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Ever since I can remember I've been fascinated by trains, as a child this rapidly led to me starting train spotting back in the days when there were still steam engines in everyday service. I've many fond memories of Bulleid pacifics and N's around Exeter - the sound of the ballast trains climbing from St David's up to Central station with two bankers and a pilot is still fresh over 30 years later. These days I still can't resist any chance to watch trains whether old steam engines on a preserved line or modern diesels and electrics on the national system. However I regard the privatisation of Britain's railways to have been an expensive disaster, British Rail had a far lower subsidy than any other European system. Now we have standard fares three times the level of those in France or Germany, appalling reliability and overcrowding.
I'll try to cover the subject in some sort of order, starting with British Railways through to their break up as I experienced them, mainly on the Western Region. Each "era" or segment has it's own page, with photos.
The first segment covers the Diesel Hydraulics of the Western Region, then comes their replacement by Diesel Electrics. In 1967 I moved to Bournemouth, unfortunately just after electrification had led to the end of steam.
After I left school I moved around a lot, various places in Dorset, back to Devon, including two spells working for British Rail at Paignton and Newton Abbot, up to Bristol before settling in Somerset. As a result I've covered my experience of the mainline scene from the early 70's on in a Miscellany page, this section also has some "odds and ends", photos that don't fit anywhere else but deserved to be on the site somewhere.
The latest Railway page South Devon Railway shows the current heritage scene on that line.
One of my great loves is visiting France, so there is now a page of photos at French Railways, I hope in time to expand this in to a larger sub section of the Railway pages.
Somerset & Devon includes:
Next I'll turn to the preservation scene, starting with the West Somerset Railway which runs from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton. The WSR is close to me, and I am a volunteer there, so this page has several sub pages leading from it - remember to check back often as new photos are added most weeks to the WSR section.
Click here to go to West Somerset Railway on the Web, a good unofficial site.
Staying in Somerset next comes the East Somerset Railway which is located at Cranmore, near Shepton Mallet, and is associated with the renowned wildlife and railway artist David Shepard.
This is followed by the Bulleid Pacific page, a type of loco that I really enjoy seeing and hearing.
To conclude this section various preserved lines and steam on the mainlines come under Preserved, which is a sequence of pages starting with Preserved Pt.1 which is very varied, including scenes from Devon to Scotland, via Bristol and Leicestershire - one of which is of the famous Flying Scotsman.
The next part, Preserved Pt.2, is a variety of photos, mainly provided by Brian Turner. I've used a lot of photos from others on various pages, for which I give my thanks, but all the views reflect places and locos that I've seen, which illustrate my experience of and interest in railways.
There are pages on many other heritage railways, Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, The Ratty (Ravensglass and Eskdale), Swanage Railway, Lynton & Barnstaple, North Yorkshire Moors, Severn Valley, North Wales (including the Festiniog, Snowdon Mountain and Llanberis Lake Railways and the Great Orme Tramway), the Vale of Rheidol, the Gartell Light Railway and the Bure Valley Railway.
To sum up I enjoy reminiscing about the railway of old whilst also believing that rail has an important modern role to play, but the way our system has been smashed apart in the name of some mystical God called competition is a disaster, as was the previous decades of under funding. But at least when it was nationalised there were no dividends being paid out, no fat cats creaming off massive directors fees and bonuses... Perhaps Railtrack's successor will begin to restore the balance, though while all its maintenance work is contracted out I'm not that confident bearing in mind that the West Coast Mainline Upgrade cost has apparently increased two and a half fold since BR days.
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This site was last updated 19-05-2015
Photos not otherwise credited are ©2001 - 2011 S G J Huddy. Other photos are included with permission of the copyright holders.