Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Steaming to The Lindum Fayre

The Christmas Lindum Fayre is an annual event in Lincoln and usually attracts a couple of steam hauled charter trains to the city. Saturday 06 December 2014 was a day not to be missed for the steam enthusiast with not one but two locomotives heading for the city.

The first charter heading into Lincoln was Vintage Trains Limited Christmas Lindum Fayre from Tyseley Warwick Road in Birmingham hauled by GWR Hall Class no 4965 Rood Ashton Hall. Our plan was to head to Swinderby Road for our first video and photo location spot.
We arrived at Swinderby Road in good time but the ground was still white over with frost. All was going well as 4965 Rood Ashton Hall needed to be on time or at best only a few minutes late if we were to make our second location of Metheringhan station.
It was now a case of heading off to Metheringham station to catch the second charter train of the day this time The Railway Touring Company's charter hauled by LNER A4 Class 4-6-2 no 60009 Union of South Africa. We arrived at the station earlier than anticipated and had a few minutes to wait in the still freezing conditions.
As it turned out we had even more time than we thought as by the time 60009 Union of South Africa arrive it was running a few minutes late.

Our extra time in the cold was rewarded with an excellent chime as she speed through the station.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Out To See Bittern

On a cold damp December morning we set out to the East Coast Main Line to see LNER A4 Pacific 4464 Bittern hauling the Cathedrals Express from London Kings Cross to York. Following the trains progress on Realtime Trains it was making good time and would be on schedule north of Templehirst Junction where we were planning to take some video and photos.

The clouds were low so the position of the sun wasn't going to be a problem. We didn't manage to get our usual parking spot. We had about twenty minutes to wait before the Cathedrals Express was due. A few test videos were made as main line services raced along the main line.
Then a problem as a tractor with an enormous piece of spaying equipment attached seemed as if it wanted to start crop spraying exactly where we were standing although there didn't appear to be a crop. It wasn't clear whether we would have to move position. At the same time I spotted smoke on the horizon. It turned out that we didn't have to move as the tractor did a 360° turn and headed away from us down the grass verge but by this time Bittern was into view. In a panic I pressed the photo shutter button instead of starting the video. Eventually I realised my mistake and I hit the right button and started the video.

This maybe a last video of Bittern for some time as it's due to be retired from service for a major overhaul at the end of the year.
However 4464 Bittern has one more journey planned before overhaul on the 30 December 2014 with The Bittern Farewell Tour once again travelling from London Kings Cross but this time to Lincoln.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

LNER Steam Locomotives

I've steadily been updating my Zenfolio portfolio with my photographs of LNER steam locomotives. These locomotives have been broken down into five main groups to make searching for a particular locomotive as simple as possible.

These five groups are as follows:

  • A Class 4-6-2 Pacific Locomotives
  • B Class 4-6-0 Locomotives
  • K Class 2-6-0 Moguls
  • D Class 4-4-0 Locomotives
  • Goods Classes

These are shown in Zenfolio as indicated below.

More photographs of each locomotive will be added as these are photographed. Photographic opportunities are a little more limited as we move into the winter season.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

LMS Steam Locomotives

I've been busy updating my Zenfolio portfolio with my photographs of LMS steam locomotives. These locomotives have been broken down into four main groups to make searching for a particular locomotive as simple as possible.

These four groups are as follows:

  • Black Fives
  • Jubilee & Royal Scot Classes
  • Coronation & Princess Royal Classes
  • Good Classes
These are shown in Zenfolio as indicated below.

More photographs of each locomotive will be added as these are photographed. Photographic opportunities are a little more limited as we move into the winter season.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Bad Timing

Despite all the technology availably it was just bad timing that meant we didn't arrive soon enough to have time to get set up to video and photograph 46115 Scots Guardsman with the Robin Hood.

Perhaps it's due to a summer off from mainline steam photography that was the cause. With a summer long steam ban on locomotives operating on the mainline in the eastern region photographic opportunities within a reasonably distance from home have been very few and far between. It's been a summer and autumn of Heritage Railway photography.
61994 The Great Marquess at the East Lancashire Railway Autumn Gala October 2014
So despite tracking times quite carefully with Realtime Trains we didn't manage to make it to Swinderby Road level crossing with any time at all to do any preliminary setting up. Unfortunately we were slightly delayed on our journey and the train was running a few minutes early which meant it was approaching Swinderby Road crossing as we got out of the car. A cry of, "It's coming!" and a whistle from Scots Guardsman meant it was panic stations to get cameras up and running as the train passed never mind any scene setting or thought about best camera location.
46115 Scots Guardsman with The Robin Hood at Swinderby Road level crossing
The sun was bright and I couldn't tell whether of not the video camera was set to record. All I could do was hope it was filming as checking at this stage would guarantee missing the train in any case. My luck was sort of in and the camera did turn out to be recording.

Here's my video in any case.

We certainly didn't have any time hanging about waiting for Scots Guardsman to arrive but next time I would like to arrange it so I get at least a few minutes to decide on a location before having to press the record button.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

North Yorkshire Moors Railway - August 2014

On a lovely summers day we set out for the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Our intention was to walk the Rail Trail from Grosmont to Goathland which follows George Stephenson's original railway line of 1836. After walking to Goathland our plan was to take the train back to Grosmont.

With a total steam ban in place on mainline charters throughout Yorkshire this would be an opportunity to photograph and video steam trains in action. 

Our day began at Levisham station as we called in to see the Grosmont Pickering trains cross at 11:20.

Afterwards we moved on to Grosmont for lunch and to see what was going on at this busy station on a normal operating Monday in August.

After lunch we walked along the Rail Trail to Goathland a distance of about 3 miles. We had a coffee from the “Tea Shop” at Goathland before taking the train back to Grosmont.

The locomotives featured in the video are:

45428 - Eric Treacy
75029 - BR Standard 4
37264 - EE Class 37 (Diesel)
61264 - LNER B1 (as 61034 Chiru)

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Lincolnshire Wolds Railway

After a week of wall and step building I was in need of a bit of steam train photography but with steam locomotives banished from the main line in Yorkshire due to the fire risk they cause it meant a visit to a Heritage railway. I decided on a visit to the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, somewhere we hadn't been before.
I knew from a bit of web research that it is only a small heritage railway operating steam trains between Ludborough and North Thoresby a distance of about 5 miles.
After watching one train depart off up the track to North Thoresby we headed for the “Steaming Kettle” buffet for a sandwich, some homemade cake and drinks whilst we waited for the train to return. After lunch we caught the next train along the short stretch of track. The railway seemed to be busy with visitors of all ages eager for their trip on the train.

Below are some video highlights of our visit.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

No Surprises

Tuesday 15 July 2014 saw the first Scarborough Spa Express of the summer season. After the steam ban at the weekend I wasn't expecting steam haulage although I did think that there might be a token 46115 Scots Guardsman in there somewhere.
As you can see there wasn't a whiff of any smoke at all just diesel fumes. Fireman's strike or Eastern Region steam ban I'm not sure which or whether both were the cause.

Perhaps next week we might be treated to a steam hauled Scarborough Spa Express.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

No Smoke without Fire

Saturday was a day of decision making about where to try and photograph some steam locomotives. There were basically two choices head for the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria or stay much more local within West Yorkshire. Each location or locations would offer the chance to film a couple of steam charter trains.

In the end because of time commitments we opted for staying local which with hindsight was a bit of a mistake. 
46233 Duchess of Sutherland with The Scarborough Flyer
We opted for some pictures and video shots at Burton Salmon as two charter trains one hauled by 46233 Duchess of Sutherland with The Scarborough Flyer and the other by 5972 Olton Hall (known to many as Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter films) with The Wizards Express. The two trains were scheduled to pass our location around 30 minutes apart.

Checking the Realtime Trains web site as we headed to Burton Salmon both trains appeared to be on schedule. Once we arrived at our chosen location things started to go a little pear shaped. The first train to pass by should have been 5972 Olton Hall but North of Leeds updates on the progress of the train stopped. We were left to ponder whether the steam locomotive had broken down or perhaps been rerouted through Garforth to York avoiding our chosen spot.

Either way as it happened the Duchess arrived first a few minutes early and passed by with barely a hint of any exhaust smoke.

Perhaps this should have been our clue but we didn't latch on. There wasn't any up dates for The Wizards Express for ages then the Realtime trains web site started updating with the train’s progress. It was running about an hour late at this point.
5972 Olton Hall at the rear of The Wizards Express
Eventually The Wizards Express arrived but with diesel haulage in front and 5972 Olton Hall ignominiously been towed along at the back of the train. A rather disappointing day’s steam photography.

Once back home it was apparent that Network Rail had banned steam locomotives from operating due to the risk of them setting off lineside fires. The Duchess had only made it as far as York before Network Rail insisted she be replaced by diesel power. 

This doesn't really bode very well for the rest of the summer if a couple of warm sunny days have this effect. Locally July is turning out to be a wet month. Obviously the problem is the build up year after year of dead vegetation along the trackside  just waiting for a hot spark to set it alight.

With the summer steam season in Yorkshire about to get into full swing with the annual weekly runs of The Scarborough Spa Express, Scarborough Flyer and The Waverley it looks like we could have a repeat performance of last year with the trains being diesel hauled and a token steam engine at the front in light steam only.

On Monday West Coast Railways are planning to move empty coaching stock hauled by a steam locomotive from Carnforth to York presumably to operate the first Scarborough Spa Express of the summer on Tuesday. I wonder how that's going to pan out.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Should Have Been Three!

I'd made a note of Saturday 14th June in my diary early in the year as no less than three steam locomotives were heading for York on the same day and it must surely provide a good photo opportunity. Of course it all depended on the timing of each train as I'm not the sort of person who can hang around for hours waiting for a train. I haven't got the patience. 

The timings for each train didn't appear until a few days before the scheduled event. It wasn't good news as a couple of hours separated each train. I settled on Sherburn in Elemet for pictures of LMS Princess Coronation Class 4-6-2 Pacific 46233 Duchess of Sutherland hauling the Yorkshire Coronation from Derby to Scarborough. I thought about also photographing it before it stopped at Milford Loop to take on water but as it would probably be coasting at that point I decided on the one location. The locomotive should be working hard at Sherburn as it gets away from the water stop at Milford Loop.
After this I thought we had time to travel to Fenwick Lane near Doncaster to capture Rebuilt Bulleid Light Pacific Locomotive No 34046 Braunton which I’d discovered on Saturday morning was replacing LNER A4 Class 4464 Bittern. It was a chance I didn't want to miss as it’s one of the steam locomotives I haven't seen making a rare trip up north. However on the way to Doncaster there had been a bad traffic accident and the road was closed. The route around the closure was far too long and by the time we would have got there 34046 Braunton would be in York. We headed for the small village of Great Heck which is situated on the East Coast Main Line and hoped to find a suitable spot there. 
We didn't have long to wait before 34046 Braunton raced past on its way to York from Kings Cross with The White Rose II. I even managed a little bit of video at Great Heck which is included below. 

The rain which had fallen on and off throughout the morning held off whilst we photographed both trains. The locomotive we didn't get round to seeing was LNER A4 Class 60009 Union of South Africa with The Cathedrals Express.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Wizards Express

I picked up on the UKsteam info web site many weeks ago now that 5972 Hogwarts Castle was to haul a charter train between Carnforth and York. The date was added into the diary but the details of timings and route were only posted the day before the scheduled run. 

The locomotive in question is the Great Western Railway 4-6-0 steam locomotive No. 5972 Olton Hall. Olton Hall and its red carriages starred as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films and the steam locomotive was renamed Hogwarts Castle in the films. 

The location chosen for taking pictures was close to Milford Junction in West Yorkshire. It’s a location I've used before and usually gives satisfactory results. However the weather decided to play its part with plenty of clouds and rain around.

The trains progress from Carnforth was tracked on Realtime Trains and in general the locomotive was on or a little in front of time as it headed for York.
As the smoke from the locomotive almost merged with the dull grey of the sky as it came into view. Fortunately the heavy rain which had been falling held off for a few minutes.
Like all the main line shots it was all over quickly as the train steamed past us on its way to York. My video of the locomotive and train is shown below.

Another journey with the same locomotive is planned for early July.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

48151, 45699 Galatea and 46115 Scots Guardsman Triple Head to Dereham

The weather was pretty naff as rain continued for the second day in a row but it did mean that any gardening was out of the question. It had come to my attention that three steam locomotives were moving from Carnforth to Dereham where they will take part in the Mid Norfolk Railway’s steam gala. I've tried in the past to photograph what I suppose are best called positioning moves for locomotives without a great deal of success. Timetables seem to go out of the window if I’m attempting to find a suitable spot for a bit of video or a few photographs. I couldn't remember ever seeing a main line triple header so I decided to give this one a go. It was scheduled to pass through Woodlesford station at 15:27 which isn't too far from home. But would it be on time.

There had been some rumours on social media site that a diesel would be involved in the makeup of the train but that wasn't the case.

The locomotives making up the train were:

LMS Class 8F 48151
LMS Jubilee Class 45699 Galatea
LMS Royal Scot Class 46115 Scots Guardsman

As it happens the triple header arrived just a few minutes behind schedule and as a bonus the train made a short stop in the station as though rehearsing for the “Scarborough Spa Express” steam hauled summer service which picks up and drops off passengers at Woodlesford.
After a short stop they were off on their journey to the Mid Norfolk Railway where they will be in action over the weekend.

   Below is a short video of the rare triple header as it passed through Woodlesford Station.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway - Branchline Weekend

Last week we visited one of Yorkshire’s National Parks, The North Yorkshire Moors, to visit a heritage railway line. This Saturday we decided on a visit to another of Yorkshire’s National Parks, The Yorkshire Dales.

On our trips to the Settle to Carlisle Railway line, on the A59 near to Bolton Abbey, we've passed one of those brown signposts with Steam Railway on it. A little bit of Internet searching revealed this to be the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. This holiday weekend they were having a Branchline Weekend so we had decided on paying the railway a visit.

Bolton Abbey Station
Besides having restored steam engines, the railway also boasts some vintage railway carriages too. All of the vintage carriages are more than 100 years old and what’s more they’re not just museum pieces you actually get to ride in some of them. 

This is the inside of the carriage we chose to have a ride in. It was built by the Great Eastern Railway in 1889, for the use by their chief engineer and VIPs travelling on the Great Eastern Railway. The carriage has been put to a variety of uses since it was constructed before it was restored by Stephen Middleton. Its restoration was completed in 1998 more details of which can be found here.

The carriage has small sideways projecting windows and large panoramic windows to the rear affording excellent and unusual views of the railway and Yorkshire Dales scenery.

This is our carriage and steam locomotive at Embsay station. It was rather amazing that there were only two other passengers who took the opportunity to travel in this splendid carriage. Having been built for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in 1896, the steam locomotive was only slightly younger than the carriage. 

We had a couple of trips up and down the railway, lunch outside at a picnic table and a few cups of coffee too. We took Tivvy with us too. The railway was extremely dog friendly boasting its own station dog Gyp seen in the photo below. Not only was Tivvy allowed in the refreshments room but she also got to travel in the VIP carriage. 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

North Yorkshire Moors Spring Steam Gala 25 April 2014

We decided on a trip to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway as it’s the first weekend of their spring steam gala. Unfortunately the weather wasn't any better up on the North Yorkshire Moors, not that I was really expecting it to be, in fact it was worse and we ended up by abandoning the outing before we ended up even more soaked than we were.

When the heritage railway are holding a gala they usually arrange for a “visiting star attraction” a locomotive not normally seen on the railway. This gala is no exception especially as the star attraction in question is the fastest steam locomotive of the heritage era. 4464 Bittern made three 90mph trips along the East Coast Main Line last year to commemorate its sister locomotive Mallard’s world record speed of 126mph set in 1938. Bittern is normally restricted to 75mph operating main line charter trains but was granted special permission to exceed this limit on the national rail network on these three occasions. 4464 Bittern now carries a plaque to mark this event.

4464 Bittern with a fully loaded tender of coal and water weighs in at around 165 tons. You would think it wouldn't be easy to hide something that big but it can also create an enormous amount of steam allowing the locomotive to leave Grosmont station bound for Pickering engulfed in steam and almost hidden from view. 

Just as well that we'd managed to capture a few shots of Bittern before it took its place at the front of the train.

By the middle of the afternoon the morning drizzle had turned into heavy rain and we decided to head home before the thoroughly wet weather did some damage to our camera and soaked us to the skin. An hour and a half’s journey in soggy clothes wasn't something we fancied.  

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The White Rose

On Saturday 12 April 2014 we decided on a trip out to the East Coast Main Line to see 60163 Tornado in action with the The White Rose tour from London Kings Cross to York and return.
I still haven't found a good spot on the ECML for photography. The railway heads north through mainly flat agricultural land. The weather wasn't particularly good either as it was cloudy and windy.

We decided on a spot we've used before near Temple Hirst Junction between Doncaster and York. It's about the nearest location for us to the ECML. For anyone who doesn't know there are ways to follow the progress of most trains operating in real time so there isn't a need  to arrive at a location long before a train arrives. The on line schedule for 60163 on Saturday looked like this, well the portion of the route we were interested in did.
The first time after the location name is the planned time of arrival with the actual time given next to it. At Temple Hirst Junction Tornado was due to arrive at 12:53 but actually arrived at 12:54 a minute late. The Real Time Trains web site can be found here.

This web site has saved us a few trips to photograph trains which have run very early or alerted us to trains running very late.

With this little App we didn't have long to wait for Tornado to arrive. The windy weather resulted in any exhaust smoke blowing away from the locomotive and over adjacent fields but at least we'd chosen the side where the train didn't disappear in the smoke.

I'd still like to get some better pictures of 60163 Tornado but I think the best opportunity will be when the locomotive is making an appearance on a Heritage Railway line rather than operating a main line tour. That might be when Tornado is scheduled to appear at the Nene Valley Railway in September.

More details regarding 60163 Tornado can be found on the A1 Steam Locomotive web site.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Leeds to Whitby with K4 61994 The Great Marquess and B1 61264 on The Esk Valley

We’d booked ages ago to travel on The Railway Touring Companies “The Esk Valley” running from Carnforth to Whitby on Saturday 22 March 2014. The train was diesel hauled in both directions between York and Carnforth with steam in charge between York and Whitby in both directions. The train proved to be a popular tour and had been fully booked for a few weeks before departure.

I have a bit of a dilemma as I really enjoy a journey behind a superbly restored and maintained steam locomotive but on the downside I know that opportunities of capturing photographs of the locomotives involved will be very limited. In this instance though I’d previously photographed both locomotives as 61994 - The Great Marquess had recently been the guest loco at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and 61264 was captured whilst on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway last year.

We joined the train at Leeds on a sunny but cold Saturday morning. After a coffee we headed for platform 11 from where our train was due to depart. 

Our train was on time or perhaps a few minutes early and were soon settled into our seats and on our way to York where 61994 The Great Marquess was to take over the train.

We arrived in York on time but unfortunately this was to be one of the few times the timetable was maintained throughout the day although this was not due in any way to failures of the steam locomotives. Initially a points failure at the National Railway Museum delayed 61994 on its short journey from the museum to York station to take over duties from the class 47 diesel.

This had a knock on effect of delaying the train further as we waited for a suitable slot down the East Coast Main line out of York. This delay certainly gave the massed ranks of photographers plenty of time to compose their shots of The Great Marquess

Eventually we departed York some 45  minutes late. The good news for us that it was now time for breakfast to be served as we sped up the East Coast main line towards Thirsk and Darlington.

After a good breakfast and several cups of coffee later we were well on our way to Darlington where the train was to be topped and tailed at Darlington North Road with LNER B1 61264. In an effort to claw back sometime 61264 moved from North Road to Darlington station to join the train.

At Darlington our train reversed direction with 61264 now in charge of the train to Battersby. More time was saved at Battersby where the line becomes a dead end. 61264 brought the train into Battersby on the Middlesborough line with 61994 then in charge leaving Battersby but heading onto the Whitby branch line with 61264 being still attached at the rear of the train.

Now one of the drawbacks of the delayed departure from York was that it seemed no sooner had we finished breakfast than it was time for lunch. We managed to cope without too much of an issue though.

Whitby was reached about 15 minutes late after an excellent journey over the picturesque Esk Valley line from Battersby. At Whitby the weather had taken a bit of a turn for the worse and the blue sky which had been in evidence travelling  had given way to some much cloudier conditions with a few spots of rain in the air. The tour didn't originally have a great deal of time in Whitby so we only had time to walk part way into the town past lot of seagulls all anticipating dinner time and some of Whitby’s famous fish and chips.

Obviously on the return journey 61264 hauled our train back from Whitby to Battersby. At this point 61264 was detached with 61994 in now in charge of the train back to York where diesel power would once again take over for the rest of the journey to Carnforth. After the train had departed 61264 was due to head back over the Esk Valley to its home at Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

As we headed back towards Middlesborough it was time for dinner. I'm not sure how all the meals are prepared on the train as the space in the train kitchen must be fairly limited but we still managed an excellent dinner comprising Scottish smoked haddock and spring onion fishcakes served on a bed of wilted spinach topped with a poached egg and drizzled with hollandaise sauce, followed by roasted red pepper and tomato soup served with freshly baked bread. The main course was roasted rump of Cumbrian lamb on a bed of puy lentils flavoured with rosemary and leeks served with a red wine and redcurrant jus, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese and garden peas. Desert was warm Bakewell tart served with custard and then coffee with after dinner mints. But at this stage you do have to remember that photographic opportunities had been restricted.

Our return journey was once again plagued with delays on the East Coast Main Line and by the time we left York we were running around one hour late. The delays certainly didn't spoil an excellent steam hauled trip over the Esk Valley line. It would be a great shame if this line was to become unavailable to charter trains due to the demands of scheduled services on this long stretch of single track railway line.

After a great day out we arrived back in Leeds around 15 minutes late thanks to the efforts of the train crew to make up time. These aren’t trips where you have to let a little bit of a delay spoil your day but just settle back and enjoy the ride and the food.