Grantham Railway project attracts worldwide attention

Two smartly dressed boys (possibly twins?) await their departure north from Grantham. A bag of Fruit Drops and Kia-Ora are their chosen means of refreshment. 15th August 1963.

Two smartly dressed boys (possibly twins?) await their departure north from Grantham. A bag of Fruit Drops and Kia-Ora are their chosen means of refreshment. 15th August 1963.

0
Have your say

A project which has gathered invaluable information and photographs of the railway in Grantham is attracting attention from all over the world.

Four men are working diligently on the project, collecting as much information as they can about the history of the railway, the station and the people who worked on it and used it as passengers.

We understand these men to be trainee Permanent Way gangers from Eastern Europe. Based in Peterborough they would undertake various pieces of work before being passed out to go on the track. It appears their day's training is finished and they are waiting for their train, back to Peterborough. 18th April 1963.

We understand these men to be trainee Permanent Way gangers from Eastern Europe. Based in Peterborough they would undertake various pieces of work before being passed out to go on the track. It appears their day's training is finished and they are waiting for their train, back to Peterborough. 18th April 1963.

Local man Mel Smith has always had a fascination with the railway and has taken it upon himself to survey the buildings at Grantham over the years.

In 2013, three people – John Clayson, Ian Simpson and Mel – with a common interest in railways, met up at the National Railway Museum in York. At various points in the past John, Ian and Mel had individually visited Grantham as youngsters and like many others had been captivated by the sights and sounds of express trains thundering through the station.

The purpose of the meeting at York was to plan a project that would use all of their joint railway knowledge and tell the story of Grantham as an important railway town. This project would look at all aspects of the railway scene, from the technicalities of operating the railway to the lives of those who worked on it on a daily basis, and not, of course, forgetting the humble train-
spotter.

As the meeting at York progressed it soon became clear that this would be an interesting but massive undertaking. To allow an exchange of information and ideas and to also hopefully reach a wider audience, it was decided that the best option to start the project off would be to create a website now available at www.
returntograntham.co.uk

Grantham Passenger Shunters Derek Pegg and George Harrison, Station Inspector Phil Craft and Porter Harry Hart outside the Parcels Office on Platform 2. 15th August 1963.

Grantham Passenger Shunters Derek Pegg and George Harrison, Station Inspector Phil Craft and Porter Harry Hart outside the Parcels Office on Platform 2. 15th August 1963.

Fifty years ago Grantham was a major railway centre with large engine sheds. Trains travelling between London, the north and Scotland would stop at Grantham to change engines.

In September, 1963, the curtain finally came down on the steam railway in Grantham with the closure of the locomotive shed and the end of an era.

Mel said: “All agreed that the website should be interactive and have the facility to allow direct feedback from former staff and the public. This is something that has been very successful and the content has steadily grown, attracting visitors from all over the world recorded in their thousands. Recently, the project team became four, with another member joining the team. Jeremy Stone looks after the railway modelling side of things and is currently building what will ultimately be a 2mm Fine Scale model of Grantham as it was in the late 1950s.”

From time to time, open meetings are held at the Grantham Railway Club to provide updates on the project and make plans for the future. It was during one of these meetings that the idea for a magazine to supplement the website was discussed and as a result the “Return to Grantham” magazine was born.

The first edition of the Return to Grantham magazine.

The first edition of the Return to Grantham magazine.

The first issue came out on April 22 and has been very popular. Through the magazine and website the team aims to continue sharing the memories of those who worked on the railway with a new generation, describe what life was like for them on the railways in the days of steam and also show how Grantham changed post-steam days after 1963 up to the present day.

Some of the articles on the website are now available through the first issue of the magazine, as well as new material. The magazine and website contains something for everyone who wants to learn about, and perhaps add to, the history of Grantham as a railway town.

Mel said: “The ongoing aim is to record what life was like on the railway in and around the Grantham area. So if you worked in or around the station or up and down the line, or you were a regular passenger or even a train spotter, we would love to hear your personal story. These will hopefully be featured in both the website and magazine so if you have a story to tell now is your chance.”

Most of the images on the website and presented in the new magazine are available to buy at www.lineside
photographics.co.uk, including copies of the current magazine (while stocks last). The magazine is also available in Grantham at the Vintage Tea Rooms on Station Road East.

The 'Return to Grantham' project held a very sucessful meeting on April 22, 2015 at the Grantham Railway Sports and Social Club, which 35 people attended.

The 'Return to Grantham' project held a very sucessful meeting on April 22, 2015 at the Grantham Railway Sports and Social Club, which 35 people attended.

To contact the project team with your memories, photographs or stories you can email them direct as follows:

Ian Simpson, railway operations, email isimpson@returntograntham.co.uk, John Clayson, social history, people, staff and signalling/telegraph, email jclayson@returntograntham.co.uk, Mel Smith, station buildings and infrastructure, email msmith@returntograntham.co.uk, and Jeremy Stone, railway modelling, email jstone@returntograntham.co.uk

Looking south west from the north end of the down platform.  Prominent on the skyline is the tall mechanical coaling plant, built of reinforced concrete in 1936-37.  Wagons of coal were hoisted in turn to the top and emptied into an internal hopper above the tracks.  Locomotives were placed underneath to have their tenders and bunkers replenished.  To its right is the tank of the water treatment plant, a little older than the coaling plant, which supplied water for locomotives.  The treatment inhibited the formation of scale inside steam locomotive boilers.'The cabin near the right of the photograph was the Pilots' Cabin, a messroom where the local men who were on main line standby pilot duty would await the call to action, and visiting locomotive crews could rest and make a brew while waiting for their return working.  The bike probably belonged to caller-up and odd-job man Pete Ballaam, who would often be sent out to get pork pies from Watkin's Pork Butchers in the town for visiting crews - especially 'Cock

Looking south west from the north end of the down platform. Prominent on the skyline is the tall mechanical coaling plant, built of reinforced concrete in 1936-37. Wagons of coal were hoisted in turn to the top and emptied into an internal hopper above the tracks. Locomotives were placed underneath to have their tenders and bunkers replenished. To its right is the tank of the water treatment plant, a little older than the coaling plant, which supplied water for locomotives. The treatment inhibited the formation of scale inside steam locomotive boilers.'The cabin near the right of the photograph was the Pilots' Cabin, a messroom where the local men who were on main line standby pilot duty would await the call to action, and visiting locomotive crews could rest and make a brew while waiting for their return working. The bike probably belonged to caller-up and odd-job man Pete Ballaam, who would often be sent out to get pork pies from Watkin's Pork Butchers in the town for visiting crews - especially 'Cock

A northbound train, believed to be for Leeds, has stopped at Grantham's Platform 3. A box on the barrow contains goods that were 'Made by Ruston, Lincoln, England'. The canopy here was removed in 1964. 18th April 1963.

A northbound train, believed to be for Leeds, has stopped at Grantham's Platform 3. A box on the barrow contains goods that were 'Made by Ruston, Lincoln, England'. The canopy here was removed in 1964. 18th April 1963.

Grantham staff are seen efficiently, and by necessity quickly, loading mail and parcels onto a northbound train on Platform 3 on 18th April 1963.

Grantham staff are seen efficiently, and by necessity quickly, loading mail and parcels onto a northbound train on Platform 3 on 18th April 1963.

'Don't look behind you, but guess who I've seen&..'. Three women wait for their London bound train on 18th April 1963.

'Don't look behind you, but guess who I've seen&..'. Three women wait for their London bound train on 18th April 1963.

Staff, spotter and passenger at the WH Smith & Son bookstall on Grantham's Platform 2 on 18th April 1963.

Staff, spotter and passenger at the WH Smith & Son bookstall on Grantham's Platform 2 on 18th April 1963.

Phyllis Smith and a young man prepare to sell Ice Cream to fleet-footed passengers at the south end of Platform 3 on 15th August 1963. An engine change was scheduled for 4-6 minutes, so you had to be quick if on a train!

Phyllis Smith and a young man prepare to sell Ice Cream to fleet-footed passengers at the south end of Platform 3 on 15th August 1963. An engine change was scheduled for 4-6 minutes, so you had to be quick if on a train!