Bodmin, besides having the charming Bodmin & Wenford Railway as an attraction, does offer a rather disturbing, if not positively macabre, alternative – Bodmin Jail. I can do little better by way of introduction than this quote, taken from the Jail’s own website: ‘Welcome to Bodmin Jail’. ‘We are an all weather, family attraction….’ If this hasn’t made you slightly wary, there’s more – a ‘Night Ghost Walk’ with, ‘an experienced and professional Psychic’ – a steal at a mere £75 for the night, ‘don’t forget warm clothes and a torch, and a camera’. ( In case you need to escape?)
Spending the night in an 18th Century jail, ‘ghost hunting’, makes standing in a sun lit field, taking photographs of 19th Century technology, a veritable haven of sanity in an increasingly, mad, mad, world. Anyway, back to the railway stuff, Joseph Beattie, who designed what eventually became this engine, was born in Ireland in 1808; and the short version is that his Dad got him a job with another Joe – Joseph Locke, a Barnsley lad, who built a chunk of what became the London South Western Railway’s main line. These connections secured Beattie the post of Carriage & Wagon Superintendent at Nine Elms works, he became Locomotive Engineer there, in July 1850. He was succeeded, in the post of Locomotive Engineer, by his son, William George Beattie, in 1871.
I will now play my ‘get out of jail free card’ , undo the Locke and Beattie a hasty retreat – ‘I’ll get my coat’.
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