We've been walking the South Coast Path (the decadent way: in tiny sections using taxis to get to each start point) and eventually (in 2001) got round to walking the Kimmeridge stretch. Kimmeridge is one of my favourite places in England. I first visited it at the age of about sixteen when accompanying my mother and her colleagues escorting school parties to the Swanage area. I've always known that it had tramways: I've walked up to the headland before and identified the "cutting" for the tramway, but it's never been really visible in context. This year in 2001, though, the light was just right.
Not much to look at, is it? Try that one again. While you're thinking, a word to the wise. The tower is Clavell's Tower, named for Sir William Clavell, who owned Kimmeridge in the 1600s and formed the first oil-shale extraction company here. Note that the photograph is pasted in at the correct angle. If you want to see the tower, I'd recommend doing so soon because at the time of writing in 2001 a few more big storms will tip it ino the sea. Okay now, ready to have another go at that tramway? Look again.
The highlighted bit is the tramway to Cuddle. Yeah, right, I know. But I was wearing a camo jacket, not an anorak proper. Honest. This wasn't the only tramway Kimmeridge had. There were several, including an extensive (by Kimmeridge standards at least) layout down on the water-front - the Wanostrocht Company had a contract to supply lamp-oil to Paris. "Cuddle", by the way, is another name for "Yellow Ledge". one of the places from which the shale was extracted, offstage left of the panoramas on this page. At Clavell's Hard there were tramways for the mine workings. Now I doubt that any of these actually had locomotives, but this is where the fertile imagination of a frustrated engineer comes in.
There are some "probable" double-flanged wheels around the area, which for the period would mean just a single track. It set me to thinking. When I was young I had model railways. The last suffered the ignominy of being eaten by mice whilst in store and although I've done some bits of modelling (A Springfield 18" gauge tank engine, a kit Sue gave me, is in my display cabinet) I've never since had a layout. I started several, but the job gets in the way and they're just bits in the loft.
But, I managed some Lego MindstormsTM projects, and I kind of miss having Ria running up and down. How about a single piece of track? I originally envisaged it as a shelf-bracket that could run up and down like Ria, but although I built the bracket I didn't get any further. However, about two years later a series of coincidences including my discovery of Gn15 sbrought me back to Cuddle.