Posts Tagged ‘loco’

Visit by a Princess

September 6, 2016

People expecting visions of female beauty or grandeur might as well look somewhere else now. There’ll be grandeur and some might think beauty, but it will be of an engineering kind. This princess is a steam railway locomotive which hauled a special through my locality on its way from London to Minehead.

Back in my train spotting days around 1960 I’d have said that the Princess class of locos was my least favourite of the express passenger designs I might have seen. There was a mix of regional bias and aesthetics in this. I automatically put the Southern Railway designs first and this loco was built for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

However, we steam enthusiasts take what we can these days and I was pleased not to miss this loco pass by.


The loco was built in 1933 and is called Princess Elizabeth. Actually, it ought to be the Queen now but it has always been affectionately known as Lizzie and the other dozen similar locos were referred to as ‘Lizzies’.

I never saw this loco in my train spotting days. In fact I don’t recall ever seeing one on a train. My sightings were of engines idle in a depot.

I’m reasonably happy with my photo. I’d have liked a spot a little further to the right to get a bit more side on to the loco. But other enthusiasts had beaten me to the prime spots. I could have gone across to the left, but then I’d have been shooting straight into the sun and had she been working hard she might have been obscured by wind blown steam.

So I took what I could.


And do you know what – she isn’t so bad really.

A Cathedrals Express

August 4, 2014

It’s a long time since I featured a ‘real’ steam train on this blog and I thought it was time for one. And here we have one redolent of my train spotting days but in fact dating from 27th November 2004. Gosh! That’s nearly ten years ago.

I don’t know if it has become hard to get a path for a steam train on my local line. Ten years ago they were quite common. Now they are rare as hen’s teeth. I thought for a while one might be due through on 16th August, but a note said it would be diesel hauled near here.

Anyway, here’s the train from back then in 2004. It’s passing through Cheverell.


The loco looks to be working hard as she rounds the curves on the cut off line built in 1900 to give the old GWR a shorter route to the West.

Now I have to confess that this particular loco was not known by me when I was a train spotter. I have no record of ever seeing her back in the 1960s and as far as I know she was based around Shrewsbury. But she was a British Railways standard class of engine and I saw identical locos and back in 2004 this loco was hauling the green train and that was the colour of my local trains back in the 60s. So in virtually every respect this train looks spot on to me.

A Matchbox

July 1, 2014

A phillumenist I am certainly not. Phillumenists collect match boxes. The word, coined in 1943, comes from the Greek language. The ‘phil’ part means love and the ‘lumen’ bit means light. It was once a popular hobby and match making companies pandered to it by producing series of matchboxes in much the same way as various product manufacturers came up with cards – cigarette and tea companies particularly.

I have never collected matchboxes, yet I have one in my collection of odds and ends.


Well, this is old, battered and faded, but regular readers will recognise my interest in this box. It has a steam loco on it. This loco was built by the London Midland and Scottish Railway in an attempt to steal some glory from the rival company’s (LNER) A4 class of locos which included the world record holder, Mallard. I believe they were good engines but by the time I knew them the streamline casing had been removed and they looked like a conventional loco.

And here, the Southern Counties Match Co, of Poole is cashing in on two interest groups – the matchbox collectors and the train enthusiast. And as we see, there wasn’t just the one box to buy, there were 100 – each holding 48 matches made in Austria. That seems like a heck of a lot of matches to get through to complete the set but I suppose a smoker would get through them quickly enough.

I believe real collectors removed the label front and stuck them in albums. If you were keen you can find complete sets on auction sites. They don’t seem to make much money. Nobody selling them seems to date them so I can only guess at 1960s.

But as ever, cash value doesn’t matter to me. I have things only if I like them.

Pendennis Castle

February 20, 2013

Pendennis castle is a fine Tudor fortress near Falmouth in Cornwall. King Henry VIII had it built. Being down near the south west corner of the country it was seen as crucial to the defence of the land. It is undeniably in a spectacular location. And this blog entry has little to do with it. Only the name remains the same for this blog.

Guess what? This is about a railway locomotive.

The Great Western Railway opened in the 1830s completing the main line from London to Bristol in 1841. There was already a route leading further west and before long the company had reached distant Cornwall, including Falmouth.

Many would say that the GWR started building the best locos in the land in the early years of the 20th century with George Churchward as the chief engineer. After the First World War train weights and speeds continued to increase and in 1923, Charles Collett who took over the engineer’s job brought out a loco called Caerphilly Castle. The loco was very successful and a big class – the Castle class followed. In fact they were so good that they were still being built in 1950. Nearly all were named after castles served by the Great Western Railway.

Pendennis Castle was one of the early ones – completed in March 1924.

She was still running when I was a train spotter in the early 1960s but I never saw her. That’s surprising really for she was based in the Bath/Bristol area so surely ran into Paddington in London which was one of my train spotting haunts.

She was bought for preservation when she was taken out of main line service in 1964. Pendennis Castle always was a celebrity engine for in 1925 there had been loco exchanges between various companies and Pendennis Castle had trounced the more famous Flying Scotsman by being quicker and burning less coal. But preservation never went smoothly. She was transferred from one place to another several times.

Just where she was based in 1975, I couldn’t tell you, but on that 1975 canal trip, we saw a steam loco on a line, with a couple of coaches.


I think this was somewhere near Rugely. But travelling by canal takes you into a different world. Unless you keep a careful check on proper maps you don’t always know where you are. Canal charts don’t give the same information. Anyway, the loco got nearer and proved to be Pendennis Castle.



I think I could say that in a few short moments Pendennis Castle steamed into my life and then steamed away. Fairly soon after she was shipped to Australia. She’s back in England now and may be back in working order soon.

Who knows, maybe I’ll have another chance encounter with Pendennis Castle at some place and time in the future.

In need of attention

December 26, 2012

This loco would seem to have seen better days. It’s a photo taken by me in about 1975. I think it was at Didcot


It’s not only the loco that was in need of attention back then. So was I. I haven’t recorded any details about the engine and I’m now not nerd enough to recognise it.

So, it’s a Boxing Day quiz. If you can identify this loco please let me know.

Dai Woodham’s

November 11, 2012

Watching grown men cry!

If Dai Woodham’s means nothing to you, then either skip this blog which, perhaps, gets to the heart of nerdism – or read on and learn that in the end the heritage tourist business owes a huge debt to Dai Woodham, scrap merchant of Barry Island in South Wales.

In the mid-1960s steam locomotives were being swept out of railway service at an incredibly fast rate. The railway works could not dispose of these big hunks of metal fast enough so many were sold to private scrap metal merchants – amongst them Dai Woodham.

For some reason, Dai dealt with the locos very slowly. The argument seemed to be that other items could be cut down for scrap more quickly. A huge number of locos just stood, slowly rusting, on the Woodham sidings at Barry.

As early as 1968, preservationists realised that Dai had a wonderful collection – and that if money could be raised to buy them, his locos had potential. The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway were able to purchase a loco and this was the start of a slow exodus from Barry.

My opportunity to visit Barry came in the spring of 1982 by which time no less than 139 locos had been bought, mostly for preservation but some to provide spare parts. The yard did not seem empty.

I was still using colour slide film at the time with my trusty Canon demi camera which took 72 half sized slides on a 36 exposure film. When I first made copies, I could only get small images like this one.

Enough to make grown men weep – the seemingly wasted hulk of a big steam loco.

Yes, I joined the grown men wandering these sad sidings. Many men were actually crying. This was easily recognisable as a Battle of Britain Class of the Southern Railway. She became the 158th engine to leave Barry, in November 1984. By 1987 she was back in service on preserved railways.

More recently I’ve been able to get bigger copies, but of course, my original slides are just 24mm by 18. (And blogs limit the size anyway).

Dai Woodham’s sidings in 1982. How sad it looked but how happy the outcome.

The engine on the right – a big GWR 2-8-0 tank left Barry in 1987, the 190th engine to leave. Over on the left there’s a Bullied pacific and a Stanier black 5.

I really can’t over emphasise the mournful attitude of the middle-aged men roaming Dai’s sidings that day. Yet really, it should have been smiles. These engines were all saved.