Posts Tagged ‘1962’

Gilsland to Greenhead

July 19, 2016

Gilsland and Greenhead are in Northumberland. They are both close by Hadrian’s Wall and about a mile and a half about. I was there on what was a very adventurous family holiday in 1962. Up until then I had never left the south of England and the previous year had seen my first trip outside the home counties.

1962 was at the peak time of my railway mania and I needed to prove I had been places by buying tickets. Often it was a platform ticket but smaller stations often didn’t issue them so I got a cheap ticket – like this one from Gilsland to Greenhead.


Now I find that ticket interesting now for all sorts of reasons. First of all it is a 3rd class ticket and that class had ceased to exist on 3rd June 1956 so although the ticket was issued in 1962, it had been printed long before. But it was printed only from 1948 when British Railways came into being. The price had been hand altered as well from 5½d to 6d which is 2½p in present money.

But also making it interesting is that, presumably, 625 people had bought such a ticket before me. One wonders why that number of people wanted to make that single journey. Maybe they were people visiting forts on Hadrian’s Wall. Gilsland is close by Birdoswald Fort and Greenhead is by Magnis Fort.

Sadly, both stations were closed in 1967 although the line, between Newcastle and Carlisle still exists. There is a campaign to reopen Gilsland station

An M7 tank again

October 2, 2015

The old M7 tanks were designed at the end of the 19th century. They were steam locos and built for hauling passenger trains in south west London. They were an immediate success and 110 locos of the type were built between the first in 1897 and 1911. But they became utterly redundant from that job as lines were electrified and they migrated to other areas to haul local passenger trains on branch lines. They survived a very long time. The last M7 loco was withdrawn from service in 1965.

Two of the class have been preserved. One of them is based on the Swanage Railway and is still in regular service. When built, in 1905, she was number 53 of the London and South Western Railway. But much to my delight she is running in the form and colour I knew in the early 1960s – so she is number 30053 of British Railways.

image002 Here she is shunting down onto the train at Swanage. Tank engines were designed to run either way round equally well, but they still look better with the boiler leading. Once attached to the train we see her bunker first.


Like any working steam loco she has a fierce fire burning under the boiler.


Here’s the front end again.


Here we see the loco number and another little plate which says 71B. That little plate was called the shed plate and the 71B was code for a depot where the loco was based. In this case it means Bournemouth which is where locos on the Swanage branch would have been looked after.

Now to be a true train spotter for a while.

This was one of my spotter’s books from 1962


We can see I had deemed it important enough to fork out half a crown on this publication – and here’s a bit of one page in the book.


First of all 30053 is underlined which meant I had seen it. And the shed it was allocated to was 75E.

Time to look at another page in the book.


This shows us the codes for sheds and names them. 75E was Three Bridges which was my most local shed. It is also underlined which means I had visited that shed. 30053 was one of my home engines when I was a spotter. I have a feeling it was usually at the sub shed at Horsham and worked trains between Horsham and Guildford.

I feel privileged that I can still enjoy seeing this old friend hauling trains.


A Greyhound

September 22, 2015

Sorry. I’m not really a dog lover so this is not a real greyhound. In fact it is a steam railway locomotive.

It has featured on this blog before when I wrote about a special enthusiasts train I went on called The Sussex Coast Limited. The train made a photo stop at Guildford and I, a very inexperienced photographer back in 1962, grabbed this photo of the loco.

That kind of loco was known as a greyhound.

Officially it was class T9and had been designed by Dugald Drummond for express passenger work on the London and South Western Railway in 1899. They quickly gained a reputation for free running and speed – hence the nickname of greyhounds.

In 1962 when I took the photo above, this particular greyhound had been preserved as a part of the national collection of steam engines. It had been repainted to look more like it did in 1899 and was used on special trains and some ordinary service trains.

In September 2015 the very same loco was in service on the Swanage Railway. It arrived at Swanage hauling a train – but had its tender first which never looks quite right and can be very uncomfortable for those on the footplate.


One thing which has changed since 1962 is having female footplate crew. And oddly, the loco is now in the livery it might have had in 1961 when I saw many of this engine’s kennel mates.

A little later the loco was on the front of another train so could be seen properly.


Sorry about half a person!

The fireman (or driver) invited me onto the footplate.

The roaring fire was producing plenty of potential steam.


Let’s take a right side of the cab view.


It isn’t the clearest view of the line ahead.

How great to see an old friend again.

A ticket from 1962

July 4, 2015

Many people used to buy postcards as cheap holiday souvenirs. Indeed, I was not averse to this but in those train spotting days of the early 1960s I sometimes bought train tickets. OK, they don’t have pretty pictures but they still bring back memories – this time of a brief holiday to the north of England back in June 1962.

We came really close to Scotland and I needed proof – and what better than a railway ticket. We must have stopped at Penton and I bought a cheap ticket – a return to Riddings Junction.

image002Everything about that ticket is right in terms of style, but wrong in terms of some information on it. First of all, it is headed LNER. That’s the London and North Eastern Railway which had ceased to exist when British Railways were nationalised in 1948. Secondly it announces itself as third class. Third class had been abolished in 1956.

I recall the ticket seller persuading me to buy this ticket precisely because it was historic.  I had asked for a single. It cost me 1/6 (7½p) which was more than I usually paid for a souvenir ticket, but this one was rather special. The fact that Riddings Jct has had to be hand written is a good indication that people didn’t travel to that station. This is hardly a surprise if you look at a modern map.


I do not know precisely where the junction station was, but we can see Riddings Farm and Cleugh and nearby two closed railways diverge. The old main line from Carlisle to Edinburgh headed west and the next station was Penton. The line over Liddel Viaduct was a branch to Langholm. Once over the viaduct, the train was in Scotland. There’s a distinct lack of buildings around Riddings. The station was built, not to serve any community but rather to allow passengers to change from one train to another.

The old main line was the infamously closed Waverley route. There’s little doubt this should have survived and indeed, long lengths of it are being rebuilt now as a proper, rather than a heritage railway. The Borders Railway will be 35 miles long on the northern part of the line. Sadly, it won’t reach this area.

This, at least, makes my ticket a historic item in all respects because it now covers a section of line which closed in 1969 as well as being issued under the name of a defunct company and class

A Well Tank

May 30, 2015

Do you know, it is just about a month since I last wrote about trains although I did have some luggage labels about three weeks ago? No wonder I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms!

Perhaps it is time again to look at an old friend from the very early 1960s – it’s a sweet little tank engine which for some reason was classed as an ‘0298’. The class was also known as Beattie Well Tanks. They were designed by Joseph Beattie and a well tank, for water, was sited under the boiler and footplate.

These tanks were introduced in 1863 to operate what were then very lightweight London suburban trains. They worked well but as train sizes had to grow they became too small for the task. Production ceased in 1875 and locos migrated to the west of England to operate branch line services there. The engine I show here was part of a batch produced in 1874.

By 1895 most of the 85 engines built had gone but three had found their way to the Bodmin area in Cornwall where they were found to be the ideal loco for the china clay trains on the Wenford Bridge line. The three old locos stayed put until 1962 enabling me as a train spotter to see them and as a rail enthusiast to travel on a special train around south west London which was hauled by two of them. It should be said that the locos were quite considerably altered during what proved to be a very long working life.

Two of them have been preserved and here is one of them on shed at Bodmin as a preserved loco in the year 2003.


What a lovely old lady this is – and it is one of the locos I have been pulled by. Of course, I have my ticket for that journey – but no photos taken by me.


Here we see (not for the first time on this blog) my brother, on the right, and I spotting the loco at Wadebridge in 1961.


No doubt, like most people, I can be amazed at the changes which have taken place during my life time. It seems unthinkable, now, that you might find mainline railways being powered by locos or trains that were close on 90 years old. But there she was and still doing a useful job.


June 22, 2014

Back in 1962 a bit of financial security had arrived for my family – a family in which I was the youngest of three teenaged children. This was the year we went abroad. My dad, with a job that needed him to have a reliable vehicle had bought something brand new. It was a Bedford Dormobile. Because this was classed as living accommodation and therefore exempt from purchase tax, it was actually quite cheap. With that vehicle, and a tent, we set off to explore some of Western Europe. A place we all fell in love with was Bacharach in the Rhine Gorge.

This little town was steeped in history and had fantastic buildings in a fantastic setting. But I was a nerd! Bacharach also had a railway station.

My dad captured an image of a train passing through.


Looking at this photo now, 50 years plus on, I can but marvel at the things I didn’t notice then. Never mind the train, hauled by a German electric loco. What about those trolleys? Aren’t they fantastic?


Now they look like something from a past age and also not so very different from what you might have seen at a UK station. Mind you, I don’t remember a porter’s barrow looking like a sun bed in the UK.

The line was also busy with freight and my dad got a snap of a freight train, this time in colour.


And that photo gives some idea of the splendour of the Bacharach scenery.

I must return to this holiday some time.

A first trip abroad

November 24, 2013

Back in the 1950s and early 1960s going abroad was what the rich people did. I never dreamt that it was something we might ever do, but by 1962 my dad’s Bedford Dormobile was tried and tested and we were ready for adventure. We went to Bremen in North Germany where my dad had a friend. Herman had been a prisoner of war and after the war was over and before he was repatriated, he became friendly with our family. There are still communications between descendants of Herman and people in my family.

We took a ferry from Dover – just going there was a big adventure – to Flushing in Belgium. We had overnight stops before reaching Bremen, driving through Belgium and Holland including the long dyke across what was still called the Zuiderzee.

I liked being with a family in Bremen. We could go out with their children, catching the tram into the city centre where I, of course, wanted to visit the railway station where steam trains still operated.

Others were more interested in the sites.

These are dad’s colour slides.


The Bremen Town Musicians feature in a fairy story. My wife and I have a raffia model we bought on a later holiday.


Here’s the cathedral.


And here’s the statue of Roland which I am posing by, with my mum and dad.


One of the Bremen trams is just passing by.

After a stay in Bremen we headed south through Germany, visiting places like Hamlin and the Rhine Gorge before returning through Luxemburg and a ferry home from Ostend.

Foreign travel had begun but I am still not hugely travelled. I have not left Western Europe and nor have I ever flown in a powered aeroplane.


September 6, 2013

Back in about 1962 my dad got the Bedford Dormobile. Before then, holidays meant ‘camp’ and that still continued, but we also started to go further afield and that included a tour north. We just got into Scotland. My dad took us as far as Lockerbie which is some 17 miles from the England/Scotland border.

It was my first trip into Scotland and it very much was in the train spotting era. I made my way to the station – and I have no photos to prove it.

But there, shunting, was a rather nice little engine. It was the only engine I ever saw numbered in the 50 000s and we can see it underlined in my Winter 1961/62 issue of the Ian Allan ABC – London Midland and Scottish Regions.


With no photo of my own, I’ll add a photo of a similar engine from the same ABC book.


The photo, I see, is by D. A. Anderson

Because of this visit, Lockerbie was a place that mattered to me and we sometimes stopped there when we visited Scotland. In August 1998 I even visited the station.


Of course, there was no longer an old lady of a steam engine shunting. The line was electrified and clearly I didn’t have the patience or inclination to wait for a train.

This was a first holiday with a digital camera. I took tiny photos and thought it absolutely wonderful.

By the way, Lockerbie is a pleasing enough place. You don’t have to be a railway nerd to enjoy it.


My Life in Tickets (3)

December 3, 2012

The Sussex Coast Limited – 24th June 1962

I had an ambition to travel on all the railway lines in Sussex. This train provided me with an opportunity to get to Midhurst. This line had been closed to passenger trains since 1955. Opportunities for passengers were few and far between. I had to take this opportunity.

We departed from Waterloo at 9.42 so I must have had quite an early start to get there. We took the Effingham Junction route to Guildford. No doubt this kept our venerable T9 – number 120 and restored to its original livery – off the main line. There was a stop at Guildford.

Then we took the Baynards line to Christ’s Hospital and on to Horsham. 120 could now take a rest for a couple of old LBSCR tank engines took over the train. These were 32417, an E6 class, and 32503 which was an E4.

Horsham, like the route from Waterloo to Guildford, had been on rails of the Southern Electric system and that continued as we headed back through Christ’s Hospital and on to Pulborough. Soon after we reached Hardham Junction where we left the electrified area again for my high spot of the day – the saunter across to Midhurst – the line I had never travelled. A photo stop was arranged at Selham.

As we can see I was not the only person keen to take advantage of this. And here we have a chance to see the train enthusiast of fifty years ago. He was undoubtedly male. I don’t think I can see a woman in that shot at all. He maintained a decent sartorial standard. This was a swelteringly hot day, but most of the chaps have their sports jackets and their ties in place. One or two rather risqué fellows have a sleeveless jumper rather than the jacket. I recall being annoyed, at the time, that I couldn’t get a person free shot of the train. Now I am pleased to be reminded of the chaos that often accompanied rail tours and their photo stops.

Back in 1962 photography was expensive. Film had an emulsion containing salts of silver. It cost money. Then there were processing costs, reduced in my case because I did it myself, but you still needed printing paper (more silver salts), developer and fixer and the luck of having a father who had the gear. My camera was, essentially a box camera taking 12 square pictures on 120 roll film.  I made contact prints.

Anyway, it seems I took no further photographs. That’s a shame for I’d have loved a picture of the K class loco, number 32353 which took over the train from Pulborough, first to Bognor Regis, reached at about 2.30,  and then to Haywards Heath. Here we met up with 120 again which took us to Eastbourne. We had an hour there, roughly from 5 until 6pm. I’m now guessing that this gave 120 time to turn using the Polegate to Pevensey line as part of a triangular route.

We now went Cuckoo as the line up through Heathfield was called and 120 was piloted by an M7 tank number 30055 (a personal favourite) as far as Rotherfield. From there it was number 120 all the way via East Grinstead and Oxted, eventually arriving at London Bridge at 20.54.

It had been a memorable day for me – still only a kid really.