Em had a plan. She wanted to go and see Lancaster Castle and go on one of the witch tours. So, off we trolled to Lancaster on an overcrowded Northern train. Isn't privatisation wonderful? We stayed at the Sun Inn in Lancaster. Nice room, ridiculously expensive drinks. In the evening as Em rested I went for a walk. I was looking for the old railway track to Glasson Dock, but it seems to have disappeared under Barratt homes. Nice walk down the river though.
The square concrete things are Heysham Nuclear Power Station I think.
There was some sort of rescue going on from the other side of the river.
Another walk in the early morning took me to the Millenium Bridge.
The buildings in the distance are old warehouses from when ships from Ireland used to dock here.
Lancaster has some picturesque bits.
I'd like to show you a lovely picture of Em having a cup of coffee in a cafe but she won't let me.
Next day another crowded Northern train took us to Preston. Em went shopping while I went in search of the Ribble Steam railway, which runs trains at weekends on the former dock railway. The docks are now a pleasure boat marina, but I was surprised to learn how important they once were, handling ro ro ferries to Ireland as well as coal exports and imports of fruit, timber grain etc. Surprisingly large ships used to navigate the narrow Ribble. It all finished in 1981. The cost of constantly dredging the river had got too much for the dwindling traffic.
In steam for my visit was a lovely Hawthorn Leslie saddletank of 1930s vintage.
There's an excellent collection of mostly industrial locos on display. Many of them have come from the former Steamport museum that used to be housed in the old Southport loco shed. One engine I'd hoped to see was "Cecil Raikes", an 0-6-4 tank of the subterranean (and sub aqua) Mersey Railway. This used to be at Steamport but since its closure has been in store with its owners, Liverpool Museums.
I was just about to leave when I noticed a sign inviting me to look at inside the workshops, a rare treat in this age of elfin safety overkill. This was the best bit. There was no-one else about but in the gloomy interior I was surrounded by frames, boilers, cabs etc and locomotives part dismantled and part re-assembled.
There was the old Furness Railway 0-4-0 tender engine
And an old friend that used to be on the Keighley & Worth Valley, USA tank No 72.
As I trudged back towards the main line station and another Northern sardine tin I took some photos of the Hawthorn Leslie hauling its train up the line, then setting off for the return trip from the exchange loops.
Despite the docks having closed over 30 years ago the railway is still busy with freight traffic on weekdays. Trains of bitumen tankers arrive down the wobbly track from the main line and are handed over to a pair of Rolls Royce Sentinel diesels to be shunted into the discharge siding for the black stuff to be pumped out and refined.
The track on the Nework Rail operated part of the line looks a bit unloved.