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Another L & B thread

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by ross, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    In either direction!
    The Kitson link is an interesting one. I'd guess standardised parts may well form part of the answer. There certainly never seemed to be any build issues associated with the locos. The last Indian 4-8-4t's lasted in service until the early 70s and two survive on plinths. The tendering process for the carriages I don't honestly know much about, but again, they seem to have done the job.

    I'd agree about constructing the line in the first place. Ecton creamery aside, there's not much of anything. All the settlements (to call them 'villages' is stretching it a bit!) nominally "served" en route lay some distance from the line, up narrow lanes with gradients up to 1:3 (it was about the only time I ever actually needed to use 1st gear on my old Morris Oxford!). The original intent was, I believe, to carry the line through to Buxton. Not familiar with the area beyond Hulme End, I couldn't speculate as to whether that would've improved prospects.

    Even in the first decade of the 20th century, had roads been just slightly better, there would've been absolutely no justification. In honesty, the decision to build any railway has mystified me since I visited the area. The driving force was said to be the business community in Leek, concerned with losing out to rival market towns, but given traffic levels and lack of any staple traffic beyond a few milk churns, you have to ask how drunk the Chamber of Commerce were when the scheme was dreamed up!

    For a fraction of the cost of the L&M, existing lanes along the valley floor could've been improved and linked up to give an outlet to the Caldon Low branch for onward shipment. However lovely the L&M stock was, the conclusion is inescapable that the line did little for the local economy and that whole enterprise was a complete waste of money.
     
  2. clam1952

    clam1952 New Member

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    L&B, probably easily as it's about a 1/4 mile 1 in 100 down before the 1 in 29 up.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
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  3. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    When these lines were all proposed in the 1890's it was a widely held belief that low cost light railways could thrive on much smaller traffic, and simply by being built would encourage new traffic. Milk does not travel well, doesn't like being shaken. I am sure the proponents believed that other agricultural traffic would come. This was all Calthrop's experience in India.

    Who, in 1898, could have foreseen the Great War? Or that in 20 years there would be an abundance of war surplus Guy, Dennis and bulldog Mack lorries sitting in the munitions dump at Slough, to be sold to anyone and everyone who had 100 quid. Or that there would be a glut of motor trained ex-servicemen suddenly looking for work. Men who unlike their fathers and grandfathers had travelled far beyond the parish boundary, and mixed with men from other counties, other regions,

    What, in 1904 would have been the traffic for improved lanes? There was still just farm carts. Railways were still the best thing ever, cars were for rich enthusiasts, Edward 7 sat on his throne and the sun would continue to never set on his Empire.

    I don't know about you, but I didn't buy shares in IBM, Packard Bell in 1987, nor in '97 did I see mobile telephones catching on.
     
  4. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    Kitson's built a number of other locos similar to Calthrop's Barsi ones. As well as the Cyprus examples mentioned, the FCAB (Antofagasta Bolivia Railway) had some lovely 2-8-4T on the same lines. Originally 2'6'' gauge, they were later converted to metre gauge and some survived right up to the end of steam (albeit some with strange fuel tanks on that can roof).
    Did Kitson's ever build any bad looking locos?
    The original Barsi 0-8-4T must have been at least slightly unsatisfactory as they were quickly augmented by the 4-8-4T. Adhesion was a serious requirement on the Barsi, which had a severe bank up Ramling Ghat in particular, and often very heavy trains.
     
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  5. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    None that I'm aware of.
    Barsi Type A 0-8-4s were 1897 (4) and 1898(1), the 12 Type B 4-8-4's were 1905. As the railway was opened in stages between March '97 (22 miles) and December '06 it might appear that the longer line necessitated locomotives with greater fuel and water capacity rather than any inherent failing in the original.

    BTW this thread seems to have gone a long way from Devon, my apologies. I'm off to the Titfield Thunderbolt in the morning to find a better book about the L&M, or the Barsi,
     
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  6. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Although the Great War had been a long time coming, I'd agree none could forsee the swift development of internal combustion engines. The invention of pneumatic tyres is an often overlooked factor too, as was developing suspension away from horse drawn standards.

    I'm none too convinced about half-way decent crushed stone road surfaces being too hard on milk transport at horse drawn pace. Plenty of places lay a dozen miles or more from a railhead and they managed over barely surfaced country lanes. Early IC goods vehicles at a breakneck 8mph would be another matter entirely!

    One important factor in the economics of the L&M was that tbe bogey of transhipment between wagons was nearly absent (Just think of all that time and money wasted shovelling Arigna coal up into 5'-3" gauge wagons at Dromod over the years!). Coal in and bulk milk out being handled in SG wagons, yet profitability still eluded the L&M.

    A quick look at the current OS map of the area will show why no rail scheme could've served the hill villages, even had they been large enough to warrant rail connection. Hulme End makes Corris look like a bustling town and Blaenau Ffestiniog like Gotham City.

    The failure of the L&M was due solely to the paucity of traffic and certainly didn't reflect on the line's equipment. It simply wasn't an area sufficiently delevoped to support even an NG line. I honestly doubt even a Heywood 15" gauge installation would have paid it's way.

    As to the question about ugly Kitson locos ..... just the one, the Kitson-Still ..... and it killed the company in the process. From Douglas Self's website (very interesting site, watch out or you'll be flicking through it for days!)
    http://www.aqpl43.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEUM/LOCOLOCO/kitson/kitsonst.htm

    @ross I'd be grateful if you could let me know any titles you find concerning Calthrop's work. I tried to track down info on the Cyprus Govt Rly 4-8-4t's about 25 years ago with no luck.
     
  7. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    Oh dear, that Kitson-Still is not a pretty thing at all.

    I can't work out how to message you. Do you have Calthrop's "Light Railway Construction" isbn 1 871980 33x ? It is a reprint of his paper, stating all his theory of his narrow gauge concept. Well worth a fiver, I say.
     
  8. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    The 4-8-4Ts did not have the steaming capacity for the climb into the Troodos mountains the examples sent to Cyprus were envisaged for. The were useful in hauling long excursion trains along the flat lines of the plain (forgive my not spelling it!)

    PH
     
  9. Tim Light

    Tim Light Well-Known Member

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    Back to the original question for a moment ....

    On top of everything else that has been said on this thread about the L&B, I think that the rolling stock ... especially the Manning Wardles .... had an aesthetic appeal that was not surpassed anywhere on the narrow gauge. The engines looked particularly good in SR livery.

    The rakes of carriages were well proportioned and uniform, unlike the hotch-potch of rickety-looking 4-wheelers that you would see on the early Talyllyn or Ffestiniog.

    Combine the aesthetics of the rolling stock with the fabulous semi-wild scenery, and you have a very appealing combination. No wonder it inspired people who had only seen it in photographs.

    I know that aesthetics are subjective, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way.
     
  10. Masterbrew

    Masterbrew New Member

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    Vale of Rheidol, Tal-y-llyn and Ffestiniog would all have had direct connections with the Cambrian Coast Express to Paddington, albeit with a short walk rather than cross-platform connections.
     
  11. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    If you think it's looks were the worst aspect of this abortive exercise, it was the R&D spend which did for Kitsons. At least they went down fighting.

    Thanks for the info @ross. Haven't got the Calthrop paper yet, but will add it to my shopping list. I'm currently bogged down trying to get to grips with Templot (if you don't know, trust me .. you probably don't want to. It's powerful tool, but the damn thing's driving me crazy!), CAD (I need a CAD for the analogue brain) and attempting to source info on a Slaughter, Gruning loco of the 1860's plus an obscure small Sharpie and a Dübs 2-4-0t .... plus 1001 other things.
     
  12. Meiriongwril

    Meiriongwril Member

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    I bought a pack of 5 sharpies the other day ...:D
     
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  13. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Yup. When you are looking at a vanished world, aesthetics are everything. For me, the first time I ever saw a photograph of one of the Manning Wardles in Southern livery, I was sold L&B.
    Catchpole's legendary volume has perpetuated the mystique since closure, and how could a line with station names like Snapper, Bratton Fleming, Woody bay and Caffyns fail to draw in the uninitiated?
    Plus it was so well recorded, both on stills and cine. Apart from the Pathe short of the L&M, I've only seen photos. As for the C&M...
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  14. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Evocative names certainly help. I always liked Sparowlee and Thor's Cave. Evidently, memorable names alone are not enough without a Catchpole. I'll be happy enough when I need to neck my pint at Blackmoor Gate in order to make the next train to Lynton!
     
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  15. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Mm, yes! Hold that thought!
     
  16. brmp201

    brmp201 Member

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    The L&B first grabbed my attention when I discovered some internet articles on Chelfham Viaduct - such an impressive structure for a narrow gauge railway. Then I discovered what the L&B Trust had achieved and what they were planning, and I was truly hooked!
     
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  17. AD29935

    AD29935 New Member

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    Building on the work of Catchpole, and the photographers and movie-makers already mentioned, should we also take a moment to acknowledge the BBC's delightful 1987 documentary 'The Little Train To Lynton'?

    Granted this isn't exactly the most technically comprehensive account of the L&B! But to my mind it perfectly captures the appeal of the railway that the OP was referring to. And the interviews with folks who remembered the railway are a fascinating and very unusual treat.

    Back in 1987 the documentary makers surely couldn't have imagined that 30 years later, courtesy of YouTube, their film would have been seen by in excess of 41,000 people!
     
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  18. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    You've got that in a nutshell! The film was all about the spirit of the railway, which the makers did so well to capture the essence of.
    Its been a little while since I last watched it, but I remember the conclusion was particularly moving, with the reading of the poem which gave the film its title, and that haunting piano melody...

    I'm going to go further here, and post another poem about the railway, which for me is very evocative. Some of you may know it already. Its by Mick Abbott, and I hope he won't mind my reposting it:

    I think I am asleep
    And of this dream, what part is fog, what part is steam?
    For no murmur emits from the Taw and its swifting tide
    As a dense sea fret paints a dawn vignette
    In which the standard gauge and the impudent must co-abide
    Eerily greying Barnstaple Town to a jumbled silhouette
    Making surreal the clank of coal being trimmed
    Where semaphores, by the damp, are dimmed

    I board the little train to Lynton

    I yearn to start the climb
    To tranquil height, to soothing view, and upland light
    A pea-whistle trills and a green flag is waved at last
    With a late slamming door there’s a creak ’neath the floor
    And all that was fixed through my window is now drifting past
    The wooden carriagettes, awakened, now rock and stretch and yaw
    A lullaby enunciates each of the little rail joints
    And wheels chirrup, like sparrows, on points

    Clickety, clickety, clickety-clack, begins a joyous day
    We jog through fog on rickety track by Southern Railway
    On two-foot gauge, or near enough, past chunky crossing gates
    Eurhythmic Lew’s echoing chuff now self-concatenates

    Jiggle, joggle, by fidget’s trail, Lew wends us out of town
    An alley sally on midget rail, reluctant to slow down
    In Pilton yard, through mist espied, stands Exe out-shopped and dapper
    By glassy Yeo, still at our side, we pass a halt called Snapper

    Wobble, wobble, wobble tug, our loco has willpower
    Commotion in motion, tenacious pug, diminutive steam power
    She toots of Newnes, philanthropist, upon whose tall creation…
    Of arches spanning a lake of mist we climb to Chelfham station

    Our train now comes to rest
    Above the dew, beneath a sky of pastel blue
    Lew’s driver hands the tablet to leafy Chelfham’s porter
    And I gaze through the glass, watch the Up train pass
    On this amber Autumn day, in this shady sylvan quarter
    Where the telegraph dings like a tapped wine glass
    Where white scud and grey eddy enrobe the trees
    And a robin sings, my ears, to please

    How sweet is this little line to Lynton

    I lower the window glass
    From upholstered nook, I lean outside, and take a look
    The Up train’s green and yellow carriages are really quite replete
    With their handles and vents, they maintain a pretence
    And mimic their larger cousins with whom they frequently meet
    So conceived to be roomy that, in consequence
    They overhang each rail by a foot or two
    And inner expanse, thereby, accrue

    Dapple, dapple, let’s dapple the light, the whispering trees all say
    Where Lew must grapple with all her might, to get us under way
    Forever climbing, never straight, this footpath made of steel
    Is not for feet, but footplate, greased axle-box, and wheel

    Bratton Fleming awakens
    At sibilant Lew, admirers gaze, as admirers do
    They point to her tongues of flame, wince and plug their ears
    For with pressure increased in this iron beast
    Her safety valve blows and its serrated rasp is all one hears
    Candy-floss steam is licked by a sun aflame in the east
    While departure sends acrobatic wisps cart-wheeling by
    Then makes dark, with sackcloth, the sky

    Percuss, percuss, the bogies discuss Wistlandpound’s emerald clime
    ‘More fun, this run, than any bus’ they argue their case in rhyme
    And every sight, with eyes agog, must I be sure to observe
    Lest a friendly nudge, or cajoling jog, be aimed at my reserve

    Expansive Blackmoor station
    Where couplings chink as our loco halts to take a drink
    Where the station house is a chalet of homely air
    At its side abiding, a coach in a siding
    Oh, if quintessential England exists, my friend, this is where
    Along with all the verdant scape of the line I’m riding
    A lower quadrant semaphore nods at our train
    With the ‘right away’ we’re off, again

    Whiffle, whiffle, piffle and prance, Lew scoffs at a downward mile
    Her sniffle and skiffle makes the carriages dance, life is easy for a while
    But another climb begins to loom, and Lew’s skiffle rods become…
    A marching band through Parracombe, of gyrating mace and drum

    At Woody Bay we pause
    Upon the crest, a station higher than all the rest
    For Southern Green was never painted in a loftier place than this
    Nor a quieter one, where trains still run
    No junction, as planned, and no village amid this rural bliss
    ‘Alight here for a doze, to sigh, and get nothing done’
    Yet so much to view beyond these narrow gauge rails
    The Bristol Channel, craggy cliffs, and Wales

    Snaking and shaking, judiciously braking, to Lynton our train now descends
    It scurries, it hurries, it sets the ground quaking, convinced that the line never ends
    But Caffyns halt, perched high on the moor, warns that there’s not far to go
    From a hillside ledge with views galore, I gaze at the Lyn gorge below

    Ahead, the buffer stops
    A judder speaks, it shakes my hand, and kisses my cheeks
    Bidding goodbye like a jolly aunt with whom I must sadly part
    I vacate my seat and take to my feet
    For in Lynton now is a soul with a glowing heart
    Whose port-hole eyes are bright with orange heat
    It is journey’s end, but I am not sad, as I sit on a churn
    Because my ticket reads, in bold type: ‘RETURN’

    (The narrow gauge Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, North Devon)

    Mick Abbott
     
  19. AD29935

    AD29935 New Member

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    Thanks for posting that - I hadn't come across it before.

    I feel like "railway inspired poetry" is a strong candidate for its own thread at some point in the future!
     
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  20. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    I'm for that! And prose too. Betjeman would obviously feature heavily. I found an online feature recently which consisted purely of variations on the theme of "Adlestrop". That's one of them In use as my strap line below!
     

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