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Irish Railfans' News 1958/9

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From the pages of April 1958 / July 1959 issues..

Jan 58 15 locos and many more tenders shipped for scrap to Spain. Most ex-CIE including the boiler of 802 and several "Woolwichs", one (probably the last) 500 class 4.6.0, one West Clare loco, and a few ex-GNR. A correspondent reported a trip from Dublin to Loughrea and back via a roundabout route, which featured a variety of A and C class diesels on various trains, the C's on Dublin suburbans and a Galway-Tuam local. The Sligo-Limerick was a two car AEC railcar, and ex-MGWR 0.6.0s featured on the Ballinrobe mioxed (590) and shunting in Galway (554). The Loughrea train was a "Bredin" composite and an elderly 6-wheeled MGWR brake third, hauled by 2.4.0 No. 654. The train back to Dublin had A42.

 

April 58 UTA reintroduces 60 mph timings on the NCC using railcars. GNR closes Oldcastle branch from April 12, citing the fact that passenger journeys have dropped to a third of what they were in 1938. While the traditional route of the Bundoran Express has been closed now for some months, the comiong season of Lough Derg pilgrimage specials are to go to Omagh; less rail mileage from dublin, but greater road mileage at the far end, making the journey overall 16 miles further. It is expected that the new AEC railcars will be used. Latest deliveries of these mean that they are now in use on the Derry Road (4 sets), the Enterprise (4 sets), two sets sharing Belfast - Portadown locals with steam trains, and two sets spare. Deliveries of A, B, F & G classes reported as complete. C231 becomes the first loco to be outshopped in green, as opposed to the silver used to date on diesels. It entered traffic on the ex-DSER suburbans in January '58, though two other C's have subsequently entered traffic in silver. C's have taken over the passenger trains on the South Wexford line from steam.

 

March 58 Rugby specials to Lansdowne Road - B101 and A class diesels in use, with some railcars. DSER section locals were probably railcar-starved that day as J15 class 0.6.0s were in use. The UTA placed eight new MPD cars in traffic, saying that it is seeking funding for parts to make up ten more complete railcar trains. This, it is said, will eliminate steam on the NCC. On March 1st, new diesels F502 and F503 were noted on the up and down West Clare goods trains, both of which were heavily loaded. On that date too, passenger traffic was heavy with one train noted as one of the standard Walker railcars hauling a trailer and a brake van coach. The C & L section was still all steam, and on the MGWR section the only regular steam was on the branch lines to Ballinrobe, Ballaghaderreen and Loughrea. Further south, the Birr branch still had steam on its mixed train and the solitary return daily mixed to Foynes was also steam. This represented the last regular steam usage in the Limerick area by far. All of the foregoing lines (except the Cavan and Letirim, of course!) were handled by various 0.6.0s, but the Thurles - Clonmel line was also still steam operated by elderly D12 class 4.4.0s. The Farranfore-Valentia line had recently been taken over by C class diesels. Further south again, the Kenmare branch was operated by J15 class 0.6.0s, while passenger trains on the Waterford-Macmine were in the hands of D class 4.4.0's, though a B101 had the goods! Just two return trips on the ex-DSER suburban line, two each in the morning and evening rush hours, were steam operated, along with some Dun Laoghaire Pier to Knigsbridge transfers. All the engines used were stabled in Broadstone and anything could turn up, ex-GNR locos included after 1958. Goods services also saw some steam activity, with all Limerick-Tralee and North Wall-Kingscourt goods trains in the hands of steam engines.

On the GNR, all goods trains were steam with the exception of whatever was put in charge of the solitary MAK diesel. Passenger trains were a mixed bag, with diesel railcars predominating on the Derry Road, and the atrim branch. Derry-Strabane and Belfast-Portadown-Dungannon locals were steam. The main line had railcars on the Enterprise with Belfast area locals using railcars and steam, and Dublin area locals still predominately steam, but with some railcars. Warrenpoint was still largely steam operated. The Bangor line was entirely diesel, operated by MED railcars.

 

April 1958 The remains of the SLNCR were auctioned, and the CDRJC applied for permission to close the rest of its railway system. 18 months later, the last trains would operate over its lines.

May 1958 The annual "North West 200" motor bike event in Portrush and the fledgling May bank holiday traffic saw a UTA MED set forming a special from (still GNR territory) Lisburn, and steam trains on specials to Bangor operated off the GNR. The UTA announced the scrapping of 18 steam engines, and another (massive!) 35 were to be kept in use until anything went wrong with them, and then set aside.

 

June 1959 The former GNR diesel loco, now renumbered K801, emerged from Inchicore Works in CIE green. It was used subsequently on Dublin suburban trains, and then on the Cobh branch!

 

Sunday 14th June saw the greatest ever movement of people by rail since the 1932 Eucharistic Congress, on "Pioneer Sunday". 25,000 people over and above normal traffic levels came to Dublin by train. (Could this even be achieved nowadays?). This did NOT count provincial special trains to other places, or connecting with trains to Dublin! The specials to Dublin utilised

 

40 of the total stock of 60 x "A" class locos

5 x "B101s"

1 x "C" class

1 x AEC railcar set (ex-GNR)

 

plus a number of UTA steam engines, with a further 8 (CIE) pilot engines (mostly "A" class, but including a B101). This was a wise precaution, as two ended up being used, one on a special from Fiddown described as "ill fated". (Cancelled?)

 

In use - 315 CIE coaches, 57 CIE (ex GNR) coaches, 40 UTA coaches, 12 dining / buffet cars, 20 heating vans, 30 luggage vans and two 6-wheeled Guard's Vans! The specials, their origins, arrival times and their locos were as follows:

 

0910 A9 Loughrea

0925 A25 Ballinasloe

0930 197 Dundalk

0940 A5 Dundalk

0945 A2 Sligo

0950 A24 Monaghan

1000 A26 Sligo

1015 A31 Castlerea

1025 87 Antrim

1025 A53 Gorey

1030 A13 Castlebar

1045 A ? Glenmore (Between Waterford and New Ross)

1050 A56 Westport

1055 A11 Oldcastle

1100 A52 Ballindine via Athenry

1105 58 Dungannon

1110 B112 Enniscorthy

1120 A23 Ennis

1125 86 Belfast

1135 A40 Rosslare Harbour

1135 A59 Ballina

1140 59 Derry

1155 A8 Drogheda

1155 C204 Cavan (Interesting!)

1200 A36 Arklow

1205 A49 Galway

1215 A12 Dundalk

1220 A30 Edenderry

1225 ** Belfast (** 8 coach railcar; normal Enterprise strengthened)

1230 A34 Longford

1245 A38 Balbriggan

1255 172 Warrenpoint

 

And in the evening, they all went back the way they had come, the last departure being the 2315 to Ballycumber, with A60 + 7 + 3 vans. Some return trains ended up at different ;points from their origin - no incoming train had come from Ballycumber! 32 specials arrived that morning, but only 24 left that evening - possibly some participants stayed in Dublin that night?

 

It will be noted that some arrivals were at the same time and generally were at 5 minute intervals. Dublin suburban services were curtailed that day, jut this led to overcrowding on what services there were to north Dublin resorts, as it was a hot day!

 

Readers will know what locos were steam, and what was diesel! Eight specials had 10 coaches (exc. vans) and two had 11; most were 6 / 7 plus vans.

 

July 1959 CIE had started repainting stations in a very modernised and bright style; Tara St, Castlerea, Limerick, Galway, and Cork (Glanmire Road) were first. Inchicore continued to turn out "laminate" coaches, now painting them green with "flying snails". In recent times, the "snail" had not been applied to many repainted, but it was being reintroduced. Ex-GSWR coach 1097 (now preserved by the RPSI and in use at Downpatrick) was converted for invalid carriage on pilgrimage trains. CIE reported popular usage of the day return "Mystery trains", one of which ended up in Kilkenny - "A" class locos featured on them all. Track lifting continued on the Tullow branch and the former C & L, which had been closed in March. Meanwhile, excursions on the West Cork system to Courtmacsherry (for Inchydoney Strand) were reported to be busy.The former SLNCR railcar "B" had been repainted green and was due to enter service on Limerick-Nenagh locals.

Quite suddenly, the Hill of Howth tramway had shut in May, but elsewhere modernisation continued with "A" class locos making trips to Cavan, Belfast and Omagh. The latter was doubtless in connection with possible use on Lough Derg pilgrimage specials in the future. On May 18, "A" class locos started appearing on the ex-GN main line on Dundalk goods, and at least 1 Belfast "Enterprise" link. For a while, "A"'s were used to displace steam on GN suburbans. Diesels in use on the GN were serviced at Grand Canal Street, with Fairview used for railcar maintenance only. Many ex-GN locos were now moved over to Broadstone, though many of these appeared to only be stored. Among them was "S" class 4.4.0 No. 171 "Slieve Gullion", now of course preserved by the RPSI.

 

I hope this is of interest!

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Sunday 14th June saw the greatest ever movement of people by rail since the 1932 Eucharistic Congress, on "Pioneer Sunday". 25,000 people over and above normal traffic levels came to Dublin by train. (Could this even be achieved nowadays?). This did NOT count provincial special trains to other places, or connecting with trains to Dublin! The specials to Dublin utilised

 

40 of the total stock of 60 x "A" class locos

5 x "B101s"

1 x "C" class

1 x AEC railcar set (ex-GNR)

 

great info as always!=D

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Sunday 14th June saw the greatest ever movement of people by rail since the 1932 Eucharistic Congress, on "Pioneer Sunday". 25,000 people over and above normal traffic levels came to Dublin by train. (Could this even be achieved nowadays?). This did NOT count provincial special trains to other places, or connecting with trains to Dublin! The specials to Dublin utilised

 

40 of the total stock of 60 x "A" class locos

5 x "B101s"

1 x "C" class

1 x AEC railcar set (ex-GNR)

 

great info as always!=D

 

I'm amazed that 40 Crossley engined A Classes managed to do it without breaking down.

 

Great info, keep it coming!

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So many issues a few years later had page after page of things like "XX Shed has now closed and both remaining engines have been cut up", "It has been announced that the entire line from X to Y, including the Z branch, is to close to all traffic on 56th Septober", and "Lifting continues on the ZX line with track now removed as far as Ballygobacwards crossing gates. It is expected that lifting will be complete by 24th"........ fascinating stuff, and we are lucky to have such a record in pre-internet days. Must dig out some more!

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Guest hidden-agenda

Any of them John will do as it reminds the most of us when we had a railway that we took for granted would,nt change and some of us did,nt want it to change.

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I'm hoping some day someone might digitise the old Irish Railfans News so it can be read and examined easier, they are kind of hard to pick up. The news was originally largely gathered together by 'junior' members of the IRRS from the 1950s to the early 1970s, and as such they are somewhat more detailed than the contemporary IRRS journals of the time, with often obscure items recorded. There were also several news reports devoted to the Ballinacourty/Bennettsbridge/Tivolli developments, the traffic of which ironically only lasted a mere ten years.

Edit, a link on IRN has some more old bulletins, though bit hard on the eyes to read(!).

Edited by Eiretrains
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That was highly enjoyable and hugely informative. This is historical fact, it's a generation that I am too young to remember but I am hungry for knowledge of this and earlier periods. J you have been an encyclopedia of accurate historical information and we are very lucky to have you here. I look forward to more, it doesn't matter which period, it is all relevant. Superb topic.

 

Rich,

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Eiretrains, a colleague in the railway writing world had approached me to discuss a book based on what was in the old IRNs. They are indeed fascinating, and they cover a very interesting period. I suppose the thing with any book is how to make it marketable: a re-hash of the IRNs alone might not be saleable in quantities that would interest a publisher. I have a plan B for such things, but it would be a long way down the road. The other issue is that the actual period in history has been well covered by other books. I was brought up on Colin Boocock's book (an the IRNs and the like), as it photographically covered many lines - especially the narrow gauge and West Cork - not previously well covered in that way. But who knows. Next time I am in London (or he is here) we will sup some pints and see what we can come up with. The follow up, in the meantime, to "Rails Through The West" will certainly feature goods trains of various hues a lot, from the same period; in fact the subject matter to be covered has sparse colour passenger photo coverage - which is what might hold it up!

 

In terms of digitising the old IRNs, that's a great idea (and you're the man to do it based on your illustrious track record so far!). I think that for any publication to come from such a project, a comparative selection of unpublished photos, including perhaps those of demolitions, would be needed. There's something to delve into in itself. The results of such a project would make an excellent reference for modellers and histiorians, if properly done. If and when you have time, gimme a shout privately.

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Many thanks, RedRich. As I say I'm fortunate in having access to a load of stuff which predates my own personal observations (early 1960s in my case). If there is anything historical, and I throw this open to anyone, that you'd like me to look up in what I have, I'd be pleased to post it here, as there's nothing better than looking at a high quality model of something past which just takes you back... a Woolwich with four driving wheels or a train of laminates in pink, hauled by a 1980s French diesel wouldn't do it for me - and yet, in my youth, I got enormous pleasure from my first layout which in accuracy terms was Alice in Wonderland stuff! Not everyone is interested in recreating history, but I suppose my point is that for those who ARE, the more info they can get the better.

 

It seems to me that there has never been a better time for the hobby. The internet enables people who follow what in the past was of necessity often a quite solitary hobby, to exchange ideas and offer moral support to one another. Kits are available for all sorts of Irish stuff - the Worsley works website was the first I ever saw, but look at what Des (SSM), Leslie and many another one offers nowadays - nobody could have dreamed of such modelling riches. Scenic materials have come on - real looking grass and shrubs - and people - mean that some well-photographed scenes on models could easily be passed off as real. Those modelling a fantasy world* (e.g. there were 20 x 800 class!!!) have their imagination as the limit - i.e. no limit. Those modelling accuracy in the present day have the IE tramway and the NIR tramway all round them, and digital cameras can take a million images of one raiilcar. In my day, a roll of film and the processing cost was expensive to a teenager so we had to make do with rationing so many photos a day. Not easy to model something from two photos. Those modelling the past have access to the internet, and for a forum like this if anyone can post up stuff that might assist the historically minded, the better.

 

* Talking of fantasy layouts, my first attempt (long dismantled) was an imaginary MGWR narrow gauge line with West Clare railcars......

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