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Lynton and Barnstaple - Operations and Development

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

  1. Miff

    Miff Part of the furniture Friend

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    It’s true that the WHR’s residual railway status prevented any adverse-possession land claims and also meant the route could not become a public right of way, despite many years of uninterrupted use as a footpath.

    However that residual status did not enable reconstruction. The new WHR needed a TWAO.
     
  2. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    Actually the first section (the old standard gauge part) was rebuilt using one of the last LROs to be granted. The WHR proper was TWAO though.
     
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  3. Michael B

    Michael B New Member

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    The evidence of opposition in 1894-5 is scanty as you would expect - the views of the silent majority were rarely written down or made it to the printed word. So we just dont know what the local population thought, although those who could afford to travel probably welcomed the railway, not being affected by any of the down-sides as it was expensive but considerably cheaper and more plentiful than the horsedrawn coach run by Jones Bros. of Lynton which preceded it. The one who got the publicity as to their views was the 'Yeoman' Charles Blackmore, who inherited Court Place from many previous generations, an 18 or 19 room house south of where the halt was built, and his younger brother Henry Robert. At the risk of causing readers the loss of the will to live I am appending some of the details surrounding the opposition of the Blackmores, so it might be best to move on to the next posting at this point.

    Charles Blackmore was owner of Court Place, the big house and farm about 70 yards to the south east of where the line was planned (and where the halt was ultimately built in 1899). He owned the trackbed for about 220 yards southwards of Ivy Cottage (at the south end of the halt), and another 485 yards including Holwell Bank (nowadays referred to as Parracombe Bank). His younger brother Henry Robert Blackmore was occupier of a field at the southern end of the first of these and was tenant of the Fox and Goose Inn.

    Both opposed the Railway, and they were among 9 signatories to the petition of owners lessees and occupiers on the line to the House of Lords Select Committee considering the two rival schemes for a Railway to Lynton in 1895. They registered as dissenters during the Parliamentary process where these people registered assent, dissent or neutral for the L & B scheme. Charles gave evidence as witness at the Lords Committee to support the petition. Under questioning by Counsel he said he would rather it remained as it was - he would prefer a proper railway to a toy one. ‘To having a toy railway I prefer having no railway at all.’ His objection to the narrow gauge railway was, he answered, that ‘It is passing through my best land’ on his farm. He was ‘greatly in favour of the Filleigh line’ which would be a benefit, and have also passed through his land, but about 1½ miles away. At a meeting to decide the location of the (then) intended station in February 1896 Henry Blackmore proposed that the meeting ask for a full station. The Company’s Solicitor was present and said that ‘as the landowners with one exception have settled their land value reasonably and amicably that would probably be of assistance in their request for a full station.’ This was not quite true - they had settled for between £64 and £217 per acre but an exception was Sally Dovell, the owner of the land the halt was ultimately built on, who was paid £224 for her 2 roods, 26 perches, just over half an acre - £342 per acre. Blackmore claimed £612 and settled for £500. Survival of evidence that the Company took any claim to arbitration relies on a report of the case being heard making it in a local newspaper, and in this case there is no report that I have found of a case being heard. The £500 represented only £182 per acre, so might be argued as reasonable. The Company paid him another £2 for some additional land in 1897 to obtain additional spoil for the bank, and Nuttall paid him £27 purchase money in April 1898. Charles’s brother Henry may have had his reasons apart from those expressed in the petition, which of course gathered every argument against the L & B that the petitioners could think of even if it didn’t represent the views of all of them. They would have had their own reasons to sign the petition. Henry may have merely been supporting his brother, but as landlord of the coaching inn in Parracombe he served refreshments to the passengers when the coach stopped outside before their walk up the hill before rejoining the coach, and was facing the prospect of this valuable addition to his business ending with the coming of the railway. So he had a reason of his own to sign the petition.

    Coming 8 months after the passing of the L & B Act this suggests Charles Blackmore had been the significant objector. But whether it led to Parracombe being dealt with by downgrading its proposed station to a halt as alleged by L. T. Catchpole in his 1936 history, must taken with caution. Perhaps Parracombe residents told him so, but no surviving evidence appears to exist to substantiate this. The official reason for resisting a station at Parracombe in 1898 was that the Company would have 3 stations in a little over 3 miles. The argument advanced by the Solicitor was that: the Company was obliged to have a station at Martinhoe Cross (Woody Bay Station) under the agreement with Col. Lake (who had threatened to oppose the Bill in the Commons) and at Blackmoor it was intended it would be the junction for the proposed branch to Combe Martin. Charles died on 30 November 1900 age 59, having fathered 13 children. There is no reference to the death in the liberal North Devon Journal, and only passing reference in the right-leaning North Devon Herald, and no obituary in either, which was unusual for a prominent citizen. (if that was what he was) Details of some of the children were recorded by a descendant was in Magazine 98 which referred to a book called ‘The Blackmores of Parracombe’. Charles was succeeded by his son C. J. Blackmore who lived in London and he sold Court Place and its land by auction in October 1908.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2022
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  4. Miff

    Miff Part of the furniture Friend

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    Exactly. A LRO was also used to enable the transfer of the land, residual powers & responsibilities of the old WHR Co. (which still existed in receivership) to the FfR but this was not sufficient to enable reconstruction without a TWAO.
     
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  5. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    Yes that is correct, although the original LRO protected the trackbed, it didn’t allow for rebuilding the railway. This wasn’t clear initially and originally it was thought that the original LRO would have been sufficient.

    It’s a shame that the L&B didn’t remain independent and end up in the same boat, would have been easier to rebuild than it is now.
     
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  6. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    You think so? Not so sure. Might I offer two words? ..... "Chelfham Viaduct"
     
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  7. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    I’m sure the present day LBR would have much preferred to be liable for the costs of remedial work required to Chelfham viaduct, rather than the costs of purchasing the whole 18 miles piece by piece, building a diversion around the reservoir , and other remedial works where the formation is blocked.
     
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  8. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    And what, pray, connects the viaduct with the reservoir, beyond the formation of the L&B itself? Recall one thing Boyd noticed which it was just as well the old FR board hadn't, was that compulsory flooding of part of their route would've given the them the way out of their intractable dilemma, simultaneously relieving them of some expensive legal gymnastics and totalling any realistic prospect for the railway's restoration.

    Would the old line retaining independence have improved the legacy for today's revivalists? Who's to say, but I could well imagine things having panned out a damned sight worse!
     
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  9. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    You’ve answered your own question. The formation of the L&B is what connects them. The route of the L&B would potentially have been better protected if the L&B had survived as a dormant company (like the WHR) and it would have been harder for the authorities to block the route with Wistlandpond reservoir. Whilst the revitalised L&B would then have been responsible for the work on Chelfham viaduct ( which was done by the residual BR board), overall that seems preferable to having to re purchase the track before from a myriad of (often reluctant to sell) owners.


    What is the your basis for that assumption? It certainly worked out a lot better for the WHR.
     
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  10. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I’m with @30854. The insuperable obstruction represented by a flooded route would have been a very effective way for a dormant company to say “we can no longer be in business”.

    A dormant independent company with the liability of maintaining viaducts would have had a powerful incentive to cut its losses and finalise the closure process (which the FR didn’t do in the 1950s). It would also, and much more destructively, have had the incentive to allow the army to practice demolition in more places - like Chelfham.

    Much as many of us are deeply frustrated at the difficulty and cost of restoring the land holdings to recreate a railway right of way, but I find it hard to criticise companies (including BR) for selling off redundant assets that had more value locally, including as farmland.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  11. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    Indeed some good examples there of how it could potentially have been worse.

    A very hypothetical discussion though. It’s lucky we are where we are, and that the route is so remarkably intact that nearly 90 years after closure, rebuilding it is still possible.
     
  12. Biermeister

    Biermeister New Member

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    My understanding was that Chelfham Viaduct couldn't be demolished by the army because of the nearby houses. No doubt it could have been carefully demolished like the Lewes Road viaduct in Brighton. (And wasn't that a shame!)
    I find it very easy to criticise BRB for selling off goods yards and also allowing building on railway trackbeds when later events have shown it would often have been better to have kept them as transport easements. How often do we hear the tired riposte that you can't reopen such-and-such railway line because there are now two or three houses built over the trackbed. (Of course this doesn't stop a government when it wants to build a by-pass or relief road!) The L&BR Trustees now have to attempt to negotiate with NIMBY whiners who are so precious that they object to a railway at the end of their gardens... Fortunately they are few in number and plot-by-plot L&BR and Exmoor Associates are putting the jig-saw of land back in place as the track bed.
     
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  13. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I agree about the frustration, but that is hindsight talking - if an asset is redundant, and has gone through process to be declared redundant, then I'm struggling with the justification for keeping it intact "just in case".

    I will also hesitate to call opponents of reopening either "NIMBYs" or "whiners" - whatever my views on their objections, they are entitled to the opportunity to live as they would wish.
     
  14. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    Indeed. The one exception I’d make to that are those people that buy a property with full knowledge of the situation, and then complain about it afterwards.
     
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  15. Biermeister

    Biermeister New Member

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    Assets were often prematurely declared 'redundant'. I would posit, without any evidence, that BRB might well have been under instruction from government.
    Let us not forget how it came to this sorry state that British Railways were butchered by road-developer/part-owner and transport minister Ernest Marples following the Beeching Report, then copied by Barbara Castle in spite of the Labour Party's electioneering that it would not travel the same route. With hindsight it is easy to see that mistakes were made but abandoning what were often valuable transport corridors is (and was) frankly unfathomable. It can only be construed as a deliberate act to sabotage future attempts to right wrongs.
    If you have followed any of the planning objections to the L&BR extension proposals, it is hard to escape the view that these are NIMBY whiners. You may of course take the generous view that you have but I struggle with your view that 'they should be entitled to the opportunity to live as they would wish'. We live in a society, whatever Mrs T might have said, and as such, personal desires must be moderated in the interests of the greater good. This is why we 'happily' live under the rule of law.
     
  16. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I was careful not to state a view of the objections, as I have not spent time reviewing the objections. My point is that, even if their objections are illegitimate under law (as I strongly suspect that they are), they are still entitled to express their opinion and seek the life they wish.

    As for rail closures, you may be right about the timing and quality of "redundancy" decisions. But I personally believe that this view of Beeching/Marples is deeply misplaced, and that the changes in transport of the era made closures much more likely - evidenced by both the pre-Beeching campaign of closures, and also comments by Fiennes. I therefore stand by my view that I regret many of those losses, but will not damn those in a previous generation for making decisions based on what was known at that time. Historians who review the past through today's preconceptions are rarely as enlightening as those who make the effort to see events through the perceptions of those involved.
     
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  17. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Sorry, but I'm seeing nowt beyond a circular argument there, Alan.
    I was speaking specifically of the FR, not the (original) WHR. Until the modern reconstruction, the only connection between the two companies, other than a set of rails west of Britannia Bridge, was operational, not proprietorial, via a 42 year lease, unpicked during the war years.

    Perhaps I mistakenly assumed a general familiarity with Boyd's history of the FR (.... there were a lot less books to reference when I was younger). The only point I sought to highlight was Boyd's, which was that (on the FR side) for the CEGB to have expanded the Llyn Ystradau Pumped Storage Scheme to encompass formal abandonment of the FR would have been a (comparatively) straightforward matter and merely one more consideration in statutory arrangements. Had that happened and the FR been lost to us, it's possible that some scheme might perhaps have formed around the WHR, or perhaps not.

    I'd also remind folks that the trackbed of another NG line, the Leek & Manifold Valley, closed just a couple of summers before the L&B, passed in toto into the hands of a local authority, where it exists to this day, under two different widths of tarmac, part footpath, part single track road. In that case, the manner of it's survival is pretty much of a guarantee it'll never be revived, so no ..... no guarantees of salvation under those circumstances either.

    Something to bear in mind is that the view backwards from our lofty perches (with benefit of hindsight), is that these events happened before the FRPS and the new (1954) board got it's act together, when the naiscent preservation movement was the TRPS. It was novel, it was still largely untested. Our entire movement simply hadn't then got into it's stride.

    (However many times you proof read, sod's law dictates you'll still miss a couple of booboos)
     
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  18. Michael B

    Michael B New Member

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    I worked for a fellow subsidary of Marples Ridgeway & Co. which built bridges around 1970, and when one of their bridges collapsed because of a mis-calculation they changed the Company's name to remove the reference to Marples. Mrs T also said that anyone who still travels on a bus in their mid twenties was a loser. And they used to say you shouldn't talk evil of the dead. Didn't she only travel once on a train ? As for living under the law, why do we need to if our prime minister doesn't feel the need ? I used to travel on our branch to the main line (Harpenden to Welwyn Garden City to get to Cambridge) to get to work in 1963 - standing room only in the rush hour, but they still closed it. I can assure you that attitudes in general and to the provision of 'loss-making' but socially valuable public services have not changed that much since then. They use to say power corrupts and it still does, captivated by ideology and superiority (we have cars why should we subsidise public transport for the peasants) And dont get me started on health.
     
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  19. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    Interesting about Mrs T - no investment in rail because 'she didn't like trains' - I believe I travelled on the same train as Mrs T - if I remember correctly we were travelling to York with our children who travelled free if they took a Teddy Bear - My son insisted on taking his Paddington Bear. We wondered why there was so much security about and were told that the Prime Minister was on the train - I didn't actually believe it because I knew she had never been on a train. I think it made the news - she said it was a 'tolerable experience'. It's a long time ago both my children are in their 40s.
     
  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I believe the story about Mrs T is a myth. As for subsidy, I suggest the question is not whether it should happen, but at what level and for whom - if that train was standing room only, but all others virtually empty, did it justify the line?
     

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