|Please, don't ask, I don't know.|
Reports of the "Trainspotting Live" series of three programmes on BBC 4 led me to try and catch up with it on iPlayer, just to see if was as described by a number of reports that I had seen online. In the process, I stumbled upon this article in the online Radio Times, entitled "The Nine Most Scenic Spots for Trainspotting in the UK". Setting aside the issue of why 9 spots instead of 10, I mention this here, because Toddington came in at number 9 on the list. The choice of locations, is always going to be subjective, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and all that, but it was gratifying that we appeared on the list. Just in case you couldn't be bothered to follow the link above, this is the complete list:
1) The Bluebell Railway
2) Glenfinnan Viaduct
3) Whitby North Yorkshire
4) North York Moors National Park
5) Porthmadog, North Wales
6) Llangollen Railway, North Wales
7) Exmoor National Park
9) Toddington, Gloucestershire
A few observations that I'd make would be that the majority are heritage railways (or in the case of number 3, a network rail line over which a heritage railway has running rights) rather than part of the national network. Heritage railways suffer a disadvantage for the average trainspotter in as much as they (galas and occasional incoming mainline rail tours excepted) largely tend to run locos from the same small pool each week, so you'd pretty quickly spot them all. From the ticking off of numbers in a book point of view, not ideal. If you did follow the link, all nine photos used (even the network rail locations) show a steam loco at work, except the photo of Toddington where you get to see our class 73 electro diesel very much in the background. This in spite of the fact that we are the only one with "steam" in our name.
I'm curious as to why just Toddington and not the whole line, Winchcombe station is rather beautiful in my view, and yes, although the GWSR doesn't own it, Gotherngton is a gem as well. The fact that the line is largely built on embankments and offers fine views of the Cotswold hills and in the distance the Malverns should not be overlooked either. I have no doubt that Broadway when it is completed will considerably enhance the beauty of the line as a whole. There are plenty of scenic locations on the West Coast Mainline (Scout Green, Beattock) or East Coast Mainline (Berwick Viaduct), but these are rather spoiled in my humble opinion by the overhead wires (call me a luddite if you will), a fate that is shortly to befall Sydney Gardens in Bath. Who knows, next time the Radio Times prepares such a list, that fact may just propel Toddington up to number 8.... Broadway when completed may change the entry from "Toddington" to the "GWSR" and push it higher still.
I have already said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it has to be said that for this beholder at least, the Settle & Carlisle line, (Ribblehead Viaduct, Ais Gill & Arten Gill Viaduct are all delights), and the Dawlish - Teignmouth sea wall section of line in Devon is a magical place to visit. There omission is to me at least unaccountable. I'm sure that you will have a few favourites of your own as well. Chacun à son goût.
Whilst we're on the subect of Toddington, I ventured up there on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend:
|Foremarke Hall heads off with the first train of the day on Saturday|
|3850's regulator rod, extricated from the boiler|
|It's a bit like musical chairs|
|Eleanor & Sam encouraging the fingers to come off the actuating arm|
|David prepares to receive a superheater element|
|Mark lifts the cab, David and Martin are grateful that it doesn't have to be shifted the hard way|
|It didn't end up going too far...|
|...it was soon joined by 3850's cab roof too.|
|Trevor (l) and John|
|Road 6, soon to get a concrete floor.|
|Can't wait to see it finished and assembled at Broadway|
|3845, still in ex-Barry Island Scrapyard condition...|
|...at least she still has a tender.|
Well that was Saturday, moving on to Sunday, I had a firing turn on 7903, Foremarke Hall. As you may have noticed from my last blog post, I was out on Foremarke Hall last Monday for the first time since she came back into service after her heavy general overhaul. Unfortunately the turn only involved going as far as Winchcombe and back, this time round it would be for the usual full timetable.
Phil was on his best behaviour, he had even gone to the trouble of fetching out Foremarke Hall's lamps for me. Why should Phil be so keen? Well Sunday was the day that Phil was to be assessed as a driver.
|Lamps, ready for action.|
|(l-r), Eleanor, George, Phil, Dave & Tina, trying to hide behind the step ladder|
|Eleanor cleans 7903's boiler barrel|
|7903 & 2807, preparing for action|
|Phil with the big red handle...|
|...setting off from shed|
|Inspector Irving, keeping a close eye on Phil|
|Well why not?|
|Crossing 2807 at Winchcombe|
|Chris & Judy.|
|Topping up the oil|
|Aaron (l) and Phil.|
|Driver Grange (l) & Inspector Irving (Photo courtesy of Steve Oddy)|
I suspect that Phil must have annoyed the roster clerk, as not only did he get lumbered with me for his exam, but he will also get me as his fireman on his second solo turn as a fully fledged driver in August.
And finally, with grateful thanks to Paul Begg of Action Cam Railways, whilst busy scribbling this blog, I have been keeping one eye on my tv screen, as a rather nice DVD, packed with footage from the recent "Swindon Built" gala arrived in the post this morning. Shot using a number of the popular "Go Pro" cameras mounted on the hand rails, under the running plate, from the lineside, using a drone and in one case from inside the cab, it shows our railway in a way that you won't have seen before. The footage from the handrail & brake vans going through Greet tunnel is particularly good. It is hoped that copies of this DVD will be available from the shop at Toddington station in the not too distant future.