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A blogging hiatus.

There’s going to be a bit of a gap in my blogging activity for the next week, this is because I’ve embarked in my biennial round Britain commission for RAIL magazine.

Every two years RAIL sends me off around the country to experience a week in the life of the nation’s railways, then publishes my adventures in a three-part series totalling 12,000 words and my own pictures. Needless to say, this takes priority over my personal musings.

If I can – and I have time and get sufficiently incensed that I need to let off steam over the utter shambles that is Brexit (Which is most days, to be honest), I may pen a few words…

I’ll be back in the next week otherwise. Thanks for keeping dropping in…

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Sowerby Bridge rushbearing festival 2018.

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My day’s been taken up by enjoying a local tradition here in Sowerby Bridge: rush bearing. It’s an event that goes back years, to when church floors were covered in rushes which were changed at this time of year. Like many traditions, it died for a time. But it was resurrected in Sowerby Bridge back in 1977. I’m not going to get into a long explanation about this as I can provide links to websites that already explain it – such as this one. What I will do is add some pictures from today’s event and say – if you’re at a loose end tomorrow, why not come along? And if you can’t do that, remember that rush bearing happens at the first weekend in September every year. Here’s a few pictures from today. I’ll add many more to my Zenfolio website later. In the meantime, here’s the gallery from previous years.

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Crunching the Stophs2 August social media numbers

I’d mentioned that I was going to do this previously, so here they are – the social media numbers for sole remaining anti Hs2 ‘group’ (and I use that word loosely).

First, a bit of background. There are over 6.5 million people living in the 63 Parliamentary constituencies that HS2 will pass through. So, of the country really is ‘up in arms’ about HS2, you’d expect that the last group that’s still standing to oppose the project would have massive support – especially on social media as that’s the easiest way to join in a campaign from your armchair without having to actually do anything!

Unfortunately for Stop Hs2, that’s where real numbers expose hyperbole. I’ve crunched the August numbers on their Twitter and Facebook accounts and they make interesting reading. Well, not for them as the numbers are a complete embarrassment because they show how little support they really have.

Here’s the bottom lines. Stophs2’s Twitter numbers are up and down like a brides nightie as they seem to attract a lot of bots. That said, they’ve never moved much above 6100 for quite a while. Whilst that’s a ridiculously poor number, the amount of retweets and likes is even worse. What it suggests it that many of their Twitter followers are dead accounts.

Here’s the numbers. I’ve looked at every Tweet StopHs2 have in August. There’s very few so it’s not difficult. I’ve taken snapshots through August so that you can see how things progress – or not!

stophs2 twitter

The latest total for their ‘followers’ is 6142. Not exactly active, are they? The only day they’ve managed to get over 100 is the day they tweeted a Private Eye article and included the Eye’s Twitter address.

Here’s Facebook.

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Pathetic, isn’t it?

This is meant to be a ‘grassroots’ campaign. Clearly, someone’s poured weed killer on it.

Socialising (and exploring).

Today’s a ‘catch up with friends’ day so I’m en-route to Warrington to meet up with a couple of other characters from the rail industry before September’s hectic schedule begins.

Walking down to Sowerby Bridge station this morning I could feel the distinctive chill in the air that heralds a change in the seasons. We’ve had such a fabulous summer this year that I’m loathe to see it go, but that’s life!

I was happy to see that work’s started on the station’s platform extensions, in readiness for the arrival of Northern’s new train fleet.

Right now I’m waiting for my connection st Manchester Oxford Rd. I’ve not been here since the Ordsall chord opened and it’s made me appreciate what a busy corridor the two track section between Piccadilly and Deansgate is nowadays. Trains are literally queuing to get through it! The diversity of operators (both freight and passenger) liveries and classes is entertaining – and sometimes surprising. I didn’t expect to see a Northern Class 323 working through to Liverpool Lime St on a local stopper!

Rolling blog: Escaped!

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After several days working from home I’ve managed to escape the confines of the office and do some research for a forthcoming article. Dawn dropped me off at Huddersfield station on her way in to work at ‘ACoRP Towers’, allowing me to pick up a train to head East

I’m now in the lap of luxury – a six car TPE set working a local Leeds stopper! Whilst this is lovely, I can’t help wondering about using 100mph Class 185s on such a service. It hardly strikes me as a sensible use of resources.

Still, I’m not grumbling, it beats bouncing along in a Pacer or a 150!

14:31. South Gosforth.

I’ve moved a bit! I’m now on the Tyneside Metro en-route to Whitley Bay after a stop in Durham to sample the new station bar – The Waiting Room. This is the latest edition to the stable of stations with decent pubs and it’s a cracker!

The rooms have been rescued from dereliction after their previous use as a newspaper delivery room and restored to a very high level. The bar has three hand pumps, all dispensing beers from the region.

DG305953. The waiting room pub. Durham. 29.8.18crop

DG305956. The waiting room pub. Durham. 29.8.18crop

18:42 Aboard a TPE service back from Newcastle to York..

Today’s been busy – and suffered from a lack of internet access so I’ve not updated this blog as much as I’d hoped to. That said, it’s been a fascinating day. I’ve not explored the Tyne and Wear metro for several years, despite planning to – and today’s trip was very spur of the moment (so apologies to Paul Young when he reads this). My diary’s very few empty days in it right now, so when needs must.

What can I say about the T&W metro apart from the fact that it’s showing its age and it’s not just the trains? OK, it dates from the very early 80s (which makes it younger than the Merseyrail network which has been refurbished) but it has a lot of brutalist architecture and stations that really don’t feel that welcoming. It’s almost a throwback to the Thatcher years in someways. I travel the length & breadth of the country every year and I’m stuck to think of many places with stations this dispiriting, never mind a network of them.

To be fair, there are older (far more attractive) stations on the T&W network, but that just goes to show these ones up even more. Travelling round today reminded me of the former East Germany in some ways.

It’s not all bad. I stopped off at Monkseaton station which is a fine example of North Eastern Railway architecture and boasts a wonderfully eccentric real ale pub (The Left Luggage Room) that opened in 2016.

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It’s a fabulous jumble of mismatched furniture and tables, books, guitars plus a piano (Sunday nights are buskers nights). There’s even a rhino’s head on the wall behind the bar. Oh, and where else in the country can you play ‘Rhino Quoits’?

DG306012. Left luggage room pub. Monkseaton. 29.8.18 crop

15:00 Whitley Bay.

I nipped along the line one more stop to have a look at Whitley Bay. In the last century it was a popular resort for Geordies taking a break from the mines or shipyards. Like most seaside towns the death of heavy industry and the emergence of the cheap package holiday abroad spelled trouble. After years of decline investment is coming into the town and there are obvious signs of improvement as derelict building have been replaced with new developments, but it’s still a bit of a sorry place. Many shops are vacant (when charity shops close and the local British Legion’s up for sale, you know a place is in trouble).

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But there are green shoots, like the local Whitley Bay brewing company, who’ve recently taken over this wonderful looking pub on South Parade.

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There’s also new developments like this, which until recently was a derelict site on the corner of the Promenade and Esplanade, directly down from the station.

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Even the station’s come up in the world as it now possesses both a cafe and a bar/restaurant. The café (Coffee Central) is decorated in whimsical style and possesses a large covered seating area outside as well as a cosy interior.

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On Tuesdays you can even get Spanish lessons there (see sign on right)!

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The bar and restaurant (Olives) occupies another wing of the station and also has a large outside seating area.

21:00. Leeds

I was trying to pass through quickly but delays meant that it wasn’t to be. That said it was an interesting experience when I nipped through the barriers to grab a sandwich. The diminutive woman (and sole member of staff) crewing the barriers was trying to deal with a 6′ 4″ transvestite who was trying to attract attention (in every wrong way), as I crossed the concourse there was the obligatory drunk trying to make friends with any poor mug who’d sat down & was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

21:24.

Escaped again! My connection was running late so I’m on a different train that will arrive in Halifax with just a few minutes difference. This is one of the beauties of an increase in Calder Valley services – I don’t have to hang around for long. OK, we’re not at London metro standards yet, but when I look back at Calder valley timetables from the 1970s-80s this is luxury.

Down memory lane. No 5. London Bridge

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Despite the fact the rebuilt London Bridge station has been open some time now I’m still amazed at the transformation. As a Londoner I used to pass through its narrow confines on a regular basis and I always cursed that narrow, claustrophobic footbridge and those long corridors up from the tube station. I’ve watched and photographed the redevelopment from start to finish, so here’s a selection of pictures from 1989 to the present day that show just how much the place has changed.

This blog will take time to complete as there’s many more pictures to dig out of the archive, but here’s a start.

Part 1. The BR years.

00016. 9009. London Bridge. 2.9.89.

Its the 2nd September 1989 and Motor Luggage Van (MLV) is being loaded with mail in sacks as it sits at platform 13. The area’s full of red painted Royal Mail BRUTES (British Rail Universal Trolley Equipment) which were a once familiar site at stations up and down the country. Notice the loco release crossover, this was the only platform equipped with them.

00017. 9009. London Bridge. 2.9.89.

Loaded with mail and ready to roll, MLV 9009 waits for the road later that same day. My memory’s hazy now but this could have been working to Tonbridge, or Dover.

00969. 5610. London Bridge. 19.5.90.

Almost a year later, on the 19th May 1990, BR design 4 EPB No 5610 leads a Southern design unit into platform 3 after leaving London Cannon St. The headcode indicates the unit was working to Gillingham or Ramsgate (my money’s on Gillingham).

02985. 33012. London Bridge. 31.8.91.

It’s the 31st August 1991 and that bank holiday Cannon St was closed to allow for engineering work to take place. Here’s one of the Southern regions ‘Cromptons’, 33012 with a rake of 4-wheel engineers wagons sitting in platform 2.

3810. 5467. London Bridge. 20.5.94

Moving forward to the 20th May 1994 is Southern design 4EPB 5467, sitting in the up passenger loop, waiting to head ECS to Charing Cross to pick up passengers heading home out of the city.

Part 2. Privatisation and the last days of the Mk1 DMU/EMU fleets.

The BR built Mark I fleets soldiered on at London Bridge until the mid 2000s. Here’s a few shots showing their lives and times.

DG01681. 3492. London Bridge. 19.8.04.

Connex liveried 4-VEP 3492 arrives at London Bridge from Cannon St. The French operator had lost the franchise the previous November but this graffiti covered example is typical of the state their trains got into! This telephoto lens shot shows off the curvature of the old platforms at London Bridge very well.

DG01889. 205032. London Bridge. 9.9.04.

‘Thumper’ DEMU 205032 sits at platform 9 inside the old London, Brighton and South Coast Rly terminus (the South side of London Bridge) on the 9th September 2004.

DG02179. 205033. The last thump railtour. Uckfield. 27.11.04.

205032 sits empty at platform 8 on the 27th November 2004 after returning on “The last Thump” railtour to commemorate the demise of the class. This was one of the final units left in traffic. They were all withdrawn the next month. 032 is preserved at the Dartmoor Railway.

DG02888. 1854. 3911. London Bridge. 1.4.05.

on April 1st 2005 Southern liveried 4-CIG 1854 sits across the platform from 4-VOP 3911 which was still in Connex livery. The end was already in sight for these units as withdrawals were happening at a steady pace. The picture shows off the ugly footbridge which linked both sides of the station in all its ‘glory’ (and naff cladding).

DG03029. 3482. London Bridges approaches. 5.4.05.

The London skyline doesn’t look like this anymore! On the 5th April 2005 a pair of VEPs with Connex liveried 3482 at the rear approach London Bridge from the East. The approaches have now been heavily remodelled as part of the station rebuilding.

Almost a year after the ‘Last Thump’ London Bridge bid farewell to the Mk1 EMU’s with the ‘Sussex Slammer’ railtour. You can find the full gallery and history of the units involved in this gallery on my Zenfolio website, but here’s a picture of the tour at London Bridge.

DG04928. 3514. London Bridge. 19.11.05.

4-VEP 3514 stands in the old LBSC terminus at London Bridge whilst working the ‘Sussex Slammer’ railtour on the 19th November 2005.

The very last Mk1 EMU’s ran on Southern rails the following week on the 26th November 2005. You can find pictures here.

Part 3. Change is coming…

DG19886. London Bridge. 1.12.08.

The old LBSC terminus seen on the 1st December 2008, only a few years before redevelopment started and the scene changed forever – not to mention the skyline as the ‘Shard’ was yet to appear…

DG123674. 466028. London Bridge. 11.9.12.

A view from the East of the 6 through platforms carrying services From Charing Cross, Cannon St and Blackfriars. The old slam door trains have been replaced by the BR built Class 466 ‘Networker’ (left) introduced between 1991-93 and the later Class 376 ‘Electrostars’ (right) built by Bombardier and introduced in 2004-05

Part 4. The rebuilding starts. Here’s a series of shots taken on 11th September 2012

DG123678. The Shard and London Bridge. 11.9.12.

A view showing the (almost) completed Shard dominating the skyline. Meanwhile, blue sheeting and scaffolding has appeared over the LBSC roof in preparation for demolition.

Building the crash-deck that will protect trains and passengers whilst the roof is dismantled.

DG123689. Readying for demolition. London Bridge. 11.9.12.

DG123710. Readying the roof for demolition. London Bridge. 11.9.12.

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DG123693. Readying for demolition. London Bridge. 11.9.12.

DG123698. Readying the roof for demolition. London Bridge. 11.9.12.

DG145521. Pax waiting for their trains. London Bridge. 12.3.13.

On the 12th March 2013 passengers watch the information screens inside the footbridge across the platforms (you can see the outside of it in the last picture). This section between platforms 1-6 was slightly wider but was always cramped as the people stood waiting would impede the flow of passengers heading for their trains.

 

 

A traditionally British August bank holiday!

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So (naturally), it’s chucking it down! I feel sorry for anyone who’s organised an outdoor event this weekend. After the fabulous summer we’ve had they must have been thinking – ‘well if this keeps up’…Sadly, it hasn’t – certainly here in the Calder Valley anyway. Today’s our second where the rain has been almost continuous. Not the heavy showers that pass and you can avoid if you’re lucky, it’s that light drizzle that manages to penetrate waterproofs and blow under umbrellas. Here’s the view from our bedroom window right now.

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Dawn, my wife, isn’t too unhappy about the turn of events as her plan for today was to be a domestic Goddess and spend much of it batch cooking to stock up the freezer. The project started yesterday with these two fabulous dishes. The first is Karniyarki -Turkish stuffed aubergine, served with salad and a yoghurt sauce.

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The second is traditionally English – Bakewell tart!

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Of course, there’s another  reason Dawn’s not too upset about the weather. It means I’ve no excuse to duck work on finishing off refurbishing our bathroom, so that’s where I’m heading now…

Off to the moor…

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The weather forecast isn’t as good as it was but we’re off to Ilkley for a days walking with friends regardless. For once we’re not travelling by rail. Instead we’re in a rather different vehicle. Can you guess what it is?

It’s a Tesla.

So, part of the day was really interesting for a completely different reason – the chance to travel in an electric car, hear what the owner thought of it and gather our own impressions.

Jason’s had his Tesla for two years and covered a fair bit of ground in it as he uses it for both business and pleasure. I doubt he’ll mind me describing him as a car enthusiast who’s owned many different vehicles over the years.

Firstly, here’s my impressions of the Tesla S. It’s very roomy, but then it’s a big car. A lot of space inside the saloon is saved by the lack of a transmission. The fact it doesn’t have an engine means it has a (small) front boot as well as a rear one. It’s also very quiet – and stable, that’s because the battery covers the base of the chassis between the wheels, giving the vehicle a very low centre of gravity. Acceleration is impressive, very impressive. It would easily beat shit off a shovel. Jason told me it will do 0-30 in something like 1.5 seconds. He gave us a demonstration of what happens when by putting his foot down for a few seconds and it really did move (all within the speed limit of course).

Then come the caveats. Jason and his partner Nikki talked about the vehicles autopilot and the problems they’ve experienced. Apparently, you can trust it(ish) on roads where there’s clearly defined white lines, but if there’s none – forget it. Jason talked about the time he’d left the car in Autopilot when he was in a queue at traffic lights. The car suddenly decided to take off. Now, when you consider that at Tesla S weighs well over 2 tons and can accelerate rapidly, that’s a lot of kinetic energy – as the car in front that the Tesla didn’t sense found out. Jason’s Tesla rear-ended it so hard that it caused £10,000 worth of damage! Other things I learned were that the build quality is ‘typically American’ (and no, that’s not a compliment) and that because of the cars limited (but still impressive) battery charge life, you really have to be careful about travelling long distances as you have to make sure you can find working charging points. They’re not ‘go anywhere’ vehicles, but I’m sure that this factor will change as the technology improves and expands.

All in all I was quite impressed with the vehicle, just not the much-vaunted auto-pilot capability. Electric cars are certainly here to stay and the technology will continue to develop and improve. They cold make a real difference, but we have to be realistic about them. I still remain deeply cynical about the autonomous car hype and Jason’s experiences re-enforced that. Oh, there’s also the small matter that a Tesla isn’t exactly cheap, this one cost North of £65,000, which doesn’t exactly put it in the household car spending bracket. That said, other car companies will produce mass produced vehicles – which Tesla is failing to do.

OK, I realise that I’ve turned into ‘Top Gear’ here, so let’s get away from cars. The four of us had headed over to Ilkley for a day walking and chance to catch up – and we couldn’t have chosen a better day. Despite the forecast we didn’t see a spot of rain. In fact, the weather was far sunnier than was expected, so we had a great few hours exploring Ilkley Moor. Here’s a selection of pictures.

 

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Looking across Wharfedale North-East from above the Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor. There’s an interesting collection of ‘golf-ball’ radar installations on the horizon, but I’ve no idea where they are as I can’t find them on any maps! 

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Looking down on Ilkley from the Moor, with the railway station middle left of the picture. 

The Cow and Calf rocks are a busy tourist destination as there’s a car-park just below them. They’re a good base from which to explore the Moor.

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A closer view of the Cow and Calf rocks. 

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Close to the rocks is the hotel and pub of the same name. It’s a great place to have a meal or a drink whilst admiring the views. 

 

The selection of real Ales isn’t bad either! 

Holed up in Huddersfield – but not for long…

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I’ve been spending the day working from the ACoRP office here in Huddersfield which isn’t a bad place to work. It’s not often that you get to base yourself in a grade 1 listed railway station!

Unfortunately a chunk of the morning was taken up with replacing my mobile phone. I dropped my old one last night and it performed a perfect belly-flop onto to a stone floor. The noise it made when the phone did an all points impact gave the game away immediately. Sure enough, when I picked it up I found the screen was shattered, which left the phone unusable.

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My wallets now £40 lighter as I’ve invested in a new Samsung A8 to replace the knackered S6. To their credit the staff at the Carphone Warehouse didn’t try to sell me something with all the latest bells and whistles and understood what I was after. They were extremely helpful and also informative. Hopefully this phone will last longer than its predecessor!

The superb summer weather we’ve been having has come to a stormy end here in West Yorkshire. I’ve been playing cat and mouse with rain showers which have been heralded by some extraordinarily moody skies and gusts of wind which have made umbrellas all but useless.

Having sorted out what I needed to do in the office I nipped out on a TPE service to Greenfield. I’m still trying to get used to that as it was always Northern Rail who operated the stopping service between Huddersfield and Manchester. Still it was worth getting a soaking to get the following pictures. My intention was to update pictures of the Uppermill viaduct now that TPE have re-liveried all their trains and before the line’s electrified. The interesting weather clinched it. Here’s the view as I walked up the road to get some shots – just after a torrential shower had passed…

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Here’s the view of the viaduct itself, looking towards Diggle and the Standedge tunnel.

DG305858The view’s getting hemmed in by trees now, in a few years time it’ll disappear. Here’s a closer look at the viaduct, with the former Saddleworth station (closed in October 1968)beyond.

DG305876 It’s a stunning area to stand and admire the views all around. This shot was taken looking back over Uppermill and Greenfield at Wimberry Crag.

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I’ve always loved the trans-Pennine lines via the Colne and Calder valleys and I consider myself lucky to have them on my doorstep. Here’s another view across Uppermill. The town itself is a popular tourist destination as it has plenty of pubs and cafes as well as holding a number of events throughout the year (link). As you can see from the picture below – it’s also great walking country!

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The nearest station to Uppermill is Greenfield which has an hourly train service from Manchester and Huddersfield. Greenfield is on the rail ale trail and the Railway Inn is right across the road from the station. Here’s a pair of Paver at Greenfield working the 16:24 service from Manchester Victoria through to Huddersfield.

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Tomorrow I get to explore another part of Yorkshire as we’re meeting up with friends to head over to Ilkley and the moor. Hats optional.

Trains, beer and countryside.

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Because of Tuesday’s adventure, ‘hunting’ Pacer trains I’ve had little time for blogging as I’ve been busy editing the pictures and getting them onto my Zenfolio website. You can find them in this gallery.

I realise these old BR units aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and many people won’t be shedding tears when they’re finally withdrawn, exactly the opposite in fact! – but I have a sneaking regard and affection for them as they did help save more than a few rural lines from closure. Yes, it can be argued that they were ‘cheap and nasty’, with their 4-wheel underframes and bus-based bodies (on the 142’s at least), but on jointed track and with their excellent visibility from the passenger saloon (plus their fearsome heating – ideal in the winter) they can give other – later – units a run for their money.

A good place to see and travel on the Pacers are the lines I explored yesterday – from Manchester Piccadilly to New Mills Central and Rose Hill Marple, centred on the junction of Romiley. You can see the routes on this map.

map

The great thing about these lines is that the half-hourly services to New Mills Central and Rose Hill Marple are worked by pairs of Pacers, whilst the service to Chinley and Sheffield will normally have at least one Pacer, along with Class 150s. Obviously, things can change depending on fleet availability, but it’s probably the busiest and most reliable Pacer haunt in the North-West. Oh, there’s another advantage – the lines are very scenic and there’s some lovely towns to visit along the way. Here’s a few pictures to show you what I mean.

DG305707. 142003. 142029. Romily. 21.8.18

A Pair of pacers call at Romiley station on their way to Manchester Piccadilly. They’re taking the route via Woodley and Hyde (straight on). The line to the right goes via Brinnington and Reddish

Hidden from view to the right before the junction is the old  Midland Railway signal box that used to control the junction. It’s looking rather sad now as it’s boarded up and ‘protected’ by palisade fencing. It also appears to be toppling back down the embankment!

DG305760. Signalbox. Romily. 21.8.18

DG305763. 142037. 142061. Romily. 21.8.18

Another pair of Pacers at Romiley station en-route to Manchester. The stations a really interesting multi-story building with a couple of decent pubs outside and plenty of places to eat if you get peckish.

DG305747. 142033. 142057. Romily. 21.8.18

Looking along the line from Romiley towards Bredbury and the line via Reddish, with the 160 yard Bredbury High Level Tunnel in the background

DG305784. Station building. Romily. 21.8.18

The waiting room on the Manchester bound platform at Romiley has original features. It also contains a lending library and pictures provided by the station Friends.

DG305829. Station building. Romily. 21.8.18

The imposing station at Romiley was built by the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway and opened in 1862.

Outside the station are two pubs, both serve real ale. There’s the imposing Romily Arms across the road, which is a Greene King pub, or right outside the station there’s  ‘Platform One, which is a free house with a variety of real ales, food and a rather pleasant beer garden – as you can see from this picture.

DG305837. Station building. Romily. 21.8.18

After Romily I moved on to New Mills, which is graced by two stations on two different lines. The one that matters here is New Mills Central, as it’s the boundary for the Pacer service from Manchester – although some services continue on to Chinley and Sheffield. Here’s 142016 rounding the curve and getting drowned by lineside vegetation as it passes the turnback siding before calling at the station en-route to Sheffield.

DG305811. 142016. New Mills Central. 21.8.18

Here’s a gratuitous blast from the past. New Mills Central back in April 2000! The station was a lot less inviting in those days, with just a primitive brick shelter on the Sheffield bound platform. Old Metro-Cammell Class 101 DMUs operated the service in those days. The L835 number on the cab front gives away the fact this one had originally been a 3-car unit based at Reading on the Western Region before having the trailer car sent for scrap and being transferred  to Manchester Longsight. It only lasted another year in service before being withdrawn.

07655. 51432. 51498. 1402 to Picc. New Mills C. 14.4.00.

How things have changed in 18 years! The brick shelter’s been replaced, as have the seats and lighting. The station now has information screens, bins and planters. The surface of the platform’s been cleaned and a gritting bin provided. It’s altogether a brighter place. Notice there’s also far less oil in the 4 foot since the old DMU’s have gone…

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Here’s 142016 pulling away from New Mills and threading the narrow strip of railway sandwiched between the cliff to the left and the River Goyt below to the right. The unit’s about to enter the 123 yard long New Mill tunnel. The abandoned bore to the left once carried the branch to Hayfield. This was a late closure, happening on the 5th January 1970. Nowadays it would have been a useful commuter link. Notice the train shaped bush to the left of the picture. Network Rail really do need to do some lineside clearances around here!

DG305822. 142016. New Mills Central. 21.8.18

Here’s another blast from the past, taken above the tunnels back in 2002 as Pacer 142003 arrives from Sheffield. As you can see, it’s rather a photogenic location. Below the railway along the edge of the river is a Millenium walk that was opened in (surprise surprise) 2000.

11099. 142003. Sheffield - Manchester service. New Mills. 7.10.02

The town of New Mills is a pretty little town worth a visit in its own right. On the edge of the Peak District, it has a variety of pubs, shops and restaurants. You can learn more about what the town and area have to offer here.

So, if you’re after a chance to travel on or see the Pacers before they go, and enjoy some lovely countryside (and a pub or café or two). Why not try the line to New Mills?

Oh, before I go I should mention that the branch line to Rose Hill Marple is worth a trip too. I’ve not explored the town but the station’s a marvellous example of what station friends groups can achieve. Here’s a view of the station on July 27th, with a pair of Pacers at the single platform. Look how colourful and well looked after the place is.

DG303793. 142056. 142047. Rose Hill Marple. 26.7.18crop

Compare today with this view taken on a rainy 14th April 2000. Look how bare and uninviting the place is.

07618. 54055. 53226. 1410 to Man Picc. Rose Hill Marple. 12.4.00.

Here’s the tiny waiting room, which contains a book exchange as well as artwork, old drawings and memorabilia.

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The Pacers may well all be gone by 2020, but their memory will linger on at Rose Hill due to this bird-box on the side of the station building!

DG303781. Pacer birdbox. Rose Hill Marple. 26.7.18crop

If you want to learn more about the friends of Rose Hill station, here’s a link to their website. One last thing to mention. All the routes described can be reached on a Greater Manchester Rail Ranger day ticket which costs £6.80.