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A Fishy Question...


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Hello all!


Something that came to me, and I can find minimal reference in any of my numerous books on the railways of Cornwall is fish traffic from Penzance. Specifically I'm looking for what the fish traffic in the last decade of steam, and into the early years of dieselisation under BR was like, such as the make-up of the trains, how often they'd run and behind what motive power?


Much thanks in advance!



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If I remember correctly (I probably don't) the majority of fish that was landed at Newlyn/Penzance in the late 50's early 60's was still Pilchard and this was tinned in the locality and only then was it shipped out. Shippams were a major employer in the Newlyn area at their Fish paste Factory.

Historically the Pilchard catches in the area were salted and pressed into barrels then exported by boat. (Predominantly to Italy)


If anybody has any records of complete Fish trains leaving Penzance I'd certainly like to hear about them. I was told most of the West Penwith non Pilchard fish traffic reached London in parcels compartments or perishable trains. See Later.


Now complete Flower and cauliflower (Cauliflower is called Broccoli by any self respecting person of West Penwith) trains are a complete different kettle of fish... :rolleyes:


In the early sixties there during the Daffodil season BR ran a Daily perishables train which was made up NPCC for Scilly isles and Penwith flowers. Official BR photographs show that this train also carried small amount of boxed fish and also collected dropped off fish en route.




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I have also been trying to find more information on fish traffic out of Cornwall, although during an earlier period as my focus in on the post-WW2 GWR.


I have only found fleeting references to this traffic but no details of train formations or whether there were actually specific fish trains. One of the more useful sources is the article 'Modern GWR fish vans, part 2' by John Lewis in GWR Journal no.7. This is excellent on the later GWR fish vans but says little about the traffic details, other than confirming that Penzance was a major point of dispatch.


I can't recall seeing any photos of fish vans in Cornwall so it may well be that fish was carried in parcels compartments/vans as part of general perishable trains as Porcy suggests.


I'm not sure this is much help but I too would be very grateful if anyone else can shed more light on this topic.

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Cetainly in the 1938 workings (Working of Coaches in Through Trains), fish trucks (that's what the GWR called them) were diagrammed on some workings (see below), but not apparently out of Penzance on through trains.


The 9.50pm Down to Penzance (due 7.25am) was diagrammed for a fish truck from the LNE line to Penzance

The 9.10pm Cardiff to Penzance conveyed a fish truck from Milford Haven

The 1.20am Swindon to Birmingham (Moor Street) conveyed 'Flower, fish, and other Seasonal traffic' from the West of England

The 1.00pm Plymouth to Crewe conveyed fish trucks from Plymouth as required destined for 'Aberdeen, etc.'


I can't actually find the workings that got any of this traffic out of Penzance, though. None of these indicate a balancing working. Possibly they were worked on locals or freights.



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