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Tortillards of Artois – The Metre Gauge Railways and Tramways of the Western Pas-de-Calais

Author : Martin & Joan Farebrother
ISBN : 9780853616795
Cover : paperback
Price : £19.95

Tortillard – a definition

The name tortillard has been widely applied to narrow gauge steam railways and trains in France. The derivation is probably from the verb tortiller, to twist or twirl. The word has been used since the early 20th century and is probably a comment on the twisting or tortuous nature of many narrow gauge lines. These trains have also attracted the title le tacot, tacot being a term for an old-fashioned and defective vehicle.

Discover the charm of the Artois metre gauge railways and tramways – indeed there is much to discover. In an area roughly bounded by Calais in the north, St-Omer and Aire-sur-la-Lys in the east, Anvin and Montreuil in the south and Berck-Plage, Le Touquet Paris-Plage, √Čtaples , Hardelot Plage, Le Portel, Boulogne and Wimereux on the channel coast, at its most extensive there were 188 miles of metre gauge railways and urban and inter-urban tramways.

The lines themselves offer much variety, from busy urban, to sleepy rural, routes. Some lines provided an escape to the coast for thousands of holidaymakers, but many felt the significant impact of two world wars.

The metre gauge network of the area began with the opening of the first part of the Anvin-Calais line in 1881, and ended with the closure of the rump of the Anvin-Calais and Aire-Berck lines in 1955. The two principal lines, Anvin-Calais and Aire-Berck, were 59 miles and 60 miles long respectively. There were very few narrow gauge lines which were not metre gauge in the area, these were of 60 cm gauge and have been mentioned briefly for the sake of completeness.

These days the region is a major tourist destination for the British, but few know of the bygone age of metre gauge railways. Many walk the walls of Montreuil every year, little knowing about the old railway route below. The book concludes with what can be seen now, and some walks on parts of the former trackbeds.

A5 format, 336 pages, more than 200 illustrations.

Tortillards of Artois – The Metre Gauge Railways and Tramways of the Western Pas-de-Calais
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