Seasonal area

November 2009

Current Seasonal Area is here

It's November again. Once upon a time it was the ninth month of the year (hence the name - literally ninth month - someone was feeling original when they named what are now months 9-12 but were then 7-10); the UK made it the eleventh in 1751 (it had already been the eleventh month on the continent for some years). It has something of a reputation, matched only by February, for being cold, damp, dark and dreary; however, November compounds matters by lasting two days longer than February.

The Order of the Bed photography team is back in Cornwall for a bit again and so we have a picture of a suburban road in Falmouth passing under the Cornwall Railway near the latter's Penmere Platform, the entrance to which is in the foreground. A car is running into the shot from the left, with its tail-lights glowing in the darkness. The railway overhead is empty (the last train out of Falmouth to Truro, Capital of Cornwall, ran through 5 minutes later after the camera batteries had gone flat).

Linking Plymouth with Falmouth via Truro, the Cornwall Railway was the final extension of the Great Western Railway into the furthest extremities of England. In common with many nominally independent companies adding bits on to the end of the Great Western Railway (which actually never bothered to extend itself west of Bristol), it was duly given a list of irritating liabilities that it had to take on if it wanted to be part of the network (the most notable of which was a non-standard track gauge) and left to get on with life. It consequently narrowly avoided going to the wall in the 1860s financial crash but was forced to delay its extension from Truro to Falmouth. By the time the money for the extension was obtained, the West Cornwall Railway had decided to push the Great Western even further west to Penzance and the Truro to Falmouth line was doomed to a life as a minor branch line - albeit one with the straight-on route at the junction. The proposed second track was never actually laid and for many years it was worked as a siding. The launch of a new passing loop at Penryn, the next station up the line, in May 2009 means that the route does at least now possess some signals again. It is, however, unlikely to ever obtain its second running line.

The road - called Penmere Hill - was once one of the many minor lanes in the area when the railway opened. After many centuries of climbing the hill between green fields to meet Tregenver Road and look down on Falmouth, it was widened as part of the 1920s expansion of Falmouth which saw the opening of Penmere Platform and the covering of the green fields in new housing. Housing, halt and highway have now all settled into the landscape; however, railways pay little attention to anything which geologists deem to have happened recently and the original Cornwall Railway bridge survives - 14foot 6inches high and somewhat narrower than the road.


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