Michael L. Roach
The Plym Valley (1)
For the first six days of the December 1962 cold spell it was mostly dry, cold and icy at times, but there was no snow in the Plymouth area. That was to change overnight 27/28 December 1962 when there was a layer of snow in some areas. As it turned out it was the last complete day of passenger services from Plymouth to Launceston. Although I had been to many locations along the 34-mile route to take lineside photos there was one area of the Plym Valley never visited before. That was the one kilometre length between Cann Viaduct and Riverford Viaduct, encompassing mileposts 2, 2¼ and 2½ (originally 6, 6¼ and 6½ from Plymouth Millbay). I had approached Cann Viaduct from the south and Riverford Viaduct from the north, with much difficulty because of its isolated location. This was a lovely area remote from any roads with the railway climbing higher and higher above the River Plym on a ledge cut into the hillside. Cleverly Brunel had designed the line to go into a cutting where two farm tracks needed to cross the line so that overbridges could be built across the cutting to give access to Riverford Cottage, but I think it was already derelict by the time of my visit in 1962. One might have expected two overbridges, a short distance apart and built at the same time, to be identical but these two were totally different (as can be seen in the photographs). They were the distinguishing feature of this stretch of the line between the two brick and stone viaducts at Riverford and Cann, which was originally called Plym Valley Viaduct
I waited for the temperature to warm up a bit and the ice and frost to clear on Friday 28 December 1962, had an early lunch and then motored out to Plym Bridge for my photographic expedition on the penultimate day of passenger services. The car was parked by the entrance to Plym Bridge Platform and I walked up the valley for a distance of about one mile to the location of the two overbridges to find snow on the ground in this remote location where I would stay for more than two and a half hours. Being a Friday there were none of the Saturday Only trains and no empty auto trains that there would have been on a Saturday. First to appear was something that I had never seen before on the line and that was a light engine speeding up the valley, but down the line; it was small prairie no 4591 a regular on the line.
MLR / 14 December 2022
Back in the days when you could catch a train on boxing day i had travelled from Plymouth to Bodmin Road behind 1044 on the 1v71 Leeds to Penzance service .
I think on this day it probably started from Birmingham New Street with 1044 going on at Plymouth.
I had made a visit to La depot that morning with plenty of locos on shed . A Haymarket 47 was the highlight.
Merry Xmas. Roger Geach
Long Rock and Ponsandane