I’ll start this post with a reminder of what this project is about.- I’m trying to visit all the farthest points that I can reach using my pensioner’s Freedom Pass. Here’s the map…

…Additionally, I’m including all the termini for trains. The aim is to be getting out and about to improve my general fitness ๐Ÿ‘ You’d be surprised how much leg-work is involved at stations๐Ÿ˜…

This trip was about clearing off a lone farthest point – on a chilly and cloudy day in north London, I decided to go on a trip out to Elstree & Borehamwood. It may look close to Edgware, but in real time, it isn’t! I can get a bus here from High Barnet, and I can also go to Colindale and Watford but it’s definitely not the same as taking the bus from Mill Hill East to Edgware as I did in a previous Freedom Pass outing. So this was definitely one to do on its own.

The first time I visited this station, the line was not electrified and the old Midland Railway awnings were still in place…

47xxx_Elstree_JUL79

…That was back in 1979. Sadly the awnings were victims of the electrification to Bedford. The current station is a much more modern structure. It lacks the elegance but is possibly more passenger friendly…

Elstree & Borehamwood Station

…shot taken from the road bridge over the line.

I was talking about the possibility of using buses to go between here and Barnet. Here’s a Metroline 107 service that skirts along the very edge of the TfL zone to get here…

Metroline VW1175 (LK11 CXJ) at Elstree & Borehamwood Station

…I’ve ridden the Barnet to Elstree section with Alasdair a few years back but I haven’t done the ongoing trip to Edgware. As for a run across to Watford, that is a non-TfL route. Sullivan Buses operate the 306 route and, in the past, their vehicles were painted in approved TfL red. With the 306 firmly in Hertfordshire, Sullivan’s have now chosen a pseudo London Country Buses green for the vehicles operating that route!..

Sullivan Buses AE1 (MS10 SUL) at Elstree & Borehamwood Station

…Looks Good ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘

One thing I missed were the Uno pink and purple buses – Uno seem to have pulled back from serving the railway station and now only run as far as the bus station.

Back on the station and I got some shots of East Midland Railway services along with the ubiquitous class 700’s on Thameslink services. Here’s a selection of shots ๐Ÿ˜Ž Firstly here’s a Class 222 (222020) on a northbound service to Nottingham with the tunnel under Scratchwood behind…

222020 at Elstree & Borehamwood

…Scratchwood sits on part of the same ridge that we saw in my Hadley Wood post.

I don’t photo the 222’s very often so here’s 222014 on a southbound service…

222014 at Elstree & Borehamwood

…a fast run from Sheffield to London St Pancras – it only calls at Chesterfield, Derby and Leicester on its trip south, which makes it one of the fastest trips of the day though it doesn’t qualify for the epithet ‘Master Cutler’ – that belongs to the earlier 07:25 service from Sheffield.

St Pancras to Corby services are handled by Class 360 units. These are recent transfers from the Clacton and Walton services of Greater Anglia, released following the arrival of the Class 720 units. I think they looked good in their original dark blue but the EMR purple seems to suit them too and I like the detailing around the cab windows. Here’s 360107 leading 360109 northbound…

360107 at Elstree & Borehamwood

I guess we should also include a Thameslink service for completeness – 700046 passes through on the relief lines with a St Albans to Sutton service…

700046 at Elstree & Borehamwood

…Normally scheduled to stop here, it’s running late due to issues with a failed train in the Farringdon area and will run non-stop to St Pancras. The next, also late running, service was only a few minutes behind so passengers didn’t have to wait too long as Thameslink re-jigged their services ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Hope you enjoyed this latest trip out on the rails ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘

Yesterday I braved the heat to fit in a trip to a couple more destinations that I need for my project. I decided to focus on two stations in south west London, Hampton and Hampton Court. Once more, like when I visited Ewell, the plan was to travel out to one station and come back from the other with a walk in between. Unlike Ewell, I already had some local knowledge from attending football games. At the Hampton end, I had once travelled to the station for an evening game against Hampton & Richmond FC. So I had some recollection of the section from the station to their ground. At the other end of the walk, I have visited Hampton Court Station when going to a game against Metropolitan Police FC. It was the bit in the middle that was vaguely mysterious but then I believe I have even travelled along that bit in a coach! So the planned walk was not a step into the unknown but rather a case of joining the dots of some recollections.

I travelled out from Waterloo on a Class 707 unit bound for Shepperton via Kingston. The route taken after leaving the South Western mainline at New Malden is quite a mazey one. As a result, the trip from Waterloo takes around 40mins. I arrived at Hampton station and took a couple of photos for the record…

Hampton Station_1
Hampton Station_2

My trainspotting trips for the project sometimes become less about the trains as other things catch my attention. This was one of those days. Walking down Station Road, I came across a DAF LF delivering beer to a pub…

Tradeteam FN19 EUH in Hampton

…The water underneath tells a tale of a leaking water main rather anything wrong with the DAF.

My route took me down to the A308 which parallels the River Thames. I popped down to the Hampton Ferry landing stage and found some retired people enjoying the sun…

River Thames at Hampton

…back up to the road and a view looking back along Thames Street (A308) into Hampton with the Bell Inn standing tall above the heavy traffic…

The Bell Inn, Hampton

A bit further along the A308, now called Hampton Court Road, I ventured onto the bridge connecting Tagg’s Island to the Borough of Richmond on the north bank and got this view of the Thames looking north west…

River Thames at Tagg's Island, Hampton

Traffic is very heavy along the A308 which was a bit of a pain in the very hot weather but as a compensation, I got to photograph a couple more trucks for my collection. This is a brand new Iveco S-Way…

Morcross Transport LX22 WMA, Hampton Court Road

…with a very proud and happy driver ๐Ÿ˜Ž Then there was this slightly older DAF…

Danco D18 NCO on Hampton Court Road

Eventually it was time to cross the river and I was pleased to photograph the pleasure craft, Yarmouth Belle as she prepared to dock at Hampton Court…

Yarmouth Belle at Hampton Court

…Don’t let the the paddles and funnel fool you – they’re just for show. This is a diesel driven propeller vessel. That doesn’t mean she’s not historic though! She was built in in Great Yarmouth in 1892. Much of her early working life was spent on the River Yare doing passenger runs between Yarmouth and Norwich for the Great Yarmouth & Gorleston Steamboat Co. Originally a steamer, the company sold her to a new owner based in Kingston-upon-Thames, where she was converted to diesel power. She’s been with a number of pleasure craft companies over recent years and is currently operated by Turk Launches.

Finally, I’ve reached Hampton Court and it’s time to board the train back to Waterloo before I wilt in the heat…

5720 at Hampton Court

I’ve had a bit of a break from pursuing my transport goals but, on Monday I was able to get out for one of the more local options. It was a short trip up to Hadley Wood from New Southgate , so I took a bus across to the station and then caught the first northbound Welwyn Garden City service to Hadley Wood.

Hadley Wood is on the borders of the London boroughs of Barnet and Enfield. Much of Hadley Wood’s history belongs to Barnet though – it was on Hadley Common that the Battle of Barnet was fought during the Wars of the Roses. It was a decisive battle that saw the death of the Kingmaker, Richard Neville – the Earl of Warwick, and a victory for the Yorkists and Edward IV.

If you walk east down the hill from Hadley Highstone – the obelisk commemorating the battle – and through what is now known as Hadley Woods, you will come eventually to a railway line – the Great Northern mainline from King’s Cross. I was brought here for picnics quite often as a child and watched the trains passing with my Father from behind the low fence that existed back then. It was there that I watched steam hauled express trains and saw my first ever diesel – an English Electric type 1. The seeds of a life-long interest were sown here. But, we’re not in Hadley Woods on this trip although my train passed through them as I headed north and I saw the glade where we used to picnic through the train window. Instead we passed through a tunnel before entering the station named Hadley Wood a little further north.

Hadley wood is quite a unique station – there aren’t very many stations outside of an urban landscape that have tunnels at each end. The Great Northern Railway built the line in the 1850’s. The tunnels were a necessity to overcome the ridges of rocks and clay laid down by the glaciers of the last ice age (I live on one of these a little further south!) while keeping the track as flat as possible. In fact there are three tunnels in close proximity, Hadley Wood South, Hadley Wood North and Potters Bar. So lets take a short walk north from Hadley Wood Station and look at the lie of the land beyond Hadley Wood North Tunnel…

700108 seen from Waggon Road, Hadley Wood

…In this shot, I’m standing on top of the ridge through which Hadley Wood North Tunnel is bored and just on the left hand edge of the image you can see the portal of Potters Bar Tunnel. Around here there is a mix of suburban dwellings, brought about by the railway, and farmland. We’re right on the border of the London Boroughs of Barnet and Enfield too – the road I’m on even changes name from Wagon Road to Waggon Road at the borough boundary! In the shot above, the train is in Enfield but once it passes through that tunnel it will be in Hertfordshire. And when I was born, Barnet was in Hertfordshire.

Hadley Wood Station wasn’t a passenger station at all to start with – it was a goods station called Beech Hill Park and opened in 1884. However, the passenger station opened the following year on 1st May 1885. For much of its life there were just the two platforms and the old buildings of the GNR and subsequently the LNER. In 1959 the station was completely rebuilt by British Railways, of which more in a minute, but the current ticket office post dates even that rebuild and was probably constructed in 1976 when the railway was electrified…

Hadley Wood Station_01

…There is some local pride displayed on the bridge abutment and within the station itself in the form of plaques telling the history of the trains that worked the line and also about local engineering hero Sir Nigel Gresley…

Sir Nigel Gresley plaque, Hadley Wood Station

Popping down onto the station, we find 4 platforms but, except for emergencies, the centre platforms are out of use…

Hadley Wood Station_02

Looking north from the London bound platforms, we can see the portals of Hadley Wood North Tunnels…

700137 at Hadley Wood

…Something will strike you as odd – the tunnels don’t look alike. When the line opened in the 1850’s, the 4 track route north became just 2 tracks south of Hadley Wood and through the tunnels to Potters Bar, saving the costs of making second bores through the hills in the area. The Great Northern Railway and its successor, the London & North Eastern Railway, were always strapped for cash and this two-track bottleneck was lived with throughout their existence. Despite this handicap they ran some of the most prestigious high speed railway services in the UK along this route including The Flying Scotsman – I suspect that the corporate pride instilled in every employee back then was crucial to achieving the high standards of service that the LNER was known for. In 1959 the nationalised British Railways rebuilt the line through Hadley Wood – making a second bore for all three tunnels and rebuilding the station with 4 platforms to relieve the bottleneck. In the photo above, the right hand tunnel is the original, the left hand one is the 1959 addition. By the way, there is another bottleneck further north at Digswell Viaduct near Welwyn, but even BR blanched at the thought of making that 4 track! The Class 700 unit in the photograph is bound for Brighton from Cambridge – I doubt the GNR entrepreneurs actually envisaged such a service when they first started the company!

Looking south and here’s a view with Hadley Wood’s north bound platforms and the BR built South Tunnel in view…

801112 at Hadley Wood

An Azuma unit, 801112, leads sister 801103 through the station on a London King’s Cross to Leeds service.

So, there you go, a little bit of history not too far from where I live. A day out with the trains enjoyed and some good walking in the countryside too ๐Ÿ˜Ž Another Freedom Pass trip planned soon – see you then ๐Ÿ‘