Darjeeling via Oxford

On Wednesday 5 June I am giving a paper at our MA Conference in Derby. My title is ‘The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – Toy Train, Relic of the Raj, World Heritage Site’. I am excited, Laura is excited (she wants a trip to Darjeeling), everyone else manages to look interested!! It should be a fascinating day. Julie is speaking about Eva Peron. (One of our early dates was a trip to London in January 1981 to see Evita. It is a little depressing that most of our fellow students were not born in 1981). Details of the Conference are here –
https://uglypoliticsfragileworld.wordpress.com/ – all are welcome, and it’s free.

Adrian Shooter, the former Managing Director of Chiltern Railways, has a house called “The Beeches” in Steeple Aston. It has a circle of 2 foot gauge track and a Darjeeling Railway locomotive. He is about to move, so this was the last time his railway was open, and people were invited to visit. I am a member of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society so got a ticket – thank you!

I drove from Derby to Leamington, then caught the train to Oxford. I met Deb, who we first met when she came up to Newnham, Cambridge, in 1981. (She later defected to the dark (blue) side). We walked in to the centre and she showed me the pavement of flags outside New Road Baptist Church – a (very) inclusive church, here showing their support of Oxford Pride. I hope I lead an inclusive church, but I must admit that I did not know there were quite so many variations of how people identify their gender and sexuality.  After coffee we went and collected the car and drove to Binsey, a hamlet just outside the city (and I’ll blog that church next).

Deb dropped me off at Oxford station. They had a signal failure, so it was all rather chaotic. I had time to photo an Azuma – today is the last day of HST working on the GWR. I caught the local train north, and that was delayed as well.

When we arrived at Heywood one of the other chaps in the carriage had organised a lift to The Beeches, and I went too. It was a laid back welcome and it was great to be in the presence of a Darjeeling loco.

I had a ride, then enjoyed the BBQ. They tried to get the railcar to work.

Then there were opportunities to take some photos as the train ran round the loop.

I also had an explore of the sheds – including a set of Rail Mail trucks from the Post Office Railway.

My final photos were taken as the train ran round the garden. I was a good visit!

I walked back down to Heyford station, which is in rather a beautiful spot beside the canal. Quickest to go south to Oxford, then north again.

I was back in Derby in time to do an evening at St Matthew’s as part of our Bicentenary celebrations. 200 years of Railways – starting with the Mansfield and Pinxton in 1819, and ending with the demise of the HSTs. More details of Bicentenary celebrations at

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