Monday 5 November 2012

32: A Jolly Boys Outing and a Jolly Anglian Tour

Yet again welcome to the Railwaymedia blog, edition 32 this time, and covering the two trips I have made over the last 2 weeks, plus anything else I can think of!
Following my trip to Cardiff documented in blog number 31, 6 days later I was almost back in Wales again, attending a bit of a Jolly Boys Outing (though unlike Del Boy not involving Margate, Jellied Eels and exploding Plaxton Elite bodied Ford coaches). Actually looking up what the coach used was in the Only Fools and Horses episode, it amused me that this WEBSITE confirms the coach was bought outright rather than 'hired'. Just as well given the plot!
Anyway, once in a while we have an outing somewhere to descend en-mass on a few unsuspecting photographic locations, the area chosen this time being to the East of Bristol. Chris Perkins kindly picked me up from Bristol Parkway and we started off at Pilning Station.
As can be seen, it was a somewhat murky day, though I was still quite pleased with the hour or so we spent there. My previous visit to the station had coincidently also been made between night shifts back in April 2010, though that had been a lovely sunny day. Despite the total gloom, shots of trains climbing up from the Severn Tunnel can still be worthwhile. Don't try getting to Pilning by train however as only 2 trains a week stop, both on a Saturday. There is however an hourly bus from Parkway station to Pilning village. Currently this is the 625 operated by Wessex Connect.
The great advantage of being with someone who has a car (most of my trips are done by public transport even to the obscure places I normally reach), and especially someone with local knowledge, is getting to visit locations I wouldn't have been aware of or would be nigh-on impossible to get to. In the case of Westerleigh Oil Terminal this fitted into both those categories.
We were lucky (or more the case it was well planned by Chris) to arrive just as one was due to depart and one arrive. With the outward train not yet formed we were going to leave when some activity suggested the inward working was on its way. Duly 5 minutes later it appeared.
The next stage was for the other class 60 on the empty tanks to Lindsey to depart, it left about 30 minutes late, and there followed another half hour or so of shunting with 60079 to get its full wagons into the discharge point. All in all a productive and interesting hour.
The light, and temperature, was falling fast. We moved a few miles away to Ram Hill near Coalpit Heath, a narrow footbridge over the mainline between Parkway and where the Birmingham and Didcot lines diverge. Whilst the light and trees would have made photography difficult had the sun been out, needless to say this particular day it wasn't a problem. I was pleasantly suprised how much freight runs along the line, in fact in the whole area, though after a couple of coal trains, a Freightliner, lots of HSTs and a stone working we decided to call it a day.
All in all a good day out despite the weather. Many thanks to Chris for the tour.
Last week I was on holiday from work, but coinciding with the school half term I was a bit limited in time to get out with my camera. I managed a full day though on the Tuesday. Eagerly watching the weather Monday night for inspiration as to where to go, the south looked far better in terms of the chance of any sun, Kent looked best. Although I still need to visit a few Wetherspoons in that county, I fancied taking some pictures of more interesting workings than 375s and 395s. My next idea was Southend to get shots of the Pier Railway, amongst other things. It was pretty much on the bus to the station that morning though that I changed my mind and plumped for the Ipswich area.
One of the main reasons for this was the need for something to do once it goes dark, which of course it  does stupidly early now that the clocks have gone back (thanks a lot farmers). Being three branches of that well known pub chain in Ipswich I reasoned I could get round them all before my train back to London. I decided then to head along the line towards Bury St Edmunds during the day. I actually missed the train at Ipswich I intended to catch as 86501 emerged from the yard just as it was to depart. With another service only 40 minutes later though, it was fortuitous as I got a few shots in that time of passenger trains as well as this one of 66746 heading for Hams Hall.
I hadn't visited Bury St Edmunds, a lovely old Cathedral Town, for many years, though it was literally just a fleeting visit in order to have a quick pint and get back to the station for a shot of the next unit heading east. There was also a freight due, though that didn't appear until I was on the train myself and needless to say I passed it enroute to my next stop at Elmswell.
Thanks to Marcus Dawson and his East Anglia Trainspots Book, I was aware of a small farm crossing just west of Elmswell. I had also considered a crossing on the main Norwich line north of Stowmarket for the extra variety I would get there, class 90s on the Passengers plus potentially the North Walsham tank train, but given the low sun now in an afternoon Elmswell seemed a better option despite the smaller amount of booked trains passing. The light would have been wrong for the local Rail Head Treatment Train there anyway. So, a visit to the village Co-op for a sandwich and some beer and I had a pleasant 3 hours stood by a field, most of the time in sunshine.
There are a couple of RHTTs based at Stowmarket, though only one works during daylight. This circuit goes south to Witham, then covers the Clacton-on-Sea branch before returning to Stowmarket and then onto Norwich via Ely. I had passed it in the morning whilst I was enroute to Ipswich and could see it was being hauled by a DRS class 57. What I wasn't aware was that the other end was an ex-Virign, now Network Rail, yellow class 57/3. Sods law of course that when it passed me the DRS one leading so the 57/3 and the 'squirty' bit of the wagons were at the rear.
Knowing I would just miss the hourly train to Ipswich by the time I walked back to the station, I waited here for the last of the light, and then sauntered back. This though meant that visiting the three Wetherspoons in Ipswich became a rushed job, not helped by how far the city centre actually is from the station. Probably the most walking and drinking I have crammed into an hour in my life! All in all a good day though, if a day off in the next few weeks falls when sunny weather is predicted in that area I may be tempted to head back to get some more shots of this particular RHTT working.
A quick aside to Blackpool and its Trams again, the last week several of the old, but modified, Balloon trams have been in operation. I only found out this when enroute with the family to the illuminations Wednesday evening and, short of missing the family trip the following day to Edinburgh for them (which wouldn'tve gone down well), the next chance for me to get across was the Saturday. Now you would think that on the final (half-term) weekend of the Illuminations they would have been out then too, but Blackpool Transport obviously didn't. Now I didn't bother to go across in the end, but I'm guessing the Flexity trams will have been rather full. Well done BT! Up to date news on the operations on the tramway can be found on the Blackpool Tram Blogspot.
That concludes the résumé of my last two weeks wanderings; as always thanks for taking the time to read them. This editions 'Stupid Sign' picture is from the unstaffed Pilning station. It would seem by the dirt on it that noone wants to steal the top 'Passengers Must Not Cross the Line' sign, but I'm not sure if the actual target is only the new looking one below, or whether it is both that AND the equally new looking one advising you not to steal them! Bye for now, please look out for edition 33!

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