Tuesday 30 April 2019

Warwickshire Places (5) : Claverdon

The Warwickshire village of Claverdon is in the Stratford district of Warwickshire and is about eight kilometres from Warwick on the road to Henley-in-Arden [1]. The manor of Claverdon (then Cleverdone) was recorded in the Domesday Book. Over the centuries it was owned by the Earls of Warwick, Kent and the Spencer family (of whom Diana was a notable member in recent decades).

The village currently has a population of just over one thousand two hundred. The village has no real notable industry, though is amid extensive farm land. The most notable building in the village is the parish church of St Michael and All Angels - the chancel arch may date from the fourteenth century though the rest is the result of nineteenth century rebuilding [2].

North-East of the village is Stone building: an isolated rectangular tower. Claverdon Hall dates from the seventeenth century though has been much altered in recent years. Claverdon has a railway station and is not far from the Stratford Canal.
St Michael and All Angels

Red Lion pub

Claverdon Top Lock 33, Stratford Canal

Claverdon station

A cooker shop


[1] "Parishes: Claverdon." A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Ed. Philip Styles. London: Victoria County History, 1945. 69-73. British History Online. Web. 3 February 2019. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/warks/vol3/pp69-73.
[2] Nikolaus Pevsner & Alexander Wedgewood, Warwickshire (Penguin, 1966) p. 233

Sunday 28 April 2019

Berkshire rails

Concluding the review of the Easter weekend trip to Guildford, I also visited a number of stations in Berkshire: Reading, Ascot and Wokingham. Most time was spent at Reading. It is a busy station and I saw my first Class 802s there, though as they look so similar to 800s I didn't realise until I was processing the photos and noticed the numbers were different! My photos can be seen here.

Saturday 27 April 2019

Chasing D-Trains

Not being at work yesterday I went down to Bletchley to see the Class 230 D-Train, new DMUs made from former London Underground D-Stock. I was able to see the D-Train finally at Ridgmont and also travelled on it a couple of times, also visiting the rather charmingly named Kempston Hardwick. You can see my photos from this part of Bedfordshire here.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

A trio of Surrey locations

Last weekend's saw a busy trip to Guildford which of course included travels to other parts of Surrey including Dorking and Ash. I also finally explored Guildford itself including it's splendid castle which I have only briefly looked at before. Guildford also includes a number of rather nice churches. I also took another walk along the Wey Navigation which flows through the town. You can see those photos here.

You can see photos of Guildford, Dorking and Ash (not of trains or waterways) here.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

FAST Museum

FAST is the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust and it's museum at Farnborough is dedicated to the work of the Royal Aircraft Establishment which conducted aeronautical research for the British armed forces, especially the Royal Air Force, since the early years of the twentieth century until 1991 when the RAE was merged into other MOD research groups. The museum is small but has plenty of interest including a replica of the Cody Flyer - the first British aeroplane to successfully fly in 1908... at Farnborough of course! Photos from the museum can be seen here.

Warwickshire Places (4) : Atherstone

Atherstone is a town at the very North of Warwickshire near the borders with Staffordshire and Leicestershire between Nuneaton and Tamworth. Atherstone is also close to the site of the battle of Bosworth, which may have actually taken place in fields near Atherstone and not Bosworth.

Settlement in Atherstone dates back to Roman times with a Roman settlement in the adjoining village of Mancetter, the Roman road Watling Street running through the town. Atherstone was listed in the Domesday Book and was granted a yearly fair by King Henry III in 1246 [1].

Atherstone became an affluent market town surrounded by agricultural lands and in later medieval times a centre for cloth and textile manufacture, being well known for it's hat industry. During the Industrial Revolution Atherstone was linked to the canal network by the Coventry Canal and the rail network by the West Coast Main Line though was eclipsed by the likes of Birmingham and Coventry industrially.
Coventry Canal in Atherstone

Parish church of St Mary

The West Coast Main Line passes through the town

Former Lock Keeper's cottage

Former canal side industry

Trinity Church

[1] "Parishes: Atherstone." A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4, Hemlingford Hundred. Ed. L F Salzman. London: Victoria County History, 1947. 126-131. British History Online. Web. 23 February 2019. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/warks/vol4/pp126-131.

Monday 22 April 2019

Surrey rails

My trip to Guildford over the Easter weekend was the greatest rail adventure I have yet done, on Saturday I travelled on no less than nine trains! Over the weekend I travelled to new stations to me like Dorking Deepdene, Ash and Addlestone as well as revisit the likes of Woking. You can see my photos of Surrey's railways here.

BGLR : New Railcar

Well we said last week we wanted a railcar, one appeared on the second hand market and we snapped it up! Its pretty well worn and has needed some lengthy running-in sessions to get any decent performance out of it but the railcar has been accepted into the fleet this morning. It will alternate with Coach A the Driving Van Trailer every six months on the local passenger runs.

Sunday 21 April 2019

Ash canal

I've just returned from a three day trip to Guildford and Surrey, as usual doing lots of train travelling and lots of walking! Yesterday had the busiest day which started at Ash and ended in Farnborough and the FAST air museum. Starting the review at Ash, this is a really nice area on the edge of Surrey with an interesting church. I had a walk along the Basingstoke Canal up to Ash Vale where I caught another train. You can see my Basingstoke Canal photos here.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Warwickshire Places (3) : Lillington

Lillington is a suburb of Leamington Spa. However until 1890 it was a separate village which had existed since Saxon times. Lillington is mentioned in the Domesday Book [1].

Since incorporation into Leamington, Lillington has been greatly expanded with a new centre at Crown Way. The old village centre is around the parish church of St Mary Magdalene which, although rebuilt in Victorian times, still has some medieval features.

Also in Lillington is the Midland Oak. This is an oak tree (the original tree has gone but a new tree has been grown from an acorn of the original) which is supposed to be the "centre of England"*.
Midland Oak park

St Mary Magdalene

Entrance of churchyard of St Mary Magdalene


* Other centres of England are available.

[1] "Parishes: Lillington." A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Ed. L F Salzman. London: Victoria County History, 1951. 161-164. British History Online. Web. 9 February 2019. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/warks/vol6/pp161-164.

Monday 15 April 2019

BGLR : Rolling stock plan for 2019/20

The financial year from 2018/19 which has just ended was a big one for the Birches Green Light Railway in terms of motive power. If we include Black Beauty which arrived in early April last year there were four new locomotives in the year including Maggie as shown below. As well as locomotives there was another coach (to give a total fleet of seven), and a couple of new wagons added to the fleet including the standard gauge wagon trolley which arrived last week.

So what about the new year? The BGLR will probably not get as many new locomotives this year, though a railcar is high on the list. A works shunter for the HO scale tram line is also wanted. A short rake of heritage coach stock would also be nice...

Saturday 13 April 2019

Seeing a bit more of Hatton

I have been to Hatton in Warwickshire a few times but it's always been to walk the canal or stay at the station. So today I decided to actually see something of the village itself. I only got as far as Hatton Green as the main part of the village is actually quite a walk from the station but I did get to see the lovely church there which must rank as one of the loveliest old churches I've ever seen.

You can see my photos of Hatton here, including the railway there. You can see my photos along the Grand Union Canal at Hatton here.

Wednesday 10 April 2019

BGLR : Little Big One

If you have a standard gauge wagon loaded with goods which are needed where there are only narrow gauge rails what do you do? You can transfer the load of course to a narrow gauge wagon but this is time consuming. One option is to load the standard gauge wagon onto a flatbed narrow gauge trolly and transport it that way! This happens on the Central European narrow gauge networks which Birches Green is modelled on and with the arrival of this new Roco combination it can happen on the BGLR too!

The standard gauge (HO) wagon is a bit wobbly though on the HOe trolly. It is also a bit heavy. Ruby is pictured with the wagons but was unable to make a lap of the BGLR loop without a little help from a 1:1 scale finger! The Bear was able to pull the wagons and this was it's final duty before joining the reserve fleet.