17 years ago

Posted in Railways on Sunday 22nd July 2007 at 10:06pm

Should have been doing some fairly unusual track today, but in a very unlucky summer of tours, today's was of course cancelled due to low bookings. Thinking philosophically, it's fairly likely that today's tour would have been abandoned anyway given the rain down south where yesterday's trip which provided our stock would have been impossible. So for today, the plan was simple: cover as much of the passenger track that Pathfinder's Cleveland Cleric tour was meant to cover, quite a bit of which was new to me.

This meant an early start, and unfortunately that I missed what promised to be a pretty good breakfast. Made up for this on arrival at the station, and pretty soon was able to board the 08:36 service for Middlesborough which arrived incredibly early. Found a seat with no trouble and made myself comfortable. Being a fan of high-backed, firm chairs I just don't see the problem with the Class 185's seating arrangements which seem to trouble others! Soon off, and I was pleased to see the weather at least getting no worse as we headed north. The Journey Planner adviser a change at Thornaby for the following Saltburn service, though it would have been just as easy to head on to Middlesborough - except for a likely platofrm change. The Saltburn train was running a little late, but soon enough a rather battered 142 arrived and I found an appropriate seat for a good look at Tees Yard as we passed by. Seemed only a short time since I'd last been here on my trip to Whitby, but took the northernmost fork at Guisborough Junction and carried on through rather bleak industrial landscapes, catching brief glimpses of railway impedimentia and innumerable private sidings branching away into the various facilities. A little before arrival in Saltburn, noted the steeply graded branch to Crag Hall and Boulby climbing away. Disappointed I wouldn't be going that way today at least.

Saltburn itself is a curious town. The impressive and sizeable former railway station building dominates a square with a more modern devlopment behind, including a sizeable supermarket. A car boot sale was in full swing beside the store. A pleasant market square gave way to a wide boulevard lined with local shops which lead up hill and out of town. Even fairly early on a Sunday it was beginning to become busy, and a little cafe near the station was doing roaring trade. Pottered around and brought a drink in the supermarket. Watched my incoming train leave for Darlington, and waited in improving conditions for the next arrival which would form one of a handful of Sunday services through to Bishop Auckland.

Retraced my steps to Middlesborough and Thornaby, this time heading north west at Eaglescliffe South Junction, and passing the poorly used station at Teeside Airport. Familiar track here to Darlington, where we rested for a brief moment or two under the vast trainshed's roof before squealing away and taking the branch for Bishop Auckland shortly outside the station. By now the sun was shining, and I was looking forward to my plans for later. Stuck with the train all the way to it's rather uninspiring terminus, which was a pretty disgusting station seemingly miles from civillisation. Noted the link with the preserved Weardale Railway running away into the distance. The bonus was a decent cup of coffee at the attached station cafe, though the service was a little glum. Back one stop through the seemingly endless tunnel to reach Shildon. Alighted and packed my coat away for the first time this trip, and headed along the footpath to find Locomotion.

I was surprised to note how comprehensive this site is - a long straggling walk beside the tracks, learning the story of rail travel as your progress, and in particular it's local links, as you go. Much of the early story linked with the work of the former Shildon resident Timothy Hackworth, a pioneer of the railway age. Lots to see and do for younger children too - and I think my nephew would have loved it. For me, the highlights were the more recent machines - the prototype Deltic and the APT-E being two which I'd seen many years ago at the National Railway Museum prior to their move here.

Experimental gas turbine powered APT-E at Locomotion, Shildon
Experimental gas turbine powered APT-E at Locomotion, Shildon

The Original Deltic - Shildon 20/07/2007
The Original Deltic - Shildon 20/07/2007

A tremendous array of wagons, carriages and track machinery on display too which told the story of the everyday life of the railway perhaps a little better than the NRM's main site, although of course Locomotion lacks the prestige of having celebrity engines on site. Its good to see that the National Collection goes far beyond Flying Scotsman and Mallard. Flagged the useful 'Ecobus' which potters back and forth along the site and walked back to the station in now blazing sunshine. Enjoyed a peaceful few minutes before the squealing of a 142 approaching heralded my departure for Darlington!

Arrived to find the station busy with a few delays, but nothing too drastic unless of course you were heading for the South West which was still pretty much closed from all angles. Hopped aboard a well loaded 185 heading for Manchester Airport, and enjoyed a smooth and uneventful journey back to York. Pottered around the station for a while, watching trains and people passing through before deciding to head for some food and a pint. Not quite the day I'd planned when I booked this weekend away, but with new track under the belt and a visit to Locomotion into the bargain, I can't complain.

Movebook Link


 18 years ago

Posted in Railways on Saturday 22nd July 2006 at 8:51pm

Last week's trip to Greenwich having taken it's toll financially, it was probably not advisable to plan a long distance journey this week. However, the lure of getting away and covering new track was too much. The problem of course being that it becomes increasingly expensive to get to the tiny bits of uncovered track that remain. Since I hadn't been north-westwards for a couple of weeks, decided to head for Buxton via Crewe and Stockport. I could have almost done the routine on autopilot - onto 2M02, where I bumped into the local crew of trainspotters heading for Bristol to see a tour featuring two Class 37s - and then a swift change for 1S42 at Bristol Temple Meads. Relieved to find air-conditioning working and buffet open after recent Voyager journeys! Enjoyed a lazy journey as far as Crewe.

Next leg was to Stockport, a route which has been closed for resignalling work for what seems like an age. Had a fairly long wait so wandered around Crewe station in the sun and watched a driver and fitter struggle with a Class 57. Eventually they gave up, but another was soon found to haul the Holyhead service with 57309 heading in from the north.

57309 prepares to haul a Pendolino to Holyhead
57309 prepares to haul a Pendolino to Holyhead

I can't remember when I last travelled between Crewe and Stockport via Wilmslow. Noted much of the new signalling still out of commission along the route. Pretty swift change required at Stockport to get over to Platform 1 for the Buxton service. A minor delay due to congestion, and soon off on 150136 which was in pretty poor shape internally. The train was fairly busy as far as New Mills Newtown and Disley, but soon thinned out so only a few of us remained as we climbed into the Peak District. Amazing scenery and fine weather on arrival at the impressive Buxton station. This former LNWR structure hints at former glorys with its imposing fan-shaped window and extensive buildings. The closed motive power depot and the imposing Spring Gardens Viaduct are testament to former glories - when the High Peak route ran south and east of here.

150136 waits for departure at Buxton
150136 waits for departure at Buxton

Wandered into town and enjoyed an hour or so of exploring this curious Victoria spa. The impressive baths and opera house face down a rather quaint village High Street. Followed this down to the Viaduct and found a Hardy's & Hanson's pub called 'The Railway'. A pretty awful place to be honest, but the chance to sample 'Olde Trip' was again welcome. The midday sun was blazing relentlessly down on Buxton now. Returned to the station for my train back to Manchester.

Spent the journey back trying to fathom the railway geography of the Peak District. Vaguely aware of the Peak Forest freight lines to the east, but noted the Hope Valley line closing in on us too. Realised this was the location of the Hazel Grove chord which had confused me in a magazine article recently! Good to be back at Picadilly however briefly. Wandered around, grabbing a bite to eat and watching people before boarding the 1454 Brighton train. Settled into a very cool and empty First Class carriage as far as Birmingham. Surprisingly smooth change at New Street too, with no delays to the usually tardy 17:12 service. The return journey was almost as routine as the outward trip, with the customary platform swap at Weston for the short ride home. Another branch line marked off in the atlas!

Movebook Link

 23 years ago

Posted in Updates on Sunday 22nd July 2001 at 12:00am

Industrious day. Cleaned everything. Attempted to iron stuff - not as easy as it looks. Spent a long time typing for money - its hard to work on something you perhaps wouldn't normally read and not feel the urge to edit it! Still, its money - and that's a sorely needed commodity here right now. What looked like a nasty bug in gtkdial turns out to be a strange error generated by YaST (the SuSE config tool) and the way it sets up modems. Events early in the day remind me how much is very uncertain still, despite the relative peace and stability which seem to have descended here lately.


 24 years ago

Posted in Updates on Saturday 22nd July 2000 at 12:00am

After all the hit and miss work with GNOME libraries, I notice that Linux Emporium is selling Helix GNOME (which includes latest gnumeric, gimp etc.) on CD-R for a fiver! Worrying greatly about Community Care research project



I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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