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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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I know this is going to be a very stupid question for a lot of you but I'm going to ask anyway...

How long did 'traditional' branch lines last?? - ie How far into dieselisation did branch lines with goods shed, coal merchants, dairies etc etc last?

I ask as most of the info I can see in my stacks of RM back issues along with various books (prototype or modelling) only illustrate these type of branchlines firmly in the 100% steam era but show the 'transitional era' in towns and yards rather than rural branches...

Any helps, pointers etc appreciated especially towards prototype information.

Many thanks
Ralf
 

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Ralf -

Great question - please note that my responses below are based mainly on personal recollection and observation of only certain areas of the country, and I'm sure others more expert than I will have plenty to add...

"Traditional" wagonload freight carried on well through the BR Blue era into the 80's in many areas. Speedlink / Railfreight came in to play in the early 80's. As for dairies, I'm not absolutely certain here - I *think* that there was still some isolated milk traffic by rail in the early 70's in rural areas... others please feel free to contradict!

"Pick-up" goods was, I believe, still in operation in some rural areas - such as the Highlands - through the 70's and into the early 80's.

I certainly recall coal traffic in Yorkshire (the coal cells in Beverley, for example) in the late 70's / early 80's...

Hope this helps! I'm sure others will be able to weigh in with more concrete examples than I....

John
 

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Ralf,

Do you have any traffic in mind for this? As already mentioned, West Yorkshire had a couple of braches which survived in part through coal traffic (Clayton West springs to mind), and it wouldn't take too much imagination to picture Redmire with passenger traffic in addition to stone and MoD. Moving to the West Country, although the China Clay branches are seperate on the whole from the passenger ones, again it wouldn't take too much imagination to picture a BLT featuring clay services.

Blaenau Ffestiniog in the 1970s/80s was quite cool, as right opposite the (now disused) station were sidings which dealt with explosives from Cook's at Penrhyndeudraeth and nuclear waste from Trawsfynydd- both very short trains. It's not a conventional BLT as the freights carried on south through the station though.

Spot loadings on very simple sidings in the former station yard survived to the end of Speedlink, and were often just a van unloaded directly into a road vehicle.

Some industries had their own stations, such as Rowntree's at York, which were served by unadvertised BR trains. This allows the use of industrial locomotives and internal user stock.

As another thought, how about having an exchange sidings for an industry modelled? A train could come in, and either run round and head off up a different line to that which it came in on, or have the stock taken over by the industry's own loco.

Hope this provides some inspiration

CG
 

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QUOTE I certainly recall coal traffic in Yorkshire (the coal cells in Beverley, for example) in the late 70's / early 80's...
You would John


A big question Ralf, with a lot of potential answers. But you've already done some digging by the sound of it, so no need at all to feel daft


Of course a lot depends on what you call a 'branch'; sometimes they're more what would have been a secondary main line in steam days. But to add to what's already been said, domestic coal was the staple of many of the lines that retained 'pick up' freights, through the 70s and in some cases into the 80s. Examples included the remote Scottish lines (WHL/Oban, Kyle/Far North), Cambrian, Scarborough, Brid, Whitby

More general traffic (opens, vans and suchlike) wouldnt be as widespread and might be unloaded in the open, rather than keeping a traditional goods shed in operation. This would most likely be 'spot' loads, traffic for particular, semi-regular customers, or agricultural/seasonal traffic like fertiliser, sugar beet or seed potatoes

The last regular milk trains ran from Cornwall, til I think 1980 - the W Wales ones certainly lasted til around 1973. Oban had fuel oil workings and the Cambrian also had regular gunpowder van workings well into the 70s.

There are published photos of most of these, if you look long enough, in general albums, prototype mags of the era and even in the dear old Toddler. Specific books that might be worth looking out for include Bradford Barton's 'Branch Lines round Britain in the Diesel Era', Ian Allan/John Vaughan's 'Modern Branch Line Album' (both out of print but do come up s/h) and Santona's 'Modelling the British Rail Era' (just a few hundred left
)
 

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A few more comments which I hope will help:
Milk traffic - by late 1960s only ran from from the West Country and East Wales to London; ceased in 1980.
Goods - individual wagon loads and part wagon loads continued even after WW2. But during the 1950s there was movement towards more mechanical handling methods. (The last horse cart left BR service in 1959!) The 1963 Beeching report pushed BR towards 'trainloads' rather than 'wagon loads' - the freightliners running between set points and trainloads from private sidings likewise. And of course Beeching caused many of the traditional branch lines to be closed. (See 'The Oxford Companion to British Railway History' by Jack Simmons and Gordon Biddle, OUP, 1997, for a number of short histories on goods traffic generally and on specialised freights (oil, petrol, agricultural products etc.))

Those traditional branchlines which survived Beeching were greatly simplified. Termini lost run-round loops after DMUs were introduced; termini with several platforms were often reduced to one platform. Signalling was reduced to a minimum or eliminated altogether. Goods facilities were lost, but goods sheds (and the surrounding yard) were often rented out to private companies. This is probably the state of things by the 1970s. After that there was a tendency to sell off surplus property rather than rent it out; this and local authority and other developers wrought many changes during the 1980s and later around stations, even in rural areas. The 'Past and Present' series by Past and Present Publishing give many photographic examples of the changes.

Chris Leigh's book 'A Railway Modeller's Picture Library' (Ian Allan, 1995) also has many examples of old, transitional and modern lineside scenes of interest.

Hope this is of help, best wishes for your modelling.
Regards,
John Webb
 

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There are two key words here - "Beeching Axe"

Basically the Beeching Report of 1963 proposed the closure of pretty well all conventional rural branch line termini (Quite a few of the more minor ones had already gone - the ER had its first round of closures in 1951 ). The easy targets such as branchlines went first , and by 1968-70 they were closing main lines like the Waverley Route, the Midland Peak Forest route, the Woodhead Route (for passengers) and the remains of the GC London extension. By the end of 1970 the process had basically run its course (I like to be very parochial indeed and consider the closure of the E.Lincs line and associated Mablethorpe branch on 5/10/70 as effectively the end of the Axe )

Sometimes the freight ended a year or two before final closure to passengers, sometimes freight lingered a few years after closure to passengers

A few remaining branches succumbed in the next few years (1971-5) : Penrith/Keswick, the Swanage branch , the Minehead branch , the Alston branch, the Bridport branch all come to mind. Whether any of them still carried freight in their last few years I'm not sure. I don't think so - BR was heammoraging freight in the 1960s, and the classic pickup goods was rapidly vanishing

By the 1970s the limited number of surviving branches had often lost their freight and were just passenger sidings. Some did keep a little freight, but in general it wasn't found in a classic branch line terminus. EG there was freight in the 70s on the Barton on Humber branch , which is still open , but it was bglock trains from the Shellstar plant partway down the line : the terminus had been bulldozed and was just a single line to a bare platform with a bus shelter surrounded by brambles and rubble

Come to that there is still freight on the Sheringham branch - block trains from N Walsham gas terminal (sidings behind the station which retains its loop and until recently its box) and there used to be some grain from Wroxham . But Cromer hasn't seen a freight train since the 60s and Sheringham is another basic terminus - platform, brambles , length of track

Lymington surves and is electrified - but no freight , just a EMU shuttle (I think freight ended in the 60s). Braintree is also electrified and I believe retained some freight into the 80s - but the goods yard at Braintree was completely separate from the passenger station

Capt Grumps has covered Yorks in the 70s and 80s.

Perhaps more helpful is to consider how early the diesels arrived. In E. Lincolnshire , local services were in the hands of DMUs from 1955 onward - first the original Derby Lightweights, then the 114s which saw over 30 years service in the county, most of it based at LN. In 1955-62, all the local stations were still open and nearly all the branches : Spilsby, Louth/Wragby, and Horncastle had closed to passengers but still saw freight (the first 2 went completely soon after). Steam finished completely by about 1964-5, but most of the network survived, a virtually pure GN secondary railway , run entirely by diesels until late 1970

Something similar happened in E. Anglia - steam finished completely in Sept 1962, before Beeching even went to press. Lines like that to Wells next the Sea didn't close until 1969 , and even then most of that line remained for freight, being cut back steadily from Fakenham back to E Dereham during the 70s and early 80s (Though Wells was a bit bigger than the usual model BLT - E.Lynn owes a lot to Wells)

So if you model a lot of places in the early-mid 60s, you can run a traditional rural railway using some diesels or even fully dieselised. In fact it's a potentially very attractive option, buit rarely seen. Jas Millham's Yaxbury branch (in S) and Three Mills (3mm/14.2mm gauge) are fine examples set in 60s E.Anglia

Generally it was the DMUs that arrived first. The LNER didn't waste money on new engines and coaches for unremunerative branch lines (the LMS did) Consequently the ER found itself with a lot of lines worked by clapped out Edwardian tank engines
 

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John W and Ravenser's posts have prompted me to read the OP again, which I now see isnt specifically about freight [embarassed smiley] (or is it?)

But those two gents have said it all
. All I'd add is that post-Beeching, it did seem to be the pattern that branches survived for either passenger use, or a specific freight traffic, and less often for both together

Any branch that lasted beyond the very early 70s (as in Rave's Keswick and Bridport examples) had a pretty good chance of lasting much longer, so another source of subject matter is to work back from the present day. Thus a branch that still has services today must have had them in the early D&E era too.

But is this still going the way that Ralf wants, I ask myself
 

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Ralf.

Geographical location will be a big factor in what, how and when you can accurately portray a diesel branchline.
As a GWR man, I'm probably spoiled for choice with books full of information

GWR Branchline terminii by Paul Karau
GWR Country Stations by Chris Leigh (Vol 1 & 2)
The Country Branchline by Karau & Turner

The list is endless. What is certain is that as the years went on, particularly after WW2, the type of traffic changed more quickly than before that time.
The branch line in my own valley, for example, became more reliant on steel, coal disappeared, then passenger traffic was axed, then parcels service was stopped, then the line became virtually steelworks traffic only and finally closed altogether 5 or 6 years ago.
Now from next year, after £millions of government and EEC money, a passenger service will start again.
What the hell did Dr. Beeching know??
 

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Pennine:

I suppose it is about freight really, because that's where a lot of the operational interest is - how late did the combined package of freight and passenger survive, and did it last into dieselisation?

Wandering a bit off topic , we seem to be saying that anything that closed between 1969-75 probably shouldn't have , and there's a reasonable case for putting it back....
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
All

Thanks for all the info, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed (but that's probably to do with starting work at 05:00, still very hungover then and now recovering!).

To answer some of the questions; I haven't yet got any specific traffic in mind, but wagonload and non-specific industry, ie I don't want to be stuck with running just coal for example.

As for the region it'll be where there is a prototype of example of what I am modelling! Anglia as someone suggested seems like a possible candidate, another reason for going that was is the quantity of early prototype diesels with classes such as the 15, 16, 28 etc etc, which I find very interesting and they suit the period of the early 60s.

Another consideration is the space available for the BLT, it's going to be 8' x 18" / 2' (widens out at one end) with an exit in a front corner, literally on the edge of the baseboard and onto a removable cassette section mounted on a door! Not ideal but otherwise there are walls in the way!

I'm off to Romiley show and the EM Expo this w/e so hopefully some inspiration will be forthcoming.

Any more thoughts and prototype info appreciated!

Cheers
Ralf
 

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E. Anglia c 1960 would give you NBL diesel electrics in original condition (conversion of Hornby 29) , cl 15 (promised DC kits) cl 20 (Bachmann ) cl 31 (Hornby). You might get away with a Claytons or original Derby Lightweight (DC kits) - a batch of Claytons were meant for the M&GN but they shut it in 1959 and they were sent to KX.

Bachmann 04 would be ideal , as would the Hunslet 05 & 0-4-0 tram (Silver Fox resin bodies. (I've built both - rather nice)

You could also just about use a B12, a B1 , B17 (last 2 are a bit big)

Yaxley's in this month's Model Rail - wouldn't suggest you try S gauge but it'll give you a feel for the atmosphere if you took the GE option at this period...

Likewise Easton in recent REx
 

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If you are really interested in east Anglia in the 1960s, beg, borrow or steal a copy of the BFI "On and off the rails" DVD. (There's a link to Amazon from the resources section of the Forum and a broken link to my review
). DVD 2 has a 10 minute b&w short from 1962 - "John Betjeman goes by train". He takes a journey by DMU from King's Lynn to Wolferton passing through stations where the goods traffic has gone but the buildings remain. It should give you a good flavour for this period.

David
 

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QUOTE (Pennine MC @ 8 Sep 2006, 02:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>But those two gents have said it all
. All I'd add is that post-Beeching, it did seem to be the pattern that branches survived for either passenger use, or a specific freight traffic, and less often for both together

Any branch that lasted beyond the very early 70s (as in Rave's Keswick and Bridport examples) had a pretty good chance of lasting much longer, so another source of subject matter is to work back from the present day. Thus a branch that still has services today must have had them in the early D&E era too.
One good location for variety in the present day is St Blazey, which is technically on a branch line (Newquay), with the yard seeing clay, scrap and occasionally other traffic, including charter ECS moves (kind of replacing the former postal ECS moves), plus light engines and some maintenance. Fears of it's early demise due to Imerys reorganisation are, IMO, premature. The Newquay branch itself is a real gem, certainly in that Goonbarrow signalbox is one of the few remaining electric token boxes, seeing both freight and passenger from St Blazey to Goonbarrow, albeit passenger only (and on a basic railway) beyond to Newquay.

Also, St Blazey to Par is pretty unusual in signalling terms, in that it is short section, double line absolute block working.
 

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Those GE diesel classes are available from Dave Alexander as whitemetal kits. He does Classes 15, 16, 17 and 28 (if you model elsewhere). I've just built a Class 15 for a transition-era GE layout and it went together really easily. It may be a slightly outdated kit, but being whitemetal they'll pull anything you hang behind them.
 

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QUOTE (Ralf @ 8 Sep 2006, 15:46) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...To answer some of the questions; I haven't yet got any specific traffic in mind, but wagonload and non-specific industry, ie I don't want to be stuck with running just coal for example.

As for the region it'll be where there is a prototype of example of what I am modelling! Anglia as someone suggested seems like a possible candidate, another reason for going that was is the quantity of early prototype diesels with classes such as the 15, 16, 28 etc etc, which I find very interesting and they suit the period of the early 60s.

Thanks for focusing things Ralf - in my experience of these sort of threads, the OP all too often fails to check in again for days on end, and things start to wander off at all sorts of interesting but ultimately irrelevant tangents


If you want 'wagonload and non-specific' freight, then the further back you go, the better (my first impression was that you perhaps wanted something 'blue era'). As others have said, E Anglia is a particularly good example as it was mostly dieselised very early on, and yet train services and operating practices didnt alter greatly. I thnk there's a specific album (Dr Ian C Allen?) on diesels in E Anglia

Being pedantic maybe, the locos you mention arent strictly 'prototypes' but are early Modernisation Plan types which werent perpetuated in quantity. The cl.16, AFAIK, was kept pretty close to London so Stratford could keep tabs on them, but the 15s were a bit better-behaved and more widespread. I wouldnt really class the Metrovicks (28) as a classic branch-line engine; once banished to Barrow, I think they kept mostly to heavy freight and secondary passenger on the Furness line and WCML environs. (Not at all an expert on the area tho, I'd qute like to hear confirmation that they worked the Cumbrian iron ore branches, for instance). Outside of lowland Scotland, Cumbria is also the most obvious setting for a Clayton (cl.17). Again, they were used elsewhere, but more in industrial/urban locales; tho I have seen some nice shots of them in rural Northumberland and Co Durham
 

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One area you could look at for the Anglia region is around Kings Lynn or Wisbech.
In terms of freight you can run grain wagons including the BRT 'Blue' types, an oil depot or terminal, and non-descript warehouse sending out vans of soup or pet food
That would give you three types of specific traffic, as well as household coal in the ubiquitous 16 tonners. Typical loco type on that would be a derivative of the Cl31. Your passenger service could reasonably be run by a class 101 DMU. You havent mentioned which scale you model in but assuming its 4mm theres a good range of RTR to be had and a varity of kits to make up the gaps. N gauge may leave you a little more restricted in choice of location, but you could do the above suggestion with curent RTR.
As far as track plans go you could have a look at Aldeburgh for a terminus design.
I'd recommend PMC's and others book suggestions, as well as the 'Then and now' series, they usually have a couple of photographic gems in them. Dr Ian Allans book was 'Diesels in East Anglia' published by OPC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
All

Thanks for all your help so far. To clear up a few points:

Pennine MC rightly pointed out that 28s were not really common branch line engine esp in Anglia, no I realise that it was just another example to add to my rather lacking list!

Aldeburgh for a track plan... - never heard of it
, anyone know where I'd find a track plan I've done a bit of googling and not come up with much... I think I'll have more luck with Kings Lynn and Wisbeach though.

I went to Romily & Slaithwaite EM Expo today for inspiration, and discovered Brilsden, which I was seriously both impressed and inspired by.
Superb layout IMHO. Based on what I saw there I've developed a loose track plan of what may be possible to do in the space I have (roughly 8' x 18"/2') and the constraint that the exit must be in the front corner. The layout will be wall mounted (with legs too) and will as someone assumed be in 4mm scale, probably OO using Tillig track.

Anyway I've not got to grips with Trax2 so design my layout so ordered some full size tillig templates and i'll use them along with some blu-tac and old peco flexi track to design further, but in the mean time I've come up with the following, sorry it's only a pure txt drawing but hopefully someone may have some comments about it.... The 'drawing' has been uploaded to http://locomotivesillustrated.fotopic.net/c1078188.html - please click the thumbnail and then 'fullsize' - (NOTE the thumbnail currently is working but the bigger version doesn't load I assume once fotopic wakes up it will)

I can only apologise about the mince on my fotopic site, I just haven't got the time to dedicate to keeping it upto date with quality shots so I took it all offline except to use it for stuff like this!

Thanks again for all the help so far.

Ralf
 

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At first glance and without drawing anything out , this looks a bit more than 8' long - it may scale out at nearer 10' . Im also assuming that the curve around the exit is in addition to this , ie on top of the 8'

I would be inclined to move the goods shed to the road you have marked as wagon storage and leave the short road for coal, with possibly a cattle dockas well though really this is a bit too late for cattle traffic which was in steep decline from the early 30s (The NRM grabbed the last surviving cattle wagon direct from traffic a few months before the museum opening in 1975, but a small place like this would probably not be handing cattle in 1960)

Strictly speaking there should be a headshunt at the exit end, to allow shunting without fouling the running lines. In practice that's the least of your worries if there's a serious length issue

The only 2 "fixes" I can come up with quickly to save length are :

- use a double slip to combine access to the dock with the exit from the runround loop. This would then leave the "straight through" road leading into the shed /warehouse . If you are committed to a corner site this may be better anyway , and still avoids any movement into here conflicting with running lines.

- combine access to the loop and the shed using a tandem point. This is only available in code 75

I think onh balance I'd go dfor the double slip , and also take the point leading out of it so it exits to the bottom left corner , not straight off to the left ie use a RH not a LH. This gets rid of the reverse curve and starts the turn into the corner earlier - vital if you're short of length

You're almost certainly limited to Peco small radius points here to save space, so eliminating reverse curves is a benefit.

It may be worth drawing out this in pencil to scale first , just as a first rough check . An old book gives me , for 24" radius points - length 7 inches, divergance point after 3 inches then diverging route moves 1 inch out over the next 4 inches (ie 1 in 4 crossing) This isn't 100% right for the PECO geometry but its at least 95% plus accurate , and infinitely more accurate than freehand estimates . It should give you a reasonable isdea whether the plan will fit
 

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Perhaps if you are looking at the kings lynn area you could consider the Hunstanton line it was not included in the original beeching proposals although it was eventually shut there is plenty of scope for one off seaside specials as well as the regular DMU workings which I believe in the 60's were lightweights but would have probably given way to 101's or 105's if the line had stayed open I'm sure there is plenty of photographs and info around because of the line being used for royal trains as well making it regularly photographed
 
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