Photographing trains on the Dudding Hill Line is no easy matter. For a start services on north-west London’s Cinderella route are few and far between, but then the combination of extensive line-side vegetation and high bridge parapets makes decent vantage points very hard to find.
As a reminder to those who may have missed my September 2017 post “Dudding Hill: the line that time forgot”, this is a four-mile long route from Acton to Cricklewood that is controlled by three mechanical signal boxes, and has a ruling 30mph speed restriction. It is a line which lost its passenger services in 1902 and has somehow missed out on the highly successful expansion of London’s Overground network.
Having walked most of the route in the past it was good to discover one promising new spot at Harlesden on Friday (27 July), complete with semaphore signal, and a line-side position in Gladstone Park, close to Dudding Hill Junction, where there was enough of a break in the vegetation to get a reasonable shot.
First up was a bridge carrying Craven Road over the line just north of Harlesden underground station. This is close to site of another Harlesden station on the Dudding Hill Line, which closed in 1902, but whose platform outlines can still be seen more than a century later.
Looking north from Craven Road bridge there is a home signal controlling the southbound line (pictured top), which I would claim is probably the only semaphore on this entire route that can readily be photographed. Looking in the opposite direction and just south of Craven Road is another bridge (pictured) carrying Craven Park over the line at the location of the former station.
Here the most interesting feature is a smart-looking semaphore distant signal controlling the northbound line. Alas, not only is the the parapet of the Craven Park bridge too high to see over, but a line of trees has grown up that completely obscures what would otherwise be a good view of the line, distant signal and former station.
Friday morning action for me here – and shown in these photos – began with a southbound and rather smelly “bins” train from Cricklewood to Calvert, hauled by 66169 (pictured top), followed by a northbound working less than ten minutes later (10.53), a train of loaded sand hoppers from Acton to Churchyard Sidings (Tarmac) in the hands of 66059.
Moving on later in the day to Gladstone Park and Dudding Hill Junction, it was possible to catch GBRf-liveried 66772 coming onto the route from the Cricklewood (south) side of the triangular junction between the Dudding Hill Line and the Midland Main Line, with another service for Calvert (13.33).
Then, half an hour later (14.05) I managed to find a vantage point behind Gladstone Park’s tennis and basketball courts to see 66172 passing on an aggregates working from Whatley Quarry in Somerset to Churchyard Sidings (bottom picture).
During the winter it is (just) possible to photograph Dudding Hill Junction’s one remaining semaphore (DH12 – pictured) from the footbridge next to the signal box, but with thick foliage on all the line-side trees, that is impossible at present and the only view of this signal is from the side of the line as it passes through the park.