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Phew I thought Sidha #245 had beat me to it with his viaduct photos but i 'll crack on with my Pt. 2 #239. On Friday evenings back in the steam days it was usual for the 18.40 St. Pancras- Bradford to have extra coaches added & an extra engine manned by a Nottm. crew to assist. This Friday, August 1962 with Dvr. Charlie Stuart we arrived at Kentish Town Loco. to find we had not only been allocated a scruffy Midland compound engine but were, in fact, working a duplicate to the 18.40, 10 mins. before him! A bit daunting as I'd never worked out of Pancras with a compound before but one thing you could count on at K.Town was top class steam coal so it was up to me to make best use of it. Coupled to the 18.40 engine down to Pancras we separated, he onto his 9 coaches & us on the next platform with 8, I had been building up a good bed of fire in the past hour and as 18.29 ticked by I put a good 10 shovels of coal around the firebox as a wheel slip on starting off could blow a lot of fire out of the chimney. The fresh coal keeping the bed in place &, of course, is very soon fire itself!. So with a sarcastic shout across the platform of"Keep out of our way" we were off with a very welcome 'push start' out of the platform by the class 4 tank engine that had brought our coaches down from Cricklewood, a practise frowned on by station staff due to the noise & smoke in the station, Charlie was soon able to wind back the gear lever & go to Compound mode by opening the regulator to it's full extent this opened the main valve in that dome shaped bit in top of the boiler which directed steam into a third high pressure cylinder between the engine frames before exhausting the part used steam into the 2 outside cylinders to be used again, an economical system much used on steam ships but never developed or used elsewhere on UK Rlys. This action gave a curious 'feel' on the footplate, almost as if the engine was being retarded but the sequence soon sorts itself out & 'Big Brother' in the middle soon shows his power, not bad for a 4-4-0! Now into our stride we were soon passing in & out of those short but almost continuous tunnels that must have made for poor living conditions above with the smoke puthering out all day. Little & often was the rule when on this class of traffic,6-10 shovels per charge every few minutes delivered as fast as possible & the firebox doors closed again as air drawn through the ash pan was better for combustion than 'cold air' from above.Clear of the tunnels we were soon passing Hendon in 10 mins., 1 min. late but with the engine ( & myself) nicely warmed up those 7ft. driving were really covering the distance on that undulating stretch of railroad thro' Boreham Wood-Radlett to St. Albans passing the aptly named seed merchants " Heath & Heather" founded by Sam. Ryder, he did a "Jesse Boot" for gardeners by 'selling & posting' penny packets of seed for the workers!, nearby is a raised plinth with the latin name for St. Albans "Verulam", on through Harpendon with Luton being passed with the 'dropped' minute well recovered. A few extra shovels along here ready for the climb thro' Leagrave & up to Sundon where motorists on the M1 compete with us, anyone beating us is breaking the speed limit! as they veer away from the line towards Toddington services , no break for us as we start down the long descent towards Bedford with minimal steam- maximum speed through Harlington-Flitwick - Amptill- Milbrook so fast there's no time to count the chimneys @ the London Brick Co. The noise of speeding steel on steel & the beat of those 3 cylinders is tremendous with hand signals or shouting the only means of communication. The small unusual named signal box "Houghton Conquest" (2 names put together,village 3 miles away, worth a 'google') is next to Bedford, the station itself is off the main line on the 'up side' so with a blast on the whistle we rattle over the points at Bedford South& North as we speed past. The 'drop down' flap covering the lower 3rd. of the fire box opening has been raised from the start, not only firing over the top of it but building up the fire so that the last 2 shovels full almost filled the opening, the first shovelful of the next charge scattering the heap around the box together with the fresh coal, now even this was increased as north of Bedford we not only had quite a gradient to climb but halfway up it flattened out to allow us to take on water at Oakley troughs & I had to close the door into the tender to operate the scoop handle. Not a simple task as it's quite easy to get the scoop blade so deep in the trough the pressure keeps it there the excess water ejecting through the top tank opening & washing down the first coach! Experience taught you to lower the scoop fully then back 2-3 turns to leave a gap in the hinged elbow making it easier to control the amount of water taken on. No problem this time (big head) so on through Sharnbrook & the aptly named signal box for a summit , Souldrop, (true, been there dunnit!). Freight trains take an easier route through Wimmington, max. speed again towards Wellingboro', no speedometer on the engine so it's Drivers judgement to brake for the 65mph junction then straight back into compound modepast Neilsons sidings, the 1/2 way stop for all those coal trains from Beeston, Finedon & a sniff of the 'Weetabix' @ Burton Latimer as Charlie gives 1 long & 2 short blast on the whistle to let the signalman know we want to turn right at Kettering (straight on for Mkt. Harboro'-Leicester) then hard braking for the 20 mph crossover gave us a very heavy climb up to Glendon Sth. junc. Geddington and then under the pall of smoke & steam from Stewart & LLoyds massive steel works at Corby (now long gone) the into the wet darkness of Corby tunnel, no slipping downhill as we emerge following the contours of the Welland valley, as we pass Gretton we catch a glimpse of one of those Victorian engineering masterpieces Harringworth Viaducts

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David - if you are at Mallaig, then you ARE a long way from Nottingham. BUT if you were to visit Compo by train (assuming trains still stopped at his station), you'd be even farther away. By my reckon

Sorry about the break, I hope the pics, the panoramic view of Harringworth Viaduct! So around a long bend and there it is, over a mile of dead straight track across the top of 90ft. high viaduct, fla

On the Antique Roadshow recently a man showed part of his 242 piece collection of what to me are rather insignificant items of railwayana, namely the builders name plate usually fixed to the driving w

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Sorry about the break, I hope the pics, the panoramic view of Harringworth Viaduct!

So around a long bend and there it is, over a mile of dead straight track across the top of 90ft. high viaduct, flat out now for the climb out of the valley up via Wing- Manton (the junction southbound for Stamford & Peterborough) & the 1/2 mile long Manton tunnel, top of the hill so back up to speed enough to rattle the Xing gates at Oakham- Langham, noted for its 2 shelves of all year round display of geraniums & fuchsias, Ashwell with the ???Hunt kennels alongside so a quick whistle sets them all yelping-? - & the long deer fence around Stapleford Park,local cynics say it kept the Prince of Wales, Ed.8th. in as well as the deer, Saxby and then a few more extra shovels full as I close the tender door again ready for another tank fill up on Brentingby troughs, a bit more care needed as the start of the troughs are quite close to a crossover. The 'Pork Pie' town of Melton Mowbray is passed with the brakes hard on again for the 40 mph curve towards Nottingham (straight on for Syston etc) -climbing once again passing Holwell & another steelworks thats done the disappearing act! Gimston soon follows & then into the gloom of Old Dalby tunnel (I once picked a 1lb. of 'bluebuttons' in 30mins. in the field above!)almost done now, top of the hill at Upper Broughton, station long gone but lots of flowers on site particularly in spring with masses of primroses on the cutting sides. Coming to the long straight down through Widmerpool & time to think of the shed staff so get the rake down off the tender rack and give the fire a good rake over & level off, just keeping enough firing going to maintain pressure- Plumtree & Edwalton were passed with just a breath of steam on then the distant signal for London Rd. Junction told us we were clear into the station so braking hard again onto what is now Lady Bay Rd. bridge so coasting under London Road and into No.6 Platform. Coming to a stand I walked along the platform to change the headlamp code to 'light' engine when returning I was met with a wall of passenger hurrying for the exit, I stopped halfway along the engine and noticed the builders nameplate on the splasher, at the top it read Midland Rly. Co. at the bottom Built at Derby Loco. Works, and in the centre the date year 1902. I'd always thought Compounds were post WW1 but this 60 year old engine had just worked the 125 miles from St Pancras to Nottingham in 125 minutes, a 60 mph average and do you know folks not one one those 300 or so passengers noticed, they didn't even notice we were 10 minutes before time!

Putting the tail lamp on I got back in the cab & Thanked Charlie for the Best trip I'd ever had, "Yes" he replied "we did that 6 days a week before the war & put the engine away when we got back! (WW2 of course & 10 hour shifts! ) I've really enjoyed remembering that trip!

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Sorry Albert, but the last ex LMS Compound, 41168 was withdrawn from Monument Lane shed, Birmingham, in July 1961, it was unlikely to have been around Kentish Town in August 1962 as it had been reduced to scrap at Doncaster by then.

The last Compound surviving in the East Midlands was 41157, last shed 17A Derby, it was withdrawn and scrapped at Doncaster, 30/11/60.

Sorry, your story is so well crafted, but the Compounds had gone by then.

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Amazing! A railway photo on Nottstalgia with a real Nottstalgian on it.

Not quite so, a young Firbeck with his dad, incidentally, that was his demob coat, it's currently hanging up in the hall:-

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Bilbraborn in his element, scrapline, Colwick Shed:-

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Two things sadly not in existence there Pete. The engine and a very slimline Bilbraborn. Did you like the Boston haircut?

Don't forget the old man, 10 years since he tripped over the kitchen step and.............................

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Re #259 - when I read Albert's story, my first impression was "Surely the Compounds couldn't still have been in service - let alone front rank service - by 1962." I reckon 1952 is more likely. At that time there were still 11 survivors of the original 45 Midland Railway 7 foot compounds. The last to go was 41125 which lasted until January 1953. There were of course many more of the later LMS 6 foot 9 variety, six of them lasting into the 1960s.

Another circumstantial bit of evidence : by the Winter 1962/63 timetable there was no 6.40 from London to Bradford. The timing of the main train from St Pancras was 6.45, and only ran as far as Sheffield. The 6.30 slot was occupied by a train to Derby via Leicester. However, in previous years there certainly was a 6.40 from London to Nottingham, and a little earlier still the Derby train was at 7.10 - stopping at Kettering, Nottingham and Sawley Junction. This Derby train was later diverted to the direct Leicester route, and the Sawley Junction stop discontinued.

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Another nice bit of nostalga on that pic. Firbeck,...........BERO FLOUR.

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Homebase there now, oh it's Compos pic. May I recommend Specsavers.

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Sorry about that Pete. Didn't like to say. By the way, our Mark has issued tickets to your brother at Derby, identifiable by the address you told me.

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Sorry about that Pete. Didn't like to say. By the way, our Mark has issued tickets to your brother at Derby, identifiable by the address you told me.

Our John is a very keen user of trains and public transport as a whole, he's always bogging off on trips around the country. A couple of months ago him and Wendy went up to Edinburgh for a few days, they got their tickets on line and, can you believe this, is it was cheaper for them to travel first class from Derby to Edinburgh than second class?????? The fare, £30, how ridiculous is that!!

The fare system in this country is absolutely barmy, it doesn't make sense to me at all, I don't know how they work it out. The last time I caught a train, which was last May from Nottingham to Braintree, the fare was a very reasonable £26 I seem to recall, though of course I bought this a few days earlier on-line, not at the ticket office. This wasn't at a barmy time either, it was early afternoon, the thing I noticed though was that the HST from Nottingham to St Pancake had every seat covered in reserved notices. Thing was, nobody claimed the seats, the train was empty, but for seven other people, I counted them getting on.. So there I was leaving Midland Station, sitting facing backwards, next to the aisle, no window as there was no window on my bit due to the frame being in the way. When I checked all the other seat reservation tickets they were all from Nottingham to St Pancras, really, had the entire carriage cancelled, unlikely, there's no way that could have happened. There was just me in that carriage so I went and sat where I wanted, the transvestite ticket collector ( reminded me of Tim Healy in Benidorm) couldn't give a chuff, quite rightly so, how to run a railway eh..............

Due to the continuing problems with the GER mainline from Norwich to Liverpool Street, Network Rail, from this evening, are shutting the system down over every weekend for two months ( Oh Yeah, is that all ) and everyone has to catch a bus while they upgrade the track and overhead, this means closure of the Braintree and Sudbury branches. I can't see why Braintree has to suffer, there's nowt wrong with the line, the picturesque Sudbury branch is simply served by an ancient single unit DMU which bumps it's traditional way to what is now a crappy bus shelter in Sudbury.

This is going to be fun, no doubt all the works will overrun every Sunday and you'll hear all the complaints from the East Anglian commuters on News at Ten every Monday night and probably beyond. Did these things happen in the 60's, I don't recall it, or did we just accept it as a way of life and get on with it, BR as well..

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#268 Firbeck. I notice that when I travel to St P many of the reserved seats never have an occupant. Last year I asked the ticket-checker why this is. He said ' they sit where they like'. So, presumably, they sit in other carriages.

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I sometimes do train bookings for a couple that we are friendly with. You can get some real bargains, but you need to do a bit of experimenting first. By changing trains and booking separate tickets you can save a fortune. I can't remember all the details, but for a trip from Sleaford to St Austell, the price for a direct ticket was an eye-watering amount even in standard class. You could just about halve that price by booking an off-peak return Sleaford to Derby, advance purchase first class from Derby to Taunton and back (Cross Country) and another advance purchase first class Taunton to St Austell and back (First Great Western).

And it isn't just this country. I'm in the early stages of planning a holiday to the Black Forest, and you can get extremely good prices for advance purchase from London to any station in Germany via Brussels, provided you limit yourself to connections that use the German ICE trains between Brussels and Cologne - sometimes as low as 59 Euro each way. Anybody who's interested in doing such journeys might like to look at a website called "The man in Seat 61" (www.seat61.com).

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When we've travelled to London, if no one is in the reserved seats, we just sit there. If this is not possible then we sit in an empty seat reserved from say Bedford or Luton. They are seldom taken.

My son works in Derby travel centre and still doesn't know why there are such variations in prices. They are encouraged to direct the passengers to the more expensive ticket machines, but he will have none of that. He believes in fairness.

I remember a few years ago we had to travel from Grantham as MML was on strike. What chaos!! What a bloody fracas!!! I was stood with someone's rolled umbrella up my jacksie, an elbow in my ribs, the rim of someone's hat in my earole, and was closer to the woman stood next to me than I've ever been to my wife. Still it was fun. We had an empty train coming back.

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Many years ago, a crowd of us booked from Nottm to Stirling and return. We went up to Sheffield and on to York and Edinburgh.

We then go a non stop Edinburgh to Glasgow. The ticket collector showed up and informed us that the train didn't stop at Stirling.

My sharp witted companion said we don't intend getting off , as we're going back to Nottm down the West Coast line to Crewe then home. He looked perplexed but nodded and went on his way. Brilliant, it cost about £19 in the mid 80's I think.

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Off at a tangent but still on trains, There is one thing I would really love to do. As you probably know I spent around thirty years working on the railway but now I work in catering. I would love to spend a day working on a heritage railway restaurant car along with a chef friend of mine who also has the same wish. I wonder how much tea, coffee, soup etc I would spill.

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Been there got the t-shirt.... or chef's whites anyway!

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GCR Loughborough, 1982 IIRC; the "Edwardian" dinner train with me as chef. The other chap is the inimitable John Jenkinson, one of the railway's great characters.

I can assure you it's great fun, and volunteers are always welcome.

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