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Not because of the Coronavirus just because of the weather, as it’s been wet and windy pretty much most of the day – hardly the climate for going out panic-buying toilet roll, which would have got rather soggy! I have to say, it there’s one thing, it’s panic-buying and hording toilet roll? You may run out of food, medicines and alcohol, but at least you’ll have 3 months supply of bog-paper! What are these people thinking – and why are they so damned gullible that if someone on social media’s told ’em to do it, they didn’t have the brains to say “toilet roll, seriously? Why? Sod, that – I’m heading for the booze isle…”

I’m not suggesting that the current scares are much ado about nothing, but this is hardly ‘keep calm and carry on’ territory. I have to crack a wry smile when I wonder how many of those Brexit supporters who talked about the ‘blitz’ spirit and how we can stand up to the dastardly EU because of our stoic mentality are the first ones in the supermarket queue with trollies laden with shithouse paper and anti-bacterial wipes…

What is real is the effects the virus is having on the economy and also travel. The stock market had its worst single day since the crash of 2008, which is painful if (like me) you have investments. I’m avoiding logging on to my accounts at the moment as I don’t want to see the financial carnage. I’ve no idea how long this blip will last but it could take quite some time for the markets to recover the ground they’ve lost, which will have a long-term impact on many people. There were hopes the recovery had started when the FTSE 100 rose by 2% today, but it was a false dawn as the index still closed in negative territory

I’ll be observing the impact the panic is having on travel tomorrow as I’m heading back down to London for the day to get some pictures for a magazine. I had thought of going today but the weather dissuaded me. Tomorrow’s forecast is better. Expect a rolling blog from my travels.

I’ve not had time to finish writing a blog over the past few days as I’ve been busy with other things. We were occupied with walking and socialising on Sunday whilst Monday morning was taken up with a meeting about preparations for judging this year’s Community Rail Awards. It’s something I really enjoy doing but the logistics of visiting over 2 dozen stations across the country in the space of just a few days is challenging to say the least! Much of the rest of my time’s been spent making a dent in scanning more old slides. You can find the results here but I’m adding a little taster to the blog. Almost everything in this scene has vanished now.

Taken on the 23rd February 1991 at Reading, a shunter (under the watchful eye of the driver) is uncoupling Class 47 number 47829 from its coaches to allow the engine to run round the train, which has arrived from the South coast. It will form the 15.45 to Liverpool Lime St. The coaches are long-gone, having been replaced Class 220-221 ‘Voyagers’ back in the early 2000s. 47829 lasted longer. It was scrapped in 2013. Reading station underwent a multi million pound rebuild several years ago, leaving it unrecognisable – and electrified.

Here’s Tonbridge Yard on the 24th February 1991 with a trio of engineers trains ready for weekend work. The Class 33s were classic old Southern engines, having been built specifically for the region.

I won’t be adding any more old slides for a few days. As well as being in London tomorrow I’m in Birmingham on Thursday as I’ll be visiting the archeological work and discoveries on the HS2 site at Curzon St, where the old railway roundhouse has been uncovered. I’ll be writing this up for an article in RAIL magazine, but here’s an idea of what there is to see.