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Friday, 31 July 2020

Fat Controller Makes Friends

Today's first return Staycation Express provided an opportunity for the Fat Controller to meet some of the train's staff on the platform at Settle.  Left to right we have Susie the trolley dolly, the FC and Lisa, Rail Charter Services hard-working on-train cleaner.

Is that a flicker of a smile on the Fat Controller's face, or slight unease??

Meanwhile in other business, these two shots well illustrate how out-of-line the Wendy House is with Terminal 2.  The stairs to the WH are dead straight with the main building, resulting in the shape of the top landing, so expertly measured and made by JRFabs Ltd of Keighley.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Fat Controller Visits Settle

August 1st sees this year's start of Settle's annual Flowerpot Festival - delayed a month this year but here until the end of September.  Settle Station is well into the spirit of things with The Fat Controller in person on Platform 1:

Meanwhile at the water tower our hardy annual flower pot is seeing service once again, this time with a new name:

Meanwhile on the baggage trolley inside the booking hall here is the 'indoors' flower pot person, Ghislaine:

Monday, 27 July 2020

Electrics Finished and Certified

Electrician Steve Dinsdale has today finished off the twiddly bits of the electrical installation of Terminal Two - by no means a small or straightforward job with all of today's safety requirements, including surge protection.

And a pretty picture of Pen y Ghent by Colin Williams:

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The Staycation Express

Just doing odd jobs around the place this week as from Monday to Saturday I am commentating on the now famous Staycation Express, running an all first-class scheduled service between Skipton and Appleby.  Click on the link below to see part of the coverage on BBC Breakfast this morning.

Staycation Express

The web is awash with super photographs too.

Posh train at Appleby - click to enlarge

 - and bursting out of Shotlock Hill tunnel near the summit of the line:

The commentary position is in the front carriage, right behind the locomotive, which is good in that the sights appear there for mention first.  OK when going north as here but that coach is at the back of the train when going south so you have to think ahead.

Monday, 20 July 2020

What a Day

After all the doom and gloom of COVID  lockdown the country is getting back on its feet.  The railways have been slow at embracing the recovery phase, a huge proportion of the population still believing that rail travel is for essential workers only.  Today was the first day of the first-class-only scheduled train service over the S&C from Skipton to Appleby.  Four return first class trains over the roof of England.

I had the privilege of being the commentator on the first train, working from the guard's compartment with a rather limited view of where the heck we were!  Numbers of paying passengers were limited and definitely need to pick up to ensure long term success.   BBC Breakfast were there to cover things and it will be on the telly in the morning.

Here is a most odd picture of the masked-up High Sheriff on North Yorkshire, organiser Adrian Quine and rail buff Pete Waterman at Skipton before the first departure:

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Steam Back Big Time

Yesterday saw the return of steam trains on England's railways after the COVID break.  70000 Britannia is seen here en route to Crewe from Carlisle:

Click picture to enlarge

Settle station is looking magnificent, overlooked by a rather splendidly restored water tower?

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Outside Stairs Complete

Well, it's finished and mighty fine it looks too.  Forgive the clutter but here is is in all its glory:

this view from the top of the tower shows how the WH is not parallel with the tower or Terminal 2   - hence the oddly shaped top step of the top flight.  The fit, measured by Shane Robb, is perfect.  In fact the only right angle in the three flights of stairs is that between the third and fourth flights - hidden by Terminal 2 in this view.  I had been worrying about the complexity of all these stairs but should not have.  JRF of Keighley were up for the challenge.

The reinstated and strengthened terracing around the WH is every bit as good as  it looks.  You can select sunshine or shade at almost any time of day - and access is soooo much better too.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Flying Landing Takes Off

Another day of much activity.  Star builder Andrew Jackson has worked his socks off today digging and laying the concrete and steel foundations of the final flight of the epic staircase, readying the site for Settle Coal's Brian Thornton and his Hiab crane to lift the dangerously heavy and awkward lower landing into place:

Over the years Brian and his cranes have lifted just about every heavy extra component of the water tower including among other things, the Wendy House, the coal truck, the navvy hut rafters,  the water cranes, the heavy steels of the tower and most recently the walls of Terminal 2.  Today, besides the landing, he hoisted the steel support for our former footbridge, now the support for the top of the final flight of stairs and the handrails.  We are truly grateful to Brian and to the incredible institution that is Settle Coal.

As for Andrew, what a find he has been.  Skilled, knowledgeable and strong as an ox he seems to tackle anything in the building line with the utmost good humour and goodwill.  He has just set up in business on his own after all the COVID complications were compounded by redundancy when Hopleys went into administration.  We wish him well.  He deserves to succeed.  He has agreed to be our builder of first resort in the future, which is very comforting.  His number is 07814 048190.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Original Restoration Man TV Programme now Viewable Worldwide

Here is a worldwide-viewable link to the original TV programme.  Just click the link below.

Restoration Man - Programme 1

Frustratingly, friends and family abroad have hitherto been unable to view the programme.  They can no longer escape.

Small Steps, Big Stairs

The stairway from Terminal 2 to the Wendy House is taking shape, slowly but surely.

And here's the bigger picture.  The heavy lower landing of the top flight is hoisted into position tomorrow.  Then it's just a big Meccanno set before the whole complex of stairs and railings is complete.

The missing cladding panels have been calculated and manufacture will soon be under way.  Very soon therefore the exterior of the building will be finished and the site can be tidied up.

Saturday, 4 July 2020


Well the door is hung and looks OK in a slightly eccentric sort of way.  Its final colour is a matter of instruction from SWMBOs 1 and 2.

World's Smallest Waiting Room

Friday, 3 July 2020

Our Family Just Got One Bigger

Darcey has landed in clover at her new Gerrards Cross Home.  Here she is, having a celebratory pee on the lawn which will never be quite the same again:

For many people tomorrow, Saturday 4th July will mark the end of the COVID lockdown with the re-opening of pubs and so on.  Much will depend on the weather and the cumulative common sense of the 'great' British public.  Solicitor friend John Eaton has just sent me this:

Totally rained off outside work today so had a siesta this afternoon on the grounds of deserving it.

Wendy House Stairs Coming On

  During the last couple of days builder Andrew Jackson has been preparing the ground for concrete foundations for the stairs un the final flight to the unkindly named Wendy House.  Digging in boulder clay is tough work with a JCB but by hand it is tougher still, especially when you have to deal with boulders like this one:

Anyway, it lost the battle for survival and is now in three pieces.  That was Wednesday when the sun shone.  Yesterday was a different story but we not only got the concrete foundation pad in place we also got the two side stringers lifted up in a scene a bit like the Somme:

The large and heavy lower landing will be craned into place next Wednesday, after which the flight can be assembled fully.

A reward though was Wednesday's view from the roof of Terminal 2: