The Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Light Railway and the Nescliffe MoD Training Camp

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by rogerfarnworth, 19 May 2019.

  1. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    Apologies for the long title for this thread. I was challenged by someone who read my posts about the Bicester Military Railway and about MoD Kineton to look at the Nescliffe Camp.

    I have started by looking at the feeder railway which was commandeered by the military and this has become a post in its own right. I will get round to the military areas in the next post in the series.

    http://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/05/1...nesscliffe-mod-training-area-and-depot-part-1
     
    Last edited: 24 May 2019
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  3. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    Thank you -- linked material, of very great interest. I've always loved the "Shrops & Monts" -- never had the chance to see anything of it at first-hand, though have a fairly tenuous parents'-generation family connection.

    "Annoying nitpicker" mode on: I seem to perceive in the linked material -- just below the picture of Gazelle and the ex-London tramcar -- a sentence suggesting that the S & MLR was closed completely in late 1933 (revived by the Army in '41). In fact, it was passenger services that ended in 1933: freight traffic continued, including on the Criggion branch (weak bridge and all), till the Army takeover -- an assortment of sources confirm this, and actually, a correct version also appears in the linked material.
     
    Last edited: 19 May 2019
  4. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    I appreciate the corrections. I have had a couple from another source about a few of the pictures and I have adjusted the blog.

    The same applies here. I have made the changes now. I have put a comment against the quote as I was quoting a BBC article at that point in the blog.:)
     
  5. thenorthern

    thenorthern Established Member

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    Very interesting when I was in the army I went to Nesscliffe quite a few times, I have been to where the old track bed was.
     
  6. Altfish

    Altfish Member

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    Fascinating Roger, I have fished the River Severn many times at Melverley Bridge; its confluence with the River Vrynwy is just 100 metres or so upstream.
     
  7. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    Must have been a relaxing location!
     
  8. Altfish

    Altfish Member

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    Indeed it is, spotted otters and kingfishers there. A pity there were no steam engines.
     
  9. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    The next post in this series links the place I grew up during teenage years with the Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Light Railway. 'Gazelle' was made in King's Lynn and has had an interesting history!

    http://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/07/21/gazelle
     
  10. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    @rogerfarnworth -- thanks -- beguiling as ever: great, to learn the full history of the wondrous Gazelle. William Burkitt must have been a railway amateur of a sort that those like us, would have loved to be acquainted with.

    I'd read earlier elsewhere, of the ordeal-by-Gazelle of the Rev. Brock, vicar of Criggion, and his three companions, and his complaints about same -- "in the back part of an engine with only a screen between us and the fire", and the consequent fiery havoc. I'd hitherto felt compelled to the view that this ploy on the part of the S & MR, was a bit insane: not realising (as made clear by the linked text) that the "back end" of Gazelle was actually designed as a mini-passenger-compartment. It seems plain that the reverend gentleman concerned, was not a "gricing vicar" (or else he'd have found the experience blissful, not penitential) -- as things were, one concedes that in fact, he had a point... the railway did its best to ameliorate things: by closing-in the rear-end mini-compartment, and then with the tramcar. I recall reading at least one account of an enthusiasts' special in the late 1930s (maybe illustrated in the linked material), chartered to cover, by means of Gazelle plus tramcar, the entire S & M system: all-round hilarity was enjoyed.
     
  11. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    Yes, Calthrop - the special ran in August 1938. It is referred to in the text of the post. The original tramcar was beyond use and another was brought into service in 1937 (I think).
     
  12. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    I remember in the account of the trip, Gazelle being referred to as "the wooden engine" -- unkind I suppose, but with a certain poetic hitting-the-mark.
     
  13. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    Gazelle is known to have taken charge of two different coaches in its time on the Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Light Railway. The first was a cut down version of a London Horse Tram. The second used the same chassis with a body from a Wolseley-Siddeley Railcar which Colonel Stephens first used on the Selsey Tramway. That Railcar was itself a significantly modified rail-lorry based on a Wolseley-Siddeley chassis........

    http://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/07/27/gazelles-trailers
     
    Last edited: 29 Jul 2019
  14. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    All interesting, as ever -- thanks. I've always been intrigued by what I think of as the Colonel's "railmotors from hell". I gather that they featured to some extent at least, on nearly all his "famous five" standard-gauge light railways in England (and with the S & M, peripherally Wales) -- have seen film of railcar action on the Kent & East Sussex, though I get the impression that that line was always mostly steam-worked. If I have things rightly, the East Kent alone was never touched by the railmotor scene.
     
  15. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    That was my understanding too.
     
  16. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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  17. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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  18. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    Thanks, Roger -- as ever, full of interest. I have a slight family connection with the World War II-era S&MLR. My late mother spent much of World War II as a civilian telephonist working for the Army, at one or more of their depots established on the line's route. I recall her speaking of that time, and her mentioning the name Nesscliff -- not sure whether she was at that very sub-depot, or whether she was just using the name generically. I remember her mentioning that there was a railway line which served all these installations; but I suspect that it was in later years (I was quite "young and small" when I heard these reminiscences from her) that I learned of the S&MLR as such, and "Colonel Stephens and all that", and mentally made the connection. I don't recall my mother mentioning her travelling at all, on the S&MLR line -- though one reckons that on occasion, she might have done. She told of being, in those times, in lodgings in Oswestry: one sees a probable scenario of her and her counterparts being taken to / from work by Army road vehicles. She did recall with affection, the GWR Oswestry -- Gobowen branch-line service, with its 0-4-2T-worked auto-train.

    I have Mike Christensen's book, which you cite among your sources for the above-linked material :"The S&MLR Under Military Control, 1940 -- 1960" -- highly detailed, copiously illustrated with photographs, and absolutely fascinating.
     
  19. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    An excellent book and some good personal memories! Thank you again for you reflections.
     

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