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Parcels and Newspapers in Croydon 1960-1985 - sidings, movements, sources and destinations?


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Good morning all,

 

EDIT: I am researching prototype information for a what-might-have-been layout based on Central Croydon, and one of the aspects I'm eager to cater for is newpaper and parcels traffic. I haven't 100% tied down my era but seems to be the post-steam BR Green era, or the late BR Blue era prior to sectorisation. This thread started off asking about East Croydon's GPO siding, but may better be described with the new title. Original post below.

 

I have spent a good deal of time staring at the Royal Mail building at East Croydon while waiting on Platform 6 for a train to the Caterham branch, as well as the curved roadway overhead and the various subterranean buildings underneath.

 

When I came across this picture of LBSCR H2 421 in 1911, it looked like the loco had pulled up at my usual spot waiting for the front of the 455:

 

H2 421 at East Croydon in works grey 1911, credit: Brighton Atlantics

image.png.bbbf9922055b638fd5ee12c95c3da020.png

 

The half scissors perplexed me - the only gap between platforms I could find in the usual maps was the through road between 2 & 3 (now lifted), and this one has a half scissors in the foreground. After more digging the half scissors opposite Platorm 6 came to light and the Post office spur:

 

1913 OS Grid Map

image.png.b1789dcc807f38ef8e5a49c92553d91e.png

 

Without the post office elevator and elevated walkway, this is what the site looks like now:

 

Google Maps 2021

image.png.d9aed0ffa8e647750ae84a79c2ddf32a.png

 

This is what the scene looks like now - although the curve of the elevated cab rank roughly follows the line of the spur, there is no meaningful correlation of any items except the re-clad platform canopies.

 

Does anyone have pictures or details of this area of track? The OS-map suggests there were no buildings except a small office (?) by the station. The only thing I have which even remotely indicates this area is a 1961 shot across the station which shows the pub, but little else masked by the station: https://thetransportlibrary.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=89240&search=Croydon+area&category_id=148&page=1 and this shot showing the opposite end of the platforms: https://thetransportlibrary.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=87287&search=Croydon+area&category_id=148&page=3

 

Edited by Lacathedrale
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Although my copy is not immediately to hand at the moment, try getting hold of a copy of East Croydon to Three Bridges (Middleton Press). I recall some useful maps and photos that may help you. May be out of print now but I'm sure you could find a copy on 'tinterweb somewhere.

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Posted (edited)

There was a loading dock on the track outside of P6 which was for Hall & Co after it morphed from a ginormous coal wholesaler into builders merchants, but it seems few have taken photographs of the Post Office corner of East Croydon!  I would be grateful if anyone could provide a snapshot of the photos in the Middleton Press books - I'm quite happy to buy them, but I'd like to know what I'm getting beforehand if possible!

Edited by Lacathedrale
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That’s when it was still Hall & Co, or GPO, but before the conveyor system, I think.

 

When the conveyor was in use, there was a single siding, accessed by a crossover part-way along it. The GPO structures were on a platform alongside it.

 

The conveyor was at high level, in a big duct, and below it, at platform level, was a loading bay, with awning over the platform, and a series of (IIRC) folding doors. I assume that the conveyor dipped down to allow bags to be hooked on and off. The whole lot was c1970 industrial utilitarian, all in various shades of dull grey.

 

Really rough sketch, from really fallible memory. You can get an idea of the ‘style’ from the photos of the back that I linked to in the other thread.


0CB5B18F-D680-4E2E-BE6C-9D277288A811.jpeg.ef768b7d677e45ea95fc60a71b3b4a34.jpeg

 

In fact, this one shows it all, but with the dock track filled-in and turned into access for road vehicles. My memory wasn’t far out, but not totally right either!

 

E28F3E64-0D6A-4472-AA34-1442BCE4FDCB.jpeg.8b316492c77288b7bb9b38ff224e8662.jpeg
 

An architectural masterpiece, I think you’ll agree.

 

PS: I, and a lot of other commuters, once had a free long-distance striptease show while waiting for a train there, when a woman in that tower block in the background changed all her clothes, and I mean all, while forgetting to close the curtains/blinds.

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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Somebody, I seem to recall, created a visual representation, a giant diagram, of the train movements, I think for "parcels" and for "freight".

 

Try to get this question prominent - maybe change the topic title - because there are at least three active RMWeb members who were Central Division Traffic Controllers at Essex House (in-scene for yoy layout) during the 1970s, who will probably know half the diagrams by heart.

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  • Lacathedrale changed the title to Parcels and Newspapers in Croydon - sidings, movements, sources and destinations
  • Lacathedrale changed the title to Parcels and Newspapers in Croydon 1960-1985 - sidings, movements, sources and destinations?
32 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

Somebody, I seem to recall, created a visual representation, a giant diagram, of the train movements, I think for "parcels" and for "freight".

I remember seeing that, I thought it was this thread (but it wasn't!):

https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/152261-newspapers-and-parcels-services-on-sr-east-coastway-line-in-1970s-80s/

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  • RMweb Gold

3.20 Vic-Brighton, 3.27 Vic-Eastbourne. Those ran SuX. The Sunday services were different and I can't really recall the timings, but they were a bit later. There was certainly a 4.45 to Amberley (!) via Crawley, but that may have been a part of engineering works programming. Being Area 4, once they'd passed Coulsdon North I lost interest.

 

I left Control in 1973, was still only 24, and it seems implausible now that I had been a London Area Controller since 1969, at age 20. Crikey.

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This contains a snippet about parcels and mail  https://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/docsummary.php?docID=797

 

I think that the Down trains that OD refers to were newspapers.

 

The MLV serving the GPO dock was mid evening, and IIRC part of a diagram that visited both LOB and VIC, then came to EC and went on to Redhill.

 

There was also a Down loco hauled parcels and mail in the evening, which was good for van variety, often all Big Four plus BR designs represented.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

Somebody, I seem to recall, created a visual representation, a giant diagram, of the train movements, I think for "parcels" and for "freight".

 

Try to get this question prominent - maybe change the topic title - because there are at least three active RMWeb members who were Central Division Traffic Controllers at Essex House (in-scene for yoy layout) during the 1970s, who will probably know half the diagrams by heart.

 

Sorry, in a rush, but this was my effort:

 

 

Hope of use.

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Would it be accurate to say by the early 80's that CCT's and PMV's would have been fully ousted in favour of SR Bogie B's, GUV's and BG's on parcels and mail services?

 

I see there are dedicated 'Newspaper' gangwayed BG's available from Graham Farish - are these unique/rare vehicles or were they so liveried and designated on the Victoria mail trains?

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On 25/08/2021 at 14:27, Lacathedrale said:

Found another picture showing @Nearholmer's memory was pretty good!

East Croydon February 1983

 

 

Gorgeous picture.  I think pretty much everything in that photo has now gone with the exception of the Porter & Sorter pub (just visible above the conveyor belt housing on the right) and the platform staff building under the ramp!

 

It's all tall glass towers of unaffordable poncey flats now, even the Post Office building is now boarded up and awaiting the wrecking ball.

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Anyone else remember the BRSA ‘sports and social’ that was somewhere in that huddle of buildings towards the lower left? The only sport pursued by the 1970s was arm-strengthening exercises, using pint glasses as weights.

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This rather fascinating thread takes me back to my early days at BR in the late 60's based in Croydon.  Racking my brains for memories leads me to ask why nobody has mentioned the Banana Dock as it was known at the time.  When the two siding roads existed alongside platform 6 passenger road, the dock was largely occupied by a large metal clad building used for warehousing bananas.  This was situated more to the London end whilst the country end was used by the GPO.  The galvanised steel structures came at a later date when the track layout was modified.  The approach to platform 6 from London was quite restricted by the presence of the sidings and part of Hall and Co's empire.  I believe it was during the Victoria Area Resignalling in the early/mid 70's that the sidings were removed, the platform approach straightened and the dock widened to accomadate the new GPO facility, although there was then no way to use the dock.

An excellent source of reference, if you can get a copy is Maurice Skinner's Croydon's Railways, Kingfisher Railway Publications 1985.  Page 58 has a good picture of the north end of platform 6 and the associated Halls yard, whilst page 61 shows piles of mailbags on platform 3.  If I remember correctly, PMVs etc were often stabled in the middle road between plats 2 and 3.

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30 minutes ago, Platform10 said:

I believe it was during the Victoria Area Resignalling in the early/mid 70's that the sidings were removed, the platform approach straightened and the dock widened to accomadate the new GPO facility, although there was then no way to use the dock.

 

It was much earlier than VARS, which was post-1980, I think c1970, but I can't get a fix on the exact date. 

 

This interesting description of the signalbox says that the central roads were removed in 1968, and I'm tempted to date the reconfiguration of the Hall & Co and Dock area to then or soon after.

 https://www.wbsframe.mste.co.uk/public/East_Croydon.html

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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