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Author Topic: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)  (Read 560313 times)

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Online Innovationgame

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6120 on: July 29, 2019, 09:14:16 AM »
But, on the other hand, the preceding text can be in two places at the same time.
With kind regards
Laurence
My personal website is a bit of a mish mash: www.innovationgame.com
Coventry Corporation Transport Society: www.cct-society.org.uk
Hessle: www.hessle.org.uk

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6121 on: July 29, 2019, 09:20:18 AM »
But, on the other hand, the preceding text can be in two places at the same time.

Now, three as it links three separate locales. 8-)

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6122 on: July 29, 2019, 08:34:45 PM »
For events involving Trevelver Castle. later this Saturday, please, see Port Perran / Trepol Bay.

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6123 on: July 29, 2019, 09:20:47 PM »
Onwards from Okehampton towards Wadebridge, tomorrow!

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6124 on: July 30, 2019, 09:14:45 PM »
Apologies, only a short story update, today. I plan to write a longer one, tomorrow.

A resourceful young woman pushing an old pram loaded with large Thermos flasks of tea, coffee, and milk, with a cardboard box of paper cups and one of sugar cubes balanced on top, had arrived on the Down platform via the barrow crossing, helped by a porter, and the happy passenger in the compartment next to Susan and D.C.I. Snapper had been able to refill his Thermos. At 6:29 am the signals come off, again. Andy whistles up, gets a green flag from Mark and at 6:30 am the train is off, “Watersmeet” making light of the immediate climb now that her three-coach and one bogie van train is lighter than she is.

Two miles further on, and 140 feet higher, is the great gash in the hillside at the northern edge of Dartmoor that is Meldon Quarry. It began, in 1874,  as a small quarry to supply local railway requirements concurrent with the opening of the LSWR's railway extension from Okehampton to Lydford, next to which the quarry lies. In 1897, the quarry was considerably developed to provide the majority of the track ballast requirements of the LSWR, which at the time amounted to about 100,000 tons per annum. The geology is such that the ballast is harder and, therefore, more long-lasting than stone available in the more easterly parts of the system as the stone is not the granite with which Dartmoor is, normally, associated, but a hard limestone, ideal for railway ballast. The quarry was further extended, in 1902, eventually reaching 200 acres (80 hectares). Further developed over the years, by 1953 it was producing 340,000 tons annually. An internal tramway of short and movable 2-foot (610 mm) gauge tramways was provided.

Train crew and passengers alike can see that their train is nearing the quarry by the greyness given to the landscape by dust from blasting, before the train comes up alongside a huge flat area occupied by massive crushing and grading plant, sidings and loading bunkers, beyond which is the workface where Black Down is being steadily gouged away. There is nothing beautiful about Meldon – even the signalbox resembles a wartime pillbox – and country-lovers would prefer to see it closed down. However, local people see it differently; anything that offers employment in North Devon is ipso facto a thing of beauty.

Like the train crew, the railway enthusiast passenger, in the 1st class smoking compartment, knows that Meldon has its own steam shunting engine housed in a simple concrete block built shed. A variety of superannuated Southern Region steam locos. have been employed, including, temporarily, even an ‘O2’ class 0-4-4T No. 30199 until a second ‘G6’ class 0-6-0T No. DS682 (ex-30238, latterly of Guildford) was ready. DS682 worked there until December 1962 when it was substituted by the current incumbent, ‘USA’ class 0-6-0T No. DS234 (ex-30062), replaced from its shunting duties at Southampton by new Ruston & Hornsby 275 hp diesel-electric shunters. An elderly passenger tank loco. is clearly unsuited to moving around the massive bogie hopper wagons specially built for the job, but No. 30199 was only a stand-in after the first ‘G6’ No. DS3152 (ex-30272) which, after a period of locomotives being loaned temporarily, had worked there from November 1949 until July 1960, was withdrawn.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2019, 08:44:39 PM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Updated. »

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6125 on: July 31, 2019, 09:52:03 PM »
Now comes perhaps the most memorable moment of the journey on the last 1 in 77 stretch of the long climb up from Exeter as the train suddenly crosses exposed Meldon Viaduct perched high over a deep V-shaped ravine on the north western edge of Dartmoor. One of the great challenges facing the LSWR's chief engineer, W R Galbraith, was to build a viaduct across the deep West Okement river valley. At its highest point, the viaduct rises 151 feet (46 metres) above the valley. Work began in 1871. The design Galbraith chose used frameworks of triangular cast iron sections known as trusses supported below the level of the viaduct's deck by five wrought iron trestles tapered towards the top, the highest being 120ft from the ground. The viaduct is 535 feet (163 metres) long. Below are the remains of mineral mines. When it opened on 12 October 1874 it was part of the LSWR's continuation of its London Waterloo to Exeter route from Okehampton to Plymouth (via Lydford and Bridestowe) and Bude. The viaduct has slight curve which, combined with its exposed position, resulted in speed and weight restrictions being applied to trains crossing it. The speed limit was set at 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) in 1927. The trestles were strengthened in 1938 when braces were added between the lower end of the older trestles and, in 1944, the outer trestle legs were weighted with additional concrete to resist uplift to allow heavier traffic to use the viaduct during the Second World War, and further strengthening to the trestles was carried out between 1959 and 1960 with the inner trestle legs being weighted and the Up line trestle bracing being replaced with stronger section members.

The setting is incomparable: the West Okement River runs beneath in a deep ravine, to the train’s right is farmland sloping up to Maddaford Moor and to the left, the view expresses all the savage beauty of Dartmoor as the passengers look up the glen of the rushing stream to the towering shape of Yes Tor, 2,028 feet up and the second-highest of the Dartmoor Tors. Only 1¾ miles away, the peak of Yes Tor, stands proud below scudding clouds. It hides the loftiest, High Willhayes – which is only 11 feet higher – from view. Down the valley is Meldon Pool, an old limestone mine that still has two lime kilns.

Originally, the viaduct carried a single track, but the track was doubled in 1878 when a steel viaduct of similar design was constructed next to it and the two were joined. The construction of the second line was conducted whilst the original line remained open. In order to dispense with the need for high scaffolding, the trestles were erected by means of derricks mounted on the original structure. The trusses were constructed in a railway siding and lifted by means of two heavily-ballasted, rail-mounted cranes that were then pushed onto the original bridge and swung out into position by the cranes. Each truss could be thus installed within around two hours and thirty minutes, meaning that the work could be arranged around the railway timetable to avoid the need to close the line at any stage. The method, devised by engineer T Wrightson and supervised on-site by W Jacomb, worked well and the new bridge was completed within 16 weeks of starting work.

The viaduct is constructed of wrought iron and cast iron, one of two surviving wrought-iron truss girder railway bridges in the United Kingdom. It consists of six warren truss spans, each of 90 feet (27 metres), and is supported by five lattice trestles. The original bridge (that now forms part of the up line) was constructed of a pair of trusses at 5-foot (1.5 metres) centres. When the bridge was later widened to allow double-track operation, a second structure of almost identical construction was erected 7 feet 6 inches (2.29 metres) from the original bridge. The two viaducts were then linked by extending the deck construction and bracing between the tops of the trestles. The trusses are 9 feet 4 inches (2.84 metres) high and the older trusses are unusual in that the tension (bottom) member is made of plate metal rather than a rolled girder. The trestles vary in height from 48 feet (15 metres) to 120 feet (37 metres) and are constructed of four wrought iron piers supported by horizontal and diagonal bracing. The trestle sections taper inwards from the base and rest on 24 foot (7.3 metres) wide masonry bases.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2019, 04:42:36 PM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Updated. »

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6126 on: August 01, 2019, 07:33:03 PM »
As the train passes the Quarry Reservoir, Andy eases the regulator back of No. 34030 and carefully adjusts the reverser to 30%. She slows to the regulation 20mph over the viaduct, then he gives “Watersmeet" more steam to keep moving on the gradient which steepens to 1 in 58 through a cutting, at the far end of which Meldon Junction comes into view. Beyond the viaduct the North Cornwall line diverges right while, after a mile of further climbing in cutting, the Plymouth line reaches the Southern’s highest summit, 950 feet above sea level. The signals are still at danger. Tony sits down on his seat. Normally, this would happen because an Up train was about to cross the viaduct as the signalman knows that only one train is allowed on the viaduct at a time. However, no sooner has Tony been seated when the right-hand junction signal goes up. At 10mph, “Watersmeet" noses right over the points. The North Cornwall line is single throughout, except for various crossing loops.

Tony comes over to the left side and leans over the side door to receive from the signalman a large metal hoop carrying a strong leather pouch in which is a single-line tablet for the section Meldon Junction-Ashbury. It is hung on one of the steam valves over the boiler backhead. “Watersmeet" throws up her cloud of exhaust, looking insignificant in this wide landscape, drops down to pass under the main road and gallops up the other side towards Thorndon Downs, past Maddaford Moor Halt, four miles west of Okehampton, which is the last platform the train will pass without stopping. The typical Southern concrete platformed halt is located where the line passes under a red brick bridge carrying the main road, at a hamlet now known as Thorndon Cross. The halt was opened in 1926 by the Southern Railway. The concrete running-in boards still carry the, earlier, full name of MADDAFORD MOOR HALT FOR THORNDON CROSS the letters painted in fading cream on a very faded dark brown background. A small chocolate and cream painted hut, at the Okehampton end, provides meagre shelter for waiting passengers. The tors of Dartmoor rise in the background. The halt served the remote community around Maddaford Moor. A health resort had been planned, but never constructed, although some housing was built nearby.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2019, 10:28:08 PM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Updated. »

Offline dannyboy

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6127 on: August 01, 2019, 07:39:01 PM »
The landscape is looking a bit bleak now. Glad I still have some coffee!
David.
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If a friend seems distant, catch up with him.

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6128 on: August 01, 2019, 08:33:03 PM »
The landscape is looking a bit bleak now. Glad I still have some coffee!

Glad you're enjoying it, David.

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6129 on: August 01, 2019, 10:32:26 PM »
The next station, Ashbury & North Lew, is essentially a passing place, North Lew being a village about 2½ miles away, although it is useful for farmers as a distribution centre for incoming fertilisers and foodstuffs, and outgoing produce and livestock. Indeed, goods storage in three substantial sheds far exceeds passenger accommodation in a small SR cream-painted with a thin green painted line at platform level hut on the Up platform and a much larger similarly painted single-storey main station building on the Down platform. The signalman here, having cleared the ‘road’, steps across from his small SR cream and a green-painted wooden box on the up platform carrying an Ashbury-Halwill tablet, which he exchanges for the other one. Both driver and fireman glance at the tablet to make sure that it does, in fact, have ‘ASHBURY TO HALWILL’ stamped on it, as every engine crew has done since a day, 40 years ago, when a driver, who omitted this precaution, set out on his last journey from the Welsh station of Abermule. The tablet-changing routine is carried out at every stop from now on. Tablet changing should be done at 10mph, but if the crew are in a hurry, higher speeds are not unknown.

With no train to pass, the newspaper train is only scheduled to be at Ashbury from 6:50 to 6:52 am before steaming on. The railway runs along Broadbury Down, never straight and level anywhere but gradually descending to Halwill Junction or, as it proudly describes itself, on the station running-in boards, ‘HALWILL FOR BEAWORTHY JUNCTION FOR BUDE, NORTH CORNWALL AND TORRINGTON LINES’. The country hereabouts is pretty bleak and empty outside the holiday season, the railway settlement called Halwill Junction being the largest village for miles around, so it is not surprising that the passenger station is another modest single-storey building, but it is surrounded by a big goods yard with two warehouses (one a slaughterhouse as much beef is despatched by train), a shunting yard, massive signal gantries and a lofty signalbox.

Halwill is the junction station where the North Cornwall Railway (NCR)'s line to Penmayne parts company with the LSWR's line to Bude and is sited between the two hamlets of Beaworthy and Halwill. The station was opened in 1879 when the line from Meldon Junction (on the Okehampton to Plymouth route) to Holsworthy was opened. Not being situated anywhere in particular, it was named, after the two nearby villages, "Halwill & Beaworthy". Down the years it has had a couple of name changes, from Halwill to Halwill Junction on the opening of the Launceston line, then to Halwill for Beaworthy in 1923. The new NCR line came into the LSWR's station by some 17 chains, running parallel to the Holsworthy line and joining the down platform loop line. The station became a junction in 1886 when the first part of the North Cornwall Railway was opened, from Halwill to Launceston, with the official change of name to "Halwill Junction". Both routes were extended until by 10th August 1898 the Holsworthy route had reached Bude and, by 23rd March 1899, the Launceston line had been extended (in several stages) to Penmayne. The train’s crew know that there is much splitting and joining of trains here as many for the Okehampton direction convey portions to / from the North Cornwall and Bude lines. Very quiet for some of the day, the station erupts into activity with arrivals from all directions! However, at this time of the morning, Halwill is very quiet. The newspaper train has no portion to shed for Bude as the 12:15 am night passenger train, formed of seven coaches behind a ‘Light Pacific’ had arrived at 5:50 am and proceeded as the 5:54 am departure to Penmayne formed of a BSK, CK, BSK, and a SK followed by the 5:59 am to Bude formed of a SK, BSK, and a BCK hauled by a BR3 2-6-2T.

A third line north from Halwill was added as late as 27th July 1925 when the grandly named North Devon & Cornwall Junction Light Railway (ND&CJR) came down from Torrington to its own platform just north of the main station, though no through carriages were worked off this line. Indeed, the line was not allowed to enter the original station being provided with its own short bay line. When the newspaper train comes to rest at the Down platform, where it will remain from 6:58 to 7:17 am, there is plenty of time for the enthusiast in the smoking compartment to study, opposite, the ND&CJR’s basic platform, tacked on to the northern end of the Up platform as an afterthought. Unadorned with any building, he observes that to reach it requires quite a walk for passengers changing to or from the Torrington line – a none too pleasant trek during the often-inclement weather. He knows that this ‘grand terminus’ of the former ND&CJR, is served by a single coach (‘loose’ – not allocated to a set) Bulleid BCK train, hauled by an Ivatt 2-6-2T, which meanders its unhurried way to Torrington twice a day. Since its opening in 1925, as a Government-sponsored project to improve this impoverished district, the line has pursued a secluded existence – untroubled by such vulgar considerations as the profit motive – apart from an embarrassing moment, in 1951, when it achieved notoriety by a collision, on one of the line’s many ungated level crossings, between a train carrying a driver, fireman, guard and one passenger and a bus carrying a driver, conductor and no passengers. If any passenger wished to patronise this service, they should take the Torrington coach of the “ACE” which connects with the 4 pm Torrington-Halwill over this rather roundabout but very picturesque line. This is not exactly a fast train, taking 1 hour 20 minutes to cover 20 miles, but it cannot be denied that, thanks to the Southern, hamlets like Meeth and Petrockstowe have a service to London with only one change.

From 1925, the station now had its full complement of routes, from Okehampton on the London side and to Penmayne, Bude and Barnstaple (via Torrington) on the country side. From 1st January 1923, the 'Junction' was dropped from the name and the station was officially known as just "Halwill". The station layout itself developed considerably over the years with the final additions (eight sidings) being made, in 1943, to handle military traffic during the build-up to the Normandy landings. The military traffic, of course, evaporated after the end of the war whilst much of the pre-war traffic either failed to return or only returned in part. Summer Saturdays were, once again, quite busy during the 1950s, but the growth in both family car ownership and road haulage companies’ activities contributed to a fall-off of traffic into the 1960s.

Halwill is, as railway staff and enthusiasts alike well know, an odd station in several ways. Originally built as a small intermediate station, the facilities provided for passengers hardly changed as the station grew in importance. The same small building served for the station with no canopy nor footbridge ever being provided, and just a small shelter on the other platform. Its most renowned feature, the enthusiast knows, is how the station is very quiet for much of the time, then bursts into activity with trains arriving and departing, dividing and joining, all of this taking place with immense speed and efficiency. A down train to Penmayne and Bude arrives, the Bude coach or coaches at the rear are detached by a shunter, as at Okehampton, the front portion leaves for Wadebridge and Penmayne after which a loco., usually a 2-6-2T which may have been standing in the Down-side bay with a two-coach set, a brake second and a brake composite, is attached to the Bude coach or coaches and the train leaves for that destination, all within a few minutes. The joining of Up services is even more complicated. The train from Bude arrives in Halwill, the loco. runs round and attaches to the other end of the coaches and then draws them back out of the station in the direction of Bude. Once the Bude train is clear of the station the train from Penmayne arrives and stops in the platform. The Bude coaches are then propelled onto the rear of the Penmayne coaches and attached, the Bude loco. is detached and the combined train departs for Okehampton and places east. The Bude engine then makes its way over to the goods yard where it might be required for some shunting whilst awaiting its next duty with more detached coaches for Bude.

What most impresses the smoker is how the Torrington platform really is something else! The train (frequently formed of just one coach) arrives in its segregated platform backed by a grassy embankment. Once all the passengers (usually very few indeed) have detrained the tank engine then propels the train back out of the platform to where the line has its own short run-round loop. Being run as a separate operation, the points for this are not controlled by the Halwill signalbox but by a ground frame, a set of levers beside the track that, though locked and unlocked from the signalbox, are operated by the engine crew or, if they are very lucky, a shunter. Having run round, the engine and stock then sets back into the platform and the train awaits its departure time. All Halwill’s trains are still steam operated with, unlike in eastern Devon, no immediate dieselisation plans.

During the time the newspaper train is in the Down platform, the 7:15 am to Bude departs behind a BR3 2-6-2T formed of a BSK, BCK, and SK. The tank engine had arrived, light engine, from Bude loco. shed at 6:44 am.

The detective is getting increasingly frustrated by the train’s frequent lack of movement. Although it spent just two minutes at Ashbury from 6:50 to 6:52 am, Susan has already informed him that they will be waiting at Halwill from 6:58 to 7:17 am, before calling at all eight stations between Ashwater and St Kew Highway, including Launceston where their train will be scheduled to wait from 7:48 to 8:05 am, before arriving at Wadebridge at 9.14 am. Snapper resolves to put the time to productive use.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2019, 04:22:28 PM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Updated. »

Offline dannyboy

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6130 on: August 02, 2019, 11:19:13 AM »
The ND&CJR little platform certainly looks like an afterthought. Excuse me whilst I stretch my legs and have a quick smoke.  :)
David.
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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6131 on: August 02, 2019, 08:07:56 PM »
 :hellosign: Many thanks Chris really enjoying the journey.
       regards Derek.

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6132 on: August 02, 2019, 08:30:31 PM »
Thanks, David and Derek.

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6133 on: August 02, 2019, 10:46:50 PM »
When just a young detective constable, Snapper took an evening class in shorthand much to the derision of his colleagues who joked that it must have been because he wanted to meet a pretty young secretary. However, although there was more than one young lady who tried to catch the eye of the only man in the class, Snapper was taking those classes for one reason and one reason alone, to be able to take the quickest and most accurate notes. His colleagues, once Snapper quickly gained recognition from his superiors for always being the most knowledgeable detective on the case, soon ceased to laugh. However, it was not just Snapper’s superior note-taking that attracted the attention of those above him but the young detective’s ability to use those notes to solve even those most difficult cases by a process of deduction combined with a well-honed instinct for when someone was speaking less than the full truth and an excellent memory. Whilst some of these skills came naturally, most were the result of single-minded dedication to continuous self-improvement and constant practice. Snapper carefully unlocks his black leather briefcase, reaches in, and removes two items. Leaning forward, he flips back the cover of his spiral-bound 5.5” by 7” notebook and begins to systematically review his notes, red Biro ballpoint pen in hand.

The extended station stop provides more than enough time to off-load newspapers, mail and parcels and for Andy and Tony to take turns to visit the station amenities – they have been on the road for two hours and there is, of course, no provision on a steam locomotive. Exactly at 7:17 am the newspaper train departs Halwill Junction, approximately 600 feet above sea level, a sharp left-hand curve from the junction taking it onto the North Cornwall line and away from the LSWR line. Andy gives a sudden exclamation. A pheasant appears from the left towards Halwill Moor Plantation and looks to be on a collision course. Unfortunately, Tony is checking the state of the fire and looks out rather too late.

Any bird which trespasses on the railway and meets a train is regarded as fair game, but the small front platform on a “West Country” is poor for collecting the victim in comparison with, say a 2-6-0, so if the loco. did hit it the likelihood is that it will have bounced off. In that case the lengthman will probably pick it up on his inspection of the track.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2019, 07:44:34 AM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Updated. »

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6134 on: August 03, 2019, 04:05:08 PM »
After the train parts company with the Bude line at Halwill, it begins a swift descent of 1 in 73-82 for three miles, after which the slope eases and then turns uphill for a mile at 1 in 94 before Launceston. Halwill is situated on top of one of the most exposed parts of Devon, a watershed whence streams flow northwards to form the River Torridge to reach the sea at Appledore, or southwards to join the Tamar. The North Cornwall line takes the southerly route, following the River Carey all the way to Launceston; a 14-mile descent from 650 feet altitude to 200 feet at Polson Bridge, on a ruling gradient of 1 in 73. The footplate crew know, therefore, that the work for “Watersmeet" will be very easy except for the start away from Tower Hill where the line rises slightly to make a river crossing and the climb at 1 in 94 from Polson Bridge to Launceston.

Having left Halwill, the line then crosses under the road from Dunsland Cross and the train passes through a set of switch-back curves until the line enters the top of the valley of the River Carey. The line first crosses the river at Halwill Bridge, just a short way from the hamlet of Halwill, immediately after which there was, for a very short time, in 1919 and 1920, a siding for ten wagons. Despite always being a single-track line, the railway bed was 28 feet wide, which would have allowed doubling of the line had it ever been justified. Descending at a ruling gradient of 1 in 73 the line now winds down the valley, crossing the winding River Carey twice more, to Ashwater, 5 miles 7 chains from Halwill Junction.

Ashwater station is sited on the valley floor, with the village a couple of hundred feet higher, and is provided with two platforms and a small but busy yard. Its grey stone and reddish grey rooftiled main station building, on the Up platform, is a standard North Cornwall Railway design but its lampposts and woodwork carry the chocolate and cream livery of the WR as does the background of the concrete station running-in board. The ‘GENTLEMEN’ enamel metal sign in its chocolate brown frame is, however, in SR white letters on dark green. The railway staff know that this is a result of regional boundaries having changed several times since Nationalisation in 1948, the most noticeable being the Southern lines west of Exeter. In 1950, all Southern lines in that area became Western Region, but were still used by the Southern Region for operating purposes. In 1958, Southern lines west of Exeter were transferred back to the Southern Region. This situation existed until 1 January 1963 when all Southern west of Wilton South were transferred to the Western Region, including all the surviving branch lines. For the visitor to the West of England, though, this could be confusing as some stations are painted chocolate and cream but have a green background and white lettered station running-in board or other station signs.

Ashwater station lies in a particularly lovely setting in a hamlet called Ashmill, in a narrow valley so secluded that the only roads to penetrate it are steep, narrow lanes. The platforms are only long enough to take seven coaches, which causes operating difficulties when a long goods train needs to cross another train necessitating the tail of the goods having to be set back into the yard, and careful planning should a train of eight or more coaches be involved to ensure that this train arrived second in the station! From 18 October 1936, the loop, though not the platforms, was lengthened to allow a twelve coach, or 35-wagon, train to be safely held within the loop.

On arrival at Ashwater, Tony hurries round to the front of the loco., but there is no sign of that pheasant. Except when firing, he travels mostly sitting by his open window, for it is a sunny morning and the cab interior is rather warm. Andy opens “Watersmeet" up a bit over the next section to make up some time: not that West Country folk indulge in that ridiculous London habit of clock-watching, but it is desirable to arrive punctually at Launceston.

Whilst Susan is admiring the passing scenery, the detective is missing his Scotland Yard office. After securing his promotion, Snapper had commissioned a giant oak-framed cork faced board covered in green baize which, in his absence, was securely covered by a pair of oak doors mounted on two pairs of four sturdy brass hinges with brass keyholes at top and bottom of each door for the Yale locks for which only he held the keys. His case board, as Snapper termed it was mounted on the right-hand wall of his office close to the right-hand end of his heavy oak desk so that, by simply swivelling to his right, in his chair, he could contemplate it. Using a combination of colour-coded wool attached to thumbtacks and notecards, Snapper was able to visually represent all the important relationships in the most important case he was currently working one. Only the most trusted members of his small team were initiated into its meaning.

But, as he sat in the window seat of the 1st-class compartment, opposite Susan, Snapper knows that, with each passing mile, he is nearing his destination but a mile further from his case board. However, Snapper’s absence from his office is not unusual and this is where his trusted case notes come in and the mental map in his head that they conjure. Reviewing the many interconnections, Snapper acknowledges, once again, that the situation is, indeed, a complex one but, again, this is nothing unusual for the great detective and, indeed, is such a one that he most relishes. Methodically, he reviews all the characters and personalities involved from the most minor to the most exalted. Snapper had once attended a lecture by a leading psychologist on the unconscious mind as the location of sophisticated, flexible, and adaptive human behavioural guidance systems: perceptual, evaluative, and motivational. This is not to say, the professor had continued, that human consciousness plays no role or that it is not special in its powers to transform, manipulate, and convey information. However, the speaker had concluded, the actions of the unconscious mind precede the arrival of thought in the conscious mind and, for far too long, the importance of the unconscious mind had not been given sufficient recognition. This was a hypothesis with which Snapper fully agreed. At the lecture’s end, whilst congratulating the professor on his ability to convey very complex concepts clearly and concisely, Snapper had posed the question what percentage of the human brain is conscious as opposed to unconscious, that is subconscious, to which the learned man had responded, after a moment’s pause whilst he sipped his tea, that although it always depended on individual circumstances:

“I'd say, 98% subconscious. According to the majority of neuroscientists, the subconscious generates all new thoughts, decisions, and everything ever imagined. The conscious is in constant feedback, with the subconscious, in order to direct our thoughts, decisions, and imaginings, and to respond to them.”

Whenever working on a difficult case, Snapper, before going to sleep focussed his mind on whatever was troubling him, confident that, upon awakening the next morning, his subconscious would have done the necessary processing and he could add to his case notes accordingly.

Upon awakening, that day, Snapper knew that his intuition was correct, there was far more to this case than a racehorse and a betting syndicate, let alone a partially successful attempt to hijack crates of finest Scotch malt whisky bottles. Behind, in the shadows, something far more sinister was at work. Something that, at the very least, Admiral Tregowan was aware of even if Sir George Widgeon III and the others were not. He would, methodically, review his notes then draw up a list of questions and the individuals to which they would be posed. This seemed well set to be his greatest case, yet.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 09:41:26 AM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Corrected »

 

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