Ludlam, A. J.: The RAF Cranwell Railway (Locomotion Papers)
Book Number: 020032
The Oakwood Press Oxford, England 1988 64 pages b/w photos - The Cranwell branch was a 5.175-mile (8.328 km) long Logan and Hemingway built single track branch railway line that ran between Sleaford, on the Great Northern Railway, to the airship base at Royal Naval Air Service, Training Establishment, Cranwell, Lincolnshire (as RAF Cranwell was initially known). In addition to the main line, there were 2.4-mile (3.9 km) of sidings. Transporting materials and supplies to the RNAS Training Establishment along farm tracks was always difficult; a railway running parallel to Ermine Street from Ancaster was initially proposed, but severe gradients were found when surveying the route. Matters were brought to a head by the harsh 1915-16 winter, which made the farm tracks almost impassable, resulting in a temporary railway track being laid from Sleaford. Following correspondence between the Admiralty and the Board of Trade early in 1916, work started on the permanent way later that year, after the Admiralty insisted that: "risks must be taken in wartime and work must not be held up in waiting for obligatory peacetime safeguards to be applied." The line was in use by 1917, and a direct connection from the main up line at Sleaford opened up in March 1918. In regards to finance, the line never broke even: in response to a Parliamentary Question, it was revealed that, even allowing for a credit in respect of the c.15,000 tons of Government stores that were transported along it during 1924, the line still made a loss of some £3,570. After coming under repeated pressure to reduce the deficit, the line ceased to carry regular passenger traffic in November 1926, with a consequent reduction in running costs. Its original use, for the conveyance of materials and provisions to the training establishment at Cranwell continued, however, together with the occasional passenger train (such as the special trains bringing public schoolboys to visit the college in the 1930s, the first Canadian contingent to arrive in the Second World War and the 1953 Flying Training Command Coronation contingent, which was pulled by a British Railways J6 class 0-6-0 tender engine with another of the Class on the rear.