Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Blog - 2021

May 2021

Leigh-on-Sea railway station - my local railway station.

26/5/2021 - Leigh-on-Sea to Shoeburyness and return.

My first railway journey for over six months. This was partly to do with Lockdown and partly to do with recovering from an operation on my foot in November. I chose this local journey as it was to test the waters so to speak and see how I got on with getting on and off a train. I chose Shoeburyness as there are no stairs there to go up and down, plus it's a pleasant railway journey which goes right next to the sea at Chalkwell. Interesting to see that only about 50% of the passengers on my train were actually wearing masks. Here's a photo of my local railway station, Leigh-on-Sea,  which I use as the starting and ending point for the majority of railway jounreys that I make around Britain. All being well I will try a train journey into London and back next month.



June 2021

South Western Trains Class 707 unit at Shepperton.

5/6/2021 - Leigh-on-Sea to Stratford and return. London Waterloo to Kempton Park. Kempton Park to Shepperton. Shepperton to London Waterloo. Waterloo East to London Bridge.

My first visit to the capital since October last year. Partly to see how my foot would cope after my operation and partly to get some photos of the M3 for a book on motorways which I am currently working on. It involved taking a train from Waterloo to Kempton Park, where the racecourse is and then walking a short distance to the A3/M3 interchange. The trains and tubes in central London that I used were all busy, though the two trains I took into and out of London were still pretty quiet. Waterloo seemed busy as did Stratford. Most people were wearing masks still, though it was noticeable that those who weren't were mainly under 30. 



July 2021

Liverpool Street railway station where four trains are waiting to depart for Stansted Airport, Chingford, Norwich and Clacton

3/7/2021 - Leigh-on-Sea to London Liverpool Street. London Liverpool Street to Chingford. Chingford to Walthamstow Central. Stratford to Leigh-on-Sea.

Went up to London just about a month after I last went. This time I visited Chingford to take some photos for a future book of train terminals. Then went to see take some photos of Tottenham Hotspur's new ground for my website, Unfortunately the line between Hackney Downs and Cheshunt was closed for engineering work, so I couldn't get a train to White Hart Lane. Instead I changed at Walthamstow Central and caught a Victoria line tube to Seven Sisters, where I got a bus there and back.  


31/7/2021 - Leigh-on-Sea to Stratford and return. London Waterloo to Richmond. Richmond to Barnes. Barnes to Kew Bridge. Kew Bridge to London Waterloo.

Four weeks after my last visit to London I am back again. This time to go a river cruise from Richmond, courtesy of Thames River Cruises who still took the boat out despite the fact that there were just 4 passenmgers on board!  Then went over to Kew Bridge to take some photos of Brentford FC's new ground for my website, "".




August 2021

Salisbury station looking east 21/8/2021

6/8/2021 - Leigh-on-Sea to Southend Central and return

Went into Southend fior the day with my grandchildren.


17/8/2021 - Leigh-on Sea to London Fenchurch Street. London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads via Bristol Parkway.

Went away to Bristol for a few days holiday. The train was re-routed via Bristol Parkway due to changes to the track coming into Bristol Temple Meads from the Bath line.  The train was not even half full, indicating that people are still not returning to the railways just yet. Perhaps people are still being cautious about travelling in public for the time being.

20/8/2021 - Bristol Temple Meads to Bristol Parkway. Bristol Parkway to London Paddington. London Fenchurch Street to Leigh-on-Sea.

When we got to Bristol Temple Meads about half an hour before we were due to leave we saw on the noticeboard that our train had been cancelled and that there wasn't another one to London for another hour. Luckily I asked at the ticket office and was told to get the next train to Bristol Parkway and change there. This we did and there was a train waiting for us at "Parkway" as the locals call it. This was a Class 166 unit more used to the Thames Valley line. Anyway it left pretty pronto and  we arrived at Paddington only ten minutes later than we would have done. 


21/8/2021 - Leigh-on-Sea to West Ham and return. London Waterloo to Salisbury and return. Salisbury to Warminster and return. 

Went on an unusual visit to the lost village of Imber on Salisbury Plain. The village was taken over by the military in the 2nd World War and the villagers were forced to move out. They were never allowed to return and so the village is in the middle of Ministry Defence property and used for training with mock houses replacing the original village houses which have all been destroyed. The only original building still standing is the village church which does not belong to the MOD. So on various days during the year members of the public are allowed to come to the village and go into the church. When it is open on a designated saturday in August a variety of ex London buses, old and new ferry passengers from Warminster station onto the plain and to the village of Imber and others in the locality. It is quite a surreal experience with the church open selling teas and cakes. Part of the experience is to see all this wild army training area with the occasional old tank next to the narrow road.
23/8/2021 Leigh-on-Sea to West Ham and return. London Waterloo to Hampton Court

Went to Hampton Court Palace for the day as hadn't been there for about twenty years. Had a pleasant cup of of tea and piece of cake in a cafe on the other side of the river Thames.  
24/8/2021 Leigh-on-Sea to West Ham. London Waterloo to Kew Bridge and return. Stratford to Leigh-on-Sea. 
My third journey out of Waterloo in four days. This time it was to go to a football match at the newly opened Brentford Community Stadium, which is right next to the ground. The main concern that I have is that the platforms are quite narrow and there is only one way intio and out of the station. I think it would be a good idea to build another entrance straight from the station to the ground. Wew left before the end so I didn't see how crowded it gets, but I guess they stagger people using the station.