This is a wooden carriage of the Metropolitan Railway – on a loader

In August 2008 I made this blog posting about a train on a low loader spotted on the M25. I had spotted another train since, but the photos were too poor to use. Yesterday I was on a rather twisting slip road to join the M25, when a lorry took my notice – or rather its load. I soon realised it was an old-fashioned (that is to say over 100 years old) railway carriage. I was able to get the above shot, but any attempt to get one closer was too hazardous to try, what with the speed, the traffic around me and the complex shape of the slip road. Note the opposing traffic is on the left at this point. All the exterior of the carriage was wooden, and well varnished.

I was able to see that the carriage was marked “Metropolitan Railway”, clearly denoting it as one of the fleet of carriages used on what is now (mostly) the Metropolitan line of the London Underground. This carriage would have dated back to the time when the Metropolitan Railway was an independant company, which had ambitions to have a very fast train line from points North, via a gap in the Chilterns, through London and to a Channel Tunnel. Much of the ambition became the Great Central Railway, with the last-built London terminus at Marylebone.

It’s no wonder the HS2 consortium want to use the same idea. Shame they’re one hundred years too late. The Great Central is defunct, the remains are commuter lines into London from the Chilterns, although Deutsche Bahn owned Chiltern Railways have pushed faster trains to Birmingham. £50bn to save 20 minutes or so London – Birmingham? If they really want to increase capacity, why not restore four-track running through the stations on the Chiltern line? I thought they were when the line was closed for a whole week or so a couple of years ago, but no, just some kind of minor realignment.

The news of the Eastman Kodak ‘filing for bankrupcy’ to use the American phrase, is being played out as the death of film photography – at least for the everyday user. I’ve not put a link in here on that at present, as most of them listed on Google seem ephemeral. It is certain that most people now have digital cameras. Even I haven’t taken a film photo for at least three years, and I’ve taken far more photos since I had a camera in a mobile phone than I did before. (Sadly, that camera seems to be beginning to fail).

Before all of this, I had decided to digitise my entire photo collection. I purchased a device that takes the negatives, converts them and stores the image on a memory stick with 9MB resolution – the highest I could find (as of the time of writing). I grabbed a set of old negatives, which were of the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) engine Mallard when it ran through my home town in the mid 1980s. Of course I have family ties with the LNER, so it was a special occasion for me. It stopped at the station, I had obtained a platform ticket (remember those?), and took some photos.

Anyway, I lined up the first strip of negatives, pushed it into this image device and had a shock. The small screen showed a familiar shot – that of the plate on the side of the engine about it’s record breaking run, as shown here:

However, in viewfinder, something I’d never seen on the print; reflected in the engine’s paintwork was the face of my late father. I’m unable at present to enhance the picture sufficiently, the best I can on this computer is the following image, which at least looks like a head and open-necked shirt.

Of course, looking back at the first image shown here, there is a shadow that, knowing what I know now, I recognise, but until that moment, I had not a clue. Believe me, in the viewfinder, the reflected image is unambiguous!

So far as I know, the boiler certificate for Mallard has expired, and she currently resides in the National Railway museum at York as a static exhibit. For those who want to see the detail, I’ve separated out that plate:

This engine, with an official speed measuring truck in tow, managed to reach 126mph for just long enough to count as the world record holder. A record that still stands to this day.

This is item one of this topic. One should not be surprised that I take some time to compose some blog entries, for they require a fair bit of research, for all their lack of references. One of the entries that I will make on this topic is already in a fair state of preparation, but I have to scan in images, work on them (sic) to highlight the issues I want to discuss. Another topic will be the lifetime of digital imagery, as opposed to those of negatives.

The poor old Saab - superceded by an older car...

Yesterday was quite an adventure. I discovered that there were two W124 Mercedes Benz for sale at a garage in W London, and my colleague, a W124 owner himself, volunteered to come along. To say he is an expert is to understate it.

I had already arranged a viewing next Tuesday, for another, but this was just a look around.

The first one proved to be a total dog of a car. We could not even get into the driver’s door. This was the car the dealer hinted was the better. It was in a bad way. Things looked bad.

No test drive, we went back. This time we were assigned a teenager to watch us, as the car was parked 1/4 mile away. I got the keys, and uttered an oath; My colleage, wondering what on earth made me do this asked for the keys, and too suddenly uttered oathes. For we were about to meet the car one digit difference in registration number to his car. Registered to the same garage in Kent 19 years ago moments before his one.

So this tired old MB already had one lucky break; The next was to have this MB expert who I let test drive (for he would know what to expect). At one point the dealer phoned up the teenager, who said we were on test run (that must have surprised the garage!), and it passed.

OK, it needs a lot of tlc, and some more serious work. The first was a drive belt, which I had to buy from MB spares this morning. To say my fame preceeded me put it mildly; an email from my colleague (a regular there), and the service I had was amazing, including a discount! Not that the parts were expensive in the first place.

Then to his place, when the cars met nose to nose; if cars could talk, (viz the trains in the Rev Audry’s stories), one can imagine their mutual surprise, and colleague’s MB telling my MB that if it behaved all would be well. Just like the Audry story, “Old Iron” (one of the four in “Edward the Blue Engine”).

Photo was taken outside Aunt’s house, after the first major journey I’ve taken in it.

Recent NAS advert

February 15, 2009

(C) National Autistic Society...Borrowed

(C) National Autistic Society...Borrowed

This image was used in magazine adverts for the National Autism Society’s “Think Differently” campaign.

There were a number of points regarding the background of this picture that struck me. Some points are not clear in the image above, but were in the full sized A4 adverts (this was the only image I could find on the net).

At this stage, I put on my anorak.

Firstly, the train is a Diesel Multiple Unit, specifically a Class 121 model in the colours of the unit owned by the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway (third photo in that blog entry).

Secondly, the destination board. It shows stations such as Chinnor, Bledlow and Wainhill. As it happens, these are real “stations”, (two are actually unused halts) on the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway. I thought that the line did not yet reach Princes Risborough, although there is agreement in principle with Network Rail for the line to run to the station. However, the station could be Princes Risborough (assuming keeping everything local), being the only one big enough to have platforms with overhangs, destination boards etc. Perhaps a temporary line (the old Oxford line) has been re-laid, to the junction with the Chinnor… allowing the 121 onto a mainline platform – probably not just for this photoshoot. Part of the agreement has the Chinnor and… build a new platform at Princes Risborough station. The list of destinations on the board (in fact all the stations and halts on the extant line) is in fact an impossibility for passenger traffic at present, whatever temporary solutions are adopted. It would be interesting to find out why the decision was made to list these stations, as opposed to any list of main-line stations on the Chiltern line or indeed any other line.

Interestingly, Chiltern Railways also have a class 121 DMU, which runs a shuttle between Aylesbury and Princes Risborough, updated to modern standards required for mainline working. Thus, one day, Princes Risborough will be the one place where a working and a preserved Class 121 DMU can both be seen.

The trackbed of the line that the Chinnor and…. railway now runs along part of runs past Chinnor towards Aston Rowant. There is one major obsticle that they would have were they to push the line as far as Aston – the M40 motorway just before it climbs through the Chiltern escarpment., and the railway would need a tunnel under the motorway in approximately the foreground of the view of the pic in the recent posting.

Update, 22:10 Apparently Chinnor station has been used in the TV series Midsomer Murders, a John Nettles vehicle, I believe. Now I have made a study of this rebuilt Chinnor Station building, being a recreation of the original GWR station. Perhaps more anon.

I did not mention earlier, but the idea that, in future, being able to catch a train from London Marylebone to Princes Risborough, and changing there for Chinnor (on the Chin…….) line has an alure, something to be done in 1920s fashion. And would make that station announcement board be at least not impossible, if rather implausable for a running railway.

Kicking myself

February 14, 2009

I should have remembered, I had looked it up.

(C) A1 Steam Locomotive Trust...Borrowed..

(C) A1 Steam Locomotive Trust...Borrowed..

Today, 60163 Tornado made its first two tours from London, one from Waterloo and one from Victoria. Both ran around here, passing through (in no order) Barnes, Feltham, Hounslow, Acton, Staines and other stations near to where I live. I had aimed to go to watch it, but I forgot it was running today. GRRRRR…..

For those who don’t know, Tornado is the first main-line steam locomotive built in Britain [apart from the boiler] for 50 years. The history can be read from the web site. However, there is a family connexion to the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), via my maternal grandfather. The still existing engines such as Flying Scotsman (4476), and Mallard were built and ran while he was involved. I’ve seen, and have (film) photos of both these engines in Steam, running through where I used to live in the 1980s. Flying Scotsman spun its wheels as it pulled out of the station, while Mallard seemed much more dignified, no wheel spin and its whistle was also, somehow, more refined. Mallard still has the world record for the fastest Steam engine pulling a train (set in 1936). Must try and scan the photo prints to post here.

Neither of these latter engines have a current boiler certificate, so are museum pieces.

I think I also have photos of Golden Arrow in steam running out to the Chiltern escarpment – the same route as the other old engines were taking; I certainly remember chasing it out to towards Princes Risborough, and admiring how graceful and even easy she made it look.

The Peppercorn engines were built by the nationalised LNER part of British Railways, and thus carried the British Railways logo.

I was somewhat late in leaving to go to a customer in Oxfordshire today (DHL failing to deliver in anything like good time). Anyway, I joined the M25, on the way to the M4, and as I joined I met an incredible sight. These were all taken by me, using my camera phone, at about 55mph.

Not the first view, but I fell in behind…


As it got to the M4 junction, this lorry pulled to the right, I to the left, to negociate the M25/M4 junction, so a behind side view…


And then the full side view.


From the internet: This from the “Poppy line”, Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway Society (pic and text).


Bressingham Museum’s ‘Martello’, a Southern Railways ‘Brighton Terrier’ 0-6-0 visited from late December 2005 to late March 2006. It was built by William Stroudley in 1875.These two-cylinder engines were known as the ‘Brighton Terriers’ and were in service for up to ninety years. Martello was withdrawn in November 1963.


This pic comes from a video site of Peter Boggis, and shows the train on the North Norfolk Railway (the Poppy line), the line of the M&GN

It also worked the West Somerset railway in 2006.

There had been showers all day (I left to go to this journey during a thunderstorm). On the way back, about 19:00, there was this partial rainbow. I took the pic more to see how the camera would cope. All in all, I’m impressed, especially since I was rather occupied at the same time…


A day out

July 13, 2008

Firstly, doing the shopping on Sunday, I looked, and there are new stickers on the Gordon Ramsay book in Waitrose, showing that there is only £5 off. I noticed another book, by the MD of Waitrose, was also on offer at £5 off, but no sticker on that. (A book about picnics).

Anyway, mother wanted a drive out, so I headed northwestward, to the scarpment of the Chilterns, then drove southwestward along it. When we got to Chinnor, I noticed that the steam loco of the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway was in, so stopped for some pics.


The engine. It was obviously the end of the day (an hour after the last journey), and was gently loosing steam.


The old British Railways Logo


They have other trains, such as this diesel loco, which does most of the running. Behind it are various carriages, in various states of disrepair.

Do note the season ticket notice in the foreground!

Update, 15.II.09 The “diesel loco” is a Class 121 Diesel Multiple Unit, known as a bubble car.