Semaphores in North Staffordshire


IMG_7148Taking heed of Government advice to avoid making all but essential rail journeys, the current potentially dismal and very challenging period seems like a good moment to look back to better times, when we were all free to travel at will.

Over the coming weeks I plan to go back almost exactly three years to the time during spring and summer of 2017 when I was touring Britain to get photos and anecdotes for my signalling book, and beginning today with a visit to the North Staffordshire Line. Continue reading “Semaphores in North Staffordshire”


Magical Manea  


IMG_3420Completion of the Wherry Lines re-signalling in February 2020 means that there are now just two outposts of mechanical signalling in the whole of East Anglia, both of which are on the busy cross-country route between Ely and Peterborough.

Having spent a few hours at Whittlesea last summer, it was time to pay a return visit to the other place along this route with working semaphore signals, the charming and remote village of Manea, mid-way between Ely and March. Continue reading “Magical Manea  “

Saving the planet – one weekend at a time

IMG_2999Contrary to what Greta Thunberg and many Millennials and Generation Z-ers might care to believe, the idea of trying to avoid harmful pollution by making less use of the private car is also deeply ingrained in some of us who date from earlier generations.

Faced with the lack of a car for a weekend, my challenge was getting from home (Haslemere) to visit family (near Cheltenham), then a day trip to Cardiff for the Wales vs. Scotland Six Nations match, which became a visit to Park Junction Signal Box at Newport when the match was called off. Continue reading “Saving the planet – one weekend at a time”

Britain’s tramways: West Midlands Metro

IMG_2784To mark publication next month (April 2020) of my new book – a history of Croydon (London) Tramlink – this is the first in an occasional series taking a look at Britain’s urban light railways, and begins with a visit to Birmingham and a trip on its fast-expanding West Midlands Metro.

The system that was originally known as Midland Metro opened almost exactly a year before Tramlink, on 30 May 1999, and there are a number of parallels in the history of the two systems, both making extensive use of former railway alignments and both suffering from financial difficulties in their early years. Continue reading “Britain’s tramways: West Midlands Metro”