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Lundy Tramways (Part 1). Continuing the island theme established by Photo Galleries 92, 93, 94 and 95 which showcase the Isle of Man's former railways, we present a selection of photographs of the North Light Tramway on Lundy, a rocky outcrop which stands in the Bristol Channel about 10 miles north of the Devon coast. The island is about 3½ miles from north to south, and ½ mile across, with a resident population of ca. 27. While we are looking at offshore trackbeds, we have slipped in a couple of pictures of Yarmouth station on the Isle of Wight, whose renewal and extension is now complete (July 2015).
Above: The main subject here is Lundy's northern lighthouse, but what's that in the foreground? A pair rails from the tramway which we believe was used to transport building materials to the site when the lighthouse was being constructed in the late 1890s. The vegetation is encroaching but the permanent way is still there, together with a rough-and-ready buffer stop in front of the green-capped pillar on the right. 24th May 2015. (Jeff Vinter)
 

Left: This view looking south east along the tramway shows the rusty rails to good effect, while revealing how a combination of moss and grass are gradually absorbing the track. The pink flowers are thrift or 'sea pinks', which thrive on the north and west coasts of Lundy and flower in late spring. 24th May 2015. (Jeff Vinter)

 
Right: At first glance, this photograph is a little confusing, but it was taken standing directly above the track, looking down on to one of the few metal sleepers which remains visible. The upper rail can be seen clearly, but the lower one has disappeared largely beneath a bed of moss. 24th May 2015. (Jeff Vinter)

 
Above: The tramway runs along a ledge which can be seen clearly here. What looks like a low fence is actually a series of supports carrying the electricity cable which was installed in 1971 to supply power to the lighthouse. Also of note is the substantial stone-faced embankment (in shadow) which can be seen just right of centre. 24th May 2015. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: At the seaward (south east) end of the line, the tramway turns left and stops at the head of a steep incline. There is no sign now of any rails on the incline, so how anything reached this spot is debatable. One Internet site say that the tramway was used to transport supplies to the lighthouse keepers: 'Ships would land at the platform down below and, while people would climb the steps, goods were hauled up the crack between the rocks then loaded onto (sic) carts to be pulled along the tramway'. We accept that the tramway was used to deliver supplies, but that does not seem a valid reason for building it given the remoteness and difficulty of the location, and the consequent high construction cost. 24th May 2015. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: The head of the incline referred to in the caption above. Note that the curve here was achieved by laying straight rails at an obtuse angle, a practice which must have made it quite difficult to get wagons to negotiate the turn. 24th May 2015. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: The head of the incline reveals both a deep gouge where a metal rope must have gone down, and also the abrupt end of the rails. It is difficult to determine what exactly the arrangements here were since there are few published sources, and those on the Internet are very brief. To compound the problem, the photographer has no head for heights, and the strong winds during this visit made peering over the top for a photograph down the grade a very unattractive proposition! 24th May 2015. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: Behind where the photographer was standing in the photograph above, these large metal links are fixed into the rock face. There can be little doubt that they were instrumental in hauling up materials from sea level, but quite what the system was, and how it worked, are unclear. It does not help that Lundy had other tramways on the eastern side of the island, which have attracted rather more interest and attention from historians and industrial archaeologists. As a result, the North Light Tramway remains little known and with only a sketchy history. 24th May 2015. (Jeff Vinter)
 

Above: It is a credit to the Ordnance Survey just how much detail they cram into their maps, although one needs youthful eyes to see it all on the printed product. The small detail highlighted here does not stand out on Explorer Map 139 (Bideford, Ilfracombe & Barnstaple), although it is there, but with the new online product – 'OSMaps' – one can zoom in and get around any shortcomings of ageing eyes. Here, quite clearly, is the OS symbol for a 'narrow gauge railway or light rapid transit system (LRTS)', although one can discount the possibility of a rapid transit rail system on Lundy where sheep, goats, horses and cattle outnumber the human residents by maybe 20 to 1. (From OSMaps, annotated by Jeff Vinter)

 

Above: Yarmouth station on the Isle of Wight is now a popular café and bistro on the railway path from Thorley Bridge to Freshwater. It is good to see the Southern Railway's green and cream livery in evidence, but it should be noted that the canopy and signal box are only one year old, and the signal box is actually a hide for 'twitchers'. The station has been doubled in size, with only the section up to the first gable being original. The West Yar River flows just out of sight on the right, passing under the bridge whose metal parapet can be seen in the right foreground. 1st July 2015. (Brian Loughlin)

 
Above: What a difference a year makes! This is Yarmouth station in early spring 2014, after its closure as the local youth centre and before the transformation depicted above. It is interesting that the weather in March was so much brighter than in July, proof – were it needed – that summer walkers do not necessarily get the best light, or the best photographs. 5th March 2014. (Brian Loughlin)