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Above: This three-span viaduct over Little Petherick Creek used to take the Padstow branch of the LSWR into the company's westernmost terminus, but is now used by the popular Camel Trail. 25th March 2018. (Neil Hebborn)
Response to Coronavirus

Update as at 23rd April 2020

On 22nd April, Professor Chris Whitty (the government’s Chief Medical Adviser) warned that social distancing measures may have to remain in place at least until the end of this year; click this link for the report in The Independent.

In view of Professor Whitty’s advice to government, it is very unlikely that the club will be able to resume its programme of walks any time soon, so members must be prepared for the possibility of a long hiatus. The pandemic will end when an effective vaccine is available, but – even though Oxford University started testing its vaccine today (23rd April) on volunteers – Oxford scientists have warned that it could take up to 18 months to get the vaccine into general use due to statutory trialling requirements, designed to guarantee the complete safety of any new drug or medical procedure. The committee of Railway Ramblers takes the view that members' health and safety must come first.

We have plenty of good people in the club, and committee members have no doubt that we can produce a succession of interesting magazines during this period. One idea, already mooted, is to run a series of ‘Great railway walks for when Covid-19 is over’, but there will be other and better ideas. Take care and stay safe, everyone. This will pass – eventually.

Walks Programme Suspended until Further Notice

On 16th March, the government introduced radical changes to strengthen its coronavirus containment policy; see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51917562 for details. That part of the advice which affects Railway Ramblers was as follows:
1. People should avoid ‘gatherings’
2. People should avoid non-essential travel
3. People over the age of 70 and those usually advised to have the flu vaccine are most at risk

In view of the above, the Committee has taken the difficult decision to suspend the club's national programme of walks until further notice. We apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment that this will cause, but in an extreme situation like this the health and safety of our members must come first.

This announcement will be circulated to all members as soon as possible, and updates will be published here, as necessary.

AGM Postponed to 3rd October 2020

The Committee has also voted to postpone the AGM, scheduled for Saturday 16th May, to Saturday 3rd October, when no other club events have been arranged (because that was the date for the intended Committee meeting). However, the 3rd October date is conditional upon government advice at the time, and assumes that the coronovirus outbreak will have peaked by then.

Given that much of the AGM is devoted to reporting on club activities during the previous year, we hope to publish the AGM papers on this website by mid May, and to include a summary of that material in the summer magazine, which will be published in June.

You may wish to bookmark this page so that you can check for developments. Stay safe.

Succinct Advice on Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Some of the advice which has been published is very bulky, so click here for a poster which puts across all the essentials really succinctly in a single page. If you know the source of this poster, please let us know via our Contact page so that we can add a proper acknowledgement.

Did You Know?
A year's membership of Railway Ramblers costs only 10, and runs for a full year from your joining date. Membership provides four magazines a year, plus access to our walks and online gazetteer. For further details, just click the link here.
Channel 5 Series on Abandoned Railways Resumes

The broadcasting of Rob Bell's new TV series on Channel 5 resumes where it left off at 20:00 on Friday, 3rd April, i.e. with episode 3 of 6. Tony Robinson's 'Around the World by Train', which was to have been shown at that time, now follows at 21:00, replacing Gregg Wallace's new series . These late changes will be found in electronic programme guides and probably in newspapers, but not in listing magazines.

Episodes 1 and 2 were broadcast on Sundays 9th and 16th February respectively, but then suspended because they did not attract the number of viewers expected. (Andy McLintock and Chris Parker)

'All Systems Go' for Opening of Bennerley Viaduct

Bennerley Viaduct straddles the Erewash Valley, and the county boundary between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. After decades of being the 'cinderella' listed viaduct that everyone admired but no one could afford to restore, let alone open for public access, the charity Railway Paths Ltd, with support from The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct, has achieved the seemingly impossible and put together a package which will do both. Click here for recent pictures, and here for a brief summary of this exciting news. Further updates on this project will be found throughout our 2019 and 2020 News page; just search for 'Bennerley'.

What's New

Latest News Stories. Britain's old railways have never been more in the news than they are today. Click here and here for the latest stories, or here for details of the various campaigns which we are supporting.

Latest Photo Galleries. There are new galleries numbered 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135 and 136. Galleries 130 to 134 showcase Chris Jennings' in-depth 2016 photographic survey of Glasgow's lost suburban railways, while 135 features a walk over the lesser-known, off-moor section of the Haytor Granite Tramway in Devon. Gallery 136 includes some stunning photographs from Gorseddau Tramway and Quarry in North Wales. Next up will be a selection of Chris's excellent photographs of various disused lines in South Wales.

Railway Ramblers on Facebook. It is a few years now since member Nigel Nicholds brought us into the realm of social media by setting up our own Facebook page, which you can access here.

The General Data Protection Regulation, 2018. The club has responded to this new piece of legislation by updating its data protection policy and procedures, and its new 'Privacy Policy' can be viewed by following the link here.

Quick Links

You can navigate around our website using the menu at the top left of this page, but the following links may be helpful:

  • Latest News: Read what's been going on in 2020 and 2019. The current year's news page is updated whenever a new story comes in, which is usually at least once a week.
  • New Photo Galleries: The last additions were galleries 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135 and 136, and feature the lost suburban railways of Glasgow (of which there are rather a lot) plus a couple of remote but scenic tramways on the UK's 'Celtic fringes'.
  • The AGM: Our AGM page now gives access to the minutes of our 2019 AGM. The 2020 AGM will be held in Winchester on Saturday 16th May; see the spring magazine (no. 165) for details.
  • Bake Your Cake and Eat It: We still recommend the delights of Richard's Mum's Fruit Cake, a delicious rambler-reviving recipe. (Try it and see.)
  • Guided Busways: This expensive and controversial idea is still circulating in planning circles, so all credit to the local authorities in Northern Ireland for saying 'No' to plans to concrete over the popular and well-used Belfast to Comber cycle trail. However, in January 2015, developers in Surrey spoke at a public meeting in Cranleigh in favour of converting the equally popular Downs Link bridleway between Cranleigh and Guildford into a guided busway (see here). Nothing more has been heard of this proposal, which may be a good sign because guided busways have been far from an unqualified success; click here to read Christian Wolmar's assessment of the problematic scheme between Cambridge and St. Ives.
  • Message Board. Our online message board can be accessed by clicking the link here. Any club member can post a message by entering the username and password published in the quarterly magazine (see under 'Endnotes' in the back pages). Because the message board is now little used, we have stopped paying for it; the only difference you will notice is a few adverts, which should be tailored to your interests.
New Railway Paths and the Online Gazetteer

The online gazetteer is correct to 31st October 2016, although corrections have been made to rectify minor errors reported in 2017 and 2018. Changes to the UK's railway path network after that date will be found on the 2016-2019 news pages. If and when a further edition of Vinter's Railway Gazetteer is published (see Publications page), those pages will supply all the updates required to both versions, i.e. online and printed. Please note that The History Press publishes the book version, so they will have the final say as to whether or not a new edition appears. The 2017 edition sold well, but what will make a new edition an attractive proposition is a resumption of trail-building, which sadly is at a low level due to a decade of government austerity.

Engineering Standards for Railway Paths
Are You an Engineer? Club members come from all walks of life and work in all sorts of spheres – including engineering. If you are an engineer and your work involves designing cycling facilities, this link to the Sustrans Design manual could be very helpful. The guidance for off-road trails, such as our favoured railway paths, starts on page 22, but the whole gamut of of cycling provision is covered here. Members who have been concerned recently about the inconsiderate behaviour of a minority of cyclists will be pleased to see that Sustrans emphasises that these trails are for all users. (Economically, it makes no sense to do anything else.) Any cyclist who tells you differently is talking nonsense; the message is 'Share with care'.
Thank You
This website now runs to over 300 pages, including the linked PDF documents, and we continue to receive comments about its informativeness and value. We accept that we are not offering an example of the latest web technology, but our site was created donkeys' years ago when web technologies were nowhere near as sophisticated as they are now. A resource of this size, packed with this much detail, is never the work of a single individual, and we remain indebted to all those contributors who, either regularly or occasionally, keep us informed of developments on old railways in their 'patches'. So long as we have information feeds like these, we can continue to keep up the good work. Thank you all; your efforts are greatly appreciated. (Jeff Vinter, Webmaster)
 
Above: A trio of photographs from Cornwall's Mineral Tramways Project, whose main trail runs from Devoran (near Truro) to Portreath. The southern part of this route is based on the Redruth & Chacewater Railway, but later the Portreath Tramroad is used to reach the north coast. Top Left: When you drive west along the A30 through the village of Scorrier, near Redruth, there's no mistaking the location of the Portreath Tramroad thanks to this sign, situated on the north side of the road at grid reference SW 722446. Right and Bottom Left: The trackbed of the Redruth & Chacewater Railway passes beneath the Truro-Falmouth branch, just after it has left the GWR main line west of Truro station. The masonry stumps in front of Carnon Viaduct are the piers from Brunel's original viaduct, which was built with a timber superstructure. The Falmouth branch was almost the last GWR line to have its timber viaducts replaced, this work taking place during the 1930s. 6th June 2011. (Jeff Vinter)