Gareth’s next book – coming 30 June


Pen & Sword Transport – ISBN: 9781526714732


Almost a century after the first colour light signals appeared on Britain’s railways in the early 1920s there are still a considerable number of places where the passage of trains is controlled by the Victorian technology of a signaller in a signal box pulling a mechanical lever that will tug up to ¾ mile of wire that then moves a signal arm up or down.

Replacement of mechanical signalling has been going on in earnest since the 1960s and continues apace, with losses over the past couple of years at Blackpool, North Wales, Humberside, and at a number of locations in Scotland. Next to go will be the delightful Wherry Lines between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. Continue reading “Gareth’s next book – coming 30 June”

Wherry Lines’ Class 37 farewell


IMG_4076Any day now the wonderful sight and sound of Class 37s top-and-tailing two or three coaches on services between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft will finally come to an end, as the new Stadler Class 755 bi-mode units enter service.

For the past five years, the chance to travel behind the 1960s vintage “tractors” has drawn thousands of enthusiasts to the charming Wherry Lines network, where an added attraction has been its now doomed mechanical signalling (featured in numerous of my past posts). Continue reading “Wherry Lines’ Class 37 farewell”


Splendid Swinderby


IMG_5313Travelling around Lincolnshire in search of mechanical signalling to feature in my new book, I spent some time on the wonderful Poacher Line from Grantham to Skegness, as well as visiting Gainsborough and New Holland, but somehow overlooked another fine working signal box.

Swinderby is a small village roughly mid-way between Newark and Lincoln, close to the A46 Fosse Way and once best known for RAF Swinderby. This opened in September 1940, was home to more than 3,000 trainee airmen by 1943 and continued training RAF recruits until its closure half a century later in 1993. Continue reading “Splendid Swinderby”

Lovely Laurencekirk


IMG_5185Re-signalling in the Aberdeen area has meant closure of signal boxes at Inverurie, Dyce and Newtonhill, but further south, on the section of East Coast Main Line to Dundee, there are a number of fine outposts of mechanical signalling, notably at Stonehaven and Arbroath, but also at half a dozen other smaller places.

One of these smaller locations is Laurencekirk, a town which is now home to many commuters into the Granite City. The station here fell victim to Beeching and was closed in September 1967, but was re-opened at a cost of £3 million in May 2009 and, like so many other reopened stations, has seen traffic boom. Continue reading “Lovely Laurencekirk”

Return to Stranraer Harbour


Three years after my last rail trip to Stranraer, the latest Scotrail Club 50 ticket offer (a bargain £17.00 return from Edinburgh Waverley) gave me the chance to revisit Scotland’s least known scenic railway, and to see if passenger traffic had improved from the dismal levels I noted in January 2016.

For those unfamiliar with SW Scotland, the 38-mile 55-minute journey south from Girvan takes you through some delightfully wild and spectacular scenery, with just one station stop at remote Barrhill and its diminutive signal box, then further pauses at the former stations of Glenwhilly and Dunragit, before arrival at the desolate former ferry port. Continue reading “Return to Stranraer Harbour”

Parliamentary train to Oxford

IMG_4773Nowhere in the London commuter belt does any rail traveller enjoy a less frequent or convenient rail service than that offered to the inhabitants of three attractive North Oxfordshire villages – Ascott-under-Wychwood, Finstock and Combe.

Ever since being reprieved from proposed closure during the Beeching era of the mid-1960s, this trio of halts has been served by a sparse “Parliamentary” service,  usually comprising just one up morning train and one down evening train a day, while there is currently no week-end service whatsoever. Continue reading “Parliamentary train to Oxford”

Favourite photo-spots: Kings Sutton


IMG_4591Not a place notable for its signalling interest, but a pleasantly rural spot that is worth a visit for the variety and frequency of traction passing through this very quiet station, four miles south of Banbury.

Kings Sutton was once a junction for the Banbury and Cheltenham Direct Railway, whose route via Chipping Norton and Kingham (closed to passengers in June 1951) left the main line just to the south of the station. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Kings Sutton”

Testing time in Wuppertal


Intensive test running has begun on the Wuppertal suspension monorail ahead of its planned re-opening to passengers in August, ten months after damage to its track led to the suspension of services in mid-November.

During a visit to the town on 23 May, empty trains were running along the unique and world-famous 13.3km (8.3 mile) route at 3-4 minute intervals, with services being indicated outside stations, but the stations themselves remaining locked. Continue reading “Testing time in Wuppertal”