Latest Sounds
Steam to the Festival

Each year the township of Laidley has a flower festival and the opportunity is used as a destination for both a steam tour from Brisbane and to provide a local shuttle for the residents as part of the celebrations.  This year, the Brown Bomber, C17 974 had the honours.  

One of my favourite recording spots is on the Little Liverpool Range, just west of Grandchester.  The climb up the range involves two tunnels, steep grades and plenty of tight curves, including two 180 degree horseshoe curves.  Just near the second one of these we set up the recorder and picked up the loco just after it exited the first tunnel on the hill.  The sound of the engine rises and falls as it heads into other parts of the range until eventually we hear it start to speed up as it rounds the last horseshoe, as the curve is compensated (i.e. the grade is eased to allow for the curvature).  The engine picks up so much speed that the regulator is just about closed until the engine is right on the microphone when the driver opens up for the last part of the climb to Victoria Tunnel and the summit of the grade.  As usual, the train is followed by a hi-rail fire truck just in case any lineside fires are started, but given the rain the night before, the fire crew have an easy drive over the hill.  11 September 2010



                      (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 6.6MB 7 min 10 secs)

 
 
Going to the Markets

On the 3rd Saturday of the month, my wife has a stall (Mango Wednesday Ceramics - www.mangowednesdayceramics.blogspot.com) at the Handmade Expo which is held at the Bundamba Racecourse.  Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway, which runs from the same location, operates in conjunction with the Expo from the Racecourse to Boxflat.  We decided to go for a ride and I took my recording equipment along for the journey.  The run out didn't have much noise, but to our surprise, they decided to head further up to Swanbank to take water.  Fortunately, there is a steep grade from Boxflat towards Swanbank and we join the train just before heading away from the railway's depot at Boxflat and work up the hill.  You may want to compare this recording with the previous ones taken about a year ago, which were a fair bit noisier.  The reason, this time we were engine first rather than tender first, and given the extra distance and a tender in the road, the sound doesn't carry as well, but it was a nice ride and I highly recommend a visit (or two!).  21 August 2010


                      (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 2.7MB 2 min 57 secs)
Back to the UK

Once again, it was back to Old Blighty as part of a family European Holiday.  We had spent 3 weeks on the continent, with a few days in Holland, but most of it in France.  Needless to say, while we enjoyed that part of our trip immensely, we were so looking forward to a decent cup of tea (or coffee for that matter), and some steam!

Well we didn't have to wait too long, as on arrival via Eurostar, we picked up my fellow sound recordist, David Bailey of www.steamsounds.org.uk, who came down especially to meet us, picked up my wife at Dover (something about tunnels saw her coming over sea rather than under ground!) and enjoyed a lovely cuppa and bacon sandwich at Dover, then heading off to the Kent and East Sussex Railway about 30 miles from there. 

We wanted to ride on the train, but first we headed a bit out of Tenterden, one end of the line, to record the previous service working up the steep climb into Tenterden.  Doing the honours this day was USA Tank 0-6-0 No.65 in Southern Black livery.  The grade is close to 1:50, and with 5 coaches, she appears to make heavy weather of it, but this was also due to the dry conditions around (no rain for three weeks, can you believe it!) so they didn't attack it with the usual gusto.  Still, she makes a fine sound heading up the hill.  I have to say that this was one of the friendliest preserved railways I've been to and one I hope to visit again next time I'm over there.  9 July 2010


                      (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 4.1MB 4 min 28 secs)
After our visit to the K&ESR, we headed on to the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch railway, billed as the smallest public railway in the world (15" gauge) and one which I had visited previously, but as David and my two boys hadn't, we had an excellent day out there.  I even made some recordings, as did David, but given this was his first visit, it's probably appropriate for you to visit his site at www.steamsounds.org.uk to have a listen. 

We left David at Hythe (from where he headed home) while we headed westwards to view Portsmouth and then onto Bath.  Along one of the motorways, we pulled into the roadside services and I picked up a copy of Railway Magazine.  This is one of my favourite mags as it has a nice balance of steam and modern articles, but weirdly for me, when you buy it in the UK, it is actually current, unlike at home in Oz where you get it nearly two months late.  The upshot of the mag being current was that while reading it in our motel room in Bath, I noticed in upcoming events that the VSOE pullman lunch train was going to go through Bath the very next day.  Well, this was an opportunity not to be missed, so the next morning, with recording equipment in hand, and with a scout on Google Earth the night before, I headed to a cemetary just across from Green Park.   This is just near the site of the former Bath Green Park station (now preserved as a car park and nice restaurant area), and made this recording of King Edward I, a Great Western Railway 4 cylinder 4-6-0, storming out of Bath Spa station heading towards Bristol. 

Given that we are in a busy town, I was expecting a few interruptions, but fortunately, just after starting, the usual sirens dissappear and we hear the King working well with it's heavy train (I think nearly 600 tons), though the sound was a little muffled by the trees and tombstones I had to hide behind to keep out of the wind.  14 July 2010

                      (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 2.5MB 2 min 42 secs)

 
My next outing for steam occurred only a few days later.  After arriving in Scarborough, so as to be handy to the Moors, Whitby, York and other wonderful Yorkshire locations, I again caught up with David.  This time he had arranged for me to tag along with him and his good friend Mike (also a fellow sound recordist) to chase the Royal Scot 3 cylinder 4-6-0 Scots Guardsman.  I'd been looking forward to this, especially after watching an excellent Youtube video of it doing 75 mph through Penrith, near Shap, a year or two ago.

It was a bit of a drive to our first recording spot, but after another bacon sandwich (can you see a trend starting here?), all was right with the world and we set up on Miles Platting Bank, the climb out of Manchester Victoria station.  While a nearby dog seems not to appreciate the Scot, it is soon drowned out by the steady 3 cylinder beat and some excellent echoes off nearby buildings as it works it's 12 coach train out of the city.  We made some more recordings after this, but somewhere between this spot and our next one, near Copy Pit, the loco blew out the piston gland on the middle cylinder which meant all you could really hear was quiet chuffs followed by a very loud hiss.  While interesting, I think I will spare your ears for other steam delights to follow!  17 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 3.5MB 3 min 50 secs)
 
 
A couple of days later saw us travelling to my favourite (well so far!) preserved railway in the UK, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.  My wife, her father and my two lads decided they didn't want to spend all day sitting on a hillside recording trains, so when we arrived at Goathland, they caught the train to Whitby, while David and I jumped on the train towards Pickering.  At first I was a little dissappointed that it was the Schools class 30926 Repton, as when I visited at the end of 2009, the recordings of the Schools were somewhat uninspiring.  However, consoling myself that this was my first ever on-train ride behind a 3 cylinder loco, I set up to record our departure out of Goathland, and I'm glad I did, because while the start was a little trepidatious, we made some nice noise heading towards Moorgates.  19 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 5.5 MB 6 min 01 secs)

 
We hopped off the Schools class at Levisham, where we crossed the ex LNER Q6 No. 63395 and I just managed to get a recording of it heading towards Goathland.  After the train has passed, the level crossing barriers are raised and in the background you can hear the sounds of aircraft, as there is an aircraft manufacturer nearby, Slingsby Aviation at Kirkbymoorside that makes military training aircraft and regularly throws them around to see if the wings fall off!  19 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 2.5MB 2 min 42 secs)



 
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The local shuttle ran between Laidley and Grandchester, so we headed to a spot just up from the first big horshoe on the Laidley side, near the first cutting and far enough up the 4WD track not to be bothered by most other motorcaders (and this time, with a proper 4WD).  The sound of the loco can be heard trying to compete with the wind, as the wind had picked up considerably on this side of the hill.  The 4-8-0 makes some good noise through this horshoe curve before roaring past and continuing the climb towards Yarongmalu.  .  11 September 2010



                      (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 3.6MB 3 min 54 secs)

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Photo by Connor Weber age 9
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Photo by Lachlan Weber age 10
Photo by Kellie-ann Weber
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Photo by Connor Weber age 9
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Photo by David Bailey
The reason for heading to Levisham was to climb up the hill to record trains departing and heading up the Newtondale valley.  I had heard David's previous recordings here and was mightily impressed with the wonderful echoes.  The Schools that we had hopped off earlier had made its way down to Pickering and was heading back towards Goathland and Grosmont, while the ex Somerset and Dorset 7F 2-8-0 53809 had wandered down the valley on its way to Pickering.  We hear the 7F depart, and the wheelslip on departure shows just how good the echoes can be here.  After the goods loco has departed, the Schools heads out and up the valley towards Newtondale Halt, whistling for some of the footpath crossings for the many walks around the Moors in this area.  19 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 5.5MB 5 min 52 secs)
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This recording could have been made at just about any branch line in the UK in the 60's, but we are in the 21st Century, and high above Levisham Station on the NYMR.  The track opens with the ex LNER Q6 63395 arriving at Levisham, and we hear the Station Master or Guard call out "Levisham!".  A grouse flies off in surprise at all the commotion and after a brief pause, the 7F makes a gingerly start out and up the valley towards Goathland.  Meanwhile, the Q6, having performed her station duties, whistles off and makes considerably more noise heading towards Pickering while the 7F continues to steadily work up hill.  19 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 5.5MB 5 min 52 secs)
After the last departure, I was looking forward to the Q6 heading back up the hill and I wasn't to be dissappointed, as it makes some very good echoes heading out of Levisham, while the Schools, having arrived before it, whistles off shortly after and makes a quiet departure (as is its want!) towards Pickering.

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 3.2MB 3 min 30 secs)
We headed down to the station after a lovely few hours overseeing arrivals and departures at Levisham.  Our motive  power was again the Schools.  We had a bit of a wait as the lubricator had been playing up on the Schools, so the guard had taken the opportunity to  have a bit of a sit down.  The crew on the loco waves that all is well, so the guard hops up, whistles for the departure, and we make a slow start out  of the station.  I had thought that the amount of noise was all we were going to get, but after getting out of the station limits, the loco is opened  up nicely and makes good headway up the 1:49 to Newtondale Halt, with a couple of wheelslips thrown in just to show that these were the most powerful  4-4-0s in Europe when they were built.  19 July 2010.

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 10MB 10 min 54 secs)
We were originally going to catch the Schools through to Grosmont, then ride the next train up the 1 in 49 back to Goathland.  When the Schools arrived at Goathland however, on the other platform was the Black 5 45248, recently returned to service.  Now I'm partial to the sound of a black five, and so is David, plus it was a loco that had eluded David's recorder previously, so we took the snap decision to race across the overbridge and jump on the Black 5 heading back towards Levisham and onto Pickering.  The best bit of the trip behind the 5 came on the way back from Pickering, leaving Levisham and heading up the Newtondale valley to the small Halt.  There are some fine echoes from the valley when we get started and bouncing back from the trees as the loco works hard to make up nearly 30 minutes of time in order to make her mainline slot to Whitby.  19 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 7.0MB 7 min 40 secs)
Photo by David Bailey
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Photo by Lachlan Weber age 10
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After chasing the Scot around on the weekend, we were concerned that she might not be fit to work the Scarborough Spa Expresses, however after checking the various forums and websites, it was apparent that they had fixed the errant piston gland.  As we were going to head into York for the day, we made the most of the opportunity to head to Chalenors Whin to catch the Scot accelerating the morning loop SSE out of York, south on the East Coast Mainline towards Colton Junction.  While the traffic noise was a little loud from the nearby motorway, Scots Guardsman makes a fine effort as it roars past.  20 July 2010.

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 1.2MB 1 min 20 secs)
We headed into York after seeing the Scot so my boys could visit the National Railway Museum.  When we had finished there, we decided to visit York itself, but had timed it perfectly to see the Scot return from the morning loop and pick up passengers again at York ready to head to the seaside at Scarborough.  As you may have seen in the many picutures of the station, it sports a massive covered roof and this produces some excellent reverberations as the loco whistles off for departure and takes the junction to Scarborough. 20 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 2.1MB 2 min 17 secs)
The very next day after seeing the Scot on the SSE, we decided to have a ride.  Now the route had changed from previous years where the train used to head through Church Fenton and up Leeds Bank before dropping down into Leeds and onto Harrogate.  This time, instead of heading up Leeds bank, the train continued onto Castleford and Wakefield.  The thought was that given they didn't have to head up the bank, they wouldn't make much of a run through Church Fenton, but as you can hear in this recording, while we have to slow to wait for Scotland bound express to clear, the Scot makes plenty of noise accelerating us up to line speed and we head through Church Fenton at a nice turn of speed.  21 July 2010.

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 5.1MB 5 min 33 secs)
The section we had been most looking forward to was the start out of Wakefield Westgate, as it is on a steep grade and also a sharp curve.  We'd expected a little difficulty getting away, but the Scot seems to make more than a little fuss before the driver lays on the sand and the engine just walks away with the heavy load up the 1 in 100 towards Ardsley Tunnel.  Even more amazing is that we accelerate up to over 40 mph on the hill before it is topped and we continue accelerating through to the Tunnel.  Well, this new route was proving to be far beyond our expectations, could it get any better?  21 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 5.0MB 5 min 30 secs)
After the climb out of Wakefield, instead of heading into Leeds, we took the junction that went past the site of the Leeds Holbeck Shed.  This shed was quite famous for being the stable of ex LMS Jubilees and I'm sure numerous Scots also resided here from time to time.  It was most appropriate then to hear the Scot dip its head and accelerate away past the shed site and head towards another loco shed site at Sturton.  21 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 3.3MB 3 min 34 secs)
The last part of the morning loop was to head back onto the East Coast Mainline via Church Fenton and Colton Junction and continue back north into York.  If you get the road, Colton Junction can be taken at 70 mph, and that's just what we did, accelerating all the way until we hit 70 mph through Colton Junction and onto the mainline.  This is the fastest I had ever been behind steam, and it was even better to make a recording of it.  21 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 5.1MB 5 min 34 secs)
Our mainline steam ride was very enjoyable, so we decided to keep the steam flowing and headed to the Keighley and  Worth Valley (after stopping for bacon sandwiches), a superb branch line that runs through Emily Bronte country from Keighley to Oxenhope. The boys  were very impressed, especially Connor, as I had bought him a wallet from here when he was over in November last year, so he was keen to ride it and  had much pleasure in buying something from he station shop using money out of his Worth Valley wallet.  The trip from Keighley to Oxenhope was another  wonderful example of the preserved railways of the UK, and recreates a country branch line perfectly.  We hear the last part trip in this recording, from Haworth to Oxenhope.  The line travels up hill for the majority of  the journey and the Ivatt class 2MT 41241 recreates the branch line passenger excellently.  21 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 4.0MB 4 min 19 secs)
Our final UK steam was to record the 4.55 pm departure out of Keighley with 41241 again doing the honours.  If you have  listened to my previous recording here you will know there is a steep grade and sharp curve, and given the station is right in town, there are plenty  of buildings from which the exhaust sounds bounce around, producing excellent echoes.  A fitting end to another steam filled UK trip!  21 July 2010

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 2.8MB 3 min 1 secs)
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Photo by Connor Weber age 9
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