I’m not used to doing this anymore! I was up at 05:00 preparing to head off for this morning’s job over in Wakefield. Getting up whilst it’s still dark is a novelty nowadays, although the with days getting shorter it’s going to become all too familiar soon. Right now I’m sipping coffee whilst I finish getting my kit together whilst trying not to disturb Dawn and Jet, who’re still curled up in and on a warm bed it was hard to leave! Still, let’s see what the day brings, eh?…
I gave myself plenty of time to walk to the station so that I could enjoy the trip without breaking into a sweat. Hardly anyone was about except for a few dog-walkers and the odd early-bird like me, which made made for a pleasent trip where I could enjoy the birdsong rather than the noise of traffic.
Halifax station was rather different. It’s much busier than I’ve seen it at this time of day for quite some time. Many folk are waiting for the Grand Central service to London which is good to see. As an open access operator GC had a terrible time during the pandemic. Unlike the franchises, they receive no government support, leaving them totally reliant on ticket sales. This left them no option but to suspend operations for several months. Now they’re bouncing back. This service was a lifeline for me when I moved from London to West Yorkshire and I’ve got to know many of the staff so I’m really happy to see them recovering.
When we pulled in to Brighouse it was great to see a few dozen people waiting for our train. This really is starting to feel like the ‘old days’! The station platforms are looking very attractive right now as the planters maintained by the local station friends are looking resplendent. The local history boards on each platform added earlier this year add another nice touch.
We’ve picked up well over a dozen people at our next stop (Mirfield). Most look like holiday makers – the people who’ve been returning to the railway in droves..
Wakefield Kirkgate also held droves of passengers waiting for us. As I degraindd I bumped into Alan, an old friend from Grand Central. We had time for a quick chat (he confirmed my suspicions about passenger growth) before I wandered off to my job. I’m there now, soI’ll be offline for a few hours. Catch you later…
I’m back! I’ve spent a couple of hours taking staff portraits for a rail industry magazine and now I’m back on the rails at Wakefield Kirkgate, a station I once christened Britain’s worst. But look at it now!
Even the area outside the station’s been brightened up as the derelict pub has been rebuilt for residential use. Sadly, the excellent little station cafe remains closed, but Alan informs me it’s due to reopen next month.
I’m currently taking a break in Sheffield as the warm and sunny weather I enjoyed in Wakefield is being disturbed by a band of rain crossing the country. I’d headed down this way to visit a station that I’ve not been to for several years but was on my list due to the excellent work the local station friends group has done on keeping it attractive whilst also explaining the area’s industrial heritage with history boards. There’s an lovely old tub wagon in the garden outside with celebrates the history of mining and steelmaking. What I never knew is that the pretty village was once *the* centre for making rails for the railways. The Wilson Cammell works opened in 1873 and became the foremost rail making plant in Britain, exporting worldwide. Then, in 1882 the decision was taken to move the plant wholesale to Workington in Cumbria (where I was last week) which led to the industrial decline of the village.
Having had time to explore the village in-between trains I can safely say it now earns its money from three less than industrial sources. Cafes, boutiques and hairdressers!
That was an interesting few hours – although most of it was governed by the weather. I headed back to Sheffield with half a mind to traverse the Penistone line as there’s pictures I need, but the weather defeated me. Instead I made a sideways move to Doncaster where conditions were more condusive. As always, there was a large contingent of railway enthusiasts adorning the platform ends or camped out under the canopies using camping chairs. Such a number of people used to be common at major junctions a few decades back but Doncaster is now one of the last bastions.
Ironically, I bumped into two people I knew purely by accident, although one was rail-staff rather than a platform-ender.
Moving on again I headed home via Leeds in order to see how the rush-hour’s shaping up. The answer? Well. It’s the busiest I’ve seen the station since before lockdown. There was a real mix. Commuters on their way home mingled with people having a night out or returning from shopping. The feeling of vibrancy that’s been missing for so long was back. The only thing giving away thd changed times was the amount of folk still wearing masks (including me)
Time to draw this rolling blog to a close. I’ve finally made it home after walking just over 15 miles today – including a minor detour via our local pub. Well, after covering that distance with a camera bag on my back I thought I deserved it! Especially when you consider that this part of the world isn’t exactly level. The caps might be flat, but bugger all else is – as my Fitbit stats demonstrate.
I’ll be back working from home tomorrow as I’ve a shedload of pictures to process. I’m sure there’ll be a blog involved too as I’ve plenty of new ammunition for ‘picture of the day’. In the meantime, enjoy your day/night/morning!
I’ve a favour to ask…
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