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Early / late passenger withdrawal surprises?

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Calthrop

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A recent chance discovery on my part: that the Ulverston – Windermere (Lakeside) branch lost its regular passenger service as long ago as the end of September 1938. I could have sworn, previously, that this passenger service lasted until the 1950s – some confusion, maybe, from the line’s having long survived for freight, and for summer-holiday-type special passenger workings connecting with lake steamers – surviving in fact long enough, for part of it to end up in preservation? (If I’d previously been aware of the 1938 date, clearly I’d forgotten about it.)

Rather similarly: a section of line in Yorkshire, mentioned in Bevan Price's "Summer Saturday Services, 1950s" thread: Malton to (via a junctions / reversals situation) Gilling, still, in 1958, in use for freight and for long-distance passenger specials – regular passenger service withdrawn, though, at the beginning of 1931 (the associated route from Pilmoor junction on the East Coast Main, turning left at Gilling and running thence to Pickering, kept its regular passenger service until 1953). And in adjacent parts: all the small local stations on the secondary main line York – Malton – Scarborough, closed to passengers at the end of the 1930 summer timetable – in my perception, a rare phenomenon that early in railway history.

Has anyone else been surprised by discovering a particular passenger service to have been withdrawn, either significantly earlier; or later; than previously envisaged?
 
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yorksrob

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The Sandgate branch in Kent closed surprisingly early to passengers ('31 I think), considering that part of the coast is reasonably well built up. The stub to Hythe soldiered on until 1951.

Dungeness station closed in 1937 but was supposed to have been superceded by Lydd-on-Sea on the realigned New Romney branch, but then again there wasn't much of a market there anyway.

The Elham Valley route closed early on. Think it might have been 1947.

The Kemp Town branch near Brighton closed to passengers in the 1930's, superceded by buses and trams, although the whole route was suburban in nature. Perhaps if they'd electrified it and detached a unit from the odd London train, it might have developed a more lucrative passenger market.
 
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RichmondCommu

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The Wirksworth branch lost its passenger service in 1947 but saw regular testing of Derby built DMU's up until the mid 1960's.

The line to Ripley via Little Eaton closed even earlier, perhaps even 1930.
 

gg1

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The Bridport branch survived until 1975 due to the poor standard of the local roads at the time.

At the other end of the scale, the Harborne branch lost it's passenger services in 1935, partially due to congestion at the branch's junction with the main line to New Street.
 

Calthrop

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The Elham Valley route closed early on. Think it might have been 1947.

By Daniels / Dench's Passengers No More (my "bible" in these matters), the greater (Canterbury -- Lyminge) part of this line closed to pass. in 1940, the southern Lyminge -- (Cheriton Jun.) -- Folkestone remnant in '47. (Don't know whether the line lasted longer for freight.) Per my understanding, one of those rather foolish "blocking / territory-defending" -- of dubious practical usefulness -- lines, inaugurated by the LC&D to keep the SE from encroaching, or vice versa.

The Kemp Town branch near Brighton closed to passengers in the 1930's, superceded by buses and trams, although the whole route was suburban in nature. Perhaps if they'd electrified it and detached a unit from the odd London train, it might have developed a more lucrative passenger market.

I tend -- between referrings -- to confuse the Kemp Town branch (per Daniels / Dench, closed 2/1/1933), with the Brighton -- (Aldrington) -- Devil's Dyke branch, this latter closed at the end of 1938 (a fair few branches seems to have come to an end passenger-wise, in the year or so pre-commencement of World War II).

The Wirksworth branch lost its passenger service in 1947 but saw regular testing of Derby built DMU's up until the mid 1960's.

For some stupid reason, I persistently have it in my head that the Wirksworth branch closed to passengers during World War II -- though I really know that it was during 1947.
The line to Ripley via Little Eaton closed even earlier, perhaps even 1930.
Per learned scholars Daniels and Dench, 1/6/1930. Adjoining sections Ripley -- Butterley and Ripley -- Langley Mill, closed to passengers even earlier --
4/5/1926 (time of the General Strike?).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The Bridport branch survived until 1975 due to the poor standard of the local roads at the time.

Though its short extension Bridport -- West Bay lost its passenger service (though it survived for freight, much longer), in the end-of-September-and-summer-timetable-1930 passenger "purge" of very minor branch lines, engaged in at that same time by all the "Big Four" companies -- a kind of foreshadowing of Beeching three-decades-plus in the future.
 

Bevan Price

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A recent chance discovery on my part: that the Ulverston – Windermere (Lakeside) branch lost its regular passenger service as long ago as the end of September 1938. I could have sworn, previously, that this passenger service lasted until the 1950s – some confusion, maybe, from the line’s having long survived for freight, and for summer-holiday-type special passenger workings connecting with lake steamers – surviving in fact long enough, for part of it to end up in preservation? (If I’d previously been aware of the 1938 date, clearly I’d forgotten about it.)


Has anyone else been surprised by discovering a particular passenger service to have been withdrawn, either significantly earlier; or later; than previously envisaged?

A summer only service ran between Ulverston & Lakeside from 1946 until 1965.

Although the Marples-Beeching era saw the closure of many lines and stations, there had been closures steadily from WW1 onwards, with many closures during the great financial depression of the 1930s. And there were even some closures during the 19th century, often due to financial troubles of the owning railway - in addition to the closure of early wayside halts serving sparsely populated areas - e.g. on the Chat Moss section of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway.
 

yorksrob

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By Daniels / Dench's Passengers No More (my "bible" in these matters), the greater (Canterbury -- Lyminge) part of this line closed to pass. in 1940, the southern Lyminge -- (Cheriton Jun.) -- Folkestone remnant in '47. (Don't know whether the line lasted longer for freight.) Per my understanding, one of those rather foolish "blocking / territory-defending" -- of dubious practical usefulness -- lines, inaugurated by the LC&D to keep the SE from encroaching, or vice versa.



I tend -- between referrings -- to confuse the Kemp Town branch (per Daniels / Dench, closed 2/1/1933), with the Brighton -- (Aldrington) -- Devil's Dyke branch, this latter closed at the end of 1938 (a fair few branches seems to have come to an end passenger-wise, in the year or so pre-commencement of World War II).
.

Ah yes, I remember reading that the Elham valley had a bit of a reprieve of some sorts after WWII. It was a result of the SER and LC&DR's ruinous competition. Perhaps if the SE&CR's managing committee had linked it to the LC&DR's mainline at Canterbury it might have become part of a London - Folkestone through route !
 

Calthrop

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My favourite is the Chesterford to Six Mile Bottom line (closed 1851!).

I went to school close to those parts (Bishop's Stortford): I recall from coach journeys for various educational purposes at that time -- 50+ years ago -- that parts of the formation of that line were still clearly visible from the parallel A11 road.

Rothes to Orton 1865, if I remember correctly, on opening of the new Highland Railway line from Elgin to Keith Jcn via Mulben.

Another oddity thereabouts was the Highland Railway branch from Keith to Portessie, where it joined the GNSR's coast line: as a World War I economy measure, passenger service withdrawn in 1915, and line abandoned north of Aultmore, first station out of Keith (freight to Aultmore continued to run until 1966).

More generally: the impression is got, that a more than tiny number of branches lost their passenger services in 1925 -- very early in the Grouping era. Examples are Limpley Stoke -- Hallatrow (GWR -- the "Titfield Thunderbolt" line); Camerton to Hallatrow section closed completely; and on the LNER, Scunthorpe -- Whitton; and Ormiston -- Macmerry, near Edinburgh.
 

Taunton

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The Liverpool Overhead was a surprising loss in 1956, for some reason it was not nationalised, and although it carried a heavy traffic this was at very cheap fares. It had some corrosion issues on its structure which would not have been an issue to BR, but the shareholders could not afford them and just closed it down and sold the structure for scrap.
 

gg1

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The Liverpool Overhead was a surprising loss in 1956, for some reason it was not nationalised, and although it carried a heavy traffic this was at very cheap fares. It had some corrosion issues on its structure which would not have been an issue to BR, but the shareholders could not afford them and just closed it down and sold the structure for scrap.

On top of the infrastructure issues the age of the rolling stock must have been a factor too. The 1890s built stock couldn't have had much life left in them by the mid 50s.

Of all the closed lines in Britain, this is the one I'd have most liked to have seen.
 
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Calthrop

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By Daniels / Dench's Passengers No More (my "bible" in these matters), the greater (Canterbury -- Lyminge) part of this line closed to pass. in 1940, the southern Lyminge -- (Cheriton Jun.) -- Folkestone remnant in '47. (Don't know whether the line lasted longer for freight.) Per my understanding, one of those rather foolish "blocking / territory-defending" -- of dubious practical usefulness -- lines, inaugurated by the LC&D to keep the SE from encroaching, or vice versa.

Ah yes, I remember reading that the Elham valley had a bit of a reprieve of some sorts after WWII. It was a result of the SER and LC&DR's ruinous competition. Perhaps if the SE&CR's managing committee had linked it to the LC&DR's mainline at Canterbury it might have become part of a London - Folkestone through route !

More on the “blocking lines” thing: another of such, for which I feel some fondness for personal reasons, without considering it likely to have been anything near indispensible to the local “polity” – is the Great Northern’s 18-mile Bourne to Sleaford branch, traversing charmingly remote countryside (flat Fens to the east, gentle and low-key hills to the west). By my understanding, the GNR inaugurated this line largely to discourage the Great Eastern – with their nearby GN / GE joint route heading generally north-west through Spalding and Sleaford – from “muscling in” further to the west, into what the GN saw as definitely their “manor”.

My childhood was spent not far from this line; and in the course of family afternoon car excursions, I saw it on a number of occasions in its latter years before complete abandonment – though never witnessing any action on it. The branch was opened in 1872; lost its passenger service under the LNER, w.e.f. 22/9/1930 – one of the many minor branches closed to passengers from that date, in the simultaneous “purge” undertaken by all the “Big Four” companies. Freight continued on this line, for a surprisingly longer time. It remained open for freight throughout, until – if I have things rightly – 1955 or ’56; when its more northerly stretch Billingborough & Horbling to Sleaford, was closed completely: though track not immediately lifted – the section was kept in situ, for storage of “condemned / redundant” wagons: I recall seeing that scene from the car, on family “drives”. Billingborough & Horbling to Bourne continued in freight use – above all, if I have things rightly, for sugar-beet traffic – into times beyond the closure of the connecting Midland & Great Northern line as a passenger / through route: Spalding – Bourne – Billingborough & Horbling remained active for freight, until final closure of all in 1964 or ’65 (am not sure which).

The Bourne – Sleaford branch has always struck me as having the characteristic that in eighteen miles, it had only four intermediate stations; but that nonetheless, its route passed closely by a good number of other villages of various sizes – with level crossings over roads leading right to those villages. All this in the good old 19th-century tradition: “a station every few miles – ignore other villages on the route: getting to the nearest station (or not) is the villagers’ problem”. It has crossed my mind that if the LNER, instead of writing this branch off passenger-wise as at 1930, had wished to put up a fight against the competing threat of the road motor bus; this route might have been an ideal candidate for the introduction of internal-combustion railmotors, and the concurrent opening of new halts at the envisaged ten or so close-by-line communities, hitherto ignored by the line. Perhaps “gated crossings with crossing-keepers” could have been economised on, by railmotor crews working the gates at designated halts?

If the above fantasy had come to pass, it would admittedly have been unlikely to save the line’s passenger service for many decades beyond its actual abandonment date: just, I find, a pleasant thing to dream about -- for a line which in childhood I saw a little of, and liked.
 

yorkguy

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A recent chance discovery on my part: that the Ulverston – Windermere (Lakeside) branch lost its regular passenger service as long ago as the end of September 1938. I could have sworn, previously, that this passenger service lasted until the 1950s – some confusion, maybe, from the line’s having long survived for freight, and for summer-holiday-type special passenger workings connecting with lake steamers – surviving in fact long enough, for part of it to end up in preservation? (If I’d previously been aware of the 1938 date, clearly I’d forgotten about it.)

Rather similarly: a section of line in Yorkshire, mentioned in Bevan Price's "Summer Saturday Services, 1950s" thread: Malton to (via a junctions / reversals situation) Gilling, still, in 1958, in use for freight and for long-distance passenger specials – regular passenger service withdrawn, though, at the beginning of 1931 (the associated route from Pilmoor junction on the East Coast Main, turning left at Gilling and running thence to Pickering, kept its regular passenger service until 1953). And in adjacent parts: all the small local stations on the secondary main line York – Malton – Scarborough, closed to passengers at the end of the 1930 summer timetable – in my perception, a rare phenomenon that early in railway history.

Has anyone else been surprised by discovering a particular passenger service to have been withdrawn, either significantly earlier; or later; than previously envisaged?

Apparently the closure in 1930 of all the small stations on the York to Scarborough line was down to the high volume of excursion trains in the summer months. The local, stopping services added to the congestion, so the many through services were given priority. My dad lived near the railway in those days. I remember him saying that the trains used to queue up to get through Malton. As one moved off, another train would come to take its place, so there was always one waiting.
 

Millisle

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I went to school close to those parts (Bishop's Stortford): I recall from coach journeys for various educational purposes at that time -- 50+ years ago -- that parts of the formation of that line were still clearly visible from the parallel A11 road.



Another oddity thereabouts was the Highland Railway branch from Keith to Portessie, where it joined the GNSR's coast line: as a World War I economy measure, passenger service withdrawn in 1915, and line abandoned north of Aultmore, first station out of Keith (freight to Aultmore continued to run until 1966).

More generally: the impression is got, that a more than tiny number of branches lost their passenger services in 1925 -- very early in the Grouping era. Examples are Limpley Stoke -- Hallatrow (GWR -- the "Titfield Thunderbolt" line); Camerton to Hallatrow section closed completely; and on the LNER, Scunthorpe -- Whitton; and Ormiston -- Macmerry, near Edinburgh.

An interesting sequel to Keith -Portessie was that though the Highland did nothing with it after the war, in the '20s the LMS relaid it, never reopened it and lifted it again in the '30s.
 

krus_aragon

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The Red Wharf Bay branch, on Anglesey, was never a good earner, and closed to passengers in 1930. Surprisingly, it saw regular summer passenger specials through the 30s, as the number of visitors exceeded what a fleet of single-decker light buses could carry over the Menai Bridge to Bangor. Once the bridge had been reinforced in 1940, the passenger specials disappeared.
 

47271

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Going from early closures to very late ones, Kilmacolm in 1983 is one that strikes me.

I like this from the Herald, sorry I can't get the picture to post separately:

http://m.heraldscotland.com/opinion/14127719.When_the_axe_fell_in_Kilmacolm/

When the axe fell in Kilmacolm

THEY are always smartly turned out, the ladies of Kilmacolm, and here they are patiently waiting for the last train to Glasgow Central - not the one Billy Connolly sang about but the last train ever on the line from Kilmacolm to Glasgow which was axed in January, 1983. Nothing as de trop as placards for the ladies of Kilmacolm, but when pressed by The Herald on that day they did express disquiet at the service being stopped. No more nipping up to Frasers for an afternoon tea. Always thought it peculiar that the folk of Kilmacolm, a bit on the posh side let's concede, are referred to as Kilmacomics. But they probably don't see it as a laughing matter.

The line was closed as Strathclyde Region refused to pay the six-figure subsidy demanded by British Rail as the line was a loss-maker. And now it is a cycle track, although probably not for these ladies.
 
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Calthrop

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The Fort Augustus branch of the LNER in the 1920's..?

Per sources that I have, the FA branch closed to passengers in 1933; freight lasted until 1947. In a quite recent book about a tour of present-day Britain, Bill Bryson cites this line as an instance of the Beeching rail cuts (!) -- but Bryson can at times be a bit of an idiot.

Apparently the closure in 1930 of all the small stations on the York to Scarborough line was down to the high volume of excursion trains in the summer months. The local, stopping services added to the congestion, so the many through services were given priority.

There's something that I'd never have guessed ! One can imagine the grumbling on the part of the local folks, about their being deprived for the benefit of whatever is the Yorkshire equivalent of "grockles"...

An interesting sequel to Keith -Portessie was that though the Highland did nothing with it after the war, in the '20s the LMS relaid it, never reopened it and lifted it again in the '30s.

Once more -- weird, or what? Maybe these doings made some kind of sense at the time, to those who implemented them...

The Red Wharf Bay branch, on Anglesey, was never a good earner, and closed to passengers in 1930. Surprisingly, it saw regular summer passenger specials through the 30s, as the number of visitors exceeded what a fleet of single-decker light buses could carry over the Menai Bridge to Bangor. Once the bridge had been reinforced in 1940, the passenger specials disappeared.

That's very interesting, about the bridge / continuing summer specials factor. I've always felt fond of the Red Wharf Bay branch (another victim of the all-companies 22/9/1930 passenger "mini-holocaust"; though I gather it carried freight until 1950). My mother's family, who lived in Chester, favoured Anglesey for summer holidays in her childhood in the 1920s. We have in the family from those times, an ancient Ordnance Survey map (circa 1920) of Anglesey and the close-by parts of the mainland. I don't think the family actually used the branches -- their holiday spots were further west on the island; but it was looking at this map as a kid, which first brought the RWB branch to my notice. It all looked quite enchanting: the Amlwych branch, and then the branch-off-a-branch diverging one station up, at the intriguingly named Holland Arms; running to the sonorously-named terminus of Red Wharf Bay & Benllech.
 

Waldgrun

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Three more lines for the list,

Bishops Waltham, 31/12/1932.
Lee-on-the-Solent 01/01/1931
Kerry 09/02/1931

All three line remained open for freight after the dates shown, with the Bishops Waltham line lasting until 1962! The Bishops Waltham and Lee-on-the-Solent lines both suffered from the Junctions facing the wrong way for traffic flows, which resulted in such traffic taking to the roads! As for the Kerry branch the junction was the right way for the main traffic flow to Newtown (Powys), but the fact that Kerry station was a good mile east of the village didn't help! Also, the journey by rail was at least three time further than by road!
 

Calthrop

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I had long harboured the idea that 1929 was a particularly bad year for railway closures, including many passenger lines of the “Big Four” companies. A recent look “with new eyes” has demonstrated that while a fair amount did succumb in that year – less havoc was wrought, than as per the previous impression. Perhaps influenced for me, by the IMO very lovable narrow-gauge Southwold Railway having closed to all traffic that year.

“Other news” re 1929 closures not of passenger lines of the big companies, included the Jersey Eastern Railway; the LNER’s long Rosedale mineral line, joining the main network at Battersby and which never carried passengers; and – well-and-truly “minor” – the 3ft gauge cable tram route in Douglas, IOM.

A look right through Daniels and Dench’s book would seem to turn up sixteen lines of various magnitudes, of the “Big Four”, which lost their passenger services in 1929 – a sizeable number, but far less than the “butcher’s bill” for the following year, 1930; and less, I have the impression, than for any of the years shortly succeeding ’30. A cataloguing of all sixteen could become tedious: I’ll just mention those which I feel to be more prominent, and / or of personal significance to me.

The Severn & Wye Joint system, north of Lydney Town: i.e. the routes from Lydney Town, and Lydbrook Junction, to Cinderford; and Parkend – Coleford. (LMS / GW joint).

Moreton-in-Marsh – Shipston-on-Stour (GW)

Mansfield Town – Southwell (LMS)

Sowerby Bridge – Rishworth (LMS)

Elliot Jun. – Carmyllie (LMS / LNE joint)

South Gosforth – Darras Hall (LNE)

Wath – Kirk Smeaton (LNE – part of former Hull & Barnsley system)

Stamford – Wansford (LNE) – this line, I believe, closed to all traffic at time of passenger withdrawal.
 

Taunton

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Bus services mushroomed between the late 1920s, when vehicles finally became practical and reliable, to the mid-1930s, when the service network was pretty much what lasted until rural bus services started to run down again in the 1960s.

The contrast with rail services was most pronounced. Just looking at the myriad routes which radiated from Taunton, to places where the railway provided maybe half a dozen local services a day, the bus was every 20-30 minutes. It also ran down the main street everywhere, whereas the GWR station building had the habit of being the most remote structure of the village. Much of what passenger traffic the railway had ever managed was lost straight away.

The railway tried a few comebacks, but things like railbus initiatives were generally about providing the same 6 services a day at cheaper cost, rather than providing a better service to compete.
 

randyrippley

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Bus services mushroomed between the late 1920s, when vehicles finally became practical and reliable, to the mid-1930s, when the service network was pretty much what lasted until rural bus services started to run down again in the 1960s.

The contrast with rail services was most pronounced. Just looking at the myriad routes which radiated from Taunton, to places where the railway provided maybe half a dozen local services a day, the bus was every 20-30 minutes. It also ran down the main street everywhere, whereas the GWR station building had the habit of being the most remote structure of the village. Much of what passenger traffic the railway had ever managed was lost straight away.

The railway tried a few comebacks, but things like railbus initiatives were generally about providing the same 6 services a day at cheaper cost, rather than providing a better service to compete.

And of course in Somerset / Dorset, with the way Western National / Southern National were both partly owned by the GWR/SR and centrally managed, the rail companies had no great incentive to compete with their own bus routes. But in reality the bus routes were more practical, and required less capital investment.
 

Calthrop

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It's always seemed to me that, as regards "branch lines" (in the widest, figure-of-speech sense) which were inaugurated as late in the day as the 1890s or after; if their promoters had had even the faintest inkling of foreknowledge of how soon -- and at what a rapidly escalating rate -- the various forms of road motor transport would come to flourish: few of those lines, if any, would ever have been built. I would reckon that as well as re the British Isles, that applies also to the more advanced nations of the western part of the European continent.
 
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