Monday 30 September 2019

BGLR : Heritage Coach 2

The second four wheel coach has arrived for the heritage train. It has immediately become one of my favourite coaches on the layout, certainly the best green one anyway. We'll probably get a third and final coach for this train before the end of the year.

Sunday 29 September 2019

Beautiful Bicester

I also went to Bicester yesterday, a town in Oxfordshire I have passed through many times but apart from a few minutes at Bicester North railway station to change trains once a few years ago I have never been to. What a shame I waited so long as Bicester is a lovely town with interesting buildings including a great church. You can see my photos from Bicester here.

Saturday 28 September 2019

Incredible Islip

Today I headed off to Oxfordshire. I went to Bicester (which will be covered in another post) and the village of Islip which lies between Bicester and Oxford. Islip is very lovely, almost the perfect little village with a fine old church, roads lined with pretty cottages, even a number of old signs posts. Islip was also the birthplace of Saint Edward the Confessor. You can see my photos from Islip here.

Wednesday 25 September 2019

BGLR : Tango treat

Finally some running was achieved this week, Tango got to run with the new heritage coach and looks the part too. Another of these 4-wheel coaches will be ordered soon. There is nothing else to report, plans to do some more ballasting though!

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Castles (14) : York

York castle began as a motte and bailey castle built on the orders of William the Conqueror in 1068, one of many such castles built across the land to help William solidify his power. However the castle was destroyed the following year by the Vikings. The castle was rebuilt on a much greater scale and included a moat.

Henry III rebuilt the castle in stone in the mid thirteenth century. The current keep, also known as the Clifford Tower (shown below), dates from this construction. York castle became one of the most important centres of royal power in the North.

However by the time of Elizabeth I the castle has fallen into disrepair and was no longer considered an important military strongpoint. The castle was used as a prison and centre of administration. The prison continued to be used (though with some later rebuilding) until 1929. Part of the castle is still used as a crown court, it also includes a museum.

Monday 23 September 2019

Marking Market Harborough

As I had my six monthly dental appointment today (all fine by the way) I had the day off work. After the dentist I went on a railway adventure. I headed to Leicestershire and the rather nice town of Market Harborough. A fine medievel market town with a number of pretty old buildings. You can see my photos here.

Saturday 21 September 2019

Coming to Colwall at last

Back in March I tried to get to Colwall but an issue with the trains meant I had to visit Malvern instead (which is not hardship though). However today i finally made it to Colwall in Herefordshire and what a lovely little village it is. The parish church is a bit of a walk from the village but was worth it. You can see my photos here.

Friday 20 September 2019

BGLR : Plans and lazy days

Not much has happened on the BGLR this week. A kit for a tram stop has arrived but has not been built yet. I've also been looking into the feasibility of an extension to the main board to add stock storage sidings in the back scene and I think that may be a real possibility next year...

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Rainhill in the rain

A modern train travels through Rainhill, scene of the famous trial that the Rocket won and set the template for railway locomotives for the following decades.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Castles (13) : Long Buckby

Compared to well preserved castles like Cardiff and Warwick, Long Buckby castle in Northamptonshire these days has little surviving features (on the surface anyway) apart from a mound. The castle was possibly built in the mid twelfth century during the reign of Henry II by the de Quincy family who held Long Buckby at the time.

The castle had a ring motte with a bailey to the West and a larger bailey to the East. Excavations were made in the eighteenth and twentieth centuries when the foundations of the former wall and a ditch around the edge of the baileys were discovered.

Sunday 15 September 2019

Staying in sunny Solihull

After a number of longer range rail adventures recently I decided to keep it pretty local this week. I work in Solihull (though over by the airport) but have never travelled to the town centre by train before. I finally did so yesterday and had a look around the town centre including the rather nice parish church. You can see my photos here.

Thursday 12 September 2019

BGLR : Tourist train

This week a new coach arrived, now coaching stock is not in short supply at Birches Green but this one is the first of three tourist coaches. It is four-wheeled unlike the others which have bogies. Very nice it looks too. Maybe next year it will get a steam locomotive to haul it too...

Wednesday 11 September 2019

The sad end of Ian Allan Birmingham

It is Spock (the Vulcan) who said "All things must end." and indeed is the case with the Ian Allan bookshop in Birmingham which will close next weekend. This is very sad for me as Ian Allan was not a normal shop in many ways. A specialist transport and military bookshop, it was regularly visited by myself and my best friend in our teens. It was the highlight of our weekends (this was before we discovered girls of course).

Indeed I have been going to the shop since the mid-1980s (albeit in it's previous location where the Birmingham New Street entrance is now). I have bought hundreds of books from there, many of which I still own.

Below is the first book I ever bought from Ian Allan on Electric Locomotives which I bought as my interest in railways first began when I was a schoolboy in the mid-1980s. Next to it are the last two books I bought last weekend. Inbetween are many many books and many many memories.

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Castles (12) : Cardiff

Cardiff Castle is a well preserved castle. Located in the centre of the Welsh capital, the castle is a strong point which dates from a Norman motte and bailey castle in the eleventh century, which itself was built on the site of a Roman fort. Originally built from wood the castle was converted to stone in the twelfth century. With a shell keep and outer defensive walls erected.

The castle was at the forefront of conflict between the Anglo-Normans and the Welsh, the castle being stormed by Owain Glyndwr in 1404. The castle was heavily fortified and rebuilt in the fifteenth century but by the time of the English Civil War had lost much of it's military significance.

In the nineteenth century the castle was owned by the Marquesses of Bute who renovated the castle, replacing some of the medieval buildings to create a Georgian mansion. The mansion and it's ornate interior has been well preserved.

Sunday 8 September 2019

Hidden London Piccadilly Circus

Another weekend another trip to London. This was for a long planned Hidden London visit to abandoned tunnels on the London Underground though, at Piccadilly Circus to be precise. A wonderful visit to the hidden tunnels too. The station (the publically accessable parts that is) is described as the flagship station of the Underground and the Art Deco ticket hall is why. You can see my photos here (plus of some other exploration on  the Bakerloo Line).

Wednesday 4 September 2019

Museum of the London Docklands

As well as my other adventures South of London last week I also had time to visit West India Quay at Canary Wharf. I took the opportunity to visit the Museum of the London Docklands which is there next to the dock. You can see my photos here.