Saturday 30 September 2017

Filling in the gap (Whatstandwell-Ambergate)

I've walked the Cromford Canal from Cromford down to Whatstandwell before and also around Ambergate a couple of times but there was a mile or two of towpath i hadn't yet been to yet so today i walked the canal the 2 miles from Whatstandwell to Ambergate to fill in that gap. Now i just need to walk the short stub of Cromford Canal near Langley Mill and then it can join the exclusive company of canals i have walked the entirety of!

While that stretch of the canal doesn't have a great deal of items of interest apart from a couple of bridges (it is not yet navigable) its a very scenic walk along the towpath, in the Derbyshire dales. There are few better places to be! You can see my photos here.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Churches (12) : St Michael & All Angels, Ledbury

St Michael & All Angels is the parish church of the Herefordshire town of Ledbury and is one of the finest churches in the county. The current church dates from the 12th century though the site was used for Christian worship since the 8th century.

Some parts of the original Norman building remain, notably the West door and chancel. A separate bell tower was added to the church in the 13th century, it may have been used as part of Ledbury's defences against Welsh attacks (the town being close to the border). The aisles were made wider and higher in the 15th century and the church took on the form it is in today.

The church suffered damage in the Civil War, Ledbury being the scene of fighting between the Royalists and Roundheads, musket shot damage can still be seen on the North doors. The church was renovated in the 19th and 20th centuries with new pews, stained glass and interior decorations plus repairs to the church which has grown neglected in the century before.

Sunday 24 September 2017

Rails around London... and Essex

As well as the tour of Charing Cross i took the opportunity in London to do some station visiting. I also headed out East to Romford (historically Essex but Greater London now), somewhere a bit far to go from Birmingham in a day but from East London less than half an hour. I wanted to go to Romford as i still remember the advert in the pub where they were singing "There'll always be a Romford!" (not that i remember what the advert was for!)

Another place i visited was Elephant & Castle on the Old Kent Road, i still remember the 1980s comedy (allegedly) "Up the Elephant and Around the Castle" where Jim Davidson sits on the statue. Well now i have seen that statue, i didn't climb up on it though! You can see the rail photos here.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Charing Cross Hidden London

This weekend i headed down to London for the second of my Hidden London tours this year, this one being at Charing Cross. The now dis-used by service trains (though still used for storage, training et cetera and filming of movies such as Skyfall) Jubilee Line platforms were central to the tour which also included a ventilation shaft (always interesting to look down on the live platforms below) and a spoil tunnel which was built to allow construction material to be removed.

A really good tour, maybe including the murkiest tunnels i have been down yet! You can see my photos here.

Thursday 21 September 2017

When i ran up a volcano

I recently found a couple of old photographs from my visit to Mount Bromo, an active volcano in East Java. I went there in 1999 back in my late 20s when i did a lot of travelling to Asia. The photos were taken with my PRAKTICA SLR camera, 35mm film of course. Back then when you took a photo you had no idea if it would turn out or not for days, weeks even months later when you got your photos developed! I do prefer the digital days to be honest.

I always remember approaching the volcano at dawn. There was a thick mist over the ash plain around the volcano cone and then a group of riders appeared out of the gloom. It was like being in a post-apocalypse movie! Later that day i actually ran up the cone of the volcano to the lip. I was a lot fitter in those days obviously.


A nice surprise last Saturday when i was at New Street waiting for my train to Stone was Tornado, the new build steam locomotive, on another platform with a rail tour.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Churches (11) : St. Nicholas, Beaudesert

St Nicholas Church sits at the bottom of the Mound outside of Henley-in-Arden. The church dates from Norman times and was probably built by Thurstan de Montefort (who also built a castle on the Mound) in about 1170. The sturdy interior possibly indicates the church was built on an earlier site [1] and rope work on the North side of the chancel may be Saxon.

The church consists of a chancel, nave and a tower to the West. The church was modified around the time of the Reformation, there are signs the North wall has been moved reducing the width of the nave. This might have been due to subsidence or unsafe ground. The tower is a later addition, added during the 15th century [2] and made from local grey stone. It is robustly buttressed for its height again indicating problems with the ground.

[1] Nikolaus Pevsner & Alexandra Wedgwood, The Buildings of England: Warwickshire (Penguin, 1966) p. 88
[2] "Parishes: Beaudesert." A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Ed. Philip Styles. London: Victoria County History, 1945. 45-49. British History Online.

Saturday 16 September 2017

Along the Trent & Mersey

Today i headed up to Stone in Staffordshire for a walk along the Trent & Mersey Canal. I've only had a brief visit to this canal once before up at Fradley Junction in Alrewas a few years ago so it was nice to have a proper explore along this waterway. Stone seems a nice place though i didn't have time to see much else, apart from the station of course! You can see my canal photos here.

Friday 15 September 2017

Collecting the tickets

A couple of years ago i decided to start keeping the train tickets i got on my weekly rail adventures (unless the barrier consumed them of course). I only kept tickets where i visited somewhere new. As you can see from the photos i have got quite a pile of tickets now, and it should continue to grow. Its nice to look through some of them and remember the places i have visited. Its one reason why i am wary of e-tickets though, how can you keep souvenirs of those?!

Thursday 14 September 2017

Foxfield shunt

A former industrial shunter backs onto its train at the Foxfield Railway.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Churches (10) : St Mary, Chesham

The oldest parts of St Mary's Church in Chesham date from the 12th century (the earliest mention of a church on the site is from 1153) though much of the church was rebuilt in the 15th and 17th centuries. As a place of worship the site dates back much further however. The church was built on a Bronze Age stone circle, some of the stones being incorporated into the church's foundations. The majority of the church is built from flint and limestone.

The church required strengthening work in the 19th and 20th centuries due to subsidence from graves and the weight of the bell tower. The tower has a lead roof, the weight of which caused large cracks in the tower.

The church consists of a chancel, North and South aisles and a clerestoried nave. Much of the church is in the Gothic style from its rebuildings in the later centuries though some elements such as a window survive from the original 12th century church.

Sunday 10 September 2017

Smethwick Rolfe Street

This weekend hundreds of places across the country are opening as part of the Heritage Open Day Weekend, one of them was Smethwick Rolfe Street. There was an interesting display in a former waiting room of the station's history and the platform mural is particularly fine. The Victorian station itself is still largely in good condition. You can see my photos here.

Saturday 9 September 2017

Bermuda Park

A bit of a mixture on today's trip out, i went up to Bermuda Park on the edge of Nuneaton. Mostly it was to get some photographs at the new station (opened in 2016) there. I have now visited all of the stations on the Coventry-Nuneaton line which was good. Though there is only 5 of them anyway!

While i was there i also visited the Coventry Canal nearby. Bermuda Park itself is an industrial estate so the environs are not exactly pretty but the canal was fine. Though my progress was halted in both directions by swans. You can see my photos here.

Thursday 7 September 2017

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Old telephone numbers

Two examples of older telephone number formats. The first is of an old shop sign in Erdington (now changed) but well into the late 1990s it still listed ERD as part of the telephone number.
B.Jones on Slade Road

This means you would dial the numbers on your phone (in those days a dial phone) corresponding to ERD, which meant you dialled 373 - still an Erdington code. As it was listed in letter format it was considered easier to remember. I wonder why this practice ceased?
GPO dial phone (at York museum)

The other is a sign at Wilmcote railway station in Warwickshire. For emergencies you would call Worcester! Presumably you would call via an operator.
Sign at Wilmcote railway station

Churches (9) : St Peter & St Paul, King's Sutton

Kings' Sutton is a Northamptonshire village on the Southern boundary of the county with Oxfordshire. Settlement has been in the area since the Bronze Age, remains of a Roman town being found half a mile to the North of the village. Kings' Sutton is said to have been the birthplace of Saint Rumbold, an infant who died just days after his birth in 662AD but professed his faith throughout his short life.

The church of St Peter & St Paul dates from Norman times (though may include some Saxon material) with a Norman font and chancel remaining intact. Much of the building was built in later centuries. North and South aisles were added in the 13th and 14th centuries. The spire on the tower was probably added in the 14th century and is 60m high [1].

[1] Christopher Winn, I Never Knew That About English County Churches (Ebury Press, 2014) p. 192

Sunday 3 September 2017

Heritage Shunter Trust Gala

On Saturday i headed up to Rowsley South via Peak Rail to attend the Heritage Shunter Trust's Autumn gala. A chance to see the various preserved shunters out in the sunshine instead of crammed into the shed (and thus much easier to photograph!) I also had a couple of brake van rides hauled by a Class 01 and a Class 02. Haulage i didn't think i would ever experience.

In my younger days such locomotive types were just things i saw in books, they were withdrawn from service by the time i was interested in railways and besides were based in far flung parts of the country i could never dream of visiting. I never thought i'd ever see one for real, never mind be pulled in a train by one! You can see my photos here.