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). About 35 mins down, 13:45, lunchtime, 11th August 1968

Praktica lV (Pentacon 1963/66), Pentacon-Meyer 135 f2.8 lens, Ilford FP4.

I have the original working timetable from a helpful guard at Carnforth Station (remember any of those?).

*The last true scheduled working was with a 5MT with a passenger train a week before departing Preston on the 3rd Aug'68

With a few frames left in colour and mono from my Spanish and Woodhams visits, it was a 112 miles return trip by bicycle, a wade across the Ribble with PT shorts - no Lycra then, and no Sat-Nav, no mobile, no tablet . . . . . ! It was a long 56 miles home against the wind via Whalley Rd underbridge for the returning train with its two Black 5s. After that, we thought it was all over. Was there - saw it - did it - AND got the 'T' shirt! 


Repeating the celebrated 1T57 of 11 Aug 1968, 45690 Leander sporting the original headboard, crosses the bridge at Sheriff Brow with the Waverley railtour. Noon, Sunday 11 Aug 2018 

Praktica  lV, Meyer 135mm f2.8 FP4 !D11

Said T shirt

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

There's a poster in the National Railway Museum, York, but . . . . . . this was a real one on display!

Passenger services here ceased a year later in Oct 1969, the station losing this wooden booking office building from the west 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 from the bridge, but on the opposite side of the road.

10th Aug 68: a quick trespassing around Lostock Hall motive power depot (well, who was going to challenge anyone at this late stage) found the Black 5s (including 45110 that replaced 45305 after it's brick arch failure) that were stationed for the following day's 1T57 . 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 a 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 a Praktica lV and its similar but superior Ernst Ludwig 50mm f2.9 Cooke triplet.

Later in the day, with pressure up for the climb to Wilpshire summit, the two Black 5s return with 1T57 up off Whalley viaduct: minis and beehives, but neither an orange jacket nor a member of Lancashire's finest in sight! 18:05 11th Aug 1968

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

Apparently some would have gone happily to gaol (or hospital) for that once in a lifetime shot! The two Black 5s, 44871 (leading) & 44781 with the returning '1T57' last leg approaching Whalley Rd (then the A59) underbridge. Black 5 45305, rostered for the 1st and last legs of the trip from Liverpool to Manchester and return had failed the day before with a collapsed brick arch, and was replaced by 45110 to haul thus the actual last operating passenger, if not scheduled, steam working.  Teatime, 20mins minutes behind, 18:05 11th Aug 1968

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

That original '1T57' headboard black on white (at least as was carried above by 44871), was extant (2018) and used b y 45690 on a similar routed 50th anniversary excursion, 11th Aug 2018. 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 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.


Whalley A59 underbridge. 18:05 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, digitized from 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 nothing else 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. 18:05 11th August 1968

Praktica lV, Meyer 135mm f2.8  lens, no filter. Ilford FP4

138 years since the first Inter-City steam railway . . . . . . . . . and that was it. Late afternoon, 18:05 11th Aug 68

(Curiously it was 120 years (less one calendar day) since the death of George Stephenson, 12th August 1848)

Praktica lV, Meyer 135mm f2.8  lens, no 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

It wasn't only Flying Scotsman that beat the steam ban. 73050 Preserved and located at the Nene Valley Railway was driven overnight (sneaky) from BR to new owners NVRly under own steam, 1 month after the all-steam ban that was relinquished for that one journey! There were other 'last steam' moments with positioning movements.

Black 5 44894, Preston down fast platform 5; crew awaiting instruction. July/Aug 1966

Rank Mamiya rangefinder, 40mm Sekor, FP4. Digitized copy of hand tinted print from FP3.

 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

This was in the days when RENFE issued lineside and MPD 'passes' for the asking!

Practika lV, Ernst Ludwig Triplet 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 triplet 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 unfortunately 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

Not quite the last day at Dover Marine, (that's Dover Western Docks to moderns!) 17 Sep 94.

The 24th was last service day, with the following day a steam-ex visit, and an un-advertized service for a short time thereafter.

The interior was, I recall, very 1914/20: austere, eerie, and still in a way Edwardian or even Victorian. Put me in mind of the Great Central - both late projects in rail history terms,  trying to blend modernity into what was a 100yr old idea! It has a sadness about it - apt in view of the human traffic that it served during the war, before opening to the public in 1919.

I know. I know, but the film was developed some 25yrs later! Pentax S1a, Tamron original 135, FP4

An afternoon Calais - Paris express via Amiens, after emerging from the tunnel and entering Boulogne Ville station behind SNCF 67608; 18 years earlier, this would have been a Pacific or 1 4 1R. 6th Nov 1987

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

In July '68 I made a trip via Dover - Calais-Maritime on a boat train hauled by a Pacific as far as Amiens, there replaced by a Bo-Bo electric for the trip on to Paris. 

No boat trains any more, but you could for some years do it the old fashioned way by walking from the Calais ferry and taking a 67 hauled express, shown below, from Calais Ville; even now (2023) a local train connects 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, asked, '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, Chloe,  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.

Imminent departure from Calais Maritime behind a 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 foresight to check the front end! In my defense, departure was imminent and I was escorting my mother - they worry when you walk up the platform. BUT it was a corridor train - I could have walked through - there was a chance at the Amiens steam/electric loco-change - it was a once in a lifetime, I could have -  should have - would have  . . . . . . . didn't!                                                             

Aboard pacific hauled Paris Boat Train, Calais Maritime, when windows opened, July afternoon, 1968

I was able to assist my failed memory as to the location with a look at Mike Morant's brilliant site: the classic pre-cast railings and the building sporting the word 'DUBONNET' just visible above the loco were located at Calais Maritime's platforms' ends.

Praktica lV (Pentacon), Meyer Pentacon 135mm 2.8, FP4 centre neg.

A few hundred meters down the line from Boulogne Maritime station crossing at Pont Marguet, my incoming boat service (camera position) headed by a 1-4-1 R,  passes another US 'Liberation' 1-4-1R 1234, Paris bound departure (steam Boulogne-Amiens), under a '50s or '60s flyover. July 1968 

The short-lived flyover was replaced with a large roundabout: the two locomotives are over it's future south-east exit.

After cessation of the boat train services, 31st Oct 1995, the track (by then already singled) and the crossing gate typique, together with the pre-cast railings, remained for many years. All the branch is now partially usurped by a new highway, and by office and accommodation blocks similar to that on the right; the new designs appear identical to that of this apparent post-war survivor (extant 2024) which, with its square junction box and squat garages, indeed may be from that earlier era.


Opposite the foot crossing (center) was a bar, closed or re-sighted by '95/6 when the last operations were photographed here (see below). Curiously, in the '95 pics  on the wall of the apartments, there's a 'Jupiter' beer illuminated sign discernable still, 30 yrs later, on Google maps' pics (capture 2024)

The passenger dock branch:

The original short branch layout is at first glance difficult to trace, though appears 'untouched' in stretches left as 'green-space'  part parallel with, part built on, between two mains roads. Some precast concrete railings were still in situ (2024) delineating about 100 meters of the branch along the rear of the casino, near the Pont Marguet, though are about to be re-developed. Most cartes-RF show only slight track re-alignment when the post-war new-builds of the ferry terminal (1952) and Boulogne Ville (1962) replaced the war-damaged Boulogne Maritime original station (site behind camera) or when the Lianne river was 'straightened', like an EU banana!

The rest?

All gone. Still, one can now drive faster than the Orient Express from the south of Boulogne pretty much along the trackbed route to the derelect site of  the 'what-shall-we-do-now-with-it-now' ferry terminal that (wait for it) in 2012 was already being considered for re-opening, though, of course, not for boat trains nor the short-lived Orient Express UK boat connection, nor the hovercraft, nor, in the event, for anything else! Halcyon days! 

Rank Mamiya , 40mm, FP3 K2

And the 141R 1234, heading a Paris boat express as far as Amiens, departing Boulogne Maritime. July 1968

Rank Mamiya 40mm FP3 K2

Twenty-seven years later, on 31st Oct 1995, the route was used for the last time by a service train: the once a day 13.54 departure to Paris and shown in the accompanying pics. 67400s are shown earlier that same year with the Orient Express movements, and with Paris express departures and arrivals, before their locos using the turnplate/traverser to 'run round' (traverser track extant 2024).

Sans connecting rod, non-steaming SNCF 1 5 0 P posed at Noyelles sur Mer, CFBS Fete de Vapour 27th April 2013

The pacifics and 1-4-1Rs in the preceding shots would have passed with their trains (and me) just 20yds to the right of shot, through Noyelles-sur-Mer station.

Nikon D700, 28-250

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

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 (about level with the last carriage). 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 Lancashire and Yorkshire Rly's rural branch to Shirdley Hill and Aintree connecting with the main Cheshire Lines Committee route near Liverpool, the latter now making its own way to Southport as it 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 Early Spring April 1963.

The locomotive's smokebox number-plate, 42132, is extant as part of a wall display in Hellifield station cafe.

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2 filter, Kodak Plus X

The remains of 42132 last seen Southport Spring  1963! Hellifield Station cafe, 4th Aug 2023

Foul Lane crossing area today (2022) . You're right, even I have no suitable facetious comment! When I was a child 'grown-ups' used many northern euphemisms: red coat no knickers, no better than he/he should be, peas above sticks, common as muck. house like a midden . . . . . .

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, 45mm triplet, Ilford FP3 (pas si mal for a Halina - then billed as the worst camera ever made!)

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

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

One of the SFGRly older Krauss compound design of 1890 originals: No 5, without rods, in store coupled to No 7 (right) Gerona yard.  July 1968       Since preserved, see preceding pic.

Praktica lV, Ludwig 50mm f2.9, K2. FP4

The whole railway was on its last legs to be replaced within a year by railway company-owned motor coaches; a fabulous complete and functioning attraction where today the most philistinic of councillors would not prevail against a 'heritage railway' association! But this was yesterday, where Spain seemed to be living in a similar seek and destroy 'modernizing' culture as was the UK!  Puts me in mind of that Lidl slogan - 'when it's gone  . . . . . !' Today,  the 'how did that happen' brigade have, on occasion and recently, stepped up their intervention - some of their efforts laudable, but sadly, 'too little, too . . . . .' 


Spent a long time spotting the blemishes in the roof timbers, before I remembered the roof's corrugated sections were full of holes!

SFGRly older Krauss compound design of 1890 originals: No 7, in store coupled to No 5, Gerona yard.  July 1968

A few shots of the afternoon train formation, Gerona - San Feliu metre gauge SFGRly. Gerona Station. July 1968

The summer was blisteringly hot, akin to our 2022/3 so I suppose the three milk churns were empties! The site is a car park (2022),  though the station street buildings, trees and trace of the one platform's stones exist; the goods shed (left) was demolished. Behind the train (all three cars of the consist!) an art-deco façade remains, though now obscured by an extension of the apartments (seen clearly in the other shots).

Praktica lV, Ludwig 50mm f2.9, K2. FP4

SFGRly Krauss 0-6-2T - the later simple version of 1893 (and the second number 5). July 1968

Praktica lV, Meyer-Pentacon 135mm f2.8, FP4

In the second shot Krauss 0-6-2T simple, No 5 of 1893, simmers before its afternoon trip to the coast, its train shaded by the trees. Below is a current street view: oddly, the apartments behind remain unchanged after 50 yrs.

Praktica lV, Ludwig 50mm f2.9, K2. FP4

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

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

Gerona: S F G no 5 with mid-day mixed train to the coast crossing the main road. 

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

Same day and location as loco No 5: the level crossing over Carrer Barcelona, Girona, with the said Praktica lV fitted with Meyer 135mm  f2.8 at the lineside. Sometimes I had mono in both cameras. (Praktica lV and Meyer 135mm lens on tripod, as if the camera and lens were not heavy enough, about to tip over and dent the track-bed!)   July 1968.

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

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 50 years of development,  the paneled wall and railings on right were extant, and even the track-bed 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.    " Look upon my works  . . . . Nothing beside remains . . . . .! "        Couldn't resist!              

Rank Mamiya Rangefinder, Sekor 40mm fixed lens, unfiltered. Agfa CT18, the classic 'Agfa indigo' already encroaching - as the concrete encroaches the trackbed.

Beyond the Carrera Barcelona 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 joys 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 track; Lord deliver us from social engineers!)

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

SFGRly 0-6-2T simple No 4 being turned at San Feliu after its trip from Gerona

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

S F G Rly 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 with a restaurant built around them and 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

Furka Station passing loop on level between rack & pinion sections of Realp - Oberwald metre-gauge Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke (DFB): the old pre-1981 route over the Furka Pass, Switzerland.  2010

Pentax S1a, Tamron 35-70, digitized from Fujichrome 200

GWR 7029 Clun Castle with excursion passing Kemble, retracing the route of the GWR's 'Cheltenham Flyer'.

Sorry, but no site will admit to knowing what this tour was!

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! And not for a Daily Express photo-opportunity, nor for folk like me to drool over, but every day! When you hear the rhetoric from today's operatives, you do have to wonder on those earlier generations' achievements.

Canon A1 with Tamron (original) 135mm f2.8, 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 grand-children about the same age with very different ideas about entertainment. The bay, extreme left, is now part-filled and supports single story offices; old maps show this area as a secondary platform (the facing and coping stones are extant (2023), though it may have been part of the second L&YRly station (before Wallgate). The train is bound for Southport. Across the bridge over the L&YRly's Southport and Liverpool lines there's now catenary for whichever franchise operates the trains on the old LNWRly main line. Local service DMUs parked on a trimmed embankment - where did they find the time!

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

My short-lived garden railway. Loco is Hornby clockwork 4-4-0, loaned by our woodwork master at college. Two trespassing unpleasant local children stamped on the delicately constructed signals and infrastructure; no doubt they were simply disadvantaged. Mindless damage to other peoples' property smacks of a certain de-plinthed statue (2022) - nothing's new! 1964


The Cheshire Lines Committee line (more precisely 'Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway' to Southport Lord Street closed 7th Jan 1952. The site of Birkdale Palace station the penultimate stop, before redevelopment, is here used by couples and families as alternative to the beach. Summer >1963

Across the skyline, left to right, is 'Pleasureland' and its roller-coaster, helter-skelter and entrance tower, then a 'Mini', and the Floral Hall (above the bridge parapet); middle right is the station-master's house (since demolished). The 60's burgeoning car ownership and new affluence is evidenced by multiple vehicles parked along Palace Rd that became Rotten Row beyond the villas visible on the corner of Weld Rd. In my earlier '62 shot the steps and awning of the platform approach from Weld Rd were extant, as were the platforms at the terminus in Lord Street.

There were once sidings on the left that continued under the since in-filled overbridge where there was also a signal box. A goods platform and crane were to the left of the island platform (near the couple in white). There was nothing on the right between the platform and the road except the line to Manchester and what seems to have been allotments.

Some way back from Palace Rd and the station the actual hotel was extant (1964) being here just out of shot on right behind an embankment built to protect guests in the grounds from winds off the sea. The Palace Hotel was demolished in 1969. And the villas? Well, apart from some face-lifting, they remain. Property eh!

The CLC's route Manchester- Liverpool - Southport was straight and fast but, like Brunels' GWR, the Great Way Round, required higher speeds just to compete. However, it had, for the beach at Southport, very useful collection points along the back of Stockport, Widnes, Warrington and Liverpool and their expanding housing developments. As with several of the other late-built railways, it appears straight and level with, where possible, central platforms accessed from an overbridge, and long embankments with road underbridges - a la Great Central, one of its backers. The extant formations (and many existing bridges/rights of way) when viewed on the map must appear tempting for reopening until blocked by a supermarket, housing estate or just cussed demolition in the 60s' 'white heat of technology'! In our paranoid concern for the planet, this must surely generate a frustration: 'why didn't we just leave it alone!' Statesmanship, eh! Have you seen the right-of-way destruction across Nottingham and Leicester!

Viewed from the next overbridge south, Oxford Rd., under which the siding continued behind camera to a headshunt and main-line connection. Oxford Rd now ends as a footpath over the site of the levelled bridge; this view today (2022) would be through someone's living room.

BTW Despite the inferior triplet lens, a max blow-up (centre bridge) below shows a couple about to enter the gloom of the old lamp room!

see https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Birkdale_Palace_Hotel 

CLC Birkdale Palace station, closed 7th Jan 1952, viewed before removal of the covered access steps from Weld Rd overbridge. 1961/62

Trivia: My Norwood Rd School teacher, Mrs. Boddington, used the line and missed it 'now it's closed', so she claimed in 1953!

Kershaw Penguin Bellows, fixed lens. 6X9 Selechrome Pan

Cheshire Lines Committee plaque, interior north wall Southport Lord street station; by this time those platform bays under cover were in-filled, and the area used as the Ribble Bus Co's Southport bus station; the bus loading bays are behind the camera.

Interestingly the plaque displays "C L Rly " - Cheshire Lines Railway, not "CLC" - Cheshire Lines Committee, nor even  S&CLERly "Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway",  which DOES still appear on stonework near the top of the tower.

For some while the platforms' ends beyond the covered area remained in situ, before the whole platform area, both under cover and open, became a supermarket and associated parking; the main entrance building on Lord St is Grade ll listed and remains, albeit as a mix of an hotel and commercial outlets. 

Interestingly the plaque displays "C L Rly " - Cheshire Lines Railway, not "CLC" - Cheshire Lines Committee, nor even  S&CLERly "Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway",  which DOES still appear on stonework near the top of the tower.

Lord St station tower and inscription displaying S&CLERly  "Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway",  on stonework near the top of the tower.(Easter 2023)

Some of those would've, could've, should've . . . . tried harder! 4472 at Skipton 16:02, Sat.26/10/68; 70013 10th Aug 68  prepped at Carnforth

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 single-coated, a match for the Nikon 60mm.

With the tall spire of the Grade 1 listed 1850 Shrine Church of St. Walburge's seen through the rafter beams (extreme left), Patriot class 45543 'Home Guard' with chimney covered, and, behind, 45550 are stored in the remnants of Preston MPD that was gutted by fire 28th June 1960. This was the shorter, trackside section of the MPD building.  January 1963     

45543 seen in its second period of 'withdrawn and stored', but was first withdrawn from service (17/11/62) being stored (10/9/62 - 15/8/63). A curious but not uncommon occurrence was the reinstatement of withdrawn or stored locos to be pressed into service in case of need, and 45543 worked a couple of trains whilst 'withdrawn and/or  stored': 07.15 Preston-Southport freight 8th Oct 62, and a St Pancras-Derby excursion (spurious, in view of distance from Preston), finally transferring 15 Aug 63 to Crewe to be cut up. One wonders what today's accountants would make of the coaling and steaming from cold a withdrawn asset for a 32 mile round trip, with small if any pay-back! I have what must be one of the last pics of 45543, still stored on shed here, from a passing train Aug 63.

My first or second reel through the Halina 35x, Kodak Plus X. Under-exposed, scratched, a little camera-shake . . . . . . treasured.


Shed demolished, loco scrapped, friends (center left) dispersed, camera sold: I'm not a student of metaphysics but it's an intriguing truth that whilst this pic is just that, a reconstruction, the gelatin negative from which it was created exists today, and was actually there, in the shed, in the back of my camera, and arguably, as we renew every seven years, is (along with St Walburge's) the only thing about this pic that still exists!

Preston MPD - The Fire, 28th June 1960

Jubilee 5XP 45675 'Hardy', straight from overhaul, was badly damaged along with Black 5 45150, Standard 2MT 78037, a Stanier 2-6-0 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 7Fs remained stored. At school we suspected corporate sabotage (a la Bay Horse Station, burnt down about the same time), at 13 somewhat cynical, but then, much later, there was the Ribblehead Viaduct . . . .

Garstang and Catterall Station

Soon after the fire, simply to view the locos as we passed by the site, we made a trip, unfortunately sans camera, 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. Mission accomplished, we sat by the stove until eventually returning to Preston on the sparse service. For younger observers, a 'stove' is where we burnt things to keep warm - in this case coal shoveled out by passing firemen and collected from the track - yep!  The freight sidings were lifted, along with the Knott End connection that had lived on long after the passenger service ceased. Garstang & Catteral station had outlived the Knott End branch and steam traction when it closed 3rd Feb 1969 and was demolished apart from the adjacent station house.

Preston MPD - The Fire: Aftermath 

Hardy was repaired and lasted until June 1967. Other locos repaired were 78037, scrapped 1967, and 45150 that lasted until 1968. 

Preston MPD - Now (2022)

Preston MPD is no more than a few uncovered stabling sidings.

St. Walburge's

Grade ll listed, it still offers solace to the faithful. 

And the Patriots?

Looking back it there appears to have been a run-in between the old school 'pile on the coal and slog' and the fine-tuned Churchward approach; to me the old L&Y Horwich stuff had a great innings, but with the GWR showing up the mighty GNR/LNER on its own turf, the curtain was falling on the parallel boilered not-so-super super-heated sloggers! Outdated in both appearance and tech, even when introduced, the Patriots nevertheless were, it is recorded, good steamers, and crews liked them.

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 skirting the MPD site en route Blackpool with a 'we've done it' excursion. One repeat then and now pic I hope to make, though from exactly what part of decimated Preston I haven't yet considered!

and Garstang Station?

Five years after my warming by the stove, Black 5 heads a Barrow-Manchester past Garstang and Catterall. The locomotive has already had its front number-plate pinched, though the station looks very prim. Summer 1966

Rank Mamiya, 40mm fxd. FP4

With its end only two and a half years away, the station still has someone tidying up and tending the flower beds. Different times. Although the platforms, including the Knott End Branch island (left), freight sidings (connection center right) and station buildings have gone, the stepped access to Garstang and Catterall station can still be climbed to the station house - extant and occupied (2021) - gable extreme right. There was a footbridge above the camera position.

LNWR Bowen-Cooke G2 'Super D' 0-8-0, 7F 49451 one of the last-built examples, withdrawn 1st Dec 1962 and stored with other Super Ds alongside the two Patriots in the fire-damaged Preston MPD. Jan 1963

Halina 35x, Kodak Plus X.

One of 60 new-builds from 1921/22 continuing the run of LNWR 0-8-0 classes the whole of which included many upgrades and rebuilds from G1, through to new G2, G2a (that were not G2s but G1s with 1935 improvements!) and the G2's own various improvements. One class member 49395 is extant, preserved at the National Railway museum.

Useful site: https://www.steamindex.com/locotype/lnwr3.htm

At the south end of Preston station 75061 approaches the down slow  platform 6. Visible above the platform 5 canopy is the roof of the Park Hotel once owned by the L&Y and LNW Rlys, sold by BR in 1950 to the local council and now (2021) undergoing re-conversion to its original use. Just to the left of the train-spotters, and behind the platform bay, is the ticket-barrier-booth with steps from platform 4 to a long enclosed footbridge that connected with the hotel colonnade/portico; all this, with the exception of the main hotel building, was removed in the 1960/70s. Before demolition, and with the ticket-barrier no longer manned, the no longer enclosed bridge provided a useful vantage point for photography. June 1964

The layout was altered about the time of electrification, and in following shots the original approach to the down fast platform can be ascertained from the curved line of the extant canopy which was not re-aligned when the platform was widened and the approach slewed!

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, Ilford FP3

Fowler tank 42369 on one of the short sidings in the triangle of land between the WCML main line and the ELRly Blackburn and WLRly Southport lines. The latter used platforms 10 - 13 (canopies extreme left), behind which is Butler St goods yard, and the distant spire of St Wilfreds, by then Winckley Sq convent school, (closed 1978, to be developed (2023) as apartments). The distinctive over-bridge, 'Vicar's Bridge' (right) over the cutting, is extant (2023), in that the original piers support new decking providing access to the hotel grounds on East Cliff. There was a vicarage on the south side of the bridge; the smart stone building now houses Lancashire Rights services.  Out of shot, right, is the Park Hotel, its by then redundant and no longer enclosed access footbridge from platform 4 providing this viewpoint. The rail route was lifted, and the platforms, together with Butler St Goods Station, were demolished after passenger services on the ELRly from Bamber Bridge ceased 1968, and freight 1972. 

June 1964, 3 months before the closure of the Southport route.

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet

Safeties lifting and drain-cocks open, 5MT 45450 making a spirited departure south from Preston platform 4 and about to pass under the extant, once connecting but here redundant, footbridge to the Park Hotel.

A nice 'time' record of the trendy (this was the 60s!) glass wall and the short-lived GPO connecting bridge, two of the original station's columns, the newer canopies on the bay and platform 4, the old barrier booth and steps to the bridge, steam, a trainspotter (enlarge to see his camera!),  and a D.M.U.  Although I remember being up there, I'm unsure of exactly how this frame was taken - the bridge, here minus roof and glazed sides, appears none too safe - but I was clearly undisturbed as I have several frames from here. The barrier was by then no longer manned as I believe the gates at the hotel end of the bridge were locked. Later pics show a flimsy handrail.

Just visible top right, above the relatively modern admin office that curiously is extant (2023), are the Southport and Blackburn platforms' canopies; I recall the Southport trains used draw up to buffers in one of three bays, or occasionally use the through platform to run round the train.

People took a train for the 18 miles to work in Preston: grey/brown gabardine macs, belt tied, hatless a la (or is it aux?) Claud Raines . . . . 1960, greens without knowing it! Not possible now owing to the 'very green policy' of successive administrations destroying the railway, and society pressurizing the use of the car. What? No, really not possible, because the strategy (allegedly and presumably) was to prevent their decisions being overturned by their literally destroying the infrastructure and or selling it off! National Assets - a whole new meaning!

Preston, from above south bay platform, 82003 2-6-2T appears to be piloting. Viewed from the redundant footbridge to the Park Hotel. 1964

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, Ilford FP3

5MT approaching Preston platform 6 after crossing the Ribble viaduct (visible to right of the signal Box). Extreme left is the stone retaining wall above which, out of shot, was the colonnade/portico of the Park Hotel on East Cliff; access from platform 4 was by a connecting footbridge from which this view was made. 1964

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, Ilford FP3

Under the Park Hotel disused connecting footbridge 70053 departs south from Preston platform 3. I clearly missed a 'three eras' line-up chance with the Jinty 0-6-0T (right) and EE type 4 left! More annoying is that it seems I purposely waived that chance simply to frame all the Britannia! Q: What was your worst mistake in photography? A: The ones I didn't take!

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, Ilford FP3

Already missing front number-plate, a leaky 5MT 45493 (it was withdrawn 6th Jan '68) in the bay on platform 4, Preston, probably waiting its turn on a Manchester or Liverpool portion. Behind the locomotive the Park Hotel connecting footbridge is extant; visible are the stanchions for its removed covering and glazed walls. Two generations' motive power, three (?) generations of admirers! As late as 1966/7.

45493 again, showing, visible above the locomotive tender, the footbridge to the Park Hotel and its brick collonade/portico. Further right, construction work by the local council is on-going, to be levelled 55yrs later in connection with the restoration of the hotel. 

Avanti DMU passing site of Park Hotel footbridge, with the Council's 1960's 'improvements' since duly levelled! Easter 2023

A year and a half before its de-commissioning, Coronation pacific, City of Leeds, takes a non-stop service through Preston on the up fast line after passing under the Park Hotel footbridge. Early 1963

(BTW I remember it being non-stop because it surprised us by rushing through too late for us to cross platforms for a classic shot!)

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, unfiltered. Ilford FP3

Underneath the Park Hotel access footbridge from platform 4, Jubilee 45663 Jarvis waits departure south from Preston. Was 1M27 a Glasgow-Manchester?

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, Kodak Plus X

Passing Preston No 4 Box (I think) on the south side of Preston station two Stanier 8Fs bring a track-transport train up from the Ribble bridge (or from the sidings).

Excursioners for Southport wait at Wigan Wallgate; jackets, frocks and sensible shoes (and the ubiquitous trainspotters with grub and bag, extreme right!). 1966

Rank Mamiya Rangefinder, Sekor 40mm fixed lens, K2 Filter. Ilford FP3 

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 untended 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 Wallgate for the seaside at Southport, my then home town. 1966.

56 yrs later the platforms, the 'temporary' railway office, the bay, most of the buildings on left behind the train, and the trees are all still there; however, the water columns and their brazier, the relief line (right), loco Black 5 44862, its train and most of its passengers have moved on. There's still a staff walkway on the sight of the sleeper crossing!

Rank Mamiya Rangefinder, Sekor 40mm fixed lens, K2 Filter. Ilford FP3

Wigan Wallgate station: Southport train with 42611 that lasted another year to 31 May 67. 1966

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

Trivia: 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 with which to replicate my 60's Halina pics. (Allowing for register differences it should be pretty close)

Probably two trainspotters and a friend of the crew, Wigan Wallgate, a Saturday, Christmas 1962, the worst winter since 1947. Christmas 1962

The scene is replete (almost!) with a station canopy, now gone, and a relief line on which the loco stands - gone – a driver told me they have trouble now with trains backing-up without this relief freight line. There’s seasonal snow, a loco from the 30s, and two water columns beside which are two braziers that I don’t recall being lit, despite the freezing conditions. The train has a double amber signal (seen between the water columns) so it was moving, or about to. 

Mid-term 0-levels, pre Kennedy, Beatles and Profumo, and trains still, for the most part, steam-hauled – magic! Returned home later from the near platform for meat & potato pie, and Juke Box Jury! A very different world. Genius loci, or what!

Trivia: One of my first 20 pictures, and taken on Kodak Selochrome Pan with a Kershaw Penguin 6 x 9 - simple fixed lens, shutter and aperture;  purchased a year before, in class S3, from Carter’s father, this was probably the worst camera I ever used! However, I like the poignancy of this scene.

Wigan Queen St, Crown & Anchor pub, corner of Ironmonger Lane, south west end of Wigan North Western Station retaining walls.

Halina 35X 45mm triplet, K2, FP3

There once were properties and ginnels/yards/short streets now demolished between Queen St and the railway - where the lorries are parked and what looks like a National fuel station. Opposite Crown & Anchor Pub, was The Brown Cow (dark shadow of corner wall) and, further down, The Old Swan (corner of next road on left). Queen St remains, widened on the north side over the paving and pub site; the rest was demolished, already begun here back to the station, and replaced by commercial properties. Ironmonger Lane, crossing over Queen St from left, was overbuilt, though the last short portion, on right past the pub, is still traceable as Hartley Terrace as far as the new boundary with the railway. The southern end of the LNWR boundary, out of shot toward the right, was altered when the station was rationalized losing two platform faces, the track layout slimmed, and a turntable removed. The two Chapel Lane underbridges were replaced over a wider A49, again by two but longer, narrower spans.

A4 60019 Bittern entering Wigan North Western with The Mancunian railtour (Leeds - Carnforth - Manchester). 13.30 25th Nov 1967

Rank Mamiya rangefinder, Sekor 40mm lens, K2, Ilford FP3

Although the brewery, after a series of mergers, exists, it was nearly 50yrs since the painted livery (in this 1967 shot) was completely accurate, and since then (by 2020) "Walker's Ales" has been removed with "Wigan" added. The Swan and Railway pub is extant. (see following shot 45231 and 4498, 56 and 57yrs later)

"Walkers of Warrington Ales, Wigan" will bring up some interesting data on Walkers: https://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/news/19776952.tetley-walker-warrington-history-memories/


57yrs later approaching the altered Wigan North Western station layout with a railtour, is A4 4498, 65 yrs to the day since its post war record of 112mph. 23rd May 2024

Embarrassingly (as much as anything can be now) where I and others suffered cancellations and indeed no service at all owing to flooding,  the 80yr old  got to Carlisle and back pretty much on time.

Nikon D850 60mm f2.8

Wigan North Western, 45231 returning with The Fellsman, 20:07, 2nd Aug 2023

Nikon D850, 60mm f2.8

390 enters Wigan North Western 55yrs after Bittern. Unlike the station layout and platforms, the tracks over the bridge are unaltered and visible, though a couple of chimneys no longer are! 2022

The new pub sign for the extant Swan and Railway now omitting "Walkers".

Rank Mamiya (re-purchased) 40mm Fxd, K2 FP4 ID11

A4 60019 Bittern departing Wigan North Western with The Mancunian railtour.  Approaching with an up freight is a Stanier 8f. 13.38 25th November 1967.

Rank Mamiya rangefinder, Sekor 40mm lens, K2, Ilford FP3

The track in front of the Bittern and across the sidings toward the L&YRly Southport-Manchester line had just been cleared of 50  photographers! Today, the hoo-ha caused by placing a digit over the yellow band puts me in mind of that film with Gregory Peck's  nazi-hating thorn-in-their-side priest, taunting the Nazis by hovering on the painted border around the Vatican precinct! 

And 4498, setting down passengers against a very different Wigan skyline. 23 May 24

Little-used or abandoned access ramp from Cemetery Rd down to the signalbox and Springs Branch MPD. 1965

On the skyline - middle extreme right - is, I believe, the water tower on the bridges of the Whelley Loop crossing the WCML, itself just out of shot on right.

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

The rear of the MPD is middle left, the WCML and Springs Branch Jnc signalbox are out of shot, right. Springs Branch commenced left from the stored loco sidings where the line-up includes several Jintys, 2-6-4Ts, and 5MTs. Morris St (extant, buildings demolished) was probably just out of shot left, the first street left of the covered tank was the aptly named Shed St (demolished) which, like Morris St, led from Warrington Rd to the MPD boundary.

Northbound passing Springs Branch MPD is one of the four Coronations that carried a nameplate incorporating arms/blazon/badge above: perhaps 46220 (unlikely as out of action 9/3/63 Crewe, withdrawn 20 April 1963), or 46235 (w/d 12/9/64 Crewe), 46240 (w/d 12/9/64 Crewe), but 46254 is most likely, though the nameplate looks a little short.

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2, Ilford FP3

In front of Cemetery Rd road access ramp, Fowler tank 42327 waiting entry to Springs Branch MPD. 1963

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, Ilford HP3

The backdrop includes: extreme left, the end of the short Polding Street (off Cemetery Rd by the overbridge out of shot), then the church of St Marys, Ince, and 19C housing development that with the church eventually succumbed to mining subsidence. Between the properties and the vehicles behind the ramp, Springs Branch headed out under Warrington Rd through a cutting roughly to the left of the church.

I'm unsure as to the I/D of the loco extreme right: an LNER B1 or O2 perhaps; 13 B1s and some O2s were scrapped at Central Wagon on Springs Branch.

Closed road access ramp from Cemetery Rd to Springs Branch MPD. 6th Aug 2020

Nikon D850, 60mm macro f2.8

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 L&YRly Wigan Avoiding Line) over the WCML. 

Rank Mamiya rangefinder, Sekor 40mm lens, K2, Ilford FP3


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! 


The Pemberton Loop (L&YRly Wigan avoiding line)

The Loop by-passed Wigan centre by linking the Liverpool-Wigan via Pemberton line at Pemberton junction with the Southport-Wigan-Manchester line at Hindley Jnc, and can still be traced, mostly walked and in one stretch driven. Along with the bridge here, was an impressively high stone three arch under-bridge across Warrington Road (true?) demolished in the early 70s, I believe some stonework remains, however the Loop line's bowstring truss over the Springs Branch near the GCRly 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 pier & 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 (the bit you can drive!).

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

The 'other' Wigan Avoiding Line: The Lancashire Union Rly - The LNWRly's Whelley Loop.

The LNWR's own loop around Wigan's congestion ran from WCML connections near Bamfurlong, south of Springs Branch, and west from the St Helens-Wigan Line, to join at Amberswood West Jnc, thereafter continuing via various junction/connections to rejoin the WCML again at Standish Junction north of Wigan. This celebrity route retains interesting structures, and is a walkers' favourite. The Whelley Loop, singled in 1970, although outlasting the Pemberton Loop, finally closed completely in 1976. There was some interest (2010, by a heritage group) in preserving the remaining structures; the most striking of these being the multi-arch and pier and girder span viaduct (dubbed locally as 'the 20 bridges') north-west of Wigan. Another 'pretty' and complete underbridge is extant in Haig's Plantation. North of Wigan the northbound connection was approached by a burrowing junction under the WCML (bridge appears extant and is opposite the corner of Essex Rd) then by a ramp to the twin bridges (extant) on which the, by-then parallel, Loop and WCML crossed B5239 before entering Standish Station. The actual northbound connection was beyond the bridges at the north end of the platforms. At road level, between the bridges, a bricked-up platform access arch remains. The southbound Whelley Loop diverged from a junction just south of the Standish up side bridge, to converged with the Loop's down line (almost opposite Rowton Close); a footpath leads from the close to where once were three subways, down and up Whelley Loop's lines, and then the WCML where there is now a footbridge).

The view south from Taylors Lane bridge in 2021: no box nor water-tower, no pacifics and no whistling EE type 4s! The more recent gantry obscures the site of the removed embankments and piers of the Whelley Loop Fir Tree House Jnc overbridges; their position is marked roughly by the ends of the tree-lines. Aug 2021

Nikon D850. Digital mono.


Northbound on the WCML EE Type 4 'Whistler' approaches Taylors Lane bridge after passing under the Whelley Loop,  south of Springs Branch MPD. 1966

I'm not a diesel fan, but you can almost hear the approaching whistling! On the Loop's overbridges are: right, Fir Tree House Jnc signal box  and, left, the water tower; bridge, box and tower are now demolished.

To Left beyond the water tower, the link (over the bridge) from St Helens via Ince Moss and Fir Tree House Jncs, is joined at Amberswood West Junction (box see pic below), by that from the south that left the WCML just north of now demolished Bamfurlong Station - site out of shot beyond the bridge. The two tails thus joined, the Loop continued (left) past Amberswood West Jnc and over the GCRly's Wigan Junction Branch, then past Amberswood East Jnc and over the site of  Amberswood/Hindley station, closed 1872! Amberswood Station's presumed site is just south of Wigan Rd A577 overbridge (demolished, embankments remain).

The Loop continues on embankment north-east over an accommodation bridge (extant) and under the Southport-Wigan-Manchester line (overbridge extant) to De-Trafford Jnc. Gradually turning north the line passes under Makerfield Way (bridge extant) on a longer straight before Belle Green Way underbridge (demolished) and then crossed over Springs Branch (underbridge demolished/infilled).

Another demolished underbridge follows shortly afterwards then a long straight passing Rose bridge Jnc to the (demolished) bridge over the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. After the canal, there's an underpass, then the start of Roundhouse Sidings site on a widened embankment. Roundhouse Junction followed before yet another underpass (demolished, accessed now

from Durham Rd) and then the long since closed, disused and eventually demolished Whelley Station. Whelley Station buildings were on the down side south of the station overbridge (rebuilt/extant on B5238 Whelley Rd); some masonry from the station remains in the form of a retaining wall.

After the B5238 bridge, Lindsay and Alexandra Pits, and Lindsay Pit Sidings were beneath the landscaped wooded area on the east side, A distinctive stone overbridge with ornate iron railings exists next in Haigh Plantation, then Hall Lane overbridge (extant) follows.  The long cutting becomes an embankment with Wigan Rugby Union Club's accommodation underbridge near Brock Mill Farm, before Whelley Jnc, where the connection with the L&YRly's Wigan-Adlington line branched right. Both the Loop and the diverging L&Y curve crossed Sennicar Lane by adjacent overbridges (demolished, though remains (three feet high) of their piers exist on each side with access to the remodeled embankments). A viaduct then crosses Pendlebury Lane and a long lifted industrial line from Haigh Foundry to the Adlington branch. The Douglass Valley is crossed by the locally dubbed '20 bridges' - a long viaduct of arches and pillar/girders. After the viaduct, the loop passed under the Wigan-Adlington Branch (bridge demolished) whose own viaduct can be traced (east side) by the remaining tall piers across a bend in the Douglass. After the viaduct an accommodation underbridge and a deep/long underpass appear to have existed at about level with Deerhead Gdns and Richmond Close, before some more landscaping at the site of the Chorley Rd demolished underbridge. After another underbridge (about opposite the old corn mill in Chorley Rd) the down line begins to diverge from the up, both crossing subways on the lane before the down line reconnects via a burrowing junction under the WCML and after a level parallel stretch achieves the ramp to the WCML. Both routes crossed the main road B5239 on twin underbridges (extant) into Standish station, closed 1949; only a bricked-up entrance from B5239 is extant. The actual rail connection was after the north end of the now removed platforms.

To Right, of the box, the Loop's tails continue south to sidings and to the WCML at Bamfurlong's demolished station's site, and west to St Helens. 

The '20 bridges' viaduct is the target of a heritage group (2021) and cycle-way campaigners. It seems that like 19C freight operators, cyclists also prefer to avoid Wigan centre!

Amberswood West Junction signalbox viewed from southwest side towards Hindley (St Peters Church spire in background between the telepraph posts).

The northbound Whelley Loop curves left after the box to pass over the GCRly Wigan Central Line in a cutting about where the spire and posts are. The cutting stretched across the frame behind the car to be joined by the Amberswood West Curve that drops down right, past the signalman's car. The third part of the triangle, from Amberswood East Curve Jnc (out of sight behind the box in this view), links the Loop across the sight line of the church and car also to the GCRly line at Strangeways Jnc. The southbound Loop (left from the box then out of shot behind camera) splits here: south, curving under Warrington Rd (bridge extant) then under the Platt Bridge line (overbridge extant - see Platt Bridge signalbox pic) to a burrowing junction to connect eventually with the WCML at Bamfurlong. The westbound leg passed further down over Warrington Rd (bridge demolished along with west side embankment), then over the Platt Bridge line (now the EMU stabling, bridge demolished) and over the WCML at Fir Tree House Jnc, (pic above) then an underpass (piers extant) to end at Ince Moss Junction on the St Helens line.

Platt Bridge Jnc signalbox just east of the truncated Platt Bridge line that now ends as EMU sidings to right of shot (high level). Viewed from the last leg of the Whelley Loop (foreground) before it passes under the Platt Bridge line, southbound toward the WCML at Bamfurlong junction.

The semaphores controlled the approaches to the sidings and southbound to the WCML. The box closed in 1973 and was moved to and re-used at Warrington Central, where it remained, whether or not in use, extant in 2022. 

Passing under the raised deck of Cemetery Rd Bridge, near Springs Branch MPD, Alstom unit 390 132 on down fast line 6th Aug 2020

Passing under Cemetery Rd Bridge, near Springs Branch MPD, 46245 City of London with a relief on the down fast line. 1963/4

Both decks appear raised for the catenary, the rest relatively undisturbed!

Cemetery Rd bridge, 60yrs later, a steam-ex on DN slow: 45231 with The S&C Fellsman seen from the 'no-man's land rather than trespassing down the bank!   08:28 2 Aug 2023

Nikon D850, 60mm

Springs Branch: a view from down the bank near Morris St, directly toward the signal box across condemned or stored loco pool. 46515 (w/d 31 5 67 scrapped 31 12 67 by Drapers Hull) is centre, behind tender of 42954 on the third of multiple sidings here behind the Springs Branch MPD (out of shot, left). 

Somewhere behind the first few rows of locos is the start of Springs Branch, here no longer serving purpose other than movement of vehicles for scrapping by Central Wagon breakers a short way along the branch under Warrington Rd overbridge to the right.

Rank Mamiya rangefinder, Sekor 40mm lens, K2, Ilford FP3

Stanier 2-6-0 42954 passing Springs Branch MPD, and approaching the signal box. 1966

Rank Mamiya rangefinder, Sekor 40mm lens, K2, Ilford FP3

Viewed from Cemetery Rd Lower Corner.

Just arrived north of the signal box outside Springs Branch MPD is Stanier mixed traffic 2-6-0 42954, the last of its class to be withdrawn from service and stored Springs Branch 11th Feb 1967 - July 67, disposal 31st Aug 1967 Drapers, Hull; possibly its last revenue earning trip - see associated notes and pics. 1966

Rank Mamiya rangefinder, Sekor 40mm lens, K2, Ilford FP3

Visible, behind the coal wagons on the incline, is the spire of the church of St Mary's, Ince-in-Makerfield, demolished in 1978, a victim of mining subsidence.

Springs Branch began here amid multiple sidings behind the box and curved north-east under the Warrington Rd's since in-filled overbridge - roughly between the houses, left, and the church that fronted onto Warrington Rd. Interestingly, although the church and surrounding 19C properties were demolished in the 70s, they have, notwithstanding the mining subsidence, been replaced by new housing (and a new church). Those properties on Cemetery Rd (top left) are extant (2021) as were those on its corner at Warrington Rd ('The Old Hall Hotel' of 1895 - roof visible above loco's firebox). The dilapidated houses nearer at right-angles and facing camera (top left) were on a cul-de-sac still called Polding Street, and have since been demolished. 

Viewed from the lower corner end of Cemetery Rd.

for the church history see: https://www.lan opc.org.uk/Wigan/Ince/stmary/index.htmll

Stored loco pool, Springs Branch, viewed from just under the Warrington Rd overbridge that I suspect facilitated illegal access to the site! The same three locos, as appear in closer shots, are Stanier mogul 42954, 5MT 45336 in steam, and 2-6-4T 42577; the nearer diesel shunter D2569. Ahead of shunters is a Britannia, rods removed, possibly 70030 withdrawn and stored 25th June - Sept 66

June<>Sept 1966

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

42954 (w/d 11 Feb 1967) reported stored Feb-Jul 67 (and presumably earlier) at Springs Branch, with 46515 behind.

June<>Sept 1966

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

Viewed from the Warrington Rd boundary with the MPD, near Morris St (extant 2021, though properties demolished), looking toward Springs Branch signalbox (extreme left) and Cemetery Rd overbridge (extreme top right). Between 42954 and 2-6-4T 42577, 5MT 45336 appears here to be in steam, being withdrawn 14th Jan '67.

Three of the thirteen LNER B1s scrapped here,  61054 and two sister sister engines on the Springs Branch spur to Central Wagon Co., Ince. The overbridge carries the Southport-Wigan-Manchester line that crossed also Springs Branch on another overbridge out of shot immediately right. <>June 1963 

This bridge (1 of 3 here) appeared to have been infilled (viewed 2023); the other two of the three (under the Southport line) along with identifiable traces of the branch formation were extant and visible from passing trains (2023) and can be visited though the route and bridge site is much overgrown.

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2, Iford FP3

B1 61054 and view south-west towards junction with Springs Branch. <>June 1963

One of once three adjacent bridges under the Southport Line August 2023.; one appears to have been infilled.

Austerity 2-8-0 90585 looks as though it brought itself and wagons for scrapping on to Springs Branch and then gave up! Appears to be a train length from Warrington Rd overbridge. However, the loco is recorded as being cut up in Sheffield (w/d 30 Apr 65, disposed 30 Jul 65).  Research will show whether the loco has a steam leak, or if it's the only live working I ever saw on Springs Branch!

Ainscough St (demolished) is on left with St Mary's church (demolished) obscured by the train.

Springs Branch, Central Wagon Co breakers, not quite the end of the line, but the end for 46243 City of Lancaster (w/d Edge Hill 30 Sep 64, disposal date was 31 Jan 1965) Between Sat 17th and Friday 30th July 1965.

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2, FP3

Previous year, Summer 1962, at Lancaster Castle. Coronation 8P down slow platform

Kershaw Bellows 6x9. Verichrome Pan. Not the best kit, but wish now I had risked more! Although Euston-Crewe-Lime St had been energized by this time, I caught, the same summer, an 8P on a down express at Edge Hill.

Alongside Fowler 2-6-4T  42369 is GWR 3208 the only 2251 class that was cut up at Ince. The properties in the background I believe to be on Green Lane. Jul/Aug 1965.

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2, FP3

Central Wagon Co, Ince: 61942 ex LNER Gresley K3/2  2-6-0  w/d 16 Sep 62, disp 30 6 63. The properties in the background are possibly on Green Lane. July 1963

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2, FP3

Ince, Wigan and a 5MT southbound relief approaching Cemetery Rd overbridge; the backdrop from left is Pemberton Loop overbridge then, centre over the other side of the loop are Westwood Lane properties and right is Ince Cemetery, which extends also on left of track and behind camera (protestant internment one side, catholic the other). Between the cemetery (left) and the railway a narrow dirt path of 'no man's land' provides nice cover for embankment location shots (the embankment seen above is now, unsurprisingly, completely overgrown). The path is of course a footway for rail employees' access to the p.w., but appears to be a 20" right of way between the cemetery stone wall and a new railway post & bar fence; that, anyway, would be my story for Wigan's finest!

Trivia: Memory is an odd thing: I can remember lying in the grass, khaki shirtsleeves, no jacket, but cannot remember the train!

Halina 35X 45mm fxd K2 Ilford FP3

Looking east from Taylors Lane overbridge section over the Platt Bridge line, with bracket signal centre right. Streets cluttered with four neighbours, Fido and one Austin! Trivia: A BSA Star Rider parked bottom right! 1966

Rank Mamiya, Sekor 40mm lens, K2, FP3

Looking east from Taylors Lane overbridge, Platt Bridge section, 2022.

Nikon D850 Digital mono

The street layout is unchanged, the properties rebuilt, Austin, neighbours, Fido and bracket-signal gone. The few hundred meters truncated stub of the Platt Bridge line is used as an EMU stabling area, the Taylors Lane bridge being altered during electrification works, whilst the next, Bryn Hill Farm underbridge, was demolished. Though it would be nice to think that the bridge is original, it looks as though, that as well as raising the parapets, it was rebuilt reusing the old stonework, with the deck gradient increased to match the renewed WCML overbridge (behind camera). I can I/D two or three blocks/courses of the original.

Springs Branch, The Pemberton Loop and the Wigan Junction Branch.

The three routes and their bridges at Ince: viewed to south-east. 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 Springs Branch line and wagon works sidings, and then the higher Loop bridge just visible behind. Behind the camera the site of demolished Lower Ince station is infilled along with two overbridges: first a works access and then, at the station, that of Green Lane. 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 (see below) and was surprised by the glare from the bridge's new (in those days lead) paint,  just in time for de-commission 1971. 

The other side of the bridge with the central support appears not yet infilled but in Google maps to be extant, although knee-deep in water from the 'landscaped post-industrial use' area! A site visit should prove interesting:  Wigan's own 'Philae'.

Springs Branch, The Pemberton Loop and the Wigan Junction Branch.

The three routes and their bridges at Ince: view to south-west . Foreground is the remaining track of the GCRly Wigan Junction Branch, passing toward Wigan Central Station left to right 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 (foreground) by a high girder bridge just left of of shot. The buildings on the site of Old hall (centre under the bridge) seem to be either a school, or eight semi-detached houses that are extant (2021). Google maps appear (2022) to show the cutting (foreground) in about eight feet of water now, with the cutting on the other side infilled. (out of shot right).


Pemberton Loop bowstring truss bridge over the Springs Branch, Wigan, looking south-west toward Westwood Park power station (chimneys by Wigan Pier) and, extreme 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 decommissioned in a year or two.

Rank Mamiya rangefinder, Sekor 40mm lens, K2, FP3

Pemberton Loop (Wigan avoiding line) bridge over WCML looking SW 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 of the Pemberton Loop in use: eastbound, near Central Wagon scrapyard, austerity 2-8-0 about to cross either the bridge over the GCRly Wigan Junction Branch, or that over Springs Branch. The chimney behind is perhaps on the site of a pumping station (see previous shots).

Royal Scot 46141 'The North Staffordshire Regiment' and 5MT 45220 northbound after Cemetery Rd bridge, approaching the Pemberton Loop overbridge, viewed from Up side toward Westwood Park power station. 46141 lasted another year until 18th April 1964. Spring 1963

That capricious Halina! It would have been a dull Wigan day, but despite low contrast lens, my developing errors, coarse HP3, and classic vignetting, the Scot's locomotive number is still clearly readable (click on it!) at probably no more than 1/100th 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 a works access overbridge, after which the curve continues to the bridges under the Pemberton Loop, Springs Branch, and the wagon works sidings. Condemned vehicles delivered for scrapping were stored by Central Wagon Co (roof visible above bridge) along a short spur at the top of the cutting (out of sight, on left) that once continued behind the camera, parallel with but higher than the main line, across Green Lane apparently on the level (though old maps show a shared overbridge).

The station had no footbridge, each platform being 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, along with the  occupation overbridge (right) together with Green Lane bridge, from under which the scene is viewed; the latter's southern parapet remains visible protruding along the south side of 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!

After leaving Wallgate, Caprotti 5MT takes a Southport - Manchester train over the Leeds & Liverpool canal. 1963

The view is from above the canal lock, just south of Wigan North Western station, on what was waste ground on the up side curve of the WCML. The location is still accessible but requires 1) negotiating a wooded area and 2) the goodwill of the local builders' merchants.

Halina 35X. Digitized from Kodachrome. Unfiltered.

A bird's eye view of just this one of the 5 routes and their complicated association:

From the canal, the L&YRly route continues  over Warrington Rd, then over an apparently extant bridge that crossed the GCRly's Wigan Central Line together with a small siding from the works adjacent to the GCRly's 'Lower Ince' station to the south. Next,  just 200 meters east up Green Lane from the GCRly's 'Lower Ince', is the L&YRly's 'Ince' station, a mirror image of the other in that the platforms are this time on the Wigan side, but again accessed from Green Lane though by a simple footbridge down to the central island platform. Immediately after Green Lane's 'Ince' overbridge the route crossed a canal branch (bridge and canal branch now infilled). Next, close to an extant subway to since-demolished buildings, is another subway built to access since-demolished sewage tanks, now accessed from the new estate's Maple Avenue. Shortly afterwards the line crosses an industrial spur (appears in-filled, between pit shafts and associated industry) almost adjacent to another underbridge over Springs Branch. Springs branch's formation, more or less still identifiable from the WCML, continues only about 100 meters east before being overbuilt, after which large development, Springs Branch is traceable almost to its end. After crossing Springs Branch, the Southport-Manchester line continues over yet another, this time long, subway once linking pit workings, now industrial units. A long curve leads to the convergence with the Pemberton loop, where the 'joined' lines continued in quadrupel/parallel formation over A577 Manchester Rd (south side Loop bridge removed), then passed over another extant but apparently filled subway before crossing the Whelley Loop used here by NCR 55 (4 way underbridge extant, though the line is no longer quadrupaled) connecting at Hindley Junction. This latter was a west/north link from the Manchester line to the northbound Whelley Loop, but also connected pit workings and their sidings, all now lifted; Hindley Station followed immediately. The now double-track route continues today east from Hindley on the originally 4 track formation towards Manchester over Hindley Mill Lane/Borsdane Brook (a long brick arch subway), then under a four track overbridge to a simplified Crow's Nest Junction.

Hindley Station

Of the four track/platformed station, the overbridges, side/retaining walls, station buildings at street level, the four platforms and two brick access ramps remain. No original buildings remain on the Manchester bound platform, nor on the original island platform used now for Wigan bound trains. The other platform faces exist, the station buildings on the Wigan bound dis-used  platform in commercial use.

As the Southport-Wigan-Manchester line is parallel and linked to the WCML just south of Wigan North Western station, it is thus linked to or crosses all the other four routes. The GCRly's line was the only one of the 5 routes that was not linked to or did not cross all of the other four.

The 'Burscough Curves' (or perhaps, more precisely, 'arcs' or 'ramps' (or 'forks' on 1914 OS map) were two short links connecting the Southport-Wigan line with that of Liverpool-Preston via Ormskirk. Seen here are from Southport a mxd or stock movement of three coaches and two guards vans held at the junction on the northbound link,  with a Preston-Liverpool train approaching the north junction box. 

Left: viewed from a Wigan-bound train approaching the Liverpool line overbridge, and right, from same Wigan-bound train after the Liverpool line overbridge (the underbridge extreme left is a farm narrow underpass). 1963.

The pics have no merit, of course, but it wasn't often a train was seen on the curves and unlikely ever to be seen passing one on the main!

Halina 35x, 45mm triplet, K2, FP3. An over ambitious opportunist shot with a Halina in winter Lancashire light! Oh for one of those fancy Pentax things and a telephoto lens that the older guys had!

Burscough Junction and signalbox pictured from the same road overbridge 1963 and 2022. 

The nameplate on the trackside of the box is of the original wooden type and, defying the Philistine to the last, shows still (2023) the legend "Burscough Bridge Junction" !

Halina 35x, 45mm triplet, K2, FP3                                                                                                                     Nikon D850, 60mm macro

The Burscough Curves ('ramps', 'arcs' or 'forks') were West-North & West-South links from the Southport-Wigan line just east of Burscough Bridge station, used up to around 1969 and 1982 respectively. There was a Southport-Ormskirk service until 1962. I recall in 1960/61 changing at Burscough Junc having missed the last Preston-Southport line Train.

The west-north fork after the box was disused after 1969 and lifted 1973.  The south arc/curve/fork (right foreground), used by Southport-Ormskirk trains until 1962, and singled 1970, continued in use until 1982 for access to MOD sidings nr Burscough Jnc station. 

Oddly, after the Southport-Preston line closed 7th Sept'64 (along with the LMS electrification Southport-Crossens link with the Liverpool line) there was no 'network' effective plan to reinstate the curves as part of, well, a network! For some 60yrs reinstatement has been mooted, discussed, discarded, considered, opposed, and lately (2022) reconsidered! Both links' formations, a brick pier & girder underpass, together with a hefty stone bridge on School Lane, have at least survived attack, other than by trees. Burscough Bridge signal box remains in use on the Southport Line. Both boxes on the Liverpool line were removed and the Burscough Junction station buildings destroyed in favour of a waiting shelter; the MOD site east side of the line is now under housing. 

LNER B1 61304, on what would have been the center road, York, a good few years before the Grade ll listed station's restoration. Easter Tuesday, 16th April 1963

The platform in the foreground was later shortened.

Halina 35x, 45mm triplet. Kodak Tri X 

York Station Easter Tuesday ? 16 Apr 2023, 60yrs on. Renewed awning, removed/shortened platform.

Nikon D850 Minolta Rokkor 45mm

NER Raven Class T2 (LNER Class Q6 0-8-0) - built 1920 by Armstrong Whitworth & Co. as NER No.2269. 06/67 withdrawn from 52H Tyne Dock: 46 yrs in service when seen here at Leeds City early morning, viewed towards Call Lane underbridge. Summer 1966

Trivia: Very little steam remained at this time, particularly of this vintage: I haired down the platform (upon which I had slept all night) but not quite fast enough to catch a better glimpse of the receding loco.

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

Leeds City: the same location where,in 1966, T2 63426 escaped from me. August 2022

The same platform, though shortened by a few meters, August 2022, yes 54yrs and I wasn't hairing anywhere! The wall next to now lifted track remains, St Peter's Church tower is again just visible, and 'Jay's' building and two others, though altered, remain.

Nikon D850 60mm macro. A 40mm lens (as the original) and sourced nearer (from the top of the railing) would provide a truer comparison.

7029 Clun Castle with LCGB 'Castle to Carlisle' 1T80 excursion approaching Hellifield, passing the since demolished MPD.   18.30 14th Oct 1967

Almost midnight to you and me - pretty much mid-day up there!

Rank Mamiya, Sekor 40mm, FP4

Royal Scot 46115 approaching Hellifield, passing the site of demolished MPD. 7th Aug 2021

Nikon D850 Steinheil 100mm

The Castle was on the mainline and thus nearer in the wider-angled shot, showing (I'm tempted to believe) the same buffer stop behind which was the demolished chimneyed building.

Trivia: There was for the 1967 shot a little trespass of about a loco length from the platform end to a rail-level eye-view which, with the angle then of a 40mm lens, would also explain in the 2021 shot the 'repositioning'  of the three trees in the middle left background behind the signal post. The 54 yr tree grow is on or around the site of the demolished carriage shed.

Hellifield. August 2023

Praktica lV, Zeiss 50mm aluminium. K2, FP4.


Settle & Carlise downgrade from Ais Gill summit, a down express approaching a favourite location of 1930s and 40s photographers: the B6259 overbridge backed by Wild Boar Fell. With the exceptions of Fell, dry-stone wall and the Midland Railway bridge, nothing in this view now exists.

A1 class Tornado at the B6259 overbridge backed by Wild Boar Fell

At the end of Carnforth's since demolished DN main platform that extended by two or three coach lengths north beyond the overbridge (just visible top right),  City of Salford is restarting a train having reached the cross-over/spur that ended at the DN platform end (right). Behind the loco is the Post Office (extant in another use 2023). The properties left, extant, are at the end of Hunter St. Hidden behind the loco were several service buildings on the Up main platform; they remain, but the platform has gone. Sept 1963

Halina 35X

Another view of Carnforth DN main, probably the same day as 46257. The UP platform service buildings just visible are still recognizable in 2023 views, along with the old Post Office; the DN platform end, starter & shunt signals and water column went with the closure of the main line platforms. A Scot, thought to be 46141 (extant and operational at this time) is using the column; no notes as to whether this was a parcels (likely) or a passenger train.                                                                                         Sept 1963

Halina 35X

Lakeside station, then still partly covered, with Jubilee 45622 Nyasaland (reputed member of the ton-up club on 10th Aug 1964) here just arrived after reversing along the branch from Ulverston. July 1963

Despite stopping foul of the crossover, and unless there was another engine up front, I assume it must have run round for the return through Haverthwaite and the even then closed Greenodd Station. . . . the pics we missed! Some masonry remnants of Greenodd station may be visible still on the A590 that usurps the trackbed used by vehicles the same local authorities are now trying to prevent overfilling the Lake District! Whilst in another own goal by the travel industry the connections beyond Greenodd and over the estuary to Ulverston and to Carnforth are severed, at least the line between Haverthwaite and Lakeside remains as a heritage line still connecting with the steamers, as in the pic above.

45622 was withdrawn in Sep 1964, a year after this view. It's claimed that the Jubilees were the last express passenger locos from the Big Four pre-BR era to survive on the mainline (1967), just ahead of the Southern pacifics that checked out finally 9th July 1967. Not my favourite engines, Jubilees, always seemed to promise more than they could deliver, like a wannabe Castle; there was once a boast that they could accelerate faster than a Type 4 - over a certain speed range, and the preserved locos seem to perform very well. Four Jubilees are preserved (some would claim five, as many parts from Alberta 45562 are carried by one of the four complete locos, Alberta being scrapped at Woodhams after a failed attempt to purchase and restore!).

Barrow Station: crew at water column - a familiar site. Stanier 2-6-4T 42581 of 1935 Aug 1964 

The first withdrawal was in 1960, with the last in 1967. None has been preserved (though the original of the 3-Cylinder 2-6-4T version, number 2500, is preserved at the National Railway Museum, and two examples of the nearly identical LMS Fairburn 2-6-4T are extant). 

Warship at Waterloo: D824 Highflyer. Aug 1964

Of the elements in this pic, viz the signal box, sack trolley, platform layout, locomotive, signal gantry, only Parliament remains!

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!  Happily I still have the 1991 6x6s of WC Taw Valley and 80080 joint visit of 34027 and a standard 4 tank - 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 extant (unfortunalty not (yet) 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 site now? Well there has to be somewhere to park vehicles after their polluting the town! 

Trivia: 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!

BR 2-6-0 77004, York shed, viewed from Leeman Rd; behind are EE Type 4 D355, Ivatt 2-6-0 43071 and an A3. Easter Tuesday 16th April 1963

Seen from Leeman Rd, looking NE towards the spire of St Michaels school chapel. Behind camera is a turntable near the end of the MPD area at the Leeman Rd underbridge.

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2, Kodak Tri X

Only a year before this, a shout 'streak' would go up as the unmistaken wedge and plume of steam approached from the south. Here, Easter Tuesday 1963, on what must have been one of its last passenger duties, 60005 Sir Murrough Wilson is leaving York, northbound. 60005 lasted another year until 12th March 1964. I later photographed other operational A4s, in steam days before 1968, but each were preserved or short listed and on RCTS excursion/rail tours. 16th April 1963

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2, Kodak Tri X

York station north end from re-modelled platforms, showing lift housing and on right, sundry office still in situ,  with car park and new offices over the old sidings. 16 April 2023.

Nikon D850, Tamron 35-70 at 45mm

 In the foreground are the tracks to the Scarborough line, joined (out of shot right) just after its platform ends. The link was later removed as part of the station's general upgrading and track and platform re-alignment. 16th April 1963

Trivia: Quite obviously not quick enough with the Halina's thumb screw wind-on - missed the steam hauled tank train on right!

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 50 yrs on, it's all still there (2018) though little used (the customs chicane and inspection tables not used at all!). It was the last year of steam (here). 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

To be fair, although the 'cubist' buildings line up nicely, I think that the steam-hauled train was on one of the further platforms.

Nikon D850, 60mm 2.8

5000 Launceston Castle on a 4 coach Chester-Shrewsbury                                      Gobowen Station 9th Feb 2024                                     service at Gobowen. New Year's Morning 1st January 1964                                                                                                                                                            Halina 35x 45mm, Ilford HP5                                                                               Nikon D850, Rokkor 45m,

Yes I know, a Castle on 4 coach train! The 'world's worse camera' Halina was none too bad at this magnification, and on HP5!

5000 "Launceston Castle" with a 4 coach Chester-Shrewsbury service, after arrival at Shrewsbury and swapping the express passenger headlamp code for class J 'mineral or empty wagon train'. 5000 was withdrawn later that year.   New Year's Morning 1st Jan 1964. Halina 35x 45mm lens, Ilford HP5

Viewed from since removed south end of  platform 3 (the other face formed the bay platform 2). The overall roof, or what was left of it, was removed during 1963, as evidenced by comparison with the photograph of the GWR Hall departing on New Year's Day 1st January 1963! Kershaw Penguin Bellows 120 HP5

In 1926, 5000 Launceston Castle was loaned to the London, Midland & Scottish Railway for trials on main line Euston-Carlisle. The performance-results prompted the LMS board to request that GWR build some Castles for them, or gave them sight of the designs! The LMS had to settle for the Royal Scots (1927) until, eventually, Stanier on his recruitment brought GWR ideas to the LMS. The Castle class design concept had already migrated to the LNER via the trials and comparison performances with Gresley pacifics. The world speed record holder Mallard owes much to the Castles, or more precisely their own progenitors: Churchward's Saint, and Star but mainly City classes of the 1900s! (What? High pressure boiler, long travel valves, effective superheater!)


            One year old, Warship D857 'Undaunted', here loading                        Class 158 Shrewsbury Dn main line P4a                                            mails at Shrewsbury Dn mainline P4, was the last to be                                               11 Feb 2024                                                                                        withdrawn 3rd Oct 71. 1st Jan 1964                                                     

                                     Halina 35x 45mm HP5                                                                       Nikon D850 Rokkor 45mm

Shrewsbury 60yrs and three weeks since Launceston Castle arrived with its 4 coaches from Chester! 

Winchfield: down Bournemouth Belle, with Merchant Navy class 35021, 'New Zealand Line' passing dis-used central platform from the 1904 widening/quadrupling. Behind the vans on the siding are the chimneys of 'The Beauclerc Arms' ('Winchfield Inn' since about 1973).  Upper quadrant automatic semaphores on the up line were, I think, automatic (a pneumatic system) installed about the time of the 1904 widening owing perhaps to the very long flying sections. The Belle appears to have been a regular turn for 35021 that week.  Aug 1964

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, 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 the end 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 caused simply because of my careless loading! Doubt if AI could help this one!

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, only one fifth of which involved the hauling of express trains, is now at the Mid Hants Rly. In its rebuilt form 34058 ran for only 4 yrs before withdrawal, 11 Oct 1964, a year after this shot. Restoration is still under consideration - 60yrs later!

see the brilliant site:                        https://preservedbritishsteamlocomotives.com/34058-sir-frederick-pile-sr-21c158-br-sc1c158-br-34058/

Trivia: 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 fiercely defended by thinking locals, and was 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!

Trivia: 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 (fortunately sepia) 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! If I can find it I'll post  it here)

55yrs on, built in 1936 less than 30 yrs before the Winchfield series to LSWR design Southern Railway no 847 is one of seven class S15 survivors of the cutters' torches and is now on the Bluebell Railway 2019

Leidolf Lordamat Coupled Rangefinder and Lordonar 50mm (not the superb later Lordon lens - not bad just the same). So state the sleeve notes, but looks like one of the very few additional lenses produced by Enna for Leidolf: the 90 or 135mm.  Anyway, for a 70yr old kit, pas si mail du tout! Original Lordamat 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. Aug 1964

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

Winchfield station: signalbox 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 (1959/63 model, re-purchased 2018), 45mm triplet, K2 filter. Ilford FP4 in Champion Promicrol - a great developer gone the way of all . . .

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

Left is the spur to the since demolished goods shed behind the down station platform, and to now-lifted sidings. 35022 is 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, signal gantry (above camera in preceding shot) replaced by two colour-lights by the down arch. July 2021

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

Winchfield station: Bournemouth & Weymouth returning excursion with Merchant Navy class 35018, another 100mph achiever from the late 60s, here 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 nightmare to write!

My first family visit to the south coast. After an evening arrival by Vauxhall Victor, 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! July 1963

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

Jaw-dropping - no. However the station (the first in Bournemouth) has gone, the 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 both at Winchfield and Waterloo; she was scrapped in 1965. Boscombe 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 - I'm not embarrassed to show it here! 

Trivia: Some bright sparks want the station replaced (2021) 50 yrs after some bright spark had it destroyed!


35021 with Bournemouth Belle again, same week as Winchfield shot, here departing Waterloo. Aug 1964 

I have always been led to believe that the Pullman trains were 'white elephants (!), though all (at least the window) seats here are occupied.

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2 FP3

Trivia: The leading Car 63 here was offered in model form by Hornby and, like 35021, scrapped. However, Car 26 now preserved on the Bluebell Rly, would also have formed part this train's consist. The loco seems to have been as busy as was I that week! After 55yrs I've just spotted my first camera bag on the platform! I tell folk the route I/D panel is actually a nod to me!

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,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, K2 filter. Ilford FP3. Sometimes the Halina sweet-spot surprised even me!

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 FP3 restricted 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 past the MPD into Bournemouth with a Weymouth-Waterloo express. July 1963.

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

And here again - almost 50yrs to the day, passing the MPD site .

Minolta STR, Rokkor 45mm K2 FP4

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 (or should that be no cut-off at all!) 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 (and, in part, the design of the valve gear) 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' with the 'Coronation Scot' press run, 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! Shall I say that again? 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 intermittent 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.

Trivia: I several times recently travelled the same route from Crewe, faster, of course, as the now eyesores-with-platforms we still call stations flashed past. Nevertheless that such timings with steam required the '30s trains to have been travelling at similar speeds for a considerable part of their journey seems to me incredible - and almost frightening!.

The 'Coronation' Press Run 1935

Sir Nigel Gresley's new pacific 'Silver Link' took the press run out of King's Cross very quickly up to 100mph that was averaged for a further 45 miles! A concerned Gresley, travelling in the train, made his way forward via the corridor tender and (apocryphal) placed his hand on the driver's arm and politely said, 'stay your hand, you've already touched 112mph twice'! Well who knows what was said, but both the visit to the cab and the speed were recorded!

Why did Gresley use steam for his high speed venture? Well, in the 30s the UK wasn't exactly flush with money, it did have a lot of coal and employment engaged in producing it, it did have 100 yrs expertise and kit not requiring an incredibly expensive new investment, the locomotives were really an improved version of the tried and tested type perfected 30 yrs earlier by the Great Western, and there's something else! In Germany the Reich had presaged what we now see as the obvious answer, and  Gresley contacted the 'Flying Hamburger's' engineers who very honestly replied that his steam answer could better provide a faster (over very long distances) and, equally important then, more efficiently a system offering a higher payload than the very expensive (and short) Hamburger. The rest as they say . . . . . . !

I recently (2023) travelled the NEW LNER KX-York and return, and of course a lot quicker than in 1935; but I got to thinking - then: no continuous supply of (almost) unlimited power of a couple of power stations behind you, mechanical signaling, now: few if any speed restrictions, re-alignment of the route, 86 yrs of tech improvements, much faster acceleration and deceleration; blimey, no wonder people were impressed back then - the flying averages had to be good to keep time.

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 100mph in 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 several recorders - what? All of them? And the signalmen's booking entries? There's also a diary and apocryphal record of a Saint, 4 6 0 version, light engine on test in 1907 making 120mph on falling grade, times provided by footplate crew , inspector and signal-box staff.

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!) Luckily, in the 1930s there weren't any East European judges involved!

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! An eerie  parallel with Sir Nigel Gresley in 1935!

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(7?) and a half-hour early arrival. A full page spread in the next day's Daily Express (pic below) shows a helicopter-style 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 Dame Char 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 pharoh/boy who needs to please mummy, they had targets to meet!

A little like the carbon targets:  you have someone do the maths and prove if, if, and again if the motorists drive nicely and don't accelerate away from a restriction nor break heavily before one, and if they all use the same fuel and are similarly loaded, and the councils can force the imposed limits on and along sufficiently lengthy stretches of tarmac well, IF, then maybe you could reduce carbon emission - but more importantly - meet your targets! Grow up!

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           

Flim-clip-damaged negative from the already flawed image with Halina 35x, 45mm triplet fiixed lens. Ilford FP3

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 who, instead of the quango-dept-authority that 'owns' our national assets, have themselves to preserve them - magic eh!  

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)


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

On this day out I clocked (or thought I clocked) 100mph behind a rebuilt WC. Of course, I didn't, but the fact that at the time I was prepared to believe I had suggests just how lively these locos were. Up line, West of Southampton, July 1963

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

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

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

Southampton Central. July 2021

Nikon D850 Tamron 35-70

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. There are other LSWR survivors here in 1964: the gantries of lower quadrant semophores over the platforms (left) and just visible above the end of the train.  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, signal gantry 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 (1959/63 model, re-purchased 2018), 45mm triplet fixed lens, K2 filter. Ilford FP4 in Champion Promicrol.                         

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

390 approaching Par on last day of semophore operation: bracket for goods loop and Par branch left, goods loop starter just visible on right.

Nikon D850, Pentax 85mm. 

My only footplate experience. Southport Driver Terry Hill at controls of Caprotti Class 5 44743: 80mph (fireman claimed) with Manchester - Wigan - Southport Express somewhere on the flat before Hoscar troughs: 13:00, a Saturday, Spring 1963

And ,yes, we were travelling in the second shot!

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2, FP3

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! 

Only because of its (by 1963) rarity, one of my most cherished shots. Up Midday Scot with Coronation 46255 ex streamlined 'City of Hereford' (presumably deputizing 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, Hereford 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 hand foul the shutter cocking lever! July 63

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, Ilford FP3

And Lancaster 2018, chimney pots rationalized somewhat, and right, 2021, along with at least the third generation footbridge windows! I can just picture the 8P hurtling up from the river to begin the climb south out of Lancaster, just.

At Lancaster Castle Jubilee 45622 Nyasaland with probably a Barrow or Windermere train a month or so before its withdrawal on 19th Sept 1964. Far right, in the bay, an Ivatt 2-6-0 waits with a Morecambe/Bare Lane local. July/Aug 1964

One of the locos' last firemen, Brian Murphey from Saltley shed, placed on record an anecdote regarding Nyasaland achieving, about the time of this picture, and shortly before withdrawal, a rattling and cab loosening 100mph; it was 10th Aug 1964, en-route Bristol - Gloucester, the exertion perhaps hastening the locos' demise! Frightening! Though perhaps less so than that Saint of Churchward's apochryphal 120mph, and light-engine outside-cylindered at that! Hunting and rolling must have had a whole new meaning for the crew and inspector that day whatever the truth re the speed!

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, Ilford FP3

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/Aug 1964 Probably the same day and slightly after the Nyasaland picture.

My original Halina 35X, triplet 45mm 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. Evening July 1963

My original Halina 35X, triplet 45mm 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! (That's about 250 quid now - dad must have come up with a Canadian!)

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 (to match the Halina).

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' .  31618 is extant on the Bluebell Railway 2023.


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 tours: 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.

Approaching Southport Chapel St., 150 set from Manchester/Wigan passes the demolished excursion platforms' site; between is the trackbed of the lifted Preston/Meols Cop route. Easter Sunday, 2023

Nikon D850, Minolta Rokkor 45mm.

The rusted tracks (right) were carriage sidings, those still in use once supported Stanier LMS units for the closed Southport-Meols Cop-Crossens-Liverpool system, now supporting newly delivered EMU sets for the Liverpool line. Behind the EMU sets was the now lifted link of a triangle connection with the Liverpool line; above them is new housing on the site of demolished Holland's Toffee Works. The scene was once one of bustling actiivity, where Manchester line coaching sets were cleaned, waiting their duties, shunted and positioned by one of three L&YRly 2-4-2 radial tanks that would park between duties next to the excursion tracks platforms to the left of the 150 and lifted tracks. Tender locomotives would often use the triangle to reverse for their return trips.

From the new concrete Victoria Footbridge that replaced, a few meters to the west, the lattice wrought iron and wooden decked original . A vaguely similar wrought iron lattice footbridge is extant at Windsor Road, just beyond the bend behind the new industrial units top left .

Easter Good Friday: Bahamas arriving with excursion at Southport Chapel St. Behind are the roofs of the by then little-used, now demolished, excursion platform buildings, and behind them the motive power depot (27C since 1950, 8M 1963 until closure 1966), 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 Good Friday 7th April 1963

Halina 35X, 45mm triplet, K2, Ilford FP3

Easter Good Friday:  After arrival with excursion at Southport, Bahamas reversing to shed. Just visible, looking toward Hall St. at left, is the turntable and, behind the loco's tender, the coaling plant and wagon ramp. Bahamas was withdrawn from service two years later. Southport MPD closed 6th June 1966. After 58 years this shooting location still exists complete with tortured barbed wire and stanchions on the Victorian stone boundary wall that in this instance I seem to have breached! Nice if Bahamas' owners arranged a trip to Southport again! Easter Good Friday 7th April 1963

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

L&YRly class 5 2-4-2T Radial Tank 50850: later batch with extended smokebox; along with original version class members 50781 and 50746, it worked as Southport station pilot, here still in steam at the end of Southport's excursion platforms summer 1961. 50850 was withdrawn 28th Oct 1961, and scrapped a few months later. Viewed from a ginnel near Holland's Toffee Works. The barbed wire and fixing stanchions were still affixed to the stone boundary wall in 2023. 

July<>Oct 1961

Coronet Box Camera, Selechrome Pan

58 yrs after its Southport excursion, Bahamas lifts the outward leg of a Victoria-Faversham excursion past adoring fans at the foot crossing on the grade west of Kemsing station. 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 23rd July 1966)

Nikon D850, Tamron 80/200

Trivia: 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)

I re-call an Egyptian tour-guide continually interspersing his delivery with  '. . . and I want you to know . . . ' , completely absorbed with the beauty of his country's heritage; in a way I suppose that's what all picture-takers really want.

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  (and, for the most part, useful) 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!)