Furness, Lakes & Lune

Friday 5th April 2019

‘Hill Climbing by Rail’

Martin Elson

Martin gave an illustrated presentation on the various methods used to assist trains to gain altitude in many parts of the world.

He began with the first known method exhibited at the Bowes Railway, near Gateshead, that used ropes to haul rolling stock up and down the steep incline. He also highlighted use of this system in Brazil and more locally at the Honister Quarry line in the Lake District.

Martin went on to look at Cliff Railways beginning with the Falcon Cliff Hotel railway in Douglas, Isle of Man, and then he took us on a world tour visiting most continents with a series of photographs of rail inclines including a line that reached 15,700 feet in Bolivia.

His presentation covered other systems such as the use of larger and more powerful locomotives, piloting and banking, the use of spirals to gain height and the use of zigzag systems for high mountain railways. He also looked at the many styles of rack systems, again showing examples from throughout the world.

Following this Martin gave a short presentation under the title Journey to Victoria Falls. This covered the line from West Nicholson to Victoria Falls with examples of steam Garrett locomotives as well as diesel and electric motive power. It also exhibited images of stations, depots together with colliery, general freight and passenger traffic before ending on the Cecil Rhodes inspired bridge over the falls.

Last updated: 28th April 2019