musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Heritage Rail

Back to Bristol (1)

Since getting back from Bristol last month my mind was flooded with thoughts of places that I had not seen. And of course there were all of those Wallace and Gromit sculptures just waiting for my camera. I was also running out of time till the weather changes and the days get shorter, and some other bad news that I won’t dwell upon yet. I decided that today was suitable seeing as it seemed like a nice day to hit the town. I downloaded a map of where the sculptures were (amazing to see how many I had probably walked past) and plotted a rough course that would take in the Quaker Burial Ground, the harbour, Queen’s Square, College Green, The cenotaph area, and anything that caught my fancy along the way. A revisit to Bristol Cathedral was a must too, and I was hoping to get some decent pics of the building and the parts I had not been able to access on my last visit.

Right.. off we go! 

Aschurch for Tewkesbury was gloomy and grey and when I arrived in Bristol it was gloomy and grey too, but it looked like it was going to clear. At Temple Meads I espied another of those thumping great Class 800 electro diesels and I was hoping to get a pic of either end or the middle bit. But as luck would have it, the one end was in a no go area of the platform while the middle bit was blocked off by a whole wodge of people having a conflab. Best I could do was…

I did not feel like walking to the opposite end of the train so decided to head off onto my destination instead, stocking up with a bacon buttie along the way.  My first destination would take me past St Mary Redcliffe, and as usual I tried for a better photograph of the church, this time I may have gotten it right too! Unfortunately that white pole ruins the pics… 

It is a beautiful building and worthy of being a cathedral. But it is awkward to photograph because of the 89 metre spire, which makes it the tallest building in Bristol. I visited the church way back in September 2015, and again last month and I always find something interesting in it. 

The reason I was here was to photograph the Old Quaker Burial Ground close by. It was purchased by the Quakers in 165 and was used for burials until 1923 and was donated to the city of Bristol in 1950. It is also known as “Recliffe Pit” and enclosed within the site is a hermit’s cave which was established here in 1346 by Thomas Lord Berkeley. 

The cave is really the only thing to see in the burial ground, 

I get the impression that this is really somewhat of an awkward space, but I believe it is quite popular with residents in the area, but I deplore the way those headstone are stacked behind the gate.

My first objective completed I headed for the harbour to see how many of the sculptures I could get. I had been this way before so it was not all new territory. But it is a harbour, and that is enough for me, even though there are no real ships worth seeing in it. There are however a number of interesting bridges…

I was aiming for the opposite side of the harbour and crossed the Redcliffe Bridge. and walked along the quayside which is now a mooring place for pleasure craft as commercial activity ceased in Bristol Docks many years ago. I really wanted to cross to the other side at the Prince Street Swing Bridge which would take me to the Museum area where I wanted to be. But, I spotted a certain dog perched on the bow of one of the ferries. 

And then I was at the bridge with the museum in sight, but it was closed, as it was only 8.30 in the morning! As to to be expected I was running very early, and the harbour was blissfully peaceful compared to the chaos of last month. 

I had a look at the Mayflower, which is supposedly the world’s oldest steam tug and the oldest ship afloat in the harbour. She was built in 1861 and worked all her life on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. I have however yet to see her move. Outboard of her is the firefloat Pyronaut. 

and there goes Gromit on his way to the Great Britain side of the harbour. It is possible to ride the ferry from the harbour entrance all the way to Temple Meads Station, and one day I am going to do it!

I had already photographed the one Gromit in the “M Shed Museum” so wasn’t concerned about the museum being closed (Gromitronic). My map however listed three in the immediate area of the the museum, and I found one of them next to the museum.

(29) Alex the Lion. Designed by DreamWorks

And, a short hop across the road and I had Space Oddi-tea in the bag too, although it was probably a tea bag.

(30) Space Oddi-tea. Designed by Cary’s Ink. (Wapping Wharf)

I was also pleased to see the small Avonside tank engine being prepped for the days run. If things went well maybe I could go for a trip on her.

It was time to move on and cross back to the other side of the harbour, although I really wanted a pic across the water of the Lloyds Amphitheatre. The people in front are upright paddle boarders, and it looks waaaay to unsteady for me (and slow..)

Back the way I came, and there were two reminders that people may overlook in the harbour. The first is a proper dockyard crane. These are becoming increasingly rare, and I am glad that some have survived in the harbour.

The second is probably missed by many people, but it is a reminder that the city of Bristol had a part to play in the slave trade.

The last time I had seen Prince Street Swing Bridge had been in October 2015 and it was in the process of renovation. It is such an important bridge that a temporary structure had to be fabricated to carry the load while renovations were happening.

You can see how the sky is starting to lighten up too. That was a good sign, although it would also mean that it was going to be a hot and sticky day. I had to turn left after I crossed the bridge to where my next sculpture was. I am not sure how I missed him last month though, considering I was standing almost next to it. The bronze is of the Venetian Navigator John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto; (1450 – 1500), who sailed with his ship Matthew to America in 1497.

(24) Honeydew. Designed by the Yogscast (Narrow Quay)

John Cabot Giovanni Caboto; (1450 – c. 1500)

Having visited this pair I now had to make a slight detour to Queens Square which was not too far away (fortunately), and where I would find (25) Bristol’s Own

(25) Bristol’s Own. Designed by Susan Webber (Queens Square)

Actually I enjoyed this slight detour because I was able to photograph some really interesting buildings. The pink building below is called the Merchant Venturers Almshouses, and it was built around 1696 by the Society of Merchant Venturers for convalescent and old sailors to see out their days, Today it is private accommodation

The building below is marked “Bristol Free Library” and it is now a Chinese Restaurant. The building dates from 1738–40.

And then there is the Bristol Old Vic, unfortunately it was undergoing some sort of construction or renovation so I could not get a better image of it.

Back on the trail I crossed Pero’s Bridge, it is the one with all the padlocks; where is my bolt cutter?? The bridge is named after  Pero Jones, who lived from around 1753 to 1798, having arrived in Bristol probably from the Caribbean in 1783, as the slave of the merchant John Pinney. 

There were two sculptures in the vicinity that I was after, and I managed to snag both, although one was in a window and was not really easy to photograph., and I have no idea how I managed to miss the other the previous time I was here.

(23) Feathertron 3000 Designed by JamFactory X Jimmy 2 Eggs (Bristol Energy Hub)

(17). Long John Wallace. Cascade Steps, Painted by Elaine Carr

Time was marching and I was now heading towards the College Green where the cathedral was. I really wanted to relook the cathedral as I had missed part of it last month, and I wanted to try for a better photograph of it. I am happy to report I succeeded in that endeavour.

I am not adding in images of the Cathedral here but will add them into the original Cathedral visit post.

My map said that there was another sculpture at the Mariott Royal Hotel, but I could not find it. A chance encounter with another hunter explained that the sculpture was inside the hotel and not outside. Now the hotel is really an outstanding building, situated on that fork in the road.

What I did not know at the time was that the building above is a later addition to the hotel, and the  original hotel below celebrated its 150th anniversary in April 2018.

Built between 1863 – 1868,  By WH Hawtin, it opened on 23 March 1868 and was named the Royal Hotel and it is a grade II listed building.  The Sculpture is found by following a set of paw prints…. and what a find it was.

(18) Prima Featherina. Painted by Ruth Broadway. (Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel)

Feathers McGraw never looked this good.. or bad… The sculpture is on a turntable so it was quite an interesting one to view. 

That really concludes this portion of the blogpost. Part 2 will carry on in the cathedral area before heading back towards Cabot Circus and Castle Park. 

forwardbut

DRW © 2018. Created 04/08/2018

Updated: 24/08/2018 — 05:36

Shipshape and Bristol Fashion (3) The Harbour

The Harbour Festival at Bristol was the clincher when I was making plans for a visit, although I had done quite a bit of sniffing around in it before.  My agenda had two points in it: I wanted to get images of the Great Britain from opposite where she was berthed, and I wanted to go as far as I could towards the exit channel. I entered the harbour from behind the cathedral and that put me in Millennium Square. It was very crowded and noisy and I was not really interested in much that was going on there, although the huge silver ball was kind of fascinating..

However, as they say in the classics.. “It’s all very well, but what does it do?” I do not know, but it does seem to have an exit from the building it is attached to. Parts of the square were fenced off so I headed to the water, having to make a large detour to get there. When I got there I discovered that they had blocked off the waterside path too, which was extremely irritating because they had also cut off access to the bridge that crosses the harbour. I thought that Balmoral was berthed near the bridge which is why I wanted to go there, but it turns out she was not, and was berthed opposite the Great Britain. With access cut off to the bridge I decided to try for my Great Britain shots so headed towards Balmoral in the distance.

Great Britain on the left, Balmoral on the right

The right bank was relatively quiet, but I could not find the spot to catch the ferry that runs from behind Temple Meads station to the opposite end of the harbour. I was prepared to grab that ferry and to travel with it to my destination but could not find a berth to do it from. The one area had a lot of small craft in it, including some lovely steam pinnaces.

I would have loved to have gone on one, but as a solo traveller you really end up filling in odd spaces, and besides no matter how hard I looked nowhere was there a sign that said where they were going or how often they ran.

I continued my walk… and spotted the John King approaching.  She is a steel hulled tug built in 1935 by Charles Hill & Sons Ltd. of Bristol for Kings Tugs Ltd. She was purchased in 1995 by the Bristol Industrial Museum and is kept in working condition and will continue to be part of the new Museum of Bristol.  She is a handsome old lady, and it was nice to see her still running up and down.

I finally reached Balmoral, I had last visited her in 2015, and was hoping to get onboard to have a look at the wheelhouse that I had been unable to see then because it was so crowded and it appears as if it was still crowded! 

However, the little old lady at the gangplank was doing her best to not let me see the wheelhouse, insisting that I needed to go with the guide (who was leaning on the opposite rail studiously ignoring us). Nothing I said could persuade her to let me go have a look so I left very disappointed and without reaching that goal. This has really ended my interest in this vessel, and as much as they are looking for funds frankly it is no way to treat somebody that would be a potential future passenger. 

Berthed in front of the Balmoral was “Bee”, which is  a 1970’s built supply tender, and between the two ships I could see the Great Britain in her drydock. I had achieved my one aim, everything from here on was a bonus.

I was starting to get peckish though and fortunately I spotted a nearby crepe seller. I had had my first crepe in Bristol and was chuffed that I could have my second in the same harbour. 

Bee and Balmoral

Suitably supplied I continued my walk, but was still not sure of how far away the bridge over the harbour was. I spotted a ferry stop and decided to catch it and see where it goes. The boat was crowded and lots of space was taken up by one guy who was sitting on the bench with his legs taking up 3 seats while he took selfies and filmed randomly. I was at least able to catch up on my crepe while we continued towards the bridge over the harbour. Behind us the Matthew was rapidly approaching in that sneaky way that sailing ships seem to have. She is a reconstruction of John Cabot’s ship.

And while we turned Matthew continued her voyage and you can see the bridge across the harbour in front of her. That was the spot I was aiming for originally. 

I decided to bail out at the Great Britain as the area in front of it was a large boatyard and I would have had to make another detour around it to access the Great Britain. I had visited her before, in fact I even used to have a ticket that allowed me free visits for a year, but it expired a long time ago. I really just wanted that bow shot of her which I now had.

I walked around the shop before heading back to the other bridge across the harbour. This place got more crowded as I got closer, and somewhere in that mass of humanity was a steam engine with wagons and a brake van. 

I had heard the engine while on the opposite bank so was curious to see what was providing motive power.

As I approached the Fairbairn Steam Crane there was no sight of the train, but sooner or later though I would be bound to see her. Unfortunately the crane was not in steam and I did not get to have a look around her interior. The sailing ship is Pelican of London, a reasonably new vessel built in 1948 in France as a double-beam Arctic fishing trawler. She was rebuilt as a main mast barquentine, and as of 2012, operated as a sail training vessel by the charity Adventure Under Sail

Close to the crane was a modern vessel: Graham Robertson,  a multi-role Damen Shoalbuster 2308S tug. She is quite an adaptable ship, as she was modified to undertake a multifunctional role that includes towing, pilotage, plough dredging and survey duties.

And then, over the cacophony of noise I heard a steam whistle.. I had to make a decision quickly. Would I watch John King coming alongside? or would I see what the steam engine was? John King temporarily won.

but it was a close won race

The loco turned out to be an Avonside 0-6-0ST, of 1917, works number 1764. Operating as S3 “Portbury”

It was quite an experience seeing this train safely pass through the throngs, although she was helped by men with flags and high vis vests! Given that many people are much too busy on their phones this can be a decidedly difficult operation. 

By the time I had finished with the museum the “Carboard Boat Race” was in full swing, and this part of the harbour was jammed packed. There were 3 small naval craft berthed up close to the bridge and I threaded my way towards them. The more modern ships were HMS Ranger (outboard) and HMS Smiter (inboard). Both are Archer Class patrol ships, and are used to provide sea training to members of  University Royal Naval Units.

Astern of them was “Pride of Bristol”, the former Royal Naval Tender RMAS Loyal Supporter (A107). She is operated by the Pride of Bristol Trust, and was built in 1982 by Richard Dunston Ltd. Yard T1370. 

I was fortunate enough to get on board her but she is reasonably cramped and one person could really cause a spanner in the works by standing in the wrong spot. I did manage to get in her wheelhouse!

From her decks I could see the other ships berthed across from us, and there were two sailing ships amongst them. The ship below is the Etoile Molene, a 1954 built vessel that was initially used to fish for tuna in the Bay of Biscay and then for trawling in Ireland. 

Astern of her was Iris, a 1916 traditional Dutch herring-lugger.

Unfortunately I did not take specific images of her, but as you can see the sky was clouding up and I was starting to consider raising anchor and heading home. I really just want to look at one more oddity I saw in 2015.

She was still where I saw her last, although I do not know whether she had deteriorated since then or not, or even whether she was in use.

Some digging provided me with more info: she is the former John Sebastian “Light Vessel 55” (LV55) and was purchased by the Cabot Cruising Club in 1954. She was built in 1885  by Charles Hill & Sons, Albion Yard, Bristol, for Trinity House and has a double skinned iron hull with wooden beams. She 31.39 metres long, 7.37 metres wide and has a draft of 3.66 metres.  She would have been manned by a crew of 11 men (master and six ratings on board and a master and three ratings ashore). The lantern is not the original one though, it is just a facsimile, although it does work.

The building in the background is the former General Hospital which is now yuppie pads by the looks of it. 

That more or less concluded my Bristol expedition of 2018, I returned via St Mary Redcliffe, and popped in for a visit.

On my way back I paused at the original Brunel station, it was being used as a car park at the time, but I believe there are plans for this space.

I then went to have a look at the bridge where the ferry starts from. It is quite a quirky bridge and one day I may walk to the other side and see what lies there.

At the station I saw one of the new smarmy Class 800 electro-diesel intercity trains that were being  built by Hitachi, but could not investigate further as my own train arrived at the same time.

My day was done. I have 700 images to process and it has taken me longer to do these 3 blog posts that it took to do the trip! I may have to relook that. 

I will probably revisit Bristol again, there is a lot that I would like to relook, in December CWGC will be unveiling replacement headstones for the men buried in Soldier’s Corner in Arnos Vale, so may go down for that although the days are way too short for an extended trip. I will see how it goes. 

There are a number of drawcards for a return trip, I would really like to photograph more of the Wallace and Gromit statues and visit the Quaker Burial Ground which is opposite St Mary Redcliffe. I would also like to try look around the area where the cenotaph is, and of course the Wills Tower is a drawcard, it is just a pity there is that hill….  

DRW © 2018. Created 22/07/2018

Updated: 04/08/2018 — 14:47

Curse this war!

Its that time again… Wartime in the Cotswolds with the GWSR (Gloucester Warwickshire Steam Railway). The theme? The Battle of Britain. So grab your gas mask and tin hat and follow me….

Last year I attended a similar event and it was amazing and I was really hoping for the same on this day. The weather has been changeable this whole week, but there was the promise of sunshine for later in the day with no rain in sight. I headed out early in the morning to grab a bus to Cheltenham and another bus to Cheltenham Race Course station. On the way I spotted Captain Mainwaring on his way to the station too!

I just hope that Private Pike isn’t lurking in the bushes somewhere.

Although the Americans had set up camp outside the station and that can only mean silk stockings and chewing gum for the locals. 

ARP had set up their barricades too and were checking tickets and dishing out ID cards. Naturally they were looking out for Fifth Columnists too. 

Unfortunately our train was the class 117 diesel railcar  that I always seem to end up travelling on. http://www.gwsr.com/planning_your_visit/what_to_see_and_do/DMURailcar_1.html She is not my favourite rail vehicle. I would have preferred a steam engine, but this was wartime after all, we have to make do with what we have.

The train was full, and many of the passengers were dressed in period clothing or military uniforms, it never ceases to amaze me how the British tackle something like this with so much enthusiasm, and I would really like to thank them for paying homage to a bygone age with so much enthusiasm.

And then we were off….  Our destination: Gotherington

The view out of the window was Britain in Spring, it was really beautiful, especially the huge fields of Rapeseed.

Gotherington was like a military camp, and I expect will remain like that until tomorrow when the event finishes.

It is a very quirky place and one day I must really bail out and have a look around. 

The next stop on the line is Winchcombe, I had visited the town in May last year and I was considering doing it again today, although it really depended on train timings and my own energy levels.  At Winchcombe the train to Toddington stops and waits for the train from Toddington. It is single line working between stations and a token system is used to ensure that accidents don’t happen.

It too had been taken over by the military who were cleaning their rifles and doing what soldiers have done since the days of yore.

Curse this war! how much longer must it go on?

As an aside, there was even a military dentist in his own private rolling surgery, just ready to declare you dentally fit in 7 days!

And then we heard a whistle in the distance and the oncoming train appeared around the bend.

The loco in charge was 4270, a  “42xx” class tank locomotive. She was running bunker first to Cheltenham Race Course, and would carry on with her journey once we had departed. 

The next stop was Toddington, which is really the current endpoint of the GWSR, although they do run trains to Laverton halt further up the line, and in a few years time there will be another station on the line as they extend the rail network closer to the mainline all the time.   Toddington is also where the loco shed is and the majority of displays were being held. There were a few that I had my eye on too..

As usual there was a mixed bag of cars, military vehicles, squaddies, GI’s, airmen, sailors and all manner of uniform on display, along with the usual bag of stalls selling militaria or hobby-est items. There was even a tank just in case there was an invasion.

I had seen her last year at the Welland Steam and County Fair, and just in case I need a reminder, she is a M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer.

The jaw dropper however was the reproduction Spitfire that was on display. I am struggling to find a definitive identification of the aircraft, but it appears as if she is based on the aircraft that Johnnie Johnson flew (MKIX EN398). More information on the “Spitfire Experience” may be found on their website. 

And yes, the engine did run while I was there and it was awesome. Unfortunately it did not run at full power, but it was really something to experience.

Meanwhile, back at ground level, I strolled down to the workshops to see whether there was anything there that interested me. Fortunately it was not a wasted trip because there were a number of diesels in the yard.

GWSR has a number of heritage diesels and they are quite handsome beasties, although against a steam engine they are reasonably insignificant.

Class 47376 (D1895), a Brush Type 4.

Class 37 no: 37215

Class 26043 (D5343)

Class 45/1 45149 (D135)

At the Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway they too had a train at work, although I did not go for a ride this time around. They were using “Tourska” , a 1957 Chrzanow build with works number 3512.

There was still quite a lot to see so I did the rounds once again, hoping to find a few warships for my collection, but there were lots of distractions.

It was really time to head towards Winchcombe, the train at the platform was headed by the 1950 built 7820 Dinmore Manor, a Manor class light mixed traffic locomotive.

We were supposed to leave at 11.30, but somewhere along the line the timings of the trains went haywire and we sat for an additional 20 minutes. I know there is a war on but….  

Winchcombe was crowded, and our altered timing meant that we had to wait for the train from Cheltenham Spa to arrive before we could leave. 

Fortunately ENSA was at hand to provide some wartime melodies, but I think seeing Laurel and Hardy really made my day.

And then I got suspicious because I spotted Oliver Hardy on the cellphone!  It was another fine mess he got Stanley into.

I had decided to not continue into Winchcombe because the messed up times just didn’t fit in with my plans. Remember, Cheltenham Race Course is not the end of the line for me. I had to get back into Cheltenham, catch a bus to Tewkesbury and then hoof it to where I lived. It was a long stretch ahead of me and I was tired.

Then the air raid siren went off……

and once again I could not help think of what it was like living in wartime Britain. The ever present threat of aerial bombing, rationing of food, the long lists of casualties, propaganda, soldiers, aircraft overhead, overzealous ARP members, children being evacuated, family that never returned home. This was the reality between 1939 and 1945, this small experience that I had was nothing like the real thing, and I am fortunate that I did not experience it. When I see the people dressed in their period uniforms and glad rags I cannot help but think that these were the sort of people that took it on the chin and gave it back 100 times more. I suspect the British enjoy these re-enactment events because they are reminded of what their parents and families went through in those dark hours of war. It is their way of saying: “We have not forgotten, and never will.”

And as the Home Guard peddled along the platform on his way to the NAFI, I felt a tinge of pride because I understood what Churchill meant when he said….

“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

And then the train departed for Cheltenham Race Course with me on it.

The War was over, the Battle of Britain won. 

The event was great, although last years was definitely better, there was much more to see and experience than there was this time around. The delayed trains were an irritation because you do not want to be stuck in a place like Winchcombe of Toddington with no way of getting home. And of course my own stamina is not as good as it used to be. I tire very easily nowadays and that’s not a good thing at all. Still, sign me up for next year if I am still around. Now where did I leave my tin hat?  

© DRW 2017-2018 Created 22/04/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:48

Finding the Reid Tenwheeler

Amongst the many locomotives that stood at Sanrasm South Site was the former 4-10-2T North British Loco side-tank No.23722. She is quite a rare bird as 4-10-2 was not a very popular wheel configuration, many being converted to 4-8-2 over the years they were in service. This particular survivor was fortunate enough to escape the scrap metal thieves as well as the cutting torch. She is a member of the South African Railways Class H 4-10-2T of 1899, and they dated from the pre-Union era in the Colony of Natal. 23722 was in industrial use, and her many sisters served very successfully in the services that they were used in 

I have very few images of her, and these that I do have show her front bogie missing and the loco propped up on a dolley.

Bearing the livery of Witbank Colliery Number 1, she did not seem to be worth preserving, although she is somewhat of a unique loco because of her wheel arrangement.

When Sanrasm was being finally wound up she was not amongst the assets that were scrapped, and when the final disastrous bearing theft happened she managed to survive and was earmarked for plinthing at the Rand Society of Model Engineers (RSME) at Len Rutter Park in Florida (27o 54′ 16″ E, 26o 09′ 38″ S),  and was finally unloaded on 29 June 2014 onto a pre-prepared railbed. Because that happened after I had left for the UK in 2013 I never did get to see her until now.

She stands just outside the small engine museum and has been painted in the livery above, the other side being marked “Witbank”. She is superficially in a good condition, and I suspect that some work was put into her to cover the rusted plating and damaged steelwork.

I was able to climb onto her footplate, and while the gauges and other valuable pieces are missing there were still quite a lot of her original bits and bobs in the cab.

Piet Conradie on his old STEAM LOCOMOTIVES page has the following information on her:

The 137th and final “Reid Tenwheeler” was ordered from North British Locomotive Co in Glasgow and It was delivered as North British No. 23722 of 1928. She was painted blue with white lining and lettered “WITBANK COLLIERY LTD No. 1” on the side tanks. In July 1938 she was reboilered and continued in service hauling coal for another 25 years until last steamed in March 1963.

She remained stored for over 20 years at the South Section loco shed until donated to the Railway Society of South Africa (RSSA) in a ceremony on 1 December 1985. However she remained at Witbank for another nine years until moved to the SANRASM Preservation Site at Randfontein in 1994. She was the only surviving H class in its original condition with the exception of the front bogie that was missing, fortunately it turned up under a heap of “scrap” on site. This was subsequently re-installed on the loco. There is a small chance that she is the only 10 wheeler complete in South Africa.

At this point she is safe, although I would have preferred to see her on the inside of the fence. Long may she be with us, and thanks to RSME who have given this old girl a new lease on life. 

A number of people must be thanked for their work in keeping this loco from scrap, and all credit must go to them. Thanks guys.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 26/03/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:51

Tewkesbury Railway Remnants

This post is really an expansion of the the original post I did called “Up and Down The Avon” which was supposed to deal with a trestle bridge and which has been expanded considerably since then. I have now decided to create a single post dealing with my findings. Some of the images from that original post will re-appear here as a result. 

The whole story behind the railway in Tewkesbury really center’s around the long closed Upton-upon-Severn line, and frankly I am not the expert in this endeavour. There is a wonderful website that explores Malvern’s Lost Railway much better than I can.   

This post will start out at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, the current station that serves the town although it is nowhere near the town. 

Early morning charter tour train

Ashchurch used to be a major junction at one point, with lines heading in 4 different directions. A period map shows the basics of what was a very complex junction. Unfortunately I cannot put a date to this map

Tewkesbury would be left of the Junction and the line to Cheltenham will go downwards and Worcester upwards.  All that is left is the line to the right that terminates at the MOD Depot although it used to head towards Evesham.

There is also a water tower still to be seen near the station, but that is it.

That is the approach to what is left at Ashchurch, the line on the right curves off to the MOD depot.  

The trackbed of the railway line heading to Tewkesbury is now a cycle path, and I use it regularly. There is one small bridge that goes over the road that still has remnants of the steelwork from the railway

The cycle path with the small bridge heading towards Tewkesbury

The little footbridge on the cycle path from the road beneath. The steel girders are still in place as is the brickwork although the bridge is a jerry built effort.

The cyclepath looking towards the town.

Somewhere along this path the line would have split, one section to the right becoming the Upton-upon-Severn branch and the remaining line headed into town where it would terminate at what is now Station Street. This is now a parking lot and I believe part of the wall dates back to the original station.
Close to the split is what I believe was the former goods yard, its impossible to access because of the vegetation and for some strange reason is fenced off. It is a mass of foliage and this corner is the best image I have of it. Google Earth co-ordinates are:  51.995903°  -2.147396°
The line would continue a bit further bisecting the town and heading towards Healings Mill that straddles the Avon and Severn. 
There is an interesting plaque in town that ties into this line.
 From the station the line ran into Quay Street and onto the mill. 
Quay Street

Quay Street

The Avon is bridged by two bridges at the mill. 

Bridge over the Avon

Bridge over the Avon

This bridge was erected in 1822, and is really two bridges alongside each other. The slight arch of this bridge would have made rail traffic difficult, so a flat bridge spans the river next to this one and this flat bridge would have carried the rail traffic into the mill area.  

That ends this branch line and we now return to where the line splits at the cycle path.

Returning back to the cyclepath, the line takes to an embankment that is completely overgrown, although it is doubtful whether any lines are still on it. There is a small gap at “Gas Lane” but the bridge for it is gone. The embankment continues to where it ends in a buttress at Bredon Road.   

 
 
The image above I took from the embankment and you can see the trestle bridge over the marina in the distance. My neighbour says that originally there was no bridge up to the trestle, the embankment stretched all the way across to it and the road only came afterwards. However, I spotted an image in town that may scupper that theory. The road was always there and was spanned with a bridge. The embankment then continued onwards to where the trestle bridge is today, it then crossed the current marina, went over the viaduct to the tunnel then onwards. 
That is the bridge that spans the road, and the buildings on the left still exist. I doubt that the current trestle bridge over the marina is the original, although the butresses still exist. 

The line then continued onwards to a viaduct that still stands although it has been fenced off

 
Did trains really travel over this viaduct? it is in line with the Mythe tunnel entrance so it is entirely feasible, 
This image I took from the approach to the viaduct, and the Mythe tunnel is where the cars are parked, I do think there must have been some sort of embankment leading to the tunnel though, the distance is quite short and for a steam engine to climb from the tunnel to the viaduct in such a short space would have been difficult as the grade would have been quite steep.  The Mythe tunnel still exists although it is sealed. Unfortunately the door was not accessible as it was fenced off although I was able to zoom into it from the gate. 
  
I discovered the other end in December 2016 and it is bricked closed. The tunnel appears to be roughly 300 metres long. 
That concludes the physical remnants in the Tewkesbury area, however, in Toddington you will find the Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway that used to be based in Tewkesbury. They have a number of relics from Tewkesbury that I will explore next time I am there. The 3 images of the signage were taken in their engine shed. 
That more or less concludes my relics for now. I still have exploring to do, but from a railway point of view there is not much left. Sadly a lot of the closing of this line was courtesy of the infamous “Beeching Axe” while some closures pre-dated it. Such is the way of small towns, railways and accountants.  Fortunately many closed lines provided the basis for successful heritage operations, although in the case of Tewkesbury it did not. 
An interesting snippet from the British History website has the following:  
“A branch railway from the main line at Ashchurch was built under an Act of 1837 and opened in 1840. Until 1844, when the branch was extended to the Quay, the carriages were drawn to and from Ashchurch not by steam-engines but by horses.  In the same period Tewkesbury was losing its former coach traffic, and in 1845 the diversion of the London Hereford mail to the route through Gloucester and Ledbury deprived Tewkesbury of its last four-horse coach.  In 1861 the Malvern & Tewkesbury Railway was built  from the Tewkesbury branch through the Mythe, passing by a short tunnel under the Mythe Tute. It crossed the Avon by a cast-iron bridge designed by William Moorsom.  The station on the new line became Tewkesbury’s passenger station, and the branch station became the goods depot. Passenger services were withdrawn from both lines in 1961; the permanent way across the Mythe was removed in 1964, and in the same year goods services between Tewkesbury and Ashchurch were withdrawn.”
 
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 27/12/2016, added pic of Ashchurch 13/01/2016, 21/02/2017 
Updated: 02/04/2018 — 10:24

Blundering around Bushley

The winter weather was decidely pleasant when I set out for the village of Bushley in Warwickshire, I had one CWGC grave to photograph so it was worth the walk to get there.  However, this was really a test to see how well I could cope with an extended walk like this. Unfortunately I have been suffering with unspecific hip and back pain and that has really curtailed my meanderings in the countryside. The church of St Peter is just over 3km away via the Mythe Bridge, which is not really far until you factor in the return walk and the gallivanting I had planned for my return trip. 

The route encompasses the magnificent Mythe Bridge that I had photographed last year, 

crossing the River Severn

and then following the signs until you reach the village which is in Warwickshire as opposed to Gloucestershire.

The church is easy to find too, it is the highest point there.

The church of St Peter was rebuilt in 1843 by Canon Dowdeswell and consists of chancel, north and south transepts, nave and west tower and spire, it is a Grade II listed building and was designed by Dr Edward Blore & Sir Gilbert Scott.

The graveyard is in a reasonable condition and I spotted a number of 1700’s graves in it, which means that there was a church here for many years before the current building was erected.

My CWGC grave was easy to find, and I also found one private memorial.

The War Memorial is affixed to the outside wall of the church and covers both world wars.

I am always curious as to what these parish churches look like inside, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the church was unlocked.

The building inside is much smaller than it looks from the outside, but it is a very beautiful church on the inside.

There are a number of wall memorials to members of the Dowdeswell family and a few floor memorials but I could not get a clear image of those.

 The Font may date from the late 12th century, while the organ was erected in 1908.

Time was trickling away and I needed to start making tracks out of here, I paused at the Nativity scene in front of the pulpit. Christmas was upon us, and it is a very special time in any church.

I returned to the churchyard and took more photographs.  

As can be seen the churchyard is higher than the surrounding pavement, which ties into the fact that there are more people buried here than reflect in the 177 memorials in the churchyard with a total of 352 names.

The registers for the church go back to 1538, and the oldest date on a memorial is 1633.

The churchyard does have an extension next to it, although that is nowhere near full.

Then it was time to head back to the Mythe Bridge for my next bit of exploration.

On the right hand side of this image is the sealed off entrance to the tunnel that runs underneath this road. 

It was part of the former Upton-upon-Severn to Tewkesbury line and I had been looking for the other end of the tunnel half heartedly for some time. I now had a better idea of where it was, I just had to find it. There is a footpath that runs along the bank of the Severn and by the looks of it I would be able to reach the general area without doing too much bundu-bashing.

The footpath was muddy and there was not much to see in the bush, hopefully at some point I would at least find a clue as to where the tunnel entrance was. Eventually I reached a crossroad with gates in 3 directions, the bush had thinned a bit but was still quite thick, but after checking the gps I was probably close to where I suspected the tunnel was. I walked around the one gate and voila… there it was.

It was bricked up and the entrance door had no visible hinges or lock so was probably fastened from the inside.

Sadly the local graffiti artists had expounded on his occupation, but I was kind of cheesed off that they had found this spot before I had, To see inside that tunnel I would need a long ladder and that would not fit in my slingbag.

There was an interesting little brick hut next to the tunnel with a pipe leading to the roof, but I have no way of knowing what it was in aid of, although I suspect it may have had something to do with signalling.

Then it was time to leave this remnant of the railways and head off towards town and lunch. I had achieved what I had set out to do and that was great. I could now plot that railway almost to Ashchurch Station, I just had to find one more illusive item. 

I crossed to the bank of the Avon and took a quick pic of the King John’s Bridge which was commissioned by King John in the late 12th century.

and a strange dredger called Canopus. 

and finally a gap in the former railway embankment that leads to the tunnel. 

and then home was in sight. 

It had been a long walk, and I am tired and sore. I am afraid I will have to stop taking these extended walks because recovering from them is long. Fortunately tomorrow is a bank holiday so I can take it easy, but I may just head out to….

DRW 2016-2018. Created 26/12/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:45

Walking to Winchcombe.

On all of my trips with the GWR we have always stopped at Winchcombe, but I had never been to have a look at the town. One of my workmates said it was an interesting place to see so I filed that info away for future reference, hoping that one day I would make a plan. Yesterday, when I arrived that the station I decided to take the opportunity seeing as “I was in the area”. You can read about that trip at the relevant blogpost

Actually the area was about a mile away from the town, but that’s not an impossible walk, although getting back to the station would need good timing or I could end up hanging around there for awhile waiting for the next train.

It is one of those typical English roads that has very little to see on either side, and with Spring in the air it can be a riot of colour and flowers. I was not quite sure about the route though and eventually I reached the dead centre of town: the local cemetery.

The chapel building is a nice one, and I quickly walked the graves, photographing all the visible CWGC graves that I saw. There are 12 military commemorations in the cemetery, and I managed to snag 10, so the walk was worth it. 

The town is a bit further on, with a handy sign pointing in the right direction. According to the map below, I had come in on Greet Road. Turning left at North Street I then walked up to High Street and then turned right.

 

North Street

North Street

High Street changes names a number of times, and it is narrow and the traffic is terrible with cars having to wait for each other to pass and no real sense of who has priority. I do not want to even contemplate driving in a place like this at rush hour… or rush minute. The buildings are mostly the same colour and I could not help but think that it reminded me a lot of Bath. I had seen a spire behind some buildings so headed roughly in that direction, taking the odd pic as I went.

I found the map that I posted a few pics up very close to this point so now had a better idea of how the town came together and where the church was. I was also on the lookout for the war memorial which was close by.

One side of the street is walled, and at this point it was called Abbey Terrace and I think this is where the Abbey may be or was. Either way the gates said “Private” so I steered away from them. St Peter’s Church was also on this walled area and it is a real beaut.

Unfortunately there is no way to get a proper pic of it from any angle, and that includes from the extensive churchyard.  It has an amazing collection of grotesques along its walls, and these seem to be mentioned wherever the church is mentioned too.

The churchyard was large but I did not really spend too much time in it, the legibility of the headstones is not all that good, although there were some really beautiful carvings on some of them.

I left St Peter’s feeling quite smug, so far I had picked up enough to have made my walk worthwhile, and was now about ready to head back to the station. I will definitely make a plan for a return visit next time I am on the GWR. 

I was really looking for something to eat, but gave up after being stuck behind a queue of two women who seemingly had bought the whole shop, and deliberately chosen the items that had no prices on them. I had a train to catch and still had a long walk back to the station. 

I headed back the way I had come, by the looks of my timetable I had enough time to catch the 14.15 train with about 15 minutes to spare. That was do-able and off I went, photographing this beaut as I got closer to the station. 

But as I was taking this pic I could hear the sounds of steam whistles at the station. That meant that there was a train there already, or one leaving, or even two leaving. I was not prepared to run to the station, any trains there would have left as I arrived anyway, so I just continued at my normal pace, arriving as a Cheltenham bound train arrived. This was a train that had been delayed somewhere in the system, and it was in a hurry to leave, so I quickly boarded and grabbed a seat and we pulled away almost immediately. Had I waited to have my items rung up at the supermarket I would have arrived at an empty station so leaving my stuff behind had been the right choice.

Winchombe is a pretty town, and it is steeped in history. You can feel the weight of ages in it, although the many cars do tend to ruin the ambience. It is however well worth returning to. 

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 28/05/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:16

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 2017-2017. Created 28/05/2016 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:16

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 2016-2018. Created 23/04/2016 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:57

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

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