Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

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Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by WTTReprinter » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:36 pm

Some time ago I had a conversation about an item in the RO for October 1952 (page 285) that stated that Hatfield shed would close and work would transfer to Hornsey, with the Hertingfordbury turns transferring to Hertford East (30B). The answer I got was that Hatfield didn't close and the GN always worked the Hertingfordbury line. I also spoke to a family friend who had been a fireman at 30B from 1947-1959 and stated he knew of no 30B turns over the GN; though he did his National Service about then so may have missed this.

I recently picked up a set of GN Suburban loco duties for summer 1953 and, although Hatfield depot shows nine passenger duties, I was surprised to see 2 GN turns based at Hertford East covering all work over the Hertingfordbury line. They are definitely based at 30B as they show off 30B and start their duties from that end.

So, since this appeared in the GN workings, I assume that the engine and / or men were GN. My question is; does anyone know whether these were GN engines sub-shedded at Hertford East or did the GN use two of the GE stud?

In all honesty, The RO shows that 30B had 12 N7s for 10 booked turns and I assumed previously that one of the spare was to cover whilst one went for maintenance and the other acted as pilot. Could the two spare engines have been these GN turns, worked by GN men?

Anyone have any thoughts?
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Re: Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by Hatfield Shed » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:45 am

Don't know the detail of the workings, (I was but a small boy living in the area at that time) but Hatfield - Hertford was always an N7 job when steam worked, with the brief exception of a few summer months in 1959 when N5 69266 was on Hatfield shed. (I have a colour photo of this loco on the branch just North of WGC station, photographer unknown.) Hatfield shed retained an allocation of N7s to the end of its existence, prmarily for the Luton Dunstable and Hertford branch workings, although they would 'escape' onto main line turns up to the Cross on occasion, (which was the primary employment of the N2s).

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Re: Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by WTTReprinter » Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:10 am

It is intriguing!
All the Hertford E men I know say they never worked over the GN branch yet the GN workings definitely show the Hertingfordbury line line duties outbased at Hertford East.
Don't forget Hertford East also had a stud of N7s. However, I think there was only just enough to cover the busy suburban service.
I also think the Hertford men would remember if some 'foreign' N7s had been outstabled on their shed.
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Re: Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by 2909 » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:00 pm

I have only just joined this forum, so here's to the first time!
I have a interest in anything about Hatfield shed, and area, as my Dad was a fireman there from 1945 until late 1951. He is still with us at 88 years old.
As you know he would have worked all the branches from Hatfield as well as in & out of KX, Moorgate.
The following might shed some light on this question, I know the following is slightly earlier than 1953.
One of the freight trips over the branch to Hertford Town, was to transfer waggons for the 'Shredded Wheat' factory from WGC, to Hertford East. Dad can't remember if other waggons were involved, but they started from WG City with the empty waggons, down to Hertford Town, where they ran around the train and 'pushed' the waggons over Mill Road crossing, but the locomotive NEVER went onto the crossing. There was a board prohibiting GN engines to go any further. A GE loco came on the other end to take the waggons off, then all they had to do was wait (not sure if this happened every time) and the full grain waggons again would be 'pushed' over the crossing by the GE loco for them to work the train back to WGC. So no loco from either side went over the crossing.
There were possibly other trips like that, but that's the one he remembers, as the 'Shredded Wheat' factory used only grain imported from Canada, into one of the East Anglian docks.

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Re: Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by 52D » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:02 pm

Micky of this parish and also HQ1 Hitchin spring to mind as persons who can help.
Hi interested in the area served by 52D. also researching colliery wagonways from same area.

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Re: Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by WTTReprinter » Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:18 am

Morning 2909. Thanks for your reply. I think your Dad may confusing the workings a little.

The single line to Hertford East was worked by Train Staff. This staff had a key that unlocked the lever in Hertford East SB to allow a move onto the single line. So, if a train was on the branch from Welwyn, a second engine from Hert. E could NOT enter the single line to collect wagons as the GN train would hold the Train Staff.

Only upon the remodeling of East shed (c. 1955 I think) did the start of the single line become Mill Lane crossing. At this time a Stop Board "Start of Single Line: Do not pass unless in possession of Train Staff" was provided. A similar item was placed on the GN side instructing trains to go to the signalbox for instructions.

Through traffic for the GE (grain empties for Victoria Docks and vegetable traffic for Stratford Market) was worked up just onto the GE, then set back into Hertford East yard. They were dropped off there and any GN transfers were picked up and taken away. A GE turn then worked the traffic to London.

The traffic that he may be thinking of was to the Gas Works, behind Hertford East box. This was always worked from the GN side and may have been propelled from Hertford Old, though the layout did allow the traffic to be hauled into the siding. Another siding that received a bit of traffic was the bitumen works, Printars.

As I said, an interesting little conflict of information.
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Re: Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by Mickey » Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:20 am

52D wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:02 pm
Micky of this parish and also HQ1 Hitchin spring to mind as persons who can help.
A little bit before my time 52D by about 3 or 4 years although a long lost friend of mine Alan Dollimore who had been a telegraph lad at Welwyn Garden City (box) during the 1962-63 period told me around 1968-69 that he remembered the N7s working over the Hatfield-Luton branch when he was at the box.

Regarding hq1hitchin it appears that he doesn't come on here anymore, I haven't seen him on the forum for about 3 years now?.

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Re: Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by StevieG » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:14 pm

WTTReprinter wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:18 am
" .... The single line to Hertford East was worked by Train Staff. This staff had a key that unlocked the lever in Hertford East SB to allow a move onto the single line. So, if a train was on the branch from Welwyn, a second engine from Hert. E could NOT enter the single line to collect wagons as the GN train would hold the Train Staff.

Only upon the remodeling of East shed (c. 1955 I think) did the start of the single line become Mill Lane crossing. .... "
I can't comment on locos, depots or workings, but I wonder if some of the answers to the thread's queries depend on when the previously posted memories actually date from.
Although the following may be unlikely to solve much, I wonder if it might help a little.

This line from Welwyn GC, until probably its final years as a through route between the two towns, appears to have been worked between WGC and Hert.North by Key Token, with, until sometime in the 1950s, an intermediate Box with passing loop at Cole Green, a box which could be switched out.
The by then single section of WGC-HN was still shown as worked by "Electric Token" in Table A of the BR(ER) October 1960 Great Northern Line Sectional Appendix, which also shows HN to "Hertford East (G.E.)" as Train Staff and Ticket, (and in the late 1960s, post-closure, a HN signalman showed me a WGC-HN token that he had 'rescued', attached to which, by thick strong wire, was what appeared to be a padlock key; perhaps for unlocking one or more remaining in-section sidings).

The same appendix contains four local instructions for this line between Hert.North and East, with mentions of various responsibilities of the wonderfully-titled "Hertford North Goods Old Station Shunter", "Dicker Mill Lane level crossing" and two sidings - one "Near" that crossing, and the "Eastern Gas Board's Siding, Kingsmead".
I'm afraid the text runs to something like 470 words, else I would have transcribed them here.
BZOH

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Re: Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by Mickey » Mon Oct 09, 2017 6:42 am

Interesting Stevie because I have always been interested in the Hatfield-WGC-Hertford single line branch but never quite knew how trains were worked across it especially during the 1950s & early 1960s although I suspected up to and during the 1950s it would have been worked by Electric Single Line Token instruments although after the branch was 'down graded' to a 'siding' during the early 1960s I assumed it was by 'One Engine In Steam' (One Train Working) regulations.

When I was a telegraph lad at WGC box between July 1972-March 1974 and especially between July 1972-September 1973 when the lever frame and block instruments were still in operation I recall from a fading memory of 45 years later that the old wooden cabinet that contained the x4 single needle telegraph dials and which stood along side the one single needle telegraph instrument in the box read as follows-

1.Kings Cross-Hitchin
2.Hatfield-Sandy
3.Hatfield-Luton (defunct)
4.Hatfield-Hertford (defunct)

Also again from a fading memory of 45 years later I believe the telephone concentrator in WGC box had a defunct Hatfield (or WGC?)-Hertford circuit still marked on it plus there may have also have been a Hatfield (or WGC?)-Luton circuit for the Luton branch still marked on the concentrator as well although as far as the 'Herford circuit' was concerned I don't know if that circuit was a onetime direct telephone line to Hertford North (box)?. Also there was x2 road level crossings on the Welwyn Garden City-Cole Green section of the branch line and I was never sure who informed the two individual crossing keepers at both level crossings when a train was going to be approaching there level crossing although I suspect after the branch was down graded to a 'siding' any approaching train arriving at either level crossing would stop and the fireman would open the gates and the guard would then close them after the train had passed over the level crossing.

Mickey

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Re: Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by WTTReprinter » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:23 am

Morning Steve & Mickey.

2909 mentioned his Dad was there until 1951 so that would've been the old layout.

The working of the single line was interesting. The bit from Hertford North to East was always treated as an 'appendage'. Once the Loop opened in the 1920s, the passenger service from Welwyn was cut back to Hertford North and the line to East regarded as freight only. I always wondered why that Sectional Appdx instruction stated that a ticket could only be issued by Hertford Old to send a train to North, stranding the staff at Old. The answer, when it came, was obvious when you think back to the 50's! All the points were worked from ground frames released by the Staff and needed to be worked because wagons were shunted by horse! When a train was due, the shunter walked the staff back to North (It was about a half mile by road)

Regarding engine workings, this has been a mystery for a while. All the old boys I know state the line was worked from Hatfield by their engines and crew and GE engines didn't work over the GN. The GE men have no memories of GN engines being at East, other than for transfer of traffic. Yet there are pictures in books in my collection of Hatfield engines at East. Also a note in the Railway Observer for late '52 mentions negotiations were on the way to transfer working of the line to HE and, finally, I have set of GN loco diagrams for 1953 showing that two 3MTs were out-based at Hertford East to work freight over the branch.

As they are GN diagrams, I can only assume they're GN locos outbased at 30B and worked by GN crews but all the GE men deny it ever happened. However, the two GE men that I know do allow that they had National Service in the 50's and may have missed it (another forgotten part of that era!)

As I say, obscure but mystifying!
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Re: Proposed closure of Hatfield MPD

Post by Mickey » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:34 am

WTTReprinter wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:23 am
Regarding engine workings, this has been a mystery for a while. All the old boys I know state the line was worked from Hatfield by their engines and crew and GE engines didn't work over the GN. The GE men have no memories of GN engines being at East, other than for transfer of traffic.
I can't say that I know to much about it but it appeared in general that the old pre-grouping boundaries still applied to many parts of the railways around Britain even into the BR era of the 1960s & 1970s so with that in mind the old Hatfield-Hertford branch being originally a GNR line that was worked over exclusively by GN men to the exclusion of GE men doesn't surprise me to be honest also more to the point I presume the GER never had any running powers or running rights over the Hatfield-Hertford branch either so I presume that's the main reason why no 'sweedy men' worked west of Hertford East as well I would say?.

Mickey

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