Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Guess where I've been…

P.54, Platform 5 Preserved Locomotives of British Railwaysp.54 of Preserved Locomotives of British Railways (15th ed.)
Reproduced here with permission from Platform 5 Publishing Ltd.

That's right, I went to 'The Great Gathering' at the National Railway Museum in York yesterday. Just as the opportunity to see Mallard at Grantham was too good to miss so was the chance to see all six preserved A4 locomotives together in one place.

Temporarily repatriated (from the U.S.A. and Canada respectively) as part of the celebration of MALLARD's world speed record in 1938, 60008 DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (the former 4496) and 4489 DOMINION OF CANADA were on display along with the four A4s that are usually based at various locations around the UK. Yesterday was the last chance to see all six together in York but one further event is scheduled for February 2014 at Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon in Co. Durham.

The Great Gathering of all 6 preserved LNER A4 locomotives at York, 20131111The Great Gathering, 11/11/13, larger version here.


If you're wondering how I managed a shot with no people in the way (Dad has already asked me this) then I must mention the 'Exclusive Access Mornings' that the NRM organised at a very reasonable £15 per person that were limited to 50 people per two-hour session. The NRM staff also recommended that everybody take their photographs from the turntable before wandering amongst the exhibits and getting in each others' way. Some distortion is evident in the above shot thanks to the ultra-wide angle 18mm lens (on a full-frame digital SLR camera) that I had to use to get all six locomotives in one shot but I can live with that.

The Great Gathering, 4464 BITTERN, 4468 MALLARD & 4489 DOMINION OF CANADAThe Great Gathering, 4464 BITTERN, 4468 MALLARD & 4489 DOMINION OF CANADA, 11/11/13

The Great Gathering, 4464 BITTERN, 4468 MALLARD & 4489 DOMINION OF CANADAThe Great Gathering, 60007 SIR NIGEL GRESLEY, 60008 DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
& 60009 UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA, 11/11/13

I must thank Platform 5 Publishing Ltd. for allowing me to reproduce part of their Preserved Locomotives of British Railways book. I realised today that I've been buying Platform 5 spotting books for almost 30 years now so must definitely qualify as a satisfied customer.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Driver J. Ball & Fireman C. Higgins

October 31 saw Dad and I once again taking advantage of London Midland’s ‘The Great Escape’ offer of one day’s unlimited travel on the London Midland network for just £15 each, this year’s trip taking us from Lichfield Trent Valley to Rugby, Stafford, Liverpool and Crewe.

I'd never been to Liverpool before and although I enjoyed the journey I didn't find much of interest at Lime Street station itself other than this…

Plaque commemorating Driver J. Ball and Fireman C. HigginsPlaque commemorating Driver J. Ball and Fireman C. Higgins

The plaque refers to the crew of the 13.15 Liverpool to London Euston express on May 20 1937 who were seriously burned after a collapsed smokebox deflector plate in their London Midland & Scottish Railway Princess class locomotive caused a blowback that turned the footplate into a furnace. Driver Joseph Ball and Fireman Cormack Higgins stayed at the controls and brought the train safely to a stand outside Primrose Hill Tunnel just north of Euston station but sadly died in hospital the following day.

The memorial originally stood in the lobby at Edge Hill locomotive shed (where the men were a 'top link' crew) and a smaller plaque notes that it was removed upon the depot's closure, being rededicated by British Rail staff at its new location on platform 1 in 1986.

Interestingly the legendary railway photographer (and later Bishop of Wakefield) Eric Treacy was Vicar of St. Mary's Church in Edge Hill at the time and held a memorial service to the two men that became an annual event for many years.