Welwyn Garden City Sidings

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S&T
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Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by S&T » Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:31 am

Hi all

I'm looking for track layout diagrams of the Welwyn Garden City sidings area - around early 70's and present day if possible in order to compare. What, if any, links to the principle businesses were there as well (e.g. Private sidings). I'm aware of the Shredded Wheat factory (could smell it all day whilst at work with the S&T there in the 80s) and my Grand Father worked at the film studios (long since gone).

Any information would be much appreciated.

Best regards

S&T

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R. pike
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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by R. pike » Sat Nov 15, 2014 5:41 pm

Welwyn Garden City(1).JPG

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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by Hatfield Shed » Sat Nov 15, 2014 6:45 pm

The line which served Nabisco also stretched along the rear of the Polycell buildings (included the former film studio buildings, and all now completely demolished). The embedded track which served the Nabisco site is still accessible, but if you want to see it do not delay. Nabisco have ceased to operate, and the site is mostly in the ownership of Spenhill, Tesco's property wing. Applications for redevelopment were made, refused, and round 2 is awaited.

Most of the rail served industry was on sidings off the Hertford branch east of the ECML. Immediately north of Hunters Bridge were once Dawnay, steel stockholders and fabricators; long gone by the 1970s, all trace of the rail links gone by this date as the site was redeveloped for warehousing. As the branch curved away east there were parallel sidings on the North side once serving ICI's site totally overgrown (and lifted in the early 70s?) and after the overbridge over Bessemer road a siding serving the gas works and the long gone ironfoundry; much of the siding near the branch was still on site when redeveloped around 1970, concreted over and tarmaced for a site service road. After the Tewin road overbridge more sidings for Norton Grinding wheel company, I think last used in the mid 70s.

The branch was truncated quite soon beyond this point by the 1970s, but had previously served Lincoln Electric and a tar paper works, and then sand and gravel quarries further along the branch. Much of this section is now a path and cycletrack, and some evidence of where sidings ran into the pits can still be seen.

Present day, the yard is used for stabling track plant, and a very occasional freight train, but no freight handling at all. A rail served distribution centre built around 1980 burned down shortly after opening, was rebuilt and has seen little or no use.

S&T
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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by S&T » Sat Nov 15, 2014 9:08 pm

R Pike....Many thanks for the picture. Fabulous piece of history. Obviously this is from the period when the six lines from Hatfield were in operation and the branches to Hertford and Luton open. My knowledge of the 70s WGC lines is limited (hence my research) so excuse errors and assumptions. Am I right in thinking the signal box closed around 73 and I think the branch lines a bit before. How did the track diagram differ when the four line operation (branches closed) was in force at the end of the signal box time (73)? Do you have a picture?

Hatfield Shed....Thank you for taking the time to provide such a detailed description of the sidings. It is very useful. I recall the distribution centre being built and then burning down soon after. I recall NEXT being part of the set up around there. There was a large brick built building close to the entry of the sidings.....what was that used for? I also recall a substantial fabricated building (early portocabin) near the sidings entry...again, any ideas on who used this? Any pictures would be much appreciated. Does the old footbridge still run over the sidings area, or has that gone now?

Thank you both for taking the time to respond.

S&T

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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by cambois » Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:30 pm

Hatfield Shed

I am glad you remembered the Norton Grinding Wheel siding. (My 1980 Baker has it as Norton Abrasives) I was at Hull in the 1981-3 period and we used to forward (by Speedlink) raw material in air braked hoppers from the plant on the docks (I cannot think of the companies name), so the branch and siding must have survived until well into the 1980s. Rob has closure as 1981, but I have found other slight errors in Robb for freight lines closures.
The other receiving site was at Stafford on the rump of the old line to Wellington which is only now disappearing

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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by R. pike » Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:59 pm

I should have a box diagram from when the Luton line joined the down slow south of the station.. It's just finding it..

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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by Mickey » Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:43 pm

S&T wrote:Am I right in thinking the signal box closed around 73 and I think the branch lines a bit before.
Welwyn Garden City s/box closed in September 1976.

A NX panel was installed in the box in September 1973 when the area was converted to colour light operation i was actually at the box at the time doing the telegraph lads job on the book (between July 1972 & March 1974).

The Hertford branch was still in use as far as the Lincoln Electrics siding (near the onetime Attimore halt) along with the Norton's sidings (3 roads) and closed in late 1981 the last trip was made by a class 31 hauling several wagons back to WGC Up yard in November 1981.

The current WGC Up sidings (from memory consisting of only 4 roads?) has been reduced in siding roads because when i was at the box in the early 1970s there was about 6-8 roads in the Up yard with maybe an extra 2 roads being located between a concrete roadway next to the Up yard, i also believe that there was either concrete or wooden sleeper built coal bunkers situated along side the concrete roadway as well?.

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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by Hatfield Shed » Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:39 pm

S&T wrote:... Does the old footbridge still run over the sidings area, or has that gone now?...
It certainly does, though heavy corrosion is evident in the bridge span steelwork. (It's one of the bones of contention in respect of any redevelopment as it constitutes the foot and bike passenger access to the station from the eastern side of the town. The developer gave the impression that they would rather ignore that.) The street landing at the East side is the point at which you have what access is available to the former Nabisco sidings.

S&T
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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by S&T » Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:59 pm

[quote="Hatfield Shed] It certainly does, though heavy corrosion is evident in the bridge span steelwork.[/quote]

I can imagine so. When I worked there the original ticket office /booking hall was in use, a lovely traditional station. The ground works for the new shopping centre were being dug. The footbridge was looking tired then. If I recall correctly, there were plans to 'upgrade' the section to the platforms....but the remainder was to be left as is.

Edit - not sure I got the 'quote' function right there....sorry

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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by S&T » Sun Nov 16, 2014 8:05 pm

The current WGC Up sidings (from memory consisting of only 4 roads?) has been reduced in siding roads because when i was at the box in the early 1970s there was about 6-8 roads in the Up yard with maybe an extra 2 roads being located between a concrete roadway next to the Up yard, i also believe that there was either concrete or wooden sleeper built coal bunkers situated along side the concrete roadway as well?.
Thanks Micky. Useful information. Helps me build a picture of the 70s vs present picture. Much appreciated.

S&T

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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by Mickey » Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:40 pm

Onetime between about September 1974 through to September 1975 I use to walk through the Up yard at WGC virtually everyday and night when we were living in the old houses just at the back of the Welwyn flyover (those old houses were demolished in the early 1980s and subsequently re-built as new houses which are still there today) when i was doing a secondman's job on the loco at Kings Cross.

There use to be a small path at the 'top end' of the Up yard (not to far from where the flyover crosses back onto the Up side today) that lead from a set of hand points up the embankment and over the boundary wire fence that i use to use, nobody else had any cause to use that path except me, it probably vanished nearly 40 years ago.

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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by macduff » Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:20 pm

"S&T" i might be able to help you out a bit more. I started on the railway in Jan 1978 at WGC, it wasn't long before being passed out for shunting duties in the up yard. the layout in 1978 of the yard was, the main yard had 7 roads numbered from the running line 1-7. there was also a shed road with a covered bay where we would stable the 08 shunter, further over towards the industrial estate were two roads that were used for loading building materials for Southend station rebuild these were know as the coal roads by the old shunters. there was also an end dock road for vechicle loading.These lines were accessed at the north end by a ground frame which also gave access to Nabisco's,polycell and roche.
The old GN branch to Hertford still had regular traffic to Norton abrasives and Lincoln electric, Norton traffic came from the docks in vacuum braked HTV's and were covered with wagon sheets which would pond quiet alot, so i was also careful if it had been raining when moving the wagons.
Traffic for Lincolns at this time was low with only a couple of train loads a year.
A trail was made with longer wheel based air brake speed link wagons for Nortons,but due to the curvature at the ICI paint site the wagons were close to buffer locking and being air braked we had to use a 31 from Hitchin as our 08 was vacum only, Nortons traffic went about 1981, i think i have some old pics of the up yard in the late 70's, i will have a good look and post them.
You say that you were there in the early 80's, well i will most probably know you.

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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by Mickey » Fri Nov 28, 2014 8:48 am

An intersting post macduff, i worked at WGC in the s/box between July 1972-Mar 1974 and what you described was pretty much how it was during the years i was there, was the 2 shunter's Sid & Fred still there in 1978?. Fred was a west indian bloke who lived at Finsbury Park and both him and Sid had been shunter's at WGC since the 1960s and in Sid's case he may have been there during the 1950s?.

Yes the curve coming off the main line on the Hertford branch opposite the ICI buildings was fairly tight with 'check rail' running for a fair distance around it ending about the area of the Bessamer road bridge (which is still there to this day).

When i was working at WGC s/box for a couple of years between 1972-74 i use to walk the Hertford branch from Lincoln Electrics siding passed Norton's sidings to WGC station and back again most days of the weeks cos we use to live over the eastside of the town back then.

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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by macduff » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:32 am

Micky, there were 4 shunters in the emu sidings, Fred Spooner, Terry Shadbolt, Fred Josiah and Sid walkling they looked after the down sidings and the Leading railman on the platform would look after the up yard. Sid had been there a long time when i arrived and retired in the early 80's as did Fred Josiah who always a had a pipe going in his mouth and the sporting life spread all over the mess room table, he would say to me at about 10.30hrs that he was going to see a man about a dog(the bookmakers).Fred Spooner left the railway in the 80's and Terry Shadbolt retired a 4 years ago.
I got to know very well the Displaced Signalman that were given leading railman jobs on the stations after the box closures, which you have talked about before in other posts,Some real characters there.
here are some really old pics back in 1979, it was a foggy day and not a good camera.
The hst set in the up back platform No 4 in these days was the driver training trip that ran mon-fr between wgc and Doncaster.
08555 was our regular pilot.
The wagons with the metal boxes on is what the powder for polycell arrived in.
Attachments
6.jpg
5.jpg
4.jpg

Mickey
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Re: Welwyn Garden City Sidings

Post by Mickey » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:58 am

macduff wrote:Micky, there were 4 shunters in the emu sidings, Fred Spooner, Terry Shadbolt, Fred Josiah and Sid

Fred Spooner was an ex-soldier who had came out of the british army sometime around 1972 or 73?, i remember him starting as a railman at WGC station in 1973. Terry Shadbolt i think i vaguely remember him if it's the same fella that i'm thinking of he also started at WGC station about the sametime as Fred Spooner in 1973 then after about a year he then went to Brookmans Park station as a railman in 1974 for a few years before returning to WGC later in the 1970s?. Fred Josiah is the Fred fella that i mentioned before a west indian bloke who has you mention was usually seen smoking a pipe and finally Sid, Sid lived at Cole Green out along the Hertford road and use to ride a push bike to & from WGC station daily between Monday-Friday, as previously mentioned i believe Sid had been a shunter at WGC since the 1950s?. Several other fella's at the station during the early/mid 1970s were Charlie Heritage a Chargeman, Ivor also a Chargeman (he was working at Moorgate around 1976/77 i spoke to him there) another fella called Dave a railman although Dave may have also been an acting Chargeman and a Irish fella called Denis he was a railman but he may also have acted as a Chargeman sometimes as well?.
macduff wrote:I got to know very well the Displaced Signalman that were given leading railman jobs on the stations after the box closures, which you have talked about before in other posts,Some real characters there.
I don't know who the 3rd regular signalman at WGC box was when the box closed in September 1976 because i left the box in March 1974 but the 2 regular signalmen who were at the box when i was there when the box closed and who were both displaced were Alan 'pedler' Palmer & Harry Fitzgerald.

Alan 'pedler' Palmer breifly worked at WGC station after the box closed and was usually to be found 'punching tickets' on the long footbridge but i had the feeling he wasn't that keen on doing that job and after about 3 weeks of 'punching tickets' Alan went back in the signalling grade this time at Kings Cross PSB for the rest of his time on the railway. As it happened by pure chance i happen to speak to Alan one Saturday night when i was a signalman at Western Junction s/box on the North London line and i was taking a 'block' with Kings Cross PSB on the Cannonbury lines around towards Finsbury Park and Alan happened to be the signalman on the other end of the telephone line and he was telling me that he was on the verge of retiring from Kings Cross PSB this was back in 1987. The other regular signalman at WGC Harry Fitzgerald he went as a railman on the platform at Hatfield after the box closed for the rest of the 1970s and on into the 1980s where i believe he died sometime during the mid/late 1980s, his son has been on the forum in the past asking if anyone on the forum knew Harry?.

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