Monthly Archives: Nov 2019

Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway – Part 2

This short series of posts was prompted by encountering a piece about the line on a facebook group. The group:

The substantial link:

In my first post I provided a few pictures of the station at Westward Ho! which had not appeared on the links above. This post now follows the line from Bideford to Westward Ho!

The Bideford, Westward Ho! & Appledore Railway was incorporated on 21 May 1896, with its Head Office address at the Electrical Federation Offices in Kingsway, London WC2. Soon after the line passed to the British Electric Traction Company (BET). It was not until 24 April 1901 that the single track line was opened as far as Northam, although the first trial train ran with a few friends of the directors in January 1901. The first train, pulled by Grenville was played off by Herr Groop’s German Band which had been hired for the season and it reached speeds of 36 mph on its inaugural run. The remaining extension to Appledore finally opened in 1908, on 1 May, costing £10,000. The railway was built in three sections, with the first being from Bideford for just over the third of a kilometre; the second from the termination of the first, to Westward Ho!, a length 6 t0 7 kilometres; and the third being from Westward Ho! to Appledore, a length of between 3 and 4 kilometres. [3]

Bideford to Westward Ho!

The OS Map extract below shows the relative locations of the two stations at Bideford.The map extract above shows the town of Bideford. It had been intended to link the two lines serving Bideford. Indeed a locomotive on rails did cross the river here – photographic evidence can be found below! [5][4]

The adjacent map extract from the same OS Sheet shows clearly how spartan the facilities on ‘The Quay’  on the West side of the river were. It is a clear indication that the Bideford, Westward Ho! & Appledore Railway  (BWH&A) was not particularly well resourced! [5]

One bit of trivia is highlighted by the second monchrome image below. It is taken on the day of the opening of the railway station on the West side of the River Torridge. A Hungarian Brass Band was hired to play for the occasion and are seen gathered around the official train of the day in 1901. [6]

1917: a steam engine crosses Bideford Bridge on rails! [4]The official train at the BWH&A Station at Bideford on the opening day in 1901. [6]Bideford Quay and Light Railway in the early 1900s. [7]

Three smaller images of BWH&A Trains in Bideford. [8]

The first full width image below shows two locomotives at Bideford Quay in around 1905. [13]

The first augmented colour print below also shows The Quay in Bideford with a BWH&A train approaching the terminus of the line. [9]

The next augmented colour image shows the Quay from Bideford Bridge in the early 1900s. There is no sign of the railway in this image. [10]

The sepia image from 1943 shows Bideford Quay again. Buses now take pride of place and the rails are long-gone. [11]The next few picture seek to replicate the three above, but taken in 2018.Looking North along The Quay (Google Streetview).The view of The Quay from Bideford Bridge in June 2018 (Google Streetview).An attempt to replicate the 1943 image looking South along the Quay. The reference point is the white building seen between the trees on this image which appears inn a similar position in the picture taken in 1943.Another view taken at Bideford Quay. [12][13]

From The Quay, the line turned West and began to climb The Bank with Victoria Park on its right and Pill Road on its left. The old railway formation has become the modern A386, Kingsley Road as can be seen on the extracts from the OS Map and Google Maps below.Looking West up Kingsley Road. The old railway formation/route became the A386.We continue to follow the route of the old railway and the A386 past the modern superstore to the right and Bideford FC to the left. The road passed the location of the modern Morrison’s store with the Carriage Shed visible in the distance to the left of the A386. [15]Just to the North of the football ground we find the old carriage shed at a slight angle to the A386. To its North was the Engine Shed. [5]The Carriage Shed. This picture was taken in July 2018.The Carriage Shed taken in July 2018 from a little further North along the A386. It is surprising that the carriage shed has survived when the engine shed has not. The tracks for both are shown on the adjacent satellite image. [11]

I have not been able to find any pictures of the BWH&A engine shed at Bideford.


The trackbed of the old railway continues beyond the carriage and engine sheds along the line of today’s A386 for a short distance. At a point South of ‘Glenburnie’ and East of ‘Causeway’ on the above OS Map the road and trackbed separate with the modern road heading away to the North and the trackbed heading West. It crossed the old road north (Northam Road) out of Bideford to the left of ‘Causeway’ on the level adjacent to a Halt and a two and a half storey signal box. The signal box was built to this height to allow approaching road traffic to be spotted. [5][23: p16]

This photo shows the road crossing over Northam Road at The. Causeway, the crossing keeper’s home and the tall signal box.

A generally westerly trajectory then took the old line beneath Raleigh Plantation (above). [5]The old line is shown on the modern satellite image above (Google Maps) its route is highlighted by a line of deciduous trees. It continued in a westerly direction travelling to the South of  Turner’s Wood and Kenwith Castle as shown on the OS Map extract’s below. [5] South of Turner’s Wood the old line crossed a lane on an over-bridge. The bridge over the stream to the North of the railway line remains but there is no evidence of the railway bridge or embankment at that location. The modern A39, which is prominent on the satellite image above, does not show in any form in the older OS Map extracts. Kenwith Castle is now a Care Home. [17] The Castle was first known as Kenwith Lodge. The mid-eighteenth century building, with an earlier wing, was later used as the dower house of the Pine­-Coffin family at nearby Portledge. In 1850 Dr Hevwood was the owner and by 1883 it was occupied by Major General Hickman Thomas Molesworth. The Castellated Regency Gothic front effectively disguises the older building.  More recently, the building has been a hotel before being converted into use as a residential home. There is a steel line engraving entitled ‘Kenwith Lodge, North Devon, the seat of W. C. Heywood M.D.’ by H. Wallis after W. H. Bartlett, 1831 and the eighteenth-century gazebo seen in the engraving survives. [18] I believe that the image below is a copy of this engraving. [19]Beyond Kenwith Castle the old line travelled westwards crossing over two lanes/roads by means of over-bridges. The first is on the last OS Map extract above and the location is shown in the first image below (Google Streetview) which is taken from the South of the old line. Again, there is no evidence of the bridge or embankment which carried the old line, nor of the Halt which existed somewhere nearby.The second, on the OS Map below, is shown as Abbotsham Road. The photograph below is taken from Abbotsham Road looking Northeast from the South of the line of the railway. The road is now a very minor lane. It was crossed on the level. The railway approached the crossing on a slight embankment as can be seen in the photograph (Google Streetview). There is no obvious sign now-a-days of the halt which existed at this location. The halt was a mile or so from Abbotsham village. A passing loop can be picked out on the OS Map.Beyond Abbotsham Road, the old line travelled only a short distance further in a generally westerly direction before turning northwards as highlighed in the two OS Map extracts below. [5]

The railway formation in cutting close to the old Cornborough Halt. [22]

There was a halt at this approximate location. Cornborough Halt provided for holiday makers visiting the cliff walks and nearby beach ans served walkers aiming to walk on the Torrs, etc. It was in a very exposed area and trains were often reduced to a snail’s pace due to high winds in winter.[22][23]

Cornborough Cliffs Halt had a platform, but no shelter and was sited on the up side of the line next to the footpath at the waters edge. The line ran through rock cut cuttings up to this point. [23] No sidings or freight facilities were provided. [24]

From this point, following the route of the old line is easy. Every walker on the South West Costal Path enjoys the relatively easy grades of the old railway!

The old line turned North to follow the coast at Cornborough Cliff. The recent satellite image (Google Maps, 2019) shows the South West Coastal Path which joins the formation of the old railway just as it meets the cliffs. From this point it is about 1.5 miles into Westward Ho! The path has been designated for easy access. [20] A few pictures of the footpath/old line follow here and below.

All who chose to walk the South West Coastal path are able to enjoy the gentle grades associated with the old railway from this point into Westward Ho!

The first colour image below looks Northeast along the old railway formation in 2009, (c) Jordan Walks. [25]

The second colour image looks Southwest along the South West Coastal Path at Cornborough Cliff (c) Grant Wilkey [21]

The three OS Map extracts below take us into what was Westward Ho! Railway Station. By the time trains reached the railway station they were travelling in an Easterly direction. There is plenty of room for development shown on the OS Maps and Westward Ho! developed strongly as a resort once the railway had been complete in the early years of the 20th century.

The satellite image below the map extracts shows almost exactly the same area as the last of the OS Maps and shows the develo[pment of the village/town and the significant numbers of static caravans which cover the area to the West of the centre of Westward Ho! The Station and its facilities are long gone, as is the Bath Hotel which was close by.

“Westward Ho! History” states: [16]

Westward Ho! was the busiest station on the line and it had its own Station Master, Mr. MacLaughlan; it had two platforms, platform lighting, a passing loop, ticket office, an 8-lever signal box and a 2-lever ground frame operated by Mr. Spry; a waiting room, refreshment room, bookstall, level crossing gates and a Concert Hall called the Station Hall. A siding ran to the Westward Ho! Gas Works. An early photograph shows Westward Ho! with only the signal box and a long unbroken fence running along the back of the platforms with no other buildings or lighting. The similarity in appearance and construction between the Westward Ho! and Appledore platform buildings suggests that they were both built at the same time, circa 1908.

In an effort to entice the public onto their trains and provide shelter during inclement weather, the company built a Concert or Reception Hall on the ‘up’ platform at Westward Ho! in 1901 / 02, it was called the Station Hall. Performers such as the ‘Jolly Dutch’ and Clog Dancers performed in Station Hall. It was an expensive undertaking, costing £17 9s 7d in 1906, under the heading of ‘Services of Minstrels’ in the traffic expenses log. The building was well built and still stood in 1980 as a ‘Beer Garden’.

The Westward Ho! History website also provides some photographs of the old railway station. including the bridge below, which was on the approach to the station – significant development has occurred in this area although it appears that the abutments remain. [26] The bridge deck is long-gone. [16]The railway station was close to the beach. Its location is shown in the picture below, marked by the red oval. [14]The Westward Ho! Railway Station location in 2019. [14]


  1., accessed on 5th June 2019.
  2.!_railway_station, accessed on 5th June 2019.
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  13.,_Westward_Ho!_and_Appledore_Railway, accessed on 6th June 2019.
  14.!-horizon-view-30-%7C-2-bedrooms-westward-ho!-26931.htm, accessed on 30th November 2019.
  15.,_carriage_shed_and_engine_shed.jpg, accessed on 6th June 2019.
  16., accessed on 7th June 2019.
  17., accessed on 30th November 2019.
  18., accessed on 30th November 2019.
  19., accessed on 30th November 2019.
  20., accessed on 30th November 2019.
  21., accessed on 30th November 2019.
  22., accessed on 30th November 2019.
  23.  Julia & Jonathan Baxter; The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore railway 1901-1917;  Chard (1980), p19.
  24.  Stanley C. Jenkins; The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway; Oakwood Press, Oxford, 1993, p141.
  25., accessed on 30th November 2019.
  26., accessed on 30th November 2019.

Resources for further investigation, [2]:

  1. Baxter, Julia & Jonathan (1980). The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore railway 1901-1917. Pub. Chard. ISBN 0-9507330-1-6.
  2. Christie, Peter (1995). North Devon History. The Lazarus Press. ISBN 1-898546-08-8
  3. Garner, Rod (2008). The Bideford, Westward Ho! & Appledore Railway. Pub. Kestrel Railway Books. ISBN 978-1-905505-09-8.
  4. Griffith, Roger (1969). The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway. School project and personal communications. Bideford Museum.
  5. Jenkins, Stanley C. (1993). The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway. Pub. Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-452-0.
  6. Kingsley, Charles (1923). Westward Ho! Pub. London.
  7. Stuckey, Douglas (1962). The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway 1901-1917. Pub. West Country Publications.
  8. Thomas, David St John (1973). A Regional History of the Railways of Britain, Vol.1: The Westcountry. Pub. David & Charles.
  9., accessed on 5th June 2019.



The Glasson Dock Branch

Glasson Dock sits at the mouth of the Lune Estuary to the Southwest of the City of Lancaster.

Navigation up the River Lune to the Port of Lancaster was not easy. In 1779, the Port Commission decided to build a dock/port at the coast. Land was purchased and, by 1782, a pier had been constructed. Delays occurred and it was not until March 1787 that work was completed. When the dock was opened it could hold up to 25 merchant ships. [2: p182]

Following the demise of Lancaster as a port, Glasson Dock was, at its height, the largest port in the north west, importing cotton, sugar, spices and slaves from Africa and the Indies. [3]

Lancaster Canal was important in affording swift distribution of cargo landed at the port into the heart of industrial Lancashire. [3] The construction of the Lancaster Canal started in 1792. A connection from the canal to the sea at Glasson was considered, ”and John Rennie’s plans for a Glasson branch formed the basis for an Act of Parliament which was obtained in May 1793. No work took place, [2: p186] and it was not until 1819 that the plans were revived, when another Act of Parliament was needed to raise additional finance. The estimated cost of the branch was £34,608, and work began in 1823.” [1]

The branch was only 2.5-mile (4.0 km) long. Over this length it dropped through 52 feet (16 m) from Galgate. The canal itself was completed in December 1825, but financial difficulties meant that warehousing and wharves were not constructed immediately and the growth of trade was slow. ”However, by 1830 over 10,000 tons of goods passed through the dock, most of it passing on to the canal. Because the locks were 14 feet (4.3 m) wide, smaller ships did not have to transship their cargoes to canal boats, as they could sail through the dock and along the canal. The first such boat to do so was a schooner called Sprightly, which carried slate to Preston in May 1826. Incoming trade included slate, timber, potatoes and grain, while coal was exported through the port to Ulverston, North Wales and Ireland.” [1][2: p195-197]

The settlement of Glasson remained relatively small and only saw some limited growth in the 19th century. A shipyard and Customs House were built in 1834, a Watch House in 1836, a Church in 1840, and a Dry Dock in 1841. The shipyards were largely concerned with ship repair rather than shipbuilding. [1]

The quay was not connected to the railway network until 1883, [1] when a branch line from the LNWR mainline through Lancaster was completed. The branch also connected St. George’s Quay in Lancaster to the mainline. Lancaster Archives have a copy of the 1884 plan showing the branch and St. George’s Quay bat a scale of 2 chains to 1 inch. [4] More detailed maps can be sourced from the National Library of Scotland website. [5]

Passenger trains for Glasson Dock left the Station at Lancaster travelling North from the down bay platform which was on the West side of Castle Station. Their route is shown dotted on the map below, turning from the North to the Southwest and running alongside the mills on the south side of the River Lune, before heading South towards Glasson Dock. The second map below shows the branch leaving the North end of Castle Station and then heading away to the West on the South side of the Lune. The connection to St. George’s Quay is also evident. Both of these maps are available on the Lancashire Archive website. [7]Both Long Marsh Lane and the Glasson Dock Branch were on a downgrade towards the River Lune. The following OS Map shows the branch crossing the highway once again. This time it is Lune Road, very close to its junction with Long Marsh Lane. Also visible on the map is most of the length of the short Lancaster Quay Branch along St. George’s Quay. [5]The location of the bridge which carried the Glasson Dock Branch over Lune Road (Google Streetview, November 2019).The route of the Glasson Dock Branch can clearly be seen leaving the mainline North of Castle Station in Lancaster and curing away to the West. The bridge over Lune Road is on the left of the image. [9]St. George’s Quay and Gas Works shown from the air in the 1950s. The photograph is taken from the Northwest. The Glasson Dock Branch can be seen to the top right of the picture. The Lancaster Quay Branch is in the foreground. [10]

To the West of Lune Road the branch continued on a downgrade to meet the Lancaster Quay Branch and then on towards the Southwest alongside the Lune Mills. [5]The line the continued out towards the foreshore of the Lune Estuary. [5]The lane shown approaching the railway from the East on the OS Map extract immediately above [5] linked the line to Aldclffe and Aldcliffe Hall. A signal post is marked on the Mao at this location but no formal halt was provided for the residents of Aldcliffe Hall.

Aldcliffe Hall was a 19th-century country house, now demolished, which replaced a previous mediaeval building, on the bank of the Lune estuary. It was built in a porous local stone, it was covered in stucco for protection. The building was demolished in the 1960s. The estate was first identified in 1557 as belonging to the Dalton family. Their lands were forfeit to the Crown and their old hall was demolished and replaced by a new building in 1817 by Edward Dawson. [11]

The next three pictures are photographs taken by me in November 2019 at the point where the lane-way meets the old railway route. The first looks back north towards Lancaster. The second shows the signpost at Aldcliffe Hall Lane and the third looks ahead towards Glasson Dock.From Aldcliffe Hall Lane, the railway continued in a Southerly direction along the foreshore. Typical of the cycleway which now (November 2019) follows the old railway formation to the North of Ashton Hall halt (my photograph).The next significant point on the line can be seen on the OS Map extract immediately above – the private halt for Ashton Hall at Nan Bucks.Ashton Hall Private Halt, circa 1960s, © Graham Hibbert. [12]The Ashton Hall halt in private ownership in November 2019 (my photograph). This image emphasises the proximity of the line and halt to the River Lune at this point. The old line ran alongside Meldham Wood and the estate of Ashton Hall which is now Lancaster Golf Club (November 2019, my photograph).Further South, also in November 2019, approaching the location of the arched accommodation bridge over the old line (my photograph) which can be seen on the OS Map above. The property at Waterloo has, in 2019, been replaced by a newer building closer to the old railway line.This satellite image shows the replacement property at Waterloo, the accommodation bridge and another new property in the early 21st century (Google Earth).The arched accommodation bridge which provides access to the foreshore and to a private property to the West of the line. To the East of the line the lane leads to the Ashton Hall Garden Centre (November 2019 – my photograph).The bridge abutments have been decorated by primary school children from Thurnham school (November 2019, my photograph).These two pictures show the formation of the old line travelling towards the Station at Conder Green (November 2019, my photographs). The OS Map extracts below track the old line through the Station. [5]Conder Green was the last stop on the branch before Glasson Dock Station and the terminus of the line. Conder Green Station sat just to the North of the confluence between the Conder River and the River Lune.This picture was taken facing South towards the station building at Conder Green, it shows No. 46433 working a RCTS Railtour on the 20th June 1964 (c) Ron Herbert. [16]This picture shows the approach to Conder Green Station from around a 100 metres further South than the monochrome image above (November 2019, my photograph).Conder Green Station looking North towards Lancaster in 2008, (c) Mark Bartlett. There is now a cafe to the left of  and attached to the station building [15]Cafe de Lune [17]

Immediately beyond Conder Green Station was the most significant structure on the branch – the bridge over the Conder River.Conder Green Railway Bridge now carries a cyclway over the River Conder © David Rogers. [18]

Two photographs taken in the late afternoon light at the same location. The first looks East towards Conder Green the second looks West towards Glasson Dock. Both are taken looking along the route of the old line into Glasson Dock Station (November 2019, my photos).

After crossing the River Condor trains turned to the West to head for Glasson Dock.This 1890 OS Map shows the approach to Glasson Dock from Conder Green. There was little change throughout the years of the 20th century until the line was finally closed in the 1960s [5]The view back towards the Conder River Bridge and the Cafe de Lune at the site of the old Conder Green Station (November 2019, my photo).From this point the branch ran along a causeway alongside the River Lune. Glasson Station’s location can be picked out to the left of the OS Map above. [5]Two photographs taken in the late afternoon light of a November day at the same location on the branch line close to the position of Glasson Dock Station. The first looks East towards Conder Green, the second looks West towards Glasson Dock.Glasson Dock Station was on the right of the above OS Map and is shown in a few images from the late 1950s and early 1960s below. [5]Glasson Dock Station in the early 1960s. [13]A rail tour at Glasson Station after closure of the Line. [14]Two pictures of Glasson Dock from a May 1960 rail tour, © Ron Herbert. [19][20]Glasson Dock Railway Station after Closure in the 1960s. [21]There were two lines at the end of the Glasson Dock Branch. One served riverside. The other ran alongside the large canal basin(and is shown on the postcard image above). Both terminated at the Warehousing, Dock and Quay. [22]This OS Map extract shows the very end of the branch which served the River Lune  and Glasson Dock. The old dry dock is visible to the West of Glasson Dock. [5]The same location today. In 2019, the route of the railway is highlighted by the cycle-way which enters from the right of the satellite image. The remainder of the track-bed and sidings at the dock have been lost under various developments and car-parks.




  1., accessed on 11th November 2019.
  2. Charles Hadfield & Gordon Biddle; The Canals of North West England, Vol 1 (pp.1-236). David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1970.
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The Lynn and Fakenham Railway – Part 1

Although first mooted in the 1840s, the Lynn & Fakenham Railway was not opened, over its full length, until 1880. It only had a short independent life, being absorbed into the Eastern & Midlands Railway in 1883.

A look at the history of the line and it’s route through the Norfolk countryside is for a future post.

The Lynn & Fakenham Railway is mentioned in an article in the journal “Railway Archive.” Interestingly, that article is about the locomotives which were initially purchased for the Cornwall Minerals Railway. [1]

The Cornwall Minerals Railway developed out of a series of older Tramroad which served the Cornish Mining Industry. It owned and operated a network of 45 miles (72 km) of standard standard gauge railway lines in central Cornwall. It started by taking over an obsolescent horse-operated tramway in 1862, and it improved and extended it, connecting Newquay and Par Harbours and Fowey.

It  had a chequered history having been hurt by a collapse in mineral extraction due to a slump in prices. But after a period in bankruptcy it recovered enough to take over a defunct route between Fowey and Lostwithiel – the Lostwithiel and Fowey line.

In 1896 it finally sold its line to the Great Western Railway which had been leasing it for some time.

Its main passenger line from Par to Newquay is still in use as the Atlantic Coast Line, and also carries some mineral traffic, but the Par to Fowey line has been converted to a private road. [2]

CMR No. 1, Treffrey was built, along with all of the CMR locomotives, by Sharp, Stewart & Co. Ltd of Manchester. It was named for Joseph Austin Treffrey but the name plates were mis-spelt. These locus were intended to work in pairs, back to back and it is likely that the lack of rear bunker and the open cab were intended to facilitate this way of working. There is no evidence to suggest that the traffic on the railway was ever large enough to justify this intention. [1][2]

The Cornwall Minerals Railway was adventurous in its intentions and purchases. It anticipated far more traffic from the mines than was to materialise and bought 18 (yes, eighteen) 0-6-0T steam engines to serve the anticipated high demand. [1] When the line was leased to the GWR in 1877, the new lease-holders quickly realised that the over provision of motive power was a financial drain on the Line. The GWR returned 9 of the engines to their makers, leaving 9 to serve the needs of the Line. [1:p30]

Of the 9 remains locos, a further one was sold by 1883 to the Sharpness New Docks Company and based on the opposite side of the River Severn from the Forest of Dean. [1:p31]

We are interested, in this article, in the fate of the 9 locos returned to Sharp, Stewart. Or, at least, 8 of those 9 locomotives. 8 were purchased by the Lynn & Fakenham Railway and ended their days in various guises on the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GNJR) which was the ultimate successor to the Lynn & Fakenham Railway. [1:p30] A first batch of three were sold to the Lynn & Fakenham in 1880, a further five were sent to the Lynn & Fakenham in 1881. [1: p36]

Incidentally, the last of the 9 locos returned to Sharp, Stewart was sold to the Colne Valley & Halstead Railway before ending up at a colliery in Northumberland. [1: p30]

Treloar comments that the Lynn & Fakenham’s successor, the M&GNJR was “despite their lack of success … inspired … to design and build a later type of 0-6-0 tank with similarities to the original locomotives, some of them even using the wheels from the ex-CMR engines.” [1: p30]

This is recognised at least in part by the LNER Encyclopedia which says:

“The Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway’s (M&GNJR) ‘Shunting’ Class (LNER J93) were designed by Marriott and built at the M&GN’s Melton Constable’s works. In common with many M&GN types, the Shunting Class followed Midland Railway practice and included a number of Derby design features, such as the cab, tanks, and boiler mountings. The boiler drawing was made at Derby in 1896, and the nine locomotives were built at Melton Constable between 1897 and 1905.

Most of the J93s were built carrying the ‘Rebuilt Melton Constable’ plates, and six of the class (Nos. 93-8) were reputed to have been rebuilt from locomotives that had started out on the Cornwall Minerals Railway (CMR). These were built by Sharp, Stewart & Co. in 1874, and acquired by the Lynn & Fakenham Railway in 1880-1. These were then inherited by the Eastern & Midlands Railway – predecessor of the M&GN. The stock register describes the J93s as new locomotives, and Mr G.B. Clarke (draughtsman to Marriott) is on record as emphatically stating that the J93s were new locomotives. Therefore, J93s Nos. 93-8 should really be considered replacements for the ex-CMR engines. After saying this, there is some evidence that some of the J93s carried ex-CMR wheels at one time or another. These had ten spokes and built-up balance weights, whilst the new wheels had twelve spokes and cast-in crescent weights. Some photographs from the 1940s show individual J93s carrying a mixture of both wheel types!” [3]

The LNER/M&GNJR J93 Class of shunting locomotive which was based to some extent on the original CMR locomotives design by Sharp, Stewart. [1][3]

Eastern & Midland No. 11, one of the original CMR locomotives with the Sharp, Stewart Tender. [4]

The Lynn & Fakenham Railway and it’s successors clearly had problems with the original CMR locomotives. They did not last long in their original guise. The lack of coal space was a major problem! By the time they were in use on the M&GNJR, they had been provided with tenders, as shown above. The tenders were all fabricated by Sharp, Stewart in the 1880s to their standard 4-wheel design. A series of pictures is provided with the article in Railway Archive. [1: p36-39]

In addition to these 0-6-0 locomotives, the Lynn and Fakenham bequeathed a number of other engines to the Eastern and Midland Railway. These included:

Seven 4-4-0T locomotives built by Hudswell Clarke for the Lbetween 1878 and 1881; [5][6]


Four Beyer Peacock 4-4-0 locomotives built 1882/1883. These were the first of a total of fifteen of the class. The remaining eleven were built for the Eastern and Midlands Railway before 1888. [5][7]


1. Peter Treloar; A Scattered Family: The Cornwall Minerals Railway’s 0-6-0Ts; Railway Archive Issue 30, Black Dwarf Lightmoor Press, 2011, p27-40.

2., accessed on 16th November 2019.

3., accessed on 16th November 2019.

4., accessed on 16th November 2019. The provenance of the photograph is unclear. It appears on ‘rmweb’ as part of a long discussion about creating a realistic pre-grouping model railway.

5., accessed on 16th November 2019.

6., accessed on 16th November 2019.

7., accessed on 16th November 2019.


The Plymouth or South Duffryn Colliery in the Taff Valley

South Duffryn or ‘Plymouth’ Colliery, situated to the south of Pentrebach and just north of Troedyrhiw, was opened by the Hills Plymouth Company in 1862. It was served by the Taff Valley Railway and the Penydarren Tramroad. I have been prompted to write this short post by reading an article written by Clive Thomas in the Archive Journal of September 2014. [1]

The featured image above shows the colliery sidings in a postcard image from the early 20th century. [2] The colliery itself is just off the picture to the right. Most of the wagons in the picture seem to be privately owned by the Plymouth Collieries. The sidings are all standard-gauge and were served by the Taff Valley Railway. A number of the buildings of the disused Duffryn Ironworks can be seen in the centre of the image. Some of these were later used as workshops for the colliery. [1]

Some basic information about the area us provided by Alan George in his website about Old Merthyr Tydfil. [4] … Clive Thomas tells the story of the Plymouth Ironworks and Collieries in Archive Journal No. 83:

“In 1786, a lease was secured from the Earl of Plymouth on a tract of land on the East bank of the River Taff and to the south of the hamlet of Merthyr Tydfil. From that date, the name of the ironworks established there became synonymous with that of the Hill family. For seventy years, first Richard and then each of his three sons, Richard (Jnr), John and Anthony played their part in its development as one of South Wales’ pre-eminent iron-making concerns.

The Plymouth Ironworks, which grew at the three sites of Plymouth, Pentrebach and Duffryn, although never seriously rivalling it’s neighbours at Cyfarthfa and Dowlais in terms of size and iron ore production, should not be regarded as an insignificant player in the history of iron manfacture. By the mid 1840s, the ironworks consisted of ten blast furnaces, twenty-four puddling furnaces, four forges and seven rolling mills, as well as the ancillary machinery and mines associated with iron production. The works had been advertised for sale in 1834, but no buyer was found. While the managerial roles of Richard (Jnr) and John changed and gradually diminished, it was Anthony, as early as 1826, who was responsible for the progress of the enterprise and on the death of Richard in 1844, assumed full control. … Unlike any other Merthyr Ironmaster he provided for his workers, constructing good quality housing, building and endowing schools and churches in the villages of Troedyrhiw and Pentrebach. As recently as 1958, children in the village school at Troedyrhiw, whose grandfathers had worked in the Plymouth Collieries benefitted from a clothing grant when entering the Iocal grammar school.

To ensure the efficient continuity of the iron production, it was necessary to develop extensive coal and ironstone mines which comprised numerous adits and shafts. Almost all of these were to be found on the mountainside, feeding the works by a series of tramways and inclines. The seams exposed on the hillside were exploited by levels and drifts, while shallow pits intersected those found below the valley floor. While the ironstone mined here, like that available to the other Merthyr iron companies, was not of the highest quality, the coal was the best, with seams of bituminous and dry steam found within the property. … The year before Anthony Hill’s death, the Hill’s Plymouth Collieries mined 250,000 tons of coal, 10,000 tons more than Cyfarthfa and only 15,000 tons short of the production of the Dowlais Collieries.

Following Anthony Hill’s death, the assets of the company were acquired by Messrs Hankey, Fothergill & Bateman for a sum of £250,000, a concern that had already bought what remained of the Penydarren Ironworks which had closed in 1859. Under the enthusiastic direction of Richard Fothergill, the Aberdare Ironmaster, efforts were then made to re-vitalise the Plymouth Ironworks.

In an article written for the Mining Journal of October 1869 the virtues of this enterprise were still being proclaimed, with the mention of developing the ironmaking plant at the three sites. The author, M. B. Gardner, however is evidently more impressed with the exploitation of the property’s remaining coal reserves and mentions that ‘the area of coal leased has been greatly increased since the present proprietors purchased the works.’ Coal production we are told averaged 1,300 tons per day. … Of this output, four hundred tons were sent to Cardiff and Swansea with the rest still being used in the production of iron in the works. Eight hundred to a thousand tons of ironstone were still being mined from the property. Mr Gardner details various technical aspects of the Plymouth mines which by this time had developed in a linear fashion along the valley side, between the Plymouth and Duffryn sites and parallel with the Penydarren Tramroad.” [1]

This is the first and only mention in Thomas’ article of the Penydarren Tramroad. Nonetheless, it is a significant reference. It makes it clear that the Penydarren Tramroad was one of the critical factors associated with the siting of the various works which comprised the Plymouth estate. He emphasises this fact by providing a sketch drawing of the Taff Valley. The Penydarren Tramroad is the rail route which runs from top to bottom of the sketch map, to the East of Plymouth Ironworks. [1]The Taff Valley Railway was opened in stages in 1840 and 1841. [3]  Although the Plymouth Colliery itself opened in 1862, many of the significant industrial sites associated with the Plymouth Ironworks and Collieries had been in operation for 20 years or more before the Taff Valley Railway was completed. The Penydarren Tramroad was of significance in determining the siting of these industries in a way that the Taff Valley Railway could not have been.

Thomas highlights a number of the sites shown on the sketch above: the Ellis, Clynmill and Original pits were oldest and were mines for both coal and iron ore; the Graig, Taibach, North Duffryn and South Duffryn pits were newer and around one mile to the Southeast. All would have been in operation for about 40 years by the 1860s. Coal quality was good but extraction methods were relatively primitive. Although coal was good, iron ore was less so, and by 1875 the Plymouth Ironworks and others were in liquidation. “In 1882 the Plymouth Ironworks was for the second time advertised for sale, but once again without success. Consequently it was then possessed under a mortgage of the executors of the late Thomas Alers Hankey. … The firm of Messrs Samuel and John Bailey, Mining & Civil Engineers of Birmingham was engaged to take over the concern with Mr T. H. Bailey as agent to supervise the whole of the colliery property.” [1: p50]

T.H. Bailey kept a typed journal of his first full year in charge of the collieries. The Archive article [1] is based around that journal. It “offers an interesting insight into the life of a mining engineer, working at a time when the South Wales coalfield was enjoying a period of rapid development and for some, great prosperity.” [1: p51]

References are made throughout the diary to train travel on the standard gauge lines which served the valley. Bailey spends time on the internal tramways which served the mines and on providing adequate numbers of coal wagons for distributing the coal countrywide. He also dealt with the planning of new sidings to accommodate wagons and the upgrading if railway links to the main railway lines. [1: p53]

There is no mention of the Penydarren Tramroad in Bailey’s 1883 diary.


  1. Clive Thomas; All Change for Plymouth: A Year in the Life of a Mining Engineer, the Diary of T.H. Bailey, 1883; in Archive No. 83, Black Dwarf Lightmoor Press, Lydney, 2014, p49-61.
  2., accessed on 18th September 2019.
  3., accessed on 19th  September 2019.
  4., accessed on 13th November 2019.




So, Someone Shot Jesus!

On Thursday 7th  November 2019, the Guardian carried a half-page article about the artist Lorna May Wadsworth, and particularly about a painting that she painted as a devotional object for a Church in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire. [1]

The painting  was commissioned by the Parochial Church Council for Nailsworth to hang behind the altar in St George’s Church in September 2008.

It was the request of the late Alan Denman, an ex-church warden who died in January 2008 aged 86. He left £5,000 to the church and the painting was part of a bequest. [2]

A new exhibition of Lorna May Wadsworth’s work was being assembled in Sheffield at the Graves Gallery. [3] The exhibition was planned as a retrospective of her work and ran/runs from 9th November 2019 to 15th February 2020.

When the painting of the Last Supper was being unpacked the painter noticed that there was a hole in Jesus’ right side which, after investigation, was found to have been caused by an air-rifle pellet.

Wadsworth expressed a concern that someone was so aggrieved by her portrayal of Christ that they wanted to attack it. …

What makes this painting unusual in a British context is the choice Wadsworth made to depict Jesus as black. The model is Tafari Hinds and Wadsworth’s intention was to challenge people’s perceptions, to ask the viewer to ‘look with fresh eyes’.

I am not too sure why anyone should have taken exception to the painting, but to have done so reflects more on the iconoclast than on the artist.

It is normal for us to create God in our own image. We have no warrant for doing so, but most of our religious paintings do just that. They reflect the culture in which they have been painted. So we tend to imagine Jesus as white with longer hair and blue eyes – the ‘Robert Powell Jesus’.

The truth is that Jesus would have been middle-eastern in appearance, probably not over tall, with swarthy skin and a prominent nose. Ultimately we domesticate our images of the divine, because to do so allows us to comprehend God better. If our whole perceptual framework is challenged, everything is uncertain. ….

What was Jesus like?  …….. Someone not to different from me! …. That is a valid and helpful response when first thinking about what it means for God to be incarnate.

However, we cannot stay there. We must not leave it at that. ……

For God incarnate, one of us, is God incarnate, one of us.

And we are all different. We cannot appropriate Jesus as our own. He belongs to us all. Every culture over the centuries has an equal stake in the person of Jesus. Jesus is one of us.