John Speller's Web Pages Itch-Dying Train (Cornwall Railway)

John Speller's Web Pages - GWR Broad Gauge

Itch-Dying Train (Cornwall Railway)
Through broad gauge West of England expresses such as the "Flying Dutchman" were run by a committee of the Great Western, Bristol & Exeter, South Devon and Cornwall Railways known as the "Associated Companies" -- much in the way that there was an East Coast Joint Committee (Great Northern, North Eastern & North British) running the Kings Cross to Edinburgh expresses. After 1865 the West Cornwall Railway was jointly owned by the four Associated Companies, and the line from Truro to Penzance was made mixed gauge, so that through running was extended to Penzance.

The Associated Companies had an agreement concerning rolling stock on through trains, and though the details of this are obscure, it seems that the Great Western supplied the passenger coaches, the Bristol & Exeter provided the brake vans on passenger expresses, and the Cornwall Railway may have supplied some or all of the TPO (Traveling Post Office) carriages on Paddington-Penzance mail trains.

The photograph shows a West of England mail train some time around 1870. The location is uncertain. In the past somewhere on the West Cornwall Railway near Camborne has been suggested, although Paul Stephens thinks Falmouth is more likely. Under a working agreement with the Cornwall Railway the South Devon Railway was responsible for providing all locomotive power west of Exeter, and the photograph shows South Devon Railway 4-4-0ST "Mazeppa," built by Slaughter, Gruning & Co. of Bristol in 1859. The first coach is the Cornwall Railway TPO. Note the net for collecting mail at speed on the rear of the car. Notice also the raised glass skylights on the clerestory roof of the car, which were a feature of many TPO's of the period. Unlike the other Associated Companies who continued to paint their coaches brown all over, the Cornwall Railway followed the Great Western in adopting chocolate-and-cream livery after 1864, and this TPO is in Cornwall Railway chocolate-and-cream. The difference was that instead of the familiar GWR garter crest, the Cornwall Railway TPO carried the Prince of Wales's feathers and motto "Ich Dien" (Old German for "I serve"), symbolizing the fact that their line lay in the Royal Duchy of Cornwall. For this reason the Paddington-Penzance mail train became known as the "Itch-Dying" train. The remaining coaches on the train appear to be painted brown all over and this means that the photograph was taken not long after 1864 or that they are South Devon stock.
Cornwall Railway TPO and train. To enlarge right click and select "view image"
Prince of Wales' feathers as found on Cornwall Railway TPO
Cornwall Railway boundary stone, courtesy of
Wikipedia Commons
Cornwall Railway six-wheel First Class Carriage
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