Monday 5 December 2016

Steam Railways taken over by Satan's Specials




'It's the most wonderful time of the year...'

Who said that? Well we doubt they hit 'Like' on much the BM has to throw out into the cold cynical air of social space. Seems there are a fair few Scrooges out there, and for this particular viewpoint - they are spot on.

Here is the background. 

We spend our hard earned money supporting the most expensive of hobbies - keeping steam trains running. You may spend bugger all on keeping steam trains running but your interest and enthusiasm keeps the fire burning bright. 

Those heady days of Summer are spent enjoying the fruits of your labour. A beer on the Station platform, a ride on your favourite steam railway, a moan about your train splitting in half on its way to Kings Cross. Everyone is a sweaty happy bunny.

Then, after all your hard work, the leaves fall from the trees and the sun disappears behind those grey dark clouds and then, after those leaves are sprayed off the track, sacrilege is committed.

Out comes the Tinsel, a picture of Santa is stuck to your favourite engine and your Railway is transformed into the North Pole. Well a small part of it is. The rest simply lingers unused. 


Then all hell breaks loose. The most intensive of train service begins, the place fills with people who have never traveled on a Steam Train before, mind boggling innocence ensues from those who wouldn't know a Coppernob from a Scarlett Moffatt. 

The Steam Locos chuff backwards and forwards with more and more people into the cold air. Steam bellowing across low sunshine.

Yuck. How dare they.


Now look at that Steam Train in the snow. Awful.

Moral of the story? Well just look at the Photos. Yes it is commercialism to the degree of reading 'Commercialism for Idiots' and we all know that any Steam Railway making money is always spawned from the Devil itself. 

But, it remains the most important season for any Steam Railway. Bar none. The magic of a Steam Train ride is made the most appealing at Christmas. Everything clicks together like Scarlett Moffatt eating a kangaroo bollock. The fire, the warmth, the steam, the early nights. 

And then.

The Polar Express. This is where we must voice our objection, pull out the 'Commercialism for Idiots' and read the chapter entitled 'Misleading'. 

There is one thing to promoting your Steam Locomotive as 'Hogwarts Castle' because it is in the same colour as that from the film, and happens to be 'Olton Hall', and is actually 'Hogwarts Castle'. There is quite another with dragging out a Class 56 with a mixed rake of Mk3 carriages and claiming yourself the 'Polar Express'.

The bite back on our views towards the 'Polar Express' is that people love it. Reviews are often outstanding, they make shit loads of cash and repeat each year.


These take place on our 'Heritage Railways'. Some open purely to drag out the Virgin Mk3s, take the coinage and close richer than ever. 

The licensing behind these events would make the most experienced Brexit Minister wince at the Supreme Court. But even the hardest 'Grid' fans must admit that they would be disappointed heading to Disney Land and end up watching Bambi on a portable telly in a Stanhope Portacabin.

So next time you feel Satan has visited your favourite Steam Railway and cursed the place with elves and mince pies - Be assured that Santa chose your Railway to visit and you should be honoured he made the effort during his busy schedule, rather than making up and misleading punters that the Class 47 on the front is the 'Polar Express'.

Keep moaning about integrity and realism, keep moaning for high expectations, keep promoting those Railways that make the effort. Look what happens when crap slips through the net.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Is our Cherry Popped?


Now this won't come as surprise to many, but this BM is an odd one.

We sit and see the news from our beloved Heritage Railways swipe past us on Facebook, we see the wibble and froth emanate from your jowls when you see things change colour. 

The end game is, it's all a bit of fun isn't it? Its a bit of fun that is intrinsically ours.

But,

It is often refreshing, and a little worrying when we stop and take stock of where things are with our Railways, and where they were.

Wibble may die down, the more shocking of liveries begin to generate less froth, the 'banter' generated on forums seems to take a more modern 'Brexit / Trump' harshness.



Are we losing our innocence?


The symbol of our innocence, the sign that we are now all woman or become a man is of course - the Portacabin.


Portacabins signify a lot on a Heritage Railway, they signify your Model Railway when all you ran an Apple Green A3 with an Intercity Mk3 and that National Garden Railway plank wagon your Great Uncle Ralph gave you. That unballasted Hornby track lifted as your ramshackle service ran around, but it was still magic.

This age of Heritage Railways seems to be disappearing fast. The portacabins are being replaced for 'restaurants', The portaloos are being replaced by 'Toilets of the Year', those ramshackle services of 'anything goes' are Mk1s in the same livery pulled by a BR Black Loco.

Is the 'business' side of our Heritage Railways dissolving the fun we all loved from the start?

Those who do not remember Noels House Party, or were even born when Mr Blobby fell down the stairs have missed an era of Heritage Railways that we doubt would ever be allowed to be repeated. That is a great shame and does feel that we have all now grown up and burst our cherry.

Nobody loves it more than taking the piss out of a bad day on a Heritage Railway, where your sudden highest of standards are not being met by a Guard flapping on what to do with his ticket machine while getting it stuck in the door as he gives the right away - your ability to shout outrage from the hills is at your fingertips in your phone. 


The most lovable of nerd who likes to 'dab' beside a 'Skip' and posts the results on a Facebook Group is quite easily torn a new one within seconds. Before anyone can hit the 'Report Post' button we have that 'President-Elect Trump' feeling all over again.

Next time you see a New Build steam locomotive on a perfectly presented rake of perfect era coaches in perfect surroundings - Remember that rusting hulk in the siding, hidden away, the one that got you into Steam Railways in the beginning, the one that no longer fits into the perfect era scene has been cast aside.

Next time you see an enthusiast doing something they love, enjoy it and embrace the oddness. 
Next time you eat a bacon roll in a Portacabin Cafe at a Railway near you, enjoy it and embrace the sickness the next day. 

The 'business plan' is coming along to take your cherry.

Thursday 27 October 2016

Scotsman Shots Fired: Our Guest Writer has his say

We hand over this edition of the BM to a Guest Writer, Simon AC Martin from the British Railway Stories.

Lively debate springs from our Facebook Page from time to time and more often than not, regarding 'that A3'. Shots Fired are also eminating from major Steam Railway magazines too.

Here is Simon's view.

Flying Scotsman: was it worth it?



Llangollen, March 15 1994.

It backs towards us slowly, clanking as it moves across rails and making hissing sounds as it passes under a bridge. Click click click go cameras from all directions, and there are murmurs of delight and contentment from everyone around me.

The light catches the top of the big green cylinder and it shines, and as it passes me slowly I see in big cream numerals 6 0 1 0 3 encircled by orange and black lining, below a pair of clear windows.

Big black wheels emerge next, and curved over the centre set of wheels in brass letters is the legend FLYING SCOTSMAN. There is smoke, and steam, and a smell of oil, burning and metal in the air.

It is hissing more loudly as it stops, and as it stops I see a flash of red at the front, and smoke pouring from a long, stubby chimney.

“60103” is also on the front, and seems to give this strange machine a face with its white letters surrounded by the polished black metal. I stare up at it, and slowly walk along the platform, my hands in my pockets, trying to make sense of it all. I have never seen anything like this before, and my father takes me by the hand to say 'Come on Simon, let's go to the cab and say hallo to the driver!'

We go to the windows and a kindly face looks down on us, and I smile at him. 'Hallo young sirs!' he says. 'Would you like to come in and have a look at our fire?'

My father lifts me into the cab and the first thing I see is this orange glow from an oval hole, roaring loudly with the sounds of flames licking around the belly of this beast. I stare in wonder as shovel after shovel of coarse black coal is thrown into it, and the orange glow disappears as a gun metal grey door is slammed shut by the man I know to be the beast's driver.

'It's been a great few weeks driving her', he is saying to my father, showing him all of the instruments in the cab, 'she is never short on steam though she is a bit tired, mechanically'. I don't have much time to wonder what that means, as his friend with the shovel has asked if I want to blow the whistle?

Dad lifts me up, and I hold onto the chain, and tug it gently. There's a pathetic 'pffffffft' and everyone laughs, and the driver says to me gently to 'really yank it!' So I do, and there's a loud, high pitched scream from the beast, melodious as I let go and echoing all around.

I look up in wonder at the roof, through which I see steam throwing itself into the air. It's coming from its 'safety valves', the driver tells my father, and that's the last thing they say before we have to climb down and let the next father and son in.

I tug on my dad's arm and tell him how much I loved blowing the whistle. He is smiling the smile of someone who loved it too. I don't know why it's so important to him that we had to see this beast, but I do know as I look around and gaze at its face, with 60103 in white letters on the black background, that she suddenly looks like less a beast and more a racehorse, with blinkers on, waiting patiently for the off and sitting obediently.

Mum and my sister are waiting by what dad calls a carriage, and we get in and Dad slams the door. I am surprised by this and tell him he shouldn't slam the doors. He laughs and says this is how all old trains used to close their doors.

I realise that this IS a train, and ask him if it's like Thomas from the show we both like. He says it is, but that the engine at the front is 'Flying Scotsman', and that she's a very special engine. I ask why it's a “she” when it's 'Flying ScotsMAN' and Dad says simply 'because she is'.

We see a man with a green flag outside, and he shouts 'right away', waves the flag and blows a little whistle.

The whistle I pulled earlier blasts into the air around us, and the engine roars and pants up front, pulling our carriages through the beautiful Welsh countryside. I have never been on a train before, not even the electric ones in London that Dad complains about bitterly as he leaves home every morning for work.

I have never been through a tunnel, but I see one and I am excited by this. The steam billows out the sides of the carriage past the windows, and the train descends into blackness, the lights coming on, and then fading as we exit the tunnel and back into the sunlight of the Welsh countryside.

We get out at a station, and everyone on the train climbs a bank, overlooking the train and the dark green locomotive at its head. I realise there is another engine, but all eyes are on the one with the elephant ears: the one with the stern, powerful face and the look of a racehorse.

All I know is that I can't take my eyes off her, as she whistles loudly, sending steam flying into the air, and she leaves her train behind as she pulls forward, snorting with every move of her metal rods and makes her way into the distance, the sun just setting as she departs.



***

The story above is a true story. It is also my story. This was my first experience of a steam locomotive in my life, and let's face it, it was a hell of a start to a lifelong love affair with railways.

She was just a steam locomotive, but the very first one I saw. She made an impression, purely by being there. I can still see that dark green livery (and to this day, I will always incorrectly call it "brunswick green" when it was never the like), the cream numerals, the gentle sprinkling of coal dust along the top of the boiler, the smell of the steam and the oil, and how much my father grinned when he was showing me around the engine.

This wasn't just a steam locomotive, this was a living, breathing machine that turned ordinary members of the public, like my father, into railway enthusiasts, even if it was only for an afternoon in Wales in 1994.

When I first clapped eyes on Flying Scotsman, I didn't know her back story. I had no idea of her more famous and iconic number (4472), I did not know about the Wembley Empire Exhibition, where she took centre stage with Pendennis Castle.

I had no idea about the first non-stop run, London King's Cross to Edinburgh, nor was I aware of the many strange events during her working life (such as running out of water due to injector failure on the London-Leicester route, due to fish getting caught in her tender's water tank!) and I most definitely had no inkling of the adventures she had had with at that point, three private owners across two continents and the length and breadth of Great Britain.

She has travelled further than any steam locomotive has ever done by far, clocking up more miles in a single journey than any steam locomotive will ever do (when it went to Alice Springs whilst on its tour of Australia in the 1980s). She was a genuine record breaker, undisputedly the first to be authenticated by dynamometer car in 1934. The first true speed record holder in many respects, however much the Great Western lobbyists may protest.

She was effectively the big publicity machine for the London and North Eastern Railway, from her earliest days and into the 1930s. Not only the poster child for the new non-stop service from 1928, and a record breaker as mentioned, she was taken around the country and posed with other great locomotives of the age, despite at times seeming out of place as one of the original A1s.

During the war years, and after up to her withdrawal in 1963, she was just one of the A3s. Much loved, as an icon, but in many respects a forgotten one. Then the news broke on the National Collection's decision to save Mallard and Green Arrow for preservation - but there was no space for her.



Campaigns were made, such as Save our Scotsman, but it was in Sir Alan Pegler that she found a saviour, and the rest, as they say, is history, with a repeat of the non stop run in 1968 with two apple green tenders, and two incredible trips across America to boot.

She has returned in great form, thanks to Ian Riley and his team, and her journey has been followed by people everywhere.

I was one of a lucky few on board her inaugural run from London's King's Cross in February this year, and in my interview with Dominic King for BBC Radio Kent on the ride home from York, I said that the story behind Flying Scotsman was people.

It was the story of people who built her, ran her, watered her, fed her, bought her, took her to America and Australia, sold her, fixed her, painted her and loved her. That this still remains true nearly a hundred years after her building cannot be understated.

She remains Britain's most treasured locomotive, the engine which shines a light on the pleasures of railway travel and brings people from all walks of life together.

There is in my opinion, no greater ambassador for the steam locomotive than this locomotive. In this year, which can only be described as "The year of the Flying Scotsman" she has been swarmed by people wherever she has gone.

I witnessed the power of her appeal first hand on her inaugural run, and whilst I cannot condone the line side trespassing by ordinary members of the public, I will defend theirs and anyone else's right to be enthused by the sight of this steam locomotive.

There are those who would have this steam locomotive stuffed and mounted in the National Railway Museum forever. There are those who decry that she has any actual achievements, dismissing her as nothing more than hype and pomp and circumstance. There are those who would angrily cry havoc, and unleash the dogs of war on their keyboards in protestation at the total cost of having Flying Scotsman under public ownership once more.

Indeed, Steam Railway Magazine ran a headline of £6.8 million: museum reveals cost of Flying Scotsman in its latest issue. It "asked strong questions" of the museum, but did not reveal what those questions were in that issue.

Online, many people from the comfort of their armchairs have bemoaned this price. They repeatedly state that it is "three times the cost of Tornado" or "you could have built three A3s for the price to overhaul this engine".

These are straw man arguments. These are the words of people with no real understanding of the power of publicity, for example. They say that you could build three Peppercorn A1s but at no point acknowledge that funding is dependent on support and enthusiasm. These are also the words of people who often don't understand the complexities of the custodianship of a real piece of Britain's engineering.

They do not understand the curatorial demands of having the locomotive in the national collection (constantly ignoring the inaccurate overhauls of years past, with an A4 boiler fitted, together with a number of incredibly dubious engineering fixes. These are available in the report put together by Bob Meanley for all to read, in the public domain).

These are normally the same people who demand for someone to lose their job, because they disagree with a decision made by those people. They're also the same people who have enjoyed the sight of Flying Scotsman in steam, but would condemn ever steaming it again and thus rob our children, and grandchildren of the spectacle of the world's most famous locomotive.



To them I will only say this.

If you are in any doubt about this locomotive's status. If you are in any doubt as to whether the money spent was worth it. If you do not feel that the locomotive does provide any positive contribution to the country, and to us, the taxpayers, I urge you to attend in future, an event at a steam railway somewhere in Great Britain in the near future, when Flying Scotsman is in attendance.

Railway enthusiasts are not born, they are made. They are made in a variety of ways. It could be the influence of a parent, or grandparent. It could be from the stories and films of Thomas the Tank Engine. It could be from the journey to school by train, or a fleeting glance of one of our mainline steam locomotives thundering by at speed.

The future of our movement depends on our youngest generations being able to have the fire of interest sparked at a young age. Memory is powerful, nostalgia more so, and if Flying Scotsman is capable of anything in this life, it is capable of one thing: impressing upon a young child the magnificence of the steam locomotive, and the green and pleasant lands on which it runs.

Was the £6.8 million - £2.3 million in purchase, £4.5 million in overhaul, of those vast sums donated by many individuals, companies and entrepreneurs, the Science Museum group and the like, worth it?


You tell me. I know my answer to that question.


Monday 17 October 2016

Green Arrow - The Broken Record plays again


So whats the big deal?


I think once we claim membership of that strange old fan club known as 'being a Rail Enthusiast', we often sit back and wonder - why do we care so much? why do we worry about a lump of metal with some coal and water in it?

Well we find ourselves back in our childhood, or teens, or chewing Werthers Originals, and taking notice of those influential people on the television. Yep Dick Strawbridge. Well no, not this time Dick but your cult status is assured.

It was 'Train Now Departing' which summed it up best for us. Steam locomotives take us back to the time that all you cared about was that 'your beans on toast were on the table for breakfast'. The resounding thud of the mortgage bill was not even on the overdraft radar. This was coming from a man who had sweated out his own grit, eaten it in a sandwich and sweated it out again rebuilding 'Port Line' to its former glory.

So it is curious what enables a Steam Locomotive to enter the realms of iconic status, does it have to achieve a certain greatness or record?

Or can we simply 'Like it'?

There is a love from the British of the underdog, the one that is not claiming the headlines from a multi million pound refurbishment. The Leicester City, the Donald Trump - well you get the point.

We will today claim that 4771 'Green Arrow' is our Leicester City. The one that will never come back, the one that will never claim the title. But one day, in rainy Stoke it somehow manages to capture everyone's imagination. 

Now from our recent Postings on The BM Facebook Page that it is all over for Green Arrow in the fact that the NRM have said it is. 

Green Arrow is destined in fact to become the 'Leicester City' for real. It will be the focal part of the new NRM Museum at Leicester North. A fully laden steaming Green Arrow means no centrepiece for a multi million pound investment in Leicester and the Great Central Railway.


'If someone has a big enough cheque book then it will happen'

This is our saving grace, this is our Claudio Ranieri pulling out of the bag for Leicester nab the Double in 2017. Its a long shot, its a very long shot but at least that is an option that is bounded around and makes clear sense to us without big cheque books.

£9.5M investment, £39M to the local economy over 5 years. That's what is at stake with pulling Green Arrow away from the Great Central Museum. 

Our Opinion? The centrepiece of this museum should always have been 'Butler Henderson', a true Great Central descendant. It is merely demoted to the sidelines of all press interest in what will be a startling Museum, its seeming history cast aside like Craig Logan in the Bros reunion.


We are disappointed that Green Arrow has been thrown in as bait for the focal point of a brand new museum. Someone out there knows the appeal of this V2, knows the star appeal that will attract in the mass funding to a brand new museum. Perhaps it is purely being used as an Apple Green LNER Locomotive trading card.

Ask someone you know who doesn't get Trains. Test them on the 'Trains' they know.

Show them the V2 and ask what it is. 
Show them Butler Henderson and ask again. 

We will already claim to be Billy Big Bollocks by knowing the answer here: The V2 is 'Flying Scotsman', the Director Class is 'a Train?'.

Here comes the Pickle that even Branston would remove from Tesco online - Is it a forgone conclusion that the V2 is done and dusty in a Museum for all time?

Wednesday 5 October 2016

The Day that Onboard Wifi became 'Heritage'



We'll own up.

The Annual Convention of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust did look from the outside a collection of lucky, lucky people with flexible friends that were always contactless just by the smell of the huge available funds that wreaked from them. Spar would roll out the red carpet and push Jeremy Corbyn to one side to kneel before them as they headed straight towards the premium Baked Beans. Each one of them on average handed over almost £200 each in one weekend.

Despite peace breaking out from Shropshire over the past 36 Hours, we were reluctant to bite the hand that will never feed us by taking the piss out of people filthier richer than us. So we didn't.

But

The announcement that followed was quite extraordinary and unexpected. 

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (A1SLT) ran one Railtour in 2015. They went and ran one more in 2016. The prolificness of their railtour operation wouldn't lead people to believe they need to take over a Steamtown and turn the place into a Mk1 / Class 47 Graveyard just yet.


So what would this Trust need with a rake of ex-Anglia Mk3 sheds coaches?

Well the big announcement from A1SLT is that they are buying a rake of the things from Anglia, doing them up to a top standard and building a brand new Train for the A1 and the P2 to pull all of their tours. A large rush of blood for a train a year you would think.

Not for this new breed of railtour. 'Engineering activity' is now focused on making Tornado run at 90mph and for 200 miles so it can fit in with Class 158s bumbling towards Scarborough. This will make Tornado agile and ready to keep the Clarksons of the world happy again as they steam past Doncaster locating houses where he had a shag in the past.

Sounds fantastic to us, and sounds a real leap forward for steam on the mainline - fast steam on the mainline at that.

It all looks to be paid for by those premium Beans fed supporters and the 'Heritage Lottery Fund'.

Heritage?

Here is where we are stuck. And we will elaborate further with the details from Darlington. The new exuberant Anglia Mk3s will have the luxury of Air Conditioning and Power at Seat (to check the bank balances after buying the ticket) and controlled emission toilets. When you check that bank balance and drop the almightiest of frightening 'Bank Balance Nervous Turd' just South of Banbury, the smell of your nervousness is spread across Oxfordshire in a controlled manner. Phew.

Oh, and the coaches may likely have Wifi.

Now I don't know what image you have of the 'Age of Steam', but controlled turd emissions and Wifi is not on the list. This is not what impressed Cuneo as he sat at the end of the Forth Bridge. Where does this high class plan fit into 'Heritage'?

With the world and excitement of New Builds, have we now lost what Heritage is?

Is this Heritage?
This is about to be Heritage
We are fearful of what this step entails. Heritage becomes a luxurious train that only a few Baked Bean eaters will benefit from. 

The masses will see Tornado and revel in it, the masses will see Prince of Wales and laugh at those ears. Will they experience the world of Steam from those clapped out Mk1s? Or should they experience the world of Steam from a renovated Mk3?

The A1SLT pleaded their case for disposing of these clapped out Mk1 carriages. The railtour market is 'dominated by difficult to maintain 60 years or older vehicles'. Either Heritage has moved ever closer to us or we are getting older.

More New Builds

The New Build 'fad' is here to stay. It is staying in the form of many 'new build projects' scattered around the sheds of the UK. The impending V4 and V3 locomotives that the A1SLT will be providing once they send a Prince out at 90mph to Scarborough are now on the list.

Great News. Who wouldn't want to see all of these locomotives at a Premium Priced Gala with onboard Wifi? We would admit we would. We know the 'masses' would too.

Who wouldn't want to see another completely unsuitable 9F in Black, or another GWR 2-8-0 storming to Minehead? We would admit we would. We're not too sure about those 'masses'. Unless it has a Peppa Pig on the running board or a face hanging from that smokebox, every day, it's a tough sell.

This announcement from A1SLT is big. A seismic shift from an organisation that less than 12 months ago cancelled a Railtour because of lack of sales.

They see the future as onboard Wifi and carefully emissed shite. We are worried that everyone else may see that as the future too.

Sunday 2 October 2016

We have Triggered Article Shitty


Isn't the modern world wonderful?

Technology is king and immediate, it is Live. What happened 5 minutes ago is ancient history and waiting for the next person to become headline news, then annoying, then forgotten. Headline News of course is made up from people with technology who catch it on their devices and share with the world.

Forgive us, were going egoistic. 

Who exactly is The BM for you ask? Well you didn't ask but we're going to tell you anyway. Amidst the shit that life throws at you all, amidst the dullness of another icon dropping dead and you being told they have bitten the dust by the bleep of your BBC News Alerts - we hope to put a smile on your face or a groan at your phone.

If you read these rants articles, we hint at this repeatedly. We let you in on the joke and hint to take life a little less seriously. We have a wonderful hobby that we all share together. Most importantly we couldn't give a right royal shite what others think of our hobby. We're happy - perhaps those poking fun at us are not happy? We feel sorry for these people.


So it did come as a surprise that one of our premier Railways blocked us. Yep, the modern day equivalent of two fingers from the window of your Austin Metro. 

What we must make extremely clear is the support we have received from the volunteers, members, blingers, founders and likers of said Railway that has warmed our cockles immensely during the dark hours after the blocking (too far?) We love you all.

At first we understood, you could say that we have been a little harsh on said Railway but here's the clincher. If you put yourself at the top of the pile, if you proclaim to be top of the BBC News App for Railways then the relatable fun is there with you.

What separates the fun from the harsh criticism is this - when it is obviously harmless fun. Nothing upsets us more than people taking life too seriously. You are wholly invited to not get the joke - we applaud the fact that some don't get it. We love the fact that a minority who have put the effort in to read this shite do get it and appreciate it. 

Morale of the story - it's only Trains guys. 

This leads us onto the theme we began last week, to support the Railways of the UK in whatever form you feel necessary. We asked you all to contemplate jumping up and showing the accountants of the Railways that enthusiasts are there and a viable force beyond those who turn up once a year to see an A3. 

This message was obviously lost to a sense of humour failure. That's a shame.

But, carry on. We presented an argument that could lead to a big problem. The potential lack of support. This is a scary thought, if enthusiast based Galas turn into fantastic flops then where do we find our hobby that lightens up our time beyond those BBC News alerts? 

The North Yorkshire Moors Gala is heading to the end this weekend, the response to this has been staggering and shows hope that an enthusiast Gala can attract the 'normals' and also keep the 'Bash Mashers' happy bunnies. The Great Central is squaring up to show off the queues at Kinchley Lane next weekend. 

Strap on those boots, fill up the backpacks and head out to a Railway near you. Take pictures and send them to us. Take stupid pictures and send them to us. Take ridiculous pictures and send them to us. The circle of happiness is complete.

Thanks, as always,
The Girls of the BM x

Wednesday 28 September 2016

'Flying Moneypit' V. Us


Yes, we know. We're going to mention that A3 again.

Needs must as we address the elephant in the room. Now we at The Bash Mash are socially responsible to your social media, hence the reasoning for A3TOX. 

A few days break from the 'world's most famous steam locomotive'.

We enjoyed ourselves and think you all did too. You can only get so much of a good thing, right?

Well it seems no. Judging by the crowds swarming in Shropshire around 60103, the limelight of this Brunswick Green light is still shining bright. But we're not there, we are in the comfort of our armchairs moaning at those that are there. We can speak for those people that we are a little fed up of seeing the same photos from the same location with the same warning of not to trespass.

'I'm in a position that you can't get to, I'm not working so I'm safe, but here's a picture of what you're missing. By the way - dont trespass on the railway'. 


15,000 passengers travelled in style in the Teak coaches and 30,000 spectators gathered behind those galvanised steel fences to enjoy the spectacle of A1 and A3 together. It was a hit, we all never doubted that the big guns bring in the crowds.

There is no doubt that the decision to cancel the Autumn Steam Gala for the 'Flying Moneypit', will have indeed needed Cahonas the size of Pints of Coronas to make that call. They made it and they were damn well going to make it work despite any hiccups.

The masterstroke was indeed placing the rake of LNER Teak Coaches behind those Pacifics. We often forget that carriages, that fit our fat arses in them, that are right for the era and style are the unsung heroes of Heritage Railways. These lovingly restored masterpieces deserve some limelight, they deserve a premium fare to ride in them. 

Now we look over the morsels left for us, the enthusiasts, to digest.

Crabs as always, is the answer. The Season Finale Gala was the brokered peace deal to us in anoraks lined up at Highley with our sleeping bags and beers ready for an all night steaming up and down while steaming.  

So here is the first lesson. If you are right royally pissed off that you were dismissed to the East Lancs Diesel Gala. If you stayed at the Kidderminster Premier Inn you booked 34 years ago refusing to look at anything Brunswick Green in disgust, then the answer is quite clear.

Turn up, in droves, with everyone you know, to the Season Finale Gala.

This is the simple clear answer to any argument over 'Scotsman'. Vote with your enthusiast feet in droves at an Enthusiast Based Gala. Buy that cup of coffee at Bridgnorth to cure the hangover from the beers the night before in Bridgnorth. Buy a pencil from Bridgnorth shop and use that Bridgnorth bag to be sick in from all that Bridgnorth beer.

But what if you do the unthinkable and don't follow the advice from BM? Why would you do such a thing?

If the Season Finale Gala, put on for enthusiasts, flops. You can see the issue that lays before us. Galas are notoriously not there to make money but to give everyone something to talk about, love and cherish for years to come. They don't make the accountants richer.

We should worry about Heritage Railways that ditch Enthusiast Galas. We should worry more about the Railways that put Galas on for us - then no one turns up.


Saturday 17 September 2016

The Futures Bright, The Futures Apple Green.


Phew. The Scotsman Fever really does keep going doesn't it?

Well, first things first, we are in the digital age where one scroll of the finger downwards and you're yesterdays news. The magic of 'The A3' is that it is all encompassing and bringing new generations in around the country to the magic of steam.

BBC Midlands will fly out to see the A3 arrive into Tyseley with the excitement of a Trainspotting Live reunion. The people of Birmingham will be thrilled, and then the Big Green engine will be on its way. Job done for that area.

So what happens when you've reached all you are going to reach in the 64 Million people of the UK?

You send it over to the US of A of course. What could go wrong?


Turns out that idea turns to shit pretty quickly. Just imagine the rush of donations and goodwill to bring a bankrupt A3 back home from abroad, again.

The A3 takes what is billed as its final 'starring' appearance of the year on the Severn Valley in a few days time. There it will meet Tornado again for the first time for willing punters. It will be a great experience for those who catch the iconic A1 and A3 facing forward, or get through the militarised exclusion zone in place around Shropshire and Worcestershire. 

So whats next?

You have to think what else is there to keep this locomotive in the limelight through 2017. The answer is simple, and it lies on the shelves of B&Q.


Now, admit it, kettle haters included. You would want to see the A3 back where it belongs - 4472 in Apple Green. Then the great roadshow of Heritage Railways and £200 a ticket mainline excursions commences again.

The Facebook Groups will of course be filled of people demanding Loco crews are blinded by smoke for the sake of removing those smoke deflectors. But there lies a rant to save up.

The alternative of course is that 60103 continues to be for another 9 years of appearances in current form. The swipes upwards continue with more and more swiping. What could possibly come next to take on the mantle of a British Worldwide-known Superstar locomotive?


Well, no - this return is for us. The ones who know about Trains and all it encompasses. Those who stick our hands in the pockets most and are pissed off the most when Steam Galas are cancelled for exclusive events for non-believers. We know the V2 is the superstar that needs to return.

But, think of your Granny, think of idiots posting Spouse challenges on their Facebook walls, knobheads still swiping at Pokemon on the street. 

The V2 is not for them, this is not 'The Flying Scotsman isn't it?'.

What is the superstar that would make them pay £50 a ticket to cross CheckPoint Charlie (Kidderminster Edition)?

Can you think of a bigger Superstar than that A3 than this A4?



Wednesday 3 August 2016

Sex!



Well it is past the Watershed.

Wow followers, we have been surprised by many things in the lifetime of the BM but this really struck a chord with us this evening.

We may be sexist? Poking fun at the female gender? Now we passed our Maths for Beginners with Carol Vorderman many moons ago and we know that 2 Pacers + 2 Pacers = 4 Lots of Shite. This is very simple and our brains don't explode at the thought of it.

From those basics was the hope that many would see the photograph of a young person firing a Narrow Gauge Steam Locomotive as a sensible, proactive and complimentary nod to the future of our Heritage Movement. Simple maths. Even Rachel Riley would get that. But we find ourselves in a pickle.

The photo of the beloved Pacer above is in Northern colours. We have not, as yet - and we have checked, received complaints that this is not in Great Western colours. Why on green earth of daisies are we only dealing with Northern Pacers we hear you cry?

Well no one has cried.

But there is a worrying thought that a photograph of a young person doing what they love on the footplate of a Steam Locomotive would be picked out as making fun of a Female Fireman. Bollocks. In all sense of the word. 

The vast majority of you get it, we thank you and love you for it. You do have a new leader, he goes by the name Tom Peacock. Tom gets it, in fact he steps into the lion's den of 'TRRPG' (Facebook People know) and lets those who think we are using any 'ism' that obviously we are not. Thanks Tom. 

What people don't understand is that young person caused a Social Media storm. She proclaimed, in her own words, that an elderly gentleman refused to believe her place was on the footplate. Quite rightly she was bemused, and indeed it seems the world is bemused. This is excellent, this is progress.



For those that simply don't get it. What you are seeing is a round of applause for those who have broken barriers, be it through the stupidity of others or simply gaining the understanding of those who are normal. Those who do believe that noones age, race, creed, colour, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status or socioeconomic status has any bearing on their ability to do a job they love or enjoy a hobby they love for reasons they love.

'Normal' changes every day. Steam Railways become Heritage Diesel Railways with Steam. Class 66s become things to spot. Embrace it, laugh at it and move with it. It is a funny old hobby we have and it is the characters that make it what it is. Some may not agree and the only way to have a reasoned debate and argument is to take the utter piss. This is simple and is our philosophy, but be like Tom. Know when the subject is untouchable.

Know you should never vote to see a Pacer at a Gala.

Your views are important to us, they make us laugh, cringe and smile. The world can be a crazy shit place at times but we do hope the BM gives you reason to smile. That's what it is all about folks. It is not everyones cup of tea but as you are reading this we welcome you to the gang of people that get it. 

To knobheads who do not get it. You are not welcome, our page, our followers, our rules. Do one. We are walking with the world that has moved on, you may take a trip back through the Cafe and to your car with the gentleman who thinks the footplate is no place for a female. We'll stick around and have a laugh with our mates.