In February 1980 Doncaster Power Signal Box extended its area of operation to include Grantham. In our latest new feature Andy Overton provides a unique insight into the work of signalling in a power box, including the vital role of communication with station staff at Grantham. There's also the frustration of prioritising train movements effectively through an over-rationalised track layout in the era of the privatised railway. It's a fascinating read.
Jeremy Stone discovered this eight-minute video recently published on YouTube. Locations are not identified, but we think they could be as follows:
0:00 - 2:35 somewhere on Stoke Bank (Swayfield?)
2:35 - 2:52 Peascliffe Tunnel southern approach (60013)
2:52 - 3:18 Stoke Tunnel southern approach (4472)
3:18 - 3:50 Barkston
3:50 - 4:16 Tweedmouth
3:16 - 4:35 cannot identify (but quite distinctive - can anyone help?)
4:35 - 5:12 somewhere on Stoke Bank
5:12 - 7:33 Barkston (in the snow, with a fearsome easterly blowing!)
7:33 - 7:37 somewhere on Stoke Bank (in the snow)
7:37 - 8:11 Peascliffe Tunel (southern approach)
Need to shake off the winter blues?
Why not rediscover the High Dyke Branch!
Surely, following our recent spell of Siberian weather, spring will soon be in the air. If you fancy getting out and about while rediscovering some railway heritage let our new page, The High Dyke Branch Rediscovered - Part 1, be your guide.
John Pegg will show you the first 3 miles of the former branch line, from Highdyke Junction to the Great North Road near Colsterworth. There's a great selection of photographs . Most show scenes taken in summer 2017 but, mixed in, are some 'flashbacks' to the 1960s and the early 1970s when the line was still moving heavy loads of ironstone to the main line, the job it was built for in 1916-19.
So why not find your boots, burn off a few excess calories and clear away the cobwebs?
...and look out for Part 2 soon.
If you're a member of the Gresley Society you will have seen an evocative 13-page feature of Colin Walker's photographs from the 1950s and 1960s in the current (Autumn 2017, No. 173) edition of the Society's journal The Gresley Observer. The photographs were taken at a range of locations including the Loco (shed), the northern and the southern approaches, and at the passenger station. Colin was there on 'The Last Day' that Grantham Loco was operational, Saturday 7th September 1963, when he recorded some poignant views of the shed's remaining active A3s preparing to leave and departing: No. 60066, No. 60108 and No. 60112.
To become a member and secure a copy please see the membership page of the Society's website here.
Our own tribute to Colin Walker can be found here.
For our latest new page we move to one of the boundaries of the Tracks through Grantham 'sphere of interest' in terms of railway geography and infrastructure.
'Stoke Bank' is a legendary location, comprehensively written into East Coast Main Line history as one of the world's most renowned railway racing stretches where speed records have been made and broken.
But what about the signal box at the start of the descent (or, equally, at the summit of the ascent from both directions)? Many a train timer's stopwatch has clicked there, but few travellers spared much of a thought for the men on duty at Stoke box as they sped past. Many a loco crew, short of steam on a poor engine, have been thankful when the gradient changed from adverse to favourable as they exchanged a wave with the signalman at the isolated outpost.
Above: Roy, on the left, as a fireman with Charlie Hopwood, his regular driver, on 19th June 1959 at Darlington with Class A1 locomotive No. 60142 Edward Fletcher.
Photograph taken by Eric Treacy, lent by Roy Veasey.
We were very sorry to receive the sad news that Roy passed away on 14th January at the age of 89.
I first met Roy in summer 1963 when my father took some photographs of him and other railwaymen on Grantham station and at the Loco. Little could they have known that their friendship was planting a seed which, some 45 years later, would begin to grow into Tracks through Grantham.
After he retired Roy wrote his memoir, ‘My Railway Life’, and when I visited him in 2008 he gave me a copy. When Tracks through Grantham took its first tentative steps he kindly consented to its publication, and ‘My Railway Life’ became the first personal account to appear on our website. There’s no doubt that it has inspired many others to become contributors to our project, and I'm sure it will continue to do so. You can read Roy's personal story of his working life on the railway here.
Roy lent his support to Tracks through Grantham in many ways. We are greatly saddened to have lost such a good friend.
Roy's funeral will be held in Grantham on Monday 5th February. Here is a link to the family announcement.
Fred Harris joined the railway at Grantham in August 1955. He achieved promotion to driver nearly 30 years later in April 1985, hence the title of the story of his working life on the railway. Read how a youthful Fred and his driver peered into dense fog one night from the footplate of a slowly advancing 'Tango', looking for signals that were no longer there. How does a footplate crew respond as a 'Green Arrow' begins to self-destruct at speed on the East Coast Main Line? Enjoy with Fred a week away at Bridgnorth refreshing his steam skills. All this and more in our latest new page.
In the 1950s and 1960s a Runabout ticket could be the key to expanding your horizons. Roger Bryant and friends left Mablethorpe one morning and, before the day was done, they had arranged for themselves a high-speed descent of Stoke Bank behind an A1 - in the genteel opulence of a Pullman car. Read the story on our latest new page.