Rope & Rail on Northern Isles (Mainline & Maritime)

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A detailed history covering ropeways (systems used to transport people, supplies and other cargos over a short distance, usually by means of carriers suspended from moving cables, normally powered by a motor and supported by a series of towers) and railways found on the Northern islands of:

• Helgoland (also known as Heligoland) a small archipelago located in the North Sea. A British territory/outpost between 1807 and 1890, it became part of Schleswig-Holstein, the most northern state in Germany, after the Helgoland-Zanzibar treaty in 1890. During both the First and Second World Wars Germany used the islands to protect their naval bases and commercial shipping by locating gun emplacements at strategic points. To facilitate this they built a metre gauge railway so locomotives pulling tipper wagons could be used to transport the supplies required up to the plateau, and to the workshops and power station. Both diesel and steam locomotives were used on the network. Remnants are still visible today.

• Svalbard a Norwegian archipelago (also known as Spitsbergen or Spitzbergen) found in the Arctic Ocean, to the north of mainland Europe. Coal mining began at the end of the 19th century and resulted in the creation of a number of coal mining towns, also mined was coprolite which once treated produced phosphate for fertilizer. The author, Mike Bent looks at a variety of systems developed on the islands during the 19th and 20th centuries.

• Bjørnøya or Bear Island, the southernmost island of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, situated between Spitsbergen and the North Cape, in the western part of the Barents Sea. Between 1918 and 1932 the island was privately owned by Bjørnøen AS, a coal mining company who in the mid-1920s were using narrow gauge lines and moving coal with two 0-4-0T locomotives. The rusted locomotives and some of the track are still in evidence.

• Faroe Islands, an archipelago located in the North Atlantic between Norway and Iceland. Industries include fishing and coal mining and in the past there have been a wide variety of transport systems used on the islands to move supplies and fish, including a 600 mm gauge rail network; slipway cable railways; a trackless cable-operated guideway; cable railways and cableways. Some rail tracks were also used, in conjunction with manpower, to move coal in the mines. More recently a 750 mm railway was built on Eysturoy for the removal of residue material created when boring tunnels for the Hydroelectric power plant.

• Iceland, a Nordic island country found in the North Atlantic Ocean. Mike Bent looks over the many plans put forward over the years for an Icelandic national railway and goes over the plans proposed for a rail system from Rekjavik to Keflavik Airport. He examines the rail systems used at both Keflavik airport and Reykjavik harbour during creation to move the residue construction material. He then looks at rail tracks used on the Korpúlfsstaðir estate and at the Hvitanes naval base, as well as a selection of quayside railways, and the underground railway built at the Flótsdalur power station.

• Greenland, the largest non-continental island in the world located between the Arctic ocean and the Atlantic ocean. Mike Bent finishes by exploring the noteworthy assortment of railways created as a result of Greenland’s fishing and mineral economies.

65 colour and black & white illustrations. 64 pages.

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