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Thursday 31st August 1961

This is the earliest trip to Grantham station that I have evidence for, which is in the form of these photographs.  I was just turned 7 at the time but I can't remember being there, so it could be that Dad went by himself on an initial 'recce' visit to explore the photographic opportunities

Dad clearly was pleased with these Kodachrome transparencies because he set them in glazed mounts for entry into camera club competitions, and I remember him using them in occasional slide shows.  The mounts were good for preserving the transparencies in good condition, because the glass protected the delicate film from both accidental damage and the intense heat of the projector lamp.  However, in the process of re-mounting the original Kodak card mounts were discarded.  The processing lab usually stamped the month/year of processing and a sequential number (from 1 up to to 36 or 37 exposures) on the mounts.  So this information was lost, giving me a problem when I came to research the pictures because I had little information from which I could begin to deduce the potential date, and I had no idea of the order in which the photos were they taken.  I wasn't even certain that they were all from the same trip.

To cut a long story short,  back in 2009 contributors to the LNER Encyclopedia forum kindly shared with me their detailed knowledge of daily workings over the ECML.  This, along with frame numbers I found on the film edges after I removed the transparencies from the glazed mounts, has enabled a date to be assigned and the order confirmed.  The discussion on the forum can be found here.

So to the photographs.  This was evidently a still, clear summer's day with a light breeze from the east, and it must have been a joy to stand on the platforms composing these views in the late afternoon light.


The Loco Yard

Grantham Loco Yard, looking south west from the north end of the Down platform.
Prominent is the mechanical coaling plant, built of reinforced concrete in 1936-37. Loco coal arrived in wagons from the Yorkshire pits and was tipped into a bunker alongside the plant on the right (but not visible in this view). From the bunker the coal was hoisted to the top in a skip to supply an internal hopper. Locomotives came alongside on the left to have their tenders and bunkers replenished.
To the right of the coaling plant is the cylindrical tank of the water treatment plant which supplied water for locomotives. The chemical treatment of the water inhibited the formation of hard scale inside steam locomotive boilers.  In the distance, marching up the hill behind the tank, is one of the Victorian terraced rows of Victoria Street, and on its right the post-war semis of Walton Gardens.
Visible in this shot are locomotives of types WD (90059), B1 (61251), O2, L1, and V2 (60872 'King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry'). There's a man wearing a white shirt sweeping ash from the front footplate of the O2.
On the right, beyond the Pilots' Cabin (the hut with the bike leaning against the end) there's a fully-coaled A2/3 class pacific loco. This is probably the 'standby pilot', or 'main line pilot', an express locomotive which was kept ready in case of a breakdown on the main line.  It's facing north but is standing on one of the lines which was part of Grantham shed's turning triangle (known to local railwaymen as 'the angle'). It could therefore be turned quickly (taken round the 'angle') should it be required to assist a southbound train.
The Pilots' Cabin was a messroom where the local men who were on main line standby pilot duty would await the call to action, and visiting locomotive crews could rest and make a brew while waiting for their return working.
In the left foreground is an engine spur, where crews with a locomotive scheduled to take over a northbound working would await their train's arrival.

The Scotch Goods

Moving to the south end of the same platform, a northbound express freight train hauled by class A4 locomotive No. 60002 'Sir Murrough Wilson' of Gateshead (52A) motive power depot is caught in the evening light. The train is thought to be the daily express goods service between London King's Cross Goods Yard and Niddrie, near Edinburgh.
A correspondent on the LNER Encyclopedia forum suggested:
"I'm pretty sure, given the time and the train's make up, that No. 60002 is on the down 'Scotch Goods', 4S04, King's Cross to Niddrie, which departed at 14.55 from King's Cross Goods. It should have been a 34A [King's Cross motive power depot] engine as it was a 34A lodging turn, engine and crew through to Newcastle, returning on a morning express the next day.  I wonder if 60002 had deputised for a King's Cross engine on an up train the previous day, or overnight 30th/31st?"
It's recorded that No. 60002 was on the down 'Talisman' (a King's Cross to Edinburgh-express passenger train) on the previous day, 30th August.
This locomotive was originally named 'Pochard', continuing the duck theme adopted for several members of the class, but in 1939 it was renamed after Sir Murrough John Wilson, a Yorkshireman, who was the Deputy Chairman of the London & North Eastern Railway.
In front of the large brick granary on the left are three old passenger carriages which had been out of normal service for many years. They are 'departmental stock' used by the railway's Signal & Telegraph Engineers; perhaps to form a works train which can be moved to the site of repairs or alterations to signalling and communications equipment.  Beyond the old carriages is a line of cattle wagons, by this time a dwindling traffic on the railway.
In the distance there's a diesel multiple unit on the Down Slow line and further over, in the sidings on the right, lurks an L1 tank locomotive (it's beyond and just to the left of the tall gas lamp standard).

Waiting to Cross

Until 2008 there were no lifts at Grantham to give access to the footbridge for trolleys and barrows, so all parcels and mail to or from the Down platform had to be taken across the main lines over a boarded crossing.
In this scene, at the south end of platform 2, four very uniformly attired porters have brought a loaded trolley to the top of a ramp which led down to track level. The stationmaster at the time, Yorkshireman Harold Scampion appointed in 1947, encouraged a smart turnout of his staff. The man on the front left of the trolley (wearing shunters' gloves) is Ted Lyons.
On the right, in front of the men, is the brick base of the Yard Box signal box.  The ramp descended in front of the box to a wooden boarded crossing over the two main lines.  A matching ramp led back up onto platform 3, from where the photograph was taken.
The trolleys had no brakes, so keeping control on the steep slope to track level was as strenuous as the haul up the other side. On the crossing itself the cast iron wheels jolted heavily over the gaps in the wooden boards where the rails passed through.  So plenty of muscle power was needed to ensure a speedy transit. This was the prestigious East Coast Main Line, and no-one at Grantham wanted to be the subject of a report to the Line Superintendent's office because vital traffic was delayed by a platform trolley stuck across the track.
The metal cases are embossed BRITISH RAILWAYS COLLICO SERVICE.  At the Ken Hoole Study Centre I saw some instructions, dated 1st January 1963, relating to the Collico service. The following definition summarises the system:
The 'British Railways Collico Service' is a scheme under which Messrs. Collico Ltd. of London Scottish House, London Road, Barking, Essex, hire to traders collapsible Collico cases for conveyance of merchandise by British Railways' services, and British Railways undertake to provide an efficient and reliable service for the conveyance of the outwards full traffic and return of the collapsed flat cases.

Fish from Hull to London

It's around 5:30pm and this southbound fully fitted express freight train is hauled by B1 class locomotive No 61394 of King's Cross (34A) motive power depot. The light haze from the chimney appears to show that the fireman has everything well in hand for a good run up to Stoke summit, and surely the catch will be at Billingsgate market on time early next morning.
'Fully fitted' means that every vehicle on this train was equipped, i.e. fitted, with the automatic vacuum brake, controlled by the driver and, in emergency, able to be applied by the guard. Such trains were allowed to travel faster than ordinary freight trains, which might have service brakes only on the locomotive and the guard's brake van. Until 1960, and on steam locomotives until 1968, the type of train was usually indicated by the number and position of front headlamps.  Different positions and numbers of lamps signified the type of train and its priority ranking in relation to other traffic.  In this case, with a lamp in the central position, above the coupling hook, and another over the right buffer, it's a class 'C' express freight which has priority over all except passenger and emergency trains.
It's thought that this is the afternoon fish train from Hull to King's Cross Goods Depot, train 581, which left Hull around 15:40. It was regularly hauled by this locomotive or its consecutively numbered sister, No. 61393 (e.g. see page 52 of 'Keith Pirt Colour Portfolio - Grantham'). The engine went down to Hull with the fish empties the previous evening.
To enable fish to reach the markets in fresh condition the railway relied on quantities of ice packed with the cargo in insulated vans, combined with rapid shipment as a high priority traffic. From the late 1950s a combination of factors steadily reduced the quantity of wet fish moved by rail. Crucially, the fish industry began to process, pack and freeze fish products at facilities near the ports, and consequently their distribution required refrigerated transport. British Railways declined to invest in new refrigerated vans to replace their insulated fleet. In 1964, in the face of rapidly dwindling traffic, BR decided to withdraw from the bulk transport of fish by rail.
On the right, lying against the wall of the offices, is one of the wooden screens that were used to close off the open end of the corridor gangway of a leading coach. Until I was talking to retired Grantham Passenger Shunter Dick Knight in autumn 2008 I didn't appreciate that they were fitted to prevent the potential influx of overflowing water when refilling a locomotive's tender at speed on water troughs. A supply of these screens was also kept at the north end of the Down platform. A clean area of brickwork on the wall, between two of the windows, shows the location of a bracket which once held an ornate gas lamp recently replaced by electric lighting.

The Tees-Tyne Pullman

The down 'Tees-Tyne Pullman' approaches the station at speed from the south under clear signals, in charge of an immaculately groomed streamlined A4 pacific locomotive No. 60003 'Andrew K. McCosh'. The time would be around 6.35pm.
Having previously photographed No. 60002 on express freight from platform level, Dad has now ventured down the ramp to capture this shot from a more dramatic viewpoint. I really can't quite believe that, using the slow Kodachrome colour film of the day, with its limited exposure latitude, in fading evening light, he's not only 'stopped' the locomotive at close quarters from 60-70mph, using his camera's 1/1000th second shutter speed, but also set the lens to give the depth of field that we see here while still picking up detail in the shadows.
This locomotive was based at King’s Cross (34A) motive power depot, which had a reputation at the time for maintaining some of its express passenger locomotives in sparkling condition. The buffers, coupling link (which you can see was swinging from side to side with the motion of the locomotive) and cylinder end covers are burnished bright, and someone has even reached underneath to wipe the protective cover of the AWS (Automatic Warning System) sensor, revealing its red paint.
No. 60003 was named in 1942 after Andrew Kirkwood McCosh, a Scottish industrialist in the coal and steel trades. McCosh was, one of the principal directors of the London & North Eastern Railway Company and the chairman of its Locomotive Committee.
'The Tees-Tyne Pullman' was a prestigious business service between the North East of England and London, the post war successor of the 'Silver Jubilee' streamlined train of 1935. This northbound service departed from King’s Cross at 4.50pm. Towards the end of 1958 it had been intended that 'The Tees-Tyne Pullman' would be one of the first express services on the East Coast Main Line to be put in charge of diesel locomotives. However, the unreliability of the English Electric Type 4 locos then available led to the resumption of steam haulage. It was not until 1962 that the new ‘Deltic’ diesel locomotives began to be assigned regularly to this train. Even so, steam locomotives continued to deputise until 1963.

Silver Link

This is class ‘A4’ locomotive No.60014 'Silver Link' pausing at the south end of the station on a train bound for London King’s Cross. It was based at the King’s Cross (34A) motive power depot.
On the previous day, 30th August, No. 60014 worked the mid-afternoon fast goods train departure from King's Cross Goods Depot to Niddrie, near Edinburgh, as far as Newcastle (i.e. the same duty, on the previous day, as No. 60002 seen earlier). It is therefore pictured here returning to its home base.
No.60014 was seen very regularly at Grantham during late July and August in 1961. She was on 'The Elizabethan' (non-stop between London and Edinburgh) in alternate directions almost every day from 22nd July until 10th August, again between 19th and 26th August and, as we see here, on other services on 30th and 31st.
The train being hauled by Silver Link in this photograph is most likely the up 'Heart of Midlothian', known to railway staff as 'The Diner'. Crews were changed at Grantham, but the locomotive worked through from Newcastle to London.
A careful look shows evidence of the teamwork that was essential for running the steam railway effectively and safely. As dusk approaches one of the crew – most likely the relieving driver – is lighting the train headlamps. Placed one above each buffer, these two oil lamps signify that the locomotive is hauling an express passenger train. The lamps are painted white and were carried unlit during daylight. After 1960 diesel locomotives usually carried a four-character head code (e.g. ‘1A35’) which identifies the actual train, not simply its type.
The men on the tender are either cleaners from Grantham shed, or possibly they are the crew who are being relieved. They are assisting the new crew by moving coal forward, towards the cab. Between Newcastle and Grantham the fireman will have shovelled several tons of coal from the front of the tender, so bringing coal at the back forward to replace that already used will make the two hours to London less strenuous for the new fireman.
We can see the relieving fireman leaning from the right hand cab window, wiping the projecting glass sight screen to help him to support the driver by looking out for signals, especially after dark.  This duty was a vital part of his training as he 'learned the road' in preparation for promotion to driver.  At this time most signal lamps were lit by oil, and could be difficult to spot at high speed.  A particular problem was caused by road improvement schemes near the railway, whose lighting could make signal lamps even harder to distinguish. 
'Silver Link' was one of four of these A4 locomotives which bore 'Silver' names to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935.  In September of that year a service of new luxury streamlined trains, painted in a striking silver-grey and white livery, linked London and Newcastle upon Tyne in four hours – an average speed of 67mph. 'Silver Link' hauled the first of these trains out of King’s Cross on 30th September 1935 – see here for a Movietone clip of this event.

Back to Sixty years and counting: Grantham station photographs on their diamond anniversary.


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