Thursday 1 February 2024

All aboard!

Hello again and welcome to February's Photo Challenge. The monthly feature where I throw down a photographic gauntlet and you wonderful people pick it up and run with it. This month I was looking for anything Public Transport related. You didn't disappoint.

The first rule of Photo Club says Rol goes first. "Hi John, a nice easy one - although it took me ages to find the photo on my phone. A couple of summers back we stayed at Whistlestop Cottage in PIckering. The garden backs onto the North York Moors Railway line, so a few times a day we'd be treated to a steam engine rolling past. I'm not usually one to wave a strangers, but it's expected when they're on a steam train, and doing so immediately transports you back to better days. Take care, Rol." Nice one, Rol. A part of the world I know well. Too well.

Khayem's got four for us this month: "Hi John, this is Bristol Temple Meads railway station from July 1990, when there were no ticket barriers and you could random wander up and down the platforms taking photos without attracting the attention of security. This is a personal favourite which I’ve used on mixtape and homemade CD covers over the years. I love the damaged, rusty sign in the foreground and to the right, the man casually walking along the track to the Inter City engine. Makes me feel as fuzzy as the focus!"

"Gloucester has been busy overhauling its town centre transport hub in the past couple of years and the bus station is generally nothing to get too excited about. However, in an opportune moment I caught a view of crane at a nearby building site mid-swing coming into view through one of the 'skylights' above a parked bus (The 94 is clearly not the secret service to GCHQ!).''

''Over to Cotswold town Stroud and its rail station footbridge, which has been in need of some love for many years, paint peeling from the roof and walls.''

''On the same footbridge, the wooden slats and glass panels prevent much of a view of the platforms. And what a view, with the tracks leading off into the Cotswold Hills. What I like most about this shot though is that I imagined that this was the perspective within the maw of a mythical dragon flying low over the station, the wooden slats a neat row of sharp teeth and the bubbled, flaky paint lower approximately a tongue. A bit of a stretch, I know!'' Some great shots, K. Thank you.

Ben took this in Rochdale. ''I used to drive past this bus stop and one day thee was a rare blue sky. So I took this!'' And I'm glad you did, Ben. Nice work

Jo-Shreeve is something of a regular these days! ''Stumped me a bit, this one! Have this one from a trip to Amsterdam x.'' Thank you so much, Jo.

Like she's never been away, the lovely Alyson next: ''Hi John, I had wanted a night shot as the Caledonian Sleeper is very much a night train which seamlessly whisks people from the Highlands of Scotland down to London every day. We’ve done it once and woke up at Euston at 8am with the rest of the day ahead of us. I'm hoping some of you from down south will make the trip sometime the other way up to see me?!'' I hope so, Alyson. Let's talk about it at BlogCon.

Alyson has another one: ''My second photo is simply a concourse scene on a Monday afternoon - very quiet indeed.''

Please give a big welcome to new boy, Ernie Goggins: ''Many thanks for admitting me to your prestigious photo club. I have enjoyed looking at the monthly exhibitions and kept meaning to join in, but only finally got around to it this month. I attach three entries which are clearly designed to show off how cosmopolitan I am! One is the Joliot-Curie metro station in Sofia, one the Gare do Oriente train station in Lisbon, and one a sign commonly found in Jakarta and probably other Indonesian cities as well. It translates as "Be careful - bus lane" but sounds much more fun. If I ever set up a jangly indie band, that's going to be its name. Thanks again and all the best.'' Thank you, Ernie. A most audacious start.

Charity Chic next: ''You spend ages waiting for a bus and then two come along at once.'' Indeed you do, CC.

CC goes on ''A better one, I think: an urban trainscape.'' Is trainscape a word? It is now! Thank you, CC.

The Swede is girding his loins: ''In May 2019, before a 75 strong audience in a tiny club, Robyn Hitchcock played a concert in Ipswich for the first time in his long career. Two years and one pandemic later, Robyn returned to town to play a show on a stage set up between an old tram and an equally vintage trolleybus at the Ipswich Transport Museum. To say Robyn was in hog's heaven would be the understatement to end all understatements. One of his life long passions is ancient, redundant modes of public transportation, as can be witnessed in the lyrics of several of his songs and that evening he appeared genuinely overwhelmed by his surroundings, claiming it to be the most perfect venue he'd played in 45 years on the road. The setlist reflected the transportation vibe - 'Fifty Two Stations', 'I Often Dream of Trains' and a really beautiful 'Trams of Old London' were all given outings. In September 2023 he was back in Ipswich, at a recently opened town centre arts centre within St Stephen's Church. Glorious though his ancient surroundings were, Robyn declared from the stage that when he next swings by Suffolk's county town, he'd rather like it to be back amongst the trams and trolleybuses in the transport museum.'' Wow! Thank you, TS.

C at Sun Dried Sparrows: ''Hi John - I found this pic from last Summer which I took as I waited for the train home... a familiar sight to a few people here! Love that you can see the train through the open archway and the symmetry in all the different shapes; I can just imagine the scene as inspiration for a geometric/abstract painting. A future project perhaps?! C x.'' I've seen that 'gap' a few times over the years. Nice one, C.

One of our most travelled contributors next - Cooper Senior: '' Leipzig, December 2023; I didn't see the old bloke staring back at me!"

'' And Wiesbaden, May 2023.'' Thanks, Coops. I love the 'red one'! 

My old friend Riggsby in San Diego: ''A bus at the train station. Constructed to welcome the world to the 1915 Panama-California Expo, the Santa Fe Depot is a city landmark known for its soaring towers and tiled domes. It was named after the Aitchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad (ATSF) that conceived and built the station. This is considered very old for the area!''

''One of the trains that runs along the coast from San Diego to Oceanside, skirting the beaches.''

(I asked Richard if he'd photograph a waiting room for me!)

''A San Diego 'trolley' with the railway station in the background.'' Thanks, as ever, Richard. When your photos arrive it's like leafing thru a National Geographic!''

Rob, our South West correspondent next: ''Hi John, here's my entry for this month. Sitting in the waiting room at Clapham Junction feeling pretty happy as I was waiting for my connection to take me to Brighton - my summer holiday destination. Such a hot day it was good to find some shade, and surely one of the most beautiful waiting room windows in the country.'' You could be right, Rob!

Adam in Manchester: ''John, this photo was not shot in black & white, just taken on a very black & white day. It's Stockport railway viaduct, the biggest brick built structure in Europe, linking Manchester to the south. It crosses the bus station (underneath the arches) and even on a sunny day is a windy and desolate place. It also crosses the Mersey at some point and in previous centuries was a major transport hub.''

''And this is a bus shelter not far away.'' Thank you, Adam. I just love viaducts.

It probably won't surprise you to learn that I've got quite a few public transport images on various SD cards, hard drives, old photo albums etc. I've lost a few too (hard drives that went bump in the night - but let's not go there shall we, they're gone). So of the (many) hundreds I have got I was able to choose a few that, I think, fit the bill. And as I didn't want to rely totally on my back catalogue I did get out and about this month and have chucked a few new ones into the mix too. I can't believe I haven't put forward any of my York Railway Museum photos. Anyone who knows me will tell you I would live in that building, no questions asked.

From my 2022 California expedition - somewhere between Flagstaff & Grand Canyon.

Rock City, Nottingham.

I tap Sir John on the shoulder every time I land in St. Pancras.

Probably not taken at midnight.

My friend, Vladka.

Taken around 1987/88. One of our old cats, Dora. She'd often sleep on the railway line.

Liverpool - taken from the top of the Radio City tower a couple of weeks ago. 

Cromer c.1979. This is Riggsby's brother, Simonjohn. He used to do this sort of thing a lot.

A London bus and a big puddle.

Wolverhampton Station carpark. Iconic.  And yes, I believe I have used the 'i' word correctly.

A deserted Wilford Tram Stop in Nottingham, taken during LD.

So there you have it. Thank you for indulging me at the end.  A huge thank you to everyone who took the time. See you all next time. I'll post March's theme in the comments below in the next few days. J x


Postscript 4.2.23

If you've read Alyson's comments below you'll see she was sitting on an old photo she'd taken but couldn't retrieve in time for publication date. No worries, she's found it now and here it is: "Hi John, a late entry but I liked this photo of the very old & ornate St. Pancras Station along side that shiny purple car.'' Thank you, Alyson. A stunning photo. And that's not just any old purple car!


  1. A wonderful selection as always. A fair few of those set my storytelling brain itching...

    1. That would make for a brilliant tie-in. Keep me posted, Rol.

  2. Brilliant selection. Khayem's pic of Temple Meads in summer 1990 weirdly looks like 1990 and I can smell the heat on the tarmac. Love the Clapham Junction waiting room too.

    1. You're right: Khayem has nailed 1990 with a single shot of a diesel locomotive! And Rob's waiting room definitely deserves a podium finish.

  3. Another superb selection, and great to see Ernie join the merry band too.
    I particularly like the Cromer '79 pic, looking like it could be the cover image for an obscure Stiff or Small Wonder 7" - I'm especially drawn to the quiffy bloke standoing by the bus, with his high collar, turn-ups and attitude!

    1. I love the way Ernie has been watching us for ages before deciding to jump in - very reminiscent of how he plays Saturday Snapshots!
      Cromer '79. What can I say? Simonjohn was a perfect photographic stooge in those days. The guy leaning on the bus kinda makes the photo. Ever since getting the photograph developed he became 'Surly Ted'. But 'Quiffy Bloke' has a certain ring too!

  4. Honoured to be included.

    That is very much how I remember Cromer.

    1. Thank you, Ernie. I'd love to say your membership number and badge are in the post, but sadly we don't run to such lavish adornments.
      However, you are part of a small corner of the internet I'd like to think is cordoned off by the plushest of red velvet ropes. A bit like Cromer forty five years ago.

  5. Another brilliant edition of this challenge. I'm loving some of the very artsy shots submitted. I have a great shot of St Pancras somewhere taken a few years back as it's right next to the British Library which was our reason for being there. Should have sought it out - looks beautiful.

    1. Yep, some great entries. If you do find your St. Pancras photo, ping it over and I'll put it up.

  6. Wow, what a feast for the eyes! Thanks, John and everyone. I usually come back to these posts a few times as there’s so much to absorb and enjoy. I’m especially glad I revisited today, to find Alyson’s St. Pancras postscript. A bumper month and no mistake!

    1. Thanks, K. Yes, I'm fast running out of superlatives for everyone's great images. I'm so glad you're enjoying it.

  7. Thanks for adding my St Pancras shot. Here I was thinking it was just a pretty purple car in the foreground, but it turns out it was so much more!

    1. It'll definitely feature in 2024's Best Of, that's for sure!

  8. Time. And timepieces. Clocks, clock towers, watches, stopwatches, sundials...
    March's Photo Challenge. By the 1st, please.

    1. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the building behind Alyson's purple car makes a reappearnce next month!

  9. Like you I'm running out of superlatives after browsing the results of each photo challenge. The variety and quality of images this month is simply outstanding.

    1. Cheers, TS. It's the feature that keeps on giving. We have some very talented people in our ranks.