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Aerofilms Views of April 1950

The Britain From Above project is publishing the Aerofilms archive.  Here are five photographs which show the railway in and around Grantham.  They were taken consecutively on Wednesday 19th April 1950.  Click on a photograph to follow a link to Britain From Above, and register on the site to zoom in and see much more detail.


The northen approaches to the station, including the Nottingham line and the siding from Barrowby Road signal box to Ambergate Yard in the left foreground
The northen approach to the station, including the convergence of the main line and the Nottingham line (centre left) and the diverging branch to Ambergate Yard in the left foreground.
The main line and the Nottingham line run in from the left and enter the station, crossing three roads on substantial brick bridges. At lower right is part of the extensive locomotive depot.
The east coast main line runs through the station from the north.  It passes the up side goods yard and some malthouses lying on its east side, and the down side goods yard and the carriage sidings to the west, before crossing Springfield Road at bottom right.  Grantham motive power depot, known by everyone in the town as 'the Loco', stretches from Springfield Road to beyond a recently abandoned turntable pit near the left hand edge of the photograph.
From the angle of the sun it is estimated that the these photographs were taken at about 3.40pm (British Summer Time being in force).  At platform 4 is the 3.50pm to Lincoln, and at platform 5, the western platform, stands the 3.55pm to Derby.


This photograph shows the interplay of the road and rail routes linking London with Edinburgh as they pass through Grantham .  The historic Great North Road (A1) threads the town centre from bottom right, while the East Coast Main Line, laid out in the early 1850s, sweeps around its western edge.
In 1962 the A1 bypass was opened, a mile to the left of this view.
Between the railway and the A1 road, for the lower third of the photograph, is the extensive engineering works of Ruston & Hornsby Ltd.
In this photograph virtually the entire railway layout of the Grantham area can be traced. From the Great North Road bridge at the south end, northward to Peascliffe Tunnel (East Coast Main Line) and Gonerby Tunnel (Nottingham line); including the branch from Barrowby Road signal box to Ambergate Yard and the basin of the Grantham Canal. It's a fine all-encompassing panorama.
The only parts of Grantham's railway layout not in view are the internal system of Aveling Barford's, just off the picture at bottom right, and the end of the siding from Ambergate Yard to the gas works at centre left.


The four following photographs were also taken on 19th April 1950.  The subject was the R.H. Neal & Co. Ltd. crane factory on Dysart Road.  Fortunately, for those of us interested in Grantham's railway history, very close by was Ambergate Yard, the site of Grantham's first railway station of 1850.  So, happily, these views also capture the entire length of this rarely photographed short branch line and its sidings, still serving the town's oldest industrial quarter around the terminus of the Grantham Canal opened in 1797.

Much of the detail described in the captions of these photographs is in the background; to see it more clearly register on the Britain From Above website and use the zoom facility.

In the centre background, just beyond the narrow field, one of Grantham Loco's 0-6-0 locomotives shunts some wagons on the branch line to Ambergate Yard.  The branch led from the Nottingham line at Barrowby Road signal box - further to the left - down towards a bridge over Dysart Road which is just off the picture to the right.
The bridge taking the branch over Dysart Road is the nearer one in the centre background. To its left in a siding on the embankment is a pair of very old articulated coaches. The building with the gabled roof is the former 1850 passenger terminus of the railway from Nottingham, and to its right stands the roofless former goods shed.
Coal merchants occupy much of the area around the canal basin. Coal was first brought to Grantham in bulk by the canal; from 1850 the railway became an alternative means of supply. Arriving from the collieries in wooden wagons, the fuel was distributed using horsedrawn and motor lorries. The railway yardmaster would see that wagons were emptied promptly by the merchants into their storage bunkers so that they could be returned for their next load.  An extra charge, known as 'demurrage', was invoiced by the railway if wagons were kept beyond the period allowed for unloading.
There are two oil tank wagons at the end of a siding towards the right.
A siding on the far side of the canal basin leads towards the gas works, just off picture to the right.
At top left there's a glimpse of the station platforms, with a northbound main line train at platform 3 and local trains at platforms 4 and 5.
At the top left corner Grantham's gas works, established in 1833 to receive coal arriving by canal, marks the furthest extent of the Ambergate Yard sidings. As the canal heads south at this point, on its winding course to Nottingham, it passes Bjorlow's tannery beyond the bridge.

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2 thoughts on “Aerofilms Views of April 1950

  1. Ian Moir

    The mention of Bjorlow's Tannery brings back the memory of the terrible smell that occasionally drifted from there, if the wind was blowing from that direction, as we used to walk up Dysart Road. Of course the bridge mentioned in the comment is now Earlesfield Lane, which leads to the 'New' Earlesfield Estate.

    1. tracksthroughgrantham

      Hello Ian,
      I'm not a native of Grantham but I like to 'explore' so, with a few minutes to spare during a visit the other week, I found myself driving on Earlesfield Lane and crossing the canal. I turned round, came back and looked out for the waterway again in the opposite direction - but it seemed to have disappeared! Only later did I realise that on the town side of where that bridge used to be the canal has been filled in, and there's just grass.
      John Clayson


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