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Where and Why?


R A Watson

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Close enough gents, but the other end of the shed.

 

It's the bridge through the "Southern" link line to Friary, this view may be more familiar.

 

post-5286-0-86990200-1307946250_thumb.jpg

 

 

Now for the second part,why was it built?

 

As a small clue the structure I was standing on was related to the reason for the bridge.

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Yep Brinkly, part of the triangle! if you look closely just behind the bridge safety rail there is a location cabinet which is actualy adjacent to the end of the loops which used to be beside the main line at the North Road end.

 

As I said to Phil (Mallard of this parish) who introduced me to train spotting there, in a P M, if you are of our age group think of the fence on the left of the second picture as being made of old boiler tubes and over the photographers left shoulder will be a large red brick building with a boiler sticking through the wall; the back of the old round shed.

 

The buildings in the back ground of the first shot are where the path leads down to the steps which originally gave access to Laira Halt and the shed.

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In saying Sutton Harbour Branch, that was my guess as to why the bridge was there, not where it was.

 

Clearly, the line is in use still, so are we saying it's the section between Lipson Jct and Mount Gould Jct?

 

If so, guessing further, is the bridge there to span part of the old Lee Moor or Plymouth & Dartmoor Tramway?

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In saying Sutton Harbour Branch, that was my guess as to why the bridge was there, not where it was.

 

Clearly, the line is in use still, so are we saying it's the section between Lipson Jct and Mount Gould Jct?

 

If so, guessing further, is the bridge there to span part of the old Lee Moor or Plymouth & Dartmoor Tramway?

 

 

Well, if the main track man on here can't answer the question here is my version of the facts.

 

But before that, C K the P & D and laterly Lee Moor lines were at the other end of the Laira site beside the Embankment Road (where the H S T sidings are now) and the Sutton harbour Branch used part of the original P & D trackbed on the alignment of the current Gydnia Way road.

 

Now back to the bridge, it does indeed carry the Lipson Junct to Mount Gould line as the Cap'n surmises, this was constructed circa 1890/1 to allow for the opening of Friary station in 1891; long before the G W thought about any shed at Laira.

 

But - The original South Devon railway arrived in the late 1840's and temporarily terminated at a place described as Laira Green (1848) presumably whilst the excavations of Mutley Tunnel and asociated cuttings were completed. The final main line must have run adjacent to the temporary line but historians have never discovered the actual location of the station and the final line opened through to Millbay in 1849.

 

This much was known by myself until recently but the reason for the bridge was a large question in the back of my mind until I discovered that in the period leading up to, and through, the Great War the Royal Navy had a major explosives store in the valley on the site where the school now stands.

 

The Great Western provided a rail connection from the sidings adjacent to Laira Junction signal box along the line of the (later) ash drop road and coaling lines of Laira Loco shed and through the bridge to the Ammo Dump! This seemed to answer all of the questions until I looked further around the site and noticed the disparity of the dates, the Southern line was built in 1890ish but the explosives depot as established in the early 1900s. Was the bridge constructed at the same time as the embankment it passed through with admirable forethought, or was the line broken and the bridge inserted at a later date?

 

 

This lead to my walk around last Saturday and a further photo;

 

post-5286-0-34366300-1308163106_thumb.jpg

 

 

This is the result, looking towards North Road, you will notice that part of main line is supportedby a stone wall and not the embankment which supports the rest of the line. The railway would not have gone to greater expense bringng in stone to construct this wall when it was cheaper to be tipping readily available spoil, unless they were protecting something valuable alongside the new works - ie - is this the site of the lost Laira Green Station?

 

There is an alternative possibility, The G W had been forced to lay a third rail from Lydford to Plymouth to allow the narrow gauge L & S W R access and perhaps the G W, in revenge, had insisted that the Southern line accomodate their former Lara Green alignment in case they ever neede to reinstate it.

 

Over to you the Jury.

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When was Lipson Vale reclaimed from the sea? Could it have been the building of the SR line that completed this process and the Navy then took advantage of this? If this were the case then the stone embankment would make sense as it would be a sea/river defence.

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When was Lipson Vale reclaimed from the sea? Could it have been the building of the SR line that completed this process and the Navy then took advantage of this? If this were the case then the stone embankment would make sense as it would be a sea/river defence.

 

Prior to 1860 - the map shows the Plym embanked on both sides at that date.there's also the Granitic works alongside Laira Bridge (Road). Rails hadn't crossed the Plym at that date.

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The Laira Embankment was opened in 1809.

 

Taken from "Plymouths River" by Crispin Gill is this extract.

 

In his diary of 10 October 1802, Henry Woolocombe, secretary of the Company wrote "I had the pleasure this evening of seeing the tide kept out from Lipson Bay for the first time since the creation of the world".

 

Before this the whole valley was tidal almost up to what is now Mutley Tunnel.

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Prior to 1860 - the map shows the Plym embanked on both sides at that date.there's also the Granitic works alongside Laira Bridge (Road). Rails hadn't crossed the Plym at that date.

 

 

Rendel's Iron Bridge across the Plym was opened in 1827 and stopped sailing boats from accessing the first P & D Tramway dock further upstream, so the tramway was extended down to the seaward side which lead to the establishment of the stone works you refer to.

 

Sorry for the consequtive replies here but I did not notice this point until after sending the last one.

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Wally,

 

This is a fascinating story and one that had hitherto escaped me (perhaps not checking my books in sufficient detail.. ;) ). I must admit that the Sutton Harbour branch was not a viable suggestion, given the knowledge of where the stone bridge actually is...

 

Is there a track plan/map that could be uploaded or linked to, that shows the history that you describe?

 

Thanks for this fascinating thread!

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Kris, you know the maps I mean - the Plymouth and Plym maps are 1860s, the Tamar side is 1888 or so. The Plym side has "South Devon Railway", the Tamar side "Great Western Railway"

 

 

 

I don't think that I have access to those.

 

 

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Wally,

 

This is a fascinating story and one that had hitherto escaped me (perhaps not checking my books in sufficient detail.. ;) ). I must admit that the Sutton Harbour branch was not a viable suggestion, given the knowledge of where the stone bridge actually is...

 

Is there a track plan/map that could be uploaded or linked to, that shows the history that you describe?

 

Thanks for this fascinating thread!

 

Tim,

 

Not realy a plan as such, as I said everyone knows Laira Green was there somewhere, but nobody can pin the exact location down.

 

As regards the ammo dump connection, there is in the records of S R S a drawing of the box arrangements which is credited to the late Larry Crosier, who for several years regularly worked the final box at Laira Junct.

 

It was through a friend showing me copy of this that I became aware of the existance of the connection.

 

It has been going through my mind that if only someone could gain access to maintenance records for the bridge, which given it's location may be in the "White House", (the one close to the Great Western Hotel, not the U S A version) we may get some idea of a building date. Do we know anyone?

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The CD? Didn't I give you one?

You did (thanks once again), I hadn't realised it was on there, I shall have to have another closer look!

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if only someone could gain access to maintenance records for the bridge, which given it's location may be in the "White House"

The 'White House' was vacated by NR several years ago, around the same time that 'The Red House' was similarly vacated.

 

Do we know anyone?

Yes, and I was sat only a few feet from him today!! I'll see what I can find out next time we meet...

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This much was known by myself until recently but the reason for the bridge was a large question in the back of my mind until I discovered that in the period leading up to, and through, the Great War the Royal Navy had a major explosives store in the valley on the site where the school now stands.

 

The Great Western provided a rail connection from the sidings adjacent to Laira Junction signal box along the line of the (later) ash drop road and coaling lines of Laira Loco shed and through the bridge to the Ammo Dump! This seemed to answer all of the questions until I looked further around the site and noticed the disparity of the dates, the Southern line was built in 1890ish but the explosives depot as established in the early 1900s. Was the bridge constructed at the same time as the embankment it passed through with admirable forethought, or was the line broken and the bridge inserted at a later date?

 

 

This lead to my walk around last Saturday and a further photo;

 

post-5286-0-34366300-1308163106_thumb.jpg

 

This is the result, looking towards North Road, you will notice that part of main line is supportedby a stone wall and not the embankment which supports the rest of the line. The railway would not have gone to greater expense bringng in stone to construct this wall when it was cheaper to be tipping readily available spoil, unless they were protecting something valuable alongside the new works - ie - is this the site of the lost Laira Green Station?

 

 

That differs quite a bit from Larry Crosier's information as he refers to the 'ammo dump' as 'a munitions factory' (although it doesn't appear as a Filling Factory in any references I can find) - which was connected to the curve between Lipson Jcn and Mount Gould Jcn in 1916 with trailing crossover leading into a single slip connection in the (=GW) Down line and the slip also feeding into the siding which went into the ammunition factory running initially alongside the Down line. This connection dropped down to the sidings which were situated alongside the retaining wall which had been constructed in 1914 as part of the Laira to Mutley Tunnel quadrupling scheme (which scheme appears to have been suspended due to the outbreak of war and which, of course, was never resumed after the war) - i.e. the stone wall referred to above.. Larry doesn't make any reference to an earlier connection to the site either from Lipson Jcn or Laira Jcn but as his work deals with signalling that omission might mean nothing.

 

In 1925 the GWR submitted plans a new large engine shed containing 4 turntables to be built on the site of the sidings (and presumably part of the site of the 'factory'?) but instead in 1931 added the straight shed at Laira - and also provided a connection into Lara depot from the opposite side of the Mount Gould Jcn curve at Lipson Jcn.

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