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: http://daviddepperphotography.zenfolio.com/p837843305#h230b6814 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: http://daviddepperphotography.zenfolio.com/p499598099#h3f81d58a 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: http://daviddepperphotography.zenfolio.com/p1053495650#h6e54998 , 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: http://daviddepperphotography.zenfolio.com/p1056064740#h13d1e581 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.