The Branch Line Society


The Ruby Shoesday Railtour
Sunday 28th October 2018

Report by Ruby Lewis

She would never tell people where she was from" Well, I am from Chesterfield and coincidently I was born on a Tuesday! By the way I had to Google the lyrics.

I have been on BLS trips since I was around four years old, this was mostly sitting on my seat playing games, sometimes watching Fireman Sam and Thumbelina while my dad would be up and about checking what line we were on. I would occasionally pick out the winning tickets in the raffle with Paul and Tim. I'm now the BLS's chief money extractor.


I have now been on many tours and other fixtures; my dad keeps a record of where I've been. I also help my dad and brother Archie in organising the BLS walks, they have just done a Chesterfield walk; unfortunately I was poorly on the day, and had to ring in sick - boo. We've also organised walks in Ashover and Clay Cross. These always go down very well with the members; we look at the old railways and stations, enjoying the exercise and the company.

On Sunday 28th October we set off from Chesterfield at around 07.30 with our neighbour, Keith, (also a BLS member - word spreads!), then followed a long two hour journey to Hooton half listening to my dad and Keith going on about this and that. As you may know we had the AGM the day before which Archie and I both attended all day (including the Middleton Railway trip, the AGM and evening film show with fish and chips) so I was very tired that night. On the way there, I was playing on my phone for a bit, although I cannot recall what I was playing - that's two hours of my life I'm not getting back.

The ECS arrives into Hooton for the tour.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

When we arrived at Hooton station it was absolutely freezing, I went for a little jog around the car park to warm up and then did some star jumps. We walked in to the station and aimed for P2. When we got there I did some chair dips to keep warm again and jogged around a sign a few times and did some more star jumps. After this a member of the public also known as a 'normal' came up to us and asked "What were all of the cameras for?", so with a smile I proudly said "We are all members of a railway society - we travel on special trains and help to raise money for different causes such as this one we are doing for Blood Bikes". [Ruby, we will give you some membership application forms - Ed.]

At our AGM the day before, Darren Garnon (the tour manager on the day), had told me that I would be doing the morning announcement. So as some of you will know I did the speech and personally I think I did it pretty well!! We picked up more passengers at Liverpool Lime Street; however, a 'normal' sneaked on to our train and managed to leave his wife at the station (he even got one of Jim's souvenir tickets as a reward). By the way, my mum considers herself a 'normal' even though she and my grandma were seen noting train numbers for my brother Archie at York station on a previous BLS trip!

We then headed west to West Kirby into a siding and reversed back into the station. Then we had a toilet dilemma at West Kirby station when my dad and I (and other members) rushed to the toilets just outside the station. I was feeling very smug because as one of three women on the train I could easily get to the toilets very quickly - which makes a change. However, they were closed. Off to New Brighton and we had five minutes there to finally go to the toilet. After that I saw a very colourful mermaid, I'm not sure what that's about. [New Brighton's Mermaid Trail has six identical mermaid statues sculpted by a local artist each decorated differently by local school groups - PAS.] We rushed back on to the train and I informed some people that this was not a 'normal' train service many times.

During the morning we started selling the raffle tickets and as I am the chief money extractor on BLS tours you have to say "How many tickets would you like?" instead of "Would you like any raffle tickets?" Using this method, we sold tickets to almost everybody.

When we stopped at a station we moved to the other unit of the train to sell more tickets which thankfully almost everybody bought again! Later in to the tour I then had to read out the winners on the tannoy - all 40 tickets for 40 prizes - there's a theme here! If you didn't already know 2018 is the 40th (Ruby) anniversary of Merseyrail.

Just to let you know, reading out raffle ticket numbers is extremely painful, firstly, holding down the red button on the intercom gives you a very sore index finger. Secondly, you get very out of breath when reading all of them out! After this we go and give out the prizes and passengers can check their raffle tickets if they missed my announcement. [All were given out with £780 raised from 120 people.]

We proceeded to Southport via the depot at Kirkdale and I had my only second cup of tea of the day courtesy of Merseyrail. The Blood Bikes Team all had a photo with a presentation cheque for a fantastic £7,500. Travelling on BLS trips over the years has made me appreciate the amount of work everyone puts in to raise money for different causes, it has encouraged me to do the same such as taking part in sponsored walks, selling cakes and more recently donating our winnings from a local agriculture show to the local hospice.

After some more sidings at Southport, don't ask me which ones though, we returned to Southport station. We then looked for hot food but only found a Subway in the short time we had and I sprinted back to station with my dad following a good distance behind. Feeling better after the food I told some more people that this was a train for special ticket holders only - there were some disappointed faces.Back at James Street we had a photo on the rarely used P2 with the changing lights; this was quite spectacular. The photo is on the BLS Facebook page.

Just before dropping off more passengers I did the afternoon announcement. That was to thank everybody for the day and to inform passengers how much we had raised. I helped cover the doors, once again to stop 'normal' passengers boarding our charter. Now back in the dark we returned to Hooton P3 via Rock Ferry bay P3. I thanked all the team and we made our way back to the car park.

I spent the journey back relaxing and checking my phone. Dad and Keith were quieter on the way back; I think they were a bit tired! They did start talking though when a car decided to come straight out of a slip road without the 'driver' looking! Its Archie's turn next on the Ruby Vampire and then my little sister Etty on the 17th November but I've got a party and Laser Quest to enjoy!!!! See you soon.


Birkenhead Central heading for Liverpool with the disused carriage shed on the far right and (still live and in use) Siding No1 between it and the platform (right).
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

A very suspicious looking group of people was encountered at Liverpool Lime Street (deep level). Note that the train is shown as for Hooton via Hunts Cross, Rice Lane etc....
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

West Kirby siding No2.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

A 'close up' of West Kirby siding No2 - the window was remarkably clean.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Birkenhead North EMU Depot, Road 4 the 'non-keen' end of the train.
[© Merseyrail staff 2018]

On the way to New Brighton.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

New Brighton with the route set deliberately to drive passengers up the Wall... (Siding), far right.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Hunts Cross, P2 which is rarely used by an EMU, they normally terminate in bay P3 (off picture left).
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Ml 714
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

A future BBC News reader in the making, Ruby reads out the 40 winning raffle numbers.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

An interesting light effect betwwen two of the St James Tunnels (there are four); of note the other track is at a significantly lower level.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Going through Kirkdale Depot Washer.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Merseyrail staff with Merseyside & Cheshire Bloodbikes volunteers; even Mr Brawn is smiling.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Southport, Birkdale Carriage Siding No4 is left, the tour is on a very rusty section of Siding No3 with ECS (right) on Stabling Siding No10 (the point joining the two is OOU). Taken by Meresyrail staff.
[© Merseyrail staff 2018]

Merseyrail staff with Merseyside & Cheshire Bloodbikes volunteers at Southport station again.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

James Street P2 with the star of the day - Ruby; the lights rotate between various colours.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Held on the Holding Siding/Stock Interchange line with the terminal 'Stabling Siding' right (done earlier in the tour). After the two join they lead in to James Street P2 (on the right round the corner). Both were original passenger lines for the Mersey Electrics from/to Liverpool Central Low Level and this is original tunnel. Ahead the end of the unidirectional Liverpool Loop comes alongside through James Street P3 becoming the Down West Kirby line.
[© Paul Steane 2018]

Mileage table

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