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.