Tuesday, 23 September 2014

trains at the pub

(All 24.4.2011 - copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Until a few years ago the Hunter's Rest pub near Clutton had an attraction almost unique in the UK, if not the world - its very own miniature railway!

We visited just the once, planning to make it a regular trip. But sadly a short while after the one trip the line was suddenly closed. No idea why, perhaps the pub changed hands, there were insurance issues or they found a busier site.

But I did manage to get some photos on the day and caught it in the sun with trains running. No steam sadly, but at least I have the evidence that it did exist and it wasn't just some weird half remembered dream!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

by train in the road to the airfield

Copyright John McIvor

In the street!

I first heard about the RAE railway at Farnborough from an old Railway Magazine, typically a few years after it had closed. It seemed almost mythical as there were no photos to hand back then. A steam loco pulling a few wagons down a suburban street as late as 1968? Seemed unlikely.

Nowadays with the help of the internet it's been a little easier to get info and pictures, though they are still pretty rare! The line ran from Farnborough station goods yard for about a mile to the RAE establishment (still famous for its annual air show). As you can see from the photos it had a fair stretch of real street running. As late as 1967 you could have followed the steam train up the street to the station, then watched steam expresses roaring through.

Street running isn't quite as rare as we sometimes think. Everyone knows the Weymouth Tramway of course, but a fair few towns had industrial lines that used street running for short distances, especially in dock areas. I'm still finding out about new ones most weeks. We do of course still have a street running line in Bristol, which still uses steam.


Saturday, 13 September 2014

on the frontline

Dawlish 50 021 10.9.1984

Dawlish 47 353 10.9.1984

Dawlish 10.9.1984






143 621 4.9.2014

Dawlish Warren 10.9.1984 



Dawlish Warren 10.9.1984

I took my first ever railway photo (indeed photo of any kind!) at Dawlish 
Warren on 9 July 1971. We were staying at Warren Sands campsite just along the way and the railway was an inevitable draw to a 14 year old with the beginnings of an interest in railways. I've been back a few times since on day trips, but got to spend a whole week there last week.

The line has been in the news recently and it certainly has an atmosphere of being in the front line in the coming 'war' against us and climate change. There are now strong moves to get a diversionary route or two in place in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the disgrace of last winter's inevitable six week closure.

I think we all need to visit this line as much as we can and record it in all its moods. It's now probably the only railway in the UK that may close in the future. That would be a tragedy.

We're planning to buy a caravan in Dawlish Warren (safely up on high ground and well away from any cliff edges of course) in 2016. My plan is to visit regularly and record the last decades of this line. 

My first railway interest was stirred by the Gothic remains of recently closed railways in Sussex - Fittleworth, Bramber, Lavant. And then I got deeper in, visiting the Selsey Tramway and others. Holidays took me further afield and I got to see lines in their last years - Kingswear, Okehampton, Yarmouth to Lowestoft. Dawlish was an eye-opener, an interesting (and open!) main line! Of course in the 70s it was Westerns and Peaks and class 47s, with first generation DMUs filling the gaps, plenty of freight etc. There were even still semaphore signals, and the line was haunted by the recent passing of steam, exemplified by the postcards being sold at Dawlish Warren, many of them featuring classic steam on the sea wall.

Steam has now returned of course, and we got to see the double headed Atlantic Coast Express on the sea wall. Most of the rest of the trains seemed rather dull with the occasional HST adding a touch of flair and history, and an image of the future, amongst the Voyagers and modern DMUs.

So expect a lot more from me on this stunning line over the coming years (and the next few days).