Photography at Steam Sheds
There are countless images of steam locomotives at sheds around the country. Images such as this WD at Darlington, were taken by many enthusiasts and photographers to record the everyday workings of a steam shed. Darlington shed was somewhat different due to the Darlington Works maintaining locomotives from all over the Eastern Region, so visitors from afar would often attract spotters and photographers.
I like this photograph for many reasons. The rundown appearance of the WD is only brightened by the newly painted smokebox numberplate and shed plate. I need to check my WD reference book to ensure the date matches those of the maintenance records for 90149.
What I really like about the photograph are the little cameos spread around the picture. The first is the line is the line of shadows thrown by the photographers onto the trackwork in the late afternoon sunshine. There must be at least 10 shadows, each one offering the photographer a different shot of the same scene. Secondly, the wagon containing the kindling wood for starting fires, transferred from the wagon by a hand cart. The buildings behind the loco don’t appear to cater for locomotives anymore, appearing to be too small to allow a loco inside (do you know any different?).
Finally, the locomotive itself offers an insight into the state of British Railways in November 1963. Steam had already been ousted south of Peterborough on the East Coast Main Line (some two months earlier), but freight engines were still the mainstay of freight trains in the Midlands and Yorkshire. 90149 would end its days at Langwith Junction in Nottinghamshire, being withdrawn in January 1966, some 22 years after being built to help the war effort in June 1943. No effort has been made to even clean the engine after its works visit, and I assume that the smokebox id’s were only renewed to help identify the loco from others in the works.
The fact that this locomotive was kept working seems, to me at least, to raise questions about the Modernisation Plan, and especially its implementation.
More on that thought it further posts!