The Railway Magazine, March and April 1948 – The Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway

During 1948, the Railway Magazine was published 6 times. Volume 94, No. 574 was dated March & April 1948. At a price of 2/- it seems, in 2022, to be a very good value read. [1]

The index page highlights the major articles in the journal. … These included, the second part of articles from earlier editions of the magazine – “Last Decades of the Midland” by R.E. Charlewood and Scottish Night Mails of the L.M.S.R by O.S. Nick. Cecil J. Allen long saga “British Locomotive Practice and Performance” was well underway and continues in The Railway Magazine into 2022. A biographical sketch takes up 7 pages – “First Steps in a Railway Career” by Aeila. There is also a significant article about the ‘Coronation Scot’ and a short two-page spread about “Top Link Drivers.”

Just two months after its formation, the editorial notes question what would be a suitable livery for British Railways but without reaching a conclusion. The new edition of Locomotive Management: Cleaning-Driving-Maintenance was heralded. It was a 22 chapter work with some significant appendices including one dealing with locomotive cabs and fittings with illustrations of the controls, and another giving representative locomotive diagrams.

A short note about British railway tunnels concludes the Editorial Notes pointing out three illustrations which follow in this issue of the Railway Magazine.

None of these things caught my attention and, given that I had been asked to look at this edition to pull out something significant for a reader of my posts as their date of birth fell during the period of this edition, it seemed as though I was going to be disappointed. … Until, that is, I turned to two monochrome images on p114 of the publication. These were two images taken on the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway in the 1880s.

These two images evoke a completely different era. The first shows a train in 1886 at Bodmin Station headed by “Bodmin” an 0-4-0ST. The passenger stock consists of open and closed coaches and a brake van. The second image was taken in 1888 at Boscarne Junction and also shows a short train of open and closed coaches.

This prompted some research into the branch-line.

The Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway
By the time the photographs were taken the railway had been open for more than 50 years. Opened in 1834, the line was intended to link the quays at Wadebridge at the head of the Camel Estuary with the town of Bodmin in Cornwall.

Grace’s Guide tells us that, “Sanctioned in 1832, the railway was part of a scheme advocated by William James … for a railway between the English Channel at Fowey and the North Cornish coast at Padstow.” [3]

The first steam-powered railway in Cornwall, the line opened on 1st July in 1834 and so was also one of the earliest standard gauge railway lines in the world. ‘Cornwall Calling’ says that the line cost the grand total of “£35,000. The line ran from Wadebridge to Wenfordbridge, with a branch to Bodmin. It was designed to carry sand from the Camel estuary to inland farms for use as fertiliser on moorland soil.” [4]

In fact, the line was laid out as shown in the sketch map below which was included in an article in The Railway Magazine in the September 1984 issue associated with the 150th anniversary of the line. [5]

1. The Railway Magazine; Volume 94, No. 574, March/April 1948.

2., accessed on 31st December 2019.

3., accessed on 31st December 2019.

4., accessed on 31st December 2019.

5., accessed on 31st December 2019.

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