I’m having another rare day at home catching up on chores and a spot of picture editing, mostly of images that don’t fit the main gallery categories on my website and need a bit of research first. Some of these were taken earlier in the week around Mirfield in West Yorkshire. Like many people involved in railways I have a curiosity about the many lines that closed during my childhood or even before I was born. Yorkshire’s rich in such lines and Mirfield has quite a few remains. One I spotted was what’s left of the Spen valley line which lasted a little over 50 years, opening in 1900 and closing in November 1966 although it lost its passenger services as early as 1953. Built by the LNWR it ran from Heaton Lodge Junction through Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton to Farnley Junction and on into Leeds City station. You can find out more about it on this very good website, ‘Mirfield memories’. Here’s what I found.
If you’re interested in abandoned or disused railways there’s a gallery dedicated to them on my Zenfolio website. You can find it by following this link.
I’d love to have more time to spend to explore West Yorkshire’s railway heritage, but there’s little time for that as most of my time’s taken up with the modern, growing railway rather than the remains of a contracting one. That said, Dawn and I are hoping to get out on the bikes to explore several that are close to us which have been converted into some excellent cycle-paths. I first got to know about several of them when I explored them by bike for an article in RAIL magazine. One of their writers and I were given a guided tour on Brompton bikes by a couple of Sustrans officers and I’ve always meant to revisit the places and infrastructure we saw. Some of the viaducts, tunnels and cuttings were really impressive, especially around Heckmondwike, Dewsbury and Queensbury. But as the year is rapidly moving on, that may have to wait until next year!
Today’s been one where I’ve been going nowhere fast. It’s not involved a single train – unless you count editing pictures of them. Instead I’ve been able to enjoy being at home, listening to the wind howling outside which has blown many of my pot plants over whilst I’ve sat inside and edited pictures, sorted out paperwork and caught up on all those bits and bobs you can’t always do when you’re never in one place for more than a couple of hours. The pictures I’ve taken over the past few days mean that my Zenfolio website’s now passed the 60,000 pictures mark. You can view them here. You can also buy prints, which start at a very reasonable £1.28. Here’s a couple of examples.
Our cat (Jet) has taken my continual presence as confirmation that he’s got food and attention on tap. You think kids have ‘pester power’? That’s nothing compared to a black cat. As soon as he knew I wasn’t sloping off out of the front door he thought ‘gotcha’ and treated me as his personal Butler, but I don’t mind as it’s lovely to still have the old boy (he’s 18) around.
By the end of the day I was getting a little bog-eyed and stir crazy so I ended up in our local pub, the Big 6, to partake of the Friday quiz and catch up with friends that we haven’t seen for a while because we’ve been so busy and haven’t been around as we were in Ireland. Dawn joined me after work and we had a lovely couple of hours relaxing, joking and answering daft questions. We also had the opportunity to plan some new adventures for the ‘Big 6 on tour’. We’ve got Belgium coming up soon, but there’s more fun and games in the pipeline…
Now it’s time to kick back and enjoy the weekend. Social media can be left to itself whilst the pair of us enjoy some escapism from the real world and enjoy a film. The same shit will still be there in the morning.
Today’s start is a little earlier than yesterday. There’s been no trees down on the road either! Instead I’ve strolled the mile and a half into Halifax and caught Northern’s 08:42 to Leeds. I’m being spoiled today as it’s worked by a pair of 2 car 158s with my unit being one of the fully refurbished ones that has the new style seats and USB sockets – luxury!
The train’s surprisingly quiet but I’m not sure if this is due to the fact it’s still the holiday season or the fact we’ve a 25-50% increase in capacity compared to what we would have had 2-3 years ago. Thos who like to snipe at railways in the North (yes, you Andy Burnham) would do well to remember just how many new or cascaded vehicles Northern’s been able to add to its fleet over the past few years.
I’m en-route to Leeds as I’m returning to London for part of the day to finish a commission, meet up with a colleague and also bag a few more library shots before heading North again to hopefully catch up with another friend and colleague in York, so I’ve a busy schedule. Let’s see how the day goes…
The 08:45 Leeds to Kings Cross Azuma is currently streaking across the Cambridgeshire fens at 123mph with me aboard. We’re 10 minutes late due to congestion at Doncaster earlier. Despite that, it’s been an excellent trip so far and the weather’s looking better than yesterday as there’s far less cloud around. I have to say, I really do like the performance of these Azuma’s. Not only to they go like stink but the ride is really good – especially when you’re sitting swiping at a laptop keyboard. My ‘spull chucker’ doesn’t get half the exercise it would if I was on a Mk3-4 set!
After a really spirited run where our driver managed to claw a few minutes back we’re in the tunnels approaching Kings Cross. It’s time for me to leg it across London again..
Having bitten the Buckinghan Palace cherry twice I made my circituitous way over to Liverpool St via walking to Charing Cross, train to London Bridge then a stroll across the river and through the city. The view across the Thames was worth it!
I’m now North of Peterborough after a day which didn’t plan out quite as expected, but was fun nonetheless! After wandering over to Liverpool St I met up with an old friend who’d just flown back into the UK from Croatia via ‘London Saarfend’ airport. So, naturally I welcomed him back to the tin-pot dictatorship formerly known as the UK and we promptly drowned our sorrows in a local pub named after Lord Aberconway, the last Chairman of the Metropolitan Railway.
After a few beers we parted company and I retraced my way North much in the way that I did yesterday. So much so that I’m now on LNER’s 17:55 from Stevenage to Harrogate HST, and frankly, it’s a nightmare compared to the Azuma I came down on. It’s taken me twice as long to type this as the bloody thing’s performing like a yacht in a force 10. Trying to type is like playing darts, you hope to hit the relevant key but the chances are minimal.
That’s the end of this rolling blog folks, I’m now back at home after a long but fun packed day. There’ll be no rolling blog tomorrow as I’m based at home, but expect a few pictures and commentary to appear. If I have time I’ll add some historical stuff too. G’night!
After the past few days glorious weather up North the rain’s reappeared and today’s forecast is less than optimal. Because of this I’m heading down to London to fulfil a more unusual commission. One of my clients needs pictures of Buckingham Palace. No, I’ve no idea why either, but ours is not to reason why…
Whilst I’m in the capital I’ll be getting some library shots of the ever changing railway scene, so expect a few bits of interest to appear throughout the day…
I’m on the road slightly later than planned as I had to send a batch of pictures one of the rail magazines had requested. To speed up the trip I’m getting a lift into Huddersfield with Dawn so I can take the direct TPE route to Leeds rather than walking to Halifax for the meander via Bradford. Typically, just as we left the house the drizzle started! Not only that, but a few minutes before we drove past, this came down on our road.
Normal service has been resumed on TPE. I’m stood in the vestibule of a packed Class 185 on it’s way to Leeds. On the drive across I was scanning the news about the latest Brexitshambles and BBC story that Johnson is about to ask the Queen to suspend Parliament, thus enacting the political coup that will allow him to crash us out of the EU with no deal, rendering Parliament powerless to stop him. Truly, this country has become a dictatorship and the effects are going to be appalling. The Brexit zealots have no idea of the consequences of what they’re doing. They want Brexit at any cost, no matter how damaging. I fear the UK isn’t going to survive if they get their mad way.
I’m now speeding my way to London on LNER’s 10:45 Leeds – Kings Cross. The train’s not too busy but I’ve drawn the short-straw as I’m now surrounded by a group of middle-aged women on a jolly to London, one of whom insists on showing the rest of the group the video contents of her phone. Why anyone would want to watch video’s of a baby screaming is beyond me! We’re just calling at Doncaster, so I expect the train’s going to get even louder. I’m kicking myself for not packing my iPod this morning, especially as I had it to hand just before I left the house. Instead, I’m taking refuge in work and trying to thin out the contents of my email inbox.
We’re on our way from Peterborough now and the weather’s looking a lot more promising than at home. Although there’s high cloud it’s very broken. If this keeps up I should be able to get the pictures I need. Meanwhile, I’m making the hoped-for inroads into my inbox and clearing a backlog of pictures filing so it’s been a pretty productive trip so far…
Would you ‘Adam and Eve’ it! Despite dashing across London to Buckingham Palace, I arrived at the same bleedin’ time as clouds and a brief shower. This was despite leaving Kings Cross which was baking in sunshine! So, there was me, sitting on the steps of the Victoria statue across the from the palace, pondering the place on the day of our deepest political crisis since world war 2 and thinking ‘kin ell! Eventually the weather played ball long enough that I could get a couple of shots that were fit for purpose. I’m now off to Victoria to head across London to hunt a different quarry: Class 710s.
After travelling on my old friend the Victoria line I’ve emerged from the foetid atmosphere of the tube into the fresh air at Blackhorse Rd, North London. The station is an interchange with the ‘Goblin’ (as the Gospel Oak to Barking line’s known to locals). After years of difficulty with delayed electrification, cancelled services and late-delivery of new trains the line’s beginning to settle down and look forward to a reliable and prosperous future. In a scene replicated across so much of this area, the station’s overshadowed by a multitude of tower cranes building new high-rise blocks of flats, although who can still afford to rent them is a mystery.
Whilst I was on the ‘Goblin’ I saw the last of the day’s sunshine in which I managed to grab a couple of decent shots at Blackhorse Rd and Harringay Green Lane before deciding to call it a day and begin my trek back to Yorkshire. As I was back in an old haunt I couldn’t resist getting one of the Turkish flatbread stuffed with minced lamb and spices that are popular fast food on Green Lane.
The area may have gone more upmarket from when I know it in the 1990s-2000s but there’s enough that’s familiar and the area still holds some wonderful memories for me. Wandering up the ‘ladder’ as the streets there are known I caught a train from another old haunt, Hornsey station and hopped between a few of the tired old workhouse Class 313s and their shiny new replacements, the Siemens Class 717s. The rush-hour hadn’t begun to bite so there were plenty of spare seats. At Potters Bar I changed once more, this time to a Siemens Class 700 which will carry me to Stevenage where I’ll pick up an LNER train. The weather across the Northern suburbs has turned dark and dismal with small showers, hardly ideal for photography so the camera’s getting a rest!
My penultimate train if the day’s an ancient HST working a Kings Cross to Harrogate service. If there’s many typos in this part of the blog I apologise, the rocking and bouncing on this train at speed is awful! They may be liked by enthusiasts but the ride quality’s not a patch on an Azuma!
We’re just leaving Wakefield under some exceptional skies as the edge of a heavy band of cloud is meeting the setting sun which is picking out a few stray clouds like a search light. It’s glorious! The effect was the same in Leeds but there was no chance of ne getting in a place to get pictures I was straight on to my last train of the day, Northern’s 20:06 to Huddersfield via Halifax which is worked by a neatly kept but tired Class 156.
The final trip of the day’s begun and I’m looking forward to getting home and relaxing for a few hours as tomorrow’s going to be another much-travelled day…
I’m out and about on the Trans-Pennine trail for a couple of reasons today. First is to have a look at some locations on the Huddersfield to Dewsbury section of the route which is due to have its original four tracks reinstated in a couple of years time. The other is that I’m hoping to catch one of the new Nova 3 trainsets in action.
Right now I’m basking in the sunshine on a footbridge West of Mirfield where the old London and North Western and Lancashire & Yorkshire lines converge. The line to the right is the LNWR route from Huddersfield which I assume will be doubled once more. The bridge in the background still has the empty arch. Until recently the whole area was buried beneath shrubs and trees but Network Rail have chopped it all back.
I’ve moved on again after a pleasant (if slightly sweaty) stroll along the River Calder back to Mirfield station. When you see it now it’s hard to imagine that it once possessed an overall roof and a substantial station building where the flowerbed is sited.
I plumped for the Pacer coupled to the 156 to bounce my way to Dewsbury and connect with a Huddersfield service. Thanks to friends on Twitter I now know that one Nova 3 set is on a Liverpool to Scarborough diagram this afternoon. With luck, I’ll be able to catch it!
I’m now on the 13:10 to Huddersfield which is worked by a 100 mph Class 185 that stops at Ravensthorpe, Mirfield and Deighton. It’s an utter waste of an Intercity train, but the national shortage of diesel units and the vagaries of Dept for Transport policies mean that’s what it’s being used for!
Having crossed the Pennines I’m now in Manchester, which is cooler (and cloudier) than the East. All being well, the Nova 3 set is due in 10 mins…
Success! This being a TPE service it was late of course, which meant I didn’t risk the shot I’d intended to get, but I’m now travelling in it to Leeds after having had a wander through the train from end to end. First impressions are good. There’s certainly a lot more space than on a 3-car 185. Doors are at the car ends rather than 1/3 & 2/3 along the body as per 185s. They’re single-leaf doors, so narrower but they have their own vestibules separated from the passenger saloon by double doors. There are more table bays of four than on a 185 too. One thing some enthusiasts will hate (and ordinary pax ignore) – seating bays don’t line up with windows! Each pair of seats shares one power socket and a USB.
First Class passengers will appreciate the fact they have the coach behind the locomotive to themselves rather than being sandwiched in the middle of a Standard Class coach as on the 185s. This gives them more privacy and the 2 by 1 seating and table bays look very good.
We had another late departure from Huddersfield for no apparent reason. There’s obviously still teething problems with the sets. I’ve noticed the PIS TV screens clock is an hour fast and it’s saying our next stop is York, not Leeds!
We’re now 19 mins late after leaving Leeds. The Train Manager has announced this is due to an unspecified “train fault” which is par for the course with new train fleets until they bed down, so I’m not going to be critical.
We’ve left York still 20 mins late despite a spirited run from Leeds. The sets ride well despite the absence of the underfloor ballast a diesel engine and fuel tank give a 185. The train’s packed now so the extra capacity’s welcome, as is the air-conditioning! Air’s blown up from the cills under the windows, which may disturb some people.
Waiting for the return at 17:44.
I’m now on my way back from Scarborough on the Nova 3 set with the loco pushing a very busy holiday train that’s carrying the “bucket and spade brigade” back from the seaside, so it’s a raucous service with lots of noisy kinds in (aural) evidence. This time I’ve taken up residence in the leading car. First impressions are that this is a step-change from older push-pull BR era stock like the Class 90s and Mark 3s used on Greater Anglia services where there’s constant snatching between the loco and stock dur to the TDM control equipment. I’ve not felt anything on here that would give away the fact the loco’s pushing.
I abandoned the Nova 3 set at York in order to get a picture and followed behind on a ‘bog-standard’ TPE 185. It’s been an interesting day that’s added plenty of pictures to the library. They’ll appear on my Zenfolio website over the next couple of days.
I’m on the final train of the day, Northern’s 19:39 Leeds to Chester which left it’s starting point 15 mins late due to some faffing around with the ex-Scotrail Class 158 that’s formed it and the single car 153 that was detached from it at Leeds. Right now I’m looking forward to getting home, having a shower and relaxing. It’s been a busy day…
Despite it being a bank holiday there no rest for us freelancers. I was up first thing to get a few dozen pictures collated and sent to a client for an article on the 10th anniversary of the closure of the Oldham loop heavy rail line which is now a very successful part of the Manchester Metrolink. Here’s how things used to look like in Oldham back in 2009, when the railway station was seperated from the town centre by a busy dual carriageway.
Here’s how it looks now, with trams running directly into the town centre.
I’ve also uploaded another selection of pictures to my Zenfolio website, you can find which galleries have been updated by following this link.
Now it’s time to get into holiday mode and visit the Wainhouse Tower, a local landmark which is only open to the public on special occasions. Today’s an ideal day to climb to the top as the weather’s superb. I’ll post some pictures later…
Phew! 369 steps (without stopping) later, these were the views that greeted me today..
What a fabulous bank holiday. After the Wainhouse Tower adventure we headed across the other side of the Calder Valley for a stroll on Norland Moor. Conditions couldn’t have been better, there was hardly any wind and the views were sublime.
After a very pleasant amble we dropped onto the nearby Moorcock Inn for a drink. They’d obviously had a busy bank holiday with two special barbecues on today and yesterday. By the time we got there they’d already sold out which wasn’t a problem for us as we’d intended to eat at home, but it was lovely to soak up the atmosphere and see so many folk enjoying themselves.
We stayed long enough for a pint, then headed back across to ‘our side’ of the valley and popped into our local for one last drink before heading home. The ‘Big 6’ beer garden was doing a roaring trade but the rooms inside looked like someone has declared a curfew! Mind you, the selection of real ales was rather impressive.
Now we’re back at home and pretending we’re in the Mediterranean by grilling Sardines on throwaway barbecue in the front garden. Let’s face it folks, this is West Yorkshire, anything more permanent would rust away before being used half a dozen times!
After yesterday’s fun afloat we’re very much back on terra firma today, ready to soak up the sunshine in the Calder Valley and stretch our legs by taking a stroll up to the Moorcock Inn on Norland moor.
I’ve spent most of the day catching up on editing pictures from the past few days travels and updating yesterday’s less then ‘rolling’ blog! Here’s a couple of examples of the shots I’ve already added to my Zenfolio website.
OK, not everything went to plan today. Both Dawn and I were so heavily caught up in chores that by the time we left the house there was no way we were going to make it up to the Moorcock. Instead, we had a leisurely walk down to the foot of the valley and strolled along the Calder and Hebble navigation (aka ‘the canal’) into Sowerby Bridge. The weather was absolutely stunning, the sort that you really don’t normally associate with Bank-Holiday’s in the UK. The ‘bridge’ was buzzing, the town’s blessed with a number of pubs with beer gardens and I suspect every one was full. Here’s a look at how it was down by the canal.
We’re both bright eyed and bushy tailed (well, I may have exaggerated that bit), as we’re about to head off for what I’ve no doubt will be a very enjoyable day on a friends narrowboat. But first we’ve a two hour drive to get down to Leicestershire. Stay with us and watch the day unfold…
For once, the M62 motorway was traffic free so we’re now on an equally quiet M1and making good time, hopefully the next 70 miles be trouble-free too.
POSTSCRIPT (Sunday 25th).
Yesterday was such a lovely relaxing day I decided not to bother blogging and enjoy the great company and relaxing trip on the River Soar, just living for the moment rather than recording it for posterity. I didn’t even take my camera out of it’s bag for most of the trip! The weather was stunning. We had a classic summers day which was ideal for a river cruise. The route we took meant we only had a couple of locks to navigate, just enough to keep us occupied and entertained without becoming too onerous. Whilst Nigel navigated the boat, Dawn, myself and Phil (accompanied by Mojo) worked the locks. At Trent lock we moored up for lunch. I’d prepared several home cooked curries which we shared along with the fantastic cheese scones that Lilian had made plus various offerings contributed by the others. Here’s a couple of pictures that capture the spirit of the day.
Earlier this week Network Rail launched a consultation on its plans to expand and electrify the rail corridor between Huddersfield and Dewsbury in West Yorkshire as part of the £2.9bn Trans-Pennine electrification programme . You can find a link to the consultation here.
In the plans are proposals to increase tracks East from Huddersfield from two to four. Replace the flat junctions at Mirfield East and Thornhill LNW Jns with a grade seperated junction using either a flyover or dive under by Ravensthorpe station. As well as increasing track capacity, the line would be electrified all the way from Huddersfield to Leeds. Improvements would also be made to Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe stations. The work would be carried out under a Transport and Works Act Order. Network Rail expect the application to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport in autumn 2020 with work beginning in 2021.
Here’s a look at some of the route in pictures, travelling from Huddersfield and heading East.
I’ll be heading out to get some more pictures of the area shortly to detail other parts of the route and the challenges Network rail face. Deighton station is one of them. The present station was opened on the 26th April 1982 and consists of two wooden platforms built in a cutting on the site of the old four track formation. These will need to be demolished if the extra two tracks are to be reinstated.
It’s been an interesting and busy day so far, even if I’ve not got done everything I hoped. Yesterday the details of the Oakervee review panel into Hs2 came out, which saw me write a comment piece for RAIL mag about it, then a much longer blog that looked at the composition of the Committee. The past 24 hours have seen a barrage of comment – much of it woefully ill- informed or politically driven – but it’s been good to see the projects supporters wade through this nonsense to forcefully rebut it. Few of us have any worries about the review, but we know the next few days and maybe even weeks will be full of froth until the Committee reports back and we can continue with building HS2 without anymore daft diversions. There’s enough political theatrics going on as it is what with Boris the Clown humiliating us on his European tour. Brexiters are finding out to their cost that the excuse they used that the only reason Brexit wasn’t going well was because a ‘remainer’ was PM, was as true as all their other claims.
Away from the froth I’ve been busy sorting out pictures for clients and my website, along with future travel plans and events. This Saturday we’re having a day on a friend’s narrowboat and I’ve also been sorting out Eurostar tickets for the next ‘Big 6 on Tour’ adventure, which sees a group of us venture further afield to Bruges for a few days.
I’d planned to head out and top up the library shots as I’m meeting a friend in Stalybridge later, but – despite all the predictions of brilliant weather to come – it’s been pretty miserable in the Calder Valley today, with rain issuing from some very gloomy skies. Hardly conducive to photography. That said, I’m off out shortly (if this bloody rain ever stops) , so let’s see what transpires…
The rain finally eased enough for me to make a dash for freedom and walk down into Sowerby Bridge. The weather may be wet, but it’s also humid, which I wasn’t expecting. Waterproof + camera bag + mile long walk = clammy!
Now I’m drying off on Northern’s 13:21 to Chester as far as Manchester Piccadilly. It’s a Class 150/153 combo with plenty of spare seats. I think the weather’s put a damper on things for many leisure travellers, although a couple of hardy cyclists did detain at a very miserable looking Todmorden, where the tops of the surrounding hills are lost in the murk.
Manchester’s weather’s living up to the city’s reputation although the sun’s struggling manfully to show its face. The skies are dark and threatening enough to make for some interesting pictures so I’ve decided to look at a place I’ve been meaning to revisit for a while, the area around Northern’s Newton Heath depot. I’m heading there courtesy of these.
Metrolink has been a great success and I’ve never understood the antipathy some rail enthusiasts have towards converting heavy rail routes to light. The Oldham loop was a classic example! Now it’s far more successful and serves more communities than the heavy rail route ever did.
I’d forgotten just how run-down and depressing the area around Newton Heath is! Despite regeneration efforts it’s still struggling. The area seems to be a classic example of the fact you can regenerate buildings, but people are far more of a challenge. The depot is expanding as a new shed’s being built to service the new CAF built Ckass 195s.
I’ve moved on again and left the dereliction and despondency of Manchester behind. A pair of Pacers have brought me to Stalybridge, home of one of the finest station bars on the network.
I’ve enjoyed a very pleasant evening being a Northern Ambassador to a friend from South of London who’s never really explored Manchester. We only had a couple of hours but a look around the city’s ‘Northern Quarter’ has done the trick. Now I’m on my way home as tomorrow’s a very busy day as I’ll soon be on the move again.
The final trip of the day. I’ve changed at Hebden Bridge to get a connection to Sowerby Bridge. The problem is the Blackpool- York train I’ve connected with is a human zoo. The contents of these trains doesn’t inspire of the future of the human race, nor the planet