Thursday 31 January 2013

37: Training, Timber, Stations and Spoons

Hello, and welcome to part 37 of the Railwaymedia blog; I thought I would try and squeeze another edition out before the end of January. I am expecting February to mainly be spent, due to my work patterns over the next few weeks, continuing scanning in my older pictures. You never know though: a nice bit of snow, and preferably sun, may tempt me out with my camera.
The beginning of January I did do quite a bit of scanning in of slides from my late fathers collection. The majority of these he had bought in the 1970's so I have no idea who actually took them. Apart from a lot of family pictures there were several boxes of steam pictures, most of which I have done and can be seen HERE, but actually for me the more interesting ones were the pictures of tram and trolleybuses taken in the 1950s of various Council owned operations, of which there are about 50, many depicting some wonderfully historic street scenes. See HERE for this collection.

With just a few steam ones left to do, I shall then be moving back to my scans of negatives from 2002/2003. As I did with the last batch of these, I shall try to do them in roughly monthly batches and when completed create a temporary album for them. Please check New Additions.
Talking of new additions: as quick as possible a resumee of the outings I have managed to make since the last blog. With generally dire weather it has really only constituted a few small trips. First of all was to photograph DRS's passenger crew training service that was operating for a few weeks between Crewe and Sideway (near Stoke-on-Trent) via Liverpool and Manchester.
There is again talk of DRS starting a service on the Cumbrian Coast, as they trialled at the beginning of last year (see blog numbers 2 and 6). With this in mind they had this learning train based at Crewe and a second on the Cumbrian Coast. Part of the training involved practising station stops, which made for a good shot of 47501 departing Patricroft, the clagging of which is improving!
A few nights later I took my camera to Crewe as the last two Class 56's that had been stored outside the former Diesel Depot were awaiting to go for, presumably, scrap. These were 56037 in EWS livery and long-stored and very rusty looking Load Haul liveried 56077. I walked back to the station just in perfect time to see another of the class, Colas 56094, on the weekly log train from Teingrace to Chirk which, rather suprisingly, appears to run loaded all the way up to Carlisle on a Thursday night in order to await it being able to come back to Chirk for unloading on the Saturday. 
The following week I had to travel between Edinburgh and Glasgow with work. Of course there are now 4 different routes you can take between the two cities; with an hour extra to spare I chose the newly electrified route via Bathgate and stopped off at Armadale (pictured at the top of this blog) and Blackridge. The latter station is a massive modern structure serving what seems like a hamlet of about 10 houses. Considering how many much larger communities in Britain would give anything to have their own station, let alone one with half-hourly trains operating to two major cities, Blackridge's few inhabitants have done rather well for themselves.
The line itself between Drumgelloch and Bathgate appears quite good for photographs with a cycle path following the route for almost it's entire length. There is also by the line Hillend Reservoir near Caldercruix which I want to investigate at a later date; it is just a shame that the line is only operated by Class 334 EMUs; even the sight of the 318s or 320s would break the monotony!
Unusually for me, in the last week I have visited Yorkshire twice. On both days the aim was principally to visit a few of the Wetherspoons in certain areas. The first was West Yorkshire, especially the area from Hudderfield through Wakefield to Pontefract. Usually a visit to Huddersfield wouldn't involve Wetherspoons as there are frankly too many other good pubs in the town and surrounding area, but the two 'Spoons there had to be done at some point! I took my camera with the expectation of just getting a few shots. We were actually reasonably lucky with freight trains though, getting the 'Binliner' at Huddersfield and twice later a coal train approaching just after we had alighted from a local train. This is 66703 approaching Pontefract Monkhill:
A couple of days later, with the forecast even worse, I went across to Scarborough and Hull solely with the intention of visiting pubs, though I did of course take my camera just in case. Last time I had visited Scarborough was in 2010 just before Falsgrave Signal Box and its famous Signal Gantry were removed. With the exception of the summer-time Scarborough Spa Express there's little there now of interest from a railway point of view, unless you like over-engineered colour light signals.
I did stop off for half an hour at Beverley to photograph the signal box which I had missed doing on my last trip. No semaphores here either (though nearby Bridlington still has a selection at the southern end), but the station is one of only two left on the route between Hull and Scarborough to still have their superb Grade II Listed station buildings complete. These were designed by GT Andrews for the York and North Midland Railway; Filey is the other still extant.
As I said it is probably unlikely I shall get out much in the next few weeks, but please check back here, or on my website, in case. Thanks as usual for reading, I will leave you with a mural I spotted demonstrating how optimistic the inhabitants of Moston are as to what their future train service will be provided by once the Pacers and Sprinters are final retired. Moston to Paris anyone?

Friday 4 January 2013

36: Sussex and Scanning

Welcome to the first Railwaymedia blog of 2013, also marking a year since the first edition.
As mentioned in blog number 35, I had intended just before Christmas to go down to East Sussex to get a picture of the soon to be closed Signal Box at Polegate Crossing. I finally managed that trip this week. With the days still short and the weather not exactly fantastic, I didn't get to take many pictures of trains, though my additional aims of getting a couple of shots at Rye on the Marshlink Line and also of continuing with my tour of Wetherspoons were reasonably successful.
I've not travelled over the Marshlink Line since 1986. I had intended on visiting 10 years ago before the Thumpers finished, but ended up spending time photographing the 205/207 units on the easier to access Uckfield Line instead. Rye is the station on the Ashford to Hastings section where the trains usually pass, singularly unhelpful if you want to catch the train there to get some pictures. The town though, one of the five 'Cinque Ports', is pleasant place to wait an hour. There is a footpath crossing the line adjacent to the bridge over the River Rother. A shot can be taken of a westbound train coming over then a couple of minutes later the eastbound train passes the other way.
Rather than wait another hour for the next train I caught a bus instead to Hastings, which turned out to be a more convenient way to get to the Wetherspoons as it stopped right outside! With my next plan being to go to Polegate via Hailsham I had half an hour to play with between buses so alighted at St Leonards. The main road passes near the Depot which services both Southern's Class 171s and also the fleet of Class 73s run by GBRF. There is a footbridge crossing the line to the beach here; I visited once before in 2006 when an inconveniently located flag pole was obscuring the wide angled shot towards Hastings. Back then there was no flag on it anyway so, as the pole looked silly without, I had a play with the picture in Photoshop and added a Union Jack to it.
With the weather being distinctly worse than it was back then, on the bus to Hailsham I began to worry that I might not get to Polegate before it got too dark. In the end I made it fine. Until November Polegate still has a couple of semaphore signals to go with it's Southern Railway Signal Box, though they all contrast sharply with the station which has been totally rebuilt.
The advantage of it getting dark at 4pm is that on a day out I can then go to the pub without worrying that I am missing getting pictures. A Kent and East Sussex Bus Explorer Ticket is very good value at £6 and is valid on most buses in the area, not just the operator you bought the ticket from. Oddly if you buy it on a Brighton and Hove Bus it costs a pound more. The route from Eastbourne to Brighton used to be operated by Stagecoach when I lived down there. From memory it operated hourly then but now Brighton and Hove run it on a 10 minute frequency. I used the bus to Brighton to call off at Brighton Marina, another thing that has also changed significantly since my last visit.
Whilst I had left St Pancras on a Javelin to Ashford, the journey back to London was on a Southern service to Victoria. This turned out to be operated by a class 442 'Gatwick Express' unit, ironic as the train I was on was first stop East Croydon so didn't even stop at Gatwick! I believe there are a few problems now with 'Southern Only' tickets not being valid on trains between Gatwick and Brighton as they are branded 'Gatwick Express', even though they are all operated by Southern.
Well it's back to scanning now for me. I still have a years worth of digital pictures to re-size; I finished doing my Swiss pictures from 2008 over Christmas (they can be seen HERE ). I've started doing pictures I took in 2003, working backwards from when I switched to digital. These scans are obviously not of the same quality as that which can be acheived on modern equipment, and many are not helped by the fact I used some dreadful ISO800 film at the time. Those I have added so far, like that of 47770 above, can be seen in the New Additions section for the next month or so.
I'm also hoping to retrieve some slides from my mothers house. I have no idea what the quality of these are as they are mainly ones my dad took in the 1970s, so I hope some are salvageable. I have as yet no firm plans on any more trips in the next week or two, though please keep an eye out here for updates. I'll leave you with a picture of the last train I travelled over the Marshlink Line on before this week, a scan of a print taken on the frankly dreadful 126 square format film that used to inhabit my childhood point and shoot camera! From November 1986: Bye for now!