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Mystery drill hall - help sought, please


Dragon
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I would suggest that it is a GWR 2-6-2 tank engine, although I might be wrong!

You beat me to it Wyndham!

post-5512-1236805270.jpg

From my trainspotting days the very distinctive GWR safety valve gear cover (?), if I recall correctly.

If so, where on God's Wonderful Railway is it sitting?

NigelS

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I know I shouldn't venture into this as I don't even live on the mainland, but I do know that there is such a combination of road, rail and canal that used to run up the Neath Valley, or Vale of Neath, Glamorgan.

The valley is too narrow for the part I know well which is Resolven, but up near Glyn-Neath it could be narrow enough. I have also spent meny happy hours watching ex GWR locos pulling trains both freight and passenger up and down the line.

You don't see 45, 16 ton mineral wagons being pulled by castle class loco any more.

Gareth

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Please could you explain what the significance of the GWR 2-6-2 tank engine is? Eg what era? Is it a passenger train? Do you want any more bits scanning? (Give me an hour!)

In the meantime, I'll go back to the database and pull out all the possible drill halls.

Edited by Dragon
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if the post card is of an era prior to BR nationalisation, its my understanding that a loco belonging to the GWR would not venture onto a region of railway that is owned by another company.

If that is the case then the postcard must be from a location within the area of the GWR's operation. And that gives a broad hint its South Wales I think.

Gareth

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if the post card is of an era prior to BR nationalisation, its my understanding that a loco belonging to the GWR would not venture onto a region of railway that is owned by another company.

Except during WW1 and WW2 (for example trains delivering tanks to the ferry for France might well cross railway boundaries but retain the loco and troop trains would do the same). Peace time specials would also retain the loco allocated the train throughout its journy which might cross railway systems/companies (by prior arrangement)

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That was particularly true of the GWR, Gareth, because it built its locos to a wider loading gauge than other railways - a legacy of its broad-gauge days. Many of its locomotives were physically unable to run on other companies' lines. It does mean that the picture has to have been taken in the west of the UK but the GWR had lines from London to Birkenhead in the north, Penzance in the south-west and the great majority of Wales. The 2-6-2 tank was everywhere on the network for light passenger and freight duties.

However, if we're right and that is a canal in the mid-level, there are very few locations it could be because here weren't many canals in Wales. Those I know are the Newtown and Llangollen canals and a look on the 'Net yesterday brought up one near Usk. My vote would be somewhere near Llangollen or Bala.

Keith

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I have been looking at Os 1:50000 maps covering the Welsh border area as far south as Newtown, following all the valleys with railways past and present, without seeing anything like Spite/Spit, or the words drill hall (which might never have featured). I'll try further west, but have nothing further south to look at. Eyes permitting...

D

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Hi

I'm certain the photo is pre-nationalisation, if you mean 1948. (Sorry, I'm not very clued up on railways.) Apart from the sepia tone of the card, there isn't a car in sight. There isn't even a tractor in the farmyard.

I'm also reasonably sure that what we thought was a canal is another rail line (possibly single track). I showed that on the revised map. Using a very powerful magnifying lens borrowed from my visually impaired mum, we can pick out tracks in some parts and it rises and falls in a way that a canal wouldn't without a lock. So if I'm right on that, it may well be a place where a line branches off.

In my original post, I said that I’ve traced a few places in the mid-Wales / Cardiganshire region with ‘Spite’ in the name, eg Tavernspite, a Methodist chapel called Spite near Llanfynydd, a reference in the 1891 census to a hamlet called Spite in Llanychaer parish, Spite Inn in the Epynt region south of Llanwrtyd Wells. There's also the colliery Gareth mentioned.

I will go back to the database, but probably not tonight. I'm reasonably sure this isn't a DH that we have a photo of, unless it's been adapted, which isn't impossible. I can rule a few out because if they were in a town centre in 1914 they aren't this one. The other difficulty is that DHs in Wales are very poorly recorded by the Directories.

Huge thanks for all your input so far.

Gwyn

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Engine at resolution of.....wait for it....... 30000. If it helps!

3347569802_cc78c8e505_b.jpg

The vertical white line is a signal.

With the locomotive designs of the GWR tending not to change their outlines very drastically for decades it can be hard to date photographs that don't show detail. This is probably just before or during WW1, though. The highly recognisable chocolate-and-cream coach livery was used for many,many years up to nationalisation and for some time afterwards. However, it was abandoned in Edwardian times and not reinstated until after the war (see here), giving us a date between 1908 and 1922, with a bit of slack to allow for repainting.

Keith

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Thanks! If nothing else the scan ruled out piebald coaches. I'm amazed that the little silver dome was of use!

The date-spread fits in with the construction of a new drill hall. They tended not to build new ones in the early 20s.

If you would like any more bits scanning, just say.

Edited by Dragon
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Heres a GWR 2-6-2 Engine

Can your mums magnifier make out the plaque above the hall door way and the white circile on the end gable ?

post-28292-1236813933.jpg

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I think that it's probably a Churchward 31XX large prairie tank rather than the light design of the 45XX series because of the height difference between the top of the firebox and the top of the cab but I'm not a GWR aficionado so I can't be certain. I'm a Midland/LMS man. It won't make a lot of difference except to indicate the weight classification of the track. A 35XX and two coaches would suggest a rural branch line. A 31XX and half a dozen coaches suggests at least a secondary main line.

P6074320.jpg

Keith

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I can't make out the plaque or the triangle, but it may be that whatever is intended to be there hasn't been put up yet. The ground seems quite rough, as though the building has only recently been finished.

I'll try and scan it.

Thanks for the pictures of the engines. I'm still amazed that I can put up a murky, scratchy scan and within minutes someone posts a suggested identification which highlights a possible area. (As Martin suggested, indeed.)

Gwyn

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Fascinating thread, folks!

Now I may be totally wrong here :) , but the shadows from the drill hall are falling roughly towards top right.

But they're not falling very far (judging by the shadows of the trees), so maybe around midday in summer. Therefore the view is approximately northwest-ish?

So we're looking for a railway line in a valley that runs roughly SW to NE...

Possibly. :unsure:

Please feel free to ignore!

Adrian

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Thanks, Adrian! Nothing is ignored!

I scanned the circle and to me, it appears to be blank. The triangle has a dark patch at the top, which doesn't seem to be shadow.

I'll clear some space in my Flickr and post it.

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3349086414_ac3749c1fd.jpg

and

3349086262_890c66626f_o.jpg

One slight problem is that the lens limitations show at the edge of the original photo. The original image has been distorted twice, firstly by the camera lens and secondly by the enlarger used when it was printed.

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Back to the train:

3349134340_e603f4a353_o.jpg

and enhanced:

3349137672_92b601959e_o.jpg

This is reduced because manipulating huge files takes so long. I've saved the non-reduced version and can post crops.

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Thank you very much for looking, Julie. The canal isn't completely ruled out; we think that it's a second rail track, but that may be wrong.

Gwyn

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and enhanced:

3349137672_92b601959e_o.jpg

That's a very interesting set of rolling stock! The coach with a white roof in the middle of the train has a clerestory roof, which is a feature that was used by all railway companies but went out of use before the turn of the 20th century, I think. What fascinates me is the apparent symmetry in the train. If I'm reading this right, behind the engine there's a bogie coach, then two short-wheelbase vans, then two bogie coaches, two more vans and a bogie coach.

It was common for trains to travel from a major city, like London, to a seaside area in sections, which were separated as the train went along as the appropriate junctions were reached. I might well be talking through my hat but, going with the mid-summer idea, I'm wondering whether it's part of a holiday train that's reaching the end of its trip but with either two or four destinations still within it. If that's right, the vans are for the passengers' luggage. There wouldn't have been much space in the coaches because they're non-corridor stock, probably drafted in from who knows where for a summer Saturday special working.

Keith

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When I first started looking for "Spite" I came across this

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/651382 Spite & Cant

Unfortunately this Spite is not near enough to a railway to tie-in (go to http://www.old-maps.co.uk/indexmappage2.aspx and enter coordinates 201900 228200 Use the 1908 map)

But having a look round the area (I've been looking at http://www.npemap.org.uk/ use Punchestone ) the terrain in the Puncheston/ castle bythe does looks plausible, as there is a branch of the GWR (N. Pembrokeshire) but there is no canal. Pannning to the NW of Puncheston on npemap, there is a place called Trecwn. This might not be our location, as there is no sign of a drill hall marked on "Old Maps" (http://www.old-maps.co.uk/indexmappage2.aspx enter coordinates 196300 235200), but there is a smaller branch line which comes off the main line; there are quarries and there are also man made watercourses (Weirs & a mill race on the 1908 map) in the right sort of arrangement.

Unfortunately using Google maps ( http://tinyurl.com/dkkce3 ), although the original railway track bed is visible, the area has been developed with an extensive modern industrial complex so it's difficult to compare with how it was

Did Trecwn have a Drill Hall at some stage? - worth a look if nothing else, maybe.

NigelS

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That's an interesting reading of the train. Thank you!

Nigel, I'll go and search. I've also got some old maps from my own collection, so I'll dig them out. Thank you. Just to make reading the old maps more complex, drill halls may not be marked as such, though the footprint may be there. In some maps and directories from the war years, they're not shown / mentioned at all. Directories often fail to mention the drill hall, especially in Wales.

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I've got a gut feeling that Trecwn may have been too small a place for such a grand drill hall, but who knows? always worth turning over the odd stone!

NigelS

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