Cornwall Transition from Steam: The R C Riley Archive Vol 6 (Transport Treasury)

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Compiled by Jeremy Clements, using photographs covering the mid-1950s to the early 1960s from the R C Riley archive. The author describes how, after many difficulties, the Cornwall Railway eventually came to be built and ran from Plymouth to Falmouth.

Constructing a railway line to pass through the length of Cornwall was a challenging task, due to both the difficult landscape and insufficient funding. When it was eventually built the shortage of investment meant that it was only a single track, broad-gauge line.

The many valleys it had to cross required numerous viaducts and as a money saving strategy Brunel designed these to be constructed out of timber, though all were later rebuilt in brick or masonry. Some sections of the line were subsequently made into double track, but the need to convert to standard gauge resulted in the company having to sell out to the Great Western Railway.

The first chapter covers the viaduct, looking at the type of structure that featured extensively over the railway, along with Brunel’s involvement, the problems affecting the structures and the methods employed to address them. The accompanying photographs show a variety of trains travelling over or under various viaducts.

Following on are chapters covering the main line, Plymouth to Penzance, and the branch line route, Par to Newquay. Dick Riley’s images show a variety of passenger and express services running on a range of workings from April to September.

A chapter on goods trains covers the various motive power operating on the lines pulling the different types of freight traffic and is followed by one on the motive power depots, and the locomotives that were allocated to each one. The people who run the depots and crew the trains also feature in a collection of images.

The last chapter covers the diesel locomotives, mainly with hydraulic transmission, that were taking over from steam and presents a series of photographs taken by Dick Riley over 1960-62. Extensive captions accompany the 152 black & white photographs. 112 pages.

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