Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Churches (34) : St James with St Thomas, Poolstock

The Church of St James with St Thomas is in Poolstock, a district of Wigan. Work began on the church in 1863 and it was consecreted three years later. The church (then known as the Church of St James) was funded by local MP and mine and mill owner James Eckersley and built in the centre of a mining village.

The church has a five bay nave with a clerestory, a chancel, a vestry, North and South aisles and a West tower. The church was built from sandstone in the Decorated style. In 1970 the neighbouring church of St Thomas closed and the parishes merged.

Monday, 15 July 2019

BGLR : Plymouth's rebirth

Due to the problems with Percy the second oldest locomotive on the line Plymouth is to make a comeback. Plymouth ran well on it's comeback to the layout after two years gathering dust in the backscene. Now Plymouth is having a complete make-over being repainted in purple!

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Return to the Tame Valley

Around ten years ago, when I was working at BCU, I began walking along the towpath of the nearby Tame Valley Canal at lunchtimes. Little did I know that this bit of exercise would inspire me to begin exploring more canals, starting my waterways blog and maybe also the spark for my railway interest and blogs?

As the waterways blog is ten years old in September I decided to walk the Tame Valley Canal again (since I left BCU six years ago I haven't visited the canal). I walked it from Witton to Rushall Junction. You can see my photos here.

Thursday, 11 July 2019


Model project #086 was an Avro Anson and it has now been completed. The kit was an old Airfix one made in the 1960s (so a lot older than me!) After lying on a shop shelf somewhere for decades I bought it off eBay last year. The kit hasn't turned out badly at all and hopefully i've done it justice after it's long wait. It's strange but decals over fifty years old sometimes are easier to place than brand new ones...

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Churches (33) : St Laurence, Alvechurch

The Church of St Laurence is the parish church of Alvechurch in Worcestershire. A church has been on the site since Saxon times and a priest is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The earliest parts of the church however date from the thirteenth century, a dedication to St Laurence dates from 1239. Parts of the chancel and North aisle may be original parts of the church.

Other parts of the church including the tower date may from the fifteenth century, it was repaired following storm damage in 1676. The church was restored and rebuilt between 1858-60.

Alvechurch was an important religious location in medieval times. The Bishop of Worcester had a palace nearby and held court here.

Monday, 8 July 2019

BGLR : Technical issues

Last year during the heat wave there was some track buckling, as a precaution this year following hot spells Growler runs light engine before the BGLR has a running session to make sure the track is ok. Unfortunately while the track is ok Percy seems to have begun having the same motor (or PCB perhaps) issues that eventually killed Maria. As a precaution Percy has been taken out of service and Tango has taken it's place. The BGLR is now concerned there is a design flaw in the type of loco Maria and Percy belong to, Ruby (currently in reserve) also is of this type!

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Mersey rails back in time

Yesterday I headed up to Liverpool for the first time this year, my aim was to visit some of the oldest railways still in operation and I achieved just that. First off Rainhill the site of the famous Rainhill trials one hundred and ninty years ago where Stephenson's Rocket won and set the template for locomotives until the mid-twentieth century. Then along to Broad Green, the third station ever in the world to open and the oldest station still open (though a remarkably unhistoric spot).

A lot newer was Wavertree Technology Park, I wanted to visit this as my Dad was born nearby in Wavertree. Finally I headed across to the Wirral and West Kirby and Hoylake, a rather lovely art deco station. You can see my photos here.

Broad Green

Wavertree Technology Park

West Kirby


Wednesday, 3 July 2019

BGLR : Isolation

The back scene siding has been relaid with a catch point added, which is our non-invasive way of adding isolated sections to sidings. This of course allows two locos or units to share a siding and so squeeze just that little bit more onto the small BGLR layout!

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Churches (32) : St Mary, Cromford

St Mary's is the parish church of Cromford in Derbyshire. The current church was built in the 1790s on the site of an older chapel. It had a nave with a chancel. The church was built from freestone and tooled gritstone and is the Perpendicular style.

The church was rebuilt in 1858 with an enlarged chancel and the tower added. Wall paintings and stained glass were added in the late nineteenth century and completed in time for the church's centenary.

Monday, 1 July 2019

MOnSter 6502

The MOnSter 6502 is very neat, it is a working replica of the MOS 6502 CPU (as used in computers like the Apple II - see below for a photo of my IIe) using transistors. Obviously it is quite a bit bigger than an actual 6502 (about seven thousand times) being made out of non-minaturised components though it is fully working - if slower. It just shows how integrated circuits made microcomputing possible.

Apparently a modern CPU like the Apple A9X as in my iPad redone like this would cover about two hundred and eighty six square metres. Lets make it happen.

I just love seeing things like the MOnSter 6502, i'm so glad there are people with the time and the ability to still do such nonsense.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

A peek at Penkridge

Originally I planned to go to Bearley yesterday but I mis-read the train timetable so had to quickly come up with a plan B! That plan B was Penkridge which is a rather nice little town inbetween Wolverhampton and Stafford. It has a fine church, railway viaduct over the river Penk and a few interesting old buildings. You can see my photos here.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

BGLR : More adverts

Some more adverts have been added to the layout, this time on the new back wall and tunnel entrance. Not much else is going on on the BGLR at the moment though soon we will be making some improvements to the back scene storage siding.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Churches (31) : St John the Baptist, Shenstone

The church of St John the Baptist in the Staffordshire village of Shenstone dates from 1853 when it replaced an earlier thirteenth century church which was largely destroyed as it was deemed "unsafe". However the tower and some other ruins from the earlier church are still standing over one hundred and sixty years later.

The church(es) were built on a plateau overlooking the village. The church has a rectangular tower, set on the North Eastern corner of the North aisle. The church has a long nave and two porches. Both churches were made from local dark sandstone.
The current church

Parts of the original ruined church

The 1853 church

The medieval tower


Saturday, 22 June 2019

Tyseley Locomotive Works

Today was an open day for the Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham, the closest the city has to a transport museum! As usual there was a good selection of steam locomotives on show, star was a replica of Stephenson's Rocket, arguably the second most famous locomotive after Flying Scotsman! No trespassers this time though. You can see my photos of the open day here.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Peak District Lead Mine Museum

The Peak District Lead Mine Museum in Matlock Bath is an excellent little museum dedicated to (as the name states) mining, especially of lead, around the Peak District. I found their collection of artifacts very interesting indeed especially the mineral samples and the wagons which used to transport ore deep underground. I'm glad I didn't have to become a miner like my great-grandfather did (for coal)! You can see my photos at the museum in my Matlock Bath set.

Matlock Bath

I wasn't at work today as its the anniversary of my Dad passing away and I prefer to do something else to take my mind off things. That "something else" was to head up to Matlock Bath which is the spa town part of Matlock. Very pretty it is too though the promenade alongside the river has an interesting mixture of shops: it seemed to be mostly either chippys or amusement arcades! The main focus of my visit was the Lead Mining Museum which will be dealt with in another post. You can see all of my photos from Matlock Bath here.

Thursday, 20 June 2019


A Blackpool "Toastrack" tram (you can probably work out why it's called that) at Crich.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

BGLR : Overside load

A while ago I bought a HO scale dummy tram. Originally I intended the tram line to be just for show but of course it is now a fully operational second line. I have removed the pantograph from the dummy tram and it makes for a neat load for the flatbed wagon.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Golden Age (20) : The Night of Fear

Moray Dalton's Golden Age murder mystery covers all the bases with aplomb. A murder is committed in a country mansion on a dark night (the victim is even in 1930s style fancy dress) and there are an assembled collection of suspects which the police and a private detective begin to investigate...

Although the crime and investigation covers little new ground what makes the story stand out is the romantic angle which becomes a major plot point, such things often missing or handled clumsily in Golden Age mysteries.

A well written and enjoyable little mystery.