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At Tracks through Grantham we've been discussing how we might 'do our bit' to mark the close of the modern Elizabethan era.

It was in 1953 that the world's longest regular non-stop train service was retitled The Elizabethan to mark the coronation of the new monarch, HM Queen Elizabeth II.  Since we heard Richard Cumming's presentation Steam on The Elizabethan 1953-1961 at our meeting in October 2021 it's been on our minds to feature The Elizabethan on our website.  It seems an opportune moment to realise this aim.

So we've gathered together photographs of The Elizabethan train service in the Grantham area from our website image library for a new page called At the Dawn of a New Era: ‘The Elizabethan’ in and around Grantham.  We think it’s an appropriate gesture and we hope you agree.

You can find the new page here, in our website's Traffic and Trains section.

All the best,

John Clayson and Mel Smith

Above: The northbound 'Elizabethan' express from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley, hauled by Haymarket A4 No. 60031 'Golden Plover' on Saturday* 14 June 1958.
© Photograph by Roger Bamber

Roger Bamber

We've been saddened to hear that our contributor Roger Bamber passed away on Sunday 11th September, aged 78.

Roger grew up in Leicester and as a boy he made several visits to Grantham station, usually cycling over the hilly A607 via Melton Mowbray.   He became a celebrated professional photographer and photojournalist whose work appeared in many national newspapers and magazines.  Roger won dozens of awards, most notably the British Press Photographer of the Year twice and News Photographer of the Year twice also.

Two years ago Roger got in touch with Tracks through Grantham from his home in Brighton to offer some of his earliest memories and photographs.  They are on our page Haymarket Rarities - captured with a plastic camera.

Several tributes to Roger and his career have appeared on the internet.  In one of them, for the Brighton paper The Argus, his wife Shan says, "Roger loved steam trains, one of the reasons he came to Sussex was for the Bluebell Railway but he ended up in Brighton and decided it was the 'best place in the world' and that's why he stayed."

There's an appreciation of Roger Bamber, illustrating the range of his work, on The Guardian website here.


Tracks through Grantham meeting, October 2022

Just a reminder about this event, which was the subject of a post circulated on Wednesday 31st August.  If you intend to join us please don't forget to let us know.


A Recently Updated Website Page

Gonerby Siding Signal Box

  • Back in March we published a new page about the box at Gonerby after Malcolm Rush told us about his visit there in January 1967 in the company of Grantham Station Manager Alec Wise.  Malcolm told us that Gonerby was the only box, of 184 that he visited, where the operator was a signalwoman.  This set us on the trail of trying to find out who this lady was.

A number of people helped, and we soon identified that she was Mrs Carter, the wife of signalman Albert Carter at Grantham South.  Then, a few weeks ago, an email arrived from George Watson who, as a boy, used to visit Gonerby box.

To read George's fascinating account go to our Gonerby Siding Signal Box page and scroll down just over halfway, to the heading Bett Carter: signalwoman at Gonerby Siding.


Recent features of interest

We keep an eye open elsewhere for items of Grantham area railway interest.  Here are some we've seen recently.


The Facebook Group Rail Thing - REAL Trainspotting (1945-1968)

Please note that the links to Facebook from this section only work if you are logged in to Facebook.

1.  Patrick Clay is posting photographs taken in the Grantham area and elsewhere by his father, John F. Clay.  Follow this link to find the Grantham area pictures, or go to the group on Facebook here and search ('search this group') for 'Patrick Clay Grantham'.

John F. Clay wrote the Foreword of Rev. A. C. Cawston's  book LNER Steam at Grantham, in which he says that as a schoolboy photographer in the 1930s he met Arthur Cawston and Thomas Hepburn on the platforms at Grantham.   In his Introduction to the same book Cawston tells us that John Clay was, for many years, a schoolmaster at Grantham.  John F. Clay's photographs have appeared in a number of books and periodicals, and he wrote an article about Grantham's railway heritage in The Railway Observer.

2.  Our regular contributor Richard Cumming has penned an absorbing account  of a visit to his Uncle Arthur on Merseyside in 1955.  Written in the same style as his popular articles for Tracks through Grantham (they're in our Spotters' Corner section), there's plenty of railway interest plus such things as his impressions of the docks and of attending Anfield to watch Liverpool FC.

Titled A train spotting holiday in Liverpool in 1955, Richard's essay can be downloaded as a Word document called 'Liverpool Holiday.docx' from here.


The Grantham Matters website:

In the past 3 months this local history website has published a few items of railway interest:


Steam World magazine:

In the current issue of Steam World is an item which might interest Tracks though Grantham subscribers:

September 2022 (Issue 423):

  • pages 26 and 27 is a photo feature titled East Coast Main Line Moments.  It's a selection of four colour photographs by Noel Ingram, prolific recorder of traffic on the East Coast Main Line between Grantham and Peterborough in the early 1960s.

Remember that you’re very welcome to stay in touch with us…

via the Tracks through Grantham website:

  • for feedback on a specific page, use the 'Comment' box under 'Leave a Reply', which appears at the bottom of most pages;
  • otherwise, use the general Contact Form found here.

All the best,

John & Mel


 

Early in August a website contact form arrived from David Page who enquired, "If you would like some reminiscences of a lifelong steam enthusiast from c.1950 onwards, including a few photos from the early 1960s to the present day, please feel free to contact me."

The very pleasing result is our latest new page, simply titled Grantham!, which connects David's earliest experiences of the railway at Grantham, in the early 1950s, with his enjoyment of 21st century main line steam.

The story begins with the memories of a young lad who in the early 1950s travelled by train from Nottingham to stay with an aunt and uncle.  Recollections include an A1, Kittiwake, in BR blue livery speeding north with a Pullman service; David also records his disappointment when the aunt and uncle moved away and he could, at least for the time being, no longer visit and enjoy the excitement of east coast expresses.

We look back at some local news items which illuminate the wavering relationship between loco spotters and the railway authorities at Grantham during the 1950s.

Happily, in the early 1960s David's relatives moved back to the town and he describes his reacquaintance with the Grantham railway scene.  Now he had a camera and a growing interest in photography, and also a feeling that he should try to make his own personal record of the last few years of east coast steam.  His endeavours extended to taking photographs from the windswept and chilly station platforms early in February 1963, in the midst of the UK's record-breaking arctic winter

The early 1960s may have been the finale, but there has been a curtain call.  The narrative and photographs extend into the age of digital imaging.  The page concludes with three superb pictures of northbound specials taken by David at Belton Lane. They are hauled by A3 No. 60103 Flying Scotsman, A4 No. 4464 Bittern and A1 No. 60163 Tornado  …and the A1 was in early BR blue, just as Kittiwake had been bedecked some six decades before.

The new page is in our Spotters' Corner section; the link above will take you directly to it.

Let's forget today's bothersome restrictions on travel for a while and get out and about again in the Tracks through Grantham Tardis.

Richard's Cumming's latest highly entertaining article describes how, in 1956, the arrival of his new bike stimulated an eagerness to push the boundaries of youthful exploration well beyond the horizon of his home town of Grantham.

His first ventures were to the relatively close-at-hand surroundings of local towns and countryside, exploring rumours of unfamiliar breeds of locomotive to be seen on their native territory.  Ultimately, though, the call of far-away engines with strange-sounding names (and numbers) led Richard to the uncharted lands of the West Midlands and Shropshire.

We're sure you'll enjoy travelling with Richard on trips that were inspired by an interest which took root during his earlier enjoyment of the railway scene around Grantham.

If, by way of introduction, you'd first like to read (or to re-read) Richard's previous accounts of Grantham-based spotting adventures, they are here:

There's a link at the end of the first page to take you forward to the next, and then on to the new article.

Or you can go straight to the new page, in which case why not dust off that old bike and get pedalling out of lockdown to share the excitement of Richard and his friends in Train Spotting Bicycle Trips away from Grantham.

(…and don't worry, he'll wait for us to catch up on the hills.)


 

We've said before that often we don't know where the inspiration for the next new page for Tracks through Grantham will appear from.  We have items 'in the pipeline' all the time but, quite regularly, someone will get in touch with a surprise discovery.  Just a few weeks ago a copy of a magazine titled Locomotive Express revealed a previously unknown (to us) account of a regular day's work for a No. 1 Express Link crew at Grantham Loco in 1950.

So prepare to get grit in your hair, and organise a nice warm bath for when you get home, as we travel 326 miles in one shift with a Grantham crew on our latest page All in a Day's Work.