Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Day in the Life of Peckforton Station

As this is the first season I am using battery power and radio control, I decided to record a full operating session through a trackside view of movements at the main intermediate station on the railway - Peckforton.

Peckforton Station has a passing loop, two sidings (facing the Up direction) and a single platform on the Down side of the loop. Regular trains to and from the copper mine further Down the line at Bulkeley not only give a rationale for the railway's continuing existence in the 1930s when others have closed, it also creates the need for an operational signalling system. There is a passenger timetable for six passenger trains in each direction on weekdays (based on a timetable from the Southwold Railway), at least one of which is a mixed train (usually the late afternoon train), and there is still sufficient freight traffic to justify a pick-up goods on most days. In between these services, the copper mine ore trains run, usually four in each direction per day (though this varies according to the day's output). This account outlines a typical day's activity at Peckforton Station. It does not include special trains such as excursions, market day specials and special deliveries which I sometimes run during other operating sessions.

Before the first train of the day, farmers start bringing their milk churns for collection by train.

Then, at around 6.45, a Down train of empty skips plus the workmen's coach, hauled by 0-4-0DM loco No. 8, Wynford, arrives to pick up workers for the copper mine. Fortunately, the rich seam of copper provides sufficient employment for the local community and justifies the continuing running of the railway in the straitened times of the early 1930s when the railway is set.

William (Willy) Shaw, the station-master/head porter/signalman arrives to open up the booking office/waiting room/parcels office and catch up with the day's local news before the arrival of the first public train of the day ......

..... the 7:49am Down passenger. This train is hauled by Barclay 2-4-0T loco No. 2, Beeston and includes a flat wagon for transporting milk churns from stations and lineside halts along the line.

After departure, passengers begin arriving for the Up train ........

...... the 9:02 am, which connects with services to Chester and Crewe at Beeston & Tarporley mainline station. The train arrives at around 8:50 am and, while the train takes on passengers and more milk churns,........

...... it is passed by an Up mineral train taking copper ore and spoil from the copper mines to Beeston Market where it will be transferred to standard gauge mineral wagons.

At the rear of the train is the explosives van, used to transport gunpowder to the mine. It is also used occasionally to transport silver ingots from the mine to the end of the line - from time to time silver is found among the seams of copper ore. However, for obvious reasons, there is a tendency to keep these traffic movements low key. So whether the van contains any silver on this train is known to only a few.

At 9:02 precisely, the whistle goes and the Up passenger departs. At around 9:30 am, the Down pick-up goods passes through the station, hauled by ex-Southwold Railway Manning Wardle 0-6-2T loco No. 4, Bulkeley.

At around 10:00am, the Down passenger arrives, which then departs at 10:04 am.

There is a lull, while workers at the timber yard busily offload their raw material from stake wagons and load open wagons with pit-props and sawn timber.

Just before 11:00am, the Up passenger arrives and departs as the 11:07 am.

The next arrival is just after midday, which then departs as the 12:19pm.

At around 12:30pm, the Up pick-up goods steams into the station, having dropped-off and picked-up wagons at Peckforton Mill (see Progress Report 51), then at Bickerton and Bulkeley. Wagon movements are dictated on a weighted random basis by a computer program based on a relational database which I have clumsily programmed myself (see Freight Management on the Railway).

The loco busily shunts wagons in the two sidings while passengers await the arrival of .....

.....the 1:22pm Up passengers service.

 After the passenger train departs, .......

....... there is a little more shunting then the goods train gets the All Clear, and departs.

Just after 2:00pm, a Down train of empty skips passes through, heading for the copper mine.

At 2:39pm, the Down afternoon passenger leaves on its way to Bulkeley.

It returns later as the 4:07 Up passenger.

While awaiting the All Clear, the railway's permanent way trolley passes through on its way down the line.

At around 5:30pm, the Down afternoon mixed train arrives hauled by ex Southwold Railway Sharp Stewart 2-4-2T loco No. 5, Gallantry Bank.  While setting down and picking up passengers .........

....... it is passed by an Up copper ore train.

The mixed departs promptly at 5:42pm. After dropping off and picking up wagons at Bickerton, it returns at around 6.30pm and engages in some shunting, leaving the coaches and their passengers waiting patiently at the platform.

At 6:59pm, it departs for Beeston Castle and Beeston Market stations.

At around 7:20pm, a train of empty skips passes on its way back to the copper mine.

And then, at around 7:40pm, the last Down passenger of the day rolls into the station in the form of the line's Ford(ish) railmotor.

After a pause, the last Up ore train passes through, stopping briefly to deposit local workmen.

The railmotor departs at 7:45pm and returns again at around 8:20pm as the final Up passenger. While waiting it is overtaken by the permanent way trolley and then departs at 8:34pm.

The station then shuts down for the day - awaiting the onslaught of tomorrow's services.


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