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My sorrow - The disappeared lines...

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by Jimbob_Notts, 10 Nov 2016.

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  1. Jimbob_Notts

    Jimbob_Notts Member

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    Hello!

    I've just joined (waves), and I've got something I'd really like to get off my chest!
    I'm not particularly old -born 1983- but ever since I can remember I've always been fascinated by the railways.. I think steam train gauges were the first thing I ever learnt as a kid.. I also grew up overlooking the site of the old Sherwood Station on the old Nottingham suburban line.

    It wasn't until recently, after moving back to the area after living in the Scottish Borders (Waverley Line!!!:mad::mad::mad: ) , that I have really taken the time to explore / discover the real extent of the railways that used to be, around Nottingham.

    In particular I'm fascinated by what was once the GNR (e.g. the east Nottingham loop, Colwick loco yard, Mapperley tunnel, etc etc.. The Nottingham Suburban Railway.. And of course, The old Great Central mainline, especially the route north out of the city.

    The architecture, design, and sheer building of all of the above, especially the Great Central really leaves me sick to know what was once there in my stomping grounds. I feel a real sense of loss and grief for what once was and one of real wonder for what might have been today if Beeching and his cronies hadn't so hastily wielded their axes.

    Is there any other country that has put so many resources into creating whole transport networks, only to absolutely obliterate them just decades later?? I can only imagine what those who were lucky enough to see and remember the old lines (nationwide) must feel. Must have felt like their guts had been ripped out.

    Bleugh.. anyway, rant over for now! I'm just sitting here waiting for Marty and Doc. Brown to pop over in their Delorean!! :lol:

    Apologies if this is in the wrong section, I hope not.
     

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  2. gazr

    gazr Member

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    Welcome to the forum :) Although you have singlehandedly made me feel old now, as I have 10 years on you!! I too have always been around the railway; hard not to when the house you grew up in backed onto the Waterloo main line!!

    My earliest memories are of Wimbledon West Yard, with 73s regularly shunting wagons; Long since gone. I was at least lucky to see all of the 33s/73s and 50's and probably had most or all for haulage, although never kept records as a kid!!!

    OK, enough of that. Hope you enjoy the forum.
     
  3. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    Welcome Jimbob Notts!

    This general discussion crops up here regularly. Railways in this country were almost entirely built at the behest of private companies during an era when government policy was very much one of laissez-faire. This meant no co-ordination and much duplication. Many (most?) other countries developed their railway networks as much for strategic (ie military) reasons as for commercial ones so their networks at least had much less duplication even if later border changes meant the networks needed adjusting over time. Nationalisation also happened much earlier than here, indeed the oversight referred to above meant that even privately owned railways were already operating to "government orders".

    It is very easy to wear the "Beeching Hater" hat but much of the Reshaping Report was highly necessary. There is no doubt that some of the closures were justified on dubious grounds, whether through over zealous local managers "cooking the books" or downright corruption at Ministerial level (Marples), but equally politics saw to it that some lines survived that arguably shouldn't have done and continue to require considerable subsidy to keep them going today. Equally the Report also kick-started some highly successful ideas such as Inter-City, Freightliner and merry-go-round.

    Other countries have also seen cutbacks over the years. France has very poor service on non-TGV cross-country routes with plenty of branch lines closed. The former Soviet satellites have nearly all made some cutbacks since the end of communism but their less well developed road networks meant that closures were less obviously brutal. And the United States barely has any long-distance passenger services left though freight only mileage is still considerable.

    The whole issue needs to be taken in the context of the wider political arena. We Brits value our independence and this can make us a little reluctant at times to adopt collective solutions like public transport. OTOH if it wasn't for the Beeching closures there wouldn't be anything like the number of heritage lines that now exist.
     
  4. 125Forever

    125Forever Member

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    Welcome Jimbob Notts.

    Hopefully, should HS2 falter, the GC could be rebuilt as another line to the Midlands and North of England.

    London to Aylesbury is in tact, just need to extend to Brackley, Woodford, Daventry, Rugby and then Leicester.
     
  5. gimmea50anyday

    gimmea50anyday Established Member

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    The "other" notingham station crops up as a regular feature on Facebook Disused Railways. Theres also been numerous waverley route, Somerset and Dorset, woodhead postings amongst others. Many people post pictures of railway routes they have traced or walked. One contributor, Zoe, makes maps of areas where lines once ran and the duplication can often be seen on those. Other contributors post overlays where an image of today is blended in with a historical b+w image for comparison.

    Very fascinating page....
     
  6. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    And Unicorns will be discovered.
     
  7. 125Forever

    125Forever Member

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    Shhhh!! Some people think they are real ;)

    'Point' taken though.
     
  8. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Welcome to the forum. I share your sadness.

    The tragedy is that even at the time of the closures, many saw the flaws and failures in Beeching, and some of his successors methodology.

    Even within the Stedeford committee, the parliamentary committee which had been convened to look at railway finances of which Beeching was a member, he was seen as a bit extreme on the issue of route closures. Yet his message fitted with the views of Government.
     
  9. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    The UK was the first country in Europe to industrialise and probably the only one where there was enough economic activity to build railways purely as commercial enterprises (though a lot of them with hindsight were no more than money pits!). There was also little risk of military invasion of the UK, whereas most of the Continental countries had at least one major war with a neighbour during the era when railways were being built. So other European countries probably had no alternative but to take a more interventionist approach in planning their rail network. As a result there was far less duplication and far fewer railway closures were needed when roads took much of the traffic after WW2.

    The USA was more like the UK in this respect, and resulted in a huge tangle of competing lines, many of which also closed from the 1960s onwards. Canada however was more strategic, to the extent that the transcontinental railroad was built after the western states threatened to join the USA if it wasn't.
     
    Last edited: 10 Nov 2016
  10. GrimsbyPacer

    GrimsbyPacer Established Member

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    Welcome Jimbob Notts!

    I am also sad at the short sighted closure of railway infrastructure.
    Imagine if they shut roads not used much as well, it's very stupid and now the country is paying the price with economic activity lower in areas with cuts, also parts of the network have capacity issues as a result.

    At least Nottingham Victoria has the clock tower remaining.
     
  11. Jimbob_Notts

    Jimbob_Notts Member

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    Hi all, thanks for the nice responses! & for the welcome to the forums :)

    Regarding the GCR being rebuilt now should HS2 fail,, if only! Anything to see the removal of those crusty Victoria flats!!

    However, the resulting housing crisis be a bit extreme given the amount of residential developments (and roads) which now occupy the old route!
     
  12. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    If your local library or railway club (or even a bookshop) can get hold of WJK Davies' book on French Minor Railways you will see the situation in that country - vast numbers of local railways (mostly NG) built cheaply and operated at a very basic level (but with central subsidy so they didn't go broke) until the bus operators' took control at local level in the 30's. Lines that in most cases never stood a chance (though enthusiasts regret the loss of the most scenic!).
    And significant "main line" routes have effectively disappeared too (like the Etat system). Gross oversimplification before anyone else says so!

    Parts of Germany were equally densely populated with minor lines both NG and SG which fell victim to private transport and depopulation.
     
  13. Calthrop

    Calthrop Member

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    Nice to hear from you, Jimbob Notts. I've spent little "real time" in the Nottingham area; but have pored over railway maps of it, with interest. As with yourself, the area's former GNR network particularly intrigues me -- with, as you cite, the Nottingham Suburban Railway as was -- lost its passenger service as long ago as 1931 (did it carry on longer for freight?); and the east Nottingham loop.

    A digression re the latter: I recall coming on a (not railway-focused as such) article , concerning J.R.R. Tolkien, who in his youth at times paid visits, which he enjoyed, to relatives at Gedling -- including a photograph of Gedling & Carlton station at that time, a little over 100 years ago -- in those days, in the midst of open countryside. (The article was titled Tolkien's Gedling; which inspired the irresistible facetious response, "oh, is he really?")


    edwin m writes: "... other European countries probably had no alternative but to take a more interventionist approach in planning their rail network. As a result there was far less duplication and far fewer railway closures were needed when roads took much of the traffic after WW2."

    Interpolating here: re the just-above sentence ("if it wasn't...") -- accurate, undeniably; but brings to mind just a little for me, the old culinary-discovery tale: the farmhouse accidentally catches fire and unfortunately burns down to the ground, including the pigs' quarters; "but, oh boy, doesn't roast pork taste good?" (I admit to not being Britain's biggest fan of anything "heritage rail".)

    I regret the loss of all of them ! -- but I don't claim to be Mr. Sensible...

    It comes to seem here, a bit like a skirmish where edwin m is being opposed three-to-one; but I weigh in on the outnumbering side, re France. Britain doesn't have a monopoly on bureaucratically-decreed seemingly wanton and indiscriminate line closures !

    At the time of nationalisation of France's railways, in 1938; passenger services were withdrawn at a stroke, from an enormous kilometrage of the country’s branch and lesser lines (though substitute bus services in one shape or another, mostly “happened”; and on the majority of the lines affected, freight service was retained and continued to run for several more decades). Many further closures have happened in France since then, including of former main lines; relatively few branch lines survive for passenger and / or freight, and their future is often uncertain. And over and above what became the State system (as 30907 tells of); France once had extremely extensive light railways (mostly metre-gauge, some other gauges – standard or “other narrow”) run by various independent operators: only a very tiny proportion of which, remains in action today.

    Similarly in Belgium: at “rail peak” the most densely rail-served country on earth, with a tight-packed network of standard-gauge main and branch lines, plus also many hundreds of kilometres of metre-gauge local light railways / tramways. Not at any particular “fell swoop” as in France, but just over the decades: the state-railways lesser standard-gauge lines, for passenger and freight, have mostly ceased to be; and the remaining amount of metre gauge in commercial service, is infinitesimal.

    Responding to Shaw S Hunter re "the East": I’m not informed in detail about most Eastern European countries post-1990-odd: but as regards Poland, in which I have a particular interest – at the time of the fall of Communism, the state of Poland’s rail system re lines in use; was roughly equivalent to that on BR in about 1955 – re lines still with passenger service, and with many over-and-above that, still active with freight only. Over the quarter-century-odd between then and now, Poland’s rail system has been savagely depleted: branch and lesser lines, re both passenger and freight, have perished in enormous numbers, and the process still goes on. The picture generally got re Europe as a whole – with a few exceptions – is that this is the late 20th / early 21st century way of things. This happening in the east of the continent too, with the departure of Communism: which held as a principle, that railways were a good and to-be-encouraged mode of transport, especially for freight.
     
  14. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Except tunnels and the of viaduct carrying the trams near Midland station, there's barely a Great Central brick that still sits on top of another one, all the way from the Trent to the northern edge of the Nottingham built-up area. And I don't think Leicester is much better.
     
  15. Jimbob_Notts

    Jimbob_Notts Member

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    That's very true.. I've been driving around the area from Sherwood Rise / Nottingham Road, Perry Road (which runs over the old bridge in my original post), and up into Bulwell and Top Valley... etc.
    It's amazing, the extent of the destruction of the old route(s), with the exception of an old bank, the occasional footpath..

    One image which has really struck me is the one below, the old Bagthorpe / 'rat hole' area by Arnold Road. Just incredible that barely a trace remains.
     

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  16. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    The GC is probably a step too far, however, with some strategic reinstatements, I believe you could improve capacity through the Midlands. I would reinstate quadruple track from Bedford to Kettering, reopen the Old Dalby test track through to Nottingham, then reopen Matlock to Chinley. You get a massively re-vamped MML and additional route between the East Midlands and Manchester.
     
  17. Jimbob_Notts

    Jimbob_Notts Member

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    Funny you should mention that!
    I went to school near to Wood Lane in Gedling, over which the old GNR runs, and close the site of the old Gedling station.

    For years I've just thought that this was solely the mineral railway which it became, without realising that it was actually the GNR route proper! which came up from the huge Colwick yard, where Victoria retail park now stands!

    These old lines did indeed continue to carry freight - the purpose for which it is widely believed the GCR should have been retained.
    The images of the old lines are incredible.
     
  18. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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  19. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Hi Jimbob. I've enjoyed reading this (welcome by the way :)), I wanted to comment earlier but have been ridiculously busy with work today (no such thing as a free day off Ash Bridge).
    My mums side of the family are from Nottingham and although I grew up in Devon I've spent a lot of time in Nottingham, I'm I think ten years older than you and obviously missed seeing the area in its railway heyday, but a lot of the infrastructure was still in place when I was a kid.
    One of my uncles was actually a fireman at Colwick shed when he was a young man, when steam ended he left the railways for a different career path although he had plenty of stories and info on what it used to be like. My uncle and aunts house actually backed onto the Gedling branch in Netherfield.

    I love old maps and I've got a few of Nottingham, my favourite one shows the Southern part of the GCR still open and all the colliery lines in the area open. If you put it next to a present day one the changes that have occurred in my lifetime are pretty incredible.
    On the plus side, I suppose the area has benefited from the reopening of the Robin Hood line, the new tram system, the continued use and important role of Toton, the future link up of the two parts of the preserved GCR and the future possible HS2 role which is a lot more than many cities have had.
    In this sense Nottingham is still very much a railway city.

    Some of the previous posts on this thread have made great reading.
     
  20. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    The RCTS published a series of illustrated paperbacks about the ex-GNR lines in the Nottingham area. I think they are now out of print, but libraries in that area probably have copies you can view or borrow.
     
  21. Jimbob_Notts

    Jimbob_Notts Member

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    Hi Cowley, yes I agree.. I've seen a few of the old maps and you're right, the change is stark to say the least! Especially along what is now the ring road / Vernon Road area.

    You're right in inferring that Nottingham is not alone in losing a massive amount of it's railway infrastructure, for better or worse, as has been discussed already here.. But the nostalgia and allure of what was once there is fascinating :)

    Do any of your uncles stories stick out in your memory? care to share??
     
  22. Helvellyn

    Helvellyn Member

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    Of course before the rail network was the canal network, and it was the railways that did for them. It is interesting how many railway lines were built to closely follow the canals, where the obvious aim was to take the freight traffic. For various reasons a not insignificant number of canals remain although many were equally lost.

    Playing Devil's advocate there are many routes now closed that in 2016 have us scratching our head thinking why? But go back to the 1980s and things looked very different. Sprinterisation opened up opportunities on many regional routes, where shorter trains were offset by more frequency. Many of us now know how that one played out, and has happened again in the 1990s and 2000s - more, shorter trains that create growth higher than expected leading to overcrowding and railways running at capacity in many areas.

    And then through into mix the disaster that has been road planning over the last 50 years. In the 1950s and early 1960s the motorway network was to have been huge, and pretty much more joined up than today. The mess that is the M25 between the M3-M4-M40 around Heathrow should not have existed. There should have been the M31 linking the M4-M3 (and on to the M25) whilst the M25 in the West would have been Ringway 4, with Ringway 3 east of Heathrow. I'm not suggesting to resurrect those schemes now, but if they had been built in the 1960s/1970s it would be interesting to see how things looked around Berkshire/Surrey today!
     
  23. davetheguard

    davetheguard Member

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    Welcome to the forum Jimbob Notts.

    I'm no great fan of Beeching, but I think you're blaming the wrong person. The government of the day appointed him to do a job. Which he did. Part of the job was making recommendations to the Transport Minister on which lines should close. Note the word "recommendations", for that is all they were; it was the Transport Minister who made the decision, the Transport Minister who closed the lines (not Beeching).

    That minister was Ernest Marples, he is the real villain of the piece. He had shares in a company called Marples Ridgeway. Marples Ridgeway was a road construction firm. To get around the conflict of interest, he transferred these shares to his wife, but with the proviso that she had to later transfer them back to him. By closing down a large part of our railway network, there was a massive transfer of traffic to the road system, leading of course to the massive road construction and widening programme that still continues today.

    In short, many people claim that Marples was in fact a crook, who lined his own pockets at the Railways', and the country's expense. In fact he later fled to France to avoid the Taxman. Today, he probably would have ended up in gaol......
     
  24. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    The history of the canals and early railways is quite intertwined, there were some canal companies that turned themselves into railways for example.

    But the main reason that many early railways followed canal routes was that the canals chose the route between any two places to have the smallest height difference possible. Locks were expensive and water supplies to the top pound could be difficult, especially in summer. To avoid the cost of locks many were built as contour canals, for example the Oxford Canal.

    The hill-climbing ability of early steam locomotives was very limited, so the railway builders also followed the path of least resistance and built along river valleys, in many cases tunnelling through the watersheds between river basins. Of course much early industry was also situated on or near rivers, both for transport and for power reasons (waterwheels and such) and in these cases the railway could of course offer a faster service.
     
  25. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    In all fairness Network Rail are doing a lot of work to improve capacity between Bedford and Kettering.
     
  26. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    I believe the plan is to reinstate quadruple track over this whole section, though the project seems to be in a state of flux so some may yet be "deferred".

    Extension of the Old Dalby test track back into Nottingham is nearly as much of a non-starter as restoring the Great Central in this area. Edwalton station is now a row of very expensive houses, then at Ludlow Hill Road it is built over with flats leaving only a narrow path. From Melton Road to Bridgford Road it is obliterated, then its crossing of the Trent is now a road bridge which would have to be replaced.

    There was talk a few years ago of a new link leaving either the GC or the Melton lines or both somewhere south of the built-up area then linking to the Grantham line possibly using part of the Cotgrave branch. However to be honest I think it's a solution in need of a problem.
     
  27. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Indeed, and if thy follow the rest of my plan, we will have a supurb, robust railway with multiple tracks all the way to Clay Cross.
     
  28. Jimbob_Notts

    Jimbob_Notts Member

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    Just for reference... I'm aware that Beeching was just symptomatic of Marples and the gov't at the time, but when I created my profile here, Beeching was the only name I could think of! I hate them all ;)
     
  29. Railops

    Railops Member

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    I have been involved in the work in that area and 4 track quadrupling won't happen for many years.
     
  30. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    Perhaps you could tell us all what work you have been involved in?
     
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