The pleasures of Autumn.

It was cold this morning with the temperature sitting at +1c when I surfaced.

Looking out at the frost on the house roofs and the cars reminded me of Autumn mornings on the railway.

Now I think it’s fair to say that when you ask the average person what they imagine it’s like on a heritage railway station. They will wax lyrical about sunshine, happy visitors and endless enjoyable days.

In reality that can often be wrong, in the Autumn it can be cold, bleak, dismal and foggy and that’s mid-afternoon.

In the Autumn and Winter months we used to have a saying when people asked for a soft drink. “Would you like a cold one off the side or a warm one out of the chiller?”

This is what a typical morning can be like.

Down the track towards Wansford is never better.

We would open up as normal and the odd walker or cyclist would wander in looking for warmth, they were disappointed, the staff stood outside to get warm!
The favourite comment was “I could kill for a hot drink.” This was normally from people who had no money with them. But they stood with an expectant look on their faces in case a freebie was in the offing.

They tried to look especially desperate if any of the staff were standing there with a steaming mug of hot liquid in their hands.

They would wonder off dragging their dog behind them. The staff would retire to the kitchen to await the next poor soul.

You would find somedays that you could not see the signal box from the station because of the fog or mist. The first sign of life from the box would be the signal man coming through the door clutching an empty mug.

First train would arrive, normally late, but that’s another story. The crew either warm in their diesel cab or huddled round the firebox. The guard would be well wrapped up with often just a little round red face poking out from under a cap.

Once the train had gone back to Wansford we would get the iPads out and settle down for the arrival of the second train.

Oh the excitement of an Autumn day at a station!

Jason’s NVR Photo Guide.

Part Two – Wansford to Overton

In these chapters I will be showing you all the best and popular spots to see trains passing from public spots from a collection of photos spanning 10 years taken in all four seasons. In this chapter we cover the stretch between Wansford and Overton having covered Yarwell to Wansford in Part one. With a public footpath practically paralleling the railway all the way to Peterborough there are plenty of good public places to view the railway from some of which are the most popular on the line. 

On leaving Wansford the footpath and line run parallel on an embankment for about a quarter of mile giving a good close up of view of trains arriving and departing Wansford. 

Here we see Tornado departing Wansford for Peterborough August 2016 before goes onto roughly level Castor straight.

71000 Duke of Gloucester heads onto Castor Straight near Sutton Cross September 2011.

Deltic 55022 Royal Scots Grey drifts past Sutton Cross heading for Wansford August 2016.

Castor crossing site of the former Castor Station possibly my favourite spot on the line, I remember my Dad bring me to the crossing when I was 4 and seeing Union of South Africa a loco that would have a big impact on me in my love of trains. In recent years Castor crossing has become tricky for decent photos without having to go trackside due to vegetation.

One of favourite NVR photos 73050 heads for Wansford at Castor crossing in February 2012.

Visiting all the way from Bo’ness in Scotland D49 Morayshire heads for Peterborough with former New England shed employees on board February 2015.

Superpower 60009 Union of South Africa and 34081 92 Squadron head for Wansford September 2018. 

37324 heads for Wansford during 2014 Spring Diesel Gala.

Below are some photos taken from the fields between Castor Crossing and Mill Lane Bridge, some of the spots may have disappeared now behind vegetation.

71000 Duke of Gloucester and 73050 City of Peterborough head for Peterborough just to the east of Castor Crossing September 2011.

34081 92 Squadron passes Splash Dyke heading for Wansford May 2018.

With Castor church in the background 5619 approaches Castor Mill Lane bridge with a train for Peterborough February 2018.

No.22 passes under Mill Lane bridge or Castor Bridge at the top of Castor Bank February 2015.

Class 60 60074 tops the summit of Castor Bank heading for Wansford May 2014.

Possibly the most popular lineside spot on the railway Castor Bank is always a good spot to see trains especially heading westbound towards as trains accelerate away from the speed restriction at the river crossing and begin the climb up Castor Bank.

Somerset & Dorset friends reunited as former S&D locos 5MT 73050 and 4F 44422 head up the bank April 2010, on gala days you could have as many as a dozen people lined up along here photographing trains heading up the bank.

Class 14 D9520 heads down the bank heading for Peterborough with Santa Special December 2018.

Class 20 20048 heads up the bank March 2010.

Perfectly framed by Mother Nature 34081 92 Squadron heads up the bank on Remembrance Sunday 2018.

60163 Tornado crosses the Nene at Lynch river bridge with a train for PeterboroughAugust 2015.

2MT 78018 heads for Peterborough at the Lynch river bridge January 2017.

Ferry Meadows bridge between good spot especially for filming trains going east as trains accelerate up the gradient away from the speed restriction over the river Nene. 

Visiting class 45 45060 accelerates up towards Ferry Meadows with train for Peterborough October 2011.

Visiting Class 20s 20134 & 20311 head for Wansford March 2013.

Tornado departs Ferry Meadows (as it was called back then) and crosses Ham Lane crossing heading for Wansford August 2015.

The spooks special.

Halloween is a time for scary things to come out, so what better than some pictures of some of the working members being scary.

First a few words from our acting Deputy General Manager

The Thomas Halloween Event started as a basic concept idea from a general chit chat between NVR office staff, after the decision was made to pull the Wizards Express this year due to the constraints of covid and social distancing.  The chit chat ended up as an amazing brain storming session that resulted in the Halloween Trick or Treat Ghost Train being born. Over the next couple of weeks the ideas came in thick and fast and before our very eyes, what looked like a great event had been built. Tickets went live for the one day event at 3pm on a Thursday and by Monday morning it was a sell out. The decision was made to add another date of which was another sell out within the week. With our customers showing confidence in what we were doing a small dedicated team of volunteers stepped forward to help make the event the success that it was. Big thanks to you all (you know who you are) your enthusiasm, customer interaction and Halloween attire showed NVR as the amazing place that it is. I look forward to the next event.

Tracy Spring 
Acting Deputy General Manager 

Below some images from Martin Owen.

I was playing the role of Matthew Hopkins, the infamous 17th Century “Witchfinder General”, on the hunt for witches. Looks like I found a few! The pictures can be seen larger by opening them in a new window.

A great time was had by all, though I gather there are a couple of scorch marks up platform 2 where a couple of witches did low passes on their brooms. As yet no culprits have been found. The acting General Manager and acting Deputy General Manager are in the clear. Apparently their respective broom sticks were both declared not fit to run before the event.

Another way to donate.

We have registered ourselves with Amazon at their Smile Amazon site.

Where shoppers, shop through Smile Amazon they can then opt to make donations to us – added to their purchase.

More details can be found here Just click on the link – Amazon Smile Site

Important Dates

Here are a few important dates of the line when it was part of the big railway before part of it became The Nene Valley Railway.

BARNWELL STATION.

2nd June 1845               Barnwell Station Opened
4th May 1964                 Closed to passengers & goods

ELTON STATION.

January 1847                Elton Station Opened
7th December 1953     Station Closed

OUNDLE STATION.

2nd June 1845               Oundle Station Opened
4th May 1964                 End of timetabled services
6th November 1972       Definitive closing of station

KINGS CLIFFE STATION.

1st November 1879        Kings Cliffe Station Opened

6th June 1966                 Closed to passengers

3rd June 1968               Closed completely

NASSINGTON STATION.

1st November 1879       Nassington Station Opened

1st July 1957                 Closed to passengers

3rd August 1957             Closed to goods

26th February 1971        Closing of quarry siding and final closure.

WANSFORD STATION.
The station opened with the Northampton and Peterborough Railway from Blisworth to Peterborough in 1845. Being located on the Great North Road, it was for a few years the railhead for GranthamLincoln, etc., which at this time were not served by any railway lines. The branch line to Stamford opened in 1867. The route to Rugby became available when the LNWR built a line from Yarwell Junction, west of Wansford tunnel, to their existing 1850 Rugby to Stamford line at Seaton. At the same time, the Great Northern began a service from Peterborough North to Leicester Belgrave Road via Wansford, Seaton and the newly opened Great Northern and London and North Western Joint Railway in east Leicestershire. The Leicester trains were stopped as a war economy in 1916. The Stamford branch closed in 1929, having never properly recovered from the 1926 general strike. The station closed for regular passenger services on 1 July 1957 but passenger services from Peterborough continued to use the line to Northampton until 1964, and to Rugby until 1966. The Rugby line remained open for freight as far as the sand and gravel quarries at Nassington. When these stopped, the line closed but the track remained in situ, and the line was later reopened as The Nene Valley Railway heritage railway.

CASTOR STATION.

1845                              Castor Station Opened

1957                             Castor Station Closed

ORTON WATERVILLE/OVERTON STATION.

2nd June 1845               Orton Waterville Station opened as Overton

1st August 1913             Renamed as Orton Waterville

5th October 1942           Closed to regular passenger trains

PETERBOROUGH EAST.

2nd June 1845               Peterborough East station opened and  just named Peterborough

1923                              Renamed Peterborough East

17th April 1966               Closed to Freight

6th June 1966                Closed to passengers

21st September 1970    Reopened as parcels depot

23rd December 1970    Closed

Recreating events.

One thing the railway often does is recreate events.

Here is a recreation of “The Pines Express” non-stop through Ferry Meadows station. This event is from 2010.

The format of the video has been changed so hopefully more will be able to play it.

We have done both steam and diesel recreations.

Getting the best price.

Now it’s fair to say that the majority of the general public are a pleasure to deal with. But occasionally you will get some that defy all logic when it comes to prices.

Take this gentleman and his girlfriend for example.

Let’s set the scene, it’s a nice Wednesday morning, the trains are running and we are awaiting the first service of the day from Wansford.

Into the station wanders a pleasant man and his girlfriend. He asks how much it is for a single to Peterborough, and how much a return is.

He is given the prices and stands there puzzling you can almost hear the clicking of his brain.

Then he decides that a return ticket is too expensive, so can he have two single tickets Orton Mere to Peterborough Nene Valley and then two single tickets from Peterborough Nene Valley to Orton Mere for when they return later in the day as that he decides is the best option.

His girlfriend staggers out of the station onto the platform, sits on a bench and just cracks up. But by the time he wanders out to join her with four tickets in his top pocket she has calmed down.

Ten minutes later they get on the train with him telling her he got a good deal on the tickets. Actually he spent around £5 more than he needed to.

I have no idea what they did in the end because they did not return on any train.

It was just a normal Wednesday!!

Knowing the route.

One question we have been asked many times is why somebody coming off the main line needs a pilot.

One reason of course is their lack of knowledge about the line and where things like points, crossings and other restrictions are.

This is normally met with the comment the line is not that long how many can there be? The answer been more than you probably realise.

Here are a couple of excellent videos by John Wood which for want of a better description show what is where. The first is Yarwell to Peterborough Nene Valley and the second is that route in reverse. My thanks to John for allowing me to use them on the blog.

Yarwell to Peterborough Nene Valley © John Wood
Peterborough Nene Valley to Yarwell © John Wood

I hope you found the above useful and informative.

The Slip Coach

For some strange reason over the years I have been asked on a fairly regular basis if the railway ever used slip coaches.

Looking at this video I am sure you will realise that the answer is no!!

Mind you would perhaps be interesting on Castor Bank.