Thursday, 26 November 2015

Surprising Snippets from a Saunter to Sheffiel (1)

An Unexpected Blog
On Tuesday last, fbb travelled for a second time in a fortnight from Axminster to Sheffield; and was expecting an uneventful journey. Yesterday's meeting with the Sheffield Bus Partnership publicity team was bound to be "interesting", so an un-interesting journey would be a good start.

Which it was; on time and straightforward as far as Derby. There, a whistle blew and the train started to move but an ever alert fbb noticed something odd. Having arrived from Burton upon Trent and expecting to set of northwards to Sheffield, fbb was surprised to feel himself going backuds and eastbound towards Nottingham.

The young gell came onto the speaking spout and announced,

"The observant amongst you will notice that we are going the wrong way"

Yep, fbb had noticed.

"A windscreen wiper has fallen off," she says, "and the rules mean that we cannot proceed without turning the train around."
The train, by now running 20 minutes late, whizzed off from Sheffield before fbb could take a suitable photograph; BUT both wipers were still in place so "falllen off" was not entirely true. Maybe "come loose on its spindle"? But the left hand wiper was attempting to wipe the yellow bit which doesn't seem right.

Was it really necessary to delay a trainload of people for want of the second wiper? When Mallard managed 126 miles per hour at Little Bytham, fbb does not remember seeing windscreen wipers on the A4 streak.
And in "the good old days" the driver was looking out for semaphore signals with flickering oil lights at night.

The fbb train was routed via Trent Junction and the Erewash Valley. Using Google Maps, fbb will attempt to show the revised route.

Approaching from Derby (centre left) you pass through Long Eaton Station ...
... then Sheet Stores Junction (because there was once a huge warehouse storing sheets, not for beds but tarpaulins for wagons.) Then you turn left as if you were a train between Derby and Nottingham. But instead of forking right for the home of Robin Hood, Boots and the gooseless Goose Fair, your diverted Voyager forks left up the Erewash Valley line.

For track bashers, fbb thinks that this particular sequence of track bits is a rare route for normal passenger train services. 

Long Eaton Station used to be called Sawley Junction with the yellow road from the "station roundabout" being the juncting line.
This allowed trains from Derby TO London, for example, to call at Trent Station (lower right on the map above).
Trent Station was opened by the Midland Railway in May 1862 solely as an interchange station. It was not designed to serve any local community, and for this reason it is the only station in England named after a river, rather than after a town or village.

It was built on what would now be called a greenfield site, in the south-east corner of Derbyshire. It was described in one Midland Railway publication as "the junction for everywhere".

It changed little in its 106 years of existence, and even to its last day, December 31, 1967, was lit by gas lamps, never having had electricity. It was built in the Midland Gothic style, and poet laureate John Betjeman was one of those who deplored its demolition. Over each platform there was an impressive array of 27 glass canopy sections.

It had a complicated arrangement of loops, so trains with the same destination standing on adjacent platforms could be facing in opposite directions.
fbb does wonder whether the residents using Field Farm Road realise that their road might have been plied by express trains to London.

This rather unassuming gate is where the line turned sharp right to reach the station.
But fbb's train sets off north to Chesterfield passing through the original Long Eaton Station ...
... of which only the level crossing remains.
The diverted train continues northwards passing Toton Yard ...
... not quite the massive freight hub that it once was when King Coal ruled his Nottinghamshire industrial kingdom.
Likewise Toton TMD (Traction Maintenance Depot; "Engine Shed" in the old money) is less busy but is pictured here in English Welsh and Scottish Railway days.
Now a German State Railways depot (DB Schenker) ...
... it is ironic that a diverted fbb trundled past in a German State Railways Voyager operating in the thin disguise of Arriva Trains!
Two reminders that the UK still has nationalised railways, despite "privatisation". What is worse is that it's somebody else's nation.

At least one other feature of the diversion attracted fbb's interested gaze; but that's for tomorrow's blog.

But a surreal happening happened as your chubby old codger staggered down Dixon Lane to book in at Travelodge Sheffield Central.
There on the footpath was a sign which proclaimed "Utopia".
The former Castle Market area was a highlight of Sheffield's post-war rebuild ...
... but it has had its day and is being demolished. fbb found the juxtaposition of "Utopia" and the empty building somewhat ridiculous.
Musing on the mystery, fbb was accosted by a clutch of Sheffield University students.
fbb is getting old because they all looked about 13! But their spokeswoman accosted him very politely and explained that it was all a bit of "Street Art" and an exhibition would be held of locations and peoples' reactions. The fat bus bloke was duly photographed gazing in wide-eyed wonder at the "art" and edifice (?) and may well have his few moments of photographic fame at the forthcoming exhibition.


Who said anything about an uneventful journey?

 Next rail, bus and tram blog : Friday 27th November 


  1. On a similar theme to Trent, Swale (Halt) in Kent is named after the water channel separating the Isle of Sheppey from the mainland. Wales' example is, of course, Dovey Junction.

  2. Fast forward into the future and the East Midlands HS2 station is proposed for Toton - and in connection with that it is proposed the Sheffield-Nottingham train services be diverted via Toton to connect!

  3. Trent Station was wonderful. In the 60s, staying at my Grandad's in Chilwell, we often found our way there and spent many a long hour wondering what would come next and where from. D1 - D10, the Peaks, were all copped there.
    Now all that remains are memories, photos, a website ! ( and a book. And probably lots of bits in garages, lofts etc

  4. Again happy memories of Toton shed and the surrounding area's transport delights as I have family living in the Ilkeston area.

    The latter town is often quoted in the press as being ‘the largest town in England without a railway station’. It should lose that title next year when a new station is opened on the aforementioned Erewash Valley line.

    It should have opened last year but has been delayed by the discovery of great crested newts and flood prevention work. As you can imagine the locals will believe it when it happens!