All posts by wielanpj

Battersea Power Station

A couple of years ago I visited Battersea Power Station, with the objective of riding on the new part of the Northern Line. Having done that I was somewhat disappointed to find I couldn’t go in the actual power station, because they hadn’t finished the redevelopment.

So, finding myself in London again I retraced my steps on the tube.

Battersea Power Station is one of the largest brick buildings in the world. This art deco wonder was build in two parts. The A station between 1929 and 1935, and the B station between 1937 and 1941 but not finally finished until 1955. It was decommissioned in 1983 and left to decay despite its listed status, until redevelopment work on what was by then a ruin started in 2013.

But wait! What’s this popping out of the north west chimney?

Yes. They’ve installed a lift so naturally I had to have a ride on what is called Lift 109.

After rising to roof height in a normal lift we boarded a glass cabin for a ride up the chimney.

It’s an unusual lift, in that it has a glass roof, and there is no mechanism above the cabin, the usual cables and wheels above a normal lift are missing. Once at the top there are, of course, plenty of wonderful views.

Back down below, they have made an excellent job of retaining the art deco features of the turbine halls whilst adding umpteen shopping opportunities.

Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Liverpool Railway History

The Branch Line Society organised a walking tour of various railway locations in Liverpool and Birkenhead, some of which are not normally accessible. We started at Bank Hall where a small diesel shunter dating from 1945 is all that remains to symbolise the extensive dock railways in the area.

Our next item of interest was the frontage of Exchange Station:

Then, on the former North Western Hotel, located at the front of Lime Street station and now the Radisson Red Hotel:

Here we had arranged to have a look at the original features inside.

A rather unusual view of the end of Lime Street’s train shed. The “hut” contains the clock mechanism:

Next, on to a fascinating visit to the former Liverpool Central station site, still used by Network Rail as a depot and offices. This shot is from the far end of the site looking back towards the former platforms:

Here is the location of the turntable:

This tunnel mouth was where the trains departed and arrived:

Peering through the mesh we could see Merseyrail’s Northern Line below, the train on the left is on the reversing siding and on the right is a service from Hunts Cross approaching Liverpool Central:

We departed the site via a “secret staircase” and suddenly found ourselves emerging through these doors into the modern station:

Next, on to James Street station where we arrived in time to photograph a rare diesel train on the underground:

We explored the rarely used third platform here:

… and then climbed up the Water Street ramp exit which avoids the lifts. It used to only be open during rush hours but now operates all day. We headed under the river to Hamilton Square, starting with a visit to the tower:

Climbing the tower we got an unusual view of the station entrance:

The space upstairs is no longer used for anything except for some ventilation equipment, and we could only safely climb a little way, the upper floors being derelict.

Next, we descended back to rail level and then headed through a secret locked door to a feature I didn’t know existed. Hamilton Square has a ramped access passage just like the one at James Street, but the Shore Road Subway is not open to the public and is only used for maintenance and emergency access.

It emerges on Shore Road next to the Cheshire Line Committee’s goods building, now offices.

My thanks go to Adam, our organiser, who had clearly put a lot of effort in to arranging a fascinating day. Thanks are also due to the helpful people at Network Rail, Merseyrail and Radisson Red.

Spain (Part 2)

In Terrassa is an excellent Science and Technology Museum which has a wonderful collection of exhibits. Here’s just a small sample.

The computer section was especially interesting to me, and they’ve got an amazing collection.

Gosh, an Intel MDS. I developed software on one of these back in the late ’80s:

The museum is housed in an old textile mill which has the most amazing roof.


Time for a long scenic train ride. We took this ordinary suburban train out of Barcelona.

After a three hour ride through the Barcelona suburbs and eventually up into the mountains we arrived in France at La Tour de Carol. This interesting station, formerly a border post, has three different types of train: Le Train Jeune is a metre gauge line over the mountains from Perpignan, there is a standard gauge French Railways line from Toulouse, and our broad gauge route from Spain.

Last time I was here I arrived on the metre gauge, intending to travel on to Toulouse and beyond, but due to a strike I had to take a bus, so it looks like I will have to come here for a third time to do the standard gauge!

You can see the long station building, mostly closed up now that there are no border formalities.

Returning to Spain, we stopped off at Ribes de Freser where there is a rack railway for a scenic ride up to the ski resort of Núria.


At Capellades is a fascinating museum of paper-making which was a significant industry in this area due mainly to the characteristics of the local water supply.

These hammers are used to “beat to a pulp” the raw materials. Very noisy in operation.

I’ve never seen anyone actually making paper by hand before.

The museum also covers the history of printing.

We headed to the town of Igualada for lunch and unexpectedly found a preserved gas engine which had powered a textile mill here until 1955.

In Martorell where we were staying is the mediaeval Devil’s Bridge. Sadly it was destroyed during the civil war (As was the transporter bridge in Bilbao) and this is a 1965 reconstruction.


At Vilanova there is an excellent railway museum.

Most of the railways in central Barcelona have been hidden underground over the years, but the Estació de França remains as an impressive terminus.

And so a great holiday draws to a close, it’s time to fly home.

Spain (Part 1)


A holiday in Spain started in Bilbao. The stations in the centre of town look good. Here’s the inside of the broad gauge station and the outside of the metre gauge station next door.

We headed north to the oldest transporter bridge in the world.

The walkway across the top provides fine views.

Next, on to the Maritime Museum. Here are a few of the outside exhibits, I didn’t take many pictures of the interesting stuff inside this museum which is hidden underneath a roundabout.

A little further up-river is the world famous Guggenheim Museum. Me go in an art gallery? Never!

A funicular took us up for views of the city.

Descending back to river level we entered the old town where I admired this Art Deco market hall, said to be the largest indoor food market in the world. It was built in 1929 on the site of a mediaeval market.

Next to the market is the church of San Anton.


The Euskotren Museum at Azpeitia has a very good collection of exhibits.

Hang on! Isn’t that a familiar shape? Yes, it’s a London trolleybus.

The museum offers steam train rides for a few miles down the valley, we were hauled by this tiny steam engine named “Zugastieta” which had to work hard on the gradients. It was built by Sharp, Stewart & Co of Glasgow, as long ago as 1888.


In the centre of Lleida is the Old Cathedral on a heavily fortified hill. (I was pleased to discover there’s a lift to save me climbing up.)

Good views of the city from the top, in the first one here you can see the arched roof of the station which, very unusually, is arched lengthways along the platforms.

Next, a scenic train ride up into the Pyrenees on the line to La Pobla de Segur.


If it’s Monday it must be Montserrat. We ascended on the rack railway.

At the top is a tourist trap, I mean monastery, with a number of impressive buildings and views. There were large crowds of tourists, to give an idea of the size of the operation, we ate in one of the restaurants which I noticed advertised seating for 450 people.

Descent was by the Aeri De Montserrat cable car.

On to Barcelona, and you can’t come here without seeing how they’re getting on with the Sagrada Familia. Have they finished it yet? No, but by coincidence, four of the towers – representing Matthew, John, Mark and Luke – were completed over the last few days, marking an important step in the construction process.

At Placa d’Espanya are some interesting buildings. Is that a bull-ring?

Continued in Part 2.

The Liver Building

Opened in 1911 as the new headquarters of Royal Liver Assurance, this was one of the first buildings in the world to use reinforced concrete. It is one of the famous “Three Graces” on Liverpool’s waterfront, the other two being the Cunard Building and the Port Of Liverpool Building.

A concert at the pier head, surrounded by ugly fencing, meant that I was unable to get a good shot of the famous three buildings today.

In 2011, the Royal Liver merged with Royal London, and the building ceased to be its headquarters. It was sold in 2017 and became offices for a number of tenants. At last, in 2019 I believe, a visitor attraction was opened in the west tower and today, having checked the weather forecast I finally got round to visiting. The fascinating tour includes views from the tenth and fifteenth floors:

The clock, with three faces on the western tower and one on the eastern, was made by Gent of Leicester:

The Liver Birds, Bella and Bertie, have become the symbol of the city, although the use of a bird dates back to centuries before these two were designed by sculptor Carl Bartels.

Here’s a view of Bella from an unusual angle:

The tour concluded with a visit to the boardroom on the ninth floor:

All in all, a very enjoyable and interesting tour with a friendly and informative guide. Highly recommended!

If you’re planning a visit, note that the boardroom is still used as a conference room and so is only available for certain tours; make sure you choose the correct option when booking. I was surprised how quiet this attraction is; I checked the forecast in the morning and then went on line at 11:30 and was able to book a tour for the same afternoon.

Acton Museum Depot

As well as their museum at Covent Garden, the London Transport Museum have a large depot at Acton where the majority of their collection is stored.  I went to one of their occasional open days.

They have many more vehicles than they can display at the museum:  I had a look round the poster store, where they have publicity posters going back over a hundred years:

There is an amazing collection of signs: Signalling and power control equipment: And, finally, a small piece of the spiral escalator which was installed at Holloway Road station in 1907, but never worked reliably/safely enough to go into public service:

It was a struggle but I resisted the temptation to add a couple of A-stock luggage racks to my own collection.  They were selling quite well:

Manchester Mayfield

Mayfield Station in Manchester was opened in 1910 to ease overcrowding at London Road (Now Piccadilly) next door.  It closed to passengers in 1960.  From 1970 it was used as a parcels depot until 1986 when when rail services ceased.  Since then, apart from the occasional arts festival, use as a film location and illegal raves it has stood derelict.  Various redevelopment plans have been proposed for the station and the surrounding area.  Most involved total demolition but the latest plan includes retaining the station building.

I joined a tour on a wet and cold Saturday morning, for a chance to see inside this imposing building.We started at platform level.  Unfortunately the overall roof was demolished a few years ago, apart from a small section of the steelwork. Hydraulic buffers:Apparently this area of “platform” was occupied by a family of Mallard last summer:Underneath the platform level was an enormous goods depot, and we had a good look round in the dark: An entertaining and informative tour which I highly recommend, you can book here.

Highgate High Level

We start with a history lesson:  When the main line railways reached London in the 1830s and 1840s, they avoided high ground at Highgate, Finchley and Edgware, leaving these rural areas without any train service.  In the 1860s and 1870s branch lines were built from Finsbury Park to Edgware, High Barnet and Alexandra Palace.

In the early 1900s electric trams and nearby tube lines made the steam trains to King’s Cross less attractive and the lines began to lose business.  In the 1930s the newly formed London Transport developed a plan to take over these lines and join them to the tube network.  The Northern Line was to be extended from Archway to a deep station at Highgate and onwards to the surface at East Finchley where it would join and take over the steam railway lines.  Another branch of the Northern Line was to run from Moorgate to Finsbury Park and take over the line from there to the existing Highgate station and on to East Finchley.  Work started in 1937 on this project and tube trains reached Finchley in 1939.  The Victorian station at Highgate was completely rebuilt ready for tube trains from Finsbury Park, but the war disrupted the work and the tube trains never came.

After the war, priorities were different, and much of the work was not resumed.  Finally, in 1954, the last train ran to Alexandra Palace via Highgate.  The line from Finsbury Park survived for freight and stock movements until 1971 when the tracks were removed.  Haringey Council took over most of the trackbed and converted it into a Parkland Walk.  Highgate High Level platforms, which have tunnels at each end, were left out of this scheme, and with no further use for the tube station that never saw a tube service the site was allowed to return to nature.

Visiting the area in the late 1970s I was always intrigued by this tube station with no trains.  Finally in 2017 I was fortunate to be able to join one of London Transport Museum’s Hidden London Tours and get a look round at last.  Here’s the southbound side of the island platform, looking from the remains of the Victorian platform:The tunnel mouths at the north end of the site:A view along the platform:One of the Victorian station buildings remains standing:A view along the northbound platform.  As you can see, a building has been constructed on the trackbed:At the south end of the site, where there were no buildings on the platform, the trees have completely taken over and there’s no sign of any railway at all:It’s hard to believe that this forest is growing on a railway station platform. After walking through the forest you reach the end of the platform, and the southern tunnel mouths:The tunnels are home to six species of bats and so are off-limits to all visitors unfortunately.  A fascinating tour which I highly recommend – Take care in the mud!

After the tour I took a stroll along part of the Parkland Walk, from Highgate up to Alexandra Palace.  The route is partly in wooded cuttings and then later on a viaduct:The Palace has been well looked after in recent years:

Amberley Museum

Amberley Museum is located in an old chalk quarry in Amberley, West Sussex.  The museum aims to document the industrial history of the South East and features a large number of exhibitions on various topics.  I’ll start my small selection at the rural telephone exchange: … which has working equipment inside:There are many other telecommunications exhibits including this collection of dials, complete with a backwards one from New Zealand:Moving on to road transport, we have a classic AA box:An Austin 7:And a recreation of a bus garage:Next, it’s electricity – a small substation:Control panels from a power station and a network control room: … and a collection of domestic plugs and sockets:In the narrow gauge railway exhibition is this 1ft 10in gauge loco built for the Guinness Brewery in Dublin:and a wagon from London’s “Mail Rail”:Outside, you can ride round the site on their narrow gauge railway:This tunnel, where the chalk was mined, starred as Main Strike Mine in the James Bond film A View To A Kill:The original industry at the site was the mining of chalk and converting it into lime in these kilns:Finally, a visit to the Museum of Roadmaking: An excellent museum and there were lots more things to look at that I haven’t shown.  If you’re going, allow most of the day!



Steam On The Dock

Billed as the UK’s only inner-city steam rally, this weekend saw the return of Steam On The Dock to Liverpool’s Albert Dock.  Glorious sunshine brought the crowds out on Sunday despite the chilly breeze. In addition to the traction engines and steam lorries there were a couple of preserved steam tugs:… and a steam engine belonging to the Festiniog Railway was giving rides along a short length of temporary track:Having seen all the exhibits my next move was across the road to the splendid Baltic Fleet for a pint: