It’s been a wet and miserable day here in the Calder Valley, the leaden skies have been unloading on us since early this morning. If I had plans for an Ark I’d be tempted to dust them off, but then we live high up on the valley side, so if the flood waters ever reached us an ark is exactly what we’d need!
Earlier, I donned my waterproofs and took a stroll down into Sowerby Bridge in order to pick up some shopping and also to get some exercise. I try and walk 5 miles most days in order to keep fit and get away from staring at a computer screen. Today it gave me the excuse to check on the River Calder which runs through the centre of the town. It’s not at Boxing Day 2015 flood levels but it’s way above normal. Here’s the view from the bridge across the river looking East.
This is a still from 2014 showing how this stretch of river normally looks like!
Here’s another view taken from the left hand side of the first video clip, looking towards the railway. The river that joins the Calder under the railway bridge is the Ryburn. It was just the other side of the railway that the 2015 floods happened due to the sheer volume of water being pushed back from the Ryburn by a flooded Calder – just where Sowerby Bridge is at its lowest level.
Apparently, the railway line is closed due to flooding at a familiar weakpoint today, Walsden, to the West of Todmorden, where a culvert passes under the line, so the pair of Pacers you see in the video were the last train to make it through. I also hear that the road between Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden is closed due to flooding!
I’m now back at home in the warm, hoping that the Amber flood warning the Met Office has issued won’t cause us any more problems, but more rain is something we certainly don’t need.
I was up before sparrow fart this morning as I have to be in London for a commission with Network Rail at Euston at 09:00, then in Birmingham in the afternoon for the ACoRP AGM.
Right now I’m walking down to Halifax station to potentially catch the second train of the day – if it’s running to time. My connections are tight if I’m going to be punctual and punctuality isn’t great in the leaf-fall season. There’s no rain this morning, which is a bonus. Instead it’s clear and frosty. The gritting lorries have been busy overnight and as it’s quiet this time of morning i’m walking on the roads rather than the leaf-strewn pavements. Yorkshire stone slabs may look pretty, but in the autumn they’re as slippery and untrustworthy as Boris Johnson!
I’m taking a chance and this could all go horribly wrong, but I’m now on the 05:50 from Halifax to Manchester Victoria, which is being worked by one of Northern’s new Class 195s. It was 3 mins late arriving from Bradford and it’s the first service of the day through the Calder Valley across the Pennines, so I’m taking a risk! I’m sat in the front car and it’s freezing! There’s no heating on and the information screens aren’t working either. The Conductor’s apologiesed and explained that the units come straight off Neville Hill depot and “hasn’t got going yet”!
We’ve just left Sowerby Bridge, where I could have caught the train from (and had an extra 15m in bed) but i’d have been without a plan B (going via the East Coast) if the train had been late or cancelled. To be fair, we’re not doing badly. The driver took it easy leaving the station but the railhead conditions musn’t be too bad as he’s making the most of the unit’s superior acceleration and braking.
We’re now leaving Hebden Bridge and I’ve noticed another thing about this unit (195109) which is there’s a real whistling sound at speed. The unit feels very draughty and I suspect it’s coming from the driver’s door!
The whistling and draughts were annoying enough to make me move into the centre car. It’s still freezing in here but it’s not as draughty! Our timekeeping’s not bad. We’re only 2 mins down departing from Todmorden so I’m cautiously optimistic. In the bay of seats behind me are two men complaining about the service Northern Rail have been providing. To say the TOC has an image problem is an understatement!
We’ve left Rochdale 5 mins late. I can feel the wheels slipping here but the driver’s done well. My connection time in Manchester is going to be very tight, but I might just make it. I’ll let you know if I do afterwards! I’m looking forward to sitting on a nice warm Pendolino with a steaming cup of coffee in my frozen hands…
Bugger – missed it! A 5 minute late arrival into platform 6, the furthest away from the barriers that involves a scrum on the footbridge, meant that – despite a heroic sprint across the city centre – I missed the 07:00 Euston train by 2 minutes! I’m now thawing out in coach C on the 07:15 Pendolino which gets me into Euston 20 mins late. I’m sure my Network Rail colleagues will understand!
Another calamity has befallen me. The coffee machine’s kaput! This could have been an absolute disaster were it not for the fact the chap in the shop had a stash of coffee bags, so I managed to get a brew after all…
We’ve just left Stoke-On-Trent and the few seats keft unoccupied after leaving Stockport have filled up. This is a peak service so tickets aren’t cheap, but that’s not deterred the many business travellers who’re heading down to London for the day. This train’s now fast to Milton Keynes, so I’ll be interested to see how many alight there.
Weatherwise, we had a cracking sunrise around Stockport but now the mist has settled, marring visibility despite the thin, high cloud. I don’t travel the WCML anywhere near as much as I used to, so I’m going to sit back and enjoy the journey for a while.
We’ve just called at Milton Keynes, which became a bit of a scrum because of the passenger churn. Many left us, but many more joined and this train’s now standing room only. Outside, the weather’s changed too. The sky is clear blue whilst the mist has mistly burned off, leaving a lot of the country and lineside steaming in the warm sunshine.
Phew! part 1 of the day’s been done and I now have portraits of 20 members of Network Rail staff in the can after a busy morning at Eversholt St. Despite arriving 25 mins late we managed to catch up time and get through all the pictures that were needed. I even had a bit of time spare to check out progress on the HS2 demolition work around Euston station and the Regent’s Park estate.
Right now I’m on another Virgin Pendolino, this time a 9-car set working the 13:03 from Euston to Birmingham New St in order to get to the ACoRP AGM.
Sadly, the wonderful autumn sunshine I had on the way down and in London has given away to more typical gloomy weather.
Keeping busy at the ACoRP AGM…
The AGM finished at 16:00 but Dawn and I resisted the opportunity to hang around for a drink as we’d seats booked on the 16:57 Cross-Country service to Manchester Piccadilly. These trains are always packed, so it was worth making use of the reservations.
True to form, there was an absolute scrum to get on the train at New St, then the scramble as people (including us) tried to get to their reserved seats. If there’s one train I actively dislike, it’s these. It’s neither fish nor fowl, neither a proper intercity train nor an adequate local one. The sooner these services are replaced by HS2 the better.
15 mins late, but we’re finally in sight of Manchester Piccadilly where we can abandon this train, get some fresh air and clear our ears of the management bollocks being spouted by the guy sat opposite who’s insisting on having a loud (but ultimately pointless as it’s devoid of any real content) conversation on his mobile!
Having traversed Manchester from Piccadilly to Victoria we arrived to find our train home had been cancelled! We’d have been quicker staying at Picc & coming home via Huddersfield. Adjourning to a local history to drown our sorrows and eat crisps we ended up catching the 19:37 instead. We’re now bouncing our way back to Yorkshire on a Pacer (142018 to be precise).
The end of a looong day! I’ve been up since 04:30, travelled hundreds of miles (and walked nearly 11, burning 3.5k calories), visited three of our biggest cities and taken hundreds of photos, so it’s time for a little relaxation and the chance to enjoy a soak in a bath with some of Islay’s finest whisky as a nightcap. Goodnight!
Today’s really been a mixture! My plan was to spend most of it at home catching up on picture editing and paperwork but the weather was so good this morning that I kiboshed that idea after a few hours. Admittedly, I was in the office at 6am, so I didn’t feel too guilty as I’d got a lot done already.
I stayed locally as there’s enough of interest at the moment because of the new trains we’ve got in the area, plus the abundance of woodland which makes for a fantastic backdrop this time of year. In fact I was in two minds about which locations to choose, but a changing forecast made my mind up for me.
My first port of call was half an hour’s walk away, which was a really pleasant stroll as the weather was so balmy. I headed down to an overbridge near Dryclough Junction which is where the line from Halifax splits into two routes. One heads West through the Calder Valley, the other heads to Brighouse and Huddersfield. Here’s how it looked today.
This time of year the sun doesn’t hang around. I only had a 30-40 minute window at Dryclough before heavy shadows crept in, so I moved on to a very different location and a completely different kind of shot in the hills above Halifax, helped by the fact the weather completely clouded up in the afternoon, otherwise I’d have been shooting straight into a low winter sun. I do like the views around Halifax and beacon Hill as they can really reflect the era when the Industrial revolution (and a colonialist empire) transformed the landscape in both Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Tomorrow we shift tempo – and country – as Dawn and I are off to Belgium by train from Halifax with a small group of friends from our local pub, the ‘Big 6‘. Six from the 6 are off to Bruges for three nights of fun and frolics, food beer and culture – as well as some history, so expect a rolling blog tomorrow as we make our way to London by train before catching the Eurostar to Brussels, then an internal service to Bruges. It’s going to be wonderful to be back on the European mainland in a civilised country and away from the continual and utter shambles that’s Brexit – which I promise not to mention, (well, not much, anyway) Stay tuned!
After yesterday’s excitement about the arrival into service of the new trains, today’s been back to business very much as usual with lots of late running, trains terminating short and cancellations. I popped down to Sowerby Bridge for an hour to see what was happening. It wasn’t great. Several Leeds – Southport and Chester services were cancelled with some Southport trains terminated at Wigan Wallgate. Here’s a look at some of the days services.
As this is early days and there’s always teething problems with new fleets I’m hoping these issues will be sorted out quickly. What’s harder to sort out is the cancellations and delays that have nothing to do with the new trains. After the heartache and hassle passengers and businesses have suffered over the past few years due to the rail strikes, punctuality needs addressing as a matter of urgency. It’s easy to see how the Northern TOC can become a political football when the service is so unreliable. It could be very tempting to politicians desperate to curry favour and secure a ‘cheap win’ and political plaudits by taking back the franchise. Add in the fact that Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd are due to lose many of their services from the December timetable (I understand they’re due to be cut by a third during the week and by half on Sundays) and you can understand local displeasure.
It’s disappointing on another level too. Network Rail have invested in the route, having spent over £100m on new signalling track upgrades and line-speed improvements in the past few years, but this isn’t reflected in punctuality improvements. Why? What’s the route cause of the problems? I’d love to know…
Northern’s new CAF built Class 195s have entered passenger service through the Calder Valley today on the routes from Leeds – Chester and Leeds – Manchester Victoria. Needless to say, I’m out with the camera to capture pictures of this important milestone. It’s the culmination of improvements to the line that have seen the route resignalled, linespeeds increased and platforms lengthened.
I’ll be adding pictures throughout the day. Here’s the first as 195123 picks up passengers at Sowerby Bridge whilst working the 10:22 from Chester to Leeds.
I’ve caught a late-running Chester service which is worked by 195110. These trains are certainly a step-change to the old BR built units we’ve been used to since the 1980s! They’ve far superior acceleration and braking, not to mention all the facilities that passengers have come to expect nowadays, such as power sockets and free wifi. They’ve also got far more seating bays with tables.
Sorry folks, It didn’t turn out to be much of a rolling blog as I was too busy taking pictures! Since I got home earlier this evening I’ve been busy editing them, so here’s a small selection. You can find the full gallery here on my Zenfolio website.
For the number crunchers, the list of units seen in passenger service is as follows. Two car 195002 and 195007. Three car 195103. 195110. 195111. 195119. 195121 and 195123.
Here in the Calder Valley October began exactly where September left off – in the rainclouds! The rain’s hardly stopped all day except for a few moments when you feel emboldened enough to set foot outside, then it creeps back laughing and soaks you! I went for a walk up through our local woods earlier, all the paths had been turned into rivulets as the ground’s so sodden the water’s nowhere else to go. Apart from me, a few soggy squirrels and a couple of determined dog-walkers the woods were deserted. For the past few days I’ve been lucky to see the other side of the valley, never mind further afield.
I’ve not minded too much as I’ve got plenty to do at home. In fact, this enforced sojourn has allowed me to catch up on a huge amount of paperwork and also led me to have a bit of a clear out of stuff I’ve been hoarding for years but never looked at for decades – and certainly not since I left London. You see, this month hold a rather significant birthday for me. It’s my 60th, and it’s make me somewhat introspective. When you’re younger you collect all sorts of ephemera and stuff you physically clutter your life up with. I’m now of an age where I’m thinking “do I really need this stuff anymore? What value is it going to add to my remaining years”? It’s not as if I haven’t got enough to keep me occupied with all the pictures that I still need to scan so that they see the light of day after decades of sitting in albums. Some of this decluttering is actually a catharsis, allowing me to focus on what’s really important.
Tomorrow all this changes as we escape the valley and me the office to head down to Telford for the ACoRP awards. The weather forecast promises something other than continual rain, so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get a few library shots to add to the collection as well as everything else. No doubt there’ll be a rolling blog or two coming your way at the same time. In the meantime, here’s a couple of pictures from last years awards which was held in Glasgow.
There’s not much blogging from me today as I’ve been spending another day cooped up at home for most of it, trying to get catch up on DIY, chores and paperwork. Add to this the fact the weather here’s been ‘mixed’ and there’s been little opportunity for photography. Here’s the view across the Calder Valley and Sowerby Bridge earlier when I wandered out to do some shopping. The latest rain shower’s sweeping up the valley from the West.
I do love the view from here. It’s a cobbled hill just above our home. You’d recognise it if you’ve ever watched the opening episode of the TV series “Gentlemen Jack” which is based on the life of Ann Lister. Let’s face it you don’t often get views like this walking to and from the supermarket – or the local pub!
Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be out and about again. Let’s see what happens…
I’ve been meaning to blog about this for ages but never had the time. Today’s miserable weather’s put a damper on other photographic activities as it’s chucking it down here in the Calder Valley so I’ve finally found the opportunity.
Some of you may have noticed the old station building at Mytholmroyd as you passed by on the train. It’s on West end of the Leeds bound platform. What you may not have appreciated from the train is just how big a building it is! Here’s how it looked from the platforms in April 2015.
Here’s a recent view showing what it looks like from ground level. In effect it’s two buildings. The back part of the building (to the left of the drainpipe) was the stationmasters residence. The public part of the building is to the right of the drainpipe.
It’s spread over three-floors and there’s a warren of rooms inside. Built in 1874 by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, it was given a grade 2 listing back in 1984 when it was closed by British Rail. It’s been derelict for over 30 years but the friends of Mytholmroyd station have been trying to get it reopened as a community space and waiting rooms ever since 2007. It was a long process as the building is owned by Network Rail. In 2015 the station building was specifically included in the successful Arriva North Franchise Agreement, which stated that (no later than 2025) the franchise shall ” redevelop for social use redundant or under- utilised buildings at stations including Mytholmroyd and Cottingham”.
With that commitment agreed, negotiations continued with various interested parties, including the Railway Heritage Trust. The original group of station volunteers was joined by representatives from the local community and a Northern Rail director; and an application for Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) was granted in September 2017.
The negotiations culminated in work commencing in March 2018 by Network Rail contractors CPMS who removed asbestos and made the building safe in preparation to repoint and plaster parts of the interior. Local interior designers JSB Ltd assisted with the restoration of the original woodwork, fireplaces and windows.
Northern Rail is planning to include the building within
their (operational) station lease from Network Rail. The Station Partnership
and CIO would have a licence from Northern – with no responsibility for
building maintenance etc.
Northern are planning a public Waiting Room and toilet on the second floor with access from the station platform. They would welcome suggestions for a small trading outlet within the building that would be relevant for rail passengers and be suitable for the general community/social use concept.
Northern envisage that the operation of the building will be through a Management Board consisting of themselves, the Station Partnership together with the CIO and users / tenant(s).
Proposals include –
Second Floor – step-free access from the station platform. Welfare
accommodation for Northern Rail staff. A General Waiting Room – which may include
an Art Gallery and station history display. Toilet. Rooms for Railway Education
First floor – steps only access. Studios for local artists
and office/meeting room for Station Partnership, the CIO and the building
Ground floor – step-free access. Flexible use which could include a small trading unit, a Reading Café incorporation of a library, meeting/conference facilities including a small catering area. Secure storage area for the Station Partnership equipment including an accessible water supply.
In March 2019 the first phase of the restoration of the building was complete. In May I was lucky enough to be invited along to have a look inside. Here’s what we saw.
Despite it being a bank holiday there no rest for us freelancers. I was up first thing to get a few dozen pictures collated and sent to a client for an article on the 10th anniversary of the closure of the Oldham loop heavy rail line which is now a very successful part of the Manchester Metrolink. Here’s how things used to look like in Oldham back in 2009, when the railway station was seperated from the town centre by a busy dual carriageway.
Here’s how it looks now, with trams running directly into the town centre.
I’ve also uploaded another selection of pictures to my Zenfolio website, you can find which galleries have been updated by following this link.
Now it’s time to get into holiday mode and visit the Wainhouse Tower, a local landmark which is only open to the public on special occasions. Today’s an ideal day to climb to the top as the weather’s superb. I’ll post some pictures later…
Phew! 369 steps (without stopping) later, these were the views that greeted me today..
What a fabulous bank holiday. After the Wainhouse Tower adventure we headed across the other side of the Calder Valley for a stroll on Norland Moor. Conditions couldn’t have been better, there was hardly any wind and the views were sublime.
After a very pleasant amble we dropped onto the nearby Moorcock Inn for a drink. They’d obviously had a busy bank holiday with two special barbecues on today and yesterday. By the time we got there they’d already sold out which wasn’t a problem for us as we’d intended to eat at home, but it was lovely to soak up the atmosphere and see so many folk enjoying themselves.
We stayed long enough for a pint, then headed back across to ‘our side’ of the valley and popped into our local for one last drink before heading home. The ‘Big 6’ beer garden was doing a roaring trade but the rooms inside looked like someone has declared a curfew! Mind you, the selection of real ales was rather impressive.
Now we’re back at home and pretending we’re in the Mediterranean by grilling Sardines on throwaway barbecue in the front garden. Let’s face it folks, this is West Yorkshire, anything more permanent would rust away before being used half a dozen times!
After yesterday’s fun afloat we’re very much back on terra firma today, ready to soak up the sunshine in the Calser Valley and stretch our legs by taking a stroll up to the Moorcock Inn on Norland moor.
I’ve spent most of the day catching up on editing pictures from the past few days travels and updating yesterday’s less then ‘rolling’ blog! Here’s a couple of examples of the shots I’ve already added to my Zenfolio website.
OK, not everything went to plan today. Both Dawn and I were so heavily caught up in chores that by the time we left the house there was no way we were going to make it up to the Moorcock. Instead, we had a leisurely walk down to the foot of the valley and strolled along the Calder and Hebble navigation (aka ‘the canal’) into Sowerby Bridge. The weather was absolutely stunning, the sort that you really don’t normally associate with Bank-Holiday’s in the UK. The ‘bridge’ was buzzing, the town’s blessed with a number of pubs with beer gardens and I suspect every on was full. Here’s a look at how it was down by the canal.