Friday, 14 October 2016

The Record Shot


(All 21.6.1986 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

A succession of pictures taken on 21 June 1986 from the former footbridge at Littlehampton station. This was just before the NSE colours started appearing on trains, and this was just an everyday scene (repeated six times!) Much has now changed, 30 years on. The slam door trains of course have gone, the track layout has been changed and the footbridge has been removed, replaced by a far less photographer friendly one closer to the station.

These days I try to get a lot of atmosphere shots, in an attempt to set the trains within the context of the wider social scene. But I still take plenty of record shots as well. I find the more everyday and mundane the scene the more interesting they become as years pass. Far too many railway photographers take the same shots of steam specials, of the glamorous but slightly fake stuff. Or they pop along to a heritage line and take lots of 3/4 front view shots concentrating on the engine. All the time there are fantastic shots that never get taken!

I also hear a lot of complaints about 'railways not being as interesting as they used to be'. This has always been said, and probably always will be. It's true to an extent of course, but we are all affected by this feeling that we've just missed out. I did just miss out on everyday steam, at least for photos, but I did at least see real steam on action on the network - at Ryde, at Lyminster, at Waterloo. But I got to photograph the class 33s and 50s on passenger duties, the WR diesel-hydraulics on the sea wall at Dawlish, the Bridport branch, Swanage, Okehampton, Kemp Town and a good few other lines that have closed or become heritage lines.

Just get out there and snap and don't complain! Future generations will be grateful that you did, and envy what YOU saw ...

Friday, 7 October 2016

Brookwood 1985


(All 26.6.1985 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Brookwood back in 1985 was a fantastic location for sitting back and snapping trains - there were more than enough to burn quickly through a roll of film. These would all have been taken in about an hour back in June 1985. This was during the last year or so of the old pre-Network SouthEast blue and grey. As well as the electrics there were 33 hauled services to Salisbury and 50 hauled services to Exeter (though I seemed to miss them on this occasion).

An added bonus was the architecture of Brookwood station, which was pretty much complete. Brookwood was of course on the last steam main line in the UK, and there was still a slight steam feel to the station. It had also been a junction in the past, for two unusual lines. One ran into the adjacent Necropolis and brought coffins and mourners directly into the huge cemetery, which had two stations. To the north a short branch ran to Bisley, this was a light railway and ran a busy service during the shooting competition. No doubt I'll cover these two lines in the future!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Basingstoke 28.10.1983


(All 28.10.1983 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Back in 1983 I was still managing to take a couple of weeks a year rail roving around the south. There was still plenty of variety and a lot of the trains were far from overcrowded (younger readers will find this odd!) My favourite three locations for variety and ease of photography were Southampton, Salisbury and Basingstoke. All had plenty of variety and it was easy to get from one to the other, following the sun if it was shining.

On October 28th 1983 Basingstoke produced a nice variety of electric and diesel trains, including loco hauled of course. 33s and 50s were commonplace, as were 47s. The bottom picture even saw a blue liveried Hampshire unit still up and running.

This scene quickly changed within a few years as BR vanished and more and more loco hauled trains were handed over to units. But all three locations are still interesting in 2016, and of course a lot busier than they were back in 1983.

Manx Electric Railway

(All pics September 2016 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

The Manx Electric Railway is unique in the British Isles, a 3 feet gauge railway/tramway that 
combines roadside running, dramatic scenery, interesting stops en route and some of the oldest (and the oldest!) tramcars still running in regular service worldwide.

The best way to reach the line's Douglas terminus at Douglas Castle is to use the horse trams which provide the most intensive service along the promenade, the buses are far less common and not near as much fun!

Trains run basically every hour and leave Douglas via a dramatic cliffside climb, before turning inland on roadside tracks through lovely countryside, reaching Laxey via more clifftop running in about half an hour. Here trains/trams connect with the Snaefell Mountain Tramway (a railway!) and in summer there are 18" trains towards the Lady Isabella waterwheel a little up the valley.

Beyond Laxey the line becomes even more dramatic, arguably giving the finest scenic run in the British Isles, before descending down to Ramsey, the island's second largest town, via the backs of gardens and a short stretch of roadside running in Walpole Avenue.

All in all one of my favourite lines in the world and well worth going back to again and again, even if very little ever changes!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Lincolnshire backwater in 1985


(All pics 19.6.1985 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Back in 1985 I was driving a lorry around the country, a very cheap way to visit lots of places and take lots of photos!

A part of the country I really don't know very well is Lincolnshire. Southern and Western Region, and Switzerland I know like the back of my hand, most if not all of the railways, same with the stations.

So I turned up at this strange little place, I knew it was one of two stations in Gainsborough, and I vaguely knew (this was pre-Internet of course!) that it didn't see many passenger trains. But I was lucky enough to snap a class 56 on a freight in the twenty minutes or so I was there.

The line and station are still there of course - hopefully they get a few more passenger trains these days!