On 14 September 2016, I posted some black & white photos of an excursion train at Waverton near Chester in the UK. See: Three Mysteries.
My luck was catching this train, but I knew very little about it.
Several readers wrote to me with suggestions and the consensus was that I’d photographed Belmond’s Northern Belle excursion train, which often runs in central England.
That theme fits nicely with the more recent photos I’ve been running of Belmond’s Grand Hibernian on Irish Rail. However, it is truly coincidental, as the film had sat latent on my desk for more nine years!
I’d all but forgotten about the special move when I finally processed the film this month.
So there you go!
(Special thanks to everyone who wrote to me with details on the Northern Belle!).
A funny way to spend American Independence Day: I was on my way from London to Scotland, and I stopped over at York to intercept Britain’s most famous steam locomotive, engine 4472, better known as Flying Scotsman.
This was my first visit to York, and I was fascinated by the Victorian train shed. Using my Nikon N90S, I exposed a variety of images on Fujichrome.
Five months later, I returned with my Rolleiflex to document the shed on medium format film. Both those photos and the images of Flying Scotsman may be the topics of future posts.
I’d pre-booked tickets to ride from St. Pancras north on the old Midland Railway. The last time I made this journey I traveled on Midland Mainline trains, but this franchise was reconfigured in 2007 and now East Midland Trains handles the run.
Although my day’s journey began on the London Tube, the real part of the railway trip started from St. Pancras, a virtual cathedral of British Railways. (See my previous posts: London April 2013, and London Stations). Here the colossal Victorian era shed shelters Eurostar trains bound for Brussels and Paris.
Rebuilding and reconfiguring of St. Pancras in the mid-2000s, resulted in an inspiring interpretation of the historic architecture. However, domestic long distance trains were then relegated to the newer, less inspired train shed extension beyond William Barlow’s pioneering balloon arch.
I arrived looking for the 0930 departure, only to find the place in a bit of turmoil. When I enquired of member of East Midland’s staff where the 0930 was, he said to me, ‘Don’t know mate, the place is in a kip this morning, all the trains are running late, check the boards.’ An honest answer. I accept that.
Eventually, the same East Midlands man found me again, and said, ‘your train’s on platform 3b.’ Right. We only left about 7 minutes after the advertised schedule. However, we were out of path and got stuck in behind a slower moving First Capitol Connect electric suburban train and lost a few more minutes.
The old Midland route is one of the busiest mainline railways in Britain. It’s a four track electrified line from St Pancras to Bedford. Fast lines are good for 110 mph and used for express passenger trains, with slow lines accommodating stopping First Capitol Connect electric services to Bedford and freights.
It’s a thrill to be racing along at 100+ mph and overtake another train. The route is virtually saturated. This means that based on limitations of current infrastructure and signaling, the Midland route is accommodating the maximum number of trains possible at peak times.
I rode out on a class 222 Meridian diesel-multiple unit, and back to London on a 1970s era HST. The HST offered a nicer ride and more spacious accommodation.
I’m a biased fan of the HST, so the modern cramped facilities of the Meridian just wouldn’t impress me, although it’s a better option than a plane or bus, given a necessary comparison.
My 84 mile trip from London to Market Harborough was accomplished in a little more than an hour and fifteen minutes, with station stops and delays. It was even faster on the return leg. It was a good trip!
The Underground cleverly blends transport and style. In my experience it is one of the world’s most popular public transportation systems. Phrases like ‘Mind the Gap’ appear on mugs and T-shirts, while many shops sell stylized maps of the Underground network.
London is among the world’s great cities. Last week I made my second visit to the British capital this year. While exploring the city and meeting with friends I traveled using London Transport, including the famous Underground.
This year London’s Underground celebrates its 150th anniversary. It is not only the world’s oldest ‘subway,’ but also certainly one of the most interesting and most photogenic.
Using my Lumix LX3 I made a variety of images of the Underground. The camera’s compact size and relative ease of use makes it an ideal tool for photographing in a subway.
For outdoor images I set the camera’s ISO at 80. When underground, I set the ISO at 200, and use the aperture priority (‘A’ on the top dial) while dialing in 1/3 stop overexposure. I generally use the auto white balance, which seems to work reasonably well.
I’ve found that the digital camera is vastly superior to my old film cameras for making photos of London’s Underground. However, I have plenty of color slides of the Tube and Underground lines from earlier trips.
Check upcoming posts for more views of London Transport.
I first visited London more than 15 years ago and since that time, I’ve revisited this dynamic city dozens of times. The impetus for last week’s visit was the opportunity to give an illustrated talk to the London-area Irish Railway Record Society. I made this image of St Pancras on my way to the talk, which was hosted at the Exmouth Arms near London’s Euston Station.
This magnificent structure is one of several important railway terminals along Euston Road. The massive ornate building was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and historically served as both the St. Pancras head house and the Midland Grand Hotel. It remains one of London’s finest railway buildings. Beyond the head house is St Pancras’ immense balloon-style iron and glass train shed—the pioneer work of this type.
During my visit to London, I had the opportunity to explore the transport network. I found a variety of changes since my last trip to London, nearly two years ago. As one of the world’s great cities, London is undergoing a continual transformation. While elements of its past are incorporated in its new urban fabric, in each and every visit I find some things new and note some things forever lost. If nothing else, this keeps my cameras busy.
During this trip, I exposed more than 1000 digital images, and nearly 3 rolls of slide film. I plan to explore this material over the next few posts. Stay tuned!