Monday, 27 June 2022

County Lines


Monochrome Monday. Catcott Crossing, as an ex GWR ‘pannier tank’ briefly blocks the crossing. The old Austin 7 looks like Beryl’s, but the car appears to be empty. It’s been parked there since late last night in fact. Rumour has it Beryl was seen changing trains at Evercreech Junction around 8am this morning with an unusual for her doctor style leather bag. She normally has one of those tartan trolley bags on wheels, the type much favoured by bungalow dwellers who drive support stocking beige Rovers. 

During the war, it’s rumoured Beryl worked for MI5, and despite now being well in to her 90s still performs covert operations. Of course it might just be nonsense and just a county lines operation selling morphine infused haemorrhoid lotion to the over 55s.


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Saturday, 25 June 2022

Saturday Morning at the Terminus


Saturday morning at Combwich. Starting on the left, Barry Bullhead (the time and motion man from the Ministry of Misery) is happily accepting a boozy bribe from Shamus landlord of The Star, in return for keeping quiet about his sales of illicit moonshine. 

Gaylord Grip, ex pro boxer and wrestler leans awkwardly against a bench, he’s  been that shape ever since losing his final bout at the 1954 West Somerset Wasp Chewing, Boxing & Cider Festival. Gaylord, like many of the little people here, tends to turn up when there is a crate of booze around - something I’m sure many of you here will have noticed. 

Pete stood next to the engine, is wondering where he left the loco lamp - it could be anywhere around the yard. On the brake van, guard Clive is looking at Waving Wayne trying to work out if he’s just being friendly or practicing semaphore. Waving Wayne has been waving nonstop for years, rumour has he even does it in his sleep. 

And finally on the the far right, Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) has just started his new job as beer delivery driver for Starkey Knight & Ford, the well known local Bridgwater brewer. He’s hoping it will make him popular with the local fleshpots of Combwich, other villages and small towns around the area. 


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Friday, 24 June 2022

Less CO2

The new even greener ‘Tesco Express’ has only taken 14 days from Southampton Docks, travelling at less than walking pace with plenty of breaks. Poor old Hubert, the former conversational Latin speaking horse has found little use for his language skills since Britain formerly became Little Britain and the cost of diesel doubled. But at least the green agenda has been satisfied, but sadly at the expense of the perishable fruit within the containers which is now well past its ‘best by’ date - it’s all bananas. 

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Thursday, 23 June 2022

Up The Grade

View through the bridge, as Radstock shed’s ’Pug’ wiggles its way up the grade towards our photographer. The gradient is 1 in 20, so the photographer has plenty of time to move out of the way. In the distance exhaust can just be made out indicating another engine is on the rear to assist little ‘202’. 

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Famagusta

Saturday morning in the Somerset coalfields. Many of you will be familiar with my photography in the proximity of The Pedant & Armchair seen in the middle distance of the photo here. Here is a rare view showing the wider scene, and as always some of the regular tiny people of been allowed to roam and pose for the camera. Not that I have any control over them, for they tend to move when I look away or blink. I’m sure there’s a sci-fi drama in the making there. 


I’ll get around to finishing the loco one day, it’s been awaiting handrails since 2004, so at the current rate that unlikely to happen in my lifetime. It’s from the delightful Roxey Mouldings kit based on Cyprus Govt Rly 2-6-2T ‘Famagusta’, it’s a lovely runner with its heavy white metal body perched on a Bachmann/Farish 2-6-2 chassis. Narrow gauge locos outside little Britain tend to be larger, this engine being completely to scale. 


The rustic wagons behind are some resin castings from a few years ago, a short run by OO9 guru John Thorne based on ball clay wagons that used to run on the Isle of Purbeck. The portaloo/brakevan I built from scratch around 1980, it sits on an N gauge wagon chassis.


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Friday, 17 June 2022

Harry the Hammer

It’s #frontendfriday again folks. Harry the Hammer, loves his small lump hammer. He uses it for everything, including breaking eggshells on raw and hard boiled eggs. After adjusting the aperture of the colliery screen behind the loco to allow taller engines through, his focus it now the engine. For years he’s pondered on reworking the front of the colliery Peckett to make it look like a streamlined A4 pacific express loco. Just a few taps is all it will need….

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Martin, Taylor & Gibson Moonshiners

Saturday, and here we are behind The Pedant & Armchair, our photographer hanging off one of those new mini helicopter ’photography sky hook’ devices to grab the elevated photo here. It’s the early 1960s, so of course it’s simple technology, the rotor blades are powered by a large wind up rubber band. The flight is brief, only 23 seconds in fact, so the photographer suspended underneath has to be quick to get his or her shot. 

Sorry, I’m droning on, but looking over to the tiny halt we see an ex GWR pannier tank arriving with an old auto coach. Our engine isn’t auto-train fitted, so it will have to run around its train at the destination at Frome. But the bonus for the passenger is the fabulous view afforded by the large windows not only on either side, but also out of the rear. 


There’s music at the pub this lunchtime, and country & western trio ‘The Martin Taylor & Gibson Moonshiners’ are setting up for a bit of yeee harrr plinky croony strummy winky. That’s their blue Morris Eight Series E in the foreground. 


Quite how they managed to get themselves and all their kit in it I’m not sure. But in these olden times we’re a little more resilient generally. Most likely, Gibson being the shorter of the three by around an inch or so travelled on the rear parcel shelf. 


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Friday, 10 June 2022

Front End Friday

It’s front end Friday #frontendfriday folks. In the latter years of the Evercreech to Highbridge line, engines were usually limited to ex Midland and SDJR 0-4-4 tanks, Midland 3F 0-6-0 tender locos, BR Std Class 2 & 3 tank engines, and later ex GWR Collett 0-6-0 locos. But very occasionally other locos would appear, this being one of them. In the early 1950s for a couple of years, Bath Shed homed a small number Ivatt 2-6-0 engines, and here we have 43017 blasting through Catcott. I’m not sure what the service was, for it certainly wasn’t going to stop at Catcott if the exhaust is anything to go by. 


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Thursday, 9 June 2022

A Man Who Can


Thursday morning at Catcott, and celebrated ace railway snapper Ivan Locksmith enjoys any opportunity to feature his well-known Bentley in his railway photographs. It’s almost the same as the famous Bentley owned by the even more celebrated photographer Ivo Peters, but Ivan’s is a slightly lighter shade of blue and not nearly as shiny. This is Ivan’s photograph taken on that new fangled Kodachrome 2 on his even more fangled Nikon F.

Today the 11.05 from Highbridge to Templecombe is only a single carriage, and hauled by an ex GWR Pannier tank. The Western Region of British Railways are certainly making their stamp in this former Midland/Southern joint line by slowly downgrading things. Sadly it looks like the railway will close forever, but nothing has been confirmed yet. 

Looking over at the crossing keeper’s cottage, Herbert Half Job Fugg, popular local rogue roofer and half-jobber, is chatting to crossing keeper Deidre Dando about her missing ridge tile. It blew off in to the rhyne in the foreground last October during one of those strong northwesterlies. Herbert will sort it for sure, but the repair will be in a different colour and he’ll only charge 30% more than Proper Job Pete from nearby Wedmore. Hopefully British Railways will do the repair, but 8 months on nothing has happened. But Deidre enjoys the chat with ‘a man who can’, even though he won’t be the man. Being a crossing keeper on The Levels can be a lonely job 

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Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Pedant’s Passage to Glory XXX


Tuesday morning, this is the view from the rear of The Pedant & Armchair looking across the polluted pond just as the 8.03am Frome to Bath via Chilcompton rumbles past. This service is somewhat lengthy, and Nasal Nigel will be quick to point out that it’s quicker to get the GWR line direct to Radstock West. You’ll then need to alight and walk across to Radstock North, thus saving 13 minutes and 74 seconds. But, that’s not the reason for this post, and anyway the time saving will only be enjoyed if travelling from Frome, not here. Confused? I am too. 

The orange colour of the pond, is mostly due to the high iron content of the water pumped up from deep underground to stop the mine from flooding. Rumour has it, the water is used for the small brewery at the rear of the pub, one of its qualities aiding the rich ruby colour of the ale produced. The high iron content also gives the beer medicinal properties, and is very popular with those of anaemic disposition. However a night out drinking copious quantities of ‘Pedant’s Passage to Glory XXX’, a 6% ABV strong bitter ale, can change bowel habits for at least a fortnight. It will also turn your teeth browner than those of heavy smoking Clintus Capstan who’s been running the local newspaper stand for 47 years. 

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Sunday, 5 June 2022

One In Twenty

Sunday morning, and work carries on around the colliery. Captured through the photographer’s telephoto lens, standing in for the more usual steam loco, a small diesel moves wagons between the canal wharf siding and the colliery on the right. It’s a 1 in 20 incline up in to the colliery, but the wagons are empty and the train is short. Luckily today the rails are dry, but when wet quite often another engine will be needed to assist, but not today. The building on the left is the side of The Pedant & Armchair, a watering hole familiar with a few here I’m sure. 

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Saturday, 4 June 2022

Race!

Saturday morning, famous railway snapper ‘oh dear boy’ Ivan Locksmith and local cad and bounder Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe are about to do a bit of train chasing in their sporty little numbers. 

Today’s chase is against the 8.30am Highbridge to Evercreech Junction goods. They’ve placed a bet with the crew, Ivan and Terry thinking that their speedy arrival in Evercreech Junction goods yard will be assured. This would normally be the case, but today, our loco and train crewed by shrewd Derek & Clive and guard Clive will be going nonstop, missing their usual Glastonbury stop to collect an assignment of ‘comfortable shoes’ from the Clarks shoe factory. Also little do our racing motorists Ivan and Terry know, but Glastonbury is rather congested with one of its regular historic pagan King Arthur inspired hippy-dippy events blocking the main thoroughfare through the town. 


Deliberation Dave and ‘I don’t believe it’ Oliver Awkward observe from the platform, they’ve just walked the long drove up from Catcott village which is nowhere near our little halt it shares its namesake. They’ve been to collect a heavy crate of moonshine spiked rough cider from Daphne Dando’s dairy, orchard and boudoir. Their train isn’t for another 45 minutes, but they want to see the start of the race, their bets being with Derek & Clive. It’s good to be in the know. 


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Thursday, 2 June 2022

Purple Thursday


 “Look, One knows you chaps mean well, and one knows that times are tough for you peasants, but there’s no way that one will be travelling in that! But one does approve of the colour”.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Weird Wednesday

Weird Wednesday… Some mad sign writer has been creating a futuristic fantasy sign, ‘2022’ is way in the future. Norman and Barry discuss what ‘2022’ might be like, thinking it will all be about flying cars, robots and holiday homes on the Moon. 

Behind them, the sky is looking rather dramatic over the Bristol Channel, quite sinister in fact. They’ll soon find out that Derek & Clive’s moonshine plant on the tiny island of Steep Holm has exploded, creating this most beautiful but highly alcoholic cloud. Shortly it will rain hooch, so any teetotallers will be advised to stay indoors whilst everybody else has a party. 

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