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I'll be running the occasional photo here which has stumped me, with information that I have established, updated with any fresh info that viewers can suggest. If anybody can help with identification, please get in touch!

Yuletide puzzle 2020

This year ranges from BR days through LNER and a pre_Grouping scene:

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The sequence is like this:

Two questions per image, eight altogether:

A - Mid-1950s, and appearances can be deceptive! Name the location and what's behind A1 No 60120 Kittiwake

B - K2 No 4681 is passing Stratford in 1932: why is the loco fitted with a Westinghouse pump and what's the train made up with?

C - The year is 1935. Name the location and the express that C7 No 2200 is hauling with four GWR carriages at the head.

D - GCR No 730 (LNER F1 5730) is at Guide Bridge with a distinctive NPCS 6w vehicle. Similar ones worked to King's Cross in LNER days. Can you identify which company's van it was and what it carried?

Please offer your thoughts using the Contact/feedback link. I'll post a full set of answers on New Year's Day and who got most right. :-)

The answers

A - Leeds Central was a multiple joint station and this view is normally seen from the opposite direction. Behind the loco is the goods warehouse still branded "London and Midland Scottish Railway" (ex-LNWR/LYR). Here's the same place looking the other way:

B - The LNER abandoned Westinghouse braked stock except on the GE Section where it was seen as faster-acting and better for suburban services. The train is made up of ex-GER carriages.

C - Seen on Durham Viaduct is the Glasgow-Southampton cross-country express part of which alternated GWR and LNER stock. Another view of the same train at Darlington in 1932:

D - Behind the loco is a distinctive North Staffordshire 6w milk van. It's on pages 108-109 in Peter Tatlow's "Historic Carriage Drawings - 3 - NPCS".

Congratulations to all who got some of them right. Best of all was John Suckling who got 6/8 right, pretty good, John!


There was what might be called a directional or route-indicating signal at Banbury South, where the Down Loops terminated and Banbury Loco came in. Here are some pictures from the files:

Heading south past the gasworks on Friday, 27th June 1958, is Banbury's Churchward 2-6-0 No 5306 with a train from the ER. (see Banbury Expresses for details).

"King" no 6014 King Henry VII comes out of the mist at Banbury South with a Down express on 29th April 1960 (see Banbury Expresses for details). 3845 is waiting to come off shed.

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Two closer views of the signal with the levers for several indicators. Photos author's collection.

If anybody can offer more detail, please get in touch via Contact/feedback or the link above.

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Four LNER-related stations, the questions, start in the top left corner and go round clockwise: Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

1 - A scene on the GNML in 1950 with an N2 hauling ECS taking water. Identify the station, and the purpose of the more distant signal box.

2 - An LNER view in which the church was demolished in 1960. Name the station and original operator.

3 - The station throat of this terminus contains five LMS locos and an LNER one. Name the station and the two pre-Grouping operators.

4 - When a new station was opened nearby in 1902, the old terminus, seen in the 1960s, remained in use. Name and reason for its extended use, please.

Answers on New Year's Day, 1st January 2020, with commendations as appropriate. Good luck! If you'd like to submit your thoughts please use Contact/feedback via either of the menus or Contact/feedback.

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The answers

In clockwise direction from the top left:

1 - The location is Wood Green station, nowadays named Alexandra Palace, looking south. Here's part of the OS 25" map from 1937:

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Leaving King's Cross the GNML was flanked by carriage sidings and, at Wood Green, the branch for Enfield came off (to be taken over the Main Line by a flying junction). Just south of the station there were 10 tracks and unsurprisingly, there were four signal boxes which in the 1947 Sectional Appendix were named "Wood Green" and "Wood Green Nos.2 to 4". The map shows the main lines running through the station and the Down line to Enfield on the left/west side. Source: OS 25", National Library of Scotland.

In the quiz photograph, "Wood Green No.4" is to the immediate right and the more distant box - subject of the second part of the question - "Wood Green" - is on the map, a quarter of the way up from the bottom marked "S.B.". Its main purpose was to control the Down passenger and goods lines to Enfield and the loading dock for Alexandra Palace and its racecourse (horses were delivered here until the course closed in 1970).

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A 1960s view shows Peppercorn A1 No 60148 Aboyeur racing through Wood Green on the Down Fast Line while what looks like a Class 25 approaches on the Down Slow Line about to be turned off for the Enfield Branch. To the right is the aforementioned signal box and the loading dock for Alexandra Palace and its racecourse (remains of which I am told can still be seen today). Photo: Author' collection.

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2 - The station shown was Wrexham Central which was operated by the Wrexham, Mold and Connah's Quay Railway.

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Here's the station on a 25" OS map from 1909. St. Mary's church can be seen (demolished in 1960). The WM&CQR was acquired by the GCR hence that company's loco and carriages in the quiz picture. Source: OS 25", National Library of Scotland.

The station was rebuilt in modern times and remains in use today.

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3 - A vast panorama of Bradford and Forster Square station, built by the MR with running rights by the NER. It's hard to tell if the LNER train approaching the camera was an express leaving tender-first, or the elderly D23 was serving as the LNER's station pilot.

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This was a large site so I have turned the map (of 1934) through ninety degrees. Siding capacity here was used to house entire Bradford/Leeds expresses to St.Pancras, reversal being required at Leeds Wellington St. station (later part of Leeds City). Source: OS 25", National Library of Scotland.

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Additional map. The photo was taken from a footbridge which is at the top of this enlargment. The station is still with us today. Source: OS 25", National Library of Scotland.

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4 - The sketch map below shows all the stations at Newmarket. The original one was a terminus which because of the lie of the land could not be turned into a through station. An island platform was added on the line to the north (Ely) and east (Bury St. Edmunds) and then an additional station at Warren Hill to help serve racecourse traffic from the north - the course was actually on the other side of town! The nettle was finally grasped when a new station with through platforms was built and opened in 1902.

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The OS 25" map (of 1926) shows the old station. It was kept in use for three reasons - as the main goods depot, to help handle race excursions, one of which can be seen in the quiz picture complete with an ex-GER restaurant car, and to load and receive racehorses. For which loose piles of hay/fodder can be seen on the platform.

Hence the old station stayed alive until 1967. Instead of a station pilot, shunting horses were used to the end, becoming the last examples on British Rail. The station building had a grand Italianate exterior and was listed but, alas, it fell into disrepair and there was quite a stink when it was pulled down in 1981. Source: OS 25", National Library of Scotland.

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And the winners is - John Law - well done! - who got most of them right.

Unresolved: Ex-NER C7 No 2208 approaches the camera at an unknown date and location. Express lights are being carried, which might suggest a portion, of Gresley 61'6" carriages, plus a horse box (ex-GER?) behind the tender. The loco lasted until Nov 1948 so the date could be late '30s or '40s.

BTK   3rd brake
  CK   1st/3rd
BTK   3rd brake

On the high ground in the background is a staggered row of terraced houses.

Resolved below

Your puzzle this year is a pair of LNER "Official" pictures, 12"x10", on the back of which is written "Flying Scotsman" and the cost of construction of the loco. The basic questions are:

1 - Which class of loco is actually taking shape?

2 - At which works?

3 - The approximate date?

Answers on New Year's Eve, 31st December, with commendations as appropriate. Good luck! If you'd like to submit your thoughts please use Contact/feedback via either of the menus or Contact/feedback.

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The answers

The answers came in quickly, led by Rob Dickson (well done!) and summarise thus:

1 - Gresley 3-cylinder 4-6-0 Class B17

2 - Darlington Works

3 - 1930-36

I think the general design history of this lightweight 4-6-0 is fairly well known, intended for the GE Section to supplement the Holden B12s, which the North British Locomotive Company was asked to design and build a batch of 10, under guidance by the LNER. Gresley had struggled with first designs attempted at King's Cross and Doncaster before handing over to NBL - which had already built several classes of LNER loco. There's a well-detailed account in RCTS 2B.

Further batches, were constructed at Darlington (52 between 1930-36) and a final batch of 11 (1937) at Robert Stephenson & Co. at Darlington. The total came to 73.

Identifying the works in the photograph was the trickiest part as there were three possibilities. Among the misleading stuff on the rear of the photographs, the location was cited as "Darlington" and the picture below shows the same works with the salient features confirming it:

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A view inside Darlington Works about 1923-24. Source: LNER 150, Patrick Whitehouse and David St.John Thomas, D&C, 1989, p.140.

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Examples in service

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The first batch built at Darlington comprised numbers 2810-2821 and No 2818 Wynyard Park, allocated to Cambridge, is seen leaving the city in the 1930s with an express for Liverpool St. The train is dominated by pre-Grouping carriages, mostly ex-GER with an ex-NER one leading. Photo: AWV Mace collection.

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Another example from the first batch and also allocated to Cambridge, No 2819 Welbeck Abbey is seen passing Littlebury on 4th August 1934 with an Up express to Liverpool St. Photo: ER Wethersett.

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In 1931 the second batch built at Darlington comprised numbers 2822-36 and the first one of them, Alnwick Castle is portrayed on a sepia postcard at Ingrave Summit, Brentwood, with a "Seaside Exoress". Note how the catering carriages (ex-GER restaurant car and dining car) were placed at the head, behind the loco. Photo: F.J. Agar.

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Another one from the same batch was No 2834 Hinchingbrooke which was sent to Neasden on the GC Section and is seen on shed in 1933. Photo: Author's collection.

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Also from this batch was No 2835 Milton, captured in November 1933 at Woodford Halse. It was one of three B17s sent to Doncaster to work fish trains to Banbury but by December, it had been transferred to Parkeston. Photo R.S.Carpenter.

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A B17 from the fifth and final batch built at Darlington in 1936, No 2850 Grimsby Town, now being built with a larger LNER Group Standard tender and named after football clubs on the LNER. It was one of three allocated to Woodford for working the cross-country expresses and is seen on shed on 14th August 1938. Photo R.S.Carpenter.

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The penultimate B17 built at Darlington in 1936 was No 2860 Hull City and is seen awaiting its next turn at Nottingham Victoria. Photo: TG Hepburn.

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This is based on Colour-Rail NE106 with my apologies for the mediocre colours; the original, a Dufaycolor slide, was exposed on a dull day and the duplicate from C-R quite strongly vignetted and blue; I have done my best to restore it.

The scene is Edinburgh Waverley in August 1939 and A3 No 2747 Coronach is about to depart with the LMS formation of the Up "Thames-Forth" * express. In the background stands a K3 and a Gresley 61'6" 3rd (TK)

All good stuff, but I got the picture because of the 6w van behind the tender - it's one of the rarely photographed ex-NBR Fruit and Yeast Vans (LNER Wagons-3, p.59, Peter Tatlow).

The livery is intriguing, too, for this was classed as a goods van, even though fitted with AVB and through steam heat pipe. The body colour can be loosely described as brown and I think I can see the large white letters "NE" placed fairly centrally, between the doors. Further text would have been placed below them, and the slide seems to show what may be two words, in yellow??

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*Route of the Thames-Forth express - Heading south was:
Edinburgh-Carlisle via the Waverley Route
Carlisle-Leeds via the Settle & Carlisle
Leeds-St.Pancras via the Midland main line through Derby.

After the hiatus caused by WWII, the service was not actually restored until 1956, when BR renamed it "The Waverley". But it was not to last and after an initial reduction to summer-only, it was withdrawn in 1968.

Iain Chalmers, member of the NBR Study Group, has come forward to say there could be two of these yeast vans behind the tender. He believes that much of the yeast was a by-product from the beer industries around Alloa and that these despatches could reach Burton-on-Trent in the Midlands. It's interesting that the NBR gave these vans a passenger livery (ie. NPCS) while the LNER regarded them as goods vehicles - a bit strange for a 6w vehicle fully up to NPCS specifications and running with expresses, but you have to get used to inconsistencies in railway practice.

There's more work to be done here but already there is the tantalising prospect for LNER and LMS modellers to run these vans.

How the yeast vans were taken on to Burton-on-Trent is not yet known. It's possible that they may have been attached to other passenger services, from Derby for example, by which time thanks to the change of direction at Leeds City, the Yeast Van would have been on the rear. And possibly returned via goods trains?

Any further ideas/corrections would be welcome (via the "Contact/feedback" link, please)!

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Your Yuletide puzzle for 2017 is the train in the above picture. The negative arrived with only these words on the sleeve "2479 Rugby 1-8-37".

There is a lot of content here and the basic questions are to identify:

1 - Season and day of the week.
2 - Direction of travel and possible destination.
3 - The NPCS (2 vehicles).
4 - The passenger stock (there's at least eleven - as many as you can: not all are possible but there are some significant types and groupings.
5 - The loco is a passenger tank and it's carrying a reporting number, presumably for an excursion, and Ordinary Passenger lights. What is likely to have been happening here?

Answers on New Year's Eve, 31st December 2017, with commendations as appropriate. Good luck, it's quite a tough one! If you'd like to submit your thoughts please use Contact/feedback via either of the menus or Contact/feedback.

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Good progress was made after Philip Millard recognised the precise location, and thus allowed examination of the local track plan and the likely routes onwards. So, starting with the questions outlined above:

1 - 1st August 1937 was a high summer Sunday (so popular for a day out that many years later it would become a Bank Holiday). The sun angle indicates just before noon.

2 - The train is leaving Rugby and heading west.

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This is the layout after Rugby No.7 signal box was moved from the north to the south side of the running lines in 1936. The train is on the third track up from the bottom of the plan and the signals indicate that the route being taken is towards Leamington Spa.

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3 - The NPCS comprises a pair of CCTs (covered carriage trucks), often used as general vans. Leading is an LMS 6w covered combination truck, and behind it, an ex-NER bogie CCT.

Fresh information

4,5 - At this point (the date is 25th January 2019) I drop my initial suggestion of an excursion in favour of analysis by Darwin Smith, thank you very much. He makes the point that my original interpretation of an excursion was plausible - because irregular workings and events were part and parcel of the the steam railway - but offers an alternative, that is arguably even more irregular, but more plausible. We've discussed this in some detail and here are the results, 90% Darwin's work:

To begin with, the reporting number of W21 was indicated in the WTT as the Sundays-only 10.22am Euston-Wolverhampton advertised only as far as Coventry, and to carry Ordinary Passenger lights beyond Rugby, which can be seen on the loco. It was, in fact, a semi-fast working. The carriages were rostered in two portions: for Wolverhampton and Coventry with the latter normally on the rear for ease of detachment. Destination boards on the leading carriages were reversed because this stock was taken from a different working during the week (the 11.30 Euston-Wolverhampton express with restaurant car, hence the pair of TOs which during the week served as dining cars).

At this point another factor comes into play as the route towards Leamington Spa is being taken, which indicates a possible diversion because of engineering work, entailing reversal at Coventry - hence the tank engine rather than the tender loco which would have worked the train from Euston to Rugby.

According to the Marshaling Circular, the formation for the Wolverhampton portion was:













The use of three CKs was not very common and while (FK,TK,TK) was arguably simpler and placed all the 1st class passengers in a dedicated carriage, the LMS was not a big user of the FK and this was not an elite express but, also, the three modern CKs provided more 1st class seats: an important consideration for this service. The two TOs were older carriages:


single window to D1706


low-waisted version to D1721

The Coventry portion did not have a return working and was rostered for any available stock to (BCK, TO, TO, TO, TO, BCK). Not all of these are visible but the following can be discerned, with a tendency towards older stock including a pre-Grouping carriage:


ex-MR Bain

  TK ?





Remainder not visible...

The next stage in these workings began at Coventry where the trailing portion was detached and the 7 (rather posh) carriages for Wolverhampton were held for 10 minutes to depart as a fresh train in the public timetable, calling at almost every station, including 35 minutes at Birmingham New St. For a secondary service like this, in the hands of a 2-6-4 passenger tank, the stock was on the elegant side - and serves as an example of how efficient the steam railway used to be in trimming a main line formation and maximising its utilisation.

And finally...

The set terminated at Wolverhampton where the restaurant car (an RF) was put back in the formation, ready for the week's normal duties, which began as the 6.50am Wolverhampton-Euston express, calling at Birmingham New St. at 7.30am, and returning with the already-mentioned 11.30am Euston-Wolverhampton. It would have been busy serving breakfast in the Up direction, and lunch in the Down working and was a good example of a roster which fielded a high catering demand in both directions and was thus provided with three catering carriages (RF, TO, TO).

That's as far as we can get and my apologies for such length, but as you can see, even irregular workings had a solid operating basis and, for the modeller, options that don't normally come to mind. It's also fair to say that Sunday workings, for which a weekdays formation was modified, don't get the same level of attention!

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I got this picture for the view of the train being loaded, hauled ex-LMS 2P 4-4-0 No 40569, which is carrying a 5A Crewe North shed plate. The date appears to be sometime in the 1950s, the loco moving to Watford in 11/59. Withdrawal came a few years later in 6/61. A single lamp is being carried over the LH buffer, which would indicate a pick-up goods, but it may be a "light engine" light that hasn't been changed yet. My guess is that it's a parcels working. The location, however, has defeated me - can anybody recognise it?

Gordon Luck has come to the rescue - it's an Up train at Crewe station, platform 6. Armed with that info the presence of ex-GWR vans, a pair of Siphon Gs (early and late versions), behind the loco suggests a Parcels working to Shrewsbury. There used to be a working from Crewe to Bristol although the only source I have is for 1935-36 when it ran overnight and comprised almost entirely GWR vehicles: passenger brake vans and Siphons. Rostered for up to eight vehicles, if this was a comparable service in early BR days it would have been no problem for a lightweight ex-LMS 2P. Presumably, Shrewsbury took over with a GWR loco.

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Two sets of pictures with horse boxes, since updated and moved into the topic "Horse and Race Traffic" with a sub-section focusing on LMS horse boxes.

LGRP 21135

This is LGRP 21135 and shows a NBR-built Wheatley 0-6-0 approaching Carlisle with a train of 6-wheel and bogie passenger carriages; a 4-wheel passenger brake van; and a horse box. The headlamps are not RCH-related but a local one so I cannot tell if this was an express or ordinary passenger train. I suspect that the code probably indicated the route being served, a practice which lasted beyond the Grouping in several parts of the UK.

LGRP 21135 detl

An enlargement of the two non-passenger vehicles shows more of the horse box. Oil axleboxes are evident, a fixture that was becoming normal on coaching stock built after around 1900.

Real 17363

The second view shows an LMS train in 1925 at Blackwell being banked up the Lickey Incline. 2P 4-4-0 No 521 has an Ordinary Passenger train comprising four bogie carriages, mostly clerestory, flanked by vans: ex-Midland Railway 6w at the front and on the rear, ex-LNWR, still in LNWR livery, a common sight during the 1920s. Behind the loco, however, are five horse boxes.

Real 17363 detl

The trailing three are indistinct but look like Midland Railway designs, of which there were several different types, both flat-sided and with tumblehome, arc roof and elliptical. At the head there are two more examples of the mystery design.

In Peter Tatlow's "Historic Carriage Drawings, Volume Three, Non-passenger Coaching Stock" (Pendragon, 2000), page 75 shows a Maryport and Carlisle horse box, No 4, which Peter concluded was the sole survivor listed in the LMS renumbering in 1932. The body profiles are similar and there are several similarities in detail.

Philip Millard, well known for his LNWR researches, has come forward to identify the mystery design in both pictures so I have trimmed my thoughts and quote Philip thus:

"A considerable number of these 21ft boxes was built by the LNWR to Diagram 436. In all, 692 were produced between 1890-1923 and the ones at Blackwell are earlier examples built on steel channel frames with rounded ends to the headstocks. They have the 1901 pattern of oil boxes. The first one is a pre-1896 example with horns outside the solebars. The second appears to be post-1896 with horns inside the solebars.

The one at Carlisle is a later, post-1899 build on bulb-iron frames with square-end headstocks, and it too has oil boxes, of the 1916 type.

There were still about 699 of these horseboxes in capital stock at the Grouping, and 247 in 1933. The type did not become extinct until 1954".

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At this point it's fair to show the preceding LNWR Diagram 438 to 19'6" because it is covered by London Road Models, whose illustration is shown above. The website states that this Diagram had been built between 1883-1889. 150 were constructed, 88 of which were still running in 1915. By 1920 they had all been replaced by the newer design. London Road Models can be found via the Useful Links section in the main menu.

As regards M&CR horsebox No 4 which was built in 1904 and shown in Peter Tatlow's book, although built by R.Y. Pickering of Wishaw near Motherwell in Scotland, it appears to have been based on contemporary LNWR designs with a few simplifications, such as one less door to the fodder compartment.

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Workings - All of which brings us back to the train pictures and possible workings. Philip Millard tells me that there used to be a weekly sale of horses at Crewe, to and from which horses would be sent by rail. The LNWR would have despatched using its own boxes, and after the Grouping, ex-MR ones too. There were other sales, of course, around the country in the same way that second-hand cars are traded these days and I'm wondering if the ex-MR and ex-LNWR horse boxes at Blackwell were part of a sale, at Gloucester, for example, or possibly empty boxes being returned? I think that race traffic can be ruled out.

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Another mystery picture with an Ivatt 0-6-2T, this time an N2. The photographer is unknown and the quality is a bit iffy: again, I have done my best to fix it with Photoshop CS.

- - - - - -

Not the West Riding after all, thanks go to Rob Stout, member of the North British Study Group (see Useful Links), who has recognised the location as near Craigentinny Signal Box, Portobello, on the east side of Edinburgh, a few miles out from Edinburgh Waverley.

If my map reading is up to scratch the pair of lines in the middle are the ECML towards Newcastle and King's Cross and the junction to the right leads into Craigentinny depot and carriage sidings. The pair of tracks to the left are the goods lines with a junction further north that parted off towards Granton Harbour, and that's the direction the Class D "pick-up goods" may have been heading.

The loco was one of a batch 2583-94 that was sent new to Scotland in the spring of 1925 and allocated initially to Dundee, St.Margaret's and Eastfield, on passenger duties except for the St.Margaret's ones which were initially put on the goods transfer trips around Edinburgh. See RCTS 9A for more details about subsequent developments.Reading between the lines, I get the feeling that Doncaster may not have been best pleased about brand new passenger tanks being relegated to duties as humble as this. The train is quite short and not unusual for the 1920s when relatively low-sided wagons were numerous. The leading three visible here, and a telling point is continued carriage of pre-Grouping liveries, are:

- 3-plank dropside with a loose tarpaulin sheet, still in GCR livery with grease boxes and handbrake lever to the left.
- 2-plank LMS (possibly ex-MR)?
- 4-plank ex-HR, with a primitive brake lever arrangement. Confirmed by John Smart, who prompted me to make a hi-res scan of the wagons, in which the lettering is clear to see.

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Dare I conclude by saying that this reminds me of my first ever train set, boosted by second-hand wagons from the model shop in Leeds, and when I eventually started building wagons from scratch in the days before kits were available (the magazines used to be full of helpful articles by the LNER Study Group and the LMS Society), wagons like this were easy to knock off. Oh, happy days!


For those wishing to delve deeper into the scene, Rob Stout has flagged up the OS map of 1934 courtesy of the National Library of Scotland whose stunning presentation shows Edinburgh around Portobello. The link below takes you straight there - return by using the browser "back" button.

OS map link

Rob adds that the walled footpath to the left was called the Fishwives' Causeway.

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3216 84C

Here is an undated picture of Collett 2251 Class, No 3216 and the location is unmistakably Banbury. The real puzzle is when? Below is an enlargement of the smokebox door showing the 84C shedcode. According to my half dozen ABC shed books, I cannot trace the loco as having been at Banbury and the website BRDatabase quotes:

pre-1953 - not stated
16.5.53 to 84F Stourbridge Jc
30.1.54 to 87G Camarthen
18.6.55 to 85A Worcester
8.10.60 to 92G Templecombe
12.63 withdrawn

Does this lead us to conclude, bearing in mind that BR style front number plates weren't seen here until around 1950 and this looks like a high summer's day, that the picture was taken sometime between 1950-52?

3216 detail

John Smart has been in touch to say that several records (that I could not find; John's good at this!) show that 3216 was at Banbury from Nationalisation in 1948, departing to Stourbridge as shown above. I'm embarrassed to say that this is one of the quickest resolutions to date!

2851 and fmn

Ex-works ex-GWR 2-8-0 No 2851 stands in the shed yard on 21st April 1959 with what appears to be an 84C shedplate. The caption on the back states "and shed foreman". Photo: SV Blencowe Collection

Ban Foreman

Can anybody identify this man, and was his title really "Shed Foreman"? Looks more like the Shed Master to me!

News has come through from John Batts, that this was Shed Master George Holland. :)

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This view comes from a CCQ slide whose uneven tones and debris I have cleaned up and balanced. Taken sometime in the 1930s it shows Southern Railway "King Arthur" No 742 Camelot at the head of a southbound express with 10-11 carriages behind the tender. Note the long distance coaches with destination boards, and among them what appear to be strengtheners, some of which may have been added at Oxford. The staff on the ground by the train would have been involved in remarshalling the train. They seem to be waiting for the off so they can climb back on the platform. At the head, it looks like a fresh loco with safety valves blowing off has taken over the train for its next leg to the south.

The question is, what was the express?

There are two cross-country candidates for which I quote from the LNER 1939 (summer) Working Timetable:

10.10am Newcastle-Bournemouth - arr Oxford 2.53pm : alternating LNER and SR stock.

2.55pm Newcastle-Southampton - arr. Oxford 7.56pm : alternating LNER and GWR stock (actually the Glasgow-Southampton, remarshalled at Newcastle)

Based on the angle of the shadows in the picture and keying 2.53pm into a solar calculator gives a good match, for 2.53pm, not for BST but the "winter" period between the end of October and end of March. This would of course be in the railways' winter timetable and on a fine day give a photographer plenty of low-slanting sunlight.

The puzzle is that a mixture of GWR and SR stock would suit neither train. It's almost as if the two cross-country trains were in some way combined. And I have no knowledge of such a practice, even though all my Carriage Working Books are for summer period. Any ideas, anybody? Or was this a different train altogether that arrived at a similar time?

John Smart has come up with an explanation, referencing the May 1934 Bradshaw, with two possibilities where GWR and SR stock was carried on alternate days. The first was a service between Birkenshead-Brighton and the SE coast ports, leaving Oxford at 12.12pm.

More likely, however, and tallying with the sun angle, was the Birkenhead/Manchester to Southampton and Bournemouth, with through coach Manchester-Portsmouth, which departed Oxford at 2.25pm. Well done, John! :)

More recently, the slide has been dated as April 1939.

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C7 No 2202 is heading south with a secondary express and a TPO behind the tender. My guess is that it's heading for Newcastle (or York?) and the wayside station would be on the ECML between Edinburgh and Newcastle (or York?). Can anybody identify the station, please? Click on the image for a larger, higher-res version. Photo copyright, Steve Banks collection.

Thanks to John Smart, the station has been identified as Longniddry, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Other details about the working have also been resolved, helping make sure this picture will shine in "LNER trains etc." Vol.2 about the Secondary Services (now renamed by Ian Allan as: "Secondary, Branch Line and Non-Passenger Services").

Confirmation comes from Paul Tetlaw who has just travelled along the ECML, the curve and houses all fitting in, some three-quarters of a century later! (2-5-15)

K1 No 62066 passes with a horse train made up with the BR Mk.1 style horse box. Can anybody identify the location? With a March loco, and fairly flat terrain, possibly not too far from Newmarket?

John Chalcraft (yes, he of Rail Photoprints) reckons that, having been to this location himself, the picture shows the train entering Ely from the north. Thanks, John, one of the longest standing puzzles solved at last! (11 April 2014).

The return half of a complimentary King's Cross-Newmarket ticket for the Racecourse Betting Control Board. Does anybody know what this might be?

26th March 2014: I have struggled to makes sense of conflicting information on this one, with thanks to David Wilkins. One school of thought has it that the RBCB was set up to monitor attendances at race meetings, and was then tasked by the Government in 1928 to set up reliable, govt supervised betting, nicknamed "the tote" (after Totalisator). Another source states that the RBCB did not exist until the gov't created it as part of setting up the tote. Yet another source declares that the tote did not exist until 1961! I have yet to establish exactly where the truth lies.

One thing I can add with some confidence is that complimentary tickets for RBCB officials used to be issued by the railway. Racing reporters were granted the same privilege. This is the return half of a ticket from London.

Heading south, this cross-country train was brought by an LNER loco, an ex-GCR Atlantic or, later, a Footballer B17, into Banbury General (GWR) station where a GWR loco took over. It has recently come to light that "during the 1920s and '30s a large GWR Prairie tank was used as far as Oxford". This picture was taken by Maurice Earley and it's one of his earliest (it says No.10 on the back). My estimate for the date is 1926-27, but the location has defeated me: any suggestions?
- Bob Humphris has suggested c1923 but a better location has come from Martin Crane, who says that it's Tilehurst, where Maurice Earley took several pictures . A former signalman, Martin adds that key indicators are the Stop signal with a lower Distant, and a Shunt arm lower down the post. The train is on the Up main line with the relief lines further away, and the River Thames in the background.

Tilehurst is the last wayside station between Didcot and Reading and shows that the "Prairie" tank worked all the way from Banbury to Reading. At the time, the off-peak Newcastle-Bournemouth was a medium-sized train and the gradients were modest and many, falling. Whether or not a similar loco worked the Down train I cannot say, but 4-6-0s from Reading were certainly in charge later. I can't help musing that according to one expert on the GWR, the company treated the cross-country expresses as "secondary", and having looked at them in some detail, I consider that to be quite charitable!

The service itself got heavier from 1927 when, for five years, extra coaches were added to the train, from Leeds, and then Bradford as well. I would suggest that use of a "Prairie" tank ended that year. These coaches from the West Riding formed part of a Leeds-Bournemouth express and a write-up is in hand.

2510 Silver Jubilee

A4 No 2510 Quicksilver has the train, but what is the location?
- Steve Gwinnett (many thanks!) proposes: "leaving Hadley Wood North Tunnel which would, if correct, mean that Ganwick signal box (or site of) was about 100 yards behind the photographer's left shoulder. Can't be sure, though, despite growing up half a mile from there", (several other viewers have confirmed this).
- David Lester has just pointed put that 2510 was not actually "Silver Link" as per my original caption. I'm wondering how many of us have been in a dream-like state around these A4s and never noticed? Thank you David for the reality check. :)

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