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Geoff's Rail Diaries

What's it all about?

Hard to describe, really - the fascination of the guided way? - the intrinsic interest of the (steam, especially) locomotive? Certainly the working steam loco makes a great photographic subject.

My friend Dave once remarked, after a particularly good day out, "you can't beat a good day out gricing". I'm not sure that the trips out in these pages count as "gricing" in the strictest sense - I was never really interested in collecting numbers. But I know what he meant.

For definitions of "Gricer" and/or "gricing" see below; in the meantime, any (helpful) suggestions of an alternative suitable verb would be welcome. If we are railway enthusiasts, what single word best describes what we do?


Gricing: In August 1968, steam ended on British Railways (apart from the Vale of Rheidol narrow gauge line, which still remained in BR ownership at that time). In the years immediately preceding that sad date, the railway magazines frequently published illustrated articles headed "Farewell to the A4s", "Goodbye to the Castles" or "Demise of the Black Five" or similar. At the same time, the preservation groups were highly active with their appeals for funds. A little while after the end, an article appeared in Railway World, bearing the title "Demise of the Gricer". I quote, suitably abbreviated: 

"Well, we’ve preserved nearly every movable object (steam, that is) on British Railways, but perhaps the greatest unpreserved loss has been the gricer, or full time railway enthusiast.... We are happy to report that some survivors are still at work and have been sighted...recently; nevertheless we feel that for posterity one member of the class ought to be preserved before it is too late.... Who will start the fund for donations?"

N.B.A. (1969) Demise of the Gricer. Railway World, December 1969, p. 550.

See also http://www.avoe05.dsl.pipex.com/GRICER.htm, which may or may not clarify matters...

The word is thought to derive from the "sport" of grouse shooting, when a successful day out would result in a substantial "bag". I have to say that, at that time, and for some years afterwards, the archetypal "gricer" could still be seen regularly at (mainly steam) railway events, clad invariably in the gabardine raincoat, wearing NHS specs, carrying notebook retrieved from duffle bag slung over shoulder. Today the traditional gricer is rare. I must also stress that I never quite conformed to any of the above descriptions (and emphatically not to the model suggested to me a year or two ago by a Dutch correspondent, who was convinced that gricing was trainspotting whilst in the nude)! But a day (or several) out travelling by rail and/or observing and photographing railway operations - however we describe it - is still hard to beat.

I hope that clarifies matters... ;o)


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