Railtour on Treamble Branch
These pictures feature Mr. Brock who was once Foreman on the maintenance gang of the Chacewater to Newquay line and of course the Treamble Branch. We cannot date these pictures accurately but it was officially closed wef 1st January 1952. The last revenue earning traffic being carried on the 8th August 1949. The branch was lifted wef 31st March 1956. Whether Mr Brock and his gang were having a last trip (Railtour) on the line after closure and before lifting is not known. It is understood that the line did have at least one troop train during WW2,
These pictures illustrate the 'Motor trolley system of maintenance' introduced by the GWR between the wars for the efficient maintenance of quieter single lines. At every signal box (and at intervals in between) was a key instrument, not unlike a tiny token machine. Once the key was withdrawn, the ganger had full occupation for that stretch of line, the token machines and often the signals too, were electronically locked until the occupation key was replaced.
The pictures show the trolley for the Perranporth to Tolcarn section, which lived in a hut at Shepherds. Indeed, the first two pictures show it at Shepherds station, a few yards down the branch. There was no electric key system for the Treamble branch, they just took the wooden staff for the branch with them.
This system was employed on all the Cornish branches, including Drinnick Mill. It enabled fast access in emergencies and allowed for a small group of men to cover longer stretches of line than would otherwise be possible.
As Tony Hill rightly says, the machines are P. Way motor trolleys. One is for the ganger to make his routine inspections and the other is for the gang to go to sites of work on the branches. I'm unable to identify the small trolley, although it could be Wickham manufactured, but the larger one is almost certainly a Wickham Type 17. These were introduced in 1930 and became the most commonly supplied trolley, normally with a roof and covered ends. Here's Winston Churchill seated on one in Dover during the war. (Sorry unable to copy this photo).
For some reason, the standard trolley shed, like my replica at Christow, built from sawn sleepers, is positioned alongside the Treamble Branch. The area outside the shed and between the rails is timbered to allow the trolleys to be lifted or bumped around to get them on the line; there would have been no need to use the Type 17's turntable if one were carried.
It's possible that a short length of the Treamble Branch was left as a siding at Shepherds when the line was closed, but it's safe to say that the Wickham trolley dates the picture to the branch's second incarnation from 1926.
After final closure of the Treamble Branch, the trolley shed was moved to the Perranporth end of the Down platform, where it can be seen in your gallery shot of a "63" entering the station. In a later demolition shot, the timbers can be seen but the shed has gone.
You saw the train on the branch in the year before I was born!!