Monday 28 February 2022

Monochrome Monday

A moody Monday at Cement Quay, a Class 4 Stanier tank shunts the siding. These locos tended to be used  on passenger services, but were equally good on freight. 

Sunday 27 February 2022

Sunday Lunchtime Outside The Miners Arms

Sunday lunchtime outside The Miners Arms. The posh girls Liz & Margo meet up for a spin in Beryl’s new toy, it might be a tight squeeze. Liz, Margo and Beryl met at finishing school in Switzerland many moons ago and have kept in touch ever since, mostly due to their liking of gin and proper working men.

Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) is hoping to be invited, he’s had ‘a thing’ for Beryl for years. He’s a rather big chap, so there’s no way he’ll be able to join ’the girls’ on their jolly - it looks like another lonely pint when the pub opens in 5 minutes. All together, 1, 2, 3…….

On the left, local bounder and cad, Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe eyes up the scene. He recently bought Beryl’s ancient Austin 7, not because he wanted it (he’s more of an Austin Healey 3000 kind of chap), it was simply a ploy to try to get in to Beryl’s pantaloons “Oh, hello ladies”. 

In the distance Nasal Nigel looks on from one of his favourite elevated spots. His bus-spotting green flasher-mac is primed and ready for speedy deployment after placing petroleum jelly on the button holes. And finally, keen railway modellers Edwin and Colin watch the engine pass through whilst they discuss the intricacies of rail flangeway clearances in EM gauge. 

As always, click to enlarge, and if you really like it click this link to buy Comical Ned a jar or two.

Saturday 26 February 2022

Where is Philbert?

A magnificent red sky greets the early shift at the colliery. But alas nothing can happen for a while. Down the pub the night before, Pete thought he’d successfully bribed young Philbert to light up the engine so he could spend a few extra hours in bed. Alas Philbert is nowhere to be seen, the 8% rough cider and saucy Sandy the barmaid leading the young whippersnapper astray with her charms. Dud suggests they use the diesel, but as is always the case, Pete has ‘lost’ the key again. Pete always does this on Saturdays, a ploy to get in a few extra hours overtime whist they ‘search’ for the key. It looks like it’s going to be a long day, not helped by the fact that the diesel is 5 miles away undergoing maintenance. 

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Friday 25 February 2022

The Pedant & Armchair

The Frome to Evercreech goods rumbles past Polbrook Gurney Colliery. The Pedant & Armchair gets its milk delivery for the Horlicks drinkers. It’s a funny kind of pub, and very popular with elderly single men who still live at home with mother, even though mother passed on a good few years before, often in unexplained circumstances. This parallel universe line ran up the Nettlebridge Valley serving coal and mineral deposits linking the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway at Binegar with the Great Western Railway at Mells Road. The line was jointly operated by the SDJR and the GWR which resulted in an interesting mix of trains. An occasional passenger service also ran mostly to serve the numerous pits. 

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Thursday 24 February 2022

Herbert the Horse

At the end of WW3, the inch high people of Little England celebrate the reopening of the colliery, for coal is again king. A special train arrives with shiny blue-suited not so special guests who’ve managed to freeload their way on to the train. But the real star of the show is Herbert the Mayan speaking horse, the lesser known brother of conversational Latin speaking Hubert. Herbert has been taken out of retirement, after his solar powered replacement was deemed useless due to lack of sunshine for 13 months of the year. What a champion.

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Wednesday 23 February 2022

Polished Brass

Wibble Wednesday at Combwich. In 1957 after much wibble and speculation, 1904 record breaker & celebrity loco ‘City of Truro’ is returned to regular service. The hot steamy delight is always a popular rail tour choice, especially with older gentlemen who fantasise of old brass and highly polished knobs & knockers. 

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Tuesday 22 February 2022

Phallic Contraption

Tuesday morning, Shunter Terry notes that someone has stolen the screw coupling and replaced it with a phallic looking contraption. Control haven’t told him that his position will soon be redundant with the introduction of a new fangled auto coupling system. Union meeting time!


Monday 21 February 2022

Emmet Engineering Ltd.

Meanwhile at a little known location on the Isle or Purbeck, Monday morning sees the inaugural run of the new passenger rail car. It started life as a posh garden art studio, but an Emmet style blend of engineering with an old lorry produced this marvel of British engineering.

Sunday 20 February 2022

Nasal Nigel to the Rescue

Sunday morning at the newly formed Brew Street Railway Heritage Trust. Everyone looks on in awe at the shiny new engine. However there has been an invasion of mice overnight - Nasal Nigel, Colin, and horses Hubert, Herbert and Henry are terrified of mice. But that won’t stop them enjoying the fine sight. Nigel is particularly pleased to have found this new elevated platform; for his furtive skills with his sticky green bus-spotting flasher-mac, will humanly scare any vermin away. Oh Nigel, look at you, mother will be impressed. 

How it was done …

Saturday 19 February 2022

The Storm

Saturday bonus shot! I was going to keep it until tomorrow, but it's more topical today in the aftermath of storm Eunice. In the rose-tinted land of the inch high, the little people are tiding up after the storm. As is the norm, there is much discussion but not much actual doing. All the usual suspects have appeared to dish out 'advice'. It's likely they'll all give up shortly and have a strategy meeting in the nearby pub.


Angela Flatbottom

Saturday morning. Somewhere in the Polden Hills, the daily mixed Edington Jct to Bridgwater Nth service is watched by Barry Bullhead, the time and motion man from the ministry. Barry is in a good mood, having recently asked Angela Flatbottom for her hand in marriage. Part of the agreement is that Barry has to learn to drive a tractor, Angela being a farmer’s daughter and all that. Meanwhile down on the track, Doug and Digger Dave are examining some strange ghost like lettering hovering over the track. Curiously things can pass right through it. Click to enlarge…..

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Friday 18 February 2022

Moonlight Encounter

 Moonlight rendezvous…… I got up early this morning in anticipation of the much hyped Zombie Apocalypse Doom predicted by the Met Office. So, with one eye out of the window, I thought I’d put this one together in anticipation of having to chase our dustbin down the road.  Click to enlarge. 

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Thursday 17 February 2022

Eunice & Dud

Thursday at the colliery. Hubert the Horse continues to teach Barry Bullhead conversational Latin. Edwin, Eunice & Dudley have a stormy conversation about point levers & whether Seep or Cobalt point motors are the best. It soon blew over, with them deciding on wire in tube.

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Wednesday 16 February 2022

The Loo

4571 simmers on Combwich shed, these ex-GWR locos were often used on the Bridgwater service. The crew are nowhere to be seen, but it’s likely that Driver Norman is on the loo just visible to the left enjoying Razz, Routemaster Monthly or the recently released Psycho novel. Oh, mother will be impressed. 

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Tuesday 15 February 2022

End of Shift

Tuesday evening deep in the Forest. For Bill & Ted it’s almost the end of their shift. The evening mist rises, the light in the public bar of The Miners is on. Just one wagon to go, then they’ll be off for a snifter or two, or three, or four, or five. Fireman Reggie grumbles, “keep one for me”. Poor Reggie.

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Sunday 13 February 2022

Romp in the Grass

Serene Sunday. Catcott Crossing sometime in the mid-1950s. Driver Gary and Fireman Baldy bring their train over the crossing. They’ll briefly stop to drop a little coal off for Cindy Swift the crossing keeper in exchange for some rough cider. Parked on the bridge is Beryl’s old heap, she is nowhere to be seen, though yesterday she was spotted with Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) down on Bridgwater Docks - so it’s quite possible they’re having a romp in the nearby tall grass. Ah, those rose-tinted goggles of olden times. Click to enlarge if you want to see if you can find Beryl. 

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Saturday 12 February 2022


It’s another Saturday down by the canal. Doug, Colin & Barry are dealing bottles of illicit booze as Andrew & Barclay trundle past. Pete & Dud are waiting for Archibald to fix the water tank stopcock. Shortly Archibald will discover that the water tank has been repurposed as an undercover moonshine production plant. Running water and plenty of nearby coal to heat the mash and still within make it ideal. 

In the distance, outside the pickled winkle factory, Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) tries to capture the attention of Beryl who has just arrived in her Austin 7. Ned has had a crush on Beryl for years, he likes the mature ladies. Beryl however is after an engine driver, or any man who knows how to use a big spanner and is a dab hand with a grease gun - her car is unreliable and her joints regularly need attention to loosen them up.

Click to enlarge….

Friday 11 February 2022

New Wave

A wet chilly February Friday In 1968. Somewhere a little north of Preston, a Black Five 4-6-0 speeds past our intrepid photographer (there with permission I hasten to add). His Rolleiflex loaded with uprated Ilford HP4 b&w film capturing this gritty image inspired by celebrated ‘new wave’ photographer Colin Gifford. Click to enlarge …

Thursday 10 February 2022

Tunnel View

Shortly before the photographer was flatten by the engine, he took this snap from his folding step ladder. Within the tunnel on Cement Quay. Such are popular with steam rail tour photographers, as they all line up in a row taking identical shots whist comparing ladders and the biggest f2.8 pro spec zoom. Click to enlarge. 

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Wednesday 9 February 2022

Mulder & Scully

Before Mulder & Scully were celebrity UFO & alien hunters, they were cops on the beat seeking bodies in dumped cars. But their inner passion for trainspotting always delayed findings, getting those numbers always held more attraction than 10 day old rotting flesh. This of course worked in their favour career wise, being semi useless ensured speedy promotion out of harms way. Click to enlarge…

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Piggyback Style

 Tidy Tuesday. Ivo’s Bentley looking rather tidy, posed in the tiny goods yard at Catcott. A narrow gauge steamer has just arrived piggyback style for the nearby narrow gauge peat railway recently taken over by preservationists . A Poole bound goods thunders through right on cue.

Sunday 6 February 2022

Platinum Jubbly

Platinum Jubbly Day! Liz & Margo and Liz’s stunt double Albert alight the special train to meet Henry the Horse. Henry, as we all know, is the only horse on the planet fluent in conversational Latin. Young Tony, the horse whisperer is in complete awe, kneeling down as instructed. Hopefully Nasal Nigel, temporary custodian of Henry the Horse has his mac firmly buttoned up, raw winkles are not on the menu at such a royal event. Luvvelly Jubbly! Click to enlarge…. 

Saturday 5 February 2022

Digital Capture of B&W Negative Film Using DSLR or Mirrorless Camera

I have 1000s of negatives, digitization using a traditional scanner would be a very long drawn out process unless you have super expensive bulk scanning gear. The result of this method appears to give a good results for my needs, the workflow in my case probably 10 times faster than traditional scanning with the gear I have. The resulting quality is easily good enough for a double page spread in a magazine or at least A3 print. I’m presuming you are confident shooting RAW and have basic Photoshop skills, plenty of stuff online if not. Click on the images below to enlarge if need be  

Sholing Railway station. Summer 1982. Kodak Plus X negative, ‘scanned’ using a DSLR, a tripod mounted Nikon D5200 in this case with a 55mm Micro Nikkor set at F11 (a sweet spot aperture wise and enough depth of field should the negative have a slight bow). I used an iPad with a plain white image as a makeshift light box, and a 35mm film holder from an old scanner.


After taking the photo of the film negative and transferring the file to your computer, In Photoshop Adobe RAW, open your camera RAW file as you would normally, crop, straighten etc. Now the clever bit. Select ‘Curves’, then select the ‘Linear’ drop down. What we want to do is turn the negative image in to a positive. Note the diagonal line, that will be the attention of the next image.

Tick the dot in the red circle. Then drag each end the diagonal line up/down to mirror the previous image. Bingo! You have a positive image!

Adjust the curve to increase contrast to suit. If you’re familiar with Adobe RAW you’ll discover that the curve controls are back to front. Not an issue. Not shown here, but then use the other controls like lens correction, noise reduction, sharpening and so on as you would normally. Once happy, it’s worth exporting the profile as an XMD file, next time all you’ll have to do is load that. Export resulting image in to Photoshop proper to finish off your edit.


Saturday morning down by the canal. Doug, Colin, Pete and Dud are suspicious of Barry Bullhead who is charming them with a crate of illicit hooch. This is most unusual, for Mr Bullhead is a time and motion man from the Ministry of Misery. Reg and Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) peer over from the platform, suffering marginal FOMO. Nasal Nigel, eager to try out his new flasher mac pops up from the undergrowth like a meerkat “Oh, mother won’t be impressed, booze in the workplace, whatever next? I’d better go and investigate”. 

Friday 4 February 2022

Front and Rear Ends

 #frontandrearendfriday - it’s a new thing don’t you know… deep down in Cornwall (which oddly looks just like Combwich), the final section of the Atlantic Coast Express arrives. Beattie the tank engine wiggles with joy “it’s my racy friend all the way from that there London 🥰”. Click to enlarge …

Thursday 3 February 2022

Booze Runners

More rose-tinted Hornby sized nonsense from the inch high stars of little England. Here we see rare colour film production still from the 1958 Ealing Comedy ‘Whisky No More’. On the right, Mr Barry Bullhead and Shamus O’Bellboy from the Ministry of Misery arrive to investigate the dodgy goings on, whilst Pete & Dud pretend check over the loco to buy time.  Meanwhile Derek & Clive on the left quietly retrieve the milk churns of illicit moonshine from the cab. Click to enlarge …..

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Pickled Winkles

It's Wednesday, and the 9.05am Highbridge Wharf to Evercreech goods rumbles through Catcott Burtle. A good mixed load this morning, coal, pickled winkles, canned guff, frozen fried egg sandwiches, jellyfish in aspic, full-sized fibreglass cows and Belgian chocolate teapots. Click to enlarge


Tuesday 1 February 2022

The Summer of '59

A classic West Country branchline scene from the summer of ‘59. It’s almost as if all the little people and train are posed for the camera. That rose-tinted parallel universe is such a great place to be. And of course they all went to the nearby pub as soon as the train passed. Click to enlarge.