Tracks through Grantham have recently been in touch with Phil Wilson who lived in Grantham until the late 1960s. Phil has kindly allowed TTG the opportunity to share some of his photographs and detailed notes made during many spotting trips around the area in the early 1960s. This is the latest page to be added to our Spotters Corner section. If you have a story of your own, then please do get in touch. You can visit Phil's page here
When it comes to Grantham's association with the railway, Tracks through Grantham is one of many sources available. We aim to signpost other people's work recording and presenting the railway history of the town so, for example, there are lists of books, articles in magazines etc. here.
On the Internet, the saying 'other websites are also available' is as true for Grantham railway interest as it is for soap powder or chocolate bars, and below are links to pages which have appeared on the Grantham Matters website over the past six months since the beginning of November.
There isn't much information with some of the photos, so we've done some research and added notes. Most of the photos can be seen much more clearly by using your browser's 'zoom' function to magnify the page.
- The top picture appears to be the removal of weathered and degraded stone from the east side of Great Ponton Cutting, between Great Ponton station and Highdyke. When the cutting here was widened on that side for the new Up Goods line, in about 1875, it's likely that its side was left as a steep rock face. We got in touch with Richard Cumming who says, 'The top layers of Lincolnshire Limestone (which this is) are very weathered, i.e. loose and open, compared with the thicker solid seams down below. As a result they are prone to the actions of frost and rain. I think the men are dealing with a landslip, or a potential landslip, and have been removing all loose material from the side of the cutting leaving the rough, exposed uneven face of more solid material seen in the photo.'
The words on the side of the wagon are G N BALLAST WAGON NORTH DISTRICT.
Here and here are links to two later photos which show the same site – perhaps just a few yards further south - after the cutting sides had been graded back.
- We are sure that the lower picture is in the same locality. There was a bridge here, shown on maps dated c.1904, and it would be numbered Overbridge 232 in the civil engineer's records. The maps also show signal posts in the same locations; these would be starting signals for Great Ponton box, Up Main and Up Goods.
- This photograph is captioned 'Future Prime Minister Anthony Eden entering Grantham station in 1951'.
The Grantham Journal reports Anthony Eden passing through the station on Tuesday 10th April 1951 to catch the 9.30am to London, having attended an event at Nottingham the previous evening.
Eden is on the right; on the left is Harold Scampion, Grantham Station Master from 1947 to 1963; in the centre is Stanley Hodgkins, Grantham Division Conservative party agent. In the background is the now long-gone Station Inspector's house, No. 9 Station Road.
At this time Eden was in opposition, but he had held important government posts during the 1930s and 1940s including twice being Foreign Secretary, to which post he would again be appointed, in October 1951, in the post-war Churchill government. Anthony Eden succeeded Winston Churchill as Prime Minister from April 1955 until January 1957.
- Waiting for the Flying Scotsman Pullman on a Sunday, either 6th or 13th March 1983.
- What the folk on the platform were waiting for. The top photo was at Stoke tunnel, not Peascliffe.
We hope everyone's keeping well. This update will keep you up to speed with the most recent news on the Tracks through Grantham front as we wait for warmer, longer days and the prospect of some kind of normality returning.
New and Updated Website Pages
- Grantham station's new Booking Office of 1963 - a slightly extended version of the feature in Newsletter No. 10 of December 2020, with the benefit of some very welcome feedback from readers;
- the Grantham Railway Disaster of 19th September 1906 had calamitous consequences for the Robertson family as they travelled home to Scotland. There's a new page about how the fateful journey unfolded and its dreadful outcome here.
An Updated Page:
About halfway down the above page we have a report from the front page of The Grantham Journal of 17th July 1942 about the retirement of one of the signalmen:
Arthur Chalkley retires, 32 years a South Box Signalman
The report outlines Arthur's very active working and home life, leading us to ponder "What wouldn't we give to have an opportunity to talk to men like Arthur Chalkley, born in Great Ponton, railway signalman, NUR local branch secretary, Town Councillor, and much more besides."
Thanks to 'Google' the page was discovered recently by one of Arthur Chalkley's granddaughters. She has been in touch and sent us a wonderful family photograph which we have added beneath the newspaper report.
Further research has revealed that Rosamond Chalkley, Arthur's wife, was also active in local circles and in the mid-1930s she was president of the Grantham Branch of the NUR Women’s Guild (for the wives and daughters of railwaymen). We hope to have more in future.
A New Page in Preparation
On another front, our quest to encourage former Grantham spotters to tell us about their personal stories of visits to the station and other local railway locations has resulted in another set of nostalgic memories being passed over to us. This time Phil Wilson has sent over some of his notes and photographs that were taken by himself in and around the Grantham area during the early 1960s. These notes are currently being pieced together in readiness for a new article that will appear in ‘Spotters' Corner’ so please do look out for it.
Here's a taster...
If you have not already done so, make sure you get an early personal notification from us when it is published, by subscribing. It’s free and very easy to do from the Contact Us or Subscribe page.
LNER and BR(E) Staff Magazines
A few years ago, as part of our ongoing research, we purchased two very useful DVDs from the Great Eastern Railway Society. The first DVD covers The LNER Magazine from 1927 to 1947, with the second one covering The British Railways (Eastern Region) Magazine from 1948 to 1963. These magazines contain an absolute wealth of information and after many months of painstaking work going through the numerous pages, we have now managed to extract all references to people and incidents that have a connection with Grantham. This also includes the other local stations that are situated within the boundaries of our Tracks through Grantham territory. To hopefully aid future research when developing new pages for the website, this information has been successfully transferred to a comprehensive searchable spreadsheet.
Grantham Station Buildings in Commercial Use
Various rooms in Grantham's station buildings are being used for commercial purposes these days.
Back in April 2016 the former First Class Waiting Room was converted into an estate agent’s office. It's been out of use again for a while, but there's currently a move to change it into a café .
The Whistle Stop micro pub opened in the old Parcels Office in November 2019. Currently it's closed on account of government restrictions, but we gather they hope to reopen their 'Platform Beer Garden' on 12th April.
Perhaps more unused areas of the station will find new roles in the future.
A Recent Magazine Article
If you've seen Steam World Issue 405, March 2021, you may have seen that there's some local interest:
- the cover photo is of Grantham's A3 No. 60056 Centenary at York in 1959;
- on pages 24-29 there's a feature by Nigel Harris titled Around Stoke Bank... It's a selection of black and white photos from the late 1950s and the mid-1960s, all taken by Philip Wells at a variety of locations between Essendine and Grantham.
Something you may be able to do for us...
While using the website, if you notice anything that needs putting right (such as a link that no longer goes to its intended destination, or something that's inaccurate or out-of-date) please send us a note. The site has become so extensive that we aren't able to carry out 'housekeeping checks' on every page as regularly as we used to. More pairs of eyes will be very welcome. Please use either the Leave a Reply form, which appears on most pages, or the Contact Form on this page.
With best wishes to everyone as we hopefully all 'spring forward',
John Clayson and Mel Smith
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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 Reply. Comments 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.