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<   No. 3812   2018-02-06   >

Comic #3812

1 Sallah: Phew. Great Western Railway to Launceston, then North Cornwall Railway to Camelford.
2 Sallah: And now a 90 minute walk from Camelford Station to Tintagel.
3 Sallah: At least Monty and his dad and grandad will have plenty of time for important archaeological excavations.
4 Monty: You were not the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes!!
4 Minnesota Jones: I play a mean violin.

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Taking heed of the notes on comic #3750, Sallah has elected to take the Great Western Railway route to connect to the North Cornwall Railway at Launceston, and from there to Camelford, the nearest station to Tintagel.

The North Cornwall Railway operated from 1886 between Halwill and Launceston, reaching Camelford as part of ongoing extension work in 1893, and reaching its greatest extent at Padstow in 1899. However the line closed in 1966 due to falling passenger numbers on a line that never really was very profitable to begin with, due to the low population density along its route.

Interestingly, while researching this comic, I learnt that the city of Launceston in Tasmania (which I've visited) was named after Launceston in Cornwall. I didn't even know there was a prior Launceston. The Tasmanian city has far outgrown its namesake, having a population of around 90,000, compared to the Cornish town, which has only about 9,000 people.

Doubly interestingly, I also discovered that there is also a Camelford in Tasmania! It's not a town though, it's the name of a homestead. So it probably has a few less people than Camelford (Cornwall)'s population of 3,000.

(Padstow isn't a place in Tasmania, but it is a suburb of Sydney, familiar at least by name to me. I've driven through it and ridden trains through it, but don't recall ever stopping there for anything.)

(And there doesn't seem to be anywhere named Halwill in Australia.)

EDIT: Never to be outdone by just one British railway buff, this strip elicited the following response from Dr Simon Beard (the real one, on whom the character in Steve & Terry is based):

I'm glad your annotation for today's comic linked back to your revised No. 3750, the new punchline is indeed hilarious. Indeed the only surprising thing, as Rudi suggests, is that you would find an agent of The Great Western Railway even acknowledging the existence of Southern. At the time it was not uncommon to see railway maps like the following (for Southern) that refused to acknowledge the existence of other railway companies, even where their routes were connecting and thus provided a service enhancement.

Southern Railway lines map, completely omitting the Great Western Railway lines between Exeter and Plymouth

It was clearly preferable to pretend that somewhere was inaccessible by train than to do anything to encourage customers to give their money to another company ("What do you mean 'you can get to Totnes by changing onto the Great Western Railway at Plymouth', there is no Totnes, just a great big desert between Exeter and Plymouth, and certainly no Great Western Railway. Now go away!").

In fact despite having a singular reputation for This Sort of Thing (Great Western signalmen used to signal all other railway traffic as if it were running on a branch line at junctions, even if it was in fact the Great Western that was the branch line and the other traffic was main line), they don't seem to have gone quite as far as denying their existence, or at least not on this map.

Sallah could almost certainly have got to Camelford much faster via Southern, at least if it was the right time of day, as there was a direct express service from Salsbury to Padstow that stopped at Camelford (Leaving London Waterloo at 11) - the Atlantic Express. As you will see from the above map Salsbury is a very short journey from Southampton, just not one that could be taken by GWR.

Indeed the very presence of a GWR agent at Southampton is slightly puzzling, although they did operate some services there as Rudi says. As I understand it GWR had been very keen to take over the section of the Wessex main line from Salisbury to Southampton having bought the rest of the line in the 19th century. However it wasn't until the 1990s, after the nationalisation and privatisation of the British Railways that they finally pulled it off. I wonder if this was the delay that the man was apologising for?

The other reason that this new #3750 punchline is much better than the old one is that there is still a UK railway company called Southern, and with them (at least for the past couple of years) you really would be better off walking (and no that is not just traditional English complaining).

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