Thursday, 21 July 2011

Ride on a Footplate at Threlkeld

I just had to show you this.

Many years ago when I first started work, I worked in a timber yard called Armstrong & Addison's at the North Dock at Roker which had a selection of steam cranes. After a few years of working there I had the the opportunity to learn to drive them. This, at the time was no big deal because as a lad in my early 20's it was just a job driving these old relics. How wrong could I have been. Once you have driven a steam engine you are hooked. You learn to watch it, listen to it,smell it and even feel it.

The cranes that they had were two Steam Scotch Derricks, one with a 100ft jib the other with a 120ft jib and a couple of travelling Steam Cranes on a railway. The manufacturers of the two travelling cranes escape me now.

There was nothing better than getting to work two hours before everyone else to set the fire away and get up a head of steam. Listening, watching and feeling the boiler come to life is some what hypnotising. Unless you have actually done it, I don't suppose you could understand.

Sadly, I only worked there for about seven years then I was made redundant. The company only remained there for about another ten years, then the site was flattened to make way for a trendy new marina village.

However, the cranes unbeknown to me were saved, and only by chance and thanks to a work colleague plus a lot of trawling of the internet, we found out who had bought the two Scotch Derricks.

They were bought for salvage by a chap at Threlkeld Mining Museum in the Lake District just outside of Keswick.

I contacted Trelkeld a couple of weeks ago and asked whether or not he did have the two cranes. Well, I was like the old chap that found the copy of "Fly Fishing" by JR Hartley when he told me that he did have them.

Unfortunately my excitement was short lived as he then told me that they had been beyond repair, as the years of sitting on the dockside in the salt air had taken it's toll. He told me that he still had them but they were just lying there.

As you might know Jak and I are on a short break in the Lake District, so, I promise this was not planed, I just had to visit Threlkeld.

I knew there was no chance I was going to see them working again but I just wanted to see their final resting place (sad I know but it had to be done). When I arrived at Threlkeld I soon found the chap I had talk to on the phone. It turns out that he was the owner, a friendly chap called Ian Hartland.

After I had explained who I was and where I'd come from he explained that the two cranes were not there but rather at an another site a short distance away. There was no way I was going to see the cranes but.......

To say that I got a treat was a under statement. He had a small loco in the engine shed under steam and ready to go. The smell and sounds took me straight back. He informed me that he was about to take the loco "Sir Tom" with its carriages on its tour of the quarry and would I like to come along. I agreed to take the ride and went to join the rest of the passengers and then to my suprise he offered me a place on the footplate.

Well all I can say is Thank You very much Ian. I might not of seen what I went to see, but I came away a very happy chap with a miriad of memories revived.

Until next time... Chris.H


THERESA said...

I am so glad you got that ride, on the footplate to boot it all, must have been amazing!!
I remember the one way back yonder, but i was only a passenger and still loved it to bits!!!
lotsa luv

Maryann Laursen said...

Glad to hear, that you at least got this great expirience out of the visit, when you couldn´t get to seee the cranes again. I can imagine, how it must have been. I still remember the one and only trip, I´ve ever had with one of these as a small kid, it was just sooo big, and I really think, it would be just as big today, if I got a chance to try it again.

jordiegirl said...

Great to here that you got to ride on the footplate, shame you didn't see the cranes though.

Just been looking at your other posts to see your modesls - they are amazing.

Mad Mary said...

Thank you for sharing your story Chris and although you still never seen the cranes what a lovely surprise you did get.