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Author Topic: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)  (Read 560335 times)

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Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6135 on: August 04, 2019, 05:14:21 PM »
Leaving Ashwater, the North Cornwall line follows the east side of the River Carey, cutting into the valley side in places to maintain a minimum curve of 30 chains radius until the valley widens near Virginstow, then onto a long straight that leads into Tower Hill station, 8m 55ch from Halwill Junction and some 300ft lower at about 300ft above sea level. The grey stone main station building, on the Up platform,  is, apart from the signal box in the booking hall, extending out onto the platform, very similar to Ashwater’s, being another standard North Cornwall Railway design with lampposts and woodwork painted WR chocolate and cream as is the background of the concrete station running-in board; however, unlike Ashwater, Tower Hill has concrete station running-in board near its road overbridge which is a much newer and sturdier white concrete one. The ‘GENTLEMEN’ enamel metal sign in its chocolate brown frame is, however, again, in SR white letters on dark green. Unlike at Ashwater, though, there is no large concrete hut with an asbestos sheet roof and brown-painted door sited between the main station building and the running-in board furthest from the road overbridge.

At Tower Hill, 219 miles from Waterloo, a more open site lower down the valley of the River Carey, the smartly uniformed stationmaster meets the train to exchange pleasantries after passing on two sealed internal railway mail envelopes to Mark, the guard. Tower Hill station, named after a nearby farm, started off its life identical in layout to Ashbury, though was much changed down the years. Following the First World War, crossing facilities were withdrawn and then, from 16 June 1920, the down loop was taken out of use and the signalbox closed leaving the section as one of seven miles between Ashwater and Launceston. Subsequently, a ground frame was installed to operate the yard points, released by a key on the single line tablet. From 1928, Tower Hill came under the control of Launceston and, in 1933, the goods siding was shortened. Then came the Second World War and life at Tower Hill changed dramatically. In March 1943, with the build-up for the invasion of France, two new sidings were laid and the headshunt lengthened considerably, the down loop was restored and a new signal box commissioned in the booking hall, extending out onto the Up platform. The following month the points to the goods yard were moved south allowing a 40-wagon train to be held in each loop and in the headshunt. Wartime traffic was mainly ammunition and, by August 1944, almost all of this had gone to France. The yard was closed and removed in 1950, although the long crossing loop remained extant and was most useful for the 1950s build-up of holiday traffic, not that any of the holiday trains called here (other than if held whilst crossing another train).

Leaving Tower Hill, the valley widens considerably and the railway has an easy path into Launceston, crossing the River Carey twice more in the process. After another fast run, the newspaper train comes to where the valley emerges into the broader Tamar, which the train is soon to cross before continuing into another side valley opposite. Leaving the Carey to flow into the River Tamar immediately before Launceston, the line heads off on a long low embankment and the Tamar comes into sight with a farm on the bank and the main A30 road in the woods to the left – Polson Bridge before the train, crossing the River Tamar on a double span bridge, enters Cornwall, followed by a short climb at 1 in 94 to where the line crosses a smaller river, the River Kensey, and then the GWR line from Lifton and Plymouth comes up the Tamar from the left, at a lower level on the opposite bank of the Kensey and so into the curving platforms of Launceston station, about 150ft above sea level, 224 miles from Waterloo, and some 13 miles 54 chains from Halwill Junction.

As the train runs into Launceston (pronounced Larnson), ahead through the narrow windows of “Watersmeet", the town can be seen extending up a hillside to the grey round tower of its Norman castle, once the seat of the Earl of Cornwall. The station is at the bottom of this hill, with the old town and the castle at the top, more than 300ft above, despite the wishes of the town that the line should run through it. Set on a large natural mound, the castle dominates the surrounding landscape. Begun soon after the Norman Conquest, its focus is an unusual keep consisting of a 13th-century round tower built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, inside an earlier circular shell-keep. Mark knows that the tower top can be reached via an internal staircase and, once reached, offers breathtaking views of the historic town and countryside.

The 1:25 am waits seventeen-minutes at Launceston for its station stop from 7:48 to 8:05 am.

“We’ll put the pipe in while we’re waiting,” says Andy, as “Watersmeet" is stopped by the water column. “The more water we have the less we’ll need to be concerned about when we can get some more.” Tony agrees and the loco. is duly watered.

Once the 1:25 am has departed, it is shortly after followed in the Down direction by the 8:15 am goods to Wadebridge and then, in the Up direction by the two-coach (2P Maunsell BSK, BCK) 8:20 to Okehampton hauled by an ‘N’ class 2-6-0. The ‘N’ class may be reckoned as the fifth generation of South Western motive power since, although it is a contemporary of the ‘King Arthur’ class, it is a more advanced design. It originated on the South Eastern & Chatham Railways, whose Chief Mechanical Engineer, REL Maunsell (pronounced Man-Sell) came from the Swindon drawing office and went on to hold the post on the Southern Railway until 1937. His 2-6-0s included many features developed at Swindon during the early years of the twentieth century, such as a high-pressure boiler with a tapered barrel, long-travel piston valves, mechanical vacuum pump and smokebox regulator. The ‘N’s are excellent general-purpose locos. capable of working any train almost anywhere.

Plenty of time for the crew of “Watersmeet" to reflect on the town and ancient borough’s history. For hundreds of years, the ancient capital of Cornwall had been the gateway to the county but the coming of the railways had by-passed it with the main route into the county being by the GWR's Royal Albert Bridge and the southerly route through Lostwithiel, St Austell and Truro, to Falmouth, with its later extension from Truro to Penzance. Launceston’s importance had been declining fast in the nineteenth century, but this had been arrested, to some extent, by the arrival of the GWR branch from Lydford in 1865 and the NCR mainline from Halwill in 1886. Nevertheless, Launceston’s title of ‘Gateway to Cornwall’ as the train’s crew know, remains apt, because the boundary of Cornwall is a real one. Below Polson, only three roads and two railway lines cross the Tamar.

Launceston’s two adjoining stations are overlooked by the Castle high above. The north side of the town grew around this station area, known as Newport, where extensive goods facilities were provided by both companies with goods sheds for both lines, that for the GWR north of their platform; that for the LSWR south of theirs, the two railways being fiercely independent of one another with their own signalboxes, locomotive facilities and, even, turntables. The engine sheds for both lines were situated at the east end of the station between the two lines. This started to change, however, during the First World War when the traffic of the two stations was amalgamated. The Station Master was always an LSWR/SR appointment, but his staff remained as servants of whichever company they had joined, with GWR passenger guards wearing their GWR uniforms but the shunting staff in LSWR/SR uniforms. At the beginning of January 1917, the GWR signalbox was closed and the functions and staff moved into the LSWR signalbox, opposite the canopy of the small single-storey stone-built main station building. The LSWR signalbox had been widened to take two sets of signalling equipment, one facing each line, a most unusual, but not unique, arrangement. Close to the signalbox stands a typical NCR stone-built passenger waiting shelter. Despite the inauguration of a joint signalbox, there was no physical connection between the lines until, during the Second World War, a spur was put in situated between the lattice girder bridge east of the station carrying the North Cornwall line over the GWR line and the station for the use of munitions trains, effective from 19 September 1943. This link being one of many put in during World War Two to improve the flexibility of the railway network. Having crossed beneath the North Cornwall line, the GWR line then ran into its adjacent terminus. Following the 1948 formation of British Railways, the ex-GWR station was known, from 1 January 1952, as Launceston North whilst the ex-SR station became Launceston South. Less than six months later, however, all Western passenger traffic started using the Southern station, via the connection at the approaches, although the full layout of the Western station remained intact and was used for goods traffic. The former LSWR’s locomotive facilities were closed in the 1940s and locomotives then made use of the adjacent GWR facilities. Like the two previous stations, Launceston has also been painted in WR colours. From 31 December 1962, the Western services had been withdrawn and the line to Lifton closed.

When the Southern Railway introduced the ‘Light’ Pacific class, in 1945, all the early engines were named after places in the West Country and many had a naming ceremony at the place they were named after. Accordingly, on 1 November 1945, Nº 21C112 (later 34012) “LAUNCESTON” was named in the station by Alderman G E Trood, JP, the Mayor of Launceston. However, despite her initial southwestern allocation to EXJ Exmouth Junction, followed by PLY then 72D Plymouth Friary, anf 72B Salisbury, before returning to 72D Plymouth Friary, she was transferred to 70A Nine Elms, then the Southeast, in 1958 following rebuilding in the January, before returning to 70E Salisbury in August 1963.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 09:37:26 AM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Corrected. »

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6136 on: August 04, 2019, 08:44:47 PM »
After departing from Tower Hill, Mark, the guard, had delivered the two sealed internal railway mail envelopes to their respective recipients, Mr. Audubon and Miss Susan Foreman. After departing, closing the compartment door behind him, they had each opened theirs and removing and unfolding the note within, read it, the detective muttering:

“Most irregular”, as he had taken his.

Susan had read hers with some annoyance.

Snapper had returned his note to its envelope, carefully unlocked his briefcase, placed the message within and relocked it whilst Susan had placed her message in an inside pocket of her black and white Mary Quant handbag before closing her eyes, briefly, to concentrate.

The detective returned to staring, unfocused, through the compartment window as the scenery slid by as the line alternately passed through a cutting, over an embankment, or under a road bridge or over a river bridge.

Focussing within, he summoned up, again, all the characters in the case. First, to be reviewed were the two Poldory brothers, Alan, the older and in his considered opinion, irredeemably criminal with violent tendencies, and the younger, far more peace-loving, Andy, who Snapper considered to have been far too easily led by Alan. The Poldory brothers had first come to the attention of his colleague, D.I. Rule, in connection with the Rugby Special when, aided by an accomplice, Elijah Vernon, they had very nearly succeeded in defrauding many hard-working Cornishmen of moderate means and, potentially, almost as serious, making the train's passengers miss an all-important rugby match. However, despite a severe warning from the Bench that any further appearance would result in the maximum period of imprisonment, the Poldorys, after seeming to have gone ‘straight’, living and working at the small and somewhat isolated "Clifftop Hotel" just west of Trevaunance Cove, had reverted to crime. For it was there that the brothers had made the acquaintance of someone of far greater interest to Scotland Yard, a man claiming to be Sir John Bream, a very rich, retired Midlands industrialist, according to a friendly chambermaid (who, in fact, was working undercover for D.I. Rule) and had concocted a cunning plan to restore their fortunes at Sir John Bream’s considerable expense. What the Poldorys had not known, though, was that Sir John Bream was, in fact, the notorious international confidence trickster, Ivan Fiddler. In short, the Poldorys, or at least Alan, had planned to trick a trickster! Fiddler could not but help smile.

To the two detective’s great satisfaction, following arrest, investigation and trial, Fiddler, was very securely behind bars, having been found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, thanks to the damning evidence of the young blonde graduate researcher, Allyson Treseder, together with the highly incriminating material discovered in Fiddler’s trunk by Susan Tregowan, the tragically young police widow who had been working undercover in the "Clifftop Hotel" where Fiddler had been staying while plotting his biggest con, yet, that he had discovered the location of the wreck of a galleon full of gold to pay troops and local supporters after the Armada’s landing.

Fiddler had been suspected of a lengthy list of similar meticulously planned frauds across Europe and the USA, under a bewildering array of identities and disguises. Both men had been highly commended and had had their pay raised to the maximum for their grade. Both the young women, whose evidence had been so critical in securing Fiddler’s conviction had been given new identities and relocated, the young female graduate researcher to the U.S.A. Unlike his brother, Andy Poldory had escaped conviction but received a second and final severe warning and been advised to make a complete break and, according to Rule, had last been heard of living in Guildford and married to the former barmaid of the “Tramway Inn” with whom he had a young son.

Far less satisfactory, for both detectives, was the fact that Alan Poldory, convicted as Fiddler’s accomplice, had managed to escape from police custody, in Wadebridge, and had, very likely, found his way to London, on a special passenger train that reversed at Bodmin, that same day as his escape from custody. However, after highly reliable reports of Alan Poldory meeting with various notorious London villains, more recently, multiple reports of Alan Poldory’s presence in North Cornwall had been received by Rule at Bodmin police station including by the head barman of "The Station Hotel", Cant Cove, of Alan Poldory's presence there and, more surprising still, Andy with Alan, in Trepol Bay. Rule’s team were trying to track down a known long-standing criminal accomplice of the Poldory’s, Elijah Vernon, to see if he could reveal anything of the Poldory’s activities but, so far, without success. He, too, seemed to have vanished.

Very recently, Rule had requested Scotland Yard’s assistance in identifying two very menacing heavily built Londoners, whose identity was still unknown, despite intensive enquiries, who had been reported touring the North and West Cornwall area, in a car hired in Exeter, asking after a certain Sir John Bream, accompanied by a nameless young blonde female companion, and, also by name, Alan Poldory. The first two having disappeared “orf the face of the earth” as a local informant had told Rule, the ‘heavies’ had had no success despite handing out more than a few severe beatings. They also seemed to have not managed to catch up with Alan Poldory who, Rule believed, may well have received word from local criminal acquaintances not liking sadistic London thugs causing trouble. The two thugs had, however, been accompanied by an Exeter man, acting as their driver and local guide, well-known to local CID there as he had previously worked in a stone quarry, and had some experience of explosives as an assistant to a blastman before being dismissed for failure to follow the required regulations and procedures, after which he had turned to a life of petty crime. This man had been found, in his local pub, with a dozen bottles of “Tullibardine” in two large shopping bags, arrested on suspicion of trying to sell stolen goods and had, eventually, confessed to having been the person who had used stolen quarry explosives to break into a “Tullibardine” whisky van in Wadebridge station yard. However, he had insisted that he had been acting alone. Despite offers that a reduced sentence would result from him turning Queen’s evidence, the blastman had refused to either name or reveal the purposes of the two ‘heavies’ or whether, as Rule suspected, they had also been involved in the attempted theft of the railway van’s entire contents, Exeter CID informing Rule that the man was clearly very afraid of what would happen if he did so. The whisky thief would soon stand trial and Rule had no doubt, in view of his previous criminal record, be sent to prison under the maximum sentence possible. Frustratingly, that left the identity of the two London ‘heavies’ still unknown, together with why they had, after all these months, been looking for ‘Sir John Bream’, the unknown – to them – young woman, and, also by name, Alan Poldory.

The latest message, from Rule, just given to him by the guard, had confirmed that a quantity of “Tullibardine” whisky, over and above, the bottles destroyed in the blast had, in fact, been stolen but its whereabouts, like the London ‘heavies’, was currently were unknown although the usual fences were being questioned. Had the whisky bottles been taken to London by the two ‘heavies’ as compensation for their failed search or were they still hidden locally? Who had they been working for and why? Both Rule and Snapper’s teams were investigating. Sooner or later, there would be answers, Snapper was certain.

Then there had been Snapper’s mysterious meeting – for he was now certain that he had not received the full facts – at the Army and Navy Club with Admiral Tregowan, who Snapper knew was someone high up to do with the British secret intelligence service and an associate of Doctor Who – who had also disappeared but, thanks to Susan, Snapper now knew that he was on Rockall looking for the same red-gold metal that had caused all the trouble at Trevelver Castle, the year before – and Sir George Widgeon III concerning a threat to that man’s prize racehorse, ‘The Moor’. Indeed, one of Snapper’s Scotland Yard colleagues had called him early the previous evening that a police informant had tipped him off that a known London betting syndicate, fronted by two well-known East End villains, Tommy Elworthy and Harry Bell, were planning to kidnap a racehorse called none other than ‘The Moor’. If true, and Snapper trusted his colleague’s evaluation, this was a serious matter, no question but not one which could be expected to warrant either the admiral or his own attention. No, there was something else going on; something far more serious. From the sets of descriptions and known details of their whereabouts, Tommy Elworthy and Harry Bell were not the two London ‘heavies’, convenient although it would have been if they were.

Associated with attempting to protect the prize racehorse were a series of decoy horseboxes, according to an earlier message from D.I. Rule but, again, Snapper expected to be informed about that further by his local colleague. Already Snapper’s Scotland Yard team had briefed him that, at considerable expense, encouraged by his insurance company, security advisors and senior police, Sir George Widgeon III has had a number of old railway horseboxes repainted in the livery used by his grandfather, the work being done by various small wagonworks, and then used to dispatch five decoy horses to a number of locations throughout England. By some mischance, one horsebox had even been reported to be on West Porthsea Quay awaiting transport, by train ferry, to the Isle of Sonmel! Finally, thanks to the Trevelver Castle housekeeper, Snapper had a lead on how to get in contact with the Sonmel authorities, through Sylvia Trevelver, and Rule had been tasked with obtaining that information from her and passing it on to Scotland Yard as well as his local colleagues. Sylvia’s parents, Lord and Lady Trevelver, who Snapper knew well from his visits the previous autumn, as well as Lord and Lady Trevarnon at Tregonning House, all friends of George Widgeon III, were also involved in the prize racehorse case but, again, Snapper knew that Rule would be fully briefed on all of that and would be able to answer the questions already noted down.

Rule had also informed Snapper that a known Tregonning poacher, Alec Heather, had been seen in the vicinity of Tregonning House with another known local criminal, identified as Tom Orr and that both had been seen meeting with Alan Poldory who had known links with some of the most notorious members of the London underworld. Again, local police enquiries were proceeding as quickly as possible with Rule being kept informed whenever there were any developments.

A definite but still very complex pattern was beginning to emerge in Snapper’s mind but there were still too many missing pieces. The links between Cornwall and London were, however, clear enough.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2019, 07:12:05 AM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Corrected. »

Offline cornish yorkie

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6137 on: August 05, 2019, 12:43:20 AM »
 :hellosign:
Many thanks Chris, as many twists & turns in the story as on the excellent railway journey
      regards Derek.

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6138 on: August 05, 2019, 08:13:16 AM »
:hellosign:
Many thanks Chris, as many twists & turns in the story as on the excellent railway journey
      regards Derek.

Thank you, Derek. For what happens with D.C.I. Snapper after he arrives at Wadebridge at 9:14 am to be met by D.I. Rule, please, see Port Perran & Trepol Bay.

The journey of the 1:25 am from Waterloo, during the morning of Saturday, 22nd June, will continue but, soon, it will be breakfast time at Trevelver Castle then the departure of the 11:00 am (from Penmayne) "Atlantic Coast Express" calling at Cant Cove 11.13-11.16, later that day.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2019, 08:19:16 AM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Updated. »

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6139 on: August 05, 2019, 08:26:51 AM »
Hi Chris (IP),

Great stories and like Derek, am enjoying the plot twists.

Cheers Chris (weave)  :beers:

PS. One little thing, unless I've got it wrong, but you've called Alan Poldory's younger brother Andy and according to the 'Alternative West Country' list his name is Larry. No matter, just thought I'd let you know.

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6140 on: August 05, 2019, 10:52:10 AM »
Hi Chris (IP),

Great stories and like Derek, am enjoying the plot twists.

Cheers Chris (weave)  :beers:

PS. One little thing, unless I've got it wrong, but you've called Alan Poldory's younger brother Andy and according to the 'Alternative West Country' list his name is Larry. No matter, just thought I'd let you know.

Thanks, Chris. I had also thought it was Larry but, after going through previous stories discovered it was Andy and not Larry. Please, make it so! 8-)

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6141 on: August 05, 2019, 01:36:23 PM »
After her 8:05 am departure, the lightly loaded “Watersmeet" chatters her way into speed on another 1 in 77 out of Launceston. The outstanding characteristic of the North Cornwall line is that nowhere is it straight or level, and very little of it is not in a cutting or on an embankment. It only has four passenger trains each way per day during the winter, none on Sundays, giving the signalman at Egloskerry just over 11 hours in which to deal with traffic that would occupy Clapham Junction for about 4¼ minutes. However, two of those trains go through to or from London: the “Atlantic Coast Express” and the newspaper train which leaves Waterloo at 1:15 am. There are also two goods trains each way. On a Summer Saturday, like today, though the number of passenger trains each way increases to thirteen, not counting reliefs, of which the 1:25 am is one.

Reading the glossy, promotional guidebook distributed to each passenger by the guard, at Launceston, produced by Trevelver and Guillou (Wadebridge and London), published by the Association for the Promotion of Cornwall's Railways, and sponsored by the Alliance of West Country Breweries, the smoking passenger reads that the North Cornwall line stations are all built to the same design, using local stone except at Egloskerry and the following station, Tresmeer, where the main station buildings are built of brick. The names, too, the guide states, are part of the special Cornish atmosphere. The passenger in the smoking compartment notes that ‘Eglos’ resembles ‘Eglwys’ or ‘Eglise’ (anglice Church) and recalling the Cornish language.

The next station stop, Egloskerry, 228½ miles from Waterloo, is provided with a short passing loop, two platforms and had a small yard of two sidings and a cattle dock, though no goods shed, nor crane was provided. It was also the only station between Wadebridge and Halwill to have a level crossing. Once again sited on the valley floor, several hundred yards down the hill from the village it serves, it has led a fairly peaceful existence, though the goods yard was quite busy in the early years. Although the main station building, on the Up platform, is a standard North Cornwall Railway design, albeit built from red bricks, its woodwork – but not the white-painted lampposts – carry the chocolate and cream livery of the WR although not the enamel station name board mounted on the wall next to the entrance to the Gents. The enamel station name board, ‘GENTLEMEN’ enamel metal sign and other station sign in their chocolate brown frames are, however, all in SR white letters on dark green. After 1927, control of the station passed to Otterham; then, in 1930, the single line instruments were moved from the signalbox to the booking office, like happened at Tower Hill, in 1943, and the single line instruments were subsequently operated by a porter-signalman who emerges to perform the single line tablet exchange. Goods facilities had been withdrawn in 1961. Although the hard days when large numbers of Cornwall’s inhabitants emigrated on the railway are over, there are still plenty of one-way tickets issued at these stations – mostly for rabbits by the crateful.

Leaving Egloskerry, at 8:14 am, the line starts to climb more steeply, and with many reverse curves of 30 chains, up the Kensey valley to Lanzion, where rail and river part company. “Watersmeet” is urged with some vigour up the Kensey valley, causing Tony to fire an extra round, reaching nearly 60 mph which feels very fast indeed on this twisty road. Cutting through farmland en route to Tresmeer, there is a brief respite in the climb with a short down grade at Danakerry before the resumption of the climb, and some 25 chain curves, leading to Tresmeer station, some 500 feet above sea level and 21 miles 49 chains from Halwill. This section of the line can test any driver – regardless of whether on an Up or a Down train!
« Last Edit: August 10, 2019, 04:36:20 PM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Updated. »

Offline port perran

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6142 on: August 05, 2019, 01:58:25 PM »
Hi Chris (IP),

Great stories and like Derek, am enjoying the plot twists.

Cheers Chris (weave)  :beers:

PS. One little thing, unless I've got it wrong, but you've called Alan Poldory's younger brother Andy and according to the 'Alternative West Country' list his name is Larry. No matter, just thought I'd let you know.

Thanks, Chris. I had also thought it was Larry but, after going through previous stories discovered it was Andy and not Larry. Please, make it so! 8-)

It is Larry. That’s the name I’ve been using in my latest story.
If it looks right then it most probably is right.


Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6143 on: August 05, 2019, 03:37:00 PM »
Ah, alright. That's easily fixed. His full name is Lawrence Andrew Poldory. His older brother used to call him Andy Pandy (that is mentioned in an earlier story in the "Tramway Inn") so he prefers to be called Larry and that is the name his wife knows him by.

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6144 on: August 05, 2019, 05:33:26 PM »
the smoking passenger reads that the North Cornwall line stations are all built to the same design, using local stone except at Egloskerry and the following station, Tresmeer, where the main station buildings are built of brick.

I must admit that I had not noticed that fact. The "glossy, promotional guidebook" is quite informative.  :thankyousign: (I wonder if there is a chance of another coffee?).
David.
I used to be indecisive - now I'm not - I don't think.
If a friend seems distant, catch up with him.

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6145 on: August 05, 2019, 07:03:22 PM »
the smoking passenger reads that the North Cornwall line stations are all built to the same design, using local stone except at Egloskerry and the following station, Tresmeer, where the main station buildings are built of brick.

I must admit that I had not noticed that fact. The "glossy, promotional guidebook" is quite informative.  :thankyousign: (I wonder if there is a chance of another coffee?).

Thank you, on behalf of all those involved. Sorry, nothing until Wadebridge. 9:14 am, 254¼ miles from Waterloo, and 44 miles 12 chains from Halwill Junction.

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6146 on: August 05, 2019, 10:18:40 PM »
The guidebook continues: “Now the railway climbs again, at first gently and then at 1 in 73-78 through Tresmeer, to the wild country north of Bodmin North, rich in the legends of King Arthur; once again the train reaches a summit 800 feet above sea level at Otterham.”

Tresmeer, 231¾ miles from Waterloo, as a name is, the smoking passenger agrees, undoubtedly more pleasing to the ear than the actual name of the village closest to the station, which is Splatt, a small hamlet about a mile to the north-west of Tresmeer. Station facilities are quite minimal, a short loop that can only accommodate 24 wagons, two platforms, a siding and an end-loading dock. There are, however, a goods shed, a crane, cattle pens and a coal store. Although the main station building, on the Up platform, is a standard North Cornwall Railway design, albeit, like Egloskerry, unusually built from red bricks, its lampposts and woodwork carry the chocolate and cream livery of the WR as does the enamel station name board mounted on the wall next to the entrance to the Gents. The ‘GENTLEMEN’ enamel metal sign and other station sign in their chocolate brown frames are, however, in SR white letters on dark green.

The guidebook is most informative about the station stating it was quite busy when first opened as, being the temporary railhead of the North Cornwall line, the Delabole Slate Company and the North Cornwall Coach Company both used Tresmeer as their point of rail embarkment. This caused the LSWR to receive a bill of some £71 for damage to the road caused by the heavy Delabole Slate traffic! Once Tresmeer settled down to life as a through station most of the traffic, as elsewhere, was agricultural with, for quite some time, special arrangements to suit two of the bigger customers using Tresmeer. Like with Egloskerry, control of the station had passed to Otterham in the late 1920s, but otherwise, life at Tresmeer continued in much the same way. Outgoing rabbits were big business, probably more so than cattle, and gave the station staff a chance to increase their income when handling the hampers they were transported in. A nearby Friday market was a source of incoming cattle for a while and even milk, not a normal North Cornwall line traffic, was loaded at Tresmeer.

The road is set and the signals are off, so the train’s stop is barely longer than it takes to exchange tablets. Leaving Tresmeer at 8:23 am, the line continues its tortuous route (designed to avoid building tunnels or viaducts) ever upwards towards Otterham through a country that gets higher and wider as the train travels. There are four complete 180° curves of 30 and 25 chains radius near Warbstow. The cross the valley between Treneglos and Scarwick there is a huge 86-feet embankment (the largest on the line) at Treneglos. Trees become smaller, hugging eastern slopes and gullies between great sweeps of downland occupied only by sheep. Once again there is a slight respite for down trains with a short dip in the gradient, but this is followed by more reverse curves on a rising gradient leading to Otterham station, arrival 8:32 am, 26 miles 40 chains from Halwill, 236¾ miles from Waterloo, in a magnificent setting 850 feet above sea level.

There is nothing like a village in sight, but several people are waiting for the train and, in the little goods yard, a hayrake is being off-loaded from a wagon while some men are transferring sacks of something agricultural onto weather-beaten Land Rovers. Among the alighting passengers are heard American voices. During World War II an airfield, which still exists, was built a couple of miles away on Davidstow Moor, the only sizeable area thereabouts that is anything like flat. Sited 2.9 miles northeast of Camelford and 11.5 miles west of Launceston, at 970 feet, RAF Davidstow, or more commonly RAF Davidstow Moor, was the highest airfield in Britain and must be a strong contender for the bleakest though it was only operational from December 1942 to December 1945 when it closed at the end of World War II. The airfield brought a large increase in traffic. The land was acquired in 1941 and a three-runway airfield with extensive dispersal areas was constructed in the first half of 1942. Despite the moorland conditions, construction was reasonably straightforward, although it did involve the removal of various field boundaries, the closure of minor roads and some drainage work. In 1942, VIIIth US Army Air Force unit members must have been horrified to find themselves dumped here in an English winter, but the Cornish magic went to work on them and now, twenty-one years later, they are bringing their families to experience it. When they leave the station entrance, they will see what those on the train see when it has pulled out past the road bridge: to the right, northwest, a section of the horizon is a level blue line. Mark, their friendly guard, has advised his passengers to take a good look, for notwithstanding the fact that this is the route of the “Atlantic Coast Express”, that is the first, and on this run, the only sight of the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the airfield buildings including the hangars were soon removed and it became a motor racing circuit, known as Davidstow Circuit. In the early 1950s, three Formula One races were held there (the Cornwall MRC Formula 1 Races) including the first success for the Lotus marque. After closure, the buildings were adapted for use by Cow & Gate for milk processing with some of the products leaving by rail from Otterham.

It is as the 1:25 am forges up the last mile to Otterham Summit that the crew of “Watersmeet” appreciate the comfort of the enclosed cab of a ‘West Country’. It is a fine, sunny morning, but a constant blast of wind is sweeping across the country, snatching away the loco’s exhaust before they have a chance to see whether it is light grey or any other colour. No wonder the few trees are all wedge-shaped, angled from right to left. To a city-dweller, like Snapper, standing at the open carriage door window, after getting up ‘to stretch his legs’, the sheer quantity of air up here can only be described as breath-taking. The passenger in the smoking compartment is thinking, at this moment, that to be able to earn your living on the footplate by travelling through this scenery must be an idyllic life. Of course, after a moment’s reflection, he realises that it must not look quite the same in winter with sleet coming in one cab doorway and straight out the other, and if he were shunting at Otterham yard on a winter evening, in the open-backed cab of an ‘N’ class 2-6-0 or a ‘T9’ 4-4-0, he would take a very different view of it.

Otterham station buildings are on the Up side of the line and the main buildings are built from the local Delabole stone (slate), with a waiting shelter on the down platform and the signalbox at the London end of the Up platform from where the signalman emerges to perform the single line tablet exchange. Still oil-lit, Otterham survived the economies of the 1930s, with its Station Master assuming responsibility for Tresmeer and Egloskerry stations from 1927. When the line was first built the road was diverted to run along the southern boundary of the station, then to go north towards Bude a bridge was built over the western end of the platforms. The stub of this truncated road was then the site of a row of six railway cottages that were constructed in 1894 to house signalmen and permanent way workers. At the end of the Up platform, close to the road overbridge, a concrete hut with asbestos sheet roof has been adapted as a small passenger shelter with a sloping roof added.

Traffic was brisk in the early years as the station served Crackington Haven, St. Gennys, St Juliot and Lesnewth as well as Otterham itself, a mile north of the station bearing its name. St. Juliot duly became a popular draw for tourists as it was there, whilst working on the "restoration" of the church, that the architect Thomas Hardy met his wife, as featured in his novel "A Pair of Blue Eyes". It was also intended that the station should serve Boscastle, but although Otterham was nearer, Camelford station had better road connections and it was not too many years until the latter was the station of choice for those travelling to and from Boscastle. This wide hinterland provided sufficient traffic to warrant the prestigious "Atlantic Coast Express" calling at Otterham in both directions. The 1930s growth in bus services took a lot of traffic from the railway here as timings of trains were not particularly convenient, secondary school children, in particular, flocked to the bus, even though it did mean they arrived at school in Launceston up to an hour earlier!

The post-war boom in private motoring took away virtually all the remaining passenger traffic. Goods traffic fared better and is still busy. Rabbits are very important here, with livestock for Hallworthy Cattle Market some two miles away, and for the twice-a-year Boscastle Market, a regular traffic. Spring lambs are sent in both directions, up country and down to Truro. The surrounding area is quite prosperous for Cornwall, in farming terms, with a lot of associated farm traffic in incoming animal feeds, fertiliser and etc. and outgoing hay. Bulk traffic is growing in the 1960s with trains being split for distribution around here, to Camelford, Delabole, etc. Surprisingly, there was no Goods Loading Shed built here, though a store was subsequently built on the Up platform with a 2½ ton crane on the dock behind it. A single cattle pen is provided.

The gradients in the area require careful marshalling of goods vehicles, whose brakes need to be pinned down for the steep descents. One incident in December 1943, despite regulations that if followed correctly would have prevented it happening, led to six wagons and a bogie brake van running away at Otterham and not coming to a stand for some seventeen miles, near Tower Hill. It was reported in the local press that they had set a record for the time taken to reach Launceston, covering the distance far quicker than any passenger train! The stock did not just simply stop, it ran to and fro inside the Devon border for some time first.

One example of "round traffic" here was the shipment of whey to Wincanton where it was turned into separated milk for pig food, then some of these animals were shipped by rail through Otterham. Always well-staffed, Otterham has a station master, two signalmen (who also take care of the single line instruments), two booking clerks and a porter in addition to the permanent way staff based here who assist with unloading wagons when required. Built at the top of a 1 in 73 gradient, the actual station was on an easier grade of 1 in 330. The rails, at right angles to the track, are used for placing the two Permanent Way trolleys on the line, stored in the shed at right angles to the line.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2019, 05:17:32 PM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Updated. »

Offline cornish yorkie

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6147 on: August 05, 2019, 11:35:19 PM »
 :hellosign: Many thanks Chris, time for the flask of tea now   :D
       regards Derek.

Online dannyboy

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6148 on: August 06, 2019, 08:29:33 AM »
Because of all the turns on the line, it is surprising how often the engine can be seen from one side or the other of the carriage.  And a cigarette can be smoked in reasonable comfort whilst poking ones head out of the carriage door window. (Starting to get caffeine withdrawal symptoms  ;)).
David.
I used to be indecisive - now I'm not - I don't think.
If a friend seems distant, catch up with him.

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Cant Cove (and Penmayne)
« Reply #6149 on: August 06, 2019, 08:48:49 AM »
Thanks, David. It's a beautiful sunny morning and the Commonwealth bogies under the brand new BCK carriage give an excellent ride. The majority of the station stops between Launceston and Wadebridge are only just long enough to enable the single-line tokens to be exchanged. There are only longer waits at Otterham, Camelford, and Port Isaac Road for 2, 3, and 2 minutes respectively During the four-minute wait at Wadebridge there will fresh coffee and tea served on the platform along with bacon baps! 
« Last Edit: August 07, 2019, 08:05:34 AM by Chris in Prague, Reason: Updated. »

 

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