by Mel Smith and John Clayson.
Rob Taylor was born in Nottingham in 1943 and from an early age he had a keen interest in railways. At about the same time that Rob came into the world a certain Mr Ian Allan’s well known trainspotting guides, officially known as ABCs, appeared in the shops for the first time. When he was old enough Rob, like many other boys of his age, had his own ABC and he thoroughly enjoyed the growing pastime of trainspotting that was so prevalent during the 1950s. As well as noting down the numbers of the engines he spotted he also took quite a few photographs, and a selection can be seen here.
At about the age of 10 his Grandpa bought him a cine camera and took him to view and film the busy railway scene at two local railway stations, Nottingham Midland and Nottingham Victoria.
Later, when Rob ventured further afield with his friend Colin, he would often visit Grantham to see the great express trains passing through the station. Not being satisfied with photography alone he sometimes took along his prized cine camera to capture some of the action. Thanks to Rob’s family we have been granted permission to show you some of his footage via this website, following conversion to a digital format. So please enjoy this trip back in time with a selection of clips taken from Rob Taylor’s cine films. If, like Rob, you also took photographs or indeed cine film at Grantham and would like them to be included in a future gallery as part of this website then please get in touch with us using the Contact Form on our Contact Us or Subscribe page.
For the best effect click the 'Enter full screen' button near bottom right of each clip.
Expresses through Grantham
Rob is at the south end of platform 5 to catch an A1 pacific dashing south with an express passenger train. Then we have a brief shot of the main lines receding into the distance before he takes up position to film an A4, possibly No. 60025 Falcon, approaching at speed with a northbound 12-coach express which includes three catering vehicles. Coaches three and four are a Buffet Restaurant Car and a Restaurant Car, while another Buffet Restaurant Car brings up the rear.
46245 City of London
On Sunday 9th June 1963 the Home Counties Railway Society organised a 12-coach excursion which brought No. 46245 City of London from its Camden base on the West Coast Main Line to King's Cross for a trip to Doncaster and back.
Rob was at Grantham to film the returning Doncaster Special, scheduled to pass through at 5.32pm. The beautifully cleaned maroon-liveried pacific rolls into the station at a stately pace and accelerates away. There don't appear to be many onlookers. This is a rare, possible unique, film record of this locomotive's visit to Grantham.
The same society planned to bring sister locomotive No. 46256 Sir William A. Stanier F.R.S. to the East Coast Main Line on 4th October 1964 for an excursion from London to York. With the tour in prospect 46256 had been spared withdrawal with its remaining classmates the previous month, but on the day it was not available and 'Britannia' No. 70020 Mercury hauled the train.
With thanks to the Six Bells Junction website for details of the two excursions. A full-page account of these trips appeared in the April 2000 issue of Steam World magazine (page 6), including a photo of No. 46245 at Doncaster shed on 9th June 1963, and there's half a page of follow-up discussion in the May 2000 issue (page 7). In the February 2000 issue (page 7) there is a photograph of No. 70020 at Grantham on 4th October 1964. Back issues may be obtainable from the Vintage Carriages Trust.
Express Freight and Express Passenger
Rob films a V2 locomotive from the south end of platform 3 as it runs through the station with a Class 6 express freight, the fireman keeping watch from his side of the cab. The train heads south, passing another spotter who has probably taken a photograph and is busy winding on the film.
Moving to the north end of the station an A4 speeds past the North Box with an Up 12-coach express which includes a Restaurant Car and a Buffet Car.
Rob pans the camera to feature the station nameboard on the Up main line platform, in British Railways (Eastern Region) dark blue enamel. The railway houses on Station Road are in the left background, the detached Stationmaster's house being the nearest.
The White Rose
Rob is still busy filming the station nameboard, perhaps intending to use it as lead-in title for a film show, when the main line signal beyond the North Box is cleared by the signalman for a stopping service. Getting into position, Rob prepares to film an A4 as it approaches round the curve.
The train headboard, carried just below the locomotive's chimney, is sufficiently distinct for it to be recognised as The White Rose, a mid-afternoon service from Bradford and Leeds to London. It had two portions which combined at Wakefield and it called at Grantham between 5.30 and 6.00pm, depending on the year and season. When launched in 1949 The White Rose was described as 'A Restaurant Car Express' and it clearly remained so in the early 1960s, the 4th and 5th coaches being a Restaurant Car and a Buffet Restaurant Car respectively.
When the last coach passes out of shot Rob hurries down to the south end of the station just in time to catch the train departing. The locomotive is now identified as No. 60025 Falcon. The porthole window on the rear corner of the tender shows that it is one of the tenders built with a corridor connection between footplate and train to facilitate non-stop services between King's Cross and Edinburgh. It allowed a relief crew to take over at the halfway point without stopping.
In this compilation, just short of 90 seconds in length, Rob has captured the variety of railway activity which attracted him and so many others to Grantham station up to the early 1960s.
First we see A1 No. 60119 Patrick Stirling getting away for the north. The driving wheels slip for a moment, but the driver keeps the situation well in hand. The train's momentum carries it over a greasy section of rail and power is reapplied. Colour cine film was costly and Rob doesn't have enough to keep filming as the train moves away, but there is a brief concluding shot as it disappears round the curve towards Barrowby Road.
Turning around, a WD class heavy freight locomotive exits the shed yard. The shed exit signal beyond, with the upper of its three stacked arms raised, shows that the loco's headed for the Nottingham line.
Next, a class 8 freight train approaches with grimy B1 locomotive No. 61150 of Sheffield (Darnall) shed. Rob pans round to follow the locomotive. At top left the shot shows a 'splitting' banner repeater signal. The signal repeated the indication of the junction signal at Grantham Yard signal box at the south end of the station. Watch again, and you'll see the left arm pivot from the 'off' (clear) position to 'on', just after the engine has passed. The cleared signal had informed the driver that the route at the Yard Box was set to the left, onto the goods line, and it explains the train's steady approach. Travelling on the goods line would keep it out of the way of faster traffic on the climb to Stoke tunnel, and perhaps enable the locomotive to take water at one of the water columns south of the station. The shot is nicely framed, using the 'functional architecture' of the water column to create foreground interest.
Finally, we see what is assumed to be part of an engine change as A2/3 No. 60520 Owen Tudor moves forward on the Up Main line before reversing over a crossover south of the platforms and passing on the Down Main line though platform 3, on its way to the shed via the junctions at the North Box. There's quite a decent glimpse of the fireman - does anyone recognise him?
All this action packed into 87 seconds!