Posts Tagged ‘1998’

Cigs and Veps at Crawley

August 3, 2016

1998 was not, for me, a good time on the railways of Britain but I still took the odd photo. Here we see my old home town of Crawley in Sussex and just arriving at the station is a former 4-Cig in the hideous livery that Connex used back then.


Back in the 1960s the Cigs had replaced my much loved 6-Puls and 6-Pans. They had been built in the 1930s. By 1998 these Cigs were life expired and got castigated as ‘slam doors’. They were, and perhaps rightly, not deemed suitable for the 21st century.

My luck was in as two trains passed at Crawley.image004

On the left we see the back of the Cig train. These had been built to be mainline express trains and had the benefit of big picture windows. On the right a stopping train made up of a 4-Vep is arriving. These were pretty hideous items from day one – which was after the Cigs were built. These had a door to every seating bay to get people on and off quickly and the seats were narrow. Whereas the Cig had two seats each side of the central corridor the Veps had two seats on one side and three on the other. They were built to replace the old stopping electric units of various kinds. Their one virtue was that they were gangwayed throughout the train so you could get on and then find a seat.

These photos were amongst my earliest digital pictures. I was in possession of a very basic digital camera in 1998.


Gloucester Docks

April 17, 2016

Places quite far inland in this country were once docks for sea going ships. The Manchester Ship Canal once made inland Manchester one of the busiest freight ports in the country.

Gloucester was also well known for docks. The River Severn, of course, is big and wide but not easy to navigate and the docks in Gloucester came into their own when the ship sized canal opened from Sharpness.

Back in 1998 we took a look at Gloucester Docks and this pair of photos are amongst my first with a digital camera.


I love the old warehouse buildings but clearly the docks were no longer in much use for commercial freight traffic. Cruisers and canal narrow boats seem to be the occupants of the dock, along with a tall ship of some kind.

Remnants of dock life exist and here we have a railed steam crane.

image004We can see that the warehouses were taken over for other uses. At one time one of them was occupied by a fantastic packaging museum. I believe that is now in London. There is still a first rate canal museum and also a ‘Soldiers of Gloucestershire’ museum.

It’s worth a visit – particularly if you like your industrial heritage.



Yorkshire – Knaresborough

March 16, 2016

Once again we look at my railway poster art calendar. This time, for March, it is a scene in Knaresborough, Yorkshire.


Jack Merriott was the artist and this was produced in 1954.

The River Nidd flows under a handsome railway viaduct which has a steam hauled goods train passing over it. The train and loco are not clearly defined but the river is awash with pleasure vessels with a lady shading under a parasol, relaxing on a punt taking centre stage. Picnics and tea rooms abound by the river side. It looks idyllic and charming.

My visit to Knaresborough was way back in 1998 – almost twenty years ago. The scene I snapped then is much as shown in the poster – with handsome viaduct over the River Nidd. But we were there just before Easter and there were no pleasure boats on the water. But I was lucky enough to get a train crossing the viaduct.image004

Sadly, no steam train for me but a rather nondescript diesel train adds to the scene.


February 9, 2016

Chilham is a village in Kent.

I first visited it (as an adult) back in 1998. I was collecting my son from University in Kent – he having completed his course. We took lunch at a pub in Chilham.

I had just acquired a digital camera and between me and my son we had a whale of a time being snap happy, taking photos at a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels.

So here was Chilham as we saw it that day.




image008I didn’t know it at the time, but Chilham has tenuous family connections. A great great aunt, born Elizabeth Wright may have married a chap from Chilham. It’s certainly in the right area for that branch of my family.



July 31, 2015

I think I wrote this in about 1998 when I was first setting up a website.

How sad! I do quite like mowers, although these days I only have a boring grass cutter which is quite devoid of character. In Spring and early Summer I see a lot of this. I have about half an acre to cut.

I knew a lad, recently, who was interested in these devices so I did a line-up of my collection to show him.


My interest in mowers was recognised by my sister. She bought me my best mower.


He’s a gorgeous little model.

I quite like the big mowers too. How convenient that this should appear just outside my garden, whilst I was putting this page together.


Where Bleriot landed

June 22, 2015

Amongst many things I have never done, flying in a powered aircraft is one of them. My flying experience has been limited to a glider – an enjoyable experience but for all sorts of reasons – none related to fear – I have not been known to go anywhere by jet plane, not to mention turboprop or piston engine flying machines.

But back in 1909 Frenchman Louis Bleriot took a truly giant leap for mankind when he managed to get his plane from France, across the channel to England.

Back in 1998 I visited the spot where he landed which is marked with the shape and size of his plane. Here it is.


That’s my then teenaged daughter standing (and shivering) on the plane. It is to be hoped that the surrounding bushes and trees had grown since Louis’ flight!

1998 was a mere 89 years after that maiden channel crossing by air.  At that time there would still have been people alive for whom seeing the flight would have been personal experience. It was certainly well into the era of photography and this picture (from Wikipedia) shows Bleriot and his plane back on July 25th 1909.


It was a close call for this site is more or less at the top of the famed white cliffs.

Some of those bystanders will have lived into the jet liner age. What changes they saw.

A very early digital shot

January 17, 2015

Today I’m going to look at one of my earliest digital photos. It shows my daughter’s hands cradling her hamster.


What you see is the size that a digital photo was back on 16th July 1998. Gosh, it seems a long time ago that my daughter lived at home and had a hamster. These days she and hubby live 100 or so miles from us and have two children (not to mention a cat). Back in 1998 I had the good fortune to be the first person I knew with use of a digital camera. Who could have foreseen the way electronic and communications technology has changed.

But having commented on the size, I can remain quite impressed with the quality, and by the time I bought a bigger memory card for the camera it could happily handle photos of up to 640 by 480 pixels. That, of course, is still tiny by 2015 standards but big enough for many a web site.

It’s good to have a record of the hamster. Mind you there are other records in the shape of chewed carpet in daughter’s former room.


September 6, 2013

Back in about 1962 my dad got the Bedford Dormobile. Before then, holidays meant ‘camp’ and that still continued, but we also started to go further afield and that included a tour north. We just got into Scotland. My dad took us as far as Lockerbie which is some 17 miles from the England/Scotland border.

It was my first trip into Scotland and it very much was in the train spotting era. I made my way to the station – and I have no photos to prove it.

But there, shunting, was a rather nice little engine. It was the only engine I ever saw numbered in the 50 000s and we can see it underlined in my Winter 1961/62 issue of the Ian Allan ABC – London Midland and Scottish Regions.


With no photo of my own, I’ll add a photo of a similar engine from the same ABC book.


The photo, I see, is by D. A. Anderson

Because of this visit, Lockerbie was a place that mattered to me and we sometimes stopped there when we visited Scotland. In August 1998 I even visited the station.


Of course, there was no longer an old lady of a steam engine shunting. The line was electrified and clearly I didn’t have the patience or inclination to wait for a train.

This was a first holiday with a digital camera. I took tiny photos and thought it absolutely wonderful.

By the way, Lockerbie is a pleasing enough place. You don’t have to be a railway nerd to enjoy it.


Rebuilding Southampton – 1998

August 16, 2013

Towns have to re-invent themselves from time to time. It has been amazing, recently, to hear how Detroit has slumped. The car industry has declined and, it seems, nothing has replaced it and we understand much of the town is now deserted.

Southampton was, for many years the major port for transatlantic liners. As a train spotter in the London area, I used to watch the boat trains, often headed by one of the graceful Lord Nelson class of locos hurrying passengers down to the docks, quite often in luxury Pullman coaches.

Then jet airliners came along and the days of the liner were over. A big new container port was built – hardly as glamorous as the ocean terminal, but it provided a continued raison d’etre for Southampton.

By the 1990s it seemed that to encourage people into a town, though, you had to have a shiny new shopping centre. I believe that was what was under construction here. I have to say that back then, I wasn’t much interested in what was being built. I was just seeking opportunities to try out my brand new first digital camera and I thought those tower cranes were fantastic.


They were so good, in fact, that I took two shots.


This one shows a part of the old Southampton walls – the ‘Catchcold Tower’.

For the record, the camera (which actually belonged to my place of work) was an Olympus and at maximum resolution it took photos with 640 by 480 pixels in size. It came with a one megabyte memory card which was quite inadequate, so I often used the smaller 320 by 240 size – what we might call a thumbnail picture these days.

I was back in Southampton in 2009 and once again found Catchcold Tower.


On this visit the West Quay Shopping Centre was complete.


It may not have been of much interest to me (except that it was where buses went and I was a bus passenger) but by heck it was attracting people. Southampton was reinvented.

Measuring Track

February 28, 2013

Regular readers might be disappointed if they didn’t get a bit of railway here, every now and again so here’s a railway image that is just a bit different. There’s no train or loco in sight.


This photo was taken on 10th October 1998 and I was using my first digital camera at the time. It was basic and on high quality took pictures which measure 640 by 480 pixels – still an ideal size for blogs.

The location is Salisbury Station which used to be open and, on this occasion I was meeting my son off a train. These days the station is a fortress, barred to non-passengers. On one occasion, I had to really argue to be allowed on to a platform to carry bags for my pregnant daughter. That seems a shame to me. I always enjoyed those platform greetings and even the departures were OK as well.

The chap standing on the track is using a gauge to make sure the two rails are four feet eight and a half inches apart. If not, trains could de-rail. I think he is also measuring the camber. We can see there is a slight curve through the station and the outer rail should be a little higher than the inner one. I’ll assume all was OK, for not long afterwards my son arrived.

Track enthusiasts will notice that the near track is composed of flat bottomed rail mounted on wooden sleepers whilst the other track is of the older (much older) bull head type with chairs, keys and fishplates. Some enthusiasts will be horrified at the weed growth through the ballast – and that certainly looks in need of a clean-up.

I wonder what it is like now. Sadly, I rarely use the train because, quite simply, the car is cheaper. My children tend to arrive by car these days and, if I do meet anyone at Salisbury I’m not allowed on the platform. So I may never know if the old rail has been replaced, if the ballast looks better and whether weeds have been removed.