Tuesday 30 January 2024


On Saturday i headed up to Cheshire to visit the rather nice, and pretty rural Cheshire village of Wrenbury-cum-Frith, which had a nice little church of course. The village also has the Llangollen canal pass by it so i also walked that, you can see photos of the canal walk here, and other Wrenbury photos here.

Monday 29 January 2024

Northamptonshire Places (4) : Corby

The town of Corby is located in the north of the county. The town has 8th century origins. The Danes formed a settlement called Koris By (Koris' settlement), by the time of the Domesday Book the name had changed to Corbei. Corby was granted a charter to hold annual fairs and have a market by King Henry III in 1226. 

Iron ore mines have been in the area since Roman times. An ironstone industry developed in the 19th century which helped Corby grow rapidly from a village to an industrial town. The steel making industry began in Corby in the mid-1930s with workers from elsewhere coming to Corby to further increase it in size. The population grew from 1,500 in 1931 to around 12,000 by the end of the decade! Corby was designated a New Town in 1950. Corby continued to grow as the steel industry flourished.

However, as with many industrial towns in Britain big changes and decline came in the 1970s and 1980s with the closure of Corby steelworks. New industries have come to the town in recent years helping the economy to recover. Corby's railway station (which opened in 1879) closed in 1967, re-opened in 1987 then closed again in 1990! Corby was one of the largest towns in Europe without a railway station but it re-opened again in 2009 and the line has now been electrified with regular trains to London so hopefully this time it should remain open!

Friday 26 January 2024

Churches (208) : St Helen, Clifford Chambers

The parish church of St Helen in Clifford Chambers, Warwickshire has existed since the late 11th century with a rebuilding in the mid-12th. Surviving traces of the church's Norman origins include the nave doorways and a pillar piscina (a basin for washing communion vessels). The church's west tower has perpendicular features. The church has a north vestry and a south porch.

The church is made from rubble and Cotswold stone. It was restored in 1886.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Return to Northampton

At the weekend i went to Northampton, my second trip though the first was a number of years ago. Back then i was only really interested in taking photographs of railways and canals so missed the churches and anything else out, what a mistake that was because Northampton has several rather wonderful old churches and more besides. You can see my photos here.

Monday 22 January 2024

Northamptonshire Places (3) : Kettering

The town of Kettering is in the northern half of the county. Kettering has Saxon orgins, the name meaning the place of Ketter's people though there has been settlement in the area since at least the Iron Age, traces of a Roman settlement have also been found under the present day Kettering. The Saxon village of Kettering (or Keteriringen as one spelling has it) may have existed since the 10th century. Kettering first appears in a royal charter in 956CE.

Kettering gained a market charter in 1227 under King Henry III. The manor was held by the Abbey of Peterborough. By the 17th century the town was becoming known for woollen cloth. In the 19th century the boot and shoe industry helped the town grow in size. Large footwear manufacturers continued to have factories in the town into the 20th century though nowadays most of the industry has moved away. In the 19th century the town became a centre for iron smelting though this industry also died out in recent decades.

Kettering gained a railway station in 1857. The parish church of St Peter & St Paul has Norman origins though the church was rebuilt in the 15th century.

Friday 19 January 2024

Churches (207) : St Mary the Virgin, Nottingham

The parish church of St Mary the Virgin has Saxon origins and is the oldest church in Nottingham. Most of the current building though dates from the 14th and 15th centuries including the nave and south aisle. The tower was completed in the early 16th century. The church was restored in the 1840s.

The church is in the Gothic perpendicular style and is made from ashlar. The church is laid out in a cruciform plan with a crossing tower and transepts. There is a nave with aisles, though the chancel does not have aisles. 

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Chirk and the Llangollen

On Saturday i headed up to north Wales, though only just. Chirk (Y Waun) is a town right on the border and is next to the Llangollen Canal which i have wanted to visit for some time. Chirk is so close to the border that the historic Chirk aqueduct is split in half by this imaginery line. You can see my canal photos here and other photos of Chirk here.

Monday 15 January 2024

Northamptonshire Places (2) : Kings Sutton

Kings Sutton is a village on the south-western edge of the county near to Banbury (in Oxfordshire) and Brackley. There have been settlements in the area since the Bronze Age, a Roman settlement was nearby in the early first millennium. The Saxon saint Rumwold is said to have lived and died in Kings Sutton in 662. The oldest building in the village is the parish church dedicated to St Peter & St Paul, which has some surviving Norman elements and may have some pre-Norman material.

During the Civil War, the Royalists dug saltpetre (potassium nitrate) at Kings Sutton which was used for gunpower manufacture in Banbury. Near the village is the 18th century manor house Astrop Hall. This was also the site of a popular spa for a time.

Kings Sutton gained a railway station in 1872. Close to the village passes the Oxford Canal.

Saturday 13 January 2024

The realisation of a dream

Being a "book" person (with over a thousand non-fiction books in my collection alone) all my life, i guess i have always fancied being an author since childhood. Of course i am an author of this and other blogs, but being the author of a "proper" dead tree book from a recognised publisher is another level.

Well in mid 2022 i was approached by Amberley to produce a railway book. The agreed subject turned out to be on the railways of Birmingham and how they have changed over the last ten years or so. The book is mostly pictorial though with captions i have written which are hopefully fairly informative. The book was completed last year and is finally due to be released next month. Today i received my complimentary copies and my longterm dream is now coming true.

To be honest it is quite a surreal experience holding a printed and bound book in my hands which i have written and includes my photography. Maybe i am a bit biased but i think it has come out really well. You can order the book here, or in all good bookshops of course.

Friday 12 January 2024

Churches (206) : St Bartholomew, Edgbaston

The parish church of St Bartholomew in Edgbaston, Birmingham has medieval origins though much of the current church is from a 19th century rebuilding. The north aisle is 15th century, the lower part of the tower is 16th with the upper part 17th.

The church was rebuilt in 1885, the chancel, chapels and north arcade date from then. The church is of the Perpendicular type.

The church is built from red sandstone.

Thursday 11 January 2024

Fradley Junction

Fradley Junction in Staffordshire is where the Coventry and Trent & Mersey Canals meet. The junction, which was opened in 1790, was an important one for canal trade due to the Trent & Mersey's strategic links with two major rivers and also with the Coventry Canal offering access to the Thames via the Oxford Canal. Nowadays, the importance of the junction is for leisure users of the canals. A nature reserve is adjacent to the junction.

Wednesday 10 January 2024

Merseyside start

So, it is time to begin the 2024 rail adventures. They began at the weekend with a trip to Merseyside. I was able to tick off three more stations and enjoy some trips on the soon-to-be retired Class 507s. You can see my photos here.

Monday 8 January 2024

Northamptonshire Places (1) : Long Buckby

Long Buckby is a village to the west of the county of Northampton. The village has pre-Norman origins from during the Danelaw. The name may mean Bukki or Bucca's farm. A castle was built in the village by the Normans in the 12th century probably during the reign of Henry II, only earthworks now remain. Also from the 12th century is the parish church of St Lawrence, the tower being a surviving part of the original church.

The village was recorded in the Domesday Book as Buchebei, it gained the Long prefix during the Elizbethian era reflecting the size of the village. Long Buckby was a centre for the weaving and wool making in the 17th century, in the following century shoemaking became important. 

The village gained a railway station in 1881, now part of the Northampton Loop of the West Coast Main Line. The Grand Union Canal also passes close to the village. Nowadays, the village is mainly residential and many inhabitants are commuters who use the railway and the nearby M1 motorway.

Sunday 7 January 2024

Calculator action

Well i have created videos of me using typewriters, and a dial phone (which has already become my third most popular video on YouTube!) So, here is a video of me using my Busicom 1210PD calculator! 

Friday 5 January 2024

Review of 2023 : December

Let us bring the review of 2023 to an end, and it was a fairly busy end too! It started with a walk along the local canal after a cold snap, this was followed by a trip to Nottingham to travel on the tram and also visit Wilford. Before Christmas there was also time to visit Leicester and Great Malvern.

After Christmas and in the final few days before the New Year i did some train travel in local Warwickshire stations and then the final rail adventure of 2023, all the way to the West of Wales and Dovey Junction.

So, that was 2023. An exciting year full of highlights. Now we enter 2024 and let us hope the highlights will continue, one of these should be my first published book coming out in the early part of the year. More details soon...

Song of the month was "let you go" my Marc Matthews, artist of the year was Trevor Something (yet again!)

Dovey Junction


St Wilfrid, Wilford

Water Orton