With the kind permission of the Railway Correspondence and Travel Society (RCTS) we are very pleased to re-publish, here on Tracks through Grantham, an article written by John F. Clay in 1966 for The Railway Observer. The article draws on the author's extensive local knowledge as he relates how the town and its people contributed, collectively and individually, to fostering the widespread recognition of Grantham as a premier railway centre on the East Coast Main Line.
The writer concludes by pondering the desolate, cleared site of the loco sheds and yard, querying the wisdom of 'Dieselisation' and wondering, from the perspective of the mid-1960s with the prospect of continuing post-Beeching closures, what future profile the railway would have in Grantham.
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.
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.
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:
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.
We're going back 60 years almost to the day, to the afternoon of Thursday 12th July 1962 when the prototype Brush diesel electric locomotive No. D0280 Falcon calls at Grantham station with The Sheffield Pullman. The man in the cab wearing white overalls is probably the manufacturer's technical representative. Photograph by Cedric Clayson.
We hope this finds everyone well, enjoying some fine summer weather and - depending on where you are of course - coping with the heat.
First, and perhaps most important, we’re very pleased to announce…
Our next Tracks through Grantham meeting: 12th October 2022
We’ve arranged a get-together in Grantham on Wednesday 12th October. If you are already on our Contacts List you should recentlyhave received an email giving additional detail. If you haven't received that email and would be interested in attending please get in touch using the Contact Form on this page, include also a postal address and/or a phone number, and we'll add you to our list of email contacts.
The programme will include a presentation by Chris Nettleton called Steam in and around Grantham. Chris has assembled a really good selection of photographs taken locally by several railway photographers at different periods. Chris edits the Gresley Society’s journal The Gresley Observer and he is also the society’s membership secretary.
So please note the date in your diary; during August we’ll circulate a detailed programme and invitation to people on the Contacts List.
Now for some updates and news…
Updated Website Pages
Tracks through Grantham continues to develop in size and scope, and our website has gained some more photographs and memories including:
Chris Pearce found a splendid photograph of a group of young men at Grantham Loco standing with one of their main line locomotives in the early 1920s. One of the lads is Chris’s grandfather, ‘Sam’ Pearce, and we’ve added the picture to Sam’s page.
We’ve added a photograph of a single line key token used on the High Dyke branch between Colsterworth and Skillington Road to retired signalman John Pegg’s page My Early Recollections of Working on the Railway (where there was already a photograph of the token instrument in Highdyke signal box for the Highdyke-Colsterworth section). A similar key token was recently sold as lot 415 in the auction highlighted in item 3 of ‘Other News’ below.
1. A forthcoming conference in Grantham, themed on Lincolnshire Railways
The 2022 Lincolnshire Railways Conference organised by the Industrial Archaeology Team of the Society for Lincolnshire History & Archaeology (SLHA) will take place at the Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham on Saturday 19th November. The programme will include a series of talks on various aspects of railways in Lincolnshire. Mel and I have been invited to present a talk in which we will explore the role of the railway in the story of Grantham since 1850 and describe how, with the support and encouragement of many people, Tracks through Grantham is gathering and presenting this history.
For more information about the conference, including the other talks, go to this page on the SLHA website, scroll down to November and download the booking form.
2. The future of Grantham Cottage Hospital
Grantham’s Cottage Hospital has played an important role in the town’s railway history on several occasions, most notably following the high speed accident of September 1906 and the disastrous collision between Peascliffe Tunnel and Barkston South Junction in January 1936. So it was good to read recently that, following concern raised by local groups about the currently disused building’s future, its value has been officially recognised, as announced in The Grantham Journal:
There’s a link here to an account of the hospital’s role caring for accident casualties in the autumn of 1906 which was publicised far beyond the town.
3. Going, Going…
On 2nd July Talisman Railwayana Auctions of Nottingham sold 515 lots of railway relics, mostly of Lincolnshire origin, at Navenby. If you’d like to see what went under the hammer and the prices realised, visit their website:
Items of Grantham area interest were spread through the sale in lots 10, 25, 73, 81, 128, 134, 234, 302, 317, 415, 432, 462, 465 and 502.
4. Gone... Grantham’s bid for the Great British Railways HQ
As part of its latest plan to reform the railways the government proposes to establish an organisation to be called Great British Railways (GBR). Last October they announced a competition to identify a location for the organisation’s HQ. Grantham was one of 42 places to submit a bid, but when the shortlist of six was announced on 5th July the town was not among the successful candidates:
When you have a few minutes - or even an hour or two - to spare, try putting ‘Grantham’, ‘Barkston’, ‘Ponton’, ‘High Dyke’ / ‘Highdyke’ or other location of your choice into ‘SEARCH’ on these archive websites and see what comes up:
One of the benefits of having an online presence at Tracks through Grantham is that it encourages collaboration with other projects where they overlap with the Grantham area's railway history.
Malcolm Rush has been in touch to tell us about an album on Flickr where he's publishing his hand-drawn signal box track diagrams, photographs and other information.
In 1965-67 Malcolm visited nearly 200 signal boxes up and down the country. Each visit had a purpose - to create a record of the box and the lines it controlled. What wonderful foresight, as a 13-year-old, to record details of so many signal boxes while they remained operational! Five of the boxes he visited were in theTracks through Granthamarea.
AtTracks through Granthaman ambition is to prepare a page on the website for every signal box in the Grantham area. Several boxes are already covered, but in few cases have we found copies of a track diagram, a vital item in every box showing the purpose of each lever along with track circuit and other important information. A key purpose of Malcolm's visits was to create a hand-drawn copy of the track diagram displayed in each box. Thus his project is a perfect complement to five of our signal box pages and we're delighted to recommend it to you.
Malcolm himself explainsherehow his interest took root, andhereis an index of all the boxes he visited.
Thanks to the support of the then Grantham Station Manager Alec Wise, on Friday 4th January 1967 Malcolm visited the five Grantham area boxes under his supervision. Follow the links below to find Malcolm's diagrams, notes and photographs.
Four of the above boxes were previously featured on our website, the exception being Gonerby Siding box - until now. Encouraged by Malcolm's project we've put that right and you'll find our new Gonerby Siding signal box page here.
We've just added a new page to the website describing a marathon 24 hour period spent on the platforms at Grantham. It's based around the 1961 Summer Working Time Table (WTT) and includes a selection of suitable photographs to illustrate some of the 300+ workings and movements taking place between midnight and midnight. You can step back in time and watch the action here.
Above: A1 No 60158 simmers in the sunshine before departing from Grantham with an express passenger train bound for London King's Cross. This locomotive first entered service on 17th November 1949 and as can be seen in this 1950 photograph it has yet to receive its nameplates. The name chosen was 'Aberdonian' but the ceremony did not take place until early 1951. Initially allocated to King's Cross, No 60158 had two spells at Grantham (35B). The first allocation was between 9th September 1951 and 7th June 1953, before returning to Grantham again on 2nd May 1954 to 6th June 1957. No 60158 was withdrawn on 26th December 1964 and finally scrapped early the following year.
From the Tracks through Grantham photograph archive (see below)
A very Happy New Year and all the best to everyone for 2022!
Below is an update on our activity during the last few months of 2021. We hope everyone will find something new and of interest.
First, though, we’d like to thank everyone who attended our get-together at the Grantham Railway Club on Wednesday 13th October, our first since October 2019. There were over 40 people and we especially welcome everyone who joined us for the first time. Our friends at the Club pulled out all the stops to ensure that all appropriate guidance was followed so that everyone could feel comfortable in the room. Our special thanks go to Richard Cumming for his presentation Steam on the Elizabethan 1953–1961, several times delayed but certainly well worth waiting for.
Our next gathering is planned for April 2022 – provisionally on Wednesday 20th April. Confirmation of the date and the programme will be circulated late in February or early in March.
We’re sorry not to have published our bi-annual Newsletter during 2021. As with many things, the Covid situation has upset normal routines and it’s not been possible to bring everything together, but we do hope to start again with another issue next summer.
1. Some New Pages on our website
Signalling and Signal Boxes
Rob Clipsham remembers a unique experience - travelling from Highdyke to Skillington Road Crossing in 1973 while standing in the tender of the preserved locomotive Pendennis Castle:
Other recent additions are aimed at developing the Tracks through Grantham sub-theme Railway People and Places. Grantham is a town where the railway has been influential in many ways, and we’re glad to demonstrate this by illustrating connections that may not always be immediately apparent:
The Grantham High Speed Accident of September 1906: the passenger casualties
On the morning of Sunday 21st November I visited Grantham cemetery to look for the grave of Georgiana Baguley, the only victim of the accident who was buried in Grantham. It wasn’t too hard to identify because it was repaired and cleaned in 2006 to mark the centenary of the disaster:
How did the town’s emergency services cope when an express train was wrecked and ablaze on an embankment near the station at 11pm at the end of what had, until then, been just another ordinary day? We discovered a write-up in a respected weekly medical journal describing hospital’s response:
The following pages have benefitted thanks to new photographs becoming available:
Turntables and Triangles we’ve added a photograph from the M.L. Boakes Collection of class A2/3 No. 60515 Sun Stream on the 70-foot turntable in the late 1940s
Sam Pearce there’s now a photo of the south apex of the turning triangle, which was opposite Sam’s house on Springfield Road. It has evoked more memories of his grandparents from Chris Pearce.
3. Some recent magazine articles
The editor, Chris Leigh, has featured more selections of colour photographs taken by Noel Ingram on the East Coast Main Line in the early 1960s, mainly south of Stoke summit:
November 2021 (Issue 413):
Front and rear cover photos on the main line, plus pages 4 and 5 on the Woolsthorpe Branch.
across the top of pages 46 and 47 there's a shot of Grantham's A3 No. 60046 Diamond Jubilee departing from Leeds in August 1961.
December 2021 (Issue 414):
pages 54-55: Christmas Pick ’N’ Mix - scenes in the snow, January 1963
Steam Days, January 2022
Beginning on page 40: Travelling from Walsall to Grantham: 1958-62 by Mike Page
4. A recently published book
A Pictorial History of the B12s by Richard Anderson and Dennis Greeno includes many photographs of the former Great Eastern section locomotives which were based at Grantham in the 1950s. They were used on local services on lines radiating from the town, covering the period between the withdrawal of many 4-4-0s and 4-4-2s of GNR origin and the introduction of diesel multiple units (see, for example, the photograph below). The section ‘From Grantham’ is on pages 126 to 135. Published by The Midland and Great Northern (M&GN) Joint Railway Society, price £23.25.
5. For the future
24 hours at Grantham station in 1961
We're continuing to gather information for an upcoming article that will describe events at Grantham station over a 24-hour period. This is set against the background of the Summer 1961 Working Time Table. We hope that the new page will be published early in 2022, so if you have any memories, spotting notes, or even photographs from 1961 there's still time to contribute. Of particular interest is information relating to the practice of engine changes during this period.
Tracks through Grantham Photographic Archive
On another front we have now created and continue to add to a 'Tracks through Grantham Photographic Archive'. This is to ensure that we always have a sufficient library of suitable Grantham related images to call on when needed for future articles. If you have anything that you think could be included in our archive, no matter how insignificant it might seem to be, again please do contact us.
We leave you with two images selected from the archive, one below and another at the head of this post.
6. Keep In Touch
Something for everyone, we hope. We’ll look forward to receiving your comments and feedback either via the Comment Form which appears at the bottom of most pages or, for more general feedback, use the Contact Form form on this page.
(Comments are responses to the content of a page or to previous comments on that page. If approved, a comment may be published and become part of the page. On the other hand messages left using the Contact Form are directcommunications to the Tracks through Grantham team, and they will not normally appear on the site.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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',
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.