. Why was the
train so late? Had there been a locomotive failure and if so, was
something "big" likely to have
been used as a means of rescue. We decided that the wait would not
be preferable, firstly
because it would throw our schedule for the day into disarray and
secondly because it was
raining stair-rods and neither of us considered the prospect of a 90
minutes fester at Taunton
to be a particularly attractive proposition.
In the end, we took a HST on the Great Western Trains' 06.30
Paddington to Plymouth
service along the famous South Devon coast route to Newton Abbot.
Along the route the
changes from semaphore to colour light signalling were most apparent
in the lack of signal
boxes which once adorned this part of the world. Exminster box was
still there, although
apparently bereft of its frame. The box at Teignmouth had gone
completely. With the
exception of these interventions by modern man, Geoff and I both
agreed that in all other
respects the line appeared as it must have done a century ago.
Further changes in the name of
progress were evident at Newton Abbot, the old carriage sheds on the
down side of the station
were in the process of being demolished and the Up Relief platform
had been filled in to
accommodate additional car parking space. A further sign of the
times was witnessed by as
both as we stood on the Down platforms awaiting the arrival of the
branch train to Paignton, the arrival and departure of a two
carriage sprinter on a Paddington to Penzance service,
operated by Alpha1ine_ I couldn't help but think, "My God! has it
really come to this! “
My thoughts were disturbed by the arrival of the branch train, a two
carriage sprinter operated
by South Wales and West. We made the eight mile journey to Paignton
and crossed platforms
to the Dartmouth and Paignton Railway.
Our train, the 10.30 Paignton to Kingswear, was headed by GWR
Prairie Tank locomotive
4555 and in extremely well maintained coaches with a running
commentary from a well
spoken guard, we made the brief journey down to Kingswear. On our
arrival we noticed diesel
locomotive 50 002 in Network South East Livery, standing at the
bottom of the engine release
road as we passed down the ramp to the ferry which would take us
across the river to
Dartmouth, the home of the naval college and the only GWR station
without any track-bed.
A visit to the maritime museum was made before a luncheon interlude
of Cornish pasties was
taken on the side of the marina. Shortly afterwards we crossed the
river by ferry once again an
sought the comforts of the Ship Inn above Kingswear station whilst
awaiting the departure of
the 15.15 Kingswear to Paignton service which was also hauled by
On arrival at Paignton we spent some time looking at the somewhat
forlorn carriage sidings to
the south of the station before boarding the train back up the
branch to Newton Abbot. This
particular joumey was disturbed by a large number of school children
who boarded the train at
Torquay, with apparently one goal in mind, to avoid the "grip".
Sadly, for them, their antics
were brought to a swift conclusion just as we entered Newton Abbot
station. As we left the
train, we could hear their entreaties to the TTI who had collared
them and one small voice was
heard to enquire "Do you accept Graeme Le-Saux?" whilst offering the
TTI a football swap
card ...... Desperate!
Our journey back to Taunton was behind 47 807 on the 15.55 Plymouth
Piccadilly. On the latter part of the journey we spent time
identifying locations which occupied
somewhat infamous places in railway history, the site of Norton
Fitzwarren Station, where the
accident of 4 November 1940 occurred and, between Silk Mill Crossing
and Taunton Station,
the location where the Penzance to Paddington sleeper train, which
caught fire in the early
hours of 6 July 1978, came to a stand.
After watching the train pull away from Taunton on its journey
north, we returned to the car
and drove back to Williton for a further night at the Forrester‘s
Arms. The evening, spent
consuming the landlord's excellent ales, ensured yet another sound
During the three days which had elapsed, we had travelled
exclusively on former GWR metals
and, with the exception of our use of the National Rail Network, had
been hauled exclusively
by GWR locomotives. Truly a Great Week of Railways !
Rail Ale 5
An East Anglian Update
by David Bladen
Bit of a short one this time,
I'm afraid! Editorial wanderings have been curtailed of late,
however, I did manage to make my annual pilgrimage to the Airshow at
the American airbase at Mildenhall in Suffolk. Regular readers of
this column may remember that last year's expedition, which formed
the basis of an earlier 'Rail Ale' article, was not without incident
in the transport department! Happily, there were no such problems
this year, but the Airshow itself was a disappointment. The weather
was poor which curtailed the flying display, and there were few
interesting aeroplanes to be seen on the ground. What made matters
worse was the absence of barriers around many of the aircraft in the
static line-up. This made photography rather awkward and led to the
reappearance of a phenomenon known as the "intake Spotter". This
rather curious creature had almost vanished from the Airshow scene,
as the laudable trend of physically separating the general public
from multi-million pound aircraft has spread. So what exactly is it?
The ”lntake Spotter" is usually, but not exclusively, male. Their
ages and their dress sense vary considerably, but they all share one
strange obsession - the urge to put their head and shoulders inside
a jet engine air intake, then stand there for as long as possible,
oblivious to the anguished pleas of photographers. Quite why they
should want to do this is beyond me - having spent many hours in
intakes in a professional capacity, I can confirm that there isn't‘
a great deal for the layman to see! They are also closely related to
another equally annoying species known as the "Exhaust Spotter" -the
latter has similar habits but is found at the opposite end of a jet
engine, and can easily be distinguished by its prominent markings
i.e. a face covered in soot! And to think, railway enthusiasts have
an image problem! Still, each to his (or her) own! So, back to
reality. I had planned to call in at the Fountain in Ely for a quick
pint before heading straight home - ECML diversions were in force
and as I was due to travel to Blackpool very early the following
day, I didn't want to be too late back. There was surprisingly
little traffic congestion between Mildenhall and Ely station and the
bus from the base made short work of the joumey. The Fountain did
not open until 6pm so, having 45 minutes to kill, I decided to have
a walk up to the Cathedral to see if it was still open to visitors.
It wasn't, and by now rain had started to fall. I sought sanctuary
in the Minster, opposite the main entrance to the cathedral. The
Minster turned out to be a soulless open-plan pub which looked as
though it had just undergone refurbishment. The ambience was not
helped by the giant-screen TV at the back of the pub, around which
several bottle-swilling youths were noisily clustered, watching
highlights('?) of the England v Saudi Arabia football match. Beer
choice was limited to Bass and Filer's London Pride. I ordered a
pint of Bass and then wished I hadn't as I was charged £2 for the
privilege (no price list on display!). It must be said that the beer
was very good, but at that price yours truly wasn't going to have
another and I retired to a corner to slowly sip my pint and read a
paper. At about five-to-six, I left the Minster and headed off back
down towards the station. The Fountain is en route, on the corner of
Silver Street, and I was very pleased to see that the front door was
now open and the lights were on. This pub, a new GBG entry, has also
just been refurbished, but a damn-sight more sensitively than the
Minster! A gleaming wooden bar now dominates and the walls are
covered with old photographs of the Cathedral and its surrounding
areas. The pink emulsion on the walls might not be to everyone's
taste but I think the beer will be. Woodforde Wherry, Nethergate
Golden Gate, Adnams' Bitter and London Pride were all on sale, and a
blackboard behind the bar proclaimed the beers to come. Now, I have
had rather a liking for Wherry since I first tried it at the Rose
and Crown in the small Norfolk village of Snettisham, about ten
years ago. I am glad to say that this pint did not disappoint
either, although at £1 .87, the price did a touch! Regular readers
again may recall that on my last visit to Ely, I developed a liking
for another pub on Silver Street, the Prince Albert. This doesn't
open until 6.30pm on a Saturday evening and I would have liked to
pop in again - ooh, very tempting - but my self- imposed timetable
ruled this out, so to console myself I had another half of Wherry in
the Fountain, before a quick dash to the station for the 18.26
departure to Peterborough. 158783 deposited me on Peterborough's
platform on time, with about twenty minutes to wait before the 19.26
departure northbound. I popped in to the Station Managers office to
say hello to Mr Skinner, who was on duty that evening. Robin kindly
checked the progress of my train, which had been reported running
about 10 minutes late through Hitchin. The train was still behind
time, so declining his offer of a cup of coffee, I made my way over
the road to the Great Northern Hotel for a quick pint. It is many
years since I was last in there, and things have changed. The bar is
now a very plush cocktail lounge, and the famous Chinese barman,
mentioned in Chris Tyas's recent article, seems to be no more. The
current staff were friendly and efficient and didn't seem to mind
that in a room full of people weaning dinner jackets and cocktail
dresses (there was a function taking place in the restaurant), I was
person wearing jeans and carrying a camera bag!
Boddington's Bitter, Marston's Pedigree and Greene
King Abbot were on sale and surprisingly, in view of
the plush hotel setting, the Boddys was excellent and
very reasonably priced at £1 .60.
The 19.26 must have made up a fair amount of time
since leaving Hitchin as it was just arriving at the
station as I crossed the bridge to the platform. 91019
was the loco as far as Newark, where 47788 was
attached to drag the train via the Lincoln avoiding line
and Gainsborough to Doncaster.
The following morning, I must admit I was glad that I'd
not given in to temptation in Ely - there is nothing
worse than being rudely awakened at some unholy
hour by a low-flying small Bladen. Now if only Alex was old enough
to make a cup of tea ..... !
Your intrepid membership secretary, Tony Caddick,
has been known to quaff the odd noggin or two of
good ale, so it was no surprise when he accosted me
at a recent Pennine meeting and began singing the
praises of the GBG -listed Stafford Arms situated,
oddly enough, just outside Stafford station. I haven't
been in but TC says it is "thoroughly recommended."
Beers on sale during his visit were mostly from the
Titanic Brewery viz. Best Bitter, Lifeboat, Premium,
Stout, Captain Smith‘s and White Star, but there were
also other guest beers which he forgot to note - hardly
surprising really, given the range of house beers! He
also supplied me with a list of locos sighted during his
visit, and I think it‘s only fair to say the list does get a
bit blurred towards the end! Only joking, Tony!
We start on the Gainsborough -
Barnetby line where the following
locomotives were noted operating light-engine before
the Saturday passenger service :-
Feb 14 -
Feb 21 - 56043+56051;
Feb 28- 37710;
Mar 7 - 37715;
Mar 14 - 37350;
Mar 28 - 56062;
Apr 18 - 47315;
Apr 25 - 56115.
workings observed were :- Mar 2 - 60024 working
light-engine; Mar 19 - 60079 on a p.w. train; Mar 20 -
60032 also on a p.w. train.
Oil trains passing through Lincoln have been headed
Mar 6 - 56065, 60051;
Mar 16 - 60012/077;
19 - 60023/061;
Mar 31 - 56065, 60023/027/096;
23 - 60023/053/098;
May 8 - 60074/075;
May 21 -
A member visiting lmmingham depot on March 7
noted :- 08445/466/665/824, 31306, 37101/131/212/245/344/382/886, 47277/315/475/574/981, 56034/065/111/121/133, 60051/061/094.
To Church Fenton, now, where on the 14th of March,
47843 headed the 09.00 Poole- York, 56053 was on a
steel train, 56115 was on a goods train and 60005
headed a coal train.
Stabled at Peterborough on the 20th of March were
31115/255, 37718, 56071/126. The following day,
47769 passed through at the head of a Kings Cross -
Inverness charter and on the 27th, 31142/146/255,
37055/185/194/798, 56129 were on the stabling point.
Noted passing through Moorthorpe on the 4th of April
were 47806 on the 09.00 Poole -York, and 56115 on a steel train.
Later in the day, 6024 ‘King Edward 1"
passed through Church Fenton on a Carlisle - York
steam special, with 47732 at the rear.
87101 was a welcome visitor to Doncaster on the 8th
of April. Later in the day at Swinton, 60085 was
observed at the head of a tank train and 56036 was in
charge of a ballast train.
On the 11th of April, North East - South West services
to and from Poole were disrupted because of flooding
between Reading and Birmingham. 47818 was noted
on the 12.06 Newcastle - Plymouth and 47840 headed
the 14.05 Newcastle - Bristol. The following day,
ECML services were diverted via Stockton, Hartlepool
and Sunderland due to engineering works in the
Durham area. Locos employed on dragging duties
On the 13th, Poole services were returning to normal -
47844 was noted at York on a Poole service, having
worked into the station with a train from Birmingham.
The 16th saw 47839 at York, departing for Poole
having worked in from Birmingham, and 47844 bound
for Bristol having arrived on a service from Poole.
Another steam special was in operation on the 19th of
April. 60532 'Blue Peter' was noted passing through
Retford on the "Heart of Midlothian", from Edinburgh
to Kings Cross - 47745 was attached to the rear of the
On the 25th of April, a group of Pennine punters made
a rare outing into deepest Essex, where NSE-liveried
"Bubble Car" 55029 was sampled on the Marks Tey -Sudbury branch. Locos noted on Liverpool Street-Norwich/Harwich duties were 86217/223/232/235/238.
April 27th saw 47805 and 47840 at York, the former
bound for Poole with the latter heading for Bristol,
having worked in from Birmingham and Poole
Back to Moorthorpe where, on the 2nd of May, 47807
hauled the 09.00 Poole - York and 56123 had charge
of a goods train. At Peterborough the same day,
56060 arrived with Mercia Tours "The Clubman Rose" charter
(Our correspondent forgot to mention
where this tour originated) 37274+37220 then worked
the train on a circular tour via Newark, Lincoln, the
Sleaford avoiding line and Spalding before returning
to Peterborough. 56060 should have taken the train on
its return joumey, however, the failure of this loco
meant that the pair of 37s continued on to Nuneaton
where they were replaced by 47365. Locos noted at
Peterborough stabling point were 31146/163/255/420,
37042/133, 56056/080, 58010/014/030. Additional
locos noted on the 3rd were 37055/198/383, 56031/060/119. The 3rd was also another day when ECML
diversions were in place. Locos noted on dragging
duties, via Lincoln were 47722/746/766/769/786/792.
Scunthorpe steelworks played host to a tour train on
the 9th of May, with BSC's 3138 'Hutnik' being
employed to take the party through the complex.
Other BSC locos noted in operation were 1438 giving
brake-van rides, 79 'Big Keith' on steelworks steel train
banked by 51, 71 and 75 on trains of torpedo wagons
between the blast furnaces and steelworks, and 1, 73
and 74 on other steelworks trains. Diesel shunter
'Arnold Machin' still resides in the Appleby
Frodingham Railway Preservation Society's shed and
"big" locos 56059 and 56097 were noted passing on
coal trains. Later in the day, 47841 was noted
operating Birmingham - York, York - Poole trains.
On the 10th of May, 47769 was noted in charge of the
12.10 Leeds - Kings Cross service.
Your editor was pleasantly surprised to observe 31166
blasting through Swinton station on the 14th of May, at
the head of a rake of Tiphook vans. Closely following
behind were 58031+56092 making light work (but a
heavy racket) of a train of ballast hoppers.
The "York and Scarborough Liner" railtour traversed
Eastem Region metals on the 23rd of May.
47207+279 commenced the tour at Finsbury Park,
taking the train to Doncaster via Reading and
Birmingham. 47361 then took over for the run to
Scarborough and return to Doncaster, where 47279
was attached. The two 47s returned the train south,
terminating at Ealing Broadway.
Noted in the sidings at March, also on the 23rd, were
May was definitely the month for engineering works!
The ECML was closed at Ranskill on the 23rd and
24th. Diesel/electric combinations noted on the 24th were:
47775+91020 10.00 KX - Edinburgh
47749+91010 10.00 Edinburgh - KX
47775+91014 15.00 KX - Edinburgh
47788+91006 17.00 KX - Glasgow
The Doncaster "Thunderbird" 47624 was also pressed
into service during the evening, and 47844 was also
sighted on a Newcastle - Plymouth train.
37402+37429 worked a "Railtourer*' charter from Hull
to Edinburgh, via the S&C, on the 25th of the month.
The stock consisted mostly of Mk1 coaches, however,
Mk2 air-conditioned were also included, hence the use
of 37/4s. Return to Hull was via the ECML.
incidentally, our Humberside, sorry, East Yorkshire
correspondent reports that class 158 and class 142
units are appearing in 'Northem Spirit' livery - he is
obviously not impressed as his letter described the
colour scheme as "REVOLTING!!" Very succinct,
To Barnetby now, where on the 26th, 56018,
60010/014/051 were employed on oil trains, 56027,
60074 hauled coal trains, 60008/062 were on iron-ore
trains, 56101 passed through on a steel train, 37679
powered a Cargowagon train and 31530 and 56087
worked through light-engine.
Noted at Birmingham New Street on the 16th of March
were 47847 on a Piccadilly - Paddington train, 47822
on a Liverpool-bound service, 47839 on a New Street
- Paddington train and 47840 on a Liverpool -
Plymouth service. The latter was some 32 minutes
late leaving New Street following points problems at
Edge Hill, however, after some spirited running, arrival
at Plymouth was just 7 minutes down. Other locos
noted were 47827/849, 86207/213/226/234, 87007.
On the 26th of the month, at New Street, 47712
worked the 10.58 train to Plymouth, 47853 headed the
10.55 service to Liverpool, and 47849 arrived on a
Plymouth - Liverpool train.
The 11.03 New Street to Plymouth train on the 28th,
with 47848 in charge, was diverted via Oxford, Didcot
and Swindon, because of engineering works in the
Gloucester area. 47814 was also noted working the
10.42 Plymouth - Manchester train.
April was obviously a quiet month, as our next report
for the region is for May! On the 2nd, 31166, 37037/225/695 were stabled at Nuneaton. On the 8th, 37408,
47194, 60002/079, 87006/025, 90003 were noted at
Nuneaton, 08628/951, 31113/308, 37074, 47186/701,
86247, 87021, 90004/008 were sighted at Rugby and
58010/033, 60030/055/090 were stabled at Leicester.
As mentioned in 'Rail Ale', your membership secretary
was ensconced in the Stafford Arms for "an hour and
a bit" (how long the "bit" was isn't stated!) on the 16th
of May. Sightings were as follows:-
56134 Northbound Freightliner
47831 15.10 Manchester Piccadilly - B‘ham NS
86251 11.44 Plymouth - Liverpool
87030 15.20 Preston - Euston
47296 Southbound Freightliner
87035 15.45 Liverpool - Euston
86240 16.16 B‘ham Int - Piccadilly
37415 13.40 Holyhead - B‘ham NS
87003 14.55 Euston - Liverpool
47844 12.30 Glasgow - Poole
87004 13.40 Glasgow - Euston
86213 14.18 Paddington - Glasgow
87029 15.25 Euston - Glasgow
87028 15.55 Euston - Liverpool
86242 17.10 Piccadilly - Paddington
47831 17.18 B‘ham NS - Piccadilly
Stabled at Peak Forest on the 25th of May were
08915/925, 37688/689, 59204, 60001/026/084/089/096, whilst a visit to Toton on the 27th produced
58040, 60031 on coal trains, 37678 on a ballast train,
08528/706 yard pilots, 31405/466, 37055/258/416,
47294/462/492/744, 56074, 58026/029/030/050,
60007/030/056 in the depot, 08594/723/773/829,
250/268/276/290/294/531/547, 37048/092/11 1/137/188/213/241/278/330/343, 45015, 47341, 56023
DRS-liveried 37610 was noted at Stafford (no prizes
for guessing who by!) on the late-running 10.40
Edinburgh - Brighton and was seen a few hours later
heading back north assisting 47712 on the 15.28
Bristol - Glasgow. The first summer-Saturday was
obviously placing a strain on the Virgin trains loco fleet
as 47016 was also seen putting in a spirited departure
on the 12.30 Glasgow - Poole.
A correspondent out and about in the West Country and South Wales in
mid-March, noted the following:-
Exeter - 08792, 37146/197/229
Plymouth - 37610+37611 on a freight working,
47745/759 on mail trains, 47840 on a Plymouth -Sheffield service, 47847 on the 12.17 Piccadilly -
Bristol TM - 47745/763 on mail trains, 37417 on the
08.39 Weymouth - Bristol and 11.30 Bristol - Cardiff.
The 09.15 Paddington - Bristol HST was terminated at
Chippenham due to a mechanical problem. This led to
cancellation of the 11.15 Bristol - Paddington.
Newport - 09015, 37219/229/248/275/41 1/521/672/901, 47310, 56117
Cardiff - 37010+37057/696, 47152/181/279/292/371/745/761, 56057/066/086, 59004/101, 60055.
Additionally, 37429 was noted operating the 17.04
Cardiff - Rhymney in place of the rostered class 33,
which is believed to have failed, much to our
Canton - 08900, 37178/684/897/902/905, 47016/209/279/523/785, 56070, 60019/034/038.
Exeter - 37146/197/293/689, 47575, 47812 on a
Derby - Plymouth service and the 11.40 Plymouth -
Derby, 47851 on the 10.44 Plymouth - Manchester,
Bristol - 47786 on 'Orient Express' stock.
Newport - 37211/275/888/894/901, 56066/078, 60019
37429 was again operating the 17.04 Cardiff -
Rhymney in place of the booked class 33. Our
correspondent is now hopping mad!
47814 on a Derby - Plymouth service and return 11.40
Plymouth - Liverpool, 47848 on a Liverpool -
Plymouth service, 47476/765 in the sidings at
Bridgewater, 37467 on the 16.33 Bristol - Weymouth,
37709/717/885 at Westbury, 47815 on a Penzance -
Our correspondent had a further trip to the West
Country and South Wales towards the end of March
Bridgewater - 37715
Newport - 37178/229/258/668/871/894/901
Cardiff - 56046/066, 59101 and , happily, class 33
D6593 (33208) on the 16.32 Cardiff - Rhymney! Other
sightings were 37429 on the 14.30 Cardiff - Bristol and
16.33 Bristol- Weymouth, and 47832 on a Penzance -
37402 on the 14.33 Bristol - Weymouth service.
The "Cornish Gnome" railtour took green-liveried
37403 from Cardiff to deepest Cornwall on the 3rd of
May, with EWS-liveried 37669 'top-and-tailing' on the
Falmouth and Looe branches. Unfortunately, '403 was
not in the best of health on the return joumey and was
assisted from Plymouth by 47781
A member visiting Didcot on the 19th of May noted
47194 on a car train, 37350 hauling a train of London
Underground stock, 08804, 09101 in the yard, 37146,
47004/095 stabled in the station and 37703 stabled at
Our correspondent must like the West Country and
South Wales, (l suppose it beats watching Yorkshire
play cricket!), for he was there again at the end of May
Newport - 37242/668/695/701, 60064
Gloucester -37715 on a freight working
Swindon - 37116/689/711, 47313, 56134
Didcot - 08804, 09101, 37146/263/417, 47475/524,
Oxford - 47212/225 on freight trains, 47822 on a
Glasgow - Poole service
Sightings at Gloucester were 21/5: 66034/038; 22/5:
37710, 60009/034/051; 23/5: 37503, 56009,
Eridge played host to 37057 on the 8th of March. The
loco was operating on a ballast working. 500019 was
also noted on the Spa Valley railway, awaiting a move
to a location on Norfolk.
Locos noted at Eastleigh on April 10th were 47831 on
an express, 47330 light-engine, 08649 in the works
and 37698, 47219, 73110/139 in the depot. On the
14th, the depot played host to 33046, 37888, 47018/219/231/281/303/330/377, 58001, 60069.
On the 7th of March, the 'Bluebell Railway' had
Southern Railways loco C1 in operation, whilst later in
the day, E6003 was operating between Isfield and
Little Horstead on the 'Lavender Line'.
Locos in operation on the Keighley and Worth Valley
on the 13th Of April were D5209, 80002 and 75019
Noted at the Llangollen Railway on the 19th of April
were D2162, D8142, 25313, 26004, 47449 and DMU
Peak Rail held a "Friends of Thomas" weekend on the
2-4 May. 45337 and 68012 'The Duke' were noted on
the 4th, topping-and-tailing a 7-coach train between
Matlock and Rowsley.
Many thanks to Tony Caddick, John Dewing and
Paul Slater for their continuing contributions.
For a number of years now, I have been aware, and
indeed have been constantly reminded by my peers,
that in the twenty-four years of the Pennine Railway
Society's existence, I have never really contributed to
Trans Pennine in a big way. Okay, so in years gone by I have written the occasional "Notes from the
Committee" and compiled the fixtures and meetings
lists - granted - but that's not really creative. Creative,
Robin Skinner?!! Mmm, well, let's see what happens!
In recent years, Dave has put the magazine together
himself, preparing his own articles and editing those of
the small band of regular contributors. Well, this is
where it all changes - Dave is still in charge of putting
it all together, but it's a team effort from now on.
In The Back Pages, I will try to give you as much
variety as possible, whilst complementing the rest of
the magazine. Meetings list are still my domain as you
know, so they will be in The Back Pages. Any trips
that may be advertised by the society will be in, along
with any other events you, the member, would like me
I'll also be reviewing other railway publications -
sometimes a monthly magazine, sometimes a book -
and occasionally railway videos. There will also be a
short article on a particular subject - in this edition, I
cover that fascinating building, St Pancras Chambers,
once one of London's most expensive hotels. There
will also be a paragraph covering a Pennine trip from
the past - who went, where we went and what
I hope you will enjoy the new section. Please keep
sending contributions to Dave - they all help the
magazine to get bigger and better!
St Pancras Chambers
For many years now, I've got off trains at Kings Cross
or St Pancras and walked under the subway to the
south side of Euston Road, and headed up the
westbound stairs towards the bus stop, to wait for a
number 10 or 73 bus (originally 14 or 73) to go to the
West End. Routemasters are by far the best way to
see London (sorry, Gerry!). As you will be aware, you
wait and wait, then four come at once. While I am
waiting for the four to come at once, I always look up
in complete awe at the Gothic frontage of St Pancras
Chambers - it is by far the most beautiful frontage to
any railway station in Britain, never mind in London,
and I have always wondered what the inside of the
building is like.
A few months ago, I saw an advert in Modern
Railways inviting people to apply for tickets for a
guided tour of the former Midland Grand Hotel, on
Tuesday the 11th of May. "That‘s for me". I thought,
and off I went. At 1.30pm, I was standing in the original entrance
with twenty-three other people, looking at a small London and
Continental Railway exhibition telling us that when the new direct
line is built, St Pancras will be the London terminus for Eurostar,
allowing access to the railway system to the north, particularly the
East and West Coast Main Lines. LCR hope to make the hotel once
again into the most prestigious in London.
The Midland Grand Hotel
closed its doors as a hotel on the 19th of April 1935. The London,
Midland and Scottish Railway said it was too expensive to run, and
refurbishment was not a viable option. Thus the building was renamed
St Pancras Chambers and became the headquarters of the LMS's hotels
and catering department. Nationalisation in 1948 saw it become the
headquarters of BR‘s hotel and catering operations, remaining in
this role until 1985, when the buildings tire certificate was
withdrawn - it has been empty ever since.
In recent years, British
Rail and Railway Heritage have spent £10 million restoring the outer
fabric of the building - cleaning the stone and brickwork, repairing
the roof and guttering and securing chimney pots. When you look up
in awe from the south side of Euston Road, it looks even better.
Inside, however, is a different matter entirely. Most rooms are
exactly as they were in 1935 - original decorations remain, but in a
very poor state. Rooms used as offices had obviously had some work
done to them, in particular, larger rooms had been divided into two
by stud-wall partitions, but in general, it was like walking back in
Imagine the Titanic had been in dry-dock since launching.
preserved in all its glory as a time-capsule. Now imagine you are
one of the first people to re-enter that capsule to see how time has
faded that glory - that's how I can best describe how I felt. Some
work has been done by conservationists to establish how many coats
of paint were on the walls - 11 in total - and as a result, some of
the original design of wall covering, in all its splendour, is
revealed for all to see.
The Grand Staircase must be one of the
finest staircases in the country. The original Axminster carpet
design has survived and is preserved.
At the back of the hotel are
rooms which look out into Barlow’s great train shed, now occupied by
green- liveried Midland Mainline HST's, though in the past, Peaks,
Jubilees, the odd Royal Scot and many Black 5s would have dominated
the scene, preceded, no doubt, by Midland Compounds. I put my camera
to work, though the windows were somewhat grubby!
Only the ground
floor and main reception rooms on the first floor had central
heating. All other rooms had fire places - the amount of coal burned
daily in winter must have run into tons.
The tour took nearly two
hours and was an excellent insight into the past and, who knows,
maybe the future. Thomas Betchanin did an excellent job when he
saved the building from the same fate as Euston, back in the 1960's.
St Pancras Chambers is now a grade 1 listed building
about St Pancras Chambers
** 1863 - The Midland Railway secures an
Act of Parliament to build St Pancras station and hotel.
** 1865 -
The architects' competition to design the hotel is won by Sir George
** 1868 - The first passenger train departs St Pancras
for Manchester on October 1st.
** 1876 - The hotel opens at a total
cost of £437,335. (fabric £304,335: fittings £49,000:fFumishings
** 1879 - A room, with half board, costs 14/- (70p). .
- Bed and breakfast costs 12/- (60p), with dinner costing 5/- (25p).
** 1930 - Room only costs 8/6 (42.1/2p), room with bath costs 15/-
(75p), breakfast is 4/- (20p), lunch is 5/- (25p) and dinner costs
** 1935 - The hotel closes on April 19th, to become
** 1985 - Offices close following withdrawal of the
building's fire certificate.
** 1990's - Work commences on
restoration of the building. £10 million is spent on the outside,
with £120,000 being spent on the inside, mainly work connected with
saving the fabric of the building, installation of lighting and
humidifiers and restoration of murals on staircases.
Steam World caters for the steam buff who yearns for the
glorious post-war heyday of steam, up to its end with British
Railways in 1968. Preserved steam, however, is not covered. The
magazine is embedded in an atmosphere of dirt, soot and clinker,
relishing photographs, some in colour, some in black-and-white of
steam operations in Britain in the 40s, 50s and early 60s.
Contributors are people who went on trips in that era, to places
that are very different today. For example, in the current issue
(June 1998), one article is by enthusiasts visiting Retford in 1965.
Locos recorded are B1s, K1s, O2s, the odd A4, A1s, J6s, J11s etc.
There is also an excellent picture of A4 60014 'Silver
Link' hauling maroon Mk1 stock into platform 1.
Other articles cover a visit to sheds in the Staveley
area in 1964, seaside traffic to Scarborough in the
1950s, and the Station Master at Elland in West
Yorkshire, in the early 1960s - pure nostalgia, where
do they dig it up from?
I've been subscribing to Steam World for a number of
years now and really look forward to it. It's the only
way I can travel back in time to a railway that was.
The atmospheric black-and-white photography is
excellent, especially the Aero Films centre spread of a
And the verdict? In my book it is the best publication
available recording steam in the twenty years after the
Second World War.
Steam World is published monthly by EMAP Apex
Publications of Peterborough and is priced at £2. 55,
with an annual subscription costing £30.60 for 12 issues
All meetings are held at the Corporation Brewery
Taps, Cleveland Street, Doncaster, commencing at
Wednesday, June 17th
"Yorkshire slides from a Yorkshireman”
Wednesday, July 1st
"Slide show down Mexico way"
Wednesday, July 15th
"Plant your eyes on these slides"
Wednesday, August 5th
"Don’t plant your eyes on these slides!"
Wednesday, August 19th
"Chris Nicholson 's friend"
Wednesday, September 2nd
"Westems, Warships and Hymeks"
Wednesday, September 16th
Wednesday, October 7th
The Annual Pennine Slide Contest
Cash prizes and trophies!
Wednesday, October 21 st
Title to be announced
If would like to give a slide show, or know someone
who could, please contact Robin Skinner at 102
Searby Road, Lincoln LN2 4DT, Tel 01522 874096, or
pop along to a meeting.
The next edition of Trans Pennine will, hopefully,
be produced in September. Please have
contributions to me by 30 August. Thank you!