City and County

The City of Bristol in all its Glory

Image of Bristol Cabot Tower

Cabot Tower, on Brandon Hill, was built at the end of the 19th century

Ancient Bristol, a medieval city, strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers, the Frome, and the Avon. The city's name, a contraction and distortion of “Bridge” and “Stowe” – Brigstow. Trouble is, the locals in these parts have a habit of adding an “l” to the end of any word which ends, or sounds as if it ends, in a vowel. It was not long until “Brigstow” had its “l” appended to become Bristol.

Image of St Mary Redcliff Church

The Parish Church of St Mary - famously described by Queen Elizabeth I as the fairest and goodliest parish church in the land

An ancient port, inextricably connected with the slave trade, much to the chagrin of the modern day city, it has grown into a vibrant centre of humanity in England's Westcountry. So close to the sea, the rivers are tidal hereabouts, which made life pretty awkward for port operations, to the extent that at around the time of the Victorians, the flow of the river was rerouted, lock gates built, and the original harbour became the “Floating Harbour”, since the water level now remained constant.

The problem of a tidal river between the Floating Harbour and the ocean, however, remained, and with the cost of using the port ever increasing, traffic dwindled, and the port as a working commercial area closed, finally, in the 1970s. Nowadays, the port is located at the mouth of the Avon, some miles from the city centre.

Bristol is a picturesque university city and local centre of culture – I present a few choice Bristolian morsels of the photographic variety…

Image of Bristol Cathedral roof

View over the roof of Bristol Cathedral

Image of SS Great Britain

Brunel's steam ship Great Britain

Image of Bristol's Floating Harbour

The Floating Harbour

I age of Clifton Suspension Bridge

Brunel's Suspension Bridge in Clifton

Image of Bristol University

Wills Memorial Tower and Bristol University

Image of the Observatory

Clifton Observatory

 

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The Long and Winding Road

The North American Freight Train in its natural habitat…

Image of CN train near Barriere, BC

A southbound CN working snakes it's way along the banks of the North Thompson river near Barriere, BC

High up on the ridge, Widewanderer looks down into the canyon. A long, sinuous, metallic snake winds it's way through the ravine, carve by thousands of years of flowing water. Trainus Trainicus, otherwise known as the North American freight train, is the largest of the overland transport machines, moving millions of tons of freight across the continent every day. Including Christmas Day. The North American train stretches for kilometres at a time. Be prepared to park up and have lunch if you are unlucky enough to “just” get caught by one at a level crossing. If it's double track, the North American train will hunt in packs, with another coming the other way just as the tail end of the first is passing your crossing place. Now you can have supper too.

The North American train is a very dramatic beast at ground level, and in the empty quiet of the Canadian wilderness, it's mournful cry can be heard from miles away – always three tones blasted out together in screeching dissonance. For the photographer, though, opportunity is afforded in plenty by Trainus Trainicus, it's drama on the ground blending with simply stunning scenery, especially up in the Rocky Mountains.

Photograph of a CP Rail train leaving downtown Kamloops

A CP Rail westbound working leaves downtown Kamloops

Passenger trains are rare in BC – they only appear in Kamloops three times a week, for example, and then only at the dead of night or at some ungodly hour of the morning. So, catching a photo of that branch of the Trainus species might be a bit of a struggle. More likely is spotting the one known as the “Rocky Mountaineer”, upon which rides that most interesting of human, the Tourist.

Widewanderer fully intends to take advantage of these photo opportunities. Wide angle panoramas are my speciality. Stay tuned for developments. In the meantime, my early efforts at capturing Trainus Trainicus are here for the world's enjoyment…

CP Rail image

Canadian Pacific AC4400s await their next turn of duty at the downtown Kamloops yard

Image of a CP Rail train leaving Kamloops

Crossing 2nd Avenue in Kamloops

Image of CN multimodal train near Kamloops

Eastbound CN double stack multimodal passes Cinnamon Ridge, Kamloops

 

Unlimited Bashing

Widewanderer at Eastleigh Station

The author wants to be a train driver...

“Bashing”. That's the colloquial expression used by English railway enthusiasts for travelling around on trains, just for fun. So I understand. For millions, travelling by train is a necessary evil, just surviving the journey and getting from A to B. For a handful of others, it's just innocent fun. No harm in it.

I must admit, I indulge in bashing myself. Just riding along in a train, gazing out of the window onto what is arguably one of the greatest natural shows on earth. And I quite enjoy the art of railway photography to boot.

Photograph of a young Wideanderer

Early days at Bristol Temple Meads Station!

There is something uniquely fascinating about trains. Gone are the days of the hissing, belching steam engines – sadly – but the interest and fascination still remains. Maybe it's something to do with the connection offered by unlimited travel around a network. After all, a train can be the start of a much larger adventure, maybe an aeroplane or cruise ship awaits, or a loved one or dearly missed family member. Travel by train has lost a large part of its romanticism, maybe, but at least a sliver of it still remains.

Bashing is really not a practical proposition in the remote little corner of Western Canada where I currently live, so it is something to look forward to, when I get to visit the mother country, back in Good 'Ol Blighty. In Kamloops, the passenger train only comes along three times a week, and then it's the middle of the night when it does. One really has to want to get on that train!

Image of a foggy day t Westbury Station

A foggy morning at Westbury junction, Wilts

For the photographer, capturing the railway scene has steadily grown more of a challenge as the years have rolled past, and fears over security and health & safety have grown. No-one is encouraged to linger at the railway station any more, and the age-old ritual of buying a platform ticket at the Big Station for a young lad's Saturday afternoon pleasure of train spotting is but a distant memory. The modern photographer has very much got to camouflage himself and blend in – the last thing he wants is for some over-zealous railway official to accost him, automatically assuming him to be something more sinister than a humble enthusiast. It's a bit like setting up a bird hide – except this time, we don't want to be scaring officialdom!

Image of freight train and signal

Down Main to Down Relief

Undaunted, I search out interesting locations and picturesque scenes in which to record the modern railway scene. After all, it is still part of the history of our land. I aspire to emulate the likes of the late, great Ivo Peters or Bishop Eric Treacy in the recording of this little corner of English life. Dear reader, I sincerely hope I have succeeded to a small extent, and present a small selection of my recent work. Do, please, enjoy, and let me know what you think…