by Roger Bamber
As a 13-year-old trainspotter one of my earliest visits to Grantham station was on Saturday 14th June 1958. Standing on platform 3, and armed with my Kodak Brownie Cresta II plastic camera loaded with 120 film, I saw a Gresley A4 streamlined express steam locomotive approaching. The train would have been doing about 70 mph, and my camera only had a shutter speed of 1/40th of a second. I clicked as it sped past.
Remarkably, the picture caught the engine well, along with its reflection in the Gresley teak coaches of a London-bound express. It was almost sharp, and very atmospheric. It was one of a set of prints that later got me a place at Leicester College of Art, and probably influenced me more than any other photograph in deciding to spend my life as a photographer.
At this time, The Elizabethan service brought Edinburgh Haymarket-based A4s through Grantham quite regularly …but when I returned to the station seven weeks later I recorded, again with the Cresta II, not one but two of the much rarer Haymarket A3s.
First, No. 60100 Spearmint of 64B called at platform 2 with a southbound express from which it uncoupled in favour of a fresh locomotive.
Then, while the Up train's coaches were still on platform 2, consecutively numbered No. 60099 Call Boy, also a rarity from 'Auld Reekie', arrived from the south in a sparkling new coat of paint and stopped at the station's north end. I could hardly believe it! I ran the length of the station to complete my photographic record of the two Scottish A3s.
It's interesting to note, with the benefit of locomotive records now available, that No. 60099 had returned to traffic on Tuesday 29th July following a general overhaul at Doncaster Works. It was put on a trial trip to Peterborough on the Friday to ensure that all was well before its return to Scotland. New England shed at Peterborough then used it on a train to King's Cross early on the Saturday morning before it began its return to Scotland on a London to Newcastle service which arrived at the station in front of me.
The same records reveal that No. 60100 entered Doncaster Plant for a general overhaul on Tuesday 5th August, three days after I photographed it. Its arrival at Grantham was part of a plan for it to 'work its passage' south from Edinburgh. It was sent to Newcastle on a service from Edinburgh and spent some time on Gateshead shed, then worked down to Grantham on Saturday 2nd August before being taken to Doncaster for transfer into the Works.
In those days I usually cycled to Grantham from Leicester along the A607 through Melton Mowbray. Sometimes I would return home by train via Nottingham Victoria. The Nottingham trains were usually in the hands of the GNR class C12 4-4-2 tanks; numbers 67357 and 67391 are two that I remember.
On one memorable occasion we had just departed and were gaining speed on the four-track section to Barrowby Road when A3 No. 60077 The White Knight on a northbound main line express drew alongside my carriage window.
We travelled together for a minute or so and I became enthralled by the spectacle of this marvellous machine in motion. Its wheels and coupling rods appeared to be taking great, effortless strides as it accelerated beside us until, at length, our paths diverged.