Tuesday, November 19, 2013


When it comes to railways I'm definitely a steam person. In fact I've yet to find a diesel or electric locomotive that inspires me in any fashion. Having said that I am, however, also interested in the history of the line that runs along the bottom of the garden and so I'll make an exception for the EM1. The EM1, which stands for Electric Mixed-Traffic 1, was specifically designed and built for the Woodhead line. They were powered from 1.5 kV DC overhead catenary and employed regenerative breaking to actually feed power back into the system when running downhill. They were predominately used for working freight trains through Penistone as this photo from 1955 shows.

The photo shows number 26020 which coincidentally is the only preserved member of the class and which I photographed at the National Railway Museum when I visited for The Great Gathering.

If you want more details on the EM1 then Wikipedia has a fairly informative page, and if you fancy one in model form then Heljan produce an OO gauge model exclusively for Olivia's Trains.


  1. I have rather sad memories of these locomotives from my teens...I would ride up to Longdendale from where we lived at the time in Stalybridge and watch the trains, feeling pretty cut-up about the end of steam. I couldn't, however, help but be impressed by their brute charm and the way they bucked and rolled along, especially through the slacks at Crowden. To me, although they weren't steam, they were infinitely preferable to the soulless electrics running from Manchester Piccadilly...although I hear that even these have their adherents. It's a funny old world :-)

    1. I must admit that for a non-steam locomotive they do have an elegance about them. After all, surely Gresley never designed a bad locomotive?

  2. It was a sad day when the Woodhead line closed. As far as I know it was unique.

  3. I can't say that 'elegant' was a word that immediately popped into my head when I saw the EM1. However much as I loved (and who could not) steam engines many of them had lots of splendid adjectives to describe them but few (perhaps Gresley's A4 Class with their fairings) could really be described as elegant. But then this is me being really picky just because I wanted to comment and was lost for anything else to say about the EM1 (apart from the fact that I liked the colour!).