Wednesday 28 February 2024

Wise Guy Wednesday

Wednesday morning looks like a good one, for once it’s not raining which makes a change. So much so that Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe has taken his open topped passion wagon out for a spin so he can do a bit of ‘hello ladies’, something he’s very good at the dirty rotter, cad and bounder. 

On the left (which is rather like right, but the opposite side) Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery and his feeble minion Timid Timmy who likes to dress up as a railwayman will be riding the cushions in a recently refurbished red and cream carriage to Burnham on Sea. Why Burnham on Sea, aka God’s Waiting Room? I have no idea, but at least it’s a nice day, and it is rather like Bognor but facing north rather than south. 

And finally, just as the train rumbles in, Terry shouts to Barry, “let’s race to Burnham, the winner getting first dibs at charming the recently widowed wealthy elderly day-trippers at the bingo hall”. Barry of course is always open to business opportunities however ill gotten they are, the nasty little toad - and so the race begins, such wise guys….


Thank you to those who support me from time to time

Sunday 25 February 2024

Sunday Shenanigans

 More dubious activities outside The Kettle Inn this morning. Waving Willy and Waving Wayne look like they’re having a good time over there on the right. 

As for Bob Geeza Cat, I’m not sure he’s in a good spot, but he’s a quick mover. Neil has jumped off the engine to entice Bob with some treat by the look of it. Though he could just pick Bob up and move him out of the way. 

At least Fred the Flag appears to be aware of where they are, but being the weekend no trains are running. That’s been the law in the UK since 1883 many of you will know, so there is little danger. 

And who is the chap on the left? That’s the pub landlord Shamus O’whatashame who’s popped out to to see what all the commotion is carrying his trusty man-bag which contains every possible bottle opener and cork screw combination ever made. 


Nonsense creation is thirsty work….

Sunday 18 February 2024

Stormy Sunday

Sunday morning looks like it’s going to be a stormy one as Farmer George and Rufus hound watch the works train take the rough track in its stride. 

Meanwhile Harry the Hammer who is almost at the end of his shift is ready with his hammer should the track need fixing after the train passes. This usually the case, a quick whack here and there sorting it out. The weeds do the rest, the roots holding everything in place like Nasal Nigel grips his TT gauge Flying Scotsman in the sticky depths of his special pocket. 

And as for Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe next to his open topped car? One thing for sure is that he’s about to experience an absolute shower shortly if he doesn’t get a move on and outpace the impending storm.

Saturday 17 February 2024

Peter Pug

 Saturday morning at the brewery, and Peter Pug, twin half brother of Peter Peckett propels a load of finest malted barley across the cobbled yard. 

When took this photo a few years ago on Brewhouse Quay, the Hornby Pug was as far as I recall the only ready to run small steam loco of this type unless we include the Hornby ‘Smokey Joe’. Of course we now have several splendid small high spec steam loco options from several manufacturers which are ideal for smaller layouts and industrial backwaters like here. 

This one I found on eBay 15 or more years ago in LMS livery when there was a gap in production. After a quick spray in Halfords matt black and renumber it represents 51202 which was based at Radstock on the former S&DJR for a while in the 1950s.

Thursday 15 February 2024

Class 50 Thursday!

A Class 50 heads away from Salisbury with a London Waterloo to Exeter service, June 1982. Minolta SRT101 200mm Rokkor. Kodak Plus X

 Class 50 Thursday!

The Class 50 is called a 'Hoover' in the land of geekdom and fungus smelling anorakland with dirty fingernails and a mouldy pasty bought 3 weeks ago at Paddington Station ‘Traveller’s Fare’. The nickname is probably because they sound like a hoover (the loco, not the pasty), though many trainspotters have probably never used or heard a real hoover, unless 'mother' still hoovers up for them living at home in later life. But to be honest I never got into the loco nickname thing, so as usual I’m probably just spouting out nonsense, but I might be accurate regarding the mouldy pasty. 

Fresh out of the scanner, my photography from when I was knee high to a grasshopper and still living at home (but not later in life). Each photo individually captioned for those who can read.

With apologies to any fungus smelling anorak clad followers of this blog. Ps, put your pasty in the fridge, not your pocket if you intend not to eat it on the day of purchase. 

As always, click or tap photo to enlarge! 

50015 'Valiant' slows for Salisbury with an Exeter to London Waterloo service, June 1982. Note the air reservoir for the recently decommissioned pneumatic signalling. Minolta SRT101 200mm Rokkor. Kodak Plus X

50006 'Neptune’  arrives Salisbury with a London Waterloo to Exeter service, June 1982. Minolta SRT101 55mm Rokkor. Yellow filter. Kodak Plus X

Wednesday 14 February 2024



A hazy summer morning at Combwich, and it looks like it’s going to be a scorcher. So much so, that the little people made from low melting point white metal are hiding indoors, because the BBC have issued another ‘red warning’. The warning this time being the risk of melting into a pool of liquid white metal in the intense heat. 

The train in the left is the 10.00 am service to Bridgwater, and on the right we have the 10.02 am service to Templecombe via Highbridge and Evercreech Junction. 

But rather than following strict railway protocol, because invariably everything is running late, the station master (hiding safely under the canopy)  blows his whistle and the first train to depart gets the road. The signalman hates this messing about everyday at this time, because his has to anticipate which route to set first. Though quite often both trains depart at the same time, and then one has to apply the emergency brakes to avoid passing the starter signal at danger. 

And when this situation arrises (which is most days), the outcome very much depends on whether the signalman is an ex GWR or S&DJR man, which in this case being the latter will almost certainly give priority to the train on the left, the locomotive on the right being of GWR heritage. 


Nonsense creation is thirsty work….

Sunday 11 February 2024

The Pines Express, According to ChatGPT

The up Pines Express powers over the Mendips Hills ably hauled by 40564 and 53809. Double heading (often with whatever could be found) was usually only in the summer, but the Midland 2P would have struggled on its own. 

The rest of this post is written by ChatGPT, here goes…..

The Pines Express was a famous named passenger train service in the United Kingdom that operated between Manchester and Bournemouth. It was renowned for its scenic route through the picturesque landscapes of the Peak District, the West Country, and the New Forest.

The train service was inaugurated in 1910 and quickly became popular among passengers traveling between the industrial north and the southern coast. The journey offered stunning views of rolling hills, valleys, and forests, earning the Pines Express a reputation as one of the most picturesque railway journeys in Britain.

In addition to its scenic appeal, the Pines Express was also known for its efficiency and comfort, providing passengers with a reliable and enjoyable travel experience. However, like many other railway services, it eventually fell victim to changing travel trends and the decline of rail travel in the mid to late 20th century.

The Pines Express ceased operations in 1967 as part of the Beeching cuts, a series of reforms aimed at restructuring and modernizing the British railway network. Despite its discontinuation, the Pines Express remains fondly remembered by railway enthusiasts and those who had the opportunity to experience its scenic journey through the heart of England.


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Saturday 10 February 2024

Saturday Shimmy

On Saturdays, Double Denim Dancing Dando loves to stand on the footplate of passing locos. His magnetic heels helping him enormously, but making it tricky to dance. However he does do a great upper body shimmy better than most in time with the chuffetty chuff chuff of the engine. 

As always tap or click the photo to enlarge. 

Friday 9 February 2024

Like a Ninja on Amphetamines 🐾

It’s Rear End Friday! Okay, that doesn’t really work, but it is what it as they say, the rear end of a locomotive and it’s Friday. 

Waving Willy is on the early turn pottering about with the recently arrived USA Tank which went missing from Southampton Docks sometime last week. By all accounts it was attached to the rear of The Pines Express and as if by magic remained hidden in the goods shed at Evercreech Junction before being used on the 5am goods to Bridgwater via Edington Junction. 

“Bridgwater” I hear you splutter into your Horlicks, “That line closed in the early 1950s”. Well so the history books lead you to believe, for while the rails appear to be long gone, they are very much still there lurking in the tall grass which now covers the trackbed. It’s been like this for a good decade now, with only the occasional dog walker noticing the hidden sleepers and rails, which curiously have shiny polished tops. But that’s just put down to a play of the light and smoking too much weed, for the swamplands of rural Somerset do enjoy spectacular displays of both. 

The Bridgwater line, whilst officially closed and torn up, is used regularly as a smuggling route from Bridgwater Docks. This is always under the cover of darkness, with locomotives having special flame retardant hemp muffling to change the staccato ‘chuff chuff’ to that of a feeble ‘muff muff’ so as to not draw too much attention. 

I digress, for I’m sure the more eagle-eyed will have noticed that Bob Geeza Cat as usual has positioned himself to balance the composition of today’s photograph. Waving Willy has just spotted him far too close to the track and is waving Bob out of the way. But fear not my fellow neurotics, Bob, despite getting on a bit, will jump out of the way with a split second to go like a ninja on amphetamines🐾


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Sunday 4 February 2024

Watch the Birdie!

 It’s Sunday down on the docks, and several of our favourite naughty chums are out to greet the arrival of a proper engine which is well and truly suited to a tough dockyard life with its tight curves, rough track, aggressive shunting and a bit of hello sailor. 

Celebrated average photographer Ivan Locksmith has turned up with his ‘big camera’ to record the event assisted by Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery. But miserable, Barry no doubt will be keen that the photograph will fail due to the fixer bath being mixed up with the developer bath, thus rendering a film with no image. But Ivan is prepared for this and has swapped all the chemical labels around in his darkroom in preparation, for he knows that Barry will want to oversee the entire photographic process and swap labels around whilst Ivan loads the film into the developer tank.  

My only worry is that once Ivan has managed to get his huge camera back home, and knowing the he likes to smoke exotic stuff grown in his tropical greenhouse, he might forget what he’s done and indeed ruin the film. We shall find out later this week I’m sure….

And finally, any ‘Flat Earth’ fanatics will take delight in seeing the edge of the world, but might be taken back in that the edge is next to a little known dockyard near Bridgwater in Somerset. But anyone who has been to Bridgwater won’t be surprised by this. 


Writing nonsense is thirsty work

1951 vintage Zeiss Nettar - fully working and regularly used. 

Saturday 3 February 2024

The Best Rail Replacement Bus Service Ever!

A summer Saturday in July at Ankle Bend crossing on the edge of Combwich. And is is the norm for a weekend railway in Little England the rail-replacement bus service is running which you can see briefly paused outside The Royal Oak. As mentioned in past posts, the rail-replacement bus service is the law for weekends, the railway being legally bound to only run trains Monday to Friday, or frequently less due to industrial action. The bill was passed in 1883 should anyone want to Google things further. Though it was at that time known as the rail-replacement horse & carriage service. 

The convoluted route bears little resemblance to the railway route it replaces, but it does take in every pub between Combwich and Evercreech Junction, which at a rough guess was around 96 at the last count, but is likely to be far more for those prepared to walk more than 5 minutes from the bus stop. It also has the bonus of running on the hour, every hour in both directions. So for this reason it is far more popular than the train ever is, for that only takes in 15 pubs and runs only 3 or 4 times a day depending on the weather and phase the moon. 

Next to the gates, our favourite socially challenged Nasal Nigel is chatting to the crossing keeper, which is unusual, for casual conversation isn’t really his thing, unless you ask to see his TT gauge Flying Scotsman which he keeps in the special pocket of his sticky green anorak. 


Writing nonsense is thirsty work

Friday 2 February 2024

Zeiss Ikon Contina 526/24

An occasional post about old cameras in my collection, this one being the latest....
 A spur of the moment £12 ebay find which arrived earlier. It looked rather grubby in the photos, that's grubby rather than worn. Good working examples of these Zeiss Ikon Contina cameras generally go for somewhat more. But at such an affordable price it was worth a punt even if it ended up as a door stop. Albeit a rather pretty one.

But after a full mechanical check over, deep clean and lens clean it's ready for action. The lens is fungus free, something quite uncommon for a camera that hasn't been used most likely for over half a century. And upon opening the back for the sniff text, it lacks that mildew aroma which is often the norm of a camera that's been in a damp loft for years, which suggests this one escaped that incarceration. 
The 35mm Zeiss Contina 526/24 was made between 1954 and '58, and after checking the cryptic 'O' series production number, I've worked out that it was in the 1956/57 batch. At that time Britain was still building steam locomotives and Lonnie Donegan was in the Hit Parade with skiffle hit 'Putting on the Style'. 
These cameras look like they're going to be light, tinny and rather rattly, but it really is rather the opposite, it being top end German engineering of course with a good weight and a well-assured feel which gives confidence. It makes a lovely wind on noise and assured click at all speeds other 1 second which is a little lazy. Though that has improved somewhat after a little exercise in the very short time I've had the camera.
The lens is a simple coated 'triotar' 3 element design which generally give excellent results, especially in the centre of the field. When used at wide apertures, I'm expecting a nice swirl to out of focus backgrounds - something that has become popular with modern day hipster digital photographers who seek that characterful old time vibe missing from today's excellent but rather uninteresting lenses designed for modern mirrorless cameras.


Standing Start

Most Fridays at the colliery begin with a race between the mainline locomotive and shunting engine. The competition being to see which one covers 75 yards from a standing start the fastest. 

Much like the Brooklands car races of the 1930s, the driver, at the blow of the starting whistle, has to run and climb into the cab, start the engine and then accelerate as fast as possible until 75 yards are passed. They must slam on the brakes before the single line section is reached to avoid a crash in the event of no clear winner, which due its proximity right next to the public bar of The Miners Arms must never happen. And of course it never has, for the public bar at The Miners Arms is an institution and the holy grail for post-shift activities. 

And finally, Clive who is running the competition today, is checking out the engines, also known as scrutineering, for any illegal modifications or loose components which might come astray during the race, that’s him up there on the right hand engine….


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Monday 29 January 2024

Another Mono Monday

 Monochrome Monday 

A blustery stormy day in the early 1960s as a BR Std Class 3 tanks departs Combwich with the 10.05 Combwich to Templecombe service via Highbridge. 

There are few passengers these days, with the Hawksworth brake compo being more than adequate. However the bogie parcels van is always full of churns of milk for processing at the Bason Bridge creamery. And of course there is always moonshine, much of it hidden in children’s plastic toys, rubber ducks, footballs and the occasional milk churn to avoid detection. 

Life was so much more fun in the olden days, especially if a milk churn of moonshine ended up at the creamery by mistake. 


Top up the colour meter for tomorrow’s post

Saturday 27 January 2024

The Wheeltappers & Shunters Club

Saturday morning on Combwich shed, as ‘248 simmers next to the water tower. Over by the signalbox, linesmen Monty and Don are having a discussion about home-grown spring onions before discussing the state of the loo, which today is in an even more perilous state than normal. 

The reason being that at the local Wheeltappers & Shunters Club last night it was the annual pickled winkles championship, the winner imbibing the greatest volume washed down by pints of entire stout and moonshine chasers. The loo here being on the unofficial route back into Combwich from the club, for the effects of imbibing such a mix tends to manifest with 25 minutes of consumption and always after the club shuts. 


Bleach fund, can you help?

Sunday 21 January 2024

The Flying Scotsman

 Today we have an photo from my time machine as 4472 ‘The Flying Scotsman’, on The Blackmore Vale Express aka The Sherborne Lunch Express, thunders out of Salisbury on the 7th of June 1987 with a fine display of clag, something which will almost certainly create nightmares for the more neurotic climate alarmist. 

I remember the bridge, ‘Skew Bridge’ on the western side of Salisbury was rather busy that day, with dozens of squealing gricers including me, pointing their cameras at the spectacle. Being a poser, I had two Rolleicord cameras mounted on a bracket (basically a strip of aluminium with a 1/4inch hole at either end to bolt the cameras in place), one with Ektachrome 100 and this one with good old Kodak Tri-X, thus allowing a simultaneous colour and B&W exposure. 

Looking to the right of the train, railway allotments were still a thing back in the 1980s, but sadly they’re very much a thing of the past if you pop this view into Google Street View. I presume down to health and safety, but I’m sure more injuries occurred due to over enthusiastic use of a fork or pruning secateurs than unwittingly wandering on to the track in front of the 11.00 Waterloo to Exeter, but I’m happy to admit that I know nothing… 


This is thirsty work, refreshments always help

Saturday 20 January 2024

Eye Test

Tap to enlarge 

Occasionally at the colliery, under the watchful eye of Barry Bullhead from the Ministry of Misery, failed optician Pointy Pellegrino performs eye tests using whatever there is to hand on unsuspecting employees of the railway. 

Today, Fred the Flag is having a random eye test as Pointy Pellegrino points at a suitable subject with plenty of lettering and numbers, “Eh Fred, what letter is the second letter in from the left that looks like an ‘E’? And next, what is the letter that looks like a ‘Y’ on the right?” …. And so it goes on..

Needless to say, Fred the Flag, even though he’s colour blind and boss-eyed scores 100% as he correctly identifies every letter and number. This suits Barry Bullhead, for it confirms to those above him that everyone is happy, and has perfect eyesight under his watch, which means that he’ll get another bonus for outstanding services to The Ministry. He might even get an CBE in due course as he slowly gets his feet into the cat little tray of The Establishment. 

Alas poor old Pointy Pellegrino will be forgotten in time, and just have to settle for pointing out the obvious. Hey Ho. 


My tip jar for outstanding services to nonsense

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Waving Wednesday

Click to zoom in 

Waving Wednesday 

It’s Wednesday morning at Catcott, as the morning pick up goods collects an empty mineral wagon from the small goods yard. 

Standing on the bridge, Waving Willy waves over at his brother Waving Waving Wally who is driving the steam lorry over there in the distance beyond the ground frame (you can just see Wally in the cab). Like Willy, Wally also waves all the time, even in his sleep by all accounts. This can make for driving the steam lorry quite a challenge, it requiring at least two hands, sometimes three to keep it going in a straight line. But Wally manages to steer and even stoke the fire with just one hand. Champion. 

Driver and part time thespian at the local amateur dramatics society, Blessed Brian booms over to Willy from the locomotive, “hello dear boy, lovely to see you”, as he presumes Waving Willy’s wave is for him rather than Waving Wally on the steam lorry. But that’s okay, because Willy has enough waves for everyone. And Blessed Brian loves any excuse to boom with his deep baritone voice. 

Meanwhile Bob Geeza cat waves his long bushy tail in response to all the waving. Such a clever cat. 


If you like a good wave really helps to keep these posts regular.


Friday 12 January 2024

Front Ends Friday

It’s ‘Front Ends Friday’, for we have not one, but two front ends!

It would appear that Shrewsbury engine shed’s ’Coal Tank’ is on the wander again, suggesting some inch high mischievous activities are afoot. You’ll note that the little people are nowhere to be seen, probably to avoid incriminating themselves. Or simply more likely that they’re in the pub behind the engine having a liquid breakfast of beer and sloppy porridge made with moonshine. 

And of course over to the right, that our regular Peter and his Peckett over there on the right, though Peter cannot be seen. 


You can fuel the mischievousness here

Tuesday 9 January 2024

20 Foot High Snowy Arctic Storm of Doom

It’s a cold blustery morning at Fountain Colliery with showers of snow, hail and sleet making the morning shift a little unpleasant for those outside. But Hector Hi-Vis is a hardy soul, remembering the winter of 1962-63 at the beginning of his railway career trying to keep the trains running. He mutters to himself thinking how the lunchtime news will report the winter weather even the snow isn’t settling “20 foot high snowy arctic storm of doom my arse”. 

‘Celebrity’ Class 20 No 20064 ‘River Sheaf’ arrives with a rake of ballast hoppers from the quarry at Tintern, for the track serving the colliery isn’t the best and not helped by recent storms and floods washing the ballast away in places. 

Meanwhile Harry the Hammer - you can just make him out next the red and yellow oil barrel, lurks with his hammer secretly hoping the point lever will be stuck or that one of the wagons has a sticking brake shoe. As usual it’s almost the end of Harry’s shift, as it always is, and as soon as he’s wielded his hammer he’ll be off to the Miners Arms in the distance for a brew or five with a packet of salty pork scratchings in front of the warming fire in the lounge bar. Bliss. 


You can buy Harry a pint here, because where would we be without Harry and his trusty hammer?

Monday 8 January 2024

Monochrome Monday

Monday morning, and there’s a problem with the point which takes the line up in to the colliery on the right. Mouldy Malc, Hyperactive Hans and Deliberation Dave discuss on what to do. 

Mouldy Malc is happy to do nothing, for that’s his specialty, Hyperactive Hans is all for jamming it in the right direction with an old rail-chair, whilst Deliberation Dave deliberates over the options presented to him. Going to pub is not an option, for it does open for another four hours. 

There is no colour option with this photo for it was taken on B&W film, home processed Ilford FP4 on a Nikkormat FT2. 


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Friday 5 January 2024

Far Out Friday (man)

 Far Out Friday (man) 

Over there in the distance, as usual the local bus service is late, and is unable to be the other side of the crossing to coincide with the arrival of the 11.43 Evercreech to Highbridge service. Not that it is timetabled to anyway, because things are made as difficult for the passenger as possible to justify the removal of bus and rail services to please the beancounters in that there London. 

That’s Cecil Fish-Finger’s Morris 8 Series E parked next to the good shed. Very little in the way of goods are handled at Catcott these days, so it’s become a popular hang-out for Morris 8 owners, Cecil being the first to arrive on the scene. 

Nobody, whilst they have heard about this ‘hanging out’ thing, really knows what goes on in the goods shed, but occasionally jingly-jangly music, rattling bells and cracking of willow sticks can be heard from within suggesting the Morris owners are having some kind of dance or possibly pagan ritual. But the Somerset Levels are an ancient mystical place, which until only a few hundred years ago was under water, many of the locals still having gills and occasionally webbed feet to link them to their recent aquatic past, so anything is possible. 


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Thursday 4 January 2024

Foggy Thursday

 Foggy Thursday

Boatman Bruce Bottlenose careful eases his fully loaded narrowboat away from the wharf with a fresh load of coal. The load here heading for the canal water pumping station further up the valley. He does this trip twice a month, and always quite enjoys it because there are only 2 locks during the 5 mile trip. The Aqueduct Inn is right next to the pumping station, so that will almost certainly be visited on the journey, another reason for enjoying this run. 

Wifelet (he has several) Mavis Bottlenose is in the boatman’s cabin making tea and bacon butties. Something that will go down well on this chilly damp morning I’m sure. 

Peter Peckett and his trusty loco has just arrived to collect the empty wagons to take them back to the colliery. Part of the siding slopes down to the wharf, so there might be a little slippage as the tiny loco wheels struggle to grip the greasy wet rails. 

The ominous looking Standard Flying 12 has been parked on the wharf all night, but no one knows who owns it. Rumour has it some men from The Ministry are snooping about. They tend to be in camouflage, so are tricky to spot unless they move. Three of them are in this shot disguised as inanimate objects. Can you spot any of them? 


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Wednesday 3 January 2024

Where’s All the Colour Gone Wednesday…..

Where’s All the Colour Gone Wednesday…..

The morning goods trundles through Catcott Crossing with a brake van immediately behind the engine. Clive can be seen on the veranda keeping guard over a stash of moonshine on the go within which needs to be finished and all bottled up by the time the trains gets to Highbridge Wharf. 

But fear not nervous ones, there is a brake van on the other end of the 12 wagon train (it’s out of frame beyond the tree should any clever clogs comment), the consist today being coal, fertiliser, Clark’s shoes from nearby Street, beer from Burton, pickled gherkins, bagged brewing malt & hops, atonal apples, amplified heat and pressed rat's collection of doglegs and feet. Gosh there could be lyrics for a song in this plentiful load. 

Waving Willy is waving at his runner beans trying to get the colour back into them, for they were definitely green yesterday when he last watered them. But is looks like someone has poached the colour today, possibly due to a pigment shortage at the rainbow factory in nearby Glastonbury which produces delightful radiant aerial colour displays for use on showery sunny days. 

Tech. Nikkormat FT2, 55mm Micro Nikkor, Ilford FP4. 


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