Monday 12th February seen a TIMELINE EVENTS photo charter take place at the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire, commencing at Loughborough Central. The loco for the day was BR Class 8F, 48624 in BR Black livery. As it was to a freight themed photo charter, GCR regulations state that no passengers are to be carried on goods trains so therefore photographers made their way to locations by road, which was easy enough.
Our first port of call was Swithland Sidings, with it's semaphore signals, passing loops and of course the junction for the small branch to Mountsorrel Quarry, it's a steam railway photographers dream recreating the halycon days of steam train travel, which of course is the main aim of Timeline Events - to recreate bygone ages whether it's railways, air, water, road or even period dressed cameo scenes. The first set of shots seen the 8F paired up with a mixed freight rake, which was parked up in one of the sidings, and seen perform quite a few run pasts, starting off at the North end where the Mountsorrel Quarry branches off and the various semaphore signals, before gradually working our way down to the Southern part of the loops.
Afterwards, the mixed freight rake was put away and the windcutter mineral wagons were brought out, of course the fast, windcutter freight services were the main stay of the Great Central Railway when it was part of the UK rail network, and provided the bread and butter of the GCR's London Extension right up until 1965 when freight services were diverted to other routes, and the rundown continued until closure in 1966 as a through route. The 8F certainly looked the part as she strutted her stuff and indeed, photographs do exist of 8F's working the windcutter services between Annesley, Nottinghamshire and Woodford Halse in Northamptonshire, although 9F's were the main loco's.
After we had our fill of Swithland Sidings, we moved a bit further up the line to another location known as Rabbit Bridge, which is just the other side of Swithland Reservoir from Swithland Sidings. Rabbit Bridge has seen a fair bit of pruning of the undergrowth of late to make the location more appealing for photographers on charters as well as lineside pass holders. Again, the 8F was faultless and it would be very easy to imagine you were back in the late 50's/early 60's and seeing an 8F on a Woodford-bound freight service.
Our next location was Kinchley Lane, probably one of the most popular spots on the Great Central Railway for photographers, and offers fantastic views of Southbound services. The 8F was once again put through her paces for a series of run pasts for photographers and the videographers (I was doing both so it was nice to get a bit of variety). Just before 2pm, bearing in mind we'd been photographing since 8am, it was decided that the loco would return to Swithland Sidings to put the windcutter rake away, return to Loughborough to get watered and for the crew to have a break, before returning to Quorn to collect the next, and final rake; the recently repainted van train. Estimating it would take an hour to an hour and a half, we set off for some lunch, coming back into Quorn, we decided to go to the Butler Henderson Cafe at Quorn & Woodhouse Station to get fed and watered, looking at the menu, the All Day Breakfast really stood out and I thought "Ooo, that'll do me nicely...".
After some time elapsed, it was noticed that the 8F had returned from Loughborough, and after passing through Quorn & Woodhouse, had set back to collect the van train from one of the sidings. Our organiser, Neil, was made aware and such we all finished off our food and drink before heading back to Kinchley Lane for the next set of run pasts with the van train. In the meantime, the train crew waited patiently for us to get into position at Kinchley Lane, before being given the go ahead that we were in position, before performing the first run past with the vans, and a lovely looking ensemble it was too, the vans are a real credit to the volunteers who have given up their spare time to repaint them, I understand that a few more are to be done over time as well to make a longer train. Sadly, as time was getting on, and with the still relatively short days at this time of year, we didn't have time to visit any more locations and before long time was called just after 5pm.
Still, it was a fantastic day of photography, and mostly in the glorious Winter sunshine too. As ever, grateful thanks to Neil Cave of Timeline Events and of course the staff at the Great Central Railway who gave up their free time to allow this charter to take place.
Wednesday, myself and my "better half" opted for a lunch out somewhere, well it's been a fair weeks since we were last out together, and as the kids were at school we thought that we might as well treat ourselves right??.
Having thought of a few options, we eventually settled on The Wentworth Arms in Elmesthorpe, a small village not too far from Hinckley and, of course, more or less next to the railway line that runs between Nuneaton and Leicester, a coincidence on my part???. Well yes maybe ;). Arriving just after 12:30pm, we located a nice little booth next to the front window of the restaurant which overlooks the main Station Road between the A47 Clickers Way and the next village of Stoney Stanton, as well as a small field, you can also get good views of the railway line too, fancy that lol. Station Road, is so called as there was once a station in Elmesthorpe until 1969, when it was closed and subsequently demolished, however the old goods shed still stands and is now in use as a private business, although sometimes proposals to reopen Elmesthorpe do reappear from time to time.
Having a guess that we'd be there for the best part of an hour or so, I had a little gander at Real Time Trains website and seen that there was a few movements booked through during the course of our stay, and so in between eating I would have a look out to see what was coming.
The Start of it.
Normally, as a rule, I refrain from having a starter course, but as I was not working today, I decided to push the boat out and indulge in a starter, better the devil you know, I went for the starter I usually have which was the Crispy Chicken Strips, lovely pieces of chicken in a Louisiana-style coating accompanied by a garnished salad and BBQ dip, needless to say they weren't on my plate for very long :P.
The Main Subject.
After having the starter, and allowing sufficient time to go down, I was presented with my main course, again, in my opinion, was a tasty dish and was the Gammon & Eggs, consisting of quite a thick piece of gammon steak, it was accompanied by thick cut gourmet chips, garden peas as well as 2 fried eggs, ideal if you want to dip your chips in the yolk, because lets face it, we've all dipped chips in an egg yolk at some point or other, you can though have either 2 pineapple rings instead or 1 egg and 1 pineapple ring, it's entirely your choice.
Whilst it's easy to go on about how good the food was, and believe me, it's very good, it's very easy to overlook another main interest of mine - The Trains!!!. During the hour or so I was there, I seen 3 freight services with loco's from GBRf, Freightliner and finally DB Cargo making appearances:
There was of course the usual diet of CrossCountry Class 170 Turbostars plying their trade between Birmingham, Leicester and East Anglia, but due to operational requirements, 6V92 Corby - Margam steel empties were cancelled, and 6M26 Eastleigh - Mountsorrel empty ballast was running a bit late, and we had to leave before it arrived.
Photting with Style!.
Apart from a very decent place to grab a bite to eat, whether you want a light snack, a big juicy steak or even just a coffee and cake, on the opposite side of the field is a stile which is also a public footpath across the railway line PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS ISN'T A GREEN LIGHT TO TRESPASS ON THE RAILWAY!!. The stile is set a fair bit back from the line and gives quite a bit of height over the overgrowth to view, and indeed photograph passing trains, although the only flip side really is the fact it isn't a particularly busy line, although from time to time, especially at certain weekends you do get diverted container freight services from East Anglia to the Midlands/North-West as well as the odd sand train that originates at Middleton Towers, near Kings Lynn, and if you're really lucky, the occasional discharged oil tank train from Bedworth going back to Immingham's Puma Energy site - usually consisted of a rake of rent-a-wrecks.
Further information about The Wentworth Arms can be found HERE.
66149 Burbage Common.Looking smart in DB livery, 66149 passes through Burbage Common, near Hinckley, working 6V92 Corby - Margam steel empties. Seeing it was a nice sunny day in Leicestershire with more or less wall to wall blue sky I ventured out to my local spot as there was 2 freight services due. First off was DB liveried 66149 working 6V92 Corby - Margam steel empties with quite a lengthy rake of steel carriers. The second service was GBRf's 66740 Sarah working 6G16 Stud Farm - Bescot loaded ballast boxes, conveying nearly 2000 tons of Leicestershire to the virtual quarry near Birmingham.
Arriving to the spot, I seen there was already a few cars parked at the side of the road by Burbage Common and my first reaction was "This is a lot of people just for a DB Shed" alas as it happens, I had just missed Rail Operations Group 37800 working back to Leicester from Northampton Kings Heath Depot as the handful of enthusiasts that were returning to their vehicles told me, once I told them that 66149 was coming some changed their minds and also decided to wait for the shed too anyway.
Afterwards, it was back home as i had dinner to cook and get ready for my first night shift of the week.
6V92 10:22 CORBY B.S.C. - MARGAM T.C.
910537, 910279, 900243, 900027, 900080, 900087, 900110, 900119, 910197, 910219, 910388, 900304, 910029, 910020.
6G16 11:23 CLIFFE HILL STUD FARM - BESCOT UP SIDE.
66740 Sarah +
394615, 394921, 394263, 394723, 394844, 394846, 396083, 394516, 501320, 501398, 501399, 501400, 501340, 501004, 501135, 501131, 501130, 501064, 501017, 501170, 501171, 501169, 501177.
As I haven't been down the local spot for a good few weeks; beginning of December 2017 was the last time, I decided to pay a visit, especially seeing there was a couple of off-piste movements due through. Leaving home, I drove the relatively short distance to Burbage Common, getting there just before 10am. Well I say relatively short distance, it's about 50 minutes walking distance lol. Despite the snow and subsequent rain we had the previous day, the ground wasn't too sodden, luckily there is some really thick grass on the way to the crossing so this kept the mud on my trainers down to a minimum.
Sightings for the just over 2-hour spell were:
170103, 170107, 170113, 170117, 170636, 170638.
6C89 09:38 Mountsorrel - Carlisle.
501087, 501200, 501199, 501201, 501027, 501025, 501193, 501195, 501194, 501085, 501080, 501180, 501178, 501179, 501020, 501062, 501132, 501138, 501124, 501003.
6V92 10:22 Corby - Margam.
900119, 900099, 900203, 900080, 900087, 900110, 900223, 900205, 900060, 900066, 900221, 910252, 900158, 900253, 900153, 900218, 900188, 900253, 900218, 900188, 900035, 900084, 900038, 900027.
All in all, not bad for a Monday on what is usually a quiet day.
As I had a prior engagement in Nuneaton, and had to be in work later in the evening too, I decided to drive to work, park my car up (free parking anyway ;)) and then catch the train at Bermuda Park Station, which opened in 2016, for the relatively short journey into Nuneaton, plus for £1.70 return it was better than parking in the town centre and paying the car parking prices, plus the engagement was only stone throw away at The Ginger Tree All-You-Can-Eat buffet.
Parking up, it was a brisk 15 minute walk to Bermuda Park Station, which has been made easier since new traffic control flows were installed on the Griff Roundabout a few years earlier, walking down St. Georges Way, I had a brief remembrance looking at the big piece of wasteland where Lynx Express use to be, I worked there for 2 years from 2001 until 2003, when I left and went to pastures new. Lynx later got took over by UPS (United Parcel Service), who then moved all their operations to a huge, new site at Birch Coppice, near Tamworth. Funnily enough, UPS also had their hub on Bermuda Park, just down from Lynx on Gresham Road, and like Lynx, I also worked there from 1999 until 2001 when I actually went to Lynx.
Arriving at Bermuda Park Station, I purchased my ticket from the self-service ticket machine, personally I think it's a little exposed to the elements and maybe a bigger shelter could have been provided, although I expect the machine is weather sealed anyway.
Walking up the stairs to the platform, I was the lone passenger at first until 3 other passengers joined me, and we waited for the train to arrive.
On time, at 12:59, 153365 arrived and we boarded, there was a few other passengers on board so it was nice to see the service is used in off-peak periods - I understand the peak periods is like a sardine express for the single coach service. 4 minutes after leaving Bermuda Park, we arrived at Nuneaton Station, where I made my way across to The Ginger Tree, for a couple of hours.
After a nice hearty dinner, I made my way back to Nuneaton Station, where I decided to stay for an hour or so, and get some numbers in for 2018 :), at one point, it really chucked down with rain, the remnants of Storm Eleanor - which had wreaked havoc across the country in the previous 24 hours.
I met a couple of old faces when I was at Nuneaton, some I hadn't seen for a couple of years and had a nice catch up, but soon enough, it was time to head to work.
Making my way back to Platform 1 for the Dogbox of Doom for the short trip back to Bermuda Park, luckily the rain had stopped and the sky was clearing slightly, it was an on time departure of 16:14 and 4 minutes later we was back in Bermuda Park, again, there was a couple of people getting off and on, so it's nice to see the station is being used, hopefully it'll see more use if and when the half-hourly service is implemented between Coventry and Nuneaton. Retracing my steps back to work, I had to be extra careful as the volume of traffic on the A444 around Griff Island was building up with the rush hour fast approaching.
12:59 153365 Bermuda Park - Nuneaton.
16:14 153365 Nuneaton - Bermuda Park.
UNITS: (STOPPING SERVICES ONLY).
170109, 170110, 170397, 170521, 170636.
350105, 350126, 350130.