STEAM DAYS ACREWE

(Below) It's well known that dad's favourite photographic location was Crewe North shed (5A), and judging by the number of photographs he took he was regularly drawn to the 70ft turntable at (5A). I recall him saying that no locomotive looked better on the turntable than a Coronation Pacific, and I can see what he means. His association with the Stanier 'Duchesses' and Crewe started with a night-time encounter at Crewe Station during 1954 after working the 7.45pm Ravenhead-Camden fast freight as far as Crewe South. He was on his way home as a passenger via the Coffee Tavern at the North end of Crewe station when he witnessed the passing of the Royal Train hauled by an immaculate No 46244 King George VI. This photo below shows No 46245 City of London being turned on the turntable ready to work an Ian Allan enthusiasts special back to the capital. By this time 46245 had less than two weeks to work before it was withdrawn on the 12th September 1964. A similar photo to this is featured on the cover of Dad's book 'Footplate Cameraman' first published in 1983 by Ian Allan. The photo was also used on the cover of a second edition published by Heathfield Railway Publications in 2009.





(Above-Below) The next shot shows No 46245 City of London moving down Crewe North's yard; the 'Duchesses' were one of several classes to carry the dreaded diagonal yellow stripe on the cabside, a visible reminder that the locomotives were no longer permitted to work south of Crewe due to the limited clearance beneath the overhead power lines. (Below) Most of dad's photographic sorties to Crewe were made whilst working on the footplate. There were certain jobs on the Patricroft goods links that he would exchange with his Patricroft colleagues and, of course, by mutual agreement with the management; just as long as the job was covered they didn't mind. As a result, when changing his booking-on times from 10am to 4am he often finished the job before midday - and, if the weather was right, no sooner had he booked off he was making his way to Crewe North to shoot the 'Biguns' - his words not mine. Here No 46228 Duchesses of Rutland poses in front of the coaling tower at Crewe North.





(Above) During visits to Crewe, he would always start at Crewe North followed by a visit to Crewe Works, then back to the North shed again, by which time the light and motive power had changed. Then he was making his way to Crewe South to shoot anything worth shooting, followed by another quick mooch around Crewe North before catching the train home. The photographs on this Crewe page are thanks to the exchanges he made with his fellow firemen who found a lie in bed more preferable to a 4am start and a photographic tour of Crewe. Now that's what you would call dedication. I know I do! No 46250 City of Lichfield is seen outside the middle Crewe North sheds.

(Below) During the late 1950s and early Sixties, dad made three unsuccessful attempts to move to 5A; his main aim was to get amongst the 'Duchesses' but sadly his association with them was made only through his camera lens. As it turned out his camerawork comes a close second best, for his pictures are a lasting testimony of his commitment to photographing steam days from the footplate. But then, he pretty much had unlimited access at Crewe, one of the perks of working for BR. This is No 46207 Princess Arthur of Connaught on the North shed turntable, She had previously worked the down Midday Scot from London. This locomotive achieved notoriety on 21 September 1951, whilst working the 8.20am Liverpool Lime Street-London Euston. The loco derailed at Weedon at a speed of 60mph and ended up at the bottom of a twelve foot embankment. She was withdrawn on 25 November 1961. Behind the Princess Royal is the dilapidated roof of the so-called Abyssinia Shed, a 12-road structure which by March 1960 had been cut back from its original length to make room for depot alterations, which were never actually finished. Locomotives were still using the shed for stabling but the building was virtually ready for falling down.





(Above) No 46253 City of St Albans is seen here in the semi roundhouse at Crewe North. When looking at this classic shot it is hard to imagine that it was taken with his old Ensign folding camera; in fact it's a miracle the camera survived at all! It virtually lived in his overall pocket, not only taking some hard knocks along the way, but spending much of the time covered in a thick layer of coal dust from a hard days graft on the shovel.

(Below) This is one of dad's most atmospheric shots and perhaps his most poignant, for it was the last time he photographed a Coronation Pacific at Crewe North. The date is 25th September 1964 and No 46256 Sir William Stanier FRS has been specially cleaned for its final run from Crewe to Carlisle the following day. On hearing about 46257's finale, dad decided he wanted to take a photo at Crewe, and so after working a freight from Patricroft to Mold Junction, rather than returning with his driver as a passenger to Manchaster, he headed for Crewe North. By 1964 the English Electric Type 4 diesels had taken over most of the West Coast Route Passenger trains and all the Coronations had been withdrawn leaving just one…No 46256. Dad often talked about the way the Class 8 Coronations were towed away for scrap with many years of work still left in them, all of which left Crewe men to struggle with second-hand Class 7 Britannias when steam replacements were urgently required. This seemed nonsensical to him; many of the Duchesses were in superb mechanical condition therefore they were still good for many more years of service. It was more baffling when the slightly inferior A4 Pacifics ran a further four years on the Scottish Region. It was a sad day for dad, who wrote in his diary that he felt such a great sense of loss on his way home from Crewe, like witnessing the passing of a dear old friend.





(Above-Below) During the late Fifties and early 1960s dad made many trips to Crewe Works both on and off duty, and he always had his trusty camera with him. As a young locoman he found it an education mooching around the works and seeing the various LMS engines being stripped down to their mainframes or in the various stages of rebuilding. The works was invariably chock-a-block with locomotives, either rusting hulks in the process of a complete rebuild or gleaming locos standing outside the Paint Shop waiting to be fired up and road-tested the following day before being released back into service. No 46252 City of Leicester is seen in front of Crewe Works almost ready to be re-united with its tender before returning to traffic on the crack West Coast Main Line expresses. (Below) As dad would say, this is one for the modellers. Over the years he liked to include the odd detailed shot in his books and magazine features, so I know he would approve of this one of No 46252 City of Leicester.





(Above-Below) Strictly speaking, a lot of dad's excursions to Crewe North were unofficial and he had to do a fair amount of ducking and diving to avoid the powers that be. This classic shot of No 46205 Princess Victoria complete with the Welshman headboard at Crewe North shed might well have been such an occasion. (Below) Fresh from Crewe Works, 'Black 5' No 45021 was photographed inside the semi roundhouse at Crewe North. No 45021 was withdrawn from Crewe South shed on the 30 September 1967.



(Below) Recently outshopped from Crewe Works, 'Royal Scot' class No 46170 British Legion is seen here at Crewe South (5B). It was common practice to drag two or three dead engines onto the South sheds during the afternoon to be fired up for the following day's journey light engine (coupled) to Shrewsbury and round the triangle. Then there would be the examinations of the valve gear and axle boxes to make sure they were not getting hot before returning to Crewe North for further examinations and put into traffic on the various passenger running-in turns. Although No 46170 was the last in the 'Royal Scots' listing, it was in fact constructed in 1935 using the frames of the unsuccessful high pressure locomotive No 6339 Fury.  No 46170 was the prototype for the rebuilding of the Royal Scots.



(Below) Dad wrote in his book 'From The Footplate' about his steam photography days at Crewe. It was an accepted fact that a photo containing good railway interest was no excuse for bad camerawork and this photo of 'Royal Scot' class No 46144 Honourable Artillery Company proves just that, with the tops of engines cluttered up with electric gantries. Dad wasn't mad keen on the poles at Crewe, even referring to them as those 'damned poles' on more than one occasion.



Finally, a little bit about the legal stuff. The photographs on this site are protected by copyright, however I am willing to give permission to use the pictures as long as it is in the spirit of this page, but you do need to ask first. Dad's photos are not in the public domain...so please respect them. If you wish to make contact, my email address is below. Please note - this is not a 'clickable mail-to link via Outlook Express. You will have to email manually. Thanks for looking....

                                      chris68@blueyonder.co.uk