Sunday 30 January 2022

Llangollen Railway, Autumn 2021

We're up to late-Autumn with the old railway photography posts!  So for today; the Llangollen Railway is one of those lines that we hadn't had chance to visit until 2021...  Amy's Godparents are volunteers on the line, and we had the opportunity to break a journey from Porthmadog to the West Midlands there at the end of the October Half Term.

There weren't any steam-hauled services running that day, but they were trialling an ever so slightly eccentric shuttle service to scenic Berwyn, with a shunter, converted Pigeon Brake Van (so called because it was used for transporting racing pigeons), an open truck, and a brake van.  We decided to ride this service.

It had been raining like mad for days, so the river was carrying a lot of floodwater.

The shuttle on arrival at Berwyn.  Lovely little cafe at this lovely little station, and very friendly vols running the facilities.

We hopped back on the next service train to Llangollen, with the Railfreight 31 in charge.  I (Ben) haven't had much chance to photograph 31's as they're rare visitors to the KWVR, though Amy got a cracking picture of one visiting our home line about 10 years ago.  I ended up switching to shooting greyscale for a bit though, as the lighting was a bit wierd.

Back at Llangollen.

31 running-round later in the day, after we'd done a full-line run on the train.

We'd hoped for a ride on the shuttle, but it wasn't due out for a bit, and me and Amy had to be in the Midlands by tea, so we left The Childs with the in-laws for the rest of the day, so they could have another ride.

All in all, a nice day out, and we're going to have another crack at the line later in 2022, hopefully the lighting will be a little more consistent.

Considering it was a first visit, and we hadn't done a recce visit for photography beforehand, I was lucky enough to get some shots in print.  A shot was published in the January Trackside...

...and another in Rail Express Magazine.

So yeah, we'll be hopefully back there again in summer of 2022.


Wednesday 26 January 2022

A very soggy Llanberis Lake Railway, August 2021

Llanberis is one of those excellent stand-by locations to visit on our regular trips to Wales, as the Slate Museum is interesting, free to get into, and indoors, all excellent qualities when the weather is a bit poor.  And the October Half Term week saw utterly appalling weather.

When we arrived, the rain had come down enough so that the Llanberis Lake was actually flooding over the edge of the car park, which is a rise of about 3 foot over the last time we'd been in the summer.  Pretty impressive for such a large body of water.

The weather was gloomy, but it wouldn't be a Ben trip somewhere without getting some train pictures.  At least it looked nice and atmospheric in the damp conditions.

The sky was clearing as we left, which was a bit of a relief as the drive over from Porthmadog had been 'interesting', to say the least.

We didn't stay to ride the trains, as we were all a bit soggy, but it's on the list for 2022, as part of our quest to ride all the narrow gauge railways in North Wales.

I was slightly surprised by this publication; 2021 saw the first time in a decade I've had Llanberis shots in print (two earlier in the year in Heritage Railways Magazine), but the above in Narrow Gauge World marks the first time in about 8 years of me trying them that they've chosen one of my pics, which is appreciated.  Always nice to get pics in print, let alone in a publication that I've never managed before!

Friday 21 January 2022

KWVR Beer and Music Festival, Autumn 2021

After much riding of the trains at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway September 2021 Gala, it was nice to have a second go at things a short while later, when they held their Beer and Music Festival.  It didn't take place in 2020 for... reasons... so the line seemed to have gone all-out to make up for it in 2021, with a variety of motive power in use, effectively creating a 'mini gala'.

I (Ben) was free on the Friday, which meant I was able to get some pics of the visiting class 27; I didn't get to photograph it during the Mixed Traffic gala as it had a mechanical fault for a bit, and when it did run I was too busy to lineside, or was actually on the train.

Glory-be, sunshine!  Already better than the Gala weekend then, weather-wise...

Damems level crossing.  I really need to get around to modelling this station at some point.

I strolled down to Keighley to see another visitor, 'Black 5' 45212.  Technically owned by the railway, but it spends most of the year running around Scotland on charter trains, only coming back for the winter.  

A new angle for me above, by poking the phone through some railings.

Climbing out of Keighley.

Seen again near Haworth on the Sunday, not an easy angle as Skipton Properties have closed the footpath, so I was standing hard against their barricades for this pic.  Gloomier weather, annoyingly.

Then there was "Bahamas", making a rare turn on the service trains having also returned from main-line commitments.  Another new angle for me in Keighley, requiring a bit of a scramble up a stone wall, though still on the public side of the boundary. Not as easy as it was ten years ago, I'm definitely getting too old for finding creative angles and climbing up walls and trees... I'll have to just join the orange-high-vis-army soon on the embankment at Oakworth.

Speaking of which, on the way out in the afternoon we dived into Oakworth for a couple of shots of "Bahamas" there.

The shot of the 27 made it into "Push and Pull", the in-house mag for the KWVR, along with one of the angles on "Bahamas" leaving Keighley, slightly justifying the effort of scaling the stone retaining wall.  Nothing in the mags, but then they'd been saturated by pics from the earlier gala.

Monday 17 January 2022

KWVR- Railbus in the Autumn, 2021

Just a little post from this morning... The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is our local line, and we both spend quite a bit of time riding the trains and taking photographs here about.  It did occur to me (Ben) that I probably take it for granted a bit, when it comes to the trains the line operates.

It's easy to forget the sheer variety and eccentric nature of the motive power this railway operates, but a consistent favourite of mine is this, the W&M Railbus.  Bought as a pair of vehicles back in the 1960's to operate the proposed public transport service (which never happened), the Railbus units have been a consistent feature of the off-peak timetables for getting on for 60 years.

I really like this unit; it's characterful, and the short size means it's easy to compose into photographs.  If it's running I try to make an effort to get photographs of it, more so at the moment as it didn't see much use during the early stages of the Covid pandemic... you can't really socially-distance on such a small vehicle.

When the unit started operating again in the Autumn of 2021, I managed to get a few pics on a sunny day, though my hopes of travelling a bit further afield on the railway fell through, so the shots ended up being on my usual patch around Ingrow and Damems.

Happily the diesel editor at Railway Magazine fancied a pic of the unit, though publishing deadlines being what they are it took until January 2022 to appear.  The Railbus is seeing more use at the moment, I'm hoping to get a couple of night shots of the machine in a week or so, with a bit of luck...


Sunday 16 January 2022

Welsh Pony 2021

Back on the Ffestiniog for these pics at the end of summer 2021; and specifically trying to get shots of my (Ben's)  all-time favourite locomotive, "Welsh Pony".

Restored in 2020, and suddenly finding itself in intensive use for the Covid timetable, "Welsh Pony" has had a very busy couple of years.  After spending quite a lot of my childhood visits to Porthmadog climbing over the semi-derelict hulk in the 90's, I managed to get a couple of pictures last year, not long after it entered back into traffic.

It had a repaint and lining-out however for 2021, so I wanted to get some more up to date pictures.  

Also, I'd built a model of it for the garden railway over the first Lockdown, and want to update and rebuild the model so I needed to get some new prototype shots before I commence the work.  The model was built when everything was shut, from upcycled bits of scrap and plumbing parts, and now model shops are open again I want to have another crack at it.

I ended up resorting to greyscale for many of the shots, on what was a day of very changeable weather.

Having had some success framing locomotives with flowerbeds on the KWVR, I thought I'd have another go here whilst they were still looking so pretty.

All in all, a successful jaunt; I have some nice pics, but more importantly, the information I need to significantly upgrade my model...


Thursday 13 January 2022

Fairborne Railway research visit, summer 2021

I (Ben) am on a bit of a mission over the coming few years, to visit every preserved railway in North Wales.  Top of the list was Fairbourne, the far side of the estuary from Barmouth.  I even camped near this railway as a child, but for some reason never got round to visiting it.  We did it as a matter of urgency because Fairbourne is scheduled to be abandoned (town, railway, and everything else) when the sea levels rise.

We tried earlier in the summer of 2021, but the weather was horrendous.  The drive out to the terminus happily coincided with the one gap in the poor weather that day.  After this, the rain got so heavy that we had to drive at 10mph as visibility was so low.

The other reasons to visit were two-fold; first, to get some photographs of the abandoned section of the line for a thread on RMWeb...

...and secondly to get research pics for a model making project that was on the boil over the summer.  A full layout-build of a fictional seaside miniature line, for a competition run by Hornby, the layout took a lot of inspiration from Fairbourne.  There'll be more on this in a forthcoming blog on the model-making thread soon incidentally, as it's due for a feature in the Feb 2022 British Railway Modelling mag.

The return visit later in August was rather more successful, weather-wise, and this time we rode the train from Fairbourne iteslf out for a picnic at the dunes.

OK so it still wasn't exactly suntan and beachball weather, but at least it wasn't chucking it down.  We had originally toyed with doing the circular trip, where you walk over Barmouth Bridge and get the ferry over the estuary, but the weather didn't look too grand for later in the day so we settled for a train ride and a stroll.

The replica Darjeeling 'B' class was doing the honours alongside the replica of the Welsh Highland Railway "Russel".  A really nice machine this, very eye-catching.

These were two very useful visits, and it's a nice little line.  So far we've clocked about half of the preserved railways in North and West Wales, so we'll have to start planning on where to go in 2022...