Category Archives: Railways and Tramways of South-Western France

Railways of Herault – Route A – Saint Chinian to Beziers Line – Part 1 – Saint-Chinian to Cazouls-les-Beziers

Chemins de Fer de l’HéraultThe Departement of the Herault. [7]

The network of the Company of Railways of Local Interest (IL) of Herault reached a maximum length of 212 km. Its lines were standard-gauge. It was planned in the first years of the second empire, it was given authorisation in July 1865.

Lines were commissioned as shown in the table below: [1]

One of the early Mallet locomotives used on the line is illustrated in the adjacent image. [3]

Construction and opening of railways was interrupted for a period of 10 years, from 1877 to 1887 as a result of the poor financial condition of the Company. Bankruptcy apparently occurred in 1884. Although declared bankrupt, the Compagnie de l’Hérault succeeded, inspite of everything, in avoiding forfeiture by signing a concordat with its creditors. It issued new securities listed on the stock exchange and entered into agreements with the departement authorizing it to continue building the network of which it would be both the owner and the operator. [4] By the last decade of the 19th century the company finances were sufficiently stable to allow significant extensions to the network. [1]

The line from Celleneuve to Montbazin, when complete allowed traffic on the two parts of the network without the need to pay tolls to the Compagnie du Midi. It was the same with Colomiers to Maureilhan line.

Except for the Palavas line, which was predominantly beach-side, the other lines were for wine, grapes and bauxite traffic. But the network was fragile financially, because of construction costs, maintenance and operating expenses.

The departement purchased the network in 1928 and entrusted it to the Société Générale des Chemines de Fer Economiques (SE), which undertook some considerable work to stengthen the formation and renovate structres. The new Company also used railcars.

In 1932, under pressure from road transport, it was decided to close the passenger service on all lines except for the line to Palavas. The service was restored in 1939. However after the war traffic could not be sustained and both passenger and goods traffic ceased section by section across the network.

On 1st June 1963, the SNCF resumed serving Mèze but only until 1968. The only remaining part of the network is the line from Cazouls to Colomiers – which is incorporated into the SNCF network. [1]

The first line we will look at is that starting in Saint-Chinian and running to Beziers

Saint-Chinian – Beziers Line – Part 1 – Saint-Chinian to Cazouls-les-Beziers

Much of the network is shown below. We start from Saint-Chinian station which is at the western extent of the network. [5] Before setting off, it is worth noting that in 1905, the journey by passenger train from Béziers to Saint-Chinian lasted 1 hour and 30 minutes (departure at 10 am, arrival at 11.30 am) . The mixed passenger/goods train was responsible for the collection of wagons in each station. The actual length of the trip could be over 2 hours in length. [6]The length of the network covered in this post is the line from Béziers to Saint-Chinian and its branch from Colombiers to Maureilhan. [6]The first few kilometres from St, Chinian to Pierrerue Halt. [2]An aerial image from 1953 shows the terminus station at Saint-Chinian. [2]St. Chinian Station. [2]

The wine trade between Saint Chinian and Béziers Gare du Nord was very important to the deapartement. It was around the 1850s that the departement of Herault, which was known for cereals, fields of wheat, oats, alfalfa and barley and was self-sufficient in sheep, goat and horse breeders, began to see significant increases in the size of its vineyards. [3]

St. Chinian Station is shown above, [2] and in the adjacent image. [3]

The vineyard area increased from 96000ha in 1828 to 174000ha in 1850, doubling in 20 years. Little by little, the vineyards came down from the hillsides and invaded the plain. The small walls are there to testify. The main reasons were the urbanization and economic growth which caused the increase of the incomes and especially the arrival of the rail network which made the transport faster, much more reliable and cheaper than by the roads. Herault couldWe could deliver wines to Paris and the North, East and Centre of France. [3]

The mainline French rail network in the Hérault was shared by the PLM (Paris-Lyon-Marseille) and the Compagnie du MIDI, which started in Tarascon and headed for Bordeaux; with links to Beziers, Narbonne, Toulouse, Bordeaux and to Perpignan. [3]

The Béziers-Saint Chinian line included 10 sidings that connected to: three wine merchants, two cooperative cellars, two large factories, two tank wagon sheds and a repair shop.

The major handicap for the line at the beginning of its operation was the axle load at 11T. It was not until 1934 that the axle weight limit was increased to 16T. It was not until 1963 that the axle load limit was increased to 20T, which made it possible to use 40T tank wagons. An additional handicap for the line was the level of and disparity in tariffs charged by the Company. For example: A tonne of wine in barrels from St Chinian cost 195.78fr in 1934, while Puisserguier, shipped from Quarante-Cruzy to the MIDI line in Colombiers cost 186.90fr. The result was competition between stations and where competition between stations. [3]

In 1904, the first industrial scale wine-making cooperative appeared – “L’Egalitaire” of Cébazan. A brokers office was established on the platform of the station at St Chinian, where the sale of wine arriving by carts was negoptiated. The goods platform was a hive of activity . In the midst of the barrels of wine, wine-tasters held sway. [3]

The establishment of Cooperatives meant that villages lost their local distilleries. Disease badly affected the crop for a number of years. In 1907 trade began to significantly improve as vines became productive once again. By 1946, the secondary lines of the Hérault transported 74,495 tonnes of wine, of which 26% left the stations of Cazouls, Cessenon and Saint Chinian (Saint Chinian 8152 tonnes – Cessenon 7233 tonnes). [3]

The timetable for the line in the early 20th century is shown above. [5]

The adjacent image shows an autorail (railcar) at Saint Chinian Station. [6]

The small town of Saint-Chinian is very pretty and is in the middle of a cool valley. It is the former favorite residence of the bishops of Saint-Pons. The town hall occupies the buildings of the former Benedictine abbey which served as their episcopal palace. The caves of Our Lady of Nazareth, the Roman remains of St. Peter and the Roman cemetery of Cazo must attract our attention. On 12th September 1875, the Vernazobres River flooded two-thirds of the town causing extensive damage and the death of 97 people. [6]The 1961 aerial image above shows the route of the railway as a white line. It is shown overlain with a red line on the photograph. [8]This aerial image is an extract from a 1953 survey and shows location ‘1’ on the 1961 photograph. This is the station throat at Saint-Chinian. The station area and the first part of the line to Beziers are now covered by a housing development as shown below. [2] The housing development on the Saint-Chinian Station site.This IGN map covers the same area as the 1961 aerial image. The railway formation is now hidden under the line of the Route de la Voie Ferree through beyond the halt and cemetery at Pierrerue. [8]The route of the railway in the early 21st Century.Location ‘2’ on the 1961 aerial photograph. [2]The same location in the 21st Century. The railway track-bed has been used by the tarmac road. The dirt tracks visible on the aerial image immediately above are still present in this picture.1950s Map showing the railway and Pierrerue Halt. [2]Pierrerue Halt and Cemetery in 1962. [2]The location of Pierrerue Halt close to the Cemetery in 2016.

Beyond Pierrerue, the railway continued across flat open farmland to Commyras.

The first few hundred metres beyond Peirrerue Halt are shown on the old drawing below. Teh cemetery can easily be picked out at the bottom of the plan.A plan of Pierrerue from the 1950s which shows the old railway line travelling roughly North-South. North of the Cemetery the old railway crossed the Ruisseau de Mourgues on a short span arch bridge as shown below. [9]The stone arch bridge which took the railway over the Ruisseau de Mourgues. [11]

A little further to the North, the railway crossed a smaller stream, the Ruisseau de Recourel and crossed the D134 at an un-gated crossing before running parallel to the D20 alongside the Vernazobre River. The terrain had by this time changed. The railway was running through pine woodland. [11]This 1962 aerial image shows the length of the line North of the point where it crossed the D134. The red arrow points to the location of a later building, built on the line of the railway which is highlighted on the adjacent aerial image that was taken in 1996. [11]

old railway continues beyond this point and the original formation is visible as it circumnavigates the sharp edge of the river valley side.

The track-bed which ran alongside the D20. [11]The first length of the railway North and East of Pierrerue. [8]The first relatively significant structure along the route is the two-span arch bridge at location ‘3’ above. It is built over the Ruisseau de Gineste. It is clearly shown on the plan below. [11]The two-span arch bridge over the Ruisseau de Gineste. [11]The line continues on to Commeyras which is roughly in the centre of this aerial image from 1961. Just before the halt at Commeyras the line crossed the Ruisseau de la Combe at location ‘4’ in the image above. The bridge was a three-arch viaduct. [8]This view was taken by Serge Panabière. [10]Just after Commeyras, the line crossed the access road to the hamlet via an unprotected crossing (above). [11]

 

A train passes through Commeyras. [12]

The stop of Commeyras-sur-Vernazobres served the village of Prades-sur-Vernazobres located some 2 kilometres distant. [6]

The next viaduct was a little further to the East of Commeyras, at location ‘5’ on the aerial image above. The viaduct has been allowed to become more overgrown than the first 3-arch viaduct we encountered. [12] It crossed the Ruisseau de Mirot.The next length of the route. [12]The first kilometre or two beyond the boundary of the small commune of Commeyras is shown on this next aerial image from 1961. The railway, at first, followed the D20 closely and then continued to follow a relatively straight path surrounded by vineyards as the road swung away a little to the North. [8]Two bridges in short succession at location ‘6’ on the aerial photograph from 1961 above carried the line across seasonal streams. [8] The masonry arch bridge over Ruisseau de les Combes. [12]The masonry arch bridge over Ruisseau de Mascarinies. [12]A small metallic railway bridge close to the pint where the D20 converges once again on the line of the old railway – location ‘7’ above. [12]The D20/D14 and the old railway run alongside each other for a short distance before they crossed at an un-gated crossing. When the line was active the road accommodated the railway as shown below in a 1955 aerial image. [12]

The adjacent map shows the realigned D14 and the old railway alignment. [12]

The railway continues to diverge from the road and follows what is now a riverside path known as Boulevard de l-Orb. The Vernazobres River which we have been following relatively loosely is a tributary of the Orb.The old railway curved round the North side of the old town of Cessenon-sur-Orb. [14]It route through the modern town is described by the Boulevard de l’Orb. [14]Approaching the suspension bridge which crosses the Orb River along what was the route of the railway but which in the 21st Century is the Boulevard de l’Orb. The picture immediately below is of the older bridge which was at this location. Then picture is taken from the North and shows the old railway line still in place. [6]The railway ran just behind the dwarf river wall visible in this modern picture. [16]The railway continues round the North side of the old town. This is location ‘9’ on the 1961 aerial photograph.

Cessenon is built on the banks of the Orb. It has a 14th century church whose Romanesque portal still exists. A high square tower or dungeon, former bell tower, dominates the houses. The coat of arms of the city are azure with three fleurs-de-lis of gold, with the border Gules; in the center of the shield, a stick perished in the same band. [6]A 1961 aerial photograph of Cessenon Railway Station. [14]This picture is taken at the station throat at the West end of the station area in the early 21st century.The location of the chimney in the picture above is easily identified on the modern image further above. ‘La Tuilerie’ (the Tile Factory) is approximately on the line of the modern warehouses in the image above. The relative positions  are evident on the adjacent 1955 aerial photograph. [12]

The series of postcard views below show the station building and goods shed at Cessenon.

This card was posted in 1905. A mixed train is at the platform in front of the goods shed. The train has arrived from Beziers. The first wagon behind the locomotive is probably a Schneider D-81 van. The card was sent to Mrs. Dô by her son, Jules. It says: “Do not worry about our fate we are in good health, we find ourselves well, we do not know when we will arrive.” [15]

The Station Building. [17]The Station Building swing the goods shed to best advantage. [17]

Beyond the station at Cessenon, the railway continued along what is today the Rue de la Capelette and then the Chemin de la Capelette which runs between the D14 and the Orb River as it heads for Reals. [18][19]Google Streetview shows the track-bed running Southeasterly in a relatively straight line across the open vineyards and fields towards distant hills. The next relatively significant structure is the bridge over the Ruiseau de Rhonel which is shown in the three images immediately below. [18][19] This plan from the 1950s shows the approach to the Bridge over the Ruisseau de Rhonel. [20]The next hamlet along the line is St.-BlaiseAt St.-Blaise, the old railway line crosses the Ruisseau de St. Blaise and is then met by the modern D36 as shown on the adjacent map. [6]

The plan below from the 1950s shows the area of St.-Blaise at that time. [21]This underpass is actually the route of the seasonal stream, Ruisseau de St.-Blaise and is just to the west of the village. [19]

For a short length at St. Blaise, the modern D36 lies on top of the old railway before the railway alignment drifts south of the road. The first image below comes from 1961 and shows the old road and the railway. [18] The second image comes from the early 21st century and the railway route is shown in a light brown line. [19]  Along this length two steams were crossed.First, the Ruisseau de Gournier [19][21]Then, the Ruisseau de la Bousquette. [19][21]

Journeying on from St.-Blaise the line approached Reals. As it passed the location of the modern sports ground which is shown as a black rectangular outline on the map above, a short length of rail is still visible. [19]The railway crossed another brook before reaching the tunnel at Reals. The tunnel location is marked below by the orange and green dots. [22]The western portal of the 42 metre-long tunnel. [22]The eastern portal of the tunnel. [19]

Just a short distance ahead as the railway alignment turns to the Southeast we encounter the old railway Station for Reals. The passing loop at Reals Station is marked above by the red arrow on this 1955 aerial image of the line, the station building is marked ‘Gare’. [19]

The adjacent view is taken from the North. [17]The station building is now a restaurant! [19]

Beyond Reals, the railway turned southwards and headed for Cazouls-les-Beziers as shown on the adjacent map. [23]

Initially it followed the southwestern bank of the Orb River but it then turned away South. For a long length of the route it followed what is now a minor road.

Just beyond Reals Station it is possible to look back to the North to see an impressive road bridge which spans the Orb River.An old postcard view of the Pont de Reals [24]An early 21st Century view from the old railway route. [25]

The aerial image shows the road bridge across the Orb River and the line of the railway turning away to the Southeast. [18]

The next photograph is at a smaller scale and shows the line continuing, first to the Southeast and then to the South [18]

This picture is typical of the old track-bed to the East of Reals. [23]This bridge spans the Ruisseau de Estagnol. [23]

The line turns away to the south and heads for Cazouls-les-Beziers. This is illustrated on the map from the 1950s above and on the adjacent 1961 aerial image. [18][26]

The next image below shows the masonry arch bridge which spanned the Ruisseau des Fourfouilles which is visible both above and in the adjacent aerial image. [23]

Further along the line the route is shown first on a hand-drawn map from the 1950s and then another 1961 aerial image.

Another 1950s land plan (above) shows the route of the railway. [27]

As noted above, the adjacent aerial images were shot in 1961.

The line continued over open fields on a straight path for some way. [18]

The third of the adjacent aerial images takes the line as far as the station at Cazouls-les-Beziers.

En-route the railway crossed numerous small streams and water-courses. Its track-bed along the way is now in use as a single-track road. The structures which carried the line were similar to those already highlighted in this post. Although occasionally this is not the case. One such location is just to the North of what was a gated level-crossing at the D16. The line crossed the Ruisseau de la Mouchère and by the early 21st Century this masonry bridge has been reconstructed.

In the first image below from Google Streetview, the D16 can be seen crossing the line of the railway. The bridge parapets seem to be of a piece with the age of the railway.

However, the arch beneath has clearly been reconstructed as shown on the adjacent picture. [23]

As we have noted, the line crossed the D16 at a gated crossing and as a result there was a crossing-keepers cottage next to the line. This is the first that I have been able to identify along the length of the line from Saint-Chinian.

The building may well have had a small extension at some time over the intervening years. [23]

Beyond the D16 there were a series of small accommodation bridges constructed of steel on brick abutments. Two of these locations are featured in the images below. The first can be seen in the photograph of the crossing-keepers cottage.The crossing-keepers cottage at the D16. [23]The first of these over-bridges carries the Chemin de Fournic across the route of the railway. [23]The next structure carried the railway over a local road – the Chemin Vicinal Ordinaire N° 29, called ‘la Gauphine’. [23]

The next location of note on the railway line was one of its more significant bridges. A metal lattice girder viaduct carried the railway over the Ruisseau de Rounel.The railway bridge north of Cazouls-les Beziers. [23]The same bridge looking across towards Cazouls. [28]And again (above) from a different angle. [29]

Later in the life f the structure them lattice girders were replace by solid girders as shown in the adjacent picture. [30]Another picture of the bridge with the village behind it. This was taken before closure of the line in the early 1960s. [32]The same bridge again. This picture was taken by Serge Panabière in 2007. [31]The same structure is shown above at track-bed level in around the year 2000. [23]

And again, in August 2016. The track-bed from the north side of the viaduct southwards is once again in use as a railway! [23]

The 1961 aerial image of Cazouls Station above indicates that in 1961 the line was probably still in use as far north as Cazouls. The site is clearly busy!

The IGN map below shows the modern station layout with a significant number of sidings. [18]

The first photograph below was taken in January 2009 looking North back along the line towards Reals from Rue du 19 Mars 1962. It is a Google Streetview Photograph.

The second photograph is taken from the same location, also in January 2009, but this time looking south into the station site.

These pictures of the station site from 2009 and the following pictures from 2016 seem to make it clear that this modern branch line was secure. It had been fully refurbished and was well-maintained. It clearly (you might think) had a strong future.

This was not (is not) the case. Despite the cash expended on the line, the mayor of Cazouls decided that the line had no future and it was closed in January 2017 in favour of creating a greenway along its route south from Cazouls.

First then, two images from 2009.The next two pictures show the line north of the Station, first in 2016 and then in 2018. [23]The next two images look south from the Rue du 19 Mars 1962, also in 2016 and 2018. [23]It is at this point that we complete the first post about the railway lines of the departement of l’Herault. The next post will look at the lines south of Cazouls.

 

 

 

References

  1. http://rue_du_petit_train.pagesperso-orange.fr/lignes/sudest/CF-herault.htm, accessed on 14th March 2019.
  2. http://passes-montagnes.fr/htlm1/vf_saint-chinian_beziers-01.html, accessed on 14th March 2019.
  3. http://jc34.eklablog.com/le-trafic-viticole-sur-le-rail-entre-st-chinian-et-beziers-a127745832, accessed on 14th March 2019.
  4. https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemins_de_fer_de_l%27Hérault, accessed on 14th March 2019.
  5. http://adicab.over-blog.com/article-45469237.html, accessed on 14th March 2019.
  6. http://cahiers.de.minerve.pagesperso-orange.fr/HTML/cdf_bezierssaintchinian.html, accessed on 15th March 2019.
  7. https://www.cparama.com/forum/news/forum/34-herault-f41/page90.html, accessed on 15th March 2019.
  8. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 15th March 2019.
  9. http://archives-pierresvives.herault.fr/ark:/37279/vta558b794304186/dao/0#id:366744235?gallery=true&brightness=100.00&contrast=100.00&center=6293.450,-4742.306&zoom=6&rotation=0.000, accessed on 15th March 2019.
  10. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chemins_de_fer_de_l%27H%C3%A9rault_-_Commeyras_pont.jpg?uselang=fr, accessed on 15th March 2019.
  11. http://passes-montagnes.fr/htlm1/vf_saint-chinian_beziers-02.html, accessed on 15th March 2019.
  12. http://passes-montagnes.fr/htlm1/vf_saint-chinian_beziers-03.html, accessed on 16th March 2019.
  13. http://www.trains-de-jardin.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=119&t=2865, accessed on 16th March 2019.
  14. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 16th March 2019.
  15. http://cessenon.centerblog.net/6570059-la-gare-de-cessenon-en-1905, accessed on 16th March 2019.
  16. https://www.france-voyage.com/cities-towns/cessenon-sur-orb-11868.htm, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  17. http://www.inventaires-ferroviaires.fr/hd34/34069.a.pdf, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  18. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  19. http://passes-montagnes.fr/htlm1/vf_saint-chinian_beziers-04.html, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  20. http://archives-pierresvives.herault.fr/ark:/37279/vta5590858566372/dao/0#id:1943000407?gallery=true&brightness=100.00&contrast=100.00&center=6268.000,-4480.000&zoom=6&rotation=0.000, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  21. http://archives-pierresvives.herault.fr/ark:/37279/vta559085856f949/dao/0#id:1248117227?gallery=true&brightness=100.00&contrast=100.00&center=6248.000,-4476.000&zoom=6&rotation=0.000, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  22. http://www.tunnels-ferroviaires.org/tu34/34074.1.pdf, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  23. http://passes-montagnes.fr/htlm1/vf_saint-chinian_beziers-05.html, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  24. https://picclick.fr/CPA-Le-Pont-de-Reals-pr%C3%A9s-B%C3%A9ziers-687055-222976685932.html, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  25. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Chemins_de_fer_de_l%27H%C3%A9rault_-_Pont_routier_de_R%C3%A9als.jpg, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  26. http://archives-pierresvives.herault.fr/ark:/37279/vta55925bc277a29/dao/0#id:1252215251?gallery=true&brightness=100.00&contrast=100.00&center=6268.000,-4468.000&zoom=6&rotation=0.000, accessed on 17th March 2019.
  27. http://archives-pierresvives.herault.fr/ark:/37279/vta55925bc2a04d1/dao/0#id:2095234715?gallery=true&brightness=100.00&contrast=100.00&center=6304.000,-4476.000&zoom=6&rotation=0.000, accessed on 17th march 2019.
  28. https://www.cparama.com/forum/cazouls-les-beziers-t3798.html, accessed on 18th March 2019.
  29. https://dunuby.com/cazouls-l%C3%A8s-b%C3%A9ziers-34-h%C3%A9rault-cartes-postales.html, accessed on 18th March 2019.
  30. https://www.communes.com/cartes-postales-anciennes-cazouls-les-beziers, accessed on 18th March 2019.
  31. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Chemins_de_fer_de_l%27H%C3%A9rault_-_Cazouls_pont_du_Rhounel.jpg, accessed on 18th March 2019.
  32. http://www.mascoo.com/index.php?lg=en, accessed on 17th March 2019.

Bouches-du-Rhone and its Railways – Part 2 – Orgon to Barbentane

Réseau des Bouches du Rhône (BDR)

The line between Orgon, Chateaurenard and Barbentane is shown on the sketch-map below. The North-point is at about 11 o’clock.

In 1900, about 60,000 passenger tickets were sold. It took 1hr 23min to go from Barbentane to Orgon-Gare and 1hr 30min in reverse. The passenger service was terminated on April 10, 1937, this was surprising as at the time alternative road services were not available. In 1941 the service was, it seems, provisionally restored but in 1946 the line was permanently closed to passengers. [1]

The freight traffic was significant. In 1900, 24,500 tonnes of fertilizers, cereals and other goods were transported on slow speed trains and 20,000 tonnes of vegetables which required rapid delivery.The line from Orgon to Barbentane. [1]Trains to Barbentane and Tarascon followed the same route out of Orgon until just beyond the station at Plan d’Orgon. The route of the line to Tarscon is sown in pick on this 1930s Michelin Map and is covered elsewhere. [2]

The present station at Orgon served the PLM line. The secondary branch line to Barbentane was served by a smaller structure close to the PLM station. The PLM line had travelled North alongside the N7 before turning to the East and crossing the Durance River. The station buildings were of a more substantial nature than those on the secondary lines. The image below comes from Google Streetview and shows the station building in the early 21st century.The view above shows the station at Orgon. The picture is taken from the North-east.

The adjacent satellite image is taken from Google Earth. The station building is clearly substantial. The waiting shelter on the opposite platform also of some substance. There were a series of sidings at the station of which a number were still in use in the early 21st Century.

The station at Orgon sat on a piece of land between the Vallat Meyrol and the Canal Septentrional des Alpines and the Durance River. Just to the North of the station the PLM line crossed the Vallat Meyrol. That bridge can be seen at the top of the adjacent image.

The station for the secondary line to Barbentane sat, as shown below, close to the PLM station. It sat alongside the shelter on the platform across from the station building.The BdR railway station is on the right side of the above image. [1]

The adjacent image shows the location of the BdR station building and shows the approximate route of the line in green. [3]

From the station the BdR swung round the North side of Orgon alongside the Canal Septentrional des Alpines. The next two aerial images show the that alignment. [3]

The postcard image which follows that shows the line from the North with the town and castle behind.The old railway runs across the centre of this image. [4]

Before heading away from Orgon it is worth a look at contemporary images of the PLM bridge across the Durance River. The next few images give a good impression of the structure.The four images immediately above show the bridge between Orgon and Cheval Blanc across the Durance River. [5]Leaving Orgon it appears the the line first followed the south bank of the Canal Septentrional des Alpines for just a short distance, but when that turned away to the Northwest the line continued in a westerly direction. The route to Plan d’Orgon is shown on the following excerpts from 1955 aerial images from the IGN site. [6]

The aerial images show the old railway line deviating away from the D7N as it approaches Plan d’Orgon.

The Station at Pland’Organ was on the north side of the town and was still in use as a railway goods yard until 2006. The station building was demolished in 1979.

Railway tracks still remain at the site of the station in the early 21st century. Details of the station are provided in another of my posts. [2]

Plan d’Orgon station site seen from the Southeast. [7]

Plan d’Orgon was a junction station. We have already covered the line which served Tarascon, leaving the Barbentane Line just to the Northwest of the station. It is shown as a red line on the staellite image below. We continue along the green line.After crossing Route de Cavaillon at level, the line continued in a Northwesterly direction. This Google Streetview image is taken from Route de Cavaillon looking Northwest. The aerial image below shows the route of the two lines in 1955. [3]Travelling Northwest, trains followed the D7N. The line ran around 30 metres to the Northeast of the road for some distance. Modern maps still show the line which closed relatively recently. [6]Looking back along the line from the D74C (Route de Saint Jean).The image above is taken looking Northwest along the line from the same location.

The adjacent map shows the route of the line through the village of St.-Andiol. [6]

St.-Andiol Station still has its tracks in place and part of the station building as well. The tracks are overgrown on the approach to the station from the Southeast but they are still in place as the picture from Avenue de 19 Mars shows below.Looking North from Avenue du 19 Mars in Saint-Andiol.Looking South from the D24C (Route des Agasses/Avenue des ANC Combattants) in Saint Andiol.Looking North through the Saint-Andiol Station site from approximately the same location in the early 21st Century. [8]Saint-Andiol Railway Station in the early 20th Century. [9]The view from Chemin des Muscadelles North of Saint-Andiol Station, looking back South along the line.The image above looks North from a side street close by in 2012.

The adjacent image shows the D24 and the railway, North of Saint-Andiol, travelling North in very close proximity. The route of the line then follows the Chemin Vieux de Saint-Andiol through Saint-Michel and the southwestern suburbs of Cabannes. As the road bears Northeast towards the town centre, the railway turns Northwest and runs into what was the Railway Station site. The IGN map below shows Station. [6]

Once again the tracks remained in place in 2012 when the pictures were taken from  Chemin de Barrie and from the end of Avenue de Verdun. These modern pictures are supplemented by 4 early postcard photographs of the Station.

Northwest of Cabannes, the railway followed a straight course alongside the meandering D26 (Route de Noves) before the road and railway ran parallel to each other for just under a kilometre, as can be seen below. The line then ran cross-country away from the route of roads until reaching Noves. On the way it crossed the D26 and the D7N.

Looking Northwest towards the site of Cabannes Station from Chemin de Barrie.The view of the station site from the end of the tarmac on Avenue de Verdun. Two very early images of Cabannes Railway Station. [11]Two early 20th century pictures of Cabannes railway station. [11]The D26, Route de Noves and the BdR Railway run parallel to each other for around a kilometre. The picture is from Google Streetview and was taken in 2012.Looking towards Noves from the D7N, another Google Streetview image.The railway approaches Noves from the Southeast along the line of trees visible in the bottom right of this image and which crosses the D7N road running up the right side of the satellite image.The railway line still passes North of the Noves Stadium and then curves towards the Northwest, entering the station site .The tracks can still be glimpsed through the bushes at the edge of the Stadium car park.Two photographs of the Station at Noves in the early 20th Century. [10]Noves Station. Noves Station from Avenue Agricol Viala. This Google Streetview image looks back towards Cabannes.The railway left (and still, in the early 21st century, leaves) Noves in  Northwesterly direction alongside the Cd28 (Route de Chateaurenard). This picture comes from Google Streetview and was taken in 2012. By the time the D28 has been reached the railway is travelling in a Westerly direction. The IGN map below shows the route as it approaches the outskirts of Chateaurenard. [12]This image is a second map from IGN of Chateaurenard and shows the railway running across the North side of the modern town. [12] This image covers the same area as the map immediately above. It is a 1955 aerial photograph of Chateaurenard. [12]

The Station at Chateaurenard was one of the significant stations on the route to Barbentane. The building was commensurate with that status. Unlike many of the other stations/halts on the line, the station building was a two-storey structure.

The four images above show Chateaurenard Station near the beginning of the 20th Century. [13].

These two images show engines and rolling stock on the Station site. [13]Google Earth satellite image of Chateaurenard Railway Station in the early 21st century.Map of the Station site provided on line by IGN. [12]Looking back from Chateaurenard Station towards Noves. The photographer is standing on Avenue Leo Lagrange.Looking forward through the station site from the East. The photographer has turned through 180 degrees from the last picture. The water-tank is on the right. The two-storey station building can just be seen beyond the canopy left of centre.The two-storey station building, taken from Rue de la Gare to the South.The Station building from the North. [1]Looking back across the station site from Chemin du Mas de Quentin.Looking West from Rue Paul Aubert at the Western end of the Station site.The present railway line follows the route shown here through Rognonas to join up with the main line which heads Southwest to Tarascon from Avignon, just to the North of Mas de Corne. This is alos the route of the old railway, as can be seen on the aerial photograph below. 

There was a small Halt at Rognonas on the BdR line of which there appears to be no evidence on aerial photographs from 1955 or more modern maps.

On the route of the PLM line from Tarascon to Avignon there was a station for the two villages of Barbentane and Rognonas. It is marked ‘Gare de fret’ on the map from IGN below.The same area is shown on this 1955 aerial image.

Barbentane-Rognonas Station Buildings.

The picture above shows Barbentane-Rognonas Station on the PLM line. The old BdR station building is behind the photographer over his left shoulder. [14]

The adjacent IGN map shows both station buildings and illustrates their relative positions. [12]

The pictures below show the BdR building today.The BdR Station Building in the 21st century. The picture is taken from the south at the end of the Impasse de la Gare.The same building taken from the West. [1]The picture above is taken from the bridge over the main-line which sits just to the North of the BdR Station building. The old PLM building can be seen in the right-background. This is a Google Streetview image.

The adjacent image is taken over private land from the East. This 1955 aerial image clearly shows the location of the station, its buildings and track work were still complete in 1955.

Finally a few notes about the whole line and the station at Barbentane.

On 24th July 24 1843 Messrs Talabot and Frères [15], of the Railway Company of Avignon in Marseilles , obtain the concession of the line Avignon to Marseilles. On 18th October 1847 the Barbentane- Saint-Chemas section of the PLM line opened and the Barbentane station was declared open. It was given the name “Barbentane-Rognonas,” although initially it had been thought to call it Rognonas Station. [14]

The secondary line from Barbentane to Orgon was developed as part of a series of secondary lines financed and built in the Departement of Bouche-du-Rhone by the Société de construction des Batignolles. [16]  In 1882, in Bouches-du-Rhone, the company changed its name to: , this company became the Société nouvelle des chemins de fer des Bouches-du-Rhône, then in 1886, Compagnie des chemins de fer régionaux des Bouches-du-Rhône. The company folded in 1913 and was taken over by the Departement. It became known as the Régie départementale des transports des Bouches-du-Rhône, better known under the acronym RdT13. [1]

This explains how the BdR station for the Barbentane-Orgon Line became known as the Batignolles station. The line was declared of public utility  by promulgation on 30th August 1884. Its purpose was to serve the rich agricultural plains located between the Rhône, Durance and Alpilles and promote the transport of the crops both to the Rhone valley via the station PLM Station at Barbentane, and to Marseilles and the Côte d’Azur via the Orgon PLM station. [1]

The work on the line began in November 1886> Temporary track was laid to access the River Durance where the gravel necessary for the embankments was extracted. Construction was complete in January 1888 and the line opened that spring, along with the line from Saint-Rémy to Plan-d’Orgon.

The line measured/measures 28 km.and was travelled in just over an hour. The track has/had very shallow gradients. The ruling grade was downhill from Plan-d’Orgon to Barbentane, which was the direction of travel of the most heavily loaded trains.

References

  1. http://bne.lagramillere.free.fr/barbentane-la-ligne-du-bdr-de-barbentane-a-orgon-gare.htm, accessed on 7th March 2019.
  2. https://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/03/09/bouches-du-rhone-and-its-railways-part-1-tarascon-to-plan-dorgon.
  3. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 11th March 2019.
  4. https://www.geneanet.org/cartes-postales/view/2941816#0, accessed on 12th March 2019.
  5. http://www.en-noir-et-blanc.com/orgon-p1-1471.html, accessed on 12th March 2019.
  6. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 12th March 2019.
  7. http://marc-andre-dubout.org/cf/baguenaude/plandorgon-tarascon/plan-tara.htm, accessed on 7th March 2019.
  8. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St-Andiol-gare-81.JPG, accessed on 12th March 2019.
  9. http://papybricolo.over-blog.com/2018/06/cp-gare-de-saint-andiol.html, accessed on 12th March 2019.
  10. https://www.cparama.com/forum/noves-t15640.html, accessed on 12th March 2019.
  11. https://www.cparama.com/forum/cabannes-t29102.html, accessed on 12th March 2019.
  12. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 13th March 2019.
  13. https://www.cparama.com/forum/chateaurenard-de-provence-t12184.html, accessed on 13th March 2019.
  14. http://bne.lagramillere.free.fr/barbentane-gare-de-barbentane-rognonas.htm, accessed on 13th March 2019.
  15. Paulin François Talabot (1799-1885) was a polytechnic engineer, banker and French politician. In 1836 he created the Compagnie des mines de la Grand-Combe et des chemins de fer du Gard. He was principal shareholder of the Compagnie du chemin de fer d’Avignon à Marseille which eventually became part of the Compagnie du Chemin de fer Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée (PLM),  of which he became the general director (1862 -1882). He participated in the creation in 1863 Credit Lyonnais and, in 1864 with the help of the Rothschild family, he created the bank Societe Generale (of which he was the first director), to compete with the Crédit Mobilier of the Péreire brothers. In addition to being a very wealthy industrialist, Paulin Talabot was elected several times as a deputy of the government (supporting Napoleon III) and general adviser of the Gard. [14]
  16. Société de Construction des Batignolles [19] was a civil engineering company in France created in 1871 as a public limited company from the 1846 limited partnership of Ernest Gouin et Cie. Initially founded to construct locomotives, the company produced the first iron bridge in France, and moved away from mechanical to civil engineering projects in France, North Africa, Europe, and in East Asia and South America. Conversion to a public company, the Société de Construction des Batignolles (SCB), in 1872 allowed the company to raise capital. By 1880 over 5 million francs of shares had been issued. [17] The new company was to continue the work of Ernest Gouin et Cie.; shipbuilding, bridges and other civil engineering works, and machine and locomotive building. Ernest Goüin died in 1885, to be succeeded by his son Jules as chairman of the company. [17] With most mainline railways in Europe complete by the 1870s, the group’s search for contracts became increasingly international. By the 1880s civil engineering was becoming the core business.[6] The company undertook some large railway construction projects such as the construction of the line from Bône to Guelma in Algeria for the Compagnie des chemins de fer Bône-Guelma, and the line from Dakar to Saint-Louis, Senegal. These were operated as concessions by subsidiaries of the SCB. By 1913 the company had fourteen subsidiary companies located throughout the world running railways.[17] The company also constructed canals for irrigation, ports and harbours, and water and sewerage systems.[5][6] Profits from concessions in north Africa, in particular Tunisia, were high (over 25% in the 1890s), and allowed expansion without share issues or loans.[17]
  17. Rang-ri Park-Barjot, “The French Societe de Construction des Batignolles : From manufacture to public utilities”http://www.econ.upf.edu, Department of Economics and Business, Pompeu Fabra University; European Business History Association (EBHA), 2004 Conference.
  18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soci%C3%A9t%C3%A9_de_Construction_des_Batignolles, accessed on 13th March 2019.

Bouches-du-Rhone and its Railways – Part 1 – Tarascon to Plan d’Orgon

Réseau des Bouches du Rhône (BDR)

The Departement of Bouches-du-Rhone

The different routes which made up the Bouches-du-Rhone network. [1]

The first line that we will look at is that from Tarascon to Plan d’Orgon which passed through St. Remy de Provence. The route is shown on the 1930s Michelin map below. [2]This line branched off the line between Orgon and Chateau-renard which can also be seen on the map above. That line continued beyond Chateau-renard to Barbentane as the map below shows. [3] On this map, the route to Tarascon can be seen leaving the route shown at the Gare de Plan d’Orgon in the bottom right of the map. We will return to the Barbentane to Orgon line once we have looked at the Tarascon to Plan d’Orgon line.The line from Tarascon to Saint-Rémy section of the route to Plan d’Orgon was built by the Bouches-du-Rhône railway company, and opened in 1874. The section of Saint-Rémy at Orgon was opened only in 1887, at the same time as the Barbentane-Orgon line of which it constituted a branch. [5]

On 19th February 1870 the concession for the Pas-des-Lanciers to Martigues and Tarascon to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence lines was granted to the Société des railways of Bouches-du-Rhône. The line between Tarascon and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence opened on 25th May 1874. [4]

The company became, in 1913, the Departmental Board of Bouches-du-Rhone, which continued to operate the line until its closure in 1950. [5]

The map above shows the location of the west end of the line at Tarascon (close to Beaucaire) and North of Arles. The map below shows schematically the relation between Becauaire and the terminus at Tarascon.The plan above shows the relative arrangement of the various stations and railway lines either side of the Rhone in Beaucaire and Tarascon in 1904. [4]

The adjacent images show the mainline station at Tarascon. The station formed a junction in the mainline. Tarascon junction station sat at the meeting of lines from Marseilles, Nîmes and Avignon and the companies PLM and Midi. The station for the line to Orgon was behind the station buildings in these pictures. [2][5]A series of views of the standard-gauge station at Tarascon taken from a variety of vantage points. [2]

The green box below highlights the location of the standard-gauge station, the red circle highlights the secondary line station and the line which heads Southeast from it is shown in red.The site of the station is shown above in the mid 1990s. The water tower and the passenger facility were still standing at that time, as were a number of other buildings. [2]

The adjacent picture was taken for Google Streetview in 2016. The water tower remained at that date but the passenger building had disappeared.

There was a relatively large station yard at the lower level alongside the curving line from Tarascon to Arles and originally a connecting line on a gradient that allowed the transfer of goods vehicles between the main and secondary lines.

The mainline from Avignon direct to Arles had a number of goods sidings and the Tarascon to Orgon line passed under these in a tunnel which is still evident in the 21st Century, as the image below shows.

The line from Tarascon Station passed under the mainline in a short tunnel as it headed out into the countryside. This image is taken from Google Streetview.These two monochrome aerial images show the route of the line travelling East. [7]Trains left the secondary station at Tarascon just after 8am and again at 2:10pm, 5:45pm and 7:50pm. All of these trains travelled as far as St.-Remy-de-Provence. Two reached Plan d’Orgon and one of these travelled on to Orgon. [2]

The rout East from Tarascon was only very gently graded and the farmland through which the line travelled was essentially flat. The image below looks back along the track-bed towards Tarascon at the location marked on the momochrome aerial image above with the numeral 1.This second Google Streetview image is taken at the same location as the first and it shows the railway formation as it heads East. The picture illustrates how flat the countryside was. From this point onwards, for a number of kilometres the railway followed a relatively straight path to Saint-Étienne-du-Grès.The Station at St.-Étienne-du-Grès. [6]Three further pictures taken in the early 20th Century at St.-Étienne-du-Grès from the Cparama website. [6]

Occasionally it is relatively easy to fix accurately on the line of an old railway. As the line approached St.-Étienne-du-Grès, the picture below (taken in 2012) shows some remaining track from the railway where it crosses a minor road (Chemin du Mas d’Artaud).Looking back West along the line towards Tarascon. From the crossing at Chemin du Mas d’Artaud, the railway crossed the fields to arrive on the North  side of St.-Étienne-du-Grès. A length of that route is the modern single lane road – Chemin de la Malautière. The station at St.-Étienne-du-Grès was just off the bottom right corner of the above map. Pictures of the station in the early 20th Century are shown above.The station at St.-Étienne-du-Grès was at the location ringed in red. The St.-Étienne-du-Grès Co-operative is still in existence at the location ringed in green. [7]The route of the line between the station and the co-operative in St.-Étienne-du-Grès. In this aerial image the co-operative at Saint Etienne du Gres is visible in the bottom-left. The route of the old line is shown as a red line. The route runs along a line roughly equidistant between the D99 and the Roubine de Terrenque (a narrow slow flowing canal /river. [7]This view of the Co-operative buildings is taken from Place du Marché (the D99). The route of the old railway is behind these buildings.Looking East along the old line from Chemin du Pont Carlin (location 2 on the above aerial image). The station which served Mas-Blanc-des-Alpilles was somewhere along this length of the track-bed.A similar location on an modern IGN map, the mauve dotted line indicates what was the route of the old railway. [7]A cycleway follows the route of the old railway fro a short length – Eurovelo 8. This is the view along the line at the start of the cycleway. [8]This is the view along the line adjacent to the Zone d’Activites de la Massane. [8]The D99 now switches from it original route (nowthe D99a) to follow the line of the old railway. The cycleway joins the route close to the crossing of the Gaudre du Rougadou. [8]The four monochrome aerial images above from 1955 show the route of the railway between Saint-Etienne-du-Gres and Saint-Remy-de-Provence. [7]The old railway track-bed follows the mauve dotted line to reach the line of the modern D99 which then follows the old track-bed across the North of Saint-Remy-de-Provence. [7]A closer view,  extracted from the aerial image above, is focussed on the location of theSaint-Remy de Provence Railway Station in 1955. The railway formation is now hidden under the D99. [7]Looking from West to east along the D99 through what was the railway station site. This image is taken from Google Streetview looking along what is now Avenue du Marechal Juin.

The next few pictures show the railway station while it was still in use. The first two show railcars (automotrices) standing in the station at Saint-Remy-de-Provence. The following two  images show the station when in use at the time steam power was in use.The old station building was still standing in 2017. This picture is taken from the old station forecourt. The railway lines were on the far side of the building where the D99 now runs, as shown below.South of the present town, is the site of what was a roman city – Glanum. Some remains are still visible. The destruction of the site in 270 by the Barbarians, followed by the development of Saint-Rémy, resulted in the ruins being covered gradually by alluvial silt.Moving on from Saint Remy, the line continued across relatively flat terrain towards Plan d’Orgon. The route first follows the D99 along Avenue du 19 Mars 1962, Avenue Mal de Lattre de Tassigny and Avenue General Goislard Monsabert before leave the D99 behind for a while to run along Voie Communale de Jean Piquet as far as La Galine.The line then ran along the North shoulder of the D99. [7]Occasionally pulling away from the road to the North. [7]The station at Mollege appears at the top right of the last monochrome image above. The modern IGN plan shows the location and the station building is marked on the map. [7] The building has been extended a little, as shown below.The railway then ran along the North side of the D99 towards Plan d’Orgon. Before reaching the town, it first drifted away from the D99 and then deviated away to the North so as to be able to swing round the town and join the Barbentane to Orgon line.The line from Tarascon reached the Barbentane line after crossing the D7N.After the junction, the line crossed the D99 (Route de Cavaillon) and entered the station area.Plan d’Organ’s station remained in use as a goods facility until 2006 when the town’s fertilizer plant closed down. The station building had been removed in 1979.The Station at Plan d’Orgon. [2]The Station at Plan d’Orgon. [9]The Station at Plan d’Orgon. [10]Tracks remain at the station site. This view is taken from the South-East. [2]

References

  1. http://rue_du_petit_train.pagesperso-orange.fr/lignes/sudest/reseau-BDR.htm, accessed on 7th March 2019.
  2. http://marc-andre-dubout.org/cf/baguenaude/plandorgon-tarascon/plan-tara.htm, accessed on 7th March 2019.
  3. http://bne.lagramillere.free.fr/barbentane-la-ligne-du-bdr-de-barbentane-a-orgon-gare.htm, accessed on 7th March 2019.
  4. https://trains.fandom.com/wiki/Tarascon_-_Saint-Remy-de-Provence, accessed on 7th March 2019.
  5. http://voiesdesaffectees.free.fr/tarascon-orgon.html, accessed on 7th March 2019.
  6. https://www.cparama.com/forum/saint-etienne-du-gres-t29127.html, accessed on 8th March 2019
  7. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 7th, 8th, 9th March 2019.
  8. http://www.inventaires-ferroviaires.fr/hd13/13057.a.pdf, accessed on 9th March 2019.
  9. https://www.cparama.com/forum/plan-d-orgon-t29120.html, accessed on 9th March 2019.
  10. http://bne.lagramillere.free.fr/barbentane-la-ligne-du-bdr-de-barbentane-a-orgon-gare.htm, accessed on 10th March 2019.

Tramways de l’Aude – Narbonne to Fleury d’Aude

Narbonne’s tramways have been explored in some depth in my previous post …..

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/11/03/tramways-de-laude-tramways-in-narbonne

The route to Fleury set off Northeast from the tramway station on the forecourt of the Gare du Midi in Narbonne. After a very short distance the tramway route turned to a more southeasterly direction and in turn, within a short distance, left behind the suburbs of Narbonne.Things in the early 21st century are much different. In the image above the line can be seen leaving the station and heading East. [1] In the image below that line is now a road flanked by domestic dwellings. The cemetery appears to be essentially unchanged.The route as far as Vinnasan is shown on a composite of aerial photographs from 1939 to 1958 below. [1] Most of the route followed what is now the D68 over relatively flat countryside. I have not been able to find any images of the tramway between Narbonne and Vinnasan. The Google Streetview images below show the route of the tramway through what were open fields and are now suburbs of Narbonne.The old road and tramway route are on the left.

The tramway crossed farmland and a number of irrigation canals before reaching Vinnasin.

Vinassan

Vinnasan is now sited very close to the A9/E80 Autoroute which runs just to the East of the area of the adjacent aerial image. The tramway route has been superimposed onto an aerial image from 1958, although it would by that date have been long-gone.

This is a close-up image of the top right of the above ‘snake’ illustrating the length of the route to Vinnasan from Narbonne. The tramway by-passed the centre of the village, taking a more easterly route than the main north-south road through the village (now the D31). The postcard images above come from the central area of Vinnasan, both taken from the main north-south road which is now the D31. They are matched to modern images which show relatively little change. [2][3] The tramway ran to the east of the main village road.

North of Vinnasan, the tramway followed the modern D31 north to a T-junction with the road between Coursan and Salled’Aude. The present day D1118 meets the D31 and the D31 turns East to Salles d’Aude.

From the junction the tramway continued eastwards to Salles d’Aude past the Winery of Chateau Pech-Celeyran-Saint-Exupery.

Salles d’Aude

This 1945 aerial image shows Salles d’Aude and the road which is now the modern D31 crossing the lower half of the old village from West to East, entering immediately below the woodland in the top left of the image and exiting off the bottom edge of the image close to the right-hand corner. The vestiges of the tramway route can be seen to the south side of the properties which flank the road [1]This picture is taken from South of the village and shows the tramway route on embankment in front of the village. It runs approximately along the line of what is now Rue du Grimal. [4]

The station was sited to the Southeast of the village in the area highlighted by the green ellipse on the aerial image above, which places it some distance to the right of the picture immediately above.Sketch plan of the Station at Salles d’Aude. [5]The Station at Salles d’Aude. [5]Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0T No. 21 at Salles d’Aude. [5]Another Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0T, this time unidentified, at the Station. [5]

It was only a short distance from Salles d’Aude to Fleury d’Aude. Tha station at Salles D’Aude was at the topleft of the satellite image below. The tramway route is shown in red and the location of the station at Fleury d’Aude is shown with a green box both on the satellite image and the aerial photo below.

Fleury d’Aude

The western entrance to the village is shown on this extract from a 1945 aerial photograph. The tramway station location is highlighted by the green rectangle. By 1945, the station site had already been subsumed into the Co-op site.

The centre of the village of Fleury d’Aude is shown below on the next 1945 aerial image. The central circular area of the old village is typical of many such villages in Southern France. The smaller aerial image above was taken at the same time as the one below and abuts directly onto it.The station was out to the West of the centre of the village. The building in the bottom right of the green rectangle appears in a number of the pictures below. It is at the right-had side of the sketch plan below, just beyond the station site boundary on the sketch. It can be seen beyond the tram in the first postcard image below. [5]The station at Fleury d’Aude. [6]Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0T No. 1 at Fleury d’Aude Station. [6]The two images above show the building referred to in the last paragraph above. The first is a closer image of the building on an early 20th century postcard the second is taken in the early 21st century.The station cafe and passenger and goods facilities. The engine shed is visible behind the locomotive which is preparing to leave for Narbonne. [6]The cafe building in the early 21st Century with the modern Co-op buildings on the site of the station.Fleury d’Aude Station. [6]

The Co-op which was built on the station site is called La Vendemiaire.[7] The Co-op was created in 1937 and the building opened its doors to the wine harvest in 1938. In 1979, 652 members still cultivated 889 hectares of vines (just a little more than one hectare per cooperator) and the cellar vinified 91,000 hectoliters of table wines.The Co-op building soon after construction in the late 1930s. The tramway station was under the forecourt and the facade of the new building. The brick building at the left of the picture is the building which housed the station cafe and appears in images above. [8]

This is the final planned post on the Tramways de l’Aude.

I hope that you have enjoyed the journey.

References

  1. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 20th to 27th November 2018.
  2. https://www.fortunapost.com/cartes-postales-francaises/3261-carte-postale-ancienne-11-vinassan-avenue-de-coursan.html, accessed on 15th November 2018.
  3. https://www.fortunapost.com/cartes-postales-francaises/3262-carte-postale-ancienne-11-vinassan-mission-et-mairie-petrolette-sur-cale.html, accessed on 30th November 2018.
  4. http://www.sallesdaude.fr/fr/decouvrir/un-peu-dhistoire, accessed on 30th November 2018.
  5. http://www.cpaaude.fr/THEMES/TRAMWAYS/index_fichiers/Page1105.htm, accessed on 15th November 2018.
  6. https://www.cparama.com/forum/fleury-d-aude-t259.html, accessed on 15th November 2018
  7. http://www.lavendemiaire.com, accessed on 3rd December 2018.
  8. http://www.cavescooperatives.fr/article-27593489.html, accessed on 2nd December 2018.

 

Tramways de l’Aude – Narbonne to Ouveillan

Trams to Ouveillan took a relatively tortuous route out of Narbonne. The route is covered well on this link:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/11/03/tramways-de-laude-tramways-in-narbonne.

For the sake of completeness, some of the details on that link are repeated here ….

Narbonne

The tramway station was sited on the forecourt of the Gare du Midi as shown in the image below. The tramway station building is on the right of the picture.Trams to Ouveillan left the station in a southeasterly direction travelling roughly in parallel with the Midi mainline. The route to Thezan (Line No. 1, below) hugged the boundary wall of the Gare du Midi’s yard, the route to Ouveillan (Line No. 3, below) diverted slightly to the East.The tram (above) leaves the station and heads Southwest. It follows this route to the East of the Statue des Combatants. [7]The tram continues heading South towards the Canal du Midi. [8]This image shows a tram further along the route to Ouveillan (Line No. 3  above). It has reached the point on its route which is furthest to the Southwest and is now passing under the standard gauge line before turning Northeast. [9]The tramway route to Ouveillan (black arrow) ran along what is now the Quai d’Alsace and then turned Northeast as shown below.The tramway passed under the Standard Gauge line as shown in the 1930 aerial image above and then turned North around the boundary wall of the station goods yard. [10]

It then followed that boundary wall in a northeasterly direction. Its own marshalling yard is shown on the adjacent image. [10]

The next image shows the further extension of the line alongside the Western boundary of the Gare du Midi goods yard heading North-east towards Cuxac-d’Aude. [10]The monochrome images above have been aligned to show the tramway running up and down the photograph. It actually ran in a more northeasterly direction. The tramway followed what is now the D913 Rue de Cuxac along the western side of the large standard gauge facilities until it reached a branch to a series of sidings and a transshipment wharf/shed. At this point the mainline drifted to the West to follow the line of the Canal du Midi. It can be seen running towards the top left of the picture above. [17]This Google Streetview image shows the line of the tramway to Ouveillan in black and the approximate line of the route into the transshipment yard and wharf in red. In this post we are following the black arrow!The tree to the right of this image marks the point vthat the tramway aligns itself to the Canal. For some distance now the trams ran alongside the Canal behind the line of trees which flanked the Canal.

The next two views show the Canal du Midi flanked by trees. I believe that the tramway ran beyond the trees on the far bank of the Canal in each image.The Canal du Midi looking South.The Canal du Midi looking North from the same location.

The trams had an easy journey alongside the Canal and only left it when the Canal turned away from the route the tram needed to take to Cuxac.

The tramway alignment was approximately as shown on the aerial photograph from 1945. The bridge over the River Aude can be seen clearly in the aerial image just at the point where the tramway reaches the village of Cuxac d’Aude.

Cuxac d’Aude

The village of Cuxac was approached by trams crossing the Rive Aude on the bridge illustrated below. [2] The bridge was a steel truss girder bridge which has now been replaced.The first image below is shows the centre of Cuxac from the air in 1945. The bridge over the River Aude can be picked out at the bottom of the picture. The tramway station is at the centre of the red oval. The tramway route is marked as a red line. [6]The station location is shown in the mid 1970s on the next image (adjacent), and in the mid-1980s in the one below. [6]The final image (adjacent), shows the same area in the early 21st century from Google Earth. The tramway route is still evident in the street layout and the station building has been preserved and is in private ownership. It is used as a pizza takeaway business in the 21st century!

The picture immediately below is an image taken from north of the junction central to the adjacent image just above the town name and pink marker. The view looks southwards down Boulevard Jean Jaures. The curve in the tramway lines accommodates the change in direction of the road at the junction which is also evident in the adjacent image. [2]The second image (below), taken Just to the south of the one above, looks south towards Narbonne and so bears the legend, L’Avenue de Narbonne. [2]A similar location after the removal of the tramway. The street is now known as the Boulevard de Vingre. [4]Boulevard Jean Jaures or Boulevard de Vingre (D13) in the early 21st century. This image was taken from approximately the same location as the first postcard view of the street, also looking South.

Travelling North-northeast from the centre of the village along  what is now the D413, the trams ran on the West side of the road until they reached what was, in the early 20th century, primarily, open ground on the edge of the village where the station was built.A tram arrives at the Station in Cuxac from Narbonne having travelled through the village first. [3] This tram has travelled from Ouveillan and will go on through the village of Cuxac d’Aude to Narbonne. It obscures the view of the station building. [3]This tram has also travelled from Ouveillan and will go on through the village of Cuxac d’Aude to Narbonne. [3]This and the previous monochrome image show the station building to good effect. [4]This view shows the line ahead to Ouveillan as a tram arrives from there on its way to Narbonne. [5]

The journey to Ouveillan from Cuxac was over relatively level ground. Trams followed what is now the D13 through to Ouveillan, after travelling through the suburbs of Cuxac on the Rue Louis Mestre.On the way, trams passed through what is now known as Pont des Graves, as can been seen on the adjacent satellite image from Google Maps.

Pont des Graves

At this point the current D13 bridges the Canal d’Atterrissement de l’Etang de Capestang.

Back in 1939, which is the date of the earliest aerial image available, the bridge and canal were in place but the small community of Pont des Graves had still to form. This can be seen clearly on the aerial image below. [10]The journey from Pont des Graves to Ouveillan was direct and level, following the D13.

Ouveillan

The tramway entered Ouveillan along the Avenue de Narbonne.The tramway on Avenue de Narbonne. This view looks towards Cuxac. [1]Approximately the same location in the early 21st century.A train heads away from Ouveillan tramway station along the Avenue de Narbonne. [1]Approximately the same location in the early 21st century.Further Northwest along what is now the D13, the tramway is still visible, and this card refers to the road on which it is running as Avenue de la Gare. [1]The same location, once again in the 21st century.This is an earlier, pre-tramway view of the Avenue de la Gare. [11]This time the tramway is in place. The station is off to the left of the photographer. [11]Avenue de la Gare was also known as Avenue de Saint Chinian. It bears that alternative name today and is part of the modern D13. This postcard view looks back Southeast towards the centre of Ouveillan. [1]It seems that the road was known also as Avenue de la Croisade. This excellent view shows the tramway bearing off the main road into the station site. [1]Almost exactly the same location in the early 21st century. The station site is to the right of the main road beyond the houses.The station was in the open area to the right of the plane trees.In the light of the size of other Tramways de l’Aude stations the terminus at Ouveillan was well provided for in infrastructure terms and it was sited adjacent to what would become the wine co-op buildings of the town which can be seen in the Google Streetview image above. [12]

We finish this post with two images from the terminus at Ouveillan.

References

  1. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/cartes-postales/europe/france/11-aude/autres-communes?f=keyword:ouveillan, accessed on 25th November 2018.
  2. https://www.communes.com/cartes-postales-anciennes-cuxac-d-aude, accessed on 25th November 2018.
  3. https://www.cparama.com/forum/cuxac-t6776.html, accessed on 25th November 2018.
  4. http://www.en-noir-et-blanc.com/cuxac-d-aude-p1-1339.html, accessed on 25th November 2018.
  5. I picked up this image some time ago and did not keep a link reference for it. I cannot now find its original location on the internet. I will gladly add the relevant link if someone is able to point it out, accessed on 25th November 2018.
  6. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 25th November 2018.
  7. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/collections/cartes-postales/france/narbonne/narbonne-train-locomotive-avenue-de-la-gare-et-monument-des-combattants-chemin-de-fer-belle-animation-453866037.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  8. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/collections/cartes-postales/france/narbonne/aude-11-narbonne-joli-plan-sur-les-boulevards-de-la-gare-et-du-college-avec-voiture-ancienne-animation-janson-343316390.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  9. https://collection-jfm.fr/t/cartes-postales-anciennes/france/11-aude/narbonne-11, accessed on 4th November 2018.
  10. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 8th November 2018.
  11. http://www.belcaire-pyrenees.com/2016/10/test.html, accessed on 26th November 2018.
  12. http://www.cpaaude.fr/THEMES/TRAMWAYS/index_fichiers/Page2347.htm, accessed on 26th November 2018.

 

Tramways de l’Aude – Tramways in Narbonne

The city of Narbonne was served by three tramway routes. The first  travelled West to Thezan and the remainder of the network of the Tramways de l’Aude. That tram route is covered in the post which can be found on the link below:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/11/02/tramways-de-laude-thezan-to-narbonne

Trams left the station building which was opposite the Gare du Midi and headed South and West through the city before leaving in the direction of Thezan. This was Line No. 1 on the sketch plan below. [16]The tramway station building was small. It can be seen above, just in front of the water tanks outside the Gare du Midi. The tramway itself is also visible above, running from the tramway  station building off to the left of the picture. [1]

The tramway ran on the right-hand side of the Gare du Midi boundary wall and can just be picked out on the adjacent aerial image from 1930s. [17]The tramway building can be seen on the right of this image. [2]The Gare du Midi [3][10]The Gare du Midi with the tramway in front. The water tanks and the tramway station are visible once again. [3]A similar view taken in the early 21st century.A great shot (above) of the tramway station with the Gare du Midi behind and the tramway track just in front – in the bottom left of the picture. [18]

The Gare du Midi building dominates the adjacent picture. The relative size of the tramway building can easily be seen. The building sits to the right of the two watertanks. The tramway can also be seen on the right-hand side of the image. [17]The station shown from the opposite direction. The photographer is standing close to the tramway building. [4]One final postcard view of the station forecourt in the early 1900s. [9]The tram (above) leaves the station and heads Southwest. There are two routes travelling in this direction. The one pictured to the East of the Statue des Combatants and one (not visible) to the West of the statue. The route to the West of the statue is the one which heads for Thezan. The tram in this picture is on the first part of the tramway to Ouveillan. [8]Approximately the same view in the early 21st century.This 1930 aerial image shows the tramway junction to the North of the Statue des Combatants. [17]Taken from the Northeast, this view shows the Statue des Combatants and the approximate alignment of the two tramway routes heading Southwest from the Gare du Midi. Line No. 1 heads for Thezan de Corbieres. Line No. 3 heads Southwest before turning through 180 degrees, passing under the railway line and heading for Ouveillan.A little further Southwest the Boulevard du Gare (now Boulevard Frederic Mistral) met the Boulevard du College (now Boulevard Marcel Sembat). The tramway track was on the left-hand side of the Boulevard du Gare which is on the left of the picture. [10]The same location in the early 21st century.Heading South towards the Canal du Midi. [10]This image shows a tram further along the route to Ouveillan (Line No. 3 on the sketch plan above). It has reached the point on its route which is furthest to the Southwest and is now passing under the standard gauge line before turning Northeast. [13]This image shows the three bridges over the Canal du Midi and I have added the two tramway routes for clarity. Both can be picked out on the image.[5]The same location and again it is just possible to pick out the tramway tracks. [6]The under-bridge in the 21st century.The Standard Gauge Line can be glimpsed in the upper right quadrant of this picture. The bridge carrying what we have called Line No. 1 in just in front of the railway bridge. Line No. 3 does not quite make it onto the right-hand side of the image. [7]A tram returning from Ouveillan. The railway bridge can just be glimpsed in the left background. This location is marked on the sketch plan of the tramways above as a single dot which is elsewhere given the name, ‘Arret Narbonne Ville.’ [15][16]A 21st Century picture of the same location but with the camera much closer to road level. The building on the right is that on he right of the monochrome image and the building on the left clearly match those in the monochrome image above.This picture shows the location of the Arret Narbonne Ville with a tram leaving to the right to head for the Gare du Midi. The same direction as the tram in the monochrome image above. [16]The two tramways are easily seen on this 1930s aerial photograph. Line No. 1 runs from top to bottom of the image, Line No. 3 runs left to right. The Canal du Midi in just off the bottom of the photo. [17]The tramway route to Ouveillan ran along what is now the Quai d’Alsace and then turned Northeast as shown below. The tramway passed under the Standard Gauge line as shown in the 1930 aerial image above and then turned North around the boundary wall of the station goods yard. [17]

It then followed that boundary wall in a northeasterly direction. Its own marshalling yard is shown on the adjacent image. [17]

This location was not the only possible point of exchange between the metre-gauge line and the standard gauge line. The relative size of the facilities is striking. The tramway’s compact facilities kept the tramway overheads low.This image is taken from a point on the bottom edge of the aerial image immediately above looking North into the area of the tramway sidings which has now been completely redeveloped.

The monochrome images above have been aligned to show the tramway running up and down the photograph. It actually ran in a more northeasterly direction. The tramway followed what is now the D913 Rue de Cuxac along the western side of the  large standard gauge facilities until it reached a further series of sidings and a transshipment wharf/shed. [17]This image from the 1930s shows the main tramway route following the banks of the Canal while a branch runs into the Gare du Midi facilities to the East of the D913, where a transshipment wharf and shed are provided. [17]This Google Streetview image shows the line of the tramway to Ouveillan in black and the approximate line of the route into the transshipment yard and wharf in red.The location of the sidings and transshipment shed/wharf in the early 21st Century.

North of the Tramway Station at the Gare du Midi the tramway had further sidings alongside the standard gauge facilities. The third line in Narbonne (Line No. 2, on our sketch plan above) set off North from the Station as well.

On the adjacent aerial image, again from 1930, the transshipment facilities near the line to Ouveillan can be seen in the top left. The tramway station building, bottom centre. The tramway sidings to the East of the Standard Gauge line can just be picked out at the top right of the picture. Careful inspection of the image will show the tramway departing to the East from a point where the sidings begin. This is shown more clearly below.[17]

The modern Avenue de Carnot follows the line of the old road and tramway. The tramway then turns East as on the aerial images from 1930. The road is now known as Rue Beaumarchais. As can be seen on the image immediately above it led to open fields.In the early 21st century the are is now part of the suburbs of Narbonne.

This completes the survey of the tramways in Narbonne. The two routes to Ouveillan and Fleury remain to be covered  as they travel North and East out of the city. Once those posts are completed our survey of the Tramways de l’Aude will also be complete.

References

  1. http://www.commune1871.org/bulletins/pdf/Bulletin_40.pdf, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  2. http://www.trains-de-jardin.net/images/?dossier=Mirliton34/CorbieresAnciens, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  3. http://transpressnz.blogspot.com/2012/10/gare-d3e-narbonne-france.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  4. https://www.gares-sncf.com/fr/gare/frxna/narbonne, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  5. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/collections/cartes-postales/france/narbonne/narbonne-faubourgs-du-canal-train-55510337.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  6. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/collections/cartes-postales/france/narbonne/11-narbonne-les-quais-avec-train-sur-le-pont-525985727.html, accessed on 2nd Novembr 2018.
  7. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/collections/cartes-postales/france/narbonne/departs-div-ref-ee90-aude-narbonne-3-ponts-chariot-douillard-gruissan-canal-canaux-train-trains-363690920.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  8. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/collections/cartes-postales/france/narbonne/narbonne-train-locomotive-avenue-de-la-gare-et-monument-des-combattants-chemin-de-fer-belle-animation-453866037.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  9. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/collections/cartes-postales/france/narbonne/narbonne-la-gare-facade-tres-beau-plan-anime-612931234.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  10. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/collections/cartes-postales/france/narbonne/aude-11-narbonne-joli-plan-sur-les-boulevards-de-la-gare-et-du-college-avec-voiture-ancienne-animation-janson-343316390.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  11. https://www.cparama.com/forum/narbonne-t220-20.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  12. http://www.wiki-narbonne.fr/index.php?title=Gare_de_Narbonne, accessed on 3rd November 2018.
  13. https://collection-jfm.fr/t/cartes-postales-anciennes/france/11-aude/narbonne-11, accessed on 4th November 2018.
  14. https://phil1101.skyrock.com, accessed on 7th November 2018.
  15. https://www.geneanet.org/cartes-postales/view/5928211#0, accessed on 7th November 2018.
  16. http://www.cpaaude.fr/THEMES/TRAMWAYS/index_fichiers/Page1963.htm, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  17. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr, accessed on 8th November 2018.
  18. https://www.cparama.com/forum/narbonne-t220-40.html, 5th November 2018.

 

Tramways de l’Aude – Thezan to Narbonne

To begin this next post we return to the junction station of Thezan. The station sits to the Northwest of the village and is covered in the post which can be found on the link below:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/10/19/tramways-de-laude-les-palais-to-ripaud

For the sake of completeness some of that post is repeated at the start of this blog. …The station location is clearly marked by the red circle on the map above. Some of the infrastructure remains, do the location can be accurately fixed. [2]The four pictures above all show the main station building at Thezan. [3][4] Thezan was a junction station receiving trains from a number of different routes and was one of the busier stations on the network. The two images immediately above show that the main station buildings are still in evidence in the early 21st century, in use as a road maintenance depot. [2]

The junction was to the South east of the town. Trains to Narbonne would bear off to the left.Here a train approaches from Narbonne. The picture shows the telephone booth for the pointman. Given the heavy traffic of passengers and goods, the role of the pointman in Thézan was a position of high responsibility. With the arrival of a train from Narbonne, he had to make sure that no train was due on the common stretch Durban – Port La Nouvelle, then telephone to the train station of Thézan to obtain the authorization to switch the points. [4] There is an excellent page written in French on the site  http://www.thezandescorbieres.com which tells the story of the station. Auto translate in Chrome is a real boon! [4]

There was a small halt in the centre of Thezan at the beginning of Avenue de la Mer. The pictures below show the location early in the 20th and 21st centuries. [3] The tramway junction was to the Southeast of the town. This is the location in 2017. The large buildings on the right of the picture are the Wine Co-operative buildings. When the tramway was in use the D423 did not exist. The 1930s Michelin map show the tramway heading off across the fields towards Montseret and Saint-Andre as below. On arriving at Montseret, the tramway approached the village on Rue de l’Aussou. Its route across the open fields to Montseret is now the D423. It crossed the Ruisseau de Saint-Felix and then dropped away south of the Rue de l’Aussou taking its own route into the village. That route is now the minor road Rue du Tramway and can just be picked out on the South side of Rue de l’Aussou on the OpenStreetMap above.The old tramway bridge on what is now the D423 approaching Montseret. The bridge crosses the Ruisseau de Saint-Felix.The village sign on the Rue de l’Aussou. The ridge, on which Montseret Chateau, sits is just visible beyond the trees above the D423 sign. [5]Montseret Chateau from a distance. [5]The tramway route is the tarmacked narrow road on the right of this image. The Rue de l’Aussou continues in the centre of the picture.The tramway entered the village and then took a route to the north of the D423 through the village. That route is now the Rue de l’Eglise. The three images immediately above show its route. The Chateau can now clearly be seen above the village. The two images above show the approach to the old station site which was close to the Cooperative buildings.Montseret Tramway Station with the church behind. The view is taken looking West-southwest. [6]This view is taken in the same direction at the same location in 2016. The treeline obscures the view. The two images below are taken in opposite directions at this site. The second includes sight of the chateau. [12]The tramway found its own route out of Montseret to the East. The track bed has been tarmacked and is now the Rue des Bergeries. The chateau and its ridge can easily be seen to the North of the old tramway route. Two images taken from close to the Chateau on the ridge above Montseret. [5]The Chateau from the village of Montseret. [7]Should we be focussing on a chateau from the Cathar period in a blog about a tramway from the early 20th century? You might not think so. But this chateau played a significant but small part in the history of the tramway.

The chateau was built in the 10th century. It was an imposing castle, with keep and double ramparts. The name of Moun Séré resulted in its village becoming known as Montséret,. The name comes from ‘sereno’, a small migratory African bird (Bee-eater) which still today comes to nest on top of this rock. [8]In the foreground are the remains of the castle on the rocky outcrop of Roca Longua, and the new village in the plain. In the far left of the picture, the castle of St Martin de Toques, behind in the extension is the massif of the Fontfroide Abbey. [8]

What is surprising is that the crusade against the Albigensians (Cathars) spared the castle. It was not destroyed and indeed survived until around 1550 as a family home/redoubt. Possibly because of the plague, the chateau was abandonned at around that time.

As time passed, the stones of the chateau were used for the construction of the current village and for the low walls between the vines and in the early 20th century they were used to stabilse the embankments of the new tramway! [5]

To the East of Montseret the tramway meets the present D423 on its way towards Saint-Andre-de-Roquelongue.The tramway alignment was along the road to the right in the above image. This view looks back West towards Montseret village. The D423 is on the left.

The old Michelin map shows the tramway route following the old road between Montseret and Saint-Andre-de-Roquelongue to a point just to the West of the Ruisseau de la Caminade.It seems from the 1930s Michelon map and from evidence from aerial photography that the present D423 follows the old tramway route which ran a few metres to the South of the old road. The new alignment of the road can be seen in the 1950s aerial image below. [11]The old road and bridge were just to the North of the tramway and what became the present day D423. [11]The approach to the station site at Saint-Andre.

The tramway then headed straight for Saint-Andre along the route of the present D423. It by-passed the village to the southeast continuing along the line of what is now the D423. The line closed in the 1930s and by the mid-1940s it was a road.

The tramway route is approximately as shown by the pink line on the adjacent 1940s aerial photo. My sketching of the Iine seems to have it to the East of the present road. This is just a slip of the pen as the road follows the route of the old tramway. The station appears to have been sited close to the location of the Co-operative on the South side of the village. I believe that this view is taken looking Northwest through the station site. [13]The route from the centre of the village to the station was known as the Avenue de la Gare, it has a longer name in the early 21st century the Rue de la Cave Cooperative Saint-Andre-de-Roquelongue. The building on the right of the above image is still standing. [13]Two more views, above, of the station. [13]A derailment at Saint-Andre-de-Roquelongue, close to the station site. [13]

The tramway left Saint-Andre-de-Roquelongue along what is now the D423 en route to Bizanet. A short distance beyond Saint-Andre the road crossed the Ruisseau de l’Alvern at a ford and the tramway remained above the watercourse. The modern D423 now follows the route of the tramway.A very early 21st century image of the two routes., looking towards Bizanet. This shows the condition as much the same time as the satellite image was taken.More recently the two short routes have been brought up to the same surfaced standard. This view looks back towards Saint-Andre.The road to Bizanet crossed the GC12 at a staggered junction. The tramway is shown deviating from the road (VO1) south of the GC12 (D613) and rejoining the VO4 North of the GC12 on the 1930s Michelin map above. The staggered junction still exists in the early 21st century, as shown below on the satellite image. The old road reaches the D613 to the right-hand side of the image. The present road running through the middle of the image and reaching the D613 much closer to the road North to Bizanet is the route of the tramway.The picture above shows that the modern D423 crosses the old tramway bridge over the Ruisseau de Saint-Esteve as it approaches the D613 (GC12).

The tramway route to the north side of the main road has been obliterated by the extension of a vineyard across its route. As the adjacent satellite image shows, the route cannot be identified through the field. The red line is an approximation to the route of the tramway.This aerial image from the mid-1940s suggests that the tramway may have dog-legged along the old GC12, although there is some faded evidence in the mage of a route across the field from the portion of the road south of the GC12. Can anyone shed any light on which is the actual route?

North of the GC12 (D613) the tramway continued to follow the line of what is now the D423 across vineyards, around copses and across scrub-land. It passed isolated farms and farm buildings on a relatively straight course across level ground towards Bizanet. The small building in the first colour image below can be seen at the bottom of the adjacent aerial photograph. It is adjacent to the small bridge which appears to be the southern boundary of the grounds of the Monastere de Gaussan which can be seen in plan towards the top of the aerial image. The monastery was an interesting fortified structure as can be seen in the second colour image below.After passing the monastery the tramway continued across relatively flat ground to wards Bizanet.The modern road deviates from the line of the old road and tramway on the approach to Bizanet as the modern road has to climb over the A61 autoroute. The route of the old road and tramway are now lost under the construction of the A61.The tramway route into Bizanet.It appears that as the tramway approached Bizanet it slipped away to the west of the road.

As the aerial photograph shows the route of the tramway is a little unclear. It could have been either the red or green lines show in the photograph. In the early 21st century it is almost impossible to tel. The cemetery has been extended East to meet the road which follows the green line and also southwards over the red alignment.

It would be really helpful if someone with good local knowledge could confirm the tramway route!

The tramway flanked the old village of Bizanet on its western side, before crossing what was a minor road, now the D224 on the West side of the village and reaching the location of the tramway station. The route of the tramway can be picked out to the western edge of this aerieal image from the 1940s. At this time, two important buildings we a little outside the village limits to the West. The Co-operative building and the School(s). [16]

The school buildings are easily seen in these two old postcard pictures of the tramway station at Bizanet.Wagons wait to be loaded adjacent to the station building with the school behind. [14]The school buildings are more easily seen in this image. [15]The station buildings were off this image to the left. [17]

The station site has been lost under the building which survives on the site and which was built in 1935 – the cooperative cellar ‘La Corbière Bizanetoise’. The next three images show that building at different times over the years. [18]The tramway passed to the West of the school grounds and then curved gradually round to the East along the line of the road known in the 21st century as the Rue de la Mouline.This satellite image shows the location of the tramway station circled in green and the approximate tramway alignment in red. These have been imposed on an image from 2016 from Google Earth. Between 1944 and 2016 the village has expanded into the area encircled by the old tramway.The tramway followed the GC12 (D224) Route de Narbonne out of the village to the East.The tramway route slipped to the South of the GC12 (D224) so as to avoid a steep gradient on the road.It then followed the southern shoulder of the highway for a few hundred metres. Before diverting away onto its own route once again as the road began to climb.The line of the old tramway can just be picked out below the road in this image.The line of the old tramway through the campsite to the East of Bizanet.The thin red line shows the approximate tramway route to the East of Bizanet including the length through the campsite. The tramway stays both South of the road and at lower altitude.This 1930s map shows the line approaching the more southerly arm of the GC12 (D613) on the South side of the more northerly arm of the GC12 (D224). On reaching the southerly arm of the GC12 (D613) the tramway crossed the road and took up a position on the southern shoulder of the road. It remained there through the halt for Montredon until close to the junction with the N113 (D6113) where it cut off the corner between the two roads and then took up a place on the southern shoulder of the N113 (D6113) heading into Narbonne.The route outlined above is shown on a more up-to-date map from Google Maps.Looking back from the D613 along the SC113 which follows the line of the old tramway.A little further to the East looking across the vineyards towards Narbonne.The modern D613 curves towards the North as the route of the old tramway continues in a northeasterly direction. This is the approximate location of the halt which served Montredon-des-Corbieres.

The tramway stayed right at this location and ran on to join the N113 (D6113) to the East of Montredon and then crossed the standard gauge line which ran East into Narbonne.The original crossing of the mainline was via a level crossing which the road and tramway shared. The old alignment can just be picked out to the East of the modern D6113 bridge over the standard gauge line.Looking back along the D6113 to the railway bridge. The old route joins the newer road from the left and then follows the D6113 towards Narbonne and on onto the Avenue de Bordeaux as the city suburbs pass by.Avenue de Bordeaux on the way into Narbonne, courtesy of Google Streetview.A sketch plan of the centre of Narbonne showing the tramway network alongside the rail network. There were three tramway routes in Narbonne, our route enters from the bottom left of the sketch. The other two lines will be for a future post. [21]The centre of Narbonne, showing the route of the old tramway from Thezan, courtesy of Google Earth.The entrance of the promenade close to the Gare du Midi in Narbonne. [19]Porte Neuve. [20]The Gare du Midi, Narbonne. [22]The Gare du Midi, Narbonne. [23]A general view of Narbonne. [24]

In the next post we will look more carefully at the tramways and the railways in Narbonne. Suffice to say, today, that we have arrived in Narbonne!

References

  1. Michel Vieux; Tramways a Vapeur de l’Aude; R. Latour Editions 14 rue Sébile 09300 Lavelanet, 2011.
  2. http://www.inventaires-ferroviaires.fr/hd11/11203.a.pdf, accessed on 15th October 2018.
  3. http://www.cpaaude.fr/THEMES/TRAMWAYS/index_fichiers/Page4306.htm, accessed on 19th October 2018.
  4. http://www.thezandescorbieres.com/train.htm, accessed on 19th October 2018.
  5. http://audephotos.over-blog.com/article-le-chateau-de-montseret-100684707.html, accessed on 30th October 2018.
  6. https://www.cparama.com/forum/montseret-t168.html, accessed on 30th October 2018.
  7. http://www.sesa-aude.fr/16-juin-2018-Montseret, accessed on 30th October 2018.
  8. http://www.thezandescorbieres.com/monseret.htm, accessed on 30th October 2018.
  9. https://www.cparama.com/forum/saint-andre-de-roquelongue-t219.html, accessed on 30th October 2018.
  10. https://album.minervois-gen.org/index.php?/category/207, accessed on 30th October 2018.
  11. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr/telecharger?x=2.837574&y=43.108009&z=15&layer=GEOGRAPHICALGRIDSYSTEMS.MAPS.SCAN-EXPRESS.STANDARD&demat=DEMAT.PVA$GEOPORTAIL:DEMAT;PHOTOS&missionId=missions.4968045, accessed on 30th October 2018.
  12. http://www.cpaaude.fr/THEMES/TRAMWAYS/index_fichiers/Page3670.htm, accessed on 30th October 2018.
  13. http://www.cpaaude.fr/THEMES/TRAMWAYS/index_fichiers/Page3577.htm, accessed on 30th October 2018.
  14. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/cartes-postales/europe/france/11-aude/autres-communes?f=keyword:bizanet-11, accessed on 31st October 2018.
  15. https://www.cparama.com/forum/bizanet-t172.html, accessed on 31st October 2018.
  16. https://remonterletemps.ign.fr/telecharger?x=2.830640&y=43.139463&z=13&layer=GEOGRAPHICALGRIDSYSTEMS.MAPS.SCAN-EXPRESS.STANDARD&demat=DEMAT.PVA$GEOPORTAIL:DEMAT;PHOTOS&missionId=missions.4969258, accessed on 1st November 2018.
  17. http://mediatheque.bizanet.over-blog.com/album-1766335.html, accessed on 30th October 2018.
  18. http://www.cavescooperatives.fr/article-bizanet-aude-51251585.html, accessed on 1st November 2018.
  19. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/collections/cartes-postales/france/narbonne/536-narbonne-entree-de-la-promenade-neuve-wagon-de-tramway-646301284.html, accessed on 1st November 2018.
  20. https://www.geneanet.org/connexion/?from=view_limit_redirect&url=https%3A//www.geneanet.org/cartes-postales/view/5928211, accessed on 1st November 2018.
  21. http://www.cpaaude.fr/THEMES/TRAMWAYS/index_fichiers/Page1963.htm, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  22. https://www.delcampe.net/fr/collections/cartes-postales/france/narbonne/cpa-narbonne-la-gare-chemin-de-fer-34-herault-transport-484452183.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  23. https://picclick.fr/10887967-Narbonne-Narbonne-la-Gare-x-323499958215.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.
  24. https://picclick.fr/10818350-Narbonne-Narbonne-x-323396587096.html, accessed on 2nd November 2018.