Features 14 From Heritage Line to Country Jct Cliff Thomas reveals exciting plans to extend the Churnet Valley Ralley to the four main points of the compass.
18 Roving the Anglian Rails The great variety of railways to be encountered in East Anglia are revealed by David Jenkins.
27 The Railways of New Zealand Chris Milner concludes his look at New Zealand’s railway network with a trip to South Island.
33 The Daddy Long Legs A candidate for Britain’s oddest railway, the fantastic Brighton & Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway is researched by Robert Humm.
39 ‘The Bristolian’ – 75 years on In Part 2 of this special Practice & Performance feature, Keith Farr examines the train’s exploits during the British Railways era.
CHURNET VALLEY EXTENSION
From heritage line to country junction
CHURNET Valley Railway trains northbound from Cheddleton currently stop at Leekbrook Junction. The loco briefly faces a steel palisade fence before running round its coaches in preparation for the return through Cheddleton to the southern terminus of Kingsley & Froghall. “In a few years, it won’t be like this,” says Greg Wilson. “It will be straight on to Leek, left to Stoke, right to Cauldon Low.”
Greg owns two S160 class 2-8-0s, an ex-Barry 8F 2-8-0, No. 48173, and a number of heavy machines rescued from Swindon Works. He is also a Churnet Valley Railway director and, with fellow CVR director David Kemp has formed a new railway company – Moorland & City Railways (MCR).
So quickly is progress being made that MCR anticipates the start of a service on the eight-mile Leekbrook Jct-Cauldon Low line as early as November 13 (see Steam News).
The addition of that section – which has a ruling gradient of 1-in-40 and a summit 1,063ft above sea level – will produce a round trip of 27 miles, making it one of the longest heritage operations in the country. A guest list of celebrity locos is already being lined up for the opening, including BR Pacific No. 71000 Duke of Gloucester.
Visitors to the Churnet Valley Railway’s
Cheddleton station may soon have four destinations to choose from – all in different directions! 9B?<< J>EC7I reports on the expansion of the CVR by Moorland & City
The breakthrough is the first stage in the realisation of a long-standing plan to expand the CVR to Cauldon Low, Leek – and possibly even as far southwards as the major leisure attraction at Alton Towers.
Some progress was made several years ago and contact with Network Rail at the time seemed promising, but various issues, not least the presence of sewer pipes under the trackbed at Leekbrook Junction (and another buried under the closed Oakamoor to Alton trackbed) in early-2006, pushed such ambitions onto the back-burner.
A new approach was needed. David and
I=: 8=JGC:I K6AA:N G6>AL6N
Greg looked at the entire issue from a commer- cial viewpoint and concluded that it was unrealistic for the CVR itself to try to reopen these lines. There was potential for a full-time business that could work in partnership with the steam railway. They received the approval of the CVR board to work up their plans and, in mid-2009, 20 months of effort came to fruition with the news that MCR was to take over 22½ miles of trackbed!
The initial acquisition from Network Rail was the nine miles from Leekbrook Jct to Cauldon Low followed by a 150-year lease covering Leekbrook Jct to Stoke (ten miles), which comes into effect from September 2010. As this feature was being prepared, talks were in progress with the owners of the Leekbrook Jct-Leek and Oakamoor-Alton sections of trackbed (1½ and 2 miles respectively).
Adding the line to Stoke, to link with the national network, is not only a new addition to the older Churnet Valley ambitions, but forms a central element of the ambitious new concept developed by MCR.
14 U The Railway Magazine U September 2010
“Although MCR and the CVR have two directors in common, the former is a stand- alone project. It has contractual arrangements with the heritage line, which will see the latter reach its aspirations, but it will not be run like a heritage railway,” explained David Kemp. “We are putting up the money for the project and we expect to make money in return. If we help the CVR in the process, all to the good.”
MCR’s plans aim to serve a number of needs; the question is how will these ambitions be funded and how will they be progressed?
Technically, the most straightforward is upgrading of the existing disused branch (mostly single-track) between the national network at Stoke-on-Trent, through Leekbrook Jct, and on to the quarries at Cauldon Low. The quarries include a large cement plant and reserves of stone, which could be produced in lump and crushed form, with another 150 years of potential output. L^c"l^c
This kind of material is ideally suited to dispatch by rail from the point of production to anywhere in the country and talks have been progressing with the key players for some time. Clearly there are commercial sensitivities involved before deals can be agreed, but with local authorities understandably keen on the idea of a rail operation rather than having convoys of heavy lorries thundering over local roads, reinstatement of a full rail link to Stoke presents a potential win-win situation for all concerned.
Lineside vegetation clearance had already started by the time this article was published, contractors having told MCR that upgrading the line could be completed in nine to 11 months.
“We could be operating in two years – three years maximum,” confirmed Greg. The method of operation is yet to be finalised, but it is likely to follow a pattern not unlike that run by Ribble Rail (see RM feature, Feb 2009) with an exchange point between a national network
September 2010 UÊThe Railway Magazine UÊ15
EXPANDING ALL WAYS: The Churnet Valley – p14
THE 21ST CENTURY NETWORK
ALTHOUGH they are not well promoted, there is still a wide variety of Rover tickets available on National Rail. A good example is ‘Anglia Plus’, which seems to have little in the way of adverts or leaflets and is a not-inconsiderable three clicks away from the home page of the National Express East Anglia website.
Prices start at £13.50 for a day, so the three-day version at £27 represents exceptional value and allows travel north from Ipswich, plus north and east from Cambridge. It includes services provided by NXEA, East Midlands Trains and First Capital Connect, but because the ticket’s origins lie in the old Anglia franchise, it cannot be used on the Ely-King’s Lynn section.
That still leaves a wide variety of lines with very different characteristics to be sampled: 9Vn DcZ
I start at Ipswich, on board the 09.02 to Lowestoft. The East Suffolk line is rather different to the days when it epitomised former BR chairman Sir Peter Parker’s “crumbling edge of quality” and when services were experimen- tally provided by LEV 1, the prototype Leyland National railbus. The 21st century timetable is on a regular two-hour headway, with the vast majority of trains (including mine) running to or from Liverpool Street. On this school holiday morning, the platform at Saxmundham is thronged with passengers awaiting their three-car Class 170 to whisk them southwards.
Roving the Anglian rails
Continuing the theme started in our March issue of describing the regional scene in the early part of the 21st century, :7L?: @;DA?DI
explores the lines of East Anglia
There are no signals as such along the line, for it is controlled by Radio Electronic Token Block (RETB). This ‘invest-to-save’ initiative allowed the closure of many signalboxes, which in turn enabled the hours of operation to increase. Considered ‘cutting-edge technology’ in the 1980s, its eventual replacement should take advantage of the lower costs of today’s mobile communications technology.
Along the line, I look for various relics of times past. The stump of the Aldeburgh branch is visible at Saxmundham, retained for trains to serve the Sizewell nuclear power station. Halesworth’s famous moveable platforms – effectively level crossing gates with platforms attached – have been cosmetically restored, but there’s no obvious sign of the Southwold branch. At Beccles, once a four-way junction, my train swings right. The line to Yarmouth went straight on, while that to Bungay and Tivetshall would have gone left. But it’s over 50 years since they all closed and modern development has disguised their traces.
At Oulton Broad, the RETB gives way to semaphores. We join the line from Norwich, and are soon passing disused-looking tracks once serving Lowestoft’s docks. There are two surprises here at the easternmost station on the
18 U The Railway Magazine U September 2010
national rail network. Firstly, the outside of the station still displays a large steam-era enamel sign in ER dark blue stating BRITISH RAILWAYS LOWESTOFT CENTRAL (see picture on p21) and secondly, the lamps on the stop blocks are proudly marked LNER GE. But the rest of the station has been ruthlessly modernised. I last came here on a Cravens DMU in 1981 when there was still an overall roof. Unsurprisingly, it’s gone, but there are still semaphores, and the modern ticket office-cum-waiting area is pleasant and well equipped with information and toilets. The station is well sited for the town centre, at the foot of the main shopping street. In between photographing a train arriving from Norwich, and my own returning to Ipswich and London, I have a quick look around. It’s pleasant enough, but like much of modern Britain, there is no longer anything distinctively regional about it – mostly the same shop chains occupying the type of bland building which could be anywhere. So, on from Lowestoft to Norwich, a journey largely controlled by semaphores, including the odd distant signal or two. My two-car Class 156 carries branding for the Wherry Lines, part of which I am now travelling on. This too has its origins in Anglia days, with several routes gaining a local identity to assist their promotion. Wherry Lines branding is applied to the Norwich-Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft routes, and imagina- tively, the tables inside No. 156407 have been given Swiss-style route maps.
I just spot the remains of the Beccles to Yarmouth line at Haddiscoe, which crossed at high level. Soon the train slows down for the sharp curve that leads to Reedham’s swing bridge, protected by one of just a handful of colour signals on this route. Double track resumes at Reedham, where we are joined by the line from Berney Arms. Other junctions are with the Acle route and then the Sheringham line, and it’s not long before we pass the easternmost end of Crown Point depot.
Now, fine station that Norwich Thorpe is, it is unfortunately a fair walk from the city centre. The Anglia-Plus ticket system takes care of that though, with free travel on bus services between the station and the city. Similar arrangements apply in Bury St Edmunds, and Ipswich (but unfortunately not in Cambridge) – it seems that the Great Eastern did not have much success in getting its trains near the centres of these important towns and cities. I have time to get to the city centre and back before my next
September 2010 UÊThe Railway Magazine UÊ19
ROVING AROUND: East Anglia – p18
BRITAIN’S ODDEST RAILWAY?
The ‘Daddy Long Legs’
HE8;HJ >KCC recounts the history of the bizarre Brighton & Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway
OF all the transport oddities devised by the inventive Victorians – articulated ships, steam-powered dirigibles and transporter bridges to mention but a few – none was more bizarre than the Brighton & Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway.
Popularly called ‘The Daddy Longlegs’, it was the product of the fertile mind and driving energy of Britain’s pioneer electrical engineer, Magnus Volk.
The son of an emigré German clockmaker, Magnus Volk was born in Brighton in 1851. With his father’s encouragement and the availability of a well-equipped workshop, his mechanical talents soon developed and, following an apprenticeship to a scientific instrument maker, he began to manufacture electric bells and other simple domestic devices. He installed an electric lighting system in his own house and, in 1882, at the age of 30, obtained from Brighton Corporation the contract for the electric lighting of the Brighton Pavilion.
That completed successfully in April 1883, his thoughts turned to railways. At that time, the application of electricity to rail propulsion was still in its infancy. It was less than four years since Werner von Siemens had first demonstrated in Berlin the practicability of electric passenger transport, his short line in Lichterfelde Park subsequently being transferred temporarily to London’s Crystal Palace.
In the United States, Thomas Edison had laid down a demonstration line at his laboratory at Menlo Park, New Jersey, while in Ireland, an electric line was under construction between Portrush and Bushmills. But those three were the sum total of the world’s experience of electric railways (and the Portrush line was not to commence with electric haulage until late-1883 anyway). In fact, Magnus was to beat it, for by August of that year, he had completed and was operating successfully the first version of Volk’s Electric Railway (VER) on the seafront at Brighton.
In its first five months, that little 2ft gauge line carried 30,000 passengers and was soon rebuilt on a 2ft 8½ in gauge and longer route, which by 1884 extended eastwards from a point on the Central seafront (later Palace Pier) to the west side of the ‘Banjo Groyne’ (thus called because of its circular seaward end) near Paston
Place, Kemp Town, a distance of slightly less than one mile. Had Volk achieved nothing else, his claim to fame was assured, for that was Britain’s first permanent electric railway and now, 127 years later, the oldest operating electric railway in the world.
After some years of operating experience, Magnus began pondering an extension to the VER that would change it from a seaside leisure ride to a purposeful transport undertaking. The Corporation had already refused a westward extension to the Hove boundary, but, undeterred, he turned his sights toward Rottingdean, a coastal village some three miles to the east. In
September 2010 UÊThe Railway Magazine UÊ33
STRIDING OUT: Brighton - p33
September 2010 • The Railway Magazine • 5