Oral history workshop

Fig 1: Kirkby South Junction on the Great Central main line was a popular 1950’s & 1960’s trainspotting haunt for Kirkby lads and features in Part 2 of Malcolm Rush’s Youthful Days. Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre

Youthful Days Part 2

I think that I was drawn to railways by the powers of my elder brother Gordon and his friend Stuart Bellamy (Stuart sadly passed away in 2020). They started train-spotting as “something to do” and had soon bought an lan Allan ABC Locoshed book. A while afterwards I remember both of them sitting in the kitchen of my home at Kirkby-in-Ashfield making a handwritten copy of parts of the lan Allan Locoshed book, being sympathetic to my financial position – after all, a 1958 Locoshed book cost 2 shillings and 6 pence – that would eat away a lot of pocket money !

Out of interest I checked the UK Inflation statistics and 2s 6d in 1958 is the equivalent to about £373 in 2023. That may be a fact but today’s spotters certainly don’t have to pay that much for their books. A “combined volume” listing Locomotives and Coaching Stock costs about £30.  A straight conversion to decimal is that 2s 6d is 12½p in today’s money.

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Fig 2: Cover of Malcolm Rush’s 1959 Ian Allan Locoshed Book. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

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Fig 3: Page in Malcolm Rush’s 1959 Ian Allan Locoshed Book showing cops for Jubilee and Royal Scot classes. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

This 1959 book (Figs 2 & 3) was my first Ian Allan locospotters book. It was a good one to start with because it included all the locomotives at that time. Details of engines, engine names and photographs were not included. It did, though, include the allocation shed, although this invariably became out of date as locos were transferred from shed to shed. Named engines were identified with an asterisk. On the right-hand image you can see some of my personal entries into the book. Against no. 46158 I have written CABBED. This meant that I had climbed inside the cab of the engine. This probably occurred at Annesley shed where I saw No. 46158 ‘The Loyal Regiment’ on many occasions.

Prior to underlining an engine in my Ian Allan book I had recorded the number in my ‘rough cop’ spotting book. This invariably became well-worn and weathered and so I began to transfer my spotting record into bound record books which, fortunately, I have retained. The first page of these is shown below (Fig 4). It has an interesting link with my Locoshed book because, on the right-hand image above, you can see that I have marked 46112 with a blue and red asterisk, reference to this at the bottom of the page states NOT NAMED.

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Fig 4: First page of Malcolm Rush’s bound record spotting book at Sheffield (Millhouses) dating from 14th July 1962.  Photo Creidt: Malcolm Rush

Fig 4 (above) was the first page of my record logs, transferred from my working spotter’s book. It was for 14th July 1962 when I was taken to the park at Sheffield Millhouses, aged 10. There were paddling pools there and I enjoyed the various park attractions, mixed with spotting the engines climbing out from Sheffield (Midland) or coasting down to the station. You will see that the 3rd entry down was for 46112. I had double underlined this number which means that it was the first time I had seen the engine – known by spotters as ‘copped’.

I have not recorded a name against this number which ties in with my handwritten entry in my Locoshed book described previously. In fact this engine was originally named ‘Sherwood Forester’ but its regimental crests were transferred to the Peak Class 1Co-Co1 diesel D100, which was publicly named at Derby on 23rd September 1961. There is a further nice link here as, in my log for Sheffield Millhouses, half way down the right-hand column it can be seen that I copped D100 ‘Sherwood Forester’.

Whilst on the subject of spotter’s terms it was a cardinal sin to claim to have seen an engine when, in fact, you hadn’t. This act was known as cribbing and if you became known as a cribber you would find yourself outside of the spotter’s social group. It wasn’t, therefore, something to be embarked upon lightly and I never knowingly cribbed engines.

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Fig 5: Cover of the Winter 1960/61 Ian Allan Combined Volume, the Rolls Royce of Ian Allan spotting books.  Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

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Fig 6: Page from Malcolm Rush’s 1960 Ian Allan Combined Volume showing cops for BR Class Std 7 Britannia classes and the solitary BR Std Class 8, Duke of Glouester.  Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

Fig 5 and 6, above, are from the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of Ian Allan spotting books – the combined volume. As well as including all engines it showed details for the classes, along with names. Additionally there is a selection of engine photos. The copy I have shown here is not my original version of the combined volume – which explains my quite neat underlining.  My original copy, along with one to my brother Gordon, was given to us by Phil Robinson, an enthusiast who lived at Carlton-in-Lindrick and who visited Kirkby-in-Ashfield on a regular basis.

The copy shown above (Figs 5 & 6) was originally owned by Phillip Escott, a school mate. It had been given to him as a birthday present from his Uncle and Auntie. I can’t recall how or why he gave it to me but I do know that he underlined the few engines he had seen in blue ink. There were only 9 numbers underlined and all but one of them, 64364, I had seen. I decided, therefore, to use red biro and produce a tidy copy of my sightings.

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Fig 7: Phil Robinson’s 2nd January 1960 letter to Malcolm and Gordon Rush. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush collection.

Fig 7 (above) is a page from Phil Robinson’s letter to Gordon and me dated 2nd January 1960. I believe he used to work in a BR Parcels Depot at Sheffield and, in the letter he explains the circumstances which led to Gordon and me being the proud owners of a combined Ian Allan book.

So began the first phase of my railway interest – train spotting, which lasted from about 1958 to 1965. Train spotting consisted of spending much of my leisure time near to a railway, collecting numbers and experiencing various levels of jubilation when a fresh locomotive was spotted. Bowing to peer pressure I would quite often shout “Scrap it” to locomotives whose numbers I had already collected. Little did I know how soon those sentiments would become a stark reality!

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Fig 8: Displaying the Great Central livery No. 506 ‘Butler Henderson’ darkens the sky, heading towards Quorn after leaving Loughborough Central on 22nd November 1986. Photo: Malcolm Rush.

On 11th August 1968 the last steam working on British Railways took place and the vast majority of the steam engines had been consigned to the breaker’s yard. Ironically, though, one of my early sightings to receive the “Scrap it” call was subsequently preserved. The Great Central Railway built “Improved Director” class 4-4-0 No. 62660 ‘Butler Henderson’ was a regular sight in the late 1950s on the Sheffield (Victoria) – Nottingham (Victoria) stopping services. It was withdrawn in 1960 and identified for preservation as part of the National Collection. Some years later it could be seen working on the Great Central preserved line at Loughborough, where I took the above photo (Fig 8) in 1986.

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Fig 9: Kirkby South Junction overbridge on Lindley’s Lane was a popular 1950’s and 1960’s trainspotting haunt for Kirkby lads, and a scene of jubilation when Brit ‘70013 Oliver Cromwell’ was spotted on 23rd July 1960. Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre

One example of jubilation on the part of my brother occurred on the Lindley’s Lane over-bridge at Kirkby South Junction on 23rd July 1960. About 15 steam engines, which on that line were all quite common, had passed through and then a train was signalled on the main line from Sheffield (Victoria) to Nottingham (Victoria). When the engine hauling the coaches speeded into view, an ecstatic cry from Gordon was heard “It’s a Brit.” There quickly followed a loud chorus from the rest of the group “No, it’s an Aussie blinker.” (Spotter’s slang for a BR Standard 9F 2-10-0). Equally as fast there was the solitary retort of “No!! it IS a Brit.” By this time the engine was rapidly approaching the over-bridge and as ‘Britannia’ Pacific No. 70013 ‘Oliver Cromwell’ thundered beneath us, my brother’s hands punched the air with delight. “I told you it was Brit.” he exclaimed.

Observant watchers would have seen the treasured pen, used to write down all the numbers, leaving the grasp of Gordon’s hand, flying through the air then plummeting into the cutting below. After the smoke had cleared and a moderate sense of calm prevailed Gordon realised that his pen was missing and after searching around it was spotted lying on the tracks below. I don’t recall if the brave decision was taken to go down and retrieve the pen.

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Fig 10: Phil Robinson’s letter, dated 24th July 1960, confirming the reason for Brit 70013 Oliver Cromwell being the motive power on the York – Bournemouth the previous day. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush collection

Fig 9 (above) is another letter from Phil Robinson, dated 24th July 1960, which clarifies that the loco had been borrowed by Sheffield (Darnall) shed to work the “York – Bournemouth”. We always called the train as such but, in practice, depending on the time of year it would be the “Newcastle – Bournemouth” which I believe was the case in this summer month of July. There’s a great photo of 70013 on the return working as it emerges from Sherwood Rise tunnel, north of Nottingham (Victoria). This can be seen on page 19 in Bill Taylor’s splendid book “Lines into Nottingham Victoria”. This may well have been the first working of a Brit past Kirkby South Junction – unless you have evidence to the contrary.


Blog by Malcom Rush

Posted by SB2K Admin – 20th June 2023