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For nearly five years in the early 1980s Steve Philpott worked for the Royal Mail in Grantham.  Interested in railways, he particularly remembers shifts worked on the station where, until late 1982, mail to and from Grantham and the local area arrived and departed by train.

Steve's Mailbag Memories were previously published in our Christmas 2018 Newsletter, and we are now delighted to share them here, on the website, where the story is enhanced by many more photographs than we had room for in the Newsletter.  There are pictures from Steve's own collection and from the collections of other photographers which have been kindly made available to Tracks through Grantham.

Thanks for the Memories, Steve!

Above: View along the track towards Highdyke signal box c. 1970s.  The sleeper-built buffer stop referred to below is on the right.
Photograph by Peter Green
This image is from the collection of The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society (RCTS) ref. PG00606 and is used here with permission.

This post is a gathering together of recent references and snippets on the subject of railways roundabout Grantham we've discovered here and there.

  • There's a two-page colour photo feature A Look at Lincolnshire in the current issue of Backtrack magazine (February 2019, Vol. 33 No. 2), where three of the five superbly reproduced pictures were taken by A J Clarke at Grantham - and a fourth is at Barkston South Junction (on pages 82-83).  Can anyone recognise the driver of 60056 Centenary?
  • The January/February issue of Great Northern News (No. 223), distributed to members of The Great Northern Railway Society, carries a short article titled Buffer Stop at High Dyke on page 223.11.  This is based on a GNR drawing from 1888 of a sleeper-built buffer stop, which was discovered in the National Archive at Kew, London.

If you've seen something that we've missed just let us know and we'll update the list.

John Aldous, former Grantham cleaner and fireman, recently sent us some more memories of his time on the footplate which we're sharing in a new page here.  It's a pleasing complement to our popular series exploring the Woolsthorpe and High Dyke branches, Railways Rediscovered, because John spent many hours on ironstone trains, both up the High Dyke Branch, bringing the heavy mineral out from the quarries there, and on the main line delivering it to the steelworks.

The High Dyke Branch Rediscovered - Part 2

Our Railways Rediscovered series has proved to be very popular. First we explored the old Woolsthorpe Branch, from Belvoir Junction near Muston to Denton and Harlaxton, and then we followed up with the first 3 miles of the former High Dyke Branch.

As our contribution to setting 2019 off to a healthy start we're redoubling our efforts to help Tracks through Grantham readers burn off excess calories after the Christmas and New Year season.  If you'd like to get out and about, stretch your legs, and fill your lungs with fresh air why not take yourself out into the countryside and rediscover the next part of the old High Dyke Branch?  Or you can enjoy the journey from the comfort of your home.

The High Dyke Branch Rediscovered - Part 2 begins here.

Chris Kidd has recently been in touch to share some short clips of film made by his father at the lineside south of Grantham in the early 1960s.  In this chilly winter season we could all do with a taste of summer.

John Clayson

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Above: Empty ironstone wagons are taken up the High Dyke branch by Class O2 No. 63932 of Grantham shed in an early 1960s winter scene.  The location is bridge No. 1, about a quarter of a mile from Highdyke, where the branch ascends a 1 in 40 gradient.
Photograph taken by Colin Walker; used with the kind permission of Martin Walker.

Mel and John at Tracks through Grantham would like to say ‘thank you’ to our contributors, readers, supporters and friends.

Your help and encouragement throughout 2018 has continued to strengthen the enthusiasm we share for this project.

In 2019 we hope to discover, record and present even more interesting information and stories about the railway people and places of the Grantham area.

We hope you all have a Merry Christmas and send our Best Wishes for a Happy New Year.

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During the past 4 years many moving ceremonies and events have taken place in commemoration of those who served their country on land, at sea and in the air during The Great War, 1914-1918.

On the day before our most recent Tracks through Grantham get-together in mid-October I called in at Grantham Library, as I often do when in the town, to look at  the railway items in the Local Studies collection.  A document caught my eye, a 'Roll of Honour' from 1914-18 which lists eleven GNR railwaymen who did not return to their families, their homes, and their jobs and workmates on the railway.  Perhaps this modest document was once framed and displayed at Grantham Station?  In time, maybe, it was put away in a cupboard there until someone thoughtfully decided that it should be preserved for us to study at the library.

As I was about to slide the document back into its folder I felt that it would not be right for these men's names to disappear once more into the darkness.  Surely they deserve to be seen, and not only in Grantham but around the world in recognition of the bravery shown all those years ago?  So I began to write out the information with the intention of creating a new page on our website.

The men are represented in the Roll by their initials and surnames, regiment, rank and their grade while on the railway.  This seemed quite formal, so last week I decided to try to research their Christian names by looking online at reports in The Grantham Journal of the time.  The reports usually indicated their age, so I created a new column for that too.

It has been very moving to read a few paragraphs about each of the eleven men in the editions of the newspaper.  Often there are words of tribute quoted from a letter received by the family from an officer who, for all he knew, may have been destined to become a casualty himself soon after laying down his pen.  In fact we learn that, following an act of conspicuous gallantry at the Battle of Cambrai, in which one of the Grantham railwaymen died, his Commanding Officer was himself killed before he was able to write to the man's family.  A 2nd Lieutenant who wrote in his place died a year later, in November 1918.

We will remember them.

GNR Grantham Roll of Honour

John Clayson

At our Tracks through Grantham project get-together in October we heard about a runaway ironstone train that was in collision at Barkston Junction in 1946.  We also spent some time exploring the High Dyke Branch, enjoying stories of life 'Up the Branch', and hearing about the precautions taken to work the heavy ironstone trains safely on that switchback route, known as 'the Alps'.  There was the occasional runaway on the branch, more often than not safely managed by the High Dyke signalmen, though one or two runaways ended in a pileup.

I was therefore interested to see some recent news from 'down under'.  The Australians have staged he world's most spectacular iron ore train wreck, 1.5 km of piled up locomotives, wagons and iron ore and ripped up track - though, fortunately, without casualties.  It took place on 5th November on their equivalent of the High Dyke Branch - only, being Oz, this iron ore line is 180 miles long, not 5¾!

Follow the links here and herefor more.

Apparently it's affected the price of iron ore on the global market because the line will be out of action for a week or so.

John Clayson