musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Cheltenham

Striding out to Stroud (2)

Having left Painswick in the dust I was now in Stroud. My goals were many, I had planned a possible visit to the war memorial, St Laurence Church, a hobby shop and of course the local cemetery. It really depended on time and weather and energy levels. Unfortunately my energy levels had taken a knock as a result of the unexpected detour. The sad thing is that had I stayed at Cheltenham and caught the 10H01 train I would have arrived here at the same time as I did after my extended walk from Painswick!  

You can read about Stroud on the usual wikipedia page.

Because I had not arrived by train I had entered the city close to St Laurence Church, and it was easy to find, just look for the spire.

The weather had not eased either, but I had come very far and was not going to give up that easily. Unfortunately seeing a spire and finding it are 2 different things altogether and I ended up passing a number of odd places on the way.  This handy map came in useful at a point, but unfortunately it is only useful when you are standing in front of it. I had wanted to start off with a visit to the tourist information office but that was based on me arriving by train. 

St Laurence Church was within reach and it too dates from many years ago, although as usual various parts date from different eras but it was mostly rebuilt by the Victorians. There is an extensive history of the church at http://www.stlaurencefuture.org.uk/the-original-church.html. Unfortunately, like so many churches it is very difficult to photograph the complete building.  

Neither did the weather help very much. The church was open and I was able to investigate it further. Unfortunately it has lost its pews and while it is still very beautiful it has lost its “character”.

It also has some very nice wall memorials but they are much too high to photograph. 

The War Memorial was surprisingly legible and I had to get a pic of it.

Unfortunately the churchyard was not accessible so I could only shoot over the fence.

Then it was time to head into High Street to find my next destination, a hobby shop where I was hoping to buy some ships. Unfortunately I did not have a good experience at the shop, they were not even interested in my purchases. Guess what guys, you lost a customer!

Parts of the town were jam packed as there was a Saturday market on the go so photography was not easy. But, after finding the loo I was confident that my next destination was do-able and I headed off in what I hoped was the right direction. Compared to my earlier walk this one was much shorter, although the hills were killers. Stroud has a lot of hills and I do not envy those who have to park in some areas. 

At some point I came to the Holy Trinity Church and my goal was just a bit further on.

Stroud Old Cemetery has 17 CWGC graves in it, they were not really my priority but I would photograph any that I saw.  When I arrived at the cemetery I was in for a shock. Not only was there a signing warning of Adders, but it was a regular jungle!  

The chapel is perched on a hill and that was a seriously steep hill too. So I chose a lower path to start with. I could make no sense of this cemetery at all, it just did not fit into anything I had seen before. Apart from the potential of meeting a snake with a calculator my biggest fear was taking a fall, the overgrown graves were positively hazardous.

As much as I hated to admit it, I was tired. My hips and legs were painful and my one sock kept on disappearing inside my shoe! I was not going to spend a lot of time here, because rationally there was not much to see. There were no real headstones that caught my eye, in fact headstones were very sparse. Grabbing pics of CWGC stones where I saw them I worked my way across the cemetery and probably got 13 of them. I am glad I had not made a commitment to photograph the graves here. A private memorial would be almost impossible to find. The view from the cemetery is quite spectacular, it is just a pity that the sun was still not out.

Then I had had enough and left the cemetery and headed back to town.

This was not a cemetery I will remember easily. 

I took a a different gate to exit and walked down a street of row houses, coming to the Holy Trinity Church once more. It was open so I took a quick pic and left.

There is a very nice old school building in the area and it has a very interesting clock and bell installed.

Town was still full of people and I threaded my way through the throngs, looking for photographables.

Stroud was “in the bag”. One of the attractions of the town was the colour of the buildings, the stone being quarried locally. It reminded me a lot of Bath Spa, but without the many attractions of that town. Make no mistake, parts of Stroud are very pretty, but I had not seen too many of them. The weather and time constraints had pretty much dictated my visit, and of course my unexpected detour from Painswick did tire me out prematurely. I would have liked to have spent more time here, but the trains were a worry. 

I believe the station is a Brunel creation, but it did not have that grandness of some of his work.

I was fortunate that I did catch the train when I did because the next one was canceled and that would have left a 2 hour wait. It was not one of my better train trip days that’s for sure. Oddly enough I did not have to wait too long for a bus from Cheltenham and was home earlier than I expected. Unfortunately I am positively bushed. 

Would I go back? maybe. There is a war memorial that I did not get and I would like to look around the town more, but the cemetery is not even worth considering. However, I wouldn’t mind revisiting Painswick, it was stunning.  

And that was my day. Pass the painkillers.

© DRW 2017. Created 23/09/2017

Updated: 26/09/2017 — 12:45

Striding out to Stroud (1)

When I was on my way home from London in April this year, one of the stations we passed through was Stroud in Gloucestershire. It seemed like pretty place to visit and I filed the information away for future reference. However, this past summer was a no go for excursions, the weather has been lousy and I have really missed hitting the trail. Somewhere along the line I decided that a visit to Stroud should happen and my original planning was for last week. I had all the timetables printed out and was really raring to go. But, the weather went icky and so did I. So I never went.

This weekend the weather looked promising so I grabbed my goodies, printed my maps and set my internal alarm clock for 6am this morning, The plan was to grab a bus to Cheltenham, arriving before 8.30 and then walking to the station to catch the 8.59 train to Paddington, bailing out at Stroud, in fact I still had my timetable all printed from the week before. 

The best laid plans of mice and men had it in for me though; when I arrived at the station I discovered that my train did not exist, in fact, had I checked the times before traveling I would have found that out. I was working from a timetable for 16 September and that train had been canceled today.  The problem was that the next train was only at 10.01, and trying to kill 2 hours at Cheltenham Spa Station was not going to happen.

I hung around for awhile and read and reread the Metro that I had picked up at the barriers. Then just as I was about to head off out of the loo an announcement was made about the train to Stroud. As usual I could not hear it so I head up to inquiries. The local GWR staff were evidently waiting for news, but by then I was browned off and decided to head off to Cheltenham, buy sausages at Lidl and then head for home. I went to cash in my tickets, and in the midst of that transaction GWR came to the party and organised a taxi for me to Stroud. A shining example of customer service. Thank you Great Western Railways.

 And so I headed off to Stroud with an amiable Turkish driver. The town is about 19 km from Cheltenham I believe, and is technically closer to Gloucester than Cheltenham. As we rode along we eventually came to a built up area with some really stunning buildings, and one of those typical Anglican Churches that I keep on bumping into. One of the places on my list was St Laurence Church in Stroud and I made the assumption that this was it and decided to bail out here. You know me, I am a sucker for churches and graveyards, so this was right up my alley. Sun? there was none, although the forecast said it would clear a bit later.

I was feeling very smug that I had managed to arrive at my destination, and could look forward to a day of photography and walking. In fact I asked a local what was the name of the street that the church was on. He looked at me strangely, and said that the church was not on my map because we were not in Stroud! So if we were not in Stroud, where were we? 

The village of Painswick.

I was still 5 miles from my intended destination! The local took pity on me and seeing my interest in the churchyard showed me one of the more interesting graves in it.

It belongs to the stonemason John Bryan, and I will be frank and say that while it is unusual it is nothing compared to some of the other gravestones in the churchyard.

The churchyard is amazing, it has one of the best collections I have seen in ages, and they seem to be unique to this churchyard. In Lichfield the slate headstones were popular, over here a ground level ledger stone with a brass plaque seems to be the favoured grave ornamentation. 

The real beauties were closer to the church and I have never seen anything like them before. Unfortunately time and weather has rendered them to be mere shadows of what they looked like originally, but even today you can still marvel at the artistry.

The local showed me one of the end faces similar to the two above that had been restored and I was astounded.

The parish church of Saint Mary  was open, so I was able to go inside and have a peek. 

And like so many parish churches in the UK it is a grade I listed building and parts of it are very old. Various areas were added on over the centuries, so its really hard to tie the building down to a specific date. It is a very beautiful building inside, and my photographs do not do it justice. 

And then it was time to face reality. I was over 5 kilometres from Stroud and there was a long walk ahead. Would I be able to do it? I had no alternative, there was no other place where I could get a bus or train back to Cheltenham. I would have to hoof it.

But first:  the war memorial. 

There are supposedly 99 Yew trees in the churchyard and a number of them surround the war memorial in the churchyard.

The problem was that I had last taken an extended walk of this distance in 2015 and even then I knew that my extended walking days were more or less over. I was OK with short distances, but long ones were problematic. Fortunately the route was straight forward, just follow the road.

Painswick was a very pretty place and I would really have liked to explore it more, but the big question was weather and time. My biggest fear was getting to Stroud and finding that the trains from Paddington were canceled too, then I would have really been in trouble. I upped anchor and headed down the road. Striding to Stroud. 

The countryside around here is very beautiful, although it would have looked much better if the sun was shining.  Large areas are of National Trust Woodlands and are ideal for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Undulating areas of pasture land fall to the Wick stream which supplied the power for the woolen mills which can still been along its length. (http://www.painswick.co.uk)

I have always associated the UK with scenery like this, vast areas of green and rolling hills. It is very beautiful. 

The road seemed endless and the only way to know how I was doing was the occasional peak on the my map on my phone. That road was long, but fortunately the verge was tarred so I was not dodging and diving oncoming traffic. At some point bells started ringing as I approached an area called Stratford Park which is where the Stroud Society of Model Engineers has their track. I had been looking at the map last night to see where it was and while I had not intended going there I took note for possible future reference; and here I was walking past it! Unfortunately it was not in operation so my luck was out.  

and then….

Finally!! Break out the bubbly! I had arrived!

forwardbut

Domesday Book entry.

Naturally I was curious as to what they say about Painswick in the Domesday Book.

Yes, it is illegible. That’s why it is easier to go look it up.  

A lot of odd things happened to me today, and I have to admit that I have a sneaky suspicion I was supposed to see Painswick, and I am glad I did. I would love to explore it more but it is not an easy place to get to. The churchyard of St Mary’s was magnificent. and my special thanks must go to GWR for excellent customer service, as well as the gentleman who took me around the churchyard and church. I often think that many times were are predestined to see or do things, and Painswick was one that I had to experience. 

Now, onwards to Stroud!

© DRW 2017. Created 23/09/2017. Domesday Book entry courtesy of the Open Domesday Project, under the CC-BY-SA licence, with credit to  Professor John Palmer and George Slater. 

Updated: 26/09/2017 — 12:40

Return to the UK

On the 6th of April I packed my gear and prepared to go home from South Africa. I still struggle with the idea that South Africa is no longer home, and that I really was doing things the other way around. I was flying Virgin Atlantic again, and would use the Gautrain to get to the airport.

The weather had been typical summery weather (even though it was Autumn), but rain was forecast for the later that week, although by the 6th the rains came.  

Driving in Johannesburg is a challenge, the roads are crowded, potholes are large, idiots abound and law enforcement is usually absent. The highways are really a free-for-all and at times a giant parking lot. After having lunch it was time to go and my friends took me to Marlboro Gautrain station where I caught the airport link to Oliver Tambo International Airport. It started raining just as we left and fortunately we were heading east as opposed to west where the traffic was bumper to bumper. I did attempt photography from the front seat but the combination of rain, vibration and everything else rendered the images useless.

Once at the airport things got really slow as we queued to go through immigration. So much so that by the time I got through it the gates for boarding were open and I was not able to take any images in and around the international departures. The one thing I do recall was the exorbitant price for half a litre of  water (R35), at one vendor and R10 at the duty free.

The flight was scheduled for over 10 hours and we took off at 8.30ish and it wasn’t too awful and there were just over 250 people on board. It always amazes me how some people consider 5 items of luggage as being perfect for carry on luggage.  Service was much better on this return flight than it had been on the departure flight and I didn’t watch too much though. A rewatch of Rogue One was in order and I also took in Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival. Those two were really good watches and I recommend them both. 

I had an aisle seat in the centre aisle and for once I actually remembered to show what food was available on the aircraft and the menu is to the left of the text. I had the Bobotie and the eggs for brekkies and they were not great. 

I managed quite well during the flight and my bladder did not make a nuisance of itself for once, and I did not sleep at all as we headed North with the longest stretch over Africa.

We landed around about 6.30am and after a long queue at immigration I had my baggage and was on my way to the Heathrow Express station to catch my ride to Paddington. I had used the Heathrow Express to get to Heathrow initially, but wanted to use the Heathrow Connect for this trip so that I knew it for the future. The Express does not cut too much time off the trip to Paddington, but is more than double the price of the Connect option. The first time I landed in the UK I had used the Tube to get me to my destination, although that made more sense considering I was heading to South London whereas now I had to get to Paddington Station.

The train is comfortable and got quite crowded as we got closer to Paddington and it appears as if it is used by a number of locals to commute with. The cost for a ticket is £10.30 (or thereabouts)

At Paddington I finally stopped and grabbed a breather. I had almost 3 hours to kill before my next train to Cheltenham Spa was due. It was too short a time to go into London but very long if you have time to spare. If I had not had luggage with me I would have spent the time in reckless abandon in London on what was a really nice Spring day. I had deliberately planned the train time to be able to deal with any eventualities or delays along the way.

Paddington Station is an interesting space, especially when it comes to the roof. And, while there is not a large variety of trains in it you do get unique images if you look for them.

I am quite proud of seeing 4 HST’s under one roof on the same day!

The new shopping area is also open and I found that they had installed a Paddington themed shop in it too. 

I also found a neat Paddington shaped collection box in the shop and was able to donate some of the heavy change that I was accumulating along the way.

Paddington Station can be very full at times, and there is a constant hussle and bustle as trains arrive or depart. My 11.36 train appeared on the board at roughly 11H10, and was listed as “preparing”. 

They put up the platform number roughly 10 minutes before scheduled departure and then there was a mad rush as we all headed to the platform for our train. 

I arrived in Cheltenham Spa close to 13H30 and managed to grab the bus to Clarence Street Bus Station and then a bus to Tewkesbury where I found that there was no real way to get home with my luggage unless I hung around to 15H45 for a taxi or 15H17 for the local bus that goes through the area where I live. It was too far to hoof it with luggage though so once again I waited. 

It was all done and dusted. I had used 8 trains, 2 aircraft and 3 buses on this trip, I had covered a lot of kilometres, and discovered that even though I had last driven 3 years ago, still knew how to drive. Unfortunately my trip was not about pleasure and more about reality, it was not a holiday either, although I did get to renew acquaintances with friends I had last seen in 2014. 

South Africa has changed and is constantly changing as people get more cheesed off with the powers that be. At some point something is going to have to be done. The events of 7 April show that more and more people are getting very unhappy with the status quo. Whatever happens I just hope that it does not involve violence. 

And, to make matters worse it is back to work on Monday.

Random Images.

© DRW 2017. Created 08/04/2017

Updated: 05/05/2017 — 12:48

Photo Essay: St Peter’s Church Cheltenham

I first spotted the church from the 41 bus going to Cheltenham and was always tempted to climb out and take a closer look. The building just has the impressive look about it. However, do not be deceived because it is no longer a church, and it has not been since after 2008.  I took these images of the church and its graveyard in June 2016.

The church building  is situated on the South side of the Tewkesbury Road (Google Earth co-ordinates:  51° 54.525’N,  2° 5.445’W) . It is now signboarded as being a part of “The Rock Youth Charity“. 

The building dates from 1849, and is in a very good condition, all things considered. There is also a small war memorial on the site, but it is almost illegible

Portions of the churchyard still exists, although a lot has been paved over. There is a record of burials or names on the monuments in the churchyard and that is available at http://www.gravestonephotos.com/public/cemetery.php?cemetery=1958 . From what I can read it was designed by Samuel (S.W.) Daukes, and the congregation came  from the opposite (north) side of the Tewkesbury Road. (

This portion on the side of the churchyard was fenced off and marked as being part of a project. 

The only grave I could see from the bus had been this one 

And it was a surprisingly nice headstone too. 

There are also a large number of flat slabs, and while I did not investigate them I expect that there may even be a family vault underneath. These you cannot see from the bus as they are hidden by the low wall outside the church.

Given the size of the church and the good condition it is in I could not help asking why it fell into disuse in the first place. However many churches end up closing because of a falling congregation or a building falling down or too much competition from charismatic churches. 

My curiosity was partly satisfied, I would love to see inside the building, but that will probably never happen. At least now I do not have to try to get pics from the bus anymore. 

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 07/06/2016

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 07:20

Cotswold Festival of Steam

Yes indeed, I spent the day at the Cotswold Festival of Steam held on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (aka The Honeybourne Line). This will be the fourth time I have travelled on this heritage railway, and it is quite an experience.

This 3 day event was centered around “Swindon Built” steam engines that were primarily built for the Great Western Railway. Sadly, Swindon no longer makes steam engines, but it is the home of Steam, Museum of the Great Western Railroad which I visited in January 2015.

It was promising to be a great day because there were a number of visiting steamers, as well as the long awaited running of 35006 ‘Peninsular & Oriental S.N. Co’ – Rebuilt Merchant Navy class. I had been after a decent pic of this machine since first saw her at Toddington last year and hopefully today would be my chance.  

My day started at Cheltenham Race Course Station where I waited for 9.45 train. Much to my surprise it was a double header, and both were beauts and running tender first. The outboard engine being one of the visitors, as was the inboard.

There were a lot of people at the station, and most were brandishing cameras and that determined look that says “getoutofmywayyouareblockingtheengine!” I sometimes get that look too. Our outboard loco uncoupled and charged past us to the attach herself to the now front of the train. She was 9F class 2-10-0 no. 92214 which is the youngest BR and Swindon built steam locomotive in working order, dating from 1959.

The inboard loco remained behind. And, she was a real beauty that I really wanted to get more pics of, she is an LMS Ivatt 2MT class 2-6-0 no. 46521 and was visiting from the Great Central Railway

There was a scramble for seats and then we were off.

The one thing I realised about the GWSR is that their rails are full of joints and there is that hearkening to the grand days of joined rails that used to permeate train travel when I was young. Clickety Clack Clickety Clack!

First stop was the siding just outside Gotherington where we waited for the next train to pass. Unfortunately every door was occupied so getting a pic was impossible. I do know that the lead loco on that train was 7820 Dinmore Manor, and I suspect the second loco was 7812 Erlestoke Manor. I was really biding my time for Winchcombe where I would hopefully manage a pic of the next train as she entered Winchcombe.

Much to my surprise the next train was a goods! with a crowded brakevan of photographers, the Loco was 2807 (running as 2808), a ’28xx’ class heavy freight locomotive, built in 1905. I will be honest, I have never seen so many linesiders in one day as I did today. It just goes to show that steam engines can still pull crowds, no matter how insignificant they are.  

Once the goods was past we were on our way once again, heading towards my final destination Toddington. The train continues to Laverton, but there is really nothing to see there, except for the Stanway Viaduct and you really need to be watching a train crossing it as opposed to being on the train doing the crossing. 

The train at platform 1 had Modified Hall class 4-6-0 no. 7903 Foremarke Hall in charge.

Out of interest, the train I had just climbed off was on platform 2 which is on the right, with the next train to Cheltenham at Platform 1 on the left.  The loco at the far end of the train on platform 1 was the one I was looking out for. But alas she was just out of sight and I would only be able to see her when the train pulled out. When it finally did she remained behind until it was safely away before she backed down the line. Finally, my Merchant Navy has arrived!

Theoretically, if she continued on this line she could end up crossing to the other line to attach to the back of the train I had just vacated. 

I was wrong, she headed backwards and turned onto a line heading back into the depot and then hid behind a signal pole, hoping that I would not see her. 

After a drink of water, The Red Dragon headed backwards down the line too but pulled off onto the other side and proceeded to move forwards to attach herself to the end of the train on platform 1. 

She is a stunning machine, and I only noticed when I got home that she was a 2-10-0. Now that is impressive. I think I have a new favourite. Interestingly enough she is sister to 92220 “Evening Star”  which had the distinction of being the last steam locomotive to be built by British Railways.

And just as I was about to dash off for a bathroom break.. along came 46521 with her train, now can I go for a bathroom break?

There was not much on the go at Toddington, a traction engine and steam roller occupied some space and that was about all.

There were however, stirrings afoot and my Merchant Navy Class was on the move so it was back I went and I finally got my pic!

She attached herself to the rear of the train that had just arrived at Platform… 1? or was it 2?

It is hard to say with all this steam about. 

I heard tootings from the Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway and I headed in that direction for a look. Much to my joy there had two of their steamers out and about  

This beauty is called “Tourska” and she was built by Chrzanow in 1957 and is works number 3512. The other loco on the go was “Chaka’s Kraal No6” and she is a Hunslet and was built in Leeds in 1940, She spent most of her life in the sugar estates in Natal before being returned to the UK in 1981.  

I was tempted to go for a ride, but I had other things to do first, so would consider returning a bit later. It was time to see what was going where back at the station as I needed to make some plans.

My plans did not include a ride on that! The diesel is 11230, a Drewry industrial shunter.  In all likelihood I would grab the train that was now on its way back from Laverton and head down to Winchcombe. There was movement in the distance too, and that needed investigating.

 As I suspected, it was the goods train, and somewhere along the way she had had a loco change and was now under the control of 7812 Erlestoke Manor. 

and shortly thereafter, the train from Laverton started to appear around the bend.

46521 was still at the head of the train but now she detached from the train and settled down to have a drink and a smoke with the loco next door.

I boarded the train and off we went, heading for Winchcombe. I intended to bail there and go look at the carriage works again, and see what was waiting at the station for us to arrive.

That was 2808 waiting there, and her safeties were feathering all the time, she was ready to blast out of there. 

I was now trainless and headed out of the station towards where the carriage works were, but there was sign pointing towards the town that and I changed direction and headed off to Winchcombe town instead. I was hungry and frankly the queue outside ye pie shoppe was way too long for me. Besides, I really wanted to explore the town, so off I went, 1 mile? nah, that’s easy. 

To read about that portion of my day you can head off to the relevant blogpost about the town

I really thought that I was facing a 30 minute wait for the next train, assuming it wasn’t the goods train! However, on my walk to the station I could hear steam whistles and things were happening. As I got to the station a train arrived and it was heading to Cheltenham. The loco passed me as I got there and I saw it was 46521! The loco on the other platform was my Merchant Navy, but there was no time to grab a pic as the train that had just arrived was late, so she was not going to hang around…

We trundled back to Cheltenham, I was still hungry and footsore and just a tad bushed. The walk to and around Winchcombe had been a long one, and I really needed to start getting home.

Pausing at Gotherington.

I had to admit, it was nice country out here.

Then we arrived and all bailed out for the usual last minute loco photography.

The problem was, what loco would take the train out of Cheltenham? 7812 was sitting on the unused line waiting to shunt to the head of the train, and our current loco would probably take her place.

I walked up the long hill to the road and played chicken with a few cars who tried to run me down. I was very curious about where the line went to after Cheltenham Race Course. According to a book I bought at Toddington, the line enters the Hunting Butts Tunnel and then along a brick viaduct through the centre of Cheltenham and would have joined up with the main line between Bristol and Birmingham. The current station in Cheltenham is called Cheltenham Spa and it is far from the city centre. The former Honeybourne Line had 3 stations after Cheltenham Race Course.

I zoomed into the distance and could just see the roof top of the tunnel in the distance, but what was this loco in the foreground?

I returned to the station to photograph 46521 which should have the whole station to herself, seeing as the train had left. 

As I got to the ramp leading down to the station the loco that I had just seen started to move and it turned out to be 7820 Dinmore Manor. I had wondered where she had gotten to.

It turns out that she was doing “driver experiences” and went back and forth along the platform 3 times while I watched. 

And then it was time to go.

I stopped to photograph the vintage bus that wasn’t going anywhere.

But I was going somewhere, and that was home. It had been a long day and I was finished. I still had 2 buses to catch as well as a long walk home from Tewkesbury Town, and I was hungry too, but, It had been a good day out. I had seen some new loco’s and seen some old friends too. And, I had taken lots of pics and seen a cemetery and church too; and that made it all worth while.

© DRW 2017. Created 28/05/2016 

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 07:22

It is war I tell you!

Wartime in the Cotswolds played itself out this weekend, and I decided to share in the fun by visiting the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway that runs between Cheltenham and Toddington. I have travelled with this heritage operation twice before and they run a very professional operation.  I had also encountered a very similar day on the Great Central Railway in 2015  so it would be interesting to see how this weekend played out. The weather was also very kind to us on this day, and apart from a chilly wind it was quite an enjoyable day weatherwise. I was also going to test my new camera on this trip and was very wary about running out of batteries, although I do have 3 batteries that I carry and if push comes to shove can still use my cell phone camera.

Of course being wartime you do have to be wary of surprises around every corner, so listen very carefully, I will say this only once… War is hell! 

The first train to leave Cheltenham Race Course was not a steam engine much to my dismay, instead it was the Class 117 diesel railcar. I have been on it before and it is somewhat of an odd vehicle. 

 

I managed to snag one of the front seats so was able to see the drivers controls and the view of the rails behind us,  This is a composite of 3 images. 

Driver sits on the left.

And then we were off, the train packed with people in period civilian outfits and military uniforms. It was amazing because they took so much effort to look the part, some of the women were truly stunning in their hats and gloves and seamed stockings, and for the first time I saw children in period clothing along for the fun too. They are the ones who will be doing this in 20 years time and it is great to see that the spirit will be carried forward with them. 

Our route takes us from Cheltenham Race Course Station to Gotherington, 

Through the Greet Tunnel,

To Winchcombe

Where we would wait for the next train to come past us heading towards Cheltenham Race Course. This train was headed by the immaculate 2807, a ’28xx’ class heavy freight locomotive, built in 1905. and owned by Cotswold Steam Preservation Limited and, after a 29 year restoration, is one of the GWR’s resident locomotives.

And then we were off again, heading to our final stop: Toddington. The station is really a destination on its own and in this case it was really a microcosm of Allied Servicemen and Women with a smattering of old civilian and military vehicles, although American equipment was dominant.

I bailed off the train, pausing to watch 4270 with the next train. She is a “42xx” class tank locomotive and made her debut at the 2014 Cotswold Festival of Steam and is now a regular performer on the GWSR.

I then ambled over to the exhibits, pausing to admire a really nice restored M4A4 Sherman that was formerly a “range wreck”

Behind the tank was Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway, and I had read that they would also be running trains on this day. There is a South African connection to this railway, and to Tewkesbury. But that was assuming the train was running. We had passed their loco shed and I had seen a steam loco in steam at their shed, so I was hopeful. 

Until then I walked around, looking at interesting exhibits, especially the military vehicles. 

Then there was movement and I headed down to the platform where the narrow gauge train was uncoupling, unfortunately it was a diesel as opposed to the steamer I had hoped for, The problem was that the train would not leave unless it had enough passengers, and so far I was the only one.

I drifted off to go look at the well armed half track that was parked nearby. Oh wow, I am so sorry they did not let off a few bursts with that quad browning.

And then there was movement at the narrow gauge railway and I headed back to it, boarding the small coaches en route for California Crossing where the steamer shed was.

The line is a short one, only 3/4 of a mile, and there is not much to see, However, the shed has 4 narrow gauge loco’s.

Chaka’s Kraal No 6 spent all its commercial working life in the South African sugar cane industry being delivered to Gledhow Chakaskraal Sugar Co. Ltd. for use on their estates in Natal. It was purchased by a group of members and returned to the UK in 1981. It had originally been built in Leeds in 1940.

My loco spotted, it was time to shake my head at the station name plate. 

Meanwhile, things were afoot back at the main station with the imminent departure of 7820- Dinmore Manor. 

Now which loco was at Platform 1?  

Talking about Loco’s I also went to the running shed viewing area hoping to get a decent pic of 35006 P&O, but once again a decent pic evaded me. I wish they would turn her to face the other way so that I can see her from the front.

The shed lines were surprisingly empty, but there was still a lot of trains and rolling stock in place.

It was time for another round of photography, and the images below are of various vehicles on display.

Unfortunately I was starting to tire a bit and decided to see what I could see at the station. Another loco was now waiting its turn and it was 2807, a member of the ’28xx’ class heavy freight locomotive, built in 1905.  I was considering heading back down the line to Winchcombe, and this train was not too far off from departure

Besides, the wartime music was driving me crazy. I still have “..it’s a long way to Tipperary….”  going around inside my head some 4 hours later!

I crossed the footpath in front of the loco and headed down to the field behind the station, it was jam packed with cars and was almost a mini military camp in itself.  In fact, there was even a sodding BREN there to torture me.

Fortunately I no longer have to worry about whether it is clean or not. My timetable said that the next train was about ready to leave in 10 minutes so I ambled across the footbridge.

The loco had moved to the head of the train so I decided to join this one and head back towards Winchcombe. It felt good to get a load off though. I was really pooped.

Departure was due to happen at 12.20, but nothing happened, instead the conductor came around and announced that we were delayed due to an “unexploded bomb” at Winchcombe. This delay threw my plans out because we would not budge until the train at that station was here. so we waited. It was now touch and go whether I would head fro home of bail at Winchcombe. Eventually the up train arrived and we were given the token to leave. 

It is not a long ride to Winchcombe and I did not really feel up to spending an hour at the station, it was bad enough that it looked like the whole cast from Dad’s Army and ‘allo ‘allo was standing on the platform.

Then we were off again, next stop: Gotherington.

 

And the other train was standing at the passing loop over there, being serenaded by a very nice lady with a magnificent voice who kept on telling us the “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…

And finally we arrived back at Cheltenham Race Course. The war was over for another day. 

The loco moved to the back of the train (making it the front), and I headed for the exit. I still had a long walk to the bus stop and then once in Cheltenham I still had to catch the bus back to Tewkesbury. 

It had been a long and busy day but I had enjoyed it. I am amazed at how the English go headlong into something like this, the amount of people in uniforms and costumes was amazing. I also saw a number of old men who were obviously veterans from WW2, and their numbers are dwindling too. But as long as there are those who are willing to go to the expense of acquiring a uniform then days like this will give us all a taste of what wartime Britain was like. I see a lot of evidence of it, the war is still remembered, it has not faded from the national psyche, it is still a part of the people of this country.

V for Victory, and may we never tread that path again.

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 23/04/2016 

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 07:25

Return to the GWR

I returned to the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway (GWR) this morning as it was their Heritage Diesel Weekend. Regular readers of this blog may remember that I first travelled on this line on 15 August 2015 .
 
Make no mistake, I am not a diesel fanatic, if anything I prefer electric traction to diesel, but I am afraid heritage electric traction is rare because so few heritage lines are electrified. Diesel, whether you love it or hate it does have a place in heritage rail. It does not have the pulling power (gawkers as opposed to tractive effort), of steam though, but days like this tend to bring all manner of people out of the woodwork and into their anoraks. 
 
We started out one again at…
 
Cheltenham Race Course Station. And our loco in charge was this very fine Class 37 no: 37215. I am quite fond of these Class 37’s as they are really quite handsome beasties and reasonably noisy. 
 
This was the 10H10 train and she would be in charge all the way to Toddington and possibly Laverton too. I had decided to grab this early train so that I could get away early as I have been struggling with hip problems lately and am not really feeling too energetic. The weather was a dirty grey and it stayed that way the whole time. 
 
Then we were off, and our train made reasonable good time until we ground to a halt just outside Gotherington. Personally I would have preferred going into Gotherington as it is quite an eclectic station, although only long enough for the first 2 coaches. 
 
I had a feeling that we were waiting for something, and I was proven right when another train drawn by two diesels thundered past us heading for Cheltenham. I could not get any pics of it though, but was not too amused as that train was a double header! 
 
We rumbled into life once again and soon entered Winchcombe where theoretically we would wait for the train heading to Cheltenham to arrive. But hadn’t it already gone past us? I stuck my head out of the door and within a few minutes I saw stirrings amongst the gricers waiting at the end of the platform, as well as the sound of a two tone hooter. 
  
Although I was puzzled, they had 3 trains running between Winchcombe and Cheltenham. It was getting crowded.  With a pee-parp we pulled away and wound our way out of Winchcombe with its lines of derelict coaches towards Toddington. My plans were not too complicated. I would bail at Toddington and take a look around before catching a train either to Laverton or back to Winchcombe. It really depended on the diesels that were running around. 
  
Arriving at Toddington there were two diesels idling on the roads, and it was anybodies guess what would happen here.  
  
This odd looking machine is D8137 and she is a diesel electric loco built in 1966. She does not win many prizes for looks though. 
  
As you can see her other end is flat, and it is hard to decide which way looks better. She reminds me a lot of a stretched class 08 though, and sounds a lot like the diesels that I remember back in South Africa. 
 
I left the train at Toddington, there was no train from Laverton at Platform 2 so I decided to go look at the shops and the diesel workshop which was open for visits.

There were two diesels in the workshop at the moment, the first being a very handsome Class 37 No: 37248 
She has been undergoing refurbishment and is looking very handsome in British Rail green. The diesel behind her is a Brush Type 4 No: D1693. She is also known as a Class 47 (No: 47105).
I also got a look into her cab and this is the drivers position.

Outside the workshop was a whole yard of interesting goodies. But, the lighting was awful, and alas my shots of 35006 ‘Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co’ – Rebuilt Merchant Navy class came out lousy, which is a real pity, as I had wanted to photograph her last time I was here and all I got then was her tender.
gwr_diesel 095
Close to her on another line was 2807, a 28xx heavy freight loco,  built 1905.
and my two friends from my last trip.

 

It was time to stop drooling and get my rear end back to the platform to see what was happening. According to my timetable a train was due to arrive from Laverton followed shortly by one from Winchcombe.

A quick look down the line from the pedestrian bridge did not reveal any movements so I went down to the platform to await the arrival from Laverton. Technically this was the same train that I had just rode from Cheltenham.

I was right, and it was D8137 in front with 37215 on the rear end. There was also a gathering of gricers looking eagerly down the line towards Winchcomb. What was on its way?

I will be honest, I have no idea what loco this is. I shot video from this point, and the only pic I did get of her was this one:

Looking at my video she is D5081 (no;:24081) which makes her a class 24.  She also sounded a lot like a washing machine I once had.

I crossed back to Platform 2 to see whether I could get decent pics of D5801, but she was effectively blocked by Class 37. However, there were stirrings afoot and I headed towards the back of the train on platform 2 to see what was attaching itself to the rear of the train that had just arrived.

I had a feeling I would see her again. But it was time to get onto my train back to Winchcombe on Platform 2.

The train to Laverton pulled out and I was left staring at Platform 1 and saw movement in the distance.

I debated whether to disembark and go have a look or not when the decision was taken from me and we started to move; that would save me a walk!

E6036 is an electro-diesel from 1962. And she can be used as a conventional diesel loco or use the 3rd rail pick-up in electric mode. These are really quite handy machines to have, although her electric capabilities are limited where she is now.

At Winchombe everybody was waiting for us to arrive.

And this was the double header train that had passed us earlier at Gotherington. The lead loco was looking resplendent in Freightliner livery and she is class 47376 (D1895), a Brush Type 4.

and her partner in grime was class 26043 (D5343)

This pair made a wonderful noise as they passed us all, and I am sorry that I had not caught this train at Cheltenham originally.

At Winchcome is the carriage works for GWR, and these were open for viewing. I am a sucker for old coaches and there were quite a lot of variations in these over the span of rail in the UK. I cannot however identify any of them, but that does not stop me looking.

There was one vehicle that was fascinating here and at first I thought it had a snow plough blade underneath it.

But it turns out that this is actually a ballast spreading blade, and it is controlled by a very nautical looking “bridge”.

This “helm” is really used to raise or lower the blade. There was also a coach having work done on its undersides, and I was reminded how professional this operation is. It may be staffed by volunteers but it is a very well run railway!

There are a lot of derelict coaches and old rolling stock here, and I suspect there is a plan somewhere as to what will happen to them all if/when funds and volunteers are available. Until then we can only dream.

 


There is even a heritage shunter at the carriage works, she is D2182, a diesel mechanical shunter built in 1962.

I had intended going into Winchcombe proper, but I really did not have the energy, and the next train would take me back to Cheltenham. In fact, while I was taking a look at the model train exhibition the class 117 diesel railcar arrived.

Which meant my ride home was on her way.

Yes, and it was the diesel I expected. 45149. Class 45/1 diesel electric from 1961. And she is as old as I am.
I climbed on board and sort of settled down for the ride home. The Greet tunnel was not too far off and I was hoping to get some video going through it.

Past Gotherington, where the up train was waiting for us to pass.

And finally into Cheltenham Race Course station and all stop. We bailed out and headed to the front of the train to watch the diesel run to the back of the train.

And then I was heading up the hill back to town. It had been an eventful day. I had seen 15 loco’s today, and that is impressive. The problem with steam is that running 3 trains like this is difficult. Steamers need a drink and a fire cleaning and there are more diesels available than steamers. In a few years time these diesels will be the heritage because the steamers can only run for so long and sooner or later somebody is going to find a way to stop them running completely. Personally I just like the fact that these are old machines, and in their day they were amongst the top of the range. Today they are only found in a few places because nobody ever really considered preserving them when they lived out their useful lives. Today they are prized heritage items, and as such are worthy of a weekend of their own.

Video footage may be seen at my YouTube Channel

© DRW 2015-2017. Created 10/10/2015, images migrated 02/05/2016
   

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 07:37

The Cross of Sacrifice

Visiting cemeteries looking for War Graves will mean that I will encounter the Cross of Sacrifice on a regular basis, and it is an easily recognisable and familiar object in many of the cemeteries that I visit. 
 
The first one I ever saw was at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg, and this cemetery was really where my war grave photography started. I literally cut my teeth on war graves here, and while I have not been there in years I usually consider it a yardstick with which I compare other cemeteries to.
Cross of Sacrifice: West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg.

Cross of Sacrifice: West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg.

Designed in 1918 by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission). It is present in Commonwealth war cemeteries containing 40 or more graves. The cross is an elongated Latin cross with Celtic dimensions whose shaft and crossarm are octagonal in shape and ranges in height from 18 to 24 feet (5.5 to 7.3 m). A bronze longsword, blade down, is affixed to the front of the cross (replaced in some cases by fibreglass replicas). It is usually mounted on an octagonal base.
Cross of Sacrifice: Brixton Cemetery, Johannesburg.

Cross of Sacrifice: Brixton Cemetery, Johannesburg.

 
Sadly the local vandals stole the sword from this cross as well as from the one in Brixton Cemetery, and this has been replaced. Sadly, when I first saw this Cross it was still in its vandalised state.  There are two crosses in Johannesburg, although there is no real dedicated war cemetery in the city. The closest war cemeteries are in Pretoria and of course my favourite is in Palmietkuil just outside Springs.
Cross of Sacrifice: Palmietkuil South War Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Palmietkuil South War Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Thaba Tswane New Military Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Thaba Tswane New Military Cemetery

Leaving South Africa I travelled east to Hong Kong where the Cross of Sacrifice stands at the bottom of the magnificent Sai Wan Military Cemetery.
 
Cross of Sacrifice: Sai Wan  Military Cemetery, Hong Kong

Cross of Sacrifice: Sai Wan Military Cemetery, Hong Kong

The Cross and headstones are of the white stone which is unlike the gray that we have in South Africa, and I would encounter that white stone when I moved to the United Kingdom.

In London there are a lot of these Monuments to our folly with warfare, and the first I encountered at Streatham Park Cemetery where it forms part of the war memorial. Unfortunately the weather on this day was gray and overcast, and at that point I did not really have a place where I could submit my images to any longer.

Cross of Sacrifice: Streatham Park Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Streatham Park Cemetery


The use of the Cross of Sacrifice as the centrepiece if the war memorial is quite a regular occurrence in the UK,
Cross of Sacrifice: Brockley/Motherwell Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Brockley/Motherwell Cemetery


The Cross of Sacrifice may also be found in four of the Magnificent Seven Victorian garden cemeteries in London.
Cross of Sacrifice:Highgate Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice:Highgate Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice:Abney Park Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice:Abney Park Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice: Kensall Green Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice: Kensall Green Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice:West Norwood Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice:West Norwood Cemetery, London

Oddly enough not all of the Magnificent Seven have a Cross of Sacrifice, although one was erected in Chelsea near the station and forms part of the local war memorial. Brompton Cemetery is not too far from here.
Cross of Sacrifice: outside Chelsea Station, London

Cross of Sacrifice: outside Chelsea Station, London


Moving from London to Southampton brought new challenges and places to visit, and one of the first places I visited was Hollybrook Cemetery.  There are two Crosses of Sacrifice in Hollybrook. The first is at the memorial to those who lost their lives at sea.

Cross of Sacrifice: Memorial to the Missing. Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton

Cross of Sacrifice: Memorial to the Missing. Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton


And of course there is another Cross of Sacrifice at the World War Two plot in Hollybrook.
Cross of Sacrifice: World War Two Plot. Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton

Cross of Sacrifice: World War Two Plot. Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton


Southampton is also home to Netley Military Cemetery, and it too has a Cross of Sacrifice.
Cross of Sacrifice: Netley Military Cemetery, Southampton

Cross of Sacrifice: Netley Military Cemetery, Southampton


Southampton Old Cemetery
 
has a number of military burials within its walls and I spent many hours hunting them down. I also attended a wreath laying at the cemetery in 2013, and this grand old cemetery has a special place in my affections as a result.
Cross of Sacrifice: Southampton Old Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Southampton Old Cemetery

I only visited Winchester briefly and managed a visit to West Hill Cemetery which had a Cross of Sacrifice as part of the memorial within the cemetery.
Cross of Sacrifice: West Hill Cemetery, Winchester.

Cross of Sacrifice: West Hill Cemetery, Winchester.

I lived in Salisbury for just over a year and there was a Cross of Sacrifice in the London Road Cemetery, but none in Devizes Road Cemetery, although both of them had war graves in them.
Cross of Sacrifice: London Road Cemetery, Salisbury

Cross of Sacrifice: London Road Cemetery, Salisbury

Strangely enough, St Lawrence Church in Stratford Sub Castle had a small war graves plot presided over by a small Cross of Sacrifice. The graves were mostly of Australians from World War One.
Cross of Sacrifice: St Lawrence Churchyard, Stratford Sub Castle, Salisbury

Cross of Sacrifice: St Lawrence Churchyard, Stratford Sub Castle, Salisbury


My biggest war grave photography session was in Gosport, at Haslar Royal Navy Cemetery, and it was interesting because most of the pre World War Two graves had a different headstone to the standard CWGC one, but there was still a Cross of Sacrifice as a reminder of where you were.
Cross of Sacrifice: Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, Gosport

Cross of Sacrifice: Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, Gosport

I spent some time in Basingstoke and found that Worting Road Cemetery had a small CWGC plot with a Cross of Sacrifice in it.
Cross of Sacrifice: Worting Road Cemetery, Basingstoke.

Cross of Sacrifice: Worting Road Cemetery, Basingstoke.

And while I was in Basingstoke I managed to visit the magnificent military cemetery at Brookwood. There are two large Crosses of Sacrifice in this cemetery.

Cross of Sacrifice: Brookwood Military Cemetery.

Cross of Sacrifice: Brookwood Military Cemetery.

Cross of Sacrifice: Brookwood Military Cemetery.

I also visited the city of Bath which had a Cross incorporated into the town war memorial.

Cross of Sacrifice: Bath.

And the beautiful Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol has a Cross of Sacrifice at the “Sailors Corner”.

Cross of Sacrifice: Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol.

Cross of Sacrifice: Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol.

On a trip to Swindon I discovered a small Cross of Sacrifice in the Radnor Street Cemetery.
Cross of Sacrifice: Radnor Str Cemetery, Swindon

Cross of Sacrifice: Radnor Str Cemetery, Swindon


And on my visit to Reading I discovered the small Cross of Sacrifice in the local cemetery, keeping watch over the screen wall.
Cross of Sacrifice: Reading Cemetery.

Cross of Sacrifice: Reading Cemetery.

After Leaving Basingstoke I travelled North and ended up in Staffordshire, there I visited Cannock Chase Military Cemetery.
Cross of Sacrifice: Cannock Chase Military Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Cannock Chase Military Cemetery

And I found another Cross of Sacrifice in Warstone Lane Cemetery in Birmingham.
Cross of Sacrifice: Warstone Lane Cemetery, Birmingham

Cross of Sacrifice: Warstone Lane Cemetery, Birmingham

and another in Ryecroft Cenetery in the town of Walsall.
Cross of Sacrifice: Ryecroft Cemetery, Walsall.

Cross of Sacrifice: Ryecroft Cemetery, Walsall.

I now live in Tewkesbury, and the first Cross of Sacrifice I have encountered around here is at the beautiful Prestbury Cemetery in Cheltenham.

The point I am making is that wherever there is a Cross of Sacrifice there is a reminder that many servicemen and women, as well as civilians and their families were lost in the two World Wars, and they remind us that we must never walk down that terrible path again, because who will be left to erect even more war memorials or Crosses of Sacrifice?

I am sure I have forgotten a few of the crosses that I have seen, as I wade through my pics I am bound to find more of them, and will continue to find them as I explore more around me. The Cross of Sacrifice is a simple yet effective memorial, but it is so tragic that we need something like this in the first place.

© DRW 2015-2017. Created  20/09/2015, images migrated 01/05/2016

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:22

Traveling with the GWR (1)

While gravehunting recently in Prestbury Cemetery in Cheltenham,  I kept on hearing a steam whistle, and I had read that there was a heritage rail operation in the area called the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, it was time to investigate, and I duly headed in that direction on the 15th of August.
  
The railway runs from Cheltenham Race Course Station, to Gotherington, Winchcombe and then to Toddington stations where the loco shed and end point is. Actually that is not quite true as there is a halt further on called Laverton, which is really a signpost and not a station.  
 
Like most heritage rail operations I have encountered in the UK I was amazed at the professionalism of the operation. They are staffed by volunteers and run like well oiled machines, just like their fleet of steam and diesel engines.
 
I joined the train at Cheltenham Race Course Station for the run through to Toddington.
 
 
The loco in charge was a GWR 4200 Class, number 4270, and she dates from 1919 and she is one of 5 surviving sisters that were rescued from the famous Woodham Brothers Scrapyard in Barry. 
 
Her rake of coaches were a mixed bag of Carmine and Cream corridor and compartment coaches typically found in the UK. 
gwr 135
 
  
The train also had a buffet car and a compo van as well as a first class compartment coach. They are very comfortable coaches, totally unlike anything we had in South Africa. Oddly enough though, many of the internal fittings were the same as that found in South Africa, and the chances are the fittings all originated from the same place. 
 
Once our loco had had a drink she ran to the end of the line and then through the points onto the opposite line, ran past the train, back though the points and onto the back of the train (which was now the front of the train), she would run bunker first to Toddington. 
  
And then we were off. The line to Toddington has some challenging climbs until it comes to the Greet Tunnel which is almost the highest point of the line. The first station is Gotherington and I happened to be leaning out of the window as we came into it, and it looks like a fascinating place to visit as a destination. Technically from here you can just see Tewkesbury (although I expect binoculars would be needed).
 
The one things that amazes me is how children instinctively know how to emulate a team engine whistle, and I know that from the other heritage rail trips that I have taken.
 
The next “highlight” of the trip is the Greet Tunnel which is 693 yards long and it is the 2nd longest tunnel on a British heritage railway. I did try some photography in it using the camera flash, but my experiments were not really a success.
  
Next stop was Winchcombe and we stopped here to wait for the other train to arrive. The line is single rail between stations with passing blocks at the stattons. On this particular day there were 3 trains running on the system. 
  
And here comes the other train…
  
And with her out the way we could now proceed to Toddington. 
  
Our train is the one of the right, and the one on the left is the Railcar which runs between Laverton and Winchcombe. I had planned to look around Toddington and then grab the railcar to Laverton, and then reboard the train and travel back to Cheltenham with the next train depending on how much there was to see at Toddington. The loco shed is here and that was what I was really after. GWR also operates heritage diesels, and while these do not have the attraction of a steamer, some are really interesting machines in their own right.
45149 (D135) - Class 45/1 Diesel Electric Locomotive.

45149 (D135) – Class 45/1 Diesel Electric Locomotive.

Class  49 'electro-diesel 6036

Class 49 ‘electro-diesel 6036

26043 (D5343) Class 26, Diesel Electric Locomotive

26043 (D5343) Class 26, Diesel Electric Locomotive


Yorkshire Engine Company 372

Yorkshire Engine Company 372

Of course there were steamers too, but they were all in the wrong position to photograph, the closest I could see were:
2807 - '28xx' class heavy freight locomotive, built 1905

2807 – ’28xx’ class heavy freight locomotive, built 1905

35006 'Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co' - Rebuilt Merchant Navy class

35006 ‘Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co’ – Rebuilt Merchant Navy class


I would have really liked to have seen that Merchant Navy Class in action, but there was just now way to even get a decent pic of her.

I had decided to catch the railcar to Laverton and time was catching up with me so I headed across to the platform where she was was now due after a short jaunt to Winchcombe.


This particular example is 117 and it comprises cars W51405 (DMS), W59510 (TCL), W51363 (DMBS), although on this occasion there were only two cars coupled, of which both had a drivers end. They are powered by 2 x Leyland 680 150hp driving through 4-speed epicyclic gearboxes on each power car. It is an odd vehicle though, not quite a train, not quite a bus, although I was impressed by the smooth ride that it gave.

The trip to Laverton is a a short one, and the highlight is travelling over the Stanway Viaduct, which is 50 feet above the valley floor and comprises of 15 arches. You cannot really get a sense of these things when you are going over them, but you can bet that from ground level the viaduct is a pretty impressive piece of engineering.

 

The end of the line is Laverton. It is really just a signpost and not much else. However, there are future plans to extend the railway till it meets with the main line at Broadway, and then this operation will explode with traffic. It is 2 miles from here, so near, yet so far.
Our driver changed ends and we headed back to Toddington. Once we arrived I bailed out and went looking around again, realistically I wanted to catch a train back about 14H00, and it was do-able assuming I planned it right. The train was already in Toddington, but would not leave here until the other train had turned around at Cheltenham. It left me about 45 minutes to kill.

There was a particularly interesting exhibition in a restored bag van that had some fascinating arteacts in it, as well as a small shop with similar items.

Realistically Toddington is an eclectic place, with the emphasis on the past. They even have a narrow gauge railway at the station, but sadly this was not in use on the day when I was there.

Time was creeping, and I reboarded the railcar for Winchcomb as there were a lot of interesting pieces of rolling stock that I wanted to look at.


Unfortunately Winchcomb was a bit of a disappointment as the coaches were not accessible. It was a pity though as there were a lot of very interesting coaches to see.

I stuck my nose into nooks and crannies, passing time till my train arrived, or should I say, till both trains arrive. The one train cannot pass a section while there other is possibly in that section. It is the safe way to do things.

And then I heard a steam whistle.

It was not some imitation done by a child, but the sound of the train from Cheltenham. She would have to be alongside the platform and could only proceed until the Cheltenham bound train arrived. With minutes of her arriving my train hove along the bend and it was time for me to head off home.

That is the thing about trains, some arrive, and some depart, and some pass each other along the way.

My loco for the ride home was the 1928 built 2-6-2T – known as a ‘small prairie’ tank engine, and was used on light branch lines.  Her coaches were a crimson rake and they were just as nice inside.

 


As I left the station and headed for the bus stop I could hear the loco blowing her whistle, and I knew that I had heard that sound a few weeks ago, and that is what drew me to here in the first place.

It had been an awesome day, and I had seen so much interesting stuff and travelled on or behind three heritage railway vehicles. The GWR operation is fantastic, my only real gripe is that I did not get to see more of the loco shed, but otherwise, it was worth the time and effort. I returned to the GWR for the heritage diesel weekend, and you can read about it here.

Video of the some of the loco movements are on my youtube channel

© DRW  2015-2017. Images migrated 01/05/2016

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:25

Finding the Fallen: Prestbury, Cheltenham

The nice thing about moving to a new city is that there are new cemeteries to explore, and Cheltenham was no exception. They have a large cemetery very close to the city centre called Prestbury, and it was to this cemetery that I wended my way on the 18th of January.
 
There are 181 CWGC burials in the cemetery, as well as 28 Crematorium mentions, so I would have my work cut out for me if I wanted to grab most of the graves. Naturally I would be on the look out for the Angel population and of course anything that would grab my interest.
 
I had a feeling that the cemetery was a big one, it certainly looked like it on Google Earth, so I was not quite sure what I would find. The Lodge is just inside the main gate and it was now privately owned like so many other cemetery lodges. 
 
The map was interesting, because it showed the curves that were popular before the bean counters took over, and I suspected there was a mix of old and really old graves, with the more modern iterations moving away from the main gate.
  
The first military encounter I made was with the Glousters Memorial, and it is really a step back in time. The memorial comprising original crosses erected over the graves of men who were killed on the battle fields. Unfortunately the crosses were painted brown and that has really made them look less than historic. If anything they should have been varnished and left as they were originally. Most of the inscriptions are no longer legible either, which is really a pity.
 
And then we were off…. list clutched in my hands and shutter finger cocked. It was quite a warm day and the sun kept on coming and going which really messed with my photography. Just inside the gates is the Cross of Sacrifice, and the all crucial split that dictates how much of the cemetery you will get to see. I decided to head left because there was a CWGC grave on that side.
 . 
This was a Roman Catholic area, and it was in this area where I encountered the first angel statue. and it was the first of many. Prestbury has an impressive collection of oldies and new versions, and most were in a very good condition.
 
In fact that was one thing that impressed me about this cemetery, it was clean, well maintained, with very little sign of vandalism or neglect. Unfortunately though I did find that legibility on the headstones was not great, which was a pity because there were quite a few very impressive family stones.

 And then there is the chapel building….

I have seen a number of these in my travels, and I think the one at Prestbury outdoes them all. It is a spectacular building, in an excellent condition, and as beautiful as any church could be. Unfortunately I could not access the two chapels or the crematorium in it, but I spent quite a bit of time photographing the gargoyles and stonework of it.

 
I worked my way towards the back of the cemetery, crossing off names as I went. There was a small Australian plot close to the chapels and it did make walking the rows much easier.

But most of my graves were individuals scattered throughout and consequently I covered a lot of ground although I did not really concentrate too much on the thousands of graves all around me.

 
At some point I reached the boundary between 1950 and upwards, and it was unlikely that I would find any CWGC graves after that and started sweeping my way across the cemetery. It was really a pleasure to work this cem because I did not have to concentrate on not falling into a hole too much. The beauty of good maintenance is that my life was much easier.
  
My list was also shrinking and it was about time to find the cremations that were mentioned on the CWGC website. There were also three graves mentioned on the cemetery plans, but they were not historic in the way I would have liked. There are 5 VC graves in the cemetery, and I picked up the plaque for one of them,  although I was not specifically hunting for them. At some point I probably will, but this was not the day.
 
In fact I was starting to get tired, and home was looking more like an option. I started weaving my way towards the exit, although I really wanted to look at the Gardens of Remembrance before I left. 
  
It was a very pretty area, and I considered that if I pop my clogs one fine day this would be a suitable place to end up. Where do I sign? Unfortunately I did not find my missing crem plaque, but with hindsight I was looking in the wrong area. One more thing to do on a return visit. 
 
Behind the Gardens of Remembrance is the Ukranian Memorial
  
And that pretty much was the last image I took.  Unfortunately the 21 graves I am missing are probably PM’s so finding them is going to be very difficult, so I cannot completely mentally tick off this cemetery. One day I will be back.
 
And I am confident that the visit will be enjoyable because this is a very enjoyable cemetery to walk.

Update: 08/08/2015

Yesterday I revisited Prestbury to find the 5 Victoria Cross graves in the cemetery and clear some of the missing CWGC graves. I managed to find 13 more, and understand a bit more about how the cemetery is numbered, although I am still puzzled about where some of the graves are.

 
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