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Dalescroft Railfans

Postby windsor_lad » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:44 pm

Does anyone remember Dalescroft Railfans – if I have the name correct?

I recall being introduced to them by a colleague at work when he found out I had a railway interest. I seem to recall a cheaply produced newsletter with observations and stock alterations. Amongst the gen was the first renumbering to five digit TOPS numbers of Classes 27 and 45. So that would put it at about 1972 to 1973.

Can anyone out there add more detail?
Where did they and the name come from and what happened to them?
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Re: Dalescroft Railfans

Postby MisterC » Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:13 am

Originally called Dalescroft Railfans Club, though possibly later shortened to Dalescroft Railfans.

Its main activity in the early 1970s was shed bashing trips by road coach, these were listed in the Coming Events column of Railway Magazine. The varying start points imply that it was an organisation with a wide geographical spread.

I was hoping I might find a classified advertisement for Dalescroft Railfans in Railway Magazine but no luck yet.
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Re: Dalescroft Railfans

Postby Peter Hall » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:11 am

Worth looking at the Northern Counties Transport Society topic viewtopic.php?f=2&t=329 I myself was never actually a member of Dalescroft, NCTS grabbed me. There were of course many similar shed bashing societies in the 1970's and I gather even more in the 1960's, most locally based. I know Ian Prince who is a regular contributor to this forum was a member following absorption of Northern Railfans and I am sure will be able to add something.

Dalescroft comes up regularly in the chats I have had recently regarding the history of NCTS and I have amalgamated various comments that have appeared on other forums below, some from me, some from others, into a summary of what has been said.

Not sure of the exact origins but by the early 1970's Dalescroft was being run by Dale W. Fickes who presumably founded it. It was actually called Dalescroft as Dale fickes's parents lived at Dalescroft Rise in Allerton Bradford. It was pretty much started in a room at home with most of the paper work and visit lists etc done their. Mr Fickes was quite a character and is still apparently about. The Inter-City Railway Society came about due to a 'falling out' within Dalescroft in 1973. Similar to a 'falling out' in Northern Counties Transport Society in 1976 that led to the short lived South Yorkshire Railway Society. By the 1980's I believe Dalescroft had transformed into the National Railway Enthusiasts Society. The early origins of Phoenix Rail Tours also stemmed from early Dalescroft splinters.

A little known fact is that Dale Fickes actually approached BR in the late 1970s about working for them full time with a proposition that he would oversee the entire country's permit requests, which would take over from individual depot & works managers having to organise and distribute permits nationwide. They asked him to put a plan together but nothing came of it, now can you imagine if that had come off and every society had to write to him for permits to be authorised and sent??

There was some underhand goings on that weren't Dales's fault, there were some of the regional organisers on the southern that 'reportedly' had taken money for tours and permits individually and pocketed it so it never came back in to the society. Malcolm Riley of RCTS has never seen eye to eye with him, there was at least one occasion that their bus turned up at a depot, could have been Barrow Hill, and RCTS were already on their way around, Dale jumped on the back of the party with his own coach and walked straight around piggy backing RCTs permit which didn't go down well.

It all went wrong and ended in a very sticky meeting in a solicitors office in Bradford. it was actually registered at companies house as a bonefide business.

Dalescroft/Mr Fickes was, along with the Worcester Locomotive Society by 1974, producing pocket book size loco-shed style books in competition with Ian Allan where as Northern Counties Transport Society were producing duplicated listings. If anybody has spare copies of these early books or can provide a scan that would be very much welcomed. I am not aware of any appearing before the great re-numbering.

In away Dale saw the future trends in the hobby that the RCTS who were better placed failed to grasp and acted on them. The origins of Platform 5 have a Dalescroft footnote.
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Re: Dalescroft Railfans

Postby nsporne » Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:58 pm

I was a member of this Society in the early 70s until its demise. As already stated it organised shed visits around the country with stating points from various locations. All the trips were by coach with many starting very early depending on the locations to be visited.

There were annual trips around Scotland at Easter time with visits to all the depots and many stabling points. I went on at least three of these trips. B&B accommodation was included in the trip. The trips tended to concentrate on an area so you got East Anglia, South Wales, The SE and so on. There was a monthly newsletter which gave details of the trips together with reports of previous ones. I still have all my copies which provide a useful source of information for the periods concerned.

These trips certainly helped me clear most of what ran on BR at the time. I cannot recall any problems with Permits, mind you most places were pretty relaxed about such things in those days! We never got round 62C Dunfermline though!

Hope this is of interest

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Re: Dalescroft Railfans

Postby Ian Prince » Thu Dec 15, 2016 7:40 pm

Sorry Peter, very little to add, as I was just a teenager, who along with my friends were too young to join RCTS at the time, so in those pre internet days, getting information was obviously not easy. We largely did our own thing, as the coach trips were relatively expensive and only went generally depot to depot, without any of the real interest of actually travelling on the railway, which was more interesting than sitting in a cheap coach for hours.

Dalescroft did however run a railtour on 07 Sept 1974 from Leeds area picking up at Sheffield and other Northern stations, to Swindon Works open day, entitled 'Western Dalesman', although it didn't get any Western haulage.

The trip was an utter disaster, and must be the worst railtour I have ever been on, (not DRCs fault), with such a high number of failures of traction, that time was short visiting Swindon and Didcot Railway Centre on the same day and then getting back up north. The Class 31's in particular seemed to be unable to manage to go very far before expiring and requiring largely unplanned locomotive changes at least at Derby, Saltley?, Gloucester, and Didcot from memory. Locos recorded as being involved were 31123, 46044, 31145, 47096, 08492, (at Swindon - drawback into Works) and 47225

The highlight I suppose was the whole train being drawn back by 08492 into the area between the depot and Works with wooden ladders being provided by Swindon to allow disembarkation from the Mk1 stock.

Unfortunately D7093 was giving demonstrations on the Bulmers Pullman coaches in their green red and white livery, and 7093 carried the headcode '6 0 OO', as the demonstration train was supposed to be steam hauled (by GW King Class King George V, 6000 but this had come to grief hitting an over-bridge which removed its brass safety valve cover, I later recall reading), alongside the mainline that day and D7029 was stabled in the depot, but these more interesting locos were not employed on the excursion at any point.

I do however still have the eleventh edition of DRC's Locomotive Stock Book and their second edition 'Diesel & Electric Multiple Unit Stock Book' both of which have an advert for membership in 1975 at the rear of the books, (Annual membership cost £1:50) and their third edition of 'Locotraction of British Rail' dated December 1974.

NREA Locomotive Allocation Pocket Book First Edition appears to have appeared in 1976

NCTS were still Producing a 'Combined Edition - numerical and depot order - Complete List of All BR Locomotives' dated 1978, so they must have lasted until at least then.
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Re: Dalescroft Railfans

Postby Rick. » Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:25 pm

I was one of the early members of Dalescroft Railfans Club joining around 1963/4 and remember going on several visits to Derby works, Crewe works etc by train and meeting up there. The club met at Dale Fickes house in Cranborne Rd, near Alerton in Bradford and we used to go up there at least once a month. It then progressed into the coach trips over a weekend travelling overnight on Friday stopping at a shed on the way in the middle of the night and spending all day Saturday going round sheds, then B & B on Saturday night more sheds on Sunday and then driving back to Bradford. I can remember in 1966 ( whilst I was still at school) travelling on one of these to South Wales and going round Woodham bros and Cashmores scrap yards as well as the South Wales sheds, we went round Worcester around 2am on the way down. Overnight in Swansea where we had B & B and then back on Sunday evening. These were great times and I remember fondly the great character that Dale Fickes was and can't thank him enough for organising theses trips that enabled me as a school boy to visit all these places accompanied and supervised. Living in Bradford at the time it was good to be an active member and attend the meetings as well as the shed visits.
I stopped being a member around 1969/70
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Re: Dalescroft Railfans

Postby MisterC » Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:21 pm

Rick. wrote:I was one of the early members of Dalescroft Railfans Club joining around 1963/4 and remember going on several visits to Derby works, Crewe works etc by train and meeting up there. I stopped being a member around 1969/70


Interesting recollections. Are there any surviving records of those trips? I would be particularly interested in any Doncaster Works lists from that period.
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Re: Dalescroft Railfans

Postby Ian Prince » Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:53 pm

I have Doncaster Works Records, but don't have notes of the tour organiser, so cannot say if these were RCTS, DRC, NRC or some other miscellaneous club that might have advertised in the Railway magazines as doing a trip and might have written to, to join the trip on the day.

I even recall a private visit organised by a college lecturer at Doncaster College once, that specifically had 4472 stripped down and being overhauled in the Crimpsall Shops.

There was also the day of the renaming of (60)532 Blue Peter, attended by, filmed and featuring Mr J Noakes, Mr P Purves and Ms V Singleton of the BBC programme of the same name, although I don't have any sightings records for these latter occasions.

Would the others still be of interest or is it only DRC you want?
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Re: Dalescroft Railfans

Postby MisterC » Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:47 am

I am interested in Doncaster Works and specifically class 31s as I am trying to build up repair histories. The main other "Works" that I am interested in is Stratford DRS, which did a lot of class 31 work, particularly collision damage repairs. However Stratford reports only occasionally distinguish the DRS from the running sheds, making repairs difficult to trace.

I have a big spreadsheet with all the Doncaster Works reports that I have found so far, and I record the society that arranged the visit, or the published source, wherever possible, to provide an audit trail.

I was particularly interested in the Dalescroft history because 1966-1974 is the worst period for this research, with very few visits reported. The biggest gap is from 06/02/66 to 07/01/68, almost 2 years missing at a time which is of particular interest for class 31s.
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Re: Dalescroft Railfans

Postby Peter Hall » Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:39 am

MisterC wrote:I am interested in Doncaster Works and specifically class 31s as I am trying to build up repair histories. The main other "Works" that I am interested in is Stratford DRS, which did a lot of class 31 work, particularly collision damage repairs. However Stratford reports only occasionally distinguish the DRS from the running sheds, making repairs difficult to trace.

I have a big spreadsheet with all the Doncaster Works reports that I have found so far, and I record the society that arranged the visit, or the published source, wherever possible, to provide an audit trail.

I was particularly interested in the Dalescroft history because 1966-1974 is the worst period for this research, with very few visits reported. The biggest gap is from 06/02/66 to 07/01/68, almost 2 years missing at a time which is of particular interest for class 31s.


Bear with me on this one as progress is slow. However, the Chairman and Committee of the Engine Shed Society http://www.engineshedsociety.co.uk/index.shtml are very keen to cover the topic of NCTS, Dalescoft and similar 'shed bashing' trips both with regard to the social history aspect of the hobby and with regard to distribution of allocations and similar information. Making contact with those who partook in the era you are particular interested in, which I often refer to as the 'dark ages' is taking time. Many of those who I have made contact with rarely, sometimes never, go online although they often retain note books from the era. However, their is a willingness to help but patience is a virtue. My self and Ian only really come on the scene at the end of the 'dark ages', however I am sure the RCTS contains several members with note books containing Doncaster Works visits who will hopefully extrapolate this as and when their time allows.
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