Swanage Railway get a new turntable

New Turntable

New Turntable


A rare 26-ton locomotive turntable, set for demolition as part of the building of a new £15.9 billion railway line across London, has been saved and donated to the Swanage Railway – for a new working life on the award-winning relaid Purbeck Line.

The large 70-foot electrically operated steel turntable will mean that steam locomotives, hauling charter trains to Swanage, can be turned on the Swanage Railway instead of running to Eastleigh in Hampshire for turning before returning to Swanage ahead of the charter train’s homeward journey.

The road transporter carrying the main 70-foot steel girders of the dismantled turntable will be travelling from Old Oak Common to Norden on Wednesday, 3 November 2010 via the A40 Western Avenue, M40, M25, M3, M27 and the A31 to the A351 – leaving London after 10am and arriving after 2pm.

Donated by Network Rail, the turntable was installed during 1953 – the year of the Queen’s Coronation – and built by Cowans, Sheldon & Company of Carlisle in Cumbria. It has a manual cranking system and electric motor drive.

It was used for over 55 years to turn locomotives and coaches at Old Oak Common depot in West London.  The depot was opened originally by the Great Western Railway, on 17 March 1906, to service locomotives and coaches from the nearby Paddington station.

Now, the depot buildings are being demolished to make way for part of the 118 kilometre Crossrail project across London which is building a railway – 42 kilometres of it in tunnels beneath the Capital – from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

The careful dismantling and transportation of the turntable from London down to Dorset is being undertaken for the Swanage Railway by specialist machinery movers Beck & Pollitzer based in Dartford, Kent.

Swanage Railway Company chairman Peter Sills said: “This is the ultimate in recycling and we are very grateful to Network Rail for donating such an important and rare turntable to the Swanage Railway.

“The turntable will be very useful indeed in improving the operation and efficiency of the Swanage Railway – both for ourselves and for visiting charter trains from the national railway system. There are not many 70-foot turntables left in the country so this was a very rare opportunity.

“We are also very grateful for the assistance of specialist machinery movers Beck & Pollitzer which is dismantling and moving the large turntable on behalf of the Swanage Railway,” explained Mr Sills who lives in Wareham.

Network Rail’s Head of Community Rail, Jerry Swift, said: “As we continue to build a bigger and better railway, there are times when new infrastructure takes the place of older elements. After serving the railway well for many years, we are donating the Old Oak Common turntable to the Swanage Railway where it can continue to play a valuable role for the future and, in the process, make way for a new Crossrail depot.

“The donation of the turntable is in line with Network Rail’s sustainability policy where we look for opportunities to re-use or recycle assets as appropriate when they are no longer required,” explained Mr Swift.

Smaller portions of the dismantled turntable are due to arrive by road at the Swanage Railway’s Norden station, on the A351 just north of Corfe Castle, on the morning of Tuesday, 2 November 2010.

Marsh Plant is supplying road cranes, from their Cabot Lane depot in Creekmoor, Poole, to unload large sections of the metal turntable from specialist road transporters to a rake of Swanage Railway wagons at Norden.

Acquired from London Transport at Neasden and installed during the early 1980s, the hand-powered 50-foot turntable at Swanage station will be retained for turning smaller locomotives. Dating from the branch line’s opening in May 1885, the original Swanage engine shed turntable was scrapped by British Rail in 1967 after the end of steam trains on the ten mile branch line.

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