Welcome to the Lickey Incline blog devoted to the celebration of the railway and in particular the great days of steam trains both standard and narrow gauge, on the railways of Britain.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

100 defining aspects of British Rail

The '100 defining aspects of British Rail' is a fascinating list of those characteristics, happenings and products which we loved and loathed and BR will be remembered for. It was certainly not all bad as some will have us believe. Much listed here is still with us including HS125 and the ticketing system. See here for the full list and below for the first 10


 Buy a computer and by the time you unpack it and plug it in it is obsolescent. Back in 1985 BR commissioned the new All Purpose Ticket Issuing System (APTIS). And 18 years later, 1.5MB of bubble memory and all, it is still sitting there in booking offices, unmatched for speed and flexibility.
2) APT

 A victim of irrational over exuberance at conception, the Advanced Passenger Train so nearly succeeded. Cancellation followed a loss of nerve when the BR Board should have toughed out the media ridicule and given the P-Train the resources it needed.

3) Acronyms

 BRUTE, LOVERs, RAVERs, TOPS, SPAMS: BR was the master of memorable acronyms that were easy to pronounce. How do you say IKF or NFRIP?

 4) AWS  

Pioneered by the Great Western, the Automatic Warning system was seen as nice-to-have, rather than essential, for most of BR's 46 years. After all, it was the driver's job to obey the signals.

5) Derby Research  

Often dismissed as an ivory tower inhabited by PhD and Bar scientists, BR Research left an enduring legacy including the first real understanding of vehicle ride dynamics, high speed pantographs and the world's most successful computer based interlocking. But don't mention the Railbus. 

6 Black Macs  

More than the bowler hat, the black gabardine raincoats worn by supervisors identified the hard men at the sharp-end who made the railway run.

7) Beeching  

Hero or villain? As BR Chairman Dr Richard Beeching undoubtedly cut too deeply, but he also sparked a revolution in operational thinking which created the modern railway – particularly in freight.  

8) Black books  

At the end of the 1960s, Director of Design Walter Jowett produced two black-jacketed publications – ‘Locomotives for the 1970s' and ‘Diesel electric multiple unit trains'. The first was a missed opportunity but the second gave us IC125  

9) Blue book

Published in 1985, ‘Main-line locomotive renewal programme 1985-2009' forecast 850 new freight diesels, 390 passenger diesels and 260 electrics. Production would have peaked at over 100 locos a year in the 1990s. BR naiveté at its most extreme.  

10) Chief Inspecting Officers  

Invariably retired military men, Chief Inspecting Officers brought authority, rigour, common sense and man management to accident investigation and safety regulation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Flying Scotsman Saga

Flying Scotsman at Carnforth
Flying Scotsman at Carnforth - Creative Commons licence
Those looking to understand the problems of maintaining and running large bits of engineering kit in museums and on heritage railways can do no better than read the report into the NRM's travails with the Flying Scotsman. While highlighting the deficiencies in NRM's project management it also highlights the serious issues facing heritage railways in general and the conflict between 'cottage engineering' and the professional engineering industry.

It also has lessons for anyone involved in operating, restoring or conserving complex or not so complex obsolete machines - steam locomotives, aircraft, stationery engines etc and the ability in the future to these keep them operating. Well worth a read even if engineering is not your 'thing'

See the report for the Trustees of the Science Museum Group into the restoration of A3 Class Pacific Flying Scotsman and associated engineering project management. Researched and written by Robert Meanley and assisted by Roger Kemp 26 October 2012 Download available on the National Railway Museum site here

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Double Lickey Banker 3

Lickey incline steam
The Double Lickey Banker 3, originally uploaded by D1059.
Copyright Stephen Dance

Thursday, July 12, 2012

48249 on the Lickey Bank

Lickey Incline Bank
48249 on the Lickey Bank, originally uploaded by geoff7918.
A homage to the late Peter J Shoesmith - a great photographer.

Photographed at Vigo on the Lickey incline Stanier 8F 48249 makes good progress with a fairly heavy mixed freight on a cold winter's day. 48249 was photographed in the Newport area, withdrawn, in September 1967.
See more on Flickr

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Russell and the Manchester & Milford Railway

Oakwood Press book
Published by the Oakwood Press
Russell and the Manchester & Milford Railway

James Cholmeley Russell and the Manchester & Milford Railway - one of his other railway activities.

James Cholmeley Russell
James Cholmeley Russell (1841-1912)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Snailbeach District Railways

Snailbeach District Railways, originally uploaded by Boxbrownie3.
See the flickr site where this is located for more pictures on Snailbeach

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Passage Hotel June 1974

New Passage Hotel June 1974, originally uploaded by Boxbrownie3.

The story of crossing the River Severn by rail before the opening of the Severn Tunnel

Monday, March 26, 2012

Welsh Highland Railway - promotional booklet for the re-building of the railway

Welsh Highland Railway promotional re-building booklet
Front Cover Welsh Highland Railway Booklet
'Rheilfforddd Eryi The Welsh Highland Railway' - promotional booklet published by the Festiniog Railway on its plans for re-building the Welsh Highland Railway in the 1990s
14 pages in Welsh and English covering:
  • Introduction
  • The Market Strategy
  • In the beginning
  • Double page of the route from Carnarfon to Porthmadog
  • Constructing the Railway
  • Locomotives and Trains
  • Implementation

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

James Cholmeley Russell: Russell's restoration in sight

James Cholmeley Russell: Russell's restoration in sight: Russell at Dinas with Gowrie in NWNGR days copyright K A C R Nunn The restoration of Russell, the Hunslet built 106 year old narrow ga...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Exclusive: Steam returns to the Underground - Heritage Railway Magazine

Exclusive: Steam returns to the Underground - Heritage Railway Magazine nice little cameo - imagine how it used to be in the 19th century - all that smoke and steam

Saturday, February 04, 2012

More on A N Wolstenholme - railway artist

 Two excellent articles by Geoff Courtney in 'Heritage Railway' (March-April  2011 and August 2011) reveal more about A N Wolstenholme the artist whose pictures adorned many Ian Allan publications and BR posters from the 1940s onwards. Arthur Nigel Wolstenholme was born in January 1920 and died in June 2002 at the age of 82 in Watford where it is believed he had lived for at least 40 years and possibly for his entire life. He worked as a freelance technical and commercial artist and covered subjects beyond transport. Three ANW page vignettes in his distinctive scraper board style from the 1953 Trains Annual in this post. See earlier post here

Copyright Ian Allan/A N Wolstenholme estate

Copyright Ian Allan/A N Wolstenholme estate

Copyright Ian Allan/A N Wolstenholme estate