West Durham Railtour

Peppercorn K1 62059 (of 51A Darlington) makes its way tender-first through an unknown station on the SLS/MLS West Durham Railtour on 31st August 1958.

Peppercorn K1 62059 (of 51A Darlington) makes its way tender-first through an unknown station on the SLS/MLS West Durham Railtour on 31st August 1958.

The SLS/MLS West Durham Railtour

Peppercorn K1 62059 is seen tender first at an unknown location (for which I need help) somewhere in County Durham on 31st August 1958. The railtour was operated by the Stephenson and Manchester Locomotive Societies, starting from Manchester Exchange and hauled by rebuilt Scot 46143 ‘The South Staffordshire Regiment’. The photograph seen here was taken by Ronnie Gee, but there are no notes as to where it was taken. To aid anybody who can help the wonderful Six Bells Junction website throws some light on the route, from which somebody may identify the station and junction.

It lies somewhere along the following route:

Baxter Wood No.2 Jn – Dearness Valley Jn – Waterhouses – Waterhouses Goods, or

Scotswood – Scotswood Bridge Jn – Blaydon Main Jn – Consett Branch Jn – Dunston-on-Tyne – Low Fell Jn

If my reading of the route is incorrect and I have incorrectly calculated which part of the route was run tender-first it might possibly be along this route too:

Waterhouses Goods – Waterhouses – Dearness Valley Jn – Baxter Wood No.2 Jn – Baxter Wood No.1 Jn – Lanchester – Consett North Jn – Blackhill – Ebchester – Lintz Green – Swalwell North Jn – Blaydon South Jn – Scotswood Bridge Jn – Scotswood

I would be most grateful if anybody can help identify the location.

The railtour had brought a rebuilt Scot up the East Coast Main Line from York to Darlington Bank Top station, and by all accounts the journey both ways along the Plain of York proved to be a fast one with speeds of 82 mph being recorded each way. Whilst this may not be up to par with the regular ex-LNER pacific, the ex-LMS 7P proved it could handle an 11-coach, 330 ton train on the ECML. According to some who talked to the pilot on arrival back at York, the top speed would have been higher but the locomotive began to roll after Northallerton and it was deemed prudent not to push things further. This was a fault with the rebuilt Scots at the time; does anybody know if it was fixed?

If you can identify the location please comment below.

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Dutch in the Desert

Dutch F-16AMs J-0010 (ex 88-0010) and J-366 (ex 84-1366) of the 148th FS based at Tucson Arizona fly in close formation over the desert on 6th December 2017.

Dutch F-16AMs J-0010 (ex 88-0010) and J-366 (ex 84-1366) of the 148th FS based at Tucson Arizona fly in close formation over the desert on 6th December 2017.

Dutch Air Force F-16s train all year round in the US Desert

In November 2017, our aviation photographer John Stiles visited the West Coast of the United States with a COAP (Centre of Aviation Photography) visit to a number of airfields and aviation sites. A few days were spent with Dutch pilots who train with the 148th Fighter Squadron based in Tucson, Arizona.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force aren’t blessed with the best climate to train their pilots, so it has relied on partnerships with other air forces to provide a base suitable for training pilots all-year round. The most obvious place is the desert areas of the United States; and so, the current training partner is the Arizona Air National Guard’s (AZ ANG) 162nd Fighter Wing based opposite the commercial terminal at Tucson International Airport. Tuscon lies in the Sonoran Desert and is surrounded by a number of mountain ranges that provide an environment perfect for training pilots in various combat scenarios that mimic their most likely theatre of combat operations.

The 148th Fighter Squadron currently hosts the traininee F-16 pilots from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The 148th FS flies ten F-16 aircraft; five F-16AM single-seat fighters and five F-16BM twin-seat fighters all owned and operated by the Dutch Air Force. All aircraft within the training wing are identical to those aircraft flown by the 306 and 322 Squardrons back in Holland, and any modifcations are immediately made to the US-based aircraft so that pilots do not need to undergo any further training when they move to an opeartional squadron back home.

We are slowly making photographs from John’s trip available to buy, and the photographs from John’s trip to Tucson as well as a visit to the ‘Top Gun’ school at NAS Fallon can be found here.

If you would like receive updates when new photographs are available then please subscribe to our blog using the facility on the right of this page.

Clapham Junction Carriage Sidings

Class 74 E6007 awaits its next duty at Clapham Carriage Sidings sometime in the early 1970s. Two Ladies walk back towards Clapham Junction station deep in conversation, but who are they?

Electro-Diesel Class 74 E6007 awaits its next duty at Clapham Carriage Sidings sometime in the early 1970s. Two Ladies walk back towards Clapham Junction station deep in conversation, but who are they and what are they doing?

This fascinating photograph by Peter Collins shows two ladies deep in conversation as they walk towards Clapham Junction station from the adjacent Carriage Sidings. I know its a long shot, but does anybody recognise them, or possibly know what role they had with the railways. The photograph was taken sometime in the early 1970s.

The GUV parcels van will be working a postal or newspaper train later in the day from Waterloo,  possibly hauled by E6007. The TC set behind the ‘ED’ is a familiar site; but what is intriguing are the two Buffet cars in a rake off coaches seen on the right of the photograph.

Given the photo is of Clapham carriage Sidings this isn’t unusual in itself, but did any of the Boat Trains run from Waterloo have two adjacent Buffet cars in the formation?

Anybody who can help identify the two ladies or their possible job, or who can yield information on the 2-Buffet train formation please contact us using the form below or via Social Media

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Trollies and Parcels at Crewe

An interesting mixture of the modern railway of the 1970s with traditional adjuncts as AL6 Class 86 number E3176 awaits departure southbound from Crewe with a West Coast express whilst all around are period trollies and the flagstones of years past. Note how much parcels traffic was still being conveyed by rail.

An interesting mixture of the modern railway of the 1970s with traditional adjuncts as AL6 Class 86 number E3176 awaits the 1A28 departure southbound from Crewe with a West Coast express whilst all around are period trollies and the flagstones of years past. Note how much parcels traffic was still being conveyed by rail.

Trollies everywhere!

An evocative photograph by Peter Collins taken at Crewe in the early 1970s. Class 86 Electric E3167 (later 86007, 86407 and now currently operational as 86607) awaits departure amongst the trollies with working 1A28, a southbound express to London; but can anybody tell me the actual service?

I’m a little rusty when it comes to West Coast electrification and without a Working Timetable I don’t know if this is an Anglo-Scottish service or one from Liverpool or Manchester.

In addition to the service I’ve also slightly enlarged both the driver and the trainspotter, so if you can identify either of them I would also appreciate it. I believe the photo to have been taken in 1971-1973, but cannot give a more precise date than that. The spotter has a pen and piece of paper in hand, and is maybe looking use one of the empty trollies as a seat for the next few minutes.

Many things have changed since the photograph was taken; the complete lack of trollies at stations these days, the removal of flagstones on platforms and of course the lack of any parcels traffic on stations. The only surprise is that the locomotive is still operational with Freightliner running as 86607. What I wouldn’t give now for such a scene at Crewe or any station these days. The bland trains stand at a bland station, and more often than not the spotters are over 50!

Please use the form below to contact us if you know the service, or can identify the driver or spotter.

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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.

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Suburban services to Liverpool Street 70s style!

Suburban EMU AM5 (later Class 305) 305448 arrives into Bethnal Green station at 15.45 with the 2T73 15.26 from Chingford to London Liverpool Street some time in the early 1970s.

Suburban EMU AM5 (later Class 305) 305448 arrives into Bethnal Green station at 15.45 with the 2T73 15.26 from Chingford to London Liverpool Street some time in the early 1970s.

The Liverpool Street Suburban EMUs on the Lea Valley

As a follow up to a previous post showing a Class 309 EMU on its way to Clacton, we bring you another Peter Collins photograph of an inner-suburban working between Chingford and Liverpool Street. The AM5 electrics were introduced on the Lea Valley lines in 1959/60. The 3-car sets (Class 305/1) worked the lines to Chingford, Enfield Town and Hertford East. The 4-car sets (Class 305/2) worked the services towards Bishops Stortford.

The AM5 EMUs worked most of their life on these routes, although occasionally they may have worked some services as required on the Great Eastern lines. The Class 305/1s were replaced by Class 315 EMUs in 1980, the Class 305/2s lasting until the late 1980s when they were replaced by Class 310 EMUs.

A number of Class 305/1 units moved to the Manchester area where they worked suburban services into Manchester Piccadilly station. Class 305/2 units followed after work to shorten them to 3-car units. These units worked on the newly electrified line to Manchester Airport. Most were withdrawn themselves in 2000 when superseded by the Class 323 EMUs which operated all electric services out of Manchester Piccadilly station.

The photograph of Bethnal Green captures a station still unchanged from the steam era, and still it seem, just as grimy! Given that steam had finished in 1962 you could be forgiven for thinking that steam locomotives were still using the lines looking at the state of the roof lattice ironwork. Unfortunately, the 70s look was not unusual on British Rail at this time, and it took another five years or so for BR to clean up stations and move into a more modern era..

Express to Clacton 70s style

Class 309 Clacton EMU 309 607 sways over point-work as it makes it's way out of London and on to the Essex coast some time in the 1970s.

Class 309 Clacton EMU 309 607 sways over point-work as it makes it’s way out of London and on to the Essex coast some time in the 1970s.

The Clacton Express Class 309s

Originally known as AM9 electrics, the Class 309s were built by British Rail at their York factory between 1962 and 1963. They worked exclusively between London Liverpool Street and  Clacton/Walton-on-Naze until 1989, when Class 312 units were introduced on some services. They were used on some services to Harwich and Ipswich after 1985, but were transferred to the North West for use on services from Manchester Piccadilly to Crewe and as far as London Euston for First North Western trains.

I always remember these units as comfortable and fast, probably because they were based on Mk.1 coaching stock and Commonwealth bogies. They lasted until 2000, having been refurbished in the mid-1980s

Little has changed in the way that stock is cascaded through the railways it seems. New stock is provided for the London commuter, and the older stock is then sent for use on other lines. This happening right now with the cascade of 30-year old Class 319s for use on the North West electrification scheme. The brand new Class 323 EMUs were supposed to have been sent to the West Midlands by now, but acceleration of the Class 319s is so poor they cannot keep to schedules between Manchester and Stoke/Crewe….

The photograph was taken by Peter Collins and will form part of a collection showing trains in the London suburbs soon to be available at the Lineside Photographics website. We will be including steam, as well as electrics and diesels, so hopefully there will be something for everyone!

Now if it was me waiting for my train at Clacton and I was offered a Class 309 or a Class 360, I think I’d vote every time for the 309 and its Mk.1 carriages..

Colour Cast, or Black and White?

Class 31 5639 (31215) enters Finsbury Park carriage sidings with some suburban stock after working the morning rush-hour. Taken on Agfa slide film, the transparency shows a blue colour cast that stubbornly affects the photograph.

Class 31 5639 (31215) enters Finsbury Park carriage sidings with some suburban stock after working the morning rush-hour. Taken on Agfa slide film, the transparency shows a blue colour cast that stubbornly affects the photograph.

The same image of 5639 as above, but now converted to Black and White. No colour tint, but has it lost something by removing the colour?

The same image of 5639 as above, but now converted to Black and White. No colour tint, but has it lost something by removing the colour?

Colour Cast, remove or convert to Black and White?

The image of Class 31 5639 entering Finsbury Park station is typical of colour slides taken in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The colour cast, typically blue on Agfa slides, is more prevalent on photographs taken in poor light (as here), rather than in full sun.

The dilemma is, should we keep the colour and address the colour cast as best we can, or take the easy option and convert the image to black and white. The record of the event remains the same, but we don’t get an idea of the colour of the railway stock, the signalling infrastructure or the landscape.

When looking at photographs we try and reflect more than just a record of an event whenever possible. Peter Collins ensured that he not only took a photograph of the loco-hauled suburban stock, but that he also showed the signalling infrastructure too. The loco-hauled trains were soon to be taken over by DMUs, and then electric multiple units. Electrification of the Great Northern suburbs was not too far away either.

The image captures British Railways when it was in the transition period between steam and rationalisation on a major scale. The fact that the stock will sit in carriage sidings until the evening peak is a throw back to the nationalised railways, and yet the flexibility it gave is sorely missed today!

So, the question remains, does the image being in colour matter?

Let us know…

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