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Today I’ve escaped the confines of the Calder Valley to head across the Pennines to Manchester. My plan is to pop in at a charity coffee morning being held at Manchester Piccadilly before working out my itinerary for the rest of the day which will very much depend on the weather. Yes, I know I talk about the weather all the time, but in my work as a photographer it’s a vital component that has enormous influence over what I do – as well as where and when!

I’m hoping to be able to get some library shots of the new trains that are entering service with Northern and Trans-Pennine Express, and possibly an old Pacer or two before they take their final trip to the scrapyard.

Things haven’t got off to a very auspicious start. We’re just pulling out of Stalybridge in the middle of a shower with the wind pushing in low clouds from the West, promising more rain to come. Let’s see how the day goes and where I end up…


The coffee morning at Piccadilly is a great success and a fantastic example of the railway family coming together to help a charity. Cakes were baked by (and the stall staffed by) volunteers from Network Rail, Northern Rail, Transport for Greater Manchester and ACoRP station adopters as well as staff from Macmillan cancer care, the charity funds were being raised for.


I’m on the move again as the weather in Manchester’s living up to its reputation and chucking it down! I’d moved on from Piccadilly to Oxford Rd where, despite the weather, I managed to get several shots of both the CAF units for Northern and one of the TPE mark 5 sets. Sadly, not side by side.


In an effort to escape the rain I headed West, over to Liverpool aboard one of the new 195s. Initially, it was to no avail as the rain was bucketing down when I arrived, but just before I left the skies began to clear and the sun appeared. Whilst I was at the station once of those one chance in a million events occurred. As the rain was so heavy I changed my mind about nipping out of the station to grab a sandwich and decided to get a last couple of shots first. As I walked past passengers waiting for the London train a woman waved at me. At first, I didn’t recognise her. As I got closer I realised it was Annette, an old friend from Southport whom I shared a flat with in when I lived in London’s East End from 1986-96. The pair of us haven’t seen each other for maybe 15 yrs! We ended up chatting for quite a while, catching up on all the events in each others lives over the past few years. It was both a nostalgic and bittersweet experience as it made me think about how many things have happened in my life since the day we picked up the keys to that flat in Bromley-by-Bow back in July 1986…


After bidding adieu to Annette I grabbed that sandwich and a few more pictures before leaping aboard one of Northern Rail’s new 3-car electric trains which was working to Blackpool North via Wigan. This was one of the more numerous 3-car varients of the Class 331 that I’ve spent time photographing around Leeds and the Aire Valley. The unit was packed but I managed to find a tip-up seat in the vestibule that was free. By the time we got to Wigan we’d caught up with the rain and I was treated to several heavy showers. The rain was so torrential that some Wigan – Southport trains were cancelled due to the line flooding. Once I’d managed a few shots of the new trains I caught a Wigan North Western -Stalybridge service made up of avpair of Class 150s, one of which is a unit (107) recently cascaded from London North Western. As you can see, the skies above don’t exactly look inviting…


Having left Wigan and constantly criss-crossed out of weather fronts I pitched up in Manchester to change trains once more. Now I’m heading back across the Pennines aboard a busy commuter service, the 17:19 to Leeds which is worked by Class 156/153 combo. The atmosphere aboard is quite subdued. There’s little sign of people looking forward to the weekend, more a like a lot of knackered folk thinking “thank God it’s Friday!”


Back in Halifax I’m meeting up with Dawn for an evening at the pictures and something the English do far better than dealing with the present or future: nostalgia. We’re off to see the ‘Downton Abbey’ film…