Garden visitor

I was thinking of doing some gardening. Surveying the scene, I heard a rustle. There he was, bold as brass! He had a snooze while I fetched the camera… I thought he was going to crawl over my feet, then he sniffed the air, changed his mind, and left to visit next-door’s garden. Hope they appreciate his presence.

Bang!

Sorry – it’s hardly original. The eagle-eyed will have spotted one or two not-very-cryptic photo captions relating to Ironbridge power station, which operated for the last time just over four years ago. Since then, it has been decommissioned, and now is undergoing demolition. So far, such work has not been obvious, but this morning, at 11am, the towers came down. They were so big that they always seemed to be nearer than they were – the closest was about 2/3 of a mile away from our vantage point, the furthest not far short of a mile. Just before 11, we heard warning sirens – and then the towers began to fall. The boom of the explosive charges, like the crack of thunder following a nearby bolt of lightning, came when the towers were well on their way down. Yes, we know why, but the laws of physics can easily be forgotten in a moment of excitement.

Now they’re history. The intentionally salmon-pink towers were quite an icon in this part of the world, and it was a sad sight to see them being reduced to rubble (and an awful lot of dust!). However, the Severn Gorge already looks more rural, like it did in the early 60s, and when the chimney and turbine halls have gone, the riverside here will look completely different, in closer accord with a greener future.

Lord Dowding

34052 “Lord Dowding” (he’s really 34046 “Braunton”), in action this morning near All Stretton. He’s hauling the “Welsh Marches Express” from Crewe to Cardiff, and going well. The train left Shrewsbury 4 minutes late, but by Marshbrook, just a few miles to my south, it was on time. No diesel on the back either. Sunshine, steam on – great!

Northern Mill Engines

Friday 28 December: it’s a “get away from the turkey” day out, to the Northern Mill Engine Society’s museum in Bolton, Lancs (I should say “Greater Manchester”). It’s open to visitors on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year – and has five two-day steaming events such as this one. It’s a magnificent collection of machines which, in motion, are quite mesmeric – it’s a real pleasure just to watch and listen. So instead of photos, here’s a video compilation of preserved steam-powered northern mill engines in action.

Northern Mill Engine Society: Bolton Steam Museum

Watermills in border country

A good day out – the steam-hauled “Welsh Marches Express” (see “Steaming through Stokesay” for more pictures and video), followed by visits to Herefordshire and Shropshire watermills, open to the public on “National Mills Weekend”. We’ll have lunch out too, in the black-and-white village of Pembridge.

The mills are:
Staunton Mill, at Staunton on Arrow (Herefordshire)
Court of Noke Mill nearby (with mill-wheel turning)
Wrickton Mill, near Neenton, Shropshire (also with a turning wheel)
Charlcotte iron furnace, near Neenton (no, not a mill, though its bellows were water-powered – many years ago…)

National Mills Weekend

Video on Youtube: Court of Noke and Wrickton mills

Flying Scotsman

Fri. 19 May: 60103 “Flying Scotsman” is due to haul “The Cathedrals Express” south from Shrewsbury. I’d better go and see that. It’s a day of sunny intervals – there’s plenty of blue sky, but quite a lot of cloud too. These trains can sometime run a little late – but not on this occasion. It was one or two minutes early through All Stretton, which was a great pity – if it had been on time, the sun would have been shining…