Last Year’s Landscape

Our railways ran, and in some instances still do, over some of the most scenic and unspoiled bits of the country. Equally true is that they ran through some of the most despoiled and industrialised areas of the country too – they helped in creating much of it. This scene of bucolic bliss is Kildale on the Whitby – Middlesborough via Battersby Junction line.

Beamish Pit and Puffing Billy, mining coal and transporting it from the pits the very raison d’ etre of railways, of industrialisation, of ‘the modern world’ where coal is no longer king – but hey, ‘that’s progress folks’. The engine’s a replica, the site a museum, facsimilies, sanitised renditions of a past, a past without health care, sick pay, holidays, maternity leave, electricity, anesthetic, old age pensions: And photography!

Another route out of Whitby, the one which used to run to York, via Malton, now the heritage North Yorkshire Moors Railway, runs past the tiny hamlet of Esk Valley, the terrace of cottages and a scattering of farm houses in the lower part of the picture. This goods train hauled by Black 5 No.44806 and banked by BR Standard Class 4MTT No.80136 is at the start of the long and twisting climb to Goathland, high on the moors.

From the high moors to the high Pennines, at Lunds viaduct on the Settle  – Carlisle line. The S&C has its own rich folk lore which runs from engines spinning on turntables, (Garsdale), through murder most foul, to Jam Butty making and eating contests in the Temperance Hotel in Kirkby Stephen. This latter being inaugurated by the bands of roaming enthusiasts who flocked to the area, during the era when the S&C was under imminent threat of closure. (Thanks to Paul Screeton and his ‘Folklore of the Settle -Carlisle’ for the details about the Jam Butty contest.)

From the ‘romantic’ S&C to real ‘Jam Butty Land’, the prosaic Balm Road branch of the Middleton Railway, in Leeds. A wet day, a deserted street, on an industrial estate and the building in the back ground carries a sign reading Imageco – the future’s bleak, the future’s 50 shades of grey. The engine making all the smoke is ‘Slough Estates No.3’ and she spent her working life on an industrial estate in Slough – enough to create despondency in any soul.

From the slough of despond to God’s green acres and the Nation’s ‘favourite’ engine. In the background is one of Yorkshire’s best known landmarks, Pen-y-Ghent, in the foreground trackside buildings gently decay.  The location is about half a mile south of Ribblehead viaduct and No.60103 Flying Scotsman had just ‘shut-off’ for the slack – bleak Blea moor and wild Cumbrian fells beckon.

Lastly we have Ex-LMS 4-6-0 Jubilee class No.45690 Leander with the classic south bound location, at the summit of Aisgill, with the ‘up’ Waverley. One day I’ll do this shot and the sun will be shining – maybe this year!

If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:



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