Thursday 31 March 2022

Wooden Leg

The rails to Fountain Colliery squeeze themselves between The Miners Arms and Betty Beaver’s cottage. Any passing trains are instructed to make themselves known with plenty of horn or whistling, for it’s not unusual for tipsy drinkers to be on the crossing. It would appear that the crew of the engine trundling towards our intrepid photographer have done a good job of clearing the crossing of drunks, hopefully our photographer and former pirate will be able to move out of the way quickly. He’s not a quick mover with his wooden leg, he having lost many a wooden leg to passing trains and nautical misdemeanours. His wooden foot often gets jammed between the rail and the solid granite ballast as he quickly moves out of the way. His current batch of wooden legs and feet are made from balsa wood, the key advantage being light weight and easy to break in times of hazard. Though I feel our photographer should take his own personal safety more seriously, but you cannot change the ways of a retired pirate. 

Click to zoom in as always…

Replacement wooden leg fund

Wednesday 30 March 2022


 Catcott, 6 months after closure in the early autumn of 1966, and the demolition trains are the only action. The local bus still stops at the station though.

Tuesday 29 March 2022

05.30 At The Brewery

05.30, Tuesday morning at the brewery. New to the job, WPC Pickle normally directs traffic at busy junctions in city centres. Today she’s guarding the rail entrance to the brewery, but is struggling with the fact that trains can only go where the rails take them.


Monday 28 March 2022


Monochrome Monday. A single wagon of coal is propelled on to the canal wharf. A small amount of coal still goes via canal to a foundry a few miles away, the railway having never got there. Meanwhile milk is delivered to The Pedant & Armchair, many of the customers being elderly single men still living with mother. Mother won’t let them drink beer because it makes them angry, especially when toy train manufacturers announce their new line ups for the year. So, for these often socially challenged souls, one of the beer pumps serves warm milk and is often accompanied by a small bowl of pickled winkles. Mother approves, because the two together will make a good source of calcium and protein for her growing boy. 

Sunday 27 March 2022

Room With A View

The view from the first floor of The Pedant & Armchair pub. Back in the day it was popular with railway societies as a meeting place, the great view being one of the key attractions. And it looks like celebrated photographer and film maker Ivan Locksmith was in attendance, I imagine he was putting on a film show. Ivan was a keen amateur film maker, who throughout the final years of steam shot many miles of 16mm Kodachrome. 

As always, tap or click on the photo for a bigger view.

Tip jar

Saturday 26 March 2022

At The Races

And it’s race day at the colliery. Prince v Princess prepare for a 100ft sprint. Technical advisers and race engineers Pete & Dud have prepared both engines to the same steam pressure. Drivers are Barry Bullhead and Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe, and upon the blowing of the whistle they’ll run to their allocated engines in finest Brooklands ‘running-start’ style. On the left, betting girl Beryl has her money on Prince, her choice of loco being the closest she’ll ever get to a real Prince. Liz & Margo on the right love a flutter on the engines, and of course have chosen Princess as their champion. Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse, is on hand as third party in the event of there being a dispute. He will decide on the winner in the event of a draw, though Liz & Margo have carrots just in case. 

As always, tap or click on the photo for a bigger view.

Winning bribes accepted here

Friday 25 March 2022

Old Bob

It’s that ‘Front End Friday’ again! Clanking up the bank towards Titfield, the daily goods from Bath rumbles past old Bob re-roofing part of an old terrace.  He’s been on the job for well over thirty years, hardly changing position whilst balancing on the timbers with little squares of grey painted card. He’s only left his post when knocked to the floor from time to time by that ‘hand of god’, his glue covered feet being testament to such previous ordeals. Such a champion, though I wish he’d speed up and finish the job, that sky looks a little stormy. 

Click to zoom in as always…

Buy Bob a pint

Thursday 24 March 2022

Back to the Future

20 years ago I bought my first digital stills camera. A Canon Powershot A40. I’ve not used it for well over a decade, so yesterday popped 4 x AA batteries in and was surprised to find it still works. The tiny postage stamp sized screen on the rear is rather more low res and wishy washy than I recall. But of course we’ve got used to today’s modern retina type displays with their high res and rich colours. Trying to operate the camera in anything but ‘auto’ was a little challenging, but finally managed to stop the lens down to its smallest aperture of a mere f8. So here we have the result with Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) and Colin posing in front of a grubby Andrew Barclay chuffer.

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Johnny Bestfinger & Cindy Clapper

Wednesday brings another familiar view of Catcott, as the mid morning Evercreech Junction to Highbridge slows for an empty platform. Average photographer Ivan Locksmith has his Rolleiflex loaded with Ektachrome to grab 43216 with the incorrect headcode. But in deepest, wildest most open Somerset nobody really cares (apart from Nasal Nigel), for control is a long way away. But little does he know, the BBC are on the train with poet laminate Johnny Bestfinger. They’re shooting a documentary about the railway, stopping at various spots along the line. Later in the day they’ll return to film Cindy Clapper the crossing keeper opening and closing her gates, something she always likes to do for an enthusiastic audience. She’s always wanted to meet poet Johhny Bestfinger, having borrowed many of his books from the library in Glastonbury a few miles down the road. And now she’ll be on film, destined for the Friday 6.30pm regional opt-out after the main news bulletin. The train departs, and Ivan Locksmith pops his camera back in its case, he being blissfully unaware of what he doesn’t see; but in 60 years time he’ll discover a bootleg copy of the film on YouTube, and think, gosh I photographed that train, let me scan that old 6x6cm slide for all to see.

Click to zoom in as always…

Tip jar


Tuesday 22 March 2022

Tractor Tuesday

Tractor Tuesday, Clive is trying to work out how to couple the wagon to the tractor. Engineering haven’t put a hook on to the wooden buffer beam yet.  

Monday 21 March 2022

Monochrome Monday

Monochrome Monday at Combwich. Little Jim and even littler John push a single empty wagon around the goods yard. It’s the only wagon at Combwich, so to amuse themselves they have made up a shunting puzzle with a pack of cards. The four main sidings being named after Kings, Queens, Aces and Spades, the number being the speed the engine goes - a game marginally more exciting than test cricket. Thankfully the morning goods will soon be arriving with wagons to be filled with pickled winkles and desiccated Combwich Crab. 

Sunday 20 March 2022

Robin Hood

People’s champions Colin and Barry Bullhead, most uncharacteristically, and in finest Robin Hood style have ‘acquired’ a tank of diesel. They’re going to sell the contents for 33% of what the the greedy oil companies charge due to their excuse about the Zombie Apocalypse of Doom and those darn Ruskies pushing up prices. There might be a problem; Doug doesn’t drive, Pete & Dud only travel by steam, Beryl’s bubble car uses two-stroke, Eric’s MG Magnette (to the right) needs 4 Star, and Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) thinks it’s something to drink. 

Click to zoom in as always…

Tip jar

Saturday 19 March 2022


Hubert, Henry and Herbert finally arrive home at Brew Street after their misadventures at The Cheltenham Gold Cup. Between them, they managed to come last in all the races they entered. But running isn’t really their thing; Hubert being fluent in conversational Latin, Herbert in conversational Mayan and Henry in conversational whinny. These fine steeds prefer to entertain, they getting quite a following in the beer tent performing comedy stand up that only the most educated can understand. But that doesn’t matter, their clumsy circus acts of jollity bring a smile to even the most serious of punters. What champions! 

Click to zoom in as always…

Tip jar


Friday 18 March 2022

Flat Earth Friday

Well it’s that #frontendfriday thing. Here we have one of Gresley’s A4s, number 60029 ‘Woodcock’ (oooh I say matron) to be precise. And here is the steamy greasy beast blasting north on a 3ft board of Peco in my studio. 12 coaches wouldn’t fit, so just pretend they’re beyond the carefully posed coach on the left which hides the edge of the world. The Flat Earth Club will like this photograph, because it explains why not a single one of them has actually seen the edge of the earth. 

Thursday 17 March 2022

☘️St Patrick’s Day☘️

 ☘️St Patrick’s Day at the pub! Liz and Margo witness the arrival of casks and bottles illicit fake ‘Irish’ stout from Colin’s dodgy brewery in the corner of the lambing shed on his brother’s farm. On St Paddy’s they love a depth charge of creamy stout in their gin and tonics. Local bounder and cad, Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe negotiates the price, making sure he has a good cut for himself. Even Barry Bullhead, the time and motion man from the Ministry of Misery has appeared, and for a few pints is easily bribed to keep quiet. Pete & Dud trundle past with a rogue wagon of malting barley, which has somehow or other has gone missing from a train destined for Burton on Trent. They too are keen to negotiate a dodgy deal with Colin for a few casks of finest for the forthcoming Easter break next month. Colin meanwhile is looking at acquiring a flatbed truck for future orders, for what he can transport in his brother’s Landrover is rather limited.

The reality, a scene on my Brew Street layout in OO. It was built to use up items with no home collected over the years. The pub is the rear of a Skaledale model shop, Harris Timber is another ready to plonk resin building with home made sign. The extension of the pub is part of an Artitec kit. Wooden casks are from a model boat supplier. Liz and Margo are Peco figures painted by my wife. Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe is on loan from Model Rail Editor George Dent, Colin, Barry, Pete & Dud are from the excellent Modelu 3D. Loco is Bachmann, grain hopper is a detailed up Dapol release. The Landrover is a partially repainted ECC liveried Oxford Diecast release. The coal is real coal, BBQ charcoal works just as well. Grass tufts are WWS. 

As always, click to zoom in. 

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Tuesday 15 March 2022

What Happens in The Forest

Ever so often, railway collector Pete leaves the seclusion of The Forest of Dean and a few days later re-appears with a random find. On this occasion he’s been over to East Anglia and found a wonderful steam tram locomotive in beautiful condition along with some random ancient rolling stock. Eddie, sporting a new yet-to-be-invented high visibility jacket creeps up behind Dud to catch him as he leans back in awe. In time British Railways will be looking for their missing train. However, what happens in The Forest stays in the forest. 


Monday 14 March 2022

Monochrome Monday

Monochrome Monday. ‘Jinty’ 47276 potters about Cement Quay with wagons destined to be filled with limestone. Eddie and Ernie survey the scene in their new fancy fibreglass helmets. For those viewing in black and white, the helmets are orange. They’ll never catch on. 

As always, click to enlarge. 

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Sunday 13 March 2022

Motor Rail

The Miners Arms leads the way for the motorist who likes to party. Drunken merrymakers can get themselves and their cars taken home by rail after an extended lunchtime or evening session down the pub (or better still an all night lock-in). Smooth talking scoundrel Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe and Liz & Margo are the very first customers, as their cars are hoisted on to flat wagons for the journey home. Of course the set up requires that the motley train ends its journey near the drinkers homes, so I’ve a feeling the set up might be flawed. However Liz & Margo aren’t short of a bob or two, so they’ll have staff to worry about that minor aspect when their chauffeur collects them for the final stage back to their palace. Smooth talking Terry on the other hand, he’ll simply charm a lift off someone as he always does, “oh hellooooooo ladies”. 

As always, click to enlarge. 

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Saturday 12 March 2022

Posh Andrew

Saturday morning at Brew Street. Posh Andrew is kneeling down in front of Dud “I so want to be an engine driver, I want to live like the common people, I want to be a real geeza bloke, I want to chew tobacco and whistle at pretty ladies, okay I already do that last bit”. Posh Liz, accompanied by Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) have been looking for Posh Andrew all morning, and with much relief calls “come on you silly boy, stop this nonsense, let’s just go for a pizza in Woking instead”. 

As always, click to enlarge. Help me keep these posts going

Friday 11 March 2022

Oh Lucky Jim

#frontendfriday - average photographer Jim Flutewhistle-Bottomfart was a dab hand with a camera. This was his very last photograph, he wasn’t a fast mover, and sadly struggled to get out of the tunnel in time, but he managed to put his trusty camera and himself between the rails, thus allowing the billowing engine and coal trucks to pass overhead. oh lucky Jim, you live to tell another tale.


Thursday 10 March 2022

Putting on the Style

A hot summer Thursday in 1956 at Combwich, we see the most unusual combination of Bath Green Park shed’s 45440 and a Pullman train. Hit Parade celebrities Lonnie Dooligan & His Magic Banjo, and The Clementine Skifflecock Jazz & Blues Shufflers are coming to town. They like to travel in lavish comfort, so always charter a Pullman train when on tour. They certainly know how to put on the style. 

As always, click to enlarge. 

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Wednesday 9 March 2022

Wednesday at Catcott

At Catcott, a sunny Wednesday sky greets the 2pm from Templecombe. Highbridge bound, unusually a Standard 4 tank and a couple of Bulleid coaches form the train. By 1964, this service usually consists of a Standard Class 2 tank engine, a single WR Hawksworth brake compo and an ex SR luggage van. Local chancer and opportunist, Roy Thumper’s Austin A30 can be seen. He’s probably in the little used goods shed setting up an illicit moonshine still. 

Tuesday 8 March 2022


Following on from yesterday’s post about the closure of the former Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway network, the next job was to start dismantling the line. Class 22 diesel hydraulic locos were regulars on this sad chore, their sad looking faces reflecting that. Here we in late summer 1966 at Combwich, the railway still looks open, but don’t be fooled, now the work starts removing anything of scrap value or possible reuse. Soon the rails will be gone, the buildings will be bulldozed. Within a few years it might be an industrial park, a featureless housing estate, or maybe a supermarket. 

Monday 7 March 2022

56 Years Ago

56 years ago today in 1966, the former Somerset & Dorset Joint Rly system closed forever. During the final year, there were many enthusiast specials. Here we are at Combwich in the summer of ‘65, and as usual all the regulars are to be seen.

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Sunday 6 March 2022

Rail Replacement Bus Service

It’s rail replacement Sunday! A miserable experience only enjoyed by lonely bus spotters. They seek to enjoy as many miles as possible, often taking a 3 hour ride for a journey which would only to be 49 minutes and 23 seconds by rail. The bus is usually empty, the wise choosing not to travel on such painful weekends. Here we have the Highbridge to Evercreech rail replacement bus service passing a few wild Triffid plants at Catcott crossing. Back in the olden days, Triffids would often be seen growing in the wild having escaped the farms. Photo copyright Nasal Nigel taken on his Zeiss Flashercamoflex.


Saturday 5 March 2022

Much Hype

Down on the docks. For years Pete, Dud and Neil have been asking for a passenger service on the light railway system. The day has finally arrived with the delivery of the much hyped train! No expense is spared as we can see! Alas budgets are tight, with management announcing that there might be some minor compromises over the original specification. Pete, Dud and Neil check over the 1st class accommodation, in fact there is only one class - how very inclusive. And as a bonus, the management announce that the unusual 6 wheel arrangement will provide an enhanced ride over the rickety old rails. The motive power comes in the form of an old tractor, with top speed of 9mph, and in the event of a fuel shortage can be easily adapted to run on moonshine. There is always plenty of moonshine around.

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Friday 4 March 2022

A Load of Old Guff

It’s July 2026 and Class 08 rumbles between the rear of former Pedant & Armchair pub and the long closed Polbrook Gurney Colliery with a train of limestone from the Mendip Hills. With the ongoing war in Eastern Europe, rumour has it the colliery is going reopen as an opencast mine, thus reducing the madness of importing coal from halfway around the globe. By 2026, shortage of lithium means that electric cars are totally unfeasible and unaffordable for the everyday man, woman and other variations in between. The way forward is steam powered cars which can be powered by burning coal, single use plastic, Westminster guff and anything else which burns. 

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Thursday 3 March 2022

Shiny Beast

Thursday at Moorewood Colliery. Management, after many years have decided to operate a works train at the tiny colliery. It’s not really needed, for everyone lives within walking distance of the pithead. However it makes a fine sight, as it arrives with the morning service from nowhere in particular. Shamus and Eric look at the shiny paintwork, before turning their heads towards the scruffy carriages of unknown European origin. Barry Bullhead, the time and motion man wonders where the budget for the shiny beast came from. Hubert the conversational speaking Latin  horse turns his head towards Beryl and Doug whilst muttering “Is vultus amo Im 'non iens ut a raeda iam” to himself. 
Click to enlarge!
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Wednesday 2 March 2022


 Wednesday morning on Combwich shed. Loco crew, Mike & Jim are standing over by the signal box as their engine boils up ready for use. Something awful appears to be happening in the loo. The methane stench is quite alarming. It appears that young Colin’s hangover cure of pickled winkles, pickled eggs, pickled onions, garnished with farmhouse cider and mustard may be backfiring. Light and retire. Little England joins the space race. Parp.

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Tuesday 1 March 2022

Forgotten Veteran


For a brief spell in 1963 after leaving Southampton Docks, Vulcan Iron Works ‘USA’ tank was used on the wharf sidings at Combwich before heading to Guildford shed & Eastleigh Works the following year. The engine is now in long term storage at the Bluebell Railway, having last steamed in 1983. A true story apart from the bit that isn’t. 

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