The West Clare Railway

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by rogerfarnworth, 12 Apr 2019.

  1. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Before that even. CIE ordered 60 diesel railcars in 1950 from AEC-Park Royal (same company) which came in 1952 and ran as 30 4-car sets with existing coaches in between. These took over a surprisingly significant proportion of the sparse long distance services, including the Dublin to Cork expresses, even there only a few per day. I believe the railcars had small steam boilers to heat an adjacent carriage, which had through mu wires simplistically tacked underneath but were otherwise unadapted. When the diesel locomotives came a few years later things cascaded downwards. The railcars were an intermediate stage of development by AEC between the GWR cars and the later mass build of BR multiple units. They only had the 125hp engines of AEC buses of the era, and must have seemed significantly underpowered with carriages marshalled in.

    The railcars had various different configurations, and in typical CIE style as described above they then got all sorts of individual rearrangements and rebuilds such that, again, hardly any two were alike.

    The three 800 4-6-0s were seemingly hand-built, about one per year, and it's surprising Inchicore had the tooling and dies to build boilers etc of this scale. Significant parts for a fourth were built which went into the spares pool for them. In the 1960s Ian Allan book on loco names it listed the 10 loco names proposed for the class, which would actually have been an overkill for Dublin-Cork expresses of the era, and they were too heavy to run elsewhere. There were newer Irish locos, as the Great Northern continued to build steam postwar at Dundalk, which ran north from Dublin, and Harland & Wolff at Belfast helped out with some heavy mechanical and boiler work. The figures given for locos out of service are not meaningfully compared to the UK as procedures differed, locos were generally just used less and laid aside as they became obsolete, but not formally withdrawn from stock, they were fully depreciated in the accounts and might be capable of steaming once in a while, or just sat in a shed for years.
     
  2. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    I think they railcars had boilers in every second power car. I believe they managed a 3 hour Dublin-Cork booking, presumably non-stop.


    I've also recalled where I first heard of The West Clare, Percy French and "Are Ye Right There, Michael? Are Ye Right?". A series from Discovery Shed - Trainspotting, I think it dates from 2004/5, the West Clare features in an episode of the second series.
     
  3. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    This is all really interesting!
     
  4. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    I remember first learning of "Are Ye Right There..." etc., from P. B. Whitehouse's fascinating but quirky book Narrow Gauge Album, published 1957, when it was new. He gives a chapter each, to the great majority of the British Isles' -- non-electric -- passenger narrow gauge lines (except for a few to which he doesn't) -- assorted-and-varied things about the lines, focused on in their respective chapters: the West Clare one was mostly about the line's chaotic early days, and the Percy French connection therewith; with a brief final bringing-up-to-date re ultimate total dieselisation (and four years on, the whole thing would be abandoned).

    (I gather that Mr. French also gave to the world, "Macnamara's Band", and "The Mountains of Mourne".)
     
  5. 341o2

    341o2 Established Member

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    The figure of 28% refers to locomotives out of action awaiting repairs. That there were several "pensioners" is illustrated by Bulleid, who took over as CME in 1951, recommended the immediate scrapping of 100 locomotives.

    Furthermore, there had been no CME appointed by the CIE since 1944. Initially, the works foreman at Inchicore covered the job, he died the following year, and the post was then jointly supervised by the Locomotive Running Superintendent and the Works Manager of the road vehicle body shop. Inchicore was essentially the same when H A Ivatt, Sir John Aspinall and REL Maunsell were there. Bulleid commented that "...in some of the shops, however, the equipment and methods employed are out of date" - which was to put the situation mildly. Also the practice of condemning locomotive boilers on a mileage basis was "unsound and extravagant"

    Regarding losses incurred on the various lines, the Tralee and Dingle claimed that costs associated to their locos on the Cavan & Leitram were still being debited to them

    The modernisation did not stop losses, in 1958, a proposal was put forward to reduce mileage from 2,000 to 850. The West Clare was still losing some £23,000pa, regarding the Percy French episode was mentioned as "the most expensive monument ever erected to a poet"

    Edit - Bulleid resigned from BR in 1949, disagreeing with nationalisation and took over the new post in 1951
     
    Last edited: 23 Apr 2019
  6. 341o2

    341o2 Established Member

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    In the 1970's or therebouts, Ian Allen reprinted many of the ABC and bus fleet books of the 40's, one was Irish locomotives 1947
     
  7. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    That only reminds me now, I have that, in a uncategorised storage box at the back of the attic. Haven't seen it for years. Dark blue cover ?

    Also there is a very detailed all-time rail atlas of Ireland, green cover, which I never saw elsewhere before or since.
     
  8. 341o2

    341o2 Established Member

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    yes, dark blue. I wonder if my own copy has survived
     
  9. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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  10. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    Fascinating, as ever -- thanks. Interesting to learn the history of Milltown Malbay -- so, it's a relatively new town: first beginnings only about two centuries ago.

    An interesting little book which I acquired by pure chance: My Affair With Malbay, by a charming gentleman called Gabriel Vaughan. An autobiography of sorts: Mr. Vaughan was born circa 1938, and spent his childhood and early teens in Milltown Malbay, where his father was the stationmaster. Interest thence in the West Clare line (and the author seems to have quite a liking for railways in general, though he went into a totally different profession) -- a chapter of the book is given over to the WCR, plus sundry references elsewhere -- the author knew the line both in its steam days, and in the brief "modernisation" era. Book includes a fair number of photographs of the line.

    Much material in the book is of considerable interest, about growing up in an Irish country town in the 1940s / 50s. Re society in general, the Irish Free State / Republic has had its much-publicised ugly side; but Mr. Vaughan would seem to have found life in his sector of same, essentially benign.

    (The book includes lyrics in their entirety, of Are Ye Right, There, Michael? -- plus various other versification, of which it's kindest to say that for sure, creators of it "were no Percy French".)
     
  11. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    Hi Calthrop

    I have been looking out for a copy of the book with little success. I will keep looking!

    Roger
     
  12. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    Last edited: 5 May 2019
  13. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    If "no joy", I'd readily loan you my copy -- posting it, should be no problem. Please PM me, if wished.
     
  14. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    Great interest afforded, as ever. If only one could have travelled over this line -- even, just once and in the final all-diesel years.

    A "trivia" item: must have noticed on maps in the past, the West Clare's Kilmurry station, as mentioned in this "segment". It clearly didn't stick in the mind -- had forgotten about it till seeing your latest. There was another Kilmurry station -- of which I'd been more aware -- on another 3ft gauge railway, at this same end of Ireland: the Cork & Muskerry Tramway system (steam-worked, mostly roadside, running basically west and north-west from Cork city) -- for me, one of the most delightful of Ireland's many delightful 3ft. lines. The Cork & Muskerry closed sadly early -- at the end of 1934. Its Kilmurry was the last station but two on its most south-westerly branch, terminating at Coachford.
     
  15. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    Kilmurry was quite a popular location name in Ireland, I think.
     
  16. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    Just that my impression is: in Ireland, duplication of station names happened less often than over here (fewer railways; "less of everything" !).
     
  17. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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  18. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    Roger -- ongoingly fascinating -- can only say, thank you. So now we're at -- one fork's -- end, back on the wild Atlantic coast.

    I have hereabouts, a very tenuous family connection. It involves three daughters -- born in the 1880s -- of a Mr. Frost who had a farm near Kilkee. As so often in Ireland, especially in the beautiful / wild / remote parts -- the beauty / wildness / remoteness is accompanied by the difficulty of earning a living in such regions: very many people born there, have to emigrate. This was the case with the three girls in question; on leaving school at fourteen, they went off to England, looking to get jobs there (and hopefully, to send some of their earnings back home to Dad). Their passages by ship, took them to Liverpool. In the fullness of time, all three got married to chaps in England. Annie, the youngest of the three, ended up marrying in 1915 my Liverpool-residing great-uncle, then a widower. Following on from this, our family got acquainted to some extent, with her two sisters.

    I've never met any of the people concerned -- abovementioned great-uncle died quite young, some eight years after his marriage to Annie. The lady turned out to be -- to quote Alice / Humpty Dumpty -- rather an "unsatisfactory person" as a wife and mother, and there was basically an estrangement between her, and most of the family (she outlived my great-uncle by several decades) -- anyway, "long, tedious story".

    It occurs to me that the Frost sisters are almost certain to have left their native heath in search of better prospects, by the West / South Clare Railway in its early-ish days ("Michael" and his colleagues, permitting !). Don't know whether any of them ever revisited Clare on holiday, involving further use of the line; however, that's the family association, such as it is.
     
  19. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    I love the story!☺️
     
  20. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    I like this bit of family lore, for another reason... a matter which sometimes crosses my mind, which I've posted about elsewhere on these Forums. Folk like us, passionate about this hobby, are for that reason sometimes regarded by "normal" relatives and associates, as being not altogether right in the head: I occasionally get, briefly, mentally into conspiracy-theory-land, and wonder whether it's conceivable that I and you and many others on this message board -- in general, everyone in the railfan community with a strong "nostalgia" focus -- are lunatics who believe and foster (aided by "members in high places") a fantasy on a huge scale, about all these supposed remote and far-flung, closed-long-ago, railways; which -- and the places to which they supposedly ran -- in fact have never existed at all? The purported "evidence" -- photographs, films, maps, magazines, printed accounts of stuff -- actually being all just elaborate fakery, perpetrated by those partakers in the fantasy, who are in a position to perpetrate it?

    When in such moods, I can feel absurdly reassured by coming across a random reference, from a totally non-railway-or-railway-enthusiast source, to a place connected to light-railway nostalgia-fodder: thus, our family tale of less-than-model-citizen Great Aunt Annie from near Kilkee, is a reassurance that there genuinely is a place called Kilkee in County Clare, genuinely inhabited by real people <D ...
     
  21. rogerfarnworth

    rogerfarnworth Member

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    My wife is always surprised when she finds something I am interested in interesting!☺️
     

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