Posts Tagged ‘1960’

A railway book

December 23, 2015

I bought this little volume from a charity stall at a little market in Sedburgh in Cumberland. It really took me back to my train spotting days.


Well no wonder it took me back, for the book was published in 1960. This was a time when it was not considered bad to like trains and authors and photographers could cash in on a very widespread hobby with a fairly basic idea. H C Casserley was a well-known locomotive photographer and this book is largerly a vehicle for his photos together with some self-written text and technical details of the locos chosen. The book was sold, when new, for 8/6 which is 42½p in present money.

Some 200 different types of loco are described – each with a photo.

I’m picking on just one of them.


If anyone looks at this and says, ‘Aha! This is one of those Terriers the blog author likes so much’, then I say, ‘well done, but not right’. This is Stroudley’s D class tank and very clearly comes from the same stable as my much loved Terriers.  These locos didn’t survive into my train spotting days for on the next page of the book it tells us that no 2252 was withdrawn in September 1950 at which time I was less than two years old. If ever I saw one of these locos then I certainly have no memory of it. Actually, another loco of the class survived in service on an asylum railway in Lancashire until 1957. But in those days Lancashire was as foreign to me as Vladivostok.

There are nice memories for me in this book although inevitably, Mr Casserley’s choice of locos doesn’t match mine.

Toasting Forks

September 1, 2015

I had the fortune, good or otherwise, to attend a Grammar School between the ages of 11 and 16. Actually, for various reasons, that Grammar school and I didn’t serve each other particularly well. I have, on this blog, mentioned one teacher, Mr Cole of geography who I found inspirational.

Another subject I enjoyed was metalwork. I still have this thought that it was typical of the place to teach boys metalwork, rather than the far more useful woodwork, but when all came to all I did enjoy metalwork. I loved using the forge. I loved turning things to precision standards on a lathe. I enjoyed working copper. I could even enjoy routine things like using saws and files.

Of course, the school knew best as to what we should make. We had no choice in the matter. And one object we had to make was an extendable toasting fork. I still have mine!

image002 I couldn’t tell you when this was last used for holding a piece of bread in front of an open fire. Most of the time, the poor old thing hangs up in an out building. It still works as an extendable item. This amazes me considering age – 55 years now and rust!


But in a way it spawned a second toasting fork, made by me as a youthful adult. I attended a metalworking evening class and was able to refresh some blacksmithing experience from school days. This toasting fork is fixed in length but has been made from one piece of mild steel, mostly just using heat and hammer.


I wish words could explain just how enjoyable it is to get your piece of metal really hot and then twist it. Fantastic.

Like its friend it hangs up in an out building. But maybe, come the winter months I could try them out again.

A young archaeologist

April 12, 2015

I can’t really remember how it came about that I joined a ‘dig’ when I was about 11. It wasn’t hard work and it did prove to be good fun. The dig was in a dried up moat around an old Tudor house not far from where I lived. If memory serves me right the dig was organised by a school teacher who lived very close.

The moat was soft and easy to cope with and really we were looking for discarded rubbish, flung into the moat to get rid of it. We didn’t expect any ancient finds but we had finds a plenty.

Two things stick in the memory – clay pipes with lots of stem and not so many bowls and blue and white china.

We were allowed to keep some bits and I obviously put my treasures in a handy box. And there they still are.


The box is for twenty five cigars. I have no idea where it came from. At that time nobody in my family smoked. It had probably felt useful at a jumble sale.


The inside has contents and a pretty inner lid!


The three clay pipe bowls there do not have any maker’s marks which is a shame. I dare say had they been marked, they’d have been kept centrally.

I’d love to date these. I’m going to guess that the top two are early eighteenth century but really it is only a guess. If I was a real nerd I’d apply the Harrington rule. This involves measuring the size of the hole through the pipe in sixty fourths of an inch and then looking it up on this table.


OK, I am a real nerd and on that basis I get that the top two are 1720 to 1750 and the fluted one is 1680 to 1720.

But do, please put me right on that if you can.

I also have fragments of pottery. What better than to toss broken china ware into the moat.


I’m not even going to try to date these items but again, if anyone likes to tell me anything, I’ll be delighted.

Regular readers of this blog will know that we do turn up odd finds in our garden and even though they have zero cash value we can still be very pleased with them.

Oh, I found a recent photo of the house and moat on the web. That moat is now full of water again. Maybe, back in about 1960 it had been drained deliberately

An M7 tank

August 18, 2014

Guess what? An M7 tank is a railway locomotive. My knowledge of and interest in them stems back to early days. Indeed I have a record that says the first number I ever collected as a train spotter was number 30051 which was an M7 tank.

Look at that! I became a train spotter on 13th April 1960 and there’s the first number I recorded.


The M7s were designed at the end of the 19th century and originally they were built to haul suburban passenger trains in and out of Waterloo station. But they proved useful, later on, on rural branch lines and many of these engines survived into the 1960s. Sadly, very few survived after the 60s but one remains and runs on the Swanage Railway. Sadly, the day I visited recently it was out of use and parked over an inspection pit. Maybe some fault had developed that needed attention.

The old girl still looks fine, though. She’s parked up with a couple of diesels both of which are in there 50s as far as age is concerned.


At the moment 30053 is in the livery I remember as a train spotter. She looks just wonderful to me.

This photo dates from August 4th 2014. Locos in service that day carried a wreath marking the 100th anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war – the First World War.


Aha, that’s the single line token that gave the driver permission to travel from Harman’s Cross being passed to the outstretched arm of the signal man.

A Happy Nerd at an Antiques Market

October 12, 2013

We recently passed through the charming little town of Buckingham. It’s a lovely place and well worth a visit and if you arrive, as we did, on a fair weather Saturday, you may find the main street has an antiques market in the middle of it.

Antiques markets are always fun and there are often items I feel I could add to the clutter in our home. One item that really caught my eye here was a wooden box carrying the message, ‘Norfolk Samphire’. I liked it very much, but I am somewhat reasonable and knew that I had no need of it and no use for it. I decided the £24 it might have cost would be better used elsewhere. In any case, I was really looking for a something for a three year old grandson but then something caught my eye, very much for me rather than him. So what does a happy nerd buy? Why, a bundle of old magazines about railways of course.


That’s about half the collection I purchased. These are the 12 magazines entitled Trains Illustrated that cover the year 1960. At that time I was an avid train spotter and in fact I received, each month, a magazine at that time. What I got was the one I regarded as much superior, ‘The Railway Magazine’ which, of course, I still have. My friend Bob often got Trains Illustrated so I did see it sometimes.

Now they’ll make a good read for me, remembering those old days of more than 50 years ago.

I paid roughly 20p each for these magazines which is double the price they were new. They were sold for two shillings originally.

By the way, the trader threw in a brand new toy car for grandson so I reckoned I had a tolerable bargain.

Great Granny and Grandad’s House

April 11, 2013

Great Granny and Grandad were regularly on the move. It was all in quite a limited area for Grandfather had to be near the work in the woods.  This was the house my dad knew – the one, effectively where the old folks retired.

I believe it was the right hand one of this pair of semis.


It looks OK, but I understand it was really quite squalid and the landlord did not maintain it all that well. This photo dates from around 1960 and was taken by my dad.

The small one below dates from about 1920, when Great Granny and Grandad lived there


The pair of homes were known as Brickyard Cottages and they were in the parish of Ringmer, but some way from the facilities of the village. They were along a long straight road known as The Broyle. It was about two miles from the village. Ringmer is in East Sussex, a few miles from Lewes.

It still is, but I guess it was completely rebuilt in 1977. It was renamed as well as Jubilee Cottages. Actually, the rebuild is not recognisably the same building but probably the accommodation is much improved.


Great Grandfather – George (Truggy) Stevens ended his days at this house in 1926. Great Granny –Sarah Ann (née) Crosby died in 1929. She was with her daughter in Firle at the time. Both are buried in Ringmer churchyard but there is no memorial stone.

As a sort of PS, I note in my father’s writing that he said this:

The cottages, little changed in the 1950s, were ‘restroyed’ in 1976, reshaped, colour-washed in yellow and renamed Jubilee Cottages: certainly more convenient and hygienic; less outwardly attractive and less in keeping with their environment but that has also changed over the years. ‘Development’ while modest by current Standards has eroded the sense of remoteness and mystery that the Broyle used to impart.


November 3, 2012

This is another page from my original website. There are no updates since the start of the 21st century apart from a decision to add a 1960 camp photo.

I was brought up at Crawley, in Sussex, but the South Downs, to the East of Lewes, were always a kind of spiritual home, for it was here that the family took its annual camping holiday.

This was where we camped, down in that valley on Furlongs Farm, between the villages of Beddingham, Glynde and Firle. It may look ordinary to you, the reader and viewer, but to members of my family that spot brings back the happiest of memories. I took this picture in 1997.

And this is my sister, down in the valley on the very spot where we used to pitch our tents. Her husband took this one in 1999.

And a camp scene. My father was also a happy nerd and he experimented quite early with colour slide film which he processed himself. This is from about 1960.

The love of chalkland was born in me as a child. These days I am truly fortunate for I can sit (as now), tapping at my computer, but a glance up brings the chalkland of Salisbury Plain into view which, I hope, inspires my writing just a bit.

That is the view, but I can’t guarantee the frost or the stunning sun rise.

Of course, much of my delight in chalk is on a small scale – the flora and fauna. Avid readers of my site will know that I love scabious and they are common on the chalk. So too are delightful thistles, complete with cinnabar moths and knapweed.

These were all taken in 1999 near to my home.

Further afield and back on to the big scale. The chalk downs may not be very high, but they afford superb views. Near Westbury, the hills also offer first rate launch sides for those eager to leap off the side of a hill.