The Par - Fowey line
Much later in life, I did a short spell on security, for Par Docks and regularly drove through the tunnel , one of my duties was to check the emergency phones. Although lit throughout, it was not somewhere you wished to break down! Best wishes Andrew Jones. Many thanks Andrew.
Many thanks to David Tozer for bringing three pictures of work in progress and the site.
The late Cyril Hitchens
As well as the up and down mains there were a couple of crossovers to give access to the Roskear Branch and to Harvey's Siding. The local goods from Camborne to Truro did the shunting often visiting the branch twice a day and dealing with traffic for Harvey's Siding as required. The branch was operated on the "one engine in steam" regulation and the staff was kept in the box. Trains worked by 45XX and 57XX tanks regularly visited the sidings at Holmans on the far side of Foundry Road level crossing and, less frequently, traversed the full length of the line to berth a tank wagon in the loop at North Roskear or to deliver supplies to the Holman Boiler Works. The shunter and guard operated the numerous level crossings on this journey, the busiest being that over the then A30 near Roskear School. The far end of the branch was used as a right of way by local people sometimes as a short cut to the cricket ground. The section of the branch between Dolcoath Road crossing and the main line could be used to refuge freight trains when there was no other train on the branch. The driver had to be in possession of the token for this movement and the train could be propelled back onto the main line when the guard had received the signalman's permission and the signal had been lowered. The branch, which was under the supervision of the Camborne Stationmaster, could not be used after dark. All the shunting, the crossing and the main line work made the box a busy and interesting one to operate. It was designated Class 3.
In 1962 changes began to take place. Harvey's Siding and one crossover were removed. This siding served Harvey's, then trading as builders merchants although the name can be traced back to John Harvey, the Gwinear blacksmith who established the foundry at Hayle in the late 18th century which led to the development of Hayle as a port and ultimately the building of the Hayle Railway. The following year the section of the branch beyond Holmans was closed and the layout at the works modified. A loop was installed adjacent to Fraser Metals who used the railway to transport scrap. Just before the partial closure in 1963 I was on duty at Roskear one Sunday morning when an enthusiasts DMU special travelled almost the whole length of the branch to the ungated crossing at North Roskear. Points had to be clipped and men provided to open the crossing gates to ensure the safe passage of the only passenger train ever to use the Roskear Branch. In the 1970s a new loading bay was built at Holmans and this was regularly visited by a variety of main line diesels. I recall D1013 Western Ranger removing one fitted scrap wagon from Fraser Metals and use the remaining crossover to head off in the direction of St. Erth to run round. Later the junction was reduced to a single lead off the up main and a crossover operated by a ground frame installed just west of the level crossing. By this time the stub of the Roskear Branch was the only survivor of the mining branches of the Hayle Railway and the only piece of rail, apart from the main line, left working in the Camborne area. By the time the branch was closed and removed in the 1980s I had left the railway. In 1970 Roskear's crossing gates were replaced by barriers and the signalman became responsible for these as well as monitoring those at Camborne following the closure of the signal box there. Roskear remains one of the few boxes that I worked which is still in use.
The late Cyril Hitchens
On weekdays I always found Dolcoath a pleasant box to work and there were good views of up steam hauled trains coming up the stretch of straight track working hard to accelerate from their stop at Camborne while down trains would burst under the bridge and round the curve to the east before crossing the road with the crew preparing to slow if they had to call at Camborne. There was also the interest of the daily milk siding shunt. On one occasion shunting was taking place at Camborne so the section to the west was occupied. A down passenger was approaching so I kept all my signals at danger. Roskear phoned to say that the freight was just about to leave for Gwinear so, as usual, I closed the gates across the road and listened for the line clear signal so that I could immediately give the down train the road, hopefully, without causing it to stop. At that moment Arlington Grange plus train appeared under the bridge, braking hard, passed the signal at danger and screeched to a halt just past the box with the train straddling the level crossing. The fireman climbed down and came back to the box. He was not in a good mood! He explained that the driver had recently been transferred from Cardiff, despite having signed for it, did not really know the road and had ignored all the his advice. At that moment "line clear" rang so I cleared all the signals and we agreed not to say any more about it. The fireman returned to the engine still muttering about the driver, Welshmen in general, Welsh rugby players and anything else to do with Wales!
I especially enjoyed the afternoon shift. Bill Carne would turn up with his tanker to load the 6-wheeled milk tanks berthed in the siding and then visit the box for a chat. Later in the day, at around 7pm. the fun would begin. There would be a flurry of bells to announce that the up Postal had passed Gwinear so gates at Camborne, Roskear and Dolcoath were opened and signals cleared as the Postal was "2nd only to the Royal Train", was non-stop through Camborne and should never be delayed. A few minutes later it passed the box at speed usually Castle hauled, but it could be anything Long Rock had available-a County, Grange or Hall. I would replace the signals to danger, remembering to use the duster on the stainless steel of the lever handles, and re-open the gates to road traffic. I would open up again for the passage of a down train nearing the end of its long distance journey, but the real interest lay in the next up train. This was the Milky which plodded into sight under the Foundry Road bridge, crossed slowly over the level crossing and came to a halt almost round the bend to the east ready to shunt the siding and pick up the loaded milk tanks. The train was hauled by the usual GW types, often a Castle, and was tailed by a passenger brake van as it ran at passenger train speeds. When the shunt was completed the train resumed its journey eastwards, the gate separating the siding from the main line was closed by the shunter, who then rode his bike home, and I could make another cup of tea.
The crossover was taken out of use in January 1965 and the box closed in the same month with automatic half barriers installed at the level crossing. A ground frame then operated the milk siding. I remember doing some shifts in the box during the next six months just to monitor the operation of the barriers. Milk traffic continued until 1980 and the siding was disconnected in 1983.
Thanks to help from a friend I have acquired a 1944 Great Western Railway Timetable. Enclosed is a scan of the passenger services on the Yealmpton Branch at the time. The line had closed to passengers in 1930, but reopened for the duration of World War 2 because of the number of city dwellers trying to escape the bombing in Plymouth. The timetable commenced on 22 May 1944. Regards Mike
Many thanks for this Mike, I would imagine that details of services on other lines would make interesting reading too.