Wednesday 31 August 2016

68 rescue

One of the videos i recorded yesterday, the rescue loco arrives to take over the train stranded at Leamington Spa after the earlier loco failure.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Leamington afternoon

A morning waiting for a new washing machine to arrive (and it all works fine) then an afternoon at Leamington Spa to watch some trains! A train had broken down at the station in the morning so i was lucky enough to be able to watch its "rescue" not long after i arrived. The original loco had a fault meaning the train had been deposited on a siding. A spare loco was sent up from London and then took the coaches up to Birmingham. You can see my photos here.

Monday 29 August 2016

Buses I Have Known (1) : Daimler Fleetline

Growing up in Birmingham i've travelled on many buses in my time, in this short series i will reminise (or wibble anyway) about some of the buses i travelled on while a boy and a student during the 1970s to the 1990s...

There is only one place to start, the Daimler Fleetline. My earliest memory is being on one in the early 1970s, on the 55 bus route, being taken to my Nan's as she looked after me in those pre-school days while my Mum was at work (i don't think nurseries had been invented back then, not for the working class anyway). Fleetlines dominated the WMPTE fleet, especially with the locally built MCW bodywork, during the 1970s and i travelled on many to school on the number 11 bus route. The Metrobus began to replace them as the 1980s wore on but you could still them well into the 1990s.

It was back then that i wanted to be a bus driver when i grew up, i think mostly because i wanted to be able to change the display on the front using the various levers above the cab. Well that never happened anyway, maybe its a pity. Or maybe not...

Birmingham had the second largest fleet after London but the London DMS (as they were called) had a lot less successful career than in the Second City and indeed some ex-London buses returned North to augment the Brum fleet. They stood out a bit as at first they had separate entrance and exit doors which was not the usual practice up here.

The last Fleetline left WM Travel service in 1997 and none are likely to be in regular revenue earning service these days, except maybe for tourist sight seeing buses perhaps, but a number are in preservation. Travelling the WMPTE liveried example at the Aston Manor Transport Museum (now Aldridge Transport Museum) is a true nostalgic thrill. Old memories are often sparked by the most mundane of objects and when i sit on those red seats on a blue and custard bus i am taken back to happier days before the horrors of skool.
It looks like an old photo but actually taken fairly recently on an Instamatic

The side of a Fleetline amid a cloud of healthy clag

AMRTM's Fleetline XON 41J, same age as me!

DMS 1 at London Transport Museum, Acton

XON 41J at Aston

Sunday 28 August 2016

Aboard the Metro!

The Midlands Metro has been running since 1999 so i thought it was high time i actually travelled on it. To be fair it doesn't really go to any place i want to go (or can go on the railway quicker) but the recent extension through to New Street and new stock pushed me to finally have a go. Though i only travelled 2 stops from Bull St to New Street it was still an interesting and novel experience and i'll travel further next time!

Thursday 25 August 2016

Bringing an S Train home

A video i recorded at Derby last week, the London Underground's new fleet of S Stock trains are built in Derby and need to come home for attention now and then. This video shows one such arrival, diesel hauled of course as the LU's fourth rail doesn't extend this far!

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Ford Escort

A rather lovely exhibit at the Museum of Liverpool is this Ford Escort. Built in 1982 it was the millionth Escort built in Europe and was built at Liverpool's Halewood factory (then Ford but now owned by Jaguar). The Escort was never sold and was used for display purposes and has done less than 200 miles. My Dad had a similar Escort to this built the early 80s too, though his was beige. Maybe it was being built at the same time?

Monday 22 August 2016


I shot a couple of videos at Derby last week amid all the photos, i'm pretty impressed with how the videos... shot on my iPhone... turn out!

Sunday 21 August 2016

Return to Liverpool

Every year i take my Mum on a trip somewhere by train (as she never uses the trains otherwise!) This year it was to Liverpool and a great day we had too despite the best efforts of the weather. We went around the Albert Dock for a bit and then over to New Brighton which is somewhere she took me as a baby back when we lived in Crosby. Well that was many years ago of course.

I do like Liverpool a lot, well i am half-Scouse after all. When my Dad was alive we used to go a couple of times a year but now its up to me. Well i have been twice this year already anyway.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Churches (1) : St Peter, Wootton Wawen

The Church of St Peter in Wootton Wawen is Warwickshire's oldest church and one of the county's oldest free standing buildings. Parts of the tower are of Saxon origin dating from the 11th century or earlier. Much of the current church dates from the 12 and 13th centuries with the nave and chancel, where most services take place today, being rebuilt from the original state. Other additions like the porch were added later on in the following centuries.

The church contains a well preserved example of chancel screen-work, regarded as the best preserved in the county, and chancel seats dating from the 16th century. The oak pulpit is of a similar vintage as are a number of monumental brasses.

Wootton Wawen itself is a large village which dates from at least the early 8th century with the original church established at the same time. The original church was destroyed sometime in the late 10th century or early 11th. The current church of St Peter was established by the Anglo-Danish landowner Wagen (Wawen). Although a number of other stone churches were built in the late Saxon era Warwickshire only St Peter's church retains any substantial masonry in the county.

'Parishes: Wootton Wawen.' A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Ed. Philip Styles. London: Victoria County History, 1945. 196-205. British History Online. Web. 8 March 2015. pp. 196-205.
J.H. Bloom, Warwickshire (Cambridge University Press, 1916) p. 141

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Derby time again

I was supposed to have a dental check-up today and booked a day's holidays, but the appointment was moved to next month... but i decided to still have the day off! I would have gone to somewhere like Derby afterwards anyway so the only real difference is that was able to go there earlier... with less clean teeth.

I saw quite a lot today at Derby station including the latest London Underground S Stock train to return to its place of birth for modifications - a move i've been keen to see for awhile, a test train and a rail tour too. You can see my photos here.

Monday 15 August 2016

Western departure

A video i recorded at the SVR on Saturday: D1062 departs from Hampton Loade.

Sunday 14 August 2016

Severn Valley Railway

Yesterday i returned to the Severn Valley Railway and in a way rekindled my love for it. I admit its not been my favourite preserved line for awhile as i find other lines like the EVR and CPPR friendler and more accessible and not huge corporate machines that the SVR sometimes threatens to become. Not that i hate the SVR, far from it, but sometimes i yearn for something a little lower key.

Yesterday i resolved to stop off at the 2 stations on the line (or 2 manned stations anyway) that i have not visited before: Hampton Loade and Arley and enjoyed a quieter time at both stations away from the bustle of the 2 headquarters at either end of the line. Both are lovely examples of GWR branch line stations, you can see my photos here.

Thursday 11 August 2016


Canary Wharf is of course well known for being a financial centre. I visit it a lot because a) my wife works there (not for a bank!) and b) there is also a lot of waterway interest too including this lovely little river tug...

Varlet is one of 12 Jubilee Class river tugs built by James Pollock & Sons from the mid-1930s onwards until 1950, Varlet being built in 1937. The Jubilee Class were among the first Thames tugs to have diesel engines, although some of the 12 went abroad most worked along the Thames docks area then a major trade hub.

Varlet itself worked for most of its career for the lighterage company Vokins & Co at West India and Royal Docks and the River Lea. During WW2 it was used by the Admiralty as a fire-fighting ship on the Thames though returned to its owners in 1946.

When Vokins ceased trading in the 1970s Varlet was owned by Albert Coffey of Ilford and finally Keith Morez at Dartford. Varlet continued working along the Thames until the 1980s. In 1986 it was preserved at West India Quay as part of the Museum of London's maritime collection where it remains to this day.

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Crossing at Shottle

Another video recorded on the EVR at the weekend, this time at Shottle and filmed from one train as it was being passed by another.

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Departing Idridgehay

I recorded a couple of videos at the weekend too including this one of a Class 20 departing Idridgehay, what a glorious noise!

Monday 8 August 2016

Back to the EVR

The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway has quickly become my favourite preserved line, a good run up through the Derbyshire countryside and they are very friendly and less po-faced than some preserved lines can be. At the weekend i attended their Diesel Locomotive Weekend event where their resident Class 25 and 33 locomotives were joined by a visiting Class 20.

This time i spent most of my time at Idridgehay which feels like the middle of nowhere and i enjoyed some solitude in the sun there waiting for the train to return. You can see my photos here.

Thursday 4 August 2016

Olympian memories

The start (of the football competition anyway) of the Olympics in Rio of course has sparked back memories of 4 years ago when the world was looking at London 2012. I managed to attend 3 events (volleyball, badminton and football) and i'm glad i did and made the effort (if you all remember getting tickets was a battle). Who knows if i'll ever be able to see Olympic events live again? There is always a chance but its probably unlikely and i would have regretted it for the rest of my life if i hadn't attended something when i had the chance. Who knows what the future will bring of course but for now i'll just rely on the TV.

The below photo was from the football which was at Coventry's Ricoh Arena. You can see my full set of photos from London 2012 here. Good luck to Rio anyway, lets hope its remembered for all the right reasons once the usual pre-event fears and scare stories fade away. There were plenty of those before London too and once it all began very little went wrong.

Coffee pansies

I've started planting pansy seeds in old coffee jars. Why? Well to grow flowers of course. Its all a bit arty i guess, i want to have a contrast between the domestic mundanity of a jar of (decaf) coffee and nature. Also i want to brighten up the house with flowers if the seeds do grow. I've had a couple germinate so far anyway. I've sown 3 seeds each in 3 jars and will probably do up to 5 jars.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

MV : "World cup fever" by Air Miami

Well the Olympics will begin soon and the Olympic football tournament has already begun so this old song seems apt... even if its about another tournament.

Monday 1 August 2016

Earlswood Lakes

I think my aim is to one day walk every bit of the Stratford Canal. I have done quite a bit of it to be honest: from Kings Norton to Brandwood Tunnel, Lapworth and also from the Yarnindale Aqueduct down to Stratford. But on Saturday i went to explore something new and that was Earlswood Lakes which is where the water for the canal comes from!

The "lakes"are actually 3 man-made reservoirs (made by prisoners-of-war from the Napoleonic Wars apparently) which feed the canal on its Southern half down to Stratford. The actual feeder canal itself was rather overgrown and full of algae but the lakes were lovely and well worth another visit. You can see my photos here.