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Above: We couldn't resist this seasonal picture.  Grantham driver Jim Ledger and fireman Benny Kirk were on the footplate of No. 2551 Prince Palatine on Monday 9th March 1931 setting out from London King's Cross.  See below under A Grantham Crew’s Miraculous Escape.
(From The LNER Magazine, with acknowledgement to the LNER as publisher and with kind permission from the Great Eastern Railway Society. The Society has funded and organised the magazine's digitisation.  The digital copy can be ordered as a 2-DVD set here)

Hello all,

With most of us 'confined to barracks' there's never been a better time to extend and update the website!  There's a new page, and several pages have been improved and updated with more information and images.

Click on the titles for direct links.

A New Page

Some Men Who Saw It All: six Grantham drivers of the 1920s

In February 1930 The LNER Magazine published a photograph of six Grantham drivers who had retired during 1929.  The men were proudly posed together at a retirement presentation. 

It seemed to us that behind this photograph there are six stories of working life on the railway.  Potentially, the men's careers on the footplate might span a period from the 'Races to the North' of 1888 and 1895, conducted in relays using locomotives such as the GNR Stirling 'Singles',  to the non-stop Flying Scotsman introduced in 1928 between London and Edinburgh and made possible by the LNER Class A3 'Super Pacifics'.

Using accounts written by authors Harold Bonnett and Rev. Arthur Cawston, who became well acquainted with several of the men, and archives accessible to us on line in modern times, we think we've gained something of an insight into four decades or so of footplate work at Grantham, from the 1880s to the 1920s.

Revised Pages

Highdyke to Westborough in Fifty Pictures: photographs by Tom Boustead

This very popular page was launched in April 2020 as Highdyke to Hougham in Fifty Pictures, when it attracted a record number of appreciative comments.  Tom has worked with Steve Philpott to identify and scan more of his favourite photographs, extending the range north from Hougham to Westborough and featuring a wider variety of views.

Great Ponton Signal Box

Launched in August 2020, we have recently added information about two collisions inside Stoke Tunnel in the 1850s which led to Great Ponton station having a role in signalling through the tunnel.  Jim Chesney has kindly allowed the use of some splendid photographs from the 1930s, and the Saltersford Up main line auto signals receive an overdue write-up.

A Grantham Crew’s Miraculous Escape

Another find in The LNER Magazine is a great photograph of a Grantham crew's departure from King's Cross taken by a photographer from The Times on a snowy March morning in 1931.  The crew were driver Jim Ledger who happened to be a younger brother of Walter Ledger, one of the retiring drivers in the photograph noted above, and fireman Benny Kirk.

Thirty years later, in December 1961, Benny was the driver in charge of one of the trains involved in a disastrous multiple collision near Wood Walton.  We've added the 1931 photograph to our page about that collision, along with a recently discovered LNER circular of 1928 which demonstrates the enduring importance of the Aberdeen meat train which Benny Kirk was driving in 1961.

A quite co-incidental connection is that one of our retiring drivers of 1929, Joe Wright, was born at Wood Walton in 1864.


We always appreciate feedback, so we hope you'll dip further into the site from time to time and let us know what you think, using either the Leave a Reply section, which appears at the bottom of most pages, or our Contact Form.

In the July 2020 Tracks through Grantham Newsletter there were three articles which were specially prepared for first publication in printed format.

We've just transferred them onto new website pages listed below.  Each article has been revised and updated to take on board information we've received since their appearance in the Newsletter.


We are always very pleased to receive feedback, so if you'd like to add to, or comment on, something you see on the Tracks through Grantham site you can use the 'Comment' box, which appears on most pages under Leave a ReplyComments normally appear as part of the page after we have moderated them.

For more general feedback and enquiries there is a Contact Form on this page .  If you submit a Contact Form we will get back to you by email as quickly as we can.

We are unable to publish an email address on the site for the purpose of initial contact because, unfortunately, it would encourage spam.

Let's forget today's bothersome restrictions on travel for a while and get out and about again in the Tracks through Grantham Tardis.

Richard's Cumming's latest highly entertaining article describes how, in 1956, the arrival of his new bike stimulated an eagerness to push the boundaries of youthful exploration well beyond the horizon of his home town of Grantham.

His first ventures were to the relatively close-at-hand surroundings of local towns and countryside, exploring rumours of unfamiliar breeds of locomotive to be seen on their native territory.  Ultimately, though, the call of far-away engines with strange-sounding names (and numbers) led Richard to the uncharted lands of the West Midlands and Shropshire.

We're sure you'll enjoy travelling with Richard on trips that were inspired by an interest which took root during his earlier enjoyment of the railway scene around Grantham.

If, by way of introduction, you'd first like to read (or to re-read) Richard's previous accounts of Grantham-based spotting adventures, they are here:

There's a link at the end of the first page to take you forward to the next, and then on to the new article.

Or you can go straight to the new page, in which case why not dust off that old bike and get pedalling out of lockdown to share the excitement of Richard and his friends in Train Spotting Bicycle Trips away from Grantham.

(…and don't worry, he'll wait for us to catch up on the hills.)


 

A new addition to our Tracks through Grantham 'Diesel Era' section is another entertaining account by Steve Philpott, this time recalling several Deltic hauled trips. Using his unique blend of personal observation, with a sprinkling of technical background, Steve looks back at a selection of runs diligently recorded on the stretch of line between Grantham & Newark. These recordings were made on the King’s Cross to York / Hull semi-fast services towards the end of the Deltic fleet's BR careers. You can read more of this here

We have added some new content to our 'Diesel Era' pages, this time looking back to the late 1950s, when as part of their modernisation plan, British Railways carried out a series of main line tests with a prototype diesel electric locomotive - ‘Deltic’ which had been built by English Electric. The production fleet that followed as a result of these tests came into operation from 1961 onwards, taking over a variety of steam hauled services. They were initially numbered D9000 to D9021 and transformed express services to and from London King’s Cross along the ECML. Later they were renumbered with the class prefix - 55, but we still referred to them as 'Deltics'.  Our aim here is to only provide a brief potted history of the class, thus providing a starting point for specific 'Grantham related' 'Deltic' stories that will follow in the future. You can read more here.

Edinburgh Haymarket-based A3 60100 Spearmint was a bit of a rare sight as far south as our Tracks through Grantham territory, so when the locomotive turned up in two separate stories recently sent in by Alan Wilce and Roger Bamber we were tempted to rename 60100 as Doublemint!  However, having chewed it over, we decided to keep things as they were, so hopefully our two new pages in 'Spotters’ Corner' from Roger and Alan will bring a breath of fresh air for our readers.

So join 13-year-old Roger Bamber on Grantham station in 1958, having travelled by bike over the hilly A607 from Leicester.  When opportunities arise to capture some Haymarket Rarities on film, Roger is ready with his camera.  One of the images is a photograph that helped to determine his career.

Then join Alan Wilce in 1960.  Alan arrived from Melton Mowbray in his parents' car.  His records were taken with pencil and notepad rather than film and now, with his Ian Allan ABC 'Combined Volume', his memories and some archive timetables, Alan re-creates for us the excitement of a 3-hour Summer Evening Visit to Grantham in 1960 during which 60100 Spearmint made another rare appearance at the station. 

 

We've said before that often we don't know where the inspiration for the next new page for Tracks through Grantham will appear from.  We have items 'in the pipeline' all the time but, quite regularly, someone will get in touch with a surprise discovery.  Just a few weeks ago a copy of a magazine titled Locomotive Express revealed a previously unknown (to us) account of a regular day's work for a No. 1 Express Link crew at Grantham Loco in 1950.

So prepare to get grit in your hair, and organise a nice warm bath for when you get home, as we travel 326 miles in one shift with a Grantham crew on our latest page All in a Day's Work.

Our latest page explores a little-known piece of equipment on Grantham station.

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Above: Peascliffe Tunnel as depicted on the 1903 six-inch OS map, with the ventilation shaft indicated.

Jeff Thompson has always kept a close eye on the railway, especially in the Peascliffe area.  Last Wednesday, 30th September, among the trees above the tunnel, work was taking place on the brick chimney above the ventilation shaft:

The protective grille was being removed so that a new, more enclosed cover could be fitted which will better prevent debris etc. falling in.
Photograph by Jeff Thompson.

Yesterday, the smart new cover was in place:

By Sunday 4th October the job appeared to be complete.
Photograph by Jeff Thompson.

Jeff says "All ready for Royal Ascot Ladies Day!!   There's a very different sound from passing trains, but I haven't yet heard a 'Streak'."

In October 2019 we published a page of photographs taken by Colin Walker when he was a guest on the footplate of an O2 locomotive during a wintry trip from Grantham up to Highdyke Yard.  The driver that day was Sam Pearce.

Sam's grandson, Chris, has recently been in touch to share some memories of his grandfather Sam - a name which, in common with at least one other driver at Grantham known as 'Sam', wasn't actually his real name as you'll discover when you turn to our latest new page.