To many of my friends, this section will come as something of a surprise. I decided to put some of my steam collection online because some 20 years after most of them were taken the nostalgic content of them is, to me, quite strong. I spent quite a few Sunday afternoons in 1985 and 1986 taking photographs of the weekly dining trains from Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon together with occasional runs from Birmingham. Most of the pictures were taken quite close to my home and although some of the locations are shown more than once, I hope that the different locomotives will compensate for this.

I have rarely photographed steam since the late 1980s, not because I dislike the machinery; it is more down to the attitude and bigotry of a minority of those who avidly follow steam. These people who decry more modern motive power and mock those real railway enthusiasts amongst us have done much to damage the image of today's photographers. I despise the attitude that somehow tries to suggest that it is more "macho" to don the walking boots and red socks to chase steam-hauled trains around, than to record the workings of the real railway. Real steam finished in this country in 1968 and I find it curious that some of the more voluble followers are too young to remember it.

I hope that this small selection of images will be of interest and bring some memories both of the trains and some long-gone railway infrastructure, not to mention a few locations that are no longer available through either undergrowth or building work. The pictures are in roughly chronological order, and I have grouped together workings by each locomotive in order to give a feel of how the trains ran in 1985 and 1986.




LIttleton Colliery


In the Autumn of 1994 I received an invitation to attend an event at the soon to close Littleton colliery in Staffordshire. I was never quite sure why the invitation was sent but suppose that it may have been that I used to submit photographs to the railway press and had a few published in various magazines. To be honest these photo charters have never been my thing and I wouldn't go near one today but on this occasion the chance to take some pictures inside the yard and around the mining infrastructure was quite appealing. Two industrial locomotives, Whiston and Wimblebury, were in use and they were posed for pictures in various places before running around the site both with a short rake of HAA hoppers and a freshly painted brake van. Several run-pasts were made on the section of track that passed under thge M6 motorway and I recall that some traffic problems were caused by drivers slowing to see what was creating so much smoke to the extent that police had to attend. I had soon had enough of photographing the same scenes so had some enjoyable brake van rides around the site to round off the day.

The following photographs all were taken on 100 asa 35mm Fuji transparency film and it was fortunate that much of the day was bright and sunny otherwise this section would have been mostly black and white images. Captions to these pictures would be largely superfluous so I haven't bothered...

A VSTP working from Tyseley to Stratford-upon-Avon and back via the North Warwickshire Line ran on 4 May 2017. This had escaped my attention so when a friend pointed it out I decided that even though it was steam operated it worth be a worth a walk to Stratford Parkway station, about the only place on the line where the sun is at a decent angle at around 13.45. It is, after all, just over 4 years since the last time I saw a steam locomotive! The headcode was 5Z96 so it didn't need a lot of imagination to work out the the locomotive would be pannier tank 9600, built by the GWR in 1945 and it was entirely predictable that the inward journey would be with it running bunker first. This is perfectly acceptable as these engines were designed with this in mind unlike those with tenders which look ridiculous running the wrong way round. This location was under construction on 3 November 2012 when I photographed the same locomotive double-heading with 7752 on a train running around the West Midlands. I'm sure that "purists" would decry an image in this sort of spot as it makes no attempt at recreating anything and in my view it's much the better for it.
Comedy corner at Hatton. Again... The worthwhile part of the trip was my sighting of a pair of Red Kites above a field at the corner of the Station and Pinley Roads on the way to station bridge; my first for this area.
A charter train from London Euston to Worcester via the North Cotswold Line was booked for Saturday 9 March 2013. This, despite the doubling of large parts of the line, is relatively unusual so even though a steam locomotive, 34067 Tangmere, was the motive power I resolved to take a picture just for the record. The light was dire in the extreme and it was necessary to use ISO 800 with camera settings of 1/1000 at f5. I generally consider that if one needs a higher ISO than this to achieve a reasonable result then it's time to stay at home! I usually forget that wind direction is a factor in steam photography but this did come to mind on this occasion so with a slight easterly wind and no sun a shot from the north side of the line at Honeybourne would ensure that any drifting exhaust didn't obscure the train. I arrived about ten minutes before the train was due and it came along pretty much on time, travelling at quite a speed and in near silence. The return from Worcester was via Kemble and the Great Western main line to London Paddington but this leg of the journey went unrecorded, by me at least.
I have, over the past few weeks, been recording progress at the developing site of Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway Station. Although changes in infrastructure are the main reason for regular updates the type of trains passing the site are generally going to be limited to DMUs of classes 165, 168 and 172 so when I was told that two of Tyseley Steam Trust's pannier tank locomotives were running to and from Stratford on Saturday 3 November 2012 I decided to record the movements in order to give a bit of variety to my photographs. The weather after a dull, wet and windy start to the day had begun to pick up a little by the time 9600 topping and tailing the train with 7752 (London Transport L94) were due and the sun made a few brief appearances during the walk from my home. Here is 1Z57, the 09.25 from Tyseley Warwick Road, passing the new station just about on time with its not very uniform but still quite attractive rake of seven chocolate and cream coaches. A top and tail formation for the locomotives was necessary because the train had had to run to Small Heath South Junction from Tyseley in order to reverse and gain the North Warwickshire Line and just for the record here is 7752 bringing up the rear of the formation.
The departure from Stratford-upon-Avon of 9600 + 7752 was timed for 11.15 and with a rapidly clearing sky I walked round to the bridge on the A46 trunk road. I like quite extreme backlighting for steam as it makes for a dramatic exhaust and with the train, now running as 1Z58, just hitting the 1/75 gradient of Wilmcote Bank, a decent show of exhaust was guaranteed on a chilly morning. From a photographic point of view the fact that the locomotives were running bunker first was unfortunate but this had been made necessary because no reversal was apparently possible at Worcester, the train's destination, and it was preferable that they should run chimney first up the Lickey Incline later in the day. It must be said though that 1) pannier tanks were designed for bunker first operation and 2) it made absolutely no difference to the passengers who had paid their fares which enabled the train to run at all. Whatever the perceived shortcomings I was pleased to get this picture as I'm not aware of any other locomotive hauled trains, either steam or diesel, scheduled to visit Stratford before the new station opens in May 2013. The contractor's access to the site is by way of the temporary road visible to the right of the tracks which runs from the County Council's rubbish and recycling tip on the other side of the road.
HM The Queen visited Hereford and Worcester on 11 July 2012, with part of the journey being by rail and with the steam locomotive 6201, Princess Elizabeth being in charge. The Royal Train left Worcester in the early afternoon and with no information available about routing I went to Norton Junction, near Worcester, as this offered the best chance of seeing the working whether it ran via either Cheltenham or Evesham. The location has become very overgrown in the last couple of years and is just about at the point where it's not worth the effort. The sun was out as 6201 approached the bracket signal showing that it was routed to Abbotswood Junction and Cheltenham, but a small cloud made itself only too apparent as just the wrong moment. I was rather hoping that 67026, here seen on the back of the train, would be leading but with the lack of sun I would have been more irritated than was the case.
The new(ish) steam locomotive 60163 Tornado ran from Salisbury to Worcester on 28 June 2012. I hadn't previously seen it, despite it having visited my home town at least once, so I decided, for my annual steam shot to go to Lower Moor between Evesham and Pershore, a location at which I had seen most classes of locomotive at some point, in order to update my portfolio. The weather was fine when I left Stratford-upon-Avon but as I passed Evesham the sky grew black and lightning began to flash. The heavens opened when I reached Chadbury and driving become virtually impossible with zero visibility despite having my windscreen wipers on full speed. The road suddenly flooded to a depth of several inches as water flowed off the hills to the north but with nowhere to pull off the road it would have been more hazardous to have stopped than to continue at low speed. Not long after reaching Lower Moor the rain ceased, leaving a very humid and misty scene looking towards Fladbury and Evesham. The service trains, including this HST forming 1W29, the 11.21 from London Paddington, were slightly delayed which did give the hazy background a few extra minutes to clear a little before 60163 appeared.
A 1Z30 09.57 private charter from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone was planned for Saturday 29 September 2011. I had no idea what traction was scheduled for the train but with no water stops showing in the timings I assumed that a diesel, possibly 47773, would be in charge. Curiosity led me to Hatton and on arrival the presence of several other photographers made me suspect that steam might be involved and sure enough I soon learned that 5043 Earl of Mount Edgecumbe was on its way south. The lack of a water stop was explained by the fact that the first coach was a GUV with a water tank built in to give extra water capacity for the run to London. The roadbridge at Hatton station isn't the ideal spot for steam as it is quite likely that the train will be coasting down Hatton Bank and this was the case with just a wisp of steam coming from the safety valve bonnet to show that the locomotive was "live". To aid with shunting and turning ready for the return, class 47 47773 was on the back of the train. Running just in front of 1Z39 and on exactly the same route was the modern equivalent, on this occasion 168216.
The first steam charter over the newly redoubled North Cotswold Line, after a ban on the previously single line lasting several years, ran on Saturday 17 September 2011. The train, 1Z79, started from Tyseley and ran via Birmingham Snow Hill, Galton Junction, Kidderminster, Worcester Shrub Hill and Norton Junction where it joined the North Cotswold Line. I very rarely photograph steam (or any other) charters but thought that a shot of a GWR Castle on this line would be worthwhile to increase my portfolio of shots in this area so headed off to the west of Evesham, where the train picked up passengers, knowing that the locomotive would be working hard to climb the ruling gradient of around 1/200 to Honeybourne before tackling the much steeper climb up Campden Bank. I had first thought of taking my photograph from the bridge over the cutting near Aldington but saw from the Evesham bypass that there were already several people waiting there and it also entered my head that it might be a bit gloomy in the cutting on such a dull and damp morning. The next choice was the bridge on the Offenham road where I was a little surprised to be alone, although after thinking about it, I suppose that the majority of photographers would probably have flocked to Moreton-in-Marsh where some lower quadrant semaphores are still extant. I heard 5043 Earl of Mount Edgecumbe open up shortly after leaving Evesham station and although not a great steam enthusiast must admit that she sounded magnificent as she passed by with plenty of steam to spare.
A relatively rare steam move over the North Warwickshire Line, that is with the locomotive working the correct way round unlike the summer Shakespeare Express trains, took place on Thursday 12 May 2011. The train, 1Z78 York to Stratford-upon-Avon, was hauled by A4 60019 Bittern, for some reason masquerading as something else, making what is probably the first run for a locomotive of its type over the line for quite some time. The ensemble complete with the extra tender to increase water capacity is seen about to pass under Edstone Aqueduct shortly after a family of appropriately named mallard ducklings, not pretending to be tufted ducks, swam along the canal making marginally more noise than the train underneath.
Saturday 23 May 2011 saw 70000 Britannia work from London Paddington to Stratford-upon-Avon. This made it exactly one year to the day since last I photographed a steam working so, as it was a nice day, I made the short journey to a convenient location on the single track between Hatton West and Bearley Junction. This photograph was taken from the right side of the fence, unlike those of some people further south whom earlier I had seen walking down the track. The train, 1Z40, arrived here just about on time and was coasting on the falling gradient towards Bearley. I think that quite a few largely identical photographs may have have taken around Wilmcote as when I drove home, the normally quiet road into the village was virtually blocked by several dozen cars...
There was a steam hauled train to Stratford-upon-Avon on Friday 23 April 2010, St George's Day and the anniversary of William Shakespeare's birth and death. I have no interest in photographing steam workings, although I don't mind occasionally standing and watching one working hard, but as this one was coming within a short walk of my home and at a convenient time on a sunny day I thought that I would go and have a shot. The locomotive was 30777 Sir Lamiel, although for some reason it was pretending to be 30453 King Arthur and arrived at Bishopton, just outside Stratford, a few minutes late coasting slowly down the last few yards of Wilmcote Bank. The real 30453 looked very different to 30777 having being built at a different time and the product of a quite dissimilar design so the reason for the masquerade is unclear. Still, if I owned a Southern Railway steam locomotive I would have it painted in Network South East colours...
Before the class 33 locomotive sent to shunt had gone out of sight towards Stratford-upon-Avon, 30777 was waiting at the sugnal on the single track from Hatton West Junction. It had picked quite a bit of time as it had reported 2 minutes late at Heyford but was now close to 15 minutes early. The signalman at Bearley Junction allowed to proceed under caution from the single track and his outer started was cleared just as the train came to the end of the speed restriction. With cylinder cocks open, the injectors on and with leaking cylinder glands, Sir Lamiel is making a fair impression of a hovercraft as the regulator is opened to get it on move towards its destination. I sometimes think that steam locomotives look better in black & white, especially in poor light. I shall have to be careful, this is the third steam run I have photographed in 2008...
Saturday 7 March 1987 was quite a day. There was a blizzard in Warwickshire and this coincided nicely with the running of a steam special to Stratford-upon-Avon behind 5051 Dryswllyn Castle. Here is the return working approaching Wilmcote station with falling snow doing its best to obscure the scene. I am so glad I wasn't on board the train - the heating failed and the passengers were turfed off at Tyseley station because the operating conditions became untenable. The station buildings were locked and not even a toilet was made available.
Here is 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley adding to the gloom, mist and general wetness as it leaves Stratford-upon-Avon for Marylebone on Sunday 16 March 1986. Strangely, as I write this on the morning of 22 December the weather conditions are almost exactly similar - not very seasonal! In retrospect, this shot would have beem much better in black and white, but I had only one camera in those days, so it was a case of "either/or" and I was half-way through a roll of K64 at the time.
1985 saw the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Great Western Railway. Many events were held across the GWR's former territory and an exhibition was put together, which toured around the country. It was moved from Didcot to Birmingham on 4 June and was appropriately hauled by 5051, variously known as Earl Bathurst or Dryslwllyn Castle. It is seen here storming up Hatton Bank in the early afternoon.
The weekend of 9 and 10 June 1985 saw quite an intensive steam service between Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon. 7029 Clun Castle was the featured locomotive, which is seen here passing the classic GWR station at Wilmcote.
Later the same day, Clun Castle is seen here topping the 1/75 climb from Stratford-upon-Avon to Wilmcote. On summer Saturdays in the days of real steam working, many of the returning expresses from the West Country would have been double-headed from Stratford, the pilot engine having been sent down from Tyseley shed. As many as 6 or 8 locos would have been used in this way, such was the volume of traffic. The spot upon which I was standing for this shot was the location of an up refuge siding, used to get freights out of the way of the express passenger workings. Some of the loop's infrastructure was still visible at this time.
The final train of the day is seen here in the same spot in some lovely evening light, albeit just missing the wheels and motion. Clun Castle performed faultlessly all day and sounded quite magnificent on the steep climb out of the Avon valley. The steam specials running today have to shut off at this point and reduce speed through the station at Wilmcote because of reduced clearances to the platform edges.
Saturday 6 July 1985 saw a double-headed run from Kidderminster, the Western Stalwart. Hall class 4930 piloted Castle 7029 and the train is seen coasting past some attractive Great Western infrastructure at Droitwich. There were an awful lot of people here that day. Three rows of photographers were on this bridge, the front row on foot and the 2 rows behind them using various devices to gain height.
On 10 September 2005, 2 steam-hauled trains ran to South Wales. The first was this, with 7029 Clun Castle in charge. The Samuel Whitbread 2 was pictured skirting the Severn Estuary near Purton on the Gloucester to Chepstow line.
The other train, Samuel Whitbread 1, was the cause of several hundred people visiting the Newport area on 10 September 1985. The Severn Valley's 2857 was allowed out for a rare main line trip with a motley collection of freight vehicles as part of a demonstration showing how Railfreight had progressed. This class of locomotive was commonplace in South Wales in earlier times, but I bet not many were ever found in the almost artificially clean state to which 2857 was prepared. It is seen here near Alexandra Dock Junction about to head east to Newport station, from where it did some interesting parallel running over the river Usk with a class 56.
One of the smaller GWR locomotives to be allowed onto the main line was 2-6-0 7325. I didn't know this train was running on the morning of 4 November, having gone to Ashchurch to photograph 37411 on another railtour. The sight of this engine thrashing away like a small volcano was too much resist and although the transparency from which this image was scanned was badly under-exposed, the result isn't, I think, too bad. Note the mandatory headlight tied by cords to the buffer beam; as if one couldn't see this coming! My notes are a bit sketchy, but I seem to remember that the working was from Stourbridge Junction to Swansea, although I think the loco failed somewhere en-route. 645
Changing railway companies and locomotive colour, another of the steamy highlights of 1985 was the move of 46229 Duchess of Hamilton to the London area for use on several trips to Stratford-upon-Avon. She came south on Saturday 4 May 1985 at the head of The South Yorkshireman. I had been at Leamington Spa in the morning and whilst chatting to the station supervisor, established that he had asked the signalman to check the train in "the dip" approaching the station so as get a decent display of sound and exhaust when the locomotive was opened up once the signals cleared. Everything went according to plan and this image was obtained as the train accelerated towards the platforms.
46229 made her first trip to Stratford-upon-Avon on 16 May 1985 with The Shakespeare Limited, a Sunday lunch dining train. The return working is seen here thundering up Wilmcote bank on the way back to Marylebone.
Another of the Duchess's runs to Stratford-upon-Avon ocurred on 22 September 1985 and I took this view of her as she prepared to propel the stock out the station and into the down goods loop. 46229 was then coaled and watered before heading off to Hatton and Dorridge to be turned in preparation for the return to London.
Here is the return working mentioned in the caption above as 46229 hammers away from Stratford-upon-Avon. This piece of track is very slightly downhill which gives an enthusiastic driver the chance to build up some welcome momentum before attacking the 1/75 of Wilmcote bank. One of the regular drivers on this turn was Gordon from Leamington Spa. He is seen here in characteristic pose, totally relaxed and fully confident in the abilities of his fireman and the locomotive. See also the frontispiece photograph to this section for another glance at Gordon's confident driving style.
46229 returned north after her sojourn in the south of England on Saturday 5 October 1985. The train, carrying the South Yorkshireman headboard, is seen here at the boarded foot-crossing just to the south of Hatton cutting, once again in the hands of Gordon. She was making very light work of the 1/110 average gradient with the 12 coach load. There was no superfluous smoke this time and the accompanying sound was not as loud as one might have expected. All in all, a locomotive working well within her capabilities.
LMS Class 5 5305 is here seen making a much more typical ascent of Hatton Bank on 23 April 1988. I was here to photograph the Hastings DEMU on Leamington Spa to Stratford-upon-Avon shuttles, but wasn't going to miss the relatively rare chance to photograph a steam working in the afternoon in this location. Most run in the morning and it made a change not to have a backlit subject. This train had started from Princes Risborough and returned later that evening. 645
The other LMS express pacific locomotive around in the 1980s was 6201, Princess Elizabeth. Here she is about to top Llanfihangel bank on 30 October 1986 with her first test run after restoration. This isn't really my sort of shot, being in an anonymous piece of countryside with no real clue as to the location. There had a been a very sharp shower only a few minutes earlier with a fine rainbow appearing in the background. Needless to say, this, and the accompanying black sky had gone before the train appeared...
The Southern Railway locomotive 777 Sir Lamiel was another visitor to the Stratford-upon-Avon line in 1986. One of the first visits was an evening private charter, the 2060 Harrison Express. The train is seen here near Claverdon , on the single track from Hatton to Bearley Junction on 16 May 1986.
777 had worked the Sunday dining train on the previous Sunday to the run shown above. This generated an huge amount of interest, so much so that the BT police were around in force; an officer can be seen on the trackside to the left of the train. This meant that my favourite location on the "sunny" side of the tracks was not available so I asked the signalman if I might use his window for my picture. Although taken against the hazy sun, I don't think the shot turned out too badly.
This panned shot was taken from a field adjacent to the line at Bishopton, a few hundred yards from Stratford-upon-Avon station. 777 is making the most of a short stretch of favourable gradient before the assault on Wilmcote bank begins. There is clearly plenty of steam, as shown by the lifting safety valves.
This picture is dated 6 July 1986 and depicts Sir Lamiel, this time running without smoke deflectors, doing an impressive imitiation of a volcano as it leaves Stratford-upon-Avon with the up Shakespeare Limited to London Marylebone. Gordon, the driver, is watching to see if I approved of the smoke effect I had earlier requested. I did...
An equally impressive exhaust was in evidence the following Sunday, 13 July 1986, as 777 and its heavy 13 coach train topped Wilmcote bank on the way back to Marylebone. For a relatively small engine, Sir Lamiel proved more than capable of dealing with the 1/75 gradient with something around 420 tons on the drawbar.
My final shot of Sir Lamiel is this somewhat impressionistic portrait as she leaves Marylebone on a shuttle to High Wycombe on 3 January 1987. Such is the height of the bridge parapet here, that it was necessary to either have high steps, or as I did, stand on the roof of a Land Rover owned by another of the photographers present!
Another Southern Railway volcano, 34092 City of Wells, is seen here on 11 June 1988. It is climbing Wilmcote bank with the 16.25 Stratford-upon-Avon to Marylebone Shakespeare Limited. The combination of a stiff breeze and relatively soft exhaust resulted in the smoke blowing down over the carriages. One of the pleasures of steam traction is the smell of the smoke - I received a good lung full on this occasion....
Turning now to the locomotives of the LNER, here is the most famous of the stable, 4472 Flying Scotsman, leaving Bearley Junction with a private charter from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon on 12 July 1986. This had been a wet and cold day, but just as the signals were cleared for the train the sky cleared and out came the sun. Peak class 45, 45012 was provided for the return working.
4472 is seen again here, this time hammering up Ardley bank, just north of Bicester, with one of 2 specials from Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon, which ran on 21 November 1986. The train had stopped at Bicester for thelocomotive to be watered, and the sound of it coming to this location was marvellous. The work being done is clearly demonstrated by the terrific exhaust. This section of track has now been doubled and after a spell of little locomotive activity, does once again have the capacity for special workings.
The second of the 2 trains sun on 21 November 1986 was hauled the 4468 Mallard. It is seen in the same location from which the shot above of 4472 was taken, but about 90 minutes later. The shadows were beginning to encroach a little but not enough to detract too much. It was noticeable that Mallard made a lot less fuss of the climb of Ardley bank than had Flying Scotsman. I suppose, being fresh from a major overhaul, it was virtually a new locomotive and was running at peak efficiency. The passengers on these trains were hauled by both engines, as they swapped stock at Stratford-upon-Avon.
Here is the first of the returning trains on 21 November 1986. By the time 4472 left Stratford the sun had set meaning that no photograph was possible. This location at Bishopton is completely unreapeatable because of the construction of a small estate of office buildings.
Mallard had worked south from York on the afternoon of 4 October 1986. Predictably, this had been the source of a great deal of interest and I didn't want to go to one of the busier locations. I decided on this spot near Olton, which was the cause of my trousers getting ripped and covered in blackberry juice. I was standing in position shortly before the train was due when a BT police van appeared on the trackbed of the former slow lines. Not wishing to get gripped, I dived into the undergrowth before realising it wasn't the most comfortable of hiding places! All was well though, and the van soon turned around and disappeared.
4468 returned to York at the head of the South Yorkshireman on 8 November 1986. Hatton was the obvious location, especially as a pair of class 33/2s was booked shortly before the steam. As it happened, Mallard appeared first as the diesel train had been slightly delayed south of Aynho junction. I have never seen so many people at this location, nor such idiotic trespass as many legged it as soon as Mallard had passed. These people, obviously unaware that this was a busy main line, simply ran down the track to the stile. Several of them were nearly collected by the 33s following only a section behind.
4498 Sir Nigel Gresley is the sister locomotive to 4468 Mallard. It is seen here passing Fenny Compton at speed on 8 November 1986 on one of those rare days when snow and sun coincide. The train was en-route to Stratford-upon-Avon from Marylebone. The semaphore signals at Fenny Compton have been replaced with mulitple aspect colour lights, which have greatly increased the line's capacity.
The sun didn't shine for 4498's visit to Stratford-upon-Avon on 27 April 1986 so I decided upon a panned broadside view. In retropsect I didn't stand sufficiently far back and missed the extreme front-end of the buffer...
As will be obvious (and I hope not too tedious), I tried to photograph each "new" locomotive to Stratford-upon-Avon in several of my favourite local spots. Here is 4498 leaving the terminus on 27 August 1986, passing the lower quadrant middle starter operated by the signalbox just about visible behind the bush on the left of the picture. There is little evidence on this hot afternoon of the hard work being performed by Sir Nigel as it lifts this heavy dining train across the Stratford-upon-Avon canal.
4498 visited my home town again on the sunny day of 21 August 1988. This time, the exhaust was more photogenic as the train rounded the curve by the site of the long-gone Stratford Canners factory, to which access was usually granted if the right security guard was on duty. 645
Going back to Southern Railway locomotives, here in 35028 Clan Line standing just south of Stratford-upon-Avon after arrival with the Sunday dining train on 15 September 1985. This date was close to 60th anniversary of the inaugural Golden Arrow and Clan Line carried the full impressive set of regalia to commemorate the event.
As 35028 was carrying the Golden Arrow regalia on 15 September 1985, I felt that I wanted a head-on shot of the train leaving Stratford-upon-Avon. Here it is passing the long-gone gasholders, with the signalman's car just being visible in front of the locomotive.
Here is a view of Clan Line a little closer to Stratford-upon-Avon station, and framed by some of the semaphore signals still extant at this time, 29 September 1985.
My final shot of 35028 in this section is this taken from the Bishopton lock on the Stratford-upon-Avon. I can't remember if the sun was coming or going, but at least it was shining on the train on the afternoon of Sunday 31 August 1986.
The centenary of Bank Top station, Darlington was marked on 5 July 1987 with a special hauled by 4771 Green Arrow. The detail of the run has faded from my memory, but I do recall it running to Newcastle and Hexham. The train is here seen leaving Bank Top at the start of the journey. I took quite a few shots during the day, all on Fuji 50asa stock. This hadn't been my intention, but the very early start caused to pick up the wrong camera. In the conditions, 100asa slide film would have produced better images but I've put these few online just for the historical interest.
The next shot was taken at Tursdale. The North Road Museum Centenary Express is crossing from the East Coast Main Line to the Leamside line, then a diversionary route to Newcastle. The Leamside line has been mothballed since electrification of the ECML, with various lengths of track having been stolen since. Before the Hatfield crash Railtrack intended to reopen it and got as far as replacing the fencing, but Network Rail now intend to lift the track. Thanks to Francis Pritchard for information on the route.
This photograph was taken at Pelaw Metro station and was obtained only through the kindness of a Metro driver who stopped his train outside the station so as not to block our view.
Green Arrow must have gone light engine from Hexham to somewhere else for servicing, as she is here seen arriving tender-first under the wonderful signalbox at that location.
The final shot of the day is the one I really don't like, being taken in a wood somewhere outside Hexham. It represents everything I dislike in railway photography, no indentifiable background, a below track level shot and spotlight sun. I wasn't the driver for the trip so had no say in the choice of location.
The weather forecast for the afternoon of Monday 23 June 2008 was good for the Midlands and with one or two interesting workings on the GWR line between Leamington Spa and Tyseley I decided to have a trip over to Hatton North Junction. The first working to appear was GWR Hall 4936 with 3 coaches forming 5Z36 Merehead Quarry to Tyseley. The locomotive had made an appearance at the Open Day at Merehead and was running back to base. There was a water stop booked at Oxford but also lengthy layovers at Banbury and in Hatton Down Goods Loop but I thought that early running would be more than likely and sure enough, 5Z36 was heard to whistle for Hatton station at 15.16, nearly 80 minutes early, and appeared about one minute later chattering nicely around the curve at North Junction. This is very approximately the scene that appeared here for many years in the days of real steam, as a Hall and 3 coaches would regularly have been rostered for Leamington Spa to Birmingham Snow Hill services. Naturally, this was just about the only train of the session that didn't appear in bright sunshine!
I made one of my exceptionally rare trips to photograph a steam working on 14 May 2008. A4 Pacific 60019 Bittern was in charge of a 1Z82 "Cathedrals Express" from London Victoria to Stratford-upon-Avon with a lunchtime arrival just late enough for the sun, if out, to be in the right place in the cutting just south of Wilmcote. Quite why the train carried this particular headboard is a mystery; I've lived in the Stratford-upon-Avon area all my life and have to find a cathedral in the town! Anyway, I combined taking this shot of Bittern just about to shut off steam for the descent to Stratford with a good walk along the adjacent canal's towing path and arrived with about 20 minutes to spare. The thought that there was a speeed restriction through the plaftorm of Wilmcote station was dispelled when I heard the rasp of an A4 working hard as it left Bearley Junction and continued accelerating until just after this shot was taken.