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 there on the train so 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.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Castles (11) : Kenilworth

Kenilworth castle in Warwickshire dates from the reign of Henry I. The castle was built by Geoffrey de Clinton, the Lord Chamberlain of the King in the early 1120s. The original castle probably consisted of a standard Norman motte and bailey castle with a mount surrounded by a wall and a strongpoint on top of the mound. The castle was continually rebuilt and improved over the next five centuries.

Major work took place in the early thirteenth century when the wooden bailey wall was replaced by stone and two nearby brooks were dammed to create the castle's water defences. The following century saw the castle gain a great hall and other towers. The castle was owned by John of Gaunt in the later fourteenth century and was one of his most important castles. He made a number of major improvements to the castle.

Kenilworth castle was partially destroyed during the Civil War so it could not be used as a military stronghold. The castle remained a ruin in the following centuries though even by the eighteenth century it was already a tourist attraction. The castle is now owned by English Heritage.

Monday, 2 September 2019

BGLR : Return of Black Beauty

Black Beauty has returned to the layout from the reserve fleet and will replace Maggie in a few days following some running in. Maggie will then go to the reserve fleet until next year. The Railcar will also leave the layout and be replaced by the push-pull coach on commuter services.

Some technical problems have occurred with the Polaroid Cube so no videos have been made yet.