FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The Mixed Traction Gala in 12 minutes

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 14, 2011

As usual, I took my tripod and video to capture the sights and sounds of the gala (even though my main interest is taking stills photos). Although it often felt like I spent the weekend trying to dodge the rain I was rather surprised to see how much I’d managed to take. I’ve now put 17 of the clips into a short-ish video featuring seven of the diesels at the gala… starting from the beautiful weather for the first morning freight and ending with a downpour at Crowcombe on the saturday.

Time to switch to Plan B!

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 12, 2011

A small tug on the curtains this morning quickly confirmed that the forecasters threat of prolonged and intense rain had come true. I quickly wrote off a plan to watch the heritage freight pass through Washford and settled down to a relaxing and tasty breakfast at the White Horse Inn.

I hadn’t really come to Somerset with a Plan B but luckily one more or less wrote itself for me. On my walk to the inn on the first day I had passed the English Heritage maintained Cleeve Abbey which I now turned to for some intellectual stimulation and a bit of shelter from the rain (being roughly mid-way between the inn and the station).

The gatehouse at Cleeve Abbey in the rain

The gatehouse at Cleeve Abbey in the rain

As I hadn’t done my homework I had no idea what to expect from the abbey and was soon quite amazed by its fascinating history and the sights that it contained. Amongst the many points of interest was an incredible carved wood ceiling featuring some faintly menacing wooden angels, though I have to confess that I have been somewhat influenced by the terrors of the weeping angels in Blink on Doctor Who! I think they would have been somewhat more comforting to the original inhabitants…

However, the most wonderful sight of all at Cleeve Abbey was the heraldic tiled floor which is under the cover of a tent at the back of the abbey. A quick dash through the rain got me inside to marvel at the designs. Overall, I would recommend a visit on a good day when you can wander round the grounds and take a look at a more relaxed pace (rather than a series of sprints between doorways in heavy rain!).

Heraldic tiled floor at Cleeve Abbey

Heraldic tiled floor at Cleeve Abbey

Once I had completed my visit I headed on to Washford Station where I caught a service hauled by the Crompton on to Minehead and then back to Bishop’s Lydeard for the connecting First Great Western DMU shuttle to Taunton.

I can’t have been particularly observant when booking my trains as there are two services to London that leave Taunton ten minutes apart. The second gets in to London almost an hour later than the other. Yep, you can guess which one I was on! Still, it was an interesting journey from Taunton to London via Bristol…

Stogumber to Crowcombe Heathfield

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 11, 2011

The promise of better weather held out until mid-afternoon, long enough for me to have completed most of my walk from Stogumber to Crowcombe Heathfield. It was only as the skies darkened and the rain started to fall that I realised just how much wetter it was going to get…

It was madness to be out in the rain but I had little choice in the matter as I hadn’t reached Crowcombe by this point. At least when I did make it to the station I found that I wasn’t alone in looking like I had just stepped out of the shower fully clothed!

I took my soaking as the cue to head back to Washford and caught the next train off Crowcombe. This in itself was slightly delayed as the Western failed and had to be taken off at Williton – I hope that doesn’t cause too much trouble to fix as it’s a marvellous sight and sound for anyone who wasn’t around to see these in their heyday.

Once again, the pleasure of dry clothes and good pub food made for a welcome end to the day.

Another day, another bright start…

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 11, 2011

After seeing how yesterday’s early promise quickly turned to rain I wondered how today would pan out, particularly as many were touting this as the best of the three gala days. Once again the day started with perfectly blue skies and it was hard to believe that the day would follow the same pattern. Having said that, I am an eternal optimist…

Washford station

Washford station and an almost cloudless blue sky

I caught the 09:32 from Washford which was hauled by Warship D832 ‘Onslaught’ (still looking resplendent in a grey undercoat) but this time got off at Stogumber, ready to resume my walk from the previous day.

Warship D832 "Onslaught" arrives at Washford with the 9:00 service from Minehead

Williton to Stogumber

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 10, 2011

After watching the early morning freight and another fast service, I caught the 10:32 service from Washford to Williton which was hauled by the Warship D832 “Onslaught”. The warship was due to be repainted into BR green but was still in a grey undercoat. Whilst this appalled some folk, I have to admit that I thought she looked pretty stunning in this unintentional livery and rather liked the novelty value as well. After all, I don’t suppose you will get many opportunities to see a Warship in anything other than maroon, blue or green…

For the first day of the gala I chose to concentrate on the stretch of the line between Williton and Stogumber, a section of the line that I hadn’t explored on my previous visit. The rain had already started to fall at Williton when I arrived but in the end there was nothing for it but to head out onto the line with my lineside photography permit.

The pattern for the day was mostly one of intermittent rain, sun and clouds – usually with the rain starting whenever the next train was due! I could cope with this, but around 3 or 4pm the rain became more intense. My focus switched from good positions for lineside photography to good, safe places to shelter. Finally I gave in, catching the 5.31pm service from Stogumber to Washford behind the Western. A retreat to the pub for some dry clothes and good food was never more welcome!

Morning freight to Minehead

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 10, 2011

I began my second mixed traction gala at the West Somerset Railway in bright sunlight with blue skies all around. I dared to hope that the forecasts would prove to be off-beam as they had in 2010 and allowed myself the luxury of joining in the friendly greetings and comments about the lovely weather.

The gala in 2011 was intended to mark the 25th anniversary of the arrival of class 59 diesel electric locomotives into service on British Rail. It was therefore appropriate that the first locomotive I saw at the event was 59002 ‘Alan J Day’ which was hauling six ballast wagons to Minehead – passing through Washford around 9.20am. A good start to the day…

Morning freight with 59002 at Washford

Class 59 diesel 59002 'Alan J Day' hauls six ballast wagons past Washford playing fields


Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 9, 2011

I arrived at Washford, Somerset this afternoon for the three day mixed traction gala at the West Somerset Railway. The event in 2010 was notable for gloriously hot weather and a diet of perfectly blue skies but that looks a long way off, if the forecasts are to be believed…

Still, I’m here now so I will make the best of whatever weather gets thrown my way. I’m staying in a friendly country pub (The White Horse Inn) so if nothing else I will get to sample some good pub food and ale!

Washford Station

Washford Station

Great Western Railway – Roll of Honour 1914-1918

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 13, 2010

As I was waiting around on the platform at Taunton station I realised I was standing in front of a copy of the Great Western Railway – Roll of Honour, 1914-1918. I imagine that framed copies of the roll of honour must have been taken pride of place at most GWR stations at one time but I’d never actually seen a copy. The dedication in the centre read:

“On this Roll of Honour are shown the names of members of staff of the Great Western Railway Company who lost their lives in the Great War. Many of the men were called upon to participate in some of the fiercest fighting of the campaign; they upheld the best traditions of the Country, and their memory is revered alike by the Company and their comrades.

The number of Great Western men who joined His Majesty’s Forces was 25,479 representing thirty-three per cent. of the Company’s staff. Those who lost their lives in the war numbered 2,436.”

GWR Roll of Honour at Taunton Station

GWR Roll of Honour at Taunton Station

I looked at the list of men from the Locomotive and Carriage Department, worked my way across to the list for Swindon works and then down the column until I found the name I was looking for – Bailey, T. W.

Thomas William Bailey was my great grandfather’s cousin and he died at the age of 42 on 13th March 1917. A photo of Thomas was published in the Great Western Railway Magazine and can be seen at

It was a strange and sobering moment after a weekend away, perhaps because I hadn’t really been looking for it. It’s at a moment like this that I feel lucky to be able to wander round the countryside, knowing how much previous generations had to give up for that freedom.

Diesels in the West

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 13, 2010

Three days of video footage edited down into about nine minutes of youtube clip… all those moments hanging round by the lineside now on the cutting room floor!

Sunday morning on the lineside

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 13, 2010

A final morning at the West Somerset Railway.

I decided not to go too far as I had to get back into Taunton in time to catch the 3.11pm train to London. With this in mind, I entered the lineside at Bishop’s Lydeard and made my way north from there – doubling back on myself in time to see the double-headed Warship departure at 1pm (an incredible combination of sight, sound and smell). It seemed like an appropriate highlight to end the weekend on…

More photos from Diesels in the West

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On and off the West Somerset coastal path

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 12, 2010

Another early morning start… but what a glorious morning. The unfolding landscape viewed from the number 28 bus looked particularly beautiful in early morning sunlight, half making me wish I could stop along the way and capture the moment that the next diesel entered the picture. Instead, I relaxed in my seat and carried on to Watchet.

After getting out of the bus I spent the day making my way to various spots around Splash Point, Doniford Beach, Blue Anchor, Ker Moor and Dunster – walking on and off stretches of the West Somerset coastal path. The sea breeze cut through the sunlit countryside and at times it actually felt a little cold, but mostly it was perfect weather for walking and photographing the railway.

The day ended with a return to ‘normality’ at Taunton. That is, if you can count the scenes of knights in chainmail wandering the streets as normality (ok, to be fair it was shortly before England v USA in the world cup!). Still, it had been an excellent day and even the result of the football match couldn’t dampen my spirits…

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Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 11, 2010

An early start today, catching a bus from Taunton to Bishop’s Lydeard to visit the West Somerset Railway.

The West Somerset Railway is hosting a three day ‘Diesels in the West’ gala which focuses on the diesel-hydraulic locomotives peculiar to the Western Region as part of the GWR 175 celebrations this year. I’ve not really encountered many diesel-hydraulic locomotives in my time so I was particularly looking forward to seeing/hearing a Warship and a Hymek (I have already encountered Westerns!).

The forecast that I printed out from the BBC website yesterday made for grim reading, detailing the prolonged heavy rain that would fall for most of the day. The reality was markedly different – warm and sunny all day with only the very slightest of breezes. If I hadn’t already committed to the trip I might well have abandoned my plans. The railway seemed quieter than I might have expected, so maybe some people had been deterred?

Usually I do my homework and plan a route using public footpaths to get to interesting photographic locations but on this occasion I got a lineside photographic permit so that I could reach some of the less accessible spots.

Today, I chose the stretch of line from Crowcombe Heathfield to Bishop’s Lydeard and had a wonderfully relaxed day walking to different spots to take photographs. The Warships, Westerns and Hymek all looked and sounded glorious. Hopefully I’ve captured some of this in the photographs and videos that I took.

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London to Taunton

Posted in England, Somerset by folkestonejack on June 10, 2010

I haven’t been to Paddington station in a while, but I’m back today to catch a train to Taunton for a long weekend. I arrived early so headed out to one of my favourite cafes in London – Bonne Bouche – to buy a mozarella, spinach, bacon and chicken baguette. As delicious as always and definetly to be recommended.

Anyway, back to Paddington. In a time when many of the developments of the victorian world no longer seem so striking, I like the fact that Brunel’s vast train shed is one victorian wonder that retains its power to impress.

My journey was relatively straightforward today and before I knew it the First Great Western HST had delivered me to Taunton with plenty of time left in the evening to relax and chill out.

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