(Above-Below) A classic ER Morten shot of the Aire Valley line in MR days - Class 2P Compound heads a rake of elderly MR coaches, including clerestory stock, past the proposed site of the new Apperley Bridge station. Click here to visit Wikipedia.org which contains links to various sites on the project. (Below) In the days before air-tight plastic food containers (Tupperware) was invented, an ex-Army & Navy shoulder bag was an essential accessory for spotting trips. It contained jam butties the size of breeze blocks, 'fizzy' pop, an Ian Allan abc and notebook - and, above all else, a Kodak Brownie 127 camera (buried beneath half a bag of Jammy Dodger biscuit crumbs). The camera had a shutter speed of 1/25 second and was the cheapest way of getting started in railway photography, but the temptation to fill the viewfinder with a speeding locomotives (to the exclusion of everything else in the surroundings) inevitably ended up with a set of blurred shots. It wasn't until my dad suggested taking a step back from the action and embracing more of the railway scene that things improved - and thank goodness I heeded his advice (most of the time) because the railway network has changed out of all recognition over the years and the general view often produces a more interesting picture. In this shot, Midland Compound No 41121 heads a Leeds City-Bradford Forster Square local train in July 1958.
(Above-Inset Left) The childhood memory is fallible, they say, but if I had to take stock of all my spotting memories, the sight of a mid-afternoon express thundering through Calverley & Rodley behind a rockin'-rollin' Class B1 is the most profound of all. Talk about rough-riding! It was a spell-binding moment that rooted me to the spot. The train hurtled through the station, rocking and swaying over the points like a wild stallion. You could feel the air pressure bearing down, a headlong rush of noise and smell - then it was gone, the magic all too brief. I'm not sure if the NER driver had some misbegotten allegiance to former companies engines working on MR territory, or if the train was booked to an impossibly tight mid-afternoon schedule between Bradford and Leeds. Whatever the reason, thanks for the memory! The photo was taken on a Brownie 127 in June 1958. Click on photo once - then a second time - to see super-wide image.
(Inset) A page on the Aire Valley Line would not be complete without mentioning the Aire Valley Rail Users Group (AVRUG) which campaigns tirelessly to support today's rail passengers using the Aire Valley Line and the routes from Airedale to Carlisle, Morecambe and London. To ensure that rail passengers enjoy the best possible train services and station facilities, the Group has a close relationship with other rail user groups concerned with the promotion of a quality public transport. Click on page link to visit the AVRUG's interesting website.
(Above-Below) It's amazing the lengths to which some photographers will go to bag that all illusive 'master' shot! I've seen cameramen shinny up signal posts, climb onto roofs and hang perilously from trees. But then, I'm as guilty as the next man, which is the reason I've included this shot of the Leeds-Liverpool canal at Calverley and Rodley in 1962. It shows the now-demolished gasometer, which, at its full height, provided a panoramic view of the Aire Valley line in both directions. I don't know what lunatic tendency told me that I'd get a great shot of the railway if I climbed to the top, but I did...I sat there in full view of the public like a prized-lemon - there's no place to hide on top of a gasometer! Still I managed to bag these shots of a Black 5 heading across the River Aire towards Leeds with an engineers train
(Above-Below) Caught on the hop! Before the introduction of Type 4 'Peak' diesels at the start of the 1961 summer timetable, diesel locomotives were something of a novelty on the Aire Valley line north of Leeds, so when an approaching EE Co Type (Class 40) came my way it was a rare chance to photograph something different...but as you can see this northbound 'Jubilee' had other ideas! It is early March and BR had just started a crew training programme between Leeds and Appleby involving footplate staff at Leeds Holbeck. The train of empty coaching stock (N580) departed from Neville Hill at 9.30am - arriving at Appleby at 11.43 - returning at 12.55 for the trip back to Leeds. The Type 4 is seen here sporting a stencilled train reporting number N580 on its nose as it heads the return working to Leeds. (Below) The following photos are conventional three-quarter lineside shots of the stretch of line between Calverley and Apperley Bridge; in many ways they illustrate the photogenic quality of steam compared to that of soulless diesels...
APPERLEY BRIDGE & RAWDON STATION 1950-60s
(Above-Below) The permanent way gang responsible for the quadrupled section of track between Leeds and Shipley should be congratulated, because it was always kept in immaculate condition during the Sixties. Today the standard of upkeep of the rail network is nowhere near as good, with sizeable weeds poking through the ballast between the sleepers. Now I'm not a keen gardener, but I do know that if weeds are left unattended they soon grow into the size of bushes, and they flourish in all kinds of places, not only on lightly-used rural branch lines, but also in the vicinity of busy main line stations. And it isn't because of some new anti-herbicide legislation either, but neglect. The permanent way is the very foundation of the rail network, and if weeds are allowed to clog the drainage, the ballast can become uneven and alter the alignment of track. It does give an altogether untidy look. (Below) Class 9F 2-10-0 No 92111 ambles through Apperley Bridge & Rawdon with a mixed goods for Healy Mills in March 1962.
(Below) The LMS 6P5F 2-6-0 'Crab' was essentially a Hughes design built under the direction of Sir Henry Fowler. The angled cylinders necessitated raising the front portion of the running board, which gave the parallel boiler a squat appearance between the frames and earned the 245 members of the class the nickname 'Crabs'. The first engine didn't emerge from Horwich works until after Hughes retired as CME of the LMS in 1925 and his successor, Henry Fowler, made several changes to the original plans, including the pairing of a much narrower tender. A group of spotters note down the number of No 42895 heading a light parcels train out of Thackley Tunnel between Leeds and Shipley in June 1963.
The additional set of panoramic views (below) show the open pastureland between Keighley and Skipton in the upper Aire Valley - an area typical of the low valley bottom land prone to flooding by the River Aire.
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