Lynton & Lynmouth ridden
ridden & blogged
CAT Machynlleth ridden
Birmingham is unusual in that it is flat but is included by the authors as it is cable driven.
After a couple of pages of general background and definitions, this little booklet provides a succinct history of each of the railways plus technical details and a colour photo. It reveals that the first funicular in the UK opened in 1873 at Scarborough. The most recent is at Birmingham, preceded by Cairngorm in 2001.
The book costs a modest £1.99 for 32 pages (including covers) and is strongly recommended by fbb.
Back to Vesuvius. An italian web site reveals something of the technicalities of the funicular as "improved" for operation between 1909 and destruction by the eruption in 1944.
In 1909, thanks to the engineer Enrico Treiber, a new and more modern funicular was studied and realized. The new track disposition let carriages go on for simple adhesion. The tracing chosen was located more south than the previous one. The simple track line 807 meter long resulted to consist of two straight stretches connected by a compensating bending radius of 547 meter, corresponding to the switch-line, realized with fixed blades. The line gradient was reduced to 55 %. A 114 tared steel wires, with a diameter of 33 millimeters and a weight of 3 tons which tolered efforts of 39 tons, connected the carriages to each other in the upper part. A second one, identical to the other connected them down-dale. The two carriages, by means of an electric engine installed on board, that absorbed 550 Volts in direct current were self-propelling. They took 8 minutes to get from lower station to the upper one. The installation worked until 1944, when was destroyed by eruption.
Information, good; Translation, poor!
A proposal to build a modern version of the railway and funicular did not happen; leaving 1944 as the last year of operation of the only funicular to take the brave visitor up a live volcano.
The discovery of the booklet at Colyton was stimulating, but events the following day (Saturday 27th) provided a Devonian burst of serendipity.
Serendipity means a "fortunate happenstance" or "pleasant surprise". It was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip.
The serendipitous trip was to spend some time with a good friend and his family in Torquay.