As part of my research prior to creating a model of the EHLR/SMJ junction at Burton Dassett, I’ve just had the privilege of looking through the original notes and letters produced by Eric Tonks whilst writing his 1948 book “The Edge Hill Light Railway, The story of an unfortunate line”. In both the original book and in subsequent references in other publications, Eric refers to a turntable being located in the sidings at Burton Dassett. However, although a turntable appears on the 1919 signalling plans approved by the Board of Trade (a copy of which was kindly passed to me by Nick Meredith after one of his visits to the National Archives) many of the items included on those plans were never put into action (presumably due to lack of funds). Apart from Eric referring to the turntable, I have not yet found any concrete evidence that it was ever completed, and if it was, what format it took. What is certain is that there was no way for either of the two Terriers that worked the EHLR to turn around other than to travel 13 miles to Stratford to do so, so a turntable makes absolute sense. Does anyone have any further information that might help me with this?
I don't have any doubt that the turntable was actually provided. I have a few references to it having been removed around 1940-42 when the Marlborough Farm site was being developed and new sidings etc provided- one account states that it was taken away in the belief that it belonged to the LMS, when it was in fact EHLR property - don't know how true that was.
I am sure that somewhere I have seen a photograph of it - unless my memory is playing tricks on me - but so far I haven't located it. There is a small distant shot in Arthur Jordan's book - well at least it shows the line that led to it.
As for its intended use, I wonder if it was more likely intended for turning visiting tender locos that took away the iron ore trains? Of course the level of traffic never required that.
I'm not sure if the Terriers were ever turned? Will need to check the various photos at Edge Hill and Stratford shed to see if they were always facing the same direction - of course they might have turned at both EH and Stratford which would confuse things anyway!
Will let you know if I find the photo.
Its great to hear that you can confirm it existed and have references to its removal. Any chance of me seeing them?
The image and reference in Jordan's book is partly why I had doubts. The turntable on all the drawings is located at the end of one of the sidings on the Malborough Camp side of the Warwick Road, and although the West pointing spur at the foot of the line was originally intended to provide a second link to the SMJ, I've no record of it ever having been completed. So either Jordan's assertion that the spur led to the turntable is incorrect, or it was built in a different location to the original drawings.
Either way, I'd like to make sure that the turntable gets located in the correct place on the model, so I'll keep my fingers crossed that you find the photo you refer to, and any other images, drawings or references would be most welcome.
Having checked my notes my main references appear to be from Eric Tonks, in his two books - the original Ironstone Railways & Tramways of the Midlands and the later series on the Quarries - much the same info in both, but I do think that as he was a 'local' to the Burton Dassett area he is probably correct in his statements about the turntable. I do have other manuscript notes re: the existence and removal of the turntable but these were taken from odd magazines and journals which I unfortunately have not referenced and they will need a bit of searching out.
As for the position of the turntable, having looked again at things I now realise that Arthur Jordan's caption IS incorrect - that spur does not lead to the turntable. It was, as you suggest, located at the far end of the sidings alongside the main line, at a point not far from milepost 26 and roughly opposite the 1942 signalbox that controlled the depot access and sidings. This is clearly shown on plans In two publications - R A Cooke's 'Track layouts of the GWR Vol 29 SMJR', and Mike Christensen's 'Signalling of the SMJ' published back in the 1970s.
I have also had no luck so far in finding the photo that I mentioned although I am certain that it exists. At first I thought that it was probably in an article in 'Railway Magazine' or the 'Railway Observer' or suchlike, but having checked these I still haven't found it. However, after some more thought I now feel that I might have seen it at TNA Kew. I have notes made from a visit a few years ago to look at SMJ material, where I have noted 'EHLR photos all 1935' - I didn't copy them at the time but they may well provide the answer. They are in file ref ZSPC11/328 which is a miscellany of material in the WehLyn collection - ephemera, photos magazine extracts and so on. There are other references from the same collection covering the SMJ so the photo might just in those too. I've no plans to go to Kew in the near future but when I've finished Vol 2 of my book I'll have a look.
This doesn't totally answer your query but might help a bit more!
Many thanks for such a comprehensive response. I've got copies of both publications you refer to and have just sat and looked at them again, alongside other diagrams of Burton Dassett.
Although Tonks refers to the turntable, he doesn’t show it on the diagrams in his original book on EHLR. However, having just checked the ‘Oxfordshire Field’ edition of his ironstone quarry series, I’ve found the passage which refers to the LMS removing the weighbridge and turntable in the mistaken belief that it belonged to them. This reference would add further credence to the turntable being located exactly as it appears in both R A Cooke's & Mike Christensen's publications, which also match the diagram submitted to the board of trade in 1919 that Nick Meredith unearthed.
Thanks for the Kew reference, I’ll try to get down at some point and see if I can unearth anything that will provide even more detail.
In the meanwhile, good luck with finishing your second edition. It’s eagerly awaited by all of us with an interest in the SMJ.