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Welcome To the blog for David Depper Photography, I'll let the posts do the talking rather than an unneeded, long winded title.

2013 the year that was

January 09, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Happy New Year if you’re reading this


Given how quiet January generally is, this seems like the perfect time to review my 2013, now I know what your thinking, hang on a minute, your cheating!, you only joined in July, quite true but having since added my “back catalogue” from other websites, I still think it’s fair to review my trips and experiences from the very beginning.

January brought a very unusual spectacle with steam returning through the central London tunnels of the Underground as part of the 150th celebrations of the opening of the Metropolitan Railway, the world first Underground system, many people had believed such a sight again to be impossible with modern health & safety, smoke alarms etc, but where there’s a will there’s a way and LUL bent over backwards to make it happen, with a number of test runs and contingency plans in the build up to the event, due to the intensive use nature of the of the Underground, the steam runs could only take place on Sunday evening where the service is less intensive, though with many of the stations on the planned route being underground, a lack of light would be a problem regardless of the time of day, with this in mind for some time, it’s no coincidence my new Nikon D5100 with a max ISO of 6400 and a new 50mm prime lens had arrived from the jolly fat man in a red suit the previous month.

For the choice of locomotive, there could only be one – the only operating ex Metropolitan Railway No 1, fresh from overhaul in the Forest of Dean, matched with the Bluebells original Met coaches, presenting a sight straight out the 1800’s contrasting with the modern tube trains passing, vintage Electric locomotive No 12 Sarah Siddons, a celebrity in her own right was on the other end of the train to save running round.

The event was a huge success with the train making multiple runs between Moorgate & Edgware Road, huge crowds turning out at every station to witness the rare event of a bygone age returning to the centre of the capital for a brief couple of evenings, with my records of the evening found here: , after this event, London Underground certainly seem to have got a taste for running occasional steam tours, with more following in 2013 on the open air section of the Metropolitan line further out of the city towards Uxbridge and plans for more steam in the central area on the Hammersmith & City line in 2014.


February & March brought the usual round of Winter Cumbrian Mountain expresses, headed on the bottom leg through the Midlands by the sole operational mainline electric locomotive, 86259 Les Ross, the itinery relying on the higher speed of the electric over a diesel on the busy southern section of the West Coast Mainline, I took a few shots of Les this year including a rather pleasing night effort at Crewe, but this glint shot achieved at Atherstone one February morning is my absolute favourite:


As winter turned to spring, the usual pre summer round of gala’s duly arrived, a trip to the Severn Valley in the freezing snow and the Great Central opening up Swithland Sidings to the public being memorable, but my highlight of this period was the first line side visit to the Cauldon Low line part of the Churnet Valley, this section including some long and fearsome gradients as it climbs onto the high Staffordshire Moors, offering some beautiful scenery into the bargain, U class 31806 visiting from the Mid Hants providing suitable fireworks as it battled 3 times a day up the slog to Ipstones summit:


Throughout the year, mainline workings are never too rare, 34067 Tangmere taking a roundabout route through the Cotswolds and Welsh Borders provided a long awaited chance to view steam crossing the river Severn at Worcester, this is a very pretty shot with the river below and the town with it’s church and cathedral forming a backdrop, however it had been off the radar for some time owing to the infrequency of steam on the Worcester – Hereford route owing to various restrictions, so it was extremely pleasing to finally nail this shot on a bright sunny day and with the exhaust falling perfectly too, one of my best efforts of 2013 in my opinion:


Railtours for travelling on as well as photographing in passing were a feature of my 2013, the first taking a HST from Leicester to the private Wensleysdale Railway, running from the East Coast Mainline at Northallerton, via Leeming Bar and Bedale to Redmire, this railway feels very different to most preserved lines, partly being setup by locals as a transport link as much as preserved parts of the railways past, giving the place something of a “Titfield Thunderbolt” atmosphere in my opinion, nevertheless it’s a quite interesting line and part of the country that offered some decent and unusual pictures:


This was followed a month later by the Cheltenham Flyer, an ambitious attempt to re run a GWR express which ran from Gloucester to Paddington non stop, thanks to the extra water carrying capability of the GUV van that Vintage Trains use, with support from First Great Western, a quick path in among the frequent service trains was found was much rare running on the fast lines toward London, the schedule was ripped to bits, arriving 45 mins early with much running at 75MPH, though a slightly apprehensive moment outside Paddington as we approached a red signal at 1MPH while awaiting a platform luckily it cleared before we had to stop.

If the outward run had been spectacular, the return was even better, hammering down the fast line, usually used exclusively by the HST’s that ply this route, almost all the way between Paddington and Didcot at nearly 80MPH, before some superb regulating saw us pass service trains around Swindon and Gloucester without stopping before drawing to a halt at Gloucester, again non stop with a 62 minute early arrival, easily my tour of the year and probably my favourite of all time to date:


Later the same month the same train was taking me on a traditional day out to the seaside, the destination this time being Minehead, accessed via the private West Somerset Railway from near Taunton, having run down from Birmingham to Bishops Lydeard, our mainline engine 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe was removed to be turned and serviced while we were taken forward to Minehead behind the West Somerset’s own 6960 Raveningham Hall, admiring the other passing steam trains and scenery on this preserved line before taking a break on the seafront, all too soon it was time for the return run with 6960 putting in a loud performance climbing up to Crowcombe on the return, but the highlight was close to the tours end as Edgcumbe attacked the 1 in 51 Old Hill Bank from Cradley Heath to Rowley Regis with a substantial load behind it, meeting the bank at 50MPH to climb over the top in superb style:


As summer arrived, most heritage lines got into their busy season and many of the mainline repeat itinery tours started up again such as the Shakespeare Express, which has now run every summer for over 12 years, unusually taking the North Warwick route both ways on the first Sunday owing to engineering works, giving the now rare sight of a steam loco bursting from Wood End Tunnel facing the right way:


Elsewhere DRS were having motive power problems with double headed class 37’s replacing class 66’s on certain intermodal turns at short notice, and I was lucky enough to capture once such working after a fast car move to Lichfield, giving the now quite rare sight of these 1960’s machines lifting heavy freight, a purpose they were designed for, even if not exactly Intermodal work:


During this period, 5029 Nunney Castle returned to traffic after an extended period of maintenance with a couple of test runs being undertaken from Tyseley, 46233 Duchess of Sutherland visited the West Midlands once more, to star in a Tyseley open day before heading the Scarborough Flyer tour which it had done the previous year.


July brought one of the biggest events of 2013, to mark 75 years since Mallard’s world speed record of 126MPH, the National Railway Museum had committed to bring back the two surviving A4 class locomotives in America on loan, so for the first time ever, all 6 surviving A4 class locomotives could be displayed together, 60008 Dwight D Eisenhower and 60010 Dominion of Canada had landed in the UK in late 2012, but years of lack of attention had taken their toll with both loco’s in something of a rough state, so some cosmetic restoration was undertaken on them before this event, they were rolled out looking as good as new next to the 4 UK A4’s that are kept in pristine condition, Dominion of Canada reverting to LNER 1930’s condition in Garter Blue with a single chimney and Canadian Bell, the event was hugely popular with the public, at times barely being able to move in the Great Hal as these pictures testify: at the time of writing (Jan 2014) the two American A4’s will be appearing at events at Barrow Hill and Shildon before boarding the boat for their trip home, if you haven’t already seen them I urge you to do so unless you fancy a trans Atlantic trip.


Since completing their extension to East Grinstead and connecting to the National Network earlier in the year, the Bluebell finally came within reach for a day trip, which was duly sampled during their vintage weekend, giving a taste of some South Eastern & Chatham motive power which predates most locomotives found on other heritage railways, when paired with equally vintage wooden carriages, it’s easily to see why the Bluebell is such a popular choice with film producers, looking for a period railway setting, a line I will be eager to visit more in future, especially considering how surprising cheap it is to get to via the Chiltern Mainline and crossing London on Tube:


The Summer also brought a dispute among East Midlands Trains staff, which led to the company hiring some class 37 locomotives and coaches from DRS to cover a Derby – Crewe diagram me one Sunday afternoon, locomotive hired service trains are very rare in the UK on what is mostly a Multiple Unit railway, so once enthusiasts got wind of this change, the masses descended on Derby to try and squeeze into 3 coaches, and trust me squeeze was the right word!, nevertheless it would be unthinkable to not record what is becoming an ever increasingly rare event:


From here on in, I can dispense with the links as we have reached the point where I joined Zenfolio, so chances are anything I talk about prior to this point will already have a link to it in blog posts further down this page, I do worry sometimes that I might go overboard and this just turns into a succession of links, but when doing a yearly review I have to be somewhat brief with what I talk about and in what detail, otherwise the blasted thing would take forever and bore the arse off you in the process, but I digress…


As September started, a first ever trip behind D1015 Western Champion was taken to the attractive south coast town of Weymouth, the popular Diesel Hydraulic showing it’s strength on some of the climbs on an entertaining day out, the annual visit to the Severn Valley Autumn Gala with it’s overnight running and holiday in Paignton with visit to the Torbay Steam and South Devon railways offered their unique attractions and picture opportunities by default, with such regular visits, it’s easy to take the stunning costal scenery and magical atmosphere that night photo’s bring.


The highlight of this period being my first visit to the Pontypool and Blaenavon railway after they returned some authentic LNWR traction to this South Wales valley, the hugely numerous photographic locations and interesting layout of this line make it very popular, as if the attraction of steam blasting up a long incline wasn’t enough of a draw on it’s own.


Mainline workings continued including the return of a Britannia to New St, in this case 70013 Oliver Cromwell, which I caught accelerating away at Adderley Park, a complete soaking I received seeing the Earl on the Cotswold line in what can only be described as a monsoon shower, going from bone dry to nearly flooding the surrounding field in half an hour!.


Tyseley once again played host to unusual loco’s for tyre turning as two class 40’s and Deltic Alycidon visited for a few days, being seen on their return north at Small Heath, followed by the utterly bizarre but wondering hiring of Western Champion by GBRF to haul Stone Trains between Mountsorrel and Wellingborough, a lovely picture of the empty return working passing through Leicester being obtained.


As Autumn turned into the run up to Christmas a Photo charter at Didcot organised by Neil Cave and Timeline Events was booked, some stunning night shots around a seemingly working locomotive shed and some set scenes involving actors taking place, also owing to the length of time of the event with the trains static for photo’s many experimental type of shot could be tried and retried if needed, something not possible with moving trains in daylight where you have to be virtually perfect first time or miss it.


The Christmas tours over the period involved a variety of motive power from double headed black fives on the Trent Valley, two Panniers passing Water Orton, two class 37’s and Western Champion heading a Pathfinder tour to Quainton Road, but the main event of this period being the Capital Streak, A4 4464 Bittern finally undertaking it’s 90MPH run south from York to King’s Cross after several false starts earlier in the year, mostly due to fire risk (unlikely in December!), but balanced out by the issue of early fading light, a spot north of Newark being selected, my camera proving it’s worth as many other’s struggled with the rapidly darkening conditions, but came up with a quite decent end result.


Post Christmas a visit to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway was taken, though this event would be mostly for riding the trains rain that standing in a freezing field as for most pictures, many of the lines operational diesels and steam locomotives being in operation, including a farewell to 7903 Foremarke Hall, running it’s final day in traffic before it is dismantled for overhaul before it can run again.


My final trip out of 2013 was on New Years Eve to see 37609 return a class 90 repainted in the new Anglia livery to its home depot at Norwich, having to spring over the footbridge in time to get a picture, the train having missed out a stop and arriving a lot earlier than I thought it would.


I hope you haven’t found my 2013 review completely and mind numbingly boring, if so, feel free to scroll down, showing up which I consider to be the best parts of 2013, I thought writing this would be quite easy when I started out, but it’s been the longest and most trying blog post to date, taking multiple nights and inspiration to type, unable to write in my usual free flowing manner talking about events recently as I’ve had to refer back to pictures taken 12 months ago, that said, 2013 was a year that brought many highlights and overall has to be considered to be one of the better ones of mine in the last few, here’s hoping to 2014 that it can at least match it and maybe, just maybe, top it.


Onwards we go…

Nearly there now

December 11, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Hello again


You may have noticed some change to the website over the last fortnight as I’ve just about finished adding my entire backdated photo’s from my Flickr account, this in turn caused the active railways & trains sections to be somewhat huger than I’d imagined with well over 120 galleries included, with page size and the time to upload all the thumbnails in mind, I’ve added another submenu to this category so galleries are grouped by years now, so hopefully no menu page will be overly clogged in future.

With all my active railway pictures now on the group, I will be turning my attention to adding the disused railway pictures to the site over the Christmas and early January period, some of which were taken a few year ago now with a much less capable camera than what I shoot with now, but in these cases the content overrides the quality and they are included for interests sake to see how once busy railways look today.

2013 is rapidly drawing to a close now with only one certain and another possible trip out before 2014 is upon us (where has the time gone!), save for something unexpected at short notice, traditionally January is a very quiet month until the round of gala’s late in the month so I may well take the time out to do a blog post reflecting on 2013 as a whole to keep the boredom at bay, anyway, enough waffling and time to reflect on events since the last update.

Onto the morning of the Didcot Nightshoot, and a quick trip to Bordesley Junction was taken to capture Earl of Mount Edgcumbe on her way to Ely, the sun was due up just as the train was passing the location so light was possibly going to be an issue, in the event a cold misty morning presented itself with variable light levels, not a problem with 6400ISO available if needed, but unlikely to produce a masterpiece, in the event I think the atmosphere of a cold misty morning has been captured quite well: I had to pull slightly further to the left than I had intended to include all the loco’s exhaust and accidentally included the palisade fencing I was learning over, d’oh!.

I arrived at Didcot mid afternoon having departed home an hour earlier due to the M40 being shut and a subsequent diversion through the eastern Cotswolds, to the find the Railway Centre just winding up from it’s normal open day to the public and getting ready for the nightshoot, organised by Neil Cave & Timeline Events, with 5322 and 3650 in steam, it was disappointing to see the King 6023 wasn’t in steam, but the addition of a few lit rags to the smokeboxes of a few loco’s would give the impression of them being in steam in the night pictures.

The shoot was very successful and well organised to avoid getting in each others ways, with groups split to various scenes at one time before swapping over and loco’s periodically moved to different locations for new pictures, an unexpected and welcome addition to some scenes were period dressed volunteers to help recreate scenes from a bygone era, such as preparing an express loco to leave the shed or a track gang outside Radstock signalbox, I can’t think these guys enough as their presence really added to some scenes, multiple angles and opportunities to take different photo’s were present with a few light & shadow and silhouettes being taken, the event finished with the loco’s being disposed of in front of the coal stage with the fires being thrown out, showing as an orange blur on time exposure pictures as a shovel full of glowing ash is thrown out the firebox onto the ground.

I took far too many pictures I like to link them all here, but 5 of my favourites are:



As December approached, the usual round of pre Xmas mainline workings got into full swing, a Euston – Chester Cathedrals Express had caught my eye, initially down for 70000 Britannia, this was changed for doubleheaded black fives 44871 & 45407, the Trent Valley route can be a pain for northbound morning shots at the best of times, but in winter with the low sun angle it’s even more critical to not be looking into it, I wanted something different to the usual Rugeley location and Lichfield was a non starter due to steam workings usually taking water there, The conventional shot at Grendon is usually from the east side of the line either in the field next to or from the footbridge, this too was against the light at this time, but research showed a shot from the lane on the west side of the line a few hundred yards down was possible, having arrived on the day, there were numerous gaps in the hedge along the lane, but one in a small wood on the brow of a hill proved the optimum viewpoint, and a quite decent train in the landscape shot was the result: the biggest problem proving to be getting the loco’s between the overhead wire masts, but unable to see which one came down which side of the line from that distance, luckily it all worked out well in the end.

The next day brought the annual trip to Melton Mowbray by Vintage Trains, this year headed by the pannier tanks L94 & 9600, which sadly have been rather quiet in 2013, no doubt unhelped by the short range between water stops and 45MPH limit imposed by using small tank engines, The Water Orton road bridge overlooking the station was chosen as the location, trains towards Nuneaton seemingly running wrong line on this point on the bi directional line for trains down from Tamworth and up to Nuneaton, presumably a relative of one of the Vintage Trains staff accounts for the “Tilly’s Birthday Express” headboard, but with a loco in London Transport livery in the West Midlands, authenticity was something of an irrelevance anyway, the varying shade of the tree’s rapidly shedding their leaves adding to a very colourful scene:

December 7th finally saw the much anticipated and much postponed 90MPH run of A4 4464 Bittern, as you may recall I originally wanted to see the train on the descent of Stoke Bank, made famous as the scene of Mallard’s record 126MPH, bang went that idea when Network Rail released the timings which seemed could have done with being at least an hour earlier, with everything south of Grantham pretty much certain to be in darkness, a location further north was needed, a level crossing at South Muskham, just north of Newark (which I usually call by it’s…. erm…. Anagram..) being settled on, a Few HST’s and 91’s being taken in the meantime as most of this traffic is rarely seen by me,

I had taken my prime lens just incase and combined with a high ISO, certainly proved it’s worth as many other photographers suffered with the fading light whereas my effort didn’t turn out too badly: unfortunately the train wasn’t doing the full 90MPH as had been hoped for, passing me at an estimated 75MPH, but that can be the luck of the draw, a speed of around 95MPH being the top speed hit by the train during it’s run from York to Kings Cross.

This coming weekend I’m looking at going to see D1015 Western Champion on its tour to Quainton Road (The Maybach Meanderer), specifically hoping to see it on the Cross City Line between New Street and King’s Norton as railtours along this line are pretty rare, most taking the Camp Hill line between the two locations instead and as I understand it, steam is unlikely to use this route a second time after last years panniers, so it has to be a Diesel tour or nothing, seeing Earl of Mount Edgcumbe return from York to Tyseley is also a possibility, though I haven’t decided on a location yet.

I’m still hoping to visit the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway for their post Xmas event to round the year off, but with many family commitments around that time of year, this is far from certain and in any case, is likely to consist of riding the trains than many pictures at multiple locations as the thought of standing on a bridge for hours in December is less than appealing!.

If I don’t update this blog before January (I’m undecided when or indeed if a 2013 review will take place) I’d like to wish anyone reading this a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.



Calm the hell down, it's only November!

November 14, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

You can tell its November when people and adverts are itching to shove the C word in your face despite it still being well over a month away…

For the photographer, this time of years presents advantages and challenges alike, the low sun (when properly angled) and cold crisp conditions can make a very good picture, but are equally balanced out by short daylight hours and bad weather at this time of year can almost turn day into night with very poor light levels, this was most certainly the case when I went to see the Cotswold Explorer on October 19th, It has been a while since I’ve seen steam on the Cotswold Line between Oxford & Worcester, so I selected the well known photo spot of Lower Moor which is located a few miles west of Evesham, anticipating that 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe would be at speed and working hard here, with a tight allowance over the single line section to Norton Junction, the drive down to the vale of Evesham indicated some dark clouds building in the distance, having arrived at the spot, the heavens opened in what can be best described as a Monsoon I have rarely seen the like of, the adjoining fields going from dry to borderline flooded in 20 minutes!, the large umbrella I keep in the car took the battering of it’s life, but did it’s job keeping my top half and camera dry (well sort of) during the wait, however the darkness and the rain at it’s height was so heavy that no camera setting would allow a decent shot given the distortion created by such a deluge, luckily the storm thinned out as 5043 approached at speed and produced a quite decent effort all things considered: if you think the rain in the picture is heavy, trust me, this was nothing compared to what preceded it, the lack of the usual heads peeking from the trains droplights tells you all you need to know.

Steam through Birmingham New Street is still relatively rare, even more so when it’s not run by Tyseley/Vintage Trains, so November 2nd’s Bluebell Explorer had been in mind for a while, this trip would take Britannia class and mainline favourite 70013 Oliver Cromwell from one heritage railway at the Severn Valley to another at the Bluebell, routed via the West Coast Mainline, for this trip I chose Adderley Park for my location, while not noted for it’s aesthetics or being in an area you’d want to frequent for a long period, it is the only station between New Street and Stechford where the line avoiding New Street which usually carries steam comes in, so is a relatively rare occurrence still, I stood under the road bridge and used a length of 70mm as this appears the best shot at this somewhat unappealing location, Ollie appearing out of the gloom from Proof House Junction bang on time with a uniform rake of maroon stock: 47580 and it’s unique BR Blue livery with Union Jack was on the rear on the time which was a nice surprise, the 47 would be handling the return leg of the train and was to assist the train on the short but stiff climb out of New Street and where any adhesion issues were encountered, that perennial menace of leaf fall causing issues is never far away at this time of year.

Preserved Diesels on the Mainline has been somewhat thin on the ground until quite recently, so a welcome return to action was for 40145 after a few years out of service, having a blown turbo repaired at Barrow Hill, periodically railway rolling stock needs it’s tyres turned, this is a achieved by a process of putting the axle, still attached to the loco, on a wheel lathe and smoothing the rough edges away until it’s perfectly round once more, when a wheel slips due to loss of adhesion or slides under too hard braking, this can burn a flat spot into the wheel, which after prolonged use, can result in the wheel shape looking more like a 50 pence piece than round and requiring the tyre turning attention (science lesson over).

Anyway, Tyseley has become well known for having a wheel lathe and being able to undertake this kind of work, the result being many rare and unusual locomotives visit Tyseley for this process that otherwise would not be seen anywhere near the Birmingham Suburbs, 40145 was down to visit for a week for this process, but news came through that she would also be bringing classmate 40135 and Deltic D9009 Alycidon along with her since they also require tyre turning, the chance to miss not one, but THREE preserved diesels on the Mainline was not to be missed, so I snapped them on their return run from Tyseley to their respective bases at Barrow Hill and Bury, due to other commitments that day, I had to stay local and the familiar yet dull location of Small Heath had to suffice, yet a decent enough record shot was obtained: , being entertained by a 37 on a test train and a class 67 hauled express in the meantime helped keep the interest up and the cold at bay somewhat.

Modern Freight is not something you associate preserved locomotives with readily, yet many of the diesels now privately owned are more than capable of doing the job should the need arise through a shortage of motive power for a freight company, and that’s exactly what happened with Great Britain Railfreight (GBRF) who have hired Diesel Hydraulic 1015 Western Champion to cover this shortfall, the locomotive is intended to be used on the Mountsorrel – Wellingborough Stone circuit the most, but as is the way with freight workings, it can be as and when required and used on a variety of different trains instead, though this made sense as “Westerns” proved themselves very capable machines on similar workings for BR in the 70’s, anyway back to today and I had got the gen the previous night that 1015 would be taking empty wagons back to Mountsorrel around lunchtime, so a fast move to Leicester was made in order to secure this highly sought after shot, the advertisements in the cess at Leicester station are certainly a nuisance, but detract very little from this most interesting scene: at the current time it’s unknown how long the hire period will continue, plus the haphazard use of the loco makes obtaining photo’s of the stone trains difficult enough as it is, whether this will be my one and only photo of a Western on freight remains to be seen, but who would of thought a locomotive withdrawn in 1977, preserved and pampered, hauling only a few tours a year since, would be put back to everyday work in 2013 ?.

That brings us up to date since the previous update of South Devon which now seems like a year ago with half decent weather as the cold increases and the years end draws near, the Didcot nightshoot looks likely to be the next outing, though anything shirt notice is possible (as seems to be happening a bit lately), for me anyway, mid November can often be the calm before the storm, with not much happening, then a sudden flurry of activity and tours in the weeks building up to Christmas, (blast, I’ve said it!) with that high speed A4 run (third time lucky) in December and also a rare outing for Tyseleys Panniers, looking to post Xmas, a gala at the Glos Warks at Toddington before new year could be worth a look, and a good way to round off 2013, certainly thoughts among many now are starting to turn towards thoughts for the early part of 2014.


Until next time.

Go West...

October 15, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Another month, another update…

Autumn has well and truly arrived lately with the wet and cold weather, though luckily I managed to mostly avoid this during my weeks holiday in South Devon, I stayed at Waterside Holiday Park just outside Goodrington Sands near Paignton for the week, for any railway enthusiasts, I highly recommend this location as in addition to being local to many tourist attractions and seaside resorts, the site also parallels the sea and the Paignton & Dartmouth Railway on the climb from Goodrington Sands to Churston, indeed shots like this: are available almost on the doorstep, a photographers dream!.

No trip to South Devon would be complete without a visit to the famous sea wall section of mainline around Dawlish and Teignmouth, in previous years I have been fortunate enough to see steam charters and Rail Head Treatment Trains (to blast the leaves and crap off the line in Autumn) along this section, but this year proved slim pickings, a couple of HST’s inbetween the constant stream of local DMU’s and Voyagers being all that produced, this rather average effort being the best obtained in over 2 hours:

Later in the week I made my way over to the South Devon Railway, which largely retains the atmosphere of the West Country branch line, Paignton while having stunning scenery, is more geared towards the tourism market and moving passengers to Dartmouth than heritage and trying to recreate the past, unfortunately the duty loco was 5786 in it’s London Transport guise of L92, somewhat blowing the West Country branch line scene somewhat, however I still managed a few decent snaps, this edited one from Hood Bridge being my favourite: , however later on I was surprised by the rare sight of 3205 on a steam hauled Pway train, which then proceeded to shunt some milk tanks before departing:

Unfortunately the hoped for visit to the West Somerset didn’t happen, visiting other non railway attractions during the week meant there was no time to include it, but overall I’m happy with the shots I have returned with.

You may have noticed the photo galleries growing in fits and starts as I gradually transfer pictures over from Flickr and various other websites, I’m doing this as and when I have spare time but the Flickr account is likely to take precedence so I can cancel my subscription (though I plan to keep a free account for commenting and researching locations), I haven’t forget about the Disused Railway’s section, but as these pics are currently hosted elsewhere for free, they are likely to follow in a few months time, most likely the cold dark winter weeks when not much else is happening outside.

So what am I up to in the coming weeks, well 5043 is out yet again on Saturday, this time to Oxford returning via the Cotswold Line through Evesham, I’m currently looking for a decent spot along this line to see it as light will start to go once the train gets north of Worcester, Castles on this route evoking memories of the Cathedrals Express from Paddington to Worcester and Hereford, the last express turn to use the Castle Class in BR service.

I have also booked up for a nightshoot at Didcot in later November, having seen photo’s of previous events at this location and the authentic western region shed scenes that can be created, it’s an event I am now eagerly looking forward to, the opportunity for decent night time photography being rare, as mentioned prior to the SVR gala, who’s results speak for themselves in my opinion.


Until next time.

September Sorties

September 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Hello strangers

It's been a while since my last update, due to work commitments, editing and uploading pictures and visiting various places over the last few weeks, it's been difficult to find any time to make a meaningful blog update, but I suppose in cases like this, quality overrules quantity (at least that's the intention!), so I'll cover what I've been up to of late now.


Last update, I was about to finally sample a Western on a Mainline working, in this case to Weymouth, a minor irritant to start with came when the tickets arrived and the total omission of Birmingham New St as a pick up point, not terminal, but meant an added drive to another station and having to watch the alcohol intake as a result, the upshot was I could join the train at Coleshill Parkway or Tame Bridge Parkway, given the latter allowed times an hour later/earlier and missed the class 66 haulage to Bescot, you won’t be surprised to learn I rolled up at Tame Bridge at 8am, an excellent day out behind Western Champion resulted, plenty of fast running all day, with good punctuality, to an attractive destination, the highlight of the day however was finding my standard class coach turned out to be a first class coach in error, the wide and comfy armchairs with table lamps being much appreciated.

Photographically, traveling on tours can be problematic due to short platform and stops in goods loops offering little choice of taking pictures, with pretty much Westbury and Weymouth being the only chances to do so, however a fairly pleasing shot in the sun at Westbury was able to be had:


The following weekend found me crossing the border into South Wales for the previously mentioned Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway Gala, featuring the much anticipated return of a Coal Tank and Super D to the valleys, the journey down was not helped by the Traffic Wombles completely closing the M50 for some unknown reason, meaning a diversion round Gloucester before regaining the intended route at Ross on Wye, It’s surprising how quickly the hills spring up on you as it’s fairly flat until after Abergavenny, then all of a sudden a steep uphill B road for 5 mile or so takes you over the top and down into Blaenavon, Having previously been up the Rhymney valley behind class 37’s, I was not expecting much from this pretty similar ex mining valley, but the area around Blaenavon is surprisingly scenic, I’d highly recommend a visit to the area, even if not specifically visiting the railway.

In short, I was highly impressed with this up and coming line, a continuous gradient where loco’s are worked hard with a branch line and plenty of variety of movements, footpaths galore on the surrounding hills mean to an extent it’s like shooting fish in a barrel for photography with multiple attractive viewpoints along its length, full length and short passengers trains with freight thrown in were the order of the day with a recreation of the SLS special over the Heads of the Valley’s line to finish with made this a favourite event of the year thus far.

49395 blasting up into Furnace Sidings on the good’s train is my favourite shot of the day with the attractive hillsides all around:

1054 climbing up to the Rail over Rail Bridge, (a novelty in itself) is also another pleasing sight:

And the obligatory shot of the SLS Special:


Midweek I went to see 46233 Duchess of Sutherland on it’s way to the Severn Valley Railway gala at Lifford on the Camp Hill Line, really I can let the pictures caption to the talking with this one: I knew due to the circumstances of the train, this was unlikely to result in a mastershot, but I’m reasonably pleased with the results as a picture more interesting that most light engine shots has resulted.


The next day found me rolling up late afternoon at Kidderminster for the annual ritual of the Severn Valley Autumn Steam Gala and an overnight visit to this event which runs 24 hours a day from Friday to Sunday, while that may sound mad on the face of it, the result is the rare chance to see steam workings at night which is pretty rare these days and the challenge of time exposure photography at night to capture it, I usually spend the Friday evening at either Hampton Loade or Arley depending which is better for right facing loco’s during that time period, this year Hampton Loade won the day, although there was not as much in it as previous years.

As the evenings services started winding down, I boarded one of the two trains that would continue overnight to Bridgnorth to take some further night pictures of the various locomotives being serviced on the shed, since the shed here received shutter doors a few years ago, it also received some rather harsh yard lights which from certain angles create some big glare and are a challenge to photography, nevertheless, using some selective angles and adjustments of the light in Photoshop, I got some pretty decent result, From previous years, I’ve also found the shot of a north facing loco in the Platform at Bridgnorth can also be pretty pleasing, however this year, for some strange reason, the driver of 2857 kept running the loco off the platform end preventing this shot was taking place, why he did this is baffling as the train was only 5 coaches long and there was at least 3 coach lengths of empty platform behind the train, frustrating but I guess you can’t win them all.

After an hour trying to get some doss, I detrained at Bewdley while the train went to Kidderminster to run round and return for 90 mins, to photograph the locomotive stabled overnight in the rock siding there, in previously years, the SVR has had an annoying habit of stabling a set of coaches in platform 3 overnight totally blocking this view, luckily this year the shorter freight set was put in platform 3, which didn’t take up all the platform meaning some decent shots could be had, Bewdley can be a challenge to get acceptably lit photo’s at night with some area’s under strong floodlights with a lit brazier nearby with others in total darkness, but the challenge of such photography at night to get it acceptably lit with minimal “ghosts” (people moving during a time exposure, not real ghosts!) and minimal steam blowing across the shot is what makes it more satisfying when some half decent pictures come from your efforts.

After which I rejoined 2857 through to around 6am as the day services started up again, making sure to capture the remaining guests engines of Met No1 and Duchess of Sutherland on passenger workings before heading home mid afternoon, almost 24 hours after arriving.

I love night time exposure shots so had a hard time picking a favourite from this event, but this effort of Kinlet Hall on Bridgnorth shed probably just about pips it for me: I expect a few will have different views but no one’s tastes are the same.


That brings the story up to date now, so what do I have planned for the near future? Very little actually, at least very little that’s set in concrete, this Saturday, 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe is hauling a tour from Birmingham via the Welsh Marches and back again, I’m undecided whether I will see this yet, but if I do, I’m thinking of trying the shot from the St Paul’s Metro stop, which looking on the net, seems to give a good view of northbound departing trains from Snow Hill.

The following Friday see’s takings a weeks holiday in Paignton, the place I’m staying at overlooks the Paignton & Dartmouth Railway on the climb from Goodrington to Churston so some shots of that are pretty inevitable, visits to see mainline operations at Dawlish and the South Devon Railway from Buckfastleigh to Totnes are also possible, though I notice during the weekend the West Somerset Railway is holding it’s Autumn Steam Gala, and Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton) is not a million miles from Paignton….

I’ll probably update this again in early/mid October once all the above has taken place and I have plenty more slightly dull experiences and adventures to tell you about in the fruitless pursuit of railway photography perfection.

The best laid plans

September 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Hello all, it's been a while

Firstly you'll have noticed the lack of an update from the high speed A4 run down the East Coast Main Line, which has been potsponed twice now due to fire risk with hot weather, it's now likely to happen at the end of September but this is still to be confirmed.

In the meantime D1015 Western Champion finally returned to Mainline action after an absence of 3 years for engine repairs, taking in the now usual mainline circuit around the East Midlands from Tyseley, leaving Tyseley before 18:00 on a weeknight is always problematic for me with work and other commitments, so the only option was for a High ISO effort on the arrival return trip at Coleshill Parkway, in the past I've had plenty of problems here with the harsh sodium lighting giving a distinct orange tint after dark, no matter what editing I took to the picture afterwards, however I believe I've cracked the issue now by adding a Tungsten tint and then lowering the saturation a notch, I'm quite happy with the result but what do you think ?.

Also during the last week in August there were increasing rumours that class 37's would work services between Derby & Crewe on Sunday 25th August due to EMT industrial action, these were initially dismissed as the usual kind of rumours you get but to my surprise the working was confirmed as happening by Friday, being so close to Birmingham it would be foolish to pass up the chance of some loco hauled action on the largely unit ran railway in 2013, thus I rocked up at Derby on Sunday afternoon for a round trip to Crewe, never have 3 coaches been so packed before as seeming every class 37 crank in the country descended on Derby for the day!, despite which a good time and laugh was had on the trip with a few record shots of the event at Derby added to the website, including a rather tasty pic of 37425 clagging away.

September looks quite the busy month with something on pretty much every weekend so I'll just concentrate on this weekend coming for now, which see's me sample D1015 Western Champion on it's first fully blown tour since repairs, taking me from the West Midlands on a pleasant day out to Weymouth and back, luckily heritage diesels are not affected by the dry weather!, steam events at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway and Severn Valley Autumn Gala follow in the coming weeks.


To be continued..





Derbyshire Delight

July 30, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

As July (and the good weather it seems) draws to a close, as expected I made my first visit to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway at Wirksworth last Saturday, being one of the more recently established lines it's unfair to judge against much more long established rivals, but compared to other more recent arrivals onto the scene, the EVR is very pleasant and has potential to do well once it and it's facilities are further established.

A leisurely drive up the scenic A6 found me at Wirksworth well in advance of the first steam departure at lunchtime, a nice surprise I had found out the night before was that 1300 was now carrying it's BR guise as 52322, while the Lancashire & Yorkshire livery it usually carries is attractive enough, the BR look blends in much better with the rolling stock and surroundings, before she was due on the train down to Duffield, a ride was taken on the Bubblecar up the short Ravenstor branch, I have a fondness for these type of first generation DMU's having worked my local lines when I was growing up in the 80's and 90's, a round trip to Duffield was then taken behind the Aspinall 3F through the surrounding farmland, with signs of the railway looking to increase capacity with work on a passing loop at a yet to be opened intermediate station of Shottle.

One current disadvantage to the EVR (though possibly to be rectified in time) is that photography is very difficult, with most trains currently overhanging the platforms and very few spots along the line to take good pictures due to vegetation growth, hopefully this latter problem can be addressed when more pressing matters have been attended to, so I have to do with pictures of 52322 running round, although I did manage a very nice picture of her departing the only currently open intermediate station of Idridgehay.

Overall I was impressed with the EVR, which has the potential to be a very pretty ex Midland branchline once further established.


You may also has noticed looking through the photo pages this last weekend that the Shakespeare Express has finally reappeared, the disappearance of the hot sunny weather is not totally unrelated, the various downpours have now meant it's finally safe to run steam unassisted again (in the Midlands at least, other area's are still seeing diesel assistance until more rain produces), hence I chose the nearby spot of Wadley's Road footbridge in Solihull, due to the nature of the location in a shallow cutting with high tree's, it favours an overcast day so no shadows are encountered and luckily some cloud produced at the right moment, 4965 was certainly not hanging about, doing the full 60MPH allowed as it charged past on it's way to Tyseley and Birmingham beyond.


Next weekend looks rather quiet on the face of it so there is unlikely to be an update for two weeks when I visit the Bluebell Railway in Sussex as mentioned previously in this blog, I might see the Shakespeare again next week if favourable weather and commitments allow, but I do have a life away from chasing trains around the country (hard to believe, but there you go).

Until next time (assuming anyone actually reads this yet), cya.

Too hot to handle

July 18, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Hello strangers


It's been a quiet couple of weeks until now, mainly due to a combination of things, as mentioned previously, one off gala's and mainline runs are few and far between as high summer timetables and repeat itinery work for holidaymakers form the backbone of the summer scene, also as you may of noticed, it's been bloody hot too!, this has resulted in the unfortunate use of Diesel assistance on Steam tours due to the fire risk to tinder dry vegetation, hence why the Shakespeare hasn't appeared for a couple of weeks, however I have been out and about, to a steam fair at Hollowell in Northamptonshire and got many pictures of the various Traction Engines on show, which will be uploaded to the misc picture section in due course, the time needed to edit 35 pictures being the main reason it hasn't taken place yet, despite being over a week ago.

Anyway, back to railway matters and last Tuesday I headed north to the National Railway Musuem at York, being 75 years since A4 Mallard set the steam speed record at 126MPH (which stands to this day), a special event took place bringing all six surviving A4's together, including those on loan from America and Canada, the event was extremely popular so any attempt at a picture without people in shot was totally impossible, so I took two general record views, which I think in many years time will serve as a good record of the event.

While at York I also had the good fortune to see the Scarborough Spa Express before it left and even more good fortune to get a picture before 47760 back onto the front due to the already mentioned fire risk, lets hope some rain comes soon to alleviate the problem.

As a result of the hot weather, the High speed runs planned with Bittern has been postponed to a later date which is a sensible decision, so any idea of seeing that is off the radar for the time being, I plan to use that Saturday instead to visit Wirksworth and 1300 instead now, though of course that's very much dependent on the weather and if they will run steam as a result.

Elsewhere I will be making my second trip to the Bluebell on the 10th August, it was my original intention to go for the October gala, but I have since been advised this is likely to feature mostly visitors and long term loan engines which I am already familiar with when it is the Bluebells elderly home fleet which I desire to see the most, these however are more likely to feature at the August Vintage event, hence plans have been made to visit at this time instead, it will be a refreshing change seeing many loco's from the turn of the century as opposed to the more usual 9F's or Black Fives.

As for this weekend, with no rain forecast for the next week or so, the Shakespeare is likely to continue with Diesel assistance so I'm unlikely to venture out for it, there is a class 20 tour from Hooton to Skegness on Saturday morning that could be interesting as I can spare the time for it, taking a rather strange routing via Walsall.

Hopefully the next few weeks will offer more opportunity than the last, though traditionally Spring and Autumn have been busy months wit lulls in Summer and Winter.

Summers here

July 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Or at least that's how it feels, with many of the "repeat itinary" tours starting up and getting into their stride at this time of the year and providing much choice for the mainline photographer (providing your willing to travel).


Although one off tours tend to take a back seat during the summer months, there are still a number that due take place, one of which was the Scarborough Flyer on Saturday 30th June which took 46233 Duchess of Sutherland from Tyseley to the seaside at, unsurprisingly, Scarborough, the Duchess would come off the train at Derby to take up summer duties from Crewe, it was originally my intention to go somewhere in the Tamworth area to see this fine machine at speed, however a glance at the schedule and the numerous pick up stops showed I would need to venture north of Derby to achieve this, so in the end I opted for the "safe" shot at Bordesley junction which is good for sun until early afternoon, despite being a low speed section, in the event the Duchess was signal checked about 50 yards in front of me for 2 minutes, but this had the advantage of showing off the power of this mighty machine as it accelerated it's train up the steep climb to the Camp Hill line, taking the load of 11 coaches with ease as seen here: , not the shot I had originally intended, but one I hope that does the Duchess justice in it's all too rare appearances this far south.


Sunday saw the start of Vintage Trains successful Shakespeare Express programme through to September, which has been running like clockwork each summer for over a decade now, and feels almost as much a part of the local summer scene now as the workaday units which ply this route, due to engineering works in July, the train for the first few weeks is running north as well as south via the North Warwickshire Line as opposed to the more usual return route via Dorridge, this presented some rare photo opportunities as chimney first runs on the North Warwick are quite rare currently so is not a chance to be passed up, motive power as normal, is usually in the hands of 84E's sewing machine known as 4965 Rood Ashton Hall, my plan for this first weekend was to see RAH exiting Wood End Tunnel on the afternoon run when the sun angle is not so head on as the lunchtime run, in the build up to the run there was some confusion about which route it would take in some quarters, but in the end the North Warwick was used and I took my picture largely as planned, due to the shady cutting nature of Wood End, some photoshopping to the shadow area's was required, but I'm pretty satisfied with the result of 4965 leaning to the canted curve: , I haven't decided where to visit next weekend yet, but other commitments may dictate that, I certainly plan to try the foot crossing north of Henley in Arden at some point.


July generally offers little in the way of events as preserved railways get as busy with summer passengers as Mainline tour operators, that said, I do have my eye on possibly making my first ever visit to the Eccelsbourne Valley at Wirksworth to view and ride the Lancashire & Yorkshire 3F No1300, the combination of new line and new loco for me proving tempting at a quiet time of the year, later in july I hope to visit Stoke Bank for 4464 Bittern on the 3rd and final of it's 90MPH runs later in the month too, A Garter Blue A4 at high speed passing the location that put Mallard into immortality ?, not to be missed!.

Nunney gives it some

June 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

All appears to have gone well with 5029's light trials last week as preparations for the loaded trial run via the East Midlands circuit on the 25th June went ahead as planned, with a departure from Tyseley shortly after 6pm, it was always going to be a big ask from finishing work at 5pm to getting in a decent photting position, in the end I decided doing battle with the rush hour traffic in central Birmingham wasn't worth it and decided to see 5029 on the return run instead.


I checked out various locations for the return journey back to Birmingham, but settled on Tamworth High Level in the end, which was due to be passed at a rather late 21:45, Tamworth presented a few advantages in this respect, a fast stretch of line where 75MPH is easily achievable with a clear road, if the sun was still up, the location presented the best angle on the North East/South West Mainline, and if the light started failing, a well lit station would still offer a reasonable picture with a prime lens bolted on.

After a quick blast up the M42, I was in Tamworth in plenty of time, at this time of the evening, freight workings were in full flow on both levels as the passenger service tailed off, shortly after 21:47 and luckily just after a northbound 66 passed by, the unmistakable sound of  a Castle at speed could be heard, soon Nunney was seen sweeping through the station on the canted curve at around 65MPH with the regulator open making plenty of smoke, wonderful!


As was always a possibility, the light was really going by this time, but a decent picture was still obtained with a prime lens on F3.5 and 5000ISO. while grain is inevitable at such a high film speed, the D5100 is far better at hiding it than most.

Presumably Nunney will shortly depart for Bristol now to take up regular duties to Weymouth & Cornwall over the summer with a move to her new home at the Severn Valley Railway beckoning after, it's always welcome to see another Castle on the big railway.


Saturday see's 46233 Duchess of Sutherland's massive proportions out to play, heading from Tyseley to Scarborough, the prospect of seeing this mighty machine at speed is mouth watering...



Blog entry..... um.... number one

June 21, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Hi and welcome to my new website and associated blog.


I doubt many people will bother to read this, as least initially anyway, but it serves a purpose of reminding what happened on a particular day in the past, some time after this was wrote and the memory has gone a little hazy, having also seen how interesting various other photographers blogs can be, I was curious to give one a go myself when Zenfolio offered the option of having one.


Anyway, if you are reading this, your first question is probably why I have abandoned Flickr in favour of Zenfolio, you probably won't be at all surprised to learn of the reason - yes it's the new layout, which in my opinion, makes the whole thing look like the picture section of a 10 year old's Facebook page and totally unsuitable if your seeking a professional looking layout for your pics online, I persisted with the new layout for a few weeks in the hope it would grow on me, but alas, I still hate it, and Flickr, in their stubborn-ness to stick with the new layout, despite 99.99% of people hating it, have lost themselves another customer as a result, seemingly inflicting this change upon us with no warning or consultation whatsoever, yes 1TB of storage is very tempting, but considering to stay "add free" (ie paid) in future, the price almost doubles and your still stuck with the awful layout, I seeked out a new host and Zenfolio won the day, with much greater control over the layout and presentation of the site, while Zenfolio has a couple of faults (not being able to make the pictures as large for example), it now appears to be the best all rounder host for the photographer who seeks a decent site out there.


In time I will transfer all my photo's from Flickr across to here before deleting them and all new photo's will be uploaded here only, purely retaining a free Flickr account devoid of pics for commenting purposes when talking to other photographers.


Hopefully that explains the new sites reason for being, and all future updates will be related to the various pictures on the website and how they were obtained, with a fairly quiet weekend on the Mainline in the West Midlands and a fairly busy schedule on Saturday (sadly not including the Tyseley Open Weekend, my next update is likely to be following Tuesday 25th June, on the evening of which, 5029 Nunney Castle is due to undergo a loaded test run around the East Midlands from Tyseley before taking up summer duties working from Bristol.





P.S I hope the use of GWR colours for the wbesite hasn't gone unnoticed!.