Railways built for the craziest reasons

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by Journeyman, 26 Nov 2019.

  1. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Indeed. I read that the Kemp Town branch was partially conceived buy the LB&SCR to block an anticipated incursion into Brighton by the South Eastern. It struggled on as a goods depot into the 70's.

    Of all routes built for ridiculous reasons, the Quarry line must have turned out to be one of the most useful.
     
  2. Revaulx

    Revaulx Member

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    Not Queen Victoria, but LCDR Chairman/MD James Staats Forbes. It’s in a history of the SECR.
     
  3. bishdunster

    bishdunster Member

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    In deepest Dorset there was an 18" N.G. line built specially to transport watercress from the growing beds , almost a mile to the packing shed at Bere Regis, the motive power was a 4wheel petrol loco powered by the engine from an Austin 7 and built by George Fry agricultural engineers of Dorchester. Some smaller hand propelled railways also were used for the same purpose in the Shillingstone area.
     
  4. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Ah, that is interesting. I'm glad that there might be an element of truth in the story :)
     
  5. billio

    billio Member

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    How about the Midland Railway extension towards Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Bradford. Lots of substantial civil engineering and never reaching Bradford. Was it really worthwhile, crazy almost ?
     
  6. dgl

    dgl Member

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    And for those talking about visiting the nuclear power stations, the ones still operating (well at least some of the EDF ones) still do tours (free I believe) you just have to contact them in advance to arrange it.
     
  7. Sir Felix Pole

    Sir Felix Pole Member

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    To be fair WW1 halted construction towards Bradford, and the straightened economic circumstances and 1923 Grouping stopped further progress. It would have placed Bradford on the 'main-line' with a central station and cross-city link - still very much desired today.

    The Bishop's Castle Railway in Shropshire was a pretty hopeless case, planned originally to link Craven Arms on the North & West line to Montgomery on the Cambrian line. It only got half-way to Lydham Heath, and Bishop's Castle itself via a branch , when the funds ran out. It was in receivership for most of its existence with periodic bouts of closure, finally expiring in 1935. It was not included in the 1923 Grouping. It was built to a good standard with some heavy engineering, some of which can still be seen today from the A489 road.
     
  8. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    The Bishop's Castle must indeed have been a wonder, for sheer decrepitude plus back-of-beyond-ness. To be fair, it would seem to have been somewhat cursed with bad luck: if things had gone a little better at its inception and it had indeed reached Montgomery, thus giving it connections with the wider system at each end plus its short branch to Bishop's Castle; it might perhaps have been somewhat more prosperous than happened in actual fact -- though its still being with us today (unless maybe in part, as a heritage line) is an unlikely contingency indeed. One small element of its ill-luck, I feel, is that things so worked out that the branch joined it "in the wrong direction" -- making necessary a reversal at Lydham Heath, for both "up" and "down" workings.

    I love the tale of Colonel Stephens, in the 1920s, sending his "second-in-command" W.H. Austen to take a look at the Bishop's Castle Railway; the Colonel was contemplating possibly trying to add it to his light-railway empire. Austen, having visited the line and made his evaluation, reported back to the boss in these terms: "Don't touch the BCR with a bargepole -- not even you could turn this one around".
     
  9. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    There were some very interesting basket cases in Wales, - credit has to be given to the promotion of the Manchester to Milford , ostensibly to speed up the movement of imported raw cotton from the USA to Greater Manchester (nicely timed for the American Civil War) , when a logistical minded person would have noted the excellent dock facilities at Liverpool and a good number of rail options towards Lancashire. Later augmented by the Ship Canal.
     
  10. MP33

    MP33 Member

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    The short mile or so branch line from Mellis on the Great Eastern main line to Eye was lobbied for by the people of Eye who expected to be on the main line. This branch closed to passengers in the 1930's but freight continued for over 30 years.
     
  11. billio

    billio Member

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    Based on the sketch map in this thread https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/i...nd-route-that-never-was-dewsbury-to-bradford/ it would seem that the Midland planned to replicate the lines of other companies over a large part of West Yorkshire. That does seem a little crazy to me.

    However, I agree it is unfortunate that as a result of the failure of this scheme Bradford has not a through station. Whilst some elements of the scheme would now be very useful, the proposed duplication of lines illustrates how the lack of proper planning of railway developments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries has impacted on railways today. In Bradford's case as described here http://www.bradfordhistorical.org.uk/allchange.html
     
  12. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    Did the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway/ Welsh Highland Railway ever serve a sensible purpose?
     
  13. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    Not by any money making -or even passenger volume handling , in it's original format - but a welcome member of the Welsh "basket case club" , much like the Plynlumon and Hafen line. (of the 19thC)

    Provided much material for enjoyable book reading though, and before any one accuses me of "anti Welsh" sentiments , I have the grounds for a Welsh passport that should that ever be required.


    The Invergarry and Fort Augustus must be well up there too .....
     
  14. Steamysandy

    Steamysandy Member

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    If it had been completed through to Inverness as was originally planned,it would have been a very useful link particularly during the Two World Wars. The irony is that the Northern section was abandoned only 6 months before WW1 broke out and left the Highland in dire straits
     
    Last edited: 3 Dec 2019 at 19:13
  15. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    A useful comment that - thanks !
     
  16. talerddig

    talerddig Member

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    The M&M was not as crazy as it looks on paper - or at least the concept. Manchester complained about the high charges levied by the L&M railway and the port of Liverpool. The proposition to link Manchester to Milford Haven was promoted as being cheaper and quicker - saving two weeks sailing time to America. At the time, the Milford inlet was being touted as the new American port and a potential home for the new Great Eastern ship.

    Unfortunately for them, by the time they had received their act of parliament, the best they could achieve was a mile south of Llanidloes to a mile north of Pencader, where they formed a junction with the Broad Gauge Carmarthen & Cardigan rly. Whilst desperately trying to raise funds, to achieve even this, it soon became obvious they weren't going to get far with a section in rural Wales and thus they elected to build their approved extension from Strata Florida to Aberystwyth, so that at least they got somewhere... even if on the map it appears as a dog leg away from Manchester. The lack of money shows itself in the tin shacks for all stations (bar Aberystwyth which was rented off the Cambrian) and Lampeter) and also the famous boiler explosion of one of their engines, which was I believe 15 years into a 10 year ticket.
     
  17. Dr_Paul

    Dr_Paul Member

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    The odd thing about this line was that the northern half of it was removed quite early on, but the remaining stump north-eastwards from Fullerton remained in use for many years afterwards. I've never come across an explanation for this: does anyone know why this occurred?
     
  18. talerddig

    talerddig Member

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    I believe tourism was always a factor, albeit a small one at the start. the railway had coaches available from day one. The lead mines serviced were in the Rheidol Valley. Erwtomau had a stage platform on the horseshoe bend to load up. CwmRheidol/Ystymtuen was serviced via an aerial ropeway to a hopper at Rhiwfron station. The foundations still exist. Devil's Bridge also provided a hub for the likes of Cwmystwyth and Llywernog. Frongoch and Pontrhydygroes was served by Trawscoed station on the M&M line.

    Timber was also a commodity promoted by the Hafod estate. One of the early firemen noted that 80 ft trunks were taken down the valley with a bolster wagon at each end. The chains would drag along below and if not tight enough would cause sparks as they touched the rails on the horseshoe bends. The earliest direct advertising for the 'Devil's Bridge railway' I have seen is about 1910 on the timetable, advertising its 'swiss-like beauty'

    Early forms of tourism were encouraged with some open air carriages and then adapting a few flat wagons by placing a couple of benches on them and some small wire fencing about ankle height!
     
  19. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    There entered my head, a proposed-but-never-inaugurated line which had applied to it by opponents of the project, a mocking "title" which could have been felt to indicate an at least moderately crazy reason for railway-creation. This plan was for the so-called "Grouse Shooters' Railway" (thinking on which name led me to thoughts of the Dalmunzie Hotel Railway, about which I opened a recent "Railway History & Nostalgia" thread -- though if I have things rightly, the Dalmunzie line was about the hunting of deer, rather than feathered game).

    The grouse-related matter, involved a proposal in the late-ish but not extremely late 19th century, in County Tyrone in the north of Ireland. A local big landowner initiated a project -- and offered finance toward the scheme -- for a light railway (what gauge, I don't know) from Dungannon on the Great Northern Railway of Ireland, south-westward to Ballygawley. There was much local opposition to the scheme, which played a part in making it stillborn: the opponents suggested that the landowner's plans were aimed at providing transport to his local moors, for well-heeled chums of his, invited by him on grouse-shooting parties there (hence "Grouse Shooters' Railway") rather than his having any interest in benefiting the area as a whole with the new railway. One would suspect that this business was coloured by Irish politics of the time: even if the landowning gentleman had genuinely wished for his planned railway to be a good and empowering thing for the local population, those of the Irish Nationalist persuasion would have been bound and determined to consider him a "wrong 'un", belonging to the Britain-favouring ruling class and planning things for his own selfish and frivolous purposes, not for the common weal. At all events -- a supposedly-public railway created, in fact, primarily to take toffs out shooting; would have been a line opened on, anyway, eccentric grounds. (Ballygawley was later served by a railway from and to different directions; the 3-ft. gauge Clogher Valley Railway, opened in the early 1890s.)

    The "old original" NWNGR -- opened in the 19th century, Dinas to Rhyd-Ddu and the Bryngwyn branch -- did have a commercial function, in that it served slate quarries.


    Could it be that the more southerly "remaining stump", Fullerton to Longparish, was in effect, a sense-making short branch line in its own right -- at least for freight -- whereas the northern half, Longparish -- Hurstbourne, was truly pointless: running simply a fairly short distance parallel to the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton line, which did come into being anyway?
     
  20. talerddig

    talerddig Member

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    The Plynlymon & Hafan was not crazy, but was doomed to failure the moment it was blocked from crossing the Cambrian railways
     
  21. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Freight traffic. Wikipedia says
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullerton_to_Hurstbourne_Line

    Removing the junction at the Hurstbourne end presumably allowed the junction signalbox to be closed.
     
  22. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Does the later, narrower, incarnation of the Ravenglass and Eskdale qualify for this thread?
     
  23. Dr_Paul

    Dr_Paul Member

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    Thanks for that, what happened and how the truncated line appears on the map makes sense now. I guess that it wasn't worth keeping open as a diversionary line as the cost of upkeep outweighed its actual usefulness in that role.
     

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