Locomotive Performance




As a young child, it was all Meccano and Dinky Toys. My earliest railway journey was in 1946, when I was taken on holiday to Butlins Holiday camp at Skegness, but the journeys left little impression. At the age of about 8 or 9, I was taken by my father to Birmingham Snow Hill, where I saw 4904 Binegar Hall. Then in 1949, I was given a Hornby Dublo  "Duchess of Atholl" train set as a reward for passing my Grammar School entrance examination.
 At my new school, at Stourbridge, Worcestershire, I found that a good way of spending my lunch hour (actually an hour and a half), was to have a "2p" return ticket from Stourbridge Town to Stourbridge Junction, giving me about 40 minutes at the latter. I soon got to know Swallowfield Park, Charfield Hall, Owsden Hall, and all the other regulars. Then in late February 1950, a fourth form lad at school asked me whether I would like to go trainspotting with him to Stafford ?. So I went, and I was hooked.

Thereafter I started visiting Birmingham Snow Hill and New Street stations regularly, then Tamworth, Rugby, Worcester, Shrewsbury, Derby, Bristol, wherever my pocket money would stretch to. Ian Allan, of course, was the hero. The ABC of British Railways Locomotives, Combined Volume  became the railway bible. My father, who had more than a passing interest in railways, would take me on Sunday morning shed visits, usually taking in 84A (Stafford Road), 84B (Oxley), 3B (Bushbury), 3A (Bescot). He also took me on "fishing trips" that had a habit of turning into "trainspotting trips". Then we joined a local railway society and went "shed bashing" to Swindon, Reading, Gloucester, Bristol , Shrewsbury, Crewe etc etc. I discovered the Southern region when holidaying at Weymouth in 1952. Life was idyllic, and the underlining in the ABC's became prolific.

At Christmas 1953, I was given the O S Nock book "British Locomotives from the footplate", and the following March, my 15th birthday, the same authors "Four thousand miles from the footplate". The idea of timing trains, and producing logs of the journeys, complete with speeds, fascinated me. And so it was that a few months later, in July 1954, I timed a "North Wales Land cruise" from my wrist watch. No mileposts, station passing times only, and no speeds. But it was a start. And I have been timing trains ever since.

My first stop watch arrived for my 16th birthday in March 1955, but succumbed after only 8 months when I dropped it on the platform at Rugby Midland whilst I was waiting for 46237 to take me to Crewe on the down "Royal Scot". The watch continued to function, but at the rate of 72 seconds per minute. A second identical stop watch lasted rather longer, until 1980 in fact, when it in turn was dropped. So yet another replacement was obtained, though it was relegated soon afterwards when I obtained a Casio wrist watch with a 1/100th sec stop watch facility.

From 1955 until the end of steam, which for me was effectively 1965, I built up a large collection of logs. I was then doing a fair amount of business travel, and my collection of diesel and electric logs also started to grow. Then in 1978 came my first "Main Line Steam" runs, which became weekly from early 1980. By the late 1980's the emphasis changed to Preserved Steam Lines, and Modern traction on the main line. I covered the 37's on the Cambrian, and the 50's on the Exeters and the Oxfords comprehensively, and more recently, the Virgin XC 47's towards the end of "proper trains" on Cross Country services.  Now my train timing is limited to the occasional steam or modern traction charter, and to the preserved lines.

Needless to say, my collection of log books and files has grown and grown, and time marches on, and , since I was interested in computing and the internet, I thought it would be a good idea to create a Website to enable me to share my Railway experiences. And so "Locomotive Performance" was born, the first edition being in April 2003.

And so to a few indulgences.

FAVOURITE STEAM LOCOMOTIVES:  1) The Schools class 4-4-0, 2) The Stanier Princess Coronation class 4-6-2, 3) The LMS Jubilee class 4-6-0 (for it's sounds). At the smaller end of the range, I love the SR Stroudley  Terrier 0-6-0T.

FAVOURITE DIESEL LOCOMOTIVES: 1) The "Western" class 52, 2) the "Hymek" class 35, and 3) the English Electric class 37.

FAVOURITE MAIN LINES: 1) The Lickey route, Birmingham to Bristol. 2) The ex Southern Salisbury to Exeter line, and 3) Preston to Carlisle, over Grayrigg and Shap.

FAVOURITE SECONDARY LINES: 1) The ex SR Plymouth to Exeter route, via Okehampton. 2) The West Highland Extension, Fort William to Mallaig, 3) The Somerset and Dorset line, and 4) Brockenhurst to Wimborne/Broadstone (note 3 of the above are closed)

FAVOURITE BRANCH LINES: 1) The ex SR Otter Valley line from Tipton St Johns to Exmouth. 2) The Conway Valley line from Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog. 3) The Kingham to Andoversford and Cheltenham line

FAVOURITE TRAINSPOTTING LOCATIONS: The Sea Wall at Dawlish Warren, the field at Tamworth, the north end footbridge at Crewe, Shrewsbury, Bristol Temple Meads, the flyover at Battledown, York, and Reading. Present day locations include Stafford, Rugby, Water Orton, Newport, Reading, and Doncaster.

PUBLISHED LOGS: A comprehensive collection of my Main Line Steam logs was published in "Souvenirs of Steam", a 1984 book produced by Ken Bull and Jeff Cogan on behalf of SLOA. The maximum speeds in many of the logs had to be withheld. Two of my  logs, featuring 850 Lord Nelson, and 777 Sir Lamiel, were included in O.S.Nock's "The Settle and Carlisle Railway", published in 1992.

More recently, all of my logs have been included in the Railway Performance Society Archives.  


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