Tuesday 16 October 2012

30: Galas, Gronks and Gateboxes

A warm welcome to Edition number 30 of the Railwaymedia blog, documenting the updates and trips that I have made over the last 2 weeks or so since Edition 29 was posted. As I had a few weeks of night turns to do at work, I wasn't expecting to get out and about very much after my trip to London, but in the end I managed a few pictures from both two local North West Diesel Galas and also from a pleasant afternoon photographing the freight trains around Warrington.

  As usual when I am working nights, I spend some time processing older pictures, carrying on with plodding through my collection of bus photographs from the 1990s. Having finally done all the pictures from my time spent working with various companies on the South Coast (the final selection I have more or less completed now is the former Southdown companies of Sussex Coastline and South Coast Buses), I have now moved backwards to my student days in Yorkshire.
I have literally only just started doing the pictures from this area, but images such as that above of an old coach working a local Halifax to Huddersfield service illustrates just how much more interesting (in my opinion anyway!) vehicles were back then. Every company in the area had an ecclectic mix of buses dating back to National Bus Company and West Yorkshire PTE days.
 I have an annual beer 'festival' for a few friends at my house and for the second year running this coincided with the local Ribble Steam Railway's Autumn Diesel Gala. The promised nice weather on Saturday morning wasn't quite as good as forecast but the Sunday dawned clear so a few shots (no hangover) were taken of the variety of shunters hauling the lines coaching stock.
The resident Class 05 and Class 03 always look good, but for me the star was the use of their ex-Dutch Railways Class 11. As the coaches are vacuum braked only and the Class 11 is air-braked, a modification has been made to the 'control' coach to enable air braked engines to be used on the western end of the train. This also meant the first use of the ex-Preston Council Sentinel shunters that normally only provide power for the thrice weekly tank train that serves the docks.
There were around 65 of the Class 11s built in Britain for Nederlandse Spoorwegen by English Electric, the first 10 of which were put together within 1/2 mile of the line at the Dick Kerr Works on Strand Road in Preston. Unfortunately, the one pictured below was from the second batch that was built slightly further away at the Vulcan Foundary at Newton-le-Willows.
Two days later and, with another nice day promising, I ended up in Warrington to get some of the regular freight trains running to and from Fiddlers Ferry Power Station. It is a line that I have covered many times in the last year or two as it has by far the best mix and frequency of freight trains in the North West, Blog 12 was probably the last time I covered a visit in depth here.
I had two main aims of the day. Number one was simply to get some pictures for me to process. A new computer (long overdue), and more significantly a new screen with it, has meant me having to get to grips with the fact pictures now appear both lighter and sharper, and therefore making it harder to get corrections right whilst processing the files. The second aim was to get some shots of the signals that protect Latchford Sidings where the trains run round at Warrington.
 This is something I have intended to do for some time and, despite it being a very busy road bridge, it isn't too bad a place to wait. I spent a couple of hours walking between this bridge and the one (just beyond the rear of the train) at Arpley Junction. If the trains run more or less to time, or you know when they are coming, it is possible to get two shots of each working.
There have been a lot of changes to the signalling on this line lately with, in July, the abolishment of the Crossing Signalboxes at Crosfields and Litton's Mill (both inside the soap works adjacent to Warrington Bank Quay station) and the replacement of their semaphore signals with colour lights. I had planned for ages to get the classic shot at Crosfields but never got round to it. On the day mentioned in blog 12 when I saw 60099 at Sankey, Neil Harvey took this Picture of the same train. I couldn't have joined him though as I didn't have my stepladder with me on that occasion!
So onto this week and the second Diesel Gala in two weekends, this time it being the turn of the East Lancashire Railway. I hadn't actually visited the line for almost 2 years, actually the 2010 Autumn Diesel Gala, though with around 140 pictures from the railway over the last 6 years or so, most engines and locations have been well covered. All my ELR photographs are HERE.
My main targets this time was for 24081 (D5081) which I haven't seen for almost 20 years when it was based at Steamport in Southport, and for the Class 14 'Teddy Bear' D9531. The Saturday I was working and on the Sunday the class 14 was only booked to work one trip to Heywood in the morning so, in lovely autumnal sunshine, I set off over the hills. The only place I could go for a shot of it was Heap Bridge between Bury and Heywood and I arrived there in thick fog.
Still, the loco sounded very good slogging uphill, though it was a shame there seemed to be less than a dozen people on the train, and no other photographers, to benefit from it. Needless to say given the weather I decided to move back up the valley to where it was distinctly sunnier in order to get a few more shots. There being a Steam Gala taking place at the nearby Keighley and Worth Valley Railway probably explained why there were only a handful of photographers out and about; my other aim, the Class 24, I photographed twice, firstly heading north at Ewood Bridge and then again as it headed back down the valley, seen approaching Summerseat, before I had to head off to work.
Well, that concludes my wanderings for the last couple of weeks. I hope to be able to get out somewhere this week, though where I go will probably be highly dependant on the weather. As normal I shall conclude with this editions 'stupid sign', though it is actually a billboard poster from the local Preston 'Newspaper'. I have generally speaking a fairly low regard for most journalists, especially those working as editors on papers like the Lancashire Evening Post, who never seem to let the truth get in the way of either a good story nor a dramatic headline. As you can imagine there were a few letters delivered late, and indeed some inconvenience, but 'Chaos' is overdoing it slightly!
Thanks for reading, please look again in a few weeks for Edition number 31. Bye for now!


  1. That Leopard was one of a few Ex West yorkshire RCC ones that got absorbed into YR ownership on the takeover of Bradford , Leeds and York WYRCC areas ..Halifax seemed to get the majority along with Bramley , now that service has gone now but a 343 which is operated by KLine using Optare Solos is its replacement ...excellent photo i miss those days

  2. Thanks. Yes, it was a good time, 343/344 and 537/538 were always guaranteed a decent Leopard or similar. Virtually every bus YR had were decent, crawling up Castle Hill on Fleetlines good, ex-GMPTE ones too on the 504 Huddersfield-Keighley. Even the newer Volvos on the X37 :-)