Liverpool. Passing Through Lime Street Station.

I had a day turn up where I had nothing that I really needed to get done, so rather than waste this unexpected bonus I decided on a trip out on the train. My ‘free’ day was a Thursday which meant that it would be market day in Ormskirk, a market town not too far away in West Lancashire. The journey by rail involves travelling into Liverpool and back out again. That’s not as complicated as it sounds as there are excellent services in both directions. Readers of my blog, if you are one, thank you, will know that I visited the Cobble Cafe in Ormskirk for a bowl of hot soup a little while ago.

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LIVERPOOL. Lime Street station, the concourse.

Lime Street station sits at the end of the Liverpool to Manchester route created by Stephenson. The original terminus was in Crown Street, which while it was easier to construct in engineering terms, was a little too far out from the city centre to be either convenient or competitive. This lead to the building of Lime Street in 1836. Construction was not without it’s challenges, the principal one being the steep gradient down from the junction with the Crown Street route at Edge hill on the City’s outskirts. Now a steep sided cutting the route was initially a dark, satanic tunnel cut through the sandstone ridge. Something which must have tested the nerves of those early railway passengers.

The traveler’s destination is a grand terminus under an arching roof, one of the oldest functioning termini in the country. The frontage, facing St. George’s Hall sitting loftily on it’s plateau, was an imposing hotel which is now given over to student accommodation. I wonder what they think of living in a building that on it’s opening was described as looking like Dracula’s Castle.

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LIVERPOOL. Lime Street station, the concourse, main line platforms.

 

The station is home to a large array of main line and local services, plus tucked away in their own tunnels beneath are parts of the Merseyrail suburban network. Currently a rebuilding program is in progress with a view to adding more capacity and bringing the promise of direct services to Scotland in the next year or so.

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Macclesfield. An Evening Stroll.

All the Christmas and New Year fun and frolics where over and while I had enjoyed the to and fro shuttling of visiting, catching up with friends and the pleasure of time well spent with good food and enjoyable company, once the dust had settled I felt the need to have a little time by myself and have a think about what I had done with the old year and what I would like to do in the new.

I like traveling by train, still a big kid at heart when it come to the romance of the railways, so I decided to take myself off for a few hours, as much for a breath of fresh air and a little exercise as anything else.

Where I live in Northern England I’m lucky in having railway stations nearby and a choice of tickets which cover a set area, a days travel for the price of one ticket. I chose a ticket which covers an area centred on Manchester and working to my system of catch the first train thats available I arrived in the Cheshire market town of Macclesfield.

In days past the town’s fortunes where built on silk spinning and there is a museum dedicated to the industry. The day of my journey was early January so the days were short and the weather was crisp and cold. The town’s railway station sits at the bottom of a hill, the town centre at the top where a square sits surrounded by a group of fine buildings. I hadn’t really set out with photography in mind but as I always carry a camera of some sort just in case I took a couple of shots of the square and the Christmas lights. Then I made my way to one of the coffee houses nearby to warm up a little before making my way back home with a few thoughts and ideas for what I want to do in 2018.

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Ormskirk. Hot Soup On A Cold Day

It was Thursday which meant it would be market day in Ormskirk. I needed to get out of the house for a few hours as I had a couple of errands I needed to sort out and as I hadn’t been over that way for a little while I thought it would make a pleasant change.

Ormskirk is a market town in West Lancashire, an area of broad flat plains stretching out to the coast and the Irish Sea. The resort of Southport is only a few miles further on. Its a farming area with a rich dark soil. The market is held on Thursdays and Saturdays and straddles through the pedestrianised centre around the clock tower. Its a general market so it’s probably got whatever you are looking for.

The weather had been reasonable when I turned out but as I stepped off the train the rain decided to visit Ormskirk as well. I quickly sorted out the bits of business I needed to and after a short look around the stalls getting colder and damper, I decided I needed to warm up somewhere. I’m a great fan of cafes, something I inherited from my parents who were great people watchers. Ormskirk has quite a wide choice, it’s my mission to try a different one on each visit, on this wet market day I picked Cobble Coffee.

I found a window seat so I could watch the world go by while I had my very pleasant bowl of hot soup and my coffee while outside in the unfriendly weather the Thursday shoppers scurried about getting everything done, while the stallholders put on the brave face and did their best to keep warm.

(PS. The soup was a excellent, lightly spiced Parsnip, perfect for a cold, inhospitable day )

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Liverpool. Calderstones Park.

Like every other photographer I am always on the lookout for images, seeing if I can find  one with the elusive spark that tingles down the spine. For me it doesn’t have to be a dramatic scene, just one where the elements fall into place. Where there’s a sense of place. It’s a constant search as I look for material for the photobooks I produce.

This shot is from a journey I made into Liverpool, to Calderstones Park to the south of the city. The park was once a grand estate and house with the various elements which went with a house of that period. The open parkland surrounding the smaller, more intimate gardens nearer the house. I visited early in spring this year, it was still cold and new growth had yet to make it’s presence felt. Wandering around the Old English Garden I found this row of gardener’s outbuildings tucked away behind a high hedge. There was something in the quiet, unassuming, workaday scene that caught my eye, so the shot was made. With the starkness of the trees so early in the year I decided that a black and white image would be the way forward, to emphasise the coolness of the day and bring out the regimented lines of the brickwork.

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Heskin . A Day At The Steam Rally.

Well I don’t know where the time has gone, I didn’t plan to leave it this long between blog entries. I’ve been busy working on my book production, transferring e-books into Print On Demand format and creating new titles. It’s surprising how the days flit by when you get engrossed in a project.

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HESKIN. 25th STEAM RALLY. Charnock Richard Brass Band.

So for a change of scene and some much needed fresh air I took myself off to the annual Heskin Vintage Fair and Steam Rally. This is a two day event which takes place in rural Lancashire, a world away from the image of the industrial towns normally associated with the towns of north western England.

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HESKIN. 25th STEAM RALLY. Parade ring spectators.

The attractions include steam traction engines and all manner of agricultural equipment, alongside these are veteran and vintage cars and motorbikes, there’s usually a selection of ex military vehicles as well. I like all these big boys toys, they make the event a fertile hunting ground for a photographer and camera.

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HESKIN. 25th STEAM RALLY. Parade ring, model steam engine parade.

03/06/17  HESKIN STEAM FAIR.

HESKIN. 25th STEAM RALLY. Bear in a car.

That’s enough words for now, the pictures will fill in the gaps, I have to get back to the grindstone, I have two books to finish and upload.

03/06/17  HESKIN STEAM FAIR.

HESKIN. 25th STEAM RALLY. Landrover conversation.

 

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New Brighton On A Sunny Day

After the festivities and fun of Christmas I needed a breath of fresh air to blow the cobwebs of self indulgence away. Plus I needed to take a selection of photos of the local rail network for an ebook I’m working on. From where I live on the edge of the Merseyrail network the journey out to New Brighton is not a long one. Part of the network, the rail loop under Liverpool city centre is closed for rebuilding but a very efficient bus substitution is in place so I got to see parts of Liverpool and Birkenhead I don’t normally pass through from the top of a double decker bus. It’s the big kid in me as in my area double decker buses are now very much a thing of the past.

I picked up the rail service again at Birkenhead North as was in New Brighton within twenty minutes. I took the station shots I needed, they were ‘In Case Of ‘ shots just to make sure I had covered the station thoroughly. That done I decided it was time for something to eat. New Brighton railway station sits on the high ground above the promenade at the top of Victoria Road, the main shopping street which leads down to the site of the now demolished pier, once served by the famous Mersey Ferries, which still criss cross the Mersey but sadly no longer serve New Brighton.

A little bit pushed for time, I always am (promise to self in 2017 be more organised), I dropped into the Morrisons Supermarket and had a sandwich and a coffee, both very good. I like these sort of places with the people watching and the unsought-after but always interesting chances for conversation. I also took the chance to catch up on the note making for my day so far. The Supermarket is on the promenade, perhaps not everyone’s first choice to put a shopping area but it does bring some activity and life to the area. The sun was still beaming down from a clear blue sky so I took a walk along the prom, watching the shipping making it’s war in and out of the still busy Mersey river. One of the New Brighton attractions is the Fort, designed to keep the area safe from invasion by Napoleon, seeing service through to WW2 and now open to the public. It features in the header image. Another scene which caught my eye was the large, off shore wind farm built on Burbo Bank, one of the sandbanks which guard the estuary entrance. I know that wind farms are something which divide opinion but there appearance did have a dreamy quality, spinning silently on the horizon in the sea haze.

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The Burbo Bank OffShore Wind Farm

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Chorley. Astley Hall All Lit Up.

Astley Hall is a historic manor house on the outskirts of the Lancashire market town of Chorley. It’s favourite place of mine, I like to visit it with my camera as the seasons roll and change through the year.

It has a changing sequence of events taking place through the year which always add to the pleasure of any visit. A more recent attraction is Astley Hall Illuminated, a light show that takes place in the grounds on one night in November and I was able to make it to this years performance. As well as the lights there were other attractions, living Christmas Trees walking around, children being terrified and intrigued in equal measure and a Brass Band from the Lancashire village of Tarleton played Carols throughout the evening.

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SPARK Line up outside the Hall

The highlight for me though was a drumming troupe by the name of SPARK. Their appearance was completely other worldly. They wore illuminated costumes, the colours changing as the beats of their drums changed. Throughout the evening they marched in formation around the Hall and it’s grounds like ghostly Pied Pipers with the crowds following in their wake. It was a truly magical experience.

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SPARK attracts the crowds.

I’ve already made a note to check out the date for next year, a tip if you go wrap up warm, it’s Lancashire and it’s November. I warmed up afterwards with a hot chocolate from the Hall’s Cafe Ambio, a lovely end to a great evening.

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Drums and lights in a circle from SPARK. 

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