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Footplatemen’s Photographs

Here is our growing archive of photographs taken by footplatemen. These pictures are sometimes a very personal record.  Young men are pictured with their workmates, who they may have been at school with and who often went on to become respected colleagues and lifelong friends.

For some of these young men a job on the railway was a start in adult life following a family tradition.  They had entered what was largely a man's world, treading a path which - with attention to duty, keeping out of trouble, good health and fitness, and patience while awaiting promotion - could eventually lead to appointment as a top link fireman, and ultimately driver, on one of the world's most prestigious high speed main lines.  In the first half of the 20th century this was many a schoolboy's dream.

We are very grateful to Grantham railwaymen and their families for lending these evocative photographs to Tracks through Grantham.


Boris Bennett was a cleaner and fireman at Grantham between 1940 and 1947.  On 8th September 2013, having celebrated his 90th birthday the previous month, Boris attended the display of No.4468 Mallard at Grantham station .  Afterwards, in a letter, he recalled wartime conditions on the railways, comparing Mallard's appearance during the war with her exhibition finish today: I had the good fortune to have fired No.4468 when she was allocated to Grantham Shed during the war.  She was painted in unlined black and had a good layer of soot,oil and coal dust, yet was no less impressive.

Boris has brought together a marvellous collection of photographs, press cuttings, drawings and much other fascinating material which is included in his own story here.

These locomotive cleaners are outside the 'new shed' with a well polished large Atlantic locomotive. The photograph is thought to have been taken around 1922. Front row (L to R): Charlie Torr (Cleaners' Chargehand), Wilf Gooch, Jack Bottomley, John Tom Harrison, Jack Harrison, Wilf Ryder, unknown. Second Row: unknown, Bill Rimmington. Back Row: Tommy Staples, Bill Bainbridge, Fred Reeve(?), Maurice Emmett, Len Thurlby, unknown. Photograph lent by Boris Bennett; copied from an original print owned by Don Gooch, son of Wilf.
These locomotive cleaners are outside the 'top shed' with a well polished large Atlantic locomotive. The photograph is thought to have been taken around 1922.
Front row (L to R): Charlie Torr (Cleaners' Chargehand), Wilf Gooch, Jack Bottomley, John Tom Harrison, Jack Harrison, Wilf Ryder, unknown.
Second Row: unknown, Bill Rimmington.
Back Row: Tommy Staples, Bill Bainbridge, Fred Reeve(?), Maurice Emmett, Len Thurlby, unknown.
Photograph lent by Boris Bennett; copied from an original print owned by Don Gooch, son of Wilf.
These locomotive cleaners are outside the 'new shed' with a well polished large Atlantic locomotive. The photograph is thought to have been taken around 1922. Left to right: unknown, unknown, Jack Bottomley, Wilf Gooch. Photograph lent by Boris Bennett; copied from an original print owned by Don Gooch, son of Wilf.
These locomotive cleaners are outside the 'top shed' with a well polished large Atlantic locomotive. The photograph is thought to have been taken around 1922.
Left to right: unknown, unknown, Jack Bottomley, Wilf Gooch.
Photograph lent by Boris Bennett; copied from an original print owned by Don Gooch, son of Wilf.
Five locomotive cleaners at Grantham in the 1930s with Class A1 No. 4479 Robert The Devil. Standing left to right: Albert Willis, Albert Bottomley. Sitting left to right: Jack Wylie, George ‘Boc’ Taylor, Lawrence Reeve. Photograph lent by Boris Bennett. Boris writes, “When I started at Grantham in November 1939 this locomotive had been based at the shed from new in 1923. Kept in pristine condition, she had been allocated to the top crews – driver W. Carman and fireman Rodgers at that time.”
Five locomotive cleaners at Grantham in the 1930s with Class A1 No. 4479 Robert The Devil.
Standing left to right: Albert Willis, Albert Bottomley.
Sitting left to right: Jack Wylie, George ‘Boc’ Taylor, Lawrence Reeve.
Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.
Boris writes, “When I started at Grantham in November 1939 this locomotive had been based at the shed from new in 1923. Kept in pristine condition, she had been allocated to the top crews – driver W. Carman and fireman Rodgers at that time.”
Five locomotive cleaners at Grantham in the 1930s with Class A1 No. 4479 Robert The Devil. Left to right: Lawrence Reeve, Albert Bottomley, George 'Boc' Taylor, Stan Bond, Albert Willis. Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.
Five locomotive cleaners at Grantham in the 1930s with Class A1 No. 4479 Robert The Devil. Left to right: Lawrence Reeve, Albert Bottomley, George 'Boc' Taylor, Stan Bond, Albert Willis.
Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.
Probably from 'The Grantham Journal'. Lent by Boris Bennett.
Probably from The Grantham Journal.
Lent by Boris Bennett.
This group of Grantham cleaners are on the buffer stop at the south end of the pilot road - see plan below. They are: Front: (L toR) Stan Bond, Dick Cook(e?). Middle Row: 'Pim' Stevens, Ernie Worthington, Alf Rudkin, 'Sos' Harris, George Lancaster, Gerry Isaacs. Back Row: Albert Willis, Stan Nicholls, unknown, unknown. On the right is the shed's neatly stacked reserve stockpile of coal, a precaution in case regular supplies by rail from the Yorkshire pits should be interrupted. Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.
This group of Grantham cleaners are on the buffer stop at the south end of the pilot road - see plan below. They are:
Front: (L toR) Stan Bond, Dick Cook(e?).
Middle Row: 'Pim' Stevens, Ernie Worthington, Alf Rudkin, 'Sos' Harris, George Lancaster, Gerry Isaacs.
Back Row: Albert Willis, Stan Nicholls, unknown, unknown.
On the right is the shed's neatly stacked reserve stockpile of coal, a precaution in case regular supplies by rail from the Yorkshire pits should be interrupted.
Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.
This plan shows where the photograph above was taken, to the west of the coal stage.
This plan shows where the photograph above was taken, to the west of the coal stage.
Front row (L toR): Jack Wylie, 'Sos' Harris, George Selby. Back row: Bambridge(?), Bill Perkins, Albert Willis, Gerry Isaacs, George Lancaster. Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.
Front row (L toR): Jack Wylie, 'Sos' Harris, George Selby.
Back row: Bambridge(?), Bill Perkins, Albert Willis, Gerry Isaacs, George Lancaster.
Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.
Grantham Loco. Dept. men, on a visit to the 15-inch gauge Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway (RH&DR) in Kent with No.8 'Hurricane' . This engine may have been specially provided for their train because it carries a chromium-plated whistle similar to those fitted to the streamlined A4 pacifics of the LNER. It was a gift of their designer, Nigel Gresley, to Captain Howey, a founder of the RH&DR, who had previously presented a Canadian Pacific locomotive whistle to the famous engineer for the A4 loco 'Dominion of Canada'. Left to right: drivers Fred Seal, Frank 'Tiny' Lawson, Wilf Gooch and George Coy. Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.
Grantham Loco. Dept. men, on a visit to the 15-inch gauge Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway (RH&DR) in Kent with No. 8 Hurricane. This engine may have been specially provided for their train because it carries a chromium-plated whistle similar to those fitted to the streamlined A4 pacifics of the LNER. It was a gift of their designer, Nigel Gresley, to Captain Howey, a founder of the RH&DR, who had previously presented a Canadian Pacific locomotive whistle to the famous engineer for the A4 loco Dominion of Canada.
Left to right: drivers Fred Seal, Frank 'Tiny' Lawson, Wilf Gooch and George Coy.
Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.
The group on the beach at Folkestone with the harbour pier behind them. Left to right: Mr Swift (fitter's mate), Teddy Brown (fitter who repaired injectors), George Bennett, Cyril Richardson (Loco boss), Frank 'Tiny' Lawson (driver), Wilf Gooch (driver), George Coy (driver). Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.
The group on the beach at Folkestone with the harbour pier behind them.
Left to right: Mr Swift (fitter's mate), Teddy Brown (fitter who repaired injectors), George Bennett, Cyril Richardson (Loco boss), Frank 'Tiny' Lawson (driver), Wilf Gooch (driver), George Coy (driver).
Photograph lent by Boris Bennett.

Here is a link to a splendid photograph of Grantham locomotive cleaners with gleaming Great Northern Railway Class C1 large Atlantic No. 1418:

The GNR large Atlantics were the Edwardian predecessors of the Gresley Class A1 'Pacifics' exemplified by No. 4479 above.

Roy Vinter was a cleaner, passed cleaner and fireman at Grantham 'Loco'  between August 1957 and December 1963. In December 1958 Roy was transferred on loan to King's Cross shed in London, along with several other young Grantham firemen.   Drivers at King's Cross were being trained on diesel locomotives and the 'passed firemen' there (men who had qualified as drivers but were still working as firemen while they awaited driver vacancies) were covering the driving duties.  Roy and his mates from Grantham shed were called up to cover the resulting shortage of firemen.  They mainly worked on the suburban passenger services, but they did occasionally get trips on the main line so might appear back at Grantham shed as a visitor, heading south again an hour or two later on a return working.

Roy Vinter (with hat) and fellow fireman Roger Simmons alongside A3 locomotive No.60048 Doncaster. The locomotive was standing 'main line pilot, south facing', in a short spur off 'the angle' (locomotive turning triangle), near the back of the water softener. There would be a north facing pilot in a loop off the angle a bit further along, nearer the drivers' mess room. The photograph was taken in mid-1963 by Fred Harris, also a fireman. Photograph lent by Roy Vinter.
Roy Vinter (with hat) and fellow fireman Roger Simmons alongside A3 locomotive No.60048 Doncaster. The locomotive was standing 'main line pilot, south facing', in a short spur off 'the angle' (locomotive turning triangle), near the back of the water softener. There would be a north facing pilot in a loop off the angle a bit further along, nearer the drivers' mess room.
The photograph was taken in mid-1963 by Fred Harris, also a fireman.
Photograph lent by Roy Vinter.
Roy is preparing A1 locomotive No. 60126 Sir Vincent Raven for its next trip on the main line as Drivers Bill Leadbetter and Eric Ranby walk by, probably going off duty. The the engine is facing north on 'London Road', where locomotives were placed ready for their next duty. The photograph was taken in mid-1963 by fellow fireman Fred Harris who, Roy says, had 'a posh camera' which took better pictures than the normal snaps of the time. Photograph lent by Roy Vinter.
Roy is preparing A1 locomotive No. 60126 Sir Vincent Raven for its next trip on the main line as Drivers Bill Leadbetter and Eric Ranby walk by, probably going off duty. The the engine is facing north on 'London Road', where locomotives were placed ready for their next duty.
The photograph was taken in mid-1963 by fellow fireman Fred Harris who, Roy says, had 'a posh camera' which took better pictures than the normal snaps of the time.
Photograph lent by Roy Vinter.
Roy was fireman on this Sunday trip to Skegness on 28th July 1963. His girlfriend and aunty travelled as passengers and this photograph was taken at Skegness by his driver, Jack Charles. From Roy Vinter's collection.
Roy was fireman on this Sunday trip to Skegness on 28th July 1963. His girlfriend and aunty travelled as passengers and this photograph was taken at Skegness by his driver, Jack Charles.
Photograph lent by Roy Vinter.

John Aldous was born near Grantham but he grew up in Suffolk.  Having moved back to Ancaster with his family, at the age of 18 John joined the railway at Grantham 'Loco' where, after a short period as a cleaner, he became a fireman.  He worked many trips over the High Dyke Branch on O2 locomotives hauling ironstone.  The O2s, known as 'Tangos', were a heavy freight version of the express passenger A3 class, among which was Flying Scotsman.

When Grantham shed was due to close John applied to transfer to Stratford in east London to continue working on the footplate.  This was agreed, but in the event he ended up leaving the railway to work at RAF Cranwell.  Just a few months after he started there he received a letter asking him to consider returning to the railway at Grantham.  This he would have seriously considered, but for a union requirement that the period he'd already worked as a fireman would not be counted and he would effectively be re-joining as a cleaner.  John spent the rest of his working life in local industry including a long spell at Aveling Barford's, a world-renowned manufacturer of road rollers and dumper trucks for the mining, quarrying and construction industries.

John Aldous as a fireman in the cab of a B1 locomotive. 'RA 5' signifies the locomotive's Route Availability, an indication of which lines it was allowed to use based on the strain it put on track, bridges, viaducts etc. Photograph lent by John Aldous.
John Aldous as a fireman in the cab of a B1 locomotive. 'RA 5' signifies the locomotive's Route Availability, an indication of which lines it was allowed to use based on the strain it put on track, bridges, viaducts etc.
Photograph lent by John Aldous.
One of Grantham's young cleaners with a B1 locomotive. If you recognise who this is please email grantham35b@hotmail.co.uk. The small plate near the bottom of the smokebox door (40B) denoted that the engine was based at Immingham, and the 'SC' tells us that it has self-cleaning apparatus installed, which reduced the need to clear ash from the smokebox. Photograph lent by John Aldous.
One of Grantham's young cleaners with a B1 locomotive. If you recognise who this is please email grantham35b@hotmail.co.uk.
The small plate near the bottom of the smokebox door (40B) denoted that the engine was based at Immingham, and the 'SC' tells us that it has self-cleaning apparatus installed, which reduced the need to clear ash from the smokebox.
Photograph lent by John Aldous.
John took this photograph of two of his mates on a V2 locomotive. Photograph lent by John Aldous.
John took this photograph of two of his mates on a V2 locomotive.
Photograph lent by John Aldous.

George Fielding joined the railway at Grantham on January 17th 1955.  He remembers the 2-week ASLEF strike in May/June 1955 because he learned to swim while off work for the fortnight.  As a young man he competed in athletics, football and boxing through membership of the Grantham Branch of the BRSA (British Railways Staff Association) - the 'Railway Club'.  George gained the nickname ‘Tiggy’ from Tiggy Fielding, a character in the popular radio serial Mrs Dale’s Diary.

George in the cab of A3 locomotive No.60105 Victor Wild at Grantham loco shed. Photograph lent by George Fielding.
George in the cab of A3 locomotive No.60105 Victor Wild at Grantham loco shed.
Photograph lent by George Fielding.
George and driver Bert Rudd with B1 locomotive No.61389, having just arrived at Skegness with a passenger train from Grantham. Photograph lent by George Fielding.
George and driver Bert Rudd with B1 locomotive No.61389, having just arrived at Skegness with a passenger train from Grantham.
Photograph lent by George Fielding.

Peter Wilkinson, former cleaner and fireman at Grantham, sent this note to me in December 2013 when he saw the photograph above:  I was delighted to see a photo of Bert Rudd.  He was my one and only ‘rostered’ driver but, strange to say, I hardly ever fired for him after that period, due to the peculiar seniority system that was always difficult to explain to anyone who wasn’t involved with it.  I had been with Bert a lot during my time, and his, ‘on the Shed’, preparing and disposing of engines - which was, of course, where I got to know him well.  He was a good man to be with, both ‘on the Shed’ and ‘on the Road’.


Phil Cunnington kindly lent the three photographs below.

A group of engine cleaners at Grantham Loco on class A1 locomotive No.60114 W P Allen. On the left of the group is Maurice Parker, and next to him is Roy Evans. The names of the other three are not currently known. Photograph lent by Phil Cunnington. W P (Bill) Allen CBE started his railway career as a cleaner on the Great Northern Railway at Hornsey, north London, and rose through the ranks to become a driver. He also rose through the ranks of the footplatemen's union ASLEF, becoming its General Secretary in 1940. He was later appointed a member of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission, the body created in 1948 under transport nationalisation to oversee the operation of British Railways.
A group of engine cleaners at Grantham Loco on class A1 locomotive No.60114 W P Allen. On the left of the group is Maurice Parker, and next to him is Roy Evans. The names of the other three are not currently known.
Photograph lent by Phil Cunnington.
W P (Bill) Allen CBE started his railway career as a cleaner on the Great Northern Railway at Hornsey, north London, and rose through the ranks to become a driver. He also rose through the ranks of the footplatemen's union ASLEF, becoming its General Secretary in 1940. He was later appointed a member of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission, the body created in 1948 under transport nationalisation to oversee the operation of British Railways.
Locomotive cleaners in 1953 at Grantham Loco. Framed by the cab window is Phil Cunnington and behind him is Dick Bentley. The names of the other two are not known. They are on class A1 locomotive No.60114 W P Allen. Photograph lent by Phil Cunnington.
Locomotive cleaners in 1953 at Grantham Loco. Framed by the cab window is Phil Cunnington and behind him is Dick Bentley. The names of the other two are not known. They are on class A1 locomotive No.60114 W P Allen.
Photograph lent by Phil Cunnington.
Three locomotive cleaners at Grantham Loco in 1955. They are at the door of the cleaners' mess room beneath the coal stage - the window behind them looks out towards the Old Shed. Back: 'Lofty' Shields Front: Jack Garton, Phil Cunnington Photograph lent by Phil Cunnington.
Three locomotive cleaners at Grantham Loco in 1955. They are at the door of the cleaners' mess room beneath the coal stage - the window behind them looks out towards the Old Shed.
Back: William Ernest 'Lofty' Shields
Front: Jack Garton, Phil Cunnington
Photograph lent by Phil Cunnington.
This cutting is probably taken from 'The Grantham Journal'. Lent by Boris Bennett.
This cutting is probably taken from The Grantham Journal.  Both men were locomotive cleaners at the time - the reporter seems to have mistaken them for driver and fireman!
Lent by Boris Bennett.

Peter Wilkinson worked at Grantham ‘Loco’ from March 1948 until August 1954, initially as an engine cleaner and then as a fireman.  This is a selection of his photographs.  Peter’s recollections of the six years he spent as a railwayman at Grantham are here, accompanied by more of his pictures.

In August 1949 Peter Wilkinson photographed class A1 locomotive No.60132 (later named Marmion), based at Gateshead on Tyneside, being made ready for turning on Grantham shed's turntable. The turntable is powered by the locomotive's vacuum brake system. The vacuum hose has been connected by one of the crew who, with his right hand, is turning the cock which will conect the locomotive's brake pipe with the turntable machinery. The other crew member is leaning out of thye cab, waiting for a sign that the hose is connected. He will then 'create vacuum' in the brake pipe using the brake valve in the cab, and the turntable will begin to revolve. Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
In August 1949 Peter Wilkinson photographed class A1 locomotive No.60132 (later named Marmion), which was based at Gateshead on Tyneside.  It was being made ready for turning on Grantham shed's turntable.  The turntable was powered by the locomotive's vacuum brake system. The vacuum hose has been connected by one of the crew who, with his right hand, is turning the cock which will conect the locomotive's brake pipe with the turntable machinery. The other crew member is leaning out of the cab window, waiting for a sign that all is ready.  He will then 'create vacuum' in the brake pipe using the brake valve in the cab, and the turntable will begin to revolve.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Class A3 locomotive No.60090 Grand Parade at Grantham Loco in August 1949, with Class A2 No.60530 Sayajirao alongside. Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Class A3 locomotive No.60090 Grand Parade at Grantham Loco in August 1949, with Class A2 No.60530 Sayajirao alongside.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
This August 1949 view shows the western side of Grantham station. The coaches on the left are at platform 5. The locomotive is a Great Northern Railway Large Atlantic, class C1, No.62822. The Ivatt Large Atlantics were sucessful and highly regarded Edwardian locomotives, designed to haul express pasenger trains between London and Yorkshire on the East Coast Main Line. They had been familiar at Grantham since the first one was built in 1902. By 1949 No.62822 was one of the last in service, working out its final years on local trains. Phoptograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
This August 1949 view shows the western side of Grantham station. The coaches on the left are at platform 5.
The locomotive is a Great Northern Railway Large Atlantic, class C1, No.62822. The Ivatt Large Atlantics were sucessful and highly regarded Edwardian locomotives, designed to haul express pasenger trains between London and Yorkshire on the East Coast Main Line. They had been familiar at Grantham since the first one was built in 1902. By 1949 No.62822 was one of the last in service, working out its final years on local trains.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
This is class A4 locomotive No.60002 Sir Murrough Wilson which was based at Gateshead shed. It will have brought a train from Tyneside to Grantham, has been serviced and prepared for its return journey, and is standing with other locomotives on 'London Road', the tracks where engines scheduled for main line duty waited before being driven across to the station to await the arrival of their train. This scene dates from 1950 or 1951. Sir Murrough John Wilson had been Deputy Chairman of the London & North Eastern Railway. He was MP for Richmond in Yorkshire between 1918 and 1929. Photograoh lent by Peter Wilkinson.
This is class A4 locomotive No.60002 Sir Murrough Wilson which was based at Gateshead shed. It will have brought a train from Tyneside to Grantham, has been serviced and prepared for its return journey, and is standing with other locomotives on 'London Road', the tracks where engines scheduled for main line duty waited before being taken across to the station to await the arrival of their train. This scene dates from 1948 or 1949.
Sir Murrough John Wilson had been Deputy Chairman of the London & North Eastern Railway. He was MP for Richmond in Yorkshire between 1918 and 1929.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Peter photographed these two A4 streamlined locomotives at Grantham shed in August 1949. It's an interesting picture because it illustrates - within the limitations of black and white photography - how the nationalised railway was setting about involving its new owner, the public, in influencing the appearance of their trains. On the left is No.60021 Wild Swan of Grantham shed. It carries the pre-nationalisation (LNER) livery of 'garter blue', the colour in which sister locomotve Mallard set the world speed record for steam in 1938. On the right No.60028 Walter K Whigham, of King's Cross shed, has been painted by British Railways in an experimental and short-lived deeper blue in an effort to canvas public opinion on the choice of a future livery for Britain's express passenger locomotives. Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Peter photographed these two A4 streamlined locomotives at Grantham shed in August 1949. It's an interesting picture because it illustrates - within the limitations of black and white photography - how the nationalised railway was setting about involving its new owner, the public, in influencing the appearance of their trains.
On the left is No.60021 Wild Swan of Grantham shed. It carries the pre-nationalisation (LNER) livery of 'garter blue', the colour in which sister locomotve Mallard set the world speed record for steam in 1938.
On the right No.60028 Walter K Whigham, of King's Cross shed, has been painted by British Railways in an experimental and short-lived deeper blue in an effort to canvas public opinion on the choice of a future livery for Britain's express passenger locomotives.  The colour finally settled on was green.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
On the turntable at Grantham Loco is class O2 large freight locomotive No.63940. These engines became known to the men as 'Tangos' because they gave their crew a rather lively ride on the footplate. At Grantham the O2s were mainly used for hauling heavy trains of ironstone from the mines and quarries around Colsterworth and Stainby to steelworks at Scunthorpe and elsewhere. In the right background is the tank of the water softening plant, which removed scale-forming minerals from the local water before it was supplied to locomotives. This improved the efficiency and prolonged the life of the boilers. A reserve of coal is stacked in the heap beyond the locomotive. Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
On the turntable at Grantham Loco is class O2 large freight locomotive No.63940. These engines became known to the men as 'Tangos' because they gave their crew a rather lively ride on the footplate. At Grantham the O2s were mainly used for hauling heavy trains of ironstone from the mines and quarries around Colsterworth and Stainby to steelworks at Scunthorpe and elsewhere.
In the right background is the tank of the water softening plant, which removed scale-forming minerals from the local water before it was supplied to locomotives. This improved the efficiency and prolonged the life of the boilers. A reserve of coal is stacked in the heap beyond the locomotive.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Class V2 locomotive No.60835 The Green Howard, Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshire Regiment is facing north on Grantham's turntable, probably in August 1949. At that time this engine would be a visitor from Heaton shed in Newcastle upon Tyne. Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Class V2 locomotive No.60835 The Green Howard, Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshire Regiment is facing north on Grantham's turntable, probably in August 1949.  At that time this engine would be a visitor from Heaton shed in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Beside the coal stage at Grantham loco is a V2 locomotive, probably No.829 of King's Cross shed. The coal stage was a common feature of steam locomotive sheds. Wagons of coal were pushed up a long ramp to the top level. There the coal was were shovelled into wheeled skips, from which it was tipped into the tenders and bunkers of locomotives drawn up alongside. This photograph was taken in 1948 or 1949. In 1937 a mechanical coaling plant had superseded the coal stage, thoough it remained on standby for use when the coaling plant broke down or was under maintenance. At the top left of this picture are some of the skips in a tidy row ready for use. Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Beside the coal stage at Grantham loco is a V2 locomotive, probably No.829 of King's Cross shed. The coal stage was a common feature of steam locomotive sheds. Wagons of coal were pushed by a shunting locomotive up a long ramp to the top level. There the coal was shovelled into wheeled skips, from which it was tipped into the tenders and bunkers of locomotives drawn up alongside.
This photograph was taken in 1948 or 1949. In 1937 a mechanical coaling plant had superseded the coal stage, though it remained on standby for use when the coaling plant broke down or was under maintenance. At the top left of this picture are some of the skips in a tidy row ready for use.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
In the long shadows of an evening in August 1949 class B1 locomotive No.61283 is a visitor from Colwick shed in Nottingham. The turntable at Grantham was powered by the vacuum brake system of the locomotive being turned. If this system failed locomotves were turned by human effort, using the wooden treads round the edge of the pit to gain traction. Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
In the long shadows of an evening in August 1949 class B1 locomotive No.61283 is a visitor from Colwick shed in Nottingham. The turntable at Grantham was powered by the vacuum brake system of the locomotive being turned. If this system failed, or if the engine being turned was not fitted with the vacuum brake, power was provided by human effort using the wooden treads round the edge of the pit to gain traction.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Perhaps you can feel the stiff westerly breeze as it whips the smoke and steam almost horizontally across to the station on the left. The nearest locomotive is one of Grantham's large Atlantics, Edwardian express engines which, when this photograph was taken about 1949, were reaching the end of their working days. Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Perhaps you can feel the stiff westerly breeze as it whips the smoke and steam almost horizontally across to the station on the left. The nearest locomotive is one of Grantham's large Atlantics, Edwardian express engines which, when this photograph was taken about 1949, were reaching the end of their working days.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Peter with Class A3 locomotive No.106 Flying Fox at Grantham Loco in May 1948, just two months after he started as a cleaner. The locomotive on the right is another class A3, No.89 Felstead. Lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Peter with Class A3 locomotive No.106 Flying Fox at Grantham Loco in May 1948, just two months after he started as a cleaner. The locomotive on the right is another class A3, No.89 Felstead.
Lent by Peter Wilkinson.

 

BR Class A3 No.60090 'Grand Parade' on the turntable at Grantham Loco in 1949 or 1950. At this time it was painted in the apple green livery of the former LNER. Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson
BR Class A3 No.60090 Grand Parade on the turntable at Grantham Loco in 1949 or 1950. At this time it was painted in the apple green livery of the former LNER.
Photograph lent by Peter Wilkinson
Class A2 No.60533 Happy Knight of Copley Hill shed in Leeds awaits departure for King's Cross at the south end of platform 2 at Grantham in 1948 or 1949. Lent by Peter Wilkinson.
Class A2 No.60533 Happy Knight of Copley Hill shed in Leeds awaits departure for King's Cross at the south end of platform 2 at Grantham in 1948 or 1949.
Lent by Peter Wilkinson.

Ken Willetts followed his father, Jim, onto the footplate at Grantham and lent this photograph.

Brush Type 4 locomotive No.D1540 on 7D23, a loaded ironstone train, has stopped in the Down Main line platform at Grantham for a crew change. Driver Jim Willetts, walking down the platform on the right, has brought the train from Highdyke. Relieving him and preparing to take it forward are Driver Stan Nichols (in the cab) and Secondman Jake Garland. The date of this photograph is not known but it would be the mid-1960s. Photograph lent by Ken Willetts (Jim's son).
Brush Type 4 locomotive No.D1540 on 7D23, a loaded ironstone train, has stopped in the Down Main line platform at Grantham for a crew change. Driver Jim Willetts, walking down the platform on the right, has brought the train from Highdyke. Relieving him and preparing to take it forward are Driver Stan Nichols (in the cab) and Secondman Jake Garland.
The date of this photograph is not known but it would be the mid-1960s.
Photograph lent by Ken Willetts (Jim's son).

Sidney Foweather

This photograph of A3 No. 60047 Donovan was taken on the engine spur at the north end of Grantham station sometime between July 1959 and July 1961. On 12th April 2017 we showed this picture to a group of former Grantham footplatemen who agreed that it's driver Sidney Foweather who's in the cab.
Photograph taken by Jack Ray, used with permission from Paul Bulmer.

Joe Bell kindly sent us the photograph below of his grandfather William 'Billy' Bell, who began his working life on the railway at Grimsby where his father was a goods guard.  This is the only picture we've seen showing a Grantham footplate crew signing on for duty in the shed's 'time office'.  They were about to work the royal train.

Fireman William Richard 'Billy' Bell (left) and his driver sign on at Grantham Loco for Royal Train duty.
Is anyone able to tell us who the driver is?
Photograph kindly lent by Joe Bell.

William Bell later became a driver at Grantham, but sadly he died suddenly on the footplate of a stationary locomotive at Grantham in December 1972 at the age of 53.


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9 thoughts on “Footplatemen’s Photographs

  1. Eddie Hanks

    These photos brought back many happy memories of my time at Grantham loco as a passed cleaner (1956-61). When was the turntable decommissioned, as it wasn't there when I was?

    Reply
    1. tracksthroughgrantham

      Hello Eddie,
      Thanks for writing in - it's much appreciated. We're really pleased to hear that you enjoyed the photos too. You might find some of the other pages equally absorbing. If you'd like to send us some of your own memories (e.g. of people, incidents or events) I'm sure they will add yet more colour to the story. You can email us at grantham35b[at]hotmail.co.uk (please make the obvious change before sending).

      The large turntable at Grantham loco was definitely out of action by April 1950. We think 'the angle' was in use by 1951. If anyone has definitive dates please get in touch.

      John Clayson

      Reply
  2. Peter Francis Blunn.

    An excellent set of photographs . .always good to see them including Railwaymen for the human interest,thanks for sharing..best wishes.

    Reply
    1. tracksthroughgrantham

      We're pleased you enjoyed the photos Peter. We add more from time to time so keep looking in.
      John Clayson

      Reply
  3. Tim Gooch

    My family have quite some history with the age of steam: father, uncles and Grandfather Wilf shown in your photos.
    Great many thanks

    Kindest Regards

    Tim Gooch. (Grantham)

    Reply
  4. Angela Shields

    Wonderful and informative website. It was lovely to see some photographs featuring my late father-in-law 'Lofty' Shields. Sadly my daughter never met her grandfather, so being able to show these photographs to her will please her immensely as we do not have either of the two pictures among the family photographs.

    Reply
    1. tracksthroughgrantham

      Thanks very much Angela - it's messages like this which encourage us to continue expanding our project to take in more of Grantham's railway history. If we receive any more pictures of 'Lofty' we'll let you know.
      John Clayson

      Reply
  5. ian kettle

    Hello. I have been trying to find any info or pics about my grandad who I think was a main line driver. I think he started in 1920 and retired in 1965. His name was Walter Thomas Kettle and he lived at 105 Belton Lane grantham. Thanks, Ian.

    Reply
    1. grantham35b

      Hello Ian,
      Thank you for getting in touch. I'm pleased to say that your grandad's name is listed towards the end of Roy Veasey's article about his life on the railway on our site here - scroll down to the alphabetical list of drivers. We don't have anything more than this about him, unfortunately. If you look on a family history site such as Ancestry there's a good chance that you could find out more there.
      John Clayson

      Reply

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