Sunday, May 2, 2010

Trip to England 2010 - return home

Sunday 2 May

It rained all night long and was raining as we left the hotel for the three minute walk to Paddington station and the Heathrow Express. A good day to leave London.

The Heathrow Express was fast and efficient as ever. The short trip out on the Great Western main line evoked many memories. In Paddington station we could see the the Directors' balcony above platform one. I remember hiding in the cab of “Clun Castle” on one of the last steam hauled passenger trains out of Paddington, the 16:15 to Banbury. I had to hide until we were out of the station because my boss was looking out from the Directors' Balcony and I should have been doing my training in the Accounting Department. I then got down to shoveling coal.

We left under the wires. On the left was the site of Raneleagh Bridge servicing point where the steam locomotives were turned and serviced ready for their return to an out of London location.

Kensal Green gasometer has survived and is now preserved under a good coat of paint.

Old Oak Common with the now deserted Eurostar maintenance depot on the down side. In the yard was a class 08 diesel electric shunter that was old when I was working. I once got one of these up to 14 mph going down the incline to Reading Goods. The driver was quite upset with me although I pointed out that the maximum speed was 15 mph. No sign of the four turntable roundhouse, of course.

We raced past the site of the former Acton marshalling yard which is now used only by stone trains. I caused an upset when I wrote my report about working there as I predicted that there would not be a place for it in the new railway. I was right.

At Ealing Broadway the Central Line was closed for engineering work for the weekend. There were two electric loco-hauled ballast trains and a lot of work men, materials and equipment.

The Hanwell Viaduct, made famous by John Turner's painting “Rain, Steam and Speed” is still carrying trains, although they are now a lot heavier and much faster than when it was opened.

Southall now has station signs in English and an Asian language. The steam shed still survives and a number of preserved relics are in there.

Hayes and Harlington was the site of a record making factory.

Then everything went blank as we entered the tunnel to get to Heathrow. Heathrow is a joy. The passenger circulating areas from the train are extensive, wide and easy to use. 45 minutes after we had left Paddington Station we had checked in and were through security and waiting for our flight to be posted. As usual, the Air Canada departure lounge was very calm and orderly and again there was plenty of room. We left on time and arrived in Ottawa a few minutes early.