Very sorry to hear your sad news. Many thanks for your best wishes.
The strange one is retaining Liskeard as it will fringe to Plymouth Panel Box in the East (as today) and to the new Exeter Workstation in the West, and thus be a true island of mechanical signalling surrounded by colourlight signalling. We will also gain two new mechanical fixed distant signals at St.Blazey. Lostwithiel level crossing will be controlled from Exeter and will be supervised by CCTV and Truro level crossing will also be supervised from Exeter but using Obstacle Detection to prove the crossing is clear (it essentially operating as an automatic level crossing but with full barriers).
There will be some minor track alterations at Truro with a new facing crossover east of the station (between the two viaducts) replacing the existing trailing crossover, and apart from a new bit of reversible signalling on the Down Goods Loop at Lostwithiel, only a few other small linespeed improvements at Par.
The new signalling is scheduled to be commissioned in November 2023, so now is the time to get those cameras out.
Have a good xmas and new year break, from us all on the other side of the border.
Retired S&T Engineer
Roger Winnen who is co-editor on the website sent me your most interesting e-mail - it will be added along with a picture or two of class 63's on the branch which we already have to the website in due course.
To have your personal experiences adds a lot of value to what we have already got.
I wonder if you can answer a query I have - well, I am sure you can.
A class 63 with around 21 coal trucks was quite a long train. What happened when it got up to the junction. From 'scant knowledge' I would have thought that a run round would have been difficult - was there enough track available for the loco and train to draw clear of the branch so that the branch point could be set to normal and for the to loco couple up at the 'tunnel end' to draw the train back to Truro?
I did wonder that if once clear of the branch there was an arrangement whereby under the control of the guard in the brake van which would then have been leading for the train to be propelled back to Truro yard.
What a pity the direct route from Truro to Newham was never laid - it would have been easy then!!!!
As I say, your information is most interesting - any more which come to your mind wold be much appreciated. (Were there any incidents or accidents you know of on the line).
I guess that the wagons for the gas works were shunted at Newham before being taken up to the works and then propelled in there??
Thank you very much indeed for your time and trouble.
Larry Ray was a witness to the event writes.
In regards to a western class on the Newham branch my father was a signal man at Penwithers junction and I spent a lot of my school holidays with Dad at the box (no health and safety in the 60s) and would ride home in the guards van to Calenick level crossing this was always a class 63 with around 21 coal trucks and maybe 4 or 5 Fife’s banana vans on closure of the gas works at Newham only the banana vans and a 08 shutter ran on the branch until closure other than when the new sewerage pipeline and pumping station was constructed at Calenick the pipe line ran from Threemilestone to Newham the section from calenick ran beside the railway line to Newham. The first delivery of 2ft round pipes where delivered by road but all were damaged in transit , so the second delivery was by rail. This is as far as I am aware the only time a class 52 was ever run on the branch.
l lived in sight and sound around line from 1965 up to closure
Thanks for your great website Larry Ray
Seeing the pictures of D1054 apparently on a clearance test, prompted a thought.
I’m dredging my memory here, but I believe that before it was decided that Class 25s would replace Class 22s, there was a thought that a ‘rump’ of well-maintained Hymeks would be retained to take up the NBL Type 2 work West of Bristol. Apparently a Hymek and Brush Type 4 were dispatched for clearance tests - and these would have been at about the same time of the Western working down the Newham branch in March 1970.
I certainly remember seeing a pairing of a Class 47 and a Class 35 working light over the viaducts heading into Truro. Both locos were green with full yellow ends. It was said at the time that they had worked to Newham and Falmouth.
Is this just a rant from an old man’s unstable memory, or is it true?? Perhaps Neil Phillips would know better??
Dear Roger and Keith,
I was pleased to see Andrew Vines’ photos of D1054 Western Governor on the Newham branch available to all on the CRS website (Andrew shared these with me a while back but I was sworn to secrecy pending release of his splendid new book!) The other Type 4 Newham visitors Andrew refers to were Warship D814 Dragon and D1052 Western Viceroy, although this was hearsay at the time and no confirmation has ever been forthcoming. However I did once see Class 08 D4009 crossing Arch Hill Bridge over the A390 so Truro Yard’s pilot loco occasionally escaped down the branch.
D1054 sported maroon livery with full yellow ends from 10th March 1970 to 9th December 1970, just 9 months and as such was the shortest-lived Western in this livery. Its still clean condition and state of the trees in the Penwithers Junction view suggest a date in late March 1970. The photographer did well to make it to his vantage point there in time to capture ‘The Guv’nor’ coming off the branch. I well remember sitting on a grassy mound here myself to watch the trains go by on 1st September 1972 and discovering the hard way that I’d perched on a nest of red ants (ouch!)
Running across the scene from left of the locomotive are the earthworks which would appear to suggest a direct link from Highertown Tunnel onto the Newham branch avoiding the reversal, however I cannot discover when this construction occurred and to the best of my knowledge no rails were ever laid on it.
(As an aside there are similarly abandoned earthworks nearby, about two miles along the A390 road towards Falmouth, just below Kea County Primary School (as it was called when I attended 1958-64), where a short embankment was built to ‘straighten’ a sharp bend following a fatal accident there in the 1960s – after infilling and landscaping it was left to ‘settle’........and no further work was ever done. Trees grew on it and I’m sure it still lurks under the vegetation!)
Keith, I was intrigued by Andrew Vine’s and Neil Phillips’ news reports on 15th and 16th December 2021 of a Western reaching Newham in March 1970, as it poses more questions than it answers.
There are three principal compatibility tests necessary before a vehicle can run on a piece of track: Route Availability, Minimum Curve and Load & Structure Gauge, and Westerns fail at least one of these tests.
1. Route Availability (RA) reflects the weight of vehicles spread over the number of axles versus the strength of the track and structures. The GWR divided its RA classes into Uncoloured (the lightest), Yellow, Blue and Red (initially the heaviest - Note 1). A Red Route could accommodate a 20T axle and a Western had a maximum axle of 18T. So far so good. However, the Working Timetable says that the Newham Branch could accept a maximum axle of 16T12CWT, ie a Yellow Route, which is why it was restricted to pannier tanks and small prairies, and later Baby Warships (Note 2). Unfortunately diesel shunters were just over the Yellow limit so were classed as Blue.
2. Minimum Curve is the sharpest curve a vehicle can negotiate and depends on the fixed wheelbase of the vehicle and hence the reason why bogies are fitted. Westerns have a long wheelbase and therefore a minimum curve of 4.5 Chains. I don't have the relevant curve diagrams, and the photo of a Western on the branch curve appears to be acceptable, although we don't know what condition the track was in after it had passed;
3. Load Gauge is the maximum width and height of a vehicle, while Structure Gauge is the minimum width and height of a structure, and clearly the largest vehicle must fit through the smallest bridge. Westerns were designed to fit the BR load gauge, and there were no overbridges on the branch, so this probably wasn't an constraint.
Life now gets more complicated as these interfaces can be mitigated by speed restriction. You have probably heard the term metal fatigue. If you warm a spoon you can bend it gently, but if you work it back and forth quickly it will break. If a bridge is designed for a Yellow loco, it might take a Red loco at a lower speed, and it might fail after a few passes or after many passes. It depends on the reserve strength which can be determined only by detailed analysis by the Chief Engineer at Paddington. Therefore there seem to be three scenarios:
1. The Chief Engineer did a proper analysis and gave formal permission for Red locos to trial Newham, probably with a severe speed restriction of 5mph, although the branch speed was already low at 15mph. The staff in the Newham photo appear to be checking clearances in one of the sidings;
2. A District Officer issued a Local Instruction, probably on a Stencil, a flimsy carbon paper long since lost. However, as the photos appear to show a formal test this is unlikely.
3. Someone at ground level took the risk. However, given the dire warnings in the Operating Publications which would be drummed into staff this is also unlikely, especially as you list other possible sightings which must have come to the attention of the District Officers.
In summary, Route Availability is a complex topic and this has been a bit of a ramble through some possible issues. On balance, it seems likely that clearance tests were conducted but not adopted.
There is an interesting fit with Neil’s aside. The A39 was widened in the mid-60s and I recall the corner at Kea Turn being filled, but 60 years later the road has never been realigned at this point. However, Arch Hill underbridge was renewed with a much longer span and would have formed the main constraint, so it would be useful to know for which locos it was designed.
But the big question is why did they consider running large locos to Newham in 1970? It must have been known at the time that Newham was to close soon. However, the NBL Type 2s were on their way out and maybe they were short of locos. There was also a cost-cutting exercise to eliminate shunting locos and let freight train locos do their own shunting. And having run the tests, why were they not used? Maybe more Type 2s became available until the branch closed.
Footnote 1: In the 1920s, Castles were the heaviest Red locos with a maximum axle of 19.5T. HQ was worried by the Lord Nelsons claiming to be the most powerful locos in Britain so demanded a yet more powerful loco to trump them. The GWR didn't like trailing pony trucks (why?) so the resulting design (which became the King) had an axle load of 22T. Clearly HQ thought that the cost of upgrading the infrastructure for the extra weight was cost effective, so the highest RA was born, called Double Red, with a permissible axle load of 22.5T. Maps of the time show the Double Red ending at Keyham Junction, so the limiting bridge may have been Weston Mill or the Royal Albert. However, in the mid-70s the china clay industry asked to use 25T axle wagons and the RAB was upgraded.
Footnote 2: D6306-6357 were classed as Yellow so could run over Yellow Routes at their maximum speed of 75mph where permitted. D6300-6305 were slightly heavier so classed as Blue, but could run over Yellow Routes at a maximum speed of 40mph.