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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

What are these?


John Cubin
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On my recent trip to the Somme, I came across these three bits of what I took to be rails. Now back home, I'm not so sure and so would appreciate any helpful suggestions as to their original purpose. Thanks.

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Looks like track from a light railway too me. There are a lot of the wooden "sleepers" used as fence posts near to the White City at Beaumont Hamel I think you know what the big "pointy" thing is!.

Regards

Norman :rolleyes:

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One on the left with a hole for a fishplate looks very light tramway like - not so sure about the other two. The one with the shell looks like ordinary angle iron that has been bent and there is something peculiar about the middle one. Any chance of bigger pictures of these - say one per post?

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Certainly looks like light rail to me in the first pic. Loads of little trench railways of both sides at one time :)

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One looks like standard flat-bottomed rail of the Vignoles pattern from a WWI light railway - Charles Blacker Vignoles, as a matter of interest, was an officer in the 43rd Light Infantry circa 1840 before he resigned to become a railway engineer. One of the other pictures may show "bullhead" rail, but it is difficult to ascertain the size (bullhead rail would normally be about 7 inches in height).

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Pals, thanks for responses. I'll post them again as big as the Forum allows. Have some dimensions for number 1 (being the proud owner of a pencil with inches up the side!) The bottom flange is just over an inch across, the height about one and a half inches and the holes 8 or 9 inches apart.

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Given those dimensions I'd guess that no. one is some form of light tramway (probably for man hauled/pushed trucks). Kipling gives a very good description of the operation of one of these in his work on the Irish Guards. The second photo looks very like the sort of I cross section used even today for a plethora of construction purposes.

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Something weird happening with my machine but will press on. Number three has nothing attached to the top edge. I didn't fiddle with it as the big pointy thing was near the edge of the wall which was just the right height for it to describe an arc of 180 degrees before hitting the ground. I should then have lost interest in bits of rail..............

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The double-flanged rail shown in Picture Two is too small to be conventional bullhead rail. It is more likely to be some form of structural steelwork. Picture Two, on the other hand, is standard, flat-bottomed rail for use on light railways.

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