Monday, 31 October 2016

Upper Warlingham 16.8.1988


(All 16.8.1988 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Three snatched shots at Upper Warlingham on 16 August 1988 showing the station and an NSE liveried unit number 1266 on an East Grinstead train. 

Upper Warlingham Station

Upper Warlingham station is on the Oxted line and is one of three stations that serve Whyeleafe, as well as serving Warlingham. In fact it is only 150 metres (geographically) from Whyteleafe station on the parallel Caterham branch.

The 'Upper' prefix was added in 1956 to distinguish the station from Warlingham station on the Caterham line, renamed Whyteleafe South at the same time.

The "Upper" prefix originated because what is now Whyteleafe South station on the Caterham line, approximately 600 yards to the south west, was previously (until 1956) called Warlingham station and the prefix was originally necessary to differentiate them, Whyteleafe South station being lower down in the valley. Somehow the prefix survived the change in 1956.

Typically (2016) the station sees 2 trains per hour to London and East Grinstead.

The station was opened on 10 March 1884 and has seen passenger traffic almost double over the last 10 years, from 533,000 in 2004/05 to 976,000 in 2014/15.

Sheffield Park 8 July 1977


(All pics 8.7.1977 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Almost 40 years have passed since I took these photos in July 1977 of the Bluebell Railway. Back then it was an all-steam line just 4 miles long, linking the country station of Sheffield Park to the extraordinary junction station at Horsted Keynes. Remarkably up until 14 years before these pics you could reach the Bluebell via the Southern Region's electrified branch from Haywards Heath to Horsted Keynes. It took the Bluebell another 50 years to reconnect with the network! But the line also owns the trackbed of the Haywards Heath line so at some point in the future the original Bluebell connection will be regained though, sadly, unlikely to be electrically operated! 

So back in 1977 the Bluebell was a very pleasant and self contained set up, with loads of classic steam locomotives and coaches and for those of us brought up in Sussex it was a fairly regular treat to travel on the line. There was hardly a house visible on the entire route and this section really showed the wonderful rural nature of the line. Stations were built on a grand scale for such a rural line, with the earthworks, bridges and tunnels built for double track, which was present between East Grinstead via Horsted Keynes to Haywards Heath. The section south of Horsted Keynes was always single track.

I've always felt that heritage lines tend to freeze time and old pics of them can almost be reproduced today, and that this static element makes them less interesting than network lines. But as time passes that's fading. It's true that the biggest clue to the age of this pics is the array of classic cars in the exterior shot of the station, but fashions etc also date a pic. As of course does the traction used - locos come and go, go out of ticket, become unuseable or get sold on. There is change on heritage lines after all!

Overall of course the Bluebell has changed enormously since the seventies. Freshfield Halt has closed for example, there are new stations at Kingscote and East Grinstead, with West Hoathly always a possibility in the future. The line is no longer all steam, and of course there are now excursions off the network, which bring all sorts of visitors to the line. Facilities have improved both front of house and behind the scenes. The little line has become big business, but you can still savour the lovely Sussex countryside from inside a vintage carriage - and see more of it now on the longer journey!

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!