A street tram named ‘J70’

Richard Fos­ter dis­cov­ers how a wooden-bod­ied ‘shed on wheels’ got street-wise to get Fen fruit and veg to mar­kets.

Model Rail (UK) - - News -

Richard Fos­ter dis­cov­ers how a street­wise ‘shed on wheels’ car­ried Fen fruit and veg to mar­kets.

It was a chicken and egg sit­u­a­tion: rail­ways had the abil­ity to bring in­vest­ment to poor ru­ral and lightly pop­u­lated ar­eas of Bri­tain, but be­cause pop­u­la­tion cen­tres were sparse, there was lit­tle to at­tract in­vestors, so such ar­eas were seem­ingly con­demned to a fu­ture with­out fi­nan­cial in­put to help cre­ate in­dus­try and jobs. What to do? The Light Rail­way Act of 1896 of­fered hope as it al­lowed rail­ways to be built in ru­ral ar­eas with­out spend­ing huge sums of money. The Great Eastern Rail­way had pre­vi­ously tried to tackle the is­sue of bud­get ru­ral rail­ways in 1880. If it built a rail­way along the edge of a road, it could give the ru­ral Cam­bridgeshire set­tle­ments of Outwell and Up­well a link to the main line at Wis­bech for a frac­tion of the cost of a con­ven­tional branch line. The Wis­bech & Up­well Tramway opened on Septem­ber 3 1884. It was steam-worked and GER Lo­co­mo­tive Su­per­in­ten­dent Thomas Wors­dell de­signed a spe­cial lo­co­mo­tive. Board of Trade re­stric­tions meant that the lo­co­mo­tives needed side­plates, cow­catch­ers and bell. Wors­dell de­signed a sim­ple 0‑4‑0T, com­plete with all these features but the most distin­guish­ing fea­ture was a wooden body, with a cab at each end. This lit­tle de­sign, of which ten were built, also found use else­where on the GER net­work, on the docks around Ip­swich and on the Yar­mouth Union Rail­way in Great Yar­mouth. But as with all lo­co­mo­tive sto­ries, traf­fic de­mand meant that Wors­dell soon needed to de­sign some­thing big­ger. That was the cat­a­lyst for this GER ‘C53’ (LNER ‘J70’) 0‑6‑0T.

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