Railway Photography Blog

Some highlights of my railway photography

Back in Black

Back in Black

Great Western’s oldest locomotive, 08483, at Paddington having bought in the empty stock for The Night Riviera to Penzance. It’s usually a main line locomotive assigned to this duty, so Great Western were presumably a loco short, needing the Old Oak Common depot shunter to fill in with a rare trip to the big station.

08483 was built in the former Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway works at Horwich in Lancashire way back in 1958, and started work on what was then an almost entirely steam-operated railway. Even the design is a legacy of the age of steam, with a layout resembling the small steam tank locomotives it was built to replace. Well over a thousand of them were built, even after more than half a century there are still a handful left in service, of which 08483 is one.

Even the freshly-applied livery is from the steam age; it’s British Railways black with the old “cat on a mangle” logo, the stanard livery for diesel locomotives prior to the 1955 modernisation plan.

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Didcot and Goring

66086 at Didcot

A few photos taken last week when Summer briefly returned. First, DB Sschenker class 55 No 66086 at Didcot Parkway, still with the old EWS “Three Beasties” logo on the cabside.

66524 at Didcot

Freighliner’s class 66 no 66524 heads an up intermodal through the slow line platforms at Didcot Parkwau. The overhead knitting is already in place here, ready for Great Western’s new electric services.

Goring Gap

An unidentified Great Western HST set in the new green livery speed through Goring Gap. There were complaints made when the catenery went up because they were thought too visually obtrusive. Were there similar complaints when Brunel built the original railway in the 1839s?

Goring Gap

Again unidentified (you think I can read numbers at that distance?), a Cross Country Voyager crosses the Thames midway between Goring and Pangbourne..

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The Swanage Railway

A couple of photos from the Swanage Railway taken in mid-August. Here’s the venerable T9 class 4-4-0 No 30120, dating from 1899 entering Corfe Castle station.

These locomotives were once top-link express locomotives. Unlike many other locomotives from that era they managed to make themselves useful on less glamourous local work long after they were displaced by larger and more powerful types in 20th century. They lasted until the 1960s, where 30120 was the last one running, the only example to survive.

The M7 class 0-4-4T No 30053 is almost as venerable, dating from Edwardian times. Like the T9, 30053 wears the 1950s British Railways livery of the final years of steam, matching the BR Mk1 coaches of the train.

One nice feature of the Swanage Railway is that all the locomotives and rolling stock running carries liveries from the same period; in contrast to the ahistorical mish-mash you tend to get on many other preserved lines. Bar the fact that the locomotives are spotlessly clean, you could be stepping back in time to about 1960.

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Farewell to Banbury’s Semaphores

A few photos of Banbury, which despite being on a very busy main line still retains semaphore signalling controlled from two magnificent Great Western signalboxes. All this is due to be swept away in August when the whole area is resignalled. Here’s the North box, photographed from the end of the platform under the road bridge.

Banbury has unusual signalling in that the two main lines are fully signalled with modern multiple aspect colour light signalling, but the bay platforms and goods loops retain WR lower-quadrant semphores.

South Box is the smaller of the two, and it’s location makes it harder to get close-up photos. Passing it is freightliner’s 66552 on a lengthy engineers’s train, and some of the “Orange Army” engaged in preparatory work for the resignalling.

68010 at Banbury

One of Chiltern Trains’ locomotive-hauled push-pull trains, with 68010 propelling the train towards London Marylebone. Chiltern’s loco-hauled services began with EWS class 67s and refurbished former west coast main line Mk3 coaches. More recently brand new class 68s have replaced the 67s. These locomotives are the first mixed-traffic diesel locomotives to be delivered in Britain since the class 50s in 1967.

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Virgin Trains East Coast

Virgin Trains East Coast HST at York

I know I take a lot of photos from this vantage point, but here/s another one; An HST set led by power car 43239 in the new (ish) Virgin Trains East Coast livery.

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Manchester Oxford Road

Manchester Oxford Road is a strange place. The cramped inner-city location hemmed in by buildings on all sides makes it look like a full-sized model railway rather than a real station. Here a Trans-Pennine Express emerges from the fiddle yard between the two buildings that hide the hole in the sky
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The Night Train

A rather appropriate photo taken on the way home from Rebecca Downes‘ album launch gig. The23:45 Paddington to Penzance, The Night Riviera, hauled by 57603 “Tintagel Castle”.

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The Manx Electric Railway

MER No 5 waits to depart from Derby Castle

The Manx Electric Railway is the Isle of Man’s second three-foot gauge railway, running along the coast from Douglas to Ramsay in the north of the island. As the name suggests, it’s an electric interurban railway, a type of line still found in parts of continental Europe but unique in the Biritish Isles. Here’s car no. 5 at Derby Castle in Douglas, the southern terminus of the line.

MER No 32 at Groudle Glen

Much of the route runs parallel to the main road, something that was once common on local railways in Ireland and Wales, but now the last survivor of its type. There’s something vaguely Swiss about stations like Groudle Glen, a couple of miles out of Douglas.

MER No 7 at Laxey

Laxey is the most important intermediate station on the line, junction for the Snaefell Mountain Railway as well as the stop for the Lady Isabella water wheel, one of the island’s top attractions.

Snaefell Mountain Railway No 2 at Laxey

The Snaefell Mountain Railway is built to the slightly wider 3’6″ gauge in order to accomodate the Fell braking system. Here car No 2 has just arrived after decending from the 2000 ft high summit. The original 1898-built cars, though much rebuilt, are still in service.

Fell brakewheels

The Fell system is an early form of rack railway using a pair of opposing wheels gripping a centre rail. Some other Fell railways used the system for both traction and braking, but the Snaiefell line uses it solely for braking, relying on adhesion for traction, and the Fell rail is only present on the steep grades. Once used in Italy, France, Brazil and New Zealand, the Snaefell Mountain Railway is now the last surviving Fell system in the world.

MER No 22 passes The Mines Tavern at Laxey

There are three tracks at the north end of Laxey station, the double track of the MER line to Ramsay, and the single track of the SMR heading towards the summit, which becomes double track just beyond the level crossing. The difference in gauge between the MER and SMR should be apparent in this view.

Okell''s SaisonThe Mines Tavern is right beside the tracks at Laxey, and is an excellent place to enjoy a beer while watching the trams go past. The Okells Saison is highly recommended on a hot day.

MER No 21 at Dhoon Glen

Dhoon Glen is another of those Swiss-style roadside stations, with a little tearoom next to the tracks. It’s near the summit of the line at 500 feet above sea level, and there are a lot of steps down the narrow glen to the sea. You then realise you have to walk all the way back up to return to the station.

MER No 4 couples up to the trailer after running round at Ramsay

Ramsay is the northern terminus of the line. Since most trains consist of motorcoach and an unpowered trailer, it’s nexessary to run round at each end of the line.

There were once two competing railways to Ramsay. The steam railway also serving the down via a more circuituitous route along the western side of the island, while the electric railway took a more direct but far more steeply-graded route along the east coast.

MER No 22 at Derby Castle terminuus in Douglas

Journey’s end at Derby Castle. Having worked its last run for the day. the conductor reverses the trolley collector before the train propels the trailer into the depot. The open-topped vehicle visible in the background belongs to the Douglas Horse Tramway, the island’s third railway.

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The Isle of Man Railway

Douglas sheds

A few photos from my recent visit to the Isle of Man Railway, which runs from Douglas to Port Erin. Here No 4 “Loch” leaves the shed at Douglas to work the mid-morning train to Port Erin. Douglas station is much reduced from its heyday as the hub of a network covering the entire island.

No 12 and No 4 at Douglas

No 12 “Hutchinson” arrives at Douglas with the morning train from Port Erin, while No 4 waits to take the return working. All but one of the line’s operational steam locomotives are these 2-4-0Ts built by Beyer-Peacock on Manchester.

IoMR No "Loch" at Castletown

No 4 again, two days later at Castletown. There are several crossing loops on the line, a legacy of the days when the railway ran a far more intensive service, but for the 2015 timetable all trains cross at Castletown.

IoMR No 5

No 5 “Mona” leaves Castletown bound for Douglas. This locomotive carries the older green livery rather than the Indian red of the majority of the operational fleet.

IoMR Arrival at Castletown

No 13 “Kissack” arrives at Castletown from Douglas. The three-foot gauge gives the line a very different flavour compared with the two-foot lines of Wales. The well-maintained permanent way is reminiscent of the meter-gauge lines of Switzerland, and the locomotives seem more like scaled-down late Victorian standard gauge machines.

Leaving  for Port ErinKissack departs for Port Erin. If the locomotives have a standard-gauge feel, the coaching stock reminds me a lot of the bogie coaches of the Talyllyn railway.

IoMR No 12

Journey’s end. No 12 “Hutchinson” at the southern terminus of Port Erin. The railway has a complicated history. Initially built to serve the tourist industry, it had a lot in common with the standard-gauge railways of the Isle of Wight, which also ran with vintage equipment into the 1960s. The entire network closed in 1965 after making heavy losses, reopening two years later. Now state-owned, only the Douglas to Port Erin section survives.

What remains of Peel station

The lines to Peel and Ramsey closed in 1968, when it became clear that operating the entire network as a vintage steam railway wasn’t viable. Here’s the site of the station throat at Peel. The station building also survives as a coffee shop, though much of the station site has sadly been built over.

No 8 on a demonstration freight train at Douglas

And finally, No 8 “Fenella” with a demonstration freight train at Douglas. The IOMR was always primarily a passenger carrier, and never carried volumes of mineral traffic like the lines in Wales. General merchandise traffic tended to be tail loads on passenger trains.

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East Lancashire Railway 40s Weekend


On the weekend of Mostly Autumn’s gig at Bury Met the East Lancashire railway was holding their annual 1940s weekend. They renamed all the stations to fit the theme; this is the station normally known as Summerseat.

US Army Jeeps

The event is a major gathering of World War Two reenactors representing the armed forces of many nations. Here American forces have liberated Ramsbottom.

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But Rawtenstall was stll under German occupation. On the morning after the Eurovision Song Contest it’s probably not a good idea to taunt these guys with “Nul Points”.

Following controversy in previous years when people turned up dressed as senior Nazis, the ELR imposed some strict rules for German reenactors on their stations, for example prohibiting  SS uniforms and prominent Nazi symbols such as Swastika armbands.

Lancashire & Yorkshire class 27 locomotive of 1896.

The railway was running a special enhanced timetable all weekend with multiple locomotives in steam.

Ironically, World War Two may have contributed towards the survival of this locomotive. Built by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway as long ago as 1896, it’s typical of the very old locomotives that didnt get replaced by more modern ones in the 1940s. British industry had other more urgent priorities

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Ramsbottom station featured some 40s-style entertaners to add to the period atmosphere. This is Paul Harper on banjo.

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I don’t actually remember this singer’s name, though she did say to me “Everyone keeps taking photos of me as if I’m famous or something”.

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