H.A. Vallance. The railway enthusiast's bedside book.
London: B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1966. 264pp. + plates
Elmer T. Rudd. Thoughts on the Bull. 13-21.
O.V.S. Bulleid as observed on demonstration run of a Merchant Navy class Pacific:
Later, we were given a run to Exeter, in an immense train of rather shabby coaches which could be briefly spared from the Southern Railway's contri- bution to the British War Effort. Apart from Sir Eustace Missenden and his Southern Railway staff, there were several journalists and suchlike aboard the train. W.A. Willox, then of The Railway Gazette, and in one's experience never a man to gush unduly, went almost starry-eyed over the train's acceleration out of Waterloo. We got away from Waterloo, he said, like the wind. In his entourage was John Skelron, who suddenly stopped talking about South America, giving his eye to his stopwatch and evidently loving her like a mother. Even Hamilton Ellis had a stopwatch, saying with a smirk of half-shame that it was borrowed, and that he never used such a thing unless, as now, he was being paid to do it. The truth was that all these people wanted to see what happened when you had a Pacific locomotive, with a big firebox apparently full of thermic siphons and things, and a working pressure of 280 lb. per sq. in., on a train of unprecedented length, pointed towards Exeter by the London & South Western line.
We were not disappointed. Willox had been quite right about "getting away like the wind", and then, somewhere around Winchfield, a person best left nameless came out with his "I told you so!" For clouds of smoke, and an abominable odour, were coming from the front of the train, and someone else said he was sure that both came from that box with the works in it. When we pulled up in the environs of Basingstoke, it seemed that the only Southern Railway face neither red nor elongated was Bulleid's. He was down on the ballast, as on a long-ago occasion in Lincolnshire or somewhere, apparently fascinated by the fault and its possible causes, and wearing that mild grin which, like his feline handshake, many men will remember for a long time.
Two old engines, one South Western and the other more or less South Eastern & Chatham, took us on to Salisbury, where there was another of Bulleid's new babies waiting to take us to Exeter.
Robert M. Hogg. Scotland's mountain barriers. 22-32.
G.E. Williams. Timetable science. 33-9
"Hooghly". Locomotives on the Ganges. 44-9
Construction of the East Indian Railway
G.O. Holt. Unusual mishaps. 50-61
Alan A. Jackson. Ghosts Underground. 62-70.
A.W.C. Mace. Exposure! 71-80
C.L. Mowat. By train to Bantry. 81-5
The final journey by the boat train from Harcourt Street to Rosslare showed me the old Dublin & South Eastern main line, with its combination of superb coastal and mountain scenery. Its signals still remind one of its separate identity; they are on lattice posts, and suggest the North British Railway; the old Great Southern & Western signals are more suggestive of the Great Central. The signal box at several D.S.E.R. crossing stations is a curious corrugated iron building, high up on one end of the station foot- bridge (the supplier, according to a plate on the box at Gorey, was the old firm of McKenzie & Holland). This journey was memorable for its crowded station scenes. Whole families had come down to speed the parting son or sister on the way to England, and to give the fond farewells which have long been all too familiar for Irish people. At Wexford, where the train proceeds slowly along the quay, beside the street, there were shouts and cheers from large crowds throughout our progress.
But what of Bantry? For my objective was this terminus of the old 5 ft. 3 in.-gauge Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway. The line starts at Albert Quay station in Cork, across the river from the main line, but connected with the latter by a siding which crosses the river on one of the road lift-bridges. There is only one down train in the day, the 5.30 p.m. It was a substantial train of five bogie carriages, headed by a 4-6-0 tank, No. 468. I was in a semi-open carriage of former first-class stock, which was most comfortable. As befitted its importance, the train was very well filled, and its arrival at each station was clearly the event of the day. Albert Quay Station has two platforms, a short all-over roof, plain but attractive stone buildings at the platform end, and a large goods yard and crowded engine shed. On starting the train plunges under a large iron signal box which straddles the main track and into a deep rock cutting. A long climb follows, with views northwards over the placid valley of the Lee, to Waterfall, the first stop and a crossing station. The line is worked by electric staff; and nearly every station is a crossing place, manned, ap- parently, by one man who serves as signalman, porter and clerk. At first, the country is hilly and well fanned, reminiscent of Devon.
Rock cuttings and a tunnel lead to Ballinhassig Station, and a wide, shallow valley in which is Crossbarry Station, formerly Kinsale Junction; the Kinsale branch, served by the outer face of the down platform, has had its rails taken up, though its grass-grown course is visible. The country continues to be high and open, but becomes more hilly and closed-in beyond Upton; rock cuttings, a viaduct, a view of a ruined castle down a wooded valley, romantic in a golden evening light, intervene before the line sweeps down to the valley of the Bandon, and reaches the town and station of that name. This, the largest station on the line, has an island platform, and was a scene of much activity. We crossed an up goods and cattle train, so long that its tail was standing on the loop points.
Another long run brought us to Clonakilty Junction, where the one-coach branch train and small tank engine were waiting on the other side of the down island platform; the layout here, as at other country junctions, is generous and complete. As we continued farther west, the country grew wilder, with rough pasture, hillsides covered with gorse and bracken or outcroppings of rock, and stacks of peat beside the fields. In the distance were the large, bare outlines of the Kerry mountains. At Drimoleague, where the 2-4-2 tank for our rear coaches, bound for Baltimore, was waiting just beyond the junction points, the train was divided, and we proceeded forward with three coaches only. Only when we neared Bantry did we see the sea- the broad expanse of Bantry Bay, 23 miles long between the mountains.
The railway comes out high up above the bay and the town, but does not stop there; it makes a broad horseshoe sweep, round the town ,and round a hill, descending as it curves until it brought us down to the tiny station at the water's edge, with its yard and stone-built engine shed and, in former days, a line extending to a short pier. The sun was still warm and high, at 8.8 p.m.; and, indeed, it was still above the mountains at ten o'clock, when I returned to the station. The gate was locked: the coaches were parked at the platform, the engine standing silent outside the shed, and awaiting the return journey at eight next morning.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: These impressions of railways in the Republic of Ireland were written in July 1952. Dieselizaiion was then still far from complete, and the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) was an independent company. Some of the lines visited have since been closed. These include the whole of the Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway, the Kenmare branch, Harcourt Street Station, Dublin, and the Hill of Howth tramway. The suburban services between Dublin (Westland Row) and Bray have been severely reduced .
The L.M.S. is running 33 special trains from Scotland. The first
of these football expresses will bring to London over 11,500 Scottish
supporters." The train must have been at least double-headed, and the carriages
fitted with seats on the roof!
From the "Evening News," April 1932
J. Horsley Denton. Private stations. 86-93
Robert Savage. Railways of the Cordillera. 94-102
R.K. Kirkland. Three faces of independence. 103-17.
L.C. Johnsonn. "Ther's a lot of old stuff!". 118-26
Hamilton Ellis. The great locomotive row. 127-36
John R. Day. Modern monorails. 137-46
M.D. Greville. Backward look. 147-55
Scotland, apart from its natural attractions, was, from a railway point of view, very fascinating, and having started, I visited it regularly up to the First World War, and have continued to do so frequently ever since. Very early, I explored the scenically beautiful Highland Railway, in many ways a slightly comic but rather lovable concern, faced with the almost impossible task of conveying-in the summer-a heavy traffic over long stretches of single line with the severe handicap offrequent late connections at Perth. One feature which sticks in my memory was the ten-minute stop at Bonar Bridge for refreshments, where the wild rush to get and consume something in the time was reminiscent of what one reads of Swindon in early days. It was needed, as the journey between Inverness and Wick took six or seven hours, as compared with four or five now, with refreshment cars.
Perhaps the highlight of Scottish railways, in pre-1914 days, was the Clyde steamer services. The beautiful and graceful steamers, the ultra-smart working, and the excitement of the extreme (and probably very wasteful) competition made travelling on the Clyde an unforgettable experience, apart from its scenic attraction. Looking back nostalgically to my trips 50 to 60 years ago, it seems to me that the weather was always fme, and the band always playing' 'Nights of Gladness", thought neither can be actually correct. The races for the piers were frequently really exciting. We all had our pet fleets-mine was the Glasgow & South Western (after the Great North my favourite Scottish line) and here again I liked the Caledonian the least. But I must admit that I think it showed up better here than elsewhere; the train services to the "Coast" were good and fast, with better stock than the average, and their two coast stations, Gourock and Wemyss Bay, quite seemly and well kept. Certainly the working of the boats was a revelation. It was quite usual at Gourock, in business hours (and there was a heavy residential traffic) for three well-filled boats to be got away in less than five minutes after the arrival of the train.
In 1904, I joined the Railway Club (then five years old, and still going strong) to which I owe so much. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity of meeting and knowing most of the leading early railway enthusiasts, whose names will be familiar to those who have read the earlier volumes of The Railway Magazine. Among others, G.W.J. Potter, a very sound and well-informed man, who became a great friend, and whose history of the Whitby & Pickering Railway, published in 1906, was one of the earliest histories of small lines (now so numerous) and, in view of the restricted sources then available, most admirable and informative. H.L. Hopwood, who contributed so much in his way to the early study of railway history; and the Rev. W.J. Scott, whom it was an education to have known, and a real "character" who combined extensive knowledge with a keen sense of humour. I could name many others, such as Rous-Marten, G.A. Sekon, Clement E. Stretton and R.E. Charlewood.
With Charlewood, I served for a time as joint secretary of the Railway Club. He was a man of immense energy. When he accepted the position, he was living at Carnforth, and stipulated that he should not be expected to be in London more than once a week. In actual practice, very few weeks passed when he did not come to the club at least three times, travelling backwards and forwards. I owe the inestimable benefit of a large number of friends with similar interests, to the Railway Club, and to the Railway & Canal Historical Society, of which I am a little proud to have been one of the founders ten years ago.
Among my liveliest recollections is the London Underground, both before and after electrification. In the steam days a journey on this was an interesting almost eerieexperience, what with the gloom and smoke-filled atmosphere, the grim and spartan carriages and the archaic-looking locomotives (which appeared really older than they were). And then the atmosphere! This was pretty thick all round the Circle, but to get the best effects one had to be on the Metropolitan. I can still recall the smokecould almost say the tasteat what I still find it difficult not to call Gower Street and Portland Road stations. How often have I waited at these stations, and one often had to wait quite a time (or did it only seem long ?), coughing and gasping. There were those who claimed that it was healthyperhaps it was, but I doubt it. Then came the electrification which transformed things, but only after prolonged teething troubles, especially on the District Line. In the early days of electric working, travel on the District was a most interesting and amusing experience, always supposing that you did not want to get somewhere in reasonable time. For those who would know what it was like I would recom- mend a poem in Punch, by Owen Seaman, sometime about 1906, describing a journey from Putney to Charing Cross. This, though perhaps somewhat exaggerated, did give an idea of what travel on the District was like then. The irregular service, frequent breakdowns, ramshackle rolling stockwith automatic doors which, as often as not, refused to workwhich made an appalling noise coming into the stations (Seaman described it as "a crash like skittle-balls on sheered lead"), and frequent doubts as to the destination of the train, were all really fascinating, unless, as I said, you wanted to get some- where.
The doubts as to destinations were partly caused by a traffic controller at Earls Court, who apparently arbitrarily altered them at a moment's notice. I once heard, as a result of this, an official call out the destination of a train as follows"West Kensington, Hammersmith,Oh! Damn, No !Walham Green and Putney Bridge."
William J. Skillern. By any other name. 156-61