Issue Number 1283 (Items 1235 - 1342I&ssuMeRN1u0m2b-eMr 1R216180) (E-BLN 53 PAGES) 24 June 2017
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members;7a2n8i6n7te7rnational section is also available.
Opinions herein are not necessarily those of the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1284 is dated Sat 8 July; contriSbouciteiotyn. sSomciuetsyt.be received by Wed 28 June.
60th ANNIVERSARY OF BRANCH LINE SOCIETY MAIN LINE TOURS - SEE INSIDE
Date Event Details BLN Lead Status
Sun 25/6/17 Middlesbrough Goods, BLS/PLEG track and traction events 1279 JE FULL
Wed 28/6/17 Kennet Service Train Tracker, guided group day out 1275 TG OPEN
Sat 15/7/17 The Pickering Paxman; Derby Pickering HST FIRST CLASS FULL 1282 KA OPEN
Sat 22/7/17 18.00 - 20.30 Loughborough (GCR) track & traction tour 1283 AW *OPEN*
with PLEG; THROUGH to Mountsorrel branch and return.
Sat 29/7/17 Signal box visits, Bury St Edmunds & West Anglia area 1283 NG *OPEN*
27 to 30/7/17 Scottish Minor Railways Update in BLN 1280.931 1272 TV Enquire
Fri 4-5/8/17 Northumberland (Park) Nocturnal Navigator 23.59 - 05.30 1279 KA OPEN
Sat 2/9/17 The 565 Special, NW England - SW Wales Update BLN 1281 1280 KA OPEN
Sat 9/9/17 … Greendale Rocket; Heartlands Park/Princess Royal Centre 1282 JE OPEN
Sun 10/9/17 Sandbach - Alsager railway walk (afternoon); a prior local TBA TBA Claimed
…*NEW* minor railway fixture is also under investigation *NEW*
Fri 22/9/17 Swindon & Cricklade Railway 12.00 Track & traction tour TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 23/9/17 The Southeastern Metrolander, Class 465/0 EMU railtour 1283 JE *OPEN*
…*NEW* Charing Cross (07.30) - Victoria (20.00), very rare SE track NEW
7 & 8/10/17 BLS Animal tracker: Minor Railway weekend Beds & Bucks TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 14/10/17 Statfold Barn Railway, Tamworth, BLS private railtour TBA TBA Claimed
17-19/11/17 AGM fixtures - Liverpool Area, long weekend with railtour TBA TBA Claimed
AW-Andrew Wilson, JE-Jill Everitt, KA-Kev Adlam, NG-Nick Garnham, TV-Terry Velvick, TG-Tom Gilby.
1235] The Rothley Rodder, Sat 22 Jul: This was not finalised in time for paper BLN 1282 but details
went out with e-BLN 1282 (e-BLN will always be more up to date). Our evening track & traction tour
with PLEG from Loughborough, Great Central Railway (GCR) 18.00/20.30 includes Swithland Up Goods
Loop, the much sought after Mountsorrel Branch connection, Swithland Up Main to Down Main X/O,
Loughborough Down Loop & Shed Road No1. Motive power includes locos 08907, 08528 & 08694 with
passenger coaches from Loughborough to Rothley Brook (rev) and Rothley P2. Then by DMU from P1
through to Mountsorrel Bond Lane station end of line and return, transferring back to the loco hauled
train. BLS & PLEG members £20 (non-members £32); as a UNTIL 11th JULY a GCR advance purchase
day rover is available for just an extra £10 (not transferable and cannot be bought without a charter
ticket). D6535 is expected to be working and three steam locos as well as the DMU; with attractions
such as the Travelling Post Office mail drops. Under 18s (accompanied only) £5 reduction on total fare.
CHEQUES ONLY payee 'Branch Line Society' to Andrew Wilson, GCR Visit Bookings Officer, 61 Tyersal
Park, Tyersal, Bradford 4, West Yorkshire, BD4 8EY. Please supply the full names of all participants
with an email address, or, if not available, an SAE (two if you require an initial acknowledgment).
IF YOU ARE BOOKING THE DAY ROVER YOU MUST INCLUDE AN SAE, as they are card, not e-tickets.
All queries to [email protected] (Andrew Wilson). If you do not have email, queries can be
made by post (with an SAE please). Standard BLS Terms and Conditions apply (see website or available
on request). See 'Connections' for other suggestions of railways to visit earlier in the 22 Jul.
1236] West Anglia Signal Box Visits, Sat 29 Jul: Bury St Edmunds (meeting point), Chippenham
Junction, Dullingham and others as possible. Bookings Nick Garnham [email protected]
or 82 Baron Court, Peterborough PE4 7ZF (with an SAE). Orange high viz vests are required; please
confirm you have one, and if you are coming by car (also how many lifts you can give) or train.
Car numbers will be kept to a minimum for parking/access. An on the day charity donation applies.
1237] The Southeastern Metrolander, Sat 23 Sep: With thanks to local member Darren Garnon,
details and a booking form for this unusual third rail tour (actually our first!) with Southeastern
Trains, are enclosed with BLN. E-BLN subscribers will need to print it out please. There is a great
deal of unusual track at the Baker and microgricing level, some never covered by a passenger train
before. A London Victoria break is included when it will be possible to join or leave the tour (no fare
reduction). Please do support this sociable day out which may well lead to further such SE tours.
1283 HEAD LINES
1238] Keeping Track, (extra to Head Lines) significant passenger service suspensions: *= New/altered
BLN Start (incl) End (incl) Location (exclusive where bracketed) [bold = closed now]
1281.1031 5 Jun 17 25 Jun 17 *Limerick - (Ennis), (Birdhill) and (Limerick Junction) etc
1274.243 8 Jul 17 16 Jul 17 Wootton Bassett Jn - Bathampton Jn/Bradford South Jn
1282.1132 22 Jul 17 28 July 17 *(Banbury) Aynho Jn - Wolvercot Jn (Oxford) with…
1282.1133 22 Jul 17 30 Jul 17 *(Oxford) - Didcot East Jn - Foxhall Jn / Chester Line Jn (Didcot)
1281.1034 8 Jul 17 30 Jul 17 Miles Platting Jn - Ashton-under-Lyne - Stalybridge Jn
1282.1134 13 Aug 17 21 Aug 17 *(Tame Bridge Parkway) - Walsall and Darlaston Jn - Pleck Jn
1282.1135 13 Aug 17 28 Aug 17 *Walsall (inclusive until 21 Aug only) - (Rugeley Trent Valley)
1281.1035 25 Aug 17 28 Aug 17 (Redcar Central) - Saltburn [and Boulby branch TCG]
1276.500 7 Oct 17 16 Oct 17 Welsh's Bridge Jn (Inverness) - (Keith)
1281.1033 11 Jun 17 By Xmas 17 Midland Metro; Wolverhampton St George's - (Priestfield)
1275.365 11 Nov 17 26 Jan 18 Fylde Jn (Preston) - Kirkham North Jn - Blackpool South
1275.366 11 Nov 17 18 Mar 18 Kirkham North Jn - Blackpool North
1222.1799 20 Dec 14 Jan 2018 (London Blackfriars) - (London Bridge) Thameslink work
1222.1799 20 Dec 14 Jan 2018 (London Bridge), Spa Road - Bricklayers Arms Jn
1239] South Devon Railway, Totnes Littlehempston: Renamed Totnes Riverside from 11 Feb 2017 in
the timetable and on the platform names (with the suffix '…alight here for Town & Main Line'). The
station OP as Totnes Riverside 8 May 1977 was renamed Totnes Littlehempston (the parish it is located
in) from the 1988 season. Ashburton Junction signal box here was commissioned on 21 May 2017.
1240] Aberdare Ground Frame (22m 37ch) - Tower Colliery loading pad - Hirwaun Pond (27m 15ch):
The final coal train to clear stocks ran on Thu 11 May 2017, the 18.17 to Newport Alexandra Dock Jn.
It worked on to Hope Earle's Sidings on 13 May. Seats may still be available on the UK Railtours Sun 30
Jul 'Valley Legend' from Paddington to Tower which could be the last railtour there (BLN 1276.592).
1241] Kiveton Bridge (excl) - (Gainsborough) Trent West Jn, three stations & Retford LL platforms:
TCP/A Sun 11 until Sun 17 Jun (incl) for relaying of Brancliffe East Jn and relaying further east. (The
South Yorkshire Joint Line, associated connections & Woodend Jn - Shireoaks West Jn were TCG/A.)
1242] Mansfield Woodhouse (excl) - Worksop (incl) & four intermediate stations: TCP/A from 22.00
Mon 12 until Sat 16 Jun 2017 (incl) per previous item. (There is no Sunday service on this section.)
1243] LUL Circle Line and H&C lines, Wood Lane (excl) - Edgware Road (excl) and five intermediate
stations: TCP 14 Jun 2017 due to the Grenfell Tower fire near Latimer Road station. A shuttle service
(15 minute frequency) operated between Hammersmith and Wood Lane using both tracks reversibly.
1244] (Dublin) Green Line; St Stephen's Green to Broadstone-DIT: Sat 17 Jun 2017, first
tram movement (gauging trials; both routes). Broadstone-DIT to Broombridge: Sun 18 Jun 2017, first
tram movement (gauging trials). Driver training is expected to start in September for OP in December.
ABOVE: (BLN 1182.1299) Just north of the current Green Line City terminus at Stephen's Green -
behind the photographer - the line turns sharp right (all pictures Stuart Hicks on 21 May 2017).
BELOW TOP: (See BLS LRT/Tram System Track Diagrams 2016, supplied with E-BLN 1268; p6) O'Connell
Street junction; one of two locations where the Green Line extension crosses the Red Line on the level.
Right is off to St Stephen's Green, left is to Broombridge. Straight on is the Red Line towards Connolly
and The Point. Heuston and the two southern termini are behind the camera. The curve connects the
two lines and, it is understood, will be for ECS workings (like the similar one at the other flat crossing).
BELOW BOTTOM: Dublin Broadstone (the station CP 1 Jan 1937 timetabled services, then the line was
used for access to the locomotive shed and wagon repair shops and probably for delivery of bus fuel
after 10 Jul 1944. It CA 8 Apr 1961). The station frontage with more LUAS extension works evident.
1245] Gwili Railway, Abergwili Junction station: (BLN 1282.1131)
OP 2 Jul 2017, the platform south end is (247m 20ch) and the middle
of Bronwydd Arms (249m 11ch) so the extension is 1m 71ch. It runs
past the platform to run round loop end and continues for a further
200yd as a siding. Parallel to this siding there is a disconnected track
with stabled rolling stock which will become a second siding.
1246] London, Post Office Railway, Mail Rail: (BLN 1271.3133)
OP 28 Jul 2017 with the new Postal Museum and a demonstration
public ride from Mount Pleasant returning via a reversing loop. The
description of a 1km run 'around Mount Pleasant station' suggests
possibly the dumbbell circuit using the two return loops each end of
the station - reports welcome as always. LEFT: The Post Office Railway
track plan from 'IanVisits' (sic) website. BELOW: Detailed track plan of
the station at Mount Pleasant (Subterranea Britannica website).
1247] Bolton (excl) - Lostock Jn - Euxton Jn (pronounced
'Exton')/Crow Nest Jn and seven stations; also Bolton (excl) -
Windsor Bridge North Jn and four intermediate stations: TCP Sat 12
to Sun 27 Aug (incl) to reinstate Bolton P5, remodel the layout, build
the new footbridge, modify other platforms and canopies with
signalling and OLE work. Bolton to Clitheroe via Blackburn services
continue to run SSuX.
1248] Walsall (excl) - Rugeley TV P1 (only) and six intermediate
stations: (BLN 1282.1135) TCP/TCA Sun 13 Aug is now extended to
Bank Holiday Mon 28 Aug 2017 for 'Chase Line' electrification work.
1249] Liverpool Lime Street (mainline): TCP is expected Sat 30 Sep
until Sun 22 Oct 2017 (23 days) for remodelling. Services are expected
to operate similarly to the Feb 2017 embankment collapse closure.
1283 BLN GENERAL
X.92] Preston: BELOW TOP: There is nothing unusual about through
trains from Ormskirk to Liverpool Lime Street but on the gloriously
sunny Thu 15 Jun our all First Class 'Cat & Dock' railtour made the
journey by heading north from Ormskirk and reversing in Preston
Dock (no 's'!). It is seen there with what was also the first passenger
working of DRS 68026 (David Tillotson and thanks to Martyn
Brailsford). BELOW LOWER: Participants in the 2017 'Three Peaks
Challenge by Rail' in aid of Railway Children - a cheerful group picture
on Crewe P12 (after our 'Cat & Dock' railtour which used the same
train) before the it departed on the evening of Thur 16 Jun. Three
days later on return some looked distinctly 'peaky' - Press Release.
1251] PSUL 2017 – UPDATE 3 (with thanks to Richard Maund.) 12XX]
The previous updates were in BLNs 1275 and 1278; those details are not repeated below. Minor
retimings of a few minutes either way are ignored but the fully detailed latest version of PSUL
can always be found on-line via http://tinyurl.com/psul-intro or http://snipurl.com/psul-intro
Introduction: printed details remain valid until 9 December unless amended below.
Page 5: Trent East Junction - Toton Centre: Add: 1V81 05.45 SO Sheffield - Reading
(until 9 September 2017).
Page 5: Syston North Junction - Syston East Junction: 2R92 21.05 SSuX Spalding now
terminates at Nottingham.
Page 5: Thrumpton West Junction - Retford West Junction (high level platform 2):
2P87 Huddersfield – Retford is retimed to start 20.13.
Page 5: Allington West Junction - Allington North Junction: Add: Saturdays 22 July
until 9 September: 1S01 07.53 Derby – Skegness; 1S02 11.40 Skegness – Derby; Sundays
until 10 September: 2S09 09.00 Nottingham – Skegness; 2S14 12.27 Skegness –
Nottingham; 2A58 16.22 Skegness – Derby.
Page 6: Old Oak Common West - Northolt Junction: Delete note in brackets; 2M29 11.36
Paddington is now extended to High Wycombe.
Page 8: Brixton Junction - Canterbury Road Junction - Cambria Junction: Add: 2U52
05.40 SSuX Dartford – Victoria.
Page 10: King Edward Bridge South Junction - Gateshead High Level Bridge Junction:
On dated Saturdays, 1S49 11.25 Plymouth – Dundee starts as 09.35 Newquay.
Page 11: Warrington Bank Quay - Walton Old Junction - Acton Grange Junction:
Departures from Warrington Bank Quay on Saturdays: Add 15.27, delete 22.56.
Page 12: [Harrowden Junction - ] - [ - Sharnbrook Junction]: 1C01 04.45 Leicester -
St.Pancras International is only booked this route on Mondays.
Page 12: Watford North Junction - Watford East Junction: 00.29 MO Watford –
Rickmansworth is retimed to start 00.19.
Page 13: Shenfield - Mountnessing Junction (via reversible Southend Loop): Current
service: Most Down local trains to the Southend line from Shenfield with use of platform 4 or
5 (trains to/from other platforms used the main lines), plus only the following trains in the
Up direction:1K01 04.00 SSuX and 1K03 04.30 SSuX Southend Victoria - Liverpool Street
also 2J41 18.36 SSuX and 2J43 19.19 SSuX Southminster – Shenfield.
Page 13: Reading East Main Junction, 8421 points - Reading Southern Jn: Add: 1V63
19.13 SSuX Gatwick Airport – Reading; delete: 1V71 23.18 SO Gatwick Airport - Reading.
Page 14: [Crediton - ] site of Coleford Junction - Sampford Courtenay – Okehampton:
Service on Sundays until 10 September 2017: From St. James' Park (Exeter) to Okehampton
at 2K02 09.01, 2K04 11.01, 2K08 14.27, 2K10 16.29; returning from Okehampton at 2J03
09.55, 2J05 12.12, 2J09 15.23, 2E27 17.59* (* = to Exeter St.Davids only).
Page 14: Norchard Low Level - Norchard, Middle Forge Junction: Delete 10.00 Norchard
- Lydney Junction; add 17.05 Lydney Junction – Norchard on “red” dates.
Page 15: Little Bridgeford Junction - Lower Heamies: Add: 1F46 14.01 SSuX
Birmingham New Street – Liverpool Lime Street; 9P43 19.43 Euston – Preston terminates at
Crewe; delete: 1D33 22.40 SuO Birmingham International – Holyhead.
Page 15: Norton Bridge Junction - Yarnfield Junction: An exception to the described use
of the Norton Bridge East Chord is1U20 06.52 SSuX Crewe – Euston which uses the flyover.
Page 17: Woodburn Junction - Rotherham Central Junction: Add: 1B52 23.27 SSuX
Manchester Airport – Sheffield.
Page 18: Aldwarke North Junction - Thrybergh Junction - Mexborough East Junction:
Add: 1J33 18.57 Hull - Sheffield.
Page 18: Milford Junction - Burton Salmon Junction (site) – Castleford: West Coast
Railways' Scarborough Spa Express “north route” does not use this route; delete: 1V46 06.20
SO York – Plymouth until 16 September 2017.
Page 19: Dublin Connolly (platform 7) - Newcomen Junction: Amend service to: A902
08.00 SSuX Dublin Connolly – Sligo.
Page 19: Carriganore – Gracedieu: Passengers can join/alight only at Kilmeadan; trains
beyond Gracedieu are only for pre-arranged groups - no regular service currently envisaged.
Page 20: Carmarthen Junction - Carmarthen Bridge Junction: 1B96 10.40 SuX Newport
- Fishguard Harbour starts Swansea at 11.00.
Page 20: Briton Ferry, Court Sart Junction/Up Flying Loop Junction - Morlais
Junction: Delete 1B96 10.40 SSuX Newport - Fishguard Harbour; 1B97 13.29 SSuX
Fishguard Harbour - Cardiff Central retimed to start 12.50; 1E16 12.05 SuO Cardiff Central
- Milford Haven retimed to start 12.00.
Page 20: Landore Jn - Swansea Loop West Jn: Amend service to read: 1B97 12.43 SO
Fishguard Harbour - Cardiff Central; 1B97 12.40 SuO Fishguard Harbour - Cardiff Central.
Page 21: Statesman Rail phone number is 0345 310 2458.
Page 21: Downpatrick: Halloween dates are 28, 29, 31 October, and Christmas dates are
SSuO 25 November until 17 December. Make direct enquiries about routes to be used.
1250] Points & Slips: ●BLN 1281.1039] Killoch Open Cast Disposal Point supplies coal as required to
Penyffordd cement works arriving on a Wednesday and Ketton arriving on a Friday. ●1040.26]
'Gatwick' is 'London Gatwick Airport'. ●1065] The Tamar bridge that is being improved is the Royal
Albert Bridge. ●BLN 1282] Item '1040' should be numbered '1140'; ironically this was 'Points & Slips'!!
Item ●X.74] On the actual metal plaque pictured by Kev Adlam at Fitzalan Square/Ponds Forge tram
stop commemorating the former Sheffield stock exchange (1911-1967), 'VICKERs SON & MAXIN'
should have been 'MAXIM'. ●1126/1165] Salford Central terminating services from the west (during
engineering work and the recent Manchester Victoria closure following the bomb) arrive at P1 and
return west over the trailing crossover on departure. East of the station to Deal Street Jn both tracks
are reversible. ●1186] The new mega-paper tickets/banners have printed QR (a trademark meaning
'Quick Response' - really?) codes to scan at ticket barriers rather than conventional barcodes.
Item ●1217] In our 'Bubble & Squeak Tracker' report, Bicester Village station, with two slightly
staggered platforms is at 19m 40ch (from Bletchley); the previous Bicester Town (ex-London Road),
a single platform latterly was at 19m 34ch slightly further east and next to the level crossing. Sadly the
National Rail Enquiries website still shows the plan and associated picture of the old station with
a 'Bicester Town' name board visible 20 months after the new station opened! The caption to this plan
indicates that there are no staff assistance, no train announcements (they are actually made in three
languages!), no display boards or boarding ramps, although the correct information is given on other
parts of the website. However, Malvern Link station still similarly shows the decrepit old buildings over
three years after they were demolished then replaced by new ones, despite numerous emails from
your Editor. Heading east and later in the tour report (in paper BLN), the DMU met the 1940 curve
from Calvert Jn at Claydon L&NE Jn. It is interesting that this WW2 curve is expected to become part
of East West Rail. ●1218] Finally, a member who used to pass the rail served Moreton-on-Lugg Royal
Army Ordnance Corps depot on the A49 (now Moreton Park with its stone loading terminal) recalls
seeing a smoke-blackened Class 47 (just the front cab was damaged) and some Mk I coaches.
1252] BLS Scunthorpe tour Sat 23 Feb 2013: A participant is trying to find out if loco 20066 was seen
during the day (which he believes was resident at the steel works as number '82' around then) please.
1253] BLN Index 2017: (BLN 1282.1120) Our member Greg Beecroft has kindly offered to compile this.
1254] Polar Express? The only mention of the recent UK election in BLN (guaranteed!). At Leeming Bar
on the Wensleydale Railway the 'local residents coach' (a DMU vehicle partly painted light/sky blue -
a Con trick??) was used as a polling station, to the disappointment of floating voters who might have
preferred a boat. It stayed in the platform all day. The result: A big vote of confidence in the railway.
BELOW: The scene at Leeming Bar station on Thur 8 Jun (Bob Coombs).
1255] Welcome! We are always pleased to have new members but a special welcome to Joe Brown
who has recently become a Society member. Joe is the well known author of the remarkable
'London Railway Atlas' now in its 4th Edition (Jan 2015) and the new 'Birmingham & West Midlands
Railway Atlas' (Jun 2016). He is working on one for Manchester & Liverpool [Hartlepool and
Teesside would be an interesting challenge!]. Anyone who has not seen one of these atlases would
be well advised to look through them next time they are in a suitable bookshop. Feedback or further
information is welcomed by Joe at [email protected] or your BLN Editor will pass on
written submissions. Suitable related items for BLN are very welcome and your Editor has suggested
to Joe that if he wants to raise specific queries with our members these can be made via BLN.
1283 EAST MIDLANDS
1256] Barnetby: Opened in 1849 by the Great Grimsby & Sheffield Junction Railway, the original
Victorian station and track layout underwent considerable change in 1916 when the Great Central
Railway opened Immingham Docks. A huge amount of traffic was generated, requiring quadrupling;
the signal boxes at Wrawby Junction and Barnetby were also built. The re-modelled Barnetby station
was one of the final projects of this type undertaken by the Great Central, due to WWI and then
grouping in 1923. Most of the station buildings were demolished in the 1980s but the former booking
office building survives as NR offices. It is named Stothard House after a well-respected railwayman.
1257] East Midlands Airport: (BLN 1281.1040.1) This can be considered to be 'accessible by rail' as
'Elite Cars' operate a scheduled 6-seater road vehicle service daily from East Midlands Parkway hourly
09.00 (10.00 SuO) to 17.00 (the airport website suggests 06.00 to 19.00), returning from East Midlands
Airport 'Bay A' at 20 minutes past that hour; the journey time is 10 minutes each way. Interestingly the
timetable notes: 'tickets are still valid outside of the advertised timetable by ringing 01332 581581
to arrange an onward journey'. The fare is £6 single; tickets are available from ticket offices and the
EMT website. There are scheduled buses from Derby, Leicester, Long Eaton and Loughborough etc.
1258] Singing in the Rain Train: A live 'Singing Train' choir joined the 09.26 Leicester to Lincoln
between Beeston and Newark Castle on Sat 10 Jun. 45 members of the 'Everyone Can Sing' choir burst
into song as they boarded the train; passengers were encouraged to join in and songbooks were
supplied. 'Hi Ho Silver Lining', 'Lean On Me', 'Yesterday', 'Dancing Queen', 'Wonderwall', '500 Miles'
and 'Sit Down' (possibly a BLS Steward favourite?) by the band 'James' were performed, accompanied
by a guitar. The choir later returned from Newark Castle to Beeston. It remains to be seen if this idea
will be introduced to future Society railtours. Ideas for suitable songs to the Regional Ed please.
X.94] ABOVE: (BLN 160.1293) The former Clipstone West Jn from on a passing railtour on Wed 14 Jun
2017, heading east on the double track towards Tuxford (off left). The isolated Clipstone Signal Box
(right middle) still signals on the main line! Clipstone East Junction has also gone. (Iain Scotchman).
1259] Barrow upon Soar: (BLN 1276.516) The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has published
its report into the partial collapse of the Grove Lane road bridge over the MML at 23.50 on 1 Aug 2016;
a large amount of masonry fell onto the lines below. Core sampling work was being undertaken at the
time to investigate localised subsidence of the footpath on the south side of the bridge.
When the coring had reached about 1.4m below ground, water appeared at the surface and shortly
afterwards, the adjacent wall fell away from the side of the bridge, taking part of the footpath, some
of a cast iron water main and the core sampling rig. Five workers were able to clear the area as the
collapse occurred and no-one was injured. Two of the four tracks under the bridge were completely
obstructed and there was debris on a third. The road and footpath was temporarily closed at the time.
There were no trains on the immediate approach to the bridge when the collapse occurred but a
London to Nottingham train had passed underneath at 92mph six minutes earlier. A freight train
approaching the bridge was stopped 500m before it by a GSM-R 'all trains stop' emergency message.
The RAIB investigation found that the incident occurred because the bridge wall, built around 1840,
had also been weakened by a previous full-height vertical crack. The water main, which ran close to
the vertical crack, probably had a slow leak which was causing on-going subsidence in the footpath.
Prior to 1 Aug 2016, however, there was no evidence that the wall was at risk of imminent collapse.
The coring work on the night of the incident disturbed the pressurised water main and it ruptured.
The release of water behind the wall quickly overloaded it causing the wall to 'overturn' about its base.
It had not been designed to resist this. The RAIB has made appropriate recommendations (see report).
1260] Market Harborough: The Borough Council has granted planning permission for a new 500-space
car park at the station on NR owned land in Rockingham Rd. The MML remodelling (straightening)
here requires the current car park site which is anyway liable to flooding. NR said that, depending on
available Government funding, the Kettering to Leicester work is due to be completed by Dec 2023.
1261] Kettering: The A6013, Northampton Rd, under the Midland Main Line (MML) just north of the
station is closed for the school holidays from 24 Jul until 4 Sep. This is for major strengthening work on
the rail overbridge for the Corby line electrification. The brickwork will be repaired, the spandrel walls
strengthened and tie bars passed through with pattress plates fixed to each end of them. The latter
are circular (or similar shaped) exposed plates on the walls. The footpath beneath it will remain open.
1262] Midlands Connect: (BLN 1278.718) A 'long term transport plan' (is there ever such a thing??)
'Midlands Connect Strategy, Powering the Midlands Engine' has been released to support the
government's vision of a 'Midlands Engine'. Railway improvements to Worcester, Hereford and South
Wales are included also between Leicester and Birmingham, Coventry to Leicester and Derby - Stoke -
Crewe by the end of the 2020s. The document states that the train journey time between Derby and
Stoke could be more than halved to 23 minutes; also a much faster service between Coventry and
Leicester. Midlands Connect also plans to maximise the benefits of HS2 by connecting the region well
to its four HS2 stations (Birmingham Curzon Street, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe Hub and
East Midlands Toton) as well as making use of the released capacity on the conventional rail network.
1283 GREATER LONDON
1263] Crossrail: (BLN 1282.1159] Artist Simon Periton is creating permanent art installations in both
entrances at Farringdon, co-funded by Goldman Sachs and the City of London Corporation.
The eastern entrance will have exterior glazing on three sides of the building featuring an intricate
pattern that reflects the elaborate Victorian metalwork of Smithfield Market directly opposite.
At the western entrance on Farringdon Road large diamonds will appear to tumble down and around
the escalators, with the 2m tall designs digitally printed on to the glass panels that line the walls.
This marks the proximity of the station to Hatton Garden. The Farringdon installation forms part of the
'Culture Line' initiative, which is funded entirely by private sponsorship and will see large scale artwork
at seven Crossrail stations. At Paddington a canopy consisting of glass panels printed with clouds is
currently being installed. The OHLE in Paddington P1 is due to be energised from 10 Jul.
1264] District Line Microgricing: With thanks to Bill Lynch. Since the last guide (BLN 1258.1081 June
2016, corrected in BLN 1259.1203), the Earl's Court west connection from Wimbledon to P1 has been
restored (BLN 1274.263) and Mansion House bay has been decommissioned (BLN 1271.3161).
The current WTT No149 is dated 21 May 2017 and is available: https://goo.gl/vbE8lq . This guide also
covers the Circle Line in the Kensington area and the Hammersmith & City Line east of Aldgate East.
Train running numbers otherwise difficult to identify on the day are shown in [square brackets].
•Upminster P5: SuX throughout; SuO gaps 08.08-11.32, 20.13-22.13.
•Dagenham East bay P3: Turnrounds arr SSuX 07.11-09.09, 17.04-18.24; SuO 23.07½  (leaves ECS).
•Dagenham East crossover: Departures from bay.
•Barking bay P3: District Line trains turning east to west do so in P3, but Hammersmith & City Line trains
(train running numbers [2XX]) shunt ECS P2 to P6. Exceptions arrive P3 SSuX 06.34½ , 07.16 ,
21.46 ; but P2 SSuX 23.28½ , SuO 00.03½ . There are gaps SSuX 19.20-21.46, SO start-07.41,
20.29½-22.08½, 23.27-close, SuO start-08.28½, 23.02-close.
•Plaistow bay P1: Turnrounds arr SuX 23.58 [270 SX, 275 SO]; SuO 23.08 , 23.28 , 23.48 .
•Plaistow crossover: Departures from bay.
•West Ham Siding (east end 'pocket'):-
•as a westbound loop: West Ham arrive SuX 05.42½ [210 SSuX, 206 SO]; SuO 07.20.
•as an eastbound loop: West Ham depart MX 00.48½ [205 SuX, 206 SuO]; MO 00.11½ .
•as a long facing crossover: ECS only.
•as a long trailing crossover: No booked use (NRU).
•Aldgate East P1 eastbound departures: SuO 06.26½, 06.46½.
•Crossovers at Whitechapel east, Whitechapel west and Embankment: NRU.
•Crossover at South Kensington: ECS only.
•Gloucester Road P3 departure to Outer Rail: SuX 05.23.
•High Street Kensington:-
•Circle Line crossover: NRU.
•Bay P3: Turnrounds (of which those in italics stable or leave empty) arriving SSuX 05.31†, several 05.36-
07.22½ [016, 074, 007, 046, 022, 001, 031], several 19.27½-21.06 [124, 012, 124, 060, 125, 021]; SuMX
several 00.04-01.16 [052, 075, 076, 077, 026, 115]; SO 05.31 (dep only), several 05.36-06.47½ [014, 074,
056, 045, 046, 063, 113], all (~3 tph) 07.16  until 23.26½ , 23.57 ; SuO a few 00.10½-01.13
[074, 075, 001, 002, 065], 06.58 , all (~3 tph) 07.13½  until 23.32½ , 23.52 , 23.58½
; MO 00.09½ , 00.20 .
•Bay P4: turnrounds (of which those in italics stable or leave empty) arriving SSuX several 05.18-06.27½
[072, 014, 063, 052, 020, 123, 124], 20.07½ ; SuMX several 00.09-01.13 [074, 054, 110, 070, 036]; SO
several 05.18-06.57 [072, 041, 043, 062, 051, 114]; SuO several 00.05-01.16 [067, 054, 027, 024, 070,
115], 06.56†, 07.11½†, 23.35½ , 23.55½ ; MO 00.04 , 00.15½ .
† Departure time from ECS arrival or from previous night's stable.
•Crossovers at Triangle Sidings, Earl's Court east and West Kensington: ECS only.
•P1 Arrivals from West Brompton direction: SuMX 00.29½ .
•P2 Arrivals from West Kensington and Olympia directions: SSuX several 05.54-06.41½ [077k, 061e,
035a, 022k, 124e, 053e, 001k]; SuMX 00.25 [001r], 00.39½ [103r]; SO several 05.35½-06.51½ [041a, 077k,
062k, 045k, 051e, 046k, 065a, 040e, 014r, 113k, 061a], 07.30 [046e]; SuO several 06.29-08.08½ [022a,
073a, 062e, 022e, 037e, 045e, 114k], 23.28½ [046e]; MO 00.13 [033r]. (From a = Acton Town, e = Ealing
Broadway, k = Kensington (Olympia), r = Richmond.)
•P3 Departures towards West Brompton: SSuX 06.46, 07.40½, 07.44½, 11.00½, 15.11½, 19.42½, 22.50½;
SuMX 00.21, 00.42; SuO 00.23, 00.41, 07.07, 07.20½, 23.30; MO 00.02.
•P4 Arrivals from Gloucester Road direction: Trains towards West Brompton not shown above at P3, plus
SSuX 07.41 , 15.12 , 19.39½ .
•P4 Departures to West Kensington/Olympia: SSuX 7 trains 05.34½-07.43, 10.59, 15.12½, 6 trains 19.41-
20.54½; SuMX 00.19½, 00.40½, 00.43, 00.56; SO ~3 tph 05.34½-00.56 SuO; SuO ~3 tph 06.59½-00.09 MO.
•Kensington (Olympia):- (Unlisted balancing trips are all ECS to and from Lillie Bridge.)
•Arrivals SSuX 19.47½ , 20.28½ ; SO ~3 tph 07.03½ - 23.43½; SuO ~3 tph 07.59 - 23.08, 23.45.
•Departures SSuX 7 trains 05.50½-07.15, 19.58½, 20.38½; SO ~3 tph 05.48 - 23.19, 23.49½; SuO ~3 tph
07.35 - 23.49½.
•Barons Court - Hammersmith connections to and from Piccadilly Line: ECS only.
•Crossovers at Wimbledon Park and Gunnersbury: NRU by LU.
•Wimbledon and Richmond: The WTT does not give platform numbers, but it is believed the usual practice
is to bring trains into the most northerly free platform. Richmond trains are on RTT with NR-allocated
nominal headcodes to conform to NR train identification rules.
•Ealing Broadway P9: Turnrounds (of which those in italics leave empty) arriving SSuX 05.14½ ,
05.49½ , 06.02½ , several 09.19½-11.27½ [041, 016, 044, 124, 027, 031], 15.07½ , 15.27½
, 15.40* , 18.08 , a few 20.03-21.07½ [031, 061, 047, 054], a few 23.57½-01.06½ SuMX
[063, 045, 050, 003, 276]; SO 06.56½ , 07.18 , 07.37½ , 13.40½* , 19.17½ ; SuO
00.11½ , 00.28½ , 00.39 , 00.53½ , 06.33½ , 07.06 , 13.40½* , 22.57½
, a few 23.17½-00.30 MO [102, 054, 101, 024, 001, 264].*Nominally stock transfer may run passenger.
Known recent use also to turn back in service during planned engineering blockades.
1265] LUL Microgricing Guide: An updated cumulative summary is available with e-BLN 1283. Thanks
to Martyn Brailsford for compiling it, to Bill Lynch for data extraction and Geoff Brockett for assistance.
1266] Poplar: (BLN 1282.1151) Numbers in brackets in this item refer to the BLN 1281.1077 diagrams.
Diagrams are included first from the Pre-Grouping Junction Diagrams (THIS PAGE, BELOW) and
secondly based on a sketch provided by the Liverpool Street Divisional Manager in 1968. (NEXT PAGE,
TOP) This shows arrowed ( ) the new track that became operative on 17 Jun 1968; black squares
(■ ■) are the lines abandoned to make way for it and dotted (● ●) track was to be removed under the
scheme. Blackwall bridge itself was removed 17-19 Apr 1970. Https://goo.gl/ScxGX1 is the layout
before 1968 with https://goo.gl/Fgdk6R the post 1968 layout.
On 17 Jun 1968 access to Poplar Dock from the North London line was much simplified by providing a
direct link between High Street Jn (south of Poplar NLR 35) and the ex-LNWR tracks on the middle
mole (stone pier) and the north quay of Poplar Dock (40 & 42), then known as Poplar Dock North, thus
removing the need to move traffic via Harrow Lane sidings. These (unnumbered) are at the end of the
North London tracks, projecting west beyond No30, but not providing direct Millwall MR Coal depot
(26) access. An old OS plan shows this and also that the Midland coal sidings were reached by lift from
GER track! The alteration made the Blackwall bridge (shown above) route redundant. The tracks into
Poplar Dock North had to be severed for the new access but, as part of the overall scheme, the whole
of the track from Harrow Lane sidings and across Blackwall bridge was to become redundant, including
the access to the Port of London Authority (PLA) lines and to the former GN Poplar Dock South goods
depot (41) (CG 1 Jul 1968). Neither was linked to the new connection from High Street Jn.
Note the total lack of track on the west side of Poplar Docks in the new layout. Due to the closure of
virtually all the PLA dock railways in the Royal and India & Millwall docks with effect from 4 May 1970,
BR provided a railhead at Poplar Dock 'for carting by road vehicle a limited amount of traffic between
Poplar and the (affected) Docks', designated as Poplar Dock Full Load Yard (Divisional Manager,
Liverpool Street letter LX1.721/5 of 13 Mar 1970). Both Clinker's Register and H V Borley's London
Chronology assert that the former GN Poplar Dock South depot (41) was reopened as part of this 1970
scheme, but in that (as the second OS plan cited above clearly shows) there was no rail access.
Our member who has researched this strongly suspects they have misled themselves and that the new
railhead was in the area of the LNWR (North) depot (40). However, he would be very grateful if any
member is able to provide definitive evidence to establish whether they were right or wrong. If the
former, how was rail traffic moved to the GN depot?
Our member also advises that the GER's Engineer's Plan of 25 Dec 1919 calls location 30 simply
'Bank Box', but an LNER Sectional Appendix gives its full title as 'West India Dock (sic) Bank box'
(although the then-closed passenger station had been plural 'Docks'). He also suggests that the 'left
hand' turnout link between locations 30 and 32 was installed in BR days, enabling them to close the
line from Stepney East, Salmon's Lane Jn to West India Docks while continuing to allow access the
Midland coal depot via a NLR routeing without a back-up move via the link at 33.
1267] DLR: The system will be 30 years old on 31 Aug. On opening in 1987 it had 11 trains, 15 stops
and 6.7M passengers in its first year. Current figures are 56 trains, 45 stops and 122M passengers!
1268] Hidden London: There have been no recent London Transport Museum 'Hidden London' tours
at Aldwych station (BLN 1226.252) due to 'safety issues' as the emergency exit is temporarily blocked
by work being carried out at Holborn station. The good news is that these thoroughly recommended
tours are due to restart at the end of the year. There are also no tours of the closed Charing Cross
Jubilee Line platforms (BLN 1257.994) due to refurbishment, but they will restart too. Tours currently
operating regularly but 'sold out' are: ●Euston station: the lost tunnels. ●Euston station: photography
tour. ●Clapham South: subterranean shelter. ●Down Street: Churchill's secret station. ●55 Broadway:
'London's first skyscraper'. LUL is now retaining this Grade I listed building completed in 1929 for the
foreseeable future as the listing causes difficulty converting it to an alternative commercial use. As well
as seeing the inside and outside of this amazing building, the tour includes a 'different' extensive 360o
rooftop view of London with original photos (and also some taken in 1986) of the views in four
directions for comparison. A visual presentation is also made while complimentary refreshments are
served; original maps and signs are seen and a souvenir illustrated booklet is provided for participants.
1269] Barking - Gospel Oak: (BLN 1278.720) Weekend closures to continue the electrification work
have started. The line is closed on Sundays from 4 Jun to 2 Jul and then on Saturdays from 8 to 23 Jul.
It is not yet clear if a longer continuous closure will be required later in the year.
1270] Thameslink: (BLN 1282.1158) With the majority of trackwork in situ east of London Bridge,
attention has turned to the Metropolitan Jn to London Bridge section. Temporary troughing that has
obstructed the new Thameslink lines since early 2016 has now been removed. The cabling that
previously ran through it is now hung from bridge parapets and track laying has started. Charing Cross
has been closed over a series of weekends for these works.
1271] Victoria - East Croydon: From 22 May Southern services after 00.05 and before 04.52 SSuX have
been withdrawn to (officially) allow additional time for track maintenance. Thameslink services
continue to serve the Brighton Main Line south of East Croydon, with some extended or having
additional stops. A connecting bus service runs between Clapham Junction and East Croydon.
1272] Waterloo: (BLN 1279.857) From 19 Jun a new connection (0m 20ch) from the Up Main Fast to
P7 was installed but remains OOU. The conductor rails from P20-24 to signals W911 and W915 outside
the station on Up Windsor Relief Lines 1 and 2 are scheduled to go live from 20.00 on 30 Jun.
The conductor rail between the signals and International Jn was energised from 14 May.
1273] LUL Tower Hill: Over the weekend of 3/4 Jun bay P2 was connected to the eastbound line at the
east end of the station. The new connection will remain OOU until the area is resignalled.
1274] Herne Hill: The booking office is now closed for refurbishment and is expected to reopen in the
summer. A temporary office is situated in the old cab office. A £1.5M upgrade, with money from the
National Station Improvement Programme, will provide a larger booking hall and ticket office, with
two accessible ticket windows and new retail facilities. One of the arches of the viaduct will be opened
for additional passenger facilities.
………………………1283 NORTH EAST…………………………1275] T&W Metro: Nexus has scrapped the initial
£5 charge for a 'Pop' pay as you go card, applicable
since launch in 2015, but passengers need to top
up the card with at least £10 to be able to use it.
1276] Sunderland: (BLN 1282.MR 90) 'Pinky' and
'Perky', the two Ruston & Hornsby diesel-electric
locos seen from our Aug 2016 'Tale of two Ports'
tour at Sunderland South Docks were moved to
the Bowes Railway on 21 Mar this year. They were
the last of a once significant steam and diesel loco
fleet at the former extensive rail system of Hudson
and Hendon Docks, ('South Docks').
The locos had been little used since 2001 and the Bowes Railway is actually in the City of Sunderland.
ABOVE 'Pinky' and 'Perky' were bought out of their shed especially on Mon 29 Aug 2016 so that they
could be seen by participants passing on our 'Tale of Two Ports' railtour that day (Kev Adlam).
1277] NER Signal Boxes named 'Junction' cont; Guisborough Junction (Middlesbrough): (NZ 502204)
(BLN 1282.1160) This controlled the divergence of the Whitby branch and worked to Middlesbrough
East (then to Middlesbrough after the East box was closed in the early 1960s) and Whitehouse boxes,
on the main line and to North Ormesby box on the branch. The Guisborough line (OG 11 Nov 1853;
OP 25 Feb 1854) predated Nunthorpe East to Battersby (OG 1 Jun 1864; OP 1 Apr 1868); hence the
junction name. To complicate matters further, there was also a junction box at Guisborough itself!
The simple layout these days, a facing crossover and a single pair of points giving access to the Whitby
line, is in stark contrast to the situation 90 years ago. Then the box, with 140 levers (17 spare) was the
largest in the area, controlled eight running lines (Up and Down Main, Mineral, Reception and Dock
lines, the latter three being renamed No1, No2 and No3 Goods Lines by 1960), with two separate
double track connections to the branch, which was therefore 'quadruple track' for a short distance.
This shows how intensive the freight traffic was in those days, with significant mineral traffic on the
branch - unimaginable now. The box was destroyed by arson on the night of 7 Jun 1980. It was
switched out at the time and only opened for two shifts, when the Whitby service ran. The signals
controlling the Goods Lines were quickly dispensed with but the points for the branch had to be hand
operated and trains handsignalled. By the end of the next day, cabling had been run to Middlesbrough
and Whitehouse boxes, enabling some form of block working to be introduced. The day after that a
temporary portable building was provided, although the points and signalling were still hand worked.
Later in the week a ground frame was installed. All freight traffic was banned from the Main Lines to
relieve pressure on the rather primitive arrangements at the junction, with the exception of the
MWFO pick-up freight to Whitby (mainly domestic coal). Middlesbrough SB later assumed control.
ABOVE: Middlesbrough, Guisborough Junction on 7 Aug 1970; the Whitby line is off to the right and
the line Saltburn line is to the left (Angus McDougall).
ABOVE: Victoria Tunnel; map by the entrance and https://goo.gl/dW5epC (Peter Scott 17 May 2017).
1278] Newcastle: Victoria Tunnel was built in the early 1840s to link Leazes Main or Spital Colliery to
the River Tyne at Ouseburn under part of the City. It officially OG 7 Apr 1842, a single standard gauge
track with cauldron wagons conveying coal to ships on the Tyne. Loaded wagons rolled down on the
constant falling gradient to the river, with empties being hauled back to the colliery by a 40hp steam
engine, which also controlled the speed of descent. The colliery closed around 1861 and the tunnel lay
disused until 1928, when it was used for growing mushrooms. In WW2 it became an Air Raid shelter.
Part of the tunnel at the Ouseburn end was opened for public tours in 1998, but had to close in 2006
due to structural problems. Fortunately, it opened again in 2009. Guided tours are run twice a week
and can be thoroughly recommended. They start at 55 Lime Street, the offices of the Ouseburn Trust,
who run the tours using volunteer guides. A short walk, partly along the River Ouseburn, is then made
before entering the tunnel at one of the entrances constructed for WW2. The tunnel is blocked a short
way towards the Tyne, but the guided walk extends northwards at least as far as the Byker Road,
passing under the route of Hadrian's Wall. The central section between Queen Victoria Road and
Ellison Place was completely lost when it was used for a sewer in 1976 (it went down the pan!).
The tunnel is in remarkably good condition, mostly dry and can be walked comfortably in an upright
position! There is some lighting and each participant is given a hand lamp. The commentary is very
informative - while going north the WW2 period is discussed and on return the construction and coal
carrying period is described. The two hour tour is £6 adult (one hour tours also available). For details
see https://goo.gl/91B7pH with a picture and to book or 0191 230 4210 SSuX from 09.00 to 17.00.
BELOW: Inside the tunnel (Trip Advisor).
1283 NORTH WEST
1279] Burnage & Mauldeth Road: The
railway bridge over Fog Lane just south of
Burnage station (LEFT: - John Cameron) was
replaced on 3/4 Mar https://goo.gl/q5vyvG
(the bridge being moved through the
streets!). The one over Mauldeth Road, at
that station was replaced at the same time.
1280] Eden Brows - a very moving story:
(BLN 1262.1413 with diagram) We have kept
readers advised during the recent closure.
This is a summary of the work (including
some material from 'RailEngineer').
Services were first disrupted during the 2015-16 winter. Flooding from 'Storm Desmond' closed the
Settle & Carlisle line for several days at the beginning of Dec 2015. From 29 Jan 2016, the Eden Brows
landslip (which caused much trouble when the line was built), north of Armathwaite, resulted in the
southbound line being closed between Howe & Co's sidings and Culgaith. This was for inspection and
emergency stabilisation works. Problems had first been reported in mid-December, but repairs were
undertaken and services resumed on 22 Dec 2015. Further movement of the massive embankment
(130m long and 70m wide) resulted in the complete closure of the line at that point during 9 Feb 2016.
The foot of the embankment had been washed away by the River Eden and the saturated fill
supporting the formation was descending towards the river. It was estimated that some half a million
tonnes of earth was on the move - about 100 times the tonneage that had fallen into the sea at
Dawlish two years previously.
With the embankment still in an unstable condition work on site was severely restricted. Aerial surveys
using drones showed that, over a distance of 200m, the railway formation had dropped by 1.5m due to
a rotational slump and was still moving. The line at this point passes along a built-up ledge 60m above
the River Eden. Erosion of the bottom of the embankment had destabilised the entire hillside.
●Options: Various design solutions were considered, including singling the line, diverting the railway,
constructing a bridge, pinning the embankment in place, or even digging out the entire embankment
and filling it with solid material. All of these were discounted. A contiguous piling solution was chosen
as the preferred option (diagram at BLN 1262.1413), in which two rows of closely spaced piles in to the
bedrock would support a concrete slab on which the railway would be laid. In effect, this would be a
buried viaduct, able to safely support the railway even if the hillside was to subsequently move again.
Due to known fault lines passing through the site at right angles to the railway, several 30m deep bore
holes were sunk to investigate the geological situation (see below).
●Piling: The chosen solution which was finalised in Jul 2016, required insertion of 226 piles on 750mm
centres, forming two contiguous rows. They were to be sunk to a depth of 20m under the Up line and
18m under the Down line, the bottom 4-5m being into the solid bedrock. Van Elle was appointed to
undertake this work using an air drilling technique. The piles were mainly 660mm in diameter, formed
of reinforced concrete protected by specially manufactured steel outer casings (made in Italy but not
Pisa!). The reinforcement consisted of seven bars with 16mm shear bracing. In all, 4,040m of piling was
sunk using two rigs. A third piling rig was on standby but not needed. A 1.5m thick reinforced concrete
slab, incorporating a ballast retention wall, three metres high, was to be cast on top of the piles.
This meant that the piling needed to be four metres below rail level, requiring the removal of 9,000
tonnes of spoil. All this spoil was transported away from the work site by train.
●The Slab: The work progressed well, helped by an untypically dry Cumbrian winter - a complete
reversal of the year before! By the beginning of Feb 2017 piling was complete and a start could be
made on constructing the reinforced concrete slab. Together with the integral retaining wall, 1,220
cubic metres of concrete was needed (a total of 12,000 tonnes of concrete was used on the £32M
project). The slab is 1.5m deep, 12.5m wide and 75m long, formed in five sections. The 95m (longer)
3m high retaining wall, was cast in seven sections. New drainage for surface water was then installed.
●Relaying: With the slab in place and the waterproofing membrane laid, it was time to make up the
new track formation. About 6,000 tonnes of aggregate backfill was used (brought in by train) to lay the
track on, requiring an additional 3,000 tonnes of track ballast. The line has been slewed by 400mm,
with realignment of 2.4km of track (so microgricers had better go and do the S&C again both ways!).
●Hand back: This was completed two days ahead of schedule; with the first tamp on 22 Mar.
A NR track recording train used the route the next day, followed by Northern Rail route familiarisation
runs (as the line had been closed over 13 months), leading to ROP on Friday 31 Mar 2017.
● Phase 2: Slope and scour works continue until the end of 2017. Directional drilling is being used to
install new drainage that, with a series of ditches, removes water from the embankment to improve its
stability. The embankment is being graded and then faced with rock fill. Substantial rock armour will
prevent the river eroding the embankment base. Tree planting will follow to further stabilise the land.
●Conclusion: By any standards, the Eden Brows repairs were exceptional - NR (formed 15 years ago)
classified the project as the most difficult repair job it has undertaken. This formation has always given
trouble, blamed on the way the ledge supporting the railway was built up. Exploratory drilling before
piling revealed the stratified manner in which imported material had been compacted by the Victorian
railway builders - a technique that would not be used now as it increases the risk of slipping. Perhaps
the landslip was inevitable and, if it had happened during the early 1980s, it would have been curtains
for this iconic railway. It is greatly to NR's credit that a long term repair has always been its objective.
1281] Armathwaite: Contractors were engaged to deal with two further embankment slip problems,
just south of the station and the other at nearby Baron Wood. In Dec 2015, before the Eden Brows slip
had truly manifested itself, a speed restriction was imposed on the Up line south of Armathwaite due
to a slip at the embankment base, caused by a failed culvert. Emergency repairs by contractor Murphy
involved installation of 'H-piles' into a temporary embankment. 1,200 tonnes of stone brought in then
to create a temporary road for a permanent repair. Murphy received the go-ahead for permanent
repairs in Dec 2016. A wall supported by 'king posts' was installed to hold an embankment re-grade
and about 370 cubic metres of concrete used to fill the redundant culvert. Embankment drainage was
improved and 5,800 tonnes of stone was used. Work was completed in Mar 2017, two weeks early.
1282] Dent: During the Eden Brows repair, contractors undertook an extensive watercourse
containment and drainage scheme near Dent. It was innovative in the use of plastic building block
modelling ('Lego' to you and me!) in the design phase. Using 'Legato' [we are not pulling your leg - Ed.]
interlocking concrete blocks, the design was easily scaled up. These weigh up to two tonnes each but
are dimensionally similar in proportion to the famous plastic toy building blocks. The result was a
complex stepped weir and water channel, to divert and slow down the flow of Cowgill Beck, which had
been eroding and destabilizing the base of the adjacent railway embankment. Due to the remote site
location and severe access difficulties, this novel use of pre-cast interlocking blocks created a self-
supporting structure which could be easily transported to site and assembled without wet concrete.
1283] When 'The Warrington Hole' was not
'Whole': A member discovered a 19 Jan 2010
planning document (see e-BLN download,
LEFT & BELOW) with very interesting photos.
It notified NR's intention to carry out repair
work on the 'Arpley Intersection Bridge'
carrying the Chester to Warrington line over
'New Found Out Siding'. This leads to the
question of the origin of the name 'New
Found Out' siding? (Also per TRACKmaps Vol
4 p26B Aug 2013.) Old maps suggest the line
was not originally a through route but just
accessed industrial premises on the west side
of, and ran beneath, the WCML from the east
yards. The 2010 pictures show it was blocked
by substantial girders and scaffolding then
required to prop up the Chester line bridge. Clearly the work was undertaken and the line (re)opened
as a through route to the Warrington BQ Down Slow line. Can anyone shed any light on the siding
name and the period of closure of the line?
Apparently the former curves onto the LD&EC line at
Shirebrook (one of which survives on the west side
as the WH Davis Wagon Works branch) were also
called the 'New Found Out'. [Perhaps it could be an
abbreviation for 'New Foundry Out Siding' as
opposed to the 'In' siding?]
1284] Slow Wires: On Wed 7 Jun a member caught
the 17.53 local from Wilmslow to Cheadle Hulme,
which stopped north of Handforth for about 20
minutes. There was a problem with the overhead
wires between there and Stockport. Eventually the
service drew forward to the next signal, one short of
Cheadle Hulme. After a similar wait it then crossed over onto the southbound line at Cheadle Hulme
South Jn (new for him as a local), before arriving into Cheadle Hulme P2 about 40 mins late. The guard
announced that the train would return to Wilmslow, reverse there, and then go to Piccadilly via Styal.
Despite the exciting microgricing on offer, our correspondent had had enough and left the train!
1285] Blackpool North: (BLN 1281.1054) From 10.15 on Sun 25 Jun P7 & 8, the Down Siding and
associated equipment are due to be permanently taken OOU for future recovery. P8 is already OOU.
Virgin Trains has applied to run three return Pendolino workings each way to Euston from May 2018.
1286] Ditton: From Sun 18 Jun Ditton Sidings Ground Switch Panel (released from Ditton Signal Box)
was to be provided to control access to/from the new Alstom Train Care Centre from Ditton Reception
Siding 1. Associated pointwork and signalling (controlled from this panel) was to be commissioned.
1283 SOUTH EAST - NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
X.93] ABOVE: A colour picture of a new map appearing above the doors in the GWR Class 387 EMUs. It
mentions electric services to Didcot Parkway in 2018 and Newbury in 'late 2019' (Stuart Hicks 2 Jun).
1287] Greater Anglia (GA): It is proposed to replace seven ticket offices serving a very low number of
customers with enhanced ticket machines, and, in some cases, station staff to help customers with
ticket enquiries. The threshold to remain open is an average 13 ticket sales per hour. The stations are
Walton-on-the-Naze, Thorpe-le-Soken, Great Bentley, Alresford, Dovercourt, Harwich International
and Great Chesterford. GA state that these have very low ticket sales well below minimum thresholds
set by the DfT to consider an application to alter the statutory opening hours. All those affected,
except for Great Chesterford, are served by trains with conductors who can sell tickets to customers.
Under the new franchise, GA is making significant investment in new ticketing arrangements and
station facilities, with easier to use ticket vending machines. At Harwich International, a member of
staff would be on duty at times of major demand, such as when there are cruise ships in port, and to
assist with customer service at adjacent stations; similarly with one based at Thorpe-le-Soken.
1288] Ticket machines: June Modern Railways had an article on the stagnation and abandonment of
the project for smart ticketing across TOCs, mainly in the South East, illustrated by Southern's recent
installation of machines selling conventional card tickets where readers for their Key scheme coexist.
1289] Cambridge North: (BLN 1282.1125) There are actually 53 services SuO, 112 SO and 139 SSuX.
Passengers to/from Cambridge North for all stations north to King's Lynn are permitted to travel via
Cambridge ('circulate', as GA put it) and tickets to either Cambridge station are interchangeable
between GA and Great Northern (GN). Cross Country trains do not call at Cambridge North; fares to
which are generally priced the same as GN Cambridge. This arrangement may be provisional as a
'Cambridge Stations' location code may be created. It is intended for all King's Lynn trains to call at
Cambridge North when they can be lengthened. Trains that call now tend not to serve Waterbeach.
1290] Cowley: (BLN 1275.406) The Oxford Mail reported on meetings between local authorities
including Oxford City and County Councils and the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), the latter
welcoming proposals for passenger services on the Cowley branch. The councils propose several
measures to improve transport by road, rail and bus over the 'last mile' into Oxford city centre.
The work sought by NIC is said to be on the commercial benefits of passenger services on the Cowley
branch. Widening the railway at Botley Road bridge for rail south of Oxford station is an integral part
of the scheme. The NIC is said to have backed an Oxford to Cambridge Expressway road scheme.
1291] East Suffolk line: On his Aug 2016 visit our reporter visited: Brampton which is unexciting,
a small plastic shelter on a single platform without original features. South of the level crossing are
railway houses. Halesworth's first station (BLN 1216.1322) is a quarter mile north of the present one
and is a pale-pink washed private residence at a former level crossing. That station was only open from
1854 to 1859. The way round by road is very circuitous. The present station was formerly noted for its
moveable platforms, they are still there but non-functional (BELOW: Angus McDougall 20 Aug 2015).
At Bealings station (CP 17 Sep 1956) there are substantial remains of both platforms and goods shed.
Both are sympathetically maintained, as a private residence and a small business centre next to the
1292] Wickham Market: The unused main station building has been neatly restored this year.
The work included installation of a new platform canopy in GER style complete with their 'Japanese'
valancing (an alternating pattern of 'U' and shape and inverted 'U' cuts in the lower edge of the fascia;
others still exist, the nearest at Woodbridge). Period lighting has been installed under the canopy.
1293] Beccles: The station has an attractive small café in the Down side buildings open 06.40 to 14.30
SSuX, 09.00 to 14.30 SO and 10.00 to 14.30 SuO. The building also houses two meeting rooms for hire;
the Ticket Office (for small meetings - of auditors?) and the Arthur Crisp Studio (for large meetings).
SOUTH EAST - SOUTH
1294] Folkestone Harbour: (BLN 1276.553) A visit was made on 24 May to discover the latest 'state of
play' there. The old station, the viaduct across the harbour and parts of the pier were the site of
intensive building and refurbishment activity that is best summed up by a posted notice: Work is
taking place here as part of the next phase of the development of the Harbour Arm. This involves
restoration of the former Network Rail station, with the track bed, curved platforms and their canopies
renovated to create a new boulevard linking the Harbour Arm with the viaduct across the inner
harbour. This will provide a continuous pedestrian route that will also help interpret the heritage of the
site, which includes the already restored signal box. A further pedestrian route will be created along a
boardwalk to be constructed along the seashore towards the Coastal Park.
The brick viaduct was in the later stages of being completely repointed and the swing bridge at the
seaward end was completely shrouded in sheeting with a notice that grit blasting was in progress.
The track has been almost completely removed from between the station platforms and the platform
canopies have been stripped of back cladding and roofing. The two colour light starting signals at the
landward ends of the platforms remain and the refurbished signal box looks very smart in SR green
and cream paint. The projected residential and retail development on the foreshore to the west of the
harbour towards the Coastal Park has at long last started to make some progress. Part of this area was
once occupied by carriage sidings accessed by a backshunt off the pier. Leas Cliff Lift (BLN 1275.MR37),
currently moribund, is at the far end of this site and it seems unimaginable that at some stage funding
will not be forthcoming to provide the braking enhancements required to allow it to reopen.
This is promising news, as at one stage it appeared that retention of railway infrastructure, including
the viaduct, and other heritage matters, were a low priority for the Folkestone Harbour Company.
1295] Newhaven Marine: The building and final remains of the canopy at Newhaven Marine have
been demolished to platform level. A port security fence now runs down the centre of the site.
1296] Brighton: (BLN 1282.1180) A member present reports that on 26 Jun 1971 (the last day) it was
certainly possible to join the trains at Kemp Town. He took the Volk's Electric Railway (VER) to
Children's Playground (now Peter Pan's Playground) then the adjacent cliff lift; from the top of which
it was a short walk to Kemp Town. After the train trip to Brighton station and back he returned 'down'
the cliff lift and back on the VER. The 6 Jul 1974 Brighton Station Open Day service ran from Brighton
station hourly from 10.45 to 16.45 to the Lower Goods Yard via the Upper Yard. It was worked by a
Class 09 loco (the station pilot usually) with one TSO and a brake van, propelling towards the Upper
Yard. Fare: Adults 20p (worth about £2 now), Children 15p. A frequent free DEMU service was also to
run between Brighton station and Lovers Walk Depot, where other exhibits were on display.
1297] 60 Years of BLS Mainline Railtours: Although our Society was founded in 1955,
fixtures were not so frenetic as now. Our first charter from BR was a Welshpool & Llanfair Light
Railway 'farewell special' in open wagons with 75 participants on 15 Sep 1956. It CG/CA 5 Nov 1956
and most has since reopened in preservation of course. On 16 Sep 1956 a tour was arranged to cover
the whole of the Stratford-upon-Avon & Midland Junction Railway, (fare 24 shillings = £1.20p), but
only two members booked (plus the Committee and their wives) so it was cancelled! A Society tour,
'The Fenlander' was due to run on Sun 26 May 1957 with 'The Yorkshireman' on 2 Jun that year.
Unfortunately the first tour was rescheduled for 2 Jun resulting in a clash (!!) so the Fenlander was
postponed (new date still awaited!). The route had included the GNR/GER Huntingdon connection,
Somersham, Ramsey East, St Ives, Sutton, Ely, Stoke Ferry and Thetford to Bury St Edmunds… (wow!)
However, 2 June 2017 year marked the 60th anniversary of our 1957 first mainline railtour, also 24
shillings, it lost money and the then organiser, the late Geoffrey Lewthwaite, was left out of pocket…
To celebrate this otherwise very successful tour, the first of many, this report (in blue lettering, factual
errors corrected and some annotations in black) is reproduced from the single July 1957 BLN edition.
See next page below for a route map. Does any current member have any recollections of this tour?
1298] OUR YORKSHIRE RAIL TOUR: By I.HURST Sunday June 2nd 1957 saw the first major railtour
organised by the Society 'The Yorkshireman' a special train covering closed lines in Yorkshire and
including a trip over the Easingwold Railway. Starting at York, it was made up of 5 open coaches
including an ex-NER buffet car, and motive power was D20 4-4-0 No62387 specially cleaned and
carrying the Society's headboard. The departure was delayed for 55 minutes owing to the late running
of an excursion from Liverpool, and we finally left at 1.25pm. By Poppleton Jn [actually Skelton Jn
after Oct 1938] Driver C Snowden had very capably worked our D20 up to 50 mph, and we continued
at good speeds through Beningbrough and Tollerton to the stop at Alne, with 8 minutes regained.
Here a crowd of local people and pressmen were waiting to see us off on our trip over the Easingwold
Railway. [CP 29 Nov 1948; CA 30 Dec 1957. Was there a subsequent tour?] Indemnity forms were
handed over and, after much photographing, passengers climbed, with or without the aid of ladders,
into the train. This consisted of J72 0-6-0T No68726, 10 open trucks [unfitted] and an ex-LNER parcels
van lettered 'on loan to the Easingwold Railway'! To cheers from the onlookers and the sound of
3 detonators exploding, we moved out on to the weed-grown line, which curves sharply to the right.
As we lost sight of the main line, the surroundings became more and more like those of a leafy country
lane, with hedges brushing the train, ditches blocked up and the track slumbering peacefully beneath
grass and weeds so deep that in places the engine's coupling-rods were actually pushing grass aside.
At both intermediate road-crossings were crowds of local people and cameramen.
When Easingwold was reached, the whole town, it seemed, had turned out to see us. We ran in past
the disused loco depot to the station, where one enterprising salesman had installed himself with soft
drinks for our benefit. The booking office was open selling specimen tickets which proved very
popular. We inspected the station and yard unearthing NER labels, an ancient timetable and other
interesting items. Traffic for the line seemed quite good, with at least a dozen goods wagons in the
yard. We returned to Alne having lost even more time, and rejoined the main train.
A quick run over the 3½ miles from Alne saw us
passing the former Bishophouse Jn site
[its signal box closed 12 Mar 1933] of the
Pilmoor South Curve divergence, and drawing
to a halt at Pilmoor South Jn [Sessay Wood Jn
until 12 Mar 1933] There the D20 ran round
and continued tender-first away up the closed
Gilling branch [CP 2 Feb 1953] on single track
from Sunbeck Box. The rather derelict
Husthwaite Gate station was passed and we
were soon slowing for the token change at Coxwold. Ampleforth was passed and the train stopped at
Gilling for water. The station buildings and bridge all seemed to be in good condition but the
signalman had difficulty pulling off our starting signal. Surprise at this was soon quietened when it was
learnt that no-one usually bothered about such formalities. [TICKET: The John Debens collection.]
Helmsley Pickering BRANCH LINE SOCIETY
Thirsk Thirsk Town The Yorkshireman
Sunday, 2nd June 1957
5 4 Malton
1 Driffield KEY
YORK British Railways (open)
Enthorpe British Railways (closed)
Wetherby Market Weighton Derwent Valley Light Rly
Tadcaster Derwent Valley Beverley Tour route
Light Railway POINTS OF INTEREST
Gilberdyke 1 Skelton Jn (formerly Poppleton Jn)
Church Fenton Cawood 2 Bishophouse Jn
3 Pilmoor South SB
Sherburn in Cliff Common 4 Sunbeck Jn
Elmet 5 Pilmoor North SB
Micklefield 10 9 8 Selby 6 Line partially built, never opened
7 Scarborough Road Jn
8 Selby West SB
9 Thorpe Gates Jn
10 Gascoigne Wood Jn
Not to scale. Many minor stations
and some minor/industrial lines
omitted. Historical maps used by
permission of the National Library
of Scotland :
[ABOVE: A new tour map thanks to Dave Cromarty with Geoff Blyth's help, it can be rotated.]
Leaving Gilling the Kirbymoorside* line runs parallel to the Malton branch for about one mile to
Stonegrave. Here the Malton line was left behind as, climbing steeply at 1 in 91, we curved first
northwest and then east through Nunnington to a halt at Helmsley. After a ten minute photographic
stop we continued through some fine scenery to Nawton and Kirbymoorside. [*The town is named
Kirkbymoorside but the NER had other ideas and called the station Kirby Moorside (one 'k').
This was accepted over time and was even adopted by the Ordnance Survey but has now reverted to
the original Kirkbymoorside. BR changed the station name to 'Kirbymoorside' (sic) on 31 May 1948.
Some pictures of the tour at the station https://goo.gl/LNVK5E (incorrectly dated 2 Feb 1957.]
The latter is now the terminus of the line, the track is lifted from here to Pickering [CA 2 Feb 1953].
62387 ran round, but a word with Driver Snowden elucidated the fact that all was not well with her;
it became apparent that the train would run very late. However, a fairly fast run back along the branch
to Gilling was made, and after a further run round we left on the Malton line [CP 1 Jan 1931].
Most of the intermediate stations on this section have had their platforms partly demolished, and with
only three freight trains a week its life seemed somewhat doubtful. We ran through Hovingham Spa,
Slingsby, Barton-le-Street and Amotherby, and at each point small groups of local people had
gathered to see us pass, whilst on either side of the route magnificent views could be obtained. Soon
we reached Malton (Scarborough Road Jn) where the spur from Malton station joined our line.
A pilotman was required though we did not stop here but continued on through Settrington up the
bank to North Grimston. [Our 'deeply envious' NE Editor advises Malton - Driffield CP 5 Jun 1950, but
some dated summer Saturday trains from/to the Pilmoor line then ran this way to avoid a double
reversal at Scarborough Road Jn and Malton station. CA 20 Oct 1958, just over a year after the tour.]
This station saw a full stop, the locomotive brake having failed, and the 20 minutes spent here for
repairs, effected by judicious use of the coal hammer and a very large spanner, enabled passengers to
see the numerous 'Best Kept Station' certificates (12 Firsts) in the booking office. Also on view was the
station cat, a large ginger animal, which quite took the heart of one well known member. Under way
again with steam pressure falling, we crawled up the bank through Wharram station with the gradient
steepening over stretches of between 1 in 50 and 1 in 71 into Burdale Tunnel, just over a mile in
length and lined throughout with Malton & Driffield Railway bricks. Some nine minutes was spent
traversing this narrow bore before we emerged and passed the remote Burdale station. On easier
gradients now we ran down through Sledmere & Fimber station [just before the modern Heritage
Yorkshire Wolds Railway], passing the only signal box on the line and off the Wolds at Wetwang†.
The country is much flatter and after Garton we soon approached Driffield, after a journey of 85 miles.
Driffield West Jn saw us join the Selby line and a few hundred yards later the Beverley line came in.
[†The extraordinarily named Wetwang - not a Chinese man in a shower - was purloined by the once
Rawlinson & Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, JRR Tolkien, for the Lord of the Rings:
Nindalf (also called Wetwang) is a swamp that lay to the south of the Emyn Muil and east of the Great
River Anduin, fed by the great inland delta of the Entwash. The village is Wetuuangh in the Domesday
Book. There are two interpretations of the name, one from the Old Norse vaett-vangr, 'field for the
trial of a legal action'. The other is the 'Wet Field' compared to the nearby 'Dry Field' of 'Driffield'.]
At Driffield we ran round; from here to York the writer was privileged to travel on the footplate.
Steam was in very short supply and it was apparent that the engine would have to be nursed all the
way. Only 120lbs were on the gauge when we were pulled out of Driffield 1hr 20mins late, and before
we could leave, arrangements had to be made for a connection to be held at Selby for Leeds and
Manchester passengers. A very cautious start was made out past Southburn and Bainton, but despite
herculean efforts by the fireman, pressure still fell. Middleton-on-the-Wolds was passed, but on the
rising gradients through Enthorpe the brakes began to leak on, pressure being down to 80lbs.
Just past Enthorpe station we stopped to raise steam. Having brought the pressure up to 130lbs, we
started again. A couple of hundred yards passed when a glance back revealed the guard performing
like a champion runner in chase of the train, which he had apparently left without applying his own
brake. A quick stop enabled him to reach us, and we were soon away again through Market Weighton,
Everingham, Holme Moor, Foggathorpe, High Field, Bubwith, Menthorpe Gate and the site of
Duffield Gate to our special stop at Cliff Common, [where the village is actually spelt 'Cliffe'] junction
for the Derwent Valley Light Railway. Representatives of that Company joined us for the remainder of
the trip to sell obsolete tickets.
On again to Selby, where at Selby East Jn signals halted us and a note permitting us to proceed to the
station on the same line as the Leeds train was handed up. After this connection had been made,
it was decided to run fast to York, the guard and others being informed of this. On we went noting the
Cawood branch on our right, and the spur from Brayton East Jn at Thorpe Gates Jn past Hambleton,
to Gascoigne Wood Jn. Here we took the infrequently used spur to Sherburn-in-Elmet [rather more
used 60 years later!] and were soon heading for York with 110lbs of steam and a tender full of dust.
Approaching Church Fenton at about 25mph we were rudely awakened by the application of the
guard's brake. We stopped, but after a series of interjections soon moved on, completing our journey
to York without further event arriving two hours late. This was unfortunate, but was due to the
necessarily late start and very poor coal. [But the intended route was covered in full.]
It remains to thank all those who helped to make this trip possible: BR NE Region Commercial Dept for
all their work, York loco dept for their attentions to 62387, the Easingwold Railway for all their help,
and the Derwent Valley LR Co for sending their official and to the following members of the Society:
ER Ebury and GM Baxter for their help on the train generally, the latter also for his excellent map;
Dr D Thorpe and P Baldwin for assistance with the headboard, the Committee for general assistance,
and most of all G C Lewthwaite to whose efforts the whole tour, including the itinerary was due.
BELOW: 'The Yorkshireman' between Malton and Driffield at Wharram, and how different things were
in 1957 (although the picture could almost pass for 1857)! Our train has stopped for water just before
the station allowing participants to alight/literally jump down (note open doors) to take photos from
the platform - looking (very appropriately) northeast towards Malton (Dean Phillips).
POSTER (PREVIOUS PAGE): Gilling - 'Kirbymoorside' CA 10 Aug 1964 and remarkably a final ramblers
DMU ran just three months before on 3 May 1964 (ABOVE - Bob Steer). BR had renamed the station
from 'Kirby Moorside' in 1948! BELOW: Our 2 Jun 1957 tour about to leave for Hemsley (John Mallon).
1283 SOUTH WEST (back in 2017!)
1299] Cornwall: NR has awarded Atkins a £9M contract to 'upgrade' signalling between Truro and
St Erth. There will be 12 new signals and 'upgrading' of 7 level crossings allowing an extra train to run
each hour from the Dec 2018 timetable change. This appears to be an 'economy version' of the original
scheme to completely resignal the whole main line in Cornwall with abolition of the manual boxes.
1300] Plymouth Millbay (BLN 1277.648) It
was previously stated that the Plymouth
North Road West - Cornwall Jn - Harwell
Street - Millbay Crossing (junction with
British Transport Docks Board lines) ceased
to be used from 1 Jul 1971 and remaining
dock rail activity ended. The same
correspondent has since come across a
letter and attachments (in the Clinker
Collection at Brunel University) from the
Plymouth Area Manager which slightly
amplifies that, while enclosing a photo of
the final freight out of the docks, on 30 Jun
1971. Carelessly read, the letter might
mislead, as it says the last revenue earning traffic left the docks on 8 Jun 1971 - a truck of maize for
Newton Abbot. The workings up to 30 June were probably to clear rolling stock from the docks (and
the lines were available for traffic if needed until then). ABOVE LEFT: Plymouth Millbay with the final
passenger train, our 'Plymouth Area' tour https://goo.gl/kyHa58 Sat 10 Oct 1970 (Plymouth Herald).
1301] Clifton Rocks Railway (BLN 1226.MR18) This funicular railway was built to offer a convenient
link from the high levels next to the Clifton Suspension Bridge down to the River Avon and its tramway
terminus. The railway construction involved the UK's first known use of dynamite being detonated
electrically. A tunnel was constructed through the limestone rock to appease the local inhabitant's
concerns of an ugly railway defacing the cliff-side [as if!]. Work began on 7 Mar 1891 and the railway
OP 11 Mar 1893 when the 500ft long tunnel was then the widest in the world.
Over 400,000 people used the railway in its first year but on 1 Oct 1934 it closed due to low patronage.
The tunnel was converted into a secret military base to repair barrage balloons, an air raid shelter and
a BBC emergency broadcast centre. Today, there are still a surprising amount of original station fittings
to be seen, and plenty of evidence of use in WW2. Access is limited, but there are fascinating two-hour
tours (sold out until Aug) climbing 300 steps each way, as were arranged for our Oct 2011 Bristol AGM.
9 & 10 Sep is 'Open Doors Weekend' with free tours of the top station (only) every 10 mins - donations
welcome - just turn up. Https://goo.gl/EKwJ6q has much information/pictures and to book a full tour.
1302] Bristol TM: From 24 Jun the In/Out Road Stabling Siding is to be taken temporarily OOU due to
the P13 & 15 extension project for IEP services (there is no P14!). The west end will accommodate
welfare facilities and the rest will be used for storage. It is expected to be reinstated on 15 Sep 2017.
1303] Bristol: (BLN 1275.422) The former double deck road and rail Ashton Avenue Swing Bridge has
been refurbished at a cost of £3.8M and reopened on 31 May (but not literally - its swinging days have
been over since the early 1950s). It was built in 1906 as part of the former Bristol Harbour Railway and
latterly used for domestic coal traffic to Wapping Wharf by rail until 1985 (final train 11 May 1987).
The grade II listed structure is now available for pedestrians, cyclists and Metrobuses (initially on test).
1304] East Somerset Jn: (BLN 1278.769) After the recent freight derailment, the only reinstated
branch is through the Up/Down Branch Loop. The direct connection off the Up Main has not (yet) been
replaced, although the track beyond the junction area is in situ. There is also now no access to the
Up Sidings that are partly covered in ballast. It is not known if this is temporary pending further work.
1305] Barton Hill: This maintenance facility is in the fork of the old Midland line towards Fishponds
and the GWR line towards Dr Day's Jn. The stub of the Midland route has been progressively cut back
over time and is now further reduced. Two lines were retained as stabling sidings but the right-hand
'Down' (away from Derby) line has now been slewed just beyond the points into the maintenance area
and the residue removed. However, the left-hand line remains and is being progressively renewed.
1306] Pilning: (BLN 1282.1182) The previous report about embankment combustion here led a
member who was formerly the BR Civil Engineer in Bristol to inform ...at one time embankment fires
were fairly common. Steam locomotives generated huge quantities of ash, and it cost money to dispose
of it from engine sheds. If you were building a new railway somewhere and you wanted more material
to create an embankment, it was very seductive to use 'free' engine ash. The trouble was that it often
contained a small proportion of unburnt combustible material.
Sooner or later the ash might catch fire, but as there was often ordinary soil on top (to promote grass
growth) the rate of burning was limited. In fact embankment fires continue very slowly for very many
years. There were no flames, just some smoke, and the ground was warm, not hot. Generally the best
thing was to simply let it happen; there was some very gradual subsidence as the coal burnt, but in the
days before 1980 (say) that was acceptable; ordinary tamping would easily cope with it.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway embankments were mostly built with ash by the
original GWR which has caused no end of problems with landslips and bridge cracking for the heritage
railway. No doubt in the modern environment of quality management and health and safety, leaving
Pilning embankment to burn is no longer an acceptable strategy. You have to intervene.
1307] Chipping Sodbury: From 27 Jun the sidings (104m 31ch from Paddington) will be taken OOU to
accommodate a compound for flood resilience work. They will be used to store on/off track plant (and
associated deliveries of materials). The sidings are expected to be recommissioned on 8 May 2018.
1308] Fisherton Tunnel: A correspondent reports that a 6 week total closure of the 445yd long tunnel,
at the London end of Salisbury station, is being contemplated for next year for maintenance work
1283 WEST MIDLANDS
1309] Cannock: The first electrification masts are expected to be erected here at the end of June.
Work will then progress north towards the electrification depot at Rugeley Power Station sidings.
1310] Gravelly Hill: (BLN 1282.1195) The electrified trailing crossover mentioned between here and
Aston is extremely rare. A member did manage to travel over it once in the early 1990s on his daily
commute. Returning home to Lichfield one day, it was announced that northbound services would
terminate at Gravelly Hill for onward road replacement transport due to a tree falling on to the track
in high winds between there and Wylde Green. As passengers alighted at the usual (northbound)
Gravelly Hill platform, others heading towards Birmingham who had arrived by road transport from
stations further north were allowed to board the train.
It was announced as returning south from there in passenger service and our member naturally re-
boarded to traverse the elusive crossover on the way back to Aston. He did not note the date but
believes it was after electrification (6 Jun 1993), and he retired in Aug 1995, so that is the possible
window if any member can add more details.
1311] Lichfield: The disused but mostly in situ Anglesea Sidings branch (taken OOU 23 Jun 2005) on
the former Walsall line has been fenced off on the railway bridge immediately after Lichfield City Jn.
1312] Ironbridge: On 13 Jun at 07.13 Lightmoor Junction Signal Box was reported to be on fire and
the fire brigade attended. The box had been sold to the Telford Steam Railway but NR still owns the
land on which it stands. The fire was put out by 12.40 and is being treated as a suspected arson attack.
1313] Wolverhampton: On 31 May the 20.47 Shrewsbury to Birmingham was routed to P3 off the Up
Stour line via the road to P4 then took the crossover right that is used on exit from the carriage sidings
into P3. Our member, a driver for over 30 years, said that it was the first time he had experienced this
from the main line (although he had done it previously exiting the sidings). Much 'Nashing' of teeth?
1314] Soho East Jn: From 26 Jun the Ground Frame and trailing crossover will be OOU for recovery.
1315] Mytholmroyd - Did Tornado pass? On 5 Jun at 15.06 a GSMR emergency call was received by
York control from the drivers of the 14.18 Leeds to Manchester Victoria DMU and the 10.50 Knowsley
to Wilton freight reporting a tree under the latter train. All lines were blocked; the DBC duty manager
advised that a tree stump was stuck under the freight loco but the train still had air pressure. About
100yd of bank had destabilised; 20 trees had toppled down the embankment and were on the Up Line.
The stricken DMU was moved at reduced speed to Hebden Bridge and an emergency possession taken
to remove the trees and spoil overnight using road rail vehicles. The cause appeared to be a mini-
tornado bringing down the larger trees but the track formation was stable. The Calder Valley route
reopened the following morning with a 20mph restriction on the Up Line (Down Line unrestricted).
A further overnight possession was required. Three Drax Biomass trains were diverted, also the second
Knowsley to Wilton (rubbish) train of the day and a Lindsey to Preston Dock (no 's'!) bitumen train.
1316] NIR New Timetable: This starts on Sun 2 July, the main change is the Londonderry new hourly
service with the previous 08.10 etc (even hours) Great Victoria Street to Portrush trains running to
Londonderry with a branch connection at Coleraine. This also applies to XX.05 (to be XX.03) odd hours
from Portrush. Impressively the hourly service is all day from Great Victoria Street at 06.05 (SSuX) and
07.10 (SO) to 21.10 with a 07.43 from Coleraine to Londonderry plus a 22.40 GVS to Coleraine. Sunday
service is two-hourly 09.10-19.10; through to Portrush alternate hours plus a 21.10 GVS to Coleraine.
There is a broadly equivalent service in the other direction, but of note Portrush has through trains to
GVS at 06.05 & 07.05 (SSuX) and 06.10 (SO) but only connections at Coleraine in the other direction!
The Larne line timetable is unchanged while the Bangor to Portadown line has extra trains to/from
Newry. The following extra services to Newry cover the Up to Down facing crossover north of the
station: 07.00 & 07.27 (bothSuX) ex-Portadown and the 17.37 (SSuX) & 21.27 (SuX) from Bangor
extended from Portadown to Newry, as is the 17.30 (SO) from Belfast Great Victoria Street.
Northbound trains that previously ran from Portadown start from Newry at 06.35 & 19.50 (SSuX) and
07.50 & 18.50 (SO). The 07.15 (SSuX) from Newry to Portadown now leaves at 07.30 and there is also a
new 23.30 (SuX) from Newry to Portadown booked non-stop. Note that the 06.00 (SSux) Portadown to
Newry runs into Up P1 and shunts empty after the 06.30 to Dublin, (occupying Down P2), departs.
The 06.30 does however cover the Down to Up trailing crossover at the south end of Newry station.
X.95] Carrickfergus station: PREVIOUS PAGE: Exterior. ABOVE: The 18.24 to Belfast Great Victoria
Street in P3. BELOW RIGHT: The 1922 built signal box, which had Tyer's One-Wire, Three-Position Non-
Sequential block instruments. This was the most advanced design of instrument to use a single
telegraph wire between boxes. The box closed in 1986 with resignalling and more recently has been
refurbished and still has its original 40 lever frame. BELOW LEFT: A station lift (platform to Subway)
constructed in about 2012 blends in with the older architecture (all Martin Baumann 9 Jun 2017).
1317] Athlone Midland: From Wed 7 June temporary track and associated signalling alterations took
place to facilitate renewal of turnout points No721. These, at the Galway end of the Midland Loop,
were taken OOU and plain-lined. This means that trains cannot cross here until further notice.
1318] Dublin Connolly (P7) - Newcomen Jn: The morning 'rusty rail' service changed from 14 Feb.
The previous train to use it, the 08.04 (SSuX) Connolly to Maynooth service, now runs non-stop from
P4 via Drumcondra. The 08.00 Dublin Connolly (P7) to Sligo service is now booked via Newcomen Jn
[SSuX or SuX?] also non-stop to Maynooth. It is formed by the unit which works the 05.55 from Gorey.
1319] Waterford: (E-BLN 1282.1123) Having seen that wonderful picture of our beloved FS at the new
Bilberry station on the Waterford & Suir Valley Railway (W&SVR - MR p27) a member checked his
records and found there has been at least one W&SVR train to the site. This was on Sun 15 May 2005
when a single journey from Kilmeadan to 'Waterford' was offered, an 'add on' to the annual RPSI tour.
Participants were bussed from Clonmel to Kilmeadan (where unfortunately they did not go west to
the end of the line) but did reach Bilberry (which is before the former Waterford South site) and on
arrival the Chairman of the W&SVR claimed it was the first passenger train to there since 1908. There
were many track panels around the site (but no platform which is recent) and they were then hoping
to extend services in the near future! From here participants were bussed to their hotels for the night.
Our recent 20 May 2017 trip is reported by the railway as the first passenger use of the new station.
1320] Don't be cross over missing this: On Sat 3 Jun between Laois Traincare Depot and Ballybrophy
there was single line working on the Up road. Route: Portlaoise Down P2 - crossover 862 - Laois
Traincare Down Loop - crossovers 864 and 865 - Up Line - crossover 755 to Ballybrophy (Down) P2.
1321] Limerick: When the resignalled and remodelled station ROP on 26 Jun the P3 & 4 new friction
buffers will be 20m away (in the wrong direction!) from the old ones. P4 is 3 chains shorter than P1-3.
P3 & 4 are both being extended by 23m at the Limerick Junction end and P3 is also being straightened.
1322] Belfast: The 07.11 (SSuX) Bangor to Lisburn is the only one to use Great Victoria Street P2 and
then depart (at 07.45) towards Lisburn.
1323] Neath: On 7 Jun Colas worked the 09.26 empties from Briton Ferry Yard to Neath Abbey Wharf
(19m 36ch) to load fine sandstone for Leeds Stourton. This is the first train to use the connection to
the Swansea District line west from Briton Ferry yard which is to be removed as part of the Port Talbot
west resignalling. Reports elsewhere of loading dredged sand at Neath Abbey Wharf are incorrect.
1324] 'All Night Long' the sequel: (BLN 1282.1214) The all-night service on 3/4 June was a resounding
success in terms of clearing post-match crowds. It was particularly noticeable that Cardiff Central P4
was in continuous use for Paddington trains, with an empty train coming in within minutes of the
previous departure, requiring a sustained high level of punctuality every 15 minutes until 04.00. With
P0 used for Newport locals, P1 for Hereford, P2 for Gloucester, P3 for Temple Meads and P7 for
Swansea, segregation of crowds by platform proved effective. All planned departures appear to have
operated save for the 00.01 to Swansea and 02.10 Gloucester, while the 00.35 Hereford was for some
reason terminated at Newport, and the Newport locals were reduced after 03.30. On the Cardiff
Valleys, all went well, with the planned Cardiff Bay to Caerphilly and Pontypridd services making
connections for stations further north, and supplemented by a half-hourly Radyr/Barry Island round
trip, ECS to and for passengers from Queen Street. There was a Heath High Level to Rhymney shuttle.
1325] Coal traffic: (BLN 1281.1039) Update: Gwaun-cae-Gurwen is now generating two coal trains
Tuesdays and Thursdays most weeks that recess at Swansea Burrows. The 40-wagon MEA rakes then
divide for onward haulage to Onllwyn in two portions the following day returning as a single train of
empties in the afternoon. There is a monthly train of containerised coal from Onllwyn to Mossend,
(true 'wagonload' traffic) and also a weekly train operated by Freightliner to Scunthorpe British Steel.
Most coal from Onllwyn now goes by road, to Swansea Docks for export to Ireland, or to Tata Steel at
Port Talbot. Tata does receive up to eight trains of coal a week from Cwmbargoed (with two on most
Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and a weekly train leaving North Blyth on a Tuesday or Thursday.
1326] Fishguard Harbour: (BLN 1279.912) Subsequent to the hasty retiming of trains after publication
of Stena Line's revised ferry service; connections for the night sailing have been amended. The train
arriving at 21.58 is now from Carmarthen only, although with connection from Manchester Piccadilly,
whilst the 22.14 SuX/23.03 SuO departure is being extended to run to Swansea rather than
terminating at Carmarthen. While a welcome improvement, those needing to travel further east are
nevertheless faced with a tiresome wait of almost four hours in Swansea in the very early hours.
1327] Sunday services: The 'Railway Herald' reports that the Welsh Government is keen that bidders
for the new franchise should make provision for a Sunday service on the Maesteg branch, although no
specific frequency has been suggested. (In general the Valleys Lines Sunday services are rather poor
compared with elsewhere, generally two-hourly.) This would leave the Coryton branch and City Line
stations as the only part of the local network without Sunday trains. Sunday services to Coryton were
withdrawn with the October 1989 timetable, and having thus not been provided at the time of
privatisation, no Sunday requirement was placed in the initial or subsequent franchise specifications.
1328] Heart of Wales Anniversary: 2018 is the 150th anniversary of completion of the line, built in its
various parts by the Central Wales Railway, Central Wales Extension Railway, Vale of Towy Railway and
Llanelly Railway. The Heart of Wales Line Development Company plans a week-long celebration
involving local artists. On 4 July the first section of the Heart of Wales Line Trail is to be officially
opened, with a circular trip from Craven Arms by train to Broome and returning on foot via the Trail.
1329] Cardiff Valleys: (BLN 1279.913) Morning peak services which have been expanded from two to
four cars in the new timetable are the 06.08 and 06.32 ex-Rhymney, and 06.47 ex-Treherbert; in the
evening the 17.26 Cardiff Central to Merthyr Tydfil (16.55 ex-Barry Island) is similarly strengthened.
1283 MINOR RAILWAYS
X.96] BELOW: The (very) end of the Swanwick (Greenhill) branch at the Midland Railway Butterley.
The guard arrived on the scene after the train had stopped (Richard Irvine, 17 Jun 2017).
MR102] Steeple Grange Light Railway (SGLR), Derbyshire (MR p14) (BLN 1150.MR211): The gradual
progress towards the intended permanent terminus of this 18" gauge line, in the attractive stone-built
village of Middleton, reached a landmark on Sunday 30 April 2017 with a ceremonial opening of the
final 150 yards of track from the current operating limit to the neck of the planned station layout.
However, until towards the end of this year or even early into 2018 passenger services will continue to
terminate in the proximity of the private road Sandy Hill Lane Level Crossing as they have done since
9 April 2011. The staging of a ceremony, with cutting of a tape across the line by the local Mayor
wearing the chain of office, had been set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the official closure of
the previous standard gauge line serving the limestone quarries at Middleton. This was, as annotated
in the Kentrail Enthusiasts Group Track Plans book, a branch off the Cromford & High Peak Railway, the
last section of which at its eastern end also closed in April 1967 (though the actual Killers branch taken
over by the SGLR in 1988 was a private line, not BR). The original formation over the 150 yards having
been destroyed, it has been necessary to rebuild an embankment, which has largely been achieved by
offering free tipping capacity to the local building contractors. The slow progress for several years had
lately been accelerated due to increased volume of spoil needing disposal, hence the decision to put
down track to achieve, even though only symbolically, reaching Middleton by the half-century
landmark. Further work on the new embankment to even out undulations so raising and aligning the
track, is continuing to be followed by levelling and ballasting it, with a target of being able to run trains
to the beginning of the site for the terminus station by the end of the present operating season.
For the formalities on 30 April two trains were run, booked to leave Steeplehouse station at 10.30.
The leading one, of two small manriders for the Mayoral party and important guests, was worked top
and tail by Greenbat No3 and Clayton 'Peggy', reaching the level crossing at 10.50 and continuing the
few yards to the present operating limit where a brightly coloured ribbon was in place across the track.
The second train, following at a controlled safe distance behind, was worked by ex-BR ZM32 pushing
two large manriders stopped at the crossing. After tape cutting, the first train only, took the Mayor to
the 'head of steel' at the edge of the site for the new terminus. The second train, and services later in
the day, reversed at the level crossing. The site for the Middleton station is on land leased from
Geesons, the contracting and haulage firm whose premises are accessed by the private road over
Sandy Hill crossing, with a path over the short distance to the main street also involving an agreement
with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. The constraints of the site mean that the platform track will be a
single line curving to the left, with a short siding layout on the right, but no rounding loop. The 1 in 27
ruling gradient of the line means that locos remain on the downhill end of trains both up and back.
MR103] Hythe Pier Railway, Hampshire (MR p18) (BLN 1279.MR68): Blue Funnel Ferries Limited
have taken over the Hythe-Southampton Ferry service and, therefore, the 2ft gauge third rail
electric Pier Railway. The takeover took longer than anticipated and involved long negotiations.
Blue Funnel assumed full control and operation of the service on Friday 21 April 2017.
This secures the immediate future of the ferry and railway. The staff, who have demonstrated
their commitment and support over the recent period of uncertainty, are being transferred to the
new company providing security of employment. The first task was to restore a reliable service
and this involved taking the existing vessel 'Great Expectations' out of service for an annual refit.
The work was the usual maintenance and detailed inspection of the vessel, including shafts and
propellers as stipulated by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, but also a change of colours and
name. Also planned are further improvements to the vessel including heating for the winter and
upgrading the seats. A temporary boat was provided during the absence of 'Great Expectations'.
It is recognised that a second vessel is needed to provide a reliable continuous operation and
therefore one has been found. This is currently undergoing its own refit work before being
brought into service. The new company's objective is to make this historic ferry service a modern
reliable and cost effective operation which offers a real alternative to using your car, as well as
providing a unique and enjoyable means to travel to and from Southampton.
Following the refit and repainting in blue (previously it was green), 'Great Expectations' returned to
service on 26 May under its new name, 'Hythe Scene'. Mon 5 June saw the start of the summer
service (until Sun 1 Oct). Late morning sailings were very quiet, the winter timetable was still on
display at Hythe and on the ferry with nothing at Southampton which appeared all locked up until
the boat arrived! The ferry departs from Southampton Town Quay at 06.30, 07.00, 07.30 & 08.00
(all SSuX) then half-hourly SuX from 08.30-19.30 and then SO 20.30 and half-hourly until 23.00.
SuO: 10.00 half-hourly 10.00-18.00 except 14.30. The trip takes about 18-20 minutes and is met
by the train. Train from Hythe Pier: 06.10, 06.40, 07.10 & 07.40 (all SSuX) then half hourly SuX
08.10 until 19.10 and then SO 20.10 and half-hourly until 22.40. SuO: 09.40 and half-hourly 10.10-
17.40 except 14.10. Adult single is £6 (ferry and train), return £7, Child/Senior £5 (valid 30 days);
10 journeys £28, concession £20 (valid 12 months), Pier train only: £2 return on day of purchase.
It is a very enjoyable trip stepping back in history on the train and well worth experiencing.
The apparently identical locos are now distinguishable by numbers '1' & '2' on their cab windows.
The spare loco is normally on the road at Hythe Pier terminus alongside the platform line.
MR104] Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, Kent (MR p19) (BLN 1260.MR122): On an 'ordinary'
Saturday 6 May, a bright and very windy day, our roving reporter visited and travelled on this
15" gauge railway which will be 90 years old on 16 July. Appropriately both 4-6-2 No7 'Typhoon'
(DP22073/ 1926) and 4-6-2 'Hurricane' (DP22074/1926) were in operation with 4-6-2 No9 'Winston
Churchill' (YE2294/1931), 4-6-2 No10 'Doctor Syn' (YE2295/1931) and 4w-4wDH No12 'JB Snell'
(TMA6143/1983). A visiting party was provided with a special train. At Dungeness No7 arrived from the
normal direction and then only the loco completed the balloon loop and came onto the back of the 12
coach train. Our roving reporter has seen this happen before. 4w-4wDH No14 'Captain Howey' (TMA
2336/1989) was shunting New Romney yard with the other locos on display outside the loco shed.
On Thursday 8 June with two trains running, the 10.00 from New Romney to Dungeness and back was
diesel-hauled (followed by a smart change to steam for the continuation to Hythe). A good number of
passengers were picked up at Romney Sands (Holiday Camp) on the return leg. Of note two DRS Class
37 Locos were at the Power Station terminal on a flask train which (according to the RH&DR driver)
runs most Thursdays arriving there about 10.00 and leaving about 16.30. The rare Dungeness RH&DR
platform loop (covered by our 6 November 2016 tour) was temporarily OOU blocked by road traffic
cones each end with a small caterpillar digger on its track. This was excavating between the two tracks
and it is wondered if this could be for an island platform? The new café and facilities are a vast
improvement on the previous in terms of size, quality and comfort at this sometimes bleak location.
On the New Romney to Hythe double track section all trains ran on the 'Down Hastings' track in both
directions due to an engineering train on the Up with work in progress. The two-train timetable allows
for this. Both platforms are discernible at Burmarsh Road station (last used 24 July 2015 when the
school traffic to/from New Romney finished). A day rover is excellent value: £18 Adult, £16 Senior,
£9 Child (3-15), Family 2A & 2C/1A & 4C £49.50 and includes admission to New Romney model railway.
MR105] Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, Kent (MR p19) (BLN 1273.MR11): The railway opened
for the 2017 season on Good Friday and our roving reporter duly visited on Bank Holiday Monday
1 May, a cloudy day with occasional sunny periods, when 0-6-2T 'Superb' (WB2624/1940) was at work
with four bogie coaches. The ground level 5" gauge line at Kemsley Down reopened this day at 12.30
and was duly photographed, before being ridden on. The track appears to be on the site of the
previous line and will eventually be extended. In use was a 4wBE (to be named 'Lil' at later date) with
two sit-astride coaches. The railway is now known as the 'Grovehurst Dockside Miniature Railway'.
MR106] Churwell Woodland Railway, West Yorkshire (MR p25) (BLN 1267.2100): Three members
visited this short but unusual 7¼" gauge railway (a balloon loop of just 150 yards) on Saturday 27 May,
a normal running day. Although trains were booked to run from 14.00 to 16.00, the start was delayed
by a torrential downpour!
ABOVE: Churwell Woodland Railway - a view on the return loop (Peter Scott 17 May 2017).
The site is a small narrow piece of woodland, through which a stream runs in a shallow valley. The
woodland is maintained by a Community Group, which has added railway operations to their duties!
Access to the railway is off Westwood Side, on which adjacent parking is available. The only station is
Troll Bridge Halt - a terminus with one platform, turntable and run-round loop. There is also a one
road shed - well hidden 'underground'. A three-way point serves the shed and run-round loop; space is
tight on this constricted site. The line runs out over a level crossing to a point where it divides to form
a return loop; this day trains were using this is in an anticlockwise direction.
On the loop there is a short ballast siding. Trains were formed of No3 'Robin', a battery electric 0-6-0
loco currently running as a 0-4-0; with one sit-astride coach. The turntable and run-round loop were
not used (due to a turntable fault) and trains were propelled and alternately hauled around the return
loop. Rides were 50p for all, for which a nice titled thin card ticket was issued from the adjacent
Field Centre and clipped before boarding. The Field Centre is merely a container with a cover outside
from which teas and cakes were available. The railway is photographically 'challenging' being all under
tree cover. Nevertheless it and the operating group deserve a visit, ride and thereby your support.
MR107] Coalyard Miniature Railway, Worcestershire (MR p26) (BLN 1184.MR86): A member travelled
by a convoluted route so he could arrive in Kidderminster by steam train for Bradford's last game of
the season on Saturday 29 April. He found this little 7¼" gauge railway open, running parallel to the
Severn Valley Railway platforms at Kidderminster station. Trains ran on request with open sit-astride
carriages. The return fare was £1 but no tickets were issued. The 'Tutherend' terminus was just behind
Harriers' Aggborough ground, but there was no obvious access and so our member was unable to use
the line as a football special. He thus had to alight, turn around and sit the other way for the return to
Kidderminster Town. Operating dates may be found on http://www.svr.co.uk (the SVR website).
ABOVE: The Downs Light Railway - a damp scene at the main station (Peter Zemroch 1 May 2017).
MR108] Downs Light Railway, Herefordshire (BLN 1279.921 with plan): A member stumbled across
this private 9½" gauge line in the grounds of the Downs Prep School by accident while walking in the
Malverns over 20 years ago, but had never had the opportunity to ride it. The reopening gala,
therefore, offered a rare chance. Worried, perhaps unnecessarily, about the number of passengers the
line could handle in a day, he caught the almost empty 06.18 from Chester to Hereford on 1 May to
ensure arriving at Colwall in good time for the opening at 10.00. He hoped to do the line before it
closed temporarily for the opening ceremony later that morning. Entry was £5 and Edmondson-style
tickets were provided, entitling the bearer to two rides and entry to the model railway exhibition.
A commemorative brochure was also on sale. Our member was admitted before 10.00 and found the
railway giving rides to the schoolchildren before public operation commenced. A variety of locos and
carriages were in use, some doing the full balloon loop, others just circuits around the playing field.
The trains were driven by the impeccably-behaved (very well trained!) children themselves, who also
acted as guards, operated the points and clipped the tickets all under very close supervision. Our 6' 4"
tall member took the first public train, which had just a single open sit-astride carriage with blue side
and end panels. This did a single circuit of the full balloon loop, which meant two traversals of a
frighteningly low and narrow tunnel. (Is it there one in the British Isles with tighter clearances?)
The heavens then opened and most people hurried for shelter.
This gave our member the opportunity to ask politely if he could have a quick run around the playing
field in order to do the third side of the triangle. He thus rode in a small VIP carriage with two wooden
armchairs facing one another. With the rain teeming down, our member did the circuit with his
umbrella raised, thus becoming the classical 'Wally with the brolly'! The opening ceremony followed
with speeches and fitting of a golden fishplate.
MR109] North Ings Farm Narrow Gauge Railway, Lincolnshire (MR p20) (BLN 1233.MR66): A casual
visit here on 7 May found the site busy with volunteers continuing their winter improvements.
The main line has had many sleeper replacements and an additional siding laid. A further siding is
planned for this autumn. Materials have been obtained by Station Road Steam and it is hoped that the
new vertical boiler locomotive will be completed soon. Visitor numbers are low due to the remote site
and lack of public transport. As well as the first Sunday of each month Easter to September, an
additional open day will be held on Saturday 5 August. For further details see the web site.
MR110] Honeybrook Railway, Wimborne Minster, Dorset: Chris Bullen, the former operator of the
Poole Park Railway, has built this new line, which opened on Saturday 8 April 2017. The location is
Honeybrook Family Farm & Riverside Park near Stanbridge, just north Wimborne Minster. The railway
is 10¼" gauge - an 'E' run of 250 yards. The main station ('Honeybrook') is at (SU 007029) adjacent to
the River Allen and close to the farm buildings.
BELOW: Honeybrook Railway - 'Elizabeth' rests in Springhill station (Peter Scott 29 May 2017).
The line then runs roughly parallel to the river to terminate at 'Springhill' station. There are no points,
nor is there any cover for the loco and stock. A visit on Bank Holiday Monday, 29 May found the train
running on demand. In use was steam outline 0-4-2T 'Elizabeth' (in blue livery) with three open bogie
coaches which is all the stock currently on site. The loco propelled the train from Honeybrook to
Springhill and hauled it back. To gain access to the railway it is required to purchase a farm admission
ticket. This is £7 for those aged 4 to 59 and £6 for seniors. It allows one return ride on the train (for
which a nice titled thin card ticket is issued at the farm entrance and then collected by the driver).
Additional rides are £2. In time it is planned to extend the railway - there is plenty of scope to do this
in both directions.
1330] FIXTURES REPORTS, Epping Ongar Railway
(EOR) 'The Clickety Click', AGM Fri, 4 Nov 2016:
(By Darren Garnon) The 08.00 heritage bus
departure from Epping station was the first
milestone of this long AGM weekend, long as in
distance too - we were 82 miles from the East
Kent AGM venue! About 25 members gathered
awaiting their transport to North Weald station.
Given the frenetic activity outside (and inside)
Epping station, with very frequent trains, many
commuters, parking and multiple school coaches
manœuvring in the tight turning circle, it was perhaps fortunate that our own transport, a heritage
green Routemaster, was not early. There simply was not room for this additional 'BLS special' to wait -
pictured (BELOW RIGHT) at North Weald picture taken by Mr Fixit (…the one and only Kev Adlam).
After an excellent breakfast, included in the day's
package, and now with a full (including stomachs)
complement of 45 members, the real business
began. Negotiations with the EOR to run this tour
had started almost a year before, and many lines
initially were thought of as 'too difficult' to consider
for valid operational reasons. A year on, dozens of
phone calls later and a summertime face to face site
visit drinking tea and appraising the options, there
were grounds for greater optimism, but at that time
no published working timetable was available to our
BLS organiser. We would have to wait and see!
With 31438 in charge of our single DMU car, we
started with the basics. Out from P3 participants
immediately noticed the fully plumbed in static
buffet coach occupying the precious final few yards
of very rusty track by the buffer stops preventing
end of line coverage. Ah well, can't win them all!
BELOW: If you down to the woods today you're sure
of a big surprise….. Or at least on Fri 4 Nov 2016
anyone in Epping Forest might have had one. The
view ahead from the front of our AGM railtour at
the Epping end of the Epping Ongar Railway - Bower
Hill overbridge can be seen (Philip Cartwight).
After reversing in the North Weald depot headshunt, we made for the main line and the first set piece
highlight. Our charter was booked to be the first public train to run to the boundary with LUL - from
where Epping station can be seen - a long held ambition of the EOR and one that they are sure to
achieve. Inching past the stop board that marks the limit of normal passenger service (but of course
there were no normal passengers on board this train!), we made cautious progress towards the fence
that denotes the boundary. The tour inched towards the wire fence until we were just three feet from
the LUL boundary. A spirited run followed, back up the hill to North Weald where our class 31 was
replaced by 03119 for the shunts around North Weald depot and the station area.
We methodically cleared each loco depot line, and returned to North Weald for a leg stretch during
the operation of clearing both Up carriage stabling sidings to the east of the station. Again, the EOR
volunteers had been busy the previous day, removing trees that were growing between long-term
stabled rakes of rolling stock that looked as if they hadn't been moved for years, indeed as if they
couldn't be moved (they were!). With the Class 03 at the 'right end' our DMU coach was shunted up to
the blocks of both cleared sidings soliciting enthusiastic applause from those on board. Lunch
followed, held in the miscreant Mk2 static buffet coach 1214. With all aboard, there was a surprise, a
familiar hiss of air brakes. Our hosts, knowing our passion for each and every 'yard', had disconnected
the coach from its shore supply, removed the access gangplanks and arranged for the coach to be
shunted the length of the siding with overlap. Another of many incredible red pen moments this day.
BELOW: A break at North Weald during shunting, it is worth remembering that when LT closed the line
from 3 Oct 1994 there was only a single track here. Our tour train is on the left and the buffet
(mentioned in the report) is the red coach in bay P3, middle right (Ian Mortimer). Compare this with
Angus McDougall's 1957 picture of the station in BR steam-hauled passenger service days - BLN 1265!
NEXT PAGE TOP: From North Weald footbridge looking east to Ongar; No1 & No2 Up Sidings (right) are
being cleared. Our tour was the first ever passenger carrying train to visit them (Ian Mortimer).
BELOW: The restored Blake Hall station on the way to Ongar. An unusual place for a photo stop which
is not open to the public - it rumoured that the Society specialises in 'the unusual'! (Ian Mortimer).
After an excellent lunch, prepared by an ex-Travellers Fare chef,
we were away again, this time behind the Class 31. Although
now raining, a photo stop had been arranged at the rarely used
private Blake Hall station. (OP 1865; CP 2 Nov 1981 when the
line's service was reduced to peak hours only). It was famously
the quietest London Transport station, average 6 passengers
daily (which seems rather a lot as it is actually so remote!) and
was cosmetically reinstated with a platform by the EOR in 2012.
Onward to Ongar we reached the famous zero kilometre ('click'
in military slang - hence 'Clickety Click') post from which all LUL
distances are calculated (Chesham is 87.93km away = 54½
miles). (LEFT: Taken from the tour train by Philip Cartwright,
note part of the National Lichen Collection on the concrete wall
behind.) Now the weather was appalling and the ground staff
clipping the multitude of points required for our complex set of
moves were truly amazing to persevere with what must have
seemed (to them) 'pointless' shunts. Having completed the
sidings (except for the final OOU run-round crossover) including
through the shed to the north of the station, our attention
turned to the three sidings to the south, including the 'Canal
Headshunt'. Now it is fair to say that the BLS organiser of this particular fixture was new to such
responsibilities and when it was pointed out to him nicely that he had slipped up twice as a double slip
opportunity had been missed, he was faced with something of a dilemma because all the stock had
been repositioned preventing a further shunt. Not a problem for the great guys at the EOR though.
ABOVE: Ongar from the end of the line; again in 1994 at closure there was just a single line. Every inch
of track possible was covered (even through the metal building on the right, which is longer than it
appears), except for the crossover seen which was clipped OOU pending repair work (Ian Mortimer).
Track completed, rain at last easing and dusk rapidly approaching; it was a fast run back to
North Weald after a last loco change; the resident Class 37 doing the honours. The Green Routemaster
was waiting for those who wanted to return to Epping station. One AGM fixture down and three to go!
Special thanks to Marco and his very friendly 'Epping Ongar' team for their heroics in truly awful
weather and to our local member Darren Garnon for his meticulous organisation which made it look as
if this superb trip (no stone or piece of ballast left unturned) happened almost by accident!
1331] The Vallum Hadrani Tracker, Sun 7 May: My first thought when asked to do a tour report was
oh no, why me! It was late Bank Holiday Monday, I was relaxing watching the snooker final on TV,
meanwhile the BLS organisers were still at it for our benefit. It was not the most difficult decision for
me to make. I was asked to do a report before 'The Mountfield Pioneer' in 1997, so once every twenty
years it must be my turn again. My previous report was never published. [The combined 1998/99
'Annual' Report which would have covered the date of the trip did not have any tour reports - Ed.]
Fast forward to Sun 7 May and when I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly, TPE unit 185108 was already
in P12. The organisers and stewards had been busy, setting up the train for participants, distributing
tour brochures and goody bags to each seat etc. I board the train and settle back, have a bit of
breakfast and wait for departure. Incredibly this was our sixth tour with TPE and, having been on all
the others, I was expecting another good day and lots of new moves. [Little did he know just how
many there would be!]
BELOW: Manchester Piccadilly, P12 on Sun 7 May before the Vallum Hadrani Tracker and Kev Adlam
is (almost) on his knees already! (All pictures by our BLS Photographer Geoff Plumb unless specified.)
All aboard? Doors closed and a welcoming message from Kev. Departure is on time and we slowly
weave all the way across to the Down Fast and speed up along the drab city line to Guide Bridge and
Stalybridge. First unusual move of the day was via Stalybridge P3 and the rare crossover at the east
end of station. So far so good; out into the countryside and the bright sunshine enhances the occasion.
Next success is at Diggle where the train is due to be routed via the Down Passenger Loop; we stop
and wait for the signal (it was set for the Down Main - great 'call', thanks, TPE traincrew!) and then
complete the move. A claw back from last year's Northern tour when the tour whizzed by.
BELOW: The rear view towards Stalybridge in Diggle Down Passenger Loop, approaching Standedge
Tunnels. Diggle Junction Signal Box is in the distance and right is the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
BELOW: The end of Diggle Loop can just be seen on the right beyond the overbridge. Diggle station
(CP 7 Oct 1968) was between the loop and the 1894 'new' double track 3m 66ch rail tunnel seen here.
The station once had four platforms for the four tracks. The original 1849 single track Standedge
Tunnel was closed in 1966 and the 1871, also single track tunnel, closed in 1970 - both left of the
picture. The 1811 canal tunnel (which took nearly 16 years to build) is right and at a slightly lower
level. It closed and fell into disrepair in the 1940s and was reopened in May 2001.
ABOVE: Rear view of the 'new' 1894 Standedge
Tunnel. The older disused twin bores are left and the
River Colne unusually flows across the bridge over
both rail and canal (right behind the wall and lower)
then down the cascade between the track beds. The
point is the end of Marsden Up Passenger Loop.
Into Standedge tunnel in which it is all change, from
'London Midland' to 'Eastern Region', red to yellow
TRACKmaps and Red to White Rose County. Onto
Huddersfield for the second scheduled pick up of the
day including two VIPs with the beer. Another and last (?) [not quite, see later….] pick up is at Leeds
with unusual routing via P16. Much amusement as usual, watching the bewildered faces waiting for
the 09.10 to Liverpool, we stop briefly at the east end and the stewards stop any 'normals' from
boarding. Next the first on the day bonus, Marsh Jn Down Goods Loop and back to the Main by Neville
Hill depot. Shortly after Tim and Paul appear selling raffle tickets with their usual persuasive chatter.
We weave at Church Fenton North Jn to the Down Normanton and at Colton South Ladder back to
Down Leeds. After a stop at York for a crew change the tour takes the remarkably rare Loco Line, and
then on to Skelton Bridge Jn. Here it is the connection from the Fast to the Slow, I thought I was the
only one on the train that needed it, but it seems a required move by most around where I was sat.
Now on the Down Slow to the north, coach 'B' seems quiet; a few passengers are catching up on sleep,
only for the silence to be shattered by the shout of 'Tickets please!' (or as they say in Yorkshire: 'Eee-
tickets please!') from Kev. Talking of tickets, did you spot the inadvertent mistake?
ABOVE: The 08.03 Grand Central King's Cross to Sunderland HST passes 'NORTON ON TEES' (sic) Box
and crossing on 31 Mar2017. These HSTs are to be replaced with GWR Class 180 Adelantes, sometimes
running as double 10-car sets. The station (CP 7 Mar 1960) was the other side (south) of the crossing.
At Longlands Jn, we take the Northallerton station avoider and head for Eaglescliffe and the coast.
At Eaglescliffe the tour covers the Down Goods loop, and then passes the cleared (sadly now
trackless) site of Thompson's Scrapyard at Stockton where a new housing estate is being built. The
next non-passenger bit is after Seaton Carew - the Down Cliff House Goods loop. On the other side of
the line can be seen the (very) disused Up Cliff House Loop - completely beyond hope, despite
resignalling in 2010 - very tantalising at over 1½ miles long. A pacer unit is noted in Hartlepool bay (not
on the beach but at the station), the only regular use is on Sundays.
The harbour has a few tall ships and what seemed to be a paddle steamer as well. On the left is
Victoria Park, home of Hartlepool United, the newest non-League football club having been relegated
from the Football League the previous day. The North Sea seems choppy with white waves in evidence
and a few spots of rain in the air. Seems like perfect timing, as the next item that is on offer to the
punters are TPE umbrellas
BELOW: Class 376758 heads south along the Durham coast between Seaham and Hartlepool, to
Horden or Blackhall Colliery. Easington Colliery is to the north in the background. Thur 30 Sep 1971.