10

Previous

The Templeport Resource Centre

Next

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CAVAN & LEITRIM RAILWAY

never realised. Plans were constantly being made, and thwarted, to extend in many directions; yet few realistic steps were taken to tap the potentially lucrative mineral traffic which lay so close to hand, albeit just beyond tramway reach. Cavan management had a fatal fondness for committees, and, somehow, delicate negotiations with iron and coal mining interests in the Arigna valley were not their forte. In 1905 the C&L was still nibbling at the problem when the Government stepped in boldly to offer a Free Grant of £24,000 towards construction of the required tramway extension. The railway might well have agreed, but Leitrim Council, deeming itself already deeply enough committed in the way of C&L dividend deficits, refused to support another Guarantee. The matter was dropped.
Two years later the GNR(I) intervened, and offered a modest £500 guarantee in perpetuity if the C&L was prepared to venture construction. Not surprisingly, the proposition was declined. Next, the coal owners themselves tried to push through an Arigna Valley Railway Bill, but, thanks largely to C&L opposition, the measure was defeated in Parliament. In the end the wartime shortage of coal in Ireland forced the Government to build the extension, and its 3½ miles were completed in June 1920 at a cost of £60,000.
Another marked defect in C&L operations was lack of quality in staff though it might be added that their Locomotive Superintendents were an honourable exception to this rule. But, for exactly the same reasons as obtained on the Tralee & Dingle, the rates of pay the C&L was obliged to offer were derisory and practically guaranteed poor service throughout the company's history. Conversely, neither local management nor C&L Directors, oddly ensconced in Dublin, possessed sufficient expertise to extract consistent profit from a railway which laboured under so many handicaps. No working surplus appeared until 1893, and although operating losses were avoided from then on, remorseless payment of dividends remained a cross which ratepayers and Treasury had to bear.

The Unique Signal at Bawnboy Rd station.

In 1891 Bawnboy, had no signals at all. It was suggested that two should be bought cheaply from the GNR or MGWR and, later, the place was well signalled, including a real oddity in its down starting signal. This was basically a disc on a long rod about four feet from the ground, having a horizontal signal arm fixed just below the lamp. When 'off', the arm was not visible to the driver, as it had swung through 90 degrees.

It was interlocked with the station gates.In 1891
Kilnavert Chapel may be seen in the background

In 1895 a change of name to the Cavan & Leitrim Railway was effected. Average receipts per mile still hovered around £3.10s, as opposed to the promoters' sanguine prognostications of £6. C&L activities, in fact, were dryly summed up when evidence was given before the Vice regal Commission of 1906. 94 % of C&L receipts, it was deposed, were swallowed up in working expenses, and between 1884 and 1905 ratepayers were saddled with total losses of £75,450.
Came 31 December 1916. Wartime control descended on Irish railways, and soon the country itself was in a political ferment. One clear indication of C&L staff loyalties was given in December 1918, when an engine travelled all the way from Belturbet to Dromod bearing an Irish National flag on its smoke-box. Soon Leitrim Council, too, had misgivings, and in 1920, anticipating the creation of an Irish Free State, it held

(Continued on page 11)

Click here for        Go to Page  1    2    3    4    5    6  7  8    9  10    Previous
Latest News
          11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  Next