The industrial estate came into being in 1864, as businesses began growing in the area of Merecombe , and needed room to expand. A large area to the west of the city, owned by Merecombe Council and taken up mainly by a large coal pit, was set up to become a new business centre, later known by everybody as "Merecombe Industrial Estate".
In the 1890's the Dark Railway reached Merecombe from the south, though it did not venture near to the Industrial Estate and old town, instead, terminating on the hilltops nearer to the new city centre. After years of complaining, the Dark Railway finally built a railway line down to the estate, with space being made for sidings and other rail related sundries.
Since that time, the estate has mainly exported and imported goods for all kinds of businesses, ranging from steel, wood, coal, minerals, machines, and many other things. It is one of the busiest locations on the railway, due to the amount of freight coming in and out of it.
In 1965, some of the businesses attempted to export their goods by lorry, but because of the location of the estate, and because of the lack of road infrastructure, many of the companies have continued to export their goods by rail to the Junction, where mainline locomotives transport it onwards to other places.
In 1968, several businesse began considering other methods of exporting their goods. With the collapse of Gasworks Tunnel, rail services to and from the Industrial Estate ceased. However, in 1972, Darpor Industries (the only active organisation still operational at the Industrial Estate), along with the DRPS and Merecombe County Council, began working on plans to re-instate the entirety of the Merecombe Goods Branch in order for a museum to be set up at the old Gasworks (Merecombe Industrial Museum) and for Darpor Industries to re-instate rail freight services to the mainline via the Dark Railway. At the time of writing, plans are currently being drawn up for the entire branch to be rebuilt.
Layout and FacilitiesEdit
The industrial estate had many sidings, all used to accommodate inbound and outbound wagons/trains. Most businesses within the estate have their own dedicated sidings, however, some have fallen into regular general use by the Railway. The estate is expansive, and incorporates a coal mine, processing companies, factories and a steel works, to name a few.
Goods trains arrived from the branchline to the reception areas at the throat of the yard, where the locomotive was disconnected for servicing, return to other duties, or is rostered to take another service out of the yard. A dedicated yard shunter usually dissects the train to place wagons in their respective siding, then assembles the next outbound goods train, where another engine will take it away.
During the first half of 1968, goods trains have been dragged up to the Gasworks in sections to avoid long trains having to ascend Gasworks Tunnel Incline. Since September 1968, rail traffic has ceased, and since 1969, all trackwork within the estate has been ripped up.
Merecombe Industrial Estate PlatformEditThe Industrial Estate is served by a small platform on the Merecombe Goods Branch, which marks the limit of the Railway's running line. Worker's trains often run from the other end of the line, for the benefit of workers from Colhapper, Galen Junction, Axley, Soma, Walschurch, Upway and beyond. Shuttles used to run from here to Merecombe via Merecombe Gasworks and Manston Fore, but by the end of the 1960's, and because of the increase in vehicle ownership, this shuttle service was discontinued.
Organisations of the Industrial EstateEdit
As of 1971, the following companies are still active at the Industrial Estate:
- Darpor Industries (previously known as "Darpor Engineering") - A large and secretive company manufacturing all kinds of things over several factories in the estate. The business also incorporates large laboratories and research facilities. The company are known for manufacturing machines on government contracts.The company, being the last business left active in the estate, have expanded their facilities and are actively seeking to re-introduce rail traffic to the company via the old goods branch, in association with the DRPS and Merecombe County Council.
The following companies have since ceased to trade:
- Prairie Coaling Ltd - A Coal Mining company who owns the large coal pit at the back of the yard. Prairie Coaling is one of the oldest companies occupying the estate, having set up in the 1860's when the estate opened. They also own a processing plant next door.
- Barnes Industries - Small business building machinery for outside contractors.
- Davies and Davies Incorporated - Business manufacturing computing components and electronic devices. Rumoured to be the company responsible for creating the major components for Theo and Otto's time machine/teleporter in the late 1950's.
- Acorn Steel - A large steelworks, usually seen exporing processed steel and other metals.
- Hertsbob & Sons - Furniture manufacturer, also a wood specialist and fabrics manufacturer/processor.
Accidents and IncidentsEdit
- In 1961, visiting S&DJR 7F No. 53802 (Dai) crashed at the Prairie Coaling Ltd. section of the Estate after running away down Gasworks Tunnel Incline, causing his tender to fall into the coal pit. The locomotive was later repaired and returned to service.
The Dark Railway SeriesEdit
- Series 1 - Will and Won't, Dave's Dating Tips, and Sir Eustace's Secret
- Series 2 - Dave and Dai, Tenders, Allan, Hide and Seek, and Eddie and Maxen
- Series 3 - 257 Squadron, BR Blues, Super 8, and Who Goes There?
- Series 4 - Allan Does Galen (mentioned), Trucks, Instant Crush, and Pogo Rides Again (mentioned)
- Series 5 - Abomination, Signal Lost, Haunted Hannah, Ed and Sid, Time Waits for No One, and Time Waits for No One, Part 2
- Series 6 - Ouverture (mentioned)
- The Industrial Estate was the largest railyard on the railway, and therefore, most of the line's goods trains originated or terminated here.
- The Industrial Estate used to be shunted by Theo and Otto up until 1962, when Allan was placed in charge of shunting the yards. In 1967, Allan was transferred to the Junction, leaving the yard without a dedicated shunter for several months, until the arrival of Abomination in 1968.
- The Industrial Estate was famous for being at the base of the formidable Gasworks Tunnel Incline. Because of it's location, trains usually struggled to leave the estate, unless large locomotives or pilot/banking engines were used. However, since 1968, goods trains have been brought up the incline and deposited at Merecombe Gasworks in sections to save time and effort from locomotives.
- The Industrial Estate closed to rail traffic in September 1968, due to the loss of a rail connection after the famous collapse of Gasworks Tunnel.
|Locations on The Dark Railway|
|Colhapper • Galen Junction • Axley • Lake (closed) • Walschurch • Upway • Manston Fore • Merecombe • Soma • Merecombe Gasworks (closed) • Merecombe Industrial Estate (closed)|
|Motive Power Depots|
|Colhapper Shed • Galen Junction Shed (closed) • Merecombe Shed|
|Points of Interest|
|Galen Junction Railway Museum • Caracus Smash Ltd • Walschurch Viaduct • Upway Bank • Gasworks Tunnel Incline (closed)|