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The apparatus on the end of the platform is the rear of a banner-repeater signal which in this case indicated the aspect of the 3-aspect colour-light starting signal at the Country end of Woking station. In effect these types of signals repeated the indication of the following signal where the driver's view of it was restricted due to track cuvature or bridge abutment, and displayed either a horizontal black bar on a white background signal at Danger or a 45 degrees black bar on a white background signal Clear one yellow or green.
One can only assume this was a Saturday or Sunday for so many train spotters to be on the station platforms. Phil James The spotting stories on this website certainly stir the old grey cells and rekindle happy memories.
I was born and brought up in Coventry and have a vague memory of writing down engine numbers to amuse myself on a long train journey to Cornwall when I was five years-old. A couple of years later, in the mid s, my parents took me to visit relatives in Luton.
The adults decided to go shopping in Hitchin, and on the basis that I would probably be a pain walking around shops, I was allowed to go and stand on the end of the platform at the station under strict instructions regarding my behaviour.
After a few minutes Class A4 Seagull came racing through with the distinctive chime whistle going like crazy and I was hooked. On the subject of A4s, about ten years ago I was travelling through Crewe and Union of South Africa was there on a special and I was able to 'cop' my last of the class.
Can I claim a record for the fifty years it took? You could almost guarantee that when you turned up somewhere you had just missed a rare engine. My local destinations were expanding to include Tamworth and Crewe and I soon reached a point where the 'cops' were becoming rarer and rarer. By the early s, it soon became apparent that many of the gaps in my Combined Volume were Scottish based engines that hardly ever managed to reach the southern end of the main line.
In later life I found out that both Camden and Crewe engines were frequent visitors to Glasgow and beyond but the Scottish Region's 66A engines were almost always taken off their trains at Carlisle.
Over engines were seen and nearly every one a 'cop'…it was bliss! Prior to the Scottish shed bash I had not managed to see a single 'Clan' because they never seemed to travel further south than Manchester and Leeds, however as our train was approaching Glasgow we passed Polmadie shed and standing out in the yard, right next to the main line, were all five allocated to 66A.
I believe they were stored at the time. I had waited three years to see one and then five appeared at the same time. It made me realise that the rarity of an engine is completely dependent on where you live. About two miles south of Birmingham, there is a New Street avoiding line that passes under the line to Coventry. It was used by all of the freight trains that were never seen at New Street.
One day I was travelling from Coventry to Birmingham and as we approached this avoiding line I got a brief glimpse of the last few carriages of a passenger train. It was subsequently reported that the engine was a Corkerhill 'Jubilee' on a special to the Bristol area.
It was assumed it had worked through to Leeds and then, for whatever the reason, Holbeck had borrowed it to work this special. There was a very similar event reported but this time in reverse. Holbeck was again deemed to be the cause when it used a Bristol Jubilee on a Glasgow service. Somewhere on the journey the engine developed a fault and when it finally reached Glasgow it was taken off to Corkerhill where it was subsequently spotted tucked away near the back of the shed awaiting repair.
These sorts of rare incidents often made me wonder how the engine allocating system was supposed to work. In a perfect world I would imagine the foremen were under permanent instruction to return visiting engines as soon as possible but the railways were a decidedly imperfect world.
In the above example, the Bristol foreman would have found out that one of his passenger engines was sitting miles away and would not be coming back any time soon. If that left him short did he borrow something suitable that arrived on his shed? If that were the case the whole thing could snowball and there would be foremen all over the country not knowing when they were going to get their engines back.
The more I think about it, the more problematic it becomes and it would appear to be something of a miracle that so many trains were actually worked by the intended engines. It must have been a nightmare dealing with very high maintenance steam engines when they could need repairs at any time. As I mentioned earlier, by about my Ian Allan was starting to fill up and many of my days spent by the main line or on a platform were producing virtually no 'cops'.
With the benefit of hindsight I should have abandoned the idea and concentrated my efforts on organised shed visits to areas that would have produced good results. There was a certain 'buzz' about going round sheds and hopefully seeing a few dozen engines all in the one place. I only ever got in trouble once when my cousin and I had been round the shed at York and were out in the yard when this guy appeared from a brick hut and gave us a 'severe telling off' and informed us he was calling the police.
As he disappeared back into the hut an engine came on shed and passed close by, so I decided to use it as a shield and started walking back to the shed. Unfortunately my cousin had not moved; he seemed rooted to the spot. I went and retrieved him and we beat a hasty retreat using the engine as cover. Where there was very little likelihood of getting in unobserved, I found a polite request often worked, especially if you emphasised how far you had travelled.
I tried this at Swindon Works and the chap at the end of the tunnel explained that all visitors were required to have a guide but if I waited a while I could join an official party. Had they all been like this then life would have been so much easier. We were having a tentative peep from the top of the steps trying to assess our chances when a Geordie voice informed us that we had no chance because 'Hitler' was probably on duty. The prophet of doom turned out to be a local lad in his late teens who told us that we could get in at the far end of the shed if we made our way to a certain road.
We made it around the place even though we were being ultra cautious because we had no wish to be caught by someone referred to as Hitler! I learned a valuable lesson that day. If possible, try and talk to someone local who might be able to point out alternative 'entrances' to the official one in the Shed Directory.
Old Oak Common and the hole in the fence from the canal springs to mind and I'm sure there must have been many others. Like many others, I started to lose interest when the diesels and electrics were taking over and the steam that was left was in a terrible state. If anybody ever invents a time machine, I would be one of the first in the queue to go back and do it all over again. Thanks again for a great website, Phil James Often caricatured for his long chin and distinctive beard, Jimmy Hill's career in English football embraced every aspect of the game, from his early professional playing days starting in through to his role as a trade union leader, coach, manager, director, chairman, television analyst and presenter of the BBC's 'Match of the Day' between and ; he was truly one of the game's greatest pioneers and personalities.
In the mid 50s, when I was about five years-old, my dad started taking me to watch Coventry City. I do not know whether this was fatherly love or whether it was a punishment because the Sky Blues was a team that had never achieved anything and never looked like they ever would.
A few years later, in , a certain Jimmy Hill was appointed manager and, almost overnight, he completely transformed the team, club and support. One of his ideas was to charter a train to take fans to away matches. This became known as the 'Sky Blue Special'. There was a real family atmosphere on these trains and never a hint of any trouble. Not too many years later the football hooligans were wrecking special trains for fun and the railways were forced to stop running them.
Six of us who were interested in railways as well as football would select trips where the journey and destination should prove interesting. The object of the exercise was to arrive about midday, do a quick trip to a shed or two, and then get to the ground in time for the start of the match.
I remember going to Bristol and visiting Barrow Road and St. Southampton was a struggle, having to catch a train to Eastleigh, but we made it. The Shed Directory was an essential part of any serious spotters kit but, for some inexplicable reason, it did not give directions from sheds to football grounds and there were quite a few places where we were indebted to local people for helping us with bus routes.
By far the most frequent destination was London where the first thing on the agenda was a short trip from Euston to Kings Cross station to see if there was anything interesting lined up at the buffers. In an ideal world we would then have headed for Stratford but we knew there was virtually no chance of getting in. I did go on two organised trips, both times on a Sunday, and it really was an amazing place.
There were buildings everywhere and the sheer size of the site had to be seen to be believed. On each of my visits there were just shy of engines on shed with a lot of different classes. This was comfortably the most I ever saw on a shed, on March and on Eastfield being the next best. Had we had a free choice, Kings Cross shed would probably have been next on the list, not so much for its own allocation, but in the hope that there might be a visitor or two from Gateshead or Haymarket.
This shed was also ruled out because the entrance was so enthusiastically guarded. Our choice usually came down to either Nine Elms above left or Old Oak Common below right where we were confident of getting round. Old Oak Common, accessed from the canal footpath, could always be relied on to have a few visitors from Devon and South Wales that we did not get to see in the Midlands and was usually good for fifty to seventy engines in residence, even on a Saturday.
I could never really get my head round Nine Elms. It appeared to be a toss up which came first, the end of steam or the shed buildings falling down. I cannot remember a shed where there was so much ash lying around everywhere; not just bits, there were mountains of the stuff. Ironically, this place lasted longer than any of the other main London sheds. Having seen the size of the sites of all the major London sheds, I think a special award should have gone to the people working at Camden.
Compared to the others, there was a small shed and yard that had been squeezed into an area that was clearly unsuitable for a major terminal. They must have worked miracles to get the locos ready on time and in the right order.
Jimmy Hill was an amazing, innovative man who frequently thought 'outside of the box'. Football and the people of Coventry owe him a great deal. There are even some railway enthusiasts who look back with affection, but he would have been blissfully unaware of this. Hi David, you asked me to send some old steam photos which I've wrapped up in a narrative of my childhood train spotting days. I was just 8 years-old, and at that tender age I was dependent on him taking me 'down the railway' on the main line just west of Wimbledon.
As a result I received my first Ian Allan combined volume at Christmas , which is still on my bookshelf today. When not venturing further afield, I regularly visited the same location near Wimbledon where a crowd of spotters used to gather on a footbridge near Wimbledon C box which controlled the junction of the line to Sutton.
It was also the country end of Wimbledon goods yard. When waiting for the 'Atlantic Coast Express', 'Royal Wessex', or 'Bournemouth Belle' we used to watch various locos shunting the yard. On more than one occasion the loco driver was a bit heavy-handed with the regulator and sent a wagon hurtling down the siding until it hit other wagons with an almighty crash and a huge cloud of dust.
For anyone restoring old wagons on today's heritage lines come across bent frames and buckled buffer beams, that's how it happened! Not long afterwards my brother gave me an old Werra 35mm camera which had a good quality lens, but could I do it justice? Frankly most of my pictures were rubbish. The BR Standards always sounded like they were being driven hard, but maybe we were used to the soft exhaust from multiple jet blastpipes of their predecessors.
The young lad in the foreground of the picture is my spotting pal Barrie Shapland. Shame the picture isn't much good.
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is and in to a was not you i of it the be he his but for are this that by on at they with which she or from had we will have an what been one if would who has her. STEAM TRAINS TO THE LEFT, STEAM TRAINS TO THE RIGHT Introduction by David Hey When asked by Coastline Radio FM - a local radio station on the Costa del Sol - to talk about train spotting in the Sixties, the idea did not sit easily with me - and just as I feared, when I opened my mouth to speak, a lot of emotional twaddle came out.