Monday, 15 August 2022

Monochrome Monday

Monochrome Monday. Templecombe shed’s former GWR Collett No. 3206 temporarily blocks the crossing at Catcott, as it trundles past with the 7.05am Evercreech Junction to Highbridge goods. That’s the photographer’s Standard Flying 12 in the foreground. The crumbling concrete bridge over the rhyne is very much a feature of this part of boggy Somerset. 

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Summer Holiday

Much like this summer, the summer of 1959 was also ‘scorchio’. But unlike these days, we just called it ‘glorious weather’, with summer carrying on right in to October. In this photograph of Combwich station, no one appears to be out and about, but the arrival of the train here will no doubt change that. 

In a few seconds, the only passengers, a family group of 7 on their annual holiday from Upper Thong, Yorkshire will alight. Though quite why they’ve travelled all the way to an unremarkable small town in North Somerset when they could have gone to Whitby or Bridlington I have no idea. 

Although we cannot see them, the family are all ‘properly dressed’, despite the temperature being in the mid 80s Fahrenheit. The men and boys are wearing heavy tweed jackets, shirt, tie, and trousers made from horsehair, or shorts for those under 21. The fairer sex are trussed up in tight fitting dresses, hats and a thick hand me down cardigan “if it were good enough for yer nan, it’s good enough for you”. 

They still have a few warm and rather dry corned beef sandwiches left and a large jar of uncle Frank’s pickled eggs. Father bought some rancid home brew, but that’s only for the men an older boys, the small children and women will have to drink warm and slightly sour milk. But that’s okay, we didn’t complain in those days, especially if from the Grim North where just experiencing daylight was considered a right royal treat. 

Tonight they’re staying at Mrs Miggins’ Boarding House, with all the extended family sharing the same bed on a strict shift rotation. Mrs Miggins doesn’t want any nonsense though, everyone has to be back at the guesthouse by 8pm, and they’re only allowed to run one bath to share during their week long stay. Ah, the good old days…

You can buy the men a warm beer or the ladies a sweet sherry here 

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Don’t Be Like Barry

Saturday morning at the colliery. After several months of searching for Beryl’s ancient Austin Seven, it’s finally been tracked down behind The Pedant & Armchair pub. It was under a tarpaulin covered in garden rubbish. When she sold it, she was never paid, the cheque bouncing. Suspicions are that Barry Bullhead from the Ministry of Misery was involved, he’s been trying the get the car off the road for many years. This is no surprise, for we all know that those in power abuse their positions. 

However Barry has gone a step too far this time; Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head), 1954/55/56 West of England Gravedigger of the Year Champion Doug, Ronny ‘knuckles’ Grubscrew and ‘Oh my gawd’ Oliver, twin half brother of Ned are out to get him. Though chances are Barry will be taken out by a train any minute, thus saving them the job. 

So kids, remember, if you’re out to lynch somebody (maybe for pinching your Triang Hornby Type 3, or using code 100 flexi track when you wanted code 75) do not play on the railway, it’s a dangerous place. Don’t be like Barry. 

Ps, Beryl is going to get her Austin properly serviced and back on the road shortly.

You can help Beryl get her car serviced here

Friday, 12 August 2022

Airfix 4F

It’s front end Friday again. Here’s my ancient rebuilt Airfix Midland 4F trundling across cement quay. I bought this engine back in 1982, and in more recent years it’s received a Comet chassis for loco and tender. The original tender drive being replaced. It’s a most incredible runner, with extraordinary pulling power. I put that down to the compensated chassis which means the wheels stick to the track like a limpet. 

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Milk & Coal

It’s Thursday morning, and a fresh wagon load finest Welsh steam coal is just about to be propelled in to the dairy. In the 1950s powdered coal used to be mixed in with milk, cream, butter and cheese for nutritional purposes. This is why we were tougher back then. It also ensured we were regular, but firm of bowel with the added bonus of reduced bad breath due to the carbon which would absorb the pungent odour caused by rotten teeth and smoking un tipped cigarettes. Another true tale from the land of the little people of Little Britain in those rose tinted days of yore. 

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Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Locked Out. Again!

Wednesday morning at Moorewood Colliery. Doug has accidentally locked himself out of the engine winding house again. It never used to be locked, but since moonshine is stored in there, management decided to put a lock on the door and one of those slow operating spring loaded lever arm things. Doug forget to put the wooden wedge under the door to stop it from closing. 

Meanwhile to the right, Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse is giving Barry Bullhead and Clive one of their daily Latin lessons before collecting the latest tranche of coal. Such a clever horse.

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Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Flying Visit

This time last week I had a flying visit to North Yorkshire on a photography assignment. But found time to pop in to Pickering Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for a few minutes. I believe trains are diesel assisted currently so the engines don’t have to work as hard, so as to reduce the quite real risk of lineside fire. Of course I might be talking rubbish, regulars to this page will know that I’m an expert at writing nonsense, so I’m happy to be corrected. 

Monday, 8 August 2022

Monochrome Monday and Music

Monochrome Monday, high up on Mendip, possibly near Chilcompton an ex LMS ‘Jinty’ tank loco poses for the photographer next to the loading hopper.

And in other news, I need to escape toy train land from time to time, not many know it’s my day job which involves around commercial photography for Model Rail mag, model railway retailers and other customers. Model making commission work fills the holes in between.

So at the weekend I try gig or busk with my band Los Doritos, performing music mostly from the era of the long haired bank clerk, brown suits with huge lapels, Tupperware, Watneys Red Barrel and of course British Leyland. On Sunday we played at Godalming Staycation, a super event with lots of music and of course a beer stand or two! 

Saturday, 6 August 2022

Radioactive Milk

It’s the first day of oil replacing coal at the Hemyock creamery used to heat the pasteurisation gubbins thingamajig machinery. Barry Bullhead and Clive ponder on the bridge playing Poohsticks, observing the now empty fuel tank go back across the road. By the way, Barry always wins at Poohsticks, his floating twig always beating Clive’s to the other side of the bridge. 

That’s Clive’s Landrover behind, the trailer is carrying a fresh consignment of moonshine. This one being an unusual batch, for Clive used lactose in the initial fermentation. I’m sure most of us know that lactose sugar comes from milk - us being deep in Devon - the county of cream and of course custard. Once the gates reopen, Clive will drop off a few jars of moonshine in exchange for some short dated gold top milk for the next batch of nudge nudge, wink wink. 

To the right, Doug is stood on what is now the last of the coal, he’s a bit confused because he was expecting a full wagon load of fresh coal. Shovelling oil might be messy he thinks. And by the way, that’s our Liz stood next to the small truck, she’s having a few days away from The Palace, incognito of course, so to mix with the common people. 

In the far distance to the right, the men in white coats from The Ministry of Nuclear Misinformation are inspecting the latest batch of radioactive milk destined for the mid-morning school milk break. This new early 1960s initiative being part of a new government scheme to make children’s teeth whiter. Another advantage of this ground breaking venture is that their teeth will glow in the dark, making them easier to find if stuck up a chimney or locked in the cellar at 3am. 

And for my readers from afar, 60 or so years ago, most children in Little Britain smoked a pipe, swept chimneys and lived in cellars. Posh children usually went to an expensive boarding school, which is much the same thing, but had the addition of ex-military youth-hating tweed-clad Latin mumbling psychopathic teachers with a well oiled cane and the ability to hit a child between the eyes with a blackboard rubber from 20 yards. Howzat! 

You can buy me a radioactive beer here.


Friday, 5 August 2022

Honky Tonk Woman

An August Friday in 1969, the overnight mist and light rain is starting to clear, for the weather forecast is for another scorching day. 

Somewhere on the west of England mainline, sees a tatty Mk1 hauled by an equally tatty Class 22 heading east. The carriage was only painted BR blue and grey in the latter half of 1966, but it must have been a Friday job. However it will be heading for fresh paint job in September, hopefully the preparation will be less rushed this time. 

Our intrepid photographer, is officially here on assignment for the British Rail publicity department with his trusty Mamiya C33 and a few rolls of Ektachrome - this being the view through the lens. Coming towards us, a light engine Class 33 is heading to an unknown destination, it having escaped from the Southern Region most likely at Reading

And finally with the weekend just around the corner, The Rolling Stones are top of the UK Hit Parade with Honky Tonk Woman. Oh for that time machine.

Time machine research fund


Thursday, 4 August 2022

Great British Model Railways 2022

People often ask me why I don’t do a book. Well, here’s the next best thing, 12 fabulous layouts by some great modellers all photographed by me and printed on higher quality paper than the regular magazine - we call it a ‘bookazine’. Very much a keeper and far too good for the cat litter tray after enjoying (you can always buy an extra copy for the cat though). The wonderful layouts within, many chosen by me, are are exclusive to this publication and have not been featured in the monthly magazine - click on the link above for your copy.

Stocks are limited, so don’t delay!

Monday, 1 August 2022

Stinking Bog

Monday, and the toilet immediately behind the signal cabin is particularly smelly on this muggy August morning. It only ever sees bleach and a mop once a year. To avoid the pungent pong, Harold tends to not be inside the cabin much on days like today. Over the weekend he painted the rather splendid fire buckets, they’ve been painted 23 times already this summer. 

Bleach fund