Time to catch up with last Friday’s trip. Like Thursday last week, I was looking to get some last shots of the Southern’s Class 455 units and visiting a couple of locations for my Freedom Pass Project.

I targeted Sutton as my initial destination. It’s actually one of the simplest of termini to get to for me. I take the Northern Line down to Kentish Town and get a Thameslink train to Sutton from there. The service is operated by 8-coach Class 700 units which route to their destination either via Wimbledon or Mitcham Junction. They’re actually working around a loop in south London with Sutton as a nominal terminating point. Some start from Luton or St Albans and others from Blackfriars (more on this later). When they arrive in Sutton the service terminates on the through platform where it arrives. It then immediately becomes the next departure going outbound in the same direction of travel to the other end of its route. So, if it came down via Mitcham Junction, it will return via Wimbledon and vice versa. Here’s a Map showing the Sutton loop…

Sutton Loop

Sutton is quite an interesting station with, in addition to the Thameslink services, Southern trains going through to Epsom and to Epsom Downs from Victoria. There’s a continuous stream of trains and passengers throughout the day, justifying quite a large station building…

Sutton Station

Back on the platforms, while waiting for the next train to Epsom Downs, I was treated to a light engine movement – 73961 ‘Alison’ came off the line from West Croydon heading towards Epsom…

73961 at Sutton

…It’s a handy shot to illustrate the state of the platform canopies – there is currently a major rebuild of the station going on.

The Epsom Downs services are why I went to Sutton – they were one of the routes operated by the Southern Class 455’s and I wanted Epsom Downs as a terminus. Here’s 455804 arriving at Sutton from Victoria on its way to Epsom Downs…

455804 at Sutton

… and here’s 455818 at the Epsom Downs terminus…

455818 at Epsom Downs

…There’s very little to show at Epsom Downs, just this narrow platform πŸ™„

Back to Sutton and a shot of ‘818 in the ‘Downs branch platforms…

455818 at Sutton

Sutton has one interesting photographic opportunity – trains arriving from Mitcham Junction approach up quite a steep incline…

377609 at Sutton

…The lines on the right go to Wallington and West Croydon. Class 377 units like the ones in this photo will be taking over the 455’s duties – something made possible by the reduction in passenger numbers following the COVID pandemic. No new stock – just a redistribution of the existing units and keeping to a slightly reduced service.

Speaking of timetables, Thameslink have probably changed theirs more often than any other operator during the pandemic. When I was setting up my Freedom Pass Project I thought I had captured all the existing Thameslink termini within my area. But I was in for a surprise – My train home from Sutton was terminating at Kentish Town! Some services used to terminate here, then they didn’t, now it seems they do again – duly added to my spreadsheet and ticked off on the same day πŸ˜‚πŸ‘ Here’s 700035 terminated at Kentish Town…

700035 at Kentish Town

That was my last farewell to the 455’s trip – I didn’t go hunting for them on Saturday because there would be too many others pursuing that same objective. Instead, I went to photograph the Duchess at Alexandra Palace. I will post a final Southern 455 farewell sometime soon to share some shots that didn’t make these Freedom Pass posts.

Meanwhile, back on South Western Railway, the other 455’s remain in service…πŸ˜‰

This week, with some unpleasant weather, I put off my trips until Thursday and Friday. On both days I wanted to get photos of the Southern’s Class 455 units before they bow out on Saturday. Thursday’s target terminus was Caterham. Like a lot of branch lines, especially those that form part of the tangled web in South London, I have never been along these tracks before. It’s a plus that the project is making me exploreπŸ‘

After travelling to London Bridge, I began the day with 455805 (working with 455815) on a stopping service to East Croydon. From there it was a case of waiting for a Caterham service. This was formed of 455802 & ‘804. I initially sat in the rear unit, unaware that at Purley, I would be asked to move to the front unit. This is because some platforms on the Caterham Branch are too short for an 8-coach train and the 455 units are too old to have station specific door locking. No problem for me as it meant I rode both units 🀣 Here’s 455802 at Caterham…

455802 at Caterham

I popped outside the station to take a quick look around. Unfortunately, I missed the chance to photograph one of the local Southdown buses – that would have made a change from the usual TfL red. However, I did get a truck for the collection 😎…

Jacksons GN15OHJ in Caterham

Back on the station I admired their meadow flowers in the centre of the platform…

Caterham Station Wild Garden

…Then I photographed 455819 arriving with ‘814…

455819 at Caterham_2

I rode 455814 back as far as Kenley station where I caught 455812 on camera with the next Caterham bound train…

455812 at Kenley

Kenley is an interesting station with a ‘blockhouse’ style ticket hall on the London bound platform…

Kenley Station

…while, on the other side there is a unique station house…

377601 at Kenley

5-coach Class 377, 377601 arrives en route to Caterham. The 455’s and 377’s share the branch but, from Sunday 14th May, the 377’s will have it all to themselves. After my photo-stop, 455837 took me back to East Croydon.

While grabbing a quick bite of lunch, I was able to catch 66013 hauling a train of stone hoppers from Newhaven through East Croydon…

66013 at East Croydon

…The passengers seem blissfully unaware of what’s creeping up behind them – I wonder what would happen if the driver used the horn🀣

That was my trip to the Caterham Branch – I did some other rides in the afternoon but I think they’ll keep for another postπŸ˜ŽπŸ‘

Following on from yesterday’s post – I was retracing my steps to Crystal Palace station. Time for a little bit of history. Crystal Palace station is located in part of Anerley and was built to serve The Crystal Palace which was relocated from Hyde Park to Sydenham Hill after the Great Exhibition of 1851. There were originally two stations built by rival railway companies to serve The Crystal Palace as you can see on this section of an Ordnance Survey map of the area, circa 1900…

Ordnance Survey map courtesy of National Library of Scotland maps and re-used under creative Commons CC-BY-NC-SA

…The station at the bottom of the map was known as Crystal Palace (Low Level) to differentiate it from the High Level station located alongside Crystal Palace Parade, opposite the palace itself.

In 1936, The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire which resulted in a decline in passengers but both stations remained open. Bomb damage resulted in the closure of Crystal Palace High Level station during WWII and although it re-opened subsequently, with further declining traffic and reconstruction being needed, it closed in 1954. It was demolished in 1961. That left only Crystal Palace (Low Level) which is the station that remains in use today.

Now I should apologise. There is a lot of historical interest around Crystal Palace Park but that wasn’t the purpose of my visit on this occasion. I think I will have to return sometime soon and do a proper photographic post on the subject of The Crystal Palace, its park and the stations.

Returning to my visit last Thursday, having disembarked from the train I took the opportunity to photograph the main station building. If you look again at the map, this shot is from the platforms on the line leaving the station to the south…

Crystal Palace Station

The large retaining wall encloses the stairs to the platforms and supports an overall roof across the through and bay platforms of the line from Sydenham (visible in the top right corner of the map). The small station building in the right foreground serviced the through tracks of the line from Beckenham Junction to Gipsy Hill and also two further bay platforms that were located where you can see grass beyond the chain link fence on the right. Sticking up above the station is a mast. That is Crystal Palace TV Transmitter, and it serves the whole of London.

The ground rises steeply beyond the station buildings to the summit of Sydenham Hill. As a result, the railway line plunges into a tunnel immediately to the east of the station…

377143 at Crystal Palace

…377143 emerges with a service to West Croydon.

To reach the platforms from street level, you have to descend a lot of stairs within the station. These give an opportunity for the photographer to play with light…

Lets Go Spotting

I haven’t yet mentioned why this station is on my Project list. It is the terminus for London Overground services from Dalston Junction. Here’s 378139 waiting to begin its return trip…

378139 at Crystal Palace

I took a Southern train back to Clapham Junction with the intention of trying to get another Class 455 operated service from there but that turned out problematical as a points failure at Victoria was causing disruption. After assessing the options, I decided to head back to Waterloo and then home via Waterloo East, London Bridge and Farringdon. At Farringdon I decided that the wait for a service calling at Kentish Town was a bit too long, so I took a train to Moorgate and picked up the Northern Line home from there. It proved to be a prescient decision for Kentish Town station was closed when we passed through!

I hope to be out on another Freedom Pass trip on Tuesday and, with luck, get some more Southern Class 455 photos during their last week of serviceπŸ˜€πŸ‘