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Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

Superb article. I grew up witnessing the last days of steam, and now its revival as a tourist industry with many local branch lines run with the help of skilled volunteers. There’s something almost visceral about a steam engine, true engineering marvels (especially close up) and each with its own personality.

The Flying Scotsman itself was fully restored at an engineering works in Heywood, Lancashire. The skills still exist. I’ve travelled behind her, on a trip from York to Carlisle.

As for the association with Doncaster, the article is redolent of many places in the former industrial bases of the North which created the wealth upon which the UK flourished. The appetite and aptitudes to contribute more to the UK economy still exists, and the government that can unlock these resources once again will have little problem in staying in office.

Last edited 2 months ago by Steve Murray
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago

What a refreshing essay about something that really matters! And isn’t that the late, great, Alan Pegler, OBE, FRSA, the initial saviour of the Flying Scotsman (FS) in the caption photograph?

Recently a slightly more advanced version of the FS, the A1 Pacific “Tornado” was rebuilt from scratch, as none of her original class had survived. Sadly although nearly all of her was built in the UK, the boiler had to made in Germany!

“Sic gloria transit Mundi”.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

Yes, indeed. My favourites were the Britannia class, starting with 70000, all of them named except for 70047 which for some reason peculiar to the British sense of quirkiness, remained nameless!

There were 54 in all, with evocative names such as “Coeur De Lion”, “Howard of Effingham, “Hereward the Wake” which took you not just on a rail journey but a deep dive into British history.

Last edited 2 months ago by Steve Murray
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Yes I remember the Britannia’s thundering across East Anglia, a real symbol of the initial optimism of post-war Britain.

Thanks, I had no idea the 70047 was unnamed, (perhaps ‘we’ had run out of heroes?)how odd indeed. Fortunately the splendidly named “Oliver Cromwell” has survived.

Next year of course will be the centenary of fabled GWR Castle Class, and soon we will be able to refight the the famous 1925 Exchange Trials of ‘Pendennis Castle’ v ‘Victor Wild’.

Last edited 2 months ago by stanhopecharles344
Dave Smith
Dave Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I used to spend time in Liverpool Street. A wonderful place for a small boy. Steam locos everywhere and that extraordinary station with so many hidden nooks .
The Britannias were my favourites and now I wonder at the unknown committee members who decided the names they would carry. A definitely subversive anti establishment theme there. Hereward the Wake, Robin Hood Hood , Oliver Cromwell ,Owen Glendower, Alfred the Great were carried along with the writers and others .I wonder who wanted these.
After all Hereward and Robin Hood and maybe even Oliver are English heroes not Norman ones and we lads knew all about that. All of them on expresses into the old lands of the Anglo Saxons and the heartland of the Parliament cause. . I suppose our young no longer even know what I am talking about but not so long ago we did.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

The North British Railway had a class of locos named after characters from the works of Sir Walter Scott.

A late friend of mine recalled waiting for his train in Hexham Station when a great cry went up from the older boys. Seconds later the Newcastle express thundered through headed by the loco ‘Wandering Willie’.
Apparently this was a regular occurrence in those days of innocence!

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

They also built the Mallard (and the rest of the A4 Pacific class) in Doncaster.
I’ve passed by Doncaster countless times on the way north on the A1(M) and only once or twice driven through – though never stopped.
There’s little obviously attractive, but clearly tremendous history to build on – Roman, middle ages, railways. I really hope we do.
It’s only in the past few years that I’ve started visiting some of these places – Huddersfield, Wakefield, Pontefract, Barrow, Workington. You can see from the buildings how much more important and relatively wealthy these used to be 100-200 years ago. Huddersfield is full of semi-derelict superb old industrial buildings just waiting to be renovated. It’s no surprise to me that they would vote for Brexit, having been so needlessly neglected. “Why”, they must ask themselves, “are we doing so poorly now, when this town was thriving in the past ? We’re much the same people as they were then.” They must feel pride in the past of their towns, but a terrible frustration that there’s little to feel proud about now and a sense of powerlessness to do anything about it. Easier, perhaps, if they’d never been famous or world-leading ?
For all the billions we’ve spent bailing out banks and “fighting Covid” (and all the associated costs), it would be nice to think we’d spent some money building something or doing something constructive – like regenerating Doncaster. But we haven’t taken it seriously.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Prior to the ‘Judgment of Death Act 1823’, there were 220 Capital crimes in England and we were the envy of Europe.

One crime that nearly always ended in death, was Fraud. It was the premeditation that warranted the ultimate sentence, and very rarely allowed for Transportation or joining HM Forces as an alternative. Whether this acted as deterrent is debatable but at least it kept the number of fraudsters to an absolute minimum.

Today it is the Money Lenders or Bankers as they are now called, who need disciplining, although I am at a loss to know how!

I trust you noted the magnificent facade of Huddersfield Railway Station in your travels? It is perhaps the finest in England.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

Yes, the station frontage (St. George’s Square) is superb. Nothing like it down south. But the post-war stuff around it is very indifferent (I found Wakefield similar). Harold Wilson’s statue is perhaps a little disappointing – he seems a rather small, undistinguished man going for a casual stroll. And no pipe or dog !
There are also some huge old industrialists houses on the road in from Halifax (similar to roads into NW Leeds and Western Sheffield). It clearly used to be relatively much wealthier. It looked like a lot of the better off people had moved out to newer houses in some of the villages to the south.

Last edited 2 months ago by Peter B
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Euston off course could rival Huddersfield until Mad Mac & Co finished it off!

Did you see the ‘Piece Hall’ in Halifax, again nothing like it ‘down south’.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

I think I may have done in my first trip up north to Bradford – again some fantastic Victorian era buildings – about 30 years ago.

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
2 months ago

The “willingness of British governments to relinquish engineering” is easily explained – engineering requires genuine ability and real dedication. It is a world where objective reality and proper cost management reign supreme; it doesn’t value the ideologically obsessed careerists, liars and fantasist who have colonised politics, doesnt run on the “funny money” the banking srctor noe deals in, doesn’t pour money into their pockets, doesn’t offer profitable sinecures for their later lives.

Last edited 2 months ago by ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
2 months ago

The “Flying Scotsman” wasn’t originally named at all. It was sent to the 1924 Empire Exhibition and there, fitted with the headboard carried by the train itself – an established service.

It entered service as 4472 carrying nameplates cast for it after that Exhibition.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
2 months ago

I was out with old school friends in Doncaster just before Christmas. We were trying to recapture our teenage years when a trip to ‘Donny’ was a Saturday afternoon adventure. The Market is wonderful, particularly the restaurant in the Fish Market, but the rest of the place is so terribly sad and appears to be populated solely by drunks and fat people on mobility scooters. A recent blow has been the closure of the airport.
Although we had a good laugh, we were pleased to board the ‘Isle’ bus to our respective childhood homes, although the closure of the Trent Valley power stations isn’t doing them any good either.
The pits, the railways and the power stations were inextricably linked in that part of the world. Well paid secure jobs and proud people.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 months ago

Wasn’t aware Doncaster needed saving.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

The rebuilt Minster is impressive, and besides the Great Northern Railway works (the Plant), it was where the “Pilgrimage of Grace” came to grief in 1536, when the huge ‘Rebel’ Army failed to annihilate or even engage with the tiny army of the Duke of Norfolk.
An opportunity lost indeed.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 months ago

Look. Times change and the winners become the losers.
In David Copperfield Dickens gives us a rollicking account of the coaching industry in its prime. By the time of Trollope everyone travels by train as a matter of course and we view the occasional coaching inn trying to stay in business by serving the fox-hunting community.
By the way, there is this weird new form of transportation called the jet plane. Ever seen one?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

Actually, new and previously abandoned raiilway lines are being opened, as the economic and social benefits are realised. Would you fly 20 miles across the country?

Your facile point fails to get off the ground.