Sunday, 11 December 2016

Building Bridges (1)

One of the most common features of a railway station is a footbridge linking the platforms. Even before the onslaught of "health and safety" the authorities didn't like passengers wandering across the tracks. Many lighter-used lines on the Continent don't seem to have this fear; and don't seem to lose too many passengers either!
as well as providing a link between platforms, footbridges also maintain a public footpath right of way over railway property.
Thus it was that every model railway owner also wanted to own a footbridge. In the declining years of Trix Twin, you could but a bridge as part of the clever mix and match station buildings range.
Like the rest of the range, it was crude but at least it sat at the right height on the station platform. The Hornby Dublo model ...
... was of high quality, made of cast metal and very much the top of the range. As such it was well beyond the pocket of a junior fbb! Even if it had been cheaper, the young lad would not have bought it, because it was designed to cross tracks from and to level ground and would have stood unrealistically too high perched on a platform.
So most "official" pictures showed the bridge at the bottom of the platform ramps! Not as it should be, thought the pedantic little fellow. If he had been able to do some research, however, he could have found many full size crossing that involved just such a manoeuvre. (the picture at the head of this post shows one such example.)

When all-plastic Triang arrived, they, too produced a footbridge that was too high to stand on a platform.
Imagine the excitement and joy in the late 1950s when Airfix arrived on the scene with a plastic footbridge kit for only three shillings (15p). The steps section could be arranged in a variety of positions and, if you wanted lower height for platform use, you could borrow mum's kitchen scissors and snip the bottom section off.

Exactly what fbb has done on his layout to produce a bridge that runs from platform level to ground level.
If the blue looks a bit garish, that is because it was photographed in the pouring rain; it has stood outside for over two years, been blown off the baseboard by high wind, been frozen and boiled in extremes of weather and has sustained no damage. Today the kit will cost you about £6, plus paint and glue.

Some years ago, Hornby produced a footbridge kit which can be found on sites like EBay ...
... at about £9,

Exactly the same model has re-appeared produced by Gaugemaster (adjacent to Ford Railway Station) ...
... as part of its Fordhampton range.
These are not actually created by Gaugemester; the Hornby signalbos which fbb has adapted for his layout was made by the German form Faller!
Fordhampton's bridge is also too high to stand on a platform! It costs £18 from Gaugemaster! OUCH!

Moors from the footbridge fanzine tomorrow.
Has Christmas Reached Rock-Bottom?
The gift for the man or woman who has everything!
Yes you did read it correctly.
What next? Christmas Pudding scented under-arm deodorant? Turkey flavoured hair spray? Thyme and Parsley chocolates?

The mind boggles.

Chocolate Brussels Sprouts ...
 Advent Calendar 
There are around two dozen passages in the Old Testament of the Bible that predict something about the coming of someone special. Believers consider that all of them are fulfilled in the life and person of Jesus of Nazareth.

The more cynical might opine that some of them are "stretching a point whilst confirmed rejectors of Biblical passage would simply, erm, reject them all!

It is true that, taken individually nd out of context, these prophecies might sometimes seen a bit too good to be true, but taken together, as a body of evidence, they do present a compelling picture of God doing something very special.

Isaiah was warning a king of two things. Firstly, God had a special plan.

Isaiah replied to King Ahaz, “Listen, now, descendants of King David. It's bad enough for you to wear out the patience of people—do you have to wear out God's patience too? Well then, the Lord himself will give you a sign: a young woman who is pregnant will have a son and will name him ‘Immanuel.’
But before that, very bad things would happen.

The Lord is going to bring on you, on your people, and on the whole royal family, days of trouble worse than any that have come since the kingdom of Israel separated from Judah—he is going to bring the king of Assyria.
The Assyrians wiped out the northern Kingdoms in 727BC, but miraculously went home without destroying Jerusalem in the south. That destruction came later.

Prophecies did have a habit of coming true! The idea of a "Messiah" was born.
 Next bridges blog : Monday 12th December 

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Quelque Chose Complètement Différent (2)

Un Viaduc Verdoyant et Vibrant
Allitération en français - formidable!
Yesterday we were at and near the former station at Reuilly on the closed line from Vincennes to Gare de la Bastille. We saw the much of the old trackbed had been turned into beautiful wooded walkways.

So far so good, But from here westwards the route lies on top of a long viaduct similar in concept (but not quite so long!) to that which brought trains from Greenwich into London Bridge.
Of course, this one, much enlarged, still carries very frequent trains.

After leaving the pleasant Parc de Reuilly, we find ourselves on a new-build footbridge ...
.. crossing the Rue de Montgallet.
The gap between the two new apartment buildings, which anywhere else would have obliterated the path of the railway, is very impressive on Google Streetview.
Once through the chicane, we are on the viaduct proper. In a word, it is beautiful!
Water features, trees and hedges abound and only the muted noise of the traffic remains you that you are walking along a disused railway line in a big City. This footbridge is a new build ...
... over a closed side road with more shops beneath.
Up top we march on through more profuse greenery ...
... and over yet another bridge; this time a re-decked original ...
...  that took the railway across the busy Boulevard Diderot.
Here, as at most junctions, there are access stairs from street level.
But we stay up above for more delightful verdure!
But, alas, we must come to an end. The end, sadly, is abrupt. We are nearly on the platforms of Gare de la Bastille ...
... or we would be if it hadn't been demolished to make way for an Opera House!
In fact, the end is disappointing. A set of concrete steps ...
... and 100 metres walk along a boring street to get to Place de la Bastille and the Metro station.
Turning back and gazing wistfully on the blunted end of the viaduct ...
... you might be forgiven for thinking it had all been a dream. But no, the sign is there to guide you back.
You can, of course, dream another dream. What might that peremptory end have been like had it carried on to encompass the old station and bring the weary walker into Place de la Bastille through a welcoming and picturesque garden instead of alongside an ugly (?) building.
One can but dream.

Is there anything like this in the UK? Is anything like this ever likely to appear in the UK?

Tomorrow we investigate plastic bridges amongst other things.
Advent Calendar
Isn't an Advent Calendar meant to be about Christmas? Yes, and no! Christmas doesn't start, ecclesiastically, until December 24th, Christmas Eve. We will be in the Church's season of Advent until then.

Advent means "he is coming" and brings together the first "coming" of Jesus with the vision of His Second Coming at the end of tims, on what is spookily known as Judgement Day. Both "comings" are part of Advent.

The problem is that we find it impossible to visualise Heaven and the "end times" and we end up with weird and possibly unrealistic pictures.
Words are even more tricky! Here is the prophet Ezekiel ...

Above the heads of the creatures there was something that looked like a dome made of dazzling crystal. There under the dome stood the creatures, each stretching out two wings toward the ones next to it and covering its body with the other two wings. Above the dome there was something that looked like a throne made of sapphire, and sitting on the throne was a figure that looked like a human being. The figure seemed to be shining like bronze in the middle of a fire. It shone all over with a bright light that had in it all the colors of the rainbow. This was the dazzling light which shows the presence of the Lord.
But how do you describe a God who is outside of any possible human experience. How would a goldfish describe the "god" that feeds it every day from  outside of its watery world,
Clearly we need something (or somebody) more accessible, more understandable.

So Christmas is coming!
 Next bridges blog : Sunday 11th December 

Friday, 9 December 2016

Quelque Chose Complètement Différent (1)

Que Faire Avec Un Viaduc Désaffecté?
fbb wrote a little about the Ligne de Vincernnes in Paris in a recent blog (read again here). In very simple terms,1969 saw the beginning of what would eventually become RER ligne A. After passing through Vincennes station, the route entered a tunnel ...
... which, a few years later, would take suburban trains right through the city and west beyond La Défense.
The section of line to Gare de Bastille (or Vincennes?) was closed, as were stations at St Mandé, Bel-Air and Reuilly.
The old line is shown dotted in grey on the map above.

The trackbed was in a shallow cutting as it passed under the old Petite Ceinture circle line bridge and Bel Air Station ...
Only the overbridge is there today.
At Reuilly, as well as the station ...
... there was a goods yard which outlasted the passenger service.
Voila la gare aux marchandises!
The passenger building still stands in community use ...
... and the goods yard is now even more apartment blocks.
But the street level trackbed is now a smart grassed avenue ...
... tree lined and largely traffic free with a selection of caffs (bistros) to tempt the passing closed railway line explorer.
There was even a kiddies ride when Google Streetview viewed!
Also nest to the old station is the Parc de Reuilly, also developed from Railway land. This is a very popular spot in the Paris sunshine ...
... with a spectacular footbridge following the line of the former railway.
After the Reuilly area and all the way to Place de la Bastille, the line was on viaduct ...
... and, in places, not very pretty. Of course, being Paris, the arches are turned into chic craft shops ...
... which leaves the rest of the closed route atop the viaduct.

Tomorrow we shall explore what has happened to that.
A Sheffield Festive P.S.
fbb suggested, tentatively, that only ONE operator of public transport would be providing printed material this Christmas.
It looks like a box of leaflets from ...
... Stagecoach Supertram.

What a good idea. Perhaps Travel South Yorkshire and the Sheffield Bus non-Partnership might take a hint?

Or maybe they don't want people to travel by bus. Passengers are very inconvenient; they do seem to get in the way of running an efficient, sustainable administrative system.

Happy Christmas Supertram
Advent Calendar

As the years passed by, it became clear that maintaining the covenant was too hard; the temptations to stray were too great. What the book of Deuteronomy had predicted was happening again and again. The people trusted God and kept their side of the bargain so all went well - OR they strayed from the "straight and narrow" and things went from bad to worse.

This brought in the age of the prophets and there were dozens of them spanning a period of over 500 years.

Some were really weird. like Daniel. And we all know the story of the lions den (or we think we do!)
But much weirder than that.

"Then there will be a time of troubles, the worst since nations first came into existence. When that time comes, all the people of your nation whose names are written in God's book will be saved.
Many of those who have already died will live again: some will enjoy eternal life, and some will suffer eternal disgrace. The wise leaders will shine with all the brightness of the sky. And those who have taught many people to do what is right will shine like the stars forever. He said to me, “And now, Daniel, close the book and put a seal on it until the end of the world."

And we haven't even touched on Daniels visions of monsters!

People have argued over these crazy pictures ever since they were written down but one thing is clearly they do seem to point to some sort of "Day of Reckoning".

Nonsense? Maybe, maybe not?
 Next viaduct blog : Saturday 10th December