LNE Goods to Brechin

The day to day working of the Caledonian Railway Company, including its constituents and successors.
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Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:24 pm

LNE Goods to Brechin

Post by bdrummond »

It may seem odd to begin a new topic on LNE goods workings to Brechin when the main discussion has been had recently on the Kirriemuir Branch Line thread. My reasoning is that anyone searching for that discussion might struggle to do so without this new thread to point the way.

Graham will recall my reluctance to dismiss without supporting evidence Wilfred Simms' belief that LNE workings to Brechin ceased in 1934 though we know that LNE workings to Kirrie ceased in late 1932. At last I've found an LNE wtt for 1933 which shows the 3.15 am through goods from Tay Bridge, instead of working through to Brechin as the equivalent working had done up to late 1932, terminating at 5.45 am at Broomfield Junction to connect with the 6 am LMS goods to Brechin. A footnote further states that this LMS goods was worked by an LMS crew. A later daily LNE goods to and from Brechin was dropped.

In light of earlier quotes from the contemporary press, I feel we can now say that Kirrie and Brechin (and Forfar) simultaneously lost their LNE goods workings in late 1932.

Bob Drummond
Graham R
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Re: LNE Goods to Brechin

Post by Graham R »

Hi Bob,

That's great to have such conclusive evidence of the date for the end of LNE trains to Brechin.

I was interested in your mention in the Kirrie topic of the large number of cattle shipped to Brechin from Ireland. I consulted an uncle who farmed in Strathmore from the 1950s until a few years ago. He confirmed that there was still a large trade in the 1950s, and before that in his father's time. Lean animals of all ages were sent from Ireland year-round for fattening, with the peak around February or March when farmers near the rivers with large pasture would buy animals at the local mart from dealers, fatten them for about twelve weeks, then sell them back to dealers for onward shipment by rail to abbatoirs; many livestock farmers spent a large part of their time at the mart one way or another. Most of the animals were shorthorn breeds (so brown, or brown with a white head, for those modelling a cattle bank) but there were some (black) Angus cattle as well, and a few bulls; he remembers his father telling him that, when two fattened bulls were in the byre next each other, they were fully capable of smashing the treviss (the wooden partition on a low stone wall between the stalls) due to their size.

By the 1950s, movement for sale was by motor cattle float; the largest then held ten animals whereas today the number on a float is more like 40. In the 1950s, it was usually a local farmer who owned a float, and offered a regular service, typically every Monday, to move animals. There was also a sizeable inward rail traffic in cattle cake for feeding animals over the winter. My uncle farmed near Eassie, and his father in Glenisla, so Perth was their main mart for selling, but cattle were also bought at local marts. I imagine that farmers in north-east Strathmore bought and sold their animals at Forfar, Kirrie and Brechin marts.

I can't find a mention of the capacity of a Caley cattle wagon in the two wagon books, or even in the diagram book, nor could I see anything in the 1915 general appendix, but my copy is missing the contents and index pages. Sewell's book on NBR wagons mentions that a "half load" in a 19th century cattle wagon, which in practice was two-thirds of its capacity, was three fat or four lean cattle, so a full load must have been no more than eight lean animals. If 12,000 animals a year were being moved just to Brechin, that would have been at least 1500 wagon-loads inwards, and more outwards since the cattle would be fat and there would be fewer full loads. No wonder that special trains were needed, and that the N.B. was so keen to hang on to the traffic.

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