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Saturday, 30 November 2013

Sunset and Fireworks

Today has been the switch-on of Settle's Christmas lights - well, a tree in the Market Place really.   Mike Harding sang a song and pressed the button.   The Market Place was full to overflowing.   Then there was a stunning firework display from the top of Castleberg.   Magical.

My contribution was floodlighting the tower and stringing 720 LED lights round the top.   Although I say it myself it looks good.

The prize however goes to the Lord Almighty for one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen.

What a place.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Painting the Atrium

    This is a job I have been putting off for two years.   My excuse is that water was coming in between the base of the water tank and the stone wall below it so the inner wall was damp.   The hot summer enabled Peter Bennett and me to see to the problem so the excuse, along with the water, evaporated.

   Another factor was the sheer awkwardness of gaining access to the ceiling in order to paint it.   The introduction of the 'George Stairs' (sorry George) meant there was no room for a scaffolding tower so I have had to use a very long and heavy ladder that stretches the height of the tower but on the inside.

Picture 1 shows the south east corner of the tower with the tank's overflow pipe now painted in Midland Railway colours, like the tank itself.

The browny yellow to the right of the ceiling is the sprayed-on insulation foam which stops condensation forming on the iron tank and girders.   It yellows over time.

Picture 2 shows the other corner, with the much larger main outlet pipe and its still bare, grimy stone walls.   All this stone is being whitened (as it has been in the past) which is brightening that end up dramatically.   The big pipe will also be green, red and cream.   Five Watt LED floodlights between the ends of the girders will finish things and make that end harmonise with the rest of the building.

About another week should see the job done, which will be a big relief.

Click images to enlarge
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Galatea at Full Voice (see also previous post)


By coincidence and despite the gloom, Bernard Dewhurst happened to be filming Galatea as she raced through Settle with crewman Martyn Soames sounding the whistle in tribute to his late father Derek.

In the opening seconds you can hear the long steady blast on the whistle as the engine passes Settle church yard.   The whistle then stops but resumes as the train races through Settle station.


I met Martyn Soames today.   Fittingly, he was sitting in Derek's seat-of-honour in Settle signal box.   I asked him if he thought his father had heard the tribute.   "Almost certainly" said Martyn.   "Most unusually we were held at the Settle Junction signal as a Morecambe line train was ahead of us.   Settle Junction was 'Dad's box'.   I went to see what was up.   The Bobby* explained - and gave us a brew of tea while we waited."

I hope Martyn will forgive me explaining why the whistle falters as they go through Settle.   He could not keep his hand steady as tears were streaming down his face.

* Bobby - railway terminology for signalman.   In  the early days of railways signalmen were constables, directing traffic as it were.   The name has stuck.   The word 'signalman' was replaced by the gender-less 'signaler' some years ago.   Very recently that term too has been replaced by 'Train Dispatcher'.   Doesn't sound quite right does it?   Bobby I guess it will remain.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

A Salute to Derek

Sitting in the roof room about 5 this evening reading the newspaper and considering myself lucky not to be outdoors on a foul night I heard the unmistakable sound of a steam whistle.   Not just a quick toot but a whole series of long blasts.   I shot up and looked towards the line as the noise got louder and louder.

I was just in time to see Galatea hurtling through Settle and to enjoy the sound of a 'proper' train.   It was crew-man Martyn Soames giving it everything in glorious tribute to his father Derek, laid to rest in Settle churchyard on Monday.

See for video of Galatea earlier in the day.   Sound on - and listen to that whistle.

Well, I and most of Settle must have heard it.   Some will have known what this feast of sound was all about.  It was a grateful son's magical tribute to his late, great, father.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


For some while I have been working with Network Rail and Lafarge Tarmac on the possibility of a rail re-connection into their Arcow and Dry Rigg quarries at Helwith Bridge.   I had rather too much to do with the coal mining industry in the 1980s but never anything to do with quarries.

Throughout my police career I never lost an opportunity to see behind the scenes of industry, developing a huge respect for those who worked in them.

Today was a 'blast day' at Dry Rigg and I went along.   At the appointed hour sirens sounded and six tonnes of explosives detonated amidst strictest security.   26,000 tonnes of rock moved sideways and slid down into the quarry bottom as if liquid.   The photograph does not do justice to the grandeur of the location and its enormity.

All this stone will be crushed and graded, ready to become an ingredient of the very finest tarmacadam in locations where skid resistance needs to be high.

click to enlarge

This is what that amount of rock going sideways looks like.   The advancing rolling 'liquid' front of rock is to the right.   The sound is not ear splitting - more like a roll of distant thunder.   The rock itself muffles it.   Not sure how far it is to the far side of the quarry - half a mile maybe.  The dry stone wall in the foreground is made of the rock being blasted.

Awesome - and one of the best kept secret free shows in The Dales.

Monday, 4 November 2013

'State' Funeral for Derek Soames

Today was Derek Soames (see Blog entry on 25th October) funeral - at Settle Parish Church, conducted by the Methodist Minister as nearby St John's Methodist church was nowhere near big enough.   Neither was Settle Parish Church!   Despite the use of the choir stalls and hastily imported stacking chairs they were standing in the aisles.   I was honoured that my picture of Derek was used on the front of the order of service.

Click to enlarge

The Minister was clearly taken aback and remarked that this must be the nearest Settle gets to a State Funeral.

The Settle-Carlisle Railway was hugely well represented with railwaymen past and present as well as the 'Last of the Summer Wine Gang', of course, and hundreds of others.

Afterwards there was what Martyn Soames described as a right good Chapel tea party in St John's Hall.

Derek got his wish and was buried facing 'his' railway line.   A lot of people checked on that.

Chatting with Martyn afterwards it emerged that he would be crewing a steam train through Settle at the weekend.   The locomotive will be Galatea.   Martyn will sound its whistle in tribute as it flies past Settle churchyard.
Here is a splendid portrait of Galatea.   Unless I am very much mistaken that is Martyn looking out of the cab window.
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