Welshpool. An Unexpected Journey.

It was towards the end of October and the weather had picked itself up from the grey doldrums. Not wanting to waste this bonus of sunshine I took myself off by train. I had decided to go down to the Welsh borderlands and travelled on to Chester and then Shrewsbury. It’s a pleasant, easy journey that I’ve taken quite a few times.

From Shrewsbury I decided to head out to the market town of Welshpool, it sits on the Montgomery Canal and it’s an area I know little if anything about. If nothing else it would be an interesting journey, I would have a meal and pick up ideas for next years when the longer, warmer days return.

The journey out wasn’t a long one and the station at Welshpool is not too far from the town centre. The old station building is no longer in use by the railway but instead is now a shopping centre in the renovated building.

I knew that Welshpool was served by one of the many preserved narrow gauge lines that are a feature of Wales, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, so I made my way over to the station at Raven Square to see what information was available for future planning. The railway has it’s beginnings in attempts to increase access to the farms and villages in the valleys higher up in the hills and at one time it ran right through then town to the station on the main line. Unfortunately between it’s closure and reopening at the hands of volunteers the stretch through the town was lost.

When I got to the station, it’s not a long walk and it was a really pleasant day, I found that I was only fifteen minutes away from a departure so I took advantage of this stroke of luck and had an extremely enjoyable journey along the valley of the River Banwy to the terminus at Llanfair Caereinion and a lunch in the pleasant station cafe.

It’s definitely on my list for a revisit in 2019.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. The Powysland Museum.

WELSHPOOL. The Powysland Museum on the Montgomery Canal. The museum has its roots in the Powysland Club which was formed in the 1860’s by a group of like minded souls who had in interest in the history of the area, since 1990 the museum has been based in the warehouse alongside the Mongomery Canal. the canal is undergoing a proces of restoration after many years of decline where stretches of it became un-navigable through a build up of rubbish or by draining.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. Broad Street.

WELSHPOOL. Looking up Broad Street, one of the main shopping streets in the town. In the distance is the tower of the town hall, the town’s market which is open Monday to Saturday, is housed in the ground floor of the town hall. Up until the early 1830’s Welshpool, four miles from the border with England, was known simply as Pool, the Welsh was added to avoid confusion with Poole in Dorset.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square Station which lie just on the edge of the town centre. Originally when built the railway carried on through then centre of Welshpool to link up with the main line at the Cambrian Railways station on the opposite side of the town. The station buildings were obtained from Eardisley in Herefordshire and rebuilt to form the Raven Square station.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL. The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Raven Square station, the two o’clock departure to Llanfair Caereinion gets ready to leave. Because the railway’s guage of 2’6″ is an unusual one in the UK the railway has sourced carriaged from abroad giving the trains an individual and continental look.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL. The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Raven Square station, the two o’clock departure to Llanfair Caereinion gets ready to leave. Loco 823 Countess swaps ends for the jopurney back up to Llanfair. The loco is one of the two original locomotives built for the line’s opening in1903, the other being the Earl. Their names are in honour of the Earl and Countess of Powis who were heavily involved in the beginnings of the line.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. Refilling The Boiler.

WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square Station refilling the boiler of loco 823 Countess ready for the next journey out to Llanfair. There’s a lot of heavy work involved in running a light railway.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL& Llanfair Light Rly. Through The Trees.

WELSHPOOL. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, running through the trees near Llanfair. The railway takes and eight mile route from Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion along the valley of the River Banwy.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL& Llanfair Light Rly. Lineside.

WELSHPOOL. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, lineside views near Sylfaen.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. 823 Countess at the country terminus and headquarters of the railway.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. loco No 85 a former Sierra Leone Ralways locomotive built by Hunslett of Leeds. The loco is currently awaiting restoration.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. The station at Llanfair, headquarters and engineering base for the railway. The attractive little village is situated by the River Banwy which can be enjoyed by a series of walks from the station.

 

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RIVINGTON. Sunlight And Old Stones.

High on the sometimes bleak West Pennine Moors in between the Lancashire towns of Horwich and Chorley there’s a hilltop rich in trees, with here and there the remains of buildings showing through. These are the Terraced Gardens, the creation of local businessman William Lever, later 1st Viscount Leverhulme. I’ve been visiting the gardens since my childhood and have seen the ebb and flow of their condition over time. The gardens were an extravagant mix of pathways and follies, the designer was Thomas Mawson. From the top of the gardens there are views right across the plain of Lancashire to the coast.

Leverhulme created the gardens at the turn of the 1900’s, he was familiar with the area from his courting days and the gardens were heavily influenced by his travels. He made his fortune by building on his family’s grocery business, creating the very successful Sunlight Soap brand along the way. His main home was on the Wirral at Thornton Hough, the Wirral is also the location of the garden village of Port Sunlight which he built to house the workers from the adjacent factory. The fascinating Lady Lever Galley which houses some of the art collection built up by him and his wife and opened in her memory can also be found in Port Sunlight.

After Lord Leverhulme’s death in 1925 the estate was sold on to the owner of a local brewery and on his death the estate was bought by Liverpool Corporation who already owned much of the land in the area and had created a series of reservoirs to supply the city. The main house and the estates’ gatehouses were demolished in 1947 and the long period of decline began. Now in the hands of the water company United Utilities a program consolidation and restoration work is underway.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Seven Arch Bridge.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Seven Arch Bridge across the old road from Chorley into Horwich.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Seven Arch Bridge Steps.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The steps leading down from the summer house to the Seven Arch Bridge over the old Chorley – Horwich road. Due to the steep slopes visible in this shot the gardens were laid out in a series of terraces.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Pigeon Tower.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. One of the most striking and visible features of the gardens is The Pigeon Tower seen from the boating pool. The tower was built to take advatage of the views from the highest point of the gardens. The top floor was used as a sitting & sewing room by Lady Leverhulme. as can be seen from the photo consolidation and restoration is work taking place throughout the gardens.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Swimming Pool Restorati

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The the boating pool beneath the Pigeon Tower undergoing restoration. Viscount Leverhulme being a great believer in the benefits of fresh air and exercise would occaisionally swim in the pool. Again the restoration work in progress can been seen with the new lining to the pool and the clearing away of overgrown vegetation.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Bungalow Ruins.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Lord Leverhulme’s house at Rivington was a bungalow by the name of Roynton Cottage. This tiled flooring is all that now remains of the building. Roynton Cottage replaced an earlier, wooden cottage which was burnt down in 1913 by Edith Rigby as a Sufferagette protest. The curve of the tiles runs along the edge of what had been the cicular ballroom, the ceiling of which was dark blue and decorated with gold stars representing the constellations on the night of Lord Leverhulme’s birth, 19th September, 1851.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Ruined Shelter.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The ruins of a garden shelter on the level below the site of the bungalow.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Double Staircase.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. the double staircase which leads up from the boating pool to the site of the bungalow Roynton Cottage.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Gardeners Cottages.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Gardeners Cottages above the Japanese Pool.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  The Dell & Blue Pool Bridg

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Looking down the course of the waterfalls in the dell towards the footbridge.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Caves Above The Dell.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The man made caves alos known as The Bear Caves, on the path above the Dell.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Japanese Pool.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Japanese Pool. Inspired by the Willow Pattern design in its heyday the pool as surrounded with tea houses lit by lanterns and was fed by waterfalls and cascades from the upper levels of the gardens.

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SHEFFIELD. Night In The City.

The clocks are changing back and the year is helter skelter-ing its way to an end. Before the days get too short to travel far I took a train trip over the Pennines to Sheffield. It’s a city built on hills with a history built on the steel industry, parts of which still survive today though modern industries are playing a larger and larger part in the local economy.

Though some of the heritage architecture is going there are still fascinating pockets of interest dotted around and about. One of my reasons for this trip was to try out the new tram train which now links Sheffield with nearby Rotherham, its an extension of the city’s existing tram network and is a combination of light rail and a repurposed heavy rail route. One of those good ideas that everybody says in the way forward but then disappears into the swamp of focus groups and consultations etc. Well its up and running now, for a period of evaluation. Go figure. It works, try it, it’s good.

I was making my way back to Sheffield’s railway station when I took these shots. It was a Saturday and in that ghost period between the shoppers having gone home and the party animals not yet arrived for a night out.

Enough words, bring on the pictures.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD. The Peace Gardens. The Fountains.

SHEFFIELD. The Fountains in the Peace Gardens on Pinstone Street by the Town Hall.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD. Tudor Square.

SHEFFIELD. Tudor Square with the Crucuble Theatre and The Lyceum Theatre.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD The Globe Howard Street.

SHEFFIELD. A beacon in the gathering dark on Howard Street stands the Globe Pub, an easy walk down the hill to the railway station and on the edge of the student quarter.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD. Arundel Gate.

SHEFFIELD. A bus speeds the Saturday shoppers home to their warm firesides as the evening closes in.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD Sheaf Square.

SHEFFIELD. A silver water featrure wall, made of the steel that gave Sheffield its fame, leads down Sheaf square to the railway station.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD Sheaf Square. The Railway Station.

SHEFFIELD. Sheaf Square, blazing with lights, the railway station welcomes the weary traveller on a cold night.

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Chester. A City And It’s Walls.

Fancying a few hours out and about in the cool October air I took the train out to Chester. I have a choice of rail routes to the city and this time I took the longer one through Liverpool and down the Wirral Peninsular. I like to use rail journeys to make notes and work on ideas for blog posts, books and other photo projects.

I arrived in Chester just before lunchtime and decided to to the market for a bite to eat, I’d seen a bakery stall there on a previous visit and thought I would give it a try. Yes it was good, very good in fact, it’s now on my list of places to eat and drink. I like having these bolt holes, oases where I can sit back and watch the world go by.

As you will see from the photos, the weather was not the most inspiring or welcoming but it was good enough to have a walk around and see what was going on in Chester.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. Northgate Street.

CHESTER. Northgate Sttreet opens out to form a square in front of the Town Hall and across from that sits the Cathedral of St. Werburgh.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. The Groves.

CHESTER. The Groves is the pleasantly tree lined promenade down by Chester’s river, the Dee. Busy with visitors on a crisp cool day as the leaves take on their autumn colours.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. Morgan's Mount.

CHESTER. Morgans Mount on the city walls. The cannon sculpture commemorating the civil war. In 1645 King Charles Ist watched the defeat of his forces at the Battle of Rownton Moor from a tower on the Walls of Chester. The cannon sculpture was created by Colin Spofforth.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. The Market. Crustem Bakery.

CHESTER. Crustem Bakery and Cafe on the market.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. The Market. Crustem Bakery.

CHESTER. Crustem Bakery and Cafe on the market. My chicken, bacon & salad sandwich. I had seen this bakery on a previous visit to Chester but I had already eaten and anyway the place was quite busy but I made a note of it for future reference. I was not disappointed and I shall be returning.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. The Market. Crustem Bakery.

CHESTER. Crustem Bakery and Cafe on the market.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. The Water Tower.

CHESTER. Now garlanded with trees, the Water Tower once stood with the waters of the River Dee lapping against it’s base as it guarded the entrance to Chester’s harbour on the river.The silting of the Dee as it’s course changed led to the closing of the harbour and the city loosing it’s pre-eminence as a trading port to Liverpool on the River Mersey and left the Water Tower standing on dry land.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. Watergate Street Centurion.

CHESTER. On the corner of Bridge Street & Watergate Street a local Centurion goes about his duties. You encounter these costumed guides quite regularly around the city, often in charge of parties of schoolchildren enjoying the experience of being drilled and marching as the Roman Army.

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Warrington. The Oktoberfest Beer Festival.

Last weekend I went along to one of my favourite events of the year, The Oktoberfest Beer Festival, held annually in Warrington’s Parr Hall on Palmyra Square. The beer festival works on several levels for me, first of course is the beer, while I’m not a big drinker I do enjoy a craft ale or beer, something that’s a little different and stands a little outside the mainstream. All told there was over one hundred ales, ciders, perrys and lagers to choose from this year. I wasn’t heroic enough to try and work myself through the whole list, just a few halves of the darker ales which are a favourite of mine. As well as the drink there’s also live music, which year on year has never failed to impress and adds to the atmosphere where people have come along to enjoy a drink and explore what’s new on the flavour front, and there’s always food. The events are organised by the local Rotary Club with the proceeds going to support local charities.

Enough with the words, on with the pictures, though I would point out that any drops in quality are due to me being there to enjoy a night out and not strictly for blogging purposes.That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

12/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. Choices Choices.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 With over seventy ales to choose from making a decision can take a bit of time.

12/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST.  Faces in The Crowd.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 faces in the crowd in the main room.

13/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. A Pint Glass.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 The reason for the whole event, a pinmt of real ale, in this case it was Rev James Gold from the Brains of Cardiff brewery. I fancied a change from the dark stouts.

13/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. Currywurst & Chips.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 As well as the real ales on offer there’s always some food to keep you going. This is my Currywirst & chips. I know that not everyone will find them appealing but believe me they were very good at the time.

12/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. The Escape Commitee.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 Music by The Escape Commitee.

12/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. The Parr Hall.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 at the back of the main hall by the Cider & Perry bar.

13/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. The Lazy River Jazz.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 The main hall with the Lazy River Jazz band bringing a taste of New Orleans to downtown Warrington.

13/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. No Stamp Required.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 No Stamp Required take to the stage on the last night of the event, bringing to life a great selection of 70’s & 80’s hits.

This is The Escape Committee at work.

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Manchester. A Walk On A Sunny Day.

The sun was high in the sky and I had a free day, not wanting to waste to good weather I took myself off into Manchester. It’s an easy and quick train ride from where I live. I arrived at Manchester’s Victoria station, one of the two large stations which serve the city.

Victoria is a wedding cake of a building, which is having some much needed TLC. The Manchester Arena venue was built over part of the station which meant most of the original overall roof was scrapped, though most of the original concourse remains in it’s dark wood and mosaic glory.

29/08/16 MANCHESTER. Victoria Station.

MANCHESTER. Victoria Station Concourse.

Nearby is the Triangle, once a Victorian produce trading hall, it’s now a shopping and food destination. The headline image is of an art display by Manchester artists, this is housed in one of the units created in the building.

While I was in Manchester I thought that I would have a look at the recently opened Mackie Mayors on Swan Street. It’s a dining destination in what had once been a wholesale produce market, there’s a central dining area with a selection of food outlets around the walls. The name dates back to the days when the building was erected and Mayor Mackie ruled the roost in Manchester.

MANCHESTER. Mackie Mayor's

It was still a bit early in the day to go full on for lunch so I settled instead for morning coffee and cake, very good they were too.

Manchester. Wolf House Coffee, Mackie Mayors.

MANCHESTER. Mackie Mayors, coffee and cake at Wolf House Coffee.

Wanting to walk off my coffee and cake I made my way across Swan Street and into the network of streets that are part of the Ancoats district of the city centre. Along Blossom Street is Halle St. Peters, converted of of a former church it is the rehearsal and recording studio’s for Manchester’s renown Halle Orchestra. Even in this calm, cultural oasis the tide of building and redevelopment rolls on.

Manchester. Halle St. Peter's , Blossom Street.

MANCHESTER. The Halle Orchestra rehersal space, on Blossom Street.

Walking on a few more streets, I passed alleyways leading off Cross Keys Street, where urban art was in evidence on a row of derelict doorways.

MANCHESTER. Off Cross Keys Street.

I’ll end this part of my walk at New Islington by the Ashton Canal, built in the 1700’s to bring coal to the city, the canal makes connections with the Rochdale Canal and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which burrows it’s way to Yorkshire under the Pennines through the Standedge Tunnel.

MANCHESTER. New Islington, Construction Cranes.

I’ll come back to my Manchester walk in a future post.

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Liverpool. Passing Through Lime Street Station.

I had a day turn up where I had nothing that I really needed to get done, so rather than waste this unexpected bonus I decided on a trip out on the train. My ‘free’ day was a Thursday which meant that it would be market day in Ormskirk, a market town not too far away in West Lancashire. The journey by rail involves travelling into Liverpool and back out again. That’s not as complicated as it sounds as there are excellent services in both directions. Readers of my blog, if you are one, thank you, will know that I visited the Cobble Cafe in Ormskirk for a bowl of hot soup a little while ago.

15/02/18  LIVERPOOL. Lime Street Station. Concourse.

LIVERPOOL. Lime Street station, the concourse.

Lime Street station sits at the end of the Liverpool to Manchester route created by Stephenson. The original terminus was in Crown Street, which while it was easier to construct in engineering terms, was a little too far out from the city centre to be either convenient or competitive. This lead to the building of Lime Street in 1836. Construction was not without it’s challenges, the principal one being the steep gradient down from the junction with the Crown Street route at Edge hill on the City’s outskirts. Now a steep sided cutting the route was initially a dark, satanic tunnel cut through the sandstone ridge. Something which must have tested the nerves of those early railway passengers.

The traveler’s destination is a grand terminus under an arching roof, one of the oldest functioning termini in the country. The frontage, facing St. George’s Hall sitting loftily on it’s plateau, was an imposing hotel which is now given over to student accommodation. I wonder what they think of living in a building that on it’s opening was described as looking like Dracula’s Castle.

15/02/18  LIVERPOOL. Lime Street Station. Concourse.

LIVERPOOL. Lime Street station, the concourse, main line platforms.

 

The station is home to a large array of main line and local services, plus tucked away in their own tunnels beneath are parts of the Merseyrail suburban network. Currently a rebuilding program is in progress with a view to adding more capacity and bringing the promise of direct services to Scotland in the next year or so.

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