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Model Railway Planning Irish Style 5 Fenit & Tralee



As we have looked at most of the main line stations on the North Kerry, I thought we might as well look at the North Kerry Yard in Tralee and the Fenit branch, both were important in terms of beet traffic and the North Kerry yard continued to handle keg and container traffic after the main line closed.


The GSWR and the North Kerry originally had separate stations on either side of Edward Street the connecting line and level crossing was a late addition, the North Kerry station closed several years after the GSWR absorbed the WLWR.


Apart from the ESSO sidings and the private siding into the mill there seems to have been little change since WLWR days.


The WLWR engine shed and turntable appears to have been on the north side of the line on the western side of Edward Street.


There appears to have been a large goods shed on the loading bank that was later used for loading sugar beet traffic a 16t gantry was installed for container traffic in the 1960s. I griced the year with my brand new Instamatic camera in 77or 78. Rock Street cabin was still manned although traffic to Fenit and Listowel had ceased.


A couple of flat wagons with keg containers and a CIE Insulated container were positioned on the gantry road, a large number of H wagons were placed on the sidings on either side of the running road and loop. Interestingly a couple of wagons were on the mill siding.


I checked out Fenit, Ardfert and Abbeydorney the following day, when got back the yard was largely clear of wagons. Heuston-Tralee was the last freight service to go over to Liner Train operation in 79 or 80. A coupling broke on the last loose coupled goods out of Heuston with most of the train running away down the Gullet into the passenger station.




The Fenit branch was sponsored and built by Tralee interests as an alternative to the Ship Canal, before the opening of the Leibherr crane factory the port was never very successful depending on coal and timber traffic for local merchants. The port struggled to raise capital to maintain or renew infrastructure, the port closed to commercial traffic due to structural problems with the pier causeway and was famous in the 60s for using steam cranes to load Leibherr Tower Cranes for export.


The line was originally worked by the W&L using a contractors tank loco that was re-gauged from standard gauge, the Harbour Commissioners later bought a standard Hunslet industrial 0-6-0ST which became GSWR 299 which was later used on the Cork Harbour sidings and the Timoleague & Courtmacsharry in West Cork.


CIE looked at using 299 or No90 or 100 but used an ex MGWR 0-6-0T 560 surplus from the Waterford & Tramore. 560 was used up to 1963 after which a G611 or E401 was used from Tralee. The G appears to have been used to move cuts of wagons between the pier and station for collection by a C Class or other loco sent from Tralee.


Rail traffic from the pier seems to have got sparse the last train is said to have been for a ship load of starch diverted from another port in the early 70s.


The line seems to have been busiest for beet with most of the traffic from Spa the wagons would have had to be brought to Fenit to run round.


The buildings at Fenit appear to have been similar to Ardfert and other smaller North Kerry Stations, the station building appears to have been demolished following the end of regular passenger services, the goods shed later demolished to extend the beet loading bank. The loco shed and turntable had gone by the 1970s, but the footbridge with very attractive stonework and the base of the water tank survives.


Fenit was famous for its self propelled steam cranes which were used into the mid 1960s, I am not sure if they were capable of moving wagons, but one of the photos in A J O'Rourkes North Kerry book shows a crane parked at the end of the platform road by the buffer stops with a number positioned on the pier.


The pier would make an interesting tabeau especially with a small tank loco or a G and a couple of self propelled cranes scuttling about. Perhaps the Jordan Steam Shovel (rigged as a crane) on a Black Beetle motor bogie.


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The whole Fenit track plan would make a very good basis as an exhibtion layout. Am surprised Iain Rice hasn't drawn something as looks right up his street. The pier and causeway are just as interesting Chatham dockyard has several mobile cranes and former member Ted McIlroy (sadly killed in a road accident last year) built 7mm scale models of two of them. He used RG4 motors to enable full operation - they could move along the track, while the jibs could lift and slew, plus the cables wind up and down. Contro was via additional pick ups on parallel rails, as this was per DCC. Utterly exquisite, they worked beautifully and would have looked fabulous on something like Fenit pier.

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I remember cycling out to Fenit from Tralee to see that shipment of starch being unloaded. The cargo was packaged in paper sacks like cement and unloaded into open wagons by the three steam cranes. A H van was present loaded with tarps to cover the loads. I don't recall a Deutz present to shunt the pier on this occasion, but a CIE lorry with an improvised buffer beam, a sleeper tied to the front with a rope was used. I believe the weighbridge was used at Fenit to weigh the wagons. At the end of the day an A class arrived from Tralee, assembled a sizeable train of starch and the H van and returned.

The other traffic I remember from Fenit pier was timber for Mc Cownes in Tralee. Mc Cownes had a large property south of Tralee station with a timber and coal yard , a foundry and feed mill all served by rail.

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Interesting - was at Chatham Dockyard's transport festival today and took a couple of pictures of their steam cranes, one with its bodywork removed to show the innards. Haven't mastered posting pics here yet, so you can find it on my next blog. Sorry about that.

Edited by David Holman
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