Sparkies

I grew up next to an electrified railway, so it was only natural that I developed a liking for the familiar trains that rattled past the house all day.

The house I grew up in is just to the left of the train on the uphill side of the line.

The sight of freight trains lurching over the junction at what was my local station is a vivid memory from many hours spent at the end of the platforms, on the footbridge and in the signalbox.

The class 76s were beautiful, one is preserved but an electric loco needs an electric railway and there are no 1500vDC lines left in the UK.

As I grew up my liking for elderly electric trains widened and I built several N scale model railways using a collection of old German electric locos, a collection I still own and cherish.

Real character, I have two models of this class of loco.

From the LNER designed trains on the Woodhead line and the vintage German electrics my interest took me back in history to what I believed to be the start of electric traction in 1879.

I’ve been around railways in one way or another since I was a small child, climbing on the bridge near my parents’ house to look down the chimney of the goods train as it passed below (not a good idea), squashing pennies on the line underneath the bridge (also unadvisable), then getting to know the staff at the station and watching the trains from the comfort of the signalbox. My oldest friend I met through the school model railway club. When I left school I got a job on the railway and stayed there for 27 years. I still have my free passes and frequently use the train for days out. Now, at the age of 60, I’ve just found out something new about trains.

A Scottish inventor, Robert Davidson, made a passenger-carrying miniature electric train in 1837 followed by a full size locomotive. It was powered by zinc-acid batteries and tested in 1842 on the Edinburgh-Glasgow line, 37 years before the Seimens train ran.

I was actually looking for images of New Zealand bush tramway locos, built by another Davidson, when I found the Scottish locomotive.

A world apart, figuratively and literally, from the electrics this post started with, but it’s still a train.

Isn’t the internet a wonderful place?

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About Bob Hughes

Ex railwayman, life long railway modeller, lover of real ale and spicy food.
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