Sunday 29 March 2020

A day with the KWVR Civil Engineers at Bridge 11

Back in the heady days before the lockdown, I (Ben) was invited to take some photographs on behalf of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, and their in-house magazine ("Push & Pull"), of the delivery of the new Bridge 11 to Ingrow.  I've done quite a lot of photography for the mag and written a couple of articles last year, so it was an honour to be asked to participate in what is such a big project for the railway.

Also, I got to strut around the side of the track in high-vis and a hard-hat, and bask in the resulting sense of power.  Supervised and in a position of safety of course, but still fun to be allowed to stand somewhere you normally can't.  

From a railway photography point of view, the preparation for this work has seen a lot of unusual movement on the line ("Vulcan" with ballast wagons, above, being such an example) and it livened up an otherwise dull month for train pics.

The delivery itself was scheduled over a weds and thurs in Feb, and featured the delivery of a kit of 8 parts by road -4 each day- which would be unloaded by road crane onto railway wagons, moved by rail to the bridge site, then unloaded by steam breakdown crane.  So it was out bright and early (well, dull and 8-ish) at Ingrow Yard for the arrival of 37075 and 20031 on the Weds...

Lots of shunting by the 37 to position wagons, and prepare the breakdown train from in front of the Bahamas Locomotive Society shed...

...which was then propelled through the station, passing the first of the lorry arrivals.

The sky cleared in time for the unloading, with 20031 moving the flatbeds.  I was positioned a little way back from the action, so I didn't get myself smacked in the head with 15 ton of concrete whilst trying to get arty close-ups.

Just before lunchtime, and 20031 had propelled the flatbeds up to the work site.

Then followed a lunch break, and then the fun really beginning, with a walk through the tunnel to the bridge.

Not the sort of shot you can normally get without trespassing.

Quite unusual to be down at rail-level like this, and an enjoyable new angle on the action for these photographs.

It's angles like this which illustrate why I chose the steam crane as inspiration for the Steampunk Jabberwock model last year...  I still think it looks quite monster-like.

Annoyingly I had to break-off the day early for an appointment (which got cancelled anyway), the inconvenience somewhat made-up for by the cab ride back to the yard on the class 20.

Dropping off the borrowed safety gear, and a view from the Vintage Carriages Trust shed.

I wasn't free to be on site during the second day of works, but I did get chance to pop over a couple of times whilst on the school run.  View from the tunnel with the breakdown crane being positioned...

...and later on, in use.  Challenging lighting to say the least, but must have been hell for the chaps working down there in the gale-force wind and occasional bursts of heavy rain and hail.

So that's it for now; the old bridge came out after the Spring Gala.  Thanks to Melanie at P&P for arranging it, and John on the engineering team for accommodating me on-site during the day, along with all the other volunteers who put up with me strolling around taking pics.

With the blessing of the railway I sent off shots to most of the major railway mags, resulting in pictures being published in Todays Railways...

...Rail Express...

...and Railways Illustrated.  I'm donating the fees from these to the bridge appeal so it's nice to get a few shots in print.

The most recent issue of Push and Pull went to print before my shots were received by the mag, but one of my photographs made it onto the leaflet (85 on the bridge).  The vague and confusing nature of how long the lockdown will last rather throws the future of print mags, the railway itself, and the next printed issue of P&P into doubt, but maybe some of my shots will end up in there.  As I type this, the part-completed new bridge is in place, and I'll post some shots taken on Monday of them clearing the site, in a bit...

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Anglesey Model Village- as featured in Garden Rail, April 2020

I (Ben) am something of an enthusiast of Model Villages; I like model-making anyway, and I had a visit at a formative age to the model village at Himley which was soon to close and lie derelict for many years; typically right up to the point I decided to see if I could get access for a photography project.  With typical bad timing, it was demolished just before the Uni project was announced.  The result was that I ended up making my own model village for my final major project, and a continuing interest in these tourist attractions.

Anglesey Model Village was known to me, given I spent pretty much every summer holidaying in Wales, but the jaunt over onto the island was always that bit too far when I was younger, and the place closed by the time I had access to my own transport.  Last year though, whilst on a holiday with The Childs, and with a couple of hours spare after a trip to the Sea Zoo nearby, on a whim we headed up to the model village which we'd seen had reopened.

It was a nice visit; the month before we'd done the grand-daddy of all model villages, Bekonscot (which is Down South), a massive, sprawling, busy place.  I actually enjoyed Anglesey a lot more for its compactness, and the fact is wasn't cluttered.  In fact we enjoyed the visit so much I decided to take a ton of photographs, and approach the editor of Garden Rail magazine to see if he knew about, or wanted some more info on the place.

There followed a request for an article on the visit and the model village- the origins, the new owners, the specifics of the model railway and the buildings, and so on.  I spoke to some interesting people with lots of information; the new owners, and also experts/historians in the field of model villages.

I won't go that much into detail on here, but it was a good experience writing the article, and it was a genuinely pleasant place to visit.  The Childs enjoyed it (especially the miniature train by the car park they could drive themselves).

The buildings are modelled on local Anglesey landmarks and structures in the main, and the refurbishment of the model village to its current state from miniature Day of the Triffids (whilst it was mothballed, awaiting sale) is remarkable.

The piece I wrote ended up as cover story and lead article in the April issue of Garden Rail- my first lead article and first photograph on a mag cover.

It looks great on the page (thanks to the editorial team at the mag), and has given me a taste for doing more of the same anyway.  I hope I've done the place justice, it deserves to succeed as an attraction as the new team there are throwing their heart and soul into resurrecting it all.

All in all, a nice start to the month, and at the risk of blowing our own trumpets, the first of four features of our work in print for this month... more on the others shortly.