The 5 Minute Bell
* Author - Frank O'Donoghue
In a review of "That Old Sinner" by Frank Sweeney, I observed that every company history should be written in two parts, Patterson style and Sweeney style. The 5-
Minute Bell takes on the latter task in relation to the Waterford and Tramore Railway – the former having been ably done by the well known railway historians Harold
Fayle and Alan T Newham.
In addition to setting out the company history, the author delves into the staff running the system, locomotives, rolling stock, anecdotes about the railway and the uses
its passengers put it to, accidents and the ultimate closure, the latter a chapter in which no punches are pulled. The book is well illustrated and identified many
unusual features of the line that I was unaware of.
The book is a reasonable look at this short isolated line which was never physically connected to the rest of the railway network. However, there were a few
assertions that I would take the author to task over. These were:
On p. 11, he states that the British gauge issue had been resolved by 1843. The matter was determined by a Royal Commission in 1845. P.13 states that an Act of
Parliament was necessary to allow a new railway to be built. This is not strictly correct – both the Atmospheric Railway in Dublin and a line in Co. Derry were built
without Acts of Parliament. The final point which is not correct is on p. 113 where the author repeats the red herring that the EU requires railways to be left in situ for
10 years. I checked this with the European Commission and they advise that there is no such EU requirement.
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