// archives

Archive for 2013

Never too old?

In the old days, steam firemen started young. I met an old chap at Bitton on the Avon Valley who said he passed out the day after his 16th birthday and was told to be at the shed at 05.00 the following day because he was firing The Devonian to Leeds!  An awesome responsibility. Similarly, […]

Bristol’s GWR neglect

Tonight Michael Portillo was in Bristol again, still clutching his Bradshaw. Yes, I know it’s a repeat but every time it’s on, he says something that hurts: he visits Brunel’s Temple Meads station and eulogises about the unique cantilevered roof and then, outside, complains about the sadly neglected frontage. He is absolutely right. I have […]

Preservation or Operation?

Today 5 of us from the Steam Department at Toddington spent the day down at Winchcombe putting a tarpaulin over a rusting, derelict preserved carriage.  The carriage concerned is, I am told, the earliest surviving Stanier designed LMS carriage and it has sat in a siding becoming more and more of an eyesore for more […]

Is there room for another GWR New Build idea?

It’s a good idea, every so often, to set aside a little time to feel hugely grateful for the fabulous iconic collection of GWR locomotives that are still with us.  It is indeed a remarkable achievement and we should remember that each and every restoration or new build project absorbs  money in breathtaking quantities, vast […]

Quantity or Quality on our Railways?

News that the passenger target figures in the West Midlands for 2020 were exceeded last year is an astonishing reminder of the current explosion in rail travel.  There can be no doubt that this is a major social change and that rail travel is now back to being the rule rather than the exception.  Combined […]

New Hope for Portishead line?

Bristol residents frequently despair at the lack of progress towards any kind of coherent rail network for the city and surrounding areas.  Indeed, Bristol’s new elected mayor is forever repeating the mantra that Bristol is a serious under-achiever among European cities. But Bristol seems to have its slow, rather chaotic way of making progress and […]

New line, new season, new engine!

Yesterday was my first day to experience the new extended 12 mile Glos Warks Railway from Cheltenham to Laverton and it was also the first day of the new season for my fireman training. So, I was feeling slightly nervous and daunted as I set off up the M5 at 05.00 after far too little […]

The Strain of the Train

I watched the BBC2 programme about the West Coast mainline in ‘The Railway’ series and found it all very stressful. I am lost in admiration for the staff of this hectic, nay, manic bit of line as they try to deal with people who know nothing about the problems involved in running a train service […]

Dean Goods restoration to steam – a chink of light?

Anyone who says that the NRM are unresponsive to enthusiast opinion should look at the National Preservation website discussion about whether Dean Goods 2516 should steam again! I don’t know if we have been instrumental in getting this idea to spread – I like to think so – but the topic has made the latest […]

The GWR Community wants ‘Truro’ back in steam!

A fortnight ago, the NRM announced that it was not intending to overhaul world-famous GWR 4-4-0 No 3440 City of Truro and we published its statement here.  We wondered, though, whether our community agreed with this decision so we devised a short survey to test this. The outcome was that we received 76 responses to […]


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