Robin Higgs OBE: a personal tribute

 

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Robin Higgs OBE (left) stands alongside another legendary railway enthusiast, the late Sir William McAlpine, at Alton station on Saturday, 20 November 2010. McAlpine had been invited to unveil a plaque marking completion of the station re-signalling project.

Five years ago I took my first step towards becoming a regular volunteer on the Mid-Hants Railway when I attended an introductory event at Alresford. Along with a group of other would-be volunteers, I was then taken by train to Ropley, where a sprightly gentleman in his 80s introduced himself to me and enthused about the Watercress Line. Continue reading “Robin Higgs OBE: a personal tribute”

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A tractor in the Rhymney Valley 

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As the era of Class 37 haulage on the Wherry Lines in Norfolk draws to a close, it is very heartening to see these 1960s machines make a welcome reappearance on a South Wales route where they have not worked since December 2005.

While the current single weekday return from Rhymney to Cardiff Central is not as easy to photograph as the regular Norwich-Great Yarmouth/Lowestoft services, it is possible for a visitor to the area to get two different and decent shots of the evening service. Continue reading “A tractor in the Rhymney Valley “

No SWR return to Corfe Castle

 

IMG_0363A year after its experimental summer Saturday services to Corfe Castle were heavily blighted by RMT industrial action, this year’s resumption seems to have got off to a pretty dismal start.

Despite their huge popularity, the entire timetable was cancelled without warning on Saturday (6 July) apparently due to train crew shortage, so ruining a planned day out to Weymouth or Corfe Castle for many hundreds of intending passengers. Continue reading “No SWR return to Corfe Castle”

Wonderful Whittlesea

 

IMG_5823.jpgIt has been described by local Railfuture campaigners as “one of the strangest and most unwelcoming stations in East Anglia” but is nevertheless a place well worth visiting for its signalling interest and for the frequency and variety of passing rail traffic.

Whittlesea station, less than ten minutes east of Peterborough on the busy cross-country route to Ely, serves a growing settlement, curiously known as Whittlesey, with a well-sited but poorly-equipped station and a sparse stopping service. Continue reading “Wonderful Whittlesea”

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”