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08:00

The weather forecast has proved to be as accurate as Brexiters promises this morning. I woke up to rain, not sunshine, so the day’s starting later than I’d planned. It’s hardly great weather for photography so I’m taking time to edit a couple of pictures before venturing out. Let’s see how the day goes…

The hotel where I’m staying is only a couple of hundred metres from the station and the view from my room shows up some Victorian history. Old tram tracks that led into the depot, which has been redeveloped.

09:39.

I’ve opted to take my leave of Chester and begin the trek back to Yorkshire as the weather’s looking decidedly mixed. Mind you, it’s good if you like taking shots in puddles!

Chester’s overall roof was pruned in BR days, leaving bits here and there. One such bit covers the bay platforms 5-6. Problem is, you have to cross this gap – which can get rather wet!

I’m aboard the same Class 175 that brought me here yesterday. It’s been serviced at the Alstom depot at Chester overnight and this is it’s first trip of the day. Other units are stabled in the yard ready for Monday morning.

Behind them are new homes built on the site of the former goods sheds which were demolished in the 1990s. Building homes on old railway land right next to busy stations like this always provoke a wry smile when I think of the Nimbys who complain about the fact they’ll have to live a few hundred metres from Hs2 when it’s built!

10:22

I’ve stopped off at Warrington Bank Quay in the hope of getting one or two shots. This place is normally a busy freight centre but as It’s Sunday the yard is quiet. Looking at the clouds heading my way it looks like I’m in a race against time…

11:06

The law of Sod is working well today. Just as my next train arrived the sun showed its face! I’m now on another Few 175 heading back to Manchester. There’s thin gruel today as Northern Rail are operating a reduced timetable in the North-West, so my best option now is to get back to the urban sprawl of the city and see if some picture opportunities present themselves. It’s not just services that are thin on the ground today, the sort of characters I observed yesterday are too. So far, today’s passengers have all been boringly normal!

I’ve changed trains again at Oxford Rd to give myself time to appreciate just how much the city’s skyline is changing. There’s a massive amount of new construction going on around here with tower cranes springing up left, right and centre. It’s a far cry from the desperate days of the 70s-80s when the city was in decline. Now it’s a vibrant place with a lot to recommend it.

12:16.

I’m heading East again, this time on Trans-Pennine Express’s Huddersfield shuttle. The skies are thwarting me once more – as you can see from the shot taken from the train.

12:49

Time for a pit-stop at one of the rail networks oldest and most famous station bars: Stalybridge.

The station has historical interest too. This plaque’s mounted on the outside wall of the bar.

The bar at Stalybridge is one of several on the Colne Valley line that have become famous as the ‘rail ale trail, which was a marketing idea set up many years ago as a way of encouraging real ale fans to use the train to get between some excellent local taverns between Leeds and Manchester. It became a victim of its own success when it was featured on TV by James Mayl and Oz Clarke. Suddenly, it was a ‘must do’ that had nothing to do with real ale. It attracted larger swilling stag and hen parties and life became pretty unpleasant for train crews, bar staff and the residents of the villages involved due to the drunken behaviour of some of the participants. (I’ll add a pic later). There were incidents of people falling into or walking along the tracks. It was a miracle no-one was killed. It got so bad that some of the pubs refused to sell lager at a weekend and wouldn’t serve anyone in fancy dress. Things have quietened down nowadays, but on summer Saturdays many locals still give pubs in Marsden and other villages on the route a miss.

15:30

I’m back in Huddersfield now and on my final train of the day, Northern’s 15:34 to Leeds via Halifax. It’s not exactly busy today…

On the way I stopped off in Slaithwaite (or Slawit to some, the arguments over pronunciation are endless and very Yorkshire). It’s the penultimate stop before Huddersfield and features on the rail ale trail as it has two very good pubs, the Commercial and the Shoulder of Mutton. Nowadays it’s very much an up and coming little place as it has cafe’s, bakeries and gin palaces. It’s also quite a pretty little place on the Huddersfiel narrow canal.

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