When it comes to Grantham's association with the railway, Tracks through Grantham is one of many sources available. We aim to signpost other people's work recording and presenting the railway history of the town so, for example, there are lists of books, articles in magazines etc. here.
On the Internet, the saying 'other websites are also available' is as true for Grantham railway interest as it is for soap powder or chocolate bars, and below are links to pages which have appeared on the Grantham Matters website over the past six months since the beginning of November.
There isn't much information with some of the photos, so we've done some research and added notes. Most of the photos can be seen much more clearly by using your browser's 'zoom' function to magnify the page.
Two fascinating old photographs of work on the line, dated 1921
- The top picture appears to be the removal of weathered and degraded stone from the east side of Great Ponton Cutting, between Great Ponton station and Highdyke. When the cutting here was widened on that side for the new Up Goods line, in about 1875, it's likely that its side was left as a steep rock face. We got in touch with Richard Cumming who says, 'The top layers of Lincolnshire Limestone (which this is) are very weathered, i.e. loose and open, compared with the thicker solid seams down below. As a result they are prone to the actions of frost and rain. I think the men are dealing with a landslip, or a potential landslip, and have been removing all loose material from the side of the cutting leaving the rough, exposed uneven face of more solid material seen in the photo.'
The words on the side of the wagon are G N BALLAST WAGON NORTH DISTRICT.
Here and here are links to two later photos which show the same site – perhaps just a few yards further south - after the cutting sides had been graded back.
- We are sure that the lower picture is in the same locality. There was a bridge here, shown on maps dated c.1904, and it would be numbered Overbridge 232 in the civil engineer's records. The maps also show signal posts in the same locations; these would be starting signals for Great Ponton box, Up Main and Up Goods.
Running out of rails on one of the Ironstone Quarry Lines
The Ambergate Yard branch railway bridge over Dysart Road being removed
Station Master Harold Scampion in his best uniform welcomes a VIP to the station
- This photograph is captioned 'Future Prime Minister Anthony Eden entering Grantham station in 1951'.
The Grantham Journal reports Anthony Eden passing through the station on Tuesday 10th April 1951 to catch the 9.30am to London, having attended an event at Nottingham the previous evening.
Eden is on the right; on the left is Harold Scampion, Grantham Station Master from 1947 to 1963; in the centre is Stanley Hodgkins, Grantham Division Conservative party agent. In the background is the now long-gone Station Inspector's house, No. 9 Station Road.
At this time Eden was in opposition, but he had held important government posts during the 1930s and 1940s including twice being Foreign Secretary, to which post he would again be appointed, in October 1951, in the post-war Churchill government. Anthony Eden succeeded Winston Churchill as Prime Minister from April 1955 until January 1957.
Not specifically railway, but can you see the route of the main line and the High Dyke branch?
An odd piece of track...
A crowded platform
- Waiting for the Flying Scotsman Pullman on a Sunday, either 6th or 13th March 1983.
A crowded lineside!
- What the folk on the platform were waiting for. The top photo was at Stoke tunnel, not Peascliffe.
Barrowby Road bridge and signal box
A photo of the old Ambergate line terminus
Bob Balchin's been in touch about a fascinating collection of stories which might help to entertain us when we run out of - or get fed up with - DIY and gardening tasks etc. Called Real Railway Tales, it's a compilation of about 60 short accounts of railway people, places and incidents contributed from across the country and edited by two men who can each draw upon extensive careers on the railway.
Here's a description:
Running a railway is a complex business, constantly throwing up drama, misadventure and the unexpected. Geoff Body and Bill Parker have collated a rich selection of railwaymen's memories and anecdotes to create an enjoyable book of escapades and mishaps, illustrating the daily obstacles faced on the railways, from handling the new Eurostar to train catering, nights on the Tay Bridge to rail 'traffic cops', and from mystery derailments to track subsidence. However interesting the infrastructure of the large and varied railway business may be, the real heart of this great industry lies in its people, the complex jobs they occupy and the dedicated way in which they carry them out.
For us on Tracks through Grantham there's a story called Highdyke, describing the operation of the ironstone branch from Stainby and Sproxton, and another titled The Denton Branch.
About half the book, including the Highdyke chapter, can be accessed on the internet here. To see the rest you would need to either purchase or borrow a copy. Options include a buying Kindle version. The original paperback edition is currently available from several online second-hand booksellers.
On Saturday 30th September 1967 there was a rail tour of the Stewarts & Lloyds (Minerals) Ltd. lines at Woolsthorpe and Harlaxton, including the stretch of the BR Woolsthorpe Branch between Denton and Casthorpe Junction.
This tour is described and illustrated in the current issue of Railway Bylines (Vol. 24: Issue 8, July 2019) on pages 356-360 Harston & Harlaxton Ironstone Quarries - Notes by Charles A. Rekab. The event marked the imminent replacement of the fleet of industrial steam locomotives by second-hand diesels puchased from British Rail.
This tour is among several that are noted on our page Rail Tour Rambles round Grantham.
Need to shake off the winter blues?
Why not rediscover the High Dyke Branch!
Surely, following our recent spell of Siberian weather, spring will soon be in the air. If you fancy getting out and about while rediscovering some railway heritage let our new page, The High Dyke Branch Rediscovered - Part 1, be your guide.
John Pegg will show you the first 3 miles of the former branch line, from Highdyke Junction to the Great North Road near Colsterworth. There's a great selection of photographs . Most show scenes taken in summer 2017 but, mixed in, are some 'flashbacks' to the 1960s and the early 1970s when the line was still moving heavy loads of ironstone to the main line, the job it was built for in 1916-19.
So why not find your boots, burn off a few excess calories and clear away the cobwebs?
...and look out for Part 2 soon.
Keeping an eye on the user statistics for Tracks Through Grantham we're used to seeing an occasional surge in interest when we publish a new page. However, around the middle of July there was a sudden spike in our viewing figures which wasn't set off by new content. It was thanks to a favourable mention on RMweb of our Railways Rediscovered pages (about the former Woolsthorpe Branch) that, for a period of three days we practically trebled our normal readership.* If you'd like to see what the RMweb contributors had to say you can find the start of the thread here.
Also recently, Richard Marshall was in touch, leaving a comment on our page The Woolsthorpe Branch Rediscovered – Part 2 and subsequently he sent us some photographs of a building which was connected with the ironstone quarries and remains standing today, near Harston. You can discover the building by scrolling down to near the bottom of this page.
(* We should clarify that the site stats do not tell us who our users are. They give the total number of views of each page per day and some indication of how those users have found Tracks through Grantham.)
We've said before that often we can't predict where the next idea for a new page on Tracks Through Grantham will appear.
When we showed a page from the Railways Rediscovered section of the Tracks Through Grantham website at our last meeting in Grantham, it led to a short discussion about rail tours which visited the various former ironstone branches, and about which lines had been travelled over on which tours.
In the few weeks since then we've been on the trail of information and photographs, which are assembled in our latest page Rail Tour Rambles round Grantham.