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1st November 2015

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Published by membersonly, 2018-05-16 01:27:22

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1st November 2015

Special supplement to e-BLN 1244 BLN Pictorial 1 November 2015

This issue of BLN Pictorial continues our review of BLS activities in earlier years, this time concentrating on the 1970s and 1980s. By then the BLS had become a
well established operator on the BR system and was (appropriately) branching out into other areas such as industrial systems and National Coal Board (NCB)
lines. We start with two 1970s tours which had 'add-ons', in the form of steam haulage on colliery lines, to the main tours on BR. These were the West Wales
Railtour of 4 July 1970, which included the NCB line from Pontardulais to Graig Merthyr Colliery, and the Dulais and Llynfi Valleys Railtour of 3 July 1971 which
included the lines from Maesteg Llynfi Junction to Cwmdu and Nantyffyllon.

Below left : The Graig Merthyr 'Paddy train' at Pontardulais awaiting departure for Graig Merthyr on 4 July 1970. There are a number of excellent photos of this
line among Ernie Brack's superb archive collection at https://goo.gl/dNMM2L. Below right : By contrast with Graig Merthyr's little Barclay 0-4-0ST, the Dulais &
Llynfi Valleys tour boasted ex-GWR 0-6-0PT 9642 in immaculate GWR livery and even more luxurious stock than Graig Merthyr, in the form of open wagons. It is
seen here at Cwmdu on 3 July 1971 (Chris Totty). The loco remains in preservation, though currently not operational.

Next page : On 7 July 1973 BLS was again out and about in South Wales, this time in and around Newport and the eastern valleys. The first destination was
Uskmouth Power Station, where once again we see participants allowed to climb down from the train and wander more or less at will. (Chris Totty)





Previous page : On 11 March 1978 the South Humberside Railtour took participants to New Holland Pier and Louth, which had CP 5 October 1970. The tour is
seen here beside the large goods shed at Louth, with the station building in the background. (Alan Holmewood).

Until 1978 the line from Grimsby had been retained, though as a single line, for thrice-
weekly grain traffic to the ABM (Associated British Maltsters) maltings. Later in the year
BR announced the cessation of the grain traffic and although delayed by local opposition
the line CG 20 December 1980 and was lifted shortly afterwards. The Grimsby-Louth
Group, which had spearheaded the opposition, became the Grimsby-Louth Railway
Preservation Society. Despite the unusually destructive clearance of track and
infrastructure by BR, the society managed to start rebuilding Ludborough station in 1984
and were able to start public passenger services in 1998. Currently, as the Lincolnshire
Wolds Railway, they have extended to North Thoresby, which from 11 September 1961
to 5 October 1970 was the only remaining intermediate station between Grimsby and
Louth. Louth itself, situated on the GNR's Grimsby-Louth-Firsby-Boston line, was also the
junction for two branches to Bardney and Mablethorpe and as such, had quite an
impressive station with extended canopies forming an overall roof covering its two
through lines. The main building has survived and is part of a residential development,
which can be seen at https://goo.gl/60XT25. A fine collection of photographs of Louth
station in steam days can be found on David Enefer's site at http://goo.gl/iWjf8T.

Above : Ludborough station, headquarters of the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway (Dave Hitchborne [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons)

As we move on to the 1980s, younger or more recent members may be under the impression that the Society's recent visit to the Channel Islands was a 'first'.
Not so in fact; in March 1981 a BLS party visited what was then the fledgling Alderney Railway. Originally a quarry railway, built by the British Government and
OG 1847, its purpose was to carry granite from Mannez quarry for the construction of the breakwater and defensive works. An article describing the
breakwater's construction can be found at http://goo.gl/qAU8Nn. Taken over by the Channel Islands Granite Company in 1923, the line continued in use until
1940 when the occupation of the Channel Islands by Germany resulted in partial conversion to 600mm gauge. After the end of the war the line reverted to
British Government ownership, was relaid back to standard gauge and continued in use carrying granite for maintenance of the breakwater and harbour. In the
mid 1970s negotiations started for the running of a passenger service and the line OP 5 March 1980 with a train consisting of a 2 car Wickham trolley set. The
Wickhams were still in use a year later when the BLS visited and were driven over the 2½ mile route by one of our members.

Next page : The three Wickham trolleys used for the BLS visit standing at the Inner Harbour, at the western end of the Alderney Railway. The line used to
continue north west on to the breakwater. The current passenger service starts at Braye Road, south east of this location. (Chris Totty)





Previous page : The Wickhams at the eastern end of the Alderney Railway, Mannez Quarry. Today the AR has its terminus here and maintenance facilities – in
1981 there was just a stop block which can be seen at the very bottom of the picture in front of the wagon chassis. (Chris Totty) The 'Art Nouveau' building in
the backround, known locally as 'the cinema' or 'the Odeon' is none of those things, but in fact an observation and gunnery control tower built during the
German occupation of 1940-45. Mannez Quarry is also home to one of four tunnels (seven are believed to have been planned) built during the occupation for
munitions storage and supply. Photographs of the interior of the tunnel, and a plan of its layout, can be found at http://goo.gl/fExsGQ.
Below left : Industrial systems were another attraction for BLS visits, though rarely simple to organise. Many sites were visited, however, and this photo shows
an unusual fireless loco at the Boots pharmaceutical plant at Beeston, near Nottingham, taken on a BLS visit on 30 October 1980 (Angus McDougall). Your sub-
editor wasn't present on that occasion but does recall a BLS party encountering a similar fireless loco at the Croda Chemicals site at Four Ashes, between
Stafford and Wolverhampton. Below right : Like quarries and manufacturing plants, collieries were another target for BLS interest. Just over a week later (7
November 1980) a visit to NCB's Comrie Colliery revealed their 0-6-0ST no 19 doing its bit for the environment! (Angus McDougall)

Next page : One of a series of BLS brake van trips run in 1985 on the former Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley (later GWR) line to Cwm Mawr and the
truncated former Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr line to Cynheidre moves forward over the crew-operated level crossing at Pontyates. The second loco (of three
required to handle the loaded trains) can be seen just behind the brake van.





Previous page : On 8 March 1986, BLS ran the 'Bedlam Belle' tour to Whatley Quarry and Merehead, where the then new GM class 59s could be seen. The tour
is seen here at Whatley Quarry, with 'Hastings' narrow-bodied DMU 1007 in view. The second unit, 1005, is hidden behind due to the curvature.

Returning to the theme of brake van trips briefly, these were subject to quite a variety of peripheral activities which added to the interest. Some of these were
more official, some less so and probably shouldn't be mentioned here. One of the more repeatable ones, however, involved the guard of a Lincoln to Horncastle
trip on 19 February 1970, when stray sheep were encountered in front of the loco. This, you might think, was quite a common situation on rural branches at the
time, and you would be quite right. However as you can see from the first photo this was early in the lambing season, and in the ensuing mêlée one of the
lambs got separated from its mother. This resulted in the second photo opportunity as the kindly guard, with no sheepdog to assist, cleverly outflanked the
errant lamb and drove it back towards Mum, to the great amusement of the brake van party.

Below left : the offending sheep, seen from the train. Below right : move 'em on, head 'em up ... the lamb outpaces the guard

Next page : Another chilly day was encountered on 19 January 1985 when the Society ran two return trips from Ashford to Dungeness. The picture shows
Hastings unit 1015 at the end of the line in snowy conditions.





Previous page : Almost a decade earlier, on 22 March 1975, the Society's Hampshire tour used Hampshire '3H' DEMU 1124 to visit Hamble Airfield, the
connection to the Marchwood Military Railway, Fawley, and the remaining portion of the Tidworth branch beyond Ludgershall. The tour, which started from
and returned to Portsmouth & Southsea Low Level, is seen here at Fawley, CP 14 February 1966. (Bob Mitchell)

The Fawley branch remains open for freight traffic
serving the Marchwood Military Port and the Esso
refinery at Fawley. It was OA 20 July 1925 by the
Southern Railway having been authorised as far
back as 1903, as the Totton, Hythe & Fawley Light
Railway. The branch has in recent years been the
subject of proposals for reopening to passenger
traffic. Hopes seemed quite high at first but
Fawley itself was not to be reopened because of
security concerns and other potential problems
were the possible loss of subsidy to the
Southampton-Hythe ferry and the local bus
services. Although supported by ATOC, Hampshire
County Council concluded that there was not a
strong enough business case for the reopening
and the proposal was abandoned on 21 July 2014.
Regrettable though this may seem to many
members of the Branch Line Society, it appears
possible that the decision may have saved, or at
least prolonged, the life of the 2' gauge Hythe Pier
Railway (OP in its present form 1922) which takes
passengers the 2,100 ft (640 metre) length of the
pier to and from the ferries.

Above : The landward end of the Hythe Pier Railway (Peter Trimming [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia
Commons)

Next page : On 22 March 1986 the Don & Tees railtour, originating from Sheffield, ran to the potash mine at Boulby on the former Whitby, Redcar and
Middlesbrough Union Railway. This expensively engineered but underutilised line was CA between Whitby West Cliff and Loftus on 5 May 1958, however when
ICI developed the Boulby mine in the early 1970s a rail connection was needed and the northern portion ROG in May 1974. The tour is seen here at Boulby.





Previous page : On 27 August 1977 the BLS Forth & Clyde Wanderer tour visited Bilston Glen as one of a number of freight branches in the Edinburgh and
Glasgow areas. (Alan Holmewood)
Bilston Glen was a comparatively modern colliery opened in April 1961 as a showpiece. It was located on the former Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway
(ELRR), later North British then LNER, opened in stages but reaching its last station at Glencorse (then 'Glencross') on 2 July 1877, and extended for freight to
Penicuik Gasworks, OG 30 June 1878. This last section CG (all) along with Glencorse to Roslin Colliery on 1 July 1959. The passenger service ceased on 1 May
1933. Roslin Colliery to Bilston Glen CG 1 June 1969 following the closure of the colliery but Bilston Glen survived until 1989, along with the remaining part of
the ELRR as far as Millerhill.
Below : a selection of BLS railtour tickets from those far-off days ...

Photos in this issue not otherwise attributed are ©Dave Cromarty


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