Michael L. Roach.
In the last passenger timetable trains departed Plymouth Station for Lanson (in the vernacular) at 7.10; 10.40 (SO); 3.05; 6.20 and 8.40 (SO) and took 93 – 95 minutes for the 35 miles. Google maps says that the 26 miles by road can be covered in as little as 48 minutes. Trains returned from Lanson at 7.05; 10.15; 12.40 (SO); 5.40 and 8.40 (SO). It can be seen that there were only three trains each way Monday to Friday. There was no Sunday Service although there had been thirty years earlier. I photographed the 3.05 to Lanson many times in 1961 and 1962 both at stations and in the countryside There had been a train from Plymouth to Lanson around this time, just after 3.00pm, for many years. In 1902 it departed at 3.10 and took 105 minutes. In 1932 it departed at 3.03 and took 96 minutes – the small prairies had arrived to haul the trains, with the first one 4401(previously numbered 3101) arriving at Laira Shed on 14 October 1905). The first 4500-class 2-6-2T arrived on 6 December 1907 in the shape of 4513 (previously 2174). The 4500s and the 5500s remained the staple motive power on the Plymouth to Launceston trains until the last day of scheduled passenger trains on 29 December 1962.
The 3.05pm normally departed from platform 8 at Plymouth Station. The train would either be stopped with the engine just clear of the awning as in the second photograph attached to this article or with the coaches opposite the top of the steps by the subway if only two coaches were hauled up from Millbay. The reason for these two different stopping places can be seen in the first photo where the empty stock is arriving from the carriage sidings at Millbay Station with six coaches but only the first two are for the 3.05pm with the other four being detached and left for another train. The empty coaches left Millbay at 2.55 and were due to arrive at platform 8 at 3.00pm. The 3.05 arrived Lanson at 4.39 and then formed the 5.40 Lanson to Plymouth due 7.25 to run ECS to Millbay at 7.30pm. Job done – now the crew can run light engine from Millbay to Laira Shed and sign off on Monday to Friday.
However on Saturdays there was another train to Lanson at 8.40pm and the engine, stock and footplate crew that arrived Plymouth at 7.25 could well have worked that train. It would have been a way of changing the loco that was out-stationed at Lanson for the following week. The 8.40 (SO) crossed the 8.35 (SO) from Lanson to Plymouth at Tavistock South; and here the loco crews would have changed footplates to work back to their home depots having earned a couple of hours of overtime.
MLR / 9 April 2023
Regards, Chris Lunn.