Friday 14 June 2024

Castles (23) : Oxford

Construction of Oxford castle began just a couple of years after the Norman conquest, by the Norman baron Robert D'Oyly. The castle uses a stream of the Thames as part of it's defences. The stream was diverted to provide the castle's moat. The original castle was a motte and bailey type, originally made of wood but with stone replacing the original walls and buildings in the 12th and 13th centuries. The surviving St George's tower may pre-date the rest of the castle and be of Saxon origin.

The castle saw action in the 12 and 13th centuries including during the Baron's War. The castle lost it's military role in the late 14th century and began to decay. However, it was bought back into action during the Civil War. This was the last time the castle was used in war, though it did have a later role as Oxford prison! It continued in this role until 1996 though much of the castle structure was lost over the years including the keep in the 18th century.

Tuesday 11 June 2024

The City of London

On Saturday i headed down to London, but not by train! I had a voucher for a Flix Bus coach so used that instead. It was a fine enough experience though i do prefer rail of course. I wanted to do some proper exploring in the old City of London and visit as many churches as possible. In the end i managed twenty, plus St Pauls cathedral as well! You can see my photos here.

Monday 10 June 2024

Tube Ends (3) : Metropolitan Line (Chesham to Aldgate)

The Metropolitan Line has it's origin in the Metropolitan Railway which in 1863 became the first underground railway in the world (which is why many later underground railways are called "metros"!) The underground section of the Metropolitan was between Paddington and Farringdon, as with nowadays most of the Metropolitan was above ground. Unlike the later proper "tube" lines which were tunnels dug deeper underground, the Metropolitan was built in a deep trench which was then covered over.

Chesham in Buckinghamshire is the furthest station on the Underground from central London, a little further away than the other north western terminus Amersham (though the Metropolitan used to go to Aylesbury and beyond!) The Metropolitan heads towards London through Buckinghamshire and then Hertfordshire at places such as Rickmansworth. The building of the Metropolitan to the north west of London in the late nineteenth century spurred much house building and expansion of existing towns and villages, creating the commuter demand which the Metropolitan (and later the Underground) grew successful on.

The Metropolitan passes through north west London including Wembley and Camden before arriving at the major interchange of Baker Street. Now the Metropolitan is under the London streets as it continues through Moorgate and terminating at Aldgate in the City of London.



Finchley Road


Friday 7 June 2024

Castles (22) : Caergwrle

Caergwrle castle in Flintshire, near the English border was built in the late 13th century by the Prince of Wales Dafydd ap Gruffydd for King Edward I. However, Dafydd rebelled against the king in 1282, the castle was attacked and sabotaged by a retreating Dafydd. Edward gave the castle to his wife Eleanor of Castile. Unfortunately a fire broke out at the castle the following year.

Plans to repair the castle and build a town around it were abandoned and the castle gradually fell into disrepair, the Black Prince noted it was in ruins when he inherited the castle in the late 14th century. A great deal of the castle no longer exists including the west curtain wall and most of the south tower. Much of this stone may have been looted to make millstones.

Thursday 6 June 2024

BR today

Retro British Rail liveried 455 868 at Effingham Junction.

Wednesday 5 June 2024

A nice new calculation machine

A new calculator has joined the collection, this rather nice Lloytron Accumatic 320. The calculator is well equipped with a number of extra mathemetical functions including square roots. It also has a rather nice VFD display. The calculator powers up and seems to work pretty well.

Monday 3 June 2024

Tube Ends (2) : Bakerloo Line (Harrow and Wealdstone to Elephant and Castle)

The Baker Street & Waterloo Railway opened in 1906 though was soon known as the Bakerloo Line. The northern terminus of the line was once Watford Junction but this was reduced back to Stonebridge Park in 1992 before the line was restored back up to Harrow & Wealdstone in north west London two years later. This remains the line's northern terminus, though not all trains travel that far. 

The line heads overground through Wembley, Willesden and then to Queens Park where the Bakerloo Line enters a tunnel and doesn't see light again all the way to the southern terminus of the line. The Bakerloo serves both Paddington and Marylebone mainline termini also connecting to major Underground junctions at Baker Street, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus.

After Waterloo, another mainline terminus, the Bakerloo passes under the Thames to finally terminate at Elephant & Castle in Southwark. There have been proposals to extend the line further on, one serious proposal is to extend the line to Lewisham and Hayes though as yet it remains firmly in the planning stage.

Harrow & Wealdstone

Edgware Road

Regents Park

Elephant & Castle

Sunday 2 June 2024

Model week : Troubleshooting

All of the layout has been nailed down now, but there needs to be some troubleshooting to get rid of any niggles. It works pretty well but the track is uneven here and there causing decoupling in one part of the loop and the couplers catching in a couple of areas. Hopefully the track can literally be evened out and we can get on with some proper operations and building.

Friday 31 May 2024

Castles (21) : Tonbridge

A castle was built in Tonbridge in Kent not long after the Norman Conquest, a motte and bailey castle was built by Richard Fitz Gilbert, the wooden keep later being replaced by a stone one. Fitz Gilbert's descendants rebelled against King William II who besiged the castle and eventually had both the castle and town burnt down!

The castle was rebuilt and expanded in the 13th century including a stone wall around the town. The castle has a large two towered gatehouse which took thirty years to construct and is one of the major remaining parts of the castle, which fell out of use in the 16th century. A mansion was built next to the gatehouse in 1793.

Thursday 30 May 2024

Guildford 2024 Day 2

Day 2 of this year's trip to Guildford soon took me into the complicated network of lines east of the city, deeper into Surrey. I had a morning travelling around these culminating in Dorking. Following lunch in Guildford i then headed gradually back to Reading and my final train back home. I stopped off in Crowthorne and Wokingham in Berkshire and gave each town a closer look. You can see my photos here.

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Guildford 2024 Day 1

At the weekend i headed down to Guildford for my yearly trip, it really is my second home. I think this is my sixth visit. On day 1 i travelled from Reading into Surrey and even the edge of London (Surbiton) before finally arriving in Guildford. You can see my photos here.

Monday 27 May 2024

Tube Ends (1) : Northern Line Bank Branch (High Barnet to Morden)

In this new series we will take a look at the various lines on the London Underground, from terminus to terminus!

The Northern Line consists of the Bank and Charing Cross branches which are linked together at Camden Town. The Bank branch stretches from High Barnet in north London down to Morden in south west London, passing through the City of London. The Northern Line has a complicated history which includes the earliest deep level tube railway on the Underground.

Two separate railways were combined in the 1920s to form the Northern Line. The City & South London Railway was opened in 1890. It was London's first deep level underground electric railway and ran from Stockwell to King William Street (a station which has the distinction of not only being one of the first tube stations to open but also to close in 1900!) The CSLR was later extended to form what is now the city core of the Bank branch. The Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway was opened in 1907 running from Charing Cross to Golders Green. This now forms the city core of the Charing Cross branch.

Starting at High Barnet the line heads south through Finchley (with a branch line to Mill Hill East) and Camden. The Bank branch serves Euston, Kings Cross and St Pancras mainline termini before heading into the city serving Bank and London Bridge. Heading south of the river the Bank branch meets up with the other branch again at Kennington before heading south west to it's terminus at Morden.

Despite the name the Northern Line does not include the most northern tube stations on the Underground, however it does include the most southern!

High Barnet

Finchley Central

Clapham North


Thursday 23 May 2024

Churches (225) : St Mary, Nantwich

The parish church of St Mary in Nantwich, Cheshire dates from the 14th century. There were changes made to the church in subsequent centuries and a major restoration in the 19th century. Work began on the church in 1340 and it is built in the Decorated style. The south transept was endowed as a chantry chapel. The tower is octagonal.

Amongst the changes made the church was to raise it's floor due to flooding. The nave roof was also raised and a south porch added. North and south galleries were added in the 18th century. The church is built from red sandstone.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Monday 20 May 2024

Calculators (20) : Silver-Reed 1250PD

The most important calculator in the calculator, not least because it was the first one i bought in the early 2000s. It is also a joyfully large mains powered heavy duty calculation machine with a printer. The calculator is powered by a Hitachi HD385138 system and has the basic arithmetic functions though [add] has a large key and [subtract] also a larger (though slightly smaller than add) key in red. This is the sort of machine used for a small company's payroll, accounts or someone's expenses. There is also a lozenge marked key for sub-totals.

The calculator also has a memory function and a few other keys marked with letters, the functions of which remain unclear. Maybe a manual is around somewhere. The printer works great, i replaced the ribbon a short while ago.

Sunday 19 May 2024

SVR Diesel Gala

On Friday i attended the Severn Valley Railway diesel gala, something i always look forward to. This year the locomotive line-up wasn't quite as exciting as usual but i still had a good time and travelled behind Classes 40, 46 and 50. You can see my photos here.

Friday 17 May 2024

Churches (224) : Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tewkesbury

A monastery has existed in the town since 715CE but the abbey's origins are from the 10th century. The current abbey church was begun in 1102 with construction lasting several centuries (and surviving a serious fire in 1178). After the Dissolution, the abbey church was saved by the townsfolk who wanted to continue using it as their parish church. One part of the church that has not survived is a free standing bell tower which was demolished in the 18th century.

The church is large, the same size as many cathedrals in the country. The church has a cruciform plan with one of the largest Romanesque crossing towers in Europe. The tower was once topped with a wooden spire but this collapsed in 1559 and was not replaced. The church has an eight bay nave with aisles and a north porch. The church is mostly built from limestone ashlar.

Thursday 16 May 2024

Polesworth at last

I have been to Polesworth railway station before, though on that occaision i drove to it and was only able to look through the locked gates. Polesworth is what is known as a "difficult" station. It has one train a day, and that arrives at the station before 7am! In order to arrive at Polesworth by train i had to travel from Birmingham New Street before 6am and then get the one train a day to Polesworth from Nuneaton. 

It was worth it though, and i was the station's only user that day as no one else boarded or alighted! Afterwards i had a look around the village and then took a bus back to Nuneaton. You can see my photos here.