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Report - - War Department 63063- Forgotten History - Train/Crane 1540 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - War Department 63063- Forgotten History - Train/Crane 1540


huntez99

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
So to begin with I started off my research by reading the report from @Imba. Which may I just say is a fabulous report and an amazing read, with some amazing pictures. I hope that with my report and the report from @Imba you can see a good contrast between day and night with the images I am going to upload. Also, through reading the comments that where attached to @Imba’s report I was in a good position to start digging and trying to track down this awesome time stamp that has been left in situ for many, many years.

After a long amount of time on the internet, digging and researching I hadn’t really tuned up many hits. So I went back to the original report and re-read it from top to bottom and the comments again. I spent a lot of time looking at Google Maps and on many, many different websites looking for abandoned military trains. Military supply routes during the Second World War. I researched the Serial Number from the War Department ‘63063’ that is imprinted on the side of the crane cab. I also looked up the Crane Number ‘1540’ and again to not much avail I didn’t really have anything to go off until I found a comment by @westernsultan. The comment itself didn’t really give me much to go on so I posed the question about the origins of the information and was nicely replied with the website that narrowed down the information and gave me a smaller search area. Then from using all the information I had gathered and a lot of time using Google Maps I managed to track down the search area, and I had come across two potential grids to search. After a little bit more time on Google Maps and making a ground assessment I believed I had a strong lead to follow up. So here we go…

(Side Note - I am still very much in the digging phase in-relation to the history of this site, the surrounding area and the train itself. Once I have a sufficient amount of detailed history I will publish a separate report with that information).
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On a brisk winters evening me and my partner decided that it was time to put all the research and effort we had put into locating this magnificent piece of history into action and decided to travel the distance to our guesstimated site. After a long planning and research phase I thought I found the area in which the train was situated. And oh boy was I correct. I mean, if you wasn’t looking for this thing you would have missed it.

We parked roughly a KM away from where I believed the site was and approached on foot. Armed with torches and a grid reference we headed East. Just over 500ms to go and we where anxious. Cold and a bit moody. The approach East was across a track with a large open field to our North.
A raised embankment was to our South with the train situated at the top of the high feature.
Once we had located the train we stopped and re-assed our approach route. We decided to head back West along the track we had just came from and found a suitable crossing point. Once we where across the crossing point we continued East but came across an obstacle on the path. We tried to cross it but due to the poor visiblity and the unknown terrain we decided it would be safer to turn back and try another route. Once we moved back we found another crossing point which was along a public right of way. We travelled slightly South East and doglegged around a field. Once we got to the location we thought would be ok to cross it turns out that the surrounding was over grown and not feasible. So we decided to try our first approach again. We travelled back the way we came and was back to our initial position where we decided to cross the fence and head directly South up the embankment to the train.

We climbed the embankment and took a moment to take in the sight in front of us. The size, the colours, the beauty and just the stench of history. Static. Forgotten. Beauty. Left in situ years previous. A overlooked time stamp on a past full of anguish. Once our moment had finished we carried on our investigation. Armed with my camera and torches we approached the train and started to draw in the sights.

Starting at the front of the train we where met by an overgrown buffer stop, rusted and decayed but in fairly good condition. On the RHS as you face the buffer stop nature has began to reclaim what was once hers and the vegetation is raising up the side. The track itself - barely visible along the length of the train. Moving slightly further forward, you are faced with the crane itself, with a plaque that reads ‘CRANE NO 1540’. With two D-Shackles hanging loosely to the left and right of the plaque. Situated behind the crane is the cab itself. Full of beauty and vibrant yet rustic colours. This site is made even more pretty with the effects of the overgrowth that is slowly reclaiming this piece of history.

Like I have previously stated I have found next to nothing in relation to the history of this train for the reasoning behind why it was left where it is or what its role was during the War. I have found snippets of information but nothing that is solid or in great amounts. I have tried searching for information in relation to the crane number ‘1540’ or the War Departments Serial Number that is sketched onto the LHS in white, next to the white star. ’WD 63063’. I think it definitely worth noting that I need to return to this place during the day light hours and spend a solid amount of time collecting as many serial numbers, engravings, markings as I possibly can to try and widen the options I have in relation to searching for the history of this.

All I have really found out about this is that it was made by Grafton Engineers Bedford. Its Ex Army (WD 63063) and it once used to be steam operated but was converted to diesel.
This train is full of little imprinted numbers and text. All of meaning and value but I am seriously struggling to find any connection online, I am in the process of widening my search area to hopefully come up with a substantive amount of information to make a separate report just solely on the history of this site and what the train was used for during the war.

As you move down the train the LHS of the vehicle is narrower than the RHS. So my initial approach was down the RHS. The ground under foot is slightly elevated and uneven. Undulating would probably be a better description. However, the overgrowth on the RHS becomes very dense about 1/2 - 3/4s of the way down so I had to cross over to the LHS.

I am so absorbed by this amazing piece of forgotten history I can’t escape it and the fact I am really struggling to find out any information in relation to the past and its uses is really bugging me. I thinks this train is a piece of abandoned beauty. Left to be reclaimed by Mother Nature herself. The colours that are left so vibrant and eye catching, with the rustic effect is amazing. And again I think it is amazing how you can stand at the front of the train by the buffer stop and gaze at history. The way the carriages begin to crumble and collapse the further down the track you look. However, I think my favourite part of this whole epic sight is the way rust has claimed this train. For example on the inside of the cranes cab.

The surrounding of the site is slightly littered from previous visitors. The coffee cup was still in place when I visited and there was an abundance of coke cans, littered across the floor.
There was a couple of things that really stood out to me and have continued to bug me since i visited.

Number 1 - A white rope (as seen in the photos) is fastened securely to a fixed metal structure on one of the carriages and is lopped and tired around a metal fixture on the floor which leads off down the embankment. Im under the assumption that this has been left by a previous visitor and is used as a more convenient access point slightly further down from the other. (Thoughts and Opinions more than welcome).

Number 2 - An external electrical socket (as seen in the photos and I also raised this on @imba’s original post) attached to the back right of one of the carriages looks too modern. Too new. There is next to no rust on the fixtures holding the socket in place which doesn’t correspond to the level of decay that the rest of the train has.

Its truly astonishing to be able to visit such an amazing piece of history and I know I keep repeating this but I can’t help but be excited. I could talk about this all day but I feel like I am becoming a bit of a rambler at the moment so I going to draw to a close. And just allow you to stare at history.
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Thank You very much for taking the time out of your day to read and digest my report. I am more than welcome to criticism. Feel free to comment. This is only my second report.

Thanks again -
J
 

westernsultan

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I'll try and answer some of your questions but ask not to detail how you got to the railway as it encourages metal thieves - something all preserved railways are suffering from right now. It's not abandoned - it's part of the East Somerset Railway preserved rolling stock. It's not a military train, it's a collection of open, drop sided and closed wagons, only the crane is ex MOD and I've explained the MOD site it came from in earlier comments. As far as I know there are no carriages there. I've also explained that we don't know who or when it was converted from steam to diesel and by whom. The crane manufacturer only confirmed it was built for a ship. As you saw it is at the end of the line of wagons so moving it back to ESR depot would be time consuming, expensive and some of the other wagons if front of it may fall apart. assuming we could get them to move. The generator was not for supplying power to any dining train but to give power at that site. the white rope has been left by someone to aid access. You can find a list of steam cranes at https://www.internationalsteam.co.uk/cranes/cranesuk.htm
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
What a mission, persistence paid off though. Impressive research to find the location. You could teach a few on here how its done. I do love trains. They make excellent photos. :thumb
 

huntez99

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
What a mission, persistence paid off though. Impressive research to find the location. You could teach a few on here how its done. I do love trains. They make excellent photos. :thumb
Persistence did pay off and I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to find this site. It deffo occupied some of my time. And yes absolutely fantastic site. Some amazing photo opurtunitites.
 

huntez99

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I'll try and answer some of your questions but ask not to detail how you got to the railway as it encourages metal thieves - something all preserved railways are suffering from right now. It's not abandoned - it's part of the East Somerset Railway preserved rolling stock. It's not a military train, it's a collection of open, drop sided and closed wagons, only the crane is ex MOD and I've explained the MOD site it came from in earlier comments. As far as I know there are no carriages there. I've also explained that we don't know who or when it was converted from steam to diesel and by whom. The crane manufacturer only confirmed it was built for a ship. As you saw it is at the end of the line of wagons so moving it back to ESR depot would be time consuming, expensive and some of the other wagons if front of it may fall apart. assuming we could get them to move. The generator was not for supplying power to any dining train but to give power at that site. the white rope has been left by someone to aid access. You can find a list of steam cranes at https://www.internationalsteam.co.uk/cranes/cranesuk.htm
Thank you for your detailed comment. I will try and respond to each element of it.
1. I haven't disclosed exact locations of this site and im not willing to just give out the grid for it because that ruins the site for others and it also takes the enjoyment and sense of achievement out of finding it yourself.
2. What does rolling stock mean? Im assuming it means that its officially owned to them even though its left where it is and due to the condition of the attached wagons dn the money and effort it would take to get them back to a safer location its not worth it. Am I correct?
3. Thank you for clearing up the fact that it is not a military train and just the crane itself is. That probably explains why I was struggling to find anything out about it. I think I need to focus more on the role of the crane in the area during that time period.
4. Could you elude anymore on the generator please?
5. The rope - At least I got one thing correct :)

Thank You
J
 

Wevsky

A Predisposed Tourist
Regular User
Despite your efforts to not give the location or even a rough location, its kinda one of the golden rules of the forum a location is needed in the title, vague or not still needs to be there

Great read though
 

huntez99

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Despite your efforts to not give the location or even a rough location, its kinda one of the golden rules of the forum a location is needed in the title, vague or not still needs to be there

Great read though
Understood. But due to the nature of the location and the type of find I didn't want to risk the exposure of it. Like people have said the loc has pretty much been given out in a previous report. :D
 

huntez99

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
The location was pretty much given out in one of the replies on the first thread
Good comprehensive report though, it's a shame u went at night really
Thank You mate, and yes its a real shame I went at night but I thought it might have been safer to as I wasn't sure what the area was like and I didn't want to stumble across anyone. However, I hope that you can see a good contrast between day and night. :)
 

huntez99

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Great read mate, glad you managed to find the train :thumb
Thank you mate. Means a lot and yh, like you said once you've got a couple of bits of info it becomes easier to track down the loc. Your report helps a lot. :)
 

nattyurbex

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Thank you for your detailed comment. I will try and respond to each element of it.
1. I haven't disclosed exact locations of this site and im not willing to just give out the grid for it because that ruins the site for others and it also takes the enjoyment and sense of achievement out of finding it yourself.
2. What does rolling stock mean? Im assuming it means that its officially owned to them even though its left where it is and due to the condition of the attached wagons dn the money and effort it would take to get them back to a safer location its not worth it. Am I correct?
3. Thank you for clearing up the fact that it is not a military train and just the crane itself is. That probably explains why I was struggling to find anything out about it. I think I need to focus more on the role of the crane in the area during that time period.
4. Could you elude anymore on the generator please?
5. The rope - At least I got one thing correct :)

Thank You
J
the term rolling stock just refers to any vehicle that runs on a railway such as locomotives and carriges.
 
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