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Photographs from 1949 to the 1960s by Humphrey Platts

My Railway Photography

When a boy of seventeen I was given a Kodak VPK camera which used 127 film. This was in 1946, when photography was possible again after the Second World War had ended.

My railway photography began at Northwood in Middlesex, on the Metropolitan and Great Central Joint line from the London stations at Baker Street and Marylebone.  London Transport and the LNER shared the electrified tracks which ended at Rickmansworth, where ex-GCR 4-6-2 tank locomotives (A5s) then took LT trains on to Aylesbury.  The LNER ran both local and express trains on the GC, so main line engines were also photographed.  I also took many pictures of the GWR and LMS railway scene at Shrewsbury, and of the Southern Railway main line from Waterloo to Bournemouth.

In 1949 I came to Grantham to join the tannery company of Bjorlow (Great Britain) Ltd., and so I began to photograph the railways of this area.  I was familiar with the East Coast Main Line from visits to good vantage points between Potters Bar and Brookmans Park on the Middlesex/Hertfordshire border.  Here I could photograph trains coming from or going to places in 'the north'.  My camera at this time was a Voigtländer, taking 6 x 6 negatives on 120 black and white film.  Later I bought a second-hand Contax 35mm camera.  I did all my own developing and printing.

Some of my pictures were included in an exhibition at Grantham Guildhall to mark the 1952 Centenary of the opening of the ‘Towns Line’ railway through Grantham.

This report appeared in The Grantham Journal on 1st August 1952.
From The British Newspaper Archive

The earliest photographs in my collection date from 1949-50.  Inevitably they are mainly of the trains, but I hope that features of the station, the ‘Loco’, and the surrounding area make interesting comparison with later times and with the present.

Gonerby, Barkston and Peascliffe

A Nottingham to Grantham train leaving Gonerby Tunnel in March 1950 hauled by J6 0-6-0 No. 64237.

An up express, hauled by class V2 2-6-2 No. 60935 in BR black livery, is held by signals at Barkston South Junction. The 5th, 6th and 7th coaches are a 3-car articulated restaurant car set.

This photo shows Barkston Station, and it must have been taken at the time when I photographed V2 No. 60935 held at signals at Barkston South Junction, and then restarting past the station (these are the photographs above and below). I think it maybe is 60935 and its train visible in the far left distance in this picture. I cannot make out the number of the V2 passing on the down line. Note the hinged flaps over the buffers of one of the sidings in the foreground, provided for the end-loading of road vehicles onto wagons such as carriage trucks.
The up train which features in the previous two photographs gets under way again. Barkston station house, still standing today, is prominent above the rear coaches.

This permanent way maintenance train with J6 locomotive No. 64227 is on the down line, north of Peascliffe Tunnel, in the early 1950s.

A second view of the permanent way maintenance train with J6 No. 64227. Members of the gang stand aside for a passenger train on the up line, hauled by class V2 No. 60900.

A Lincoln to Grantham local train leaving Peascliffe Tunnel in August 1950, hauled by the last ex-GNR Atlantic in service, No. 62822 of Grantham shed.
Note the tall telegraph poles in use at this time - gone completely now!

A Boston to Grantham train leaving Peascliffe Tunnel in August 1950, hauled by ex-GCR 4-6-2 tank No. 69813 of class A5.
This class was very familiar to me in the 1940s on the Met & GC (Metropolitan and Great Central) line in Middlesex.

Class A3 pacific No. 60072 'Sunstar' leaving Peascliffe Tunnel with an up express.

The up ‘'Capitals Limited'’ leaving Peascliffe Tunnel hauled by class A4 No. 60024 'Kingfisher'. This train ran non-stop between Edinburgh Waverley and London King's Cross.

A class O3 2-8-0, thought to be No. 63485, is approaching Peascliffe Tunnel on the down line with empty coal wagons in 1950.

Grantham Station - main lines, running in from the north

Class B1 No. 61131 runs in with a train from Nottingham, while an unidentified V2 approaches the station on the up main line in the early 1950s. No. 61131 was based at Colwick shed in Nottingham between June 1949 and September 1952.
On the left is a lamp cabin, where oil lamps for the signals at the north end of the station were filled and trimmed.  The tall structure immediately to the right of the telegraph poles is part of the works of the Grantham Boiler & Crank Company.

A Leicester Belgrave Road to Grantham two-coach train approaching Grantham station in the early 1950s, hauled by class J6 0-6-0 No. 64231. Though this was a slow and little-used service, with withdrawal only a year or two away, the grimy Edwardian era locomotive is carrying the same express passenger lamp headcode as its more modern cousins dashing through the neighbouring platforms at high speed.  It was on account of this being a once per day service which ran non-stop from Melton Mowbray North and connected with 'The Flying Scotsman' at Grantham.
 Scroll down for a closer look at the left background...
Here we gain a glimpse of some of Grantham's industrial and railway history.
The buildings low down, nearest the camera, are on the far side of Harlaxton Road and were part of the steam plough works of Henry Yates & Co. in the 1870s-1880s.
Clustered around the tall chimney are the extensive grain mill buildings of Henry Bell & Co. (Grantham) Ltd. on Old Wharf Road. The company is still in business in Grantham although at a different site, on Dysart Road.
Behind the tallest of the mill buidings, and just to the left of the chimney, are the twin gables of the by-this-time roofless warehouse at Ambergate Yard, Grantham's original railway terminus. The top floor of the Ambergate station building is to its right, behind the building with the circular aperture in its gable end.
In the distance, far beyond the tall chimney, is the Phoenix Iron Works, built in the 1870s and at this time occupied by crane manufacturer R.H. Neal & Co. Ltd., whose name is painted on the roof.
BR 9F 2-10-0 No. 92177 of Doncaster shed (36A) approaching Grantham station with an up parcels train on Friday 6th September 1963. The driver views the platforms ahead from the cab window, while the smoky exhaust shows that the fireman has been busy adding coal so as to maintain steam pressure and speed on the five mile ascent to Stoke Summit.
This locomotive was completed at Crewe Works in March 1958 and spent all its short 6-year working life based at Doncaster shed.

The smoke had cleared when Brush Type 4 No. D1519 entered Grantham from the north on Friday 6th September 1963. The distant signal is '‘on'’ for the train to stop in the station.
The locomotive is carrying two oil-lit headlamps (one above each buffer) indicating a Class 1 express passenger train. On most diesels the headcode panel, equipped with four roller blinds showing a combination of numbers and letters and therefore conveying much more information, was supposed to have replaced the steam-age oil lamps. However, if the panel's indication was not to be relied upon resort was made to the old system.

Peppercorn class A2 No. 60539 'Bronzino' of Heaton shed in Newcastle entering Grantham with an up express.
On the left is Grantham North signal box. The brick base was originally built with windows but you can see that the window apertures have been filled with solid brickwork. This was carried out at the beginning of World War 2 to give additional protection to the locking frame in the event of air raids. The locking frame is a complex mechanical and electrical logic mechanism which occupies the space beneath the working floor of a signal box.  Essential for the safe operation of the many signals and points at complex and intensively worked locations such as the north end of Grantham station, it might take weeks to repair or replace had it been seriously damaged.

Grantham North signal box on Friday 6th September 1963 with a local diesel multiple unit train entering the Up bay, platform 1.
Above the far end of the signal box roof a lampman (or possibly a signals and telegraph fitter) is attending to the Nottingham line's starting signal.
There's also good detail of the Up bay starting signal and the rather ugly replacement electric lamp standard (in comparison with the shapely gas lamp posts evident in my earlier photographs).

Class O3 2-8-0 freight locomotive No. 63477 of Doncaster shed running through Grantham on the up main line in July 1950.

An up express entering Grantham hauled by class V2 No. 60974, based at York shed. On the left, three coaches are being shunted towards the carriage sidings.
Note the different pattern of platform lighting on the up and down platforms. This arose because the northern ends of the two platforms were built, altered and extended at different dates.

Class K3 2-6-0 No. 61821 of Colwick shed - 38A - passing through with an up coal train.
Evidence of the extended platforms noted above is visible in this view. The wall supporting the down platform, opposite, shows a change in alignment while, on the right, opposite the fourth wagon of the train, the platform ramps up slightly to the level of the newer section.

Grantham Station - departing for the south

K2 2-6-0 No. 61750 on a local train at the up main line platform, probably in the early 1950s. The K2 locos were known as 'Ragtimers'. They were the first new locomotive design to be developed by the Great Northern Railway after Nigel Gresley became the company's Locomotive Superintendent in 1911.  An interesting observation with reference to the disgracefully short 6-year lifespan of the 9F locomotive in a previous photograph is that No. 61750 was in service for more than 41 years!
The engine has 'COLWICK' painted on its front buffer beam, its home shed from 1935 until 8th January 1950. However, the oval plate on the smokebox door bears the code '40F' for Boston, its home shed after that date.
The single head lamp carried in front of the chimney indicates that the train is a stopping passenger service. The front coach has 'BOSTON' painted on the end.  So we can probably conclude that this is an 'all stations' service from Boston.
B12 4-6-0 No. 61553 at the up main line platform. The engine is carrying a 35B (Grantham) shedplate. It was based at Grantham shed from November 1949 until April 1957.

An ’Austerity’ 2-8-0 of class O7 with a southbound coal train has stopped on the up goods line just south of the A1 overbridge and is about to take water. The water tower on the left was one of three similar structures at Grantham - the others were next to Station Road and above the coal stage at the 'Loco', where there was also nearby a fourth, cylindrical tank associated with the water softening plant.
In the background is the Aveling Barford engineering factory where earthmoving equipment was made, much of which left Grantham by rail.

Grantham Station - departing for the north

The northbound 'Flying Scotsman'’ changing locos at Grantham. Grantham-based A3 No. 60053 'Sansovino' has brought the train from King's Cross. The crew is removing the headboard, which can just be seen on the right of the picture, so it can be placed on the locomotive which will take the train forward.

Class A3 No. 60080 'Dick Turpin' on the train ready to depart, with the same headboard in place. No. 60080 was based at Heaton shed in Newcastle at this time.
On the right is a gradient post, indicating level track through the station (which is normal, as a safety precaution so that vehicles cannot roll away by themselves) and 1 in 330, or 16 feet per mile, downhill to the north.

Thompson class A2/3 No. 60520 'Owen Tudor”' ready to leave platform 3 on a down express. At the time this locomotive was based at New England shed, Peterborough (35A).

Class A1 No. 60122 'Curlew' of King's Cross shed (34A shedplate, plus 'KING'S X' lettering on the bufferbeam) is ready to depart from Grantham northbound with train number 364.
The nameplate was fiited in July 1950, and the locomotive was carrying the early British Railways express passenger engine blue livery at this time.

Deltic D9020 'Nimbus' ready to depart on train 1A06, the 08.00 depature from London King's Cross for Edinburgh, 'The Talisman', on Friday 6th September 1963.

Deltic D9020 'Nimbus' leaves for the north with 'The Talisman', on Friday 6th September 1963.


An unidentified A4 Pacific heads the down '‘Capitals Limited'’ through Grantham.
To the left of the nearest lamp post we get an approaching driver's view of the tall co-acting signals at the south end of the station next to the Yard Box - through the haze of smoke drifting across the station and towards the southern part of the town from the Loco, 
Note that the two nearest platform lamp standards have no lamps attached.

Grantham Station - north bays and Western platform

In the foreground bridge No. 242 takes a pedestrian underpass beneath the north end of Grantham's platforms, linking Station Road with Huntingtower Road. It is really four bridges side-by-side, having been extended westward three times when additional platforms and tracks were added. This aperture, with its sturdy handrails, is a short gap between the second and third sections. It remains a feature of the station today.

Grantham station pilot C12 4-4-2 tank engine No. 67382. The work of a station pilot engine and its crew included shunting the carriage sidings, moving coaches needed for local trains between the sidings and the station, and attaching or detaching coaches and vans to/from main line trains.
This photograph includes a good outline of one type of lamp standard on the Western platform - platform 5 - and a silhouette of some detail of the overhead canopy of the bay platform, No. 4.
Three engines can be glimpsed on the shed in the left background, including a very clean B12 4-6-0. In the right background, behind the lamp post, is the cabin where 'foreign' locomotive crews would take their break while awaiting a return working.

Class J1 No. 65009 brings a two-coach train from Leicester Belgrave Road via Melton Mowbray North into the Western platform (platform 5) at Grantham in 1950. passing J6 No. 64237.

B12 No. 61553 in the up bay, platform 1, at about the same time as the photograph of the same engine in the main line platform.  Note the barrow loaded with mailbags, a common sight on the platforms at a time when much mail travelled by rail!

O2 2-8-0 No. 63936 is shunting with A4 No. 60015 'Quicksilver' at the north end of the station. It is possible that 63936 is being used to tow the A4 up and down the shed yard to build up boiler pressure, as described by Peter Wilkinson.
No. 60015 appears to be in early BR blue livery; if it is, this would place the date of the photograph between November 1949 and October 1951.
In the left background are various huts belonging to the engineer's department. It is said that some of these huts came from the First World War machine gun corps training camp at nearby Belton Park.
At far left. beyond the huts, the tall smoking chimney identifies the gas works near the canal basin. Coal was delivered to the gas works by rail using the branch from Barrowby Road junction to Ambergate Yard.
In the foreground, the main line tracks are both still laid in bullhead rail.

Grantham Station - goods line and Loco yard

J5 0-6-0 No. 65496 is performing a shunting movement towards the photographer. The shunt signal that applies to the line it is travelling on is raised, and the route indicator on the bracket beneath would be illuminated according to the setting of the points: carriage sidings, or up goods (occupied), or shunt line. The driver keeps a good lookout in the direction of travel.
The bracketed signal post in the foreground is the starting signal from the bay platform for the Nottingham line (left hand arm) or the main line. The disc signal behind and to its left permits a locomotive to leave the engine spur to take over a northbound train on the main line. All signals and points in this photograph were controlled by Grantham North signal box.

Ex-GNR 0-6-0 tank engine Class J52/1 (previously J53) as LNER No. 8801 on Grantham yard duty. This locomotive was taken out of use at Grantham in December 1950 after 53 years' service, and before it received its British Railways number 68801.
On the right is a fogman's hut. When brought into use in foggy weather or falling snow it was pushed upright and gave shelter to a man whose task was to place detonators (fog signals) on the rail whenever the adjacent signal was at danger or caution.  Thus a driver who missed the signal in the poor visibility received an audible warning by the sound of these small explosive charges being set off by the locomotive's wheels.  When the signal cleared the detonators had to be removed.

A1/1 Pacific No. 60113 'Great Northern' reversing off the shed at Grantham. The nameplate includes the coat of arms of the Great Northern Railway Company.
On the far left two spotters are sitting on a pile of telegraph poles.

Class D3 4-4-0 No. 62000 in LNER apple green livery, BR ‘Lion & Wheel’ emblem on the tender and BR smokebox numberplate. Class A1/1 No. 60113 'Great Northern' and an unidentified A4 are behind, on 'London Road' in the Loco yard.

Grantham ‘Loco’ in morning sunlight on Friday 6th September 1963, a few days before closure, with O2 ’Tango’ 2-8-0 engines, used on the ironstone trains from High Dyke, and a 'Peak' diesel-electric locomotive.
The tracks on which the four brake vans and the two O2 locos facing south are standing, and the pair of tracks between them, used to be covered by the four-road 'old shed', part of whose back wall can be seen just beyond the mineral wagon. The 'Peak' stands on a siding that was beside the shed, and is where the Grantham breakdown train used to be stabled.
Throughout the Loco yard electric lighting has replaced the old gas lamps which were visible in the 1950s. photographs.

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11 thoughts on “Photographs from 1949 to the 1960s by Humphrey Platts

  1. Joe Bell

    Love the pictures. I wonder if that is my grandad driving Great Northern? It was one he drove regularly. His name was William Bell, I don't suppose you would have any photos of him as I don't have any? He died when I was very young, on the footplate just before Christmas. If you have any info on my grandad I would be very interested.

    1. Humphrey Platts

      Hello Joe
      I am glad to know that you like the pictures! Thank you for your words about your grandad driving "Great Northern". I regret that I do not have a photo of him for you. Perhaps someone will read this who does know of a photo. I found a picture of this rebuilt engine at King's Cross in 1946 in LNER livery and its then '4470' number.

  2. Peter Nicholson

    Humphrey Platts' pictures at Barkston and Grantham bring back fond memories, especially the shot of of Barkston station and the branch waiting room from the Jericho Wood goods yard gate.
    Also V2 60935, being held next to the slow road from which Mallard had started its world record breaking run several years earlier; and Atlantic 62822, the only atlantic to ever have a smokebox number.
    Happy memories.

    1. TracksthroughGrantham1

      Hello Peter,
      Thanks very much for your recent contribution. I'll tell Humphrey you've been in touch; the shot of Barkston station was a very recent 'find' of his.
      John Clayson

  3. Kevin Williams

    Superb photographs. Great to see Grantham station and Barkston junction station as they used to be in the early 60s. Hopefully more such photos will follow.

  4. Stephen Wallwork

    Some superb photos by Humphrey Platts bringing back lots of memories of my spotting days at Grantham.

    I moved to Melbourne Australia in the early '90s but still visit the UK when I can.

    I made a special trip back when the "Great Gathering" of A4's took place.

  5. Kenn Pearce

    Your shot of station pilot 67382 is magic - the positioning of the engine with the ornate station canopy and all, makes this a very artistic set up. Well done, especially with the photographic constraints of the era in which it was recorded!

  6. Tony Teperek

    Great pictures of a wonderful era for the steam enthusiast. Love the early 50s stuff, well before my time! Just one error to point out, in the picture of 65496 you state that it is a J6 when it is in fact a J5.

    1. TracksthroughGrantham1

      Hello Tony. Thank you for your kind comment about Tracks through Grantham. We've amended 65496's caption - and well spotted, because the page has been 'live' for more than 7 years and no one's picked up the mistake until now.
      Kind regards,
      John Clayson

  7. Humphrey Platts

    Just seen Tony's recent comment on my steam era photos. I enjoy looking at them again too. I am now 94 years old.

    Humphrey Platts.


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