Categories
History

Deviation of rivers in railway building

When railway lines were being constructed (primarily in the mid to late 19th century), the issue of how to deal with water bodies, rivers in particular, was one that engineers had to deal with.

For a straightforward encounter with a river heading in a different direction to the line of railway, a bridge was the obvious solution. However, where a river or stream ran roughly parallel to the proposed railway and cut back and forth across the route, this would require multiple bridges. In such a case, deviating and canalising the river to a dedicated channel on one side of the railway would potentially be a better option. In the case below, by canalising and deviating the river, 4 bridges are avoided.

Diagram of river pre and post deviation to allow for railway building
Pre and post deviation of a river to allow for railway deviation. Copyright Ewan Duffy 2021

There were many such cases of this practice – one that I have become aware of when researching something else (the location of Sparrowsland temporary terminus – see post below) was the deviation of a stream adjacent to the site of the temporary terminus.

Unfortunately, 2 of the 3 online map sources that I used to determine this don’t allow deep linking, never mind embedding – as such, cannot be reproduced here.

The three sources are:

map.geohive.ie (use co-ordinates 696460,631312)

landdirect.ie (no search facility that I am aware of – the location is immediately west of Macmine in Wexford. The site does display the same co-ordinates as used by geohive.ie but with no way to directly go there)

Googlemaps – embedded below:

Looking at the googlemap image above, the dark line running roughly left to right across the centre is the stream in question.

Reverting to the oldest map of the area – the 25″ OS map on geohive.ie, there is a clear u bend in the river east of the road running north – south (roughly centre of the image above). This is odd, because if you overlay the earlier (pre railway) 6 inch map on this on the site, the river was straightened out east of this point to allow the railway to be built. Why they left this bend rather than canalising the river and reducing the need to buy an awkward peninusla for a location that was only ever going to be a temporary terminus is lost to time.

Moving on in time, from the Googlemap image above (and the modern day map on geohive.ie), the bend in the river is gone (see image above). However, there is an interesting aspect connected with this. The landdirect.ie website (showing parcels of land registered with the Land Registry) clearly shows the adjacent property with a site boundary following the original river line – complete with bend. The land occupied by the railway is not on the Land Registry* and is not specifically delinated, except by exception (i.e. other sites being registered marks it out by being what is left). As such, it would appear that the railway company did buy this piece of land, including the peninsula up to the original river boundary but deviation of the river since has isolated it.

* There are two parallel systems of land ownership registration in Ireland – the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds. An analysis of this is beyond the scope of this site – however, it is sufficient to note that land on the latter, when sold going forward, will move to the former and will also then appear as a delineated site on the landdirect.ie website. In fact, when I sold my previous house in Celbridge in 2018, the property underwent this transfer – I had to pay for a 5 minute job involving a “surveyor” with one of those laser distance measuring devices to take 3 or 4 measurements around the property boundary. I understand that the purchaser of the house had it worse, as they had to pay a more substantial fee to the Land Registry to formalise the transfer!

As for the question why isn’t the railway site on the Land Registry? When the railways were closed, if the land was sold in full compliance with transfer rules (this is a can of worms beyond the scope of this post), this was in the days before the process of transferring property to the Land Registry and as such, the land would not be on the Land Registry until sold again.

It may also still be in CIE “ownership” but with squatters rights having being ceded to adjacent landowners. A full paper could probably be written on these issues.

Categories
History Locations

Sparrowsland, Co. Wexford

Sparrowsland was a temporary terminus on the line from Palace East, short of the DW&WR railway line at Macmine (which became Macmine Junction when the line from Palace East finally connected).

By looking at the 25 inch OS maps online, I have figured out where this was and have added a page to the Gazetteer reflecting this.

Categories
History

Bray Head No. 4 Tunnel

In 1917, due to coastal erosion, the railway line between Bray and Greystones was deviated inland for the final time (for the moment!) with the construction of Bray Head No. 4 Tunnel. This commenced almost immediately south of Bray Head No. 3 Tunnel and replaced a long section from there to just north of the harbour at Greystones. Part of this route had already been deviated in 1888 – the remains of which can be seen on GoogleMaps:

At 1,084 yards long, this is the second longest railway tunnel in use in Ireland and just north of the south portal, there is an air vent.

Very few photos of this exist and I am not surprised. It is located on private land and is not accessible from nearby roads nor the Bray Head cliff path.

I went out to Greystones today to see how close I could get and the photos below are the best I could achieve:

Bray Head No. 4 Tunnel Air Vent from Bray Head cliff path
Bray Head No. 4 Tunnel Air Vent from Bray Head cliff path – copyright Ewan Duffy 2021
Bray Head No. 4 Tunnel Air Vent from Bray Head cliff path
Bray Head No. 4 Tunnel Air Vent from Bray Head cliff path – copyright Ewan Duffy 2021
Categories
History

Cable nation

RTE have an article looking at the establishment of the trans-Atlantic cable from Ireland to North America, which came ashore in Kerry (Valentia Island and later cables at Ballinskelligs and Waterville).

Categories
History

Northern Ireland’s Railway Network

The BBC have an article summarising why Northern Ireland’s railway network closed and suggestions for future line re-openings.

Normally such articles need to be commented on from an accuracy point of view, however, the BBC did the sensible thing and talked to the right people – in this case Charles Friel and Robert Gardiner – with the result that there is nothing therein that needs correction.

Categories
History

Cobh Heritage Centre visitor 1995

RTE Archives have thrown up another gem – whilst I was aware of the accident, I had never seen images of it before!

In 1995, a train overran the buffer stops in Cobh and ploughed through the wall of the heritage centre located in the building behind. The RTE piece includes footage of the locomotive from both inside and outside the building.

Categories
History

Clogher Valley Railway

Every so often, the RTE website throws up an archive feature of interest.

Today, it gave me this piece – an archive section from 1987 noting the opening of an exhibition of railway memorabilia in Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone.

Categories
History

Irish Rail Blog

Not something I’d tend to hang out on – I have better things to do with my life.

However, Google gave me a link to this post on Irish Rail’s blog, which is a brief overview of a Civil War shooting near Mallow Station in Co. Cork.

Categories
History

The Iveagh Trust Buildings

Youtube directed me towards this short video on the Dublin City Libraries YouTube channel about the Iveagh Trust Buildings in Dublin.

Although dating from 2009, it is as relevant today as it was then.

Categories
History Locations

Youghal old bridge

RTE Archives have an historical report from 1965 about the old bridge between Cork and Waterford east of Youghal.