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Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Doomed I Tell ye, Doomed

 Working just now with the makers of an upcoming Channel 5 production company of a second series of ``The World's most Scenic Railways" and have insisted that they watch this 1980's TV film on the then closure-threatened line:

The End of the Line

Alan Bennett and Elgar - surely enough to melt the hardest heart?

Just watched it through for the umpteenth time and came on this picture of Graham Nuttall and his now famous dog Ruswarp - with our water tower looming inelegantly in the background:

Do please watch the video if you have not done so before

R.I.P. Bess

 We all know about the only certainty in life don't we?  Well, Monday was the sad day for Bess, our companion dog for almost 14 years,  We rescued her from an RSPCA kennel where she had ended up after a very brief career as a sheepdog (failed) and a briefer spell with well meaning owners who simply could not cope with her.

Her failure as a sheepdog left scars.  She worried for Yorkshire, was frightened of men generally and was terrified of men with sticks.  She also shied away from Land Rovers.  People in general frightened her - something of a problem when you live in a town centre.  We persisted with her, came to adore her and to admire her as she gradually came to terms with her fears, almost.

Her favourite place of all was in the north west window of the water tower where she could keep an eye on the station's comings and goings - and bark as appropriate; sometime whether-or-not.

That Doggie in the Window

For some while she had been unsteady on her feet, especially on our hardwood floors.  All four legs would splay out and she was towards the end unable to get herself back up.  This situation led to limited exercise.  Eventually she lost her appetite for food - most unlike her!  It was clear that her mental faculties were failing too.  Deafness did not help when she would often just stand in the middle of a room wondering why on earth she was there.  We all know that feeling!

Our smashing vet Guy Bolger did what needed to be done and the house seems really rather quiet.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

BBC Breakfast Time Clip and Bracing Ourselves for a Tornado

 Dunno if this will work but I came across this on Facebook this morning:

Showing the nation my short-lived career as the commentator on the Staycation Express on 21st July 2020.

That was the Staycation Express - its last run was on 12th September this year.  Early indications are that it was an outstanding success, despite COVID limitations.  Let us hope they can repeat the operation in 2021.

Meanwhile we have a treat today in the form of a private special train over the S&C, hauled by Tornado - seen here passing Pen y Ghent:

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Kinbig Telly

Among the lengthy sub-set of problems brought about by the need to equip Terminals 2 and 3 has been the need to re-assess our already healthy stock of TV sets.

Which? Magazine has recently done a thorough review of TVs and their main conclusions are that TVs have advanced tremendously in recent times but that small (less than 38 inch screen) TVs, have not.  the prices of large TVs have fallen considerably.  Get  as big a TV as the room will reasonably stand.  Sit closer to it than you have been accustomed to - otherwise, what is the point of super high picture definition if you are too far away to see it?  Relatively large computer screens have emphasised that point.

That's all fine but the main room of the tank-house is so large (kinbig in family parlance).  Not a problem though - there are kinbig tellies to be had nowadays so now was the time to go for it.  We researched online and in Which?  LG is now the brand to go for.  They have comprehensively knocked Samsung off their perch with Panasonic and Sony quite a way behind. were the suppliers.  The first kinbig (and kinheavy) TV duly arrived  and was placed, with difficulty, on top of the kinbig cupboard in the kinbig lounge where it unduly dominated the scene - see penultimate picture below.  On its inaugural switch-on it proved to have a broken screen, evidenced by a broken-screen pattern on it:

Bit hard to appreciate the size from that image but, anxious to stress to what an intrusion on our lives was a broken kinbig TV plus its packaging I took pictures of that too and it worked- see below.  In next to no time a replacement kinbig TV arrived yesterday - and it works!

Be assured the replacement is being located on a stand on the floor!

Any suggestions on disposing of a kinbig cardboard box and accompanying expanded polystyrene?

Update:  I took it to the kintip.  Of course.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Teasels, a Desk and a Shepherdess

Yes teasels.  The land around Terminal 3 and behind Terminal 2 is a bit of a problem at present - neglected and overgrown for now whilst attention is diverted to the finishing touches of the buildings work.

Interesting though to see what decides it will grow naturally.  Buddleias of course on old railway land and teasels - a weed for some and a much valued plant for others:

Inside Terminal 3 this magnificent Roll-top-desk has had a couple of coats of wax polish and has found a good home:

Finally, a sight for sore eyes - the cover of the September edition of The Dalesman features the Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen:

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Princess Elizabeth and a Red Squirrel

 Photographed in the garden of neighbours Les and Val at the Settle Stationmaster's house:

Haven't seen a red squirrel round Settle before.  The's quite a colony of them at Appleby though.

Perhaps this one caught the train?

Talking of which, we have had a real treat of a train passing by yesterday - a beautifully presented rake of Pullman carriages hauled by Stanier Pacific locomotive Princess Elizabeth:

Friday, 18 September 2020

Camouflage, Dark Skies and Daft Chairs

 The scaffolding railings across the banking below Terminal 3 are very effective as a safety measure to enable gardening but until they are covered with climbing plants they are a conversation piece or eyesore, depending on you view of them.  Yesterday I covered them with green mesh sheeting to soften them somewhat.

It has worked - somewhat.  

Meanwhile, in other news, here are two of Pete Collins' amazing Ribblehead pictures from last year showing the last train of the day - the Ribblehead turn-around:

Here it is on a long exposure going over the viaduct and appearing as a straight line of light

And approaching Blea Moor signal box:

And finally - an astonishing photograph of a (then) Virgin Trains First Class Lounge at Leeds I think.  

Just what shape did they think their first class passengers were up north?

Monday, 14 September 2020



I am starting this posting with a picture from Facebook, just to occupy the space to the left of the gubbins on the right of the Blog

It shows the amazingly tall retaining wall on Station Road beneath Settle station's down platform which supports the twin track railway line too.  Our 'garden wall' onto the station drive is identical in style and build but less tall of course.  That wall had to retain the weight of the water tower and its water - a massive total weight.

Now for the starlit bit:

Pete Collins is a remarkable photographer who specialises in the night sky.  Last Wednesday was an ideal night for him and rather than contenting himself with his favourite subject - the Ribblehead Viaduct - he thought he would have a go at Settle Station, not without its problems with light pollution, unlike the viaduct.

He asked us to tell him when the station platform lights went out, which we did.  Around midnight he was able to get two stunning pictures.  The first confirms that the Settle-Carlisle railway does indeed go north.  Clearly visible is the familiar shape of The Plough and above it the Pole Star at midnight . . . 

click to enlarge

The next picture shows the water tower to the right - prominently well lit to good effect in this  image:

These were lucky exposures as the station platform lights came on at 0015!  Trains do run at night on the S&C but not with passengers nowadays.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Civilisation Returning

 For a year or two the water tower and its surrounding buildings (even the coal truck) have been full to overflowing with furniture etc., much of it waiting to be used in the new extensions,Terminals 2 and 3, and in parts of the main tower.  Well we are reaching the point where almost all of it has either been distributed around the place, sold, scrapped or given away.

Terminal 3 is 3.6m square and a very useful extra room indeed.  An amazing transformation from a few months ago when it was crammed to the rafters with beds and bedding, stacked one on top of another.  It is now a very comfortable space indeed - including a super comfortable and elegant leather settee and jig-saw sized table.  It has resumed its role as a man-cave, even better than it was before.  Outside of course is the new balcony with its staggering view and day-long sunshine.

And this was the last main item of furniture to go - a 4ft 6" bed and mattress - sold and gone!

To enable this - Terminal 3 interior!:

I am so, so glad that the Wendy House / Terminal 3 has survived the combined efforts of planners years ago, son-in-law and architect to get rid of it.  A case of wine was at stake in a wager between the two last mentioned if Terminal 3 had 'needed' to extend over the WH's footprint.  Now it can be told!!

Monday, 7 September 2020

Lead Us Not Into Dent Station

In 2006, back in my time as FoSCL chairman Dent station, on the Settle-Carlisle Line and England's highest, came on the market.  It would  have been super if FoSCL or better still the S&C Trust could have bought it but that was out of the question at that time.  The Trust already owned Horton in Ribblesdale, Ribblehead and Kirkby Stephen stations and with FoSCL's help the station masters house at Ribblehead too.  Quite a property portfolio and a lot of property to maintain.  The station masters house at Ribblehead had exhausted everybody's present and likely future resources.

Dent station because of its stunningly beautiful situation and high location was though in need of serious restoration and investment, besides its purchase price.  In the event it was bought by railway enthusiast, and property developer Robin Hughes.  Most crucially he was a FoSCL member too.  Probably the most iconic of the S&C's 'small' country stations Dent had been saved.

Robin, though resident in Surrey, set about the six-figure restoration of the far-flung Dent station.  The story of that restoration is told in great detail in his book 'Ticket To Dent' (Book Law Publications ISBN 978-1-909625-72-3)

Its restoration won several awards and it has since become a holiday let giving delight to thousands of lucky occupants.

Meanwhile business boomed for Robin Hughes, most notably a £30m retirement housing development in Windsor so Dent became a responsibility too far.  It was therefore on the market again.  Twice it seemed to have been sold but deals had fallen through at the very last minute.   Solicitors doing due diligence on their clients' properties have to tread a fine line between vendors and purchasers best interests.  In one case the water supply (direct from a moorland stream called Monkey Beck) was questioned so a £12,000 borehole had to be sunk.  In the other, liability for repairing the roadway and car park was at issue.  Robin managed to get e-mailed assurance from Network Rail's Regional Director no less, that the liability was NR's.  That was not good enough for the buyer's solicitor and the deal fell through.  Coincidentally (?) the road and car park have just been rebuilt magnificently - by NR:

(I would have included a picture of the borehole but it would have been er, boring - but I am looking into it)

Then came COVID and the property market, like everything else took a knock.  As things eased, the station came back on the market by which time FoSCL was actually in a position to buy it outright, thanks to generous legacies from former members, most notably that of Dr John Disney. and continuing donations from members.

So, FoSCL could buy it - but should it?  Through this summer that question was asked, challenged and answered.  FoSCL, if willing, was Robin Hughes' preferred buyer.  His beloved station with all its heritage and significance, new roof, borehole, car park and 14 years of devotion could not fall into better hands than FoSCL's.

Well Friday 4th September 2020 saw the deal completed and keys handed over at Dent station, now owned by FoSCL - or to be precise the Midland Railway Company Limited on FoSCL's behalf.  

 Oh, and that view.  Below is not Dentdale but it shows the cast of the new James Herriott TV series posing near Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales.  Dentdale is even better . . . .

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Absolutely Fabulous

 It's a tough job being an On-Train-Guide on the S&C but somebody's got to do it.  Me and Joanna Lumley going down Mallerstang the other day.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we had two steam trains on consecutive days:

The top picture shows Pen y Ghent on the eastern horizon and the viaduct over the River Ribble at Helwith Bridge with a northbound train hauled by Royal Scot.

The second is at Garsdale station and illustrates two very sad episodes in the line's history,  It shows the then Hawes Junction signal box on the station platform where on Christmas Eve 1910 a dreadful oversight on the part of the signalman wretched the Scotch Express in the early hours of the morning.

The wreath on the smoke box door is in tribute to fireman Mike Middleton who had died whilst firing this engine, Scots Guardsman, near Ais Gill Summit just one week ago.  The train was able to stop at Garsdale for paramedics who tried in vain to save him.