Michael L. Roach
The early history of the Cornish Riviera Express has been well documented in books such as that of the same name by Stephen Austin in the “View From the Past” series. The CRE first ran on 1 July 1904 and the name was chosen after a competition with a prize for the winner and was applied to a train leaving mid-morning from Paddington and running non-stop to Plymouth a distance of 246¾ miles via Bristol reduced to 226½ miles via Westbury after the opening of various cut-off lines in 1906. Going for this distance without stopping to replenish the water in the tender would not have been possible without the building of water troughs and the CRE would have picked up water four times between Aldermaston and Exminster. At the start the train was allowed 4 hours 27 minutes to reach Plymouth but this was reduced to 4 hours 7 minutes with the opening of the shorter route via Westbury. The train ceased to run as a named train during both world wars. The name was restored in July 1919, together with running non-stop to Plymouth, but not on a fast schedule. It was 100 years ago today on 3 October 1921 that the Great Western Railway restored the Cornish Riviera Express to its pre-war schedule of 4 hours 7 minutes.
The Times newspaper reported the acceleration of the CRE in 1921 with some enthusiasm as it was at the time the longest non-stop run in the world and 15 minutes had been knocked off the scheduled time for the 226½ to Plymouth thus restoring the pre-war time of 4 hours 7 minutes. The article recorded the events leading up to the introduction of the CRE and how the timings were often beaten by Ocean Mail Specials from Plymouth in the opposite direction. The locomotive used 4 tons of coal on the run and the train passed through 68 stations en-route and passed no less than 523 signals needing to be observed and complied with by the footplate staff. With limited forward vision from the cab of the steam locomotive one can only admire the concentration needed by the driver and fireman to observe and obey two signals every minute of the journey.
The 1921 article was repeated in The Times of 30 September 2021.
MLR / 2 October 2021
From the Western and Wales Route WON Week 28/21:
GW108 FORDGATE TO PENZANCE
TRURO SATURDAY 02 OCTOBER 2021
Truro Up Main line platform 3 has been extended by 8.5 metres (closer to Penzance) to be 219 metres (240 yards) long.
GW606 COWLEY BRIDGE JN TO BARNSTAPLE
BETWEEN CREDITON AND YEOFORD FROM 1100 HOURS MONDAY 4 OCTOBER 2021
From the above time and date, a new Whistle Board will be brought into use associated with Park 2 footpath crossing at 179m 54ch in the Down direction. This whistle board will be 160 metres on approach to the crossing.
GW608 CREDITON TO MELDON
BETWEEN CREDITON AND OKEHAMPTON FROM 1100 HOURS MONDAY 4 OCTOBER 2021
From the above time and date, new Whistle Boards will be brought into use associated with Park 2 footpath crossing at 179m 54ch in the Up and Down directions.These whistle boards will be 160 metres on approach to the crossing.
Retired S&T Engineer
Regards, Clive Smith.
Dartmoor Railway Diesel Gala
The WCR charter tarried away a few days in Slopers siding at Penzance, and returned on Friday 1st Oct back to Plymouth.
Starting with the NR Test train, this travelled down from Exeter to Penzance testing also on the Fowey and Parkandillack branch. The Falmouth leg couldn't take place due to defective equipment on Driving Trailer (DBSO). The train is pictured at Lostwithiel collecting the train staff prior to joining the branch to Fowey. The result of the DBSO fault entailed the class 37 running around the stock at Old Bank at Penzance and travelling back a night later than scheduled - with the loco leading. The briefest of stops at St Austell was captured under the super lighting there.
Onto the charter now. This ran down to Penzance diesel hauled from Plymouth with a surprise treat of two type 3's, 33207 and 37706 working in multiple. We were expecting a class 47. The train is seen at Penzance on a gruesome evening - 37706 leading.
The return on Friday 1st was an 08.35 departure from Penzance, accompanied by blustery sharp showers. I visited east Cornwall and popped up to Largin in a fine spell, only for a sweeping band of torrential rain chasing the tail lamp of the train. It was probably one of the closet shaves ever, and I have to say I was pleasantly bewildered at the results which hopefully you will enjoy? A very lucky break for me, rainbow and all.