Mike and Diane Wilson -
Free Spirit Writers
Steam in Bridlington
A handful of pictures of steam in Bridlington. The black and white images were taken in the heyday of the Fifties and Sixties when steam was supreme. The colour photographs are of specials after the demise of steam on the railways of England.
While other young men were mis-spending their youth playing snooker in the Bash Hall at Bridlington, I passed mine lounging on railway stations waiting for a "cop." Not a passing policeman, but a steam locomotive I had not seen before.
These locomotives had numbers which were avidly noted and then underlined in blue or red in an Ian Allan Locospotter's Book (he must have made a fortune out of us!)
My friends and I - among them Bud, Jim, Carl and Plitzy - spent hours alongside the railway line at "Bezzy," so-called because it was alongside Bridlington's Bessingby Road railway bridge. Long summer Saturday and Sunday afternoons were spent playing our version of the Test Match, with intermittent breaks when someone shouted "Pegged in!" This meant that the signal allowing the arrival of another train had changed to green when the semaphore arm dropped, and the cricketers ran to the lineside to peer down the line towards Carnaby to be the first to correctly identify the type of engine on its way.
D49s, "Buns" (B1s), B16s, K3s and D20s were common at Bridlington on the Scarborough to Hull line, but occasionally the shout "Black Five" or "Jubilee" would go up. This denoted that the train was from farther afield, loaded with expectant holidaymakers from South Yorkshire and the West Riding.
Infrequent visitors were V2s from York or Doncaster, B12s from East Anglia, and on a rare occasion an Ivatt C1 made what was probably one of its last journeys to bring a shout of glee that everyone had "copped" it.
Tank engines were sneered upon as having no value, everyone eagerly seeking to add a new "namer" to their collection. Some B1 locomotives were named after antelopes, and their nameplates gleamed titles like Oryx, Umseke, Impala, Gemsbok and Pronghorn (all come in handy for Scrabble!). Others of that class bore the names of top railwaymen of the LNER.
D49s were named for the area through which the LNER ran. The first of this class was Yorkshire, with Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Lincolnshire and Lancashire being "shedded" either at Hull Dairycoates or Bridlington more or less permanently. Their stablemates in town were the small tank engines which hauled the "Malton Dodger." This two-coach train left town about 8.40am and was the last one we saw each morning before being summoned for lessons at Bridlington Grammar School.
Bridlington shed also had a pair of "coffee pots" based there for many years, mainly for shunting duties in the goods yard, now covered by Tesco's store. The engines were basically a square black box, with four tiny wheels, chain-driven by a small steam engine. There was none of the glamour of the larger locos about them, just the matt black of soot and coal dust mixed with brown rust on black paint.
I remember toiling up the station bridge when it had iron lumps on the middle looking for all the world like the Loch Ness monster embedded in the tarmac. There below me on platform five was a Director Class loco called Somme, heading a train to Hull. My box Brownie came into action and the result was sent to Meccano Magazine where it won half a crown (twelve and a half pence) in a photographic competition.
The area where Bridlington shed used to be, its code being 53D, a subdivision of Hull (53A), is now covered by a B&Q store. The Scarborough side of the station, which used to be platforms one and two, has also disappeared in the cause of progress. Housing now covers the land.
There is no longer any need for the very long sidings to the south of Bridlington, where, every Saturday during the summer season, strings of carriages of all kinds were shunted to await hordes of weary holidaymakers returning home later the same day. No longer is there a turntable. Many's the time we've lent a puny arm to turn a visiting locomotive when we thought we could avoid the eagle eye of the shed foreman. Quite often we went home with our hands, faces, clothes and hankies black with soot after "cabbing" an engine on shed.
The multiple units which now ply between Hull and Scarborough through Bridlington are no match for the sight of a D49 setting off from platform five, wheels slipping, smoke belching black, and steam hissing as the guard waved it away. Despite "progress," I don't think travellers get to Driffield, Beverley, Hull or Scarborough any quicker or in more comfort than they did all that time ago.
Nowadays "trainspotting" seems to be a term of derision. All I can say is that it did none of us any harm. By 15 and 16, we had explored the majesty of York station, the Hull docklands, the gradients of the line to Whitby, West Riding towns like Leeds, Mirfield and Dewsbury, even the capital's stations such as Kings Cross, Paddington and Waterloo.
And should a preserved steam locomotive visit Bridlington, you can be sure I'll be there, memories rekindled of trainspotting days.