Sailing and railways - an odd combination

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familyman34
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Sailing and railways - an odd combination

Post by familyman34 »

A nearby curiosity (in Norfolk) that combines interests in sailing and railways:

https://broadssailing.blog/2019/11/08/ Evidently written by someone who styles himself “A Broadsman” who here writes his “confessions of a wooden boat owner”. The railway bit starts at the second paragraph after the embedded video.


In the 1920s Mr Pyke, the farmer in question, needed to get his sugar beet from his farm at Claxton to the sugar factory.

By road, it was a journey of 23 miles since the only bridges below Norwich over the River Yare are at Thorpe (just outside Norwich) and Great Yarmouth.

However, by water, it was much closer, about 2 miles to the south bank of the river, then 3.5 miles downstream to Cantley to unload on the north bank. Traditional sailing vessels, called wherries, traded up and down the river between Norwich and Great Yarmouth, and could carry 30 tons at a time to the existing river dock at Cantley. Later much larger lighters were used.

So the problem was how to transport the sugar beet economically from the fields on the higher ground around Ashby across the water meadows to the river bank where it could be loaded onto wherries.

The answer was a light railway. It was in use in this location from 1926 to 1936.


Open a new window to see the relative positions of Ashby and the sugar factory at Cantley on a modern map: https://streetmap.co.uk/map/idld?x=6355 ... 03500&lm=0
Mr Pyke's sugar beet fields were centred around Staines' Barn, near the church where the road makes a double zig-zag, south-west of the ruins of Claxton Castle; the sugar beet factory is near the east margin of the map.

For more details of the way from Staines' Barn to the river bank, open https://streetmap.co.uk/map/idld?x=6339 ... 03500&lm=0



What a pity all trace of the railway has vanished except for a small information board in the hedge to the north-west of Staines' Barn, with a short sample of the 2foot track.

Cantley sugar factory was the UK's first one; built in 1912 by a Dutch company, it ran at a loss and closed in 1916. After the First World War sugar imports from the continent dried up, so the English Beet Sugar Corporation was founded and in 1920 the factory at Cantley was reopened. It's still in operation today.
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denimini
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Re: Sailing and railways - an odd combination

Post by denimini »

Interesting, although I assumed it was quite a common combination. Still the two most efficient means of transport.
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Re: Sailing and railways - an odd combination

Post by trainspotter48 »

Unfortunately, the use of the motor lorry, which can be loaded in the farmyard/factory yard, and then driven to virtually anywhere in Europe before being unloaded in the warehouse or factory for which the goods are intended has obliterated most other forms of transport. This appears to be the case even when the load has to be spread across several lorries.
Railway and river can make a good means of moving bulk items, but there is the need to transfer between means of transport, which is simply seen as adding cost - added to the fact that most of Britain's railways have been dismantled on the grounds that they were not profitable.
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Re: Sailing and railways - an odd combination

Post by Kirbstone »

A fine historical description, FM34. All that happened when inexpensive manual labour was at hand to move the beet or whatever from one hold to another.
Fast forward to the 20th/21st Century and enter the Container and the cranes to move them. Prime aim is the transfer of goods with minimal handling costs, so quaint transport as you describe is consigned to history.

Through my home village of Monasterevin in Ireland there plied until 1959 scores of barges loaded to the gun'ls with sugarbeet, Guinness or peat, locally called 'turf'. All these cargoes required teams of manual handlers and in the case of peat, movable narrow-gauge railways to reach the canal wharves from the bogs where it was cut.

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Re: Sailing and railways - an odd combination

Post by pelmut »

trainspotter48 wrote:
Sat Mar 12, 2022 9:46 am
....most of Britain's railways have been dismantled on the grounds that they were not profitable.
Strictly speaking that statement is true, those were the grounds but in many cases they were based on lies.  Many of the railways closed were, in fact, profitable, and could still be made profitable today if they were re-opened.
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Re: Sailing and railways - an odd combination

Post by r.m.anderson »

With the price of fuel skyrocketing into another orbit - bringing back the trains may not seem so odd if the tracks and equipment are still serviceable.
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Re: Sailing and railways - an odd combination

Post by pelmut »

r.m.anderson wrote:
Sun Mar 13, 2022 2:03 am
With the price of fuel skyrocketing into another orbit - bringing back the trains may not seem so odd if the tracks and equipment are still serviceable.
A lot of the alignments have been built over and the bridges and other structures demolished; reinstating them would cost nearly as much as building new routes from scratch.  The rolling stock has long since been scrapped and we no longer have the industry to make rails and the heavy parts of locomotives in the U.K..
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Re: Sailing and railways - an odd combination

Post by rode_kater »

Over here in NL the government has been trying to encourage people to ship more by boat to reduce traffic congestion. Around 18% (by weight) of our freight is currently transported by inland shipping (is that the right term?). Of course, by weight is important because it's mostly useful for transportation of bulk cargo like sand and gravel. For example, the ship below, the Cotrans 10, passes my house on occasion and can carry over 1000 tonnes of sand/gravel. That replaces a *lot* of lorries.

Image

But you also have the massive Rijnaken (Dutch wikipedia) which travel to Germany and can carry over 5000 tonnes of containers.

On many of the larger ships there days there's actually a slogan of the form "here goes a traffic jam of XX trucks". It was actually quite amusing to see that on a ship travelling the Danube when I was cycling there once.

But yeah, you have to have the geography for it. And the UK doesn't have the geography to massive inland shipping.

Rail for transport is not large, but has its niche. We actually built a new railway purely for goods, but not for the reason you might think. Turns out people get a little antsy when seeing lots of railway cars full of chlorine, flammable or explosive liquids, etc travelling right through the centre of large cities. So the new route, the Betuwelijn, going from Rotterdam straight to Germany, deliberately avoids all population centres. That's not to say it's profitable, and it's not uncontroversial either.

Rail's main advantage is that it's not limited to driver travel periods. So for cross-continent distances it can be quicker, and of course, it's administratively easier if you're shipping a few hundred cars to not have to split it into smaller consignments. And rail gets you all the way to China.
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Re: Sailing and railways - an odd combination

Post by Sinned »

We used to have lots of "banana boats" so called because the stern and prow were higher than the middle. They were used for bulk items - coal, wheat and so on. My parents used to own one. My father renovated it from the hull up to be a family boat. Unfortunately he developed cancer and could no longer look after it so it got sold. I don't know what the real class of them is called. I just know that my father said that there were only 3 or 4 left.
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