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.
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
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 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.
To contact the project team with your memories, photographs or stories you can email them direct as follows:
Ian Simpson, railway operations, email firstname.lastname@example.org, John Clayson, social history, people, staff and signalling/telegraph, email email@example.com, Mel Smith, station buildings and infrastructure, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and Jeremy Stone, railway modelling, email email@example.com