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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Tornado Shows the Way

Fresh from its 101.6 mph fling on the East Coast Main Line Tornado powered uphill through Settle this morning with a Leicester - Carlisle special train.

Of course, the camera freezes the action but the sight, sound, smell and ground-shaking presence of Tornado at full throttle are impressive indeed.

And just minutes later at Horton-in-Ribblesdale:

The Web camera takes far better pictures than I do but sometimes the motion sensor web cam trigger catches a load of steam, as at Ribblehead:

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

How to use a Shunting Hook

Many moons ago former Carlisle steam engine driver Ian Graham presented us with a shunting pole which now has pride of place in our entrance hall, along with an increasing collection of railwayana.

Ever since I have wondered how it was used to link the very heavy chain links between the draw hooks on the wagons. Today presented an opportunity to find out in the form of ex railway track engineer Dave Winstanley from Liverpool:

As it happened, friend and local character Steve (Scouse) Roberts was here and he and Dave Winstanley spent a long time telling the tale about Liverpool. Inevitably, Steve had to have a go:

The trick is to get a swing going on the three links and let their momentum do the work, with guidance rather than lift from the shunting hook. Experienced shunters could do the job with the merest flick.

The design of the shunting hook dates from the very earliest days of railways and did not change.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Tractor Works

Easter, and the family are here.   A chance to test the now (almost) restored tractor.   Over the winter it has had new brakes and new steering, both items essential for the conveyance of daughter and grandson 2, sitting on garden chairs in the trailer for test purposes.   Older grandson 1 couldn't quite find the time.

Here you see a happy grandpa at the end of a successful test run.   Further work needed on the passenger seating arrangements.

 click to enlarge
Details of fashionable headgear available on request.

For avoidance of doubt we only went round the station car park.     The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, as amended were stretched a bit.

Grandson Ben, seen dismounting the trainer, appeared underwhelmed but his mother was well and truly whelmed.   So too her Dad(dy).

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Furniture from The Folly

When we lived at The Folly in Settle we got a grip of the north end's ground floor and furnished it as a self contained flat cum holiday let.   We wanted to furnish it functionally but in keeping with the scale of things down there - big.   We were steered towards the firm of Simply Dutch Ltd at Leeming Bar who could supply large pieces of furniture more suited to castles than cottages.

They had a pair of cupboards that would suit The Folly perfectly and we bought them.   We borrowed a cow trailer (yes, really) from Clapham farmer Ernest Coultherd and brought them back to Settle where we knew that access through the front door would be tricky.   Even stripping the large cupboard of everything possible it was a squeeze, with just a millimetre or so to spare.   We actually 'lubricated' the dog-leg entry walls with strong polythene sheeting.   Once inside it was reassembled, possibly to remain there for the rest of time.   Here are those pieces once installed at The Folly:

 click to enlarge

The scale of things at The Folly can be seen in this picture of the main lounge.   Just look at the size of the fireplace.   The large cupboard can just be seen on the right, hiding behind the vase of flowers:

When we sold our half of The Folly we included these magnificent solid oak items as they were so much at home where they were and we were most unlikely ever to live anywhere they could possibly fit in.   How wrong we were as it turned out.

There is no design guide on how to furnish a water tower but these two pieces would have been ideal so we lived to regret leaving them at The Folly.

The new owners of The Folly operated the downstairs suite as a holiday let for some years but recently decided to convert it to an upmarket cafeteria so they put the entire contents on sale - including the cupboards.   Everything sold, except the cupboards which had a limited market because of their sheer size and weight.

A chance meeting with the chairman of the Folly charitable Trust revealed that the cupboards needed to go - and soon.   If necessary they would have to be broken up to make space for ongoing building work to progress.

So, "Would we like the cupboards?"   You bet!

Well, they are now ours again and seem so very much at home in the water tower:

The small one is in the side entrance lobby:

 And the large one is in the main room:

Moving the large one was a doddle for the new trailer but once at the water tower there were two flights of stairs to negotiate - achieved with the aid of scaffolding board skids, a winch, and robust help from neighbours Christine and Bob Purchas:

Friday, 14 April 2017

You Could Drive a Coach and Horses Round the Top?

Bradford's Listers Mill is enormous, and an unmissable feature of the city's skyline.   This is an amazing and vertiginous video of a drone inspection of its chimney - about which it used to be said you could drive a coach and horses round the top.   Apparently not on this evidence:

What has this got to do with this Blog?   Answer - the metal clad pods on top of the mill's main building were made by Commercial Systems International of Hull - the people who made our roof room.  Here they are, from a section of the video:

click to enlarge

Sunday, 9 April 2017

We Have an 'edge 'og

Meet Phillip(a).   A hedge hog who has just inspected our garden in broad daylight.   Perhaps (s)he has just come out of hibernation and was hungry.   Pat Googled the problem then contacted a hedge hog lady in Barnsley who advised dried meaty cat food.   Said hedge hog was soon tucking in to a bigger lunch than I had just had.

click to enlarge

Please forgive the title of this Blog entry but whenever, rarely, hedge hogs crop up in my life I am taken back to a talk at Bingley Rotary Club given by a lady with perfect diction, apart from the inability to pronounce the letter 'H'.   A big problem when your subject is 'edge 'ogs!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

No More Letters

Well it was good while they lasted but the big yellow letters came down this afternoon, making Settle more compliant but less colourful, following a complaint.

click to enlarge - but do not tell Craven District Council what you have done

On a positive note, the letters are to have a new home at Settle Primary School where I hope they will be the source of some joy and will still add a little to local colour.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Setting Off the Dawn Chorus

Among today's hazards is that people can film you almost anywhere and anywhen.   This was one such example from Network Rail as we were heading south on the 0550 from Carlisle last Friday - the very definite first service train across the S&C for 15 months.

Sound on:

In and among a lot of serious but boring stuff I threw in that little cameo.   Blow me, they Tweeted it.

What's done is done but I did know what I was talking about.   I am well used to the sleepy sounds of birds waking up en-masse from my very early police days in the middle of Bradford.   It was a city centre plagued by starlings which roosted on the ornate ledges and architectural frills bequeathed by the Victorians on its grand buildings.   The birds made a dreadful mess of things.

The city fathers tried all sorts * to deter them from roosting in Bradford, most spectacularly with a searchlight on an old fire engine which trundled round at night in a futile attempt to disturb the birds' sleep.   The birds simply slept through it until it was time to wake up, when they would start up a lazy dawn chorus which rose in volume as more joined in.

When the fire engine and its search light had given up it soon became sport on boring nights for patrolling policemen like me to shine our torches at the birds just before dawn in an effort to wake them.   When it worked it was a humbling thing to see, hear and experience.   'Your' target ledge stirred and broke into grudging song which soon spread to the entire city centre.  One result is that you got to sense the subtle difference between the song of a sleepy bird waking up compared with the fully awake chorus.

I had not heard that since those days in 1960s Bradford city centre - until I opened a train door at Lazonby and Kirkoswald station.

*  nothing worked, of course.   The real or imagined problem was far too big.   Regrettably, the nuclear option was invoked - knock down the old buildings and build new ones without ledges and ornamentation.   Some of the old buildings survived to see the demolition of those 1960s abominations.

Starlings having the last laugh

Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Eden Brows Story

I promise not to go on about Eden Brows again.   Maybe.   This video made by Story Contracting and Network Rail explains it in one convenient go.    It is just seven minutes long but sound on and full screen;

It is impressive and takes us all the way though from the start of the work to the Flying Scotsman's salute to the workers at the line's re-opening.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

The Settle-Carlisle is Open Again

What a day yesterday was.   I had stayed overnight in Carlisle to catch the very first Northern service train t0 go the full length through to Leeds for 15 months.   It was dark when we left Carlisle with a load of journalists and VIPs on board.

We had the privilege of seeing the dawn break into a glorious day en route to Keighley where I enjoyed an hearty breakfast courtesy of Story boss Fred Story.   Then on to the Flying Scotsman for the official inaugural train from the Worth Valley Railway (KWVR) back to Carlisle. com/news/calendar/update/2017-03-31/all-aboard-the-worlds-most-famous-steam-engine/

I was there to work - to go right through the 11 coach train, talking to all of the 500 or so passengers and giving each one an information leaflet about the S&C, breaking off only to do a live BBC radio interview as we took on water at Hellifield.

The church bells rang out at Settle and at Lazonby.   Crowds were at every station and on every  hillside.   The attendance at Carlisle was phenomenal with crowd barriers the full length of Citadel Station's main line Platform 1.

click to enlarge

After my duties I thought I should not neglect the VIPs in first class so boldly plonked myself among them to have my packed lunch.   Turned out I had plonked myself next to Network Rail Chairman Sir Peter Hendy.   Others present introduced me to him and as we shook hands he boosted my confidence no end by saying "Ah yes - I keep seeing you on telly"!

Another of my conversation victims was the Rail Minister who confessed to me that he had never travelled on the S&C before.   He had been stunned by the experience of the day and was like a child with a new toy.   He had come prepared to do paperwork but just could not take his eyes off the scenery.   He was genuinely astounded to discover that the line was a strategic main Anglo-Scottish one with St Pancras as its southern terminal.

As we approached Eden Brows I went to the guards van to rendezvous by arrangement with KWVR's  commentator Sam McDougall so that I could explain the site for him to relay to the train.   There being no sign of Sam I found myself doing that bit of the commentary, instructing everybody on board to wave at the two groups of Orange Army troops who I knew would be there.

I came back from Carlisle on a service train to relax - in time to see the Flying Scotsman on its return leg roaring through Settle.

As on its northbound journey Flying Scotsman gave a long blast on its whistle as it passed Settle church.   Derek Soames will have heard it without a shadow of a doubt.

A poignant end to a momentous day.