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  1. So the latest Government lockdown has got really tough since the new variant made its appearance but thankfully we are still allowed out to exercise. Most importantly for me is getting our Brooklyn away from his X box and outside for some exercise. He loves walking the coast and we have ventured around the Duddon estuary to the various beaches every weekend when he has a sleepover at our house. on one such trip to Sandscale Haws, a nature reserve a couple of miles from our house, he was delighted to find a WW2 pillbox. The re-inforced concrete gun emplacement has been there since the second world war and has survived because they are so tough and too expensive to get rid of. This one has a clear field of fire across the northern end of Walney channel When I mentioned that I knew where there was another it set off an interest we are still pursuing now of finding all the others. never expecting what we would find! So we went to the other one I knew of, at Cavendish Dock in the port area of Barrow. This is just outside our nuclear shipping terminal Of course he had to stand on top of it! This one also has a commanding view across the channel to Piel island So we started to do some research on the internet and also on Google maps where in the satellite view you can spot the signature shape quite easily and for the last few weekends that has been the aim of our walks. more soon Kev
  2. kevsmiththai

    Steam before Christmas in Cumbria

    So you would not imagine there was much chance of finding any working steam locomotives up North, the weekend before Christmas, in the shortest hours of daylight in the whole year and in the middle of a rapidly deteriorating Covid situation as the mutant virus spreads like wildfire But... The Lakeside & Haverthwaite railway, about 15 minutes from my house, had other ideas. They had cancelled the 'Santa' specials early on but decided to run some socially distanced 'Mincepie specials' To this end they had used their British Railways Mk I compartment coaches with a family 'bubble' each being allocated their own compartment. face masks were mandatoryand if you wanted afternoon tea in the tea room you had to book in advance. Motive power was Andrew Barclay 0-6-0T 1245 of 1911. Now finished in black and named as C arron no 14 seen at Haverthwaite station with the blower on and safety valves lifting The trip was a gentle meander from Haverthwaite to Lakeside station on Windermere. At the lake the loco runs around and returns to Haverthwaite Bunker first At Lakeside the Windermere steamers were laid up for the Winter. 'Tern' was on the slip behind the Signalbox for its annual inspection. I always think this boat looks as elegant out of the water as it does in it You can see how close it is to the signalbox more in a mo Kev
  3. kevsmiththai

    Cumbrian Rail miscellany

    So. After our class 37/4s were withdrawn from mainline passenger use at the end of the contract with Northern Rail the feeling was that life was going to be a bit boring with an endless procession of Class 156 DMUs dominating. However, it hasn't turned out quite like that. 37 419 and 37 402 on the Three Peaks Challenge charter train We've repainted 419 'Carl Haviland' in the classic Intercity executive livery much to the delight of the railfans One of our Class 68s is at the rear of a driver training working with the CAF built driving car at the front Due to a blockade further down the West Coast route, the Saturday Sellafield-Crewe flask working was 'Top and tailed' by Class 68s One of the jobs the 37/4s picked up was hauling the Network rail 'PLPR Infrastructure test train'. A sort of 'Dr Yellow' for secondary routes More in a mo Kev
  4. Sadly the 28th of December saw the last scheduled working of a passenger train on the Cumbrian Coast line with Class 37 diesel haulage. The contract was due to expire late in January but the decision was taken before Christmas that the service would be discontinued before the New year. As you will know, if you have followed my other posts, DRS have been supplying Class 37/4s and Mark 2 coaches to support Northern rail for a couple of years to increase capacity on the line between Carlisle and Barrow in Furness. The results have been mixed as the locomotives, introduced in the early 60's have had reliability issues and the Northern Drivers, more used to driving two car DMUs, needed a lot more training than they were given. What was obvious was how much it grabbed the attention of railfans from far and wide. Some of the 37s have had serious money spent on them and have become celebrity engines So I set out to capture as much action as I could in the lat two weeks bearing in mind that the weather and light was appalling for much of the time. The first northbound train in the morning was impossible it being pitch black and the first southbound, passing at 08.30, was problematic. really the last one where there was decent light was the Northbound 2C59 just after 3 in the afternoon so opportunities were limited Three locos were the mainstay for the last few days 37 401 'Mary Queen of Scots' was doing O.K until a spectacular failure at Foxfield blocked the Up line for Five hours and meant a 'Thunderbird' loco being dispatched from Carlisle to rescue it! 37 425 which uniquely carries different nameplates either side 'Sir Robert MaCalpine' and 'Concrete Bob' behaved itself for the duration although it was getting filthy with the weather 401 was replaced with 37 424 'Avro Vulcan XH588' which confusingly has the number 558 in big numerals on the side. This was the million pound 'show pony' when it returned from major works overhaul including a full re-skin of the bodyshell The last one I got was yesterday's 2C59 Barrow to Carlisle with 424 on the point. The 'Cumbrian Coast Express' headboard had re-appeared and although loco hauled trains continued until later that evening that was pretty much it. There had been some railfans around who had got wind of the end and were riding and recording as many as they could. So 2019 is going to be a lot quieter on the Cumbrian Coast as DMUs replace the 37s. While local residents will not miss the throaty roar of the English Electric 12CSVT engines the railfans really will. And with the 37s displaced from Nuclear services by Class 68s and also the class 88 Hybrids it's going to be a lot less interesting for photography and video next year for me The video is here, the sound is so evocative! Cheers Kev
  5. Hi all After over forty years the Cumbrian Coast line between Barrow in Furness and Whitehaven in the North West of England finally re-opened for Sunday Services on the 20th May. The last service was in 1976 and left some major tourist attractions accessible only by car or sporadic bus services at weekends. The new service had been trailed for a while but leading up to it there was some doubt about whether there would be sufficient traincrew to operate it. In the event a full service ran on that first day with 156 363 doing the honours with the first Barrow to Millom working. Not exactly rammed with passengers though! This unit, seen at Askam, returned about forty minutes later with a few pioneer passengers aboard. As the day drew on the higher capacity Class 156s started to make an appearance 156 445 in the new 'Whiter' Northern livery traverses the s curve at Thwaites Flats on the single line section between Park South and Barrow. Hard to believe that this bucolic setting was once a very busy triangular junction, double tracked, with a constant procession of Iron ore, Coke and finished steel trains running 24/7. 156 490 had come up from Carnforth and again was lightly loaded but ridership will evolve, particularly when the ral ale fans find they can get to the famous 'Prince of wales' at Foxfield pub on a Sunday with ease
  6. On the Cumbrian Coast line in North West England recent developments have seen Direct Rail Services Class 68 becoming more and more prominent. Reliability issues of the Class 37/4s tasked with hauling some of Northern Rail's passenger services has seen one set converted to 'Top and tailed' Class 68s retaining the DBSO driving car behind the south loco to provide train crew facilities. This set has worked pretty much faultlessly since deployment albeit with a loss of seating capacity. Alongside this the Nuclear traffic is now exclusively hauled by 68s with the occasional appearance by the new Class 88 hybrids. In a new development a 'Nenta' railtour also used T&T 68s on a Norwich-Carlisle and return excursion and recently two 68s were commandeered to haul the heavy Barrow-Drigg stone train after problems with the two Class 66s allocated to it More in a mo Kev
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