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Remembered Today:

Mystery drill hall - help sought, please


Dragon
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I'm very grateful for everyone's input: thank you all for your time.

I have a good selection of old maps (pre-Beeching, even pre-M6!) which I'm looking at, tracing the railway lines section by section. The Bartholomews maps gave farm names as well as places and landmarks, and being stuck on to hairnets, they're easy to section. It takes time, though, and gives me a headache. Interestingly, even the old (1930s) OS maps are sometimes incorrect; my mum's family farm is labelled down completely the wrong lane and I trust her memory, as she lived there.

One old map I have is the Tebay area and I shall be calling in Tebay services soon, so I'll take the binoculars!

Gwyn

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Sorry to disappoint you but Tebay it most certainly is not. The railway locomotive is most definately GWR as is the train it is pulling. If any body wishes to know how I came to this conclusion please ask.

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Sorry to disappoint you but Tebay it most certainly is not.

I think the basic problem is the thread's now so long it's difficult to remember what we've already debated. Perhaps we need a summary?

IMO, it's definitely a GWR tank. Which class I wouldn't swear to but it's a 4-4-2T or 2-6-2T. The route could be a GWR primary main line because this kind of engine was all over the network but probably isn't because it looks as if it's a single-tracked line, which means secondary main line or branch line. It's quite a large train for a branch line unless it's the last leg of a holiday train taking people to the coast from a junction with the main line but it could be a stopping passenger train on a secondary main line, such as the one that ran through Llangollen.

Although it's not that simple in practice, if we take Birmingham in the north, London to the east and Weymouth to the south (I think there was joint running from Dorchester), we can assume for the purposes of this exercise that railways south and west of that line are GWR. As the GWR loading gauge was larger than that of other railways its locomotives almost never ran on other companies' metals.

The railway is not on the valley floor. Unless IK Brunel was involved, railways were built down to a price, with the least engineering necessary. If the railway had to be built above the valley floor that suggests there's a significant risk of flooding. The valley floor is flat and wide, suggesting it's either a glacial valley or the result of a river meandering across a flood plain. The area must be hilly because of the height of the background. It's difficult terrain for travel because the railway follows the river and everything we can see runs parallel to them both. That suggests this is the only easy way to pass through the hills.

Based on the suggestion of The Devil's Spitepull at Bewdley, I believe that refers to a landscape feature and not an address or settlement. It's possible that the name changed from spittle, rather than spital, during Victorian times. Although they weren't as po-faced as we often think, the Victorians were very sensitive about place-names. Bugsworth, near Buxton, became Buxworth and Wooden Box, in South Derbyshire, was renamed Woodville, for example.

Keith

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I have tried to contact GWR Steam experience at Swindon without much success. I have now E-mailed info@didcotrailwaycentre.org.uk to ask for information. The type of train suggests a local service (tank engine, non corridor stock including 4 wheelers) so I have asked for the routes operated by the type of locomotive I believe it to be and what sheds they were operated from. I will let everyone know as soon as I have a reply.

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I also have a fair number of old maps, about 800 Ordnance Survey examples covering most of the country and going back to the 1880s so I'll try to take a look over the next few evenings. As Gwyn says though it is hard on the eyes! There are certainly some errors to be found on these maps, some deliberate by the way, so that the OS could prove their maps were being copied without permission. Also the degree of accuracy was very dependent on how often the area was surveyed and it's easy to find examples of things still showing (or not) many years after changes had been made.

Cheers

Andy

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... Tebay it most certainly is not.... If any body wishes to know how I came to this conclusion please ask.

Go on then... (please).

Looking for a drill hall is not the primary reason I'll be at Tebay Services. :)

CGM - no, I haven't. I've looked at their website. It would be a good idea to email.

Keith - thanks for the summary. I can go along with most things, for the moment, but I'm not yet wholly convinced about a place name change. (The ref was 'Devil's Spittleful', btw.)

Andy, thank you. I'd heard that about deliberate mistakes. I've also come across an authority which has based some of its HER on mistakes, and so the mistakes become fixed as facts.

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Is it a GWR engine?

It has many features that are found on GWR locomotives. The chimney (just visible behind the signal post) has a slightly different coloured cap, GWR engines had a polished copper cap. There is a cone shaped brass safety valve cover, typical GWR, and the tapered boiler and Belpaire firebox also typical of the GWR. The coaches are typical of GWR design from 1904 onwards with exception of the clerestory which is Victorian.

The only tank locomotives of this size operated by the GWR were either 0-6-2T or 2-6-2T, the 0-6-2's were freight engines and most had inside cylinders. The only 2-6-2T that fits the picture is the 45xx class. The side tanks have a flat top most other GWR side tanks had a sloping top to them. The running plate steps up in front of the cylinders and then continues to the rear buffer beam, the 45XX class is the only GWR tank locomotive that has this feature as far as I am aware.

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I am sure that I am one of many sitting on the sidelines hoping that you guys solve the mystery.

Fingers crossed!

Mel

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This really is a fascinating thread! No, sorry, I have nothing useful to contribute :rolleyes: But blimey! If it ain't GWR, the whole thing is wide open again. Great contributions, Pals :)

Jim

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We'll probably find it's in Canada, Mel and Jim. :lol:

Could I just say that there are four rails, which to my mind means it's a two-track railway. They're clearly visible to the left of the signal, under magnification.

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Two tracks? That ought to make life simpler. As I've said before, I'm no GWR enthusiast but I don't believe that the Great Western had many multiple-tracked lines away from the main lines even compared to the other companies. More than one track means an expectation of significant amounts of traffic. The only possible area for confusion would be around stations on single-tracked lines, which were used as passing places and had short lengths of two tracks but they were usually within the immediate station area and this doesn't look like that..

Keith

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Interesting thread!

When I googled "Spitepull" it returned only one link, and the full text it had found was 'New drill hall and spitepull engine'. Note I only searched for Spitepull..

The odd thing is that it is a link to this website which is in Russion, but hosted on a Korean website!

Any Russian speakers??? Seems coincidental that it refers to a drill hall in the same sentence......

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When I googled "Spitepull" it returned only one link, and the full text it had found was 'New drill hall and spitepull engine'. Note I only searched for Spitepull..

The odd thing is that it is a link to this website which is in Russion, but hosted on a Korean website!

I think it's a red herring. The term doesn't actually appear on that page, and if you look at Google's cached version, it says:

These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: spitepull

Note not on the actual page itself.

Given it seems an unlikely subject for a Russian language Korean pop music site, my best guess is maybe the text in question is from a site that contained an ad to this music site (perhaps an auction site, or maybe someone's personal site hosted on free web and space carrying ads).

Tantalisingly though, there is not trace of the site containing the text that it linked from.

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I'm sure it's a red herring, I'm sorry to say.

'New drill hall and spitepull engine' is the file name I gave to the scanned image of the engine, which I put in post #70 of this thread.

All these images are hosted on my Flickr account. Flickr carries ads.

It isn't on my personal website, which isn't free-space and doesn't have ads. Or the drill halls site, which isn't free-space either.

I don't know how it came to be on a Russian pop site. I did Russian 'O' level for fun, but I declined to take the exam, and I've forgotten everything.

I think that's probably the answer. Thanks for trying, though. :)

Gwyn

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I have just received a reply from the GWR society, regretably the type of locomotive (45XX class) was used over the entire GWR system. However I have found another possible candidate, this is the line running south from Pontypool to Cwmbran Junction. I have looked at this on Google Earth but the area is now covered by modern roads and Industrial buildings.

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Sorry I forgot to mention the Gentleman from the GWR society has asked if he can have a view of the postcard and see if he can identify the place. Their website is info@didcotrailwaycentre.org.uk .

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Thank you very much, Phil.

The National Railway Museum has emailed me, saying that:

"...the engine is a Great Western Railway 2-6-2T “Prairie” tank locomotive. The GWR produced a number of variations of these locomotives in the period 1903 onwards. The train appears to be in either the all chocolate brown or all red livery which would suggest that the date of the photo is between 1905 and 1923 as after that point the GWR introduced its new chocolate and cream livery for coaching stock. There is a rather eclectic collection of rolling stock in the train comprising some bogie vehicles of varying length along with what appears to be four 6 wheeled carriages and a bogie clerestory carriage in the middle. ..."

The writer wonders whether this is a Welsh Valley line. He is pretty sure that there is no connection between the word 'Spitepull' and the train; he suspects that it may be connected to the farm.

(Thank you very much to the National Railway Museum, if you're reading this!)

Phil, the detailed scans are far too large to email on a normal domestic Internet connection; they would seize up your inbox. I suggest that you email your contact the link to my Flickr photostream, which is http://www.flickr.com/photos/mightygwyn . All the scans are hosted on there and if he clicks on the image to open it, and then on 'All sizes' in the options immediately above the image, he can choose what size to view it. Please pass on my appreciation.

Cheers

Gwyn

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Just on spec. I Googled "Drill hall Cwbran" and found out that it was demolished in the 1970's. There are a couple of websites but unfortunately no photographs. Has anybody any old maps showing the railway line from Pontypool down to Cwmbran Junction?

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If you think you may have a possible site do as I did and Google in "Drill Hall (name). I have just Googled "Drill hall Llantarnan" in and it came up with Kelly's directory with about 4 possibilities. I will check on these addresses and let you know.

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It might save you a lot of time if you bear in mind that Graeme searched all the Kelly's Directories from the late 1880s to 1914 and if the drill hall address is recorded in those directories, the details are in our database. If the entry says 'Address unknown', it means that Kelly says there was a DH in the town but doesn't give a specific address. The Drill Halls website isn't exhaustive, and we plan to update the Welsh sections in due course as they were the very first we tried out, but it's a good resource.

I think this sort of quest has to be carried out accompanied by maps.

Many drill halls found by random googling may be post-WW1 ones. They're often the ones in current use, not the original ones. The Cwmbran drill hall which was demolished in the '70s isn't marked on the early OS maps; in fact the road didn't exist in 1922.

Gwyn

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"However I have found another possible candidate, this is the line running south from Pontypool to Cwmbran Junction."

- phil w.

So should we be listing all the stations on this line, and then cross referencing them with entries on the Drill Halls websight Gwyn? Would that be a good start?

CGM

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I can post a simple list of the drills halls in relevant counties. I'm trying to cross off ones in other parts of the area myself, at the moment.

I went up that section of rail line on the old OS map and didn't find any candidates.

Gwyn

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Database extracts deleted to save space!

Edited by Dragon
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I found a website run by a chap who has photographed a lot of what remains of industry/railways in Monmouthshire... I've emailed via the website & will keep you posted if he has any thoughts.

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