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Gareth’s next book – out now!

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Pen & Sword Transport – ISBN: 9781526714732

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Britains-Last-Mechanical-Signalling-Hardback/p/16355

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 – out now!”

A scenic walk over the Firth of Forth

IMG_9538Having been to the same school as one of the two engineers who designed it (Sir Benjamin Baker), I have always had a special affection for what, three years ago, was voted Scotland’s greatest man-made wonder, the truly remarkable and iconic Forth Bridge.

Travelling over it by train on a clear day gives fantastic view of the Firth of Forth looking east and the two road bridges to the west, but it is only by walking over the original Forth Road Bridge that you can fully appreciate its magnificence. Continue reading “A scenic walk over the Firth of Forth”

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Britain’s most northerly semaphores

IMG_9713After recent visits to Britain’s most south-westerly semaphores (St. Erth) and our most easterly (Lowestoft), another bargain-price Scotrail Club 50 £17.00 flat fare offer gave me the chance to pay a welcome return visit to our most northerly outposts of mechanical signalling.

Unlike St Erth and Lowestoft, Keith Junction has only enjoyed its geographic accolade for the past two years. It took the honour from Elgin, the next station westwards along the Aberdeen-Inverness route when a re-signalling exercise, completed in October 2017, led to elimination of both Elgin West and Forres signal boxes. Continue reading “Britain’s most northerly semaphores”

The end is nigh at Yarmouth Vauxhall

IMG_9521Grandest of the seven surviving signal boxes along the Wherry Lines from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft must surely be Yarmouth Vauxhall, a Great Eastern Railway type 4 Design that dates from 1884 and boasts a 63-lever Saxby & Farmer frame.

Unlike many other historic signal boxes, its appearance has not been ruined by the replacement of traditional glazing with ugly uPVC windows. But its days are sadly numbered and its levers will be pulled for the last time less than three months from now, for the 23.34 service to Norwich on Friday, 31 January 2020. Continue reading “The end is nigh at Yarmouth Vauxhall”

A trip on the new-look GOBLIN

IMG_9375After what seemed like an interminable wait, users of the North London orbital rail service linking Gospel Oak with Barking finally have the train-set and services they have been waiting for, and a good service it seems too.

The 13-mile long GOBLIN route was long-regarded as one of those Cinderella services that suffered from old, inadequate and unreliable rolling stock, as other parts of the London Overground network got new, longer and more frequent trains, and saw passenger numbers leap. Continue reading “A trip on the new-look GOBLIN”

Sun and semaphores on the South Coast

IMG_8922Two remarkable outposts of mechanical signalling are the neighbouring West Sussex resorts of Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, which have somehow outlived a re-signalling of the Mid-Sussex Line south of Horsham.

That 2014 exercise saw the elimination of signal boxes at Billingshurst, Pulborough and Amberley, but left the two coastal termini untouched and consequently stuck in a delightful time-warp, as seen in the following photos taken on 22 October 2019. Continue reading “Sun and semaphores on the South Coast”

Britain’s last co-acting semaphores

IMG_9191Co-acting signals were once a fairly common feature of our railways, but are now an endangered species. There are only three remaining examples on the national network, of which one will disappear early next year and another is threatened by potential electrification and re-signalling.

These duplicate signals were installed where a driver’s sighting of a signal was adversely affected by a curve in the line, or by an intervening over-bridge or other obstruction, as this photo-tour of Britain’s surviving trio – Cantley, Helsby and Greenloaning – will hopefully illustrate. Continue reading “Britain’s last co-acting semaphores”

Wherry Lines Class 66 and 755 action

IMG_9227Paying a return visit to the Wherry Lines, principally to photograph Cantley’s famous co-acting signal, it was good to see more evidence of the new Class 755 units than on my visit to Lowestoft at the beginning of the month.

After the ending of Class 37 operations it was also good to see some loco action on my 23 October 2019 visit, in the shape of a Class 66-worked Railhead Treatment Train (RHTT) operating its seasonal circuit from Stowmarket. Continue reading “Wherry Lines Class 66 and 755 action”