1. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    November 1, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Am I missing somthing? Seemed like a train ride.

  2. Phil R
    Phil R
    November 1, 2008 at 4:31 pm


  3. alistairliv
    alistairliv • Post Author •
    November 1, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    It is a fascinating historical document Baron. Broad Street Station is one of London’s lost treasures. I used to love travelling on the old North London line.

    It may seem like just a bit of old film about a train ride, but… its like one of William Blake’s ‘doors of perception’, it opens up a portal to infinite realms . Like Gospel Oak to Barking… the South Tottenham Junction Railway…transports of delight. As Blake predicted in this poem:

    THE fields from Islington to Marylebone,
    To Primrose Hill and Saint John’s Wood,
    Were builded over with pillars of gold;
    And there Jerusalem’s pillars stood.

    Pancras and Kentish Town repose
    Among her golden pillars high,
    Among her golden arches which
    Shine upon the starry sky.


    What are those golden builders doing
    Near mournful ever-weeping Paddington —
    Standing above that mighty ruin
    Where Satan the first victory won?

  4. Val n Martin
    Val n Martin
    November 2, 2008 at 12:47 am

    Good to see a photo of Silvia on photo bucket link at some gig, she was pregnant with her first child same time as me around 1987. Where is she now?

  5. Phil R
    Phil R
    November 2, 2008 at 8:42 am

    It also really helped connect east, north and west london punks..And you could (mostly) travel free!
    Is it still used to transport huge amounts of nuclear waste?

  6. Ian S
    Ian S
    November 3, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Now that is a curious bit of film. Someone must have telecined old Super8 footage cos you can hear the projector clattering. Like the way they took the easy route to adding a soundtrack, just have the radio on at the same time!

  7. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    November 4, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    > ts like one of William Blake’s ‘doors of perception’, it opens up a portal to infinite realms . Like Gospel Oak to Barking…

    Must be a different Gospel Oak to barking line to the one I know and ‘love’ all too well, aka the sarcastically named ‘Silver Link’ line, the name of which conjures up a vision of some shining ultra-modern bullet train slicing across the north of London at the speed of Mercury the Messenger, but in reality is a stinky, clapped out, groaning old deisel train that frequently breaks down and is always either too cold or too hot with that stuffy, deisel smelling heat that you also get on old buses. Invariably the carriages are wall to wall with feral chavs sharing the latest ‘gangsta rap’ ‘tunes’ with fellow passengers on their tinny mobile phones. And there is always a half eaten box of ‘Chicken Hut’ fried chicken left on the one remaining vacant seat.

  8. alistairliv
    alistairliv • Post Author •
    November 4, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Yeah, but at least you have a railway to complain about. Thanks to the EVIL Dr. Beeching (may he rot in hell) the last train to /from Castle Douglas was in 1965.

    When I first moved to London one of my guide books to the city was ‘London’s Lost Railways’ by Thomas Klapper (1976) My other was ‘London’s Railway Termini’ and I spent many happy hours admiring them all. Especially St. Pancras.

    If you are interested, there is a Barking -Gospel Oak Rail Users site


    As they say:

    YOU can help our campaign by joining us – the more members we have, the more we can do! Just send a cheque for £3 for a year’s membership to the Secretary, 227 Old Church Road, London E4 6RB. (please make cheques payable to Barking-Gospel Oak Line User Group). Members also receive regular Newsletters keeping them up to date with developments and giving advance notice of timetable changes. Join us and help us make this line better for everyone!

    However ” New trains are not scheduled to arrive until December 2009 – and though they will be more frequent and will carry more people, they will still only be two cars long.”

    Finally here is some history.

    The line was originally two separate schemes: the Tottenham & Hampstead Junction Railway (authorised 1862) and the Tottenham & Forest Gate Railway (sanctioned 1890). The T&HJR was planned to run from Tottenham Hale to Gospel Oak, and opened in July 1868 from Tottenham Hale to Highgate Road, just short of Gospel Oak. Most trains ran to & from Fenchurch Street – a very roundabout route! Not surprisingly the service was not a success and was withdrawn in 1870. By now the T&HJR was in financial difficulty and the final section to Gospel Oak was still not finished. After much argy-bargy with neighbouring railway companies, it was agreed that the new line could extend to Gospel Oak but not join the North London Line there. Instead a spur was built down to Kentish Town, and later in 1870 a passenger service commenced from Moorgate via Kentish Town to Crouch Hill, extending to South Tottenham in 1872.

  9. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    November 4, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Not complaining, I just don’t see the Silverlink line as quite the portal to another psychogeographical dimension that you do… Although I suspect many of my fellow passengers are themselves using portals to other dimensions judging by the number of Special Brew and White Lightening cans littering the carriages 😉

    Look on the bright side, at least Dr Beeching gave us the Parklands Walkway that replaced the old Muswell Hill to Finsbury Park service…

    But seriously, I agree, what an evil old bastard. I read somewhere that the change from the UK being a country with an infrastructure that was based around public transport and the railways to being private transport and car based can be traced to Beeching’s report. Unfortunately I missed the recent telly documentary by Ian Hislop about Beeching, but sounded interesting…

  10. luggy
    November 4, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Was that the doc that Chas (ex F.I.T.D.) was on?

  11. Ian S
    Ian S
    November 4, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    alistairliv: about Castle Douglas, would the line have connected it with Stranraer? I ask because I walked the Southern Upland Way a couple of years ago starting from Stranraer, and did wonder at the time if there had once been a railway around there.

    Re. Beeching and Hislop – it was an interesting program and iirc concluded that at least a third of the lines and stations which Beeching recommended should be shut, shouldn’t have been.

    It is a loss when a railway route is shut down, especially in a built-up area. You lose that hinterland of shabby brick sheds, plants sprouting from cracks in walls, and nameless yards which surrounds rail lines. It doesn’t look much different to how Orwell described it in ‘Coming up for Air’:

    “I looked at the great sea of roofs stretching on and on. Miles and miles of streets, fried-fish shops, tin chapels, picture houses, little printing-shops up back alleys, factories, blocks of flats, whelk stalls, dairies, power stations–on and on and on. Enormous! And the peacefulness of it! Like a great wilderness with no wild beasts.”

  12. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    November 4, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    > Was that the doc that Chas (ex F.I.T.D.) was on?

    Dunno, I didn’t see it…

  13. gerard
    November 4, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    > Was that the doc that Chas (ex F.I.T.D.) was on?

    Yes it was

  14. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    November 4, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Dont get me wrong I love the N London line. Fab.
    But I grew up with it, Brondesbury was 10 mins walk away, and was on it from the age of 11. Is it not there now or something? Has Broad St closed down? Is that what all the kuffufals about?I ‘m sure I saw the Brondesbury last time I was up. I dunno..
    Beeching. Grrrr
    Brahma Jai Jai

  15. Sam
    November 4, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    My mum used to call the N. London line ‘The Little Train’.

  16. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    November 4, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    > If you are interested, there is a Barking -Gospel Oak Rail Users site


    There is a link from this site to the Ongar to Epping Railway site http://www.eorailway.co.uk/index.php which runs right past Dial House, over the big bridge featured (I think) on the sleeve of Tube Disasters. The line is currently closed for engineering works, but plans to reopen in 2009. We frequently see little steam trains running up and down the track when running our permaculture courses at DH.

  17. Penguin
    November 4, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Should not Josef be on this thread? Josef where are you?

  18. alistairliv
    alistairliv • Post Author •
    November 5, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Ian S. – yes the ‘main’ line ran from Dumfries to Stranraer via Castle Douglas. There was a branch line to Kirkcudbright which ran past my parents house. My house now is right beside what was the line to Stranraer. There is still a line from Stranraer up to Ayr and on to Glasgow. The original route was to Portpatrick which had a ferry over to Ireland (Donaghadee) but the harbour at Portpatrick kept getting washed away in storms so Stranraer became the main ferry port. With Cairnryan it still is.

    What did you think of the Southern Upland Way? My brother Ian is in the Galloway Mountain Rescue Team and he reckons it is a bit dull – too many sections along forest roads, so you miss out the interesting hills – Merrick Range, Dungeon Hills, Rhinns of Kells.

    Graham – steam trains on the Epping and Ongar route? Wonderful. When I was still in London took the kids to the Bluebell Railway and the Watercress Line, The smell of coal smoke, hot oil and steam was very evocative.

  19. Ian S
    Ian S
    November 5, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Alistair: The Rhinns of Kells did look very inviting after I’d got east of Loch Trool. Woodland walking can be great, but not through conifer plantations. Those parts are a trip through a mechanised landscape: you see huge swathes of pine felled like a giant electric razor had torn through them, the tracks are all rutted by JCBs. But the westernmost parts of the SUW were good, so too was the stretch from St Johns Town of Dalry to Sanquhar.

    Walking between B&Bs made it hard to stray far from the official route. Now I have a tent and sleeping bag will wild camp it next time round and so have more freedom just to wander. It’s good to be able to do that in Scotland. England is still the realm of the ‘Keep Out’ sign.

    Had Alasdair Gray’s novel ‘A History Maker’ for reading en route, it’s set in 23rd century Ettrick. South-west Scotland and the Borders can be imagined as future landscapes because heavy industry has left little mark on them. Very different to the quarries, old factories and the spent and grubbed-up ground you see in Lanarkshire or from the train that goes the long way round from Glasgow Central to Edinburgh.

  20. alistairliv
    alistairliv • Post Author •
    November 5, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Ian – there is some info about hill walking in Galloway here




    and the needlesports site also has a lot of info on rock climbing in Galloway. There are a few mountain bothies but they are a bit run down these days. If you come up again my brothers Ian and Kenneth would be able to advise on good routes. They have a shop in Castle Douglas, although they are more mountain bikers and rock climbers than hill walkers these days.

  21. Ian S
    Ian S
    November 5, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Alistair, those are excellent website links, many thanks for that. It shows that the SUW is alright to use as a connecting route from places with public transport, but that there’s a lot more to see off it. The peat hummock pic looks horrible though, don’t envy them.

    Are your brothers into night-time mountain biking? I didn’t know such a thing existed until last year when a bunch of mountain bikers swarmed into Ben Alder bothy at about 3am, headlamps shining in my face – like being raided by the cops. They told me the route they’d taken. Next day I clambered up and along it, it seemed incredible how they managed to bike it at all, never mind at night.

    Will maybe take you up on the route advise offer, probably go in late March early April next year, once the days start getting a little longer.

  22. luggy
    November 5, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Cheers Gerard, never knew Chas was into trains!
    Ian, no shortage of places to wild camp in England either just have to be subtle about it.

  23. Ian S
    Ian S
    November 5, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    True enough, spose the worst that can happen is some farmer telling you to eff off.

  24. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    November 5, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    I took a group of residents from the home I worked at down to the Bluebell railway for a daytrip once. My main memory of the day is that I managed to knock the roof rack off of our minibus when I tried to go under the ‘maximum height’ barrier into the car park…

  25. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    November 5, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Aha a local attraction. Better still is Sheffield Park and Wakehurst place next door…

  26. alistairliv
    alistairliv • Post Author •
    November 5, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Ian – yes they go mountain biking at night – with head torches.

    We have five of the 7 Stanes ( http://www.7stanes.gov.uk/ ) mountain biking circuits in Dumfries and Galloway. Tonight they are off to Dalbeattie – with fire works. The plan is to set of a few rockets from the top of the Moyle Hill which is on one of the Dalbeattie routes.

  27. chas
    November 6, 2008 at 10:42 am

    luggy – check it out:


    I’m a bit easier on Dr B than Alistair – it was the Treasury (of course!).

    cheers for sticking this up, Al, Broad Street was one of those great places you could still find in London in the early 80s, huge semi derelict industrial spaces (even when it was still open) that all seem to have been cleaned up now. I remember walking along the old line in the early 90s from the car park of sainsburys in Dalston to the point where the viaduct was cut off to build Broadgate and scaring loads of rabbits along the way – rabbits that lived on a viaduct – a great way to see the city.

  28. alistairliv
    alistairliv • Post Author •
    November 6, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Possibly I was over dramatising… A big part of the problems Beeching tried to solve were created by the failure of British Railways 1955 ‘modernisation ‘plan. This squandered huge sums on crap diesels and white-elephant sites like Carlisle Kingmoor freight yard which was only open for 9 years. – see this pic


    “Carlisle Kingmoor marshalling yards in 1963 just after it opened. Only operational for 9 years. Down Yard was made up of 10 reception roads, 37 sorting sidings and 10 departure roads. Up Yard was 8 reception, 48 sorting and 10 departure. 4 wheel wagon capacity on the Down side was 590 reception, 3,340 sorting and 730 on the departure roads. On the Up side the figures were 590, 3,340 and 730”

    The failure of the modernisation plan created bad blood between BR and the Treasury which lasted for a generation.


    This report, known as the ‘modernisation plan’ was commissioned as part of an attempt to stem the losses being incurred by BR due to competition from road and air traffic. Among the recommendations taken up were massive spending – £1.2bn – on the replacement of all steam traction with diesel and electric, and construction of vast marshalling yards using automated shunting.

    The failure of the plan was that nothing was done to address pre-war working practises, or the ‘common carrier’ requirements which meant road haulage firms could cherry-pick the lucrative freight traffic and leave BR with the rest. The diesel traction was poorly procured, with some types scrapped only 10 years after their introduction.

    The failure of the plan led directly to the Beeching reports and closures 10 years later, and was seen by government as a squandering of a once-in-a-generation spending plan; the failure soured the relationship between railway and government for decades after.

  29. chas
    November 7, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    the thing about the modernisation plan was that the railway managers who devised it based it on the assumption the railways would get a subsidy from the government in the form of an interest free loan worth about £40m a year (in 1955). The government led the railways to believe they would get this subsidy in return for agreeing to pay an NUR wage claim and avoid a politically (and economically) damaging strike at Xmas 1954. But once ministers had got the chairman of the Transport Commission to play ball, Treasury officials decided it would be better to see how things turned out and bail the railways out if they went bust rather than openly agree to a subsidy – because then all the other nationalised industries would want one, whereas if the railways went bust their management would be blamed and that would deter others from following suit. Guess what happened? The plan had other flaws as Alistair points out but it was ministers who covered up the reality that the railways needed a subsidy. This made the plan appear a greater failure than it was.

    I could go on at (great) length but wont cos
    a) this isnt a blyth power forum
    b) I’m off to play some punk rock at the whitechapel

  30. andus
    November 7, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Brilliant film, a bit like the centre of Birmingham, only greatly expanded, has Mr Porter seen this,

    There is a brilliant film called Night train, with w h audens poetry, about the royal mail train from London, to – if anyones interested I will send you a copy.
    or you can probably get one off Chris via Mr Martin.

  31. Nic
    November 7, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    ‘Night Mail’ is showing at the Wolverhampton Lighthouse in early December as part of a BFI package of GPO Film Unit shorts: all great stuff (Len Lye, Lotte Reininger, etc)…

    It was made by Grierson – the ‘patriarch’ of the British Documentary Film movement…

  32. andus
    November 7, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Wicked, I will have to get up to that one, I haven’t seen the other GPO’S. This film ‘Night Mail’ produced by Barry Wright and Harry Watt,about the L.M.S railway, from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *