Over the years I have taken many British railway photos. I’d like to share a selection of railway photos which mean something special to me. It might be the locomotives, rolling stock or location that is important. I hope you enjoy my ‘Top of the Spots’.
Old Stevenage Station
The first railway photo was taken at the old Stevenage station. Of course this was where, on the platform furthest from the camera, I sat in my push chair as a small child and watched a Class A4 Pacific come from the North under the bridge in the distance. It scared me half to death according to my Dad. He said that from that moment onwards I was interested in railways.
Many years later I spent happy hours here with friends watching the trains go by: Deltics, Class 31’s and the infamous Craven DMUs or class 105’s as they became known. There are only three Cravens DMU vehicles left – A driving trailer on the Llangollen Railway and a 2 car set at the East Lancashire Railway where it is the subject of a major restoration.
Although there is no train in this picture, there are lots of interesting little details: The red barrows used by Royal Mail on the far right hand side, the fire buckets on the outside of the goods shed, the former siding with just the remaining ‘buffer stops’ in the foreground and semaphore signals on the East Coast Main Line. Sadly there is not a trace of this station remaining today. A new station South of this location replaced the old one in the early 1970s. I’m glad to say though that I’m still in touch with a number of friends who used to accompany me here all these years later.
Metro Cammell Pullman train
The second photo is of a Metro Cammell Pullman train, the fore-runner of the high-speed train it could be said. These train’s worked between Paddington and South Wales although initially there were also sets used on services to Birmingham Snow Hill and from St Pancras to Manchester over the Peak rail route. The best place to observe trains into and out of Paddington was at Royal Oak tube station just outside the terminus. It also had the advantage of being located opposite stabling sidings at Ranelagh Bridge where you could observe all manner of locomotives. In this particular picture you can just make out a Class 52 Western. The sidings were closed in 1980.
The Pullman trains disappeared in May 1973 and this photograph was taken in the Spring of that year. When the weather was fine, we used to sit outside of the canopied area. We would watch the variety of motive power in and out of Paddington including the fore mentioned Westerns, Warships, Hymex, Class 47s, and a variety of DMU types. I remember taking my haversack with cheese and pickle sandwiches and having great banter with mates.
The station is still here today but the motive power in and out of Paddington is not quite so exciting. You might disagree!
Deltic at Kings Cross
During the reign of the Deltics on the East Coast Main Line, Kings Cross was a fascinating place to be. It not only had these magnificent machines arriving and departing but also had interesting locomotives stabled in the sidings just outside. There were also the lines down to Moorgate from York Road and the far Western platform at King’s Cross which is no longer in use. These services were worked by mainly Class 31’s in the latter days and had non-corridored suburban type Mark 1 stock. Notice in this picture there is a complete absence of overhead catenary wire. I must have taken this picture around 1974 as the Deltic has a TOPS number but yet retains its head code. In this case indicating a destination in the North East possibly Newcastle. If it had been heading for Scotland, the second character would have been an S.
View from a sleeper
This is picture was taken from my bed on a British Rail Mark 1 sleeper in the Scottish Highlands. Note that the curtain is open and the window is half way down. I used to love catching the sleeper from Euston to Fort William in the 1970’s. On these old Mark 1 sleepers, when you are woke in the morning, you could do exactly as I described. Just lie in bed and breathe the lovely Highland air coming through the window. Not something you can do on the Mark 3 sleepers which are effectively hermetically sealed. I remember the sound of the Class 25 or 26 Sulzer engines hauling our train echoing off the hillsides. How cheering was the knock at the door as the steward came with morning tea and biscuits! I never tired of travelling in this manner.
Batty Moss (Ribblehead) Viaduct
Let’s be clear: I’m NOT condoning leaning out of carriage windows. Too many irresponsible people are killed or injured as a result of this. The consequence is that the rest of us are no longer able to stand by an open window on the main line. When Class 45’s and 47’s were the mainstay of loco hauled services over the Settle and Carlisle, it was a joy to be able to stand at open window (not to lean out) and watch the world go by accompanied by the sound of the locomotive.
In this photograph we are just about to go over Batty Moss (Ribblehead) Viaduct on the wonderfully scenic Settle & Carlisle route. Note the 20mph speed restriction. At the time this photo was taken, British Rail insisted the viaduct was in poor condition and was a prime reason for closure. Note also that there is double track over the viaduct. As many will know the track is now singled. The track was slewed towards the centre of the viaduct.
Rushcliffe Halt Signal Box
The next British Railway photo was taken from the former signal box at Rushcliffe Halt. The signal box is located on the former Great Central main line just north of Loughborough. This section is now part of the Great Central Northern heritage railway operations. In this view, taken in 1981, the line was not yet a heritage railway. Spotting trains from a signal box has to be a great way of passing the time! I think this photograph captures that feeling and provides an interesting and historic picture to share with you.
Though the box is out of use now there is a possibility that it could be reinstated particularly once the Great Central northern section is reconnected with the operation of the Great Central Railway at Loughborough. As many of you know a bridge is being constructed over the four track Midland Main Line near Loughborough station.
From a Class 25 cab
As a link to the previous railway photo this was taken from the cab of a Class 25 heading northwards through East Leake station on the former Great Central line. This was how I traveled to Rushcliffe Halt signal box. Viewing the railway and other trains from the cab is the holy grail for some enthusiasts.
I’ve included this photograph as it is both historic and many will not have seen what the Great Central looked like some years after closure to passenger services in 1966. It soldiered on over this section between a chord line that was built down to the Midland main line at Loughborough. This allowed freight trains to operate to Rushcliffe Halt for the gypsum processing plant and at this time to the Ministry of Defense facility to Ruddington.
Also many will not know that here at East Leake there was a company that used to manufacture concrete pipes. On the right of the photograph, you can see a siding with buffer stops. Behind that was another siding where wagons were loaded with these pipes. The Class 25 locomotive that I took this picture from on actually went into those sidings and collected the wagons. This formation was then taken up the line all the way to the MoD interchange sidings at Ruddington just south of Nottingham.
Inverness Lochgorm Works
Another great place to spot are maintenance depots. This is the former Inverness Lochgorm works at Inverness in the early 1970s latterly the depot coded 60A. The photo shows a Class 26 in the foreground accompanied by what are possibly are later Class 24’s judging by the number of bodyside grilles and front roof profiles. On the ground alongside the Class 26 looks like a DMU engine along with other components from traction and rolling stock.
As an engineer I worked at number of maintenance depots around the country so this is a familiar environment to me. However, there was always something special about going to Scotland and visiting the depots there and in particular Inverness Lochgorm. Examples of Class 26 locomotives can still be seen in Scotland at the Caledonian Railway Brechin, Bo’ness & Kinneil, Strathspey Railway and on the Waverley Route at Whitrope.
You can get some great Spots at railway yards where all manner of traction and rolling stock can be seen. This is Haworth yard on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. On this occasion I spotted rail buses that are used on the line. This type of vehicle does not get much attention so could be argued is an interesting example of what can be found in a railway yard. Alongside can be seen the tender for a Class S160 USA designed steam locomotive with Transportation Corps markings. In the background is a jib from a steam crane.
This final picture represents what surely must be the top spot for any railway enthusiast and that is heritage railways. This photo is taken at Bewdley station which in itself is a super place to visit and is very nostalgic. In this slide we see an Ivatt Class 2 tender loco on a freight train. Our heritage railways certainly deserve to be supported. Heritage railways are my favourite places to view trains these days.
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