Another Mystery Picture

Discussion in 'Talk' started by JimG, 7 September 2020.

  1. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    This picture was posted on a thread on the Caledonian Association forum a few days ago.

    And yet another mystery photograph - Caledonian Railway Association Forum

    It was with photographs of the Carse of Gowrie (Perth and Kinross area) but no one can place it in that area, or anywhere in Scotland. The Stevens signal in the middle distance would hint at Scotland, but Stevens did supply companies outside Scotland. My own gut feel is not in Scotland since buildings in Scotland in the 19th century tended to be stone built.

    Last edited: 7 September 2020
  2. cbrailways

    cbrailways Western Thunderer

    Well, its certainly a Stevens lattice post signal. The level crossing gates appear to be of the North Eastern Railway, Northen Division style, so somewhere North of Newcastle and South of Berwick.....?
  3. John Duffy

    John Duffy Western Thunderer

    The suggestion that it may be north of Newcastle led me to contact a friend with some knowledge of the area. I got this reply;

    It’s an interesting wooden footbridge design, but it’s certainly not the classic North Eastern Railway profile.

    The brick building in the background doesn’t show any of the Benjamin Green architectural features of the Newcastle to Berwick line buildings, which were mostly stone – no sign of the big stone ball finials, or decorative hanging wooden finials on the wooden barge boards, and in that location I would expect it to be a railway building, probably the crossing keepers cottage. Interesting decorative surround and stepped capping to a finial at the doorway – looks like it might be an extension on that side.

    Doesn’t particularly look like any of the other Northumberland railway architecture either.

    Looks like a nice Stephens & Co “invisible lattice” lower quadrant signal, but that hardly pins down the location.

    We may not be much closer, but have perhaps eliminated an option.

  4. Nick Holliday

    Nick Holliday New Member

    Judging from the distinctive crossing gates and their supports, I would suggest it is Holywood in Dumfries, on the Glasgow and South Western Railway.
  5. eastsidepilot

    eastsidepilot Western Thunderer

  6. cbrailways

    cbrailways Western Thunderer

    I'm not too sure. If so then the signalbox would be where the building in the righthand corner is and the line beyond would be in a cutting. Also on the map no footbridge is shown.

    Have a look here: Holywood
  7. DougT

    DougT Western Thunderer

    I’m not convinced it’s Holywood either, but it’s a good shout. The main point for me in this photo which could aid location is topography. Behind the building by the crossing (which looks a lot like a shop to me) the land drops away as the building behind the shop (with the pan tile roof) is clearly at a lower level than the shop. The other factor is that this in ‘flat-lands’ (roughly speaking), as there are no distinct hills or features behind the signal until the very distant hills. I would guess that this places it in a wide river valley, so borders around Carlisle would seem to me to be the most likely if this is indeed a Scottish or near-Scottish location.

    If this is Holywood then given the orientation of the platform to the crossing the picture is taken in the afternoon and the photo is looking north; none of the maps I’ve checked so far have a building behind the one next to the crossing, and the building next to the crossing is shown as a signalbox on the maps and not a shop as in the picture. As said the maps also don’t show the footbridge.

    It’s quite a puzzler this one!
  8. Nick Holliday

    Nick Holliday New Member

    Looking at the OS maps at NLS, I believe we are actually looking south east from the station, and the line is heading away on an embankment, not a cutting. There is a large building to the south east of the crossing, which could be the shop, and the small buildings behind could well be at a lower level. The shadows at the eaves would suggest an early morning view. The signal box was on the north west side, off-picture to the left. There is a signal on the map just where it appears in the photo, and a small group of trees in the background are on the map as well.
    There are several photos on-line showing the gates at Holywood, with their distinctive framing and ornate posts. They could be a GSWR standard, can anyone confirm that? Given the rather crude nature of the footbridge, might it have been a temporary measure, and hence missed off the OS maps?
  9. cbrailways

    cbrailways Western Thunderer

    Nick. The point I was making above was that the signalbox at Holywood was (still is) on the opposite side of the level crossing to the station platforms so would be where the (shop) building is in the photograph.
    DougT likes this.
  10. Ressaldar

    Ressaldar Western Thunderer

    I thought that there may be a clue in the caption - “LC where a847 reduced” Where was the A847? The present A847 is on Islay, so that is a red herring but was there an earlier A847 road and if so, where was it?


    simond likes this.
  11. Bill Campbell

    Bill Campbell Western Thunderer

    Just a thought - could the 847 be the number of the level crossing or the footbridge?

  12. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    Or the signal?
  13. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Hi Jim

    The chappie on the Caley Forum 'hae 'is doots' :) about the photo being in the Carse of Gowrie, however, Errol may be a strong candidate.

    Like others I trawled the NBR and G&SWR then came back to look up information about the Carse of Gowrie area.

    This is a much later picture of Errol taken from a different angle (altering the perspective) and possibly 6o to 80 years later as the telegraph pole has gone. The significant features to me are the level crossing gates, the signal posts and the trees behind. Ideally we could do with a 1930's image of Errol station. A lot could have happened in the intervening years e.g. buildings razed. The footbridge may have also been a temporary structure for pedestrians to cross the railway rather than platforms and the signal box could be off to the right of the photo. It may also be the building in the photo is unique by being built in brick as is Errol signal box.

    As the Carse of Gowrie was a rich agricultural area there could have been a lot of freight traffic to justify a footbridge at the crossing. I have also noticed quite a few Scottish stations had a low rail height platform from the end of the main platform ramp to a level crossing.

    We also don't know whether the original photo is the entire picture or a cropped section. It looks like it may be a 10 x 8 plate.

    Given Errol is on the north side of the Tay the sun's angle would be from the south which appears to be the case in the original photo and as alluded to by the correspondents in the Caley Forum thread, pantile roofs are not uncommon in this area or on the east coast of Scotland.

    The extract of the OS map (surveyed 1898 published 1901) appears to show a lodge building in the correct location.

    Screenshot_2020-09-09 Explore georeferenced maps - Map images - National Library of Scotland.png
    richard carr likes this.
  14. daifly

    daifly Western Thunderer

    A copy of this could swing it either way!
  15. AndyB

    AndyB Western Thunderer

    I'm not convinced by Errol.
    General orientation looks OK, but all the maps from 1860, and the current satellite picture on Google maps, show a track / lane running to the immediate north of the railway. The brick building (shop?) shown in the photo would be where that lane is.
    Also, the brick building does not have the joggled profile that the maps show.

  16. DougT

    DougT Western Thunderer

    I think also that as Errol has a crossover between the platform end which isn’t in the picture and the distance between platform and crossing is too large rules it out?
  17. Martin Shaw

    Martin Shaw Western Thunderer

    I think that Scotland somewhere is probably right, the crossing gates , the hanging posts and supporting bracket for the stay rod, and the signal are all bog standard Stevens products, which apart from eliminating the Highland Rly leaves the other four. I have photographic evidence of exactly the same arrangement on NB and Caley crossing gates with the singular exception that the stay rod is attached at the bottom of the stile as the left gate rather than the top on the right gate as in the photo. Looking at the pole it is a very early style, only two pots per crossarm and alternately staggered inwards and outwards which suggests not a main line which begs the question of why a footbridge, there also don't appear to be any wicket gates so road traffic can't have been too busy. I took a picture of Errol signalbox a few years ago and it really doesn't fit unless there has been major road changes that doesn't seem likely. The building to the left behind the box has been there a few years as well.

    There is something about the footbridge that is odd. At the RH side behind all the timber there is what looks like a casting which possibly suggests that this has had to be supported, the timber sizes seem far too big for just a footbridge and I wonder whether they are holding up an iron bridge as well. If that is the case then mining subsidence is a possible cause, mining in Scotland was widespread so that doesn't really help location but wherever it is the topography isn't obviously hilly, nor am I convinced that the brick building is part of the railway, surely if it was there would be windows on the railway side. I really haven't a clue on this.
    richard carr and Dog Star like this.
  18. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    On the other hand we are assuming there is a station which might not be the case.

    It could just be a plain level crossing. This one is near Carse Grange between Errol and Invergowrie and is from the 1:1250 1969 survey. The 1892-1914 25'' map is made up of several sheets at a join so could be made up of various surveys making it a bit difficult to interpret.

    Screenshot_2020-09-10 Explore georeferenced maps - Map images - National Library of Scotland.png
    Dog Star likes this.
  19. AndyB

    AndyB Western Thunderer

    Dave, I looked there (and at various other places up and down the line as you probably have) - but I'm sure the photographer was stood on a platform. You can see the flagstones along the edge and the nearest running rail is obscured until just before the level crossing gate, as would occur by the platform sloping down at the end.
    As others have commented, the footbridge has several odd features. It seems to be a 'bitsa' - for example the top of the sloping stair section on the right does not align with the top of the main parapets. As the outer braces are symmetrical I'm guessing they are original, and the lower diagonal braces on the right are later additions.
    The uprights look to be well 'planted' in the ground on the right, so it doesn't look temporary to me. But timber footbridges were rare anywhere.
    Were there lines in Scotland that made more use of timber for its structures, e.g. station buildings and bridges? Might give a clue?

  20. DougT

    DougT Western Thunderer

    On the Cally Society thread someone has suggested that they can’t convince themselves that the track isn’t 5ft3... and the more I look at the picture the less certain I am that it’s 1435mm gauge track. Certainly when you look at the three kids standing on the crossing of the right hand line it looks like the gauge is a tad wider than ‘normal’.