Backtrack Volume 33 (2019)
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Published by Pendragon, Easingwold, YO61 3YS
|January (Number 333)
BR Class AL2 (later Class 82) No.E3046, in the new 'electric blue' livery', awaits departure from Manchester Piccadilly station on 18 September 1960. front cover
Madding crowds how to be far from them? Michael Blakemore.
Editorial moan: Overcrowding on Northern Powerhouse three-car Trans-Pennine services: standing under Standedge: at one time one had to leg it by narrow boat.
Snow on the line. Keith Dungate. 4-5
Colour photo-feature: Nos. 37 2226 and 37 098 on Manchester Collyhurst Street to Tunstead limstone empties passing closed Peak Forest station on 18 March 1987; No. 37 011 at Crianlarich on 10.20 Corpach to Mossend freight on 25 February 1986; No. 37 404 Ben Cruachan leaving Glasgow Queen Street on 12.20 to Oban with No. 47 702 St. Cuthbert waiting to leave on 13.25 push & pull service for Aberdeen on 22 February 1986; No. 37 405 at Tyndrum Lower on 12.20 ex-Glasgow Queen Street for Oban; reversed image of DMU at Leeds City departing for Neville Hill with snow-covered windscreen on 12 January 1987.
Doug Landau. 1948 the missing contenders.
It is suggested that if the Peppercorn A1 and A2 class Pacifics had been included in the 1948 Locomotive Exchanges they would have out-performed the other classes. In part this assertion is based on data obtained from tests on the A1 and A2 classes soon after construction, by their routine performance, and by experience with No. 60163 Tornado. Illustrations: A1 No. 60114 W.P. Allen on Doncaster shed in September 1958 (colour); A2 No. 60539 Bronzino at Darlington on up express in snow in February 1958 (colour); A1 No. 60114 in LNER green livery but with BRITISH RAILWAYS on the tender leaving Newark with Harrogate to King's Cross express (note concrete signal post to Marriott design); A2 No. 60539 Bronzino with rimless double chimney and in LNER green livery with BRITISH RAILWAYS on the tender near Grantham in 1949; A4 No. 60033 Seagull with ex-GWR dynamometer car leaving Waterlloo on Atlantic Coast Express on 10 June 1948; Duchess class No. 46236 City of Bradford with ex-LNER dynamometer car near Finsbury Park on 13.10 to Leens on 6 May 1948;; A1 No, 60163 Tornado on The Border Raider near Shap Summit on 24 June 2010.
Spencer Jackson. Starting work at Brent November 1961. 11-15
Training and practice of clerk in yard master's office who rostered guards for duties mainly on freight trains, but also included some passenger duties, notably the boat trains for Tilbury. Included workings onto and off the Southern Region where freight movements were not tolerated during the peak periods. The railway environment was dangerous and the death of a West Indian guard who was eager for regular work is told when his brake van was struck by adjacent coal wagons and he was buried in coal. Smog still caused chaos and heavy snow disrupted the progress of The Condor: the new Anglo-Scottish freight service between Hendon and Gushetfaulds. Illustrations: 9F 2-10-0 at South Sidings alongside Brent Junction No. 2 signal box; Ivatt Class 4 2-6-0 No. 43121 moving towards Cricklewood shed; 8F 2-8-0 No. 48617 with coal train; Jubilee No. 45628 Somaliland passing Brent Junction No. 1 signal box; Jubilee No. 45566 Queensland on up express; 8F heads off on 10.20 Brent to Hither Green coal train
Alan Taylor. Anglo-Scottish Monday to Friday West Coast Main Line
services 1966. 16-23.
Electric traction had radically reduced the time taken to travel from Euston to Crewe, but beyond there the ponderous English Electric Type 4 were woefully inadequate for the gradients of Shap and Beattock and the heavy trains allotted to them. The Brush versions were only slighly better, but the ascents brought speeds down to freight train levels. Even the downhill running was hardly inspiring. The basic service pattern followed that of the steam services with the 10.00 (or thereabouts) Royal Scot filling most of the day for their journeys; an equally slow trains at around 14.00. There were also the Caledonian services at about 08.00 and 16.00: these were still faster than the norm, even with diesel "power". Birmingham sill had a through Anglo-Scottish train in each direction. There were the complex Liverpool/Manchester to Edinburgh/Glasgow caravans wherein its clients spent long periods pondering Preston and Carstairs. Perth was as far as one could expect in day-time. Inverness was served by overnight services. The Thames Clyde Express offered an even longer journey time than the Royal Scot and linked many East Midlands and Sheffield and Leeds with Scotland. There were corresponding night services with sleeping cars and protracted journey times for seated passengers. Northern Irish services had been diverted via Kilmarnock to Stranraer and required massive motive power combinations for the section beyond Girvan (Royal Scots plus Britannia Pacifics for intance), but Stranraer Harbour was still available. llustrations: Class AL5 No. E3074 in electric blue livery at Manchester Piccadilly in September 1963 (C.J. Gordon Stuart: colour); AL6 No. E3143 waits to leave Euston with 17.00 down express on 7 May 1966 (Brian Stephenson); AL6 No. E3116 arrives at Euston with up express on 7 May 1966 (Brian Stephenson); English Electric Type 4 No. D268 on down express near Leyland on 4 June 1966 (Brian Stephenson); Brush Type 4 No. D1958 struggling to Shap Summit with down Royal Scot on 7 May 1967 (Brian Stephenson); Class AL3 No. E3027 passing Carpenders Park with express for Liverpool in 1966 (C.R.L. Coles); A4 No. 60024 Kingfisher leaves Perth with express for Glasgow Buchanan Street on 8 July 1966; AL1 No. E3008 at Liverpool Lime Street with express from Euston on 25 June 1964 (C.R.L. Coles); Class 47 No. 47 523 calls at Dumfries with 10.35 Stranraer to Euston on 9 June 1983 (Gavin Morrison: colour); Britannia Pacific No. 70024 Vulcan near Milnthorpe with 13.15 Euston to Glasgow on 20 August 1966 (M.J. Fox); Brush Type 4 No. D1851 passing Tebay on 1 April 1967 with up express (Patrick Russell);
Alastair Nisbet. Overcrowding the same old story. 24-31.
The Department of Transport has set maxima for Passengers in excess of Capacity although these only apply to the pampered London Underground and South of the Thames services and not to the Northern Powerhouse let alone the Dutch-owned Bittern line where it is normal to send out a single car to cope with Carnival days traffic. In the past railway companies were expected to treeat their passenger cargo with greater respect. The Ipswich Journal on 24 December 1953 reported that a station master and guard employed by the Caledonian Railway had been fined for taking two passengers into custody two passengers who had protested when carriages were filled beyond their capacity. The Perth Courier of 31 December 1857 noted that a York County Court judge was liable for overcrowding carriages. The Pall Mall Gazette of 29 July 1869. Quite a lot of space is devoted to the needs of those living on or not far beyond the southern limit of the underground system, namely Morden. A proposal by a grpou pf local authorities proposed a tuble line from Tooting Broadway to Mitcham and Carshalton, but did not appreciate that this woud still further impede progress towards Centrl London. Strangely, the current issue of Modern Railways has suggestions, including light rail for improving access to Sutton from Wimbledon. Illustrations are not of sardine conditions in a Pacer or a quad-art but mainly of sleepy rural locations where packed trains may have passed: Mablethorpe station looking north with small crowd dimly visible at exit on 24 April 1965 (L.R. Freeman); Helensburgh Central with V3 2-6-2T No. 67607 on 12.33 to Bridgeton Central on 13 February 1960 with snow on the platform and not a soul in sight (W.A.C. Smith); J11 No. 64303 with 15.30 Skegness and Mablethorpe lumbering its way across the Fens near Coningsby on its way to Manchester on 28 August 1948 (Peter Prescon); Ivatt Class 4 2-6-0 No. 43134 and V1 or V3 2-6-2Ts Nos. 67648, 67625 and 67618 at Singer on 28 August 1956 (W.A.C. Smith); ex-LBSCR D1 0-4-2T No. B612 at Epsom Downs with train for Sutton on 18 December 1926 (H.C. Casserley); 4-SUB multiple unit arriving at Sutton from Epsom on 5 August 1951 (Derek Clayton); Morden South station; St. Helier estate, Morden; Rosehill flats; Banstead station (John Scrace); Bulleid double deck train; RT 3986 red double deck bus at Sutton station on 164A to Tattenham Corner station in 1976 (colour: John Parkin); Tooting Broadway station in July 2017; Clapham North station in July 2017 (still with very narrow island platform); Morden station with tube train (colour)
The A5 Pacific tanks. 32-4.
Colour photo-feature: No. 69808 at Boston in June 1958; No. 69814 at Grantham in August 1959; No. 69820 at Derby Midland in July 1959; No. 69821 at Southwell on 8 June 1959: Class A5/2: No. 69835 on Scarborough shed in June 1957 (W. Oliver); No. 69805 leaving Hayfield for New Mills Central; No. 69808 at Southwell on Southwell Paddy for Rolleston Junction.
Looking West 35
Black & white photo-feature: No. 3302 Charles Mortimer (with domeless parallel Belpaire boiler) passing electrified Hammersmith & City Line at Westbourne Park; Brymbo station looking towards Minera; Radford and Timsbury Halt with corrugated iron pagoda shelter in Edwardian period; exterior of Swindon Works in Edwardian period; Corsham station with steamroller and large amount of stone traffic with only a very inadequate crane to load it; Clifton Bridge station with auto train; Dunball station platforms; Chipping Campden station and level crossing; staem railmotor No. 74 in crimson livery at Hungerford
Edward Gibbins. Britain's railways in World War 1: sequestration &
consequencies. Part Two. 38-44
To a great extent this article overlaps with a recent book by Mullay on the 1923 Grouping. The extremely parsimonious treatment of railway companies by the government following WW1. Labour costs had risen by 268% since 1913 and the effect was aggravated by the goverment colluding with the trade unions to accept an eight hour working day which greatly increased the cost of rural railways. Coastal shipping had been traffic had been diverted to the railways and then was redirected back to shipping. Demobilisation was a further cost to the railways which were even expected to collect greatcoats and refund the bearers with £1 for each returned coat. The railways were even expected to convey surplus road vehicles free from charge whicxh would be used to erode railway freight carryings. Perhaps the most destructive government act was the establishment of the Colwyn Committee which was formed of five MPs, one Treasury official and the President of the Federation of British Industries. The railways were required to forego documentary rights. Gibbins states that "no industry, including those of which Lord Colwyn was a director coal, cotton or rubber or the Manchester Ship Canal was treated in this way. [KPJ it is notable that many of those involved in the Grouping moved onto the rubber or automotive industries]. The report attempted to demand that recompense should be kept at the 1913 level. Illustrations: Lancashire Infantry at Warrington Bank Quay in 1914; Wick station on 6 August 1914 with part of the 5th (Sutherland & Caithness) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders; Eric Geddes' personal train (NER 2-4-2T No. 206 plus seven six-wheel vehicles and one bogie coach presumably for the great hero); tea trolley at Paddington; Jellicoe special coal train on Shap hauled by Webb compound and banked in rear; interior of L&YR ambulance train; NER T1 0-8-0 as ROD No. 5660; D1 0-4-2T No. 2221 at Tumbridge Wells West
Over the Hills and Far Away. George Watson. 45
Colour photo-feature of the Settle & Carlisle Line: Blea Moor on 20 September 1966 with 9F 2-10-0 No. 92015 entering northbound loop with train of anhydrite empties, No. 92093 taking water wnd Class 2 struggling up the incline; Class 5 4-6-0 No. 44853 and 9F No. 92096 on anhydrite train from Long Meg to Widnes on same day as previous; Blea Moor signal box with 8F No. 48756 on anhydrite empties on 30 May 1964; Jubilee 4-6-0 No. 45640 Frobisher with a special express climbing past Mallerstang on 22 July 1961; rebuilt Scot No. 46152 The King's Dragoon Guardsman leaves Ribblehead Viaduct with 15.40 Bradford Forster Square to Carlisle all stations on 3 April 1965; Britannia Pacific No. 70014 Iron Duke on short down freight at Settle on 29 April 1967; Class 4 2-6-0 No. 43028 on up freight looped at Blea Moor behind looped freight in first illustration; and Class 5 No. 44668 on 16,37 Carlisle to Bradford Forster Square at Kirkby Stephen West in snow on 14 April 1966.
Malcolm Timperley. Taking the Cure the railway
to Strathpeffer. Part One. 48-51
Dr Thomas Morrison suffered from arthritis found that the putrid, suphururous waters at Strathpeffer eased his condition and he encouraged the development of a spa from 1819. The Dingwall & Skye Railway promoted in 1864 hoped to serve the spa, but Sir William MacKenzie of Coul was determined that no railway would cross his land. This led to the Skye line having a difficult route and the eventual construction of a branch line to Strathpeffer where potential passengers were forced to change at Dingwall. This opened in 1885 and for a time enjoyed through sleeping cars from London and a Strathpeffer Spa Express which used the Rose Street curve to avoid calling at Inverness. Illustrations: Bellafrum class 2-2-2T (original Strathpeffer and nicknamed The Puffy Dunter or wheezinng whale); 0-4-4ST No. 13 Strathpeffer; 0-4-4T No. 25 Strathpeffer at Dingwall; 0-4-4T No. 25 Strathpeffer at Dingwall with 4-4-0 No. 7 Ben Attow arriving from Inverness for Far North; No. 25 Strathpeffer at Strathpeffer; 4-4-0 No. 129 Loch Maree on Strathpeffer Spa Express (publicity photograph); pump room (coloured postcard); Highland Hotel just prior to opening. .
Mike Fenton. Kemble Station The branches and the
railbus years. Part One. 52-7
Brunel's broad gauge railway reached Kemble and Cirencester on 31 May 1841. Difficulties with the Sapperton Tunnels through the Cotswolds delayed the opening to Gloucester until 1845. The Author has personal ties with the area. Illustrations: Kemble station looking north post 1872 but pre 1882; Ken Jones and Don Pritchard; Professor Mowat's view in same orientation as first illustration but taken on 8 August 1934; Jeremiah Greenaway, Station Inspector 1869-1900, map; up pllatform in 1980s; 10.35 mixed train departing for Cirencester behind 8750 class No. 8779 on 6 May 1952 (H.C. Casserley); 58XX No. 5805 in Tenbury platform at Kemble in mid-1950s (David Lawrence); view looking north in early 1920s with cordon gas tank wagon; water tank on 8 August 1934 (C.L. Mowat).
Mike G. Fell. Midland Railway 0-6-0s for Italy.
In 1906 the Midland Railway sold 50 Kirtley double frame 0-6-0s to the Italian State Railways and they were transported via Goole then by Bennett Steamship Co. ships to Boulogne; thence via the Mont Cenis line to Italy. The article was first published in the Stephenson Locomotive Society Journal (2001, Volume 77 (808)), Illustrations: No. 981 at Goole prior to shipment with group of Italian State Railway officials; SS Africa being loaded with one of the locomotives via the Armstrong Mitchell hydraulic crane with Alfred Banning watching; Armstrong Mitchell crane lifting coal wagon to tip its contents into hold of Bennett vessel; SS Mapsa outward bound for Boulogne with deck cargo of four locomotives
Leicestershire shed visits .60
Colour photo-feature: Coalville with 8F No. 48644 in April 1965 (Trevor Owen); Market Harborough with WD 2-8-0 No. 90161 in September 1959 (P.J. Hughes)
Readers' Forum.. 61-2
Cumberland coal. Chris
The picture of colliery waste being tipped into the sea at Whitehaven also records that classic coalfield activity of coal picking. The sacks being loaded in the foreground will join those already on the cycle propped up against the corrugated sheeting, ready for wheeling home. Quite how that Lambretta is going to cope with a load of sacks is anybodies guess! Note also the adventurous guy right up the slope under the wagons, getting the best of the lumps.
Streaking through time and space.
While I challenge the accuracy of Mallard's maximum speed I do not regard it as bogus (letter from Bob Walker in the November issue). Land speed record cars do not tow caravans and air speed record planes do not tow gliders. Rail speed record attempts, however, usually involve a locomotive hauling a train. If records should be set on level track then what trailing load should be used? Should it be a fixed load or should it vary with the size or power of the locomotive? I suggest it is impossible to find a fair way around this and the simple rule of highest speed attained regardless of load, gradient and wind direction is best.
Streaking through time and space. David
David Andrews has done a lot of very fine work to show how the published information on the record run of Mallard down Stoke bank contains errors which throw doubt on the claimed maximum speeds achieved. He did this by examining the actual dynamometer car chart recordings.
At the beginning of his article he includes a letter (to whom? KPJ see reference) from J.S. Dines commenting upon an aspect of the charts produced during record runs by Flying Scotsman and Papyrus. His basic point was that mathematically the accelerations over quite short distances at about MP 91 were unbelievable and needed some explanation. This point was then largely ignored by Andrews who then expounded on possible causes of error within the recording system. He did find two causes which generated sufficient error to cause the seen discrepancies and when these were used to correct the Dynamometer Car measurements he got the smooth curve shown in Fig.3 as '2017 analysis' with a maximum speed of only 124mph.
The slope of the speed curve indicates the rate of acceleration (both positive and negative) and the greater the inclination of that slope the greater the acceleration rate. As Mr. Dines observed, the accelerations involved were as great as for trains accelerating from a start to 60mph and this would be impossible in practice. Further, although Dines didn't mention it, the subsequent deceleration is also just as unbelievable, being equivalent to a light brake application when none was made! If all the track dimensions (grade, MP placements etc.) were accurate then such blips on the charts cannot represent the actual speeds attained by these trains, but rather imponderable errors within the whole recording system and its interpretation.
The 125mph case in Fig.4. is more believable than the 126mph one; however, they both deny reality on account of the very improbable accelerations involved. Andrews hints at a future article looking at the power capabilities both Mallard and the DRB 05.002. I would suggest this is the only way to get to the bottom of the matter. I have used that approach myself in simulation runs and I have concluded that about 124mph was achieved at MP 91, with a small fall in speed (about 0.3mph over the next level section to MP 90.6, and that this was followed by an increase in speed to a little less than 124.5mph before steam was shut off at MP 89¼. I believe there can be no doubt that both claims for a 125mph or a 126mph speed record are not justified by the events on 3 July 1938.
Passengers and pigeons. Allen
Re Glen Kilday's article on special traffic notices writer was living in Bridlington in 1962, but never fully appreciated the planning required for these additional trains or the implications for already stretched staffing and rolling stock. He recorded locomotives and trains through Bridlington from 1955 through to 1967 and can add to Glen's notes on the Blackburn and Preston Wakes Week extras on Saturday 21 July 1962: 1X10 Preston to Filey Holiday Camp hauled by 8F No.48608 of Mirfield shed. 1X09 Cherry Tree to Bridlington and Scarborough hauled by 'Crab' No.42713 of Farnley Junction shed I have spoken to retired Mirfield engine driver Geoff Oliver, who believes the trains were normally hauled by one locomotive throughout with a possible driver change at Wakefield Kirkgate. Water could be collected from the troughs along the Calder Valley. The 1X12 Scarborough to Blackburn that day was hauled by Bl No.61385 of Wakefield shed. As a matter of interest, the returning Wakes Week trains the following Saturday (Bridlington departure times) were:
08.43? to Preston V2 No.60954 of York shed (plus No. D6738 to Bridlington)
10.22 1X86 to Preston B16 No. 61448 of York shed
14.25 1X09 to Cherry Tree K3 No.61980 of Ardsley shed
I have been unable to ascertain how far these locomotives worked.
Passengers and pigeons. L
Re Glen Kilday's article on STNs: on Saturday 21 July 1962 writer was at Brighouse station on the LYR Calder Valley main line. At 11.03 No.45559 British Columbia (24E Blackpool) came through on the 1X10 Preston-Filey Holiday Camp. Then at 11.50 No.42713 (55C Farnley Jn.] appeared on 1X09 Cherry Tree-Scarborough. Later at 16.56 No. 45559 came back with 1X12 Scarborough Central-Blackburn. I cannot say where the 'Jubilee' changed engines.
Great Western branch lines. R.
Re Jeffery Wells article on GW branch lines: it brought back many memories as writer went to school and then worked on the Fairford branch until its closure beyond Witney in 1962. I also knew and travelled on the Faringdon branch a number of times as a young boy in 1947-51.
Regarding the top picture on p692 the pagoda-like hut was not a waiting room; this was in the station building. The lower picture is at Witney with an Oxford-bound train running wrong line. The vans on the other lane sat there all day to facilitate loading of parcels from a nearby mail order company. The first Witney station was not temporary, although it was unfinished when opened, but the line could not be extended from there so a junction was formed further back and the new station was at right angles to the old one and several hundred yards away. With regard to Faringdon, the nearest station prior to the branch opening was Challow, then called Faringdon Road. Uffington opened with the branch. Although in relatively close proximity to each other, the two branches were of very different character. This is shown by the observation about no underbridges on the Fairford line whilst the Faringdon line crossed only one public road and this was by an underbridge.
Peebles and NBR J88 tanks. Rae Montgomery
Re account of NBR J88 tanks caption on p543 states that "none ... ever received the BR crest or lined paintwork". Writer immediately questioned this, recollecting that a number of these locomotives still around during his early career with British Railways bore the early crest. The nearest source of confirmation was the lan Allan ABCs of 1958 and 1962/3. Both clearly indicate that Nos.68322 and 68345, the very stovepipe locomotive to which the writer refers, both carried the crest
The former Caledonian station at Peebles was not closed for goods traffic until 1959, not in 1955 as implied on p551. The Peebles Hotel Hydro was built in 1905-7 following the total destruction of the 1881 building in a fire in 1905. The comment that closure of the former NBR/LNER loop via Peebles was "one of Scotland's most puzzling closures" was itself puzzling. The operating cost of maintaining the eighteen manned level crossings between Hardengreen Junction and Peebles alone, not to mention the maintenance of substantial bridging structures between Hardengreen and Galashiels, would never have been remotely covered by the revenue accruing to the passenger service.
The Chatham line to Dover. Stephen
Patterns of electric services on the Chat ham route are not quite as described in Jeremy Clarkes's excellent article (November). In 19S9 there was only one Sittingbourne to Sheerness local service, connecting with the fast train from Victoria as described. The Sheerness connection out of the Charing Cross-Ramsgate train was provided by the Dover-Sheerness train. Thus, with the through train from and to Victoria, the Sheerness branch saw three, not four, hourly trains each way.
The present-day 'Javelin' service from St. Pancras to Ramsgate is only hourly, trains on the alternate half hours terminate at Faversham. However, a third hourly train from Victoria at 40 minutes past the hour runs to Ramsgate. Thus principal stations between Faversham and Ramsgate have trains from both Victoria and St. Pancras, but stations between Faversham and Dover are served only from Victoria. However, Canterbury West and Dover have fast trains from St. Pancras via Ashford. A complex, but comprehensive, service in true Southern tradition! Finally, since Sheerness steelworks closed in 2012 there has been no freight on the Chatham line east of Swanley.
Diesel transition in Scotland. Mike
The caption to the lower photograph on p581 of the October Issue states "Note the token exchanger at the platform end though the units were not fitted to make use of them". Not so. The token is about to be exchanged using the Manson ground apparatus, which is in the extended position, and an exchange pouch can be seen hanging in the exchanger jaws. The unit is fitted with exchanger apparatus, but not beside the driver's position. The Manson exchange apparatus was installed in the guard's van and operated by the guard. In addition to the usual bell codes between the driver and the guard, which were
3. Set back
3-3. Guard required by driver
4. Slow down (when propelling)
5. Guard or driver leaving the train in accordance with rules
the units working between Aberdeen and Inverness used the additional codes
2-2. Correct token received (guard to driver)
2-2-2. Approaching token exchange point (driver to guard)
Economics, religion and politics. Sam
May I offer a few observations to the comprehensive article on the GNR (I) by Stephen G. Abbott (Backtrack November 2018). The post-war years in Northern Ireland were dominated by an economy in growing need of external investment being managed by a Government protective of its traditional industries. Social investment based on the GB model tended to serve ends rather than be redistributed to meeting actual need. An internal NI boundary centred on the River Bann separated the western counties from those to the east and marked the political divide. Management of the economy was poor and regional planning non-existent. Publication in 1955 of a highly critical Northern Ireland economic report was delayed for two years such were its contents whilst regional planning based on the GB 1947 Town and Country Planning Act was non-existent until 1962. It was against this background that the GNR Board was formed.
The impact of the border had been a prime factor in changing GNR traffic patterns. like Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland had its various fault lines. However, fresh economic foresight in Dublin represented by talented government officials such as T.K. Whitaker and the acknowledgement that rail had a key role in connecting Dublin with the rural regions were important. This contributed to Dublin's 'reasoned argument' against the GNR cross-border closures. These 1957 closures left no measureable impact on the Northern Ireland border counties, but simmering social and economic discontent in those counties stemming from other factors was present. It might be fair to say railway closures did nothing to improve matters.
Unlike the GNR routes closed in 1957, the Derry Road between Portadown and Londonderry was a major secondary route and the key west of the Bann transport corridor. It linked the western counties and the administrative, industrial and commercial centres in Belfast and Dublin. Strabane on the Irish border was the main freight railhead for 'free to free' traffic between Co. Donegal and the rest of the Republic of Ireland. Acknowledgment by the Government of 'the greater interest' in maintaining societal stability by assuaging discontent west of the Bann was still absent by the early 1960s.
The internal UTA Committee in 1961, alluded to by Mr. Abbott, recommended modernisation of the railways including the Derry Road. Sir Robert Matthew, commissioned in 1962 to produce the first regional plan for Northern Ireland, argued the current railway system was at an appropriate scale to serve Northern Ireland's future needs. In 1964 Sheelagh Murnaghan, MP for Queen's University, made prescient comments about the proposed closure that she added would eventually lead to regret by Government. The Government's head remained in the sand throughout and the prescriptive terms of reference given to Henry Benson dismissed the wider interest. The Derry Road closed as intended and the huge land mass on the island of Ireland without rail became fact.
By 1966 as the Derry Road was being ripped up, the lack of interest from Government continued to be reflected in the failure to commence building work on west of the Bann road schemes promised before closure. This led to growing unease from Unionist as well as Nationalist opinion. Unionist backbench MP for South Tyrone John Taylor was critical of the decision to defer road schemes. He linked the requirement for good transport links to Tyrone and societal stability by referring to the disaster about to hit the western part of Northern Ireland. Nationalist backbench MP for East Tyrone Austin Currie made similar points, arguing dissatisfaction had been building up ever since the decision to sever the rail link with Co. Tyrone.
In the early 1990s I met William Craig. Mr. Craig was the infamous Stormont minister who pushed through the Derry Road closure. Asked if he had any regret at the closure decision, he paused and simply replied "With hindsight, I may have gone about things differently."
Book Reviews. 62
The Eyemouth Branch. Roger Jermy. Oakwood Press, Reviewed by
Knowing a little of the geography of the Borders Region I wondered, when unpacking my copy of Roger's book, how it might be possible to say so much about an uncelebrated branch line a mere two and a half miles long. Dipping into the book's 190 pages the answer soon becomes clear. Roger was meticulous, widely read and thorough in the research, preparation and execution of his writing, taking the reader through every stage of building and operating this interesting little byway.
Sensibly he avoids a trap often fallen into by railway writers. He begins his story not by launching straight into railways and trains but by setting the scene by way of short and interesting visits to the county of Berwickshire, Eyemouth itself and the various settlements in its vicinity. Thus the reader, who may know nothing of this little corner of Scotland, gains some understanding of the geography, people and trades of the district.
Like so many mid-Victorian enterprises, building this little branch was a long-fought and oft frustrating battle for its proponents. Roger, through careful examination of local written reports of meetings, alongside some useful anecdotal evidence, takes us through a blow-by-by blow account of the ups and downs of the process. He includes touches of irony and little sparks of humour as he spells out a series of optimistic meetings that were followed by periods of complete inaction. The same thorough approach continues in his description of contractual matters prior to and including construction itself. It is here that Roger makes, from the viewpoint of the reader, a small presentational mistake. He has written three separate sections each entitled 'Fulfilling the contract...', one describing the permanent way, one the major viaduct over the Eye-Water and finally the stations and other facilities. In itself it is through but, unfortunately, it leads to a degree of repetition that proves particularly apparent in the railway's dealings with one Major Marindin RE, who was the Board of Trade's appointed inspector. Marandin made two visits to the line before declaring it safe to open to the public. The author's description of Marandin's task and reports are spread over all three sections and repeated, albeit with differing emphasis. A single chapter about Marindin's work might have been more satisfying.
Burnmouth, the junction for Eyemouth with the East Coast Main lline, lies just a couple of miles north of the border with England, itself but a short distance from Berwick-upon-Tweed. Rightly then, it is at Berwick that Roger begins his description of the branch, for its operation was, from the start, completely linked to that town's engine sheds and other railway facilities. With no engine shed at Burnmouth or Eyemouth, everything was worked from Berwick. Roger gives us great detail about Burnmouth and Eyemouth stations and how they were operated and managed coupled with assiduous information about gradients, bridges, the permanent way including construction of the great viaduct over the Eye-Water.
His story of the line is divided up, first North British times, then LNER days and finally its fortunes under British Railways (BR) management. Here the reader must get used to an approach that, at first, is disconcerting. Roger comes at the story by way of a series of meticulously researched anecdotes, taken variously from a vast array of sources. Thus we have a little tale of a station master's doings juxtaposed with pieces about crime and punishment on the railway, and so on with other topics. Once familiar with the style it becomes fascinating, never quite knowing what snippet will come next! Inevitably the BR section ends with the line's closure in 1962, fought over, of course, but lost in the face of a road-obsessed Transport Minister.
That's not the end of Roger's work because he goes on to study timetables over the years and follows up with stories of several tragic accidents in and around the branch. He discusses the town's all-important fishing industry. Then he looks at the tragic floods of 1948 that, surprisingly, did not lead to the line's premature closure. There follows a penultimate short chapter with a couple of slightly tongue-in-cheek article lifted from newspapers in 1909 and 1916. He rounds off his tale with a look at the remains of what can be seen of the little branch line today.
Roger's work is an interesting and altogether readable account that certainly adds value to the vast library of publications in the Oakwood Press series. The wealth of illustrations are nicely placed and very well reproduced. The little and sometimes personal tales of its workers and the local population will be an invaluable tool for those pursuing local studies and even family histories.
Scottish Railways 1923-2016: a history. David Ross. Stenlake
Publishing. 256pp, 143 illustrations. Reviewed by NTS *****
This book follows the histories of the five Scottish pre-grouping companies by David Ross and continues the story of the nation's railways from 1923 up to the present time. It is wide-ranging, looking at how Scotland's railways were organised over nine decades, the traffic they carried, the personalities involved, industrial relations and the political climate which resulted in major changes of policy for the country's railways.
The Grouping of 1923 divided the five Scottish companies between the LMS, with its concentration on centralisation, and the LNER, which had a more devolved approach to management. Twenty-five years later the LMS and LNER lines were merged to form the Scottish Region, with savings from integration of freight and other services.
The influence of the significant general managers of the Scottish Region is assessed in the book. James Ness is probably the best-known of these to railway enthusiasts, because of his restoration to working order of four pre-grouping locomotives. Here he is remembered by a member of his staff as being "a complete autocrat but a man of constant drive and ability".
While Ness and several other general managers spent most of their career in Scotland, two of the most influential were Englishmen who returned south as their careers prospered. W.G. Thorpe introduced the two-tier management system to BR while in Scotland. Chris Green re-invented the Scottish Region as ScotRail with "a marketing approach which focussed on customer needs".
Scots were, of course, involved in the wider British railway scene in significant roles. The LNER's chairman between 1923 and 1938 was William Whitelaw, previously chairman of the Highland and then the North British. Other Scots included transport ministers, such as Malcolm Rifkind and John McGregor, the two politicians most involved with the privatisation of the British railway network.
Privatisation was one of three Government-led "great upheavals" Grouping and Nationalisation being the others. The critical examination of these applies to the whole British system and make the book of wider than just Scottish interest. Since Devolution that there has been a divergence in policy, which has been to Scotland's advantage. This is reflected in the maps of the Scottish system in 1984 and 2016 which show lines that have not only been re-opened, but also electrified.
The text includes tables showing traffic at various dates and there are several appendices which include a timeline and lists of station closed and opened or reopened. The book is well-illustrated with several useful maps. There is a full index
With this book David Ross completes his volumes which provide a comprehensive history of Scotland's railways over two centuries. This latest work is particularly valuable as it is the first detailed analysis of Scottish railways since 1923 and is highly recommended.
Lost lines railway treasures. Nigel Welbourn. Published
by Crecy Publishing Ltd. 224pp. Reviewed by CH ***
Prior to this, his latest work, Nigel Welbourn had visited and revisited over 400 of Britain's closed railway lines in a series of fifteen 'Lost Lines' books. Each volume covering different regions provides a history of its closed railways and is illustrated with primarily black and white photographs.
Lost Lines Railway Treasures adds a sixteenth volume to the series but is a different beast from earlier books. As Mr. Welbourn explains in his introduction he has abandoned his very successful formulae, preferring to take an overview of Britain from a different perspective. In this book he has selected a number of his best loved lines and combined them with closed railway remains, locomotives, rolling stock and ephemera, all illustrated in full colour. The book is divided into 25 chapters covering most aspects of the country's railways including early waggon and tramways, the main lines, industrial railways, ports, docks and piers and London Transport.
Chapter 1 chronicles 'Early Closures' and features amongst other subjects the 'Innocent Railway', the London & Birmingham Railway's Curzon Street station, Merthyr Tramroad and the Stockton & Darlington Railway. The following chapters continue to meander through line closures linked to the history of Britain's railways until Chapter 19 is reached. At this point we pause for a while and venture across the water for an Irish Interlude where amongst many Dublin railway relics he describes the miles miles of narrow gauge track which linked the Guinness Brewery at St. James's Gate to the main line and quay on the River Liffey. Finally in Chapter 25 'Time Travellers' he turns full circle and reflects on the closed standard and narrow gauge railways that have reopened and returned to main line use or developed as heritage railways.
The book is a massive undertaking by Welbourn and each page is full of never-ending facts as he endeavours to include as many closed railways and their accompanying remains as possible. On occasion, though, it appears that he has resorted to using easily available illustrations without much thought for the subject or reader. For example a whole page devoted to the Whitby-Scarborough line would have benefited by sourcing a picture of the magnificent Larpool Viaduct (an icon of the railway) rather than resorting to a couple of images of tickets, a timetable and a rather inaccurate LNER poster, especially as the structure is mentioned on two separate occasions within the book. Further disappointment is in the quality of reproduction of many of the photographs, which compared with other books selling at a RRP of £25 is poor. Illustrations are either muddy, bleached or of dubious focus. This could be blamed to some extent on inferior originals but it is no excuse. A further small gripe concerns the number of the photographs of buildings and structures that are not recent. A note with each, qualifying their continued existence, would have prevented numerous referrals to Google Earth!
So has the new perspective of 'Railway Treasures' proved successful? There is no doubting Nigel Welbourn's enthusiasm and dedication to his subject and his 'Lost Lines' series has been a welcome addition to the railway library. However, I feel this book has lost its way. From the very first page there is an information overload as the author rapidly moves from one location and subject to another. This may be appreciated by the 'railway an cion ado' but for the more general reader at which this book is aimed, will probably prove to be terribly confusing.