On a recent visit to Longleat Wildlife and Safari Park we rode on the Miniature Railway. It reminded me that we, as a family, had done this quite a few times over the years. So when we got home I looked over my photographs and it bought back lots of happy memories.
The 15 inch railway was established in 1965 and expanded in 1976. The track has changed over the years, but currently skirts the lake before heading back to the station through the trees. There is a tunnel and a halt which is used at Christmas.
My first visit to Longleat was in the early 1970s, of which I don’t remember much, and I am not even sure if we went there. What I do remember was going to sleep, having an amazing dream about going to a Safari Park and getting a safari themed Land Rover in the shop.
It looked a lot like this one.
Was it a dream, was it reality? No idea if I travelled on the railway, it was just a dream…
Myself and my wife visited in 2002, but I don’t think we travelled on the train, as we only did the safari park. Back then the train was an extra cost, as were most of the other non-park attractions.
As a family we took my son to Longleat in 2005 and as well as going around the Safari Park, we also travelled the railway. He was really into trains.
We were pulled by the Ceawlin, locomotive number five.
In this photograph you can see the Lenka Railcar, the only engine built at Longleat. It was sold to private owner in 2017.
We went again in 2008, but I have no photographs of the train, but I am pretty sure we must have had a ride on the train back then.
Between 2011 and 2017 the railway was known as the Jungle Express, with the station and carriages given additional theming.
We visited in 2012 and travelled on the Jungle Express.
This time the train was pulled by the Flynn Locomotive.
I do remember that the station had a model railway shop, but by our visit in 2012, it had stopped selling model trains and now sold toy trains, wooden trains and stuff.
On our most recent visit the Jungle Express theming had gone, as had the shop.
The railway has fifteen carriages, all built at Longleat between 1976 and 2013 and are now wearing mock British Railways crimson and cream livery The railway also has several permanent way wagons.
This time our train was pulled by the huge John Thynn.
We enjoyed our most recent visit and I expect we might go again some time in the future.
Across this blog I wrote fifteen posts in 2016. As might not be expected most of the top ten posts that year were from 2016, and I was pleased to see how popular my 1990s photographs of the Bristol Harbourside were.
I visited Legoland in 2013 and felt that it was A bit tired and this was the tenth most popular post, dropping one place from last year.
Also about Legoland Miniland was the ninth post.
The eighth post was about Time travelling by train which was a post on the newly painted GWR High Speed Train in the classic 1970s blue and yellow.
The seventh popular post was inspired by a newspaper article and talked about the many Changes at the railway station in Weston-super-Mare.
The sixth placed post was from my 2012 series of Cinematic Advent Calendar posts, this one was #07 – The Eagle has Landed. There were quite a few films in the advent calendar that have significant memories over and above the film itself. Queuing for Star Wars was significant for example. With The Eagle has Landed I went to see it at the Aldeburgh cinema with my grandparents.
When I used film, I didn’t take than many photographs, but I did take a fair few of the Bristol Harbourside, so the fifth post was of the Bryan Brothers’ Garage Demolition, Bristol, circa 1999.
Three of the next four posts were similar and all contain photographs from the Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s.
The second most popular post was a comparison of Trenchard Street, Bristol, circa 1970s and the view today.
The most popular post of the year on the Stuff blog was a series of photographs of Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s.
So quite a few posts from 2016 in the 2016 top ten.
Though I am more likely to spend time at Worle station, I have been known to catch trains from the main station in Weston-super-Mare. Despite being a smallish town, Weston has three railway stations. The main station which opened in 1884 replacing the original station which opened in 1841. Weston Milton opened in 1933, a small halt to serve the then expanding Milton area. Worle station was opened in 1990 and unlike the other two stations, which are on the Weston loop, Worle is on the main Bristol to Plymouth line.
Over the years the railway station at Weston-super-Mare, well in terms of tracks, has changed quite a bit, even if the buildings and platforms have remained as much as they have since the line was built. This photograph from the local paper reminded me of how much has changed.
Back then there was an up and down line on the Weston loop. There was also multiple sidings for good and carriages. I suspect a lot of the coal wagons for the local gas works were stored there awaiting return to the Welsh collieries.
By the late 1970s (the BR HST is still in blue and grey), when this image was taken on 28th March 1978, most of the sidings have now been taken away and replaced with a coach park. Lots of visitors to Weston-super-Mare were now coming by coach. The light brown building on the right of the photograph in the background is the Odeon cinema which is still there today, but Weston is getting it’s own multiplex at Dolphin Square.
You can see a lot of the points had been removed too.
By the time of this Google Street View image, the sidings have all been removed and replaced with a Tesco store and car park (which was the focus of the story in the local paper). Hildesheim Bridge was built in 1991 and crosses the eastern end of the platforms.
Hildesheim is the German town which Weston is twinned with.
Change happens and over the next few years I suspect we will see more change.
At Bristol Temple Meads I did wonder if I had travelled back in time to 1976, as there was a British Rail blue and yellow engine on the platform. My train yesterday morning included a very different engine, this was a GWR High Speed Train painted in the original colours when the train entered service forty years ago in 2016.
This was painted up specially for an event in May to celebrate forty years of the HST. I thought it was nice that only was it painted up in the original colours, but is currently being used to pull trains. It’s a pity that they couldn’t paint a whole train in the original colours.
As with my other blogs I am looking at the ten most read postings over 2015.
The tenth most read post on this blog was posted in the last two weeks of 2015, and was about WHSmith. At WHSmith you can afford to give them anything but the ordinary this Christmas contained an old advert from the high street store.
I visited Legoland in 2013 and felt that it was A bit tired and this was the ninth post in this top ten. Certainly when we went this year in 2015 there were some new models in Mainland.
You have entered the Quiet Zone! was eighth most read post and I asked what’s the point of the Quiet Zone Carriage?
Back to Legoland for number seven, Legoland Miniland.
The sixth most read post was on Ten Incredible Sand Sculptures that have been on the beach at Weston-super-Mare over the last ten years.
The post at number 5 was from the Cinematic Advent Calendar which I posted back before Christmas in 2012. The post in question was #24 – Back to the Future and as 2015 was the year in which Marty McFly went to in the film series, it’s quite apt that it in this year’s top ten.
More Lego at number 4 with The Bat Cave in Lego.
The third most popular post was “the cafe on tv at weston super mare is it real” and the answer is, it isn’t!
Over 2015 there were seventy Shaun the Sheep sculptures places all across Bristol and the top two posts on the blog were about these Sheep. At number two was Ten out of Seventy and the most read post was about all seventy sheep, Shaun in the City.
Happy New Year for 2016.
The main railway line to Plymouth and Penzance from Bristol passes relatively close to my house and as a result we often venture down to the line when interesting trains pass by. I think living by the trainline has cultured my boys’ interest in trains and as a result I often find myself dragged to Bristol Temple Meads for a “train ride” or to the STEAM Museum in Swindon.
Over the last few weeks the mainline has been awash with steam engines thundering down the railway track. It’s quite amazing and nostagic to see these beautiful pieces of engineering move along the railway track at speed. If you have ever been to a heritage railway the trains move relatively slowly (about 30mph) whereas the steam trains I have seen on the mainline are going significantly faster at about 70mph. They certainly make a difference to the regular HST and Voyager trains we usually see on that line.
At the end of July, there were trains on the Saturday and the Sunday, and this week there were two steam trains within 15 minutes on the Sunday.
The first train had two engines, the 71000 Duke of Gloucester and 60163 Tornado.
The Duke was built in 1954 and withdrawn just eight years later in 1962. Just over ten years later and with most of her important parts “missing” she was saved from scrapping and restored to become a regular on the mainline steaming tours. The second engine probably couldn’t be more different, similar in size, Tornado though is just a youngster completed in 2008. A completely new engine though built to a 1940s design (with many modern improvements). They were moving at some speed with steam and smoke billowing from their funnels and pistons.
On the Sunday, it was the turn of 70013 Oliver Cromwell to steam down the line.
This engine was completed in 1951 and retired in 1968.
There is something about these historical engineering marvels and watching them steam down the railway track. I am sure back in the 1950s and before when there was lots of them, they weren’t exactly seen in the same light. I am glad that not only are they still around, but that they still have the fires lit underneath their boilers and allowed to steam at speed through the countryside.
This weekend was the annual Bristol Harbour Festival. This well entrenched event in the calendar was lucky this year as the weather was gorgeous, so as a result huge crowds. You needed to be slightly aware it was happening, as it was a week earlier than usual due to some sporting event happening in London next weekend!
There is lots to see and do, but for me the key thing is just soaking in the atmosphere as lots of Bristolians get together, and just do stuff, watch stuff and enjoy stuff.
In the water itself there are lots of boats to see and a fair few that you can get on and explore. Moving around the harbour are a fair few boat displays. I was impressed with the stamina of the racing Gigs from the Bristol Gig Club. They raced around the harbour for what seemed like ages and at a fair pace too.