Wednesday 15 February 2012

7: Ronnies, Trams and Branches

Hello and welcome to Blog number 7. It's been a bit of time coming as I've had a fairly busy week. As you'll see I've managed to get a few shots, in a few different places, though many have been loosely based on where I had to be with work.

Last week I had two days going over the Settle and Carlisle line on a light engine. The one advantage of the route (providing you aren't in a rush to get home) is that you tend to follow slow moving freight trains which, with the long signalling sections, give a few opportunities to get a picture whilst waiting at the signals. It should be stressed therefore that the pictures aren't taken from publicly accessible areas! Both days were nice and sunny for large sections of the journey, though the actual climactic conditions were remarkably different. Both days were very cold, but on the first day that frost was especially spectacular in places like round Barons Wood tunnels:

I had expected the same engine to be provided on the second day, but still prayed for a nice Arriva liveried one instead to get some pictures. Well: 'Wish and Ye shall recieve'...

So after two pleasurable days up in the countryside, what better after work on a Friday than to end up in South London? I took the opportunity to cover a few of the branches I've never travelled on before. Chessington South was a suprise as I expected it to be a standard Southern Railway terminal station. Well it turns out it was intended that the railway would carry on past here to Leatherhead (and indeed it did for a short distance to some carriage sidings), and so it looks instead like a through station built in the Art Deco style. The Second World War, and greenbelt legislation afterwards, stopped the spread of housing and hence the need for the line south from here. Only one platform is now used, the other being distinctly derelict, but the double track (with third rail) still disappears under the road bridge into a cutting and what resembles a forest. This is the view looking towards London:


The other interesting terminii I visited were Epsom Downs and Tattenham Corner. These are both high up on the Downs and close to the Epsom Racecourse, which was primarily the reason for both the branches being built. Epsom Downs opened in 1865 and if you want to know more about this branch there is a fabulous website about it: The Epsom Downs Branch Website. Check out the picture on the early history page taken in 1907 that shows an 8-10 platform station! It is now a single track branch from Sutton, ending in a single track station, at the rear of a housing estate.

Tattenham Corner station is only about a mile away and at the end of a much longer branch from the Brighton mainline near Purley. This station has managed to retain 3 platforms and, unlike the hourly daytime frequency from Victoria to Epsom Downs, gets two trains per hour from London Bridge and also a shuttle from Purley. It still feels like an isolated place though having only a small building as a ticket office and absolutely no shelters or canopies whatsoever!

That was Friday; Saturday was another long day, though Railway Photography wasn't really on the agenda as it was off to Sheffield for some beer with friends. It is good to see Supertram there is still going strong. I remember it in 1994 when it opened and passenger use on it was abysmal as most journeys were far quicker by bus. They seem to have co-ordinated things much better now, despite Stagecoach running the trams and only a few of the local buses with the rest being operated by First Group. Here's a shot from the early days crossing the viaduct at Ponds Forge:

Well that's about it for now. I'm not planning many trips in the next week or two but if the weather perks up I might be persuaded out. There is a rumour of some 73s touring the local branches but unfortunately in the middle of the night. Thanks for reading,

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