Posts Tagged ‘Wadebridge’

Wadebridge Station or the John Betjeman Centre

June 7, 2015

Regular readers, particularly of the train blogs, will know that I first visited Wadebridge back in 1961. My dad took my brother and me – young train spotters – to see three very special old engines.

Probably unsurprisingly, the line was ‘Beechinged’ in 1967. All passenger services ceased but freight hung on until 1978 at which point complete closure saw the end of rail transport in this part of Cornwall.

Let’s fast forward to 2003 and another visit to the station.  By then it looked like a station building, but had a different use.

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Tea, which we wanted, was on offer at the building so we parked up and went in. Actually, we were not eligible for it was for over 60s and back then we weren’t. But we were admitted and had a welcome cup of tea in what is now a John Betjeman centre with memorabilia about the former poet laureate – who was also a lover of this part of Cornwall and of railways.

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We visited Betjeman’s grave, across the Camel estuary at the church of St Enedoc.

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And what a delightful little church and setting that is.

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A Well Tank

May 30, 2015

Do you know, it is just about a month since I last wrote about trains although I did have some luggage labels about three weeks ago? No wonder I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms!

Perhaps it is time again to look at an old friend from the very early 1960s – it’s a sweet little tank engine which for some reason was classed as an ‘0298’. The class was also known as Beattie Well Tanks. They were designed by Joseph Beattie and a well tank, for water, was sited under the boiler and footplate.

These tanks were introduced in 1863 to operate what were then very lightweight London suburban trains. They worked well but as train sizes had to grow they became too small for the task. Production ceased in 1875 and locos migrated to the west of England to operate branch line services there. The engine I show here was part of a batch produced in 1874.

By 1895 most of the 85 engines built had gone but three had found their way to the Bodmin area in Cornwall where they were found to be the ideal loco for the china clay trains on the Wenford Bridge line. The three old locos stayed put until 1962 enabling me as a train spotter to see them and as a rail enthusiast to travel on a special train around south west London which was hauled by two of them. It should be said that the locos were quite considerably altered during what proved to be a very long working life.

Two of them have been preserved and here is one of them on shed at Bodmin as a preserved loco in the year 2003.

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What a lovely old lady this is – and it is one of the locos I have been pulled by. Of course, I have my ticket for that journey – but no photos taken by me.

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Here we see (not for the first time on this blog) my brother, on the right, and I spotting the loco at Wadebridge in 1961.

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No doubt, like most people, I can be amazed at the changes which have taken place during my life time. It seems unthinkable, now, that you might find mainline railways being powered by locos or trains that were close on 90 years old. But there she was and still doing a useful job.

A Happy Nerd in Cornwall

November 7, 2012

My wife and I recently spent a happy week in Cornwall – we had a cottage on the edge of Bodmin Moor.

So what does a happy nerd like on holiday. Well actually, he likes sunshine and lovely scenery. He’d like to see wildlife, both fauna and flora. He’ll enjoy clifftop walks and sandy coves which all sounds just a bit normal.  On this particular holiday he was largely denied the sunshine and  for various reasons anything in the way of walking on unsmooth ground was off the agenda. But an average of 100 photos a day means something was seen to take the nerd’s eye. Let’s see a few, but we’ll start back in 1961.

This was my first ever trip out of the south east of England. Dad had bought a Bedford Dormobile and for a try-out we stayed for a week near friends in South Devon. Dad seemed happy to encourage the nerdy ways and knowing how keen my brother and I were to get to Wadebridge to see the famed ‘0298’ locos, we made a trip there.

Regular readers (if there are any) may have worked out that I was inclined to buy a ticket – a platform ticket was cheapest – as a souvenir. So here’s the one for Wadebridge.

It proved such a good idea, for the back has the actual date stamped on it, and this one, damaged by careless boyish mounting, has a little extra.

So the date was 24th July 1961 and I had the ticket with me when nerdy dad dragged us to Cranmere Pool, said to be the remotest spot on Dartmoor, later in the holiday,  and where the first of the Dartmoor letter boxes was installed.

But back to that wonderful day at Wadebridge, and here are brother and I, thrilled to see one of the famed old Beattie designed engines. In fact we saw all three of them.

Those engines had survived for half a century or more to work the china clay trains from Wenfordbridge.  So I was really pleased, this time, to see a length of track still in place across a road quite near our cottage.

In Padstow, I found (and not for the first time) a railway mile post telling us we were 259 and a quarter miles from Waterloo.

I paid but a brief visit to Bodmin to see some real steam.

But a happy nerd doesn’t need trains. Bridges are lovely. How about Delford Bridge?

What a fantastically simple and effective way to use the local raw materials.

This nerd can be happy with an interesting seat on Blisland village green.

It’s made of horseshoes.

Life is always full of little quirks and surprises like this. There’s never a need to feel bored.