Friday 30 June 2017

On the bench

Over the last few weeks (until the last few days anyway) its been rather hot. Unfortunately since the demise of my old bench in a final cloud of rust a couple of years ago i've had nothing to sit down on in the garden. So i bought a new bench and very nice it is too. Now all we need is the Sun to return.

Thursday 29 June 2017

Aberystwyth Cliff Railway

The Aberystwyth Cliff Railway is one of the longest funicular railways in the UK and runs from Aberystwyth up Constitution Hill. The railway opened in 1896 to serve a Victorian visitor attraction with a camera obscura and parks on top of the hill and a restaurant and arcade at the bottom. Originally the funicular railway used a water balance system but since 1921 has used electricity to operate the 2 carriages via steel cables. The funicular railway rises 130m with a gradient that exceeds 1:2 in places.
Station at town level

One of the carriages

A footpath on the hill crosses the track via this bridge

The views of Aberystwyth are astonishing

On top of the hill

Tuesday 27 June 2017

East Coast Main Line

A Class 91 propelled express pulls into York in its way down to London Kings Cross.

Monday 26 June 2017

Churches (3) : St Mary's, Princes Risborough

Nave : the main body of a church, where the laity sit during worship.
A church has been on the site of St Mary's in Princes Risborough since the 12th century at least or even earlier though much of the current church dates from the 13th century. The original church is thought to have been pretty simple with just a chancel and an aisle-less nave [1]. Nave aisles and arcades were added in the mid-1200s and the chancel rebuilt in 1290.

The church received major rebuilds in more modern times with a major restoration in 1868 when the roof was made higher, the windows changed. The interior was also modified to add space for an organ and to remove the wall which separated the nave from the chancel.

Chancel : the space around the altar, usually where the priest and choir are located during worship.
The current tower of the church is not the original, the first tower was built in the 15th century but collapsed in 1803. A replacement spire was built in the 19th century though in in turn was replaced by the current tower in 1907 when the church received further restoration.

The church has continued to have improvements in recent times with a new floor, improved heating and larger parish offices to better suit a mediaeval church for its role in the current times [2].

[1] "Parishes: Princes Risborough." A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 2. Ed. William Page. London: Victoria County History, 1908. 260-267. British History Online. Web. 26 June 2017. <>
[2] "A Short History of St Mary's Princes Risborough" <>

Sunday 25 June 2017

Derby bounty

While my car was at the garage on Friday i headed up to Derby to take some railway photographs. I did intend to visit Belper too but due to problems with the line there in the morning i decided to leave that for another day. My "haul" at Derby was excellent and included the Class 950 Track Recording Unit which was one of the few Network Rail vehicles i had yet to see.

Also a Class 59 which is another type i've wanted to see (and get a decent photograph of) for a long time. You can see my photos here.

Thursday 22 June 2017

Princes Risborough

A Chiltern Railways service departs Princes Risborough bound for London Marylebone.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

The 70s house

Scanning a few old photographs yesterday i came upon this one taken in the first house i lived in, in Crosby. I was only a baby at the time so the photograph was likely taken sometime in 1972 or perhaps early 1973. What is most interesting about the photograph is probably what is missing. There seems to be a total absence of technology though there was probably was a TV out of shot. Nowadays a photo of your living room would include remote controls, mobile phones, consoles, DVDs and other paraphernalia. Back in the early 1970s you might have a TV and little else, maybe a hi-fi or a radio. The telephone would usually be in the hall, on its own little table.

Other than that the room is quite familiar and probably trendily retro these days. I wonder how the living room will change in another 40 years time. Its interesting how much has changed though some items in the photo have survived all these years, the painting on the wall for example is right behind me on my own bedroom wall now as i type this! I know my Mum still has some of the ornaments.

Monday 19 June 2017

Walking the waterways (12) : Cromford Canal

One end of the Cromford Canal, at Cromford Wharf in Cromford is not in doubt. But with the canal only navigable for a short distance (to the aqueduct just past High Peak Junction) and for much of its route barely surviving at all where is the other end of the Cromford Canal these days?
Cromford Wharf

High Peak Junction
Is it at the end of the Wigwell Aqueduct where the current limit of navigability is? Or where the canal meets the Erewash Canal? However there is a big stretch between those two points with little water or indeed little trace of the canal at all. I've chosen Ambergate for the end of the canal these days as this is where the waters peter out into a bit of a dribble. This is the end of the continuous water from Cromford Wharf.
The final dribble

Canal bridge at Ambergate

Sunday 18 June 2017

Lapworth-Wootton Wawen

Time for another canal walk. I headed to Lapworth intending to explore more of the South bound Stratford Canal. I did indeed do this and after a while decided i was about half way between Lapworth and Wootton Wawen and therefore might as well continue onwards instead of turning back.

Its a decent walk, about 8 miles, and it was a red hot morning but now i have completed all of the Southern section of the Stratford Canal. You can see my photos here.

Friday 16 June 2017


Prototype railcar Iris and a Class 122 shunt out of the way at Duffield at the EVR's recent Multiple Memories event.

Thursday 15 June 2017


I have some lovely rose bushes in my garden, and they are in bloom right now so there is a great mix of carnation, yellow and red roses at the moment. I can take little credit for them though as the roses where already there when i moved into the house (17 years ago now). Obviously i have pruned them a bit over the years though mostly to stop them crossing over the fence into next door's garden.

My Dad was always keen on his roses and had rose bushes both in Crosby and down here in Birmingham. The photo below is from about 1973 of the roses in Crosby, so i guess we are somehow keeping it in the family.

Monday 12 June 2017

Walking the waterways (11) : Tame Valley Canal

The Tame Valley Canal stretches from Erdington, where it meets the Birmingham & Fazeley and Grand Union Canals, up to Walsall where it meets up with the Walsall Canal. The beginnings (or end depending on your point of view) are rather inauspicious these days being at Salford Junction which is right underneath the Gravelly Hill Interchange (Spaghetti Junction) and the first stretch of canal is under various motorways and slip roads.

The canal then stretches through Witton, Perry, Hamstead and Great Barr. There is a junction with the Rushall Canal but after that its straight through to the Walsall Canal at Tame Valley Junction.

The canal was one of the later canals built, being completed in 1844. It was built to provide an alternative route bypassing Birmingham. Nowadays its not the busiest canal on the network though has a special place for me. When i worked in Perry Barr i started coming to this canal every lunchtime, from this my interest in waterways grew and also my interest in photography. So really everything i do online nowadays can be blamed on the Tame Valley Canal!
Salford Junction toll island

Moor Lane Arm

Bridge near Perry Barr flight

Rushall Junction

Tame Valley Junction

Saturday 10 June 2017


I had a rather more modest rail and waterway adventure today, just to Olton in Solihull. Not too far from where i live in Birmingham (and even closer to where i work in Solihull!) The main reason to go was to take some photos of Olton railway station for my Calling At railway station blog as i haven't visited any stations that begin with O yet!

I also took some photos along the Grand Union Canal, another piece of canal i haven't visited before. You can see my photos here.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Castles (1) : Guildford

Guildford Castle dates from not long after the Norman conquest. It was built by one of William the Conqueror's barons in the late 11th century as part of the King's efforts to strengthen his hold on the kingdom. Parts of the shell keep, the oldest part of the castle made of stone, still exist and date from the early 12th century (the original defences being made of wood). The keep itself, the most notable part of the remaining castle, was built in the 1130s.

The castle was used by the Norman Kings as a residence. Henry III turned it into a palace, the royal living apartments were greatly improved by him and moved from the keep to the bailey. The castle's defences were also improved though it was never attacked.

By the late 14th century the castle had fallen out of favour as a royal residence and went into decline. It was used as the county gaol for a while and then after was used for a number of purposes including a residence and for farming. It was sold to the Guildford Corporation in 1885 and opened as pleasure gardens. In latter years the castle has been preserved and parts of the keep have been restored.

Monday 5 June 2017

Chalfont & Latimer

Chalfont & Latimer is one of the stations at the Buckinghamshire end of the Metropolitan Line and is where the Chesham branch of the Metropolitan Line splits away, a London bound S8 stock train arrives. Its a long way to the city from here.

Walking the waterways (10) : Oxford Canal

The Oxford Canal stretches from Oxford (as you could probably guess) up to near Bedworth in Warwickshire where it joins the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction. It passes through places like Banbury and Rugby on the way so was (and still is of course) an important waterway. It took 20 years to complete the canal, construction beginning in 1769. The first stretch reached from Bedworth to Napton then further extensions were made (money permitting) to Banbury and finally through to the centre of Oxford in 1790.

The canal was intended to link the Midlands to London with traffic switching to the Thames at Oxford. It did very well initially but declined after the opening of the rival Grand Junction Canal which had a more direct route. However the Northern section remained busy well into the 20th century and carried commercial traffic into the 1960s. Nowadays the Oxford Canal is one of the most popular waterways with pleasure boaters.
The Oxford city end of the canal



Hawkesbury Junction

Sunday 4 June 2017

Coventry Canal: Bedworth-Longford

Yesterday i visited the Warwickshire town of Bedworth for the first time. My reason to visit was two-fold: some photos of the station for a future post in my station blog of course and also visit the Coventry Canal which runs through the town.

The latter turned into a bit more of a trek than i intended. After awhile i decided instead of turning back to just keep going and in doing so reached Hawkesbury Junction where the Oxford Canal begins and then through to Longford where i left the canal and caught a train at Coventry Arena station (and thus can add that to the station blog too!) You can see my photos here.