In which I continue my studies at Reading University, make my final visit to Shoeburyness and ride the footplate of a West Country Pacific.
Friday 13 April
Went down to Shoeburyness this afternoon.
Saturday 14 April
I took Mrs. Banyard's nephew, Alan, down to the shed this morning. He is an ardent train spotter and had a good time looking over the engines. I was suprised at the number of dead engines in the shed sidings which were waiting to be towed away to be cut up. One engine that I was particularly sorry to see was 42509, Sam Brown's old engine (he's on the electrics now) which was filthy dirty and was also waiting to be towed away. Only the Stanier three-cylinder engines were dead and some were so rusty that I don't envy the person who has to oil them to make them fit to travel. I went round to see Harry Price this afternoon, he lives at 12, Richmond Avenue. He was pleased to see me. We chatted for about an hour.
Monday 16 April
I came back from Shoeburyness this morning. I took Allan for a quick run around the shed and then caught the 11.10 up. Ben Diamond was the motorman and I went up with him as far as Barking where he was relieved. The journey up fromPitsea to Laindon was rather soiled by a 20 m.p.h. permanent way restriction caused by relaying. From Upminster to Barking we reached 70 m.p.h., with a full-open controller, and held this for several miles in succesion. It was difficult to believe that we were going so fast even though we were right in front of the train and not behind a boiler. the riding was extremely good indeed, I could have stood up easily without holding on.
Saturday 28 April
(cannot trace these photos). I got talking to the crew of the Bournemouth to Wolverhampton train. They were very friendly and half invited me to go with them to Oxford, they said that they would be back at 13.44 so I had an early dinner, rushed back to Reading West and went with them to Basingstoke. The engine was West Country class 4-6-2 No. 34103 "Calstock", rather grimy but in good mechanical condition. We only had seven coaches and the crew demonstrated what good engines these are. We set off with little slipping and were soon doing 40 m.p.h with regulator less than half open, very soon the engine was eased even more. I was told that these unrebuilt engines were faster than the rebuilt ones because they are heavier with the air-smooth casing. I didn't see the cut off positions, reversing is by means of steam, I'm not quite sure how this works. The regulator is of the pull-out type, it is a bit more difficult to see exactly how far it is open than on the LMS, GW and early-SR engines. The brake controls are a bit different from the LMS and GW engines. On the main handle there are three positions, running, large ejector and exhausting. There is a separate lever for the small ejector. A.T.C. is fitted above the driver's head - rather inconvenient. Besides the brake and speed gauges the driver has another gauge which measures, I think, the pressure in the steam chest. On the fireman's side the two injectors, both live steam are controlled by four handles underneath the fireman's seat. These are adjusted by looking through two holes in the floorboards, no need to look over the side! The firehole door is of the butterfly type, originally operated by means of a steam pedal, these are now all hand-operated. The firebox is very wide, wider than it is long, and it is necessary to keep the top end covered, the slope of the grate keeps the bottom end well covered. An unusual feature of the firebox is that the brick arch is in three sections, it also seems to be closer to the firehole door (easier to get some coal on top of the brick arch!). The fireman had a very easy time. He didn't put on more than 25 shovelsful the whole way from Reading to Basingstoke and yet he kept the water level above the top of the gauge glass and although pressure did drop to 210 lbs. per sq. in at one time, (boiler is pressed to 250 lbs. per sq. in.) it came back quite quickly and was blowing quite hard when we reached Basingstoke. Another good feature is that the cab is lit electrically from a steam operated generator. This particular engine rocked a bit at about 40-50 m.p.h - I don't know what she would have been like at 80 m.p.h. - quite rough I would imagine. The fireman said that on a crack express he has to be much more careful about maintaining pressure, in this case he has a different technique - little and often.
The lookout ahead is somewhat obscured by the very wide casing, it also obscures the chimney which cannot be seen at all from the cab. Steam and smoke tends to drift over the cab making it occasionally impossible to observe the signals. I was told that it is necessary sometimes to shut off steam in order to see the signals. The fireman had not cleaned the fire at Oxford, he said that they steamed well over long distances. One time, they took an engine which had worked down to Bournemouth from London and worked the Bournemouth Belle both ways without cleaning the fire and she still steamed well. They are fitted with a rocking grate and ashpan, there is only one damper. The blowdown cock is inside the cab on the fireman's side.
There was quite a variety of steam at Basingstoke, two types of Standard, 4-6-0 No. 75065 and 2-6-0 No. 76010 and many SR tyes including:
Schools 4-4-0 No. 30935 "Sevenoaks" was on a down stopping train, this was in quite good condition and obviously had been looked after although there were several leaks of steam. It was carrying its old Bicklayers Arms shed plate (73B).
Class S15 4-6-0 No. 30840 on a down goods which had stopped in the platform.
Class N 2-6-0 No. 31859 - shunting.
Class U 2-6-0 316xx on an up passenger train.
Several 4-6-2s of both types, both rebuilt and unrebuilt. No. 35002 on the Atlantic Coast Express.
I could see the Drummond 0-6-0 in store at the loco depot, I presume this is No. 30368 (see Saturday 14 February)
I had a long wait at Basingstoke and caught the 15.40 diesel back.