Going a mile a year

The Northern Echo: THEN AND NOW: The G5 at Ainderby station THEN AND NOW: The G5 at Ainderby station

Echo Memories takes to the rails with the mystery over the G5 finally solved, and news of an exhibition championing the ordinary worker.

IT reached Bedale in 1855 and Leyburn in 1856, which allowed the opening of stations at such rural-sounding places as Crakehall, Jervaulx, Finghall, Constable Burton and Spennithorne.

On October 1, 1878, the line crept on to Hawes, calling at Wensley, Redmire, Aysgarth, and Askrigg.

It went primarily to carry milk and stone, although its presence cannot have harmed the cheese and tourism industries.

Lots of people spotted that our G5 engine from last week had stopped at Ainderby station, which was on the edge of the intriguing village of Ainderby Steeple.

Passenger service on the line was withdrawn on April 26, 1954, so our picture was taken in the last couple of years of its life.

Jim Sedgewick, in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, was able to identify the crew: driver Ronnie May in the cab with guard George Ezzard on the platform.

David Porter, of Darlington, who is compiling a gazetteer of railway photographs, noticed that as well as the engine number on the front, there’s a plate saying 51F – the number of the Darlington shed.

He said: “Ainderby station was probably unique in that you entered it on the ground level and had to climb up to reach the platform.”

The stationmaster’s living accommodation was, therefore, largely under the platform.

The station still exists as a private house, and perhaps one day Wensleydale Railway, which runs from Leeming Bar to Leyburn, will be able to connect it up again.

Railway memories explored

THE North-East is the birthplace of the railways and a new, free exhibition at the National Railway Museum in York celebrates the lives of the ordinary people who were devoted to making the railways run.

The exhibition, titled Driver, Draughtsman, Cleaner, Clerk: Running Britain’s Railways, tells their stories in their words and using evocative pictures.

Here are some excerpts:

THE TRAIN DRIVER

“I used to enjoy myself with the steam... with the electrics it were just a matter of set ’em up and they work the’selves – there were no skill in driving them. There were no skill a’ all... on the gradient you see the voltage on the voltmeters go up. Then when it got to the top, on the level, you see it come down.” – George Mosby Sheridan, who worked on the railways from 1918 to 1966.

THE TRAIN CREW

“They escorted me to the carriage, to the restaurant car, staff gave us a marvellous breakfast – no horrible help-yourself-buffet, polystyrene cups, plastic tasting sandwiches, yuck – white, starched linen tablecloths, similarly napkins, also the size of a tablecloth. The staff in smart uniform and white linen gloves. I always now think; ‘How did they prepare such meals in a tiny kitchen on a fast-moving train?’.” – Violet Priscilla Lee, who worked on the railways from 1940 to 1947.

THE SIGNALMAN

“We have 100 trains passing here daily, and for every train or engine that passes, we have to make in a train book no fewer than eight different entries, besides attending to every single needle instrument and block telegraph.

“We are allowed one day off in every 14... we have to work, on average 75 hours a week...

our wages at this station are 3s per day.” – a 19th Century signalman.

THE TRACK GANG

“It was a very hot day and I Railway memories explored said to the men, ‘Right, we’ll have a shandy.’ And I got this shandy – a shandy apiece – and the inspector was going past on the train and he had me in the office next day for drinking.

“I says, ‘we only had a shandy... it was very hot, and the pub was there, you see.’ “So he let me off. He said: ‘I don’t mind you drinking, but don’t drink with the men’.”

– Henry Hodgson, who worked on the railways from 1947 to 1985.

THE CLEANER

“It was the one time I was scared on the railway, because I found myself, still comparatively young in my early 20s, as a foreman looking after women carriage cleaners.

And they had a reputation, even when we were guards, the carriage cleaners.

“The language was known to be that, that would compare with any trooper if you trod on the toes and such and, as a young man having to supervise them, I must admit I was scared.” – Neville Patrick Taylor, who worked on the railways from 1963 to 1980.

Comments (1)

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8:28am Wed 26 Jan 11

David Lacey says...

Not quite right. Darlington code was 51A and 51F was allocated to West Auckland.
Not quite right. Darlington code was 51A and 51F was allocated to West Auckland. David Lacey

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