Thursday 31 August 2017


Its been a few months since i went to Guildford, i miss it and want to return soon. Hopefully i can get another hotel room with hot and cold running trains!

Monday 28 August 2017

Churches (8) : St John the Evangelist, Walmley

Walmley is located inbetween Erdington and Sutton Coldfield in North East Birmingham. St. John's Church was built in 1845 as the parish church for the community funded by Lucy Riland, a relative of the Rector of Sutton Coldfield and Joseph Webster owner of the nearby Penns Mill wire factory.

It was designed in the Norman style by well known local architect Daniel R. Hill and constructed from Staffordshire blue brick, the decision to use brick instead of stone causing some criticism though was the fashion at the time. An extension including a new nave was built on the church in the late 1980s. The original church being converted into offices, meeting rooms and a kitchen.

The church has a 4 bay nave with a short chancel. An organ loft was added in 1913 out of a former vestry.

Original church (on right) is linked to the newer part via a short steel lobby

Saturday 26 August 2017

Foxfield Railway

Today i headed up to Staffordshire to visit the Foxfield Railway near Stoke. I've wanted to go for some time but they usually do not run trains on Saturdays according to their timetable but today they did. Its a great little preserved railway with an excellent collection of preserved locomotives (mostly industrial) and stock. A steep run up into the hills too. You can see my photos here.

Friday 25 August 2017

Apple II scans

This is a great find, an online library of Apple ][ and Apple /// documentation, software literature and manuals and other information. Of particular interest is an issue of Apple Education News from 1980. Items include the announcement of a thermal printer called the Apple Silentype i'd never heard of before, and the announcement of FORTRAN for the Apple II. I really need to get that for my Mac to be honest. There is probably little chance of my Apple IIs ever running it though but its a nice dream.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Churches (7) : St Mary de Crypt, Gloucester

Tympanum : a (usually) decorated recessed triangular space atop a building entrance such as a door.
St Mary de Crypt Church dates from the first half of the 12th century being first recorded as The Church of the Blessed Mary within Southgate. The church has a number of surviving Norman features including a carved tympanum over the West door depicting a lamb and a flag, symbols of the Resurrection.

The church was rebuilt and extended a number of times in the following centuries. The nave for example dating from the 15th century. The Crypt School was founded next to the church by Joan Cooke in 1539. The school later moved to larger premises and is now a grammar school in the city. One of the founders of Methodism George Whitefield gave his first sermon in the church after his ordination as a priest.

Sunday 20 August 2017


As well as visiting the castle i also had a walk around the rest of Oakham. I like the town a lot, its just how a small county town should be. Quaint old buildings and nice people. I shall definitely be returning. I didn't have the chance to visit the museum so will rectify that next time. The station is quite nice too! You can see my photos of Oakham here.

Castles (3) : Oakham

Oakham is the county town of Rutland and also home to Oakham Castle which dates from Norman times and is a great example of Norman architecture. While the defences and ramparts are largely gone the great hall survives intact though was more a fortified manor house than a strategic defensive position.

The castle has been recently fully restored and is also a court house, in fact it is the longest running seat of justice in England.

A notable feature of Oakham Castle is the collection of horseshoes. Peers of the realm by tradition submit a horseshoe to the Lord of the Manor of Oakham when they first visit. The oldest surviving horseshoe was presented by King Edward IV in 1470. Several other monarchs have also presented horseshoes including Queen Elizabeth II. The horseshoe has become the symbol of the county of Rutland. You can see my photos at Oakham Castle here.

Thursday 17 August 2017

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Churches (6) : All Saints, Shard End

After the end of World War 2 Birmingham needed new houses to replace the bombed out suburbs and Shard End was changed from rural farmland to a new housing estate as a result in the late 1940s. The new suburb of Birmingham needed a church and All Saints' was built in the mid-1950s to serve the new community. The new church was consecrated in 1955.

The church was designed by local architect FJ Osbourne and was the first new church built in Birmingham in the post-war period. The church has a modern and fairly striking design if maybe not as pretty as churches from earlier centuries. A statue of Christ, sculpted by William Bloye, was installed above the main entrance.

Personal note: the author's parents were married here!

Monday 14 August 2017

EVR Diesel Weekend

On Saturday i returned to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, my favourite preserved line these days, for their diesel locomotive weekend. Three classic traction locomotives were in use including a Class 26 which i don't think i've ever seen before (or at least not consciously). I enjoyed my trip up and down the line in Derbyshire (Duffield to Wirksworth and back) and took lots of photos of course. You can see them here.

Saturday 12 August 2017

Oxford rails

I did plan to take a few photos at the station at the end of the trip to Oxford last week but in the event we had plenty of time at the station as everyone was already tired out from walking! I was able to do a proper photoshoot at the station which gets plenty of traffic and lots of GWR. You can see my photos here.

Tuesday 8 August 2017


Its been a long time since i have been to Oxford, 2011 in fact (though i did travel through it earlier this year when i went to Guildford). Well i went on Saturday, officially for my Mum's birthday though of course i took a lot of photos too. Interestingly the last trip back in 2011 was the first time i used my Nikon DSLR and many thousands of photos have been taken ever since.

Though i used my iPhone on this trip to the university city. I do tend to use the phone more these days especially if i'm intending to be active and not static in one location. You can see my photos here.

Monday 7 August 2017

Sevenoaks briefly

On Friday morning i had a few hours free in London so headed off into Kent. Its a bit far to go to somewhere like Sevenoaks for the day from Birmingham but its only a short train ride from Charing Cross! You can see my photos here from my short stay at the station, i just wish i could have gone in the heyday of Southern electrics.

Sunday 6 August 2017

London Rails August edition

As well as the Highgate tour i also did plenty of travelling around London's many railways including travelling on the Northern Line's Mill Hill East branch which i've wanted to travel on for ages as well as a number of other new (to me) stations.

I also visited Charing Cross to give me a taste of where my next Hidden London tour will be next month! You can see my photos here.
Euston (Northern Line Charing Cross Branch)

Mill Hill East

Finchley Central

Charing Cross
Finchley Road

Marylebone tube station

Hidden London Highgate

Highgate tube station is in the North of London but once there was a high-level station on the surface above it. This station was opened in the 1860s and at one stage was planned to be a grand hub for local services in London's Northern suburbs but Post-War austerity and changes of plan meant the station and the lines it served withered and the station closed in 1954.

I went on a tour of the remains of the high-level station on Thursday as part of the Hidden London series. The platform buildings remain but much of the station area has now been reclaimed by nature, including some of the tunnels next to the station which are bat sanctuaries. You can see my photos here.