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Irish Narrow Gauge Railways

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by lynbarn, May 27, 2016.

  1. lynbarn

    lynbarn Active Member

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    Hi Guys

    I am more than a bit surprised to find that we have not discussed the Irish Narrow Gauge Railway scene in depth, I want to call on you all to help locate any unpublished photos of any of these railways.

    I have to say that I do have a modelling interest in these lines, so the more information I have to get it right the better it is.

    I will also let it morph into 3ft / 3ft 6 inch gauge lines from around the world if it helps.
     
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  2. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    a fascinating subject with far too few devotees. There's wealth of published photos mostly from the 50s and 60s, I'd certainly look foreward to any unpublished photos you come up with

    The current scene is a bit underwhelming unfortunately.

    Quick synopsis (sorry in advance for any errors)

    Stradbally Co Laois. Non original line operating quite successfully using some original equipment.
    Waterford and Suir Rly. Ex Irish Standard gauge trackbed diesel only but operating
    Giant's Causeway . Operating using replica tramcars, steam loco(s) out of use.
    West Clare. Original line operating original 0-6-2t ( and diesel off peak). FPP granted for a museum
    Finton Nr Ballybofey Co DOnegal. Operating again this year after a small hiccup last year, using diesel loco and Co Donegal Railway railcar
    Foyle Valley Railway, Derry Co Londonderry. Closed down and future unsure. Museum has original CDR locos and railcars etc
    Cultra nr Belfast, Fine museum with much narrow gauge stock
    Tralee and Dingle RPS Blennervlle. Line closed in 2006 with a society in the throws of formation to revive it. Owned by the Co Council who are dragging their feet, delaying the rescue attempt. Original 2-6-2t dismantled needing rebuild.
    Listowel and Ballybunion, replica monorail included for completeness. Operating.
    Cavan and Leitrim, Dromod. An eclectic collection including narrow gauge items and a running line. Two steam locos, not sure if either are in service currently.
    CDR Museum Donegal Town, collection of CDR rolling stock, steam loco away at RPSI for (stalled) restoration

    Who did I forget?
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
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  3. decauville1126

    decauville1126 New Member

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    Cavan and Leitrim, Dromod. An eclectic collection including narrow gauge items and a running line. Two steam locos, not sure if either are in service currently.

    Neither currently in ticket.
    There's also I think a 'new' Bord na Mona operation being developed at Boora which will cover for the long-since closed Clonmacnoise and West Offaly operation based at Blackwater Works of BnM.
     
  4. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    Minor correction - it's the Foyle Valley Railway in Derry.

    I think you've got them all in that list!


    Keith
     
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  5. kscanes

    kscanes Part of the furniture

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    Does "Irish Narrow Gauge Scene" restrict discussion to The Old Lines or stock from them? If not, how about:

    Birches Peatland Park, Dungannon, Co Armagh? Diesel worked leisure line, uses some of the route of an old peat railway, with two of the original locos still present, I believe?
    Difflin Lake Railway, Co Donegal. 15" gauge steam/diesel line round gardens open to the public.

    There are also a few "park trains" which I suspect are beyond the scope of this thread.
     
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  6. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    edited, I knew something wasn't quite right with that one!
     
  7. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    The sad thing is if you added RPSI and Downpatrick to the list, you'd nearly have covered the entire preservation scene in Ireland....
     
  8. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    For a country with a population of under 5 millions, plus the 2 million in Ulster, it's not that bad.
    It would be nice to see a decent length of 5'3" line open in the south, and operated by steam but that's unlikely now.
     
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  9. lynbarn

    lynbarn Active Member

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    For completeness in that case, can anyone suggest other sites we have not covered yet including the Irish broad gauge and yes we might as well know about any miniature steam sites as well in that case, I wonder if there are any Irish model engineering societies we don't know of that run say 2.5inch and 3.5inch gauge or larger ground floor tracks?

    Colin
     
  10. Red Rock

    Red Rock New Member

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    I know the listing is of preserved lines but there is plenty to interest the narrow gauge enthusiast on the very extensive BnM systems. When driving around the Midlands there seems to be a ng railway around every other corner. A few pictures on here for those that are interested.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/64433281@N07/albums/72157667198482816

    Certainly well worth a visit and the three sites we popped into couldn't have been more welcoming.

    Have a good weekend.
     
  11. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    on the face of it yes, but a lot of those operations are very very small. Really Downpatrick is the only line that could stand comparison to a GB preserved railway and it's more of a Wallingford than a Bridgnorth. (no offense Wallingford, or Downpatrick for that matter, Downpatrick is a fantastic achievement from literally nothing)
     
  12. lynbarn

    lynbarn Active Member

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    I cant recall where I saw it, but I think there was a plan to rebuild an old abandon branch line, the thing was it was going to be rebuilt as 4ft 8.5in gauge since an owner of a couple of std gauge USA dock tanks could not find a home for them, I think they where both at Spa Valley, I am not sure if they are still there, or what has happen since.
     
  13. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    Last edited: May 28, 2016
  14. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Active Member

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    Was this one of the series of ideas from that guy who's always got some scheme to reopen another part of the BCDR (not Downpatrick). I think I remember reading it. He wanted to name one of the locos after George Best, or some such.
     
  15. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    You're thinking of the BCDRMT - the brainchild of one Bob Pue. He's been trying to start something since the 70s but only on his terms and with him in charge.
    As I understand it he started off trying to reopen the Ballynahinch branch in 4' 8.5" gauge then changed to Saintfield to Rowallane gardens (a NT property), then changed back to Ballynahinch, then changed to wanting to buy the entire NIR network along with the Belfast - Dublin mainline despite having something like £6 in their bank account! I think after that debacle, they/he went back to the Ballynahinch branch and even applied for (and got) planning permission for restoration of Ballynahinch Junction station, despite the fact that they didn't own it or have any agreement with the owner to use it! At one stage they did decide to use to 5'3" gauge but quickly changed again to 4' 8.5".
    I bumped into Bob last month at a model railway exhibition and he now appears to be trying to reopen part of the Donaghadee branch. This decision seems to have come about because Translink have closed their bus depot there and put it on sale for around £300k - not sure how he's planning to raise that money though! The plan would also involve a level crossing on a busy road.

    The 2 CSE 'Sugar Puff' O&K locos now at Downpatrick were originally on loan to the BCDRMT from their owner, but sat at Ballynahinch Junction for about 20 years rusting away until a group from Downpatrick bought them and eventually had them both restored.
    Apparently the BCDRMT also have a number of BCDR coach bodies scattered around counties Down and Antrim, although I understand that these are in very poor shape having had nothing done to them for 60 odd years since withdrawal. I remember in the early 80s it was stated that they owned the GNRB MAK diesel loco along with CIE E class No 430, but both of these locos were cut for scrap and I think it must have been a desire to own the locos rather than any actual ability to cough up the money! They also state that they own an ex British Steel loco in England (and I think some other stock) to start their services with, but I don't think anyone has ever been able to confirm this.
    When the DCDR was being setup, I understand the BCDRMT was offered a place on the committee/board but withdrew when it became obvious that they wouldn't be in charge.

    The 'USA' locos he was wanting to use are indeed the lookalike locos from the Spa Valley and he was still asking for funds for these locos last month despite the fact that they were sold to a group from the Churnet Valley in 2013! The intention was to name the locos 'Hope' and 'Remembrance' as a very tentative connection to USA army bases in the area during WW2. A similar idea was floated previously to name a CIE 141 class loco as 'David Healey' after a NI footballer, but it was never explained how this loco was going to operate on 4' 8.5" gauge track! Any of the public appeals for money seem to centre around raising £100,000 which allegedly allow them to start operations in a few months! That would presumably include land acquisition, clearance and fencing, drainage, tracklaying, ballasting, some kind of basic station facilities, rolling stock and motive power (possibly to be transported from England) along with all permissions from the relevant authorities.

    I think most people in NI/RoI involved in heritage railways in any way have heard of the BCDRMT and avoid it like the plague. It's been a joke for 40 years now but they still don't give up.

    As I say, the above is from memory so I stand to be corrected.


    Keith
     
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  16. lynbarn

    lynbarn Active Member

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    That sound like it Andrew, to be honest I have not traveled to Ireland to sample the heritage railways over there but it is on my list of things to do.

    Also thanks to Keith for the details.

    Another project I did hear about was a new North Western Donegal to Derry line, it was a bit vague to say the least at one end it was meant to end up in Derry and join on to the N.I.R. line and the other end was to meet up with the IR line in Sligo.

    Just how that one was suppose to work I haven't a clue, but it was mentioned that some of the old Donegal line was to be incorporated in it, I recall that Irish Rail was behind the scheme, so it might happen, but I do not have any further details since I read about it somewhere.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
  17. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    There's the Model Engineer's Society Northern Ireland with a track at Cultra in the grounds of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. They run raised track 3.5" and 5" alongside 7.25" gauge ground level track. They also have a boating pond and several members with traction engines and model aircraft.

    There's also the Belfast & County Down Miniature Railway at Drumawhey Junction near Bangor. This is an extensive and impressive 7.25" gauge ground level railway.

    Just outside Coleraine there's the Damhead railway which is ground level 7.25" gauge with a section of 5" gauge.

    In Marlay Park on the southern outskirts of Dublin there is the Dublin Society of Model & Experimental Engineers who run a raised track for 3.5", 5" and 7.25" gauges along with a longer ground level track for the same gauges.

    I'm not aware of any other model engineer groups in Ireland, but it would be good to know if there are any more to add to the list!


    Keith
     
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  18. Avonside2

    Avonside2 New Member

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  19. kscanes

    kscanes Part of the furniture

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    Interesting trip report. In the interests of accuracy, I'd like to correct a couple of details about a few of the narrow gauge locos reported though:

    The tram on the Giants Causeway Railway is diesel powered not battery electric. (Built by Severn Lamb in 2010.)

    As far as I'm aware none of the locos on the Suir Valley Railway came from the Channel Tunnel Contract. All but one are ex Bord na Mona, and the one wasn't ever at the Channel Tunnel (it was another peat bog loco actually, in Scotland). I imagine the blogger is quoting staff; I wonder where they got the idea? Off hand I can only think of one ex Channel Tunnel loco in Ireland - RFS 101L on the West Clare Railway (pictured later in the blog).

    As always I'm open to corrections / additional info.

    EDIT: Vince Chadwick, the blogger, has updated his captions in line with my comments.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
  20. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Active Member

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    Also in the interests of accuracy, the GSR 800 class 4-6-0 were not inspired by the LMS rebuilt Scots (no 800 was built in 1939 and the first Scot was rebuilt in 1941). Indeed the resemblance is, I understand, only superficial - under the tapered casing is a parallel boiler, and the firebox shape's heritage is via Maunsell (an ex-Inchicore man whose Moguls found their way to Ireland) and Holcroft rather than Stanier. Likewise the three-cylinder layout is apparently more Schools than Scot.
    Utterly magnificent locos: the first class in the British Isles to be fitted with double chimneys from new.
    Interestingly an LMS team came to see the new 800 put through its paces, before the Scots were rebuilt (although of course Crewe had already rebuilt British Legion, and I think reboilered two Jubilees).
     

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