Supplement to e-BLN 1267 BLN Pictorial 22 October 2016
Welcome to BLN Pictorial 1267. Your Sub-Ed will shortly be handing over the reins to a new compiler (or even hitching them to a nearby post until a new
one rides into town) and once past the next full stop, will abandon the Sub-Editorial third person and speak for himself, though of course not necessarily for
the Society or anyone else at all. So, having freed myself from the shackles of convention, I have put together two very random collections from my own
wanderings since digital cameras arrived in Shropshire. The first set, in this issue, are all from locations around the UK. Through most of my time as BLNP
compiler I've taken the opportunity to bang the drum for rail travel in the rest of the European Union and so in the next issue, the second set of pictures
visit some countries I've been to in the last decade or so. In both cases I've tried to lean towards minor railways, if only to demonstrate the variety that
there still is to be found, both here in the UK and abroad. Our incredibly hard-working fixtures team so often takes us to the parts that others can't reach,
so some of the pictures are from BLS fixtures at home or railtours abroad. The others are from my own travels with family and/or friends, so I'll start with
this random ramble round the UK mainland. In line with recent practice you can click on the number beside each caption to go to the corresponding photo,
and at the bottom left hand corner of the photo to return to the caption. There's no map this time, because I reckon you all know the UK pretty well!
5 (L). Just over ten years ago (I'm clearly getting old, as it seems like about a week) I took the opportunity to go and have a ride on the Docklands Light
Railway (DLR). I don't get very excited about lines which are mostly in tunnel and I've never really exerted myself to cover the London UNDERGROUND,
although as I've been to most of the above ground bits (surprisingly, 58% is above ground) over the years, I've presumably done many of the tunnels
too. The DLR, being mostly above ground, was deserving of a visit, so away I went to Lewisham and took this driver's eye view (well, it would be if
they had drivers) of the southern approach to Canary Wharf on 3 May 2006.
5 (R).The view from the 'cab' at the end of a GWR autocoach in platform 2 at Llangollen during the Llangollen Railway's (LR) autumn gala on 11 September
2010. My usual impeccable record keeping and pin-sharp memory mean that I didn't note the date when I first did this line. It was the Ffestiniog
Railway's AGM special in 1964 and I recall being more interested then in whether we had 'Manor' haulage (we didn't) than the route taken. Be that as
it may, it did go via Ruabon, Bala Jn and Barmouth to Portmadoc, as it was then called. I shall, nevertheless, get round to doing the LR extension to
Corwen fairly soon, for old times' sake, and because their galas are much less frenetic and consequently more enjoyable than the ones at my local
preserved line, admirable though that is.
6. No prizes to our Publicity Officer for working this one out! Arriva 'Bubble Car' 121032 stands at Cardiff Bay (formerly Cardiff Bute Road; the line
extended beyond this point, to the left of the original Bute Road station building (one of the Victorian Society's 'top ten endangered buildings',
featured in e-BLN 1265.1894) which is behind the train in this picture, and on into the dock area. The picture, if my camera is to be believed, was
taken at 15:24 on 24 November 2006 - which certainly accounts for the very poor light! This platform was formerly a bay; this site contains a number
of images of the station, one of which shows the bay platform in 1957.
7. 2 September 2011 found us at the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway's gala. Although the passenger trains were quite busy, there were not too many
photographers around and it was easy to photograph the demonstration freight train, seen here at Castle Caereinion with ex-GWR 822 'The Earl'.
8. Stourbridge Town is arguably unique on the UK national network. As well as having a frequent service from Stourbridge Junction, it is worked by the
Parry People Mover (PPM) of which one example, 139001, is seen here. I can't claim to be a regular use but in the half dozen or so times a year that I
use the branch, it's very rare that I've seen the People Mover much less than full - seemingly my experience is typical as Stourbridge Town recorded
600,000 passenger journeys in 2015/16! Although it's a short line, the Town branch is sharply curved and quite steeply graded but the PPMs seem (at
least to this casual observer) to have no trouble with it. The manufacturers' web site makes a very good pitch for the technology but as yet,
applications in public service seem to be, shall we say, limited.
9. On 17 November 2012 I had a couple of hours to spare on a visit to Cumbria and took a trip to Windermere - like Stourbridge Town reduced to a
single platform station. Unlike Stourbridge, the line never went significantly further, although it was shortened by some 70 metres in 1985 when a
supermarket was built using the former train shed on the other side of the wall in the photo. Nevertheless it seems to be thriving and electrification,
approved in 2014, is under way. With through services to Preston and beyond, this isn't quite the traditional branch line but it did seem to me to have
something of a branch line atmosphere.
10. You know those 'always been meaning to do that' lines? One of mine was the Rhiw Valley Light Railway - not all that far from my home, but I always
seemed to see the announcements of their open days (and BLS visits) just after the event. However on 7 July 2013 I did finally get myself organised
and, having decided to avoid the evil A458 Shrewsbury-Welshpool road, thoroughly enjoyed the drive through places which completely baffled the
new-fangled electronic idiot. Luckily I took a map... What a nice little line it is too, with plans to extend, details of which are on the railway's web site.
The picture shows Powys on the south side of the loop, more or less opposite the house - the railway shows up quite nicely on Google Maps, here.
11. The next photograph was taken just before midday on 7 February 2014. It's a pity I included the dreaded 'photographer's shadow' (not to mention
'photographer's friend standing next to him'). The location is Blackpool South; the Pacer ride which we had just 'enjoyed' was for no better reason
than that I hadn't done this branch for years and wondered what it looked like now. On-line images of the original Blackpool South seem to be quite
hard to find but this one gives an idea of the scale of the former station, once at the junction of the two routes from Kirkham; the direct line via
Marton which closed to regular traffic in 1965 (complete closure was in 1967) and has now largely disappeared under roads, and the longer coastal
route via Lytham which remains open. The present station is in the same location as the original; for a while after the line formerly to the 14-platform
Blackpool Central (CP 2 November 1964), was cut back the signal box (the other side of the bridge shown in the picture) had no track near it and the
signaller was unable to see the trains! Today the branch is single line, without even a passing loop.
12. 25 October 2014 brought a BLS visit to the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, a line I'd never expected to see operational, even in part. I'd clearly
reckoned without the preservationists however - no, I should say 'restorationists', and a comprehensive and enjoyable 'bash' was done of the mile
or so of route and the associated loops and sidings. The L&B's next stage, announced in March 2016, is a big leap forward of 4½ miles to
Wistlandpound, and their determination to succeed is very evident. The picture shows 0-6-0T Axe (Kerr, Stuart & Co Ltd No. 2451) at the
picturesque Woody Bay station. Some of this loco's interesting history can be found here.
13. Although the BLS has been there recently, and another visit is due on 6 November, this was a solo visit to the Kent & East Sussex Railway on 20 June
2015. 130 years (at least) old, Stroudley 'Terrier' 32678, formerly LBSCR 78 Knowle, was in fine form when pictured at Bodiam although whether
aesthetically suited to BR Mk 1 stock is perhaps debatable. I shall have to go back, of course, when I can go a bit further round that corner... the
Rother Valley Railway is reconstructing the line between Junction Road, just west of Bodiam, and Robertsbridge and having done a great deal of
work, now awaits the much deferred decision on the planning application. For the time being I shall go back to wondering how many original parts
that splendid old locomotive has.
14. Another BLS visit, this time to the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, on 18 September 2015. The very enthusiastic CCLR team went to great lengths to
make us welcome and take us over every available inch of track - aided and abetted by your Fixtures Secretary, seen here in action at Lakeside
station. Echoes of the past on this visit, as the railway is home to a good deal of equipment from the former Sutton Miniature Railway, not too far
from my childhood home in Wolverhampton and thus the target of a number of parent-assisted visits by a very young Sub-Ed. The SMR closed in the
15. Once upon a time there was only Blackpool on the UK mainland... now trams are firmly re-established and although I'm still dubious about their
advantages over trolleybuses in an urban environment, they do run on rails and mostly not in tunnels, and so I feel obliged to do the track! This tram
is at the terminus at Clifton South on the Nottingham system, on 20 October 2015. Unfortunately I had to make a mad dash for the tram so I didn't
have time to avoid the overhead line 'furniture' in the middle of this shot - a poor excuse I know, but with the virtue of being genuine.
16. A slightly better attempt at another tram stop on 10 June 2016 (though still bedevilled by furniture), this time the eastern terminus of the Edinburgh
system at York Place, near the foot of Leith Walk. The sorry tale of the construction of this line is well documented elsewhere, but it does appear to
be successful with usage increasing year on year since opening in 2014. Edinburgh Council is keen to extend the tramway from York Place to Leith
and other parts of the city, and was reported by the Scotsman on 15 August 2016 to be in discussions with the Government regarding possible
17. The following day, 11 June 2016, saw a very enjoyable BLS visit to the Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway (LWR). A detailed report of the visit can be
found in BLN 1260.1287; the photo shows the BLS train at the Leadhills platform. It hardly needs saying that those wagons in the loop were soon
removed by the very helpful LWR staff so that the train could run through the loop on its return from the upper terminus at Glengonnar Halt!
18. To bring this brief tour almost up to the minute, a picture from the Society's West Midlands Service Train Tracker on Friday 14 October 2016.
Although starting and finishing (for those with real stamina) at ex-LNWR Hednesford, a good proportion of the day was spent in former GWR
territory, visiting Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon and Stourbridge, with various lines being inked in on members' Quail maps in the
process. Some haulage went in the book too, and the picture on page 18 shows DRS's Vossloh Bo-Bo 68008 Avenger at Birmingham Moor Street
platform 4 with Chiltern 1H45, 12:55 to London Marylebone. The BLS party took this as far as Solihull. The first time I stood at this location,
there was a traverser just in front of me, and GWR 4-4-0 3440 City of Truro and HR 'Jones Goods' 4-6-0 103 were on display just to my left in the
then platform 1, there being no platforms on the through lines until 1987.
I seem to have rambled off from 2016 into very early 1960s reminiscences, so it's clearly time to bring this issue to a close! I'll leave you with this 1915
photograph of an incomplete Moor Street, with the two-level goods depot on the left and the Snow Hill lines out of the shot to the right. A fine
collection of Moor Street pictures can be found on the Disused Stations website here.
DLR - Driverless by design LR - Driverless because this is the back of the train!