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Happy Winter Solstice folks! Today’s been the shortest day of the year so soon we can look forward to longer days – although that may take a while to kick in, especially here in the Pennines as the weather’s been thoroughly damp and dismal all day with visibility down to a few hundred metres at best, so there’s no chance of any planet gazing or observing the predicted meteor-shower tonight. I’d have been lucky to see the other side of the valley today, never mind any celestial bodies!

Instead I’ve hunkered down at home and got on with paperwork and scanning old slides. I’d hoped to get a blog written but in the end I eschewed the idea in order to get more pictures scanned that would form part of it. So, whilst the country falls apart due to Covid and our new found Pariah status do to the virus I’ve been bust taking a trip down memory to revisit a country that we’re currently barred from. India. Today’s tranche of old slides have covered a lot of the sub-continent – all the way from balmy Tamil Nadu in the South right up to Darjeeling (West Bengal) in the North, within spitting distance of the snow-capped Himalayas. The pictures were taken in 1998 and so much has changed since then, which Is why tomorrow I’ll be writing a blog about the Indian metre-gauge railway network which is fast disappearing.

There’s so many interesting and historical pictures that I’ve been struggling to decide which one to choose for the picture of the day. I’ve plumped for this one as a contrast to yesterday’s shot from Tamil Nadu. I took this shot on the 6th April 1998 at the ‘Toy train’ station in Darjeeling, West Bengal.

Here’s B Class locomotive no 806 shunting the station yard whilst marshalling the coaches it will haul as the 14.20 departure to Ghoom. 34 of these little 0-4-0 saddle tanks were built between 1889 and 1925 to a design by Sharp-Stewart & Co who constructed the first 12. A couple remain on the line for hauling tourist trains between Darjeeling and Ghoom, but the rest (including this one) have been preserved or scrapped. I’m glad I got to see them in the years when they were still the only locomotives working the railway as it really was like stepping back in time. If you want to see more of my old Indian railway shots, just follow this link. I have to admit, going through the pictures after all these years is really making me want to return to India and explore what’s left of the narrow and metre-gauge lines before many finally disappear forever.

I’ve a favour to ask…
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