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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Taking the Prof. for a Ride

Had a most agreeable day today hosting Northern's Professor Paul Salveson to Settle station and around.

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Paul is the leading light behind the community rail movement so he was mightily surprised to see what happens in our Unit 8A joinery workshop which he declared to be unique in his experience on the big railway, as opposed to heritage lines.

We saw the Fellsman steam train through, witnessed the 1146 depart for Carlisle with many passengers standing and visited DCC's Settle HQs.

Then a run up Ribblesdale in the Model T, a visit to the Arcow Quarry railhead and Stainforth's Wonder of Wood Ltd.

Oh yes, then lunch at the Talbot.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Morris Minor for a Day

Today the sun shone on the righteous, for once.   So good in fact we decided to take Gladys Emmanuel to Malham Show.   The website said that 'vintage vehicles' were one of the attractions.

When we slowed for the entrance to the show ground a worried steward looked at Gladys and asked where we usually parked.   "With the vintage vehicles" seemed to phase him a little but he opened the field gate whereupon we were confronted by the largest gathering of superb Morris Minors ever seen.   In old car circles it was a 'One Make' exclusive event.

We tried our best to look like a Morris Minor but were unconvincing.   We need not have worried though.   We were made very welcome by the Morris men - indeed we were quickly granted honorary membership of the Lancashire Branch of the Morris Minor Owners Club.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Ups and Downs at Settle Station

When a place has a name like Settle it really is a bit of an opportunity for a bit of fun at its railway station.   For anybody not in the know, the UP line goes to London

and the DOWN line heads away from London.

People sometimes ask, and very probably a lot more wonder, what we do with the money we collect in our donations receptacle from those visitors who care to use it.  

Some of it is spent on relevant things around the tower - visitor signage, gardening and so on.

Some of it is spent on things directly to do with the Settle-Carlisle railway.   What's left is paid in to the Friends of the S&C.

These are a couple of examples of our latest spending on the line - in this case something that the authorities would never dream of doing in a month of Sundays.   A little bit of fun on the backs of platform benches at Settle station.

We commissioned ten of these signs - five for each platform.   They were designed by Richard Johnson, MD of DCC Pty, the railway modelling suppliers next door to us.

Former colleagues who may raise their eyebrows about the easily removable screws may be reassured to know that they have been replaced by those clever one-way thingies.   You can screw them in but you cannot screw them out.

Ferrari Man

Well, not quite.   Work continues on the auto-truck.   Its brakes and clutch now work and its now for the engine to do the same but we're almost there.

I have still been unable to get the makers badge 'Geest' for the front of the engine cowl so I have reverted alphabetically to the nearest I could find - Ferrari.

I have already been taken to task for the 4 x 4 badge on three wheeler.   It's a j-o-k-e                                                     OK?

Thursday, 24 August 2017

X Factor Finalist Visitor - Goldie Cheung

We really do get a great cross section of people visiting the tower each day.  Some just whizz round too fast to read the explanatory display boards.   If they have not seen the TV programme either it must be a real puzzle for them to understand what it is all about.

Other people take their time and take it all in and that can be very rewarding for us too.  Today we had a famous person visit us, with her husband David.   She is X Factor finalist Goldie Cheung.   See, and prepare to be amazed:

 and / or

I did not get a leg round my neck (you need to have watched the links) but I did have the pleasure of chatting to a very intelligent lady whose questions were very perceptive indeed.   Altogether a delight.

Jokingly I said to her husband that his wife would be quite a personality if only she would come out of her shell.   We had a good chuckle about that - again, WATCH the link.

As they were leaving she insisted on having a photograph taken with me looking awkward and in my scruffs.  

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I have to say she worked a jolly sight harder for her TV appearances than I ever did!

Monday, 21 August 2017

As Popular as Penyghent and Ribblehead Eh?

Mark Neale is an on-train guide on most of the steam trains that pass through Settle - including the Sunday Flying Scotsman trains this year.   Today he posted this on Facebook:

Mark Neale Mark Rand I pointed out what has now become `The Grand design house` to my passengers on Sunday as always. It seems to have become as popular feature as Penyghent and Ribblehead. Hope you dont mind!!!

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We can always tell which is Mark Neale's coach.   It's the one with people pointing at the water tower.   Most gratifying.   Of course, it's Restoration Man, not Grand Designs.   We often get asked what is Kevin McCloud really like!   We always put people right of course and tell them that George Clarke is a thoroughly nice chap.

Here's Mark Neale at Carlisle after one of his trips.                                                                                      

Stunning Picture at Ribblehead

I  know this Blog is supposed to be about the water tower but now and again something only vaguely related crops up that is worth sharing - such as this super photograph from the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust's 2018 calendar.

 definitely click to enlarge

It shows Tornado going north with one of the Plandampf *trains one afternoon back in February.   There is snow on Ingleborough and just look at all those cars parked on the Ingleton road in the background behind the train.

* Plandampf - 'planned steam' trains at normal day to day fares.   All twelve S&C trains were packed, unsurprisingly.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Policing Bradford City Centre

This picture has popped up on a retired (thank God!) police Facebook group:

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It serves as a reminder that police officers in city centres like Bradford, where I started in January 1966, patrolled on foot in all weathers armed with a bit of wood in an elongated trouser pocket and a whistle.   No car, no radio, no body armour, taser - and definitely no baseball cap.

It sort of summed up for me a, thankfully, bygone age when coppers got wet and cold.   But I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Thursday, 17 August 2017


This lovely picture has appeared on Facebook and has attracted quite a few likes and shares

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It was taken soon after our big tree was felled and shows how the view of the water tower from the station has been opened up.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Water Tower Boy's Toys as Catalogue Props now Online

These three pictures are from Settle firm Piccalilly's autumn catalogue range of children and baby wear, just released.   The backgrounds certainly do not detract from or eclipse the models and their clothes do they?

A New Angle on Settle

This spectacular picture of Settle railway station and its setting has appeared online.    It is a drone shot looking north from somewhere higher than the station footbridge:

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As you can see I have used it for my computer's desktop image.   It reveals several interesting features:

1.   the water tower on the right
2.   the straightness of the railway line at Settle, exposing how mercilessly it marched across the town without the slightest deviation.   
3.  the double line of trees to the north of the station conceals the reality that the railway right through the town of Settle is on a high embankment between two substantial viaducts - Marshfield and Church
4.   its construction involved using the grounds of once grand houses - Ashfield, Marshfield and Whitefriars
5.   the building to the left of the station is at a crazy angle to the railway line and station, with a high retaining wall separating them.   It pre dates the railway and is shown on the original plans of Settle station in all its absurdness.   Land and building owners were compensated handsomely.
6.   it also invaded the lands of Settle church and even Settle cricked ground!
7.   Pen y Ghent is just visible on the horizon.

The Sky at Night

Even Settle is not too bad for light pollution in the night sky, especially as they have recently converted our few street lamps to downward facing LEDs.   From the top of the tower we get a reasonable view of the stars but nowhere near as good a view as at Ribblehead, not too far away.

Ribblehead is fast becoming a haunt for night sky photography.

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The viaducts itself provides a dramatic foreground and any remnants of the setting sun below Chapel le Dale behind it provides contrast with the dark sky above.   This long exposure shows the current Perseid meteor shower obliging.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

I Have Opened Giggleswick Horticultural Society Show

Well, today was the BIG day for many in Settle and Giggleswick - the 76th Annual Giggleswick Horticultural Society Show and I had rashly agreed to open it.   Believe me this is an honour in these parts.

Pat and I were hosted to a super lunch and then had time to look at some stunning exhibits before the official opening at which I made a speech, of sorts, before declaring the thing open.   Afterwards I had to present the prizes.  My word, after 76 years there wasn't half some silverware to be presented.

In all humility and modesty it was a great honour to be asked to play a part in an event that had been going even longer than I have.   The first GHS show was in 1940  when the country was at war and 'digging for victory'.   Had Captain Mainwaring and the boys walked in they would have felt quite at home today.

 Up in lights on the front of the programme

 At the magnificent venue of Giggleswick School

 This rather appealed to my quirky sense of humour.

 Somebody here knows his onions.

I am not ofter seen in a jacket and tie in Settle.

The prize winners were young and old.   Aaaah, bless her.

Altogether a magical, very English country occasion.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Afternoon Tea at the Traddock - via Buckhaw Brow

Last Christmas the family gave us a present of an afternoon tea voucher at the very posh Traddock Hotel at Austwick and today was to be the day.

Off we set for Austwick in the Model T, via Settle's notorious hill called Buckhaw Brow (pronounced Bucker Brow).   Buckhaw Brow was a dreaded ascent in the early days of motoring.   It is a long, steep climb, which gets steeper the higher you get.   The final 50 yards or so is the killer.

The Model T has sailed up BB many times before but this time she decided to konk out near the top.   Fortunately the hand brake held and we did not roll back.   The trouble was too little petrol in the fuel tank, meaning that the thirsty engine ran out of gravity fed sustenance and stopped.   This happened three times and each time the engine restarted after a minute or so as the carburettor bowl slowly refilled.   Anyway, we reached the top eventually but it underlined the need to keep a Model T's tank full.

On to the Traddock and a wonderful afternoon tea with champagne.

click to enlarge the Traddock

Gladys behaved perfectly on the journey home, largely downhill.   But we went straight to the garage and filled up.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Flying Scotsman and Water Tower

Not a good picture but a snapshot of a YouTube item which happens to capture Flying Scotsman with our home in the background:

The Highland Explorer

FoSCL member and DB driver Andrew Griffiths added the icing on the cake to a visit to Settle Station by Settle Primary School's summer group.   Andrew just happened to be driving the train that travels between Clitheroe and Mossend in Scotland carrying 1000 tonnes of Castle cement - three times this week.

He wondered if we had a relevant headboard for the train for its daily Anglo-Scottish journey over the S&C.   Sure enough, in store in Unit 8A was this old headboard, displayed by young FoSCL volunteer Anthony Ward:

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On the back of the headboard we put this message for Scotland:

The children spent an hour visiting the water tower, the signal box and the station and just before the appointed hour the cement train came through Settle Station ahead of time and at a crawl bearing the Highland Explorer headboard.   The photographers may well go nuts this week!

 As it accelerated away the children chorused "Thank you Mr Griffiths" who responded with the railway theme song on his horns 'On Ilkley Moor Bah't 'at'.

An altogether delightful occasion when all the ducks lined up in a row.

FoSCL makes great efforts to connect with young people - in this case pressing home the message that many of the freight trains go right through to Scotland.    That, after all, is why it was built.

and here she is going north this evening, 1,000 tons heavier but still sporting the nameplate and with Mr Griffiths at the helm:

and a MUCH better picture from our webcam at Ribblehead station not long afterwards:

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And a stunningly good picture by ace photographer Mike Farrington:
Just look at that heat shimmer.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Flying Scotsman at Ribblehead

A fine portrait of Flying Scotsman at Ribblehead this morning on our Ribblehead station RailCam:

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What an amazing free spectacle most Sundays this year on the S&C.

Our Rooftop Weather Station - Reminder


for direct and real-time access to the weather station on top of the tower.   Just about every weather reading can be seen as well as a local forecast.

It is one of a whole series of weather stations around the Yorkshire Dales coordinated by My Local Weather - the brainchild of weather superstar John Livesley.

Not just the weather either.   There is direct live access to the four RailCams along the Settle-Carlisle Railway at Horton in Ribblesdale, Ribblehead (where there is another searchable weather station) and Kirkby Stephen.    Local webcams too of Settle weir and Whernside.

Prominent on the opening screen is a rain radar map, centred on Settle.   This shows the actual rain that is falling right now over a very wide area and showing the recent and predicted drift of that rain, if any.   I find this very useful when accompanying passenger groups on the S&C and the map stretches right up to Carlisle and beyond.

There is also a link to the real time train running at Settle station and lots more besides.   Well worth an hour of your time exploring the link to find out what interests you.

The weather station sensors are on and around the black box of tricks in the middle of the north end of the tower.   The apparatus belongs to The Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Biggest Ball's in Settle

The tree stump is still work in progress but it is shaping up as an ideal place to display the enormous float valve at a sufficient height from the ground to appreciate how it works - and it does work.

The temporary notice on top of the stump explains things:
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Once again, thanks to Heidi Mottram and her team at Northumbrian Water who rescued it for us from a water tank - in Suffolk!