Friday, 25 November 2011

Round Britain Rally 2011, Planes And Boats And Trains

Well the RBR has finished for another year. The usual ‘adjustments’ having to be made during the course of the event. One landmark was sold and moved piece by piece to another location, another, a Roman Milepost was hit by a car and had to be removed for running repairs (groan). Repair work also was required for a statue of John Perry so we took an exciting picture of his plinth.

As has become the custom, the RBR season kicks off with the ARSE, the Annual Rally Starting Event. This year’s gathering took place at the Ellesmere Port Canal Museum where over 50 entrants met for the obligatory group photo. The object to photograph was the anchor sculpture, situated near the café. Yes, one or two people did snap the wrong anchor.

Doctor Beeching’s axe saw the closure of many rail lines in the UK during the 1960’s, however one line that closed before his hand gripped the shaft was the Southwold to Halesworth line. On this local line, at Whenhaston, Suffolk, a plaque depicting the site of the local station has been erected.

To some extent this phoenix looks set to return, as there is a project to reinstate a small section railway, complete with a heritage centre.

There was one type of railway that Beeching could not get onto his report, the cliff railway. This year’s event saw the inclusion of several of these, two of which we visited on the weekend of our motorcycle club’s rally weekend.

On the way down to the rally site we stopped off at the Lynton and Lynmouth Railway. Lynmouth is on the A39, a road to Devon and Cornwall that is often by passed for the dual carriageway of the A30 and M5 motorway. Built in 1890, this water balanced funicular railway works in contrast to other water operated railways. Often water is released from the lower carriage until it is lighter than the top one, whereas on this railway, water is added to the top carriage from the West River Lyn.

Having stopped for some ‘Traditional’ fish & chips, we got into conversation with a local biker, resulting in a rather longer stay than anticipated. We vowed to return here for a longer stay in the future. Little did we realise that it would be sooner rather than later.

‘This one will be easy to find’, said Ian about the Babbacombe Cliff Railway. ‘We just head for the coast and follow it round’. Reaching the coast and following it round took us all the way around the headland and into a housing estate! When in doubt, ask the local postie, who put us on the right track. The plans for the Babbacombe Railway were put forward by Sir John Newnes MP, the man who built the Lynton and Lynmouth Railway. Sadly they were not approved until after his death. The line was completed in 1926.

The railway took us down to a secluded, almost deserted beach. Well it was mid May so that could have been the reason. The beach bar was deserted and the snack bar did a roaring trade in tea and coffee, with ample choice on where to sit.

Grove, Oxfordshire, was the destination for the ‘plane’ part of this post. And that is where we found this De Havilland Venom. Although Grove was reputedly the busiest airfield in 1944, there remain only a few derelict buildings around the area. This particular aircraft once belonged to the Swiss Air force and then Aces High. Not surprising is the fact that part of the airfield has now been turned into a business park.