LOADING BEET AT PORTARLINGTON
RAIL 16 PHOTO
The sugar beet industry was one of the great triumphs of the emerging Irish Republic, along with other important infrastructural schemes as the rural electrification and the Shannon dam at Ardnacrusha. Since Ireland is primarily an agricultural country (for how long, one wonders), beet thrived in its moist fields, even when soil quality was not high. In 1983 there were four rail-connected beet factories to which the drop was processed - Mallow, Tuam, Carlow and Thurles. There were several loading points besides the well-known mechanized facility at Wellongton Bridge - this shot of manual loading at Portarlington illustrates just how simple and flexible the operation was. The loading bay was originally intended for general goods but by this time, beet was the only freight handled at Portarlington.
162 is in charge on 27 October 1983; the train was BT 3 and I need to find my Weekly Circular supplement to see where it was bound!