Tuesday, August 11, 2009


On our recent trip to Porretta four of us went by train to the historic city of Pistoia, 30 or so miles to the south. Here we found a group of old steam engines rusting away in the sidings. We tried to get up close but failed, and the best we managed was some photos from outside the rail yard. The photo shows Alan Lloyd, Dave Carroll and John Jolliffe snapping away. Of course in the UK this would be a magnet for railway enthusiasts, but it seems that in Italy these historic engines have been sitting there neglected since steam was withdrawn nearly 50 years ago.

In the late 50s aged about 12 I was a trainspotter myself, standing on platforms at Clapham Junction and Bromley South as steam hauled trains roared by, taking train numbers at the London termini and going on organised trips to engine sheds such as Old Oak Common, Stratford, Camden and Hornsey. The attraction wore off (to some extent anyway) and steam engines began to be scrapped in their thousands. But in 1968, just before steam ran on British rail lines for the last time, a friend and I made a nostalgic trip to the last bastions of steam - Crewe, Wigan, Preston and Carnforth (with a side trip tp the scrapyard at Barry in south Wales) - to see these locomotives in action for the last time. Here are some black and white photos taken on our trip. Here is Stanier 'black five' 4-6-0 45449 pictured at Springs Branch shed, Wigan.On my trip I was accompanied by my friend John Drummond (left of picture, next to Standard 2-10-0 92212). I wonder whatever happened to him. Abandoned in a scrapyard somewhere (Barry, South Wales perhaps) Standard 71000 4-6-2 'Duke of Gloucester'.Under restoration at Crewe works this is A4 Pacific 4498 'Sir Nigel Gresley'.


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