Cornish confusion cleared up?

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UrieS15

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A large number of you looked at my earlier thread and walked away. I guess it was totally baffling, my apologies. Those of you who have helped me in the past know I write, this is what i am researching at present. The time is 1966. I need detail for a car crash at an ungated crossing on a infrequently used line to a small china-clay dry. I envisage a couple of clay hoods per visit, probably weekly.
My problems begin with the manning. I had envisaged a small diesel shunter, but it could be a pick-up goods call for something like a 63XX ; I know Liskeard used one such about that time. Had the second man issue been resolved or not? Would there be a brake van and guard or not? You see my problem? I either have three, two or one railway staff at the scene? All thoughts very welcome, thanks.
 
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Western 52

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I think you'd have driver, second man and guard at that time. Possibly another person to assist with crossing gates and shunting. A brake van would be needed if the wagons were unfitted or maybe also to make it easier with manual crossing gates if there were any. In terms of locos at that time a D6300 or a shunter would be most likely for a short train. Class 08 used to work Wenford Bridge trains.
 
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Second-men had been phased out in 1965 (apart from high-speed services) in the 'Single Manning Agreement' . There was still a requirement for a brake-van on fully-fitted freight trains (virtually all the clay wagons were vacuum braked by then) until 1967/8, when the guard could then ride in the rear cab of the loco. The actual 'hoods' did not appear until about 1973 - prior to that the wagons were sheeted flat. St. Blazey had an allocation Cl 22 'Baby Warships' to work the clay traffic.
 

Gloster

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I will first make the disclaimer that my time was from the late 1970s to mid 1980s and that I only spent a brief period in Cornwall.

Secondmen may not have been compulsory, but it was normal to have one when any amount of shunting was involved: to see the shunt- or hand-signals, the driver looks out of one side, the secondman out of the other. A guard would always be on the train unless it was entirely within a main yard: for Cornish clay trains, this means St Blazey. A shunter would usually accompany the train unless it is a simple case of drop the wagons off and pick up a new load. Anywhere with much or difficult shunting would usually have a shunter. The shunter could be based at the dries if there was a lot of traffic, but at a small one this is highly unlikely.

Locos would be, as said above, D63XX or 350 hp. The wagons would have been a mixture of the BR Diagram 1/051 clay opens (the older designs of clay wagon had been withdrawn by then) and various, mostly wooden, High Opens. The fitting of the tent-like hoods to the clay opens did not take place until the 1970s, but the clay had to be sheeted and this was done in the traditional fashion. There would have had to be a brake van, possibly one of the declining number of GWR design ones, sometimes one at each end if the layout at the sidings necessitated it.
 

Bevan Price

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I will first make the disclaimer that my time was from the late 1970s to mid 1980s and that I only spent a brief period in Cornwall.

Secondmen may not have been compulsory, but it was normal to have one when any amount of shunting was involved: to see the shunt- or hand-signals, the driver looks out of one side, the secondman out of the other. A guard would always be on the train unless it was entirely within a main yard: for Cornish clay trains, this means St Blazey. A shunter would usually accompany the train unless it is a simple case of drop the wagons off and pick up a new load. Anywhere with much or difficult shunting would usually have a shunter. The shunter could be based at the dries if there was a lot of traffic, but at a small one this is highly unlikely.

Locos would be, as said above, D63XX or 350 hp. The wagons would have been a mixture of the BR Diagram 1/051 clay opens (the older designs of clay wagon had been withdrawn by then) and various, mostly wooden, High Opens. The fitting of the tent-like hoods to the clay opens did not take place until the 1970s, but the clay had to be sheeted and this was done in the traditional fashion. There would have had to be a brake van, possibly one of the declining number of GWR design ones, sometimes one at each end if the layout at the sidings necessitated it.
Would the guard also have been able to act as a shunter, whilst coupling / uncoupling wagons?
 

Gloster

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Would the guard also have been able to act as a shunter, whilst coupling / uncoupling wagons?
The guard would be able to couple and uncouple wagons when necessary. By the nature of hierarchies, the guard would probably leave it to the shunter if there was one, but if there wasn’t, he had to do it. In practice there would be a lot of mucking in and whoever was best placed for each job would do it. If there was only a guard things would take a bit more time as he can only do one job at a time. If necessary move the wagons, stop, move in, couple/uncouple, move clear, give the next hand-signal, etc. Slower, but the simpler the track layout, the easier it is for a guard to do the job on his own. Realistically, there would have been a shunter rostered for all but the simplest drop off/pick up movements, even just moving a van from one end to the other.
 

UrieS15

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Thank you all so much was the routine to for exactly the right kind of help. One final question; at very minor rods and occupation crossings was the routine to slow down and toot or to use a flag man, as I have seen on the Welshpooland Llanfair? It makes rather a major difference to my incident.
 

Gloster

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I am not sure, but I think that the instruction would be to stop, a member of staff to go on to the crossing, and when there is no traffic (this would almost certainly be a very quiet road) handsignal the train across. Possibly a red flag should be used, but probably nobody would bother. If a car came along while the train was crossing, then it would be expected to stop (“If you can’t see something the size of a train, you shouldn’t be driving.”). Almost all clay trips would be done in daylight. I suspect that the train did not always stop before the crossing, just slowed right down on the approach and the member of staff, probably the shunter, would drop off and run ahead.

I don’t know how your plot runs, but you could always have the excuse of greasy rails for the train not stopping. Alternatively, the car could come into sight after the train had started across the crossing (a movement made at slow speed, probably walking pace if the crossing is ungated) and tried to nip in front of it, but misjudged it. The shunter/guard could be on the other side of the train, or his upheld hand could be ignored; he probably wouldn’t bother to carry flags with him.

My disclaimer in #5 should be kept in mind.

EDIT: At occupation crossings, which are the ones allowing a farmer etc. to get from one part of his land to another and so are not on public roads, the train just runs normally past the crossing. It is for the user to only cross when safe.
 
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UrieS15

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Bless you, that was the way I as hoping I could go, but reading your combined remarks it was looking less likely. I used to cross the Hatherleigh to Torrington line in a forest on my travels and that was ungated and always gave me an uneasy feeling because I had no idea what kind of traffic used it. It is going to happen in heavy rain anyway so the greasy rail thing fits as well.
 

Gloster

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Two further thoughts that have occurred to me. Firstly, most of what I have written applies to ungated crossings: on the road there would be only the most basic of fixed road signs. On the railway there would be timber cattle grids on the first few feet of track either side of the roadway (and possibly a bit of fencing to prevent animals finding their way around the grid).

The other point is that it is quite possible that after the loco was right across the road and moving ahead, the member of staff who checked the road would climb back into the loco or front brake van (should there be one of the latter): see third sentence of #9. If you only have a guard, he would be in the brake van at the rear and, if the secondman won’t get down and check the traffic, then the train would stop and wait while the guard walks to the crossing.

I hope that there is no intention of having a railway enquiry or court case as part of the plot as what I have written is based on what I have heard or read and may not be exactly as written in the rules. Cornwall is a long way from Paddington and not everything would be done by the book.
 

UrieS15

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Heaven forfend, I suspect that an enquiry might well have more fiction than I could ever imagine. Thanks for your other additional thoughts.

Thanks Guys, Anything looks wrong, please tell me.
Suzy was wallowing inside a pair of oversize wellingtons padded out with socks. Their walking boots had been dismissed as unsuitable for the task ahead. She saw the reason; the river had a flood –plain which stretched treacherously beneath the lush vegetation. An unwise step off the path and the boot sank into a colloidal mass that sucked as you withdrew it. Twice, so far, she had felt her foot leaving the safety of her boot and wriggled it back. They continued towards the visible part of the river, unexpectedly finding a firm path to a small footbridge.

The other end of the bridge opened onto a narrow lane which immediately crossed the river by a stone bridge and then crossed something else. As they had bunched together she listened to the others.

Rom said. “Is that a railway?”

Henry grunted and said, “ Mmm Level crossing, ungated, of course; it’s barely more than an occupation crossing. Only the local farmers use it; there are no places to pass, you have to back up almost to Kennickcross, if you meet something. The other end’s the main road. That’s the railway retaining wall down there, see. Pushes any floods onto my land, damn nuisance; still, keeps the fishing rights simple.”

“Where’s it go to?” Jimmy Hailwood asked. “I’d never noticed it before.”

“There’s a small clay-dry up there. Not part of the big combine; some chemical company, wanted its own I suppose, or maybe it has special properties. Don’t bother us much, you hear a toot as they get here, but I wouldn’t think more than a couple of wagons a month. When it was steam, used to see the smoke through the trees, little diesel’s almost invisible now, quiet too.”

“How far are we from where I caught that salmon?” Jimmy said.

“Couple of hundred yards down here.” Henry flung his right arm out, and then set off again.

Suzy trailed behind the others, thinking over the events since they left Bradford. No one actually talked about what happened when you went to bed with a bloke. It was not a topic considered suitable for discussion, and all the girlie talk was largely just that, talk. It had been a bit awkward, stilted really, in Cheltenham, and they had both been knackered. Last night had been better and this morning pretty good. Without thinking she reached forward and caught his coat. Rom turned, grinned and kissed her lightly. Yes, it was good. They bunched again as Henry and Jimmy talked fishing stuff and she snuggled up to Rom while he listened and she didn’t.

She was conscious of a new sound, and screwed her head around to locate it. A big two-tone Ford had emerged from the trees and barely slowed to cross the bridge; the locomotive horn was frighteningly loud as it rounded the bend and came towards them. It hit the car squarely and pushed it along the track before it. The screech of the train-brakes drowned most of the sound of rending metal and shattering glass, as the locomotive halted opposite them, and there seemed to be silence.

Calling Rom and Suzy to follow him, Henry sent Jimmy back to the house to raise the alarm and began to rush back to the bridge.

Suzy’s first impression was of the hugeness of the train; at ground-level everything towered over her. Milky water was streaming off the covers of the wagons; there was white smoke or steam beyond the front of the locomotive. The railwaymen were silhouetted in their darker work clothes or, in one case, a uniform. They were working frantically with a long pole and some other tools. A pile of bright coloured clothes lay by side of the track. Rom got there first, shouting that they had sent for help.

“There’s a young maid still in the back yer..” the uniformed one said, “the lady got thrown through the windscreen.”

He jerked his thumb at the pile of clothes by the track and Suzy, hurried across. The basic first aid she had learned at the Goon made her careful not to move this mass of blood, hair and fabric, but she felt for a pulse and found one. Henry had been left behind in the race and now he arrived gasping; he bent over to regain his breath.

A screeching of metal made them turn, and they saw that the railway men had forced a rear door open and, by leaning on it with all their weight, were holding it ajar as Rom went inside. He backed out lifting a small skirted body, whose legs flapped as he moved. Once they were clear the men moved away and the door sprang back. They followed Rom to the side of the line and helped him lie the girl down.

There was a soft whumph and the car started to burn; the men swore.

“The driver’s still in there.” Rom said.

“Yes, but he’s dead,” one of the men said. “The steering column got him.”

“Poor old George.” Henry said.

Rom turned. “Did you know him?”

“Yes. George Green, ran the Kennickcross Garage.; old friend of Jimmy Hailwood’s.” Henry said.
 
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