Wednesday, 31 December 2014
Wikipedia has some information on the line from Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury here and on the line beyond Shrewsbury to Chester here.
I've been familiar with the G.W.R. route from Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury and beyond since childhood. Back then, manual signal boxes with Absolute Block working controlled the route from Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury but over the years, one by one, they've been eliminated. I've continued to use the line to Shrewsbury and beyond intermittently for various trips.
When I was young, of course, Wolverhampton (Low Level) Station was in full use, the haunt of 'Castles' and 'Kings'. From Wolverhampton, there were two competing main lines to London, G.W.R. and L.M.S. and I've written briefly about my recollections of Wolverhampton's stations in the post West Midland Railways. In the 1960s, the G.W.R. route to London was chosen for closure, once the former L.M.S. line had been electrified. When the Low Level station was taken out of use for trains north of Wolverhampton, the line from Shrewsbury was adapted so as to make a connection with the L.M.S. route, just north of Wolverhampton (High Level) Station. A rather sad passenger service survived from Wolverhampton to Birmingham (Snow Hill) which ended up being operated by a single unit diesel multiple unit ('bubble car'). In the last days of this passenger service I actually got to work Handsworth Jn. and Hockley signal boxes (unofficially). This service was finally withdrawn in 1972 but the site was retained as a parcels depot until complete closure in 1981.
At Wolverhampton (Low Level), the trains are long gone, but the station mouldered on for years, as a listed structure. There were optimistic plans to renovate the station and turn it into a railway museum and some artefacts were actually brought in. But it was not to be. Various plans for a major conference centre came and went. The Bluebrick Project finally redeveloped the site with newbuild Premier Inn and Bars and Bistros, retaining the principal structures. The platform awnings were dismantled, prior to renovation and incorporation in the new development.
As recently as 2006, the site was being cleared. The Up platform is on the left, the Down platform on the right.
In 2012, work to renovate the original down side station buildings was commenced by 'Grand Station - Conference and Event Venue, Wolverhampton'.
Grand Station - Conference and Event Venue, Wolverhampton.
As I mention above, the line to Shrewbury now diverges from the Stour Valley Line to Bushbury and the north at a double junction just north of Wolverhampton station.
View from a Down train diverging from the Stour Valley onto the Shrewsbury Line just North of Wolverhampton station. The Stour Valley Line curves to the right towards Bushbury. The tall chimney on the right is part of Wolverhampton's Waste Incineration Plant.
The Shrewsbury line has been electrified as far as Oxley, where there's a large Alstom Maintenance Depot which looks after the 'Pendolinos' operating the service to London (Euston).
Sidings at the Alstom Traincare Depot, Oxley in 2011.
Wolverhampton is described in sections of book reference  and in . The post West Midland Railways has a list of further books on railways around Wolverhampton.
This signal box controlled the junction with the branch to Ironbridge. This branch remained in use for some time to convey coal to Ironbridge Power Station. There were two Ironbridge power stations, 'A' and 'B' (confusingly, also called 'Buildwas A and B'). There's a Wikipedia article here. The 'A' station closed in 1981, the 'B' station, now operated by E-On, has been converted to run on biomass until 2015, as described here.
As signalling between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury was modernised (with colour light signals throughout) Madeley Junction was first provided with a signalling panel to control most of the line from Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury (including Wellington). But Madeley Junction is now abolished and control is now from the West Midlands Signalling Centre (I think).
Madeley Junction Signal Box in 2008.
Wellington, on the way to Shrewsbury, has become a fairly regular destination over the last few years. The signal boxes and upper-quadrant semaphore signals have gone but the station buildings and platform canopies are remarkably intact.
2.45 p.m. Wellington-Crewe (via Market Drayton) leaving Wellington, Sat 21-Jul-1962 (D. Wynne Jones Collection).
Wellington Down platform, looking towards Shrewsbury showing departing down train, 24-May-2008.
1.15 p.m. Stafford-Shrewsbury arriving at Wellington with 'Jubilee' 45699 'Galatea', Sat 21-Jul-1962 (D. Wynne Jones Collection).
View towards Wolverhampton from Wellington Down Platform (Platform 2). Bay (Platform 3) on right, 24-May-2008.
Wellington is described in sections of book references  and .
Development of railways around Shrewsbury
Click here for larger image
Railway Clearing House map of lines around Shrewsbury (c. 1914).
Signalling around Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury station still retains three manual signal boxes and a mass of both upper-quadrant and lower-quadrant semaphore signals (although Health and Safety Concerns have led to rebuilding of access ladders and platforms so that the resulting structures are scarcely recognisable as British signals). There are also a few colour light signals dotted around.
Abbey Foregate Signal Box
Approaching Shrewsbury from Wolverhampton, Abbey Foregate Signal Box is a modernised Great Western brick-built box. The Down Home is now a colour light signal with a dual theatre-type route indicator but other signals are semaphore and points are manually operated by rodding.
The signalman (...er... 'signaller') leans from one of the modern windows of Abbey Foregate Signal Box. Note the 'Great Western' pattern cast signal box nameplate.
Severn Bridge Junction
This famous 'box' is a large, tall L&NWR composite box which continues to control traffic in and out of the simplified south end of Shrewsbury station, albeit with fewer working levers than before.
The fortress-like appearance of Severn Bridge Junction signal box.
The north end of Shrewsbury is controlled by another proud survivor, also a L&NWR composite design, also retaining its manual operation.
Shrewsbury: Crewe Junction signal box.
Book reference  gives a detailed history of railways around Shrewsbury.
For a detailed map of what remains in 2014, refer to 'Railway Track Diagrams: Book 4 Midlands & North West', published by TRACKmaps (ISBN 978-0-9549866-7-4).
Wellington appears in the following books:-
 'GWR Junction Stations' by Adrian Vaughan, published by Ian Allen Ltd. (ISBN 0 7110 1790 5).
 'By Great Western to Crewe' by Bob Yate, published by Oakwood Press (0 85361 639 6).
Wolverhampton appears in the following books:-
 'Rail Centres: Wolverhampton' by Paul Collins (originally published in 1990 by Ian Allen, reprinted by Booklaw Publications in 2008) ISBN 1-901945-23-5.  'Oxford Worcester & Wolverhampton Portrait of a Famous Route Part 2: Worcester to Wolverhampton' by Bob Pixton, published by Runpast Publishing (ISBN 1 870754 60 3).
Shrewsbury is described in the following book:-
 'Rail Centres: Shrewsbury' by Richard K. Morriss, published by Booklaw Publications (ISBN 1-901945-20-0).
 'Shrewsbury Railway Station – A brief history' by John Horsley Denton published by John Horsley Denton and Tim Smith (20pp).
Wolverhampton Low Level Station
Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury line
Wellington, ex-Great Western Railway
Shrewsbury area railways
[Book 6 added 15-Sep-2015]
The post A Trip to South Wales (Part 1) describes my journey as far as Swansea and the post A Trip to South Wales (Part 2), describes the remainder of my journey.
The Shrewsbury and Hereford railway was developed between 1850 and 1853, linking the named towns. It was in an area of interest to both the Great Western Railway and the London and North Western Railway so the railway became a joint line. There's more information here.
Hereford was joined to Newport in South Wales by the Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway, as described here.
Additional lines were constructed by the Pontypool, Caerleon and Newport Railway, as described here.
After various closures and alterations, today these three lines form the modern Welsh Marches Line, mainly operated by Arriva Trains Wales services, as described here.
The Central Wales Line (noe the 'Heart of Wales Line') was the creation of the LNWR in its efforts to reach Swansea. The process proved complicated and involved a number of railway companies and several financial disasters. At the southern end it was the Llanelly Railway, one of the earliest in Britain (founded in 1829) which opened a line as far as Pontardulais in 1839. By 1857 the railway had reached Llandilo. A separate company, the Vale of Towy Railway, completed its line between Llandilo and Llandovery in 1857 and this line was leased to the Llanelly Railway.
Meanwhile at the northern end of the line, the Knighton Railway was formed in 1858 to build a line from Craven Arms, on the north/south Shrewsbury to Hereford line, as far as Knighton. A year later the Central Wales Railway was formed to take the railway on to Llandrindod, and in 1860 a further company, the Central Wales Extension Railway was formed to make the link with the Llanelly at Llandovery. Behind the scenes of all these developments was the LNWR.
It took until 1868 to complete the line with a branch from Pontardulais to Swansea. In the same year the LNWR took over the Knighton, Central Wales, and Central Wales Extension Railways and took a half share in the Vale of Towy Railway. Part of the reason for the time taken was the difficulty of construction of the Sugar Loaf tunnel and the Cynghordy Viaduct just to the north of Llandovery on the Extension line. The Cynghordy viaduct had eighteen arches built in sandstone and lined with brick and is 259 m (850 ft) long on a gentle curve and 31 m (102 ft) above the valley at its highest point. From that date the LNWR had access to Swansea.
Preserved LNWR composite signal box at Llandrindod Wells.
For more information, refer to 'A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: Volume 12 South Wales' [reference 4].
Layouts and Illustrations of Selected Stations
Oxford Publishing Co. published a series of three volumes of drawings and photographs of selected Great Western stations R. H. Clark. These books (details are given in 'Book References' below and they are still available second-hand, if not new) have historical details of a number of stations (or former stations) I passed through on my trip to South Wales and I've listed these below. Note that the numbers refer to the Key Map in each volume, not page numbers: the actual drawings are in alphabetic order by station name.
Volume 1 [reference 1]:
67 HerefordVolume 2 [reference 2]:
107 St. Devereux
119 Tram Inn
101 LeominsterVolume 3 [reference 3]:
128 Neath General
6 Abergavenny Junction'GWR Junction Stations' reference  has sections describing Leominster and Wellington stations.
66 Craven Arms
116 Llandilo (Llandeilo)
Shrewsbury is described in book reference .
 'An Historical Survey of Selected Great Western Stations - Layouts and Illustrations' by R.H. Clark, published by Oxford Publishing Co. (SBN 0 902888 29 3).
 'An Historical Survey of Selected Great Western Stations - Layouts and Illustrations - Volume 2' by R.H. Clark, published by Oxford Publishing Co. (ISBN 0 86093 015 7).
 'An Historical Survey of Selected Great Western Stations - Layouts and Illustrations - Volume 3' by R.H. Clark, reprinted 1987 by Book Club Associates.
 'A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: Volume 12 South Wales' by D. S. M. Barrie, published by David & Charles (ISBN 0-7153-7970-4).
 'GWR Junction Stations' by Adrian Vaughan, published by Ian Allen Ltd. (ISBN 0 7110 1790 5).
 'Rail Centres: Shrewsbury' by Richard K. Morriss, published by Booklaw Publications (ISBN 1-901945-20-0).
Related articles on other sites
Shrewsbury and Hereford railway (Wikipedia).
Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway (Wikipedia).
Pontypool, Caerleon and Newport Railway (Wikipedia).
Welsh Marches Line (Wikipedia).
Heart of Wales Line (Wikipedia).
Related articles on this site
A Trip to South Wales (Part 1).
A Trip to South Wales (Part 2).
Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury Line.
Shrewsbury area railways.
Heart of Wales Line.
Swansea area railways.
Newport Station, Gwent.
The first illustration shows the appearance from the road in the 1950s when the station had to carry large numbers of passengers in the holiday season.
Llandudno Staion in the 1950s (from 'An Historical Survey of Chester to Holyhead Railway Track Layouts and Illustrations').
By the time of my visit in 2011 (described in the post A Trip to the Seaside (Part 2)), the former platforms 4 and 5 had been downgraded to sidings and all the station buildings to the right of the vehicle entrance had been demolished, although vehicles could still use the carriage drive which extended along the broad island platform serving platform 3 and the disused platform 4.
Llandudno Station, 2011.
When I returned to Llandudno in 2014 (by road with Ann and Dean described here), I found that further work had been carried out. The vehicle entrance is no more and the large aperture has been glazed and provided with a set of automatic doors for foot passengers. The sidings (formerly serving platforms 4 and 5) have been removed, allowing the creation of a substantial car park. Traditional cast gateposts with metal gates and fencing are provided to close off the carpark when necessary (they may be re-furbished items relocated from the old vehicle entrance). Curiously, the internet entry on the National Rail Enquiries Site here states that there's no car park at the station.
Llandudno Station, August 2014.
As elements of the old station have been retained, the overall effect is, I admit, not bad. A sign outside the station shows the various bodies involved in the Improvement Project.
Sign showing bodies involved in the Improvement Project.
Related posts in this blog
Trip to Holyhead (Part 1: Crewe to Llandudno).
The Holyhead to Crewe Railway Line.
All my pictures of Llandudno Station are in the album:-
North Wales Line (Crewe - Llandudno).
The well-known 1912 photograph of Kipling by
E. O. Hoppé, via Wikimedia Commons.
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was a poet and writer with exceptional writing skills but, as the political climate changes, he is sometimes regarded as a controversial figure. Although Kipling was born in India, his schooling was in England. His parents were unable to pay for him to go to university so, as a young man, he returned to India in 1882 and worked in the newspaper industry.
Burmese expansionism into Manipur and Assam led to the First Burma War (1824 - 1826) after which British India also acquired what is now Rakhine State in the north and what is now Mon State in the south, with Mawlamyine as the first capital of British Burma. Following the Second Burma War of 1852, Lower Burma was placed under direct administration from India, after which Rangoon (now Yangon) became capital of British Burma. Kipling's first contact with Burma, as an assistant editor in India, was in dealing with cable reports from Burma. Growing British concerns about French intentions in Upper Burma precipitated the Third Burma War in 1885 and resulted in the dreadful King Theebaw being exiled to India and the remainder of Burma being annexed by Britain. Elements of the former Burmese Army became brigands and harried the British for some time. Kipling's prolific writing included a very well-known poem called 'The Road to Mandalay' first published in 1892 in 'Barrack Room Ballads':-
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say,
"Come you back, you British Soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay;
Can't you 'ear their paddles clunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
An' 'er name was Supi-Yaw-Lat jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot,
An' wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
Bloomin' idol made o' mud-- Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd--
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay ...
When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-la-lo!"
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek again my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak.
Elephants a-piling teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay ...
But that's all shove be'ind me -- long ago and fur away,
An' there ain't no 'buses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."
No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay ...
I am sick 'o wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones,
An' the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an' grubby 'and--
Law! wot do they understand?
I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay ...
Ship me somewheres East of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there ain't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin', and it's there that I would be--
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
O the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
In 1908, the American composer Oley Speaks (1874-1948) set the words to music and this is the form in which I and many people knew it - I was unaware until planning my first visit to Burma in 2008 that the words were by Kipling. Apparently, Frank Sinatra used the first and last verses on one of his recordings but Kipling's family disapproved of this interpretation. 'Moulmein', referred to in the poem, is now called Mawlamyine.
In March 1889, following disagreement with his employer and increasing success in the publication of poems and articles, Kipling decided to return to England and become a full-time writer. He took an eastwards route, via Burma, Japan and the United States. During the journey, he supplied a number of letters for publication to his former employer in India, the 'Pioneer'. In one of these letters, Kipling wrote an evocative line which still resonates with visitors to modern Burma:-
"This is Burma and it will be quite unlike any land you know about".
The letters were subsequently published by Macmillan and Company in London in 1900 as a 2-volume publication 'From Sea to Sea and other Sketches - Letters of Travel'. The publication went into innumerable reprints over the years. A 'Pocket Edition' appeared in 1908 (with a smaller page size and printed on thinner paper but similarly in two volumes) and this version was also frequently reprinted.
The line appears in Volume I, the section 'From Sea to Sea', Chapter II where Kipling describes the arrival of the steamer at Rangoon, as the Shwedagon appears:-
"Then, a golden mystery upheaved itself on the horizon - a beautiful winking wonder that blazed in the sun, of a shape that was neither Muslim dome nor Hindu temple-spire. It stood upon a green knoll, and below it were lines of warehouses, sheds and mills. Under what new god, thought I, are we irrepressible English sitting now? ... It explained in the first place why we took Rangoon, and in the second why we pushed on to see what more of rich or rare the land held. Up till that sight my uninstructed eyes could not see that the land differed much in appearance from the Sunderbuns, but the golden dome said: 'This is Burma and it will be quite unlike any land you know about.'"
Kipling goes on to describe his brief time in Rangoon. On his way to Japan, the steamer called at Mawlamyine which Kipling also describes. All told, Kipling was only in Burma about 3 days, yet he's one of the best known writers about Burma and, for me and many other visitors, correctly expresses the sense of wonder the country induces.
The Wikipedia article contains much more information about Kipling. There is also an active Kipling Society. Their website includes the text of an address by George Webb to the Royal Society of Asian Affairs in 1983 titled 'Kipling's Burma' here.
There are a number of books about Burma written by Englishmen where I have re-prints obtained in Yangon and these may be available elsewhere or as e-books or 'Print on Demand' books. I always try AbeBooks for hard-to-find or second-hand books (where you have the pleasure of dealing, albeit by internet, with real booksellers and real book enthusiasts all over the world).Alternately, try Google Books. The Internet Archive is also a source for digitised books.
[ 1] 'The Land of the White Elephant: Sights and Scenes in South-Eastern Asia' by Frank Vincent Junior, published 1873 by Samson Low, Marston, Low & Searle, London.
[ 2] 'British Burma and its People: being sketches of native manners, customs and religion' by Capt. C. J. F. S. Forbes, F.R.G.S., published 1878 by John Murray, London.
[ 3] 'The Burman: His Life and Notions' by Shway Yoe (Sir James George Scott), first published 1882, re-published by W. W. Norton & Co, Inc. in 1963.
[ 4] 'History of Burma From the Earliest Time to the End of the First War with British India' by lieut.-General Sir Arthur P. Phayre G.C.M.G., K.C.S.I., and C.B., first edition 1883, second edition 1967 by Susil Gupta, London & Santiago de Compostela.
[ 5] 'A Short History of Burma' by S. W. Cocks, M.A., first edition 1912, reprinted 1918, second editions 1919, 1923 by Macmillan & Co., Limited, London.
[ 6] 'The Burman Empire: A Compilation of twelve lectures delivered by W. L. Barretto, O.B.E., B.A., of the Middle Temple, Bar-at-Law', published 1935 by Hein Co & Press, Pyapon.
[ 7] 'Britsh Rule in Burma 1824-1942' by G. E. Harvey Late Indian Civil Service' published 1946 by Faber and Faber Limited, London.
[ 8] 'Political Incidents of the First Burmese War' by Thomas Campbell Robertson, Late of the Bengal Civil Service, published 1853 by Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street.
[ 9] 'Burma, After the Conquest, viewed in its political, social and commercial aspects' by Grattan Geary, published 1886 by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Revington.
 'A Civil Servant in Burma' by Sir Herbert Thirkell White K.C.I.E., published 1913 by Edward Arnold, London.
 'The Pagoda War, Lord Dufferin and the fall of the Kingdom of Ava 1885-1886' by A.T.Q. Stewart, published 1972 by Faber and Faber (ISBN 0 571 08722 1).
 'Red Moon Rising' by George Rodger, published 1943 by The Cresset Press, London (describing events during World War II).
[Additional book references added: 13-May-2016]
Tuesday, 30 December 2014
A few fairly recent examples of maintenance work are outlined below.
When I came to the Hall, lead-based primer offering excellent performance was still in use. Health and Safety legislation then banned the use of lead in paints, leaving zinc-based primers as the best alternative. After a few years, the use of zinc, too, was banned. Modern water-based primers have very poor performance compared with the earlier options. In September 2013, external repainting as necessary was carried out. The view below shows an upper window with flaking paint removed prior to re-painting.
Window awaiting repainting.
Whilst a ladder was in position on the rear elevation, I took a few pictures, included in the Brewood Hall Roof album, linked below.
This picture was taken from a ladder on the rear elevation, during repainting in 2013. John Keay foots the ladder for the photographer. Note the telecommunications 'drop wire' L to R in the foreground
The cost of this little job was actually covered by insurance. In connection with some ongoing maintenance work, we had a skip delivered. When the lorry came to collect the loaded skip, the front wheel cracked a cast iron manhole cover in the yard. This was a bit surprising - the manhole cover had been replaced a few years earlier in connection with renovation of the Small Barn and a heavy-duty cover had been specified. The skip firm's insurance covered the damage so, in November 2013, Pete and Jim cut out the old frame and fitted an 'extra heavy duty' manhole cover.
Jim cutting out the old manhole cover frame.
Most of the rain water pipes and soil pipes at Brewood Hall are cast iron. In severe weather, this raises the risk of cracking and in November 2013 Pete and Jim replaced a cracked soil pipe at the rear of the Hall. Modern Health and Safety practice required the use of an access tower to get to the broken pipe so the relatively simple job of exchanging the cracked pipe for a new one was compounded by the need to hire a suitable self-assembly tower, bring it to site, erect it and, on completion of the work, disassemble the tower and transport it back to the hire company.
Jim and Pete assembling the access tower.
Before the access tower was taken down, I ascended with a camera to take a few record shots. My pictures of the garden are on page 2 of my May-December 2013 album, linked below.
Jim, Pete, Anne and Dean pictured from the access tower.
The Hall roof has clay tiles, with some lead work. The Small Barn has clay tiles. The Big Barn was re-roofed (possibly as late as 1930) with slate. As far as possible, these roofs and the associated guttering and rain water pipes have an annual inspection before the worst of the winter weather sets in. In 2014, my roofers managed all the work from a triple extension ladder apart from one area. They promised to return when they had a 'Cherry Picker' on hire and on 29th September 2014, they were back. In case you're wondering, yes, I did manage to get a 'lift' to see the less-accessible areas of the roof. I was very impressed with the capabilities of the truck-mounted 'Cherry Picker'.
The neat appearance of the truck-mounted 'Cherry Picker'.
Brewood Hall Roof and Views of the District Brewood Hall Maintenance. Brewood Hall Garden, May-December 2013 (page 2)
Trip to Burma
On the 20th April, I set off on another expedition to Burma. The first trip report can be found here, with a link to the next post, and so on. Alternately, all the posts on the trip can be found here. Each post has links to related photographs. All the pictures on the trip are in the collection here (apart from railway pictures, which are in the collection here).
Dr. Hla Tun met me on arrival in Yangon and, accompanied by his son, we travelled to Mon State (south of Yangon) to visit a number of Drop In Centres forming part of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Project. We returned to Yangon where Dr. Hla Tun had arranged for me to visit the Power Signal Box at Yangon Central Station. I also travelled around the Circle Line in the cab of the diesel-electric locomotive (there's an incomplete technical report on the cab ride here). Next, Dr. Hla Tun and I flew to Nyaung Oo so that the Doctor could see patients at the Bagan Medical Clinic and I was able to study the growth of this project. Dr. Hla Tun then returned to Yangon in connection with the donation of medical equipment to the clinic but I was able to visit a number of schools in the Bagan area which are supported by the RTM Social Contribution. Next, I flew to Mandalay where I spent a day with my friend Htein Linn and his family and met my friend Ko Hlaing and his family. Then, it was back to Yangon for two nights before flying north again to Rakhine State. I spent three marvellous days in Sittwe and Mrauk U seeing a little of this historic area, after which I flew back to Yangon. I managed to meet Dr. Hla Tun and Captain Myo Lwin for drinks at the Strand briefly then I explored the city again on foot. All too soon it was time to leave Myanmar.
Shaitthaung Temple, Mrauk U.
One Night in Qatar
I flew Yangon - Doha where I spent one night before returning home on a Doha - Manchester flight. My brief visit is described here.
View of the amazing skyline from across the Bay, Doha, Qatar.
Trip to Vienna
On the 7th November, I flew from Heathrow to Vienna with my friend Rita for a weekend exploring the city. Although only a short visit, we managed to fit in a number of experiences. The first trip report can be found here, with a link to the next post, and so on.
Schoenbrunn Palace, Vienna
TRAVEL IN THE UK
During the year I made various trips (mainly by rail) to various destinations.
Blackpool & Fleetwood
On 3rd January, I made a trip to Blackpool and Fleetwood, described here (with railway notes here).
On the 25th January, I was off again, this time on a day trip to Holyhead, described in two reports - Part 1 and Part 2. Later, I added another report with more information on the history and signalling of the Holyhead to Crewe line, which you can find here.
On 5th February. I travelled to East Croydon by rail, to visit my friend Rita. The journey was affected by Industrial Action. The trip is described here.
Birkenhead & New Brighton
On 8th February, I made a trip to Birkenhead and New Brighton which is described in three posts - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Later, I added another report with more information on the history and signalling of lines in the Birkenhead area, which you can find here and a post on Services to Birkenhead Woodside in Steam Days which is here.
On 26th February, I travelled by train to Chirk, described here.
Liverpool via the Borderlands Line
On 8th March, I travelled by rail to Liverpool, via a route including 'The Borderlands Line', described in two reports - Part 1 and Part 2.
Furness and the Cumbrian Coast
On 21st June, I made a day trip by rail to Furness and the Cumbrian Coast which is described in two posts - Part 1 and Part 2.
On the 26th July, I made a day trip to South Wales by train. This is described in two reports - Part 1 and Part 2.
Southport and Liverpool
I made a day trip by train to Southport and Liverpool on 9th August. The trip is described in two posts - Part 1 and Part 2.
Huddersfield and Shipley
On 23rd August, I travelled by train to Shipley, near Leeds, to attend the 2014 'Lionsmeet'. I travelled via Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds, allowing time to stop off at Huddersfield to admire the station buildings (listed Grade 1). My report on the trip is here.
Llandudno by Road
On Saturday 30th August I went to Llandudno with Ann and Dean by road. We stayed overnight at the Imperial Hotel and spent most of Sunday exploring the pier and the Great Orme. There's a report here.
The Great Eastern Railway in London
On 8th September, I travelled to London for a business meeting, but left early enough to let me look at the Great Eastern Railway terminus at Liverpool Street and travel as far as Stratford. There's a report here.
The CLC, Liverpool Docks and Wirral Railways Today
Following publication of my post on the history of the Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) here, I decided to travel over the remaining lines on the 4th October. There's a report on these journeys here. On the same day, I transferred to Merseyrail trains to 'finish off' the available CLC lines and explore some of the dock area on foot (On foot around Liverpool Docks) and then continued to explore the Merseyrail network, travelling to West Kirby and finally to Ellesmere Port. The report on my Merseyrail travels is here. Finally, back on Network Rail metals, I travelled from Ellesmere Port to Helsby, Helsby to Warrington Bank Quay and caught a Virgin service back to Wolverhampton. My report on the last segment is here. After all this, I added another post titled Signalling on the former Cheshire Lines Committee in the 1950s.
On Foot around Liverpool Docks
At the end of October, I published the post Notes on Liverpool and its Docks to supplement the earlier On foot around Liverpool Docks. So, having explored on foot from Sandhills to Pierhead on 22nd November, I walked from Sandhills north to Seaforth. This walk is described in two posts - On foot around Liverpool Docks (2) and On foot around Liverpool Docks (3).
During 2014, I was re-elected Secretary of the Old Locomotive Committee and remained an active volunteer at The Battlefield Line and Peak Rail.
The Old Locomotive Committee
On 14th June, the OLCO Annual General Meeting was held in the Museum of Liverpool Museum. There's a report here.
In 2014, 'Lionsmeet' was held at the Bradford Model Engineering Society track at Shipley and there's a report on the event here.
You can find all my posts about OLCO here.
OLCO A.G.M. 2014: The 'Group Shot'.
The Battlefield Line
On the 22nd March, I was rostered to drive the diesel railcar. There's a report here.
I described turns at the Battlefield Line on the single-unit diesel railcar on the 15th July and on 3803 on the 20th July in the post Another Busy Week. The 20th with the Great Western 2-8-0 was particularly notable - five round trips with a 6-coach train and a party of around 60 Morris Dancers performing on the platform at Shenton, taking lunch on the train to Shackerstone and performing on the platform at Shackerstone before we returned them to Shenton! Our last trip of the day started in one of the worst thunderstorms I can remember.
Midweek driving turns on the diesel railcar at the Battlefield Line on 13th August and 27th August are described here.
On 7th September, I was driver of 3803 during the Shackerstone Family Festival. There's a report here.
3803 at Shackerstone ready for the 3rd trip to Shenton on 20th July 2014.
In January and February Peak Rail operated a Winter Timetable where 'Lord Phil' worked the service between Rowsley and Matlock Riverside, running round at each end. I had four driving turns in this period, described here.
On the 2nd March, I was driving 'Lord Phil' when a HST Charter visited Peak Rail, described here.
I described turns at Peak Rail on 12th July and 20th July in the post Another Busy Week.
On 3rd August, I was driver on the second day of the 1940s Weekend. The weather was hot and the event was very well supported. There's a brief report here.
My driving turn on 16th August is described here.
In December, I had one driving turn on the 'Santa' trains, described here.
Peak Rail 1940s Weekend, 2014.
I'm involved in the management of a small commercial woodland in Wales and on the 26th February, I made the first of a number of visits in 2014 with the forester, Rob MacCurrach. There's a report on this visit here.
My next visit was on 24th July, when a felling programme had started. There's a report here.
On the same day, Rob and I had a private tour of the Kronospan factory at Chirk where MDF and related products are manufactured. My report is here.
I next visited Ty Gwyn on 18th August, when timber extraction was well in hand. There's a report here.
Finally, I visited Ty Gwyn on 31st August with Ann and Dean, as we returned from Llandudno. The photographs taken during this visit are at Harvesting (3) 2014.
Harvested timber awaiting collection.
The Second Brewood Vintage Garden Party was held at Brewood Hall on the 5th July. Despite heavy rain the previous day, the sun shone for the event itself. There's a report here.
Brewood Music Festival was held at various venues around Brewood from 10th to 13th July. There's a brief report on the Free Concert in the Market Place here.
As part of a 'Twilight Storytelling Walk around Brewood' initiative by the Libraries and Arts Service of Staffordshire County Council, on 26th November a party of about 25 visited Brewood Hall. There's a short report here.
Once again, the sun shone on the Brewood Vintage Garden Party(Photo: Tricia Underwood).
'ROAD TO MANDALAY' SOCIAL CONTRIBUTION
For a number of years, I've tried to support the charitable initiatives operated under the above name in Burma. When I visit Burma, I try to see as much as possible of the work in hand. When I'm in the U.K., I receive regular e-mails about the work which (with permission) I report in my blog. The charity provides Educational Support to a range of schools and orphanages and Medical Treatment to all ages (centred on the wonderful Bagan Medical Clinic). You can find my posts on Educational Support here and those on Medical Treatment here.
PREVIOUS ANNUAL REVIEWS
I was the driver of 'Lord Phil' on the 21st December 2014. Top and tailed with 'Penyghent', we provided four round trips between Rowsley and Matlock Town, working a 7-coach train. Phil Mason was Fireman and Colin Dodsley Cleaner.
Volunteer of the Year
Phil had been awarded 'Volunteer of the Year' for 2014 and, before we left the shed at Rowsley, Roger Hallett (Joint Managing Director) came aboard to present the engraved glass award to Phil. This was well-deserved recognition for Phil's work on the railway.
Phil Mason (shown draining the fire hose used for watering the locomotive at Rowsley).
Working the trains
The operation was generally similar to the 2013 'Santa' trains (described here, except that we terminated at Matlock Town station (rather than Matlock Riverside) and timings were adjusted to the standard Winter Timetable.
I think each pre-booked train was filled to capacity and, in addition, the 'Palatine' dining set provided a Christmas lunch to pre-booked guests.
This year, 'Lord Phil' was sporting a 'Christmas Pudding' headboard.
'Lord Phil' ready to leave Rowsley, showing the 'Christmas Pudding' headboard.
We ran without incident during the day, except that 'Penyghent' made an unscheduled stop with 'dragging brakes' on one departure from Matlock Town. The Guard and other members of train staff climbed down to 'pull the strings' on all the vacuum brake cylinders of the coaches and we were quickly under way again.
On the last round trip, it was starting to get dark. Colin lit a paraffin loco lamp on the footplate and, when we stopped at Darley Dale, he exchanged it for the unlit lamp we'd displayed from Rowsley. The single lamp next to the chimney is the standard headcode for an 'ordinary passenger train' stopping at intermediate stations. There's a little more about traditional paraffin lamps used on trains here. When we arrived at Matlock Town, I moved the headlamp to a position above one buffer and inserted the red glass 'shade', so that we correctly displayed a red tail lamp on the way back to Rowsley.
At Darley Dale, Colin removes the unlit headlamp, prior to fitting the lighted lamp.
As last year, Christmas Illuminations were provided on both platforms at Darley Dale, in addition to the traditional platform lighting on the Up Platform. I'm afraid that the cast iron columns for similar lighting on the Down platform still await fitting of the lanterns.
View of the Down Platform at Darley Dale, showing Christmas Illuminations.
Hard work during the day by many volunteers (and especially Santa Claus and his Elves distributing presents to the children) meant that our visitors went away happy.
On arrival back at Rowsley on the last train, we uncoupled and made our way across to the shed where Harvey coaled us, ready for the following day's service. We then stabled the locomotive on the outside pit and, with good teamwork, quickly completed disposal - remaining fire 'knocked out' (leaving a small fire pushed against the firebox tubeplate to allow the boiler to cool gently), ashpans raked out, smokebox char removed, all tools returned to stores, boiler filled, gauge frames isolated, all steam cocks closed, inspection all round looking for any possible problems, locomotive hosed down to remove loose ash. There's more information on disposal here. Once these duties were complete, Phil, Colin and I 'signed off' after a satisfying day.
Peak Rail 'Santa' Trains 2014
Friday, 12 December 2014
In my earlier post, On foot around Liverpool Docks (2), I described the start of my walk around the Liverpool Northern Docks area on Saturday, 22nd November 2014, as far as the northern extent of the 19th century docks. My description of the walk continues below.
Sketch Map of Part of Liverpool Docks
Gladstone and Royal Seaforth Docks in 2014. For explanation of the reference numbers, see the table below.
|1||Dock access roads.|
|3||A565 Dual Carriageway (Crosby Road South).|
|4||Landscape feature (preserved buoy).|
|6||Royal Seaforth Container Terminal Railhead.|
|7||Hardstanding for Shipping Containers.|
|8||Royal Seaforth Dock.|
|9||Soybean Crush/Refine and Imported Feed Ingredient Terminal S2 (Cargill).|
|10||Seaforth Corn Mill (DACSA).|
|11||New Quay under construction for 'Liverpool2'.|
|12||Gladstone Branch Dock No. 3 (formerly Gladstone Graving Dock).|
|13||Gladstone Branch Dock No. 2.|
|14||Gladstone Branch Dock No. 1.|
|15||Gladstone Lock (now single pair of gates).|
|16||Unloading Cranes for loose materials at Liverpool Bulk Terminal.|
|17||Rail Loading Facility at Liverpool Bulk Terminal (a separate facility allows road vehicles to be loaded).|
|18||Liverpool Bulk Terminal.|
|19||Northern part of Regent Road (no public access).|
|20||A565 Dual Carriageway (Rimrose Road).|
|21||A565 Dual Carriageway (Derby Road).|
|23||Dock railway lines (Peel Ports).|
|24||Canada Graving Dock.|
Walking past Gladstone Docks in 2014
In the earlier post here, I explained how my walk northwards had to continue along the dual carriageway A565 (which changed its name as a proceeded, first from Derby Road to Rimrose Road and then to Crosby Road South).
I was now level with the massive Gladstone Dock, planned in the early twentieth century. Gladstone Graving Dock was the first to open, in 1913. The rest of the dock, with its two branch docks, opened in 1927. The lock 1,070 feet long and 130 feet wide connecting Gladstone Dock with the River Mersey was intended to take the largest ships afloat.
I knew that, some years earlier, the southern quay of Gladstone Branch Dock Number 1 had been converted as E.on's Liverpool Bulk Terminal (LBT) for the import of coal. E.on claim:-
"LBT is capable of handling five million tonnes of coal from vessel to stock and then reclaiming to rail or road loading hoppers. A major feature of the Terminal design is the environmental controls designed to minimised coal dust emissions. This involves dust suppression sprays fitted on fixed conveying plant and around the coal stockyard. In addition a water bowser is used for spraying coal stocks to prevent dust. The Terminal is designed to store, treat and reuse water. The drainage system has been designed to collect all water run-off from around the site into a large concrete sump. The water is then pumped through a water treatment system that removes the solids and stores the clarified water ready for reuse. All water discharged into the dock complies with consent limits imposed by the Environment Agency".As more recent legislation makes the use of coal ever more unattractive, E.on committed around twenty million pounds Sterling to convert LBT so as to allow import of wood pellets as an alternative fuel.
View of Liverpool Docks looking north from Nelson Street. The white enclosed conveyors, white transfer towers and blue grab cranes are part of the LBT.
The main contractor for the 'biomass' handling modifications was Hargreaves Industrial Services and there's a little more information here. Fire detection and suppression systems are provided on the conveyors - there's more information here. To ensure the large unloading cranes are used safely, wind speed and direction are continuously monitored - there's a little information here. The massive fabric-clad warehouse for 'biomass' has a skeleton steel framework designed and installed by the UK division of De Boer Structures and the tensile fabric covers were provided by Base Structures. There's a description of the warehouse here.
The biomass facility was commissioned in 2013 and is intended to handle fuel for E.on's Ironbridge power station which has been converted to use Biomass, extending its life to 2015 as described here.
View of Liverpool Bulk Terminal from Rimrose Road, showing the white transfer towers, conveyor and blue grab cranes.
By this time, I was flagging a little. Fortunately, I'd had the foresight to bring cheese sandwiches with me. I ate these eagerly and, energy levels restored, carried on. I'm afraid I could see neither Gladstone Branch Dock Number 2 nor Gladstone Branch Dock Number 3. Number 3 is actually the former Gladstone Graving Dock, converted to a 'wet dock' and now used by P & O Ferries passenger and freight ferries to Dublin.
Walking past Seaforth Dock in 2014
The massive concrete bulk of what appeared to be grain silos appeared on the left, followed by more tall buildings which looked like a corn mill. This was confirmed when I passed the offices, marked 'Seaforth Corn Mill' and 'DACSA'. I'm afraid I had to look up 'DACSA' afterwards. DACSA originated in Spain in 1968 as 'MAICERIAS ESPAÑOLAS SA' and, in 1995, acquired Seaforth Corn Mill which, with a production capability of 960 tonnes per day of raw material, is one of the largest maize mills in Europe.
Part of Seaforth Corn Mill, operated by DACSA.
Once I'd passed the Corn Mill, I had a view of the most recent of the Liverpool docks - Seaforth (often called 'Royal Seaforth') - opened in 1972 as a container handling port. The corner of the dock was within 160 yards of the road I was on. The dock railway line passed behind the DACSA mill and ran parallel to the A565, separated by the dock's steel fencing.
Seaforth, looking south. (L-R) rear of DACSA mill, dock railway line, dock road.
I also had a fairly good view of the south quay of Seaforth dock which was clearly arranged for grain handling. Earlier in the walk that day I'd seen Cargill's rapeseed crush and refinery at Brocklebank. (described in the post here). Now I was looking at Cargill's soybean crush/refinery and imported feed ingredient terminal (S2) at Seaforth Dock. The S2 terminal can unload 650,000 tonnes per annum from bulk carrier ships. The refinery processes crude vegetable oil for "food chain and technical uses".
Seaforth, showing Cargill's soybean crush/refinery and S2 imported feed ingredient terminal.
An ACL container ship (Atlantic Concert, I think) was berthed alongside the north quay of Seaforth dock. Two of the massive travelling dockside container cranes were engaged in unloading or loading containers. A little further along the quay, I could see more container cranes awaiting business, with their jibs lifted clear. There's a brief history of ACL here and useful information on the vessels they operate here.
ACL Container Ship moored alongside the North Quay at Seaforth Dock.
On the landward side of the container cranes there was a large hand-standing area where containers were stored awaiting the next part of their journey. Containers to and from ships can travel by road or rail but I couldn't get a decent view of the rather grandly-titled Royal Seaforth Container Terminal Railhead. It's operated by Freightliner who claim that "with over 37 direct route offerings Freightliner can move maritime containers from the deep sea ports of Felixstowe, Southampton, Tilbury, London Gateway and Seaforth to all major conurbations in the UK". These routes are shown here.
I'd now left the A565 and was on the slip road leading to a large traffic island where passenger and freight road traffic turns off to reach the main dock entrance.
Port of Liverpool, Seaforth Entrance.
I could see none of the activity creating a new quay on the river side of Seaforth Dock which Peel Ports proudly call 'Liverpool2' which will be able to handle larger 'Post-Panamax' container ships. There's more information here and an excellent explanation of the terms 'Panamax' and 'Post-Panamax' in Wikipedia here.
More exploration in Liverpool and Birkenhead
Happy with what I'd been able to see, it was time to walk inland and head for the nearest station. As I made my way across the complicated junctions, a 'landscape feature' caught my attention - a withdrawn navigation buoy set in the ground as the centre piece of some rather attractive landscaping.
The two metal triangles at the top of the buoy are the "topmark" and indicate that this was used as a West Cardinal Mark, meaning ships should pass to the west of the buoy.
To reach the nearest railway station, I joined Princess Road inland. In November 1984 Princess Anne opened Liverpool Freeport comprising a number of docks (Royal Seaforth, Gladstone, Hornby, Alexandra and Langton) where ships do not pay customs duties or taxes. I wondered if the road name commemorates this visit.
Seaforth and Litherland Station is now a simple island platform on Merseyrail's Northern Line. Formerly, this was quadruple track and a junction south of the station allowed some Liverpool Overhead trains to terminate here, rather than at Seaforth Sands.
Seaforth & Litherland Station, looking south with a Southport train approaching. The overbridge in the background carries the North Mersey Branch over the Southport Line.
I caught the next southbound train, changing at Liverpool Central for the Wirral Line. I followed the (almost compulsory) pattern of alighting at James Street, walking to the Museum of Liverpool to check if the 'Lion' locomotive was safe (it was) and then taking the Mersey Ferry to Birkenhead, with an intermediate stop at Seacombe. As always, I enjoyed being on the water but, my, the wind was cold.
I disembarked at Birkenhead to take some pictures of the remaining section of wall which supported the arched roof at the long-gone Birkenhead Woodside station, following a previous visit described here. There's a post about the station - Services to Birkenhead Woodside in Steam Days.
Surviving brickwork and carved stonework from Birkenhead Woodside station.
On a previous trip, I had learned that Birkenhead Hamilton Square station would be closed for refubishment but I decided to walk to the station and see what the rail replacement bus service was like. By the time I'd worked out where the pick-up point was, a bus was approaching so I hopped on and headed off for Liverpool Central. I was quite taken with the carved portal to the 'MERSEY RAILWAY OFFICES', less so with the horrible modern doors and all the cables and bric-a-brac attached to the walls.
Entrance to the 'MERSEY RAILWAY OFFICES' at Birkenhead Central.
There was a train for Liverpool actually in the platform, so I hurried down the access stairs to catch it and gratefully flopped down in a seat. It was a new experience to run slowly through the deserted platform at Birkenhead Hamilton Square without stopping. By the time my train arrived at Liverpool Lime Street station, I'd decided that I'd had enough adventures for the day and that I should make my way home. That decision was confirmed when I found out that there was a 'London Midland' departure for Wolverhampton in just four minutes, so I made my way quickly to the platform and boarded the train at the end of a tiring but interesting day.
Related posts on this website
Notes on Liverpool and its Docks..
On foot around Liverpool Docks.
On foot around Liverpool Docks (2)
Click on any picture above for an uncropped view or search the albums below for pictures at different resolutions which may be downloaded for non-commercial purposes.
Birkenhead and its Docks.
Tuesday, 9 December 2014
The previous report showing monthly statistics covered the period up to the end of March 2014, when the total number of treatments since the Clinic opened on August 6, 2011 was 100,203.
The table below summarises the number of treatments per month from April to October in 2014 and the total number of treatments since the clinic opened on August 6, 2011.
|Month||Treatments in month||Total treatments|
The Bagan Clinic was closed for two weeks during April, because of the important Water Festival and New Year, which is why the number of treatments in the month is below the average.
The picture below shows a 28 year old lady came to the clinic with dyspnea (breathlessness) which she had suffered since the birth of her daughter four months previously. Her delivery had been at home with a traditional birth attendant, being unable to afford a hospital delivery. She displayed pallor and an ECG indicated ischemia. Her haemoglobin level was 7.7 gm% (which should have been more than 10 gm%) and she was also malnourished. She required blood tests, ECG test and medicine (costing the equivalent of 16 USD) and hospitalisation, which she said she could not afford. She lived around 120 miles from the Bagan clinic and had travelled by train with her daughter and mother in law (at a cost of around 7 USD per person since travel by truck would have been around the equivalent of 12 USD each). No charge was made for the treatment at Bagan and, to give mother and daughter a chance of survival, a donation of the equivalent of 50 USD was made for her hospitalisation.
A lady attending the clinic from a village around 130 miles away had covered her umbilicus with tape, with the intention of preventing motion sickness on the journey. In general, road conditions in Burma can be poor and journeys to the clinic can take anything up to 8 hours. Dr. Hla Tun comments that he has seen this technique adopted before, in both children and adults and, of course, these patients are also suffering from underlying health conditions.
The photograph below shows the progress on a new shelter for patients at Bagan which will shortly be completed.
A new shelter for patients at Bagan nears completion.
On Clinic Days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), the Head Monk, in co-operation with the ship 'Road to Mandalay' and Donors ensures that patients and their companions are served a free lunch.
Patients and their companions receiving a free lunch.
On 4th October, one of the Donors helped to serve over 200 free lunches to waiting patients.
Free lunch being served to waiting patients.
Other posts on medical support in Myanmar
There are a number of posts in this Blog describing medical support in Myanmar provided by the RTM Social Contribution with help from donors around the world. You can find them all here.
There's a collection of pictures showing the Bagan Clinic from its inception here.
Doctor Hla Tun's photographs showing the work of the Bagan Clinic in 2014 are here.