Archive for the Crank Category

Eastern Bloc cranking exploits

Posted in Crank, East with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by enchantedisle

For those who are partial to this kind of thing. My crankhandle smugmug site (in all its much better new version glory) is now home to some new photostories on the heavy duty cranking thrills that can be had behind the former Iron Curtain. First up is a trip along the Baltic coast from Hel (Poland) to Narva (Estonia) which can be found here:

Riga yards coal train.NEF

Soviet steam in Moscow can be found here –

soviet loco departs.NEF

And Red Oktober in Deepest Derbyshire can be found here –

Berlin tram and autumn colours-0119

Get on board


Ten days in Ukraine

Posted in Crank, East with tags , , , , , on March 11, 2011 by enchantedisle

Photo story of ten days in Ukraine featuring pickpockets in Odesa, the hypnotic escalators of the Kiev Metro, the lost cosmopolitanism of Chernivitsi, and the bleak backstory of Uman. And overall – way too much Soviet Realism

Exploring the last Romanian narrow gauge logging railway

Posted in Crank, East with tags , , , , , on November 20, 2010 by enchantedisle

The photo story of my exploration of the Viseu de Sus logging railway can be round here

Viva Hunslet!

Posted in Crank, North with tags , , , on June 7, 2009 by enchantedisle

Enjoyed a tribute the Leeds locomotive building industry (RIP) that was D2578’s Homecoming Weekend at the Middleton Railway.

In my related internet explorations I came across the Leeds Historical Exploration Society’s site – which is a site of record of their various expeditions. Among their explorations is one of the last surviving of evidence of Leed’s tram system. At one stage there were plans to put it underground – instead the who thing was scrapped at the end of the Fifties – dedicated reserved tracks alongside main roads, the lot.

But there’s more than transport stuff on there – and there’s more on hidden Leeds on this related flikr site.

But in the meantime here is an artists impression of the modernised city centre underground tram system that Leeds could have had …

Leeds tram underground

Dayrover days in the early Eighties

Posted in Crank, North, rail with tags , , , , , , on April 12, 2009 by enchantedisle


Before the de-industrialisation of the North, and the unit-isation of the railways, the youth cult of bashing was in full swing. Bashing being the art of accumulating haulage behind railway locomotives – either by type, or by distance, or by both.

At that time the railways were still stocked with rolling stock from the ‘modernisation’ era that preceeded and paralled the Beeching era. The diesel locos that had replaced steam were still powering many of the types of workings that those steam engines had – including loose coupled freights and summer Saturday specials to seaside resorts.

The Miners strike was still to come. Rail privatisation was difficult to imagine. Thatcherism hadn’t become a fully fledged ‘ism’ – didn’t stop the riots though. There was still long shadows hanging over the railways – strikes, lack of investment, a total lack of enthusiasm for rail from the Conservatives (coupled with long standing antagonism from the civil service). When the railways ground to a halt on strike days it felt like the last days were upon us.

Bashers were not train spotters. They had no time for ‘kettles’ (steam engines). They were in thrall to the oldest, noisiest and most battered locomotives. Mostly consigned to freight and working out of depots in the deepest recesses of industrial England – Thornaby, Gateshead, Tinsley, Healey Mills. On Summer Saturdays, they would emerge on holiday trains to Blackpool, Skegness, Aberystwyth and Llandudno.

Long trains of compartment stock would draw in behind their monstrous traction – the racket swirling round the station. The front carriages invaded by the bashers – toting their addidas and head bags. Then away, to much flailing and bellowing out of the windows in tribute, triumph, adrenalin and identification

They didn’t turn out to be the last days in the way it looked like at the time. Since then rail’s time has come with passenger numbers soaring. Everything the stolid defenders of rail were arguing at the time – that rail was the right way to go – has come to pass. But at the same time the rail network has descended into some kind of plasticky, modular blandness.

Bashers were worshiping machine and speed like some mutated anglo Saxon strain of futurism. Looking to let loose, to find camaraderie. To mainline nostalgia. To order and catalogue a world that was always slipping away. To subvert the purpose and conventions of rail travel, whilst respecting every aspect of the mode more than any ‘normal’

To mark the last great flourish of locomotive manufacturing in the country that invented it. Wave after wave of orders from Vulcan Foundry, Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns, Brush foundry. As Britain’s late start on replacing steam turned into a stampede. Britain’s locomotive manufacturing industry kept going for a few years more turning out heavy duty industrial design for rail modernisation. Designs heroic in their solidity.

Thrash – ‘the noise made by classic diesel locomotives’
Clag – ‘A term describing the often spectacular (especially blackened, as in Class 37 or whitesmoked, as in Class 55) exhaust emissions of many older British diesel locomotives, especially Classes 52 and 55′
Dreadful: ‘Exclamation denoting enthusiastic approval’

From the summer of 1982 the volume of rateable workings was still high but beginning its long but exponential decline.

A West Yorkshire day rover would give access to the fun and games to a relative bashing lightweight and impoverished sixth former. And sometimes further afield.

Saturday 26th June 1982

40 058 Leeds to Manchester Victoria (class 31 hauled portion attached by 08 at Huddersfield) for haulage
40 069 through freight at Man Vic
40 012 ‘Aureol’ through parcels at Man Vic
47 135 + 47 210 double headed Trans-Pennine running over an hour later
47 002 Manchester Victoria to Huddersfield for haulage in the rain
46 010 Huddersfield to Bradford Interchange (Weymouth to Bradford) for haulage
25 224 Shipley to Leeds

Saturday 11th September 1982


47 305 Bradford – Huddersfield
47 286 Huddersfield – Dewsbury
47 526 Dewsbury – Leeds
40 183 Leeds – Huddersfield
40 056 Huddersfield – Leeds
45 009 Leeds – Huddersfield
40 197 Huddersfield to Leeds
31 295 Keighley to Leeds
40 004 Leeds to Huddersfield
47 095 Huddersfield to Leeds

Rosebay Willow herb seeds drift and eddy
A signal stop
The carriage creaks in the heat

An hour and a half at Wakefield Kirkgate 24th November 1982

37 131 HM loose fitted coal
56 106 TI MGR
47 373 HM empty MGR
40 172 SP Tankers
56 030 HM empty MGR
40 162 KD
31 168 IM
37 023 MR mixed unfitted
47 291 cartec
56 093 HM full MGR
56 106 TI MGR
37 040 HM
37 123 HM brakevan

A stolen afternoon from School
Succession of freight trains


Indian Metal Music

Posted in Buddhism, Crank, East with tags , , , on March 1, 2009 by enchantedisle


Added to my fotopic site is a ‘photo essay’ of some hours in the life of Sanchi station in Madhya Pradesh in India.

Transylvania to London by Train

Posted in Crank, East with tags , , on October 26, 2008 by enchantedisle

1,800 kilometres of rail travel from Transylvania to London by train. Enter a trance state – addicitve – as Europe roles by. From crumbling platforms and clapped out second hand trains in Romania the trains progressively speed up and the economy solidifies into prosperity. The edge disappears. The golden fields unspool into the mountains and then back down into the endless Central European plain – baking in 90 to 100 degree heat.

‘The Bihor’ from Sighisoara to Oradea. A mamoth overnight holiday train from the Romanian coast sans buffet car, sans air con. Hand me down french railway carriages.

Oradeo to Budapest on some Slovakian carriages with a compartment to ourselves then a couple of hours at Budapest Keleti

Budapest to Vienna – five hour break

Overnight on the ‘Orient Express’ from Wien to Koln (which now operates Milano/Wien – Amsterdam). Thieves try to raid the carriage at Karlesrhue but one of our companions wakes up and sees them off. Breakfast as the train winds its way up the Rhine valley

Worst train of the voyage – boring Thalys to Brussels – a couple of hours break

First class on Eurostar to St Pancras

Cost a heck a lot of more than flying budget from Stansted to Cluj but preferable in every other way.