Rolling blog: London return…


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09:58.It’s a gorgeous spring day today, so I’ve abandoned the office to head to London with the camera and hunt down some of the new trains coming into service at the moment. I’m on LNER’s 10:15 train heading South after arriving on a Northern service from Sowerby Bridge which was worked by one of the increasing number of refurbished units, this time a 150/2.

My LNER service is very busy. I’m assuming this is because it’s the first post peak train, although to be fair, most of these trains seem to be well loaded. Today the trains worked by one of the three Class 90 locomotives hired in from DB, 90036 named after the train driver who was badly injured in the ‘great train robbery’, Jack Mills.11:12.I changed trains at Doncaster in order to grab a shot of one of LNER’S new ‘Azuma’ trains that was sat in the station, ready to head to York, then caught a following service, so I’m on the move again..12:23.I made another stop at Newark Northgate where I was in time to catch another Azuma working North. This one stopped in the station, allowing the crew and platform staff to practise dispatching the train, which looked very smart in the sun. Here it is, pulling away from the station. For the number crunchers, it’s 800113, the last of the LNER 9-car Azuma’s


Afterwards I caught 1B86, the 12:56 service to London, which is on of the Newark terminators. Out of curiosity I walked through the train to see what the loadings were like. It seemed to be 25% full but I noticed a lot of seat reservations from Grantham, suggesting it would fill up later. 1B86 is also due to call at Peterborough and Stevenage, so I expect it’ll be busy getting into London. Unlike the other weekend when trains were kept busy moving hundreds of thousand of people to the anti Brexit march in London I’ve only seen two men who looked and sounded like they were going to today’s UKIP/Far- right and ‘March to Leave’ bunfight in Parliament Square. They were easy to spot by the gammon colour, beer guts and a loud voices complaining of ‘left wing’ newspapers!14:19I’m now basking in the sunshine at Welwyn Garden City, where the new Siemens Class 717s have entered service. Well, a pair of them anyways. Here’s one of them.


Well, that was an interesting day! After having a spin on one of the new class 717s for the first time in the UK I narrowly missed meeting up with two friends who were in London on business. Instead I took a detour to Parliament Sq to have a look at the pro Brexit demonstrations. Yes, there was more than one due to the factionalism in the Leave camp. Two stages faced each other. One was the Leave campaign’s, the other UKIPs. It was like a gammon Glastonbury, only no matter which stage you went to, the acts were shit! In truth, the whole atmosphere felt weird. As I arrived, so did the “football lads alliance”, who marched in under a West Ham banner, singing “God save the Queen” whilst escorted by police. Looking around the crowd I could see that they were exactly who I suspected they would be: overwhelmingly white and old. This was the Daily Mail and Express letters page brought to life. The placards didn’t exactly fill you with joy either. It was hate, not humour that filled them. MPs were ‘traitors’, apparently and the EU was some sort of dictatorship that was determined to abolish the UK. It was all a bit bonkers to be honest. The stage on Whitehall was the UKIP one and that had the most poisonous atmosphere as it had attracted to football hooligan and far-right element. There’s no doubt that UKIPs new leader, Batten, has turned them into a far-right party. You only had to look at their audience to see that. Here’s a few shots from the event to give you a flavour of it.


The ‘Democratic Football Lads Alliance marched into the square under this banner and with a police escort. ‘Lads’? They’re all old men!


This was a depressing and common theme on many placards. Teresa may should hang her head in shame after her address to the nation the other week pitted the country against its elected MPs and encouraged this sort of intimidation.


– the narrative again. This has also been fostered by certain newspapers…


Having spent much of their time between Sunderland and London being bussed around and without Farage in attendance, the ‘March to Leave’ walkers approach the stage. Note the fact the only non-white faces to be seen are those of the staff hired to steward the event. Their expressions say it all.


The ‘March to Leave’ walkers waiting to go on stage. They were introduced as the ‘core group’. It was a small stage. They all fitted on it.


1940 was 79 years ago, but for many leave supporters time has never moved on. They’re stuck in the past and perpetually fighting a war.


One of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon’s supporters. Quite what the EU has to do with their Islamophobia is a mystery to anyone with half a brain, but there you are.


Paranoia was another common theme.


By Downong St on Whitehall was a small (100 plus) counter demonstration. This had been moved here due to the demonstration being attacked and abused earlier. It was guarded by dozens of police. At one point an angry older man was remonstrating with officers as he wanted to ‘give them a piece of his mind’. I suspect he hadn’t got much to spare. I was only allowed through the police cordon to join the demonstrators after producing my NUJ Press card.


I’m now back in Yorkshire after catching the 17:33 from London to Harrogate as far as Leeds, where it arrived 20mins late. The set was an HST and it had a poorly power car which meant our acceleration was pedestrian to say the least! Fortunately, this time of night trains to Halifax are frequent, so I only had a few minutes to wait before catching this, the 20:18 to Manchester Victoria.


Rolling blog:Escaped!


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After three days cocooned with the computer in my home office it’s time to escape for a few hours and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. I’m out and about with the camera in the Calder Valley today after a slaving over another batch of old slides. These are now on my website, so click this link to see which galleries they’re in. There’s another batch waiting to be scanned this evening if I can make the time. In the meantime, expect a few notes and pictures to be added throughout the day…


I walked down into Sowerby Bridge and cut through across the Calder from the main Street on the old cobbled footbridge. The river’s back to its normal level now after the heavy rains of the other week. Here’s the view from the bridge, looking East.

The old mill reflected in the river was converted into apartments many years ago. When the river flooded on Boxing Day 2015 the lower apartments were wrecked by the rising water levels and rendered uninhabitable for quite some time.


I caught Northern’s 13:22 service to Mytholmroyd, where there’s quite a bit of work going on. The old goods yard is being cleared of trees and scrub to make way for a vastly extended car park. This should increase footfall at the station considerably as trying to drive around here is a pain because the roads to the next two stations are so congested.

At the other end of the station works progressing on restoring the formerly derelict station building, which now has proper doors and windows for the first time since the early 1980s!

The work in Mytholmroyd isn’t confined to the railway. A huge amount has been done to strengthen the town’s flood defences too, as you can see from this picture taken from the beer garden of the local pub which was another victim of the 2015 floods. The pub was closed for about 18 months and the beer garden’s only reopened in time for the 2019 season.

Here’s another view from the other side of the stream.


It’s been a lovely (if frustrating) day, mainly because so much of the Calder Valley line has become a ‘green tunnel’! No doubt I’ll be getting angry responses from Greens about this but the amount of vegetation enclosing the railway nowadays is a nightmare. My concerns aren’t about photography but safety. In the past 40 years trees have been allowed to encroach far too close to the operational railway. They pose a risk to life and also reliability, as a tree coming down across the railway can bugger up a lot of people’s day. The Greens who complain that tree cover’s being cut back have obviously never seen pictures of the Calder Valley back in the 1950s! Sadly, I don’t have any comparison shots to offer. I’ll see if I can find any ‘creative commons’ one’s on the internet.

One of the places I visited was Eastwood, between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, where the line was quite open with a valley side background that could be captured from a footbridge. Now, the footbridge has been replaced with a modern high-sided one and trees have encroached on the line so that’s another photographic location scratched off the list…

The Brexit shambles goes on, and on and…


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I’m losing the will to live…

Right now I’m sat at home in front of the laptop, scanning more old slides and listening to the live debate on Brexit in Parliament, where MPs are playing a political game of ‘It’s a Knockout’, gradually showing support (or not) for various propositions which included crashing out of the EU and a second referendum. The result was that disaster wasn’t averted, it was merely delayed. No resolution had a majority to pass so all failed. Instead, they can be graded by the number of votes.

The problem is that we can see that, despite everything that’s happened over the past few years, there’s still a significant number of MPs who are away with the fairies – or should that be Unicorns? A subtext of all these machinations has been that some of the main Brexit players on the Tory side are ditching all their (claimed) principles for two reasons. Either they see Brexit slipping away from them (and their hope of financial enrichment) or they’re manoeuvring to bid for the role of Prime Minister now that it’s painfully obvious that Teresa May is a ‘dead man walking’. Yes, I mean you Jacob Rees Mogg and Boris Johnson!

The only thing to come out of today is that the Brexit can has officially been kicked down the road – for what it’s worth. Now we have to wait until Monday to find out what Parliament mat decide to do. The one ray of hope is that the motion for a second referendum received the highest number of votes and may yet pass – although my personal preference is for Parliament just to revoke article 50 and save us all from the bloody hassle and uncertainty!

After seeing how useless some MPs of all parties are at sticking up for the best interests of the country and their constituents there’s a task of Augean stables proportions needed here. Voters need to stop voting for pigs just because of the colour of the rosettes pinned to them. Instead they need to ditch the old tribal allegiances and vote for candidates who genuinely want to serve their country instead of themselves or their narrow political dogma.

Finally, the house adjourned for the day and I could concentrate on other matters. I’ve managed to scan another 40 old rail slides today, which include the early days of privatisation. I particularly like these two. This is London Kings Cross on the 29th July 1997 when GNER had stamped its image on the East Coast Main Line. Well, it’s early image, because if you notice, their logo’s in white, which gave way to gold lettering after just a few months. In the foreground is the unique 89001 which was brought back from store to add extra capacity to the fleet. GNER really sweated the fleet compared to BR. If I remember rightly, they ran double the number of services with the same fleet. Now, 22 years later, the scene is set to change even more as the existing Intercity fleet (now run by LNER) is being replaced by the new Hitachi built ‘Azuma’ trains, the first of which will enter service in May.

06767. 89001. Kings Cross. 29.7.97crop

A couple of days later I was over at Clapham Junction, where engineers were renewing track through platform 10. In those days safety standards were a lot more relaxed. The worksite was separated from the operational railway by a bit of plastic tape and the PPE (Protective Personal Equipment) that rail staff wore – whilst better than it was 15 years earlier – was nothing compared to today’s standards! Another thing to notice is how tatty and run-down the overbridge was compared to today.

06776. Relaying track in platform 10. Clapham Junction. 31.7.97crop

Right, that’s enough from me. Now it’s time to call it a day…





Another day in Brexit Britain…


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The farce that is British politics shows no sign of allowing reality to intrude at the moment, despite it knocking at the door – and shouting through the letterbox. The band of Brexiters are tying themselves in knots to justify both Brexit, and themselves. One of the maddest statements came from a supposed Labour MP, Kate Hoey, who said in a Parliamentary debate that “I don’t call it a no deal, it’s not a no deal, It’s a different type of deal”. Presumably in the same way that being dead is a different type of living…

This is the level of batshit crazy we’ve come to expect from the rabid Brexiters, for whom no mental gymnastics are out of bounds in their efforts excuse the complete and utter shambles they’ve helped visit upon us.

Away from the craziness, I’ve been busy editing pictures at home. First up were some more old slides, such as this, taken at Clapham Junction in June 1997. Nothing in the picture remains today. The old Kensington sidings that 33026 is using to run round an engineers train have vanished under a new platform for London Overground services. 33026 survived until 2003 when it was cut up at Eastleigh, having been withdrawn in August 1998, just over a year after this picture was taken.

06707. 33026. Clapham Junction.15.6.97crop

As well as scanning more old rail slides I’ve started on pictures from the anti Brexit rally in London on Saturday. You can find those pictures in this gallery.

This evening has had more of a domestic focus. Dawn’s accelerating her training for the Huddersfield half-marathon, so I’ve been stepping up to the plate on the cooking front and trying some different recipes from a new ‘Hairy Bikers’ cook book. The prawns I cooked tonight have seemed to go down well anyway. Here’s the basic ingredients all ready for cooking.

This is what the prawn curry looks like when it’s ready. No, those aren’t green chillies you see, they’re sugar snap peas, which give the curry a delightful crunchiness.

Back to the grindstone…


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After a fabulous weekend back in London I’m home and getting back into the routine (well, as routine as my life ever gets) of paperwork, picture editing, and preparing for the future.

I’m currently editing the hundreds of pictures that I took at the anti Brexit march on Saturday, followed by shots at a friends 50th birthday celebrations in Clapham later that evening. Here’s a couple of some of the brilliant banners and placards people carried on the day.



Hopefully, by Wednesday I’ll have the full selection sorted. There’s also one or two new rail shots to add. Beyond all this work a chunk of the day was spent with a financial advisor to try and ensure my investments are as ‘Brexit proof’ as possible. I can’t believe we’re in this position, but there you go.

Whilst I’m doing what I can to protect dawn and I from the effects of the Brexitshambles, a lot of people are still signing the Revoke article 50 petition, which has almost reached 5.7 million this evening. Please, add your name by following this link.


The petition’s already having an effect as some Leave supporting MPs with small majorities are looking at the number of their constituents who’ve signed it and started thinking ‘oh, shit’…

Whilst I’ve been busy typing Parliament’s been embroiled in more drama. MP’s have ignored the Government, voting to allow themselves more votes on a way forward – which May has said she’ll ignore as they’re only ‘indicative’. Three more of May’s Ministers have resigned too. Meanwhile, the Brexit clock’s still ticking and no-one has done anything to reset it. So, by simple operation of law, we crash out of the EU on the 29th of March, in 4 days time…

Phew, what a day!


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We’re having a slow start to the day after a heck of one yesterday. First there was the elation and the fun of being back of the biggest demonstration in the UK’s history as over 1 million of us took to the streets of London to protest at the Brexit madness. Later we had a lovely evening celebrating a friends 50th birthday over in Clapham, I’ll add a load of pictures tonight when we get home, but here’s a few to whet your appetite.


The gang’s here. A mix of rail staff and journalists gather for the march.

DG320262. Anti brexit. Match. London. 24.3.19copy



As with any good demonstration, part of the fun is in the inventive banners and placards some people come up with. I’ll add a selection later.

Right now we’re off to meet up again for lunch. I’ll blog more on our return trip.


It’s a beautifully sunny day here in Croydon with an almost cloudless sky. We’re currently on a Southern service which will carry us back to Clapham. Despite it being Sunday the train is still paying its way.

We’ve weaved our way through the maze of lines around Selhurst, a junction that’s facing a major redesign in the future in order to add extra capacity to what’s a complex bottleneck.


Well, the day’s flown! Back in Clapham a few of us met for lunch at the Windmill pub on Clapham Common, which is a popular place for lunch with people determined to walk it off afterwards. The pub’s also ‘dog friendly’, which adds to the attraction. Afterwards we strolled across the Common back to the Junction to catch trains across the capital to Kings Cross, where we selected an option to get home. Our preferred choice, Grand Central’s 15:58 was absolutely rammed! The company’s a victim of its own success nowadays, so they’re rapidly outgrowing their 5-car trains. My concern is that their excellent passenger performance results in the annual National Passenger Survey (NPS) must be in danger of taking a tumble.

LNER’s 15:53 Leeds service was equally rammed, so we decided to flag both and go for a libation in the Parcel Yard and catch a later train.

We’re now on LNER’s 17:53 to Leeds, where we managed to blag a couple of table seats in the quiet coach. It’s worked by this wee beastie: 91130. The loco’s showing it’s age and the fact it’ll be going off-lease soon. Lòok at the bodywork over the right hand buffer!

Rolling blog: On the march…


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Like hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens (and some of our European friends) Dawn and I are on our way to London for today’s march to oppose the madness of Brexit. At the same time as people are assembling the online petition to revoke article 50 has passed the four million mark.

Will any of this do any good? Who knows, but we will not let our country slide into disaster without a fight!

I’ve no doubt the mood on the march will be uplifting. Plus, the day will end with us joining others to celebrate a friends 50th birthday. I’ll blog and post pic through the day as I can. No doubt the phone networks around the march will become overloaded as usual!


We’re half an hour out from London, speeding across Huntingdonshire on a LNER service from Leeds. We’re not the only one’s aboard heading for the demo either, there’s gaggles scattered throughout the train…


Wow, just wow! What an incredible day! Over a million people turned up to march today. As usual, just rondezvousing with folk was a logistical exercise in itself. Here’s some of the #railwayfamily who attended.

Frustrating Friday…


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It’s been one of those days. I managed to get some work done this morning but this afternoon I had to nip into Halifax in order to try and get a suitcase repaired. Problem is, very few people do that sort of thing nowadays! We’re such a disposable society that it’s taken me ages to find a shop that might be able to do it. If I was in India or elsewhere in Asia it would take me 10 mins!

Still, all’s not lost. As the place I was recommended was in Halifax market I paid a visit to the ever popular ‘Thai corner’ cafe which serves some brilliant food, including one of my favourite northern Thai dishes, Kow Soi. There’s nearly always a queue here, as you can see from the picture.

As it’s Friday I popped into my local (The Big 6) on my way home as a group of us tend to have our own little quiz night in a corner of the bar, with one of us reading questions from the local Pub Paper Magazine. Normally it’s Mel, a woman with such a superbly thick Lancashire accent that you need sub-titles! Tonight’s beer selection wasn’t too shabby either.

Now we’re back at home, packing for the weekend as we’re off to London in the morning. Our first stop will be to meet up with several friend and colleagues from the #RailwayFamily to join the march against Brexit tomorrow, so expect a few pictures and a blog during the day – 4G permitting as that number of people tend to swamp it! Afterwards we’re heading over to Clapham to celebrate an old friends 50th birthday.

The madness continues whilst I try and work…


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It’s been another one of those days when trying to knuckle down to work has proved to be hard due to the constant distractions provided by the political la la land the UK’s inhabiting right now. I’m still trying to get my head around Teresa May’s ridiculous TV speech last night in which she absolved herself of all blame for this shit-shower (even though her idiotic red lines formed the base of it) and instead tried to set the public against Parliament and the MPs elected to it. To say her language was both reckless and inflammatory is an understatement. To say that many MPs of all parties are outraged would be an understatement.

Now she’s gone cap in hand to the EU, who must be sick of the sight of her. Predictably, they’ve now taken control and are currently deciding what terms they’ll offer on an extension to article 50. Take back control? Don’t make me laugh! A lot of my fellow Britons seem equally unimpressed. A petition calling for the revocation of article 50 has kept crashing the Govt’s website most of the day. Started only yesterday, it now stands at 1.5 million signatures and is rising by the hour.


If you’d like to sign it, here’s the link.

Away from the madness I’ve been busy catching up on picture editing and paperwork, whilst also lining up some jobs. I’ve also been continuing to scan old slides in an effort to really start to make inroads to the collection and get unseen pictures online. Today’s small batch are from an open day at Crewe Electric depot back in May 1997. As it was an event I’ve created a new gallery for it on my website, which you can find here. These are a couple of sample pictures.

06653. 33108. 92031. Crewe Electric Depot Open Day. 3.5.97crop

A mixture of preserved and mainline locomotives were on display at Crewe. Here’s 33108, 92031 and 47375.

06651. E5001. Crewe Electric Depot Open Day. 3.5.97crop

The sole surviving Class 71, E5001 was also on display. 24 of these electric locomotives were build for the Southern region 3rd rail network at Doncaster in 1958. They were used on a variety of passenger and freight turns, including the famous ‘Golden Arrow’ and ‘Night Ferry’ boat-train services. As well as shoe-gear, they had a pantograph to 650 V DC which was used in some South London freight yards like Hither Green and at Snowdon colliery near Dover. The last 14 members of the class were withdrawn en-masse in 1977 but E5001 was saved for the national collection and preserved by the National Railway Museum.

This evening I’ve turned my hand to some kitchen therapy and cooked an old favourite – Lal Batata, which is new potatoes in a hot chilli and tamarind sauce.

I’ve even found a railway themed beer to go with it! This rather quaffable delight cam from somewhere I’d never expect to find it, B&M bargains, the cut-price chain!

The back of the bottle has an interesting label as it tells the story of a heroic railwayman of Victorian times.

Dawn’s been busy too and oven cooked some salmon to accompany the Lal Batata. Yum!

Brexit: how f*****g mad can we get?



Just when you think the situation couldn’t get any more ridiculous and Parliament more crazed, Teresa May turns up and says “hold my beer”. Her performance at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) today was that of someone who’s gone mad. The only Prime Minister ever to be found in contempt of Parliament treated it with even more contempt. All deals were off, commitments were thrown under a bus as she blithely lied and misled. Even some of her own party could see she’d lost it. It seemed her only plan was to hang on to No 10 and damn the country, which is just 9 days away from crashing out of the EU without a deal. Mind you, she wasn’t the only one, there seems to be very few sane voices in the Commons at the moment on either bench. Never has the slogan “take back control” looked more ridiculous. It will be our epithet.

Mind you, it’s not just Parliament May treats with contempt or ignores. Her reply to the EU regarding an extension of Article 50 was another in talking to yourself. Now it seems the EU has finally lost patience with us, as the next 24 hours will show.

Now we’re waiting for St Teresa to make a statement outside No10 this evening.


I’m back at home after Dawn and I met up to watch Teresa May’s speech to the nation in our local pub. That was a surreal experience to start with as the pair of us were doing it on a mobile phone whilst sharing earphones. Everyone else was going about their lives as if nothing matters whilst we’re listening to a British Prime Minister coming apart at the seams. May’s speech was nothing short of farcical. It was 20 minutes of utter vacuity. She blamed Parliament for the impasse that she created through her red lines and madness in starting the article 50 clock ticking when she hadn’t got anything resembling a plan. Apparently, the fact we’ve a Parliament that’s trying to be Sovereign’s the problem, not a Prime Minister that’s determined to ignore them. This was a borderline dictatorship bid. She’s been captive to the hard right-wingers of the ERG in her own party that she displayed all the symptoms of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. To her, party (well, a rabid section of it) absolutely comes before country.

Meanwhile, what of the Leader of her Majesty’s opposition, you know, the people who are meant to actually oppose and come up with an alternative? It’s been a shit-show. ‘Magic Grandad’, sorry – Jeremy Corbyn, was due to attend a meeting of leaders of all the  political parties but then stormed out like a petulant child because he found out that Chuka Umunna, the leader of the breakaway Tory/Labour MPs was there, declaring that Umunna wasn’t a ‘real’ leader. Don’t even get me started on the irony of that! The news was broken by Lib-Dem Leader Vince Cable, who was there.


For the leader of the opposition to behave like this is positively Pythonesque. Did he start shouting ‘Splitters’ at everyone as he stormed out of the door?

This is the state of British politics today, with just 9 days to go before Brexit. If you live in the UK, I’d suggest that now’s a good time to start panic buying…