It was all so perfectly planned; three days of walking in sunshine and then on the fourth, when gales were forecast, we would head for Pickering from Whitby on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.  Unfortunately the high winds that so ruffled the sea at Runswick also felled a tree on the line between Goathland and Grosmont such that all services were suspended; the best laid plans etc.  Undeterred, we headed for Grosmont by car.

Spends a brief time in my company and you will soon appreciate that I have an unhealthy obsession with anything that moves at pace with wheels; a child-like passion that can be traced back to here – steam. When I was growing up, the vast majority of rail services were still hauled by coal-fired engines such that I spent a disproportionate amount of my childhood on the soot-blackened platforms of England’s railway stations; notebook, pen and Ian Allen Combined Volume in hand, I was not alone.  The railway stations of the 1950s and early 1960s thronged with schoolboys, many of them up to innocent mischief, chased from the platforms and sheds by over-zealous railway staff – all great fun. Memories provoke memories – I was ten years old and back at Manchester Victoria and Exchange on a foggy winter’s afternoon, a smoke filled cathedral that echoed the atmosphere across the rest of the city.  Once possessing the longest railway platform in Europe, it is now a shadow of its former self – once, I knew its every inch.

The trip to Gosmont brought it all back like time travel. The sight, sound and smell resonate across the years and the faces of these engines are so familiar it is like being introduced to old friends, completely unchanged by the ravages of time, they can only be ghosts.  Ironically, they look even younger than they used to – the railway stock from those times was always filthy-black and the all-important numbers only kept visible by the deft swipe of an oily rag.  It is a fundamentally mucky business – coal, water, fire, steam and soot – wonderful.

It was a perfect day – hanging around a steamy railway station, engines breathing smoke, chatting to the engine driver, being invited aboard his fiery hot office and then wandering along to the sheds where Sir Nigel Gresley and a black five loitered in the dark dank shadows. My wife loved it 🙂

ImpalaImpala750297502975029Grosmont Shed

(click on the images to enlarge)

Just to polish my trainspotting credentials: 75029 is a BR standard class 4 4-6-0 which was not named when in service.  It acquired The Green Knight nameplate after it was saved from being scrapped by the artist David Shepherd.  The Thompson B1 Impala 61002 is actually 61242 – the identity change commemorates the original  B1 61002 which regularly pulled trains from Whitby to Grosmont and Pickering.  These things are important :-).

I had thought to publish this post under the guise of the Travel Theme: Deep but the only contrived connection I could make was my deep affection for these wonderful machines – a bit desperate, I know.


  1. The Rider · October 14, 2013

    I LOVE these photos! They work so well in B& W!

    • northumbrianlight · October 14, 2013

      Many thanks – they were always black, sooty and dirty when they were originally in service so colour never looks right to me.

  2. dianaed2013 · October 14, 2013

    How times have changed – all very nostalgic – just loved this railway line when I went walking

    • northumbrianlight · October 14, 2013

      A lovely part of the world – next time we will do the rail trail from Goathland to Grosmont. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  3. LaVagabonde · October 14, 2013

    Such nostalgic photos. The chugchugchug of a steam engine…what a sound. I once traveled on a couchette in Poland that was still using coal, but it was not a steam engine. It could have been to heat the car as it was during the winter. I admit that I’m totally ignorant about the workings of trains.

    • northumbrianlight · October 14, 2013

      I think we hold them in great affection because they are such magnificent feats of heavy engineering which live and breathe. This gets close to it in rhyme (don’t worry, not more Larkin 🙂 )…..

      • LaVagabonde · October 15, 2013

        B/w works great in the video, too. That’s quite a rhythmic poem. 🙂 Ah, don’t worry about exposing me to Larkin and other edgy writers. I happen to like a little grit.

  4. onceuponanape · October 15, 2013

    Beautiful machines and photographs.

  5. lavendermoongirlblog · October 15, 2013

    Wonderfully captured! 🙂

  6. greenmackenzie · October 15, 2013

    Your love and romantic passion for these beasts of steam comes shining through in your beautiful photos. You make it all sound and look so wonderful and exciting. Love the shot of the inside of the cabin with the fire roaring 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · October 15, 2013

      Thanks Seonaid, yup, I still love ’em. That cab was roasting even though open to the sides – it was raining outside, blowing in on a bitter north easterly – we could have sat there all day 🙂

  7. Tish Farrell · October 16, 2013

    As someone who was born in Crewe and, as a small child, spent a lot of time on Crewe Station during the last lap of steam, I entirely understand your ‘deep affection’ for locomotives, Robin. Interesting, too, that I always remember them in black and white. Nice shots.

    • northumbrianlight · October 16, 2013

      Thanks Tish – I have fond memories of Crewe including getting chased out of the sheds :-). Funny what you remember – for many years there was a line of rolling stock at the east sidings (at the end of Tommy’s Lane) emblazoned with Palethorpe Sausages. Who says advertising doesn’t work.

  8. restlessjo · October 18, 2013

    Deep affection’s good enough for me! There’s something about these creatures, isn’t there? I love being around them too. 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · October 18, 2013

      I was raised on steam and these monsters in particular – odd to think 75029 is younger than I am, built when British Railways was still ‘clinging to the wreckage’. It is odd that I can work up no enthusiasm for the foreign equivalents – I guess it is all about familiar ‘faces’.

  9. rosebushzy · October 18, 2013

    Love your article and photo. I am a Chinese, I don’t have any similar experience. But through your article, I can sense what you sensed, I can see what you saw, I can feel what you felt. Time and Culture do not matter. Humanity matters.

    • northumbrianlight · November 4, 2013

      Many thanks for the kind and generous comments – apologies for the slow response, this one got ‘lost’ in my awaiting approvals folder. Thanks again.

  10. meticulousmick · October 20, 2013

    Robin, I have nominated you for the WordPress Family Award. To see the details on this just pop on over to Hope you are having a good Sunday. MM 🍀

    • northumbrianlight · October 21, 2013

      Many thanks Mick – forgive me if I don’t get round to following this up, I am hopeless at doing these things. Perhaps I should put up a health warning.

      • meticulousmick · October 21, 2013

        Not a problem, just enjoy the week. MM 🍀

  11. Charly Makray-Rice · December 3, 2014

    Love, love, love, steam! 🙂

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