Hump Yard

Photos from a recently discovered collection of photographs of testing of Hump Yard Retarders at the Chippenham Site – long before modern Health & Safety rules.

Although extinct in the UK these days, Marshalling Yards operated purely on gravity were common during the earlier parts of the 20th Century. Loose coupled trains were pushed over a ‘hump’, and then moved through the yard which was arranged to be ‘downhill’ of the hump. Early electronic and electromechanical systems were used to determine which wagon went where, but for the safe operation of the yard – and particularly to avoid damage to wagons or their contents – each vehicle had to be braked individually. This was done by means of air operated or eddy current ‘retarders’, and the technology was a true mixture of brake and signal technology.

These photos show testing of new systems towards the top of the Chippenham site.

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