A Famous Train of the GWR
The “Torbay Limited” passing the sea-
IT is a year and a half since we took our last trip over the West of England main line of the Great Western Railway, so that most of you probably will have quite forgotten what it looks like. Another reason why we should travel over this line again is that since that journey on the “Cornish Riviera Express”, there have come into use over this route some of the most remarkable locomotives in the country. It was in July of last year that the first of the “Kings” took the road from Swindon Works, completely dwarfing the previous GWR 4-
What is the secret of this enormous tractive power? It lies chiefly in the use of a working steam pressure as high as 250 lb per sq in -
Another notable feature of the “Kings” is the way in which the adhesion weight -
weight coming down upon that pair of wheels. With a three-
It is within the knowledge of most of you that “King George V” has already made a trip across the Atlantic to the United States and back, for exhibition at the “Fair of the Iron Horse” with which the centenary of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was celebrated last year. After going in solemn procession round the demonstration track in the fair-
American rolling stock proved a tough proposition for a British locomotive, the twelve-
Down “Torbay Limited” express leaving Paddington. Four-
But I am wandering far, I fear, from the “Torbay Limited”. Why “Limited?” “Limited” is a description of American origin, indicating passenger accommodation limited to a certain maximum number of places that can be booked in advance. Where strictly adhered to, this may mean that places on a popular “limited” express may have to be booked days in advance, or you may never get on to it on the day of your desire. In our own country the only true parallel is probably found in the “Pullman Limited” trains, such as the “Queen of Scots”, on which we travelled previously. It is only in the neighbourhood of Bank Holidays or at the busiest summer week-
Torquay has much for which to thank the Great Western Railway authorities. All the year round the “Torbay Limited” brings the famous watering-
A through portion to and from Plymouth is also run on both up and down “Torbay Limiteds”, detached on the down journey at Exeter and attached on the up journey at Newton Abbot. Coming to London the up “Torbay” -
in marshalling the train, the up “Torbay Limited” requires 3¾ hours from Torquay to London, or 10 minutes more than the down train; but the allowance of 205 minutes from Newton to Paddington entails an average speed all the way of all but 57 m.p.h. Doubtless in the altered times that will operate from early in the present month, during the summer season, the up “Torbay Limited” will make the nonstop journey from Torquay to London in the same time of 3½ hours as the down train.
As we made our last West of England journey in the down direction, we shall get a new perspective of things on this occasion if we try the up “Torbay Limited” and this means that we must betake ourselves to Dartmouth. Dartmouth is, from the railway point of view, singular in having a railway station but no trains. Between this station and the actual starting-
We have already made the acquaintance of some of the Great Western “articulated” stock, on our journey with the “Birkenhead Diner”, where we found an articulated restaurant car set in use. But here at Kingswear we see awaiting us a complete articulated train, in three “units”, exactly similar to the one that the Great Western Railway ran in the Centenary Procession of 1925, when it was brand new. There is first of all a “triplet”, with a third-
85 and 53 tons respectively, making a total of 216 tons.
Combined central buffer and coupling on the latest GWR coaches. When in use it rises to the horizontal position, and the side buffers, which are hinged, are dropped downwards.
Again we notice that, where the units are coupled together, ordinary side-
It is at 11.10 a.m. that our boat sheers off from Dartmouth Pier, and 15 minutes later, at 11.25 a.m. the “Torbay Limited” gets away from Kingswear. The speed of the first 14¾ miles of the journey, to Newton, is in striking contrast to that which follows. The time allowance, with three intermediate stops, is, in fact, 48 minutes, and the average speed less than 20 m.p.h.! But there is first a pull at 1 in 57 out of Kingswear up to the high ground of the neck of country separating the Dart Valley from Torbay. Then comes the stop at Churston Junction, where connection is made to and from Brixham; a stop at the rising watering-
Newton is reached at 12.13 p.m., and we find that the Plymouth and Kingsbridge portions have been in three minutes ahead of us. Probably these will add to the rear of our train not less than five 70-
Down “Torbay Limited” express approaching Teignmouth. This section of the line has been blasted out of the rock, leaving on the landward side a magnificent wall of red sandstone.
Punctually to time at 12.20 p.m. we head eastward for Paddington. For the first 20 miles of our journey the course is as near level as makes no matter, first down the tidal estuary of the Teign to Teignmouth, then along the sea-
We have now roughly three hours, or a shade less, in which to complete the remaining 173¾ miles to Paddington. For the next 20 miles the gradients are against the engine. At first the ascent is modest enough. Only for a mile beyond both Stoke Canon and Silverton does it get to as much as 1 in 207 and 1 in 222. Bat as we pass Collumpton the crests of the Mendips are coming in sight, and we get first a two-
Wellington bank gives him a good start. Beginning at Whiteball Box, this famous descent extends nearly to Taunton, and is very steep for the first four miles to Wellington Station, including as it does 2¼ miles at an average of 1 in 85. It was on this racing-
Shortly after Taunton our “King” gets a second welcome draught of water, at Creech troughs, and then there will probably follow a slight easing of the speed for the junction at Cogload. This is where we leave Brunel’s old West of England main line, five miles beyond Taunton, for the shorter Westbury route. Notice how the straight original up and down lines have been spread out from each other at Cogload, in order to allow the laying in of a fast-
The character of the line now changes. For miles it is very winding, and for seven miles beyond Castle Cary it is steep as well. With short interposed “steps” of level track, it rises chiefly at 1 in 98 until we breast the signalbox at Brewham, the actual summit being marked by mile-
Once again a long rising stretch of line lies ahead -
Only 68 minutes now left for the 70 miles to Paddington! Can it be done? With ease; all the hardest work is now over. For the next 31 miles there are nothing but falling grades, and although the winding character of the track prevents our “King” from laying himself out to the maximum of his possible efforts, we can count on an average of 70 miles an hour for miles on end. Water is taken for the fourth and last time from Aldermaston troughs, and seven miles later there comes the slowing for the first of the Reading Junctions -
36 level miles is “easy going” by Great Western standards! So we hurry on past Twyford, Maidenhead, Slough -
[From The Meccano Magazine, July 1928]