October 14th - I passed through Snow Hill Station early in the day on an errand before work. I hadn’t been there for ages, and scooting my bike across the access bridge, I was shocked to note the concourse had been retiled. I anxiously checked to see if the odd cat tile was still in place: I was relieved to see it was.
I have no idea why this hand-painted puss is here, but it’s clearly old, possibly rescued from the original station. Attempts to find out what it represents or commemorates failed.
I’m fascinated by this ceramic depiction of a cat. There’s a story here, if only I can find it.
A lovely thing; so glad it endures.
September 24th - I had to nip over to Droitwich late in the afternoon, just to check something over for a client. It’s actually a lot quicker to get there than you’d think; catch the right trains and it’s only 70 minutes out of Walsall.
Droitwich has a lovely station, and as I waited on my return the light was beautifully mellow, but the sky had some very black clouds that looked awfully threatening. But the sun shone through, it was warm, and only the colour of the trees really gave any clue that this was autumn at all.
August 11th - This is something I knew about, but had never seen in use. It’s a bit geeky, but I find it a fascinating demonstration of simple solutions being best.
As New Street Station is gradually turd-polished and sprinkled with cheap glitter, platforms are periodically closed to the public. At the moment it’s the turn of platform 3.
When the platform is closed, so is the adjacent track so that work can be undertaken in safety. The track is blocked, the overhead wires are grounded and these detonators are placed on the line.
Should a train get down here, the yellow disc, which contains a small but effective explosive charge, will be crushed by the wheels, activating the explosive. This makes a sound like a gunshot, alerting nearby workers and the driver.
This technology has been in use for decades, but I didn’t know it was still employed today.
August 7th - I had to nip into Brum on my way home from work, and hopped on a train to Shenstone on the way back. I haven’t been this way much lately, and the familiar wooded hill with church tower - just the one in summer, the other being obscured by trees - looked splendid in the early evening sunshine. I love how you can see the gargoyles at the vertices from a very long way away.
The station and it’s complex, partially mansard roof is still gorgeous, too, despite being neutered of it’s tall, elegant chimneys several decades ago.
Shenstone is gorgeous, and there are few better places to be on a warm, sunny evening.
July 16th - Hey, South Wigston has a station cat. With the close proximity of dense housing, and embankments and wastelands full of small, squeaky things, it was inevitable, really, but I’d never seen this young lad before.
He was doing monorail cat on the pedestrian barrier until I appeared. He hopped off when I got out my camera, but did pose for a few shots… a lovely lad, clearly.
Like pubs, every station should have a resident cat.
July 8th - Working late. Exhausted, with very sore eyes, I hit Shenstone station just as darkness was falling. Pleased to note this camera takes very decent handheld shots in low light. This rural station is a long-time muse of mine, and I find the station building and environment fascinating, particularly at night.
In high summer like this, working late and catching the dark is a rare treat, and despite my bleariness, I did try and savour the light…
May 22nd - Leicester again. I love Leicester, it’s bustle and cosmopolitain air. One of my favourite aspects of this interesting and engaging city is the station - not huge, but a good, airy atmosphere, comfortable and excellent facilities. Every time I come here, the amount of cycle parking has increased - there are now 10 of the bike parking carousels here, and still cyclists are having to use the railings.
This excellent provision - you’d not see anything like it in Birmingham, for instance - is reflected on the streets, where I see far more cyclists, despite Leicester Council not seeming to keen on cycle lanes or silly coloured tarmac.
It just goes to show, build it, and they’ll come.
May 19th - Bike rack, Telford station. A child’s bike. Can’t really fault the technique, but it’s an unusual approach. Perhaps they’re antipodean.
April 22nd - Using a bike rack, you’re doing it wrong (and making it difficult for anyone else to do so, too).
Photo taken through the train window whilst stopped at Butlers Lane this morning, hence poor quality, sorry.
Come on you dozy wazzock, it ain’t rocket science, is it?
April 16th - It’s all about flowers at the moment. I was in Telford for the first time for a couple of weeks, and spring has come on incredibly fast in the intervening period. As ever, the bed of tulips and other flowers at Telford railway station is incredible - but the daffodils - now going over a bit - were gorgeous at Hortonwood. It was sunny, and warm, and the wind seems to be dying a bit at long last. As I ground my way up Shire Oak Hill late afternoon, I noticed the first Spanish bluebells in the hedgerow by Lanes Farm.
This was worth the wait.
March 12th - I landed at New Street at an unusual time, between trains. The station was heaving, and I wasn’t enjoying it, so hopped on the first service leaving in my general direction, to Four Oaks. Leaving there to cycle home on a hazy, sunny afternoon, I noticed the cycle parking there was pretty well used, with some nice bikes that were well locked.
That GT 29er is a lovely bike.
British Transport Police clearly take security seriously here, as there’s warnings about decoy tracker bikes and locking yours up with at least two locks.
One assumes this has been a theft hotspot - I can’t recall ever seeing such dedicated warnings anywhere else locally.
That aside, it’s a decent shelter, with good racks. Well played, Centro. Let’s have some more, please.
March 11th - On the way home on a sunny, spring evening, with a low sun shining long over Aston. The train stopped and was held for a few minutes, dwelling on a service coming in the other direction before the points could change - as often happens. The doors were open, and I was stood in golden light, frozen.
It’s a snapshot of Birmingham, and why I love it so.
March 10th - I love it when, for a short time every spring and autumn, my homeward commute coincides with the golden hour. Even more so if it does so during a period of good weather. This evening, I returned from Shenstone specifically to catch the station and two towers in the beautiful light, and hopefully see the sunset over Ogley Hay and St. Jame’s Church.
Neither disappointed. I’m loving this spring.
March 10th - I’ve not seen anything like this before. Today, I was travelling from Acocks Green to Tyseley, as I often do. One of the routes I take includes a shortcut down an alley that used to be Rockwood Road, which crosses the railway between Alexander Road and the Birmingham City Mission. On the footpath, just as you leave the railway bridge, there’s an pecuiar, improvised bollard made of cast iron and steel, about a foot high and 8 inches diameter. It bears the legend ‘Great Western Railway Co. Boundary 1888’.
It doesn’t take the brain of Sherlock to work out what it is, but why? I’ve never seen railway property delimited like this before. Further, I must have passed this scores of times without noticing. How did such a trip hazard survive 126 years? Is it listed? Are there more? Is it important historically, or just a curio?
February 7th - I was over in Telford early, and returned to Darlaston at lunchtime. In contrast to the day before, the weather started out rainy, but turned springlike pretty much as soon as I left the house. The cycleways of Telford were beautiful in the sunlight, and the station at lunchtime oddly quiet, but a much nicer place to be for a bit of sunlight.
Why does the weather keep taunting me like this? Why am I scaring the sun away?