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Lynton and Barnstaple - Operations and Development

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by 50044 Exeter, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I'm aware of the circumstances of the absorption of the Corris by the GW. I wonder, would they have gone out of their way to acquire the VoR or W&L, had either not fallen into their lap via the Cambrian?

    Recall too, that the 1921 Act didn't apply to independently owned and operated NG lines, or the LNER would've got the Southwold and been arguing with the LMS over the Campbeltown and Machrihanish ('You have it' .... 'Oh no, it's much nearer one of your lines, so you get it .... congratualtions, old chap!'). Nor could I imagine Lord Stamp going out of his way on the hunt for the L&MVLR. Had it not been for Everard Calthrop's innovative transporter wagons, by 1923, LMS lorries could have better served Ecton creamery, spelling the end for the L&M 11 years earlier than actually happened.

    In any event, please don't take too much from my initial musing, for t'was just that .... merely one of those idle 'what if' thoughts. One may as well ask, had the LSW not carried on negotiations to acquire the L&B, but for the presence in Barnstaple of the GW, would the Southern have had any interest, post grouping? Many thanks to @Michael B on that score, for providing some highly relevant details.
     
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  2. Llwyngwern

    Llwyngwern Member

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    Well, had an alternative idea come to pass the twin villages link to the rail network would have been a standard gauge branch from Filleigh and the GWR would have had another terminus on the Bristol Channel coast. However we are wandering away from the main topic of this thread.
     
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  3. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I recall seeing a diagram of the Filleigh scheme, which seemed to suggest junctions both east and west bound. I've never known how practical the proposal was, but suspect such a line would've given the banks on the Ilfracombe branch a run for their money!

    As you say, we're ggetting well off-piste. Thanks to all for their forbearance. :)
     
  4. ilvaporista

    ilvaporista Part of the furniture

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    Sorry to continue with this but is there any information on the possible route of this scheme? It's one for the upcoming lockdown to trace out on OS and Google Maps to see how the route might have been.
    I seem to remember reading that an initial survey was done and a potential route found without the need for significant structures.
     
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  5. Michael B

    Michael B Member

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    Just before we leave this, the Filleigh promoters put forward their line in competition with the L & B scheme as the best connection between Lynton and Barnstaple. The line would have been 16 miles of light railway (max speed 25 mph) down to Filleigh and 7 to Barnstaple compared with 19 on the L & B. The line would have bifurcated above the GW Devon & Somerset line, one joining it 8 chains west of Filleigh Station to go to Barnstaple and other 1 chain west (of Filleigh Station) to go east towards Taunton. What the Filleigh scheme promoters (mainly the Fortescues with their pile at Castle Hill wanting transport through their farmland) kept quiet about was the somewhat dangerous 1 in 40 gradient off Exmoor down to the right-angled junction with the D & S, and who would put up £160,000 to build the line. The ruling gradient would have been this 1 in 40 (L & B 1 in 50) and have had a somewhat similar gradient profile to the L & B but with one summit rather than two. No worthwhile evidence was put forward on the point about where the money was coming from, and a similar scheme to South Molton had failed in 1879 for this reason. The GW had agreed to work it. An early plan of the L & B scheme created by the Filleigh Engineer was on a similar principle - dividing near Goodleigh, one to Barnstaple Town Station (as built) and the other to the GW Station on the east side of the Town. The engineering for the route to the GW looks difficult, and the plan may have been done to wind-up the opposition. The idea wasn't mentioned in the L & B Promoter's plans or arguments, probably because negotiations with the GWR had got no-where. The 'real' plans are those deposited with Parliament before the investigation by Select Committees of both Houses of Parliament which is where the information just quoted comes from, plotted on a 25" Ordnance Survey map.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
  6. Tobbes

    Tobbes Member

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    At the risk of extending a tangent, a question for the L&B historians: Did the LSWR/SR ever consider converting the L&B to standard guage? I'm not sure how many of the structures would have been able to deal with the heavier rolling stock, or how many of the curves would have needed significant easing for standard guage operations - and nor am I suggesting it now! :)
     
  7. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Not that I am aware of. There is a sort of nearby precedent, in that the Torrington & Marland Railway (3ft gauge) was converted to a standard gauge light railway and extended to Halwill Junction in 1925. That was under the nominal aegis of Col. Stephens, though it was a de facto SR operated line. However, unlike the L&B it did at least have a regular source of freight traffic (the ball clay traffic from Meeth to Fremington Quay) but even so the remaining passenger and freight traffic was not even really marginal. There is an infamous story of a crash involving a train and a bus at a level crossing: the bus had a driver and a conductor; the train had a driver, fireman and guard; and between them they had one passenger. Where is unrecorded ...

    Edit to add: the conversion was supported financially by the Treasury and the local councils; and would not have been remotely viable but for that support.

    Tom
     
  8. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    I've never seen any reference, either speculative or serious to such a proposal, and probably for good reason. The amount of structural work that would entail, land purchase for easement of curves, additional earthworks, just for a start. I don't know what the weight limit on Chelfham and Lancey Brook viaducts was/is, but additional strengthening would almost certainly be needed, that's if a standard gauge carriage would actually fit between the parapets of the former. Chelfham Station at least, would have required rebuilding in order to provide full height platforms, coming straight off the viaduct. Even so, motive power would probably been restricted to short wheelbase 0-6-0t locomotives (Terriers on Exmoor?- there's a thought!).
    Any financial gain would have been restricted to the elimination of transhipment at Town Station, plus the closure of Pilton Depot.
    Not really any realistic business case there.
     
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  9. Michael B

    Michael B Member

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    I have been through the GW + LSW Minutes, but there could be something else relevant in the archives (Kew is a long way away). There might be something at the SVR at Kidderminster. If the L & B Directors approached the GW as well as the LSW there is no record of it, at least on the L & B side. The LSW gave a rebate on through competitive traffic from the opening, the GW some time later but removed it again in 1911. What almost comes over is the L & B seeming to be unimportant to the GW. It appears the L & B Directors were thinking of the interests of their shareholders in approaching the LSW. There was little chance of being able to increase passenger or goods rates without a national Government diktat (the 75% increase in passenger fares and 100% in goods rates in 1920 only covered part of the increase in costs) the alternative they would have been able to see was sliding into penury and worse with rolling stock eventually likely to fail and the Debentures renewable in July 1922 not being renewed. The two main protagonists in 1921/2 - the Chairman and one of his fellow Directors - had been two of the four promoters in the mid 1890s and had strong feelings on the reasons for creating the railway in the first place. It is understandable in view of that that they did not fancy sitting tight and doing a Col. Stephens.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
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  10. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    There was also the earlier precedent of the 3' 6" East Cornwall Mineral Railway being converted to standard gauge and extended - including building a nice new viaduct over the Tamar - in 1908, ostensibly by the PD&SWJR although with much L&SWR involvement and also that of Col HF Stephens.
     
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  11. Old Kent Biker

    Old Kent Biker Member

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    I would doubt it was ever considered - too much expensive civil engineering required. I do recall reading however, that the trackbed across Parracombe Embankment was constructed in part using a 3ft-gauge contractors' train - a rare if not unique example of a contractors' train being broader gauge than the main line it was building!
     
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  12. Tobbes

    Tobbes Member

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    Fascinating - very many thanks to you all.
     
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  13. Michael B

    Michael B Member

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    Not that was recorded. A suggestion by the contractor to increase the rails from 40lb to 45 when they were about to be purchased was refused because of the £2,000 price tag. A standard gauge conversion would have involved easing the curves upwards from a minimum of 5 chain radius (330ft), rebuilding 21 overbridges and putting in 4 tunnels and another 80 yard viaduct (because of the easier curves) which would have made it extremely costly, nye impossible. (The latter based on the plans of the 1883/4 SG scheme which followed the same route other than a curve the other way at Wistland Pound, as it was spelt then ) It might have increased the speed from a maximum of 16mph to 25, but still the equivalent of a light railway even if not regarded as such by the BoT.

    By the way it's a after u except when starting with a g.
     
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  14. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Given that the L&B terminated at a LSWR station, a purchase by the GWR would not seem to make much sense.
     
  15. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    But, they ran regularly over the Ilfracombe branch, having running powers over it, advertising a regular service to Ilfracombe which might of made it more of a possibility.
     
  16. Michael B

    Michael B Member

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    The only way is to obtain the OS maps, preferably the 25" ones, and plot it field by field from the information on the deposited plans and bear in mind that those plans will have standard non-transition curves. This I have done for all the schemes that got anywhere near Parliament. The 1892 electric scheme would have gone straight through a rank of houses (but still there today) with a level crossing beyond but was forced to replace it by the BoT with a bridge. All will hopefully be revealed if the publisher will allow the space for the plans in about a years time. But it would have gone almost due north passing the villages of East Buckland, High Bray and Challacombe on the way up over the wilds of Exmoor, joining the same route as the L & B scheme near Woody Bay Station.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2021
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  17. Michael B

    Michael B Member

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    'Running Powers over the Ilfracombe branch' needs to be qualified. The GW succeeded in agreeing with the LSW to build the loop line from east of the GW Station to a connection near the LSW's Barnstaple Junction Station south of the River Taw opened in 1887, but under the agreement the GW were only allowed to attach their carriages at the Junction to LSW trains going to Ilfracombe. It was WW1 before a Great Western engine was allowed at Ilfracombe. By the mid 30s GW engines were seen at Barnstaple Town station.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
  18. Meiriongwril

    Meiriongwril Member

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    guava ;)
     
  19. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Guard?;)
     
  20. SpudUk

    SpudUk Member

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    Guano? Guam? Guacamole?
     

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