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Rail: 1961 to Today

. . . . . . . future epochs will remember us as a coarse and philistine people who squandered our bottomless rich cultural inheritance for short-term and meaningless financial advantage.— Gerald Howard

                       Lord Carnarvon: 'Can you see anything . . . .?' 

                                 Howard Carter 'Yes. Wonderful things!'


Although the last scheduled steam hauled service was from Preston on 3rd August 1968, the (officially) last steam hauled working on British Railways was an excursion: The Fifteen Guinee Special here with 70013 on its fabled '1T57' outward journey, crossing the Ribble at Stainforth Force (Sherrif Brow). I have the original working timetable from a helpful guard at Carnforth Station (remember any of those?). 11th August 1968

With a few frames left in colour and mono from my Spanish and Woodhams visits, it was a wade across the Ribble with a 112 miles return trip by bicycle: PT shorts, no Lycra then, no Sat-Nav, no mobile, no tablet . . . . . ! It was a long 56 miles home against the wind via Whalley for the returning train with two the Black 5s. After that, we thought it was all over.

Praktica lV (Pentacon 1963/66), Pentacon-Meyer 135 2.8 lens, K2 filter, tripod and 'over & under' bracketed to a Mamiya Rangefinder with which I took a simultaneous colour trans.

Long after the tickets sold out the '15 Guinea Special' poster was still displayed outside the long-since demolished entrance to Lostock Hall station; the theoretical penultimate day of steam. 10th Aug 68

Passenger services here ceased a year later in Oct 1969, the station losing this wooden building from the east side of Watkin Lane overbridge in the 1970s. A new basic set-up opened 14th May 1984, with platform access to the relocated station site now again via steps, but on the opposite side of the road.

After a quick trespassing around Lostock Hall motive power depot where the Black 5s (including  45110 before or just after it's brick arch failure) were stationed for the following day's 1T57 (well, who was going to challenge anyone at this late stage), I nipped up to Carnforth for some historic pics of lines of dis-used locos of which you have no doubt seen many other photographers'  examples shot from the field-path overlooking the MPD;  70013 was there being prepared I think.

On a then-still-complete Carnforth station I was given the copy working timetable for 1T57.  With the Southport-Preston line closed,  the route via Burscough slowed , and Ribble buses running Sunday service, my own timetable next day would include a 112 mile return trip by bicycle (actually more than a third of the rail tour distance!)

I like the poster's wording: '314 nostalgic miles . . . .' ; this from those who were already halfway through destroying a national asset.

5 years earlier, 8th August 1963, there was another 'great' train robbery!

Not the Halina, I can read even the small text on the poster! This was from Praktica lV and its similar but superior Cooke triplet.

Later in the day, with pressure up for the climb to Wilpshire summit, the two Black 5s  bring 1T57 up off Whalley viaduct: minis and beehives, but neither an orange jacket nor a blue helmet in sight.  11 Aug 68

Praktica lV, Pentacon-Meyer 135mm f2.8  lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4

Apparently some would have happily gone to gaol (or hospital) for that once in a lifetime shot! The two Black 5s, 44871 & 44781 with the returning '1T57' approaching Whalley Rd (then the A59) underbridge. Another Black 5 45110 (replacing 45305 that had failed the day before with a collapsed brick arch) also worked the train on the first leg of the outward trip from Liverpool to Manchester and return.  11th Aug 1968

That original '1T57' headboard (black on white) was extant (2018) and used on a similar routed anniversary excursion. The plaque became a mini-celebrity for the day, shot by numerous photographers after removal by a bemused staff member, probably not born when the plaque was originally carried and too young to empathize with the emotional spectators!

Although 44781 was scrapped, the other Black 5s 45110, and it's replacement 44871, together with Britannia 70013 survive in preservation, as do two of the excursion's coaches: Mark 1 TSOs 4933 and 4937, at the East Lancashire Railway, Bury.

Praktica lV, Meyer 135mm f2.8  lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4

Whalley A59 underbridge. 11th August 1968.

This transparency began losing its density long before digitizing entered our vocabulary. I've been back: only the grass and the weeds (bottom right) exhibit approximately their correct colours!

Rank Mamiya Rangefinder, Sekor 40mm fixed lens, Agfachrome CT18 unfiltered

I finished the film with shot after shot of the receding train and its smoke drifting past those who had turned out to watch from the end of their back-gardens; well, there'd be else nothing to shoot now! The train disappeared toward Blackburn, and its smoke settled as the watchers returned to their homes; after that, we really did at last believe it was all over. 11th August 1968

Praktica lV, Meyer 135mm f2.8  lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4

. . . . . . . . . and that was it. Late afternoon, 11th Aug 68

Praktica lV, Meyer 135mm f2.8  lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4

50 years, and half a Carnforth Station later, with no building on the bridge at Lostock Hall, the bridge over the (old) A59 at Whalley is little changed. They don't cut trees any more, do they! 11th Aug 2018

Re-purchased Praktica lV, re-purchased Meyer 135mm f2.8  lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4

53 yrs after its run with 1T57, 44871 leaves Hastings with a return Victoria-Eastbourne excursion with a few more admirers on the bridge than on the A59 at Whalley all those years ago. 25th Nov 2021

Nikon D850, 60mm f2.8 Macro

Another 4-8-4 of this class hauled me from Zaragoza via Longrono and Haro to Miranda de Ebro; they were powerful but not particularly fast. A great trip. It would be a year before Spain phased out its steam fleet. I've often wondered about the efficiency of a short firebox coupled with a long boiler. July 1969

The only time I slept with a nun and a tramp - you could spend all night in a waiting room then!

Practika lV, Ernst Ludwig 50mm f2.9 preset lens, K2 filter. FP4

Two more 4-8-4 locomotives. The pinnacles in the background are those of baroque Catedral-Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar on the south bank of the Ebro, and confirm my memory of this location as being one of Zaragoza's disappeared MPDs. The area around the 17thC basilica was already under threat from multi-story construction on the building-site that was Spain.       July 1969

Praktica lV, Ernst Ludwig 50mm f2.9 preset lens, K2 filter. FP4

RENFE 4-8-0 2312, Miranda d'Ebro MPD. Alongside is what appears to be a Couillet 0-4-0T No 020.0261 that does not appear in records of Couillet locos extant July 1969

Practika lV, Ernst Ludwig 50mm f2.9 preset lens, K2 filter. FP4

All right all right, it's me. Miranda d'Ebro M.P.D. Round my neck is the Rolleicord Vb that saved it (well, actually quite another part of me) when stepping into a water-filled three foot stand-pipe hole. The twin lens German tank didn't fair so well, with the sliding focusing box forever miss-aligned; however, no adverse affect on the subsequent images was ever discovered! July 1969

An afternoon Calais - Paris express via Amiens, after emerging from the tunnel and entering Boulogne Ville station 1990 behind SNCF 67608; 22 years earlier, this would have been a Pacific. In July '68 I made a trip via Folkestone-Boulogne Maritime on a boat train hauled by a Pacific up the branch to join the main line about a kilometre behind the camera. At Amiens a Bo-Bo electric took over for the trip on to Paris. 

No boat trains any more, but you can still do it the old fashioned way by walking from the Calais ferry and taking a local train to board a semi-fast at Boulogne. Well, after all the investment in the TGV route they don't want to make it easy for you to exercise a choice that's already been made for you! (Very mainland Europe!)

On a returning leg of a French trip I was, unusually, challenged by HMRC. I offered my aluminium case and said: 'you'd better have a look in here.' Gleefully Capt. HMRC carefully opened the case and, dismayed on discovering only my SQA and several lenses, said, 'What do you do?'                                                                                                                                                                                                                  'Shoot trains.'                                                                                                                                                                                                                            'What's special about France?'                                                                                                                                                                                          'They still have real trains!'                                                                                                                                                                                                    'Hmmm, we get a lot of people like you through here!'                                                                                                                      One of my models tells a similar tale of her returning from an Amsterdam shoot with the tools of her trade in her case! Don't ask, I didn't.

Pentax SV, Tamron 80/210 lens, K2 filter. FP4 in May & Maker Promicrol

Imminent departure from Boulogne Maritime behind the said Pacific that for 50 years I had thought was just a 1-4-1R, until I digitized the negative. Wouldn't have been satisfied with a so-so shot from the carriage window had I had the brains to check the front end! In my defence, departure was imminent and I was escorting my mother - they worry when you walk up the platform. BUT it was a corridor train; BUT you could have walked through; BUT  there was the Amiens steam/electric loco-change; BUT  it was a once in a lifetime, you should have . . . . .  could have, would have,  . . . . . . .didn't!

SNCF 1 5 0 P, Noyelles sur Mer, CFBS Fete de Vapour 27th April 2013

Nikon D700, 60mm Macro

Crotoy service approaching junction at Noyelles sur Mer, CFBS Fete de Vapour. 28th April 2013                                                                  Nikon D700, 300mm                                 

Southport - Wigan and Manchester semi-fast with 2-6-4T 42132 at Red (Foul) Lane crossing. Behind is Blowick crossing, its box and long closed station site. Extreme left, behind Hoy's market garden, is the Model Sanitary Laundry. The viaduct carried the trackbed and the track, not then lifted, of the Cheshire Lines Committee rural branch to Shirdley Hill and Aintree the latter now making its own way to Southport as Liverpool expands across the Lancashire plain. All now swept away leaving just the 'top bank' route, here with Meols Cop distant 'on' (upper right).                     Evening, after college, Spring 1963.

        Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3.

GWR 2-8-0T 7250 routed from Salisbury, back up the GWR line via Warminster. July 1963

Salisbury LSWR engine shed site is off camera to the left - about level with the platform end; that of the GWR is to the right of the Warminster line.

Halina 35x, triplet 45mm fixed lens. Ilford FP3

San Feliu & Girona Rly Krauss 0-6-2 tank, one of several preserved or, at least, not cut up; this is number 5, outside a main line station between Girona and Barcelona. July 2018.

Nikon D700, and my lovely Zeiss Tessar 50mm f2.8

When I first saw No 5 in July 1968, it was still making its narrow-gauge tortuous daily trip between Girona's RENFE station and the coast. 50yrs later, July 2018, the paneled wall and railings were extant, and just perceptable between the factory and the sapling trunk is a green-tiled pinnacle roof near the Olot and Girona Rly terminus; both are extant, the latter enjoying preserved status.    July 1968

Praktica lV, Ludwig 50mm f2.9 prefix lens, K2 filter . Ilford FP3.

Gerona: Midday train to the coast crossing the main route in from the south.

Praktica lV, Ludwig 50mm f2.9 prefix lens, K2 filter.              Ilford FP3

The said Praktica lV fitted with Meyer 135mm  f2.8 at the lineside. Sometimes I had mono in both cameras.

Rank Mamiya Rangefider. Sekor 40mm fixed lens. K2 filter. Ilford FP3

Same day and location as loco No 5: with level crossing on Carrer Barcelona, Girona. (Praktica lV and Meyer 135mm lens on tripod, as if the camera and lens were not heavy enough!)         July 1968.

I'm sure the gates were not automated, but I cannot remember whether the train stopped whilst its crew opened them. The road was becoming 'built up', but bizarrely in July 2018, despite the intervening years of development,  the paneled wall and railings on right were extant, and even the trackbed traceable.

On the trip I made behind number 4,  the carriage opened at the rear onto a small veranda-vestibule with a bench seat looking back along the track. My mother's new straw hat (here missing) had blown off; later the guard told us that, had we asked, he would have stopped the train to recover her hat! Different times. An old lady in our enclosed passenger carriage had a live cockerel in her wicker basket (ahh, the pictures we didn't take!). Were we privileged?  It was only 12 months before the first moon landing. All this would come to an end within a year.                           

Rank Mamiya Rangefinder, Sekor 40mm fixed lens, unfiltered. Agfa CT18, the classic 'Agfa indigo' already encroaching.

Beyond the road-crossing and along the banks of Riu Onyar the arable fields once lining the track are now (2018) under blocks of buildings already encroaching in 1968 as Girona expanded; most of the line's route in this part of the city was thus subsumed. Sometimes the joy and privilege of experience are marred by time, the destroyer of order. (Extreme middle right the three-windowed tower exists (2018) next to a four lane highway and runners exercise on the cycle-way replacing the tracks)

Praktica lV, Ernst Ludwig Meritar triplet 50mm f2.9 lens, unfiltered. Agfa CT18 

SFGRly destination, San Feliu station yard. July 1968                                                                                                                                             

The main station is out of shot to the left of the vans. Beyond the line of buildings there was a spur branching before the last curve to the station and leading down the steep hill to the seafront where there's now a stylish preservation result: one of the Kraus locomotives and a coach in pristine condition sit on their original track in the middle of a restaurant surrounded by rail paraphernalia, large mounted photographs, and tables! 

By July 2018. back up the hill at the main terminus,  the horse had gone, along with the vans, though several buildings and the turntable are preserved in situ. Just visible - middle right above Dobbin - was a cafe that, 50yrs on, still sported on the facade above the windows the same legend: 'Cafes Roura' ! I wonder where the child (centre, running) was going - a portent of the yard's future: it's a school playground now.

Praktica lV, Ernst Ludwig triplet 50mm f2.9 lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4

Trainspotters, Wigan Wallgate. 1966

Basin haircuts, socks in sandals, and spotting books in pockets and on the sleeper pile. Those cars'll be classics now and the spotters will have children about the same age with very different ideas about entertainment. The bay, extreme left, is now part-filled and supports offices; old maps show this as a secondary platform. The train is bound for Southport. Across the bridge over the L&YRly's Southport and Liverpool lines there's catenary for whichever franchise operates the trains on the old LNWRly main line.

Rank Mamiya Rangefinder, Sekor 40mm fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4

GWR 7029 Clun Castle with excursion passing Kemble, retracing the route of the GWR's 'Cheltenham Flyer'. 50yrs earlier a sister engine, Tregenna Castle, (without the 'improvements' of the 1950s) made the then already world leading trip at an overall average of 81mph+. In 1932! It would be another 5 years before this feat was almost matched by the LMS (79+ ave) once. The GWR continued its performance pretty much every day!  In BR days the Bristolian (usually a Castle turn) was the only steam service (and for a while, the only service) authorized to run at 100mph if time keeping demanded. Quaint, unassuming, world beaters: if one was allowed one might say very Brit - if one was allowed. Have another look: imagine you as usual at 90mph exceeding the speed limit on the motorway, then your post-space-age roadster being passed - by this, because that's how fast it would have had to have travelled, and for far further than just between speed-cameras! When you hear the winging from today's operatives, you do have to wonder on that previous generation's achievements.

Canon A1 with Tamron 135mm f2.8 FP4

Alresford, lovingly polished squeaky clean engine, jacket dry-cleaned and pressed, designer specs? Different times! July 2017

Nikon D700, Zeiss Tessar (Aluminium) 50mm f2.8 even non-coated, a match for the Nikon 60mm.

Patriot class 45543 'Home Guard' with chimney covered and, behind, 45550 both withdrawn from service and stored in the remnants of Preston MPD that was gutted by fire 28th June 1960. The tall spire of the Grade 1 listed 1850 Shrine Church of St. Warburg's can be seen through the rafter beams (extreme left). January 1963     

My first or second reel through the Halina 35x; FP4, under-exposed, scratched, a little camera-shake . . . . . . treasured.

I'm not a student of metaphysics but it's an intriguing truth that whilst this pic is just that, a reconstruction, the gelatine negative from which it was created and exists today was actually there, in the shed, in the back of my camera!

The Fire

Jubilee 5XP 45675 'Hardy', straight from overhaul, was badly damaged along with Black 5 45150, Standard 2MT 78037, a Stanier 2 60 and a Royal Scot; the burning roof timbers fell into the tenders and lit the coal! The heat was too intense for staff to attempt to remove the engines. Stabling within the shed walls continued for a while, though by 1/63 (this photo) only the Patriots and a few LNWR 9Fs remained.

Soon after the fire, simply to view the locos as we passed by the site, we made a trip to the first cheapest destination, Garstang; we were closeted in the waiting room where the porter brought coal (collected from the track) for the stove after asking: "at 'a cauld, lads?" The weather was freezing. We sat by the stove until eventually returning to Preston on the sparse service.


Hardy was repaired and lasted until June 1967. Other locos repaired were 78037, scrapped 1967 and 45150 that lasted until 1968. Garstang & Catteral station closed 3rd Feb 1969 and was demolished apart from the adjacent station house that is still occupied, accessed by the original platform steps (2021).


Preston MPD is no more than a few uncovered stabling sidings. St. Warburgs still offers solace to the faithful. The stepped access to Garstang and Catterall station can still be climbed; the view from the canal almost unchanged. And the Patriots? No Patriots or their forerunners, the LNWR's Claughtons, were preserved, but a new-build 'Patriot' is nearing completion; a fine sight it will present passing the MPD site en route Blackpool with a 'we've done it' excursion. Brits!

Excursioners for Southport wait at Wigan Wallgate; jackets, frocks and sensible shoes. 1966

Rank Mamiya Rangefinder, Sekor 40mm fixed lens, K2 Filter. Ilford FP4 

The new order at Wigan Wallgate. August 2020

Although kindly granted permission, I was unable to match the 1966 picture, my sight line being obscured by vegetation growing on the trackbed of the lifted relief line. Some of the town's impressive civic and industrial buildings remain, refurbished and cleaned; the same cannot be said of Wallgate's platform buildings, replaced by a masterpiece of design and renewal! And don't our modern trendily-attired travellers make our excursioners (1966 view) look so neatly turned out.

Day-trippers boarded this train here at Wigan for the seaside at Southport, my then home town. 1966.

55 yrs later most of the buildings on left behind the train, the platforms, the 'temporary' railway office, and the trees are all still there; the water columns and their brazier, loco Black 5 44862, its train and most of its passengers have moved on.

Rank Mamiya Rangefinder, Sekor 40mm fixed lens, K2 Filter. Ilford FP4                                                                        

Wigan Wallgate station, Southport train. 1966

Rank Mamiya Rangefinder, Sekor 40mm fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4

40mm is far too wide, but the Sekor resolving power was a great improvement on the Halina; I clocked an M42 f1.4 example at some eye-watering price on ebay. I weakened but settled for a Rokkor 45mm for my Minolta to replicate my 60s Halina pics.

Wigan, WCML 1967: one of the few single-chimney 9Fs, 92069 minus smokebox number-plate, northbound approaching Westwood Lane overbridge. The girder bridge in the background carried the Pemberton Loop (or Wigan Avoiding Line) over the WCML. 

The Pemberton Loop (L&YRly Wigan avoiding line)

The Loop, between the Wigan - Liverpool line at Pemberton junction and the Southport - Wigan - Manchester line at Hindley/Ince, can still be traced, mostly walked and in one stretch driven. Along with the bridge here,  an impressively high stone three arch under-bridge across Warrington Road (true?) had also gone by the early 70s; I believe some stonework remains, however the loop line's bowstring truss over the Springs Branch near the GCR line to Wigan Central has disappeared without trace. Further west, over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal a stone buttress from the original Loop line bridge exists alongside a new road bridge pier;  the high stone parapet & girder bridge over Poolstock Rd was removed Jan 71, to be replaced in 2021 for the new road that in part usurps the Pemberton Loop. 

As with the LNWR Whelley Wigan avoiding line, the only passenger services over the loop since pre-grouping days, were diverted excursions; the last passenger train over the Loop was the LCGB rail tour 'The Two Cities Limited' Sunday, June 23rd, 1968, with BR Standard Class 5MT No. 73069. The Loop closed in 14th July 1969. The bridge in this picture was demolished over several Sundays in early 1971.

I didn't crop this because the garden shed and house gable, at no 5 Mount View I believe, appear to be extant on Google Maps (2021) 55yrs on! 

Rank Mamiya rangefinder, Sekor 40mm lens, K2, Ilford FP4

Ince, Wigan and a 5MT southbound approaching Cemetery Lane overbridge; the backdrop is from left: Pemberton Loop overbridge; then centre over the other side of the loop are Westwood Lane properties; and right: Ince Cemetery, which extends also on left and behind camera. Between the cemetery (left) and the railway a narrow ginnel of 'no man's land' provided nice cover for embankment location shots. Today (2021) the ginnel seems to still be a 20" right of way between the cemetery stone wall and the railway new post and bar fence; that, anyway, would be my story for Wigan's finest! Memory is an odd thing: I can remember lying in the grass, khaki shirtsleeves, no jacket, but cannot remember the train!

Pemberton Loop bowstring truss bridge (right) over the  Springs Branch that itself crosses right to left the GCR Wigan Junction Line from which tracks the view was taken. The GCR line continues ahead south after passing under, first, the wagon works sidings and Springs Branch, and then the higher Loop bridge just visible behind. Lower Ince station is behind the camera. The railings(near right) are I believe remains of a pumping station. A few years later I recall photographing the truss whilst walking the Loop and was surprised by the glare from the bridge's new lead (in those days) paint,  just in time for demolition in 1971. Budgets, targets and accountants Lord help us!

BTW the other side of the bridge with the central support appears, in Google maps, extant although knee-deep in water from the 'landscaped post-industrial use' area! A site visit should prove interesting:  Wigan's own 'Philae'.

Remaining track of the GCRly Wigan Junction Branch, passing left to right toward Wigan Central Station under the LNWR Springs Branch (with parked wagons); the latter (looking toward the junction with the WCML) is crossed by the Pemberton Loop's bowstring truss bridge. Before the truss, the Loop also crossed the GCR line by a high girder bridge just left of the picture. The buildings (centre under the bridge) seem to be on the site of an old hall at Delph Lodge: either a school, or eight semi-detached houses that are extant (2021), or even the closed hotel/pub on the corner of Cemetery Rd. and Warrington Rd. Google maps appear to show this side of the bridge in about eight feet of water now (2022).

Pemberton Loop bowstring truss bridge over the Springs Branch, Wigan, looking south-west toward Westwood Park power station and, left, cooling towers where, south of these en-route to Pemberton Junction, the loop  will cross the WCML . Above the coal wagons the view is to Crow Orchard Terrace (three properties remain) and looking down Wilding Street (behind the telegraph post). I recall that the girders seemed newly painted, and the track looks in fine fettle - to be redundant and demolished in a year or two.

Pemberton Loop (Wigan avoiding line) bridge over WCML near Westwood Lane (behind camera); Loop line closed 14th July 1969, bridge demolished over several Sundays early 1971. No idea who the four trespassers were: probably photographed me photographing them.

My only shot on the Pemberton Loop: near Central Wagonworks scrapyard austerity 2-8-0 about to cross the bridge over the  Springs Branch or the GCRly Wigan Junction Branch line  ( or, the reverse which is my guess in view of the chimney that appears left for Central Wagon! Need to I/D the chimney to pin-point correct location; the contoured bank supports and buttress design suggest it may be the bowstring.

Royal Scot 46141 and 5MT 45220 northbound between Cemetery Rd and Pemberton Loop overbridges, viewed from Up side toward Westwood Park power station.

That capricious Halina! It would have been a dull Wigan day, but despite low contrast lens, my developing errors, and classic vignetting, the locomotive numbers are still clearly readable (click on it!) at probably no more than 1/125th in a cold shaky hand!

Lower Ince station (GCRly's Wigan Junction Branch) closed to passengers 1st Nov 1964, line closed 14th July 1969.

Looking south from under Green Lane bridge along the platforms to an occupation bridge, after which the curve continues to the bridges under the Springs Branch and the Pemberton Loop.

Condemned vehicles delivered for scrapping were stored by Central Wagonworks (roof visible above bridge) along a short spur at the top of the cutting (out of sight, on left) that once continued parallel but higher than the main line, across the road. Each platform was accessed from Green Lane by a ramp, the southbound ramp's fence-posts are just visible on upper left. Centre is the rubble from the demolished main station building; there wasn't that much to demolish. Today (2021) the site is part-filled as a shallow cutting under which, presumably, the platforms are still. The bridge from under which the scene is viewed is also infilled, though its southern parapet remains visible, defiantly protruding along the south side of the road, Green Lane. Along the west side of the station Junction Terrace (on right out of shot) is little changed in over 100yrs. From pics of the station seen before destruction, the site appears to have been efficient, functional, easy on the eye and definitely in line with local historical imperative. No chance for it then in the 60s with the new pharaohs rampaging!

One of the many 'last train' excursions over the Folkestone Harbour branch; this one in 1994 with 2-6-4T 80079, (top/tailed by 80080) apparently in pursuit of an albatross. The exhaust on the gradient was deafening, I recall. 7th May 1994

The gritty negative has nothing to do with drama: the film was developed 27yrs later - not bad for FP4! 

I have 1991 shots of WC Taw Valley and 80080 - an unrealistic if nevertheless historic record of the WC climbing the grade. 

Oops! Another Halina strike! WC 34095, BB 34090 and a BR class 5 on Bournemouth MPD. July 1963

'Quiet Please'. WC 34095, BB 34090 and BR standard class 5 on Bournemouth MPD, viewed from the road behind the (unfortunalty not listed) signal box raised above the station canopy. The previous shot shows the whole neg - another Halina victim! Behind the MPD is an area called Springbourne, once fields when the station was known as Bournemouth East. The properties appear to be the rear of three rather nice post-1914 semi-villas fronting onto Wellington Rd that now serves an industrial estate - not perhaps a useful development to a residential area once considered sufficiently desirable to warrant the 'Quiet Please' enamelled sign reminder for rail personnel! The villas became victims of both sale-off for warehouses and the A338 four-lane highway that now crosses central residential areas before moving on over the old Bournemouth West station site; and the MPD sitenow? Well there has to be somewhere to park the vehicles after their polluting the town! 

Replicating this shot will be difficult as the perimeter wall appears to be higher than the one over which in '63 I leaned, and some of the platform awning seems to be missing now!

USA Liberation post-war import: SNCF oil-fired 141R on Paris Austerlitz or a Germany bound night departure from Cerbere, France. Tourists on the RENFE train from Spain would have boarded here after passing through customs  (as I did) on the shared platform. And 2018, 50 yrs on, it's all still there though little used. It was the last year of steam. 8hrs through the night. Shaving next morning before the narrow corridors' mirrors approaching an exciting Paris ahead. Real travel. Magic!     19:10hrs 29th July 1968.

Rank Mamiya Rangefinder, Sekor 40mm fixed lens , K2 filter, Ilford FP4

Cebere departure with SCNF Bo Bo electric on Paris or Germany bound express. Same time of day, 50 years to the week from the 1 4 1R picture: same weather, same platform, still shaving early a.m. in the corridors, almost the same Paris ahead, not the same magic! July 2018

Nikon D850, 60mm 2.8

Winchfield: down Bournemouth Belle, with Merchant Navy class 35021, 'New Zealand Line' passing dis-used central platform. Behind the vans on the siding are the chimneys of 'The Beauclerc Arms' ('Winchfield Inn' since about 1973).  Upper quadrant automatic semophores on the up line.  July 1964

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3.

'The Winchfield Inn' ('Beauclerc Arms' until about 1973) in losing a few chimney pots has faired better than the Bournemouth Belle and 35021. Locomotive built 1948, rebuilt 1959, scrapped 1965. The 'Belle' was phased out in July 1967, about the time 'service' was considered by everyone to be something to be provided by someone else! (Do the maths) July 2021

2017 re-creation of the last 'Bournemouth Belle' service of July 1967: although by then no longer steam hauled, here Merchant Navy class survivor 35028 represents earlier halcyon days near Battledown Flyover, Worting junction, Basingstoke, July 2017.

(Nikon D700, Tamron 35/80mm)

Salisbury: up express with Battle of Britain class 34058. July 1963

Halina 35X, triplet 45mm fixed lens. Ilford FP3

Section of a frame not damaged by the 'Halina leak' (corrected eventually with black cartridge paper), but this time simply because of my careless loading!

34058 lasted another year before withdrawal and transfer to Woodhams Scrapyard, Barry; as late as 1986 it was purchased for restoration, and after an involved life, is now at the Mid Hants Rly.  see the brilliant site:              

Sometimes it's the event that makes a picture; I mean, did the news editors in the 30s question the clarity, grain, or composition of the frame of Edward saluting the crowds before Mussolini in Italy! A reminder to all photographers that a picture is a message to everyone else: apart from ensuring it's worth looking at, we should also ensure it's true - which, in Edward's case, the later shown movie newsreels provided disputed proof for both arguments! Great pic - but truth or a lie? Nietzsche had a word or two about journalists! 

Up Atlantic Coast Express, with 34109 'Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory at Salisbury. July 1963.

Although the tall trees, brick wall and service buildings survive, the stylish signal box was destroyed before a more thinking generation stayed the Philistine arm holding the pick-axe by 'listing' some of Railtrack's (ours that is!) buildings. The station was luckier being Grade ll listed. And 34109? It was withdrawn from service and cut up a year later after travelling only 162,000 miles in the three and a half years since its rebuilding. Accountants, Lord help us!  This is a Digitzed copy of the only print I made; lost the negative at college! 

Ilford FP3 in a Halina 35x with fixed triplet 45mm lens, once billed as 'the worst camera ever made'!  Glad I had it with me that day . . . . and that this print survived . . . . my only other pic of the ACE was the down express the same day, a brilliant (it was!) shot of the ACE locomotive taking water - double exposed by the good old Halina! (It would probably pass for art now on ebay!)

55yrs on from the Winchfield series : Southern Railway built 1936 to LSWR design no 847 is one of seven class S15 survivors of the cutters' torches and now on the Bluebell Railway 2019

Pentax SV, Pentax 135mm f2.5, K2 filter. FP4 in ID11

Winchfield station, with signalbox on the, by then, unused central platform from the 1904 widening/quadrupling. Exeter/Plymouth-coded down express with Bulleid Merchant Navy pacific,  fast line. Love the swan-neck lamp! The box would be a prime target for Listed status had it survived. Tiny Ramsden on the footbridge, me behind camera; we had cycled from Reading. July 1964

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3.

Winchfield station: sigalbox and 1904 island platform demolished, swan-neck lamp removed (well, it was stylish!) .                            Bournemouth & Weymouth-coded down excursion with Merchant Navy class 35018 drawing to a halt on slow line to replenish water from hire-tanker. In the 1964 shot there were only two of us there with cameras! July 2021 

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter (1959/63 model, re-purchased 2018). Ilford FP4 in Champion Promicrol.

Winchfield station, Exeter-coded up express with Merchant Navy class 35022. July 1964

Left is the spur to the since demolished goods shed behind the down station platform, and to now-lifted sidings. 35022 now kept at Bury, with it's boiler lined up for use on 35027, when that engine is returned to working order. 

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter.  Ilford FP3. Sometimes the triplet sweet-spot came through!

Winchfield station, Bournemouth & Weymouth returning excursion with Merchant Navy class 35018, 57yrs after the shot of 35022. M3 bridge in, chaired track and spur to sidings out. July 2021

Getting dark, used the Nikon D850, Tamron 35/80mm. 1000 ASA

Winchfield station, Bournemouth & Weymouth returning excursion with Merchant Navy class 35018 at 75mph+, safeties just lifting: I wasn't ready for it but kept going!  July 2021

The casual hand on the roof sheet of the open cab at 75mph is probably that of the fireman or travelling inspector or maybe the proud owner: the Insurer's waiver clause must be a nightnare to write!

My first family visit to the south coast. After an evening arrival by coach, and desperate to shoot anything, I left said family at the B&B and walked through darkening Boscombe that in 1963 still had a station. MN 35021 'New Zealand Line' on a down semi-fast politely stopped permitting use of the slowest shutter I used that week! Jaw-dropping - no. However the station has gone, the capped pilaster style ends to the footbridge (visible next to the loco's smoke-deflector) are similar to some at Bournemouth Central, and I like the electric headcode matching the old white headcode-discs.

I saw the loco again a year later on the Bournemouth Belle at Winchfield; she was scrapped in 1965. The station had a beautiful historic building but oddly, despite its proximity, I preferred the longer walk to Bournemouth Central, so have only three frames at Boscombe that week. On 4th Oct 65, and cringing under Wilson's 'white heat of technology', Boscombe station succumbed to the Philistine hoards: worth the work the negative needs! July 1963

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3 . No meter, I later used Amateur Photography Diary tables ! Hand-held (I didn't have a tripod) or balanced on a post!

Hall class 6911, Holker Hall leads WC, non-coat of arms series, on a regular evening light-engine movement (that week): I believe from Bournemouth West, but I am unsure. On one occasion a Hall processed in with two other locos in tow. July 1963

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3

Bournemouth Central down platform. Morning arrival ex-Waterloo behind 'West Country' class 34025 with Bournemouth MPD shed roof just visible above the locomotive. July 1963

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3

Bournemouth down platform. July 2021

The remains of Bournemouth MPD shed wall, or retaining wall, is to right of the three arches. Behind camera, near the awful A338 4-lane concrete highway overbridge, is the old elevated signal box - an unlikely survivor in 2021; I didn't shoot it in '63 - guess we thought then that it would all last forever; although extant, it does not share listed status with other boxes on the route. The disappearing Q and Q1, WC, BB, MN and push pull fitted tanks for the Wareham-Swanage branch I considered more appropriate targets for me when on a shoestring FP4 budget!

Some 50yrs before the hoo-ha with 'Tornado the 100 mph steam engine' (with its 70 yrs of development, £billions of tech improvements,  and three or four footplate crew), and 30yrs after 'Mallard the world's fastest steam engine' (that if not over-driven, might have topped 130 mph*), 35028 'Clan Line' topped 105 mph and was not alone in hitting 100 + speeds on the late 60s everyday service steam schedules. Here she's slipping slowly into Bournemouth with a Weymouth-Waterloo express. July 1963.

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3

Mallard                                                                                                                                                                                                                        *Informed opinion has it that the LNER's desperate need for the record caused Mallard's driver on 3rd July 1938 to run on full regulator with far too much cut-off, forcing the high speed rather than allowing the simple cushioning of the cylinders with a lower cut-off. Relying on a gentler application of the high pressure and the already proven 'high speed gas' steaming ability and free running of the design, 130mph might have been achieved . However, the driver at the time suggested that 130mph would have been possible except for a speed restriction before the attempt. In the event, the hard running resulted in the damaging of the locomotive, unlike the previous year's record run(s) 29th June 1937 by 6220 on the LMS. 

6220 'Coronation and Tregena Castle                                                                                                                                                                           After achieving the world record (then 114mph), the LMS simply turned 6220 and ran back Crewe to London on the same schedule as the (much later) ton-up electric service! And they didn't think to record this officially! Nevertheless some long periods of 100mph running (in 1937!) must have been necessary in view of the steam loco's slower acceleration and the speed restrictions in force back then; a more historical, market-worthy and operational success in the event. Impressive, but less so than 81mph ave  by Tregenna Castle 5 years earlier with the GWR Cheltenham Flyer ordinary service. The Canadians and Americans tried to tip the old country off the leader board occasionally, but the GWR just kept accelerating their service.

Recent Analyses                                                                                                                                                                                                        Some Recent learned 'analyses' (isn't there always one!) have criticized both Mallard's record and that of City of Truro's first at 100mphin 1904. However the first case was a re-assessment of what are no longer measurables,  and in the Truro case a claim that the boiler couldn't produce the work; a further analysis showed that the combined time recordings for the Truro train supported the logged rising speed without any 'implausible' spikes in the graph. Detractors suggest that the milepost(s) had been mis-identified by the recorders - what? All three of them?

The Record                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are several pretenders to the title but, you guessed it, none of them recorded nor proved (surprised no one has yet claimed the Brit crews were substance abusers!)

Just doing it every day                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the 1960s various have-a-go drivers achieved pre-war splendour, notably Bill Hoole with his A4 and speeds of 110, 112, 117mph on different recorded trips. It was one of these outings that spawned the apocryphal tale of Hoole going for the record, only to be stopped by the on-board inspector at around 112mph!

Coronation Class 46246 'King George lV'  heading 'The Caledonian'                                                                                                                    Only one other recorded similar event, that I know of, is 1940-built Coronation pacific 46244 King George Vl's record run with the up 'Caledonian' in 195(5?) and a half-hour early arrival. A full page spread in the next day's Daily Express (pic below) shows a helicopter shot of the speeding loco; when the press at Euston asked how this was possible (with steam), the driver answered that he 'could do it every day - if they'd let me!'

And that says a lot about the system in the 50s and 60s that I remember! You may be young enough not be able to remember when the populace accepted all they were told: 'telephones will be black and only made by HMG' etc. The Modernization plan had just been announced - wouldn't have done to publicize steam too often! 'Stop the railways losing money' - 'OK we'll close 'em' . I'll warrant that a tea-lady at Euston could've come up with that and wouldn't have become a dame for her incisive views! Don't even get me started on Lord Beeching's payment to Hancock to parody British Rail in his half hour BBC sketches!

My personal view?                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well no other contender has come up with a proven record, let alone plausible hearsay they might have done it! Still, with the current passion for rewriting history there may even be the chance that Mallard did it twice!

And on the 'Plan'

OK, you may not be able to afford the gardener's wages nor to replace plants, but was it really necessary to wantonly destroy the garden that, in today's money, cost billions, not to count the lives lost in construction? Well . . . . as with every good boy who needs to please mummy, they had targets to meet!


The 'half-hour ahead of time' Caledonian referred to in the text: my dog-eared copy of the The Daily Express pic and caption; there was also a short column, now lost

'West Country' class 34007 'Wadebridge' and a morning up express at Christchurch Station viewed from Fairmile Rd (B3073) overbridge. July 1963           

Now located at the Mid-Hants Rly, 34007 'Wadebridge' is one of the 20 surviving class members, and is being assessed as to the possibility of its return to main-line running.

The steps access the signal box, its brick tower just visible extreme right. Oddly, although I can remember being in shirtsleeves, I cannot remember the box at all, scrapped before guilty inheritors of BR began ceding boxes to National Heritage!  

Immediately right, east of the bridge, a branch (out of use since 1935 and since usurped in part by the A338) led to Ringwood.  However, a brilliant survivor on the branch formation is Hurn station, now a local pub offering meals in a Pullman coach at the old platform! 

btw: Bryant & Trowbridge Builders continue today as 'Bryant & Trowbridge Developers' (gable-end, upper right)

Damaged negative from the already flawed image with Halina 35x, 45mm triplet fiixed lens. Ilford FP3

Christchurch Station from the same Fairmile Rd (B3073) overbridge. What a mess, now, one might observe! Yyyep! July 2021

Bryant & Trowbridge Builders (gable-end in the '63 picture) continue as Bryant & Trowbridge Developers

Nikon D850, Tamron 35/80mm at 45mm

35057 'Biggin Hill' displaying Portsmouth/Brighton route code, Southampton Central. July 63

Southampton Central. July 2021

Winchfield: Southbound freight with LSWR design, SR built S15 30838. July 1964 (Best I could find for the route code is Nine Elms - Southampton terminus)

There are seven such engines in preservation, but 30838 was not to be one of these despite being one of the last S15s to be withdrawn from service in 1965. Just visible behind the train is another LSWR survivor in 1964: the gantry of lower quadrant semophores.  There were sidings and shunts either side of the line;  the down (this) side extended as a loop around the station via the (since demolished) goods shed.

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3

Winchfield: Down semi-fast  EMU class 450.  July 2021

All the sidings facilities and curious 'shunting bell', visible in the accompanying shots, have been removed, along with the 1904 island platform. The pylon in the middle background appears to have outlasted everything else! 

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4 in Champion Promicrol.                                                                                    (1959/63 model, re-purchased 2018)

Salisbury. LSWR S15, 30512, one of the original Urie engines; it lasted another year before withdrawal. July 1963                             Sister engine 30506 is preserved and operational (2022) on the Mid Hants Railway.

Halina 35X, triplet 45mm fixed lens. Ilford FP3

My only footplate experience. Driver Terry Hill at controls of Caprotti Class 5 44745: 80mph (fireman claimed) with Manchester - Wigan - Southport Express somewhere on the flat before Hoscar troughs.. 13:00, a Saturday, Spring 1963

This loco was from the last batch (B.R. 1948) with standard wheel bearings, not the Timkin roller bearings of other batches. In view of the incredible vibration I risked only three exposures; however, simple harmonic motion took care of my shaking hands even at the low shutter speed required in the dark cab.

After hiding me behind the coal doors of the tender as we passed under the authoratitive eyes in Wigan Wallgate signal box, we set off beyond the LNWR main line and on to Southport. I was taunted by the crew when the driver, holding on his hat with both hands, peered out rearwards from the cab and shouted 'was that distant (signal) on?' After slowing a little to use the scoop on Hoscar troughs, I was allowed a crow whistle approaching Pool Hey junction box. At Blowick level crossing, near my home, I sat as big as I could at the window, but there was only one motorist to witness my triumph! Alighting from the cab at St Lukes, to avoid any inspectorial-interest at Chapel St., I continued the last mile in the first coach. At the terminus my body still tingled with the effect of the vibration - something akin to placing ones hand on an old fashioned bicycle-dynamo. When the incoming shift driver arrived, hands in overalls, he looked down at me enquiring 'Will sh' gallup?'. Tingling and elated, I could confirm that Caprotti class 5 44743 could do exactly that! That is, until January 1966 when it was withdrawn and scrapped after only 18 years service. At sixteen, I had not heard the phrase until years later, but now often think ' . . . and these guys got paid, too!' I remember wearing my Uncle Norman's hand me down sports jacket, also used at college. Different times! 

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens. Ilford FP3

Only because of its (by then) rarity, one of my most cherished shots. Up Midday Scot with Coronation 46255 ex streamlined 'City of Hereford' (presumably deputising for an Eng Elec type 4) on the up fast line at Lancaster Castle (as it was then still called). One of a batch of three built 1946, it was only a year my senior!  I remember that Tony Boardman had shifted to stage right so I could capture this in the nick of time. There's no headboard, but the train's on the up fast line with maximum steam power, and my notes claim it as  the named train. For once the Halina hadn't failed to wind on, nor leaked light; neither did my left hand foul the shutter cocking lever! 

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens. Ilford FP3

And Lancaster 2018, and right 2021. Chimney pots rationalized somewhat! I can just picture the 8P hurtling up from the river to begin the climb south out of Lancaster, just.

And at the other end of Lancaster up slow something we didn't see everyday - even then. Here is one basket, though once whole trains with adapted rolling stock were used! Unsure when the pigeon-racing-release service ended, but the gasometer was demolished November 2006, and this was Lancaster CastleJuly 1964

My original Halina 35X, triplet 40mm fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3

Think I fancied myself as a street photographer even then - just didn't quite have the kit or the skills for it! Stopping fast birds, story of my . . . . .


see the great site (& book)

With the road clear ahead, Merchant Navy 35012 'United States Lines' taking water before its evening departure for Waterloo.        Bournemouth Central some years prior to its rescue from circling Philistine. July 1963

My original Halina 35X, triplet 40mm fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3

Merchant Navy 35018 'British India Line' with an excursion: Weymouth -Waterloo. Bournemouth Station - post rescue and restoration. July 2021           

My re-purchased Halina 35x, triplet 45mm fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4 in Champion Promicrol

Not too shabby for a 61yr old camera, introduced before 'The Beatles', President Kennedy, Profumo, Swinging London, and purchased for £7.13s3p five years before the end of steam!

Cross-Country service evening departure, Bournemouth (Central) its centre roads long-since removed . July 2021

I suppose we should shoot as much here as we can. . . .well it's a relatively open space so if a motorway, bridge, carrefour, high rise or supermarket parking won't fit, there's always temporary accommodation for staff!

Nikon D850, Tamron 35/80 lens. (Not quite set at 45mm for the Halina copy, the active focal length marked is +/- 15mm, being rather dependent upon which camera is used)

SR 'U' class 31615, displaying Romsey via Redbridge route code, entering Southampton Central.  July 1963

31615, withdrawn in October '63 soon after this view, was one of the 'U' class new-builds batch of 1928; an earlier batch was converted from the 'K' or 'River' class 2-6-4 tanks.  Four 'U' class members exist in preservation: one 'K' rebuild and three 'new-builds' .

Southampton July 2021

One of the few copies I almost exactly matched. The clock tower does appear in the mono '63 frame: bleached out, it requires a more accurate digi copy.

WC 34016 'Bodmin', sand on, climbing up to Kemsing station with a 'Cathedrals Express' excursion to Canterbury on one of the 30th Aug; 6th/13th/20th/27th Sep; 4th/11th/26th Oct 2000

Pentax SV 55mm. Kodacolour 200 Negative from which this simulated 200mm gritty frame was digitized.

Easter Friday or Saturday: Bahamas arriving with excursion at Southport. Behind are the roofs of the by then little-used, now demolished, excursion platform buildings, beyond them the motive power depot 27C, with its coaling ramp, and on the extreme right, the signal box that straddled two tracks near St Lukes station. From the original Victoria Footbridge. Easter April 1963

Easter Friday or Saturday: Bahamas reversing to shed past Holland's Toffee works (left behind camera, now demolished) after arrival with excursion at Southport. Just visible looking toward Hall St. at left is the turntable, and behind the loco the coaling plant. Bahamas was withdrawn from service two years later. After 58 years this shooting location still exists complete with tortured barbed wire and stanchions on the Victorian stone wall that in this instance I seem to have breached! Nice if Bahamas' owners arranged a trip to Southport again! Easter April 1963

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP3

58 yrs after its Southport excursion, on the grade west of Kemsing station, Bahamas lifts the outward leg of a Victoria-Faversham excursion past adoring fans at the foot crossing. 22nd July 2021

Nikon D850, Steinheil Quinar 100mm f3.5 (a lens manufactured even before Bahamas visited Southport).

58yrs after the pictures of its arrival on a Southport seaside excursion, LMS Jubilee 5XP Bahamas crosses Eynsford viaduct with a returning Faversham excursion for Victoria. 22nd July 2021

(almost 55yrs to the day since its withdrawal from BR service in July 1966)

Nikon D850, Tamron 80/200

45596 belonged to its designers for only 14yrs, then British Railways for 15yrs, and an incredible further 55yrs to preservationists. (Blimey, she's older than me! Hope I look as good . . . . .!)


Wellington disliked the railway - he said it would permit the lower classes to move about! He got that right. However maybe now he might view the situation the way Churchill viewed the monarchy: "Bloody awful, but marginally better than the alternative!

When people ask "what was it really like?"  or "what do you see when you look back?", I have a Howard Carter moment **, before confirming "it's all true, amazing; I guess you had to be there".

** Carter's response to Lord Carnarvon's : " . . . . can you see anything?'" when Carter peered to the tomb unopened for 3246 yrs, was variously reported as : "yes, wonderful things", "things, wonderful things" (Carter's record), or just "wonderful things".

'Wonderful things' works for me! Well, it beats running backwards on green grass, spitting and pretending one cannot hear the crowd's adulation! (think about it)

Richard Dawkins thinks we'll all go up the sun's backside - one day - and by correlation perhaps nothing matters except now which is all there is! I'm all right with that, celebrating those things just right in their time and place, and whatever you may think about the pics, were not the subjects exactly that! When it's your hand on the pick-axe handle, be careful of what you destroy: time and its Nemesis, nature, are unforgiving masters. Look back in anger - a whole new application! Am I anti-progress ? Eliminating diphtheria, polio, and performing transplants, adopting a common education policy, improving sanitation did not require the destruction of calming and familiar elements of our physical society.

Cilla Black once said she would like to walk backwards through the Mersey Tunnel - to see where she had come from; would that it were that easy! Even Carter couldn't do that! Maybe one day we will; after all El Cid wouldn't have believed that all he needed at the gates of Valencia in 1094 was to chat into a little black device in his gauntlet to save him trebucheting all that bread over the walls! (You'll need to see the movie for that one!)