Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Cavan and Leitrim Railway and the Arigna Tramway

Train crossing the road in Kiltubrid, County Leitrim.  Source

Classic postcard view of the line

C&L railway stamp

The Arigna Tramway was a branch of the Cavan and Leitrim Railway in Ireland. Steam worked to the end this system almost made it to the 1960s, closing on the 31st of March 1959. It was a three foot gauge line, in common with most Irish narrow gauge lines.

It's most interesting feature was the Arigna Tramway, a mainly roadside route which connected the coal mine at Arigna with the rest of the line at Ballinamore. As late as 1920 a 3 mile plus freight only extension of the tramway allowed coal to be shipped directly from the mine to locations all over Ireland. This was the only coal mine on the island.

The tramway was a charming rural route and at the time of closure was unique in these islands and just about unique in western Europe.

More info (on the Cavan and Leitrim Railway including the Arigna line) from Wikipedia

The Cavan & Leitrim Railway was a 3 ft (914 mmnarrow gauge railway in the counties of Leitrim and Cavan in the north-west of Ireland, which ran from 1887 until 1959. Unusually for Ireland, this 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge line survived on coal traffic, from the mine at Arigna. It outlived most of the other Irish narrow-gauge lines, giving a further lease of life to some of their redundant engines.

Early years

In September 1883, a public meeting in Ballinamore declared that a light railway and tramway would open up the coal and iron districts of Arigna and Lough Allen. The Cavan and Leitrim Railway opened for goods traffic on 17 October 1887 and for passengers on 24 October 1887. The section from Belturbet in County Cavan to Dromod in County Leitrim was light railway, and a tramway ran from Ballinamore to Arigna. At the start both lines were operated by eight Robert Stephenson and Company 4-4-0T locomotives. In later years locomotives from other closing narrow gauge lines were used.
Ballinamore was the hub of the line, with the locomotive depot and works. At Belturbet the line connected with the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) broad-gauge branch to Ballyhaise on the Clones toCavan line, and at Dromod connected to the Midland Great Western Railway mainline from Dublin to Sligo. The line was extended to Arigna in 1920. The line was unique in using native coal mined at Arigna.

Later years

In 1925, the company was amalgamated into the Great Southern Railways. By the 1930s the Cavan and Leitrim Railway was in trouble due to road competition. The demolition of the carriage sheds as an economy measure only served to worsen the condition of the stock. It survived World War II, but the opening of a power station near Lough Allen using Arigna coal, and not needing rail services, did not help. The line finally closed on 31 March 1959, the last exclusively steam narrow-gauge line in Ireland.

Moving goods wagons by steam in 1959 at Dromod.


The line consisted of a main line 54 km (34 mi) long between Dromod and Belturbet with a 24 km (15 mi) branch from Ballinamore to Arigna.
The Belturbet to Dromod part of the Cavan and Leitrim Railway ran from Belturbet through Tomkin RoadBallyconnellBallyheadyBawnboy RoadKillyran,Garadice, Ballinamore, LawderdaleFenaghAdoonRosharryMohill and Dereen to Dromod.
The Belturbet to Arigna part of the line ran from Belturbet to Ballinamore and from there through Ballyduff, CornabroneAnnadaleKiltubrid, Creagh andDrumshanbo to Arigna.


When the line opened, there were eight 4-4-0T locomotives, numbered 1 to 8, supplied by Robert Stephenson and Company. A ninth locomotive, No. 9, an 0-6-4Tcame from the same supplier in 1904. In 1933, after the closure of the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway, the GSR transferred its four 2-4-2T locomotives to the C&L line, renumbering them 10L to 13L.


C & L Railway Station, Dromod
The preserved Cavan & Leitrim Railway is run by volunteers, based out of the former Dromod Station, in Co. Leitrim. Trains run every weekend, and on Mondays. The group also has a transport museum, with narrow-gauge trains of every gauge, buses, planes, fire engines and artillery guns from World War I and World War II. It is located beside the Irish Rail Station in Dromod. It was originally intended to rebuild the line to Mohill but this is now most unlikely to happen.
During 2014 train rides on the line ceased due to essential maintenance work and no date has been set for their resumption.
One of the original locomotives, No. 2, and one of the original carriages, is preserved on display at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Locomotive No. 3 was exported to New JerseyUnited States and is today displayed in the New Jersey Museum of Transportation. The body of a box wagon formerly used by the railway is preserved at Dromod, and is believed to be the last example of freight stock.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Dunton Green 1986




(All © Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing 28.5.1986)

On 28 May 1986 I visited Dunton Green in Kent for an hour or two. This was a nice wayside station with plenty of trains. Until 1961 it was also the junction for the superb Westerham branch, which almost became a majopr tourist attraction after closure. What an asset it would be now, offering both tourist trips through excellent scenery and, more importantly, allowing Westerham and Brasted to continue as flourishing commuter areas into the future.

Even without the attraction of a community line connecting with London trains the station was a fascinating spot, with a good variety of trains (which will appear in the next part of this article!)

More info (from Wikipedia)

Dunton Green railway station serves the village of Dunton Green, on the outskirts of Sevenoaks in Kent. Train services are provided by Southeastern.
There is no ticket office or ticket machine. There is a Permit to Travel machine. The ticket office, in an 'up side' building, manned only during part of the day, became unstaffed during the early 1990s after which time there was a substantial increase in vandalism here; a PERTIS 'permit to travel' machine is located at the entrance to the 'up' platform. There is an electronic display of departures but no audio messaging.
There is a small car park (access via Station Road) which holds c. 20 cars. As of November 2008 the car park is no longer free, tickets must be purchased from the ticket machine in the car park.
Until 1961 this station served as the junction for the Westerham Valley Branch Line to Brasted and Westerham. When this line was constructed, a subway was built which passed under the branch platform and allowed access from the main station forecourt to a footpath leading west to Dunton Green. This subway remains in place today.


The typical off-peak service from the station is two trains per hour southbound to Sevenoaks and two trains per hour northbound to London Charing Cross, calling at all stations to Hither Green and then running fast to London Bridge.
The typical peak service from the station is one train per twenty minutes southbound to Sevenoaks also some services go through to Hastings (viaTunbridge Wells) and one train per twenty minutes northbound to London Cannon Street, calling at all stations to Grove Park and then running fast toLondon Bridge.
During the morning peak there is a connecting fast services at Chelsfield for Dunton Green passengers travelling to London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross. There are similar services in the evening peak going towards Tunbridge Wells. Passengers can alight from this service at Chelsfield and catch a connecting service to Dunton Green.

Dunton Green National Rail
Dunton Green Railway Station 1.jpg
Local authority
Station code
Managed by
Number of platforms
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
Increase 66,640
Increase 90,223
Increase 0.108 million
Increase 0.116 million
Increase 0.117 million
Increase 0.127 million
Increase 0.133 million
Decrease 0.132 million
Increase 0.155 million
Key dates
Opened 2 March 1868

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Littlehampton 27.5.1986


7360 Littlehampton 27.5.1986

7334 Littlehampton 27.5.1986

7754 Littlehampton 27.5.1986

2107 Littlehampton 27.5.1986

7800 Littlehampton 27.5.1986

(All pics © Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

When I lived in Littlehampton a favourite afternoon excursion was to the footbridge at Littlehampton station throat, and over the years I must have taken a few hundred photos from this point. This is an unrepeatable location, the footbridge was demolished many years ago and a newer (and I suspect far less useful) bridge has since sprung up closer to the station. Amazingly the signalbox and semaphores are still there, though the trains have completely changed.

So on an afternoon in May 1986 there was a regular procession of electric slam door units, boring at the time but I understand they are a lot more popular now - just as the current 'boring' units will be to the next generation.

If you're wondering about the open connecting door in picture three this unit is being driven into the large carriage sheds just behind me.

Littlehampton had (and of course still has) regular trains to Portsmouth, Bognor, London via Arundel, Brighton and London via Hove. All in all a fantastic service if you lived there, with two separate routes to London! We were very spoiled.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Derwent Valley Light Railway


When I first became interested in railways (around 1968) there were very few light railways still operating, and also not that many heritage lines! But one line that was still going, at least in a truncated form, was the Derwent Valley Light Railway. It was a classic light railway, operating only freight trains. Sadly it closed before I got the chance to visit, although a small section is now operated as a heritage line.

69023 JOEM  built 04.51 by Darlington Works withdrawn 10.62 from 52A Gateshead, preserved, seen here at the buffer stops at Dunnington. Source

(More info from Wikipedia)
The Derwent Valley Light Railway (DVLR) (also known as The Blackberry Line) was a privately owned standard-gauge railway in North Yorkshire, England, and was unusual in that it was never nationalised, remaining as a private operation all its life. It ran between Layerthorpe on the outskirts ofYork to Cliffe Common near Selby. It opened in two stages, in 1912 and 1913, and closed in sections between 1965 and 1981. Between 1977 and 1979, passenger steam trains operated between Layerthorpe and Dunnington — the entire length of track at that time. In 1993 a small section was re-opened as part of the Yorkshire Museum of Farming at Murton.
The line gained its nickname of The Blackberry Line in the days when it used to transport blackberries to markets in Yorkshire and London.


The south end of the railway, from Wheldrake to Cliffe Common, was opened on 29 October 1912, with the remainder of the line opening on 19 July 1913. Although it was constructed primarily as a freight line, passenger trains were introduced from 1913, and during the First World War it was used as a diversionary route by the North Eastern Railway between York and Selby. Passenger services ended in 1926, though freight traffic prospered through the Second World War.
In 1923, most British railway companies were grouped into four large companies, with the nearby North Eastern Railway becoming part of the London and North Eastern Railway. However, the DVLR remained independent, and continued to do so even after nationalisation in 1948. In 1964, British Railways closed the Selby to Driffield Line, meaning that the junction at Cliffe Common became redundant. With the connection to Selby now gone, the DVLR was left isolated at its southern end. The line was subsequently run from the Layerthorpe end but traffic generated by the southern section of the track was light so the decision was taken to close the line between Wheldrake and Cliffe Common in 1965. The section between Wheldrake and Elvington followed in 1968. Elvington was closed in 1973, leaving only approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) of track between Layerthorpe and Dunnington on the outskirts of York.

Final years

In 1976, the owners of the railway decided to operate steam trains between Layerthorpe and Dunnington, which was the entire length of the line at that time. A regular summer service started in 1977, with J72 0-6-0T locomotive number 69023 Joem (now preserved at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway) operating the services. By 1979, there were not enough passengers to justify continuing and the service ceased. The railway continued to carry occasional freight trains to Dunnington until 1981 when the grain driers at Dunnington closed and the last major source of freight for the line was gone. On top of that the railway was in desperate need of a major overhaul with the majority of the rails and buildings still being the 1913 originals. However, the owners decided that the lack of demand for freight failed to justify any plan of action other than to close the line down. The last train ran on 27 September 1981. In 1984 the holding company, Derwent Valley Holdings, became Derwent London, now a multi-million pound property investment and development company.
The Foss Islands Branch Line, to which the Derwent Valley Light Railway connected at Layerthorpe, was subsequently closed in 1989, and lifted in 1992.


Derwent Valley Light Railway
East Coast Main Line
to Scarborough
York National Rail
Rowntree's chocolate factory
Foss Islands Road depot
Current limit of operation
A64 (York by-pass)
Yorkshire Museum of Farming
Murton Lane
Dunnington Halt
Dunnington (for Kexby)
to Market Weighton
Cliffe Common
to Hull
to York
Selby National Rail
The original railway was 16 miles (26 km) long, and served the following places:

Rolling stock 1913-1981

Initially trains were worked by locomotives owned by the North Eastern Railway (from 1923 LNER and from 1948 British Railways).
The railway purchased two railcars in the 1920s to operate a passenger service and the table below lists the stock owned by the company in the 1920s
DescriptionWheel ArrangementNotes
Rail Lorry0-4-0Built by The British Four-wheel Drive Tractor Lorry Super Engineering Company - trialed unsuccessfully in 1923
Railbus (2)0-4-0Ford chassis with body built by C.H.Roe of Crossgates (Leeds). Operated 1924-1926 when road bus competition saw them sold to County Donegal Railways.
Sentinel0-4-0TWorks no 6076. Operated on DVLR 1925 - 1929 before being sold to Summerson and Sons of Darlington. Scrapped c1971.
Between 1929 and 1969 the line was again worked by main line locomotives.
In 1969 the DVLR decided to buy two ex-British Rail Class 04 shunters to operate services rather than hiring in British Rail Class 03 locomotives. The table below lists the locomotives owned by the DVLR
Number/NameWheel ArrangementNotes
1 Lord Wenlock0-6-0DMFormer BR Class 04 D2293. Purchased 1969 - sold in 1982 to Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.
20-6-0DMFormer BR Class 04 D2245. Purchased 1969 - sold in 1978 to the Shackerstone Railway
D23290-6-0DMFormer BR Class 04 bought for spares and subsequently scrapped in 1969
Claude Thompson0-4-0DMJohn Fowler built engine - works number 4210142 (1958) purchased from British Pipeline agency in 1978 and sold in 1982 to Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.
69023 Joem0-6-0TBritish Railways built locomotive of North Eastern RailwayClass J72. Operated line 1977-1979 when it was sold back to the previous owner's family - In 2015 onWensleydale Railway
Joem was purchased to run the short lived steam train passenger operation.

The line today

Until 1990, a small preservation group, the Great Yorkshire Railway Preservation Society, was originally based at Starbeck near Harrogate. When this closed, the society members relocated to the Yorkshire Museum of Farming, and started to rebuild approximately 34 mile (1.2 km) of track towards York, including the section under the York by-pass. A new station was constructed using the original station buildings from Wheldrake, and the railway re-opened in 1993.
In 2013, York soprano Rebecca Newman, with the enthusiastic participation of DVLR staff and a cast of children and adults from the theatre company We Are Theatre, with the fixed equipment and rolling stock of the railway, and Maggi the puppy, created her version of the song Wonderful Dream (Holidays are Coming) as a charity Christmas video, on YouTube. It was very well reviewed and by August 2015 received over 190,000 views on YouTube.
The line now runs a mixture of 6 diesel and 1 steam locomotive on Sundays and bank holidays.
The track-bed from Layerthorpe to Osbaldwick, along with part of the former Foss Islands Branch Line in York, has been converted to a foot and cycle path, part of Sustrans route 66.
Whilst future extension of the line towards Osbaldwick may be possible, as of 2014 there are currently still no formal plans for this.

Former station at Cliffe Common, 1988

Rolling stock

The following rolling stock is owned by the preservation group as of March 2010:
  • Steam Locomotives
  • Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No. 8 built in 1955. (Under repair, boiler ticket expires in 2015)
  • Carriages
  • North Eastern Railway 4-wheel coach No. 1214/2462 built in 1890. (Stored awaiting repair)
  • B&W Engineering 4-wheel observation coach No. BW1000 "Sylvia" built in 2003. (Stored awaiting repair)
  • Southern Railway 4-wheel PMV Luggage Van No. S1367S built in 1939. (Operational)
  • British Railways Mk1 TSO No. E3805. (Operational, on long-term loan from NYMR)