Monday, 30 April 2012

driving in 1963

My dad got his first car in about 1965, a Standard Eight. It was a tiny thing but we once got about 6 kids in it to go to Saturday morning pictures!

This video is great, compressing a drive from London to Bath in 1963. The thing that strikes me most is how empty the roads are, the saddest thing is that even in 1963 there were idiots who didn't use their indicators!

All this will be gone completely soon, as the oil dries up and the roads vanish or are converted into railways. Car design is already gone to pieces, driving today is a nightmare and I  doubt many of us will really miss the car.

This is probably the closest I'll ever come to  nostalgia on this site!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

littlehampton 2.4.1987

A few more random shots of Littlehampton, this time taken on 2 April 1987. These views will all have changed to a greater or lesser extent. The bottom one for example shows the old Palladium cinema, which used to be our regular Sunday nigfht venue, watching any old crap they were showing. It was never as good as the Odeon/Classic in the High Street, which amazingly closed before this fleapit did! I even played a gig at the Classic in the early 70s! In the fifties LA had a third cinema, the Regent opposite the railway station.

And today? LA just has a convertible 'cinema' at the old Windmill Theatre, a bit of a disgrace really.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

bosham - waterproofed

(All 30.9.2006)

This is where I lived before moving Bristol way - Bosham, in West Sussex. I'd left in about 1998 and this was I think my first trip back, with Wulfric.

An interesting feature of Bosham is the way that the villagers are already prepared for Global Warming and have bricked up part of their front doorways. Even now in high tides the water can start washing up the main street and this has to be the most effective way of keeping the sea out.

Rumour is, appropriately, that Bosham is where King Canute pretended to hold back the waves, in a futile attempt to prove the mortality of kings. Bosham is also the only place mentioned by name on the Bayeaux Tapestry.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

switzerland 1977

(Both 17.2.1977)

This is Chur in Switzerland, on a cold evening in February 1977. Yes, that is a train running down the road, and this is a sight you can still see today, although the track has been doubled in the town itself.

I'd been Interrailing and this was one of those iconic locations I'd planned to visit. The branch line up to Arosa is very spectacular and soon after leaving Chur runs into deep snow. But this was my favourite stretch of the line, the incongruity of long trains running down the road still a novelty.

This was very different from home back in Littlehampton, I was just twenty and couldn't speak a word of German, so it all seemed very foreign. It's very familiar to me now of course, having visited (and lived) in Switzerland many times since!

Friday, 13 April 2012


Model railways, the world's finest hobby. Even in the 60s Hornby-Dublo were producing excellent models and back in those sexist days almost all boys were lucky enough to have a set or a loco or two. Hornby still exists of course and if anything model railways are more popular than ever. They captured all the promise and excitement of a technological and mobile society. And now of course, as the roads die through lack of fuel, railways are the future.

And of course railway modelling needs so many skills, from electrics, carpentry, electronics, scenery etc etc

Saturday, 7 April 2012

littlehampton 1987

(All 5.4.1987)

 A few of my random shots taken around Littlehampton back in 1987. I suspect a lot of these views have changed enormously in the last few decades. I spent a lot of time wandering around with my old film camera capturing everyday views.

Monday, 2 April 2012


This was Howards End, Littlehampton, the morning after the 'hurricane' of 15 October 1987. I'd been at the pub the night before and remembered phoning Leysin at around eleven and there was no sign of anything unusual happening. But just an hour or so later the wind woke me up and I spent the rest of the night terrified downstairs with the cat listening to slates crashing and watching trees bend over by about 70 degrees in the garden.

The next morning I walked round town to survey the damage. Being on the Sussex coast we were right in the firing line and places along the seafront suffered the worst damage. This entire row of houses was destroyed - they were of the old mews style with large front windows. The windows blew in and the wind then just took the roofs off.

The 'hurricane' led to me joining the Green Party and probably doing loads of stuff I wouldn't have done otherwise, good and bad.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Innsbruck 1977

(All 31.1.1977)

These are some very cold shots taken in Innsbruck on my first winter Interrail ticket. I'd done a summer trip but winter was better in a way because the trains were quieter and I could usually get a good night's sleep!

I followed one of the tram routes out to the edge of the city - it was seriously cold! Then followed it back to the station and travelled on to Vienna.

I returned to Innsbruck a couple of years ago and it's a fantastic city, possibly my favourite in Europe. But these dull black and white pictures really don't capture it at all - or perhaps it really was more monochrome back then - Austria was still a poor country. It even had steam trains and four wheel coaches on the railways in 1977!

Monday, 26 March 2012


One of the best tricks we ever paid was on hapless Terry Wiffin. The legendary Bimbo Bailey had pilfered his dad's monk fancy dress outfit and we went out one night by the double bend at Lyminster.

When we heard a car he would walk out in front of it with his hands outstretched. We did this for about an hour when we heard a bike approaching and a scream. Terry had stumbled right into our night's entertainment, a completely innocent victim. The 'ghost' was Bimbo, the rustling was me and my brother Jeff laughing in the bushes.

Later the same evening one car driver must have guessed what we were doing as he drove off road and chased us through the fields. Bimbo chucked the outfit in a field and we hid in Mark Parr's garden for an hour or two.

This appeared in the Evening Argus a few days later!

Friday, 23 March 2012

classic shop!


This is the amazing Gloucester Market in Littlehampton. This was one of those mystical shops that seemed to be everywhere when you were a kid. You would happily buy EVERYTHING init yet in reality you never or almost never went inside because it was just TOO scary.

No idea if it is still there. Either way would be right ...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

our best winter holiday

The view from our hotel room window.

40 miles to the south we were in Italy having a genuine pizza.

(Both 4.12.2008)

Back in 2008 we were very lucky in nabbing a long break in St Moritz. I'd been there before of course but never thought I'd be able to stay there. We stayed at the Waldhouse at the head of the lake. It was an amazing place. Thanks to the prices St Moritz is 100% chav-free.

We had a rover ticket for the railways, first class of course, and one day went down to Tirano on the amazing Berninabahn. We popped ina  genuine Italian pizzeria near the station and walked about the rather quiet town, so different from the Swiss towns just a few miles up the road.

Going down we went in a panoramic coach which was great. We were filmed most of the way by a helicopter. The train coming back was very different, with a single coach and a few freight wagons. It was getting dark and the tiny first class section in the coach had a real cosy feel. We got talking to an American and his Croatian wife who were also staying in St Moritz, and the time passed really quickly.

A fantastic holiday which I expect will appear here many times in the future!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Wick in 1983


Back to Wick by Littlehampton again. I've got a huge store of images from the 80s of both Wick and Littlehampton. I'm glad I got these - they are all dated in some way and many show buildings that have since been demolished. Facebook groups go mad for these as I don't think anyone else had the foresight to take random everyday shots like these back in the days when you had to be careful how much film you used!

This shot of Wick Street (I used to live at number 29) is pretty much the same today although the cars will have changed! Wick is locally called 'HMP Wick' as it has a rough reputation but it's not too bad!

Sunday, 18 March 2012



This was the approach to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. This was the first and so far only time I've used the Lymington-Yarmouth ferry. Can't remember much about this day!

The trip to Ryde from Portsmouth is far more to my taste with trains waiting to meet you at Ryde Pier Head, usually with a triup down to Brading or Shanklin on the train. Yiou can now also change at Smallbrook for a steam train ride into the heart of the island. There are no such public transport delights at Yarmouth, perhaps just a bus which I detest. Yarmouth did once have a railway station which took you to Freshwater or Newport. No doubt this line will be rebuilt in the future and I'll have a reason to visit Yarmouth again!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


(Barnham 27.8.1986 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Back in 1986 this was the Brighton to Plymouth train at Barnham station - signalbox, blue and grey coaches and class 33 and 73 locos date this nicely. It looks like the class 33 was having problems and a class 73 was being attached to haul it the rest of the way to Plymouth. The class 33s were nearing the end of their working lives here, being well over 25 years old. Looks like fun anyway!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

wick 1981

This was the view out of our upstairs window - and still is as my nan still lives in this house! She's been there since the 1930s. The cars date this picture well, the shop names have changed but not much else. This used to be an excellent place for shooting people with the air gun as they came out of Wick Trades and Labour Club, to the far right in this picture.

We also used to superglue fake wage packets to the pavement outside the house and watch the mugs from here. Once we attached a fox stole to a string and pulled it off our front wall through the letterbox. People were terrified. We grew out of this when we hit 40, sadly.

Monday, 12 March 2012

leysin 1982


Thanks to Margaret Thatcher everyone was unemployed in the early 80s and my brother Jeff and I made the most of this extended holiday to go on extended trips to Europe in both 1981 and 1982. We'd discovered Leysin in 1981 quite by chance and returned in 1982.

Here Jeff is in the back of the van with Fiachra who annually came over to Leysin with his Irish family (his mum and 8 kids!) - his mum spent the summer climbing and the kids ran wild. They were great fun!

I've returned  to Leysin many times, most recently last September. It'll probably appear many times on this blog!

Sunday, 11 March 2012


This is brother Jeff getting tatooed in Southsea back in 1985. He was needlephobic but still had it done. This seemed to be an almost weekly trip with Jeff, my sister and various future in-laws etc getting tatooed all the time. I of course am totally terrified of anything like this so never got a tattoo though I'm told my regular 3 monthly B12 jabs are just as bad!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

1986 snowstorm


I often ran into snow when I was driving professionally and this was one of the worst occasions. I'd dropped in Cheltenham and then had to go into south Wales. It was snowing a little at Cheltenham but not enough to worry me, so I took the shortest route - which turned out to be the highest and steepest. It was quite hairy with the lightly loaded lorry slipping a lot. It was never a good idea to stop in weather like this, but I couldn't resist snatching these shots at the summit of the road. A few miles on as the road descended it opened out to a wide valley and the snow completely disappeared and I was driving in green again.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Eltham 1985


From 1984 to 1988 I had a great job driving around Great Britain and being paid for it, so I got to visit lots of places at somebody else's expense. I took a lot of railway pictures of course and a lot of landscapes and only occasionally took this sort of social history street scene.

This is Eltham in South East London, famous for Boy George and the Stephen Lawrence murder, on a very cold day in 1985 with snow on the ground. Some nice cars date the picture.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

the rubbish we used to drive!


This was my way of getting around back in 1982 - an Austin Morris JU250 van. You can just make out the identifier plates on the front and yes, it did visit all these countries and regions! The top shot shows it at the top of the Col de Galibier in France. Although it's July that is snow! Me and brother Jeff slept here overnight and it was bloody freezing, in fact fresh snow was falling in the morning when we got up.

Second shot is in more familiar territory, up in the South Downs. Despite its appearance this van rarely let us down and I used it for a couple of years before scrapping it.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

truro 1972

This is one of the famous Western class engines running into Truro on 28 August 1972, almost 40 years ago! This seems like just a few years ago to me to be honest! I used to buy the Western Region Rover tickets which allowed me to travel all over the west country. I think I was staying in Shaldon this time, keeping well out of my parents' way! I was just 16 but I'd been allowed to do pretty much what I wanted from the age of 12!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

durham floods 1986

This was a surprise. I was driving back in 1986 and stopped overnight at Durham. It was (and still is) a surprisingly scenic city with a dramatically located cathedral on the bend of the river. However on this day (26.8.1986) the river was suffering from excess water and was flooding all along the banks. A few drivers hadn't managed to move their cars in time!