Thursday, 22 February 2018

Longleat Miniature Railway in 2008

(All 14.8.2008 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

My garden used to back onto the grounds at Longleat when I lived in Wiltshire. Back in 2008 I visited and photographed the miniature railway there.

It was (and still is) a 15 inch gauge line with excellent infrastructure, rolling stock and permanent way. It's about a mile long, with one main station and a route that takes you through the woods, back along the lake and into the main station again.

The line is generally always busy as it is one of the 'free' attractions once you've paid the entry charge.

All in all a lovely example of a line that almost borders on narrow gauge in the Heywood style. It would be great if the line was extended to actually serve a transport need through the estate, as well as offering a pleasant ride!

Monday, 19 February 2018

Lunch in Sweden

(Above pics Malmo 7.1.2018 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

We had a long weekend in Copenhagen at the start of January, and whilst we were there found out we were only 40 minutes from Sweden. So on the Sunday we decided to pop across the water and have lunch in Malmo, as you do!

Until recently this would have involved a ferry crossing, but from 1 July 2000 it's been possible to do the whole trip by rail. This involves crossing the ├śresund Bridge, which links Copenhagen to Malmo. The bridge runs nearly 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the Swedish coast to the artificial island Peberholm in the middle of the strait. The crossing is completed by the 4-kilometre (2.5 mi) Drogden Tunnel from Peberholm to the Danish island of Amager. The bridge is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe.

(Pic by By Nick-D - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Malmo is a nice compact city and we found somewhere very nice to eat. VERY expensive though, but that's Scandinavia for you!

After the meal we wandered round Malmo in temperatures well below freezing. I knew there was a heritage tramway somewhere in the city but it wouldn't be running and we headed in a different direction anyway. I did stumble across the remains of lines (below). One could have been the old line to the harbour where trains were driven onto the ferry to get to Copenhagen, but I'm not sure. If it was then I did travel on this in the late 80s, when I travelled down from Helsinki back to the UK overland (carrying a bloody great oil painting!)

Recently partly lifted route into the docks.

Street running freight line, almost certainly disused.

Whatever people say about rail enthusiasts, we do end up in some odd places!

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Micklefield 1985


All 18.6.1985 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing

An hour or so at Micklefield in Yorkshire back in 1985 produced a variety of trains, most of which would now be extinct! The station was still fairly original and was orientated east-west so afternoon photos would catch the sun right - except I never saw the sun out there!

Monday, 4 December 2017

46 years on ...


(All 1.12.2017 and 2.12.2017 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

I took my first ever railway (or indeed any sort of photo) on 9 July 1971, just south of Dawlish Warren station, on our first summer holiday to Devon. 

Last weekend I revisited the area for a weekend and took loads more!

The trip included the classic walk along the sea wall and it was good to see the work done where it was breached. The line seemed pretty busy with a succession of trains in both directions, including plenty of HSTs. I even manged to catch a surprise whilst waiting for the train back to Dawlish Warren at Dawlish station, when a couple of class 66s came through on an RHTT.

It was this area which really got me into running railways, up until then I'd really been into disused lines, and it's ironic that this may be one of the few railways that close in the future, thanks to sinking land, rising sea levels and a deteriorating climate with more storms, but for now it's all still there, a free work of art for anybody that appreciates such things!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A door opening very slowly ...

(Pic copyright Rail Thing/Steve Sainsbury)

Way back in 2009, when the New Somerset and Dorset Railway was formed, we were living in a very different world! Roads still seemed to be in the ascendant, and rail enthusiasm was still considered a tad eccentric.

Things have changed a lot in 8 years! Rail reopenings are gathering pace and some interesting closed lines are coming into the spotlight. One of course is the S&D!

I got an early morning phone call today from Radio Solent who had got the press release from the government re rail reopenings. I was invited to do a piece for the 11.30 am slot, live! I managed to wing it without stuttering or swearing, the net result being that the New S&D got yet more publicity and I managed to name check all five restoration groups along the route. I also managed to name check all the bigger places en route (Blandford, Sturminster Newton, Wincanton, Midsomer Norton and Radstock), all of which will benefit enormously in so many ways when the line returns.

That door is opening very slowly. Real energy crunches are still a way off, but already the rail restoration movement in all its variety is beginning to move into the mainstream. The important thing is to organise LOCALLY, so your line gets a profile. Most Beeching closures should be reversed over the next few decades, but there will be inevitable shortages of cash, materials and manpower as restoration picks up. 

Please do your bit!

(Pic is Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway back in 1976, now totally restored and transformed ...)

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Today at Midsomer Norton

The station.

Coal wagon (static exhibit)

The museum

Signalbox and greenhouse


'David Cook'

The line heads south

The station

The line to the right is the start of great things for the future!

Trip down to Midsomer Norton South station today, always a treat!

I was attending one of the twice yearly joint trusts' meeting, to which all S&D revival groups are invited. It's always good to meet up with others who, between them, have done so much to make a revived S&D possible. A great deal of positive stuff was discussed!

After the meeting I had a quick walk around the site - we'd just experienced a Mendip hail and sleet shower so it was freezing - and got some fresh pics of the site. The museum is VERY impressive, it used to be an old workshop/store for the line and is now a real credit. I'd like to have walked the whole length of the relaid line but have an issue with my leg so could only make the end of the platform. Hopefully next time ...