Contraction and Pronunciation

This was the scribe’s second contribution to the Cornwall Railway Society’s web pages.

All the Stations …

Going through every one of your online photo galleries has brought me much fascination, although I have once more been overwhelmed by the scale of the contraction everywhere.

Often, I have looked at your photos and tried to overlay them on the images in my mind of dereliction or eradicating development.

As I make clear in my web pages, the loss of over 400 miles and more than 200 stations from the Devon and Cornwall network is not a real measure, because the railway’s capacity as well as its reach is so diminished.

It may be thought that the losses would have been greater in the far west, but Somerset suffered much more than Cornwall, with only twenty stations left open and not one branch line remaining.

Cornish Riviera Limited

My father (b. 1898) always pronounced “riviera” in the anglicized way and though he was apt to use unusual pronunciations, like “she” for “ski,” I seem to think that “riveera” was the way that Great Western men would have known the train, if it wasn’t simply the “Limited.” I have heard this pronunciation on a Railway Roundabout film and on the B.T. film unit’s Train Time; the one which shows the railway responding to a rush of Cornish perishables and a foreman ringing in: “Hello, Control? Er, Gwinear here. Helston stour … ” (STOUR: telegraphic code meaning “following is the state of our yard … ” – or in this case, branch).

So, I contend that it is only in later years that the Italian pronunciation of “riviera” has been used and that this would not have been familiar to Great Western men or the travelling public.

Among railway folk I doubt that I have to apologize for pedantry.

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