Oral history workshop

Fig 1: “Modified Hall” 4-6-0 no. 6979 ‘Helperly Hall’ at York after working the 11:16 Bournemouth West to Newcastle train on Saturday 22nd August 1959. Photo Credit – Facebook Public Group ‘BR: Lost Engine Sheds: UK and Ireland’, unknown photographer.

Great Western ‘namers’ through Kirkby-in-Ashfield

In this blog Malcolm Rush unearths information on a couple of unusual steam locomotives to pass through the Great Central line at Kirkby-in-Ashfield. 

Update:- Since the blog was first posted some additional relevant information has been provided by Tony Saville. This has now been included at appropriate points within the blog.

South of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, at Leicester Central, ex-Great Western Railway (GWR) named steam locomotives could be seen, particularly during the summer months when they worked from Banbury on the cross-country trains. Even Nottingham Victoria saw its share, notably in 1964 when they were regularly rostered for summer Saturday trains. Annesley loco shed also received a few of the visitors.

Through Kirkby-in-Ashfield, though, appearances were a lot rarer. Probably the most well-known was on Saturday 15th August 1964 when 6858 ‘Woolston Grange’ was not replaced at Nottingham Victoria but instead continued north with the train. I have the Kirkby South signal box train register which shows that signalman Eric Handley recorded the train (IN72, the 08:55 Bournemouth West to Leeds) passing Kirkby South at 15:06 (not specially noted by Eric though). (Fig. 2)

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Fig 2: This scanned extract from the Kirkby South Junction Signal Box Train Register shows 1N72 as the first Down Train Eric Handley dealt with on his Saturday 15th August 1964 shift. Also of interest is the number of other express passenger trains (4 bells) that day. Photo credit – Malcolm Rush Collection

Information I have read said that it clipped the platform at Sheffield Victoria station but, as there was no other spare locomotive available, the engine continued, collecting more dents to the cylinder casing at Denby Dale before being taken off and stabled at Huddersfield’s Hillhouse loco shed.

A local photo of 6858 passing New Basford can be seen on page 54 in the book “Railways North From Nottingham In The Latter Days of Steam Part One: Nottingham – Basford” by Malcolm Castledine. The 1N72 train had been worked by a “Jubilee” the previous four Saturdays (45643, 45647, 45643 & 45562 in date order)

Recently, I have read about another occurrence. On Saturday 22nd August 1959 6979 ‘Helperly Hall’ was on the 11:16 Bournemouth West to Newcastle service and it worked north of Leicester Central because of a derailment there. 61450 piloted for part of the journey because 6979 was “short of steam” and the train was running 167 minutes late when it passed onto the NER at Dearne Junction heading onto York. It being a summer Saturday the train was not booked to go into Sheffield Victoria. 6979 returned south from York on a Dringhouses to Cardiff freight on the morning of 24th August, as far as Woodford Halse. Fig 1 is a photo of 6979 at York after its journey north.

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Fig 3:  Although I didn’t see City of Truro in steam at Kirkby in 1960 I did see her on other parts of the BR Network in the 1980s and also, locally, on 3rd May 1992 when she was in charge of a Derby to London Paddington special, seen here departing from Derby. Photo Credit – Malcolm Rush

In the early years of my spotting days I do recall being told that 3440 ‘City of Truro’ was to come south on the Great Central (GC) main line. I went to Lindley’s Lane bridge and eagerly waited for that special ‘cop’. I remember being most disappointed when the train passed through hauled by 60103 ‘Flying Scotsman’ (that engine wasn’t a ‘cop’ for me!) Research using the Six Bells Junction web site reveals that the date was Thursday 21st  April 1960.

‘City of Truro’ was scheduled to haul a London Kings Cross to Doncaster Ian Allan Locospotters Club excursion the previous day, 20th April 1960, piloting the Midland Compound 1000. However, 3440 failed with a hot axle box and was removed at Fletton Jn.

The Six Bells Junction entries can be seen here:

20th April 1960 – https://www.sixbellsjunction.co.uk/60s/600420ia.html

21st April 1960 – https://www.sixbellsjunction.co.uk/60s/600421ia.html

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Fig 4: 3440 City of Truro with support coach at Codnor Park in April 1989. Photo Credit: David Amos

So, to this day, I don’t know if 3440 should have hauled the train I saw at Kirkby on 21st  April 1960 or if it was a rumour, based on the supposition that it would be an appropriate return working for 3440.

A  short YouTube video clip by OakhamRoadRailway showing some of the rail enthusiast special trains in 1959 including 3440 City of Truro.

However, 3440 did pass through Kirkby as a light engine heading north on 26th August 1959. This was as she travelled to Edinburgh to take part in the Scottish Industries Exhibition.  A photo showing 3440 departing from Nottingham Victoria is in the book “The Great Central Then and Now” by Mac Hawkins, page 74 plate 53.  The Six Bells Junction website shows her being used on railtours as part of the Exhibition between 3rd September and 16th September 1959.

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Fig 5: 6831 Bearley Grange alongside a Brush Type 4 diesel at Nottingham Victoria on 26th June 1965. Photo Credit: Graham Upchurch

7912 ‘Little Linford Hall’ worked north through Kirkby to Sheffield on Thursday 12th March 1964 at the head of 1N83, the 10:50 Bournemouth to York train. That same day she returned south, light engine, and went onto Annesley shed for servicing before departing Annesley at 21:00 for Woodford Halse.

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Fig 6: 6990 Witherslack Hall passing Arkwright Street Station during the 1948 Locomotive Exchanges.  Photo Credit: unknown.

In 1948, during the Locomotive Exchanges, 6990 ‘Witherslack Hall’ passed through Kirkby-in-Ashfield regularly. Workings are known to include 24th and 25th June 1948 with Manchester London Road to London Marylebone trains and, presumably, the return on both days.

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Fig 7: Hall class, 5988 Bostock Hall at Annesley MPD circa 1964. Photo Credit: David K Dykes

I never did see a Great Western ‘namer’ at Kirkby-in-Ashfield but I did see 7922 ‘Salford Hall’ at Annesley loco shed on Sunday 26th July 1964 (Fig. 8).

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Fig 8: My spotting book which shows 7922 ‘Salford Hall’ at Annesley on 26th July 1964. Photo Credit – Malcolm Rush


Blog by Malcolm Rush with additional information provided by Tony Saville

Posted by SB2K Admin – 29th July 2023

Updated 4th August 2023