Archive for the ‘railway’ Category

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

July 15, 2016

Today we are going back a few years – I think it was about 1974 and a family group shared a holiday in the North Yorks Moors. Inevitably, with me as part of the group we had to make use of the railway that crosses the moors which had become a heritage line. Back then the bulk of the line was operated by a diesel train of the type still totally common on the ‘real’ main lines. It was just the length form Grosmont to Goathland that was steam operated.

I was not always good with photos and captions but I have a black and white shot of a steam loco.


The loco is number 5428. This was a general purpose engine built for the London Midland and Scottish Railway. Altogether 842 of these engines were built between 1934 and 1951. The common nature of these engines earned them the nickname of black fives – solid, reliable and unglamorous. The 55A on the front is the code for her home. Of course it was a historic address by this time – Leeds, Holbeck.

This particular engine was built in 1937 and now carries the name of a railway photographer – Eric Treacy. (S)he is still in service on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

But my photo has a little family bonus for on the other platform there are family members.


That’s my wife in the big sun hat and my sister in law looking utterly fed up with being at a railway and then the hirsute man is my brother in law. Mother in law was on this holiday as well. Perhaps she was with me, taking photos.

An unkind thought

July 11, 2016

In the early days of my relationship with my wife – some years before we married, I used to share a sort of joke with her.

‘If ever’, I said, ‘I was going to dump you, I’d do it at Horley Station’.

Horley Station seemed to have so little to commend it. It was bleak, dark and dismal partly because a road overbridge went across the station, shielding the platforms from sunlight.

Well of course such a thing never happened and I hope I’d never have been unkind enough to have carried out such an idea if the situation had ever arisen.

But we were both amused, the other day, at Quainton Road, to find at least four platform name signs from Horley.


Should I take the opportunity of such a chance? No! Definitely not.

This platform name sign is one of many at this railway centre.

image004Here’s a collection including two Horley signs.

If I look at modern pictures of Horley Station it looks no worse than many others.

The Beattie Bash revisited.

July 5, 2016

Just occasionally I set up one of my cameras to take a movie. I did so at the Beattie bash at the Buckinghamshire Railway centre back on May 29th.

I have only just got around to uploading it.

Let’s picture the scene. In the distance, on the left, the two Beattie well tanks dating from the 1870s and first seen by me back in 1961 at Wadebridge, are about to start towards us with their rather strange mix of carriages. On the right an industrial loco has what looks like a goods train and that, too is about to head towards us. One of the trucks has been fitted out with park benches. It, too, carries passengers.

This is a still of the two trains.


The old London and South Western Railway locos are on the left – the very two locos that once hauled me on a special train before they were withdrawn from mainline service in 1962. The special train took us around lines in Southwest London – precisely what these engines were originally built for. They are the Beatties from the 1870s. On the right the loco never saw mainline service. She’s a youngster, built in 1948 for use at a Cortaulds industrial site. She worked at three different such factories until 1968 when she was taken out of service and sold into preservation.

Because I am mean, I can’t upload videos direct into this blog but click here to see and hear these trains as they approach and pass us.

The Beattie Bash

June 25, 2016

Back in 1962 I travelled on a special train around the suburbs of South West London. For much of the journey it was hauled by a pair of truly old steam locos – engines which dated from the 1870s. The previous year I had been to Wadebridge in Cornwall to see these engines. My dad, bless him, seemed to realise that it was important to me. Both the visit to Wadebridge and the special train have featured on this blog.

Sadly, I had no usable camera for the special train so I have no photos. But on May 29th 2016 a chance came to sort of rectify that for the identical two engines were due to be at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton Road. And we were there, complete with camera. It was possible, once again, to ride behind those two locos and see them in action.

The engines were designed by an engineer called Joseph Beattie and the railway centre dubbed this event, ‘The Beattie Bash’.

First off there was just one loco running.


It is a lovely little engine but up at the end of the yard, the other old lady had been prepared and was about to appear. This loco was detached from the train.

image004And then the other loco was backed out of the yard.


For a moment these old girls – each some 140 years old – were side by side but soon they were getting organised on the train.


And here they come.


And here are my two old friends – first met at Wadebridge on 24th July 1961 – as they take a breather at Quainton Road 0n 29th May 2016.


Guard Training

June 15, 2016

On a recent trip to the Swanage Railway (last month) we knew there would only be one passenger train operating but we were caught unawares by a freight train awaiting our passenger train at Corfe Castle station.

As we approached, I snapped a hurried photo of the loco at the head of the goods train – a steamy and atmospheric sort of photo on what was a grim day for weather.


Later we discovered this train was out and about for guard training. We caught up with it again later in the day when we alighted at Corfe Castle

The loco is number 31806 and she is of class U – often called U-boats. The first ones were rebuilds of the ill-fated River class tanks. They had been introduced in 1917 and they became U class from 1928. 31806 had been one of those powerful tank engines.

During my train spotting days she was based at Basingstoke and never came my way although I saw 42 of the 50 engines of this class.

Anyway, in atrocious weather she pulled her assorted wagons into Corfe Castle station, there to await the arrival of the passenger train down from Norden.


And here comes that passenger train.


A moment later the man in the hi-viz jacket was exchanging single line working tokens with the footplate crew on the lovely M7 tank on the passenger train.image008

Meanwhile, the guards in training were waiting patiently in their 1942 built guards van.


That really shows the rain!

The Snowdon Railway

June 8, 2016

Back in 1973 we took a brief holiday in North Wales. A treat on this holiday was to ride to the top of Mount Snowdon on the train. It starts at LLanberis just 60 metres above sea level. It takes you virtually to the summit of Wales’ tallest mountain at 1084 metres. That’s a mighty rise for a railway and it looks steep as soon as the train leaves Llanberis



The weather was iffy. Note the people on the left wearing raincoats and sheltering under brollies.

The steam engine pushes the coach up the mountain but metal wheels on smooth metal rails would never suffice. This line has a third rail between the other two and this is toothed.  You can see the toothed rail down by Llanberis Station.


In terms of view it was adead loss going to the summit of Snowdon. From the actual summit you couldn’t see the station just a few metres away. Fortunately, it had an electricity generator running and you could safely navigate by the noise that made.


That’s me at the top of Snowdon having travelled up by train. A wonderful journey but lacking the honour of walking it!

Windsor and Eton Riverside

June 3, 2016

Yesterday I looked back precisely ten years and that brought to my attention a trip made in June 2006. It was to Windsor. We’d have travelled by car but we were meeting people arriving by train and that took us to the railway station called Windsor and Eton Riverside. And here it is.


Let’s ignore the train which was a very ordinary, for them, suburban electric train. The station, we can see for the train approaches buffers, is a terminus. And Windsor, of course, is the home of monarchs so the station was built above and beyond what might have been expected for a little branch line terminus. It has a grand little roof to ensure any travelling king or queen was kept dry. Actually, I believe they tended to use the GWR station rather than this one.

My previous visit had been back in 1961 when I travelled on a steam hauled special around a number of suburban lines in south west London.


On that basis of frequency of visit my next journey to Windsor would be in 2051 and I’d be over 100!



May 30, 2016

I’m afraid this refers to a train – one of the old Southern Electrics. I was raised in Sussex and the main lines had been electrified in the 1930s. By the time I was a train spotter in the late 1950s the electrified lines and trains were well established. We ‘experts’ knew, more or less, what we could expect to see when and where. We all had our favourite types. For me it was the style known as 6 PUL – a 6 coach unit with one of the six being a Pullman car. They had been built for the Brighton line electrification which fully opened in 1933. My best mate, always known as Boz, had a preference for the Portsmouth line electrics which were a little newer. By the time they were built the greater flexibility of four coach units had been realised and also they were gangwayed right through the train – they had a corridor right through and they were classed as 4 COR.

I grabbed a not very good photo of one of these units at my local Three Bridges station.


I think this was in 1969 and I used Kodachrome film which I never found as good as Agfachrome.

This is the back of the train – the red square in the destination indicator tells us this but the front would look otherwise identical. Some people referred to these units as Nelsons which may have been because they were built for Portsmouth services or it may have been in reference to only having one window for the driver – the other being replaced by the route indicator and being akin to the blind eye of the Admiral.

A lousy photos, but happy memories.

Tight curves

May 26, 2016

The heritage line The West Somerset Railway is delightful in many ways. It runs neat, tidy trains and uses a good and suitable variety of motive power. It has length – some 23 miles of it between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead, so you get a decent ride through attractive countryside and along the coast. Photo opportunities abound.

As a rail enthusiast I have a taste for travelling in either the first or the last carriage. If you are in the first coach you can really hear the loco and that tells you just how hard it is working as it goes up hill or else taking it easy as it goes down dale.

But the rear coach provides photo opportunities when the line is curving for you can see engine and train up ahead.


It looks as though I am not on the train, but I am and up the front we can see our loco. She’s puffing out plenty of spent steam so she is working hard. I was lucky with this photo. First of all, I have got a mile post in shot so I can locate it precisely as 170 and three quarter miles from Paddington.  It’s near Crowcombe Heathfield. Secondly, I love the serpentine curves of the track as it wends its way towards the Somerset interior. And I love the gangers hut, clearly kept in respectable condition by the volunteers who work on the line. And of course the curve is tight enough for me to see the loco quite clearly.


Those two heads peeping out of the second carriage won’t have got anything like the view I got.

The loco, by the way, is really a freight engine but such locos were used on holiday excursions and are well suited to a hilly line. Small wheels gives them pulling power but also a lower top speed. That low top speed is no problem on the speed restricted light railways of the heritage world.


May 24, 2016

I used to love train spotting at Lewes. It was a busy station and there was always something happening. In any ordinary hour you’d see:

  • The fast train from London to Eastbourne and Hastings
  • Two stopping trains from Brighton to Eastbourne and Hastings
  • A stopping train from Brighton to Seaford
  • A stopping train from Horsted Keynes to Seaford
  • A train from Brighton to Tonbridge

Of course, there were the trains in the opposite direction to match so there were certain to be 12 trains an hour. Most of them were electric, but the Tonbridge trains were steam hauled and on top of the routine there’d be a few freight trains, holiday specials and the unlikely train heading off to Birkenhead which all could be steam hauled. Newhaven boat trains usually had one of the electric locos on the front. There was plenty of variety.

My photo is not the best and dates from after my train spotting days.


The train we see is one of the stoppers to Eastbourne. The rear unit, nearest us, is a 2Hal. It has been painted in the awful BR plain blue with an all over yellow end. It made a neat little train look hideous. The leading unit had escaped the blue paint and is in green.

Clearly some kind of work is going on at the platform ends. Perhaps it was to be the end of the lovely array of semaphore signals which, I presume, were operated from the box just beyond the platform.

We can see the now closed Tonbridge line curving off to the left by the train and beyond the train is the Caburn range of the South Downs with the infamous Lewes cliff.

Happy memories for me!