by John Clayson
This was a full day out, because w
e travelled to Grantham in the morning by train r ather than the more usual afternoon trip on the 12 o'clock mid-day bus .
The dated tickets below have survived to show that we left from Leicester (London Road) for Nottingham (Midland), then walked across the city to Nottingham (Victoria) for the Grantham train. We c
ould have avoided that ¾-mile transfer on foot between stations by u sing the Great Central (GC) line from Leicester (Central) to Nottingham (Vic.), but services to Nottingham on the GC weren't as frequent as they were on the Midland line.
These are the outward halves of three of the four tickets from this trip. To prevent fraud, railway ticket collectors were instructed to insist that passengers surrender used tickets (including the outward half of return tickets) on reaching their destination. On our trips Dad would sometimes ask "Can the lad keep his ticket please?" and often the man would wave us through the barrier with a smile, and sometimes a "You'll get me into trouble, son." On this occasion that may have happened at Nottingham (Midland), because only the child ticket has survived. We didn't leave the platforms at Grantham, so both Dad's and my outward Nottingham to Grantham ticket halves could be retained as souvenirs of the day.
This, so far as I remember, was my first experience of Nottingham (Victoria) station. I remember us buying the tickets from one of the windows in the large and ornate booking hall at street level. After having them inspected and being informed of the departure platform we emerged, high above the tracks, onto a footbridge beneath an expansive roof, and descended a grand flight of stairs to the platforms.
Digressing slightly, until 1953 there were direct trains to Grantham from a station which was just five minutes' walk from our home: Leicester (Belgrave Road), the 'GN station'. T
here was only one service each day and we'd have ambled through the countryside of High Leicestershire and the Vale of Belvoir in a couple of elderly coaches, most likely hauled by an equally ancient 'J1' locomotive as seen arriving at Grantham in the photograph below taken by Humphrey Platts.
Class J1 No. 65009, on the right with the taller chimney, 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. Photograph taken by Humphrey Platts.
At the end of 1953 this meagre service was withdrawn. T
he bus route between Leicester's St Margaret's Bus Station and Grantham via Melton Mowbray became t he sole direct link by public transport. It was provided, alternately, by the green buses of Lincolnshire Road Car and the red ones of the 'Midland Red' which, in the early 1960s, departed on the hour from either end of the route.
On this day we must have made quite an early start because some of the first photographs at Grantham were taken at around 11am. (I've worked this out by deducing the position of the sun from shadows and using a website to calculate the time of day.) So I imagine we left home before 9 and began our rail journey as soon as cheap day return tickets became valid.
Spotting with Mother
We're on Grantham station's platform 3, near the south end of the main range of buildings. Considering the viewpoint, and the not-quite-perfect framing of the shot, I suspect that the picture was taken with the camera aimed from the waist without using the viewfinder, so as not to alert the subjects. I wonder what it has taken to persuade Mum (presumably, of at least one of the three boys) to take these lads to a railway station and sit for an hour or two on an old wooden platform trolley in the company of a couple of tail lamps? She's wearing an inappropriately light-coloured coat for the occasion too. We might imagine that the letter she's writing begins something like: "Here I am on Grantham station. We're not going anywhere, but the boys are having a great time trainspotting. They want to stay all day, but I think we'll be leaving after we've seen 'The Flying Scotsman' come through!" This picture reminds me of my earliest interest in railways, when my mother would sit on a bench beside the River Soar at St Margaret's Pasture, Leicester, with her writing pad and her knitting while we waited for trains to pass by on the Great Central line.
Grantham's B1 'Flier', No. '1389
A nice portrait of a 'B1'in the mid-day sun, a southbound local freight train hauled by No. 61389 of Grantham 'Loco' (motive power depot). Years later, in 2010, I heard a story about this engine from Roy Vinter, a former Grantham fireman and a correspondent on the LNER Encyclopedia website: "Looks like a pick-up goods with one lamp over the LH buffer, although we weren't too fussed, so long as there was a lamp one side or the other. '1389 was renowned at the time as a 'flier', a particularly free running engine. I recall one day on it with Driver George Taylor. We coupled up to an express going north with a Deltic on the front of us on which the steam heating boiler had failed. So we were there really just to heat the train. Old George remarked on the reputation of 1389, but nobody would have been as fast on it as we were that day, he reckoned. The Deltics were very powerful of course, and he [its driver] was no doubt making time up. It was difficult to keep the fire in with all the draught and not having much work for the engine to do." That's my head intruding at bottom left. I could have 'Photoshopped' it away in a few minutes, but it's not the kind of picture editing I would be happy with. This gives me the opportunity to comment that the only digital processing I've done on these photographs is the removal of scratches, spots and other blemishes, plus straightening verticals when necessary and balancing tone and colour. All the pictures are full frame scans. Dad only used lenses of fixed focal length, carrying two or three in his 'gadget bag'. He didn't rate the zoom lenses of the day for quality. The viewfinder was separate optically from the lens (i.e. it was not an SLR camera); a frame appeared in the viewfinder which outlined the field of view of the lens attached at the time.
The Three Straws
A candid shot of a family on a train journey. For many of us in the 1960s the school holidays meant a trip by train, perhaps to our holiday destination or on a day out with the family. This group appears to be well equipped with games, comics and - as a special treat - a can of Coke to share, with a straw for each of the kids. I love the young lad's cheeky expression as he sees my father with his camera. The girls are quietly occupied while Mum, in the background on the left, appears to be desperate to reach their destination! If you recognise the family in this photograph we'd love to hear from you. This picture side-tracked me into researching Coke can history! Coke first became generally available in 'flat top' cans in 1960, according to the (American) Collectible Soda Cans website. The can seen here on the table appears to be of the 'final large diamond' type which, the site tells us, 'is ... a very desirable can today and can be pretty challenging to locate in high grade.' So if you happen to find one of these cans you could make a collector of historic soda cans very happy! These cans were made from steel (tinplate) - see the example here made in the UK by The Metal Box Company. Aluminium ring-pull technology was then only just being developed. To consume the contents one or two holes could be punched in the top with a special tool, either one hole in the middle, for a single straw, or two holes near the side - a larger hole for drinking and a smaller one, opposite, to allow air to enter. The three straws in the picture neatly demonstrate that this can had been punched with two holes.
The Flying Scotsman
Train 1A35, the 10:00 from Edinburgh to London King's Cross 'The Flying Scotsman', is passing through platform 2 (today's platform 1) at speed, hauled by Deltic locomotive No. D9009 'Alycidon' which was based at Finsbury Park traction maintenance depot in north London. Signs of a special finish are visible on D9009, for example the locomotive's silver-painted buffers and coupling link. Two months earlier, Monday 18th June 1962 had been a special day on the East Coast Main Line. It marked the launch of the 1962 summer timetable, when Deltic locomotives were scheduled to take over all the top expresses, and 1962 was also the centenary year of the 'Flying Scotsman' train service. Several of the Deltics were specially turned out for the day's services, including D9009 which was the standby locomotive for 'The Elizabethan' and 'The Flying Scotsman' trains out of King's Cross. In 1949 the racehorse Alycidon, owned by the 17th Earl of Derby, won the Ascot Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup, the Corporation Stakes and the Doncaster Cup. The continuation of the racehorse theme for the names of the London-based 'Deltic' diesel locomotives gave them a connection with their steam predecessors. For example, in Alycidon's bloodline were St. Simon and Minoru, the names of two class A1/A3 steam locomotives built in the 1920s still in service at this time and regularly seen at Grantham. Suspended from the platform canopy above the young porter pulling a trolley laden with mailbags is a start indicator sign, with an electric bell mounted above; both were part of a system used for train despatch. The sign and bell were operated by a stationary train's Guard using a plunger (a push-contact electric switch) fitted to one of the lamp posts at the north end of the platform. Pressing the plunger illuminated the sign to show a letter 'S', which signalled to the platform staff at the south end that platform duties were complete and authorised the Station Inspector there to give the 'right away' signal to the Driver. It replaced the guard's flag (or, during darkness, their lamp) and whistle, which might be difficult for drivers to see and hear along a crowded platform. The locomotive is passing over a boarded foot crossing that was continually in use by station staff. There were steel footsteps in the platform wall, and a sign under the edge of each platform which said, ‘UNAUTHORISED PERSONS MUST NOT USE THIS CROSSING’. On the left one of the lads seen in the first photo watches from platform 3. D9009 still exists. After it was withdrawn on 2nd January 1982 it was preserved by The Deltic Preservation Society and is normally based at its Barrow Hill depot, near Chesterfield.
Waiting for a Train
The shadow cast by the fence on the left reveals that by now the time is around 3pm. These two photographs were taken at the north end of the Down platform. The six men are locomotive crew waiting to take over northbound trains, or maybe to travel back to their home depot 'on the cushions' (i.e. in the train), having finished their footplate turn at Grantham. None of the men have been recognised as Grantham crew. They are therefore most likely from one or more of Doncaster, York, Leeds or Newcastle. One of the men on the left appears to have a cap badge with a tangerine-coloured background, signifying BR's North Eastern Region. The wooden shed beyond the men has ‘Royal Box’ scratched on the door. It was a small store where spares were kept by the Carriage & Wagon Examiners, such things as vacuum brake and steam heating flexible connections for readiness in case of a fault on a train. Behind the shed was a rack for the wooden screens that were used to close off the open end of the corridor gangway of a leading coach to prevent a potential deluge of water into the front of the train when refilling the locomotive's tender at speed on water troughs. If you have five minutes to spare at Grantham today you too can probably take a lean on that LNER-branded metal fence because I believe it's still there - it was when I last checked a few years back.
The Sheffield Pullman
A southbound six-coach Pullman train, probably 'The Sheffield Pullman', has called at platform 2 and two of the train's Pullman stewards can be seen on the platform. In the right background, not in uniform, is the imposing figure of Station Master Harold Scampion. Nearer to the camera is Station Inspector Joe Hardacre wearing his uniform and gold braided peaked hat. Active in local politics, Joe had been Mayor of Grantham in 1953-54. He retired in November 1963, having worked on the railway since he was demobilised after World War 1. Harold Scampion also retired in 1963. On the left, wearing a red shirt, is Porter Denis Bainbridge. The short lengths of chain fitted to each of the cast iron roof support pillars are for securing barrows and trolleys that are not in use, to prevent them accidentally running onto the track. Pullman Car 'Opal', on the left, is a First Class Parlour Car built in 1960. Today it is preserved on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and is in regular service as part of its Pullman Diner Train .
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Sixty years and counting: Grantham station photographs on their diamond anniversary.
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