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Haymarket Rarities – captured with a plastic camera

by Roger Bamber

As a 13-year-old trainspotter one of my earliest visits to Grantham station was on Saturday 14th June 1958.   Standing on platform 3, and armed with my Kodak Brownie Cresta II plastic camera loaded with 120 film, I saw a Gresley A4 streamlined express steam locomotive approaching.  The train would have been doing about 70 mph, and my camera only had a shutter speed of 1/40th of a second.  I clicked as it sped past.

Remarkably, the picture caught the engine well, along with its reflection in the Gresley teak coaches of a London-bound express.  It was almost sharp, and very atmospheric.  It was one of a set of prints that later got me a place at Leicester College of Art, and probably influenced me more than any other photograph in deciding to spend my life as a photographer.

The northbound 'Elizabethan' express from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley, hauled by Haymarket A4 No. 60031 'Golden Plover' on Saturday* 14 June 1958.
© Photograph by Roger Bamber.
* The Saturday services in each direction were not officially named and, unlike during the week, they stopped at Newcastle. However the locomotive sometimes, as on this occasion, carried 'The Elizabethan' train headboard.

At this time, The Elizabethan service brought Edinburgh Haymarket-based A4s through Grantham quite regularly …but when I returned to the station seven weeks later I recorded, again with the Cresta II, not one but two of the much rarer Haymarket A3s.

First, No. 60100 Spearmint of 64B called at platform 2 with a southbound express from which it uncoupled in favour of a fresh locomotive.

Edinburgh Haymarket-based Class A3 No. 60100 'Spearmint' has arrived at Grantham on Saturday 2nd August 1958.  The locomotive is in reverse gear; the driver is easing back to compress the buffers and facilitate uncoupling from the first coach.  The fireman, just caught walking back on the right, has removed the lamp above the platform-side buffer in preparation for the light engine movement to the shed.
© Photograph by Roger Bamber.

Then, while the Up train's coaches were still on platform 2, consecutively numbered No. 60099 Call Boy, also a rarity from 'Auld Reekie', arrived from the south in a sparkling new coat of paint and stopped at the station's north end.  I could hardly believe it!  I ran the length of the station to complete my photographic record of the two Scottish A3s.

No. 60099 'Call Boy' prepares to depart from Grantham around midday on Saturday 2nd August 1958.
© Photograph by Roger Bamber.

It's interesting to note, with the benefit of locomotive records now available,  that No. 60099 had returned to traffic on Tuesday 29th July following a general overhaul at Doncaster Works.  It was put on a trial trip to Peterborough on the Friday  to ensure that all was well before its return to Scotland.  New England shed at Peterborough then used it on a train to King's Cross early on the Saturday morning before it began its return to Scotland on a London to Newcastle service which arrived at the station in front of me.  

The same records reveal that No. 60100 entered Doncaster Plant for a general overhaul on Tuesday 5th August, three days after I photographed it.  Its arrival at Grantham was part of a plan for it to 'work its passage' south from Edinburgh.  It was sent to Newcastle on a service from Edinburgh and spent some time on Gateshead shed, then worked down to Grantham on Saturday 2nd August before being taken to Doncaster for transfer into the Works.

In those days I usually cycled to Grantham from Leicester along the A607 through Melton Mowbray.  Sometimes I would return home by train via Nottingham Victoria.  The Nottingham trains were usually in the hands of the GNR class C12 4-4-2 tanks; numbers 67357 and 67391 are two that I remember.

Class C12 No. 67391 at the Western Platform, Grantham station, on Friday 23rd September 1955.
Photograph by Ron Buckley, from the Jim Chesney collection.

On one memorable occasion we had just departed and were gaining speed on the four-track section to Barrowby Road when A3 No. 60077 The White Knight on a northbound main line express drew alongside my carriage window. 

Rail-Online: A1 4-6-2 (Gresley) &emdash; 2576 1939-08-08 Grantham
LNER A1, later A3, Pacific No. 2576 'The White Knight' (British Railways No. 60077) stands in Grantham station with the 3.10pm Leeds Central to King's Cross express on 8th August 1939.
This and other photographs are available from Rail-Online: left click on the image.

We travelled together for a minute or so and I became enthralled by the spectacle of this marvellous machine in motion.  Its wheels and coupling rods appeared to be taking great, effortless strides as it accelerated beside us until, at length, our paths diverged.

Grantham-based Class A3 No. 60056 'Centenary' at speed passing Little Bytham.  My experience of 60077 from a carriage window, as we kept pace alongside, was akin to a close-up, movie edition of this picture with whirling wheels, coupling rods flashing to and fro, and the sound of powerful exhaust beats reverberating between its train and ours! 
Photograph by Noel Ingram

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