Disused Freight Branch in Ipswich

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by Wirewiper, 4 Dec 2017.

  1. Wirewiper

    Wirewiper Member

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    Whilst in Ipswich a few weeks back I came across a closed branch line. It descends from the main alignment just north of Ipswich Station and descends in a curve, crossing Ranelagh Road on the level - the tracks are still in situ either side of the road, although the level crossing and its gates gates have been mostly removed, replaced by security fencing preventing access to the railway line.

    Former level crossing, Ranelagh Road, Ipswich.jpg

    The line then passes a disused home signal (still in situ and clearly visible from the road) before crossing the River Gipping on a bridge, which is also still in situ. This appears to have been a swing bridge to allow the passage of shipping, as the River Gipping was at one time navigable as far inland as Stowmarket.

    Redundant signal, Ranelagh Road, Ipswich.jpg

    Redundant signal post, Ranelagh Road, Ipswich.jpg

    Redundant railway bridge, River Gipping, Ipswich.jpg

    Would I be right in guessing that this line was built to convey coal and other supplies to Ipswich Corporation's power station and tram/trolleybus depot at Constantine Road? In Ipswich the electricity department and transport department were closely linked; Ipswich Corporation operated electric trams from 1903 until 1924-6 when it replaced its entire system with trolleybuses, and did not obtain its first motorbuses until 1950 - the last trolleybuses were withdrawn in 1963. Were any other business premises also served by this branch line, and does anyone know when it was last used?

    Incidentally, although the power station has long gone Ipswich Buses today is one of the ten British bus companies that still remains in municipal ownership. It still occupies the original depot at Constantine Road.

    Ipswich Corporation Depot, Constantine Road.jpg
     
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  3. eastdyke

    eastdyke Established Member

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    The branch gave access to Ipswich Lower (Goods) Yard, which in turn gave access to the tramway lines around the wet dock.
    Lower yard included a goods shed, cattle pens etc. I remember J70 'tram' engines working the dockside lines.

    I don't remember the bridge over the tidal river as being a swing bridge, there was a swing bridge over the lock at the mouth of the wet dock.
    I went to school on trolley buses! There was a newer trolley bus depot in Cobham Road (near the Felixstowe Branch on the east side of town) which is now the very worthwhile Ipswich Transport Museum.

    I will look at the maps for Constantine Road to see what I can dig out about coal to the power station.
     
  4. Wirewiper

    Wirewiper Member

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    Thank you for the information, it looks like that line was far more important than I realised - I hadn't realised it was also a significant route for freight to and from the Docks.

    The Priory Heath Depot in Cobham Road was opened in December 1936 to cater for the growing trolleybus network, especially as Ipswich grew to the east, and it was into Priory Heath Depot that the last trolleybus ran on Friday 23rd August when no. 114 arrived with the 6.36pm (sic) route 2 journey from Electric House. It closed as an operational Bus Depot in February 1984 although some repainting and maintenance continued there for a few more years.

    I have been to the Ipswich Transport Museum, and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in road transport, especially in Ipswich and East Anglia.
     
  5. eastdyke

    eastdyke Established Member

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    I looked at the 1:25,000 on Sabre Maps and there is indeed a siding shown (may have been more than 1) running back from the line to Lower Yard and into the rear of the old power station.
    Sabre maps:
    https://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/maps/
    Select 'OS 1 inch' on the left side menu, then 1:25,000 from the revealed drop-down and then zoom in!
     
  6. Wirewiper

    Wirewiper Member

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    Thank you for the link and instructions, I can see the line into the power station that you refer to.

    In fact, I can see now just how complex the dock and riverside rail system was in Ipswich, I had no idea it was that extensive. And most of it came in and out via that one branch line.
     
  7. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    This is a view of the level crossing in 2009, before the gates were removed (Click on photos to got to the larger original):
    Old level crossing on Ranelagh Road
    [​IMG]

    © Copyright Andrew Hill and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

    A view of the sidings a little downstream:
    Ipswich Docks
    [​IMG]

    © Copyright Martin Addison and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

    Re the bridge - I think this may have been a swing-bridge, but the nearby Station Road bridge was built as a fixed span bridge in 1922, and it may be that the fixed railway bridge dates from soon after that date?
     
    Last edited: 4 Dec 2017
  8. eastdyke

    eastdyke Established Member

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    There is a black and white photo (protected by copyright) within this page near to the bottom showing the bridge to the lower yard probably circa 1960.
    http://picssr.com/photos/actonwellsjunction/interesting/page36?nsid=61731530@N02
    The photograph is taken from the northern side and shows D2051. The centre of the span is supported by a wooden construction and not the current metalwork!
    Searching google with 'Ipswich lower yard pictures' brings up all manner of nostalgic stuff, including a class J70 in full smoke, EWS class 37's on stone trains etc., (the lower yard being used in later years as a stone terminal). In the older pictures you can see that the sidings were much more extensive than in the second picture.
    As to 'Station Road bridge', I assume that you mean the road to the station, Princes Street?
     
  9. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    Ipswich Lower Yard acted as a temporary Freighliner Terminal in 1981 -82 before the new Walton FLT came in .....traffic came from Manchester Trafford Park - and retained business , using spare FLL road drivers and vehicles underused as a result of recession traffics in places like Liverpool , Swansea and Southampton Millbrook. Quite an interesting experience.

    There was some block trainloads of tankers for a while later for BOC - but general freight traffic had died by then - ditto flows to the other bits of Ipswich Docks. Ergo - the end of the yard and the line.
     
  10. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

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    Thanks for this historic detail, which doesn't seem to be well covered in many standard histories. Especially the 'pre-Walton/Felixstowe North' era. I think that Ipswich Cliffe Quay used to import some containerised bananas directly as well.

    And a rare mention of the British Oxygen traffic from Runcorn. This used to travel quite widely - to Wolverhampton, Glasgow and North Wembley as well as Ipswich - in cryogenic tanks. I never discovered why Ipswich was a user of large amounts of liquid oxygen. There was a trial to Fawley as well in the mid-1980s but it never came to anything SFAIAA. Some of the redundant wagons languished at Barnetby in later years.
     
  11. eastdyke

    eastdyke Established Member

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    BOC tanker does not always mean oxygen. I think most (if not all) at Ipswich were nitrogen. We had our own liquid nitrogen storage on site to use for purging operations to ensure inert/safe atmospheres in pipework systems and vessels. BOC road tankers came to top-up on request.
     
  12. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

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    Thanks for the clarification. I had forgotten that BOC did nitrogen as well.
     
  13. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    I understand much of the Ipswich BOC stuff went to Bernard Mathews and his "bootifull" turkey empire. Mind you Fisons chemicals was yards away. The guy who was Railfreight manager for the flow is regrettably no longer around.
    I could add a lot more - but we did some container wagon moves to Cliff Quay - trial a failure as the wagons got buffer locked on the severe curves.
     
  14. Mikey C

    Mikey C Established Member

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    Funnily I stayed in a hotel next to that level crossing back in 2012 during the weekend when they removed it! Not the quietest night in a hotel I've ever had...this is the view from my hotel bedroom the next morning!

    [​IMG]
     
  15. snowball

    snowball Established Member

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    Presumably if you "do" oxygen you get nitrogen as a side effect.
     
  16. jopsuk

    jopsuk Veteran Member

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    BOC started out as "Brin's Oxygen Company" later "British Oxygen Company" but haven't traded as that in decades and have done a very wide range of gases for a very long time.
     

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