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NRS Newsletter 58-5 first published October 2013

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Published by Norfolk Railway Society, 2018-12-06 04:29:20

NRS NL 58-5 Sept-Oct 2013

NRS Newsletter 58-5 first published October 2013

Volume 58 No. 5 Sept/Oct 2013

_________TRACK REPORT

news from railways in and around Norfolk

National Network

Seen From the Train Window:
September 2013

Norwich to Ely:

The signalling on the Norwich to Ely

line is now under the control of two

Power Signalboxes – with Colchester

controlling the line from Norwich to

Hethersett and Cambridge from

Ketteringham westwards to Ely. This

follows the commissioning of the first

modular signalling scheme in the UK

some 12 months ago (designed to

enable resignalling at a lower cost than

previously). It was carried out in two

stages with the eastern section from

Harling Road to Wymondham being

commissioned later as a result of a

decision to install an additional signal to 170208 at Wymondham on 31st July, immediately after its unveiling ceremony – see
protect the ahb on the Norwich side of “The Brecks” paragraph on the next page. (Richard Adderson)
Attleborough to ensure that trains

restarting from that station do not service find itself behind one of the Cambridge – Norwich
accelerate too quickly and beat the safe operation of the ahb. stopping services. The line is plain line double track with
The new signals have single lens fibre optic signal heads trailing crossovers at Wymondham, Eccles Road, Thetford
capable of displaying up to 3 aspects and are housed in grp (enabling services to reverse there if necessary) and at
posts hinged at ground level so that maintenance will not Brandon where a new facing crossover east of the station in
involve the use of ladders – the posts are simply lowered association with the trailing crossover west of the station and
between trains. level crossing creates a new bi-directional line capability

The new signalling almost replicates the previous mechanical enabling one train to overtake another westbound service.
situation although the Intermediate Block Section signals The Down Loop is retained at Brandon allowing eastbound
between Shippea Hill and Brandon have been dispensed with ecs, freight and similar services to be recessed. Sidings are
which does cause delay should a non-stop East Midlands to be found at Hethersett (the oil depot being out of use);
Wymondham in both directions with a trailing connection off

In This Issue the Down line to the Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR) – a shame

Track Report that a facing crossover was not have been provided to allow
National Network
direct access from the Norwich / Up direction but funding was
1 not available; Eccles Road on the Down side with connection

Heritage, Narrow-Gauge & Miniature 3 to a grain terminal at Snetterton; Thetford on the Up side for
Away from the Tracks 7 on-track machine stabling and at Brandon where rail access
to the Down side Goods Yard siding is provided from the

Pick-up Goods 8 Down Loop.

NRS News 8 At present there are no freight services serving any of the
11 intermediate stations on the route. The modern signalling and
Features improved permanent way provided in recent years has put
Accident at Black Bank Second Drove Level 13 this route in much better condition and subject to funding and
Crossing - Rod Lock 15 the provision of more rolling stock it is to be hoped that the
present hourly frequency of both East Midlands Trains and
The Swansea District and Rugby Towns with Greater Anglia services can be made more frequent – most
Passenger Services Again - Edward Mann likely a half-hourly GA stopping service. As a first step the

Working Timetable

1

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present hourly xx40 GA and xx57 EMT departures from have brightened up the appearance of the buildings on both
Norwich could possibly be retimed to give a better say 30 platforms.
minutes interval service between Norwich, Thetford and Ely
rather than running closely together with a long gap until the The station subway at Ely has received “visitely” posters,
next hourly sequence. No catering facilities are offered on any again brightening up the subway.
of the train services operating between Norwich and Ely.
Ely North Junction:
Listed signalboxes:
This strategic junction was remodelled with single lead
Statutory protection has been given to a number of junctions some years ago (all services running between Ely –
signalboxes closed as a result of the resignalling scheme – all King’s Lynn/Norwich use the same single track) but just
still remain in situ. Attleborough was the first to be accorded before the commissioning of bi-directional signalling a fatal
listed building status but is now joined by Wymondham South accident in Scotland on a similarly signalled layout led to the
Junc signalbox (which, together with Spooner Row, is to decision being made not to commission some of the bi-
become the responsibility of the MNR) and Thetford (now directional signalling which does hamper train movements –
boarded up). The remaining signalboxes at Eccles Road, no eastbound services can use the Ely Curve enabling trains
Harling Road, Brandon (subject to an interest being from March to gain access to either the King’s Lynn or
expressed by the Friends of Brandon station), Lakenheath Norwich lines direct without reversal in Ely station or for trains
and Shippea Hill are to be demolished. from March to gain the Down line north of the junction to
avoid conflict with the Norwich/King’s Lynn line services. This,
The Brecks: coupled with the growth in passenger numbers and additional
container trains being run, does impose limitations on
In recent weeks an advertising campaign has commenced to additional passenger services passing through this
publicise the tourist attractions of The Brecks area. 170208 bottleneck. Funding has been allocated to improve the
(see photo on first page) has received a bodyside vinyl wrap junction between 2014 - 2019 and, similarly, the single line
makeover and at Thetford station large and attractive posters between Ely and Soham is to be doubled principally for
Felixstowe container services.

Norfolk Railway Society Improved Lighting:
(Founded 1955)
The majority of GA’s Class 90 locos have now been re-
President: Arnold Hoskins, Esq. equipped with fibre optic light clusters containing head and
Vice-President: Ken Mills, Esq. tail lights. The replacement of the previous tungsten light
bulbs will improve reliability and give brighter illumination of
Committee and Officers 2012-2013 Telephone the lights concerned.

Chairman Gordon Bruce (Peter Adds)

Vice Chairman Peter Cooke Editor’s Query: Although Hethersett oil depot sidings are out
of use, has anyone ever seen a train in them and when?
Past Chairman Peter Adds
And did 99% of the passengers know or care
Secretary Ian Woodruff what an unusual event this was?

Treasurer John Laycock On 27th August 2013 the 0900 service from Norwich to
Liverpool St had an eventful journey south of Ilford into the
Fixtures Arranged by sub-committee terminus. Passing Ilford the train was routed via the Up
Avoiding line beside the flyover and then joined the Up
Membership Sec. Mike Handscomb Electric line before Manor Park station. This was to side step
a Freightliner service headed by 86607+ 86632 which was
Newsletter Editor Edward Mann running wrong direction on the Down Main line passing
Maryland station prior to taking the North London line at
Publicity Mike Fordham Stratford. The 0900 service called at the Up Electric platform
at Stratford and then continued on the Up Electric to Bethnal
Committee Members: Green where the expected switch to the Up Main was
extended to the Up Enfield (ie crossing from line 1 to line 5 of
Graham Kenworthy 6 viewed in the London direction) and then routed into
platform 3. Has anyone been on an Up Norwich weekday
Chris Mitchell service which terminated in platforms 1 - 4 before? (PA)

Peter Willis Upon the Roof…

—------------------------------ No, we aren’t talking about that classic song from the Drifters
of the early 1960s. Instead we’re talking about the man who
Website Editor Andrew Wright climbed on to Ipswich station roof (see NRS/NL 58/4 p.4) and
severely disrupted train services. Well, the judge at Ipswich
Archivists Peter Allison & Crown Court took a dim view of his antics and on 4th
September he was sentenced to 16 months’ jail.
Raymond Meek

=============================================
Norfolk Railway Society Newsletter

Editor Edward Mann

Distribution Graham Smith

Please contact Graham if the next edition does not arrive by

the end of the month of publication

Opinions expressed in any articles are the author's and
should not be taken to represent those of the Society.

Next issue published 5th December 2013
Copy date: 28th November 2013

2

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Heritage, Narrow-gauge footplate in the station but also on the half hour trip to Epping
and Miniature with my father riding shotgun behind in the first coach. At my
very impressionable age, it was an experience never to be
Visit to the Epping & Ongar Railway – 22nd forgotten or repeated.
June 2013 – Ivor Self was delighted with his
It was therefore with some sadness that the news of the
day out! closure of the line on the 30th September 1994 was received.
At that time, I was living in Scotland and so not readily
My first introduction to the Epping to Ongar section of the available to attend the closing ceremony. Imagine my
Central Line / Great Eastern Railway, at the age of 9 years, amazement when I heard in early 1995 that an attempt was to
came about as a result of my father having noticed a report be made to reopen the line on a private basis. I have always
that the steam passenger service was soon to end and be been an active supporter of vintage vehicle rallies and I
replaced with the usual 1937 electric Underground stock happened to notice an advert for a rally to be held at Blake
which ran on the remainder of the Central Line system. It was Hall near Ongar in August 1995. I decided to break my
custom and practice for my father, brother and I to venture holiday journey south from Edinburgh to Jersey and go via
Blake Hall. To my great delight the Epping and Ongar
Railway Society was represented at the event and were
advertising for support including selling Art prints of the
Epping station scene in the steam / electric era, illustrating
just the scene I had been a party to some 38 years
previously. For only £10 each, I purchased two copies of the
print to support the organisation and remind my brother and
me of happy childhood times.

Despite lots of enthusiastic murmurings of progress in
reopening the line, little practical demonstration was seen for
a long time. It was not until I visited Ongar on the off-chance

Mike Fordham took these three photographs at the Epping
& Ongar Railway’s LU150 event on 22nd June, although
these locos would not have worked on the Railway in the
days of steam!

out from our home in Ilford to somewhere for a bus or train in the spring of 2012 that any sign of progress was clearly
ride most weekends and thus it was decided we would go on visible. Decoration of the station buildings being the most
the Central line from Gants Hill to Epping and view this obvious but no promises of full operation were being made. A
passing event before steam operation shut down entirely, Western Region steam locomotive had also appeared at
apart from goods traffic and maintenance trains. The last Epping station car park giving some hope of an active
steam passenger operation was to be in November 1957. reinstatement of steam services.

Having arrived at Epping, we surveyed the steam loco on What a delight it was to hear only one year later that full
duty for our train to Ongar which from memory, I believe, was services from Ongar to Coopersale [just outside of Epping]
a class F5 tank engine. To my amazement and delight, my were to be in operation starting in the spring of 2013. This
brother and I were invited by the driver and fireman onto the was further encouraged by the news that Spratt’s coaches
footplate to be shown the workings of a steam engine. A treat were organising a day trip to the railway on one of the special
never before experienced. Not only were we invited to join the event weekends, celebrating the 150 years of the
Metropolitan underground railway. A treat not to be missed!

Thus came the 22nd June, an early start from the Holiday Inn
at Norwich, with John and Lyn in charge of our sturdy chariot
and a party of over 30 supporters. Off we set for the Epping
and Ongar railway. For the experienced traveller, such a
journey would be of little consequence. However, for us
novices in coach travel, traversing the Norfolk, Suffolk and
Essex countryside was always going to be an adventure. I
should have known better than to think the journey would be
straightforward. Draw a straight line from Norwich to Blake
Hall and we could be there in two hours. I had forgotten the

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previous experience with our devious mystery tour operators, creations. Most aren't easy to reach by public transport, but
John and Lyn, on our adventures in France only a few months that only made me keener to get to them.
before. The term ‘’nautical tacking’’ comes to mind when I
remember the diversions and turnabouts we encountered, Of all the 3ft-gauge lines, the County Donegal was the most
especially around Stowmarket. You certainly get your extensive. It ran for over 100 route miles through the
money’s worth of exciting country lanes and passengers left inhospitable but scenic hills of Ireland's north-west. The
behind with our mystery tour specialists. County Donegal was a pioneer in the use of diesel railcars,
which were used for most passenger services latterly. The
Having set out in dull weather, we were delighted to find the railway closed in 1960, and an American bought four of the
sun shining when we eventually arrived at Blake Hall station locos and two railcars with plans to set up his own railway in
mid-morning. We were greeted by a delightful cavalcade of New Jersey, but finance fell through and the stock was
steam locomotion and vintage bus operation, centred on the eventually dispersed to other homes.
Railway’s main site at Blake Hall station. As the train services
have not yet reached Epping due to problems connecting with In the late 1960s, on a business trip to a factory in Strabane, I
the LUL station, it was necessary to take one of the caught sight of two Donegal 2-6-4Ts sitting forlornly in a
delightfully restored London Transport /London Country RM, siding, but to my shame and regret I didn't take a closer look.
RF or RT buses in regular operation, all inclusive in our day More recently I'd heard about a scheme to revive part of the
rover tickets. The usual stalls selling books, memorabilia and Donegal system, and when Gerald Siviour showed us some
catering nourishments were also available and the Railway pictures of it a couple of years back I added it to my mental
Society was well advertised and represented by 'must see' list.
knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff who, despite respecting
normal Health and Safety disciplines, did not over-indulge Simplex shunter and railcar no. 18 make their way along
themselves in unnecessary constraints of our enjoyment. All the shore of Lough Finn. (Fintown Railway)
in all, it was a magnificent attempt by the Railway at a first
major event and greatly enjoyed by all the people I spoke to. Today's short line reopened in 1995. It lies a half-hour taxi
ride from Letterkenny, the nearest town, and doesn't appear
In case you wanted a flavour of something different, our to get too many visitors. The station building at Fintown is a
intrepid coach operators, John and Lyn, had also laid on a portable hut and in a Donegal drizzle the whole scene was
further trip to Greenstead church in the afternoon, which I rather dismal. Waiting at the single platform, and coupled to a
believe was thoroughly enjoyed by all who went [no small Simplex shunter, was one of six Donegal railcars to
diversions this time!!]. survive: no.18 which originally entered service in 1940. At the
appointed hour the driver climbed in and started the engine
For those technically minded, the theme of the day was and we rumbled for 1½ miles along Lough Finn and back.
based around this year’s celebration of the 150th anniversary Among my few fellow passengers in the railcar was a
of the Metropolitan Railway and it was thus well supported gentleman whose father had been the last stationmaster at
with steam locos and rolling stock of the era and style. Donegal and who remembered travelling all along the line 60
These included GWR tank 4141, LT Metropolitan tanks L1, years ago.
L101 & L151, LNER N2 1744, 4953 Pitchford Hall and
especially a fine set of restored Metropolitan suburban The views across Lough Finn are superb, and the railway
coaches. The support of the Quainton Road Railway and LT makes liberal use of a quote by playwright Brian Friel: "What
Museum, Covent Garden, was much appreciated in providing is on offer is a unique journey along the shores of a lake as
some of these excellently restored vehicles. grand as any in Switzerland or Minnesota?" That the line
remains open owes much to a government scheme to relieve
As previously mentioned, the associated bus preservation unemployment in the area, but whether in its remote location
society put out a comprehensive range of 1950s/60s London it can survive must be open to question.
Central and Country bus services and Green Line coaches to
complement the train services. All this was very timely and One of the prompts for my Irish trip was Ken Mills's visit in
professionally run by the railway and bus section 2011, which he described in NRS/NL 56/6, 57/1 & 57/2. Like
management. Ken, I took a trip by rail to the Giant's Causeway. The original
line ran for over 9 miles from Portrush, and was hailed as "the
Finally, a word of sincere thanks to John and Lyn of Spratt’s
coaches who yet again gave us an excellent service, full of
fun and surprises, for just £18. I am looking forward to our
next mystery adventure with great expectations!

Narrow-gauge revival in Ireland – Mike
Handscomb gets off the beaten track

Until the 1950s Ireland was a delight for narrow-gauge
enthusiasts, with numerous separate 3ft gauge systems,
some quite extensive. But, as in the UK, they couldn't survive
the rise of road transport. The West Clare was the last to
succumb in 1961.

But several schemes to revive the 'wee lines' have sprung up.
In August I spent a week travelling around Ireland by train
and bus, and, having missed the 3ft lines when they were in
their prime, I was determined to see some of these re-

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first long electric tramway in the world". It closed and was intermittently until 2009 but has lain unused and neglected
dismantled at the end of the 1949 season. since then. With a couple of hours to spare at Tralee, I took a
taxi to Blennerville and asked the driver to wait while I had
Today's short line is called The Giant's Causeway and look at what remains of this second abandonment. There's a
Bushmills Railway. The Bushmills terminus is just a desolate platform with a line of rails stretching away, a primitive pair of
wooden platform and a run-round loop. Had it not been for crossing gates, and a rail-connected yard occupied by a
another couple waiting on the platform I would have thought couple of red straight-sided carriages. Given that they've sat
I'd got the date wrong and no trains/trams were running. But in the open for five years or so, they're in reasonable
in due course a tram-outline dmu, made by Severn Lamb, condition with most windows intact. A locked shed is reputed
appeared, the crew changed ends and off we trundled at a to hold T&D loco no. 5, which ran for a while on the reopened
very slow pace for two miles to the Causeway. The click of line but now needs expensive boiler repairs.
the rail joints was the loudest sound as the diesel engine,
concealed under sheeting in one of the carriages, can As I wandered around, I thought the whole scene must be
scarcely be heard. similar to how it was when the T&D first closed 60 years back.
No-one locally or in the railway press seems to think it'll
One of the original Hunslet locos being turned at Listowel. reopen, so probably loco, stock and rails will get carted off to
(National Library of Ireland) another home one day.

At the Causeway end there's a station building and a loco The last of my narrow-gauge visits wasn't really narrow-
shed but it does seem a rather half-hearted affair. Ken Mills gauge at all. The Listowel & Ballybunion was a monorail built
had a 'glorious day' for his visit; mine was marked with to the system invented by Monsieur Lartigue. Then again, to
ceaseless drizzle, so I decided to give Northern Ireland's my mind it wasn't a true monorail either, as the running rail,
most popular visitor attraction a miss and leave the basalt which sat atop a trestle a metre or so above ground, was
columns to the coach-loads of tourists. Instead I had lunch supplemented by a pair of guide rails lower down. The L&B
and a beer in the nearby hotel and moved on by bus and train ran for just over 9 miles between the towns of its title, but
to Belfast and, later, the south. lasted only from 1888 to 1924.

Until it gave up the struggle for survival in 1953 the Tralee I took this picture from Listowel (CIE) station footbridge in
and Dingle Railway was a famed place of pilgrimage for UK 1977, soon after goods services had finished on the
rail enthusiasts (well, those with money and spare time), GS&WR Limerick – Tralee (or 'North Kerry') line. It shows
attracted by the wild scenery and the T&D's sturdy tank locos, the old Listowel & Ballybunion goods shed transformed
built by Hunslet and fitted with a cow catcher. In its last years, into a cottage; I'm told it still survives, but now hidden by
traffic consisted solely of monthly double-headed cattle warehousing. The footbridge has gone, along with most of
specials from Dingle; reading the accounts of these trains you the CIE station. (Mike Handscomb)
almost wonder whether camera-toting gricers outnumbered
the cows.

Today's short journey on 'the world's strangest train' The railway's 0-3-0 (!) locomotives were built by Hunslet, with
attracts visitors from many countries. (The Lartigue two boilers and fireboxes. Loads had to be evenly balanced:
Monorail & Museum) they say that if a farmer wanted to send a cow to market, he
would have to send two calves to balance it; and the calves
In the early years of the present century a group of would then return home on opposite sides of the same
enthusiasts decided to rebuild a short portion of the line at wagon. Another peculiarity of the Lartigue system was that
Blennerville, a rather drab suburb of Tralee. It ran there couldn't be level crossings; instead, a kind of double-
sided drawbridge was designed. What's more, conventional
railway points were out of the question, so the line featured
several curved turntables.

Within the pannier-like carriages, passengers sat with their
back to the centre rail. To let them cross from one side of the
line to the other when the train stopped at a station, some
coaches were fitted with a kind of footbridge.

5

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A vital accessory on my travels, even though it was written
nearly 40 years ago, was An Outline of Irish Railway History
by Henry Casserley. To his regret, Casserley never saw the
L&B in operation. He first went there in 1934 by which time
there was little left. He wrote:

"What a tourist attraction it would have been had it survived,
and an unrivalled subject for preservation. One cannot help
wishing that perhaps one day some wealthy railway
enthusiast might have a full-sized replica made of this unique
railway..."

Blackburn) in April 1957 and withdrawn from Springs Branch
(Wigan) in December 1967 as the last-surviving class
member. It ended up at Barry and was left to await its fate.

Two coaches which once ran on the abandoned Tralee & It spent longer at Barry than it did in active service, going on
Blennerville Railway. Tralee & Dingle 2-6-2T no. 5 is said to become the 143rd loco to leave in 1983. Before that, in
to be inside the shed. (© The Wanderer) 1974, members of the Hallamshire Preservation Society of
Sheffield had spent a weekend painting the engine in Red
Well, HCC's wish has come true. Ten years ago a group of Lead to prevent further deterioration with a view to eventual
local enthusiasts secured a government grant and have re- purchase, though this attempt fell through. Its 1983 move
created a short stretch of the line beginning less than 100m came when Phil Rollin bought the loco for £7,500 and moved
from the point where the original monorail commenced its
journey to Ballybunion. Marketed under the name The
Lartigue Monorail and Museum, the line is operated from the
old goods shed of the adjacent CIE line, also now closed and
lifted. There are models, displays and memorabilia of the
Lartigue, and a small cinema showing an old Pathé newsreel
of the line. Close by, the site of the original Listowel terminus
is a grassed public area where you can make out the bases
of two points/turntables and the foundations of the engine
shed.

Visitors experience a short demonstration journey behind a

diesel replica 0-3-0 built by Alan Keef. The journey takes only

a minute or two; you spend much more time watching the

laborious but intriguing procedure for turning the loco at each

end of the line. it to his back garden (!) in Nottinghamshire where he carried

Ireland has are other 3ft-gauge lines which I had no time to out a cosmetic makeover before he passed away in the early
explore: the 3-mile West Clare where an original WCR 0-6-2T 1990s. His daughter sold the loco to the 76084 Locomotive
no.5 Slieve Callan is back in steam; the very short Cavan & Co. Ltd. and it was moved to Morpeth where a volunteer
Leitrim, based at the former Dromod station; and the Donegal group slowly returned it to steam over a 16 year period. An
Railway Centre, a well-equipped museum rather than a agreement was reached with the NNR for the loco to remain
working line. There are also exhibits from closed 3ft lines in there for 2 seasons, and the NNR’s financial loan will be
museums at Derry and Belfast. For the determined narrow- repaid from steaming fees. It proudly returned to traffic in July
gauge enthusiast, Ireland offers a lot – and the natives are of this year. The 2 photos of 76084 at the NNR’s Autumn
very friendly! Steam Gala were taken by Mike Fordham.

Wissington Re-Launch - Saturday 14th

The Story of 76084 September 2013

(Mike Fordham & Edward Mann) Several members visited the Middy to attend the re-launch of

The “Pocket Rocket”, otherwise 76084, made its first public- Wissington at Brockford station, reports Mike Fordham.

service runs at the North Norfolk Railway’s September Steam The 0-6-0T was donated by the British Sugar Corporation in
Gala. I must confess to a particular liking for the class, and 1978 to the M&GNJRPS. Its restoration began 18 years ago
some of you may recall that 76030-034 were allocated to when young volunteers working with John Howard had
Stratford and were occasionally seen in Norwich. The started to remove the rust and paint it at Sheringham station.
majority, however, were divided between the Scottish and Now, after an expenditure of £70,000 plus thousands of hours
Southern Regions, the former fact helping account for their of volunteer labour, it has been returned to its former glory.
under-representation in preservation. So far as 76084 is John told me that the Society has contributed £850; the last
concerned, it was first allocated to Lower Darwen (near contribution is being held to pay for the final painting of the

6

_________TRACK REPORT Temperance movement. I
began to pay more
Wissington at Brockford on 14th September; John Howard attention when it was said
is nearest the camera. (Mike Fordham) – if stretching a point – that
loco this winter. Painting has been postponed as (to quote it had its own station. In
John): “While we can earn running fees at the Middy let’s fact the station serves the
keep the engine in service”. village of Thornton Curtis,
John was presented with a replica of the Hudswell Clarke and there was a temporary
works plate (1700 of 1938) “in recognition of this station at Thornton Curtis until 1848. Before you reach for
determination to see the return to steam of Wissington. your maps, Thornton Abbey station is still open and is on the
The Middy has also received the 2012 Morton’s Media Barton-on-Humber – Cleethorpes route. The snuff box had
(Heritage Railway) Interpretation Award “for its re-creation of been purchased for £10, but we were not told if it had been
a typical bucolic rural back-water reminiscent of a Colonel resold, or for how much. With thanks to Richard Adderson for
Stephens light railway with an authentic back-drop including the ticket which would have pre-dated the opening of the
newly-restored locomotive Wissington”. Humber Bridge in 1981. (EM)

Straw sensation

Those with long memories may recall the unusual locomotive
produced in 1987 by Scottish artist George Wyllie, writes Mike
Handscomb. This was a full-size 4-6-0, without tender, built at
the former Springburn loco works – but out of straw. It was
suspended from the massive hammer-head crane at
Finnieston on the north bank of the Clyde, the very crane that
had once loaded Glasgow-built locomotives into the ships that
would take them all over the world.

Above, Wyllie's full-size straw 4-6-0 dangles over the
Clyde. (George Wyllie Foundation). Below, the model is
prepared for sale at auction. (BBC)

Wissington at work at B.S.C. Wissington in the 1960s.
(Mike Fordham collection)

Away from the Tracks The sculpture remained dangling from the crane for several
months. It was then driven through the streets of Glasgow
Bargain Hunt and I never knew that back to Springburn where it was ceremoniously set alight.
This act was described by the artist as a Viking-style funeral to
A snuff box with a picture of Thornton Abbey on the underside symbolise Glasgow's industrial decline.
merited a short history lesson from the presenter on 13th
September. He had found it during a previous programme Wyllie died in 2012, and in August this year the studio
and explained the Abbey’s history – it was an Augustinian contents of his home went under the hammer. Among the lots
abbey, founded in the 12th century but “dissolved” by Henry was a 3 ft-long straw model of the original piece. It sold for no
VIII in 1539. Parts were restored in the 19th century and it was less than £14,500 to an unidentified buyer. Several
stated that the Abbey became a popular venue for the Glaswegians, including actor Bill Paterson, would have
preferred to see the model go to the Museum of Transport.
7

_________PICK-UP GOODS

A miscellany of news and members’ contributions

Corrections Corner: Setting the Record Absolutely Straight

Peter Adds has advised that the Romford photograph A contributor (who prefers to remain anonymous, I think) has
(NRS/NL 58/4 p.4) was wrongly described. It is actually a commented on Ken Mills’ feature in NRS/NL 58/4 p.13.
replacement maintenance building for the present Portakabin
village at the country end of the Up yard. Once these have First, the double-track sections were not quite as quoted.
been vacated and removed their site will be used for the new “Twenty to Spalding” should be Twenty to Cuckoo Junc, and
Signalling Centre building. “Spalding to Sutton Bridge” should be Clay Lake to Sutton
Bridge Dock Junc. A bit pedantic, maybe, but these extra
Cambridge Science Park station and double-line sections gave the necessary leeway to run the
Northstowe excursions. Trains could be crossed at both Fleet and Long
Sutton, so long as it was a goods and a passenger – the
A few more details concerning the proposed new Cambridge goods being “put inside” first, before accepting the passenger.
Science Park station are available. It will be on the main line And “Corpusty to Yarmouth” should be to Salisbury Road, in
between Cambridge & Ely, and will have 3 platforms. An effect an extra “loop”. Honing originally was a double-track
extension of the Guided Busway will be built from Milton portion with a box at both ends; it was the West box that was
Road, and the Busway will also link the new town of “taken over”, but the long loop remained.
Northstowe. If Northstowe means nothing to you, just look at
a map to find the easily identifiable villages of Longstanton Secondly, regarding crossing lengthy trains, this could be
and Oakington. done quite easily. At Gedney and Hillington there were
sidings, along which a long train could be run until the rear
No go from the ORR end was “clear” (with trap points being clamped, of course).
The same was possible at North Walsham, except that – once
No sooner had my piece about the Shrewsbury service “clear” inside – the excursion would be backed out of the
proposal appeared in NRS/NL 58/4 p.11 than news emerged refuge, and back on to the Mundesley branch, a facility which
that the Office of Rail Regulation had declined Virgin Trains’ remained after the latter was severed.
proposals to run a Blackpool/Shrewsbury – London service.
Ho hum… Finally he congratulates Ken for his feature, saying that
articles like that make people think!
Ho hum indeed. The door will not close as the BBC
Shropshire website has reported that the ORR has said that it Warley National Model Railway Exhbition
will bring pressure to bear on NR to restart direct rail services
between Shrewsbury & London and, with this in mind, VT has In case people don’t know – and are thinking of going – this
submitted new plans for a twice daily service. event takes place on Sat/Sun 23rd/24th November at Hall 5 at
the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. Have a look at:
The Bridge Washed Out… www.thewarleyshow.co.uk if interested.

Some of you will be aware of my interest in country music, ___________NRS NEWS
and – believe it or not – this was the title of Warner Mack’s
only # 1 some 48 years ago. Annual Christmas Meal

Peter Adds reminded me that the area’s railways suffered This year’s meal will be at the Maid Marian P.H., Ipswich
serious flood damage over the weekend of 14th/15th Road, Norwich on Monday 2nd December, commencing at
September 1968 with a couple of bridge washouts. The first 7.45 pm. Members and their other halves are welcome, but
affected a bridge at Burston on the line to Liverpool St which no non-members without reference to me, please. The cost of
meant that services were diverted either via the East Suffolk the meal (including gratuities) will be £17.50. Menus are
line or via Ely. Great efforts were made to restore services on available at meetings or from me (contact details on page 2).
the main line, and trains were allowed over the temporary
Burston bridge from 2nd October, with a permanent The event was very well-supported last year, but that has
replacement opening to traffic the following May. The other brought its own potential problems as we were close to the
serious washout was at Kennett, near Newmarket, but also a limit the kitchen could reasonably handle, and the limit we
bank slipped near Swainsthorpe, a bridge near Eccles Road have agreed this year is 48 .
was declared unsafe and the river bank was breached at
Trowse Lower Junction. Somehow, in the light of that limit, I have to achieve fairness
to all members whether they receive their Newsletter at a
I was staying with friends in Grays for the ensuing week and meeting or by post, and whether or not they have email. To
can remember attempting to travel from Grays to Upminster this end, I will not start to accept bookings until 11 am on
via Ockendon and not getting very far. The Mar Dyke, which Monday 14th October (emails to be timed after 1100 please)
enters the Thames near Purfleet, and is not far from where and then I will operate a first come first served system.
Lakeside is now, had flooded the track and the d.m.u. had to Multiple bookings on behalf of other members will be
go back to Grays. accepted.

If your memory and/or library is excellent, Graham Kenworthy The deposit will be £5 per person and cheques, payable to
and Richard Adderson made a presentation on 1st October “Norfolk Railway Society”, should be given or sent to me
1998 and which was reported in the Newsletter for November please. Orders need not be given immediately, so long as
1998. they arrive by 18th November.
(Edward Mann)

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Railway Walks - High Peaks and Tissington Trails

(Brian Cornwell gets his shorts on and takes his cue from Julia Bradbury)

My family and I enjoy walking and cycling and will always take the opportunity to do this on a
disused railway. We have cycled part of the Tarka Trail (Braunton to Meeth in North Devon -
30 miles) and all of the Monsal Trail (from just south east of Buxton to Coombe Viaduct south
east of Bakewell - 8½ miles with several re-opened tunnels). We have also walked the
Mawddach Trail (Dolgellau to Barmouth in West Wales – 8 miles and takes in the fantastic
Barmouth Bridge), the Cuckoo Trail (Heathfield to Polegate in Sussex – 13 miles) and part of
the Marriott’s Way (Norwich City to Reepham in Norfolk – 14 miles).

The High Peaks and Tissington Trails are, as the name suggests, in the Peak District,
Derbyshire. The High Peaks Trail starts at Hindlow about 3 miles south east of Buxton and
runs for 17 miles to Cromford. At Parsley Hay there is a junction and the Tissington Trail
starts here and runs for 13 miles to Ashbourne.

As the walk was going to be 20 miles my wife Julie and I
decided that three days would be needed with overnights in
Buxton and Alsop-en-le-Dale. This gave us an opportunity to
travel to Buxton on the first day and would give us
time in Ashbourne on the third before travelling
home. As this was a “one way walk”
we could not take the car and we were

to travel by train to Buxton and then use a combination of bus the station and had planned a night at the opera as it was the
and train via Derby to get home as there is no longer any train Gilbert and Sullivan Festival the week we were there.
service from Ashbourne. Following a very pleasant evening we had to catch a local bus
(442 High Peaks service) to Earl Sterndale, which was just
My advice to anyone travelling by train is to book online, in under 5 miles from Buxton and 2½ miles from the start of the
advance, as soon as you can and consider what the logical trail. In those 2½ miles we had to climb 350 feet over a ridge
breaks in your journey are. By purchasing two separate tickets and then down again to Hindlow. The area has several
on the outward leg and three on the return we managed to limestone quarries and is connected to the rail network just
save an astonishing £120 each against through ticket prices! north-east of Buxton after passing over a very impressive high
viaduct that can be viewed from Buxton town centre and is the
East Midlands Trains only section of the line to Cromford and Ashbourne that
remains.
runs a direct service
Started in 1825, the Cromford and High Peak Railway
from Norwich to (C&HPR) was one of the earliest railways in Britain. Built when
canals were still regarded as the primary means of long
Stockport where a distance transport, the C&HPR opened throughout between
Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge and Cromford Canal at
connection can be Cromford Wharf in 1831. The line was 33 miles long and
incorporated eight inclines, the steepest being at Bunsall with
made to Buxton. We a gradient of 1 in 7, and reached a height of 1266ft above sea
level at Landmanlow, making it one of the highest railways ever
caught the 1057 which built in Britain. The level sections between inclines were horse-
powered and stationary steam engines winched wagons up
called at Thetford, Ely, and down the inclines. It took wagons two days to complete the
journey over the line.
Peterborough, East
The opening of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland
Midlands Parkway (due Junction Railway to Matlock in 1849 left the C&HPR isolated
from the main railway system, but in 1853 this was rectified by
to major works at a short extension to High Peak near Cromford. With its eyes on
a possible direct route from Buxton to London, the London &
Nottingham), North Western Railway (LNWR) took over the C&HPR in 1887
and opened a new line from Buxton to Harpur Hill in 1892,
Chesterfield, Derby avoiding Whaley Bridge, Shalcross and Bunsall which were
abandoned. From a new junction at Parsley Hay, the LNWR
(unadvertised - to then built a line to Ashbourne where, in 1899, it connected with
the North Staffordshire Railway’s line from Uttoxeter.
attach a second 158
The first closures came in 1954 when passenger trains
unit), Sheffield and between Buxton and Ashbourne ceased. However stone traffic
from local quarries kept the line open until 1963, when it finally
finally Stockport. This closed south of Hindlow. Remaining open to serve private

service’s final

destination was

Liverpool Lime Street.

The ‘Potterish’ Platform 0 at At Stockport we were

Stockport Station. (Brian directed to platform 0,

Cornwell) (yes zero, very Harry

Potterish!) to get our

connecting service, a Northern Rail Class 150, to Buxton. If

any members are aware of another station that has a

platform zero I would be interested to know (See page 14 -

Ed.)

Buxton station is constructed of local limestone and is now a
two-platformed terminus. We were staying in a hotel close to

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stone quarries, the Parsley Hay to Cromford section was
progressively cut-back until complete closure in 1967. Steam-
operated until the end, this section of line not only featured the
1 in 14 Hopton Incline, the steepest adhesion-worked railway
line in the UK, but also Gotham Curve. Its 165ft radius through
80° was the sharpest standard gauge curve in the UK.

It isn’t until you start to walk down a disused railway line that The silent track-bed at Parsley Hay. (Brian Cornwell)
you really appreciate the perspective and “get your head
around” the size of the task that early railway engineers and
Victorian navvies had. The view from a train inevitably means
that you are just travelling too fast and too high up! The High
Peaks trail is, as one would expect, a series of cuttings,
embankments, under-bridges and over-bridges that involved
the movement of thousands of tons of earth and stone, mostly
by hand, and the construction of structures that are still sound
150 years later. Whilst the track bed is good and clear for
walkers and cyclists the margins have been taken over by
nature.

The flora and fauna here was very diverse. Julie is the
botanical expert, and identified several species of plant
including hemp, salad burnet, field scabious, rose-bay willow
herb and harebell. The birds were numerous including
blackbirds, thrush, robin, chaffinch, swift, swallow, house-
martin, sparrows and other LBJ’s (little brown jobs). We also
observed a buzzard; peacock, red admiral and cabbage-white
butterflies were in abundance together with dark-lipped
banded snails (good eating for thrushes). We also spotted
stoats and rabbits.

Starting at Hindlow the trail the heads south-east for 1½ miles The former signal box at Hartington (see opposite).
to Hurdlow where the first evidence of stations, in the remains (Brian Cornwell)
of a platform, can be seen. After a further 2 miles the trail
reaches Parsley Hay where there are toilets, a very good cafe, seats. An on time departure and arrival. 13 miles for £3.80.
cycle hire and a car park. This is where the cycling really Anglian Buses please note.
seems to start and despite trying not to get irritated with the
hordes of cyclists both Julie and I “snapped” on a couple of An East Midlands 222 took us from Derby to Leicester, this was
occasions during the next two days. The cutting junction at a London St Pancras service, 50 minutes wait at Leicester, and
Parsley Hay is most impressive; there we turned right heading then on to a Cross Country 170 to Ely. The final train was to be
due south for 2 miles to Hartington. the 2016 East Midlands from Ely to Norwich which was
unfortunately cancelled due to staff illness; however an ex-
Hartington boasts a very nicely restored signal box, the Cambridge Greater Anglia 170 did the job and we arrived back
working floor still has the lever frame in place and is a museum, at Thorpe at 2138.
whilst the base has been converted to a cafe which sadly was
not open when we visited. There are also toilets, a picnic area If you have the stamina I can thoroughly recommend Railway
and a car park. The next section of the trail was to be our final Walks – they definitely reintroduce the “railway perspective”
one for day two and was 5 miles to Alsop-en-le-Dale where we that is lost when travelling on a train and the cafes found on
were staying the night. The A515 shadowed the trail for most route are always far better than the on board catering!
of the way now and we finally arrived at Newton House Hotel
(shown as New Inns on the OS map) at around 1700. Editor’s Note: It’s been a long time since a railway walk has
featured in the Newsletter. More power to Brian’s and Julie’s
Day three was glorious, bright, sunny and warm. Following a elbows for undertaking the walk and writing about it
hearty breakfast we started out around 9:15 on the 3 mile leg afterwards. Whichever part of the country you choose, there is
to Tissington. Tissington has the remains of its platform still in probably a walk or a series of walks in the vicinity. Brian’s
place and also has toilets, a cafe and a car park. However we exhortation to book on-line is very timely and the purchase of
went “off trail” and visited the charming village where the Old an appropriate Railcard needs to be considered as well.
Coach House café, which was part of the Tissington Hall
Estate, can be recommended. The next 1½ miles got us to
Thorpe and the 2 after that to the outskirts of Ashbourne at
Mapleton Lane. We then negotiated the final ¼ mile through a
reopened tunnel and arrived in Station Road, Ashbourne,
almost 20 miles from where we had started walking in Earl
Sterndale. Our backpacks weighed 22 kilos (8 and 14)
combined by the way – no sympathy expected!

We had a little over two hours before our bus to Derby and we
explored the delights of Ashbourne. The bus is worth a mention
– Swift Bus from Uttoxeter to Derby. Air conditioned with mock
walnut flooring and real ebony and ivory coloured leather

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Bathing Beauties in Poppyland

Poppyland was the term coined by poet and theatre critic Clement
Scott in the 1880s, and is taken to apply to the coastal area
between Mundesley and Sheringham.

Here are three postcards advertising the delights of Cromer though, sadly, two of the posters from which they derive are
unsigned. The Come to Cromer card is one of these; the lady’s “drape” is red on the original which began life as an LNER Double
Royal (24” x 40”) poster of the 1930s.

The card featuring the lady with her two children (extended families would have been shunned then) is from a Midland Quad
Royal (50” x 40”) poster of the early 1900s. Again, that poster is unsigned.

“Cromer – The Centre of Poppyland” is the work of Bruce Angrave (1914 – 1983), born in Leicester. He apparently felt that a
good poster could be looked at time and time again, in an effort to force the message home. It derives from an LNER DR poster
of the 1930s, presumably, although Angrave would still have been a young man. Again, note the drape (red on the original) – they
must have had material to spare in those days!

_________FEATURES

ACCIDENT AT BLACK BANK SECOND carriages and 2 other vehicles, total weight 350 tons. It was a
DROVE LEVEL CROSSING – 3rd JANUARY dark night, with clouds obscuring the moon, and drizzling rain.

1950 When the line was constructed, by Acts of 1844 & 1845, an
occupation crossing at Second Drove was provided, there
(Rod Lock) being no houses along Second Drove. However, by 1901
there were 21 houses and farms and a gate hut adjacent to
The location of this accident could only be in the Fens. If you the Down (to March) line had been provided for a crossing
have an old O.S. Map, look for Black Bank station (now keeper. A gate house for a resident crossing-keeper was built
closed). The Ely – March line runs straight for several miles, soon afterwards. Thereafter, it appeared, the level crossing
and Ely or Manea would be the nearest open station today. assumed the character, if not the legal status, of a public level
crossing.
The facts were that at 0045 the 2250 Norwich – March
passenger train, running under clear signals at 50 mph, struck The gates were field type, without targets or lamps, provided
a 10 hp Austin saloon which was following a lorry across the with chains and padlocks. Unlocked wicket gates were
line. The occupants of the car, a Mr & Mrs Oakey, were killed provided for cyclists and pedestrians. There were no
instantly. The train, running 16 minutes late, consisted of 7 protecting signals. The crossing-keeper was provided with a
telephone on an omnibus circuit to Black Bank signalbox, but

11

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there were no “repeater” block indicators or bells ringing in remember opening the gates for the lorry. She sat up to open
the block circuit between Manea and Black Bank signalboxes. gates for returning traffic, but fell asleep. When she was
awakened and told of the accident the oil lamp had gone out.
The crossing-keeper, Mrs D R Larham, wife of the local She locked the gates only in foggy weather. She was aware
ganger, had been at Second Drove since 1929. From 1943 people opened the gates and let themselves over.
until a daytime relief crossing-keeper was appointed in 1944 She could not remember the issue of any instruction on the
she worked the crossing throughout the 24 hours. working of the crossing and did not know there was one in the
gate hut.
Instructions for operating the level crossing were issued by She was reluctant to admit that she knew the gates should
the District Operating Superintendent, Cambridge, in 1937. have been padlocked.
These stated: She could not remember ever having been examined by any
1. The crossing was not provided by bell or gong in the Station Master since she was appointed, but she would not
block circuit; deny she might have been examined.
2. The Gatekeeper and his wife must keep themselves She was certain she had not been visited, in her duty hours,
thoroughly acquainted with booked train services and the by any Station Master since the relief crossing-keeper was
running of special trains (in 1937, the Ganger was the appointed.
appointed crossing-keeper, his wife relieving him when he She only telephoned Black Bank signalbox when it was foggy
was performing his permanent-way duties); or if a heavy load had to be passed. Speech on the telephone
3. Before opening the gates for road traffic, the person was clear but it was a busy line; there was often a delay of in
in charge must be satisfied no train is approaching; getting the signalman to answer.
4. The gates must be kept closed and padlocked; Ganger Larham confirmed that the gates were left unlocked
5. The Gatekeeper must ascertain from the signalman at night and that some people let themselves over. He did not
by telephone that no trains are approaching and it is safe to remember seeing an instruction for working the crossing.
open the gates for road traffic. He and his wife usually sat up until all road traffic had passed.
In 1939, the following instruction was issued to Station Relief Crossing Keeper R W Lark, who had worked at Second
Masters by the District Operating Superintendent, Cambridge: Drove since 5th December 1949, having previously been
“All crossing-keepers and gatekeepers, and staff employed to signalman at Black Bank, said that prior to the accident he
relieve them, must be examined annually in accordance with had not padlocked the gates but had done so since. Before
the pamphlet entitled “Examination of crossing-keepers as to the accident there was an instruction hanging on the wall but
their duties”, and a certificate rendered as follows: “I have it had then disappeared. It was faded and he had not read it.
visited each level crossing under my control, and have Mr W A Cox was Station Master at Black Bank between 1937
satisfied myself that the crossing-keepers are competent and and 1943. He remembered the 1937 instruction being issued.
have a thorough knowledge of the instructions in relation to He had regularly examined Mrs Larham in rules, particularly
the crossings under their care, and that all notices are on the use of the telephone and the padlocking of the gates.
exhibited”. He had visited the crossing frequently, sometimes at night.
On occasions he found it necessary to remind Mrs Larham
USAGE: that the gates should be padlocked.
A census taken shortly after the accident revealed that 84 Mr R A Sell was Station Master between 1945 and 1948. He
motor vehicles passed over the level-crossing in 24 hours, 12 was satisfied that the 1937 instruction was exhibited in the
of these between 1800 and 0600. Approximately 120 trains gate hut. He had never visited the level crossing at night or
passed over the crossing daily. when Mrs Larham was on duty. He had seen her in the gate
hut and was certain she knew the instruction was there. He
EVIDENCE had examined her only once, in 1946. He had sent in two
The locomotive crew consisted of Driver G R B Ewles and annual competency certificates without having examined her.
Fireman N D Garrett. The Fireman was struck on the head by Questioned on the use of the telephone, he was not clear
wreckage and collapsed, but recovered in time to protect the regarding the instructions.
Up line on which a freight train was approaching, the driver of Mr T Dawson, Station Master at Black Bank since 1948, said
which saw the hand-signal but was unable to avoid striking he visited the crossing once a week in daylight. He had not
the car. Driver Ewles saw the outline of a lorry moving across visited when Mrs Larham was on duty as his hours terminated
Second Drove and judged that he had narrowly missed it. at 1700 and hers began at 1630. He saw Mrs Larham at the
The lorry driver was accompanied by his young son, aged 13. beginning of 1949 about a complaint of delays to road traffic
He stopped short of the crossing and turned off the engine; and regarded the ensuing discussion as the annual
seeing no lights in the house he told his son to open the gates examination, although he had not questioned her on rules
after both had got down, looked along the line and listened. and the subject of padlocking never arose. However, he had
When the near gate was opened he started the lorry, drove submitted the certificate to the District Operating
slowly over the crossing and stopped beyond the far gate Superintendent. He had never seen the gates locked but road
opened by his son. As he was leaving the track he saw train traffic was almost continuous in daylight.
headlights about 100 yards away. His son told him that the
train had struck a car, on which only the sidelights were CONCLUSION
alight. He then called Ganger Larham and told him of the The MOT’s Inspecting Officer found that Mrs Larham
accident. disregarded instructions and must bear full responsibility.
The lorry driver said that as he approached the crossing he The instructions could not be misunderstood, were correctly
had not seen the lights of a following car. exhibited and she was aware of them.
He could not remember ever finding the gates locked at night. Ganger Larham must have realised the danger from leaving
Sometimes he opened them himself, particularly if there was the gates unlocked at night.
no light on in the house. He did not have an arrangement with The accident was also due in no small measure to the lax
the crossing-keeper. supervision of Mr Dawson, and of his predecessor, Mr Sell.
In her evidence, Mrs Larham said: The practice of leaving the gates unlocked had developed
She had passed the car concerned over the crossing, since Mrs Larham’s last examination by Mr Sell in 1946.
towards Littleport, sometime before 2000, but could not

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The car driver had his view blocked by the lorry and, in Fishguard are very few & far between – others go into
following it over the railway, he had every right to assume that Swansea or stop short. The West Wales line has its scenic
the attendant was present and it was safe to cross. moments west of Llanelli – it hugs the edge of Carmarthen
Bay and is well worth exploring as far as Carmarthen. And a
COMMENTS timetabling anomaly – the ATW pocket timetable shows no
The crossing-keeper disregarded a fundamental safety Mon – Fri connecting ferry to Rosslare (it actually leaves at
instruction. The telephone was not being used as the 1430) but it’s in the Saturday & Sunday sections! It is a pity
instructions required. This state of affairs, with a regular night that 158 or 175 type units cannot be found for a service which
user, was likely sooner or later to lead to an accident. has an international perspective. No doubt Iarnród Éireann
Probably the accident would not have occurred if the gates run something rather better!
had closed alternately against road and rail and had been
equipped with red targets and lights displaying a danger Back in the 60s and 70s Saturday Grandstand was almost the
signal along the line. only way of catching the football results. Rugby results tended
This equipment had been required at all level crossings to be interspersed and they received fairly prominent billing. If
constructed since 1858, but a considerable number of level the town had an engine shed that was easy enough to
crossings over minor roads still had gates opening outwards, pinpoint but there were plenty of others which were simply
including 116 in the Eastern Counties alone, at 35 of which names. Although not a noted rugby town, my first port of call
road traffic was as great as, if not greater than, at Second on 26th June was Aberdare. Its route from Cardiff is “up” –
Drove. through Cardiff Queen St, Taffs Well, Pontypridd (a time-warp
of a station, this), Abercynon, Mountain Ash & Aberdare. And
The Swansea District and Rugby Towns with Taffs Well is not a factual statement about a Welshman’s
Passenger Services Again health; no, it is the site of Wales’s only natural thermal spa! It
(Edward Mann) was the section above Abercynon where services were
reinstated from 3rd October 1988. Originally Aberdare had two
Not a title that trips off the tongue, but a short break in stations – the Low Level station (Taff Vale) at the end of a
Abergavenny at the end of June took me to the far west of the branch from Abercynon which closed from 16th March 1964,
Principality and over some new track. and the High Level station on the Vale of Neath line which ran
from Neath to Pontypool Road (not far from Abergavenny!)
Getting to Abergavenny is easy enough and, after considering which closed from 15th June 1964. Road improvements etc
the many fare options, I decided on a first-class single on the have meant that the present line uses parts of both routes.
1130 to Liverpool St followed by the 1445 Paddington - Four less than useful members of society boarded at
Swansea. An upside of first-class travel seems to be the Aberdare and, surprise, surprise, they were easy pickings for
complimentary refreshments, though the practice is slightly the Revenue Protection team. They soon alighted (or were
different. On GA you present your ticket at the buffet whereas ejected) at Mountain Ash. The team was again called into
on FGW they come round with the trolley. Just west of action at Cardiff Queen St, but the incident was dealt with
Reading a huge Traincare depot is taking shape on the north very quickly. Needless to say, 150s were in charge of the
side of the line. Changing at Newport meant a long walk from services.
the rear of the train to the bridge over to Platform 4 to catch
175003 on the 1635 to Abergavenny (reached on time at Ebbw Vale is a much more famous rugby town and, until
1657). This service had left Swansea at 1510 and continued 2001, used to be the home of a famous steelworks. The
to Chester (arr 1904). Experience was to show how popular
this route’s services were. Abergavenny is not at the thrusting
forefront of the modern railway; lower-quadrant semaphores
dominate, and it is still possible for passengers with heavy
luggage to be escorted over the boarded crossing. Arriva
Trains Wales (ATW) is the main operator.

Next morning, 25th June, produced 175011 on the 0730 The way it was (1): My Welsh neighbour has supplied this
Manchester Piccadilly – Carmarthen, which I took as far as 1950s view of Maescymmer station looking towards Hengoed
Cardiff and changed to the 1057 Cardiff – Fishguard, for Viaduct. The train – which is likely to have originated from either
which nothing better than 150213 was turned out – thankfully Brecon or New Tredegar - will be heading to Newport, these
there was a refreshment trolley. The only stops are made at services having ceased from 31st December 1962. Hengoed
Llanelli and Whitland, but it is the train’s route that makes it Viaduct is a listed structure, and is still with us today, but it used
special. I began to scratch my head when the train stopped at to carry the Vale of Neath line from Neath (continuing left) to
Briton Ferry (the station before Neath) and didn’t go through Pontypool Road (continuing right) and which closed to
Neath at all. It went on to pass through three tunnels and the passengers from 15th June 1964. The absence of a footbridge
next stations I saw before Llanelli were Llangennech and will be noted; in those days passengers simply crossed the
Bynea on the Heart of Wales line. What was going on? Well, tracks!
the train had used the Swansea District line instead of taking
the “obvious” Swansea avoiding line via Cockett. After
passing Jersey Marine Junc N. the line goes through Lonlas
Tunnel (924 yards and under the main line), Llangyfelach
Tunnel (1 mile 193 yards) & Penllergaer Tunnel (a mere 284
yards). The train rolled into Fishguard Harbour station slightly
before time and was ready to leave at 1329 having picked up
some passengers from the Rosslare ferry, including a couple
of nuns on whom the joys of train travel over rare lines would
sadly be lost. These two services are the only Fishguard
trains to use the Swansea District line – services from

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of interest between Abergavenny & Hereford these days, but
the closed stations had a wonderful set of names:
Llanvihangel, Pandy, Pontrilas, St Devereux & Tram Inn (now
a car showroom). Over the footbridge for the train back to
Abergavenny – another long-distance working, the 1430
Manchester Piccadilly – Milford Haven which was due to
reach the Welsh port at 2032. End-to-end passengers must
be few and stoical!

The 4 days of rail from 8 allowed by my South Wales Explorer
Pass expired on 28th June. Time for another trip west, this
time as far as Swansea, and this time through Neath. On the
approach to Swansea you get a good view of the Liberty
Stadium, and very impressive it looks too. Less impressive
was the thought of spending well over a couple of hours
aboard the 1200 to Pembroke Dock in charge of nothing
better than a “Pacer”, which was something of a surprise. I
endured the unit as far as Carmarthen and went for lunch. An
unusual feature of the station is its filled-in well. Coming back
from Carmarthen I could renew my acquaintance with the
Swansea District line on the 1329 Fishguard Harbour –
Cheltenham Spa even though the train was packed mainly, it
seemed, with Irishmen having a drink or two! [The ferry had
left Rosslare at 0900.]

passenger service had originally run from Newport but closed Saturday 29th June saw me on the move again. Down to
from 30th April 1962, and there was a cynical view that the Newport, catch the 1100 to Nottingham as far as Birmingham
then-heavy freight traffic to and from the recently-opened New St, and then the 1323 to Holyhead as far as Shrewsbury.
Llanwern Steelworks was more than the recently-modernised Yes, I know, there’s a direct line to Shrewsbury, but it was a
Newport High St signalling and station was able to handle. [In bus replacement north of Hereford. The route from Newport is
those days passenger traffic used the island platforms 2 & 3 straightforward enough, via Gloucester, where the old
so far as possible as platform 4 is a 2007 addition.] eastbound platform 1 has been brought back into use. [Some
Reopening to Ebbw Vale Parkway took place on 6th February may simply remember the long bi-directional platform.] A lady
2008. There are plans to extend the service a mile or so into sat next to me (it was a reserved seat from Cheltenham) and
the town, but the oddest thing is that they now run to and from
Cardiff (Platform 0), and take the main line to Ebbw Junc on
the outskirts of Newport before turning off! The reason I
was given was that demand from Newport would be too much
for a (mainly) single track line. No doubt the dead hand of
Welsh Assembly funding is another way of looking at it. Yet
another 150 service. This line certainly gave the impression of
being in the hills, the latter part a steady climb at 1 in 73.
Notable rugby towns en route are Crosskeys and Newbridge,
but who remembers Risca, now Risca & Pontymister? A hard
one this, but Birds Commercial Motors had a branch there
and cut up some steam locos.

On 27th June, another line with a restored passenger service The way it was (2): The small towns of Aberbargoed and
was visited. Look at any rail map from the mid-60s through to Bargoed are fairly close together, but in the 1950s (and possibly
2005 and you’ll find that passenger services ran from Cardiff into the early 1960s) the shortest route between them was via
to Barry, although the line continued (for freight) via Aberthaw the 1 in 4 (25%) Aberbargoed Hill. The bus is passing beneath
to Bridgend, and was a useful diversionary route when the the old Brecon & Merthyr line, closed to passengers from 31st
main line west of Cardiff was blocked. Closure beyond Barry December 1962, and it’s not just any bus either. It was a
took place from 15th June 1964 but the passenger service specially-built 1948 Foden PVSC6 with a heavily-rebuilt Dodson
was restored from 12th June 2005 helped, no doubt, by B32D body from an earlier Leyland Lion. It was rebodied in
Cardiff’s Rhoose Airport being nearby. If you trace the service 1953 (as seen here) with a Willowbrook B31F body as it had to
back, it starts at Merthyr Tydfil and, having reached Bridgend, be short enough and low enough to pass through the bridge. It
works back to Aberdare! Historically, the line was part of the had special low-gearing to cope with the hill, and had sprag
Barry Railway, but the Taff Vale Railway ran a loop round the gear to prevent running-back on the hill! The track has long
Barry line to Cadoxton, though this was cut back to its present since been lifted, and buses diverted anyway. Enter “Hardest
limit, Penarth, from 6th May 1968. bus route in Britain” in your favourite search-engine for more
wonderful pictures. (Both photos: R.Thomas, and thanks to
The short branch to Maesteg (rugby town again) seemed John Hutchinson for the detailed bus info.)
pretty depressing – it had started to rain - and the dilapidated
signalbox at Tondu still controlled some semaphores. The line
had closed from 22nd June 1970 but was restored from 26th
October 1992. The returning service would terminate at
Cheltenham Spa, no doubt to ease platform space at Cardiff.
I changed trains at Cardiff to travel to Hereford, just to get a
flavour of the line north of Abergavenny. There isn’t too much

14

_________FEATURES

it transpired that she was unable to sit with her back to the Wolverhampton and the train was on time at Smethwick
direction of travel. She was going to Llandudno and had been Galton Bridge Low Level. There was an excellent view of the
told to change at Birmingham & Crewe. She had been poorly thick black smoke rising from the huge plastic waste fire you
advised – by staying on the Holyhead train as far as may remember seeing on T.V. The change at Smethwick
Llandudno Junc the Crewe change could be avoided and the simply involves stairs or lift to the High Level station and on to
ticket inspector was able to put her right. For a change, the the service to Birmingham Snow Hill & Moor St. My objective
unit was a 158 but it didn’t seem as well configured as a 175 was the 1155 from Moor St operated by Chiltern Trains. It
and there was less luggage space. called at Solihull, Warwick Parkway, Leamington Spa &
Banbury and reached a smart Marylebone just after 1330. If
Time to come home on Monday 1st July. The early morning you pick the right one you can still sample a real train (Class
news advised of a 30 min. delay because of signalling 67 & stock) but I got a 168. The 1430 from Liverpool St was
problems in the Wolverhampton area. Well…the 0908 on time – short break over!
Birmingham Int’l – Holyhead was about 5 minutes late. I was
expecting to catch the 0715 Holyhead – Birmingham Int’l If you wish to investigate some of my wanderings, there’s the
(1032 off Shrewsbury) but what happened was that the rear Railway Atlas Then & Now (Smith & Turner) or the Western
unit was detached from the 0908 and sent back to the edition of Railway Track Diagrams, who seem to have
W.Midlands in the times of the 1032! Wonder what became of succeeded Quail.
the Holyhead? There were no signalling problems at

_________WORKING TIMETABLE
a selective look ahead at local railway events

NORFOLK RAILWAY SOCIETY, GER Society (Norwich Branch) and Norfolk Transport Group meetings take place (unless
otherwise stated) at: United Reformed Church Hall, Ipswich Road, Norwich, NR4 6QR

Events are listed in good faith, but visitors should check with the organisation concerned before travelling.
Great Eastern Railway Society (Norwich Branch) - contact Mike Fordham
Norfolk Transport Group - contact John Laycock

Services on our Local Railways

The Bure Valley Railway has a daily service operating until 3rd November. For more details of individual events please visit their
website - www.bvrw.co.uk - or telephone 01263-733858.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway operates regularly until 3rd November (but not daily). For more details please visit their website -
www.mnr.org.uk - or telephone 01362-690633.

The North Norfolk Railway has a daily service operating until 3rd November. For more details of individual events please visit their
website - www.nnrailway.co.uk - or telephone 01263-820800.

The Wells & Walsingham Light Railway has a daily service operating until 3rd November. Please visit their website -
www.wellswalsinghamrailway.co.uk - or telephone 01328-711630 for information.

The Whitwell & Reepham Railway operates an “on demand” diesel service at weekends plus various special events. Please visit
their website - www.whitwellstation.com - or telephone 01603-871694.

Editor’s Note: Last year I made a conscious decision to exclude all “Mince Pie” and “Santa Specials” from our Working Timetable.
I will be doing so again; this information is readily available elsewhere e.g. from the railway company websites, from the railway
company leaflets or by telephoning the railway company concerned.

Plandampf Time: There will be a Plandampf at the end of May 2014. Anyone interested in a trip to Germany to see/ride behind
steam please speak to Chris at a meeting or email [email protected]

OCTOBER

10th Thur 19:30 NORFOLK TRANSPORT GROUP – Members’ images.

17th Thur 19:30 NORFOLK RAILWAY SOCIETY – “60s Steam on Shed” – David Percival.

15

_________WORKING TIMETABLE

19th - 20th Sat - Sun MID NORFOLK RAILWAY - "Multiple Matters" Weekend.

20th Sun BARTON HOUSE RAILWAY - “Halloween Theme” from 14:30

24th Thur 19:30 GREAT EASTERN RAILWAY SOCIETY (Norwich Branch) – “An Evening of Entertainment” -
Sat - Sun Arthur Barrett.
26th -
3rd Nov BURE VALLEY RAILWAY - “Spooky Express Week”.

26th - Sat - Sun NORTH NORFOLK RAILWAY - “Halloween Week & Shuddering Spiders” (October Half Term)
3rd Nov
Sat onwards NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM, YORK - Autumn Great Gathering (York) 10am-6pm. A second
26th - chance to see Mallard and its sisters around the turntable at York.
8th Nov
Thur WHITWELL & REEPHAM RAILWAY – “Halloween Party” (Diesel).
31st

31st Thur MID-NORFOLK RAILWAY - “Halloween Scream Express” departs Dereham 19:00.

31st Thur 19:30 NORFOLK TRANSPORT GROUP – “Bus Matters” – David Cooke.

NOVEMBER WHITWELL & REEPHAM RAILWAY – “Steam Sunday”.
3rd Sun

7th Thur 19:30 NORFOLK RAILWAY SOCIETY – “Rail Archive – The Bodleian Library, Oxford” - Ian
Dinmore.

14th Thur 19:30 NORFOLK TRANSPORT GROUP – “An Evening of Transport” – Graham Smith.

21st Thur 19:30 NORFOLK RAILWAY SOCIETY – “The Epping & Ongar Railway” – Rodger Green.

28th Thur 19:30 GREAT EASTERN RAILWAY SOCIETY (Norwich Branch) – An evening with Edward Mann –
30th Sat “Steam Railways in the Cinema” – including unused footage from The Ladykillers and The Titfield
Thunderbolt.
DECEMBER NENTA TRAINTOURS – From Norwich (0615 approx), Diss, Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St Ed-
1st Sun munds, Ely etc, to York, Durham (for Beamish) & Newcastle. Norwich return 2325 (approx). Pre-
mier Class/Dining available. Fares from £60.75.
Details: www.nentatraintours.co.uk or telephone 01692 – 406152.

WHITWELL & REEPHAM RAILWAY – “Steam Sunday”.

5th Thur 19:30 NORFOLK RAILWAY SOCIETY – “The GN/GE Joint” – Chris Mitchell.

12th Thur 19:30 NORFOLK TRANSPORT GROUP - Christmas Team Quiz Evening with Malcolm Cooper

19th Thur 19:30 NORFOLK RAILWAY SOCIETY – Members’ Evening: Pictures, Films, Readings, Short Talks
etc. Maximum of 10 min. per member, please. No doubt there will be the usual collection for
the St Martin’s Housing Trust.

Printed by Express Impressions. Tel. 01603 301127

16


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