Evocative Railway Remains

Glen Ogle ViaductPhoto from Scotlandincolour.com

There’s an interesting thread on the RMweb forum about evocative railway remains.

Abandoned railways loomed large in family holidays in the sixties and seventies. Back then the Beeching closures were still very recent, and the trackbeds were still easily recognisable. Indeed, the track was still in situ for the section of the Ruabon to Barmouth line running parallel to the A5 between Llangollen and Corwen in the mid-60s when we holidayed in Angelsea. Later years saw the viaduct at Berwyn covered in half-grown trees. Now it’s restored, and trains again cross that viaduct. An even earlier holiday was on a farm adjacent to the Seaton branch in Devon, again with the track still in place. Now narrow-gauge trams pass that location.

I remember taking  a photo on my old Kodak Instamatic in the early 70s of the closed station at Dolgellau further west on the same route, and being told by a local that I shouldm’t photograph it because it was just too sad.

Nowadays, half a century on from the Beeching closures, railway remains fall into two categories.

First, there are the big spectacular structures that have survived long after they ceased to serve their original purpose. I can think of the viaduct high up the side of Glen Ogle on the closed section of the Callendar and Oban line in the Scottish highlands, along which I have walked during a holiday.  Another is the impressive structure that once carried the Dearne Valley Railway  across the Don Valley, which I see regularly from the former Great Central line between Sheffield to Doncaster on journeys between Reading and York. Then there’s the old Didcot, Newbury and Southampton viaduct south of Winchester, visible from the M3 (and before that the A33)

Second, there are those remants that offer tantalising glimpses of what had once been. One such example is the isolated bits of embankment and viaduct around Swansea Victoria. Another is the plate girder bridge than now carries the A4 across the A33 just south of Reading town centre. It’s not the sort of bridge you’d expect t see for a road-over-road bridge; that’s because the A33 uses the trackbed of the Reading South freight branch, closed in the early 1980s.  Yet another is the surviving long-abandoned track and pointwork from a narrow gauge mineral tramway on the footpath between St Blazey and Pontsmill in Cornwall.

What railway remains do you find evovative, and why?

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4 Responses to Evocative Railway Remains

  1. Ade says:

    All of them! It’s a terrible weakness for any stretch of flattened earth or crumbling stonework. Even passing Manchester G-Mex on the tram can trigger a bout of faux-nostalgia. But if I had to choose, probably some Welsh narrow gauge remains, such as the short spur from Dduallt that leads to the old Moelwyn Tunnel portal, or the remaining trackbed of the Croesor Tramway. (And yes, I do own way too many of those ‘Past & Present’ books.)

  2. Tim Hall says:

    You take me back to Blaenau Ffestiniog in the late 1970s. All those abandoned inclines are still there today, but back then a lot of the track was still in place, with rusting narrow-gauge tramways running everywhere.

  3. Chuk says:

    I really like the Kettle Valley Railway — looking it up now, I found that about a dozen trestles actually burned down about 12 years ago. I haven’t been to the canyons for probably 30 years. Wonderful scenery, cool canyon trestle bridges and mountain tunnels.

  4. Kevin Prince says:

    So many, but some highlights would be the whole Croesor/PBSSR/WHR remains. I walked much of them in a short holiday before heading to the Falklands in 92. Never thought I’d see them restored back then.

    I was always fascinated by the odd remnants of mainline connection you see when travelling on the tube.

    rugby Central and the Rugby Leamington line were regular run routes when posted to the TA centre there too.

    Possibly the most poignant was the SudHarz and Halberstadt Blankenberger station at Tanne and Drei Annen Hohne alongside the still active Harz metre gauge within the former grenade gebeit