Bridge Strike Yesterday
All lines reopenedGWR has confirmed all lines have reopened following the earlier collision.
Michael L. Roach
Once a year I took my parents out for a longer day trip in their car which was not the most reliable, so it really was a bit of an adventure. In 1962 the destination was Lynton in North Devon for a trip on the cliff railway – from top to bottom and return. We headed north from Plymouth up the A386 via Tavistock and Sourton to Barnstaple from where it was the A39 via Blackmoor Gate; a total distance of about 80 miles. These days Google Maps tells us that the best route from Plymouth to Lynton is via the M5 and Tiverton taking just over 2 hours for the 107 miles. In 1962 the journey would have taken us a minimum of 2¾ hours and probably at least 3½ hours by the time we stopped somewhere en-route to photograph at least one steam train somewhere. Luckily my parents were very tolerant of my hobby and stopping almost anywhere there was a railway line to be seen. In 1962 the infrastructure of the railways was much as it had always been for decades and worth photographing but the era of mass destruction of station buildings and signal boxes etc. was about to start.
The towns of Lynton and Lynmouth are only a short distance apart horizontally but a fair way apart vertically with steep roads joining the two which caused major problems before the advent of motorised road vehicles. A cliff railway was proposed and built primarily for freight transport originally, only later becoming a major passenger transport artery. There are only three 100 percent water-powered funicular railways in the world and the L & L is both the longest and the steepest in the world. There are two tracks and two cars connected by cables with four separate braking systems. On the signal to start water is released from the car at the bottom until both cars start to move; with the water being replaced by topping up the tank when the car reaches the top. The gauge of the track is 1,118 mm (44 inches); the rise is 152.4 metres; the track length is 262.7 metres; and the gradient is steeper than 1 in 2. Much of the infrastructure remains just as it was built for the opening in 1890 when it was a triumph of Victorian engineering. The cliff railway is now a major tourist attraction in its own right as well being the best way for pedestrians to travel up and down the hill between the two towns. The narrow-gauge Lynton & Barnstaple Railway was completed to Lynton in 1898 and opened up the area to tourism. Before 1898 the tourist would have to have taken the stagecoach or a horse bus from Minehead (17 miles) or Barnstaple (20 miles). Although the A39 trunk road passes close to both towns the area is still relatively isolated. The one petrol filling station in the area is one of the few in the whole of England to receive a Government subsidy of 5p a litre because of its isolation and the high costs bringing fuel to it.
It was my first visit to the area in 1962 and I found the cliff railway very impressive with one reason being the sheer length of it. As a pedestrian it was quite easy to avoid the cliff railway going down but I would not wish to walk up the hill to save a few bob. By the look of the attached photos there were plenty of other people who thought similarly. The Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway is well worth a visit. It would be interesting to learn whether the top car is pinned in position, chocked or attached in some way overnight to take the strain off the cables when not in use.
In the last part of this series the article finished with a mystery picture. The answer was Meeth Halt on the Halwill Junction to Torrington Line seen on the evening of 11 June 1962. There will be more on Meeth Halt in a later part of this series. There were two correct answers and they came from Roy Hart and Roger Winnen. The photo was taken on the way home from Lynton to Plymouth on the evening of 11 June 1962, and the train was the 6.30pm Halwill Junction to Torrington hauled by an unrecorded Ivatt 2-6-2 tank. This was the second, and last, passenger train of the day to travel the full length of the line.
MLR / 8 May 2023
The outbound working at Par (note the groundwork’s under way in connection with the resignalling program)
And the return about to pass through Luxulyan, beside the River Par.
I’ve been making an effort to photograph the clay as much as I can lately during the nice weather and light evenings, there are a few more locations I’d like to get it at but I’m stretched for time for the earlier working!
There were 2 other photographers on Par bridge today, and a guy with a video camera on the platform which surprised me somewhat!
All the best, Jon Hird