The S&C is closed, perhaps for many months, whilst Network Rail and contractors Story deal with a massive landslip at Eden Brows, 8 miles south of Carlisle. Yesterday I had a chance to see for myself the extent of things - and it is huge.
This is me with Network Rail's Project Manager Rhiannon Price, right, me looking suitably worried.
You are getting old when Project Managers on jobs like this are both female and young - both very welcome societal changes. Geo-technical engineer Rhiannon has a Masters degree in Project management besides.
This was the first hint of trouble, back in early January when the up line started twisting:
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Now, more than 500,000 tons of Cumbria are on the move at the site and the up line is no more:
The picture above shows the landslip with the River Eden below and the railway line at the top right.
I have mentioned that we got a security camera set for Christmas (what DO you get for people who live in a water tower?). All four are now up and running and give us a great deal of pleasure between the alarm going off and actually getting out of bed. Here is what they show:
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Cam 1 shows the station drive, the station and the Forest of Bowland to the west
Cam 2 is aimed at Buckhaw Brow - the dip on the skyline
Number 3 looks north to Pen y Ghent behind the tree. If we cannot see Pen Y Ghent we know it's raining. If we can see it we know it's going to rain. The weather station on top of the pole tells us if the wind is blowing and where from.
Number 4 looks to Castleberg. The large building is Settle Conservative Club where Settle's Tories both go for their evening pint.
I should add that other cameras serve a more security orientated purpose. These things are becoming cheap as chips. Every home should have them.
Avid followers of the Blog - and I know there are one or two of you out there - may by now have recovered from reading about the passing of family dog Gunner (see 17th February 2016). Gunner's later years were spent peripatetically between Gerrards Cross, Giggleswick and Settle. At each place he had his special circle of trees, lamp posts and friends. Indeed two of his friends in Settle even sent us a Sympathy card - thank you Martin and Rachel.
Gunner has left a big hole in our lives - and a big plastic empty dog bed in the hall which will be quietly removed when it seems right.
Meantime our permanent resident dog Bess is missing Gunner a lot. Last evening en route to bed I saw that Bess had left six of her toys alongside Gunner's bed. Make of that what you will:
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Now come on, pull yourself together.
Here is Bess in daytime mode keeping a rather sleepy eye on the station drive from a water tower window. Sentimental old bitch.
These two delightful old photographs come courtesy of the Midland Railway Study Centre at Derby. Location unknown.
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And another one, nearer to home - Bradford Market Street, later Forster Square.
This looks to be a very early photograph. A scene straight out of Jericho. The water tank on the left looks rather small for such a location which seems to be undergoing transformation from Market Street to the much bigger and grander Bradford Forster Square Station.
Yesterday we said goodbye to our beautiful Gunner. We were only his family for the last three years of his life, but they were such a precious three years and we loved him so much. He was a gentle, happy chap. He sneezed and grinned and his ears stuck out when he was pleased to see you. He had the biggest paws ever. He thought that East Common was his exclusive place to go for a walk. He didn't eat his dinner until given permission. His widdles and his poos tended to be walking along affairs. He could widdle for yards and yards. He had a particular penchant for widdling on other people's suitcases at train stations. He loved strawberries. He would bring you a shoe or a slipper at every opportunity. He loved swimming in the sea. There is a beach in Cornwall that will forever be Gunner's Beach. He didn't like getting a bath. He patiently tolerated Ben getting into his bed with him and would gently rest his velvet chin on Ben's cheek. He was a people dog - as long as you were in his line of sight, he was happy. We were so blessed to have him in our family and we will never forget him. RIP Gunner 29th May 2004-15th February 2016.
click to enlarge - feet especially
Clockwise from top left:
1. Gunner on the day we got him from the Kennels - a sad story in itself, Gunner's original people had gone on holiday. On their return and before they could collect him from the kennels, Gunner's 'Mum' died. 'Dad', in poor health could not cope with Gunner alone.
2. The warmest spot at the water tower - where a cluster of underfloor heating pipes channel through an opening. Just look at those front feet.
3. Gunner's hunting background and soft mouth came in useful for poo bags.
4. Mug shot.
5. A favourite place - on a sheepskin rug in one of the water tower window recesses where he could keep an eye out for passing talent. Gunner had an impressive pedigree and there are a good few Gunner look-alikes around here so he had a fulfilled early life. He had been 'seen to' when he came to us, nursing some spectacularly swollen ex-testicles.
The new building next door gets better and better as finishing touches are done. Today was a bitterly cold but crystal clear winter's day and topsoil was being back-filled onto the garden area alongside our southern boundary fence.
Today and yesterday have been truly remarkable, for this winter. Not only is it not raining, the sun is shining.
Here is a picture of the TV screen image from one our four video cameras around the top of the tower.
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Not only is it a hugely welcome sight of the sunshine it well illustrates the remarkable pictures that can be had from the latest security cameras. Today's hand held cameras can take amazing pictures of TV screens too. I learnt this trick from Craven Herald photographer Stephen Garnett. I had a picture he wanted on my computer and I said I would e-mail it to him. "No bother" he said. "I'll just take a pic of your screen". He did and it worked.
The hills on the skyline are the Bowland Fells - in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - in Lancashire.
Came upon these pictures for sale on E-Bay. They are of the Midland Railway's station at Elsecar:
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Elsecar is an area of brick, as opposed to stone, buildings and the station and associated bridge walls appear newer and cleaner than those in the picture below:
There isn't much in it but the tree above the bridge has grown a bit and the railway uniforms seem slightly more modern in picture 2. The telegraph pole to the right has an extra arm and advertising has appeared on the end of the building below it.
The water tower has changed colour between the two pictures! IF picture 1 is older than picture 2 that hints at the light inner and dark outer colour scheme being original, the dark single colour of picture 2 being later.
The tower is of very plain brickwork and very functional in appearance.
I do wonder if these rather gaudy Midland water tanks might have been over-painted in wartime to make them less conspicuous targets or markers in the landscape. Perhaps that over rates the Luftwaffe's bombing accuracy and eyesight!
Elsecar still has a railway station. This picture, presumably taken from the road bridge, is from 2005 and shows a glorified bus stop, a pale shadow of former times. The water tower would have been somewhere in the trees to the right.
One of the privileges of our perch on top of the tower is of course the view of the railway line and its traffic. Today at 1708 as darkness was descending I stood on the viewing deck and watched The Flying Scotsman flash by, hauling the Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express. Here it is a few minutes earlier crossing the Ribblehead Viaduct heading south towards us -
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Our web camera on the Ribblehead Station Master's House allowed the world to see it live and with sound -
The locomotive is a bit blurred in this still image as she is picking up speed after the 30 mph limit on the viaduct. Notice that the safety valves have lifted since the viaduct and excess steam is drifting across the field of view.
As the train passed Settle it was that little bit darker and raining quite hard. The firebox glow was reflected under the steam cloud - something rarely seen nowadays but a memorable feature of steam trains at night - almost impossible to photograph. Only artists and the human memory can capture it and this old railway poster tries hard -
Besides the fire glow the carriage windows of tonight's train were lit by the table lamps in the first class and dining carriages.
It was touch-and-go whether Scotsman would be able to use the S&C today. The line was completely closed yesterday because of a landslide in the Eden Gorge south of Carlisle. Even today it was single line working with a 5mph emergency speed limit at the landslide work-site. The decision to use the S&C was only taken mid afternoon - notified to us by Friends in Carlisle power signal box but don't tell a soul will you?
This is the landslide:
Network Rail aerial picture shows the extent of the slippage, which will take a long time and a lot of money to fix. It is actually an old slip dating back to the line's construction in the 1870s, once again on the move
Anyway, Scotsman made it past at 5mph and the passengers had the experience of the S&C, en route to London Euston.