Postcards - August 2003 - Part 3

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Thump-fest 2003
A long weekend based in Belfast...


Belfast City has lots of impressive architecture, much of it Victorian. Here's just a few of the buildings, including the City Hall (top left) and Marks and Spencer's (top right).


The reason for travelling to Belfast was to say farewell to these Class 80 diesel units, known as thumpers because of their impressive engine noise. The thumpers were built by British Rail Engineering at Derby in the mid seventies, and are soon to be replaced by new Spanish units, now on order.
Bottom right is a more modern Castle Class unit. These use second hand engines and traction motors which are mostly even older than the Class 80 ones.


We took a ride along the scenic north coast to the walled city of Londonderry. We visited the tiny narrow gauge railway museum (there was an extensive narrow gauge network in this part of the country) and then took a tour round the walls, before stopping off at this brightly coloured pub (bottom right) for a pint of Guinness. As you can see (bottom left), the "troubles" are far from forgotten.

The Crown Liquor Saloon

Back in Belfast, we visited this wonderful Victorian Pub, now owned by the National Trust. My pictures cannot do justice to the splendid interior which features original wood and glass-work and even gas lamps! And they serve real ale as well.


We paid a brief visit to Dublin. Cleverly*, we managed to avoid the modern air-conditioned "Enterprise" train from Belfast and rode instead in a nine-car thumper formation on a football extra. You can see all the Tyrone fans walking off the train at Dublin Connolly in the top picture. Our return train, once again avoiding the Enterprise, was formed of (southern) Irish Railways stock with a modern loco (Bottom right).

(* Actually, we turned up too late to get on the very busy Enterprise service.)
Just time for a brief look round the city (and some lunch in a brew-pub). They've put up this enormous stainless steel needle since I was last there. It's called the Millennium Spire but they only finished it this year. To be honest, I can't see the point (Ouch!).
On the right is the custom house.

A quick visit to this pleasant sea-side town to which half the population of Belfast seems to come on a Bank Holiday.

Ulster Transport Museum

Our final port of call was this very good museum. Last time I was here there was just an empty field, but now there is a number of buildings containing an impressive collection. Here's just a few of the exhibits.

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