Tuesday 21 June 2016

Class 08's on the KWVR

Out and about on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway on Saturday afternoon.  The occasion was the rare running of two of the lines diesel shunters- originally the plan had been to ride the trains, but as things turned out we were in Shipley in the morning (more in the next blog), but after lunch at Oxenhope I (Ben) was dropped off to walk down the valley, back to the house, on a rare afternoon without The Childs.

After a run through the woods, I just managed to find a spot for the first Keighley-bound train with the shunters.

Having to back-track because of flooding, I managed a very low-angle shot (even by my standards) of the WD, 90733.  The tree helping to disguise the classic 'Tupperware-lid sky' somewhat...  Not bad, but something in the pollen hereabouts really kicked off my dormant hayfever, leading to much sniffing and sneezing.

And so on the walk down to Haworth, along the side of the derelict mill-race which once channeled water along the valley- it can be seen, in odd stretches, right along the main path.

A very nice lattice bridge over the abandoned mill race- shame the planking is starting to wear out.

Nice rusting detail on an ancient cast-iron kissing gate part way along the path.

Not too sure why I photographed this (particularly given the odd lighting), but I do rather like sheds.

Down to Ebor Lane just as the WD returns for Keighley.  I wasn't expecting to get this spot to myself, as it is usually filled with photographers, or dog walkers, or gangs of teenagers, given my experience (particularly on a Saturday afternoon).  A nice fallen bit of masonry means you can stand up and get an eye-level shot without trespassing.

A few minutes later, and chugging round the curve, came the shunters again.  Luckily these engines are geared low, so moved slow enough for the D90 to cope (being as it really struggles in low light with moving targets).

So a little bit of history for the non-railway fraternity.  These engines are known as Class 08's, and were built as the standardised shunting engine of British Railways, based on an older design of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.  Some of these locomotives are still in service on the main line railways, which is pretty good going for an engine built in the 1950's.

The leading locomotive is of particular note- bought recently by the railway, it has a cut-down superstructure because it originally ran on a mineral railway in South Wales, which had been built for much of the route along a drained canal, which consequently had very low bridges.

I'm a fan of these engine, both as a piece of industrial design, and simply as a nice machine, and have been since I was little- what can I say, the Devious 'Diesel' character from Thomas the Tank Engine was always a favourite.

Back on the walk, and some horses in a field nearby.  Not a lot else to photograph on the walk, which was along a busy road.

But as fortune would have it, a good angle on the shunters again near Ingrow.  The leading loco has been resident on the KWVR for many years, and I believe the intention was to replace it with the cut-cab new arrival because its mechanical parts were wearing out.  But there seems to have been a change of heart, and it has been repainted into a 'modern' (well, 1990's) livery which really suits it. 

So a nice walk and a chance for some railway photography.  Shame about the weather, but hey-ho.  Both engines were well turned-out, and a credit to the teams who've worked on them.

Coming next, trains again, but miniature ones this time, in Shipley...

Monday 13 June 2016

National Railway Museum, Shildon

Another post we didn't get time to put up during the Alice project, and a trip to the National Railway Museum, in Shildon, nr. Durham

Shildon was opened as an 'outstation' of the NRM, and houses effectively some of the overspill from the collection.  We hadn't been here before, but knew of it, and the bank holiday at Easter gave chance for a visit.

We've done the main museum in York may times, but it hasn't proved too enjoyable from a photography point of view the last few times; lots of stuff closed for lack of volunteers, or sealed off for corporate functions. 

By contrast, Shildon was really good- busy, but not too busy.  A nicely modern building which is light and airy and actually makes a nice light for photography.

One of my (Ben's) favourite bits of design, the Advanced Passenger Train (E-Experimental), a very 60's test-bed for gas-turbine technology.  When I was little on a trip to York this was parked outside, in a siding, rotting and rusting to hell, so it was nice to see it very tastefully restored as a centrepiece of the collection. 

Of course, even with the nice lighting, there were lots of people about, and it was getting tricky to take wide shots, so we figured on a bit of abstract, close-up work.  The lamp on a nice battery-electric mining loco to start with...

Then a bit of playing with various locomotive wheels.

And a tank track- mainly useful as reference for the Jabberwock sculpture.

Moving away from wheels, and onto the bodywork of carriages...

And then a few zoom tricks with the MGR hopper wagon.

Probably a bit too abstract, the NER snowplough.

Then outside, where the veteran Furness Railway No.20 was running a brake van shuttle service on the demonstration line, for a small fee.  A lovely loco this, and a connection of sorts to an earlier project which Amy did, photographing along the Cumbrian Coast Railway (where this locomotive once ran, and was for many years preserved until damaged in an air raid at Barrow).

Our first ride in a brake van- nice to be out in the open air on the verandah at the end.

Passing a Pacer on the adjacent main line.  Actually on this demonstration run there was a stark contrast between the funding of these museums; the demonstration line runs from the museum to an old goods shed, and a second bit of museum run by the local council... or at least, in theory, but that end was shut due to funding cuts, so the building was there, the train stopped, but there was nothing to do.  Especially ironic as the NRM is technically government funded too.

Off the train, and a few low-angle shots were taken in the yard outside.

So impressions of Shildon, at the risk of this turning into a TripAdvisor review:  It was really, really good.  Lots of activity trails which the Childs enjoyed doing (there was an Easter trail hunting eggs, but also a sheet of close-up photos for spotting, which the Youngest Child loved doing).  Plenty of vols and staff, unobtrusive fundraising (especially compared to the York site), good cafĂ© with a decent cup of tea.  The shop was excellent (and yes, tempting- we bought the kids an Airfix starter kit), and the train ride outside was good value for money.  Nice mix of trains on display too, and plenty of last-minute research for the Jabberwock project.

Final shot, moody close-up on the prototype Deltic.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Up in the hills...

A little trip back in time to Easter, and a post we didn't get around to putting up during the rush to get the Alice stuff finished.  For this post, a bit of exploration in North Wales.

High in the hills above Tanygrisau are the remains of a number of slate quarries.  There are a few nice walks up into the mountains through these old workings, and its somewhere we've done a few times.  Of course, now we are with Foster Childs mountain walking has become a bit tricky, but we were able to take the eldest for the rather more basic walk.  We also wanted to get up into the hills with the camera and record the place whilst we still could- between natural collapses and weather damage, and the possibility that quarrying could be restarting soon, we thought it best to get up there whilst there was still something to see.

This is as far as we got last time, about three years back during the recce for the "Home is..." project, when we found paths closed due the slate-waste slipping.  This time around, the damage was even more pronounced, with a lot of collapses evident.

Along the path of an old tramroad, and the first lot of buildings, former offices and quarryman's barracks.

Back onto the tramroad, and looking back the way we walked.  Very odd lighting on this day.

The old chapel, something of a landmark on this walk, and a natural stopping point for a break.  We didn't realise until reading up on the walk later that it still had its roof until the 1990's, and after it was removed the building deteriorated rapidly.  It is noticeably in worse condition than the last time we did the walk in 2012.

Looking back along the tramroad again, from the base of the steeper patch of the climb.

The bases of an old aqueduct which powered the waterwheel, which in turn powered the machinery...

...in these buildings.

Up the slope, and the oddly pyramid-like mountain of slate waste beside the path.

A close-up of this odd, man-made landscape.

Just before you get to the main quarry level is an impressive waterfall.

An attempt at re-doing a shot Ben took about ten years back.

Up on the main level, the entrance to one of the underground workings.  The quarry here is vast, with a lot of underground chambers, tunnels, inclines and galleries.  They did used to be navigable, but a lot of collapses have apparently happened in recent years and the lot is considered quite dangerous these days, we gather.  Certainly, higher up the hills, there are a lot of fenced-off areas where the ground has collapsed into the underground caverns.  Obviously, we didn't go exploring underground, particularly with the Eldest Foster Child in tow. 

The main feature is the 'street', though it's definitely in worse nick, with more wall collapses, than last time we were up here.

Dotted around the level are the heavily-rusted remains of bits of machinery, presumably too tricky to remove for scrap, either officially or otherwise.

More collapsing buildings around the old workshops.

Back down the hill, after lunch and a bit of an explore...

Via the very nice old house which belonged to a senior member of the quarry management- the status confirmed by the presence of trees.  Wood was in such demand in the quarries that the whole valley was stripped of trees, and the only places they remain are this house and the chapel.

So all in all, a good trip-nice to be able to get back and snap some photos whilst there are still structures to see.