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Phil Wilson’s Trainspotting Days at Grantham

Above:  At 6.24pm on Saturday 16th May 1964 class A3 No. 60062 Minoru, on the left, is about to be passed by No. 60054 Prince of Wales; both were on parcels trains.  By 1964 opportunities to capture a photograph of two A3s passing on the East Coast Main Line must have been very rare.  The tender of No. 60062 is being replenished with water - you can just see the fireman standing on the back of the tender, and the driver is walking towards the water column. 


Tracks through Grantham have recently been in touch with Phil Wilson who lived in Grantham until the late 1960s.  Phil has kindly allowed TTG the opportunity to share some of his detailed notes made during many spotting trips around the area in the early 1960s.  The notes have been reproduced in their original handwritten format for this article, accessible via the links at the bottom of this page.  Below we've included a selection of photographs taken by him during some of those memorable trips.

However, before we take a closer look at Phil’s photographs and notes, here’s how he became interested in the steam railway scene.

Phil tells us that he was born in London in 1949, but his family moved to Grantham soon after and he went on to live in the town until 1967.  One of his first lasting memories was the colourful street party that took place for the Queen’s Coronation on Tuesday 2nd June 1953.  The family home was situated south east of the station, so the railway was pretty close and within earshot of his house.  The daily walk to primary school, off Huntingtower Road, provided an opportunity to glimpse engines on the main line passing through the town.  At school the railway was still in view, and during playtime the sharp-eyed kids would be able to make out the numbers of engines that were either pottering about in the yard or travelling through the station.

As he grew older Phil took photographs of the railway whenever he could.  Favourite vantage points were the station, the bridge on Springfield Road and, of course, the engine shed and yard, as depicted in the following photographs.

Shed and Yard

A busy scene at Grantham Shed (34F). In this August 1963 view the cab and tender of class O2 No. 63931 is visible on the far left.  This engine was first allocated to Grantham on 25th June 1946 and stayed here until 8th September 1963, when the loco was transferred to Doncaster.  A few weeks later it was withdrawn from service and then scrapped in October 1963.  Next to No. 63931 and taking centre stage is B1 No. 61367, first allocated to Grantham on 14th June 1959.  The loco would stay here until it was transferred (with No. 63931) to Doncaster on 8th September 1963.  Withdrawal came on 22nd August 1965, followed by scrapping on 28th December 1965.  Just behind No. 61367 we can see the front end of V2 No. 60902 peeking out into the sunshine. At the time No. 60902 was allocated to Doncaster (36A) where, on the 22nd September 1963, the loco was withdrawn and later scrapped on 7th November 1963.  The engine seen on the right is class O2 No. 63932. This loco came to Grantham on 25th June 1945 and, together with sister engine 63931 and B1 No. 61367, it would move to Doncaster on 8th September 1963.  Like 60902, 63932 was withdrawn on 22nd September 1963 before being scrapped in February 1964.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
Robinson class O4 No. 63813 sits over the ash pits on Saturday November 16th 1963.  As noted on the shedplate, at this time the loco was allocated to Retford Thrumpton (GC) (36E).  No. 63813 was withdrawn off Staveley (GC) (41H) on 7th March 1965.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
Another view of No. 63813 on the same day (Saturday November 16th 1963). The handrails for the incline to the old coaling stage area can be seen on the left. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
O2 Class Nos. 63930 and 63933 on Monday 26th August 1963. Both of these engines had been withdrawn at the end of 1962 but they were not actually scrapped until just before Christmas 1963.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
Here we see A2 No. 60520 'Owen Tudor' on May 27th 1963.  This is the western side of the old coaling stage area with the water treatment tank in view on the right.  The loco is only weeks away from being withdrawn from its then home shed of New England (34E) on 16th June 1963.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
Face to face with A3 No. 60112 'St. Simon'. No. 60112 was given a partial repaint, including special decorative touches, in preparation for hauling the 'Southern Counties Enterprise' special from London Waterloo to Weymouth on Sunday 25th August.   Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
Class A1 No. 60114 'W.P. Allen' on September 9th 1964.  The loco was allocated to Grantham (35B) between February 1953 and September 1957 before being transferred to Doncaster (36A).  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
B1 No. 61210 is pictured on the Up & Down Goods line on an unknown date.  From March 1953 to October 1963 this loco was allocated to New England (35A/34E) before a transfer to Colwick (40E).  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
A trio of unidentified engines in the yard. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
A1 No. 60126 'Sir Vincent Raven' allocated at the time to York North (50A) in the Loco Yard on June 29th 1963. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
K3 No. 61912 over the ash pits on June 29th 1963. Records show that it was withdrawn on 16th September 1962. This was one of three K3s used as stationary boilers after withdrawal from traffic (note that it has no connecting rod).  The loco was at New England until 1965.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
With Grantham's coaling tower and the water treatment tank as a backdrop, A3 No. 60046 'Diamond Jubilee' was photographed on May 27th 1963, exactly a month after being allocated to Grantham (34F) on 27th April. However, the loco was withdrawn just two months later (June 1963) before being scrapped in August of that year.   Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
In a quiet spot amongst the shadows next to the loco shed A1 No 60121 'Silurian' awaits its next duty on a bright spring day in May 1963.  The gleaming No. 60121 was released from Doncaster works on 15th May 1963 following its last General Repair and it has most likely arrived at Grantham on a test run.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
K1 No. 62051 at Grantham in November 1963.  At this time the loco was allocated to Doncaster (36A).  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.

In this undated photograph V2 No 60941 moves 'light' through the Western Yard and approaches the northern end of Grantham Station. No. 60941 had a prolonged allocation at York North (50A) from 1955 before being withdrawn in July 1964. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson

Grantham shed had been closed some two years earlier, but here we see B1 No. 61012 and 9F No 92239 on October 8th 1965. No. 61012 was allocated to Hull Diarycoates (50B) at this time and would survive until June 1967. However No. 92239. off York North (50A). had less than a year's operational life left, being withdrawn in November 1966. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
In the next two photographs the powerful outline of 9F No 92239, allocated to York North (50A), takes up most of Phil's viewfinder on October 7th 1965. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
Stepping back slightly another view of No 92239 on the same date - October 7th 1965. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson

Springfield Road Bridge

After noting down the numbers of the engines 'on shed' Phil and his friends would continue watching the activity on the main line from a spot on top of an old air raid shelter.  As many of our readers will know, this was near to the shed entrance off Springfield Road (see photograph below).

Springfield Road runs from top to bottom in this aerial photograph.  The entrance to Grantham Loco and the adjacent air raid shelter can be seen within the triangular piece of land situated at the lower centre.  The main and secondary lines run from left (North) to right (South).

The bridge that spanned Springfield Road provided an eye-level view of the main line and, as we can see in Phil's next selection of photographs, it was an ideal location for both spotting and photography.

A nice viewpoint for spotters and photographers.  V2 No. 60983 is seen heading south over Springfield Road bridge with a mail train in 1962.  The loco was allocated to Grantham (34F) on 17th June 1962 but three months later it was withdrawn (23rd September 1963) and finally scrapped a week before Christmas.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
Having just passed Grantham's South Box, an Unidentified B1 is about to pass over Springfield Road Bridge with a northbound freight.  Lurking in the far background a Brush Type 4 (later class 47) marks the 'shape of things to come'.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
Sounding its whistle, A4 No. 60017 'Silver Fox' heads south in August 1963.  The loco was allocated to New England (34E) at this time, having been transferred there a few months earlier in June.  By the end of October 'Silver Fox' had been withdrawn from 34E and entered Doncaster works for the last time during the first week of December.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
A rather grimy WD 'Austerity' No. 90235 (36A) heads south on November 5th 1963.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
A3 No. 60112 'St. Simon' of New England (34E) heads south with a steel train on September 3rd 1964.  'St. Simon' was a Grantham loco between June 1959 and September 1963.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
This photograph shows A1 No. 60158 'Aberdonian' (36A) just south of the station on 24th August 1963.  The loco is being detached from the coaches and will soon run forward ‘light engine’.  The fireman has already set the light engine headcode at the front (one lamp over the coupling hook – visible through the loop of the vacuum hose) and is now carrying the second lamp to place it on the back of the tender. Meanwhile, No. 60158 is in reverse gear as the driver eases back to compress the buffers to aid the detaching operation.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
B1 No. 61250 with a 'sludge train' on August 26th 1963.  Grantham had its own water treatment plant and 'sludge’ was a by-product of the chemical water softening process.  Old tenders, like the one shown in this picture, were placed at water treatment plants so that the sludge could be collected before being taken away for dumping at railway-owned waste disposal sites.  The sludge generated at Grantham was apparently taken to Ranskill, just north of Retford.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
Class O4/8 No. 63738 is involved with a little light shunting on September 4th 1964.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
A3 No. 60106 'Flying Fox' off New England (34E) heads south with a train made up of vans on November 7th 1964. 'Flying Fox' had four spells at Grantham, April 1944, November 1947, October 1953 and finally between September 1957 and September 1963 when, with the closure of Grantham Shed, the loco had a short stay at Doncaster works before being transferred to New England where she was withdrawn in late December 1964. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson

The 'Railway Field'

Moving on, another favoured place for Phil was an area to the south of the Great North Road Bridge (also known as South Parade - today the B1174) where the road climbs out of town. It was here that a footpath went generally south from the bridge (seen to the lower right hand side on the photograph below) and ran parallel with the railway.

The Great North Road / South Parade Bridge, with the main lines running left (North) to right (South).

The footpath passed through a sloping field with two wooded areas that merged into scrubland and formed a huge, seemingly wild, open area for youngsters to play in and explore.  A benefit for an enthusiast like Phil was the fact that there were plenty of places to take photographs close to the tracks.  The open area continued southwards for about half a mile, all the way to the railway bridge over the River Witham.

Colwick (40E) based B1 No. 61088 has just passed under the road bridge as it heads south with a freight train in August 1962. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
There were plenty of spots along this stretch to get close to the tracks and here we see York (50A) based K1 No. 62029 on the Up fast line on June 8th 1964. The Great North Road bridge can just about be made out in the distant haze. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
At almost the same spot A3 No. 60065 'Knight of Thistle' also heads south with a steel train. No. 60065 had two spells at Grantham, in September 1951 (Grantham 35B) and later June 1963 (Grantham 34F). Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
Another York (50A) engine, this time V2 No. 60963, is on the Up slow on June 4th 1964.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
In this undated photograph 9F No. 92186 heads north on the Down fast with a ballast train.  The loco's first allocation was to New England (35A) in January 1958, but here it's likely to have been a Colwick (40E) engine (allocated there between June 1963 and February 1965).  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
On the Up slow this time, another 9F No. 92187 drifts south on September 3rd 1964.  The engine had a brief spell at Grantham (34F) between June and October 1958 before settling into life at New England (34E) until June 1963 when, like sister engine No. 92186 seen in the previous photograph, it was transferred to Colwick (40E).  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.

Barkston, Belvoir and Melton Junctions

Having a bicycle opened up new local horizons for Phil.  Barkston Junction, situated to the north of Grantham, was a big attraction.  Being way out of town it had a magical combination of rural countryside and an exciting railway running through it. The peace and quiet was broken only by the passing trains on the main line and on the Nottingham to Sleaford route with, occasionally, the added interest of a locomotive on trial from Doncaster being turned at the junction.

A loco based 'north of the border' at this time was A2 No. 60522 'Straight Deal'.  Here she is captured heading south at Barkston Junction in 1962.  This is Barkston South Junction and the line to Honington, and thence Lincoln or Sleaford, can just about be seen disappearing in the distance to the right.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson

On other days Phil would pedal out to either Allington or Belvoir Junctions, both located to the west of Grantham.  These two places provided the opportunity to see steam traffic going to and from the Nottingham area.

B1 No. 61302 at Belvoir Junction on November 1st 1965.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
A nice sequence of photographs sees Colwick based B1 No. 61089 in reverse gear as driver Jack Chaplin looks back along his train at Belvoir Junction. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
Viewed from further down the embankment No. 61089 moves past. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
A quick scramble up the embankment and just in time to capture No. 61089 again. Photograph taken by Phil Wilson

Another location, slightly further away but still just about within cycling distance, was Melton Junction which could be found on the eastern side of Melton Mowbray. This was where the line out of Melton divided, South West towards Leicester and North West to Nottingham.  It was an ideal place for spotting and taking photographs.

Away from Grantham, Phil's camera records Fowler 4F 0-6-0 No. 44109 at Melton Junction on 9th November 1963.  This rather ancient loco seems to have spent nearly all of its 39 year operational life based at Coalville, Leicestershire.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson
Stanier 8F 2-8-0 No. 48681 comes off the Nottingham line at Melton Junction.  Photograph taken by Phil Wilson

Phil still has two Ian Allan ABCs, both for 1962 (Summer Edition).  One of these would accompany him on his many spotting trips, whilst the other one would stay safely at home. The 1962 issue had the most steam locomotives in its pages so, as their numbers dwindled, he did not bother with purchasing later years (1963 – 1965).

Here's a snapshot from Phil's 1964 spotting notes (see links below) showing that although Grantham shed had closed almost a year before (in September 1963) the notes record that there were still plenty of steam hauled freights throughout the summer of 1964.  For instance, on Friday July 17th 1964 between 9am and 6pm he recorded in order of appearance; B1 61089, WD 90169, 9F 92145, 9F 92189, A3 60106, 9F 92041, Mogul 43060, B1 61070, B1 61272, B1 61120, 9F 92188, 9F 92181, 9F 92183, 9F 92144, B1 61032, B1 61061, B1 61141 and finally 9F 92183, some of which returned light engine.

As mentioned above, we have added some links at the end of this article to enable you to look through Phil's spotting notes yourself.  These cover the period between September 1963 to October 1964.

Phil recalls - 'There was still comparable activity in October 1964, but in retrospect I see that by then most of the engines I saw were class B1, K1, Austerities or 9Fs.  The former main line Pacifics, the A1s and A3s and occasional V2s had been relegated to parcels, empty stock, cement, fish and steel trains, before they disappeared altogether. Diesels had, unfortunately, more or less completely taken over. There was just one slight glimmer of hope in my heart before the flame was extinguished forever. My notes say, perhaps with a touch of pride, that A3 No 60112 'St. Simon' (probably coming in from New England shed) replaced a Brush diesel on a down passenger train on Wednesday October 7th 1964.  As far as I can remember, the last steam-hauled passenger service into Grantham was a Saturday train from Doncaster, and it’s possible, but I can’t be sure, that it might have continued to be steam hauled into late 1964?  There was also, I remember, a regular southbound evening steel train, usually around 7pm, either 7E23 or 6E23. This probably ran during the summer of 1964 and right into September of that year. There was a regular midday steam hauled PUF (Pick up Freight) too, and this terminated at Grantham around that time.  By 1965 steam was becoming very rare at Grantham. The barren shed yard was still worth an occasional visit (just in case) but there was really little point in us hanging around expecting any main line steam.  The only locos I recall were an occasional 9F but, in retrospect again, I think these were often coal trains and therefore probably taking a route to and from Nottingham via Grantham and the south.  Grantham had by now lost some of its attraction for me, so I decided to look further afield for steam power.’ 

During late 1964 and into 1965 Nottingham Victoria had now become Phil’s favourite destination for finding working steam services. There was a direct rail link from Grantham and this made his trip very easy.  He remembers Nottingham Victoria as a spectacularly grand station and the routine work of day to day freight haulage, together with the occasional passenger train, was on the whole operated by grimy soot laden locomotives.  It wasn’t to last for long though and during 1965 steam power gradually declined on the old Great Central line too.  By the autumn of that year Phil says that it just wasn't worth going any more and the dawning of 1966 effectively brought an end to the widespread use of steam in the East Midlands.  With the closure of the Great Central as a through route line in September 1966 regular passenger haulage ceased.

‘I will never forget my trainspotting days in and around Grantham and the local area. Hopefully my photographs and notes will help other enthusiasts reading this small essay to recall their own happy memories of those times, they were truly wonderful days'

Phil Wilson - Summer 2021

Forward to detailed records of Phil's spotting visits at Grantham and to nearby locations on the following pages:

Back to Spotters' Corner.

Copyright note:  the article above is published with the appropriate permissions.  For information about copyright of the content of Tracks through Grantham please read our Copyright page

15 thoughts on “Phil Wilson’s Trainspotting Days at Grantham

    1. TracksthroughGrantham2

      Thanks Tim, it's taken some time but we enjoyed putting it all together. Mel & John

  1. Jon Stubley

    What a wonderful set of photos. I spent many days at either Grantham or Barkston in the first half of the 1960s, and saw many of the locomotives pictured here, but was too poor and too young to afford a camera; so these photos give me an idea of the scenes at the time.

    Thanks for the nostalgia.

    1. TracksthroughGrantham2

      We're glad you enjoyed it Jon. A camera was a pretty rare thing for many spotters to possess in those days, so we are glad that Phil took the time to not only photograph events but to also record things in such detail. Thanks for getting in touch - Mel & John

  2. Chris Noble

    What an excellent article! Superb photographs and accompanying text, which really brought those days to life. I love the inclusion of Phil's written records.

    The article is superbly presented on the Web site - a testament to the skills, and care and attention to detail, of everyone involved. Thank you!

    1. TracksthroughGrantham2

      Chris, thanks for your appreciative comments. Feedback from our readers makes us realise just how much people enjoy reminiscing about those times and provides encouragement for us to research and produce further similar content. Thanks - Mel & John.

  3. Raymond Phillips

    Very interesting article - excellent coverage of that era.
    Remember the concrete slope to Springfield Road bridge and the Jubblies (frozen ice) from Freer's shop at the corner of
    Victoria Street.
    The Tip and the Railway Field, all reminders of that trainspotting time.

    1. TracksthroughGrantham2

      Hello Raymond, we're glad that this has stirred a few memories for you. Jubblies! those orange flavoured triangular lumps of ice, not to be confused with a certain LMS loco class. Don't forget the obligatory bottle of Tizer and a packet of Smith's crisps with the blue salt sachet! Thanks for your comments - Mel & John

  4. John Story

    Yet another excellent article with superb photos well done to those concerned.
    Looking forward to our next meeting .

    1. TracksthroughGrantham2

      Hello John, thanks for your feedback. Yes, all being well we will see you in the Autumn.
      Mel & John

  5. Andrew Swinnerton

    Brilliant and poignant! You started taking pics so young and really made the most of it. Many thanks for the memories. On my iPhone for some reason many of the photos don’t appear (just the text) . Is that because the iPhone format doesn’t support them . Anyway cheers.

    1. TracksthroughGrantham2

      Hello Andrew, thanks for your feedback. As always we are keen to have the opportunity to share stories and photographs on our website. We believe that almost everyone who visited Grantham in those days has a story to tell, so if you have your own memories, but perhaps no photographs, (we can provide those) we would be happy to hear from you. The iPhone problem will need some investigation!

      Mel & John

  6. James Tubb

    I used to spot at Grantham in the early sixties but not as often as I would have liked. As with most schoolboys I could not afford much film, although I did possess a cheap Kodak 44A camera. I did take photos of the stored N2 tanks on 10th August 1962.
    I am trying to pinpoint an actual date for another couple of photos taken round about April/May in 1963, do you have lists for then? D1514 was on shed, possibly for free training, and 60022 went through, maybe on one of its last runs. Any help would be much appreciated.

    1. TracksthroughGrantham1

      Hello James,
      Thank you for getting in touch. If only digital cameras with their near-limitless capacity (in comparison with film exposures) had been around in the 1960s!!
      There's a website Trainspotting Data from 1947 until 1980 where there is a record of sightings at Grantham on 31st May 1963 ( I'll email you separately with some other information.
      John Clayson

    2. TracksthroughGrantham2

      Hello James, I've contacted you separately about your enquiry. Did you receive it?
      Mel Smith


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