Arlesey Railway recollections

We have had quite a bit of feedback following publication of our two photos showing trains going through the old Arlesey Station in the 1950s (February 14, 2014).

Friday, 21st March 2014, 11:33 am

John Day, now living in Essex, contacted us to say: “I am 70 percent sure that the boy in the photograph is myself. Although the picture is not very clear, the jacket (leather) and bicycle look very familiar.

“It would have been 1958/59 when I was around 13 years old and used to cycle from Clifton to Arlesey fairly frequently for trainspotting or visiting my grandmother.

“The cycling pose, with the front wheel pressed up to the crossing gate and high pedal position was for making a quick getaway through the small gap that appeared as soon as the crossing gates started to open. The idea was to beat any following motor vehicles to the bridge across the River Hiz some 100 yards further on.”

We were also contacted by Steve Sunderland who thinks he may have been the boy in the picture. Says Steve: “I was very pleased to see your article on Arlesey station a couple of weeks ago. I might be the boy in the photo. I was bought up a few hundred yards from the station on Stotfold Road, and spent many hours around the station watching trains”. He adds “I would be very interested to see any other photos that Terry has of Arlesey Station.”

Ken Page also contacted us to point out that the steam engine is an A1 Pacific designed by A H Peppercorn. He explains: “Forty-nine were built to the last LNER design, having a short life in service. They were all scrapped, but a replica named Tornado runs frequently on our line.”

There seems to be some disagreement on the identity of the diesel train though. Ken says: “The first train was actually a Deltic diesel loco. Twenty-two were built by English Electric for the East Coast Line and also had a short life, being replaced by high speed trains still in service. A few have been preserved and run on our line.”

However, John says: “The diesel locomotive pictured is not a Deltic, but a Class 40, which had newly appeared around that time and was still quite a rarity.”

And Steve says that the diesel loco is “an English Electric Type 4, the class that first took over from steam locos on heavy trains on that route”.

Like John, Steve believes the shot must have been taken in 1958 or later, rather than 1953 as contributor Terry Sturgeon guessed, as this was the year these trains were built.

Both trains had a designed top speed of 100mph. Thank you to John, Steve and Ken for this follow up. But who was the boy in the picture?