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  PHOTO GALLERY GROUP 33
 
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Above: Merley Tunnel is situated on the former LSWR line from Broadstone to Wimborne, Ringwood and Brockenhurst. It is little more than 100 yds long and is really just an extended bridge which supports a four way road junction above, where the A341 is joined by a couple of local lanes. The construction is unusual and consists of a series of semi-circular ribs, with the wall between each pair of ribs being of concave construction. Another unusual feature is the presence of a series of metal inserts in the brickwork, possibly installed to provide a little more headroom for passing rail vehicles. One of these can be seen on the right hand side of the facing portal, just beneath the ivy. 22 August 2008. (Jeff Vinter)

 
Hover over image for autumn view
Above: Lady Wimborne Bridge on the southern outskirts of Wimborne Minster is one of the most elaborate railway bridges anywhere in the United Kingdom, and is now cared for by local volunteers. The path below used to be the carriageway to Canford House, once the home of Lord and Lady Wimborne but now used by Canford School. Just to the right of the bridge was Wimborne Junction, where the line from Broadstone was joined by a branch from Corfe Mullen on the Somerset & Dorset Railway. This photograph could be better, but deep tree cover in the area created a very high level of contrast. Fortunately, the conditions were more favourable when members of the Southern Area visited in November – just hover the mouse over the picture to see the autumn view. 22 August 2008 and 15 November 2008. (Jeff Vinter and Graham Lambert)
 
Above: Just beyond Par station on the still open branch line to Newquay, the Par Tramway, the Par Canal and the modern railway (all seen here from left to right) run side by side. The canal was opened first but was rapidly succeeded by the tramway, both being the brainchild of local entrepreneur J.T. Treffry (who was also responsible for the imposing Treffry's Viaduct which crosses the Newquay branch just south of Luxulyan). The tramway was replaced in 1874 by the Cornwall Minerals Railway, which now forms part of the modern branch line. The course of the tramway at this point is now a public footpath. September 2005. (Richard Lewis)
 
Left: An unusual feature of the Par Tramway is that sections of this 2 ft. gauge line were never lifted and still remain in place, even though last used in 1874. The length seen here is just outside Par. Note that flat-bottomed rail was used in the construction. September 2005. (Richard Lewis)
 
Above: The GWR viaduct over the St. Austell River at grid reference SX 009529, viewed from a public footpath that leads down to the new 'rail trail' that now runs from near Trethowell southwards into St. Austell town centre. If you look beneath the arches, you can see several piers from the original Brunel-designed viaduct which, like most on the Cornwall Railway, was finished with a timber superstructure in order to reduce construction costs. Rather than supporting the railway on a conventional curved arch, these timber viaducts used a fan structure, like that favoured by railway engineers facing similar problems in the USA. April 2008. (Richard Lewis)
 
Above: St. Enodoc's Church, near Rock, with Daymer Bay visible in the distance. Apart from the fact that the immensely popular Camel Trail re-uses the old LSWR trackbed to nearby Padstow, visitors may wonder what a picture of this remote Cornish church is doing on our website; but it is the final resting place of Sir John Betjeman, the former Poet Laureate, who helped to stir the nation's interest in things Victorian at a time when much from that age (including the nation's railway system) was at grave risk. September 2005. (Richard Lewis)
 

Left: A study of John Betjeman's final resting place in the graveyard of St. Enodoc's Church. The simple, modest tombstone gives only his dates, 1906 to 1981. Betjeman remains one of the nation's favourite poets, and some of his utterances are acquiring almost a prophetic ring as the implications of finite oil supplies slowly sink in. Consider this example from 'Dilton March Halt', published in 1974 in A Nip in the Air, his final collection of poems:

'And when all the horrible roads are finally done for,
    And there's no more petrol left in the world to burn,
Here to the Halt from Salisbury and from Bristol
    Steam trains will return.'

September 2005. (Richard Lewis)

 
Right: Sometimes, you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. This was the view over Whitby Harbour at the end of a cold winter's day, when one might have expected the view to have been a grey shadow of its summertime self; but, then again, in a country with weather as unpredictable as ours, it seems that anything can happen at almost any time of the year. You can see another one of Richard's fine sunset studies at the start of Photo Gallery 9. Some of these pictures are just too good not to use, even if their connection with old railways is a bit tenuous. Mind you, there are now steam trains from Whitby to Pickering – will that do for a link? February 2006. (Richard Lewis)