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The East Cornwall Mineral Railway

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by Roger Farnworth, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. Roger Farnworth

    Roger Farnworth New Member

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    I have just enjoyed reading the first article in the May 1951 edition of The Railway Magazine. That article covered the East Cornwall Mineral Railway which started life as 3ft 6in narrow gauge line.

    As a result I have spent a little time researching the line. This is the first of two planned posts about the line

    http://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/03/26/the-east-cornwall-mineral-railway-part-1/
     
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  2. Roger Farnworth

    Roger Farnworth New Member

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    This is the second of two posts about the East Cornwall Mineral Railway, a 3ft 6in narrow gauge railway.

    http://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/03/28/the-east-cornwall-mineral-railway-part-2

    In 1908, the line was superseded by a standard gauge line which ran from Bere Alston to Callington via Calstock and included a significant viaduct over the River Tamar at Calstock. The standard gauge branch line is still in use today in a truncated form.
    This line will be the subject of a future post.
     
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  3. PC5020

    PC5020 New Member

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    I live down that way and it was an interesting operation. That it lives on yet as an underused branch is amazing.
    Like many axed branches it is truncated lessening its ridership.
    Looking forward to your next post.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
  4. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    I walked most of the disused section in the early 1980s when my folks lived near Callington. Yet another branch where the terminal managed to be fairly inconvenient for the town it purported to serve.
     
  5. PC5020

    PC5020 New Member

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    As can be said with so many rail stations in the UK, what they need to do is provide parking esp when the station is so remote to any place any one wishes to go. Park and ride would make a huge difference to rider numbers. Perhaps Drakewalls would not become a hub but many places would. There are many times I park outside of Exeter and take the train in because it is so easy and much
    cheaper than paying for parking in the city.
     
  6. D6332found

    D6332found New Member

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    So there's a closed 3'6" 5mile railway in England, with Gradients.
    WIBN....
     
  7. Earle

    Earle New Member

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    I find it something of an oddity, how little the 3'6" gauge featured in general, in the British Isles -- it being in our Imperial scheme of measurements, and a "neat and regular" figure in same. Passenger lines on said gauge in these islands, were vanishingly rare -- the Snaefell Mountain Railway still survives, on the gauge -- "industrial"-wise (as with the East Cornwall), 3'6" was a bit more frequently met with; but still not common. A certain number of our urban tram systems were 3'6".

    Yet great main-line distances on the 3'6" gauge came into being in various parts of Britain's empire (with connections in Africa, way outside of British territory); and in a number of parts of the world which never belonged to Britain (Japan; the Dutch East Indies, later Indonesia; and the gauge showed up in a number of countries of northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia). Only one of a number of rail-gauge-related strangenesses which there have been worldwide over the past couple of centuries; nonetheless, still odd !
     
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  8. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    On the industrial front, you'd need to go it some to beat Dorking Greystone Lime Co's 3'-21/4" gauge (or 972mm - it's eccentric, either way), who at least utilised inside flanges .... take a bow, Swanscombe Cement Works, Kent!

    I'm not aware of any (mainland) UK industrial lines with gauges north of standard, though Brunel's BG was used on the odd breakwater, away from GW territory. Holyhead comes to mind.
     
  9. Earle

    Earle New Member

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    972mm -- that, I feel, displays a kind of genius. It's almost, but not quite, metre gauge: nearer to it in fact, than the Italian version of metre gauge (national sub-standard gauge for Italy and its one-time colonies) -- 950mm. That arose, I gather, from Italy's different version vis-a-vis the rest of the world, concerning between which parts of the top of the rail, gauges are measured. It would seem that Italian enthusiasts tend to refer to 950mm as "metre gauge" -- confusion can ensue.

    Having in mind what individualists, and awkward so-and-so's, humans are apt to be -- I'm more inclined to be surprised at how (very) relatively sensibly standardised, rail gauges worldwide are / have in latter times, become; than at what a multi-varied mess they are.
     
  10. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Was it true that the Irish chose 5'3" to be inbetween British and Iberian Standards ... for some unknown reason.
     
  11. Allegheny

    Allegheny New Member

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  12. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    T'was an 1846 government driven compromise between the gauges on the Dublin & Kingstown (English std gauge) and the Ulster Railway's 6'-2" gauge. As the UR had adopted their gauge on the basis of an earlier govt. commission's report (1836), they were understandably less than happy. The wider gauge only ever connected Belfast, Portadown and Armagh and was converted to 5'-3" very promptly after the 1846 report, in order to facilitate construction of the through Belfast - Dublin mainline.
     
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  13. Earle

    Earle New Member

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    The 5'3" gauge seems a bit fated, to be the cause of hard feelings and disharmony. Witness the events leading to the greater part of Australia's long-notorious gauge-related chaos: with rail beginnings there in the mid-19th century, affecting New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. Original agreement on all lines in all three then-colonies, to be 4'8-and-a-half " -- construction began thus. Then, NSW's new (Irish) chief engineer, promoted very hard, and got accepted, change to 5'3" for NSW. Victoria and South Australia accordingly switched to 5'3", regauging their very first, already built, lines. Things went wrong for our man in NSW: he resigned -- his replacement was an equally keen apostle for 4'8-and-a-half", and had the NSW system switch back to said gauge. Victoria / S. Aus., by now well under way with 5'3" gauge systems ultimately to link up with each other, said "be damned to this", and continued with 5'3" -- expansion on respective gauges in the areas concerned, continued -- ultimately up to their boundaries. (Not the whole story of Australia's gauge problem; but it seems clear that things would have been easier if the areas above, had been able to standardise on just one gauge.)
     
  14. kscanes

    kscanes Well-Known Member

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    Ooh, there's a challenge. It sort of depends on what you regard as a railway. A short line as part of an industrial process? If it had what is recognisable as a loco, built by a known locomotive manufacturer?

    I offer up the 6'9½" gauge line at Ravenscraig Steelworks with a centre cab battery electric loco, in the strip mill (my photo of it taken in store, after it ceased use, not very well lit.)

    Or, the 9ft gauge ladle transfer line at Glengarnock Iron & Steel Works, with a steam loco by Barclay that had originally been 10'11" gauge at Dalzell Works. (Photo scanned from The Industrial Railway Society Scottish Handbook).

    155A-010 8.10.91 BSC Ravenscraig, GB 6064 stored OOU.jpg Barclay.jpg
     
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  15. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    There's a considerable mileage of 5'-3" gauge in S.America too .... along with pretty much every other gauge, metric or imperial, one could dream of. There's never been much notion of any 'standard' gauge, or unified national rail network, south of the Rio Grande, as far as I can see. Even in Argentina, Perón nationalised the railways into distinct entities, according to their gauge.

    The 'free market' economic models of recent decades have been (let's just say) a mixed blessing across Latin America, as far as passenger services are concerned.

    From the outbreak of WWI, UK manufacturers progressively lost this major export market, mostly to the cousins, as the 20th century wore on. By dieselisation, in the years after WWII, our exports were negligible.

    Nice one Ken .... I'd certainly count both those examples.
     
  16. kscanes

    kscanes Well-Known Member

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    ... and then there's Wylam Colliery in the North Easy at 5ft gauge, with the well know 'Puffing Billy' and 'Wylam Dilly', both preserved.

    (Um ... how far off topic can we get for a narrow gauge thread :))
     
  17. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    Just as well I didn't mention the 11-odd ft gauge logging lines in N.America ..... D'Oh! :Banghead:
     
  18. Allegheny

    Allegheny New Member

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    There's the Cairngorm Mountain Railway 2 metre gauge (6' 6.75")
     
  19. Roger Farnworth

    Roger Farnworth New Member

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    To complete this short series of posts, I have produced a survey of the standard gauge branch that replaced the ECMR. Its one and only major structure is the Calstock Viaduct which remains in use in 2019 to carry the truncated branch-line to Gunnislake.

    http://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/04/02/the-bere-alston-to-callington-branch

    This post also provides a little information about a possible reinstatement of the old line between Bere Alston and Tavistock.
     

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