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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!”

Britain’s newest ghost station

IMG_3830Built and opened in 1978 for a bargain price of just £50,000, Lelant Saltings Park & Ride was an instant success, and for more than four decades it was the place where thousands of visitors to St Ives left their cars and took a scenic four-mile train ride to the bustling artistic capital of Cornwall.

But Lelant Saltings is no more. Three months ago (in June 2019) the popular facility was replaced by smart new parking at nearby St Erth station, its 300 parking spaces now standing eerily empty and its half-hourly service to St Ives reduced to a Parliamentary level of one train a day in each direction. Continue reading “Britain’s newest ghost station”

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A semaphore stronghold in North Yorkshire

IMG_7286Just three miles from the National Railway Museum is the start of one of Britain’s finest remaining outposts of mechanical signalling, the 17½ miles of railway route between Harrogate and Poppleton, a growing village north-west of York city centre.

After previously spending time photographing the signalling at Harrogate and other intermediate stations, including remarkable Knaresborough, my latest challenge was to visit three of the route’s gate boxes that are signalled by semaphores. Continue reading “A semaphore stronghold in North Yorkshire”

A nice Wight railway ramble

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Exactly a year after publishing an account of a scenic stroll from Ryde to Brading, the last Saturday of summer (31 August 2019) seemed like an ideal time to pay a return visit to the ever-charming Isle of Wight.

Arriving on the island by hovercraft once again, I began where I left off last year and took a leisurely four and a half-mile walk from Brading to Shanklin, during which my challenge was to find a few off-the-beaten-track places at which to photograph Britain’s oldest passenger trains, Island Line’s 80-year old Class 483 units. Continue reading “A nice Wight railway ramble”

Sunday woes in the Conwy Valley

IMG_6922Only three weeks after its re-opening following a four-month closure to repair extensive flood damage, a week in North Wales working on the Ffestiniog Railway gave me an opportunity to sample summer Sunday services on the picturesque Conwy Valley line from Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

But things did not go according to plan and my depressing experience, along with a number of similar experiences on the equally spectacular Cambrian Coast Line, has convinced me that new franchisee Transport for Wales (TfW) is not fit for purpose and that the Welsh Government should be urgently reviewing its tenure of the franchise Continue reading “Sunday woes in the Conwy Valley”

Chase Line re-born

 

IMG_6815When it comes to provincial railway revivals in England, there cannot be anything to match the scale of transformation that has taken place on the 15½-mile long Chase Line in Staffordshire over the 30 years, since an initial ten-mile section from Walsall to Hednesford was re-opened in 1989.

Chase Line services quickly proved popular and were later extended to Rugeley Town (June 1997) and Rugeley Trent Valley (May 1998), initially continuing on the West Coast Main Line to Stafford, but cut back to Trent Valley in December 2008 to free up capacity on the WCML. Continue reading “Chase Line re-born”

Favourite photo-spots: Acle

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Paying what will surely be my last visit to the wonderful Wherry Lines before the end of Class 37 operations, my quest this time (Friday, 26 July) was not just to savour more loco haulage, but also to find another of the network’s working distant signals.

Bearing the memorable number A1, this is the up distant at Acle, sole passing loop on the 12¾ miles of route from Brundall to Great Yarmouth, and one of seven semaphores controlled by the station’s diminutive 1883-vintage 20-lever Great Eastern Railway signal box, which stands at the western end of the down platform. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Acle”