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A further small detail to expand from the Sellick photograph (Figure 23), but one that may be useful to anyone modelling in larger scales, is the nature of the lampposts at Turnchapel Station. There were three, one of which can just be made out towards the left (west) end of the platform in Figure 23. A second can just be made out in Figure 23 to the right of the Turnchapel Station sign on the platform and is located near to the top of the ramp by which pedestrians would access the platform. The third was located at the top of the station steps; in Figure 23b this would be just to the left of where the signal post is located at , but it’s not really visible against the background of the downstream bridge dolphin in that image. Some photographs showing detail of that third lamppost are attached in Figures 38–40. These reference photos were taken in Dec-2012 and Jul-2012. The 1939 photograph on p 205 in Mike Oakley’s Devon Railway Stations (previously referred to) reveals that the concrete lampposts pictured in Figures 38-40 had already been installed by then. Very early photographs of the station show cast iron lamp standards on the platform.

 

One reason for drawing attention to the lamppost at the head of the station steps and to the nearby telegraph pole is that both features are accurately marked in the 11/01250/FUL site survey referred to in earlier posts –– see Figure 41 –– and this may help laying out a plan for anyone wishing to model Turnchapel Station accurately. Figure 41 highlights some other relevant features cross referenced on the Sellick photograph in Figure 23b.

 

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Figure 42 shows a couple of additional reference photographs taken in Dec-2012 for the post-bombing replacement signal box site. Good reference photographs of this signal box are available in a number of books and online (e.g. Cornwall Railway Society website). My original estimate, based on block size estimates of 18-in x 8.5-in x 4-in and an interior width of about 9.5 block lengths, was that the width across the face of the signal box might have been around 14-ft 0-in to 14-ft 6-in. However, on reflection, that seems much too large, and even 12-ft seems too large. From Figure 42, the block dimensions in the rear retaining wall appear to be very close to  1 : 1.5 : 3. Blocks of 4-in x 6-in x 12-in would give an internal clearance of around 9-ft 6-in across the width for a possible signal box width of only 9-ft (?). Some of the reference photos may suggest it was rather deeper than it was wide.

 

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Edited by Dave_Hooe
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Another small detail, but potentially useful for modelling Barton Road around the bridge parapet, Figure 43 and Figure 44 show details of the road surface. These photos were taken respectively in Jul-2012 and Dec-2012 and are looking northwards along the road. In recent times various bits of the road have been tarmacked over and had speed bumps installed, even more so with the new housing development. The photographs here show the concrete construction that I believe I read somewhere was laid down in WW2. I think I measured the concrete slab width at 6-ft. Figure 43 also highlights the spear fence that surrounded the quarry site with the large buried tanks ‘1’-‘3’ (location [P] in Figure 23b). Figure 44 shows the concrete trestle piles, the top of which was noted (in previous posts) to be roughly level with the Barton Road surface in front of the bridge parapet. The road does dip slightly at this point. Good spot height detail along the road is available in the 11/01250/FUL site survey.

 

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Figure 45-47 show detail for quarry gate marked at position [P] in the Sellick photo (Figure 23b). Here rusted and aging in Jul-2012, the gates may go back at least to the early 1950s, as they seem correspond closely to the gates seen in the Sellick photo.

 

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And one more picture (Figure 48) for good measure, taken in Dec-2012, now with site clearance underway for the Barton Road housing development: 

 

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Edited by Dave_Hooe
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Hope some of the info in the last few posts proves interesting. I'll try to add some more information and reference photos from around the former Turnchapel Station site and Admiralty fuel oil depot, but may be out of contact for the next 2-3 weeks.

 

Best wishes, Dave

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Marvelous pictures look great when enlarged; you can even see the Branch train leaving Bayly's siding for Friary with what looks like a B4.  Thanks to Dave and to Kevin for the idea of the Turnchapel branch.  At the time, there were too many security problems to learn much and I was a bit young then anyway.  How old does that make me!

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To unpick some of the detail around the Turnchapel Station site in forthcoming posts, it will useful to be able to refer to the more detailed site map of Figure 49, which is based on a 1911 Admiralty map [referenced in earlier posts (National Archives record: ADM 140/1484)]. The map shows the Admiralty fuel oil base at Turnchapel Wharf together with the storage tank compound (shortly after its construction).

 

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The fuel oil storage compound next to the station was connected to the Admiralty fuelling installation at Turnchapel Wharf.

 

Turnchapel Wharf itself was originally developed from a bankrupted Turnchapel Quay shipyard that passed into the hands of the Bulteel family (owners of the Naval Bank of Plymouth) in the 1890s. With the Turnchapel Branch scheduled for development, the Bulteels foresaw an opportunity for commercial development of the site. Thus, on 18-Mar-1896, some six months before formal opening of the Plymstock to Turnchapel section of the Turnchapel Branch on 1-Jul-1897, Thomas Bulteel concluded an agreement with the LSWR to construct and connect sidings at Turnchapel Wharf. An outline drawing that accompanied that agreement [National Archives record, RAIL 411/755] defines the termination point of the Turnchapel Branch as the entrance to the tunnel beneath Borringdon Row (marked in Figure 49). Bulteel’s were responsible for building the track through the tunnel and within Turnchapel Wharf. The plan defines radii of 260-ft and 250-ft for sections of the sidings within the Wharf.

 

According to Plymouth-based journalist and historian, Crispin Gill, the Bulteels sold Turnchapel Wharf to a maltster business in 1898 [Plymouth River, 1997, Devon Books; ISBN 0861149114]. This firm expanded the warehousing facilities but ran into financial difficulties. The site then passed into the hands of the Admiralty in 1903, with formal conveyance of the sidings to the Admiralty concluded on 9-Jan-1904. Under that conveyance the benefits and obligations of the Bulteel-LSWR agreement were transferred to the Admiralty, and this was eventually dissolved following notice from the British Transport Commission in correspondence of 1961 [filed in the National Archives record, RAIL 411/755].

 

The Admiralty’s acquisition of Turnchapel Wharf was driven by a need to establish substantial fuelling installations and storage depots around the British coastline. Up until the turn of the 19th century Royal Navy vessels had been largely coal-fuelled, with the disadvantage that as much as 25% of the fleet could be constrained to ports for coaling purposes at any one time. Lord Fisher, First Sea Lord (1904-1910, 1914-1915), and Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, were substantially responsible for conversion of the Royal Navy to an oil-fuelled operation in the early years of the 20th century. As part of this drive, six 6000-ton oil fuel storage tanks were built on a 5-acre quarry site acquired by the Admiralty immediately adjacent to Turnchapel Station. The Station itself, built on an embankment within the quarry, therefore predated the oil fuel storage depot and tanks shown in Figure 49 by a decade or so.

 

Whessoe Engineering played an important role in supplying early oil fuel storage tanks to the Royal Navy, with records indicating that four were supplied to Plymouth in 1908 [Guide to Storage Tanks and Equipment Part 1 by Bob Long and Bob Garner; Wiley-Blackwell, 2004; ISBN-13: 978-1860584312]. It is not clear whether the other two tanks at Turnchapel were supplied as a second installment before or after these four in 1908, but Crispin Gill notes that the first delivery of oil at Turnchapel arrived by tanker from the Bear Creek Oil Company in 1909.

 

The tanks supplied by Whessoe were of a standard pattern and were also installed at several other naval storage sites across the UK in the early 20th century. According to the Whessoe records, the 1908 Plymouth tanks were of 90-ft in diameter with a cylinder height of 37-ft. These dimensions perfectly match the drawn diameter in the 1911 ADM 140/1484 Turnchapel site plan and are fully consistent with the ‘6000-ton capacity’ quoted in that plan. Thus, 6000 tons of fuel oil No 2 (density 57.4 lb/cubic-ft) requires a cylinder of 90-ft diameter by 36.8-ft height. The Admiralty plan shows that each tank was connected by 15-in and 4-in pipelines that exited the bunded depot compound through a culvert in the southwest corner to reach a pump house located next to the rail track just to the west of the station. The pipelines are marked in Figure 49 within the depot (dashed lines with crosses for valves at the point of entry to the tanks).

 

An aerial photograph of Turnchapel (ca. 1938), in which the pump house is just visible, appears in the late Arthur Clamp’s monograph, Hooe and Turnchapel Remembered (see Figure 49 thumbnail inset 1). This is the only photographic record I’ve found for the pump house, which was destroyed in the first of two night-time bombing raids on 20/21-Mar and 21/22-Mar-1941. An Admiralty communication [PWDRO 1495/55] records the damage as follows:

“Both attacks commenced with the dropping of large numbers of incendiaries and flares which started fires within a few minutes. This was followed by H.E. and more incendiaries. …

Holes caused by incendiaries in roof of Nos. 4 and 5 Stores [NB refer to store houses marked in Figure 49] -- no damage to contents; number of bombs: 5 H.E. and a number of incendiaries.”

Enclosure 6 to report on raids 20th/21st March and 21st/22nd March, 1941

TURNCHAPEL

First Raid.

At least five H.E bombs were dropped in the vicinity of the Oil Fuel Installation which was destroyed by fire as a result of enemy action in November, 1940. Of these -

(a) One fell in close proximity to the Depot pump house at the west side of the Tanks and more or less demolished the building although the machinery appears to have sustained considerably less damage than might have been expected.

(b) One fell on the inner side of the saucer alongside “C” tank, making a breach in the concrete slope approximately 18 ft. long by 12 ft. high. [NB see Figure 4 of post #23]

(c ) One hit the ground immediately above the entrance to the railway tunnel between the Oil Fuel Installation and the Depot, dislodging earth and rocks which temporarily blocked the tunnel. There is no apparent damage to the tunnel itself.

(d) The other two bombs fell on the railway line between the Oil Fuel Tanks and the Depot.

Second Raid.

A number of incendiary bombs fell in the Oil Fuel Installation and in the Depot. At the Oil Fuel Installation, incendiaries fell in the tank saucers and amongst the collapsed oil fuel tanks [NB destroyed following the 27-Nov-1940 bombing]. Fires were started in tanks “A” and “C” which contain a certain amount of thick oil fuel residue. The fire in “A” tank soon died down, but the one in “C” tank continued for some hours and was still smouldering in the morning.”

 

Based on the ADM 140/1484 drawing, the dimensions of the pump house (minus the external machinery enclosure) would have been around 41-ft x 28-ft. It appears to have had an apex roof with a round window beneath the apex at the western end. A second, larger window and double door are also evident in the west end wall [Figure 49]. Photographic records for other naval oil storage site pump houses suggest that a brick construction with slate roof and light blue paintwork [Figure 49 inset 2] might be reasonable for this building at Turnchapel.

 

Between 1913 and 1914 Whessoe supplied 20 tanks of the same 90-ft x 37-ft dimensions to the much larger tank farm at Invergordon. These tanks appear still to be standing, albeit derelict, and excellent photographic detail is available on the web for anybody wishing to model Turnchapel in the period up to Nov-1940 when the tanks were destroyed. In a later post we can come back to structure of the tanks and some of the features in the bank above the Station platform that were used to operate them.

 

The pump house was connected to Turnchapel Wharf by a 10-in pipeline that ran along a culvert parallel to rail track on the inside curve [green dashed line in Figure 49]. This pipeline crossed beneath the track inside the tunnel leading to the wharf and then ran around the edge of the wharf through a filter and then to a set of 8-in and 5-in distribution pipes at the northern mooring quay.

 

The tunnel leading to the wharf appears to be slightly curved. An excellent reference photograph of the tunnel entrance on the wharf can be found on the Cornwall Railway Society’s Turnchapel Branch page (scroll down to the 1973 picture from K. Jenkins):

www.cornwallrailwaysociety.org.uk/turnchapel-branch.html

 

Photographs of the station end entrance to the tunnel are rare. The best one that I’m aware of is picture 98 in Branch Lines Around Plymouth by Victor Mitchell and Keith Smith. This picture also shows detail for the Air Ministry siding turnout (added in 1939) together with a second pump house that was added adjacent to the track (probably during WW2). This second pump house is not on the 1911 ADM 140/1484 site plan therefore, but its position is marked (blue rectangle) in Figure 49 for reference. It served three 1,000,000 gallon semi-buried tanks that were added to the quarry to the south of the Air Ministry sidings compound (marked as Tanks ‘1-3’ in Figure 1). We may come back to these in a later post too.

 

Hope the small text in Figure 49 will be legible. More detail and photographs of features around Turnchapel Sation and the Admiralty oil depot will be added in a few days.

Edited by Dave_Hooe
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This is amazing stuff ...... I hope to goodness that you are researching all this for your own purposes, and not simply prompted by the somewhat casual enquiry on my part ....... you must have put hours (days? Weeks? Months?) into this!

 

Kevin

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This is amazing stuff ...... I hope to goodness that you are researching all this for your own purposes, and not simply prompted by the somewhat casual enquiry on my part ....... you must have put hours (days? Weeks? Months?) into this!

 

Kevin

 

 

Thanks chaps. No worries at all on that score, Kevin. The interest is very personal. It’s all stuff that’s accumulated over 7-8 years of gradually digging into the history, and this is giving me an opportunity to marshall things. Apart from a fascination with the engineering skills of those who built the railway and fuel oil installation –– how do you keep 6000 tons of oil in a tank that’s built with riveted plates and has no welded seams? –– a focal point for me is a strong interest in the wartime events around the Station. The following short extract from the records of the Plymouth ambulance service (PWDRO file 773/15) may explain why ...

 

“Friday November 29th 1940

 

DUTY AT GREAT OIL TANKS FIRE, TURNCHAPEL

 

At about 5-30 a.m., owing possibly to the collapse of the fabric of one of the tanks, there was a huge overflow of blazing oil which engulfed many fire pumps and destroyed them. The flaming oil flowed into the Hooe Lake and burnt the two Plymouth Fire Floats. Two Firemen lost their lives and the body of one was rescued later in the morning at great risk by a St John Ambulance First Aid Party and the co-operation of Mr Middleton, Petroleum Inspector. The other was taken from the water burnt and drowned.

 

Casualties: killed in action

                  A.F.S. Thomas J. Callicott (at side of tanks)

                  A.F.S. Robert W. Widger (in Hooe Lake)”

 

In clearing the site for development, I can’t help but feel that the struggles and sacrifices linked to the site have been largely overlooked. 

Edited by Dave_Hooe
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Returning to the historical development of Turnchapel Station and the military facilities flanking it, we’ve noted that the Air Ministry sidings were only added in 1939. So these do not appear on the 1911 ADM 140/1484 site plan shown in Figure 49 of post #56 above. Instead a 30-in gauge quarry tramway was present, shown in orange in Figure 49 (and also in the zoomed in view of Figure 50 below). A stone crusher and quarry engine house (orange rectangles) were located at the site which eventually hosted the spur to the Air Ministry sidings. The quarry engine house can be seen in early photographs of Turnchapel Station, notably in a picture that appears in both Kingdom’s Turnchapel Branch (on page 55) and in The Okehampton Line by John Nicholas and George Reeve (on page 239). This photograph was taken from or close to the pre-bombing signal box (marked in Figure 49) and at this stage the quarry bank parallel to the passing loop was much higher –– it was cut down when the Air Ministry sidings were constructed (cf. Figure 23b key note [H] post #47 above). The high grassy bank partially obscures one end of the quarry engine house and all of the stone crusher therefore. The tops of oil tanks ‘D’ and ‘F’ are visible in this same photograph together with the fence at the top of the bank between the platform and the naval oil depot. This would have been a prominent feature from the platform up until the end of 1940 and is defined on the 1911 ADM 140/1484 site plan as a ‘7-ft 0-in iron fence’, marked in Figures 49/50 with the red line around the bunded depot. The photograph shows it to be a spear fence and an inner hand rail can be made out running around the narrow walkway at the top of the concrete bund.

 

The ADM 140/1484 plan indicates that the iron fence ran right around the compound and atop the retaining wall (light blue in Figures 49/50) that lined Barton Road Undercliff Roads. A particularly good picture from 1926 that shows the swing bridge in profile and the retaining wall topped by the original fence can be in Branch Lines Around Plymouth by Victor Mitchell and Keith Smith (photograph 91). The fence and compound handrail can also be seen in several of wartime photographs showing the firefighters tackling the burning oil tanks following bombing in the evening of Wednesday, November 27th, 1940. These photographs show that in places the firefighters were stationed within the spear fence to direct their hoses –– an unenviable place to be when the tanks exploded. An example is included in Figure 50. [Photographic detail may be clearer to see by downloading the tiff version of the image from the link just below.]

 

 

 

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The Figure 50 photograph was taken on 28-Nov-1940, with the fire still confined to tanks ‘E’ and ‘F’ at this point. The image would have been taken from the quarry cliff top above the railway line and with the Station itself just out of view to the right. The Hooe Lake swing bridge can just be made out on the right however, together with a chimney in the background on the left –– the chimney being part of the Bayly’s site across on the other side of The Cut into Hooe Lake. Looking carefully, it is possible to make out the spear fence segments running along the top of the Turnchapel Station bank (clearer to see in the tiff download perhaps) and map these precisely to the ADM 140/1484 map (red line) between points (a) to (f) marked on the Figure 50 plan. The inner guard rail can also be made out at the top of the concrete bund.

 

Also to be seen is a small concrete platform at the top of the Turnchapel Station bank within the spear fence on which some of the firefighters are positioned. A pair of windlasses were mounted on this concrete block to operate manifolds within the tanks by means of cables that ran from the windlasses to pulleys located at the top of the tank cylinders. A number of these concrete windlass mounting blocks were located around the bund perimeter. Two of them were on the bank above the Turnchapel Station platform, the second of these being just out of sight to the left in the Figure 50 photograph (but marked on the map). These would have been prominently visible from the Station platform. Indeed, they can be seen in some station photographs from rail tours in the 1950s and 1960s [e.g. Bernard Mills’ Then & Now: Backtracking Around Friary, Laira, and the Plym; Pen&Ink Publishing (on page 105)]. The blocks remained right up until site clearance for development in 2012/13, and the exact block featured in the Figure 50 Nov-1940 photograph can be seen (circled) in the Dec-2012 photograph of Figures 51a/b below. Some additional detailing photographs of these blocks at Turnchapel could be added in further posts later.  Additional posts could be added about the tank structure and fittings too. There is excellent recent photographic reference material (in colour) available for identical tanks from other naval oil storage sites, and this would provide superb detail for anyone wishing to include the adjacent tanks in a model of Turnchapel Station. We can come back to that in a later post perhaps. The pair of windlasses that were mounted on the block seen in the Figure 50 photograph (right hand block in Figures 51a/b) probably operated Tank ‘B’ at the back of the compound, with the cables running between tanks ‘C’ and ‘D’ to reach it. The block to the left in Figures 51a/b would have operated Tank ‘C’, and a third block (also circled in Figures 51a/b) just around the corner on the western slope would have operated Tank ‘D’.

 

 

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Access to the oil storage compound was through a gate in Undercliff Road at the northwest of the compound (marked in the Figure 50 site plan). A flight of steps led up to a narrow concrete walkway around the bund and allowed personnel to reach the windlasses and operate the hinged manifolds located within the tanks themselves.

 

It would be useful to post some of the historical photos of Turnchapel Station and the adjacent depot to accompany this thread, but it’s not easy to track down the copyright holders for permission. If it can be done, I’ll add some better images in the future, but if anyone else has any photographs tucked away in family collections it would be great to share them!

 

In the meantime, in the next post perhaps I could follow up with some recent images from the site that might be useful for reference purposes, beginning with photos taken around the bunded compound in 2012. We can then come back to some of the tank detail alluded to above after that.

Edited by Dave_Hooe
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Figure 52 shows the site plan from Figure 49 again, but zoomed in and with some photograph reference points added in blue circles. Perhaps we could begin on Barton Road near the former Station steps site (photograph view point A in Figure 52) and work our way right round the former naval oil fuel storage compound and back to the Station site, drawing out some details en route. Some of information in the posts that follow will add a detail about the fate of the Turnchapel Station site after closure of the branch line. (To see text in the photos, it may be necessary to click on the images to expand them or download the associated tiff files via the links provided.)

 

 

 

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Figure 53 (Photograph view point A marked on Figure 52): Shows the corner of the retaining wall as it curved in to meet the steps up to the Station. The steps would have been behind the mesh fence on the left. The bridge parapet leading into the Station is on the far left. Detailed spot heights all the way around the retaining wall and road are marked in the surveyors’ survey referred to in previous posts (11/01250/FUL).

 

 

 

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Figure 54 (Photograph view point B on Figure 52): Shows a view of the straight section of the retaining wall along Barton Road. The green mesh fence may have been added during the commercial petrochemical use of the depot from the mid-1960s onwards (possibly added nearer to the 1980s). The original 7-ft iron spear fence that was present from 1911 until WW2 ran along the top of the retaining wall shown here. Looking up at the top of the bank, another wire mesh fence can be seen with brackets angled outwards that carried barbed wire. This was added around the top of the concrete bund itself and is to be seen in the Figure 23 NRM Sellick photograph that predated the 1957/58 installation of the bridge trestles. However, the mesh fence at the top of the bund is not present in a 1950 photograph of Turnchapel Station (J. J. Smith, no month given), where only the bund handrail is to be seen along the top of the Station bank [Branch Lines Around Plymouth by Victor Mitchell and Keith Smith (photograph 95)]. Thus, at the time of the Smith photograph in 1950, the original 7-ft spear fence had gone but the mesh fence at the top of the bund had not yet been installed. The original spear fence may conceivably have been salvaged during WW2 itself as part of the war effort following destruction of the naval oil storage tanks in the 27-Nov-1940 bombing. We know from a newspaper account [Western Morning News; Saturday, June 3, 1950 (quoted in post #47 above)] that the post-war clear up of the oil storage compound was underway in June 1950. Thus, perhaps the mesh fence at the top of the bund was added at the end of that clean up process. Small details perhaps, but possibly of interest to anyone looking for historical modelling accuracy.

 

 

 

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Edited by Dave_Hooe
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Figure 55 (Photograph view point C on Figure 52): Shows a view of the retaining wall as it curves around from Barton Road into Undercliff Road. The original imposing 7-ft iron fence topped the wall all the way around this curve.

 

 

 

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Figure 56 (Photograph-D on Figure 52): Shows another view of the retaining wall as it curves around into Undercliff Road at the junction with Barton Road. The drop between the retaining wall top and road surface reaches its maximum near here.

 

 

 

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Figure 57a (Photograph view point E1 on Figure 52): Taken further along Undercliff Road. Looking upwards, one of the concrete platforms can be seen on which a pair of tank windlasses would have been mounted. This one may have served Tank ‘F’, the cables running between Tanks ‘B’ and ‘E’. Just visible to the right of the platform is the remains of a gate. With reference to Figure 52, this is located at the head of the steps that led down from the bund top into the compound. (The photo also features son No 1, who has not succumbed to the lure of the rivet and does not share his dad’s enthusiasm for history –– hence the expression of boredom!)

 

 

 

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Figure 57b (Photograph view point E2 on Figure 52): Taken at essentially the same place as Figure 57a, but just a few paces further along Undercliff Road to provide a reverse angle view. 

 

 

 

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Figure 58a (Photograph view point F1 on Figure 52): Taken further along Undercliff Road again. The road rises quite sharply from position-E- to position-F so that just out of sight around the corner in this picture it comes level with the retaining wall top and the wall ceases there. (Son No 1 is clearly not enjoying the experience.)

 

 

 

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Figure 58b (Photograph view point F2 on Figure 52): Taken at essentially the same place as Figure 58a, but just a few paces further along where Undercliff Road has risen to meet the top of the retaining wall.

 

 

 

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Figure 59 (Photograph view point G on Figure 52): We have now arrived at the site of the steps that were the original access point to the Admiralty depot marked in the northwest corner of the 1911 Admiralty plan. At this point, right beside the steps, the bund has been cut through to provide a vehicle access point to the compound. This breach was made during post-military, commercial use of the site as for petrochemical storage from the mid-1960s and appears on OS 1:1250 scale maps incorporating 1964 survey data. The breach was subsequently stopped up, hence the block wall visible behind the mesh gates. The steps up the bank itself may well have been the original steps, dating to construction of the bund in the early 1900s. Overlay of the 2011 and 1911 site plans (11/01250/FUL and ADM 140/1484) shows a perfect correspondence in the position of the steps. The only difference is that there was a short flight at the bottom in the original construction that bent 90° to the right (as viewed in Figure 59) and these few steps have been remodeled to the left in the post-war modification to provide the clearance behind the mesh gate. The hand rails up the steps and in places around the top of the bund were also replacements for the originals.  The remodeled steps at the foot (here hidden by undergrowth behind the yellow text) have been closed off by mesh fence added at a later point again (perhaps after use of the site for commercial petrochemical storage ceased). (Son No 1 clearly at the end of his tether by now and close to mutiny.) 

 

 

 

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Figure 61 (Photograph view point I on Figure 52): We’re now standing on top of the bridge shown in the last figure and looking along the old tramway bed towards the quarry cliff face. The bunded naval oil storage compound itself is out of sight to the left. The railway line from Turnchapel Station to Turnchapel Wharf would have run approximately at right angles from left to right at the end of the former quarry tramway bed, just at the foot of the cliff. Just visible at the end of the tramway bed is an overgrown building. This was the ‘second’ pump house marked, on Figure 49 and Figure 52, that was connected to Tanks ‘1’-‘3’ of Figure 1 and likely to be a WW2 addition.

 

 

 

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The fencing and British Gas notices in the Figure 61 photograph show that this section was enclosed as part of the post-war commercial occupation of the former naval compound, which was acquired from the MoD by South West Gas together with the Turnchapel Station site and land occupied by the Air Ministry sidings after closure of the Turnchapel Branch in the 1960s [Crispin Gill, Plymouth River, 1997, Devon Books; ISBN 0861149114]. Between 1967 and 1985 the site was used to store light distillate oil for production of domestic gas. The oil was delivered in 10,000 ton tankers across the water at Cattedown Wharfs (where deeper water mooring was possible). It was then pumped through a pipeline laid under the bed of the Cattewater into a single very large tank that was constructed within the former naval oil compound on the site previously occupied by the six Admiralty tanks. From there the oil was piped for conversion into gas at a plant in the Breakwater Quarry (a little further up the Plym River, nearer to Laira Bridge). Additionally, the three underground oil tanks located within Hooe Lake Quarry (Figure 1, Tanks ‘1’-‘3’), which were connected to the pump house building in this photograph, were leased by the Admiralty to Continental Oil after the mid 1960s. Planning correspondence dated 22-Feb-1965 (PWDRO record PCC/60/1/19151) states that Continental Oil were preparing to lease the tanks for storage of petrol (2×1,000,000 gallons) and DERV (1×1,000,000 gallons). These fuels were to be delivered in 2,000 ton tankers discharging at the Admiralty Turnchapel Wharfs and pumped via the ‘existing pipe lines’, presumably corresponding to the green dashed line marked in Figure 49 beside the former railway line. Continental Oil (UK) Ltd were to “use and pay for Admiralty labour on a casual basis when ships are discharging into the depot”.

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Figure 62a (Photograph view point I on Figure 52): Again standing on top of the bridge but with a bit more zoom to focus on ‘second’ pump house. Both Figures 61 and 62a were taken on a rather cold and bleached December day in 2012. As the pump house (probably constructed in WW2) was a prominent trackside feature on the line through to Turnchapel Wharf, it’s perhaps worth adding some extra detail about it here. The building survived until relatively recently, within a private garden, but was eventually demolished as part of the new housing development at Barton Road. Google Earth imagery shows that it was cleared by 8-Aug-2015. It was of red brick with a concrete slab roof covered with a membrane (see thumbnails in Figure 62a) and, as such, of general visual appearance similar to the Air Ministry sidings pump house surveyed above and featured in post #49. The 11/01250/FUL housing development survey sheets mark the building out at close to 20-ft x 30-ft, a good correspondence with measurements across the roof based on Google Earth satellite imagery. Whereas the Air Ministry sidings pump house appears to have been constructed with English Bond brickwork, close analysis of the Figure 62a pump house suggests a Flemish Bond wall construction. Across the shorter dimension it is just possible to track a single course comprising 18 stretcher and 17 header orientated bricks. With standard brick dimensions (stretcher/8.25-in, header/4.00-in) and average seams of 0.33-in, that gives a width of exactly 19-ft to the building; the slab roof overhang may have been about 6-in all round. A light blue painted double door was situated in the west hand end facing the Boringdon Road tunnel, as shown in the Figure 62a thumbnail images, set about 4-ft 3-in from the left hand side and with an estimated width of around 5-ft 4-in. An accurate estimate of the longer wall dimension is not possible from the limited available photographic records, but the overall building dimensions of 20-ft x 30-ft inferred from the 11/01250/FUL development survey are a reasonable guide.

 

 

 

 

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A useful photograph that captures the pump house featured in Figure 62a was taken by M. Dart and appears in Branch Lines Around Plymouth by Victor Mitchell and Keith Smith (photograph 98, no date specified but probably 30-Sep-1961). This was taken from a position a few paces along the spur to the Air Ministry sidings and looking down the track towards the Boringdon Road tunnel to Turnchapel Wharf (providing a rare view of the tunnel entrance at distance in the background). The Dart photo gives a good view of the pump house side. It shows that a wire mesh fence surrounded the building, with five fence panels (probably of around 10-ft width each) making up the longer side running parallel with the rail line. Point rodding ran between the fence and the rail line to toe of the sidings turnout, with the fence extending a little beyond this in the Turnchapel Wharf direction. The fence in the Dart photo looks to have been very similar in structure to that added around the top of the Admiralty bunded compound immediately adjacent to Turnchapel Station in the 1950s (complete with outward facing brackets topped with barbed wire). Photographic detail of the fence at the top of the Admiralty depot follows in later discussion posts. A set of pipeline valves was located between the fence and the southern wall of the pump house (i.e. directly adjacent to the railway line). There was a narrow unroofed brick wall enclosure attached to the building on the opposite to the railway line. This can just be made out in Figure 62a, the height of this wall slightly lower than that of the building itself. The pump house, fenced compound and valves would all have been characteristic lineside features of the line adjacent to the turnout to the Air Ministry sidings.

 

A view of the pump house from its eastern end can be seen in Mike Roach’s photograph of Sep-1961 posted on the Cornwall Railway Society’s website (link below). An annotated version of Mike’s image is shown in Figure 62b (used by kind permission).

 

http://www.cornwallrailwaysociety.org.uk/uploads/7/6/8/3/7683812/687545_orig.jpg

 

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Taken from a position on the passing loop near the western end of Turnchapel Station, this is also a great photograph for trackwork detail. On the left of the picture (a) can be seen the end of the precast concrete wall around the Air Ministry sidings (cf NRM Sellick photo in Figure 23) together with a metal gate (b) that closed across the track at the compound’s entrance.  The style of gate (b) was very similar to the modern variant shown at the foot of Figure 62b. A second wooden bar gate at (c) marked the boundary with the track under British Transport Commission jurisdiction.

 

The spur turnout toe (d) appears to have been positioned near to the western end of the pump house building; the guard rail running towards the station commenced just on the station side of the fenced compound around it. A single catch (e) and double catch with sand drag (f) were located in the passing loop and platform line respectively. Due to the incline down to Turnchapel Wharf, no wagons were permitted to stand on the far side of the catch points.

 

Although the Air Ministry sidings were not constructed until 1939, earlier OS maps show that the spur into the quarry from point (d) had been already been added by 1933, perhaps superceding the old 30-in gauge quarry tramway that had crossed the line close to this point (cf maps in Figures 49 and 50 based on the 1911 ADM 140/1484 plan). In Branch Lines Around Plymouth Victor Mitchell and Keith Smith indicate that this spur was used from 1927 by Moore’s, who worked the quarry. The Air Ministry sidings may well have been installed by modification of this pre-existing spur therefore.

 

SR working regulations dated 26-Mar-1934 (copy in Anthony Kingdom’s Turnchapel Branch) stated that catch points were situated in the spur at 42 yards from the point of connection with the line to Turnchapel Wharf. The rail company’s engines were not to proceed beyond the position of the catch points.

 

BR western region working regulations for post-war use of the Air Ministry sidings (dated 1960; copy in Anthony Kingdom’s Turnchapel Branch) stated the following about operational procedures for the sidings:

 

“These sidings which are under the supervision of the Yard Master at Plymouth Friary, are situated on the down side, and are connected with the single line leading to the Admiralty Wharves. The siding connection is worked from the Signal Box.

“The gradient of the platform line, loop and single line is 1 in 80 falling from the signal box to the Admiralty Wharves and attention is directed to the requirements of Rule 151. Wagons left standing on the loop or platform line must be placed on the signal box side of the catch points in those lines. Wagons must not be allowed to stand on the single line between the catch points and the Admiralty Wharves.

“Catch points are provided in the siding connection at the clearance point with the single line.

“A gate [Figure 62b (c)], the key of which is kept in the Signal Box, is provided at the Commission's boundary.

“A gate [Figure 62b (b)], the key of which is kept by the Oil Depot representative, is also provided at the entrance to the sidings and before vehicles are worked to or from the sidings, the Shunter or person in charge must arrange for the gate to be opened by the Oil Depot representative. After completion of the work the Shunter or person in charge must advise the Oil Depot representative that the gate can be closed and locked.

“The sidings are worked by shunting engine.

“The Commission's engine must not proceed into the sidings beyond the engine restriction board situated at a point 15 yards inside the gate at the entrance to the sidings.”

 

The position of the gate [Figure 62b (b)] that led into the Air Ministry sidings was conserved in the land boundaries through the post-war evolution of ownership on the site, and was visible (as shown in the Bing maps aerial shot of Figure 62c) until the eventual clearance of the site for the recent housing development from 2013. For that reason, the site of the gates is accurately charted in the site surveys submitted with the 11/01250/FUL planning application referred to in previous posts.

 

Figure_62c Turnchapel Station site aerial.tiff

 

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Edited by Dave_Hooe
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Figure 63 (Photograph view point I on Figure 52): Also taken from the top of the bridge and looking in the same general direction as the last two shots, but this time in the summer of 2012 with a bit more colour. Here we’re looking up from the tramway bed to focus on the cliff face above where the railway line ran to provide some detail for anyone wanting to take on the challenge of a bit of scenic cliff building. The tramway cleft has since been filled and the whole area in the foreground of this photograph levelled to take the housing development that now stands at this site. The bridge viewed in Figure 60 has therefore been blocked up and effectively serves as a retaining wall for the raised ground and housing development behind.

 

 

 

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Edited by Dave_Hooe
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Figure 64 (Photograph view point J on Figure 52): We’re now standing at the top of the western bank, looking into the old Admiralty compound. In these latter years of its existence the compound was used as a boat and caravan park. The 1950s mesh fence in the foreground is what we could see at distance round the top of the compound in the NRM Sellick photograph of Figure 23, now clearly on its last legs. Notice 2 pairs of holes at the top of the northern concrete slope to the right of the steps within the compound itself. These mark the positions of the two windlass platforms, one of which was shown in Figure 57a/b. The windlass cables presumably ran through the holes to the top of the tanks.

 

 

 

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Edited by Dave_Hooe
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Figure 65 (Photograph view point K on Figure 52): Still at the top of the western bank but looking straight across at the eastern slope. The roofs just showing above it are in the housing development at the former Bayly’s site on the far side of The Cut into Hooe Lake. A large raised circular concrete plinth just discernable in the floor of the compound (with some of the caravans are standing on it) was a post-war addition and the foundation for a single large tank that occupied the during commercial petrochemical storage use from the mid 1960s.

 

 

 

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Edited by Dave_Hooe
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Figure 66 (Photograph view point L on Figure 52): A similar shot to the last, but looking slightly to the right. The Turnchapel Station platform was located on the other side of the southern concrete slope to the right of the picture. Notice the large breach in the concrete slope (wall of lower height) behind the brown camper van. This corresponds to Note [V] on Figure 23b and is where the compound bank was cut through as an access point after the Station was cleared. Whilst the short breach in the northwest corner of the compound appeared in 1964 OS surveys, this larger breach together with the installation of the large single gas oil storage tank appears to have occurred a little later –– these changes are recorded in 1967 OS surveys. A second set of steps is also recorded on the inside western slope of the compound in the 1967 OS survey, sited between the positions of the destroyed Admiralty Tanks ‘A’ and ‘C’.

 

 

 

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If we’d stood in the position from which the Figure 66 photograph was taken on the night of 27-Nov-1940, we’d have been looking straight into the towering wall of Tank ‘C’; clusters of men would have been gathered around the top of that right hand bank (cf Figure 50) in the days that followed in a desperate attempt to cool the tanks and prevent the fire, which started on the far side of the compound, from spreading.

Edited by Dave_Hooe
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