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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 distant signals for Highdyke 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

We hope everyone's keeping well.  This update will keep you up to speed with the most recent news on the Tracks through Grantham front as we wait for warmer, longer days and the prospect of some kind of normality returning.


New and Updated Website Pages

New Pages:

  • the Grantham Railway Disaster of 19th September 1906 had calamitous consequences for the Robertson family as they travelled home to Scotland.  There's a new page about how the fateful journey unfolded and its dreadful outcome here.

An Updated Page:

About halfway down the above page we have a report from the front page of The Grantham Journal of 17th July 1942 about the retirement of one of the signalmen:

Arthur Chalkley retires, 32 years a South Box Signalman

The report outlines Arthur's very active working and home life, leading us to ponder "What wouldn't we give to have an opportunity to talk to men like Arthur Chalkley, born in Great Ponton, railway signalman, NUR local branch secretary, Town Councillor, and much more besides."

Thanks to 'Google' the page was discovered recently by one of Arthur Chalkley's granddaughters.  She has been in touch and sent us a wonderful family photograph which we have added beneath the newspaper report.

Further research has revealed that Rosamond Chalkley, Arthur's wife, was also active in local circles and in the mid-1930s she was president of the Grantham Branch of the NUR Women’s Guild (for the wives and daughters of railwaymen).  We hope to have more in future.


A New Page in Preparation

On another front, our quest to encourage former Grantham spotters to tell us about their personal stories of visits to the station and other local railway locations has resulted in another set of nostalgic memories being passed over to us.  This time Phil Wilson has sent over some of his notes and photographs that were taken by himself in and around the Grantham area during the early 1960s.  These notes are currently being pieced together in readiness for a new article that will appear in ‘Spotters' Corner’ so please do look out for it.

Here's a taster...

A3 No. 60062 'Minoru' stationary on the Up Slow line near Springfield Road Bridge with southbound parcels at 6.14pm on Saturday 16th May 1964. This was one of six ex-Grantham A3s which had been transferred to New England shed at Peterborough in September 1963.
Photograph taken by Phil Wilson.
Phil's notes made at Grantham on Saturday 16th May 1964, beginning nearly half-way down the left column. In addition to No. 60062 two of the other five New England A3s made appearances on the day: No. 60112 'St. Simon' at 10.50am and No. 60054 'Prince of Wales' at 6.24pm.

If you have not already done so, make sure you get an early personal notification from us when it is published, by subscribing.  It’s free and very easy to do from the Contact Us or Subscribe page.


LNER and BR(E) Staff Magazines

A few years ago, as part of our ongoing research, we purchased two very useful DVDs from the Great Eastern Railway Society.  The first DVD covers The LNER Magazine from 1927 to 1947, with the second one covering The British Railways (Eastern Region) Magazine from 1948 to 1963. These magazines contain an absolute wealth of information and after many months of painstaking work going through the numerous pages, we have now managed to extract all references to people and incidents that have a connection with Grantham.  This also includes the other local stations that are situated within the boundaries of our Tracks through Grantham territory. To hopefully aid future research when developing new pages for the website, this information has been successfully transferred to a comprehensive searchable spreadsheet.


Grantham Station Buildings in Commercial Use

Various rooms in Grantham's station buildings are being used for commercial purposes these days. 

Back in April 2016 the former First Class Waiting Room was converted into an estate agent’s office.  It's been out of use again for a while, but there's currently a move to change it into a café .

The Whistle Stop micro pub opened in the old Parcels Office in November 2019.  Currently it's closed on account of government restrictions, but we gather they hope to reopen their 'Platform Beer Garden' on 12th April.

Perhaps more unused areas of the station will find new roles in the future.


A Recent Magazine Article

If you've seen Steam World Issue 405, March 2021, you may have seen that there's some local interest:

  • the cover photo is of Grantham's A3 No. 60056 Centenary at York in 1959;
  • on pages 24-29 there's a feature by Nigel Harris titled Around Stoke Bank...   It's a selection of black and white photos from the late 1950s and the mid-1960s, all taken by Philip Wells at a variety of locations between Essendine and Grantham.

Something you may be able to do for us...

While using the website, if you notice anything that needs putting right (such as a link that no longer goes to its intended destination, or something that's inaccurate or out-of-date) please send us a note.  The site has become so extensive that we aren't able to carry out 'housekeeping checks' on every page as regularly as we used to.  More pairs of eyes will be very welcome.  Please use either the Leave a Reply form, which appears on most pages, or the Contact Form on this page.


With best wishes to everyone as we hopefully all 'spring forward',

John Clayson and Mel Smith

Above: We couldn't resist this seasonal picture.  Grantham driver Jim Ledger and fireman Benny Kirk were on the footplate of No. 2551 Prince Palatine on Monday 9th March 1931 setting out from London King's Cross.  See below under A Grantham Crew’s Miraculous Escape.
(From The LNER Magazine, with acknowledgement to the LNER as publisher and with kind permission from the Great Eastern Railway Society. The Society has funded and organised the magazine's digitisation.  The digital copy can be ordered as a 2-DVD set here)

Hello all,

With most of us 'confined to barracks' there's never been a better time to extend and update the website!  There's a new page, and several pages have been improved and updated with more information and images.

Click on the titles for direct links.

A New Page

Some Men Who Saw It All: six Grantham drivers of the 1920s

In February 1930 The LNER Magazine published a photograph of six Grantham drivers who had retired during 1929.  The men were proudly posed together at a retirement presentation. 

It seemed to us that behind this photograph there are six stories of working life on the railway.  Potentially, the men's careers on the footplate might span a period from the 'Races to the North' of 1888 and 1895, conducted in relays using locomotives such as the GNR Stirling 'Singles',  to the non-stop Flying Scotsman introduced in 1928 between London and Edinburgh and made possible by the LNER Class A3 'Super Pacifics'.

Using accounts written by authors Harold Bonnett and Rev. Arthur Cawston, who became well acquainted with several of the men, and archives accessible to us on line in modern times, we think we've gained something of an insight into four decades or so of footplate work at Grantham, from the 1880s to the 1920s.

Revised Pages

Highdyke to Westborough in Fifty Pictures: photographs by Tom Boustead

This very popular page was launched in April 2020 as Highdyke to Hougham in Fifty Pictures, when it attracted a record number of appreciative comments.  Tom has worked with Steve Philpott to identify and scan more of his favourite photographs, extending the range north from Hougham to Westborough and featuring a wider variety of views.

Great Ponton Signal Box

Launched in August 2020, we have recently added information about two collisions inside Stoke Tunnel in the 1850s which led to Great Ponton station having a role in signalling through the tunnel.  Jim Chesney has kindly allowed the use of some splendid photographs from the 1930s, and the Saltersford Up main line auto signals receive an overdue write-up.

A Grantham Crew’s Miraculous Escape

Another find in The LNER Magazine is a great photograph of a Grantham crew's departure from King's Cross taken by a photographer from The Times on a snowy March morning in 1931.  The crew were driver Jim Ledger who happened to be a younger brother of Walter Ledger, one of the retiring drivers in the photograph noted above, and fireman Benny Kirk.

Thirty years later, in December 1961, Benny was the driver in charge of one of the trains involved in a disastrous multiple collision near Wood Walton.  We've added the 1931 photograph to our page about that collision, along with a recently discovered LNER circular of 1928 which demonstrates the enduring importance of the Aberdeen meat train which Benny Kirk was driving in 1961.

A quite co-incidental connection is that one of our retiring drivers of 1929, Joe Wright, was born at Wood Walton in 1864.


We always appreciate feedback, so we hope you'll dip further into the site from time to time and let us know what you think, using either the Leave a Reply section, which appears at the bottom of most pages, or our Contact Form.

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.

Our latest page explores a little-known piece of equipment on Grantham station.

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Above: Peascliffe Tunnel as depicted on the 1903 six-inch OS map, with the ventilation shaft indicated.

Jeff Thompson has always kept a close eye on the railway, especially in the Peascliffe area.  Last Wednesday, 30th September, among the trees above the tunnel, work was taking place on the brick chimney above the ventilation shaft:

The protective grille was being removed so that a new, more enclosed cover could be fitted which will better prevent debris etc. falling in.
Photograph by Jeff Thompson.

Yesterday, the smart new cover was in place:

By Sunday 4th October the job appeared to be complete.
Photograph by Jeff Thompson.

Jeff says "All ready for Royal Ascot Ladies Day!!   There's a very different sound from passing trains, but I haven't yet heard a 'Streak'."

In October 2019 we published a page of photographs taken by Colin Walker when he was a guest on the footplate of an O2 locomotive during a wintry trip from Grantham up to Highdyke Yard.  The driver that day was Sam Pearce.

Sam's grandson, Chris, has recently been in touch to share some memories of his grandfather Sam - a name which, in common with at least one other driver at Grantham known as 'Sam', wasn't actually his real name as you'll discover when you turn to our latest new page.

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.

John Clayson

 

 

 

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Something to hopefully brighten up our days in lockdown! We've just discovered a most interesting and wonderful O Gauge model railway owned by John Ryan who is President of the LNER Society. This fascinating layout is located near 'Over Peover' in Cheshire. Although it's not Grantham based we feel you will still enjoy watching it. There's something for everyone.  Turn up the sound to get the full experience!

 

Brian Maddison recently sent us three photographs he took during the construction of the extension at the south end of Grantham's Platform 4, about 30 years ago. You can find them on a new page here.

Tom Boustead's journey in photographs between Highdyke and Hougham has proved to be one of the most popular launches of a new page in the history of Tracks through Grantham.  We're grateful to everyone who has left a comment on the site or has been in touch by email with feedback - it's all been very positive.  Tom is responding to comments on the page individually as time allows, so please look back at the page from time to time.

We've also been busy updating and revising some of our older pages to improve or add detail, or to add new information and images that have come to light.  One that's been through the shops for an intermediate overhaul and a freshen up is Turntables and Triangles, the story of locomotive turning at Grantham - now revised and improved!

Even the fairly recently published Fresh Fish Daily! page has been 'in works' for an upgrade, including links to two great photographs of Aberdeen to London express fish trains in the Edinburgh area.

If you've time on your hands waiting for 'the new normal' to kick in, here's a suggestion.  To browse, and maybe purchase, photographs taken at Grantham, or at any other location, the following may interest you (listed in alphabetical order):

Try using 'Grantham', 'Barkston', 'Highdyke', 'Honnington' etc. in the search box.

(We have no commercial association with any of the above.)

Please stay safe everyone.

Mel and John