24 September 2006

Little bit of transport history

Ive not had much chance time to spend on the blog this last week but have a wonderful little bit of transport history tonight. If you look closely at the photo above there is a little bit of track that seems out of place. I have been wondering what that little spare bit of track was doing there. It didnt seem to fit in with any of the remaining tracks on the quayside. Well I was reading up this weekend and finally found an answer - and it turns out to be more interesting than I expected...

From Sutton Harbour, by Crispin Gill:

In 1878 the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR) opened Friary as a goods station and one line in the marshalling yard finished just short of Exeter Street. At a cost of £25,000 the Harbour Company was busy building the North East Quay, which cut through the clutter of old shipyards, quays and storehouses there, and cleared the path for both railways to reach North Quay in 1879, the L&SWR on 22nd October and the Great Western Railway (GWR) on 6 November. The GWR had to take a spur off their new line to Coxside Station at St Johns Bridge to get a line of approach. They were still broad gauge and the L&SWR standard gauge, so there had to be three rails to each track once they joined up on North Quay. This hybrid was carried to Sutton Wharf and Vauxhall Quay, turning the corner by turntable as proposed earlier but never making the Viaduct leap across to the Barbican. Only three years later the GWR switched over from broad to standard gauge and the third rail was taken up in Sutton Harbour. On Sutton Harbour the line of cobbles mark the old broad rail, and at a set of points in front of the door into Dolphin House is the last piece of broad gauge line in the country in its original position.

It really would be nice if somewhere in all the redevelopment of this area there could be made space for displays of the areas rich history to tell people about little bits like this. In the meantime - this book is well recommended!

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