The 18in Hunslets

One of this country’s largest classes of locomotives, numbering almost 500 strong, was the product of a private company. Not only was it a large class numerically but also physically; for at the time of their inception these saddle tank locomotives were the biggest in “private” use.
Unlike many industrial locomotives their construction was announced publicly, but the wartime cloak of secrecy did not reveal any details. In September 1943 the “Railway Magazine” announced that the “Ministry of Supply has recently placed orders with locomotive manufacturing firms in this country for a number of 0-6-0 saddle tank engines to a simple and robust design based by the Ministry on a standard shunter of a well known locomotive building firm”. This well known firm was the Hunslet Engine Co. Ltd., of Leeds, established in 1854, and the standard shunter was their 18in by 26in cylinder “50550” class. Externally the “new” locomotive was almost identical to the earlier ones, with the exception of the cab and bunker outline. Cab roofs at the eaves were now radiused and bunkers were extended beyond the rear buffer beam, having a vertical end as opposed to the former sloping back; this gave a 5 cwt increase in coal capacity. There were other differences not readily discernible, the majority being internal changes in construction. Driving wheels were now 4ft 3in diameter as against 4ft 0½in and had cast iron centres; steel boiler tubes were substituted for brass, and phosphor bronze replaced the white metal for the coupling rod bushes. The locomotive scaled almost 2 tons more than the original but the tractive effort decreased from 26280 lbs to 23870 lbs, the boiler pressure remaining the same at 170lbs per sq. in. Steam brakes were fitted to all wheels and could be operated from either side of the cab. Valve gear was Stephenson link motion and slide valves were fitted to the 18in by 26in cylinders.

It is unfortunate that the word “Austerity” was applied to them, but at the time this was the “with-it” way of describing almost anything adapted to the stringent wartime simplification of production. Their illustrious record proves that even the pruning of the original super-quality specification did no harm.
It was as far back as 1937 that the first 18in Hunslet (works number 1849) was built for Guest Keen Baldwins Iron & Steel Co Ltd who required something more powerful than the existing types of steelworks locomotives. Hunslet’s “48150” class was the logical development of the 1923 design inside cylinder saddle tank which had 16in x 22in cylinders, 3ft 9in wheels and 160 lbs/sq in boiler pressure, examples of which were still being built in the late 1950’s. The “48150” class had 18in x 26in cylinders, 4ft 0½in wheels and 170 lbs/sq. in. boiler pressure giving a tractive effort of 26280 lbs; the short saddle tank, similar to that on the 16in engines was retained but had a closed dome. From the outset the 18in type was a great success and nine were built up to 1942 by which time the improved “50550” class engines had appeared. Subsequently another seven were built including two as late as 1953.
The main difference between the “50550” class of 1941 compared with the “48150” class was the provision of an enlarged saddle tank, extended to the limit of the smokebox, through which the petticoat pipe passed to the greatly reduced chimney above. An impressive if somewhat top heavy looking machine resulted.
Once again a steel company had been responsible for requesting a special design for specific work. Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd planned a quarry development scheme at Islip with a connecting line to Corby steelworks but by the time the locomotives were built the project had been abandoned. Three of the eight locomotives built in 1941 and 1942 were taken over by the War Department, thus becoming the true forerunners of the “WD Austerity” type. Of the others one went to Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd, one to the Parkgate Iron & Steel Co. Ltd and three to the Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd.
By 1942 it was realised that the success of the forthcoming military operations in Europe, following the secretly planned invasion of France, would rely upon efficient transport arrangements for many thousands of tons of supplies. Locomotive production, which until this time had been restricted, was now a priority item and all that remained was to select the most suitable types for the jobs in hand.

At a Ministry of Supply conference it was suggested that for the heavy shunting locomotive the LSMR “Jinty” would be the best prototype but Edgar Alcock, the Hunslet Chairman, convinced the Ministry that the Hunslet 18in saddle tank, being of a more straight-forward design and of shorter wheelbase, would be more suitable both from the production viewpoint and for greater route availability. One of the conditions was that the locomotives should be capable of performing at least two years intensive hard work irrespective of the state of the track on which they were to operate. In addition they were to be capable of starting a 1,000-1,100 ton train on the level, 550 tons up 1 in 100 and 300 tons up 1 in 50 grades. When one sees one of these fine machines at work with a bark almost as loud as a “9F” these capabilities are fully evident.
The 1st January 1943 saw the first of the “Austerities” (works number 2849) in steam at Hunslet followed by another 149 over a period of three years; but not all of these came from Hunslet’s works. Other manufacturers commenced building identical machines to Hunslet’s drawings and one was able to see examples bearing the works plates of Andrew Barclay, W. G. Bagnall, Hudswell Clarke, Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns, Vulcan Foundry and the Yorkshire Engine Company. However, those by the last named were not built until 1954 and, to quote Hunslet, “they could have been built to “Austerity” drawings but we have no confirmation on this point”. Certainly they are externally identical, although they have a different type of wheel centre and oval buffers. In later years detail differences could be noticed on various locomotives – for example the addition of an extra pair of footplate steps; the fitting of electric lighting equipment; the cut in round top cab on locomotives working from Philadelphia National Coal Board shed in County Durham: and the installation of “walkie-talkie” radios with their associated aerials swaying high above the cab.
The War Department loaned out one of two temporarily to the LMSR, which classified them, rather unfairly perhaps, “3F” and others went to the Ministry of Fuel & Power. The initial livery (Hunslet 2849 to 2893, Hudswell Clarke 1737 to 1741 and 1744 to 175b) was Khaki with 2in yellow figures, WD numbering commencing at 5000. The remainder were turned out in dark green with 6in numerals, while to distinguish them from main line locomotives in whose company they often found themselves 70,000 was added to their running numbers. These arriving at Longmoor in 1943 at first gave trouble with hot boxes but this was soon cured by slight modifications. The locomotives allocated to Longmoor and to the Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Railway (operated by the WD) were fitted with vacuum ejectors and train pipes for working passenger stock while others were fitted with Westinghouse brake pumps.

Longmoor even fitted one, experimentally, for oil burning. They were soon at work in Army depots and other Government establishments throughout the length and breadth of the country.
With the cessation of hostilities in 1945 the Austerity saddle tanks found themselves scattered far and wide around Europe, many of them surplus to War Department requirements and as such were eventually put up for sale. Twenty seven of the class were loaned immediately to the Nederlandsche Spoorwegen (Dutch State Railway) who purchased them in 1947 and eleven to the Nederlandsche Staatsmijen (Dutch State Mines), two of which were returned later to the WD, the remaining nine becoming the property of the Staatsmijen. Many of them were stored abroad, never returning to this country and whose fate may never be known; similarly some were sold to industrial or light railways in France but apart from a few their identity and whereabouts are shrouded in mystery.
Certainly six are known to have gone to the Chemins de Fer Tunisiens in North Africa and there is no mystery about the seventy-five that the LNER purchased in 1946, becoming their class “J94”. Later they were absorbed by British Railways and classified “4F” which was more realistic than the “3F” classification of the LMSR. Of the original three “50550” class engines commandeered by the WD the first to be “demobbed” was Hunslet 2414 which went to loan to the Port of London Authority in 1943 (purchased in 1946 and joined after the war by several Austerity class engines) while the other two joined the original “48150” locos at GKB’s East Moors Works in Cardiff. Several more went to other steel concerns, such as the United Steel Cos. Ltd. and to dock service on the Manchester Ship Canal railway. I have not unearthed details of the exact numbers and locations of WD locomotives in industrial service as a comprehensive history would more than fill an issue of this magazine. Suffice to say that the largest number of sales were to the National Coal Board which adopted them as their standard shunter at collieries in England, Scotland and Wales, and indeed continued to order new batches until 1964 despite the decision in some areas to replace all steam by diesels. The War Department retained ninety for their own use at depots in this country, renumbering them in the series 100 to 189 and surprisingly enough ordered a further fourteen new examples in 1952. Here again diesels soon became the order of the day, realising further Austerities for NCB service, while the same thing happened on the Port of London Authority and of course on British Railways also. In a minor sort of way the “changes and chances” of Stroudley’s famous “Terriers” being repeated but on a numerically larger scale. Liveries were many and various between the new owners and included black, several shades of red, blue or green, and even yellow.
And it is here the story might have ended but in the twilight of the steam era two important developments were given a trial; had they been carried out some ten years earlier the advent of the diesel might have been considerably retarded. One was the Austrian Giesl ejector multiple blast pipe, easily recognised by the grotesque narrowness of the locomotive chimney, which effects a considerable reduction in coal consumption. The second was a much more complex affair designed by Hunslet, necessitating major modifications, to overcome the problem of the emission of black smoke outlawed by the Clean Air Act.

By fitting an underfeed stoker and replacing the grate by a stoker feed trough and by having new grate sections and a larger brick arch, the unburned gases are consumed before leaving the exhaust stack by way of the Hunslet special blast pipe which is in some ways similar to the Kyala blast pipe at one time fitted to a number of main line locomotives. In some of the earlier conversions the locomotives had air tubes in the sides of the fire-box but these have not been found necessary with the later design of stoker. Again the revealing feature is the appearance of the outer chimney which tapers gently upwards from the wide base. It produces, visually at least, nothing more than a heat haze even when working hard, a rather eerie spectacle considering that the sound effects are in keeping with these of an orthodox locomotives.
The first rebuild was Hunslet 2876 in September 1961 and more followed including some of the locomotives built by other companies to Hunslet design. Some were rebuilt by the NCB.
Locomotive enthusiasts are, by and large, a conservative lot allergic to modernisation in all its forms. That the Hunslet “Austerity” locomotive became almost as ubiquitous as Stanier’s “Black Fives” (and sharing with them one of their greatest elements of success – a very free – steaming boiler) and caused the demise of many rare old veterans has led to a certain unwarranted disdain for what, I submit most sincerely, should rank as one of the classic designs in locomotive history.
I will not pretend they are as magnificent as Manning Wardles, nor as pretty as Pecketts, yet they are to the steam lover a much more acceptable alternative to growling “boxes”. If they helped stave off the ultimate extinction of the steam locomotive for even a few short years then they must acclaim the credit they deserve and we should be extremely grateful.

In conclusion grateful thanks are due to all who have assisted in the preparation of this article, including R. C. Riley, Eric Tonks, Keith Clingan and not least the Hunslet Engine Co. Ltd whose interest and co-operation has been invaluable. H. A. GAMBLE – THE INDUSTRIAL RAILWAY RECORD

Bibliography: The Railway Magazine, 1943 / The Railway Observer, 1959 / L. T. C. Rolt, “A Hunslet Hundred” (1965) / The Leicester Railway Society Review, 1966.

Belgian Railways – A short history

When World War I broke out a lot of steam engines were evacuated to France. This operation met with a lot of problems because the French railway network was congested but nevertheless 1,915 steam locos belonging to the “Etat Belge” and 175 of the company Nord Belge were saved.
More than 1000 engines found shelter at Breteuil, Fouilloy, Mézidon, Caen, St Maur, Brive, Tours and Trouville. The others were at Adinkerke, Calais and Coudekerque. Also the Railway Operating Division (ROD) of the British army made use of the Belgian locos. The different types of engines were 1,2,4,8,15,17,18,23,25,28,29,30,32,32S,35 and 51. The types 36 and 10 were not frequently used because they were too heavy for the French railway network of that period.
During the German occupation Belgian steam locos were dispersed throughout Europe: they were found in Germany, Poland, Romania and Russia. Because the majority of Belgian railway men refused to work for the Germans, the German occupying forces took over the railway operations in Belgium.
An interesting issue was that of the “mad trains”: they rode without crew at full spead so that they derailed and hampered the traffic. This was a widespread form of sabotage the Germans had to cope with.
Directly after Armistice Day in 1918 the ROD brought steam locos to Belgium : they were painted black, grey or khaki and had in white letters ROD. Some of these engines belonged to the London and North Western (future class 32 of the LMS), others to the Midland Railways (class 480). A lot more British locos belonging to different railway companies crossed the Channel.

The period between the two world wars (1918-1939)
As a result of the Armistice Convention Belgium received more than 2000 steam engines from Germany. The result of this transaction was that the Belgian railways had at that moment an enormous variety of locos, also many of German origin. Some of the locomotives were in such a bad condition that very soon a lot of them were sent to the scrapyard. Especially some Prussian series were kept (class G8.1, the later Belgian type 81 and the famous P8, the later type 64). The latter is well known today because one engine is preserved by TSP and is still in use at the Chemin de fer du Bocq.
The Belgian railways started making great efforts to repair their network and replace locos which had suffered too much during the war activities. More than 200 engines were bought from the ROD and an order was placed for the Ten Wheel type 8 bis and the Consolidation type 33. The price of the latter was too elevated and the company opted for a much simpler version with two cylinders and simple expansion. This type 37 (later 31) was ordered in Britain. So most orders were placed abroad but the Belgian locomotive industry also built some engines. (types 33,8bis and 36 Decapod).
From 1926 the NMBS (Belgian Railway company) rationalized the number of engines drastically. They got rid of small series and adapted the braking system and the heating of the Prussian locos.
Among the best known locos were the famous type 1 which entered service in 1935 and the Atlantic type 12 in 1939. Type 12 broke a speed world record (more than 160 km/h).
Salzinnes and Mechelen (Malines) were the most important servicing places after the rationalization. As a result most locos covered between 100.000km and 200.000 km between two services.
The water quality improved steadily so that locos suffered less from impurities and became more effective.
In 1930 the NMBS took over the Belgian part of the private company “Gent-Terneuzen”. Autorails (diesel) were introduced on branch line because of the lower cost and less intense maintenance. There was also a project with steam autorails but this didn’t turn out successful.
In 1935 the first railway line in Belgium (Brussels-Antwerp) was electrified, although steam traction persisted on that line.
In 1936 speed was augmented from 90km/h to 120 on most main lines. Between Gent and Bruges (line50A) fast trains already reached 140km/h.
Some important types of locos from that era were: type 38,8bis(later 7),33,37(later 31 and 30). For the difficult line to Luxemburg Mikado type 5 was built for passenger trains and type 35 for freights. Especially type 5 was a monstrous and gigantic loco, one of the most powerful of that period. It weighed 130,5 tons and developed 2950 HP.

World War Two (1940-45) and shortly afterwards
When war broke out only 381 locos managed to escape to France but soon they were taken by the Germans. A few months later the Germans took over the exploitation of the Belgian railways. The abbreviation of the names of the depots was painted in large white letters on the doors of the smokebox and on the tenders of the locos. Later these names were placed in small letters preceded by “Bw” (Betriebswerk) on the engines e.g. Lö for Leuven.
The German invaders were only interested in their own transports, so they remained only responsible for the depots of Ostend and Bruges.
Traffic was seriously reduced because the Deutsche Reichsbahn claimed many engines for their own purposes. Several French locos replaced Belgian ones to answer the need of more engines.
In 1940 the NMBS (Belgian railways company) owned 3414 locos but after the Liberation only 1008 could still be used because war actions and sabotage had destroyed large numbers of them.
The severe winter of 1944-45 caused a substantial shortage of coal so that a lot of passenger trains were no longer able to circulate. The poor quality of the coal provoked technical problems for the locos.
After the Liberation locomotives commanded by the British and American authorities could be seen circulating on the Belgian network. Three loco types “Austerity” of British origin were chosen to enlarge the effective after repair. These simple locos with two cylinders were built at a low cost and were suitable for all purposes. They were painted khaki or army green and had white or yellow inscriptions. The symbol of the War Department: the point of an arrow, symbol of honour, with the letter W and D on both sides was painted in white on the tenders. Some locos also had the badge of the 21st Army Group: a blue cross on a red escutcheon. The American locos were painted black with the inscriptions: U.S.A. or U.S. Army or Transportation Corps U.S.A. always in white letters.
In 1945, when the war was over, many locos were “unemployed” and a great number returned to Britain.
Belgium as well as other European countries also used the famous German “Kriegslok” type 52 which had been built by the Germans during the war in enormous numbers (6303!!)also by Belgian firms. This loco was deprived of all unnecessary elements so that it could be built in a very short time. It became the Belgian type 25 and 26.after some modifications.
In 1945 nobody could have foreseen that so many Belgian steam locos would return to their home country. Therefore 300 new locomotives were ordered in Canada and the United States although the high number of the order was not strictly necessary. These engines would become type 29. The order was divided between Montreal Locomotive Works at Montreal, Canadian Locomotive Company at Kingston and American Locomotive Company at Schenectady. The American locos were shipped completely assembled. The most typical characteristic of this type 29 was the nice sound the steam whistle produced. Soon these locos were nicknamed “Jeep” because they could be used for all purposes. So they were soon found everywhere in the country.
Some characteristics : weight 92,95 tons,2000 HP, max speed 96,5 km/h (60 mph) but in reality these trains could reach 105 km/h and pull trains of 1200 tons. These engines were not modified during their service period. They were simple, strong and covered enormous distances without substantial repair.
29013 has been preserved and is still alive and kicking and frequently used for touristic excursions.
The Belgian Railway Company was the only company that used this type of locomotive.
In 1951 the first diesels were introduced, meaning the start of the end of the reign of steam in Belgium. The whole process took still some years but on December 16 1966 the very last steam train Ath-Denderleeuw was hauled by the 29013. At that occasion an emotional ceremony took place.
In 1967 some freight trains were still hauled by steam locos type 81.

– by Marc Bostyn

Double Trips To Carlisle

After my transfer from Southport to Edge Hill in June 1964, my seniority put me in the extra or relief link, which had booked times on duty but no booked work, so I could be moved up to two hours either side of my booked time, for example if my booked time was 8.00am, I could cover jobs between 6.00am and 10.00am.
It was while I was in this link that I first became aware of the Edge Hill to Carlisle freight trains. There were two trains, the first left at 2.15am and the second at 7.50pm, both were double trips, that is you worked to Carlisle one day and worked home the next day and involved several footplate crews to cover the work for the week.
Lodging houses were provided at certain places for those on double trips. Carlisle had two; one at Kingmoor and one at Upperby, the one used depended on the driver’s preference. Of the two I preferred Upperby because it was more comfortable and the food was better. Edge Hill also had it’s own lodging house in the shed grounds.

It was early 1967 that I last worked a train to Carlisle and so some of the details are a bit hazy or forgotten, like the driver’s names, engine numbers, times and dates and so I will write about what I can remember of my double trips to Carlisle.
My first trip to Carlisle came in the autumn of 1964, it was the 2.15am train and since the regular fireman was unavailable and I was the nearest available fireman I booked on duty at 1.30am. The engine was already prepared, it was a Stanier 8 F 2 – 8-0 and the driver had already arrived. He was known for being on the temperamental side and was not too pleased to find that this was by first trip to Carlisle and also that I had only been at Edge Hill for a few months. After making sure that everything was in good order, like having a good fire and plenty of coal and water we made our way to the shed outlet. After making a can of tea I reported to the outside foreman’s office that we were ready to depart the shed and a few moments later we made our way to Tuebrook sidings, part of the massive Edge Hill goods yard where the Carlisle trains usually departed from.
By the time I coupled the engine to the train, the Guard had arrived to tell the driver the details of the load that we had. Whilst the guard made his way to his brake van at the rear of the train put more coal onto the fire and made sure that there was plenty of water in the boiler. A few seconds before departure I glanced down the train and got a green light from the guard, the whistle was blown and the signal came off and at 2.15am I started my maiden trip to Carlisle.
The journey seemed to start well, we passed through St Helens and Wigan without much delay and the engine was steaming well but my driver was still not in a talkative mood and only said what was necessary.

After Wigan we started getting delays but were only a little late at Preston, after that we went into nearly every loop and so by the time we got to Carnforth we were well behind on our booked time. Whilst getting water at Carnforth my driver said to make his brew, so off I went to the porter’s room on the station to brew -up and then discovered that my driver’s drink was cocoa rather than the tea or coffee “yuck” and only to make matters worse when I was getting back onto the engine I spilt the cocoa. My driver was not pleased and called me lots of names that cast doubt on my parentage amongst them. After this incident things were distinctly frosty between the two of us for a while.
We were further delayed after Carnforth by going into loops again whilst more important trains went by, going into these loops gave me a chance to go into the tender to pull the coal forward since a lot had been used by now. When we were approaching Oxenholme my driver through a series of whistle codes asked for a banker to assist us up Grayrigg bank because of our heavy load. On arrival at Oxenholme station our banker was ready, so we stopped whilst our banker came behind us and after another series of whistles we set off again. I managed to keep plenty of steam on the climb; the banker dropped off at the top of the bank and so the next milestone on the west coast main line Tebay and Shap.

While approaching Dillicar water troughs just before Tebay my driver whistled for a banker at Tebay station while I was getting water at the troughs. We stopped just passed Tebay shed exit and the banker buffered up behind us and whistles were exchanged and off we went up just about the most famous incline in the country “Shap” The banker came off at the summit, we went in a couple more loops to let some passenger trains go by and finally after some thirteen hours on duty we were relieved by a Carlisle crew at Carlisle no 13 signalbox. We stayed on the engine until we got opposite Kingsmoor shed and booked off duty whilst the Carlisle crew disposed of the train at Kingmoor Marshaling yards and the engine into the shed.
My driver and I then made our way to the Kingmoor lodging house, we were allocated our bedrooms and after a wash and brush up we made our way to the mess room for a cooked meal and then I realised just how tired I was after shovelling some five tons plus of coal since leaving Edge Hill. After finishing my meal the time was just turned 4.00pm and time for bed after leaving instructions to call me at 11.00pm.

With thoughts of what had happened on the journey to Carlisle and the noise of the Kingmoor shed shunter at work all just made sleep almost impossible. The shed shunter seemed to work when the crews in the lodge wanted to sleep and when nobody needed to sleep it went into hibernation. So I was up and about well before my alarm call and after doing my ablutions I went into the lounge. My driver was already in the lounge because he also had not had much sleep and so after a little chat and a look at some old papers and magazines it was time again for something to eat.
After eating it was time to go on duty again and so we collected our belongings and made our way to Kingsmoor shed to book on duty again around 12.30am. At the shed we found our engine and it was the same one that we had used the day before, Stanier 8F 2-8-0 and now we had to prepare it again. After a thorough check we went and topped up the tender with coal and water and made another brew, by which time it was time to leave the shed for Kingsmoor marshalling yards.
After backing onto our train I coupled up the engine and after doing his checks of the train the guard gave us the load and then made his way back to his brake van and gave us the tip that he was ready. We whistled that we were ready, the signal was cleared and off we jolly well went again.

After we cleared the Carlisle area the climb of Shap started with no assistance from a banker this time it was a long hard slog to the summit and there was no respite until the summit was reached. Once over the top I could only rest for a few minutes and when we passed Scout Green signal box I started again firing in preparation for the climb of Grayrigg from Tebay, I topped up the water in the tender on Dillicar water troughs and then continued firing until almost the top of the bank. Then I could take things a little easier down the bank to Oxenholme and then the line would be level for most of the way home again.
I filled the tender with water at Hest Bank troughs as we continued our journey through Lancaster where we went into more loops before Preston because the rush hour traffic built up and that delays us even more. We managed to get through Wigan and St. Helens without any further delays to arrive back at Edge Hill around 9.30am. By the time we had disposed of our train it was around 10.00am when we booked into Edge Hill shed. I then had a journey of some forty five minutes and twenty miles to get to my home in Southport which I did on my motorcycle and was I very glad that the next day was my rest day and so I could catch up on some lost sleep.

After my initial trip to Carlisle it was some time before I went that journey again in fact I think that it was early in 1965 when I next went that way. Then I had several trips over a few weeks but I cannot remember much about them except to say that the engines were the usual mix of Stanier Black 5’s or 8F’s with the occasional standard 9F’s and Britannias thrown in for good measure. It was either late 1965 or early 1966 that I moved from the relief link to no 1 goods link, which contained the Carlisle jobs. I cannot remember how many weeks work there was in the link but the Carlisle jobs covered six weeks. The Carlisle jobs were spread through the link, so that you would work a week to Carlisle followed by a couple of weeks on other jobs.

It was some time during 1966 that I had my best trip to Carlisle, having booked on at 6.20pm for the 7.50pm train I had a look at the engine board to find that my engine was to be Britannia 4 -6 -2 70045 Lord Rowallan of Carlisle Kingsmoor shed 12A. As I boarded the 70045 with some trepidation I was met with “Cheer up mate” from my driver “She’s a good one” My driver’s name was Fred a senior driver on the Carlisles and one of nature’s gentlemen and he had been with me before and so I knew I was in for a good trip. During preparation of 70045 I noticed there was a coal pusher fitted to the tender which would be handy if needed and it would save me having to go into the tender to drag the coal forward towards the journey’s end.

After filling the tank with water and topping up the coal I did the most important job so far – BREW UP the tea for my driver and coffee for me. I then reported to the outside foreman’s office that we were ready to leave the shed and a few minutes later we left for the Tuebrook sidings. Whilst the guard was checking the train I coupled up the engine including the vacuum brake as all the wagon brakes were operated from the engine. The guard gave my driver Fred the load information and said that he would test the brake when he got back to his brake van and when the test was complete we would be ready to leave. This done the engine whistle was blown, the signal changed to green and at 7.50pm we departed Edge Hill.

70045 was steaming well and all the signals were in our favour and by the time Wigan was reached we were a little ahead of time. We kept our good run through Preston but we did think that our run was at an end when we went into one of the loops between Preston and Lancaster, but we were in there a few minutes with just enough time to get a good fire on before an Express Passenger Train went by and after a few moments our signal turned to green and off we went again.
A tank full of water was got at Hest Bank troughs after we passed Lancaster and then we thought a stop at Carnforth was likely but all the signals were green for us on the main line. Approaching Oxenholme Fred the driver said that as 70045 was in good nick we would not have a banker over Grayrigg and the summit was reached with the safety valves blowing off.
Fred took water at Dillicar troughs whilst I used the coal pusher for the only time to get some coal forward to take us to Carlisle. Fred decided not to take a banker Tebay for Shap, but he said that if we did stick on the bank the guard could get us out of his brakevan and give us a push. However 70045 took Shap in it’s stride and passed the summit without any trouble. We arrived at Carlisle number 13 signalbox early and our relief arrived out of breath as they had to dash and they thought that we must have taken a short cut or sprouted wings. We remained on the engine till Upperby shed and booked off and went to the Upperby lodging house.
After a wash and brush up Fred and I had a meal and chat before going to bed around 1.30am. This time I slept well and awoke around 8.30am did my ablutions and went for breakfast. I was half way through eating my bacon and eggs when Fred showed his face to start his meal. Then we went into the lounge together to read the morning papers. With a couple of hours to spare Fred and I decided to walk to Carlisle City centre, which was not far from Upperby. We did some window-shopping and since I smoked at the time I bought some cigarettes. We arrived back at Upperby lodge around lunchtime and enjoyed a leisurely meal. It was time then to make our way to Kingsmoor shed and so we caught the staff minibus, which ran between Upperby, Carlisle Station and Kingmoor. We arrived at the shed to book on duty at 3.30pm.

We located our engine and it was a black 5 but I cannot remember the number. Fred and I set about preparing it and after getting coal and water we set off for Kingmoor Marshalling yards arriving some ten minutes later where we coupled onto our train. The guard arrived at the engine to give us the load details and said he would test the brake when he arrived at his end of the train. In due course with the brake tested we departed Carlisle on time at 5.00pm or I suppose in modern terms 1700 hours.
The engine was steaming well on the climb to Shap summit and an incident happened that sticks in my mind to this day. The cigarettes that I had bought earlier in Carlisle and which I kept in the top pocket of my overalls slipped out and landed on the shovel full of coal and ended up in the firebox just as I was firing up. The engine’s safety valve blew off as if it was laughing at my misfortune and of course I was without cigarettes for the rest of the day.
We continued our uneventful journey home, I got water at Dillicar and Hest Bank troughs, we went into loops between Lancaster and Preston before we finally arrived back at Edge Hill at around midnight. We booked off duty and I made my way home.

I did go to Carlisle again during 1966 on both jobs, but as traffic was dwindling sometimes the 2.15am job was cancelled, so we went passenger to Carlisle to work our train back the next day. Then we lost the 2.15am train altogether, but we kept the 7.50pm train until early 1967 but it was diverted over the Settle to Carlisle line. This route was gained via Farrington just south of Preston then Blackburn and Hellifield to Carlisle and return home via Shap. I did this route a coule of times but it was always in the dark and so I never saw the scenery properly and by the Spring of 1967 the double trips to Carlisle had gone forever.

Working the Edge Hill to Carlisle freight train was never easy. If you had a good driver and engine the job was reasonably good but if the driver and engine were bad the job seemed almost intolerable. However, I am so glad that I had the experience and will never forget my DOUBLE TRIPS TO CARLISLE…


Thomas Brassey – Railway Builder of the 19th Century


During his life as a railway builder, he built one third of all the miles of railway in this country, and one twentieth of all the railways built in the whole of the rest of the world. In fact he built in almost all of the continents of the world and a high proportion of the countries. He built in excess of half a mile of railway, with the stations and bridges that were involved, for every day of his railway building life of 36 years. He worked with all the great engineers of his age, particularly with George and Robert Stephenson, with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and Joseph Locke.
The interesting thing is that not many of you will ever have heard of him! Thomas Brassey was born on 7th November 1805, at Manor Farm, Buerton, in the parish of Aldford, about six miles due south of Chester,
His business branched out into a whole range of different areas from the one of predominately working on land surveying. He owned and managed brick works and sand and stone quarries in the Wirral, and much of his business growth was in this Birkenhead area. He supplied many of the bricks for the emerging Liverpool. He was innovative in the way in which he handled the materials and he palatted’, (to use a modern term), his bricks so as to avert the damage and breakages caused by the tipping of wagon loads of them. He also designed a ‘gravity train’, that ran from the brick works and stone quarry site down to the port, and the empty carriages were then horse drawn back to the works, thus saving considerable time and effort. His first venture into the realm of civil engineering involved the building of the a four mile stretch of the New Chester Road at Branborough, (recorded by that name but in reality Bromborough!) in the Wirral in 1834, and it was during this stage of his life that he first met another of the great engineers of the day, George Stephenson, who was looking for stone for the construction of the Sankey viaduct on the Manchester to Liverpool railway. This was to be the first railway for passenger traffic that was ever constructed in the world. George Stephenson met Thomas Brassey at his Stourton Quarry and it would appear that from this meeting Thomas Brassey was encouraged to enter into the emerging world of railway building.
His first attempt to enter the railway building world was unsuccessful. He tendered to build the Dutton Viaduct, near Warrington, but his bid was too high by some £5,000. (this viaduct was completed in 1837 with the first train, engine number 576 crossing in July of that year). It was shortly afterwards that he successfully took the first step that was to end in him becoming the greatest railway builder the world has ever known. In 1835, he tendered for and won the contract to build a ten mile stretch of the Grand Junction Railway including the Penkridge viaduct in Staffordshire. He completed this task on time and within price, one of only a few such contractors to complete their sections successfully. This was the first step on the road to his outstanding success as a railway builder.  Incidentally, it was this Grand Junction Railway that was to result in a little village called Crewe growing into the major railway centre that it very quickly became. Initially the engineer for this Grand Junction Railway was the great man George Stephenson himself, but during the construction period he handed the responsibilities to his pupil and assistant, Joseph Locke, and it was this Joseph Locke who was to have such a great bearing on Thomas Brasseys railway building career. Such was Brasseys success, and such the reputation that he quickly attained, that within a very short period of time he had railway building contracts on hand around the country, from the south of England to Scotland, with an estimated total value of some £3.5m pounds at that time. It is estimated that in current terms this represents in the region of one third of a billion pounds!. Despite the scale of activities Brassey carried all his own financial commitments and was in no way subject to ‘limited liability’.
Until 1841 all his contracts were in this country, but in that year he started working in France.  For these French contracts, particularly in the early years, he did much of his work in partnership with the McKenzie brothers, William and Edward. (It was this McKenzie Partnership that had outbid him for the Dutton Viaduct contract in the 1830s).
The French had started rather later than Britain on the railway building programme and in the early 1840s, in an attempt to catch up, the French Government put out very large schemes for tender. Very few contractors were of sufficient size to take on such projects. Thomas Brassey and the McKenzie Brothers turned out to be the only ones who tendered competitively, and when they realised this, they agreed to work together rather than in competition with each other. Their first French contract was for the Paris and Rouen railway of 82 miles in 1841. In 1842 they were working on the Orleans and Bordeaux line of 304 miles, and in 1843 the Rouen and le Havre Railway of 58 miles. All of these lines included many major viaducts and similar works. During this period he and they built some 75% of all the miles of track in France.
In the early 1850s, Thomas Brassey took on the largest contract of his railway building career when he started on the Grand trunk Railway in Canada, (1854/60). His, and his partners part of this massive venture involved the building of 539 miles of railway along the valley of the Saint Lawrence River from Quebec to Toronto. This included the Victoria Bridge over the river at Montreal, which was designed by Robert Stephenson. This was the longest bridge in the world at that time, some one and three quarter miles in length.  It is still one of the longest overall and still the longest of its type. The contract also included all the materials and rolling stock, the manufacture and fabrication of which was achieved by opening his own works in Birkenhead, appropriately called ‘The Canada Works’, and shipping out all the materials, steelwork, and rolling stock for the contract.

There is not enough space to describe all of his contracts in most of the continents, and a very high proportion of the countries, of the world, but a brief summary of the major undertakings can be given. In total there were over 8,500 miles of railway track throughout the world.

These main contracts were in:
The Argentine. The Central Argentine Railway of 247 miles, as well as contracts in other parts of South America,
Austria. The Kronprinz-Rudolfsbahn in 1867 of 272 miles, the Czernitz-Suczawa line of 60 miles in 1866, and the Suczawa to Jassy railway in 1870 of 135 miles.
Australia. The Nepean Bridge and the Queensland Railway of 78 miles in 1863.
Denmark. The Jutland Railway of 270 miles.
East Bengal. The Eastern Bengal Railway of 112 miles in 1858),
Canada. (as already described).
India. The Dehli Railway of 247 miles in 1864 which involved the transporting of about 100,000 tons of equipment and rolling stock imported from England some 1,000 miles inland; and the Cord Line, in 1865 of 147 miles.
Italy. The Maremma-leghorn Railway of 138 miles, built in 1860, and the Meridionale Railway of 160 miles in 1863.
To this should be added the other countries from around the world of;
Belgium, Bohemia, Crimea, Holland, Hungary, Prussia, Nepal, Norway, Spain, Moldavia, Saxony, France, Transylvania, Syria, Persia, Russia, apart from all the building that he did in Britain.

Needless to say, Brassey didn’t simply build railways and the associated equipment. He built docks, such as the Victoria docks in London in 1852, of over 100 acres, along with all the associated warehousing. He built the Birkenhead docks in 1850, the Barrow Docks in 1863, as well as the Callao Docks in 1870. He built his own engineering works, one in France, (at Sotteville, Nr. Rouen) very early on to supply the contracts in France. For this he took over a Mr William Buddicom, who had previously been the Superintendent at Crewe for the Grand Junction Railway. He built as well the Canada Works at Birkenhead, which was initially built to supply all the equipment for the major contract in Canada. He built harbours around the world such as that at Greenock. He built major tunnels such as the Hauenstein Tunnel in Switzerland, on the line from Basle to Olten, (of one and a half miles length) in 1853, the Bellegarde Tunnel in France of two and a half miles in 1854. He built hundreds of stations, but of particular interest to us, that at Chester, which had the longest platforms in the country at the time of its opening on 1st August 1848. He built Shrewsbury Station, opened 1st October in the same year, as part of the Chester- Shrewsbury line. This line included the beautiful viaduct known as ‘Cefn Maur’, (opened 14th August 1848). This is close to the Telford’s aqueduct across the River Dee at Llangollan, known as ‘Pontcysyllte’, and he built the station at Nantwich. His company was also building the stonework for the Runcorn Bridge at the time of his death. He built housing estates such as that at Southend. There appears to be no end to what he did in his busy life.

Thomas Brassey was directly and closely involved in two projects featured in a television series entitled ‘The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World’. The first of these was as a major shareholder in ‘The Leviathan’, as it was originally called, but which is better known as ‘The Great Eastern’. This was by far the largest ship in the world at the time, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and launched shortly before Brunel’s death in 1859. It was Thomas Brassey who was instrumental in this ship being used to lay the first transatlantic telegraphic cable across the North Atlantic in 1864, linking Europe and America electronically. This was the only ship large enough to carry the weight of cable needed to stretch across the north Atlantic. The second ‘Wonder of the Industrial World’ with which he was involved was the London Sewer. In 1861 he built the twelve mile stretch of the Metropolitan Mid Level Sewer, for Joseph Bazalgette. Joseph William Bazalgettee, (1819-1891), was Chief Engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works and responsible for solving London’s cholera epidemics of the mid 1800s, by the construction of the London sewers. The section that Thomas Brassey built started at Kensall Green, went under Bayswater Road, Oxford Street and Clerkenwell, to the River Lea. This was considered by some to have been part of the greatest piece of civil engineering work ever undertaken in this country, and certainly changed for ever the health, and the quality of life of Londoners. This sewer is still operational to this day, a true testament to both Bazalgette and Brassey.

He is said by some to have had a greater influence on the world at large than Alexander the Great.
He was involved in the building of one in three of all the miles of railway built during his life, and one in twenty of all the miles of track built in the whole of the rest of the world.
He was highly respected by everybody with whom he came into contact, whether King or Queen, Emperor or President, Engineer or navvy.
. …..and as a side line he is said by some to have acquired more self made wealth than any other person of this country in the Nineteenth Century.

Thomas Brassey died on 8th December 1870, in Hastings, and was buried in the churchyard at Catsfield, in Sussex, where his memorial stone can still be seen.
There is a bust in the Grosvenor museum at Chester. There are plaques at the station in Chester. There is a tree called the ‘Brassey Oak’ to the rear of the mill in Bulkeley, near Malpas, on land formerly owned by the Brassey family. This tree was planted and surrounded with four inscribed sandstone pillars to celebrate Thomas Brassey’s fortieth birthday in 1845. By then of course he was already a great international figure. These pillars were tied together by iron rails, but as the tree has grown, these have proved too short and have burst causing the stones to fall.

There is very little else anywhere to record or celebrate the life of this great Cheshire man other than the great railway structures that he created.
His was a remarkable career for the son of a Cheshire yeoman farmer, of whom most of us have never even heard.

In the Spotlight… Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST No 3931

Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST Works No 3931 built in 1938 was one of 14 Hawthorn Leslie Standard 16in Locos built for the steel works of Stewarts and Lloyds at Corby and numbered 21, the final two, numbers 22 & 23, were built by RSH after the loco companies merged. No. 21 is joined in Preservation by Nos (3827) 14 & (3837) 16.
About the Makers….
R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie and Company Ltd, usually referred to as Hawthorn Leslie, were a shipbuilding and locomotive manufacturer in Newcastle on Tyne. The Company was founded when R and W Hawthorn, and Andrew Leslie and Co Ltd of Hebburn, were incorporated as a limited company in 1886 to acquire the businesses of R & W Hawthorn of Newcastle and Andrew Leslie and Co.
In 1817 Robert Hawthorn at the age of 21 began business as a general engineer and repairer of colliery machinery. With the assistance of his brother William and four workmen, his enterprise prospered and in 1820 under the trading name of R and W Hawthorn their first marine engine was built.
In 1831 they produced their first steam locomotive for the Stockton and Darlington Railway and as the country’s railway system rapidly expanded their locomotive construction soon became second only to that of their near neighbour, Robert Stephenson. By 1870 over 1,000 locomotives had already been built.
Robert Hawthorn died in 1866 and in 1870 his brother William retired. The firm was then sold for £60,000 to a group of four men. These were Benjamin Chapman Browne, aged 31, Civil Engineer, Francis Carr Marshall, William Hawthorn Junior and Joseph Scott. As senior partner Benjamin Browne had wanted the business to manufacture only marine engines. However, orders were buoyant for locomotives and so in 1870, the shipyard of Messrs T and W Smith at St Peter’s was acquired for the marine site. All marine engineering was then moved from the original works at Forth Banks to the new St Peter’s site. The marine engine side of the business prospered under the direction of Francis Carr Marshall.
In 1884 it was decided to separate the business activities of the Forth Banks and St Peter’s sites and thereafter they were run virtually as two separate businesses. Things prospered for the next 50 years but during the mid-1930s, when locomotive work was falling off throughout the country, the railway side of the business was sold to Robert Stephenson & Co. Ltd of Darlington and in June 1937 Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn (RSH) was formed.
Both factories were retained, building locomotive designs from their former separate ownership until RSH designs were evolved. In 1943 RSH became a subsidiary of the Vulcan Foundry and Hawthorn’s 137-year connection with Forth Banks ended when Locomotive building at the Newcastle upon Tyne works ended in 1961 and RSH at Darlington in 1964. Vulcan works were themselves taken over by English Electric in 1955. Vulcan foundry works kept the association with railways by a succession of owners until at the end of 2002 the works finally closed.

Just for those interested, the ship building and marine engines business became part of Swan Hunter and Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd when it came into existence in 1968. Hawthorn Leslie (Engineers) Ltd became a member company of British Shipbuilders in 1977, later merging with George Clark and NEM to form Clark Hawthorn Ltd in 1979. In its time the yards built numerous Merchant ships & 65 RN ships the biggest of which was HMS Triumph (R16) (1944-1981) a Royal Navy Colossus-class light fleet aircraft carrier of 13,350 tons. They finally ceased building ships in 1982 as part of the Nationalised British Shipbuilders.

Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST 3931 in Service…..
Back to Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST 3931 was Sent new to Stewarts and Lloyds Steelworks at Corby in 1938 it was numbered 21 and worked the large steelworks complex along with the rest of the fleet of loco’s, including Hunslets, Barclays & Hudswell Clarkes for over 30 years until replacement by the ex-BR Paxman diesel-hydraulics which then provided the main source of motive power for the iron ore trains. In the autumn of 1970, 21 received an overhaul involving the fitting of a new boiler which had been standing spare for a number of years. The axleboxes were renewed, attention given to the motion, etc. and presumably she was the last loco to have such repairs and renewals. It is interesting to note that from the 1950’s all locos, steam and diesel, were painted buttercup yellow, with red wheels and coupling rods and black fittings, and, in the case of the steam locomotives, had the letters S&L stenciled in black on the saddle tank.
The 16in locos as a class seem to be known as the “the S&L’s” by the enginemen, other locos not generally having been so adorned. There are variations in the detail of the painting, mostly with regard to the extent, or existence, of black and yellow dazzle striping. This livery was adopted to make them more easily visible in the works, but owing to the dirty conditions which eroded the paint, the colour gradually deteriorated to a “steelworks black”.
During its 1970 overhaul, 21 was repainted and lettered BSC, probably the only steam locomotive in British Steel Corporation ownership to achieve this distinction.

About the Corby Steel Works of Stewart & Lloyds.
Stewarts and Lloyds built their steelworks at Corby in 1933 to tap the locally abundant, if somewhat low grade iron ore. The first steel being made in 1935 with the works specializing in steel tube manufacture. A network of lines radiated out several miles into the surrounding countryside, to bring the ore from the quarries to the works – and a substantial fleet of steam locomotives were utilised. In 1967 the British steel industry was nationalised and the Stewarts & Lloyds steel tube works at Corby became part of British Steel. In 1973 the government approved a strategy of consolidating steel making in five main areas – South Wales, Sheffield, Scunthorpe, Teesside and Scotland – most of which are coastal sites with access to economic supplies of iron rich imported ores. Thus in 1975 the government agreed a programme that would lead to the phasing-out of steel making in Corby In November 1979 the end of iron and steel making in Corby was formally announced. On the internal railway system steam lingered at the works itself into the 1970s until, in June 1973, it was finally dispensed with. The IRS organised a “Farewell to Steam” special, using the last active steelworks locomotive, to haul a trainload of enthusiasts out to the quarries at Wakerley and back again. No 21 built by Hawthorn Leslie in 1938, works number 3931, stood in steam near the ironstone lines depot where, it being a Saturday, most of the ironstone fleet were at rest. The “passenger train” was a rake of wooden-sided open trucks, with a few bales of straw to provide seating! Accompanying the train was one of the ex-BR Paxmans, no. 28 (formerly Class 14 No. D9547).
So into a new life in the preservation era.

After the IRS farewell to Steam tour at Corby, 3931 went to the Battlefield line at Shackerstone / Market Bosworth. It was here that during its stay new tanks were fitted, the front cab spectacle plates were altered from square to round (compare the two early preservation pictures above). The loco was fitted with Vacuum brakes & steam heating. The buttercup yellow livery was replaced with lined pale blue and the letters MBLR appeared on the Saddle Tanks (Market Bosworth Light Railway). I have not been able to find out if this was where it was named Linda, or in fact who Linda is?
HL3931’s next move was to the Swanage Railway in Dorset in 1984 where it was put back into working order and steamed until 1988 operating their passenger service to Corfe Castle. At Swanage the loco carried a Prussian blue livery, (see above picture) with no tank markings. After falling out of use at Swanage requiring retyring, attention to the boiler & axleboxes, 3931 was sold in 1991 to a Mr. Drinkwater. 1Drinkwater had contracted Gwili railway (Camarthen) to overhaul the loco, incidentally, the road move was sponsored by fosters lager, virgin airways and legal & general. Nothing came of the contract and with unpaid bills, eventually, 3931 was advertised for sale in the railway press by a firm of liquidators acting on behalf of Haulier, Andrew Goodman, who had claimed the loco against costs outstanding to him by the then owner.

Compiled by Steve Boreham.

‘Ghost Train’ Rides

The history of ghost trains in the UK can be traced back to the travelling fairground shows of the 1800s. In the days before thrilling rides, travelling fairs were primarily about shows – freak shows, waxworks and theatrical booths – and the ghost train takes its roots from this tradition. By the mid-1800s, Ghost Shows (theatrical productions, which often took place in booths on the fairground) were a major part of the travelling fairground scene.

In the UK, the modern amusement park dark ride can be traced back to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which itself had borrowed ideas from the huge exhibitions that were once held in the UK. The Pleasure Beach had installed the River Caves in 1910 and this was a rebuild of the river caves ride at London’s Earl’s Court Exhibition of 1909. This must have been a particularly awe-inspiring ride in the days when even Blackpool itself was considered to be an exotic destination by most people in Britain.

In the late 1920s, always looking to install the latest thrill from the USA, the Pleasure Beach decided to borrow one of the big hits from across the pond. The early part of the last century saw a boom in dark ride construction in the USA. These ‘pretzel rides’, as they were called, were named after the Pretzel Company that made many of these dark rides. The Pleasure Beach decided to build their own pretzel ride. As the name Pretzel was little known in the country and didn’t give much of a clue as to the ride itself, the park adopted the name ‘Ghost Train’, which was taken from a popular stage show of the time. The name stuck, and has been adopted as the generic name for this type of dark ride in amusement parks and travelling fairs across the United Kingdom, and still continues to be used to the present day.
Following the opening of Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s huge Ghost Train ride (opening year 1930), other major amusement parks installed similar rides: Dreamland (Margate), Pleasure Beach (Great Yarmouth) and Pleasureland (Southport) all had their own dark rides. Even holiday camp king Billy Butlin installed ghost trains in each of his chain of seaside amusement parks.
In 1936, Blackpool Pleasure Beach decided to install a larger ghost train and commissioned architect Joseph Emberton (the man behind the Casino building, Grand National station and Fun House, amongst other iconic Pleasure Beach structures) to design it. It had a hugely impressive frontage, opening up into what could only be described as a giant stage set, complete with roller coaster-style drop in the centre. The main ‘stage’ was flanked on either side by balconies, which served to add an extra moment of excitement for the riders and show park visitors that this ride was not only on one level, but two. The roller coaster-style drop has since been employed on many other ghost trains, including rides at Bridlington, Walton Pier, Dymchurch, Brean Leisure Park and, until recently, Morecambe and Brighton. (Morecambe’s ghost train closed at the end of the 1999 season, but part of the ride system was resurrected at Brean Leisure Park. Brighton Pier’s ghost train was destroyed by fire in early 2003). The first floor balconies are also much copied.

Ghost trains also became hugely popular in the travelling fairs in the 1940s and 1950s. These rides were basically buildings that were built up from scratch, and required a large team of people to construct them. By the 1960s and 1970s, showmen were looking for rides that could be built up more quickly, and that really marked the end of the great travelling ghost train. More recent years have seen a revival in the travelling ghost train. But the quest to make rides easier to build up and pull down has meant that most are now lorry or trailer mounted (i.e. the entire ride sits in the “back of a lorry”), so they are limited by space. The lack of a large amount of interior space has been offset somewhat by the huge foldout flash sported by many rides, which are often on several levels.
There was a Channel 4 documentary about trains (of the steam – not the ghost – variety) a few years ago, narrated by John Peel. The cameras took the viewer behind the faded façade into seemingly miles of twisting, turning track. Inside were the usual assortment of crumbling papier mache monsters and illuminated skeletons dangling from ceilings behind chicken wire. John Peel noted that the entire twisting, turning track was inside a building no bigger than the typical suburban bungalow. And he is right; most dark rides at British amusement parks (with a few notable exceptions) would fit into your typical 3-bedroom bungalow. In fact, many travelling ghost trains in this country do literally fit inside the back of a lorry, despite the fact that they have facades that suggest that you are entering a building the size of a typical Tesco supermarket.
So take our seat, keep your hands in the car at all times and – remember – you might just be scared out of your wits! c. Nick Laister