Ex Great North Of Scotland Lines

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Bill EWS

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N.B. I placed this item in the wrong thread and have made it a new thread. If anyone wishes to add comment I would appreciate hearing from you.


Hi everyone,
Thanks for your kind response. I am very impressed at the way you have taken my comments and backed Richard. Sorry I can't help in regard to data or programming of Routes but hope that Richard gains enough information to fix the signal problem at Naughton. The nearest I ever got to programming was doing 'Typos', way, way back when I had an Atari 800 XL computer, with the fantastic total memory of 48K. I used to load in the word processor and was left with enough memory to write and print just half an A4 page at a time, having to pass the paper through the dot-matrix printer twice to fill a page. I completed many 'typos', games and such and usually got them to work. It used to take ages to complete. only to find the printers of the computer magazine had printed the data wrong or missed out complete lines altogether. But it did give me some idea of what programming was all about.

N.B. 'Typo' didn't mean an 'error, back then. this was the term for typing in computer programming data from a written or printed page. It was long and ardous work. Today you woud simply scan the magazine page with an OCR programme and have it completed, and probably working first time, in moments.

I moved onto an Atari FM and STE before moving onto a PC. As great a leap as the STE was from the XL it still only had a maximum memory of 4mb, but I really enjoyed this computer and still have it on my PC as a simulation. My interest in computers was mainly for word processing and Desk Top Publishing for a quarterly Film Club magazine that I produce, and still do.

The Club is for people who Home Process Colour Transparency films (Slides and cine film). You can find my Colour Reversal Club web site at:
http://theatreorgans.com/hammond/keng/kenhtml/crcnew.htm/index.htm
Feel free to have a browse around the pages. The secure section isn't locked at present. It's not fully up to date at the moment but will get around to it eventually.

I also have a web site dedciated to my first Diesel Depot in 1963, Kittybrewster, Aberdeen. You can find this at:

http://theatreorgans.com/hammond/keng/kenhtml/Kittybrewster/Kittybrewster(Home).htm

You may know this corner of the U.K. It was the Great North Of Scotland before coming under the L.N.E.R. in 1928 and then the Scottish Region under B.R. from 1948. There were numerous branches plus the mainline from Aberdeen to Inverness, which back then had three different routes. The mainline via Keith and Mulben, as still remains today, Keith to Elgin via Dufftown and Craigellachie and a coastal route that went from Carnie Jct., just south of Keith, to Elgin via Tillynaught Jct. (For Banff) and along the coast via Portsoy, Cullen, Buckie and Spey Bay. Virtually all of it no longer exists and it is difficult to imagine that you could arrive in Aberdeen station and find three trains all waiting to go to Inverness, but via different routes.

Most of these services departed from the four 'north' bays, which is now a car park. There were also suburban services, north as far as Inverurie and west to Banchory on the Deeside line. These departed from the 'local' through platforms on the oppsite side of the station to the bays. The old booking office may become the headquarters for the Deeside Railkway Group. The Royal Deeside Ballater service departed from the south bays, next to Guild street good yard.

The main traction at Kittybrewster was the NBL Type 2's (Class 21/22's) with a mixture of (Today's classification) Class 20's, 26 & 27's 31's and Claytons, and Class 8's & 11's for shunting. Many of the passenger turns were worked by Swindon and Metro Cammel DMU's. One odditie was the two-car battery unit. It looked just like a DMU but ran on batteries. A very troubled machine that often failed with flat batteries and/or failed to tackle a gradiient and had to be rescued. I believe the Deeside Railway Society are refurbishing this unit at present. It was never really economical, as a DMU set and a driver always stood standby in case it failed.

The coaling stage was still in operation. Servicing steam locos from Ferryhill or depots further south. The overnight Euston-Aberdeen Postal coaches were turned on Kittybrewster turntable every morning, the A1 Pacific too. There was one steam freight worked by Kitty men, the 03.25 goods, which departed from Kittybrewster goods yard and went mainline to Elgin, but sometimes via Craigellachie. The return working was a diesel turn (2 x 22's + Mark 1's) the 6am Elgin to Aberdeen via the coast line. This was a lovely route to work over. With fine coastal views. The viaducts at Cullen still stand today and are well worth a visit. Keith to Elgin via Craigellachie was also a very picturesque route. You can visit parts of it today with the The Keith-Dufftown Railway. This was a whisky line, serving numerous distilleries along the route, as was the Old Meldrum branch.

The other branches we worked were, Dyce, Ellon, Peterhead and Fraserburgh, including the St Combes light railway. Another branch which closed to passengers in the 30's ran from Ellon to Boddam but was used as a long siding for storing wagons until the 60's. The ex Kintore to Alford, which lost its passenger services in the 50's and at this time terminated at Kemny, for the granite quarries. The Inveruire to Old Meldrum and the ex Inveramsey to Macduff, which terminated at Turrif. A once or twice a week short freight, hauled by a Class 8 ran at this time and I was lucky to act as second man over these routes. The Tillynaught Jct to Banff remained steam hauled until closure in 1965.

The Kemny granite train was usually worked with a class 20.

Most of the locomotives, and DMU's were fitted with single-line token catchers, which on the Loco's were operated by the driver but on the units, by the train guard. The catcher was fitted to the guard's van door. However, the catchers were always failing and getting spares was near impossible therfore the secondman usually had to exchange the tokens with the signalman, by hand. I think management were well aware that these lines were going to close before long and didn't spend any money on uneccesary repairs. Besides, it kept the secondman in a job.

When built Kittybrewster Depot was also the main Loco works where many GNSR loco's were built, including the four very nice single-deck electric trams that ran between Cruden Bay Station (On the Boddam branch) and Hotel. It was the most northerly electric tram service in the U.K. One of the trams has been fully preserved to exceptional standards and is on show at the Grampian Transport Museum, Alford (24 miles west of Aberdeen). Another must see.

As the GNSR Locoworks Kittybrewster was superceded by the Inverurie Loco works. Nothing remains of Kittybrewster Depot, station and yards but while Inveruire works closed at the same time, in 1965, the building still remains very much intact today and used as light industry units. It can be seen from the train when leaving Inverurie station towards Inverness.

As many of the BVE fraternity are young people, I hope that you find my photos of interest and they give you an idea of how most of our railways were prior to the Dr. Beeching cuts and present day privatisation. Whether you think they were better or worse is a debateable point. But while old buildings did become run down, the track and trackbed was kept to excellent standards right to the end. You never saw weeds on the tracks or overgrown banks and cuttings. Locomotives, steam and diesel ruled and D & E MU's were just for secondary services, not for long-haul passenger use. Back in the 50's and 60's if anyone told you that you would travel from Aberdeen to Penzance in what is no more than a modern day plastic and aluminium DMU, they would have never believed you.

The other Aberdeen Loco Depot was Ferryhill, which worked trains from the south and originally came under the North British and Caladonian railways. When Kittybrewster and all the above lines closed up staff who didn't move away moved to Ferryhill Depot. However, this was under a strict 'seniority' system and the younger you were the greater the chance that you were made redundant and had to find other work, or like myself, move to a depot where your seniority counted, which turned out to be 'Didcot', 500 miles away from home. The seniority date for drivers at that time was 1947. I, and dozens of others didn't stand a chance. A good 3,000 staff were made redundant when these lines closed. Thanks to the hard work by the likes of the late Branch Secretary, Jock Sutherland, who went out of his way to assist staff find work, on the railway or otherwise, most eventually found employment.

With the closure of the railways many small towns and villages virtually became ghost towns as it affected more than just railway staf. Shops and businesses that depended on the railway lost their livelyhoods and they closed down and moved out. It took nearly 20 years before these places picked themselves up again and today most of these places depend on tourism for much of their livelyhood but there is no doubt that the coming of North Sea Oil & Gas really lifted the area to new life and activities. Prior to this the main employment was either Farming, Sea Fishing, railway or the military forces.

Whatever, if you find this of interest perhaps later I could tell of some of the numerous routes, loco's etc that we worked on during my time at Didcot. Didcot had an exceptional amount of route knowledge and it was said that when the American astronoughts landed on the Moon, there was a set of Didcot men there waiting to relieve them!!! That's another story.

Regards.

Bill EWS.

(Edit - TB2000 - fixed a couple of links which didn't pull across properly from the other post)
 
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RailUK Forums

Met Driver

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Another fantastic read there, Bill. I must say it's hard to believe there was such a network of lines in that part of the country.

A few of us travelled on the remaining line via Keith last year, I must say it seemed a lot different to the way you describe it all those years ago. Thankfully the line still receives a reasonable passenger service, but sadly there's little variety in terms of traction, and there isn't much freight any more. I guess the same can be said for a lot of places nowadays.
 

Bill EWS

Member
Joined
10 Feb 2006
Messages
635
Location
Didcot
Hi,
I am pleased that you have enjoyed learning about the lost railway lines in and around Aberdeen. It really is impossible to imagine how it used to be as you pass through where the junctions, stations and yards were, on a present day multiple unit. I plan to update this web site as and when time allows. However, I have just added a link to the 'Aberdeen Railways' web site which is also a very interesting look at these lines and what's left of them, with lots of photographs and stories. Their map of the lines is also very intersting and detailed and has links to the various stations etc.
They have kindly made a link to my own web site and I have now returned the compliment.

You will find the link at the bottom right of my Home page, at:
http://theatreorgans.com/hammond/keng/kenhtml/Kittybrewster/Kittybrewster(Home).htm

I hope that you find these pages of interest.

I haven't forgotten about including further stories from my railway experiences but again this takes time to put together, but keep watching.

Regards.

Bill EWS
http://billreid678.fotopic.net
 
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