Is it Misty March?

In a scene that harks back to steam days, an unidentified Class 37 heads west from a misty March station in the early 1970s.

In a scene that harks back to steam days, an unidentified Class 37 heads west from a misty March station in the early 1970s.

An unidentified Class 37 heads west from March

A Class 37 heads west(?) away from a misty March(?) with a freight train made up of vans. I think this photograph was taken by Peter Collins at March station in the early 1970s; but it would be nice to get some confirmation from folks.

I remember a few van trains from my early train spotting days in Thurston, but not many and I haven’t found a Working Timetable from the early 1970s yet to attempt to identify the train. If anybody can help with an identification that would be appreciated. Given the area, I assume that the train contains vegetables from East Anglian farmers (or possibly sugar beet), but again any ideas would be gratefully received. The split-headcode  loco looks relatively clean, so this suggests a recent repaint in BR Blue.

The photo would have been taken when March was still a major concentration point for freight in to and from East Anglia. Container trains to Felixstowe were still relatively low in number as the port had yet to go through its major expansion, although there is a photograph in Peter’s collection of a Class 47 hauling a freightliner away from March station to the east.

The photograph will feature in a book (or possibly two) that Peter and I are preparing at the moment which will feature photographs from the 1970s of British Rail in its most fragile state after the end of steam. Working practices had yet to be modernised, timetables were pretty much the same as in 1968 the only thing being the change to diesel and electric traction. Further announcements will be made soon as to the availability of the book, so watch this space!

Seventies Stratford Syphon

Sniffing the East London air from inside one of Stratford Motive Power Depot’s maintenance sheds are two typical stalwarts of 1960s and 1970s Great Eastern Division train working; a Syphon and a Ped. In the mid 1970s, a Class 37 Type 3 number 6744 shares cover with a Class 31 Type 2. One of the lights needs attention in the nose of the Type 3, which seems to be recently ex-works, although Stratford did a lot of loco work themselves including complete paint jobs. In contrast the Type 2 has obviously not seen much cosmetic care for some time in line with the majority of its class-mates.

Sniffing the East London air from inside one of Stratford Motive Power Depot’s maintenance sheds are two typical stalwarts of 1960s and 1970s Great Eastern Division train working; a Syphon and a Ped. In the mid 1970s, a Class 37 Type 3 number 6744 shares cover with a Class 31 Type 2. One of the lights needs attention in the nose of the Type 3, which seems to be recently ex-works, although Stratford did a lot of loco work themselves including complete paint jobs. In contrast the Type 2 has obviously not seen much cosmetic care for some time in line with the majority of its class-mates.

This fabulous shot shows Class 37 ‘Syphon’ 6744 (later 37044) in what appears to be a fresh coat of BR Blue paint, next to a BR Green Class 31 inside one of Stratford’s maintenance sheds. Peter’s notes seem to suggest that this photo was taken in the early 1970s; but looking at the excellent Class 37 Locomotive Group website, I am beginning to doubt the dates being this late, so I’m hoping somebody may be able to help me.

According to the C37LG 6744 received it’s first coat of BR Blue some time in August 1969. It was Dual-Brake fitted in September 1969, but I am unsure where this work would have taken place. There looks to be an awful lot of pipes at the front of 6744 in the picture, but not being an expert maybe somebody can help me out. The bodywork, bogies and pipe valves all look to be be freshly painted so it does seem to be ex-works. The loco is still sporting frost grills over the radiator vents, so maybe this helps identify the date too?

The final piece of the puzzle is that the loco is still sporting a March shed code (also showing 31B), so this puts the date before September 1973 when the loco moved to Stratford shed.

So, can anybody help me narrow down the date between August ’69 and September ’73? Also can anybody tell me where the nicknames ‘Syphon’ – for 37s, and ‘Peds’ – for 31s came from? If you can help with either then please contact me using the form below.

 

Kensington Olympia Royal Train – Part 2

The stock of the Royal Train, with what we believe is 47086 'Colossus' at the front, awaits departure from Kensington Olympia some time between Summer 1974 and Summer 1977.

The stock of the Royal Train, with what we believe is 47086 ‘Colossus’ at the front, awaits departure from Kensington Olympia some time between Summer 1974 and Summer 1977.

As a follow up to our last post which featured the Royal Train at Kensington Olympia, I thought I would post this shot of the train showing eight of the carriages. If possible I would like to tray and identify the carriages that can be seen in the photo.

The carriages that can be identified at the moment from other photos, and a bit of research, are as follows (from the loco towards the photographer):

Ex LMS Coach (10071) numbered 5155m and described as a Staff Couchette
Ex ECJS 3908 Queen Alexandra’s saloon (a 12-wheeler)
Unidentified Coach
Unidentified Coach
BR Mk.1 Sleeper 2013 (In Blue/Grey livery)
Unidentified Coach
BR Mk.1 Restaurant Car M325 (this went back into BR service in 1977)
Unidentified Coach (a 12-wheeler)

If anybody can help identify the unidentified coaches I would appreciate it. The  12-wheeler closest to Peter should be easy, but I cannot find any reference to it at the moment. It may be another ECJS coach which was used as a generator van and staff coach, but it’s got me flummoxed!)

When trying to research older photographs like this the internet always seems to be able to help, but in this instance I have struggled to find an online resource for the Royal Train, other than a useful Wikipedia entry! If anybody can point me to an online resource about the Royal Train I would very much appreciate it.

Finally, I am pretty sure that the locomotive is 47086 ‘Colossus’. Depending on the date of the photograph the loco was allocated either to Old Oak Common or Cardiff Canton depot. Given my limited knowledge of Royal Train engine operations, I think this may also help narrow down the date for the photograph to before October 1976 when the allocation to Cardiff was made; as I don’t suppose the loco would be prepared in Cardiff  for a movement starting in London.

So I think the photo was taken in the summer of 1974, 1975 or 1976. Does this jog anybody’s memory?

 

 

Kensington Sulzers meet the Royal Train

Due to extensive engineering works outside Euston station one Sunday in the 1970s, many long-distance West Coast trains started and terminated at Kensington Olympia and here a set of empty stock to form a Scottish service is brought into one of the West London platforms by double-headed Sulzer Type 2 Class 25s. On the adjacent platform stands the empty stock of the Royal Train which then consisted of some pre-grouping vehicles as well as Mark 1 coaches.

Due to extensive engineering works outside Euston station one Sunday in the 1970s, many long-distance West Coast trains started and terminated at Kensington Olympia and here a set of empty stock to form a Scottish service is brought into one of the West London platforms by double-headed Sulzer Type 2 Class 25s. On the adjacent platform stands the empty stock of the Royal Train which then consisted of some pre-grouping vehicles as well as Mark 1 coaches.

This photograph raises lots of questions that I would love to know the answers to. Peter Collins seems to think that the diversion of some trains to Kensington Olympia from Euston was in the early 1970s, but can anybody get any closer than this? The trees seem to be in full leaf, so sometime between May and September; but which year? Can anybody actually identify the train, and really pushing the bounds of optimism the pair of Sulzers actually used?

I am no expert in the Royal Train, but does anybody have any details on the make up of the train in the early 1970s. There is a Mk1. Sleeper within the rake of coaches in blue/grey livery and also a maroon restaurant car. In addition there are two of the dedicated Royal Train saloons, but which ones I am unclear.

Whatever the service is, there is a buffet available for passengers given the contents of the trolley on the platform, although there doesn’t seem much if the service is a long distance one; half a dozen milk bottles won’t last long!

The photo captures the era when British Rail was moving away from steam and into the diesel era, at least when looking at the left hand side of the image. Look to the right half, and we see semaphore signals and steam era coaching stock (Royal or otherwise).

If anybody can help with further information, then please make contact through the form below, or via social media.

 

King’s Cross Shuffle – the 2nd Movement..

The King's Cross Shuffle 2nd Movement. An unidentified Class 40 in BR Green livery and sporting frost grills makes its way on to the King's Cross Fuelling Point some time in the early 1970s.

The King’s Cross Shuffle 2nd Movement. An unidentified Class 40 in BR Green livery and sporting frost grills makes its way on to the King’s Cross Fuelling Point some time in the early 1970s.

King’s Cross Shuffle, the 2nd Movement…

A second view of a Class 40 undertaking the King’s Cross Shuffle. I can only assume (but need to check) that Peter Collins moved down the York Road platform towards the Gasworks Tunnels. The photograph shows the end of the fuelling shed (on the right) looking back down towards the far west of King’s Cross station and the old milk yard.

The first photograph (seen on this post) didn’t really give an idea of where the loco was in relation to the fuelling road and stabling roads. This photo shows that the loco is preparing to move onto the fuelling shed (looking at the way the turnout is set). The shunter is leaning against the point-lever waiting either for the driver/secondman to finish walking to the platforms, or the driver of the Class 40 to move off.

The whole scene is one of clutter (for want of a better description). The track work seems from another era, typical of steam days, and the speed limit of 8mph is no surprise. The routes into the station are still designated by letters (anybody shed any light on these?), and the original 1932 colour-light signals are supplemented by disc shunting signals. The signal gantry still has the smoke deflectors from steam days.

I think the Class 40 might be D247, but I’m not sure if this fits with the location in the early 1970s, or if the date of the photo is 1975/6 when the loco was allocated to York MPD. On closer inspection I noticed that the loco has frost grills fitted. If I recall the fitting of these grills was not always of benefit to the cooling of the early diesels, but I hadn’t realise that the practice lasted into the 1970s.

I think a little more research may be needed here, and if you can help please get in touch!

Evening at King’s Cross Fuelling Point

Deltic 55018 'Ballymoss' awaits its next duty from King's Cross in the late-1970s. The King's Cross Fuelling Point was always the first place to look when spotting!

Deltic 55018 ‘Ballymoss’ awaits its next duty from King’s Cross in the late-1970s. The King’s Cross Fuelling Point was always the first place to look when spotting!

King’s Cross Fuelling Point

An evening view of King’s Cross Fuelling and Stabling point sees Deltic 55018 ‘Ballymoss’ awaiting its next duty north from London. It is standing in front of the TTA wagons used to deliver fuel to the depot which was stored in the tanks seen behind the Deltic.

This is the first of a series of photos showing locos moving on and off the facility. The Class 31 sitting behind the Class 47 still sporting a 4-digit head-code panel is 31249. The Class 47 sitting in the fuelling shed is Gateshead stalwart 47409 (one of the original ETH locomotives). The date is post rationalisation and electrification, so at the earliest is 1976/77; but I have no date for the photograph.

I’m hoping that anybody who worked at King’s Cross could possibly remember the scaffolding around the chimney stack at the factory behind the fuel tanks…..

I always remember watching the ‘King’s Cross Shuffle’ as locos moved from the station to the fuelling point and wondering why they persisted with such an awkward manoeuvre. That said, something similar still happens at Ipswich when locomotives make their way from the sidings to the fuelling point, where a shuffle is required to get on to the Freightliner facility.

A Deltic would always cover the whole station with its trademark blue smoke, especially when starting up from being idle for a while. I do miss that smell…. I seem to recall a Summer Saturday at King’s Cross when there seemed to be a constant movement of locos in and out of the facility. It must have caused the Operational and Signalling departments a few headaches if ever a problem arose!

I’ve always thought that this facility would make a great modelling project, and having seen a 4mm model of Ranelagh Bridge at Paddington (set at night too) the temptation seems even greater!

I’ll put up a couple of the other photos taken on the same evening in future posts, but please look at a previous post of two Class 40s at the other end of the facility.

 

A View of King’s Cross from York Road Station

A view from York Road station of the eastern platforms of King's Cross station in the 1970s.

A view from York Road station of the eastern platforms of King’s Cross station in the 1970s.

A view of the eastern platforms of King’s Cross from York Road station. This platform served the trains from the Hertfordshire suburbs to Moorgate until closure in 1976; the northbound suburban services used Platform 16 on the far West of the station.

The famous station signal-box can be seen on the right hand side of the photograph and in front Deltic 9007 ‘Pinza’ waits patiently for the stock of 1L37 19.00 King’s Cross to Bradford service to arrive at the station. An un-identified Class 47 departs with the 18.25 1H17 to Hull. the 1H02 head-code fooled me at first as this is the 12.20 service to Hull, but I am assuming that the loco had worked this service earlier in the day then made its way back to King’s Cross in the late afternoon. The Class 31 (still in BR Green, and possibly 5572) is probably the station pilot used on ECS movements to the carriage sidings north of the station. It is not hard to imagine the Class 31 replaced with an N7, the 47 with an A3 and the Deltic with an A4!

The signal-box was built by the LNER in 1932, and closed on 26th September 1971, with all signalling operations moving overnight to the new King’s Cross Power Signal Box situated on the site of the old York Road Station buildings (behind the photographer). The signal-box remained in-situ for another five years before being demolished as part of the electrification scheme and rationalisation of the station track-work.

The negative from which the photo was scanned is in a bit of a state, and needed a lot of work doing to it to make it presentable. It’s a little dark for my liking, so a bit more work needed I think before I’m happy to make it available to buy at Lineside Photographics.

Memories of British Rail at Manningtree

An unidentified Class 37 on possibly a Harwich Boat Train to London Liverpool Street heads through Manningtree Station some time in the early 1970s.

An unidentified Class 37 on possibly a Harwich Boat Train to London Liverpool Street heads through Manningtree Station some time in the early 1970s.

Another fabulous photograph by Peter Collins sees an unidentified Class 37 head south through Manningtree Station towards London Liverpool Street some time in the early 1970s. If the head-code is to be believed it is 1F23, so if anybody can identify the service I would be most grateful. The Type 3 is passing a northbound service that has called at the Manningtree station on its way north, probably to Norwich.

The photograph captures British Rail in the 1970s, a time when operating practices remained pretty much as they had been during steam days. Mail and parcels are waiting to be be loaded on the next London bound train; whilst commuters are gathering on the platform seats for that train too. Looking at the way people are stood back from the platform edge I assume that the Type 3’s train is non-stop through the station; as most of the Boat Trains between Harwich Parkeston Quay and London were.

A driver is making his way up the platform towards Platform 1, where the local trains between Manningtree and Harwich Parkeston Quay departed from. The next service to Harwich will have connected with the train in the northbound platform to allow London passengers connections to the coast and intermediate stations.

My initial research leads me to believe that Manningtree (can anybody confirm this?) was still a signing-on point for train crew in the 1970s. Harwich was a busy port with regular shipping services for passengers, vehicles and freight to several European destinations. The rail operations that supported the flow of people and goods through the port of Harwich were intense, and this is reflected in the photograph taken by Peter Collins.

This picture captures my earliest memories of rail travel, a shame then that some 40 years later freight traffic is almost non-existent (having being replaced by the Port of Felixstowe), and the loco-hauled Boat trains are no-more.

See more of Peter’s photographs at Lineside Photographics.

 

 

 

Class 08 ‘Gronk’ at Stockport Edgeley

Class 08 'Gronk' 08906 shunts coaching stock preparing for the next day's trains to the South West and Great Yarmouth from Manchester Piccadilly. The photo dates from the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Class 08 ‘Gronk’ 08906 shunts coaching stock preparing for the next day’s trains to the South West and Great Yarmouth from Manchester Piccadilly. The photo dates from the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Night-time shunting at Edgeley Carriage Sidings

‘Gronk’ 08906 shunts coaches during the night at Stockport Edgeley Carriage Sidings preparing rakes of coaches for the next day’s Saturday Only services from Manchester to the South West (Newquay and Paignton) and Great Yarmouth. Three sets of coaches were stored at Stockport Carriage Sidings during the week in-between the Saturday services.  Occasionally the sets would be used during the week, one being used on an un-advertised, early morning service from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston (with an early evening return). The stock consisted mainly of Mk1 carriages (with some Mk.2a/b/c’s).

The Carriage Sidings had 8 main sidings, with the rakes split between them. The station pilot would then make up the stock into trains and leave them in the station loops or centre roads for collection by a Longsight engine (normally an electric) to run them as ECS to Piccadilly station.

Stockport station was still a very active hub for parcels traffic now, so the station pilot was kept busy during the night shunting parcels and news’ vans between services from various parts of the North and South. On the occasions when a NPCC or coach was declared as faulty they would be stored at Edgeley sidings until they could be attached to a service for Crewe or Horwich where they could be repaired. The York-Shrewsbury mail train changed engines at Stockport and became famous for providing regular Class 40 haulage for bashers.

A new collection of night-time photographs will be available soon on the Lineside Photographics website. All images are available as prints and as wall mounted products. Digital downloads are also available for all our images.

Whistlers perform the King’s Cross Shuffle

Two Class 40s (as yet unidentified) are performing the shunting manoeuvre required to get from the King's Cross fuelling point to the platform roads. The date is some time in 1973.

Two Class 40s (as yet unidentified) are performing the shunting manoeuvre required to get from the King’s Cross fuelling point to the platform roads. The date is some time in 1972/3.

The King’s Cross Shuffle

Another fine Peter Collins’ photograph shows two Class 40s performing the King’s Cross Shuffle between the fuel stabling point and the platforms. This complex manoeuvre was necessary due to the cramped layout of the stabling point just to the west of the station throat by the Gasworks Tunnel.

The furthest locomotive is standing at the north end of Platform 16 (or 14 depending on the date of the photo). This platform was for Northbound services between Moorgate and the Hertfordshire suburbs; the Southbound trains using the York Road station on the far east of the King’s Cross complex. The Moorgate services were diverted away from the King’s Cross station to use the Northern City Line in November 1976, and the Platform seen here was closed in 1977 as part of the construction works for the electrification of the suburban routes out of King’s Cross. The stabling point was closed in May 1979, with locomotives subsequently being serviced at Finsbury Park Depot to the north.

Whilst both locos have disc head-codes, the loco in the platform sports the new BR Blue livery, although still with pre-TOPS number, whereas the loco in the foreground is painted in BR Green and has a pre-TOPS number.

The train shed of St. Pancras Station forms a fine backdrop to the photograph. Whilst this scene is unchanged since steam days at King’s Cross nearly all of it has been swept away (including probably the locomotives) during the station’s modernisation and rationalisation. Whilst steam had ended in 1963, some ten years previously, many of the operating practices were still in place at this time, and one can imagine two A1 Pacifics in place of the Type 4s just as easily!