Day 2 We start our Mystery Tour UKRJ S1 Ep09

Day 2 – We start our Mystery Tour – UK Rail Journeys Series 1 – Episode 9

The second day of The Welsh Dragon begins in Shrewsbury station where we start our Mystery Tour. Sadly we are not following the planned route along the Welsh coast because someone has crashed into a bridge.

We are travelling by a long route to Crewe. Our four and a half hour journey will allow every passenger to eat a full Sunday Lunch before we get arrive. We start by retracing our steps along the Welsh Marches line on our journey from Shrewsbury.

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to view the photographs that accompany this podcast:
Shrewsbury station:

The ‘mock Tudor’ railway station reflects the style of the Shrewsbury School building opposite. The platforms extend over the River Severn.

Just to the south of the station is the Severn Bridge junction signal box. This signal box, built in 1903, is in the centre of a triangle that enables locomotives to turn round.

The signal box is the largest mechanical signal box in the world and has 180 levers. 89 of these are still in use.

On to the Welsh Marches line:

We set off south, retracing our route of yesterday. A Class 47 locomotive from the West Coast Railways fleet pulls our train today. It is a beautiful day and the scenery is stunning.

All around me I can hear bottles being opened and the sound of clinking glasses as our first course comes out of the kitchen.

Onward to Craven Arms:

We speed towards Craven Arms, the train hiccups and then we come to a complete halt. Apparently one of the traction motors has caught fire. The locomotive crew put the fire out and isolate the traction motor.

We resume our journey under reduced power.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If so, please join me in a couple of weeks time and find out whether the Welsh Dragon can make it up in the Lickey Incline with our injured locomotive.

Links:

To visit the Steam Dreams website please follow  this link.

This podcast is also available through Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox , Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify, Stitcher and Vurbl and others.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed Steam Railway and The 60’s Surf 66 and Joseph McDade has licensed The Tavern for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2022

We reach Shrewsbury – UKRJ S1 Ep08

We reach Shrewsbury and head for our hotels – UK Rail Journeys Series 1 – Episode 8

The first day of The Welsh Dragon ends as we reach Shrewsbury and head for our hotels. For the last few hours we’ve been having dinner and travelling along the Welsh Marches line on our journey towards Shrewsbury.

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to view the photographs that accompany this podcast:
North from Abergavenny:

We leave Abergavenny and soon pass a number of long closed stations. In many cases little still remains of the once thriving stations.

This episode of the podcast starts to sound like a roll call of closed stations, junctions and branch lines.

Hereford:

We stop for a short while at Hereford before continuing our journey. Dinmore Tunnel, a major engineering project in the construction of the line, soon follows.

We reach Leominster where about 20 people are waiting to see us take on water. This is the last water stop of the day.

On towards Ludlow:

We pass another batch of closed stations. Berrington & Eye, Wooferton and Asford Bowdler conjure up thoughts of quiet rural communities.

We pass through Ludlow and see the racecourse. The countryside is stunning and this is a beautiful early autumn evening.

Craven Arms to Shrewsbury:

We speed through Craven Arms and climb to the highest point on this line at Church Stretton.

We then benefit from the gently falling gradient as we cover our last few miles into Shrewsbury.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If so, please join me in a couple of weeks time when we continue our journey and leave Shrewsbury for a Sunday afternoon ‘mystery tour’ on the Welsh Dragon.

Links:

To visit the Steam Dreams website please follow  this link.

The Shrewsbury Premier Inn, which looked after the passengers and many of the train crew, can be found here. I can thoroughly recommend this hotel which is close to the railway station and across the road from the River Severn.

This podcast is also available through Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox , Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify, Stitcher and Vurbl and others.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed Steam Railway and The 50’s v12 for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2022

Along the Severn UKRJ S1 Ep07

Along the Severn and on to the Welsh Marches Line – UK Rail Journeys Series 1 – Episode 7

Our journey continues as we travel along the Severn and on to the Welsh Marches Line. The first part of our journey is on the Gloucester to Newport line. We pass over Maindee junction near Newport and take the Welsh Marches line.

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to view the photographs that accompany this podcast:
Along the River Severn:

After we pass Lydney we travel down the west bank of the River Severn and soon reach Chepstow. We pass through this historic town with its famous castle and racecourse.

Just south of Chepstow we then pass the ‘first’ Severn Bridge and continue through Caldicot, passing Severn Tunnel junction.

On towards Maindee junction:

We pass the Llanwern steel works. Steel production is long gone but hot slab and steel coil are brought in for processing. The works first opened in 1962 and was the first oxygen blown integrated steelworks. Known as the ‘Spencer Works’ the oxygen was supplied by the British Oxygen Company.

We reach the junctions at Maindee, to the east of Newport. Our journey takes the east and north junctions as we join the Welsh Marches line.

The Welsh Marches line:

Many of the stations on the line closed in the 1960s following the Beeching report.

Our journey on the line starts just to the east of the river Usk. We soon pass through the disused station at Caerleon, once the site of a Roman fortress. There is a chance that the station at Caerleon may reopen as part of the South Wales Metro.

We pass through some closed stations before we reach Cwmbran station. The station opened in 1986 to serve the commuter route between Newport and Cardiff.

More closed stations before we reach Pontypool and New Inn station. The station remains open but is a shadow of its former self. Gone are the branch lines to Neath and Merthyr, the fifty line marshalling yard, the engine shed and the goods shed.

On to Abergavenny:

Yet more closed stations! Thank you Dr Beeching.

We reach the Grade 2 listed station at Abergavenny. Just to the north of the station we pass over a junction that gave access to the Heads of the Valley line that passed through towns famed for coal mining and steel production.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If so, please join me in a couple of weeks time when we continue our journey and reach Shrewsbury on the Welsh Dragon.

Links:

To visit the Steam Dreams website please follow  this link.

This podcast is also available through Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox , Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify, Stitcher and Vurbl and others.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed Steam Railway and Fast Lanes for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2022

In and around Gloucester – UKRJ S1 Ep 06

In and around Gloucester – UK Rail Journeys Series 1 – Episode 6

In this episode our journey continues as we travel along the Golden Valley line through Stonehouse station and on to Gloucester. We have a few hours in Gloucester whilst the crew services our train. We then take the Gloucester to Newport line for the next part of our journey.

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to view the photographs that accompany this podcast:
More closed stations:

Dr Beeching has a lot to answer for! On our way to Stonehouse we pass through the sites of Downfield Crossing Halt, Cashes Green Halt and Ebley Crossing Halt. The three stations saw their last passengers in November 1964.

Stonehouse to Gloucester:

Stonehouse has two platforms and a ticket office. The platforms at the station could only accommodate two carriages until 2019 when they were extended.

Two miles on from Stonehouse and we cross the Cross Country route that runs from Bristol Temple Meads to York.

We next pass through the site of Haresfield Station which saw its last passengers in January 1965. As we approach Gloucester we cross the Gloucester to Newport line. We shall be taking this later.

Gloucester:

It is a beautiful afternoon. Our passengers leave the train because they have three hours to explore the city. There is a great deal to see and do in Gloucester. Whilst some head for the pubs and restaurants others visit the Cathedral and the docks. Everybody enjoys the chance to stretch their legs!

The Gloucester to Newport line:

Our passengers return in good time to rejoin our freshly serviced train. The tanks are full of water and fresh tablecloths are on the tables. In the kitchen the chefs have started to prepare the evening meal.

A toot on the whistle, a hiss of steam and we pull out of Gloucester on the first leg of our journey to Shrewsbury via Newport using the Gloucester to Newport line.

Lydney:

As we pass through the Forest of Dean we pass through Lydney station which connects with the Dean Forest Railway. You can find out more about this heritage line by listening to the podcast here.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If so, please join me in a couple of weeks time when we continue our journey, travelling along the side of the River Severn on the Welsh Dragon.

Links:

To visit the Steam Dreams website please follow  this link.

This podcast is also available through Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox , Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify, Stitcher and Vurbl and others.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed Steam Railway and Festival of Dreams for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2022

From Challow to Stroud – UKRJ S1 Ep 05

From Challow to Stroud – UK Rail Journeys Series 1 – Episode 5

In this episode we continue our journey and travel from our water stop at Challow to Stroud. Our journey takes us along the Golden Valley line.

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to view the photographs that accompany this podcast:
Our water stop:

A steam engine needs water, lots of water. Mayflower holds over 4,000 gallons. Water comes to the engine by road tanker because there is no infrastructure to water steam locomotives on the mainline network.

The Steam Dreams operations team have worked through the night to organise the supply because yesterday the usual water supplier told them that they are no longer allowed to supply water by tanker.

Because of this we enter the siding at Challow hoping that a tanker is there …….

Onwards to Swindon:

We pass fields and the harvest is in. There is straw on the ground waiting for the bailer. The land is getting ready for ploughing and then next year’s crops.

We steam through the historic Vale of the White Horse. We pass barns in the fields and travel through the sites of long closed stations at Challow, Uffington, Shrivenham and Stratton Park Halt. All long closed memories on the line to Swindon.

Swindon:

We pass the train sidings on our way into Swindon. Urban sprawl has returned! We stop in the 1970’s station where the woodwork on the canopy needs some ‘tlc’ because the paint is peeling off.

There is a lot of Great Western Railway history associated with Swindon – the original station, the works and the growth of the town.

On to the Golden Valley line:

We leave Swindon and take the points onto the Golden Valley line towards Gloucester. Our train is now travelling through farmland again. We pass through the sites of more long closed stations at Purton, Minety & Ashton Keynes and Oaksey Halt before we reach Kemble.

The next 11 miles to Stroud:

We leave Kemble and pass through Tetbury Road Station which saw its last passengers in 1882. The Sapperton Tunnels follow; construction begins in 1839 and completes in 1845. There are now another 6 closed stations before we reach Stroud.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If so, please join me in a couple of weeks time when we continue our journey, travelling from Stroud to Gloucester on the  Welsh Dragon.

Links:

To visit the Steam Dreams website please follow  this link.

This podcast is also available through Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox , Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify, Stitcher and Vurbl and others.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed Steam Railway for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2022

From Reading to Wantage Road UKRJ S1 Ep04

From Reading to Wantage Road – Series 1 – Episode 4

In this episode we continue our journey travelling from Reading to Wantage Road. Our journey takes us west, through towns and the countryside, over bridges as we cross rivers.

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to view the photographs that accompany this podcast:
The Sonning Cutting:

The cutting allows the railway to bypass Sonning. The cutting is over a mile long and, in places, 60 feet deep. Navvies dug the cutting and moved the spoil in wheelbarrows and horse drawn carts. It takes two years to complete and the line opens on 31 March 1840.

There is an accident 21 months after the cutting is completed. A mixed freight and passenger train runs into a landslide. Passengers travel in open top wagons and so many are thrown out. Nine die and sixteen are injured. This leads to the President of the Board of Trade, W E Gladstone, bringing in railway safety legislation.

Reading:

We pass over the River Kennet and soon see the tracks shared by the SWR route to Waterloo and the GWR route to Gatwick Airport.

We stop at the modernised station so that passengers can join the train. Reading is the 9th busiest UK station outside London and the second busiest interchange.

Queen Elizabeth II opened the rebuilt station on 17th July 2014.

Westwards:

We soon reach Tilehurst which opened in 1882. GWR operate local services from the station. Jerome K Jerome mentions the railway at Tilehurst in Three Men in a Boat. He says the railway soils the view!

We then pass through Pangbourne station which has been open since June 1840. Again GWR operate local services from the station.

Goring and Streatley soon follows. Our train is now travelling at speed as Mayflower powers westward. We cross the Moulsford Railway Bridge, actually two parallel bridges, across the Thames.

Next comes Cholsey Station where you can get local services to Didcot, Oxford, Reading and Paddington. The Cholsey and Wallingford Railway, a heritage line, uses Platform 5 at the station.

Didcot:

We pass Didcot Parkway a few minutes behind schedule. The current station buildings date from 1985 and the station offers ‘Park & Ride’. The station is a major junction. On the 7th December 1964 all local services between Didcot and Swindon were withdrawn and stations closed.

Closed stations west of Didcot:

We now pass a number of closed railway stations. The first is Steventon. Although the station has been demolished the Great Western Railways, Jacobean style house used as the company headquarters from July 1842 to January 1843, still exists.

Wantage Road, the end of this episode, dates from 1846 – 6 years after this section of line opened. In 1873 the Wantage Tramway opened joining the station with the town.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If so, please join me in a couple of weeks time when we continue our journey, taking water at Challow, and proceeding to Swindon and beyond on the  Welsh Dragon.

Links:

To visit the Steam Dreams website please follow  this link.

This podcast is also available through Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox , Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify, Stitcher and Vurbl and others.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed Steam Railway and Funny Corporate for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2022

Across the London border and on towards Reading UKRJ S1 Ep 03

Across the London border and on towards Reading – UK Rail Journeys – Series 1 – Episode 3

We continue our journey and go across the London border and on towards Reading. Our journey takes us west, first through the suburbs and then on towards the countryside, over famous bridges across rivers.

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to view the photographs that accompany this podcast:
Hanwell to Langley:

As we continue our journey we pass Hanwell, once called Hanwell and Elthorne.

We then cross the River Brent, passing over the Wharncliffe Viaduct which Brunel built in 1836 / 1837. The viaduct has a Grade 1 listing and a number of firsts to it’s name:

  • It is Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s first major structural design,
  • It carries the first electric telegraph, first operating on 9th April 1839,
  • The police use a telegraph message in early 1845 to apprehend John Tawell for murder.

Apparently Queen Victoria liked the view so much that the Royal train always stopped on the viaduct! Today there is a bat colony in the supporting piers of the viaduct.

We soon pass the West Coast Trains depot outside Southall which is home to our train. Southall station follows with it’s bilingual signs.

Hayes and Harlington is soon followed by West Drayton as Mayflower powers our train westward.

We shake ourselves free of London when we cross the river Colne, the Greater London border, and then the M25.

Iver and Langley:

Iver is the first station we pass through outside Greater London. It is nearly 15 miles from Paddington. The station has no architectural merit!

Langley soon follows. The 1878 station building has character. There are plans for a link to Heathrow leaving the mainline just east of the station.

Slough:

The station is eighteen and a half miles from Paddington, halfway to Reading. The station is also at the end of the branch line to Windsor and Eton Central.

The Provost of Eton resisted having a railway station near Eton College. The original Act authorising the railway forbids a station within 3 miles of the college! The delays first proper station until 1840. For some years it is the station that Queen Victoria used when visiting Windsor.

Burnham to Twyford:

The next two stations, Burnham and Taplow, serve local trains with commuters travelling to London and Reading.

Next we reach one of Brunel’s masterpieces, the Maidenhead viaduct. There was a great deal of controversy about the very low arches when it was built. It was thought that the viaduct wouldn’t be strong enough for trains. Over 180 years later it stands as a masterpiece of engineering carrying many trains each day.

The next two stations are Maidenhead, 24 miles from London, and Twyford, 7 miles further on.

Next up:

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If so, please join me in a couple of weeks time when we continue our journey west, stopping at Reading, on the Welsh Dragon.

Links:

To visit the Steam Dreams website please follow  this link.

This podcast is also available through Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox , Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify, Stitcher and Vurbl and others.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed Steam Railway and Blue Sky for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2022

The Welsh Dragon departs UKRJ S1 Ep02

The Welsh Dragon departs – UK Rail Journeys – Series 1 – Episode 2

Paddington Station:

The Welsh Dragon departs after our Guard, Paul, blows his whistle, waves his green flag and the signal changes to green giving us the ‘road’.  We listen as Mayflower starts to pull us out of London’s Paddington station and our journey to North West Wales begins!

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to view the photographs that accompany this podcast:
Mayflower:

Mayflower is a Thompson B1 steam locomotive. The LNER places the order but delivery, in 1948, is to the newly nationalised British Railways. She spends most of her life working from depots in Hull. In June 1967 she moves to Bradford Low Moor depot. She is withdrawn from service in September 1967 and becomes one the two B1s in preservation.

Over the years Mayflower has had a number of owners. Today David Buck owns Mayflower. He keeps her maintained for mainline service and she often hauls trains for The Steam Dreams Rail Co.

I talk to a member of Mayflower’s support team who tells me about the work that has to be done in order to make the locomotive ready for service.

First some Underground stations:

Our journey takes us past Royal Oak station on the Central and Hammersmith & City lines. The station gets its name from a local pub, when the station opens it is The Royal Oak, however, it is now The Porchester.

Next we pass the Underground station at Westbourne Park, then Portobello junction and Notting Hill sidings.

We then pass under the A40 Westway. Westway runs to the Edgware Road, just east of Paddington Station. Westway was the first urban motorway project in London and was built in the 1960s.

We soon pass under the West London Line linking Willesden Junction in the north with Clapham Junction. Lines such as this allow Steam Dreams excursions to take interesting routes across London!

The North Pole Depot:

Sadly this isn’t a vast storage area used to refill Santa’s sleigh on his 24th December marathon. It is a train maintenance depot for the Hitachi Class 800 trains used on the Great Western Railway’s long distance services.

Westwards through suburbs:

We pass under the North London line that runs from Richmond in the south to Stratford (London) in the east.

We pass under the A40 for a second time, known here as the Western Avenue. This section of the A40 is about 10 miles long. It runs from Old Oak Common in the east to the Denham roundabout in the west.

Our journey continues, we pass through Acton Main Line, Ealing Broadway and West Ealing stations.

Next up:

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If so, please join me in two weeks time when we continue our journey west, towards the edge of London on the Welsh Dragon.

Links:

To visit the Steam Dreams website please follow  this link.

This podcast is also available through Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox , Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify, Stitcher and Vurbl and others.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed Steam Railway, Energy and Festival of Dreams for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2022

The Welsh Dragon from Paddington

The Welsh Dragon from Paddington – UK Rail Journeys – Series 1 – Episode 1

Paddington Station:

In ‘The Welsh Dragon from Paddington’ I start with a look around this amazing Grade 1 Listed railway station. Simon Jenkins, in his book ‘Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations’* awards it 5 stars and starts his description by telling us that ‘there is magic in the air at Paddington’. First I walk down the ‘premium’ Platform 1 which oozes history.

* Please Note – Simon says that this is a Railway Station; it is not a Train Station!

You can find out more about this wonderful book by clicking here.

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to view the photographs that accompany this podcast:
A famous bear:

The first thing I find is a bench dedicated to the famous bear named after the station. He’s sat there eating a marmalade sandwich and I’m not sure whether he’s waiting for the Brown family or just trainspotting.

At the station entrance from the Elizabeth Line station on to Platform 1 there is also a statue to Paddington Bear.

 Underground Stations:

In 1863 Paddington becomes the western terminus of the Metropolitan Railway. This is the first underground railway in the world and links Kings Cross, Euston and Paddington stations.

Today there are two Underground stations at Paddington. There is one for the Bakerloo, District and Circle (towards Victoria) lines in Praed Street and another, for the Hammersmith and City and Circle (towards Hammersmith) Lines at Bishop’s Bridge Road.

The Great Western Royal Hotel:

The Victorian railway companies were operators of grand hotels. There are examples at many of the mainline stations in London.

Brunel’s dream is that people will travel from London to Bristol. They then board the SS Great Britain and travel to America, but, before setting off on the journey they need a night at a grand hotel in London. Today you can leave on the Heathrow Express, and fly to America. Same dream, different transport!

Hilton operate the hotel today, you can find more details here.

Platform 1:

So much history, so much to see – the clock, the triple oriel, the War Memorial and the grandeur of the woodwork. Stop for a moment, look upward and marvel at the structure.

Look at the photographs and listen to the podcast to find out more about the station and our departure.

Next up:

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If so, please join me in two weeks time when we journey west from Paddington, through the London suburbs on the Welsh Dragon.

Links:

To visit the Steam Dreams website please follow  this link.

This podcast is also available through Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox , Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify, Stitcher and Vurbl and others.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed Steam Railway and Funny Corporate for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2022