, , , ,


I’ve had a rather unplanned break from the office today and taken the camera exploring instead. Dawn had to pop into the Community Rail Network offices in Huddersfield so suggested that I tag along so that I could help carry some boxes, meet her new Boss, then get out for a while whilst she worked. It seemed like too good an opportunity to miss for several reasons. One being that due to the major engineering blockade on the railway into Manchester Victoria at Miles Platting several freight services are being diverted from the Calder to the Colne valley. Due to capacity constraints and the intensive passenger services along the Colne valley freight is normally rare, so it was a good chance to capture something unusual before the day comes when the overhead wires that will inevitably arrive change the route completely.

My donkey work done I caught a train West along the valley to Marsden. The 3-car local stopping was busier than I’ve seen it for ages as folk return to the railways


I’m now playing cat and mouse with the sun, clouds and odd freight train, leavened with a selection of Trans-Pennine and Northern services, including some unusual empty stock moves. I’ll add a selection of camera shots later, right now you’ll have to settle for some phone pix…

For those of you who don’t know Marsden it’s a lovely little village surrounded by high Pennine hills. The last railway village in West Yorkshire and location of the famous Standedge tunnels (two rail, one canal). Here’s a flavour..


As well as the railway Marsden hosts the Huddersfield narrow canal a popular inland waterway that’s busy with boats in the summer. The village was also a popular (perhaps too popular) stop for people on the trans-Pennine ‘Rail Ale Trail’ although Covid has killed much of that and the popular Riverhead pub in Marsden remains closed. Despite that, there’s still plenty of pubs, cafes and resturants to tempt visitors.


That was a busy day! I stayed in Marsden for several hours until the skies began to close in and I had many of the pictures that I wanted. Despite me visiting some new locations there’s only so many shots that you can take before they become repetitive. Heading back to Huddersfield I spent an hour wandering around the town centre trying to get a feel for the place as it comes out of lockdown. I have to day, it feels sad. There’s clearly a lot of shops that are never going to open and the claims of Brexiters that being in the EU was what was holding us back have foundered on the rocks of reality – as you notice when you visit the supermarkets and gaze upon the empty shelves. Brexit hasn’t swept the streets of rogues and vagabonds (as promised) either as the vast majority of them are (of course) indigenous.

Once Dawn finished work we headed home to enjoy a quick drink in the garden watching the sun set on a glorious evening as the clouds had melted away here in the Calder Valley, leaving us with a perfect sky. We couldn’t linger long as we both had food duties to perform. Dee wanted to have another practice run with wedding cakes so whilst she did that I prepared a massive chick pea, tuna and veggie cheese salad with lots of trimmings that’ll keep us going for the next couple of days. Now, whilst Dee’s perfecting her baking I’m editing pictures.

First up is a shot from Marsden featuring an empty stock move from Newcastle’s Heaton depot to Manchester’s Newton Heath shed. Renumbered 150003 this is Northern’s newly converted 2-car Class 150116 which has been modified to run as a 3-car by the insertion of a 150/2 vehicle (57209). Three more of these units are to be converted, bringing the total to 6. This isn’t a new idea. Several trains ran in this formation when they worked for Central trains in the Birmingham area back in the 2000s.

Trans-Pennine Express unit 802202 speeds past Marsden whilst working 9M26, the 12:43 Newcastle to Manchester Piccadilly.
802210 rounds the long curve from Marsden station (which is just out of shot around the corner) whilst working 1P29, the 1438 Manchester Piccadilly to Newcastle. The loop here is seldom used now that the former Northern stopping service from Huddersfield to Manchester is worked by TPE Class 185s. The fact this was once a four-track main line is evident from the width of the formation.

DB Cargo’s 66152 heads West with 6M16, the Monday’s only Tees Yard to Knowsley (Liverpool ) empty ‘binliner’. These waste trains were once a regular sight in the Colne Valley but changes in the locations served and the fact this trans-Pennine route no longer has the capacity to cope means the trains now normally run via the Calder Valley.

I’ll be adding these shots and many more to my Zenfolio website later in the week. But for now, it’s goodnight!

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!