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Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Sun Has Got His Hat On

Today and yesterday have been truly remarkable, for this winter.   Not only is it not raining, the sun is shining.

Here is a picture of the TV screen image from one our four video cameras around the top of the tower.  

click to enlarge

Not only is it a hugely welcome sight of the sunshine it well illustrates the remarkable pictures that can be had from the latest security cameras.   Today's hand held cameras can take amazing pictures of TV screens too.   I learnt this trick from Craven Herald photographer Stephen Garnett.   I had a picture he wanted on my computer and I said I would e-mail it to him.   "No bother" he said.  "I'll just take a pic of your screen".   He did and it worked.

The hills on the skyline are the Bowland Fells - in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - in Lancashire.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Tank Colours Again

Came upon these pictures for sale on E-Bay.   They are of the Midland Railway's station at Elsecar:

PICTURE 1
click to enlarge

Elsecar is an area of brick, as opposed to stone, buildings and the station and associated bridge walls appear newer and cleaner than those in the picture below:

PICTURE 2

There isn't much in it but the tree above the bridge has grown a bit and the railway uniforms seem slightly more modern in picture 2.   The telegraph pole to the right has an extra arm and advertising has appeared on the end of the building below it.

The water tower has changed colour between the two pictures!   IF picture 1 is older than picture 2 that hints at the light inner and dark outer colour scheme being original, the dark single colour of picture 2 being later.

The tower is of very plain brickwork and very functional in appearance.

I do wonder if these rather gaudy Midland water tanks might have been over-painted in wartime to make them less conspicuous targets or markers in the landscape.   Perhaps that over rates the Luftwaffe's bombing accuracy and eyesight!

Elsecar still has a railway station.   This picture, presumably taken from the road bridge, is from 2005 and shows a glorified bus stop, a pale shadow of former times.   The water tower would have been somewhere in the trees to the right.



Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Flying Scotsman and a Landslide

One of the privileges of our perch on top of the tower is of course the view of the railway line and its traffic.   Today at 1708 as darkness was descending I stood on the viewing deck and watched The Flying Scotsman flash by, hauling the Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express.   Here it is a few minutes earlier crossing the Ribblehead Viaduct heading south towards us -

click to enlarge

Our web camera on the Ribblehead Station Master's House allowed the world to see it live and with sound - 


The locomotive is a bit blurred in this still image as she is picking up speed after the 30 mph limit on the viaduct.   Notice that the safety valves have lifted since the viaduct and excess steam is drifting across the field of view.

As the train passed Settle it was that little bit darker and raining quite hard.   The firebox glow was reflected under the steam cloud - something rarely seen nowadays but a memorable feature of steam trains at night - almost impossible to photograph.   Only artists and the human memory can capture it and this old railway poster tries hard - 



Besides the fire glow the carriage windows of tonight's train were lit by the table lamps in the first class and dining carriages.

It was touch-and-go whether Scotsman would be able to use the S&C today.   The line was completely closed yesterday because of a landslide in the Eden Gorge south of Carlisle.   Even today it was single line working with a 5mph emergency speed limit at the landslide work-site.    The decision to use the S&C was only taken mid afternoon - notified to us by Friends in Carlisle power signal box but don't tell a soul will you?

This is the landslide:


Network Rail aerial picture shows the extent of the slippage, which will take a long time and a lot of money to fix.   It is actually an old slip dating back to the line's construction in the 1870s, once again on the move

Anyway, Scotsman made it past at 5mph and the passengers had the experience of the S&C, en route to London Euston.



Friday, 29 January 2016

Daffodils in January

You might expect this sort of thing in the Scilly Isles but this is Settle Station Water Tower on 29th January.   The daffodils might not win any prizes but they are putting on a brave show.


Monday, 25 January 2016

Bridge SAC7 Revealed

Among the many problems of maintaining a railway line is keeping nature in check.   This was the north east wing wall of railway bridge SAC7 over Station Road - about 100 yards from the tower:

click to enlarge

Unsightly and almost obscured by trees and ivy.   Today, a blisteringly hot (13 degrees) and dry January day fellow volunteer Dave Freer and I decided to act.   Just two hours later voila :


Still tidying up and finishing jobs to do but already some magnificent Victorian masonry revealed.

More importantly we found worrying damage from tree roots, which will be reported to Network Rail for urgent attention.   A wing wall about 60 miles further north collapsed recently, closing the up line when the embankment gave way.

Tedious maintenance work like this is low on NR's priorities and is an area where our volunteers can help.   But - there are well over 1,000 wing walls between Settle and Carlisle!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Old Dogs and Lifts

Our border collie Bess (9) is hardly on life's scrap heap but she is slowing down a bit.   In particular she is cautious about the wooden stairs from the ground to first floor where she has been known to lose her footing.   She has recently discovered the benefits of our lift - if her staff are around to operate it for her:



When she first met the lift, wild horses would not drag her into it.   Now, she will stand by the lift door and quietly bark - increasing the volume until service is provided.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

The First Settle-Carlisle Locomotives

Not sure why but I have not until now looked into what type of locomotive would have taken water at our newly completed tower in 1876.   Well, here is the answer:

click to enlarge

It is a class 1070 (hence the locomotive's number), 30 of which were built during the run-up to the opening of the S&C.   This photograph comes from a glass negative, digitally enhanced.   The engine is either brand new or had undergone a meticulous refurbishment when photographed.

A huge amount of detail can be found at