Purple Pacific

Not sure how 34027 Taw Valley earned this distinction (or deserved this fate, depending upon ones standpoint). Painted purple, and renumbered 70, it will be named Elizabeth II in early June to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee. We were at Bridgnorth station for an hour or so this afternoon (entertaining grandchild) and there it was. I’d better take a photo. Amongst others present: as-yet incomplete standard class 3 2-6-2T no. 82045, pannier tank 7714 ready with a southbound departure and the former D9551 growling happily (they were known as ‘teddy bears’, apparently) as it trundled back and forth.

220 years later

In May 1996 I visited Ironbridge power station, where a replica of Trevithick’s 1802 steam locomotive was being demonstrated. The replica was built by apprentices at the GKN works at Hadley, in Telford, and was in action on plateway rails (steel angle) laid on the sleepers, between the rails of the power station’s oil siding. There is some uncertainty about the original – Trevithick’s 1804 Penydarren locomotive is generally acknowledged as being the world’s first steam railway locomotive. It seems that a locomotive was built in 1802, but whether it steamed successfully seems to be lost in the mists of time. The replica seemed to work OK, apart from needing to be bump-started if it was allowed to stop on top (or bottom) dead centre…

The power station has since closed and been demolished – all that remains is the 400kV switchgear house, and the railway tracks which brought the fuel.  Yesterday afternoon I visited the site to view, learn about, and have a ride on a rail vehicle at the very opposite end of the time scale – the ‘Revolution VLR’ (Very Light Rail), a new and very ‘green’ vehicle which could be in the vanguard of a revival in the fortunes of local rail services. The former oil siding is now in use as a demonstration track for this remarkable railcar. There will be more about this most interesting afternoon on “Geoff’s Rail Diaries”; in the meantime here are a couple of photos which bridge a 220-year span over powered rail transport.

Three steam days

12 May 2011: a pair of Black 5s heading south-west, over the Central Wales line – we drove out to see them crossing Knucklas viaduct, on the climb to Llangunllo – and heard them long after they’d passed, until the sound was swallowed by the tunnel.
12 May 2012: three locomotives on two separate trains. 60163 “Tornado” would be coming north in the morning, and heading south again late afternoon. Meanwhile, another pair of Black 5s would be bringing a train north from the Central Wales line.
12 May 2018: Bulleid pacific 34052 “Lord Dowding” (it’s really 34046 “Braunton”) will be hauling a train southwards in the morning. After it’s passed, we’re off to visit a number of old watermills – it was “National Mills Weekend”. See “Watermills in border country

Three outings

11 May 2003: a visit to the Abbey Light Railway, near Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds. Visit “Abbey Light Railway” on Geoff’s Rail Diaries for more on this lovely little line, sadly now closed and gone.
11 May 2019: a Shropshire Railway Society 50th Anniversary special train on the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway. There’s an illustrated account of the trip at “SRS 50 on the W&L” on Geoff’s Rail Diaries.
11 May 2015: a fine May day on Wenlock Edge.

Buses, bears and pumping engines

6 May 2006: the Abbey Pumping Station is in Leicester, a local authority museum based around a Victorian steam-powered sewage-pumping facility. They’ve constructed a 2′ gauge railway around the grounds, and Leonard, a little Bagnall dating from 1919, would be in operation on this occasion (for a full report on Leonard’s activities, visit “Leonard at Leicester” on Geoff’s Rail Diaries). There were other exhibits, including couple of old buses which seemed to be operated by, and for, some rather large bears. Next door, there’s a spaceship (really!). All good fun, and interesting too. Must go again one day…

Abbey Pumping Station


Chasewater and Middleton

4 May 2003 and 2008: visits to small heritage railways which were in the vanguard of the preservation movement. I first visited the Middleton and Chasewater railways in the late 60s; for a time, Middleton wasn’t too far distant, and I visited it on a number of occasions. Then came a long gap – until this day in 2003. Chasewater has been the destination of many short outings over the years. When we visited it on 4 May 2008, it was getting back on its feet, after the motorway truncated its line slightly, but funded much-needed development. Both trips are fully detailed on “Geoff’s Rail Diaries” – see  All change at Chasewater and Middleton revisited


Day out with a Baldwin

26 April 2014: the Industrial Railway Society’s AGM was to be held at the Leighton Buzzard Railway – and before the meeting, we were to enjoy a ride up the line to check out the railway’s extensive workshops at Stonehenge. The train was hauled by a locomotive built to operate in the war which began 100 years earlier – Baldwin 4-6-0 no. 778 (44656 of 1917). The trip was reported at the time in “Geoff’s Rail Diaries” (see http://geoffspages.co.uk/raildiary/buzzard.htm); here are a few reminders of the rail trip up the line.