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Last December a News item, copied below, appeared on Tracks through Grantham.  Yesterday the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) published its report on an incident at Edinburgh last August which makes very interesting reading when considered in the context of the high speed derailment at Grantham in September 1906.

In the conclusions of his report on the 1906 Grantham disaster the Board of Trade Inspector discounted a problem with brake control as the likely, or even as a possible, cause of the accident.  Nevertheless, it has since become generally accepted that the accident resulted from failure to properly connect and test the automatic brake at Peterborough immediately prior to the train’s departure.  It also seems certain that a running brake test, which should have been conducted once the train got under way, either was not implemented or had been insufficiently rigorous to identify a serious lack of brake effectiveness.

It’s remarkable how comparable the circumstances were in Scotland last August.  By good fortune, and through the availability of modern communication systems, a tragic outcome was avoided that morning.  During the enquiry the evidence of the driver and the other members of the train crew, along with comprehensive data logging, enabled the sequence of events which led to the incident to be identified with certainty.

Conversely, following the 1906 Grantham disaster, in which the footplate crew were killed (along with 12 others) and most of the train was severely damaged by impact and fire, there was little hard evidence to prove or dispute the several theories put forward.  If only GNR Atlantic No. 276 could have been equipped with an On Train Data Recorder!

The recently published report can be found on the RAIB website here.

Thanks to Phil Mason of the Grantham Railway Society for making us aware of the report.


(December 2019)

In his column in the current (December 2019) issue of The Railway Magazine Consultant Editor Nick Pigott has picked up on a striking similarity between the most likely cause of the disaster at Grantham on the night of 19th September 1906, when 14 lives were lost, and the lead-up to an alarming incident which took place at Edinburgh Waverley station on 1st August this year.

In both cases the locomotive had been attached at an intermediate stop on the train's journey.  Each train then seriously overran its next stopping point, apparently because the train's braking system was not properly connected to the locomotive.

In the Grantham 1906 accident the overrunning train derailed at high speed on a junction which began 135 yards beyond the platform.  Fortunately, at Edinburgh in 2019 the train involved was brought to a stand using a manually activated emergency system without collision or derailment, having travelled 650 metres beyond its intended stopping point.

Further reading:

Bob Balchin's been in touch about a fascinating collection of stories which might help to entertain us when we run out of - or get fed up with - DIY and gardening tasks etc.  Called Real Railway Tales, it's a compilation of about 60 short accounts of railway people, places and incidents contributed from across the country and edited by two men who can each draw upon extensive careers on the railway.

Here's a description:

Running a railway is a complex business, constantly throwing up drama, misadventure and the unexpected.  Geoff Body and Bill Parker have collated a rich selection of railwaymen's memories and anecdotes to create an enjoyable book of escapades and mishaps, illustrating the daily obstacles faced on the railways, from handling the new Eurostar to train catering, nights on the Tay Bridge to rail 'traffic cops', and from mystery derailments to track subsidence.  However interesting the infrastructure of the large and varied railway business may be, the real heart of this great industry lies in its people, the complex jobs they occupy and the dedicated way in which they carry them out.

For us on Tracks through Grantham there's a story called Highdyke, describing the operation of the ironstone branch from Stainby and Sproxton, and another titled The Denton Branch.

About half the book, including the Highdyke chapter, can be accessed on the internet here.  To see the rest you would need to either purchase or borrow a copy.  Options include a buying Kindle version.  The original paperback edition is currently available from several online second-hand booksellers.

John Clayson

 

 

 

Brian Maddison recently sent us three photographs he took during the construction of the extension at the south end of Grantham's Platform 4, about 30 years ago. You can find them on a new page here.

Tom Boustead's journey in photographs between Highdyke and Hougham has proved to be one of the most popular launches of a new page in the history of Tracks through Grantham.  We're grateful to everyone who has left a comment on the site or has been in touch by email with feedback - it's all been very positive.  Tom is responding to comments on the page individually as time allows, so please look back at the page from time to time.

We've also been busy updating and revising some of our older pages to improve or add detail, or to add new information and images that have come to light.  One that's been through the shops for an intermediate overhaul and a freshen up is Turntables and Triangles, the story of locomotive turning at Grantham - now revised and improved!

Even the fairly recently published Fresh Fish Daily! page has been 'in works' for an upgrade, including links to two great photographs of Aberdeen to London express fish trains in the Edinburgh area.

If you've time on your hands waiting for 'the new normal' to kick in, here's a suggestion.  To browse, and maybe purchase, photographs taken at Grantham, or at any other location, the following may interest you (listed in alphabetical order):

Try using 'Grantham', 'Barkston', 'Highdyke', 'Honnington' etc. in the search box.

(We have no commercial association with any of the above.)

Please stay safe everyone.

Mel and John

 

First of all, we hope this finds everyone keeping well and successfully staying out of harm’s way.

We’re especially pleased to launch our latest new page.  During a period when many of us are 'confined to barracks', we thought it would be a pleasant diversion to get ourselves out and about, historically speaking, on the Tracks through Grantham section of the East Coast Main Line.  So we offer a trip in space and time exploring 11 miles of the line, centred on Grantham, through the lens of photographer Tom Boustead's camera.

Tom’s pictures span five decades, from the 1950s to the 1990s, so they show the effects of sweeping change which affected everyone who worked for, travelled on or lived near the railway.  The photographs also trace the imprint of the East Coast Main Line on the landscape of South Kesteven.  We enjoy many viewpoints discovered by Tom, often with the benefit of his lineside photography permit.

So escape from Lockdown and enjoy Highdyke to Hougham in Fifty Pictures.


We'll be glad to receive feedback on all aspects of Tracks through Grantham so, if you'd like to leave us a note via the site, please do so as follows:

  • for comments on a specific page (which may be included with the page after moderation), use the Comment box under 'Leave a Reply' which appears at the bottom of most pages
  • otherwise, use the Contact Form here.

Here are links to a few mentions of railways in the Grantham area which we've come across recently.


On the Grantham Matters website:

Trainspotters in the 60s

Track relaying, November 2019

Aveling-Barford's locomotive

The Harlaxton ironstone quarry line

Barrowby Road Bridge repairs

Track relaying, February 1987 (at nearly the same location as in 2019 above)

Passenger numbers at Grantham station in 2017

Renewal of Barrowby Road Bridge, 1955

The Up side goods yard, 1936

Grantham Guard Montague Ogden, Mayor in 1966-67

Barrowby Road Bridge is hit by a truck, February 2020


... and in the current (March 2020) issue of Steam World magazine:

pages 28 to, 33 carry an illustrated article titled 1962: a Spotter's Year by Bruce Laws, with his recollections of places including Colwick shed, and Nottingham Victoria and Grantham stations.  Photographs include an A3-hauled passenger train on the Up goods line, a view of the Loco yard and Grantham B1 61389 bringing a goods train off the Nottingham line.


Please let us know (via our Contact Us form) if you come across similar items, so that we can share them.


It's Sunday 27th June 1971 and Grantham Yard signal box is about to close.  Leaving the box for the last time, someone reached into a drawer or cupboard for an old scrapbook which had been lying there for years.  It contained circulars and memos received by the signalmen at the Yard Box between 1900 and 1945, each carefully pasted into a page for possible future reference.  They would be needed no more but maybe someone, someday, might be interested...

At Tracks through Grantham we have recently seen this remarkable survivor.  It truly is a fascinating archive, with many stories to tell about things that mattered to the railway and to its employees.

A new page on our website draws on this resource for the first time.  Fresh Fish Daily! is an insight into the importance of the Scotch fish traffic to the people who operated the Great Northern section of the East Coast Main Line in the early decades of the 20th century.

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by John Clayson

Do you sometimes have one of those moments which takes you back to a place and a time long ago, and it feels as if it was just yesterday?  Watching the first part of the series The Trial of Christine Keeler on BBC1 last night took me back to Grantham station (where else?!) on 3rd October 1963 and a photograph my Dad took during one of our outings there.  It's 4.05pm (by the clock on the wall) and at first sight it's a simple study of a man in the down side buffet reading his newspaper, probably the London Evening Standard.

The location is long gone.  The building which housed the buffet on the down side was swept away when that side of the station was rebuilt in 1985-86.  In fact it had almost been swept away 30 or so years earlier, when a 'hard shunt' into the bay platform (now platform 3, then platform 4) forced a coach over the buffers and into the north wall of the buffet in June 1954.

...but I digress, as dear Ronnie Corbett might have said.  The connection becomes clear on reading the front page headlines:  MISSING CHRISTINE WITNESS MYSTERY 'Paul Mann has no plans to return' and ‘LUCKY’ GORDON IN BOX TODAY, accompanied by a photograph of Mandy Rice-Davies.

Photograph taken by Cedric Clayson.

The enquiry report by Lord Denning into 'The Profumo Affair’ had been published in September.  Christine Keeler's trial, in which she was convicted of conspiracy to obstruct the course of justice, had just commenced.

I do remember, at the age of 9, wondering what all the fuss was about, and my parents changing the subject when I persisted with enquiring what 'a call-girl' was!

In search of the real Christine Keeler, focussing on this new portrayal of the scandal by screenwriter and novelist Amanda Coe, is on the BBC website here.

Introduced in 1977 as the Inter-City 125, HSTs (High Speed Trains) were last used on LNER scheduled services on Sunday 15th December 2019.

The final LNER service operated by HST, the 19.35 from London King's Cross to Leeds [1D30], departed from Grantham at 20.50 on 15th December.  So Monday 16th December 2019 became the first day without an HST operated service through Grantham since May 1977.  Another era of Grantham railway operation has passed into the history books!

As a curtain call LNER is running four Say Goodbye to the Inter-City 125 excursions using the BR blue painted set.  The final one is Leeds to London King's Cross on Saturday 21st December with a stop at Grantham.  A photograph of this event will be very welcome.

The customers of successive East Coast Main Line (ECML) operators have travelled through Grantham in HST sets for more than 42 years, a unique record.  Companies other than LNER and its predecessors which have used HSTs to provide services on the ECML through Grantham include Grand Central and, occasionally, Hull Trains.

Although no longer seen at Grantham, HSTs remain active further north on the ECML.  Cross Country continues to operate them between York and Edinburgh, and there are East Midlands Railways (on weekdays) and Cross Country (on Sundays) services operated by HSTs which use the ECML between Doncaster and Leeds.

Setting the achievement of the HST into historical perspective is difficult because they are complete trains, not a locomotive hauling a set of carriages.  Confining the comparison to motive power alone, it appears that no class of diesel locomotive came near to four decades' use on scheduled ECML express services.  Going back to steam days, arguably two classes of locomotive have a comparable record of longevity.  They are the Ivatt GNR Large Atlantics (from 1902 until the 1940s), and the Gresley GNR/LNER A1/A3s (from 1922 until the 1960s).

Can someone update us on any fleets of passenger coaches which were in front line service on the ECML for as long as 40+ years?  Please use the Comment box below.

There are lengthy features on the Inter-City 125 / HST in Rail magazine here and in Wikipedia here.

Below are four photographs by Mel Smith showing Inter-City 125 trains at Grantham in the 1980s.

With thanks to Doug Thompson for alerting us to this significant moment in Grantham's railway history.

By pure coincidence following reference to the Grantham derailment of 1906 in our previous post, Mel recently came across a reminder of the disaster for sale on a website for collectors of postal memorabilia.  It's a postcard which was among the mail being carried on the train.  The card was evidently recovered from the burnt wreckage, slightly singed and water damaged, and delivered to its intended recipient in Derby.

The price asked today is fairly eye-watering, demonstrating the value of rare items in a market embracing both postal collectables and railway memorabilia.

The dealer hasn't quite got the facts of the accident accurate because 14 people died as a result of the accident, not 12 as stated; two casualties died later.

John Clayson