Looe Branch Walk 1996
Michael L Roach
In the summer of 1996 the Cornwall Railway Society had a full programme of outdoor visits thanks to the efforts of the Outdoor Meetings Secretary Roger Winnen. One of the visits was to the Looe Branch and the date chosen was Saturday 20 July 1996 – 25 years ago today. The weather was good all day with plenty of sunshine. The party met on the train and alighted at Liskeard Station at about 10.12am from where we walked down the hill to Coombe Junction to see the branch train for the first time that day. It was single coach 153303 in Regional Railways livery; RR would be privatised on 1 April 1997. From Coombe the party headed up the valley for half a mile to the china clay works at Moorswater which was then operated by English China Clays, where a site visit had been arranged by our late late Chairman Walter Julian. The china clay arrived at the works in slurry form from a pit on Bodmin Moor through a pipeline which used to be visible above ground at Golitha Falls. The works operated continuously on a 3-shift system producing about 330 tonnes of clay per day. However clay was not dispatched every day; none had been loaded that day or the previous day (Friday). On Thursday 18 July 1996 30 CDA wagons were loaded and dispatched in two trains of 15 wagons each to Carne Point, Fowey for export by sea. Each trainload was taken up the steep bank to Liskeard by the Class 37 then in use in a rake of 7 wagons and a rake of 8 wagons and put together in Liskeard Yard. It was nearly 20 miles from Moorswater to Carne Point by rail. For the writer the visit to the works was the highlight of the day and very fortuitous because it's believed that the works closed just a few months later. Our hosts were duly thanked and the party proceeded down the valley on very narrow country lanes for the 7-mile ramble to Looe in the sunshine. At Looe we sought out some food or a visit to the beach before assembling for the train home. It had been a really good day out.
5044 Here we are looking across the settling tanks which were used to decant the top water. Some of the tanks dated back to the construction of the works by the St. Neots China Clay Company
5046 This was “Sharon” the resident shunter at the time
5052 Moorswater Viaduct looking eastwards from the narrow country lane passing beneath the viaduct, showing the three easternmost arches and the abutment of the original timber viaduct. This view has now been blocked by the growth of the trees in the foreground
5053 The CRS party watch the branch train pass through St. Keyne at 13.11
5057 Our train home has just arrived at Looe at 18.42 and disgorges its passengers. If the GWR's proposed pre-war new line to Looe had been constructed the 2-platform terminus would have been out of picture to the left just 250 metres away but 60 metres higher than the existing station.
MLR/18 July 2021
I've been away on leave so little local railway activity for a few weeks. The day we set sail for the North West we just caught 59003 on one of it's GBRf crew training trip to Penzance passing St Austell.
Back to yesterday and 66849 was in action in Cornwall working back along the Fowey branch with the Balfour Beatty rail train to Milltown where it joined class mate 66850 with a Westbury engineers train.
Pictures taken at a sizzling Golant where the focus of 99% of people was on the water as high tide had brought out the paddle boarders, kayakers and all other manner of boat usage.
The fully formed train was then pictured at Bolithio east of Liskeard with a long train in tow.
Cheers for now, Craig