Driver Alan Peters
(And so say all of us)
IET's Newquay branch
Apologies for the low quality picture, every time they’ve come over the viaduct this week I was driving a train. However I just managed to run over from my station to get a glimpse, unfortunately I’m unable to see the numbers or name.
Also I can hear multiple chainsaws and chippers coming from the branch lines direction and the drivers are certainly blasting the horns loud and multiple times when approaching the viaduct from par and when they go across the viaduct from Newquay. I wonder if this is just routine maintenance or to do with development on the industrial estate. I’ve heard there are plans to put housing somewhere in the back of the industrial estate in some old units. Could this work be related to that?
Kind regards, Richard Curtis
1. Newquay - Camborne through services.
The Perranporth line was built with the extravagance of a triangle at each end. In the early days the northeastern curve was used for through freights to East Wheal Rose and Treamble, and after a period of disuse was resurrected for engine turning. I'm not aware it was ever used for passengers except maybe an excursion or railtour.
However, the 1911 WTT shows that even when the southwestern curve was open, it was used by only one train a day in one direction only: the 10.35 Perranporth to Redruth goods. Westbound passenger services still reversed at Chacewater: the first Up train at 07.50 Newquay to Camborne was balanced by the 09.35 Camborne to Newquay return. The two others were unbalanced: the 16.10 Camborne to Newquay (formed off the 15.22 Truro to Camborne) and the 18.05 Redruth to Newquay (formed off the 17.15 Truro to Redruth). These are described as Passenger Motors (presumably steam rail-motors) and some are given as little as one minute to reverse at Chacewater. Did the southwestern curve ever see a passenger service?
By 1949 this was down to one return trip per day, the first Up train at 07.30 Newquay to Redruth and the 08.55 return (on Sundays most Newquay trains start from Falmouth).
In 1957, there is an 07.24 Newquay to Camborne and 08.53 return. This is described as an Auto Train, maybe because it's Second Class Only (but see Item 3 below), whereas it's actually formed of a Truro B-Set with an extra Second, and given six minutes to run round at Chacewater.
One can surmise that in 1911 the three through trains were well-timed to serve workers and schoolchildren off the branch, and residents of Camborne-Redruth having a day out in Newquay, but in later years when there was no return service they would have changed at Chacewater. I first travelled the line in the early-60s and don't recall any through trains (other than from and to Truro and one Summer Perranporth to Paddington and return), so I assume they had been withdrawn to cut costs. Does anyone recall using the westerly through services and reversing at Chacewater?
2. Coombe Junction loop.
The Looe Branch summer 1957 timetable shows an average half-hour runtime for a 45XX and B-Set, most having a smart 3-minute turnround at Coombe, giving a service interval of around an hour and a half. As I recall there were no passenger crossing loops and Coombe Junction had only one platform with a length of about two coaches. However, at 10am there are two trains running round in the platform, the first from 10.02 to 10.07 and the second from 10.06 to 10.09. The summer 1961 TT shows two trains leaving Coombe at 10.05 SX (SO one doesn’t call at Coombe but they still cross there). This would have been the last steam summer as Moorswater shed closed around 9th September 1961. Canyone describe the procedure for running round two trains at Coombe?
A similar situation arises at Bodmin General, but the platform is long enough to double-stack two trains; crossing moves are also made at Boscarne.
3. Auto, motor and push-pull trains.
Up to the 1950s timetables, Asburton and Fowey were served by auto-trains, usually a 14xx or small pannier with one or two auto-coaches, while Plymouth suburban had up to four auto-coaches with the loco in the middle. Yealmpton and Perranporth are shown as motor-trains, but as the GWR withdrew its steam rail-motors in 1935, was there a difference between auto-trains and motor-trains? Did GWR diesel railcars ever operate in Cornwall?
In 1953, fifteen 4575s were converted for auto-working the South Wales branches, but in 1957 they were displaced by Cl 116 DMUs. Loco 5572 migrated to Laira and until 1961 worked to Tavistock with a BR brake-third converted to a driving trailer. The 1957 timetable shows one Truro to Newquay return working as 3-PP (presumably three coaches in a push-pull configuration). Was this yet another name for an auto-train, or was there some subtle difference between auto-trains and push-pull trains?
The Perranporth branch was not built 'with a triangle at each end'. The Cornwall Minerals railway had a triangle at Tolcarn, but this was in tramway days before 1888, and of course the line only ran to Treamble. The triangle was revived in 1931 for engine-turning purposes, as the 1905 tt at Newquay could not take the new 'Halls'.
Through services between Camborne-Redruth and Newquay were originally steam railmotors, but until 1960 there was a daily service from Camborne.This train normally contained at least one auto car. All trains on the Perranporth line were made up of at least one auto car because of all the halts with tiny platforms. The balance of the train was usually old main line corridor stock. The traditional 'B' set was rarely seen for the same reason.
Blackwater west curve was little used. The west box was 'switched out' for most of its life. After 1916 it carried only an occasional freight.
You will find in the galleries section of the CRS website, 2 photographs of a Camborne to Newquay service (1) entering Chacewater on the main line and (2) setting out on the branch, having run round. Note the auto car. The photos are not together. Go to MAIN LINE -- then SCORRIER TO PENWITHERS.
The photo is from about 1956.
Trains crossing at Coombe Junction: Train 1 arrives from Looe and runs round in the normal way. It then backs into the loop (i.e. the line leading to Moorswater) and comes to a stand opposite the platform. Train 2 comes from Liskeard and runs straight into platform. Train 1 goes on its way to Liskeard. Train 2 runs around and proceeds to Looe.
Auto/motor working: Fowey was the only Cornish branch to be worked by auto (i.e push-pull) trains. No Cornish shed had auto fitted engines except the lone Fowey engine at St Blazey. Management references to 'motors' on the Perranporth line refer to auto car accommodation, not auto car in pull-push mode.
..and still the names keep appearing. I think that when the time comes for these fine workhorses to be withdrawn those plates will fetch an awful lot of money, most likely for charitable causes. They are all works of art and a welcome link to the past naming heritage of the Great Western Railway.
To answer Bill Elston's comment regarding 43187 and 43188. The IO Group 'SW-SWRG' puts up a daily listing of all GWR and Cross Country HST formations and workings and this can be searched by individual vehicle number. It last reported 43187 in traffic on 09.04.2021 and 43188 on 23.09.2021. I believe major exams and component exchanges are ongoing at Laira so guess that these two are currently stopped for attention. 43198 recently returned to traffic after being out for well over a year! There are 16 sets of coaching stock and on an average day around 12 are in use so there is adequate cover for the 24 PCs needed with around a dozen spare.
Regards for now, Guy
I can't help on personalities, but the buildings are a different matter. Gara Bridge, together with the other stations on the branch (and many around the system) was designed and landscaped by William Clarke. Clarke was employed by the GWR in the later decades of the 19th century. Clarke planted coniferous trees around his stations and clumps of 'Clarke trees' still adorn dozens of station sites (most of them closed, sadly). As built, the exterior of the station would have been painted in the standard GWR 'light and dark stone' and the interior, green (changed to blue some time after 1900).
Clarke's buildings are very attractive.