Any aspect related to the structures and equipment on the Caledonian Railway Company.
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Post by Sinclair »

Some of you may remember that I joined the modelling e-mail group just before the Forum came along and I am considering a model of the Balerno Branch and in particular of Balerno Station and its nearby goods yard. I thought I’d start a thread here to share my research as it is undertaken and ask some questions as I come across them. Many of you may be familiar with the line and I hope you can add to the research, and for those of you who are not I hope you enjoy learning about this short but interesting branch.

Why Balerno? – simply because I grew up there and the “old railway” was home to many cycle trips and adventures as I was growing up. I moved there in 1969 so never saw the line in place but the route is now the Water of Leith Walkway and is generally well preserved in terms of bridges, cuttings and the (now somewhat leaky) tunnel. The Goods shed at Currie remains although has recently been bought privately and the planning submission to turn it into a design studio includes lifting the roof by 12” to allow addition of a row of windows. The Balerno Station Master’s house is still there, albeit with alterations and extensions. Other areas have not survived – Balerno station site is now a private garden, the realignment and widening of the Lanark Road at Balerno has covered the site of the original Goods junction and Signal box and the Goods Yard has been home to Balerno High School since 1983.

I have read Donald Shaw’s book about the branch several times and had a couple of trips to the National Archives – with mixed results so far. Some great stuff from the files of Blyth and Blyth (the Engineers who designed the line and oversaw its construction) which included the Inspector’s Report and some false starts on the plans and diagrams. Most of these now have to be assessed and digitally scanned before they can be viewed and the first set selected turned out to be tracings from another plan with no useful detail or even a scale marked on them. I've left them with a list of others.....

By way of introduction to the Branch I've included below the Inspector’s Report to Railway Department, Board of Trade for the opening of the line which includes some great detail. A map of the planned area for the model can be seen here. As you can see – there will be a challenge converting the Y shape into a practicable layout. Perhaps a topic for modelling Q&A in due course!

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Re: Balerno

Post by Sinclair »

The Inspector's Report to the Board of Trade prior to the opening of the line.
Railway Department
Board of Trade
Rail to Inverness, 23rd July 1874


I have the honor to report for the information of the Board of Trade, that in compliance with the instructions contained in your Minutes of the 2nd inst. I have inspected the Balerno Branch of the Caledonian Railway.

The new line is 6 miles, 2 chains long. It is single throughout with sidings and loop lines. The ruling gradient is 1 in 50, and the railway consists of a succession of curves, the greater number of which have a radius of 7 and 10 chains. There are guard rails round all the 7 ch curves.
The permanent way consists of a double headed rail, that weighs 75lb per lineal yard. It is fished and fixed with wooden keys in cast iron chairs that weigh 28 and 32 lbs each except those chairs in which the guard rails are fixed which weigh about 81lbs each. The chairs are fastened with w. (??) iron spikes , to sleepers laid transversely 3ft 1in apart, except for those next to the rail joints which are only 2ft 5in apart.

The sleepers are 8ft 9in and 9ft long, 10in by 5in. The line is well fenced and well ballasted with broken slag. The works consist of three overbridges built of stone and brick and 5 that have stone abutments and w. iron girders. Nine under bridges, one of which is built of stone & the rest have w. iron girders on stone abutments. There are 8 viaducts. The widest span is 60 ½ feet and there is a tunnel 148 yds long which is lined throughout with brick. All these works appear to be substantially constructed and sufficiently strong.

The new line forms a loop line with the Caledonian Railway from Edinburgh to Carstairs. The junction at the north end is called Balerno Junction and the one at the south end is called Ravelrig Junction.
The stations on the new line are Colinton, Juniper Green, Currie and Balerno.

The deviations from the Parliamentary sections are very numerous, but it appears by Companies’ Act, that sanction was given to deviate the line to any extent, as long as the gradient of 1 in 50 was not exceeded.

There are some private road crossings on the Railway that should be carefully looked after as they are very dangerous arriving to the sharp curves on the line limiting the view.

The following alterations are required at Balerno Junction.
The up distant signal on the Caledonian Ry. at the Edinburgh side of the Junction should be taken away and the home signal at Slateford Junction should be slotted to act as a distant signal for Balerno Junction.
The down distant signal and repeater for Slateford Junction should be removed and the Home Signal at Balerno Junction should be slotted, so at to answer as a down distant signal for Slateford Junction.
The 2nd semaphore arm on the up Home Signal post should be removed.
Up Starting signals are required on the Branch as well as on the main line. The lamp for the down distant signal on the Branch must be specially constructed so that the back light may be seen by the Junction Signalmen.
The catch point on the down branch line must be taken out and the points and locking bar at the end of the double junction line of the Branch are badly fixed and required regulating to make them work properly.

Ravelrig Junction
A Down Starting Signal is required and the second pair of facing points on the up line should be taken out. The sidings should be joined to the connection with the down line.

Junction with Goods Line near Balerno Station
A locking bar is required for the Junction points.

The Engineer of the Railway has promised to have these small but important alterations carried out at once, and I submit that the Board of Trade may sanction the opening of the Balerno Branch of the Caledonian Rly. as soon as they receive a satisfactory undertaking as to the proposed mode of working.

I have etc.
(signed) J H Rich
Colonel, RE
charles d
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Re: Balerno

Post by charles d »

A web site worth a look if you do not know it already is "edinphoto"

Charles d
Jim Summers
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Re: Balerno

Post by Jim Summers »

Great stuff, Sinclair, and I especially liked the Inspector's Report. Did engineers for the line say who they used as signalling contractor, perchance?

Jim S
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Re: Balerno

Post by Sinclair »

Charles - thanks for the link. I had seen most of the Balerno Branch photos in the railway section before but have spent a happy couple of hours browsing through the site and found one or two others featuring the branch such as this one near Colinton. Lots of other good photos there as well.

Another resource I have found useful is the RCAHMS aerial photography collection - widen out the search beyond railway and station and you can find some great shots. This one is of the Balerno Bank Paper Mill but in the middle of the background is a great view of the whole goods yard including both sheds (the CR brick build one for general goods, and the later wooden one added in 1920 for the storage of wood pulp for use in the mill). No sign of the passenger station which is in a cutting behind the goods yard even further away from the village. There's also this one of the Caley station in Princes St which shows that Edinburgh was by no means purely N.B. country! I can include it here as the start point of the Balerno trains.

Jim - nothing yet on signal contractors. I'll keep an eye out as I work through the other papers and let you know if anything comes up.

Dave Lochrie
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Re: Balerno

Post by Dave Lochrie »

Interesting choice of prototype, Sinclair, though the question that springs to mind is not so much "Why Balerno?" as How?

It certainly packs a lot in, an attractive compact passenger station in a cutting that is sometimes a terminus and sometimes a through station, a single track junction with a short goods only branch in an appealing riverside setting , whats not to like. The problem to overcome is combining these in a layout. You can easily transfer the goods branch, junction and part of the line to Currie as a classic "L", with the Water of Leith in the foreground, but then the passenger line just dissappears into the backscene, under the Lanark Road bridge. On its own the passenger station is simpler and can be on a straight or curved baseboard or an "L" shape itself, and either would be a good starting point. But when you combine the elements you get (as you said) a "Y" shape with potentially 2 exits, and the issue of where does the backscene go.
What sort of space would you hope to have and what scale? There probably isn't an obvious solution, I just love a design problem, but as you rightly mention this aspect should be in the Modelling Q&A section.

I did draw up a plan for Juniper Green, which has an even more cramped site between the river in front and the sloping land behind squeezing in a station and goods yard as well as a number of attractive pre-railway mill buildings (one, at least being a snuff mill!)

If I recall correctly, there is at least an LMS plan of one of the goods sheds in the NLS RHP series, but no plans or elevations of any of the branch station buildings.

So to attempt a more productive contribution, which I realise in the light of the above is a bit premature, I've typed-up my hand written analysis* of the best known station photograph of Balerno, working from left to right.
BALERNO platform details.jpg
BALERNO platform details.jpg (165.43 KiB) Viewed 10903 times
Picture taken either immediately prior to , or during WW1 (based on length and style of woman's skirt, though her presence may suggest later, her positioning implies status more likely to be a family rather than a staff member) so 1913-1917.
1] Running-in Board -Enamel (Falkirk Iron Works) white lettering on blue, standard typeface. 2 white painted wooden posts fixed behind with curved top ( same style as mileposts), simple frame to sides and below with protective overhanging mouldiing above, all white painted.
2] Railing on ramp to platform- heavy post and 2 rail painted white.
3] Post for Oil lamp - (lamp not present) wooden post approx 7ft high with metal bracket at top for lamp, post is painted 2 colours dark up to 4ft and lighter above. options -DF over PB, blue over purple brown or black (comparing tones on building and on enamel sign).
4] Standard CR Platform Barrow- on end, good plan view of slats, can't see number of spokes or type of wheel.
5] Standard CR Cast-end monogram pattern platform seat. can't be conclusive, both cast ends and woodwork in darker colours ie no white could be PB and DF but could be Black ironwork with PD slats, note suggestion of panel for station name- centre top?
6] CR Poster board free-standing white painted cast lettering and moulded frame on black painted tongue & groove backing, looks to be sufficient for 4 single posters (3 spaced present) so approx 4' 6" x 9', 2 rear-fixed inset white painted posts.
7} 2 assorted delivery barrows probably CR for local parcel deliveries, large wheeled barrow does appear elsewhere, second barrow poss unique to this location
8] Station building- clock, poster boards, enamel adverts, 3x Falkirk Iron Co. enamel station signs white on blue - poss drinking fountain at far end?
frames dark prob PB (black poss?) brick base, Sunlight cut-out enamel advert on end elevation used from 1908 onwards.
9] As 4] -can't determine type of wheel
10] Woman family or staff member (esp if post 1915)
11] Nestles chocolate machine, standard single pattern, red
12] Penny Weighing Machine standard pattern, green (usually)
12] Staff -Station Master, Porter, Clerk?
13] as 6]
14] as 1]
15] as 5]
Platform is approx 2'6" -2'9" above rail height rubble stone facing topped by 3' x 2' stone flags flush to stonework , ash /gravel surface, fairly narrow- down to 8-9' in front of station building which makes this an odd location to store barrows.
Track running line has newish sleepers, twin-bladed trap on loop.
can't confirm rail lengths on my print, ash ballast, point rodding run along platform face.
See seperate list for identification of enamel ads on fence above the station
* Actually scruffy notes. I used to make these notes when I was a student, handwritten, in the days before cheap photocopies, digital images or computers. In some cases I actually owned a copy of the picture, but often it existed in someone else's collection, with the result that matching some of the notes with the right photo is not always so straightforward, especially as I can't always now decifer what I wrote! Nowadays life is too short, even with all the tools to help, but I still mentally run through the same process (art student observation) when I find a new picture. This is the sort of info I would have added to A J Mullay's "Through Scotland with the Caledonian" well maybe not the full treatment, but it does allow a ready assessment of what was standard CR practice, and what was unusual. DF= Ducks Foot, PB = Purple Brown

2 further points from the maps, you mentioned the later timber shed, which is true, but although rebuilt by the LMS, it was in existence much earlier, appearing in the 1912 OS revision and it was similar to the other timber sheds at Juniper Green and Colinton (don't know period you are modelling, so this may not matter). The stretch of the Water of Leith to the East of the goods yard must be a man-made diversion, no other section is this straight!

Hope this is useful one day
Dave L
Last edited by Dave Lochrie on Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Balerno

Post by Sinclair »


Thanks for that - definitely useful!

There is a wider version of this photo which includes details of the Stationmaster's house (plus porter's or signalman's depending on sources) and some of the signals - not a high quality version but a copy is available on edinphoto here. In the chat below the photo it is dated at 1910 by one respondent based on another photo he has and the relative size of the trees! Still - ties in nicely with your estimates. If anyone knows where I can get a high quality copy of this photo I'd be most grateful!

I hadn't thought about the river being straightened until you mentioned it - this pre-dates the railway as the 1852 OS map shows the same straight section.

I'm thinking about modelling the branch in mid 1920s around the time of the grouping - Class 104, Pickersgill 4 wheelers - a mix of Caley Blue, full livery coaches and some "new" LMS livery as well. Will be in 4mm, S4 although my modelling's got a long way to go. I'm enjoying the research at the moment and it'll be some time before this one's up and running! I've got some initial thoughts for design but once these progress to something more solid I'll post them up for people's thoughts & ideas.

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