26.12.05

More trains

After the excesses of yesterday, spent most of Boxing day reading, finishing off Platform Souls by Nicholas Whittaker. This was an impulse buy at the Ian Allan shop by Manchester Piccadilly station on 1 November 1996 (just after the paperback had come out - I still have the till receipt) and has been lying around, like loads of other books I still mean to read, unread until a day or two ago, when I went searching for it spurred on by finishing Parallel Lines. It was a compelling read, much more focussed than Ian Marchant's book (tho Marchant admits to having less interest in locos than the permanent way itself). Whittaker came to trainspotting in the mid-1960s just as steam was being replaced by diesels, and as the diesels were replaced by electrics ten years later. He was based in Burton, LMS but also well placed for excursions into Great Western and LNER territory. The regional differences in loco nicknames was fascinating: what he calls Blackies (Black Fives), we called Mickies (mixed traffic 4-6-0 Class 5MT) - and isn't that a mickey (44871) that Jinx is standing by on p84, not an 8-freight? - we said Jubs for Jubilees, Brits for Britannias, and I think what he called Ozzies (Austerity) we called Dubdees (WDs). He doesn't mention Pats or Duchesses (or Princesses) but maybe they were on the way out by then. Jinties, 92-ers and Crabs (named after the way they moved) were the same, but what on earth an Egg Timer or Duck Six was, I've no idea! I was trainspotting in the late-50s early-60s and do remember the thrill of seeing the prototype Deltic (in blue livery with white chevrons, just like an American diesel) on the East Coast line at Doncaster, and travelling to Sheffield through the Woodhead tunnel to cop (and I suppose 'bash') the 1.5kV DC electric class EM2 locos 27000 to 27006, all namers (how I wish I still had the photos I took with my Boots 35mm camera - and all my ABC Combines!). Neverthless, I never did see anything special in diesels or electrics! My favourite trips were to Crewe (usually on a platform ticket from Manchester) with Roy Henshall to see the Duchesses, Princesses and Scots, or to Doncaster to cop Streaks and all those exotic A1s, A2s and A3s, plus lowlier V2 namers, each with strange cropped windshields. But what was I doing at the end of steam in 1968? Presumably I'd lost interest by then, an interest only rekindled by nostagia. Like Whittaker, I'm ambivalent about heritage railways (too clean) and don't feel I fit in with the regular spotters. I'd love to go on a railway holiday to Poland or New Zealand, but fear I wouldn't have anything much to say to my fellow passengers!
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