Michael L. Roach
Laira Shed – Inside the Roundhouse
I am not sure whether there were any trains running in the West Country on Boxing Day 1962 but if there were a few it was still a very good day to visit Laira Steam Shed as it would have been well stocked with mostly dead steam locos. On this occasion I concentrated on taking photos in the roundhouse while it was quiet, balancing the camera on a buffer beam to take the locos further around the edge of the turntable. I never did flash photography until acquiring a digital comera some 45 years later, so all photos were taken at f11 with times of 10, 20 and 60 seconds. The two photos shown here were taken at 20 and 10 secs respectively.
MLR / 09 December 2022
Its been a fair while since my last visit to the Cornish border and a new experience using the relocated station at Gunnislake. First impressions were favourable and the car park was free of charge, (surely a common sense decision for any station, when did you last pay to use a supermarket car park?)
The weather turned out to be wonderful with clear blue skies, extremely mild considering we are approaching the shortest day of the year!
We decided to catch the 11.19 service to Plymouth which actually departed 1 min early formed of a 2 car set 150263, not personally my favourite class but with 4 tables available and a reasonable window alignment, it was comfortable enough.
If you have a choice, facing towards Plymouth on the left hand side of the carriage gives stunning views of the river Tamar down to Calstock as the train slowly meanders on a steep gradient.
There are two level crossing stops before we reach the first station on a sharp left hand curve overlooking the river and the magnificent Calstock viaduct.
I have often pondered how this line survived the Beeching period, especially given that the much larger town of Tavistock lost its service and it is possible that the viaduct and the direct access it gave to Plymouth may have swayed the argument, (travelling by road is lengthy) its a shame that the upper section from Gunnislake to Callington was not retained opening out a much larger catchment, but that’s history!
We reached Bere Alston at 11.37, on time for our reversal on to the ex LSWR mainline, the station still retaining many original features and a tantalising possibility of once again extending to Tavistock and possibly back to Okehampton although I suspect not in my lifetime.
As a quirk of fate there is no need to change seats, having crossed the Tamar and reversed, the river is still on our side of the carriage and you now experience the more gentle curves and speed of the original LSWR mainline towards Bere Ferries and the under the Royal Albert Bridge and our connection to the GWR Cornish mainline at St Budeaux Victoria Road arriving at 11.52.
Disruption to services up country culminated in a approx 4 min delay departing onto the junction at 11.57, eventually arriving at Plymouth North Road at 12.08 again 4 mins late.
North Road station is very much as rebuilt during the 1950’s to the design of Howard Cavanagh and Ian Campbell with its Tower Block (Intercity House) complementing its sister building the Civic Centre to the south. The station was formally opened, rather ironically by Dr Richard Beeching on the 26th March 1962. There were originally 7 through platforms but two have been converted to terminal bay platforms one of which is used by the Tamar Valley Line. The loss of Royal Mail traffic was a big blow, something which North Road has never recovered from and the station is now only a shadow of its former glory.
I wish all the team at Cornwall Railway Society, the many amazing contributors and the extraordinary efforts of the webmasters who continue to provide a daily update and informative narrative...... a very peaceful Christmas and highly productive new year.
Very best wishes from Andrew Diane and Family.
Well, as 2022 draws to a close, it's been a great year with a fantastic Summer and lots of interesting workings. How dour we will be next Christmas I really dread to think with Truro, Par & Lostwithiel boxes having closed and Castle sets a memory. But then, as my dad always says, there's always something to film!
He was given strange looks for filming Warships on his cine camera in 1971, steam having finished in the Duchy almost a decade earlier. Our beautiful county will always provide a fine backdrop for any traction, and with vegetation being cut back in the far South West, scenes are being revealed not seen since the 70s!
All the best for now, keep the photos coming, and remember, it's DIGITAL it costs nothing!!
Back in Somerset for Christmas so took the opportunity to capture the WSR 'Santa Express' with GWR 'Manor' no.7828 'Odney Manor' with Class 33 no.6575 top and tailing the service, which due to the recent landslip on the line at Combe Florey, is only operating between Bishops Lydeard and Norton Fitzwarren, a quick visit to Fairwater Yard in Taunton in between the 'Santa Express' was also undertaken, not much else of note happening on the mainline
All the Best for Christmas and New Year to all CRS Members
1. Crompton No.6575 leading the 1030 Bishops Lydeard-Norton Fitzwarren 'Santa Express' passing Longland overbridge
2. Taunton Fairwater Yard from Staplegrove Road overbridge, with Freighliner 66506 with 66507 awaiting next duties
3. Resident No.6575 passing Dene overbridge leading the 13.30 Bishops Lydeard-Norton Fitzwarren service
4. GWR 'Manor' No.7828 'Odney Manor' trailing the 13.30 Bishops Lydeard-Norton Fitzwarren 'Santa Express' clearing Dene overbridge
5. The return from Norton Fitzwarren (ex 13.30 Bishops Lydeard) nearing Longlands overbridge, with no.7828 'Odney Manor' leading (D6575 at the rear)
From them and all of us to all of you.
All the very best to you and Norma.
A quick look back to the blizzard of 2018 with 'Snow Loco' 70808 at Exeter St Davids on 1st March 2018
Driver Alan Peters