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Wartime at Castle Rock railway


PannierTanker14

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(The military base is to be given a name but for now it is just ‘the military base’)

 

The whole town was used as a military storage area because of how relatively remote it was. During the First World War, the first military base to be built was positioned near the river and within earshot of the railway. Many locomotives, and eventually tanks, were stored at this base. The locomotives most commonly stored there were the GCR 8K 2-8-0s built for the Railway Operating Division (ROD). Despite being hidden away in the British countryside, the base was the primary target of a bombing that destroyed Castle Rock’s terminus station and the immediate surroundings but only caused the damage of a few military buildings and missed the base altogether!

 

The military base was still in use by the Second World War, expanded to contain more vehicles and weapons. At one point there was even a Lancaster bomber stored there. The base became home to the War Department’s 8F and WD 2-8-0/2-10-0 locomotives plus many Austerity saddle tank locomotives. It became a target for yet another bombing run and three quarters of it was destroyed. Miraculously the rail yard was left rather untouched, with only one locomotive being destroyed.

After this the war ended and it’s contents moves away and many of the locomotives sold on.

 

What was left of the base was demolished in 1970 and the area is now part of a housing development. Castle Rock is covered in pillboxes and it is not uncommon to find one in a field or woodland. One of the most famous pillboxes sits right in the middle of town and can only be accessed through a tunnel linked to the council house. (The council house was where the military officers and officials stayed)

A small part of the base is preserved in the corner of the housing development. It is now home to a Cromwell tank, what’s left of an Austerity saddle tank loco and other bits of military history.

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