Reminiscences of an Irish Locomotive Works.
E. E. Joynt, M.I.Mech.E.
LAST DAYS AT SCHOOL. 104-6 (V. 38)
It was in the early part of 1892, whilst still a pupil at the Methodist College, Belfast, that made my first acquaintance with Inchicore Works. It had been settled for some time previously that mechanical engineering was to be my profession, and the workshops of the Great Southern and Western Ry., the most important of the kind in Ireland, were designated as the place of my probation and practical training. Engineering had always made a special appeal to me from my childhood in Ballina. On the civil side there was the Moy Harbour, with its quay, its sinuous channel, its training walls, buoys, and beacons, and the sandy bar, which was the final stage of the passage of the river into the bay. On the mechanical side there was the railway station, with its rails, signals, and crossings, its coaches and wagons, which filled me with wonder and longing. Above all, there were the locomotives, machines which to me were as yet full of mystery and wonder, resplendent in their light green paint, with their crimson buffer beams, burnished brass dome covers, and complicated glistening motion. Besides, there was one steam engine in the town which drove a sawmill. This engine was the object of a visit every Saturday morning on my way to a music lesson. Whilst my fingers blundered subsequently over the notes my thoughts were with the engine, and to that steam sawmill I always attribute the blame of my failure to make any headway whatever with the pianoforte. Engines and machines of many varied types have subsequently claimed my interest, but the locomotive was my "first love." Although I have now left railway work behind me for some years, I am quite sure that I shall never be able to pass a locomotive without stopping to watch it. My interest in harbours also remains, but merely as that of an interested outsider. To mechanical engineering my lot was assigned, and it became the principal absorption of my life.
On a Spring day then, accompanied by my father, I visited Inchicore for the first time, walking past the high limestone wall, the workmen's houses, and the pond field. We had come specially to see the locomotive engineer, Mr. H. A. Ivatt, and decide matters finally with him. Mr. Ivatt was a tall, dark, whiskered, loosely-built man who spoke with a nasal intonation. The only question to be settled was whether I was to be an apprentice or a pupil. In addition to the workmen's sons, a certain number of premium apprentices were annually taken on. These served five years, during which period the fee paid was understood to be returned to them in the form of weekly wages. Pupils paid a very much enhanced fee, which, Mr. Ivatt explained, all went into his own pocket. In return, they enjoyed special freedom and privileges, passed through more shops than the apprentices, but received no payment. My good father decided to enter me as a pupil, and the interview terminated by Mr. Ivatt's sending for someone to show us through the works. The youth selected for this duty was tall, lanky, and grease-stained. My chief recollection of him is the pro-nounced Dublin drawl with which he spoke, and which contrasted strongly with the harsh speech of Belfast.
My last month at school was one of delightful freedom. As far as lessons were concerned I neglected them all. I knew I was soon to say good-bye to them, and during the remaining weeks I was simply "working my notice." On St. Patrick's Day that year, I remember, we won the Ulster Schools Football Cup. Such jubilation and riotous school-boy delight, such gloating over the Royal Academical Institute, our deadly rivals ! I was then a "big fellow" at school, and, since my visit to Inchicore, held my head higher than ever. No more Greek for me, no more French irregular verbs, no more learning by heart of "Paradise Lost," Book 1. I was going to be an engineer, to handle tools and materials, to construct and create. I regarded the "poor kids" around me with a condescending air of superiority, and counted the days till my release.
It may not be amiss here to consider how much of my instruction at the College was of direct benefit to me in the special career to which I had always aspired. To the boy at a primary school everything he is taught is equally useless. At a secondary school, however, a lad begins to think, to show preferences and to exhibit special aptitude for particular studies. My favourite subjects were natural science, especially chemistry, and mathematics. I was also very fond of drawing, but my first lessons in freehand, as taught by the teacher from the Belfast School of Art, soon cured me of my zeal. Those patterns of leaves, and Fleur de lys, and exercises on the circle which had all to be drawn freehand, were to me less than uninteresting. In a day or two I discovered that a penknife with the blade half opened out, and with the point of the pencil inserted in the joint, formed an excellent compass. This enabled me, behind the master's back, to describe arcs accurately and quickly, and the time thus gained could be devoted to unauthorised sketches of fanciful machine parts, engines, ships, and other subjects of more pressing interest.
The school was run on purely classical lines. Latin and Greek was highly marked in the "Intermediate." Modern languages, physics, and chemistry were of lesser current value in marks, and received correspondingly less attention. Latin and French I could tolerate, but I hated the ancient Greek language, and resented being taught it. In common sense, how could any average schoolboy be expected to get more than a useless smattering of three unfamiliar and very difficult languages? To me, the drudgery of getting even a passable acquaintance with them was dreadful, and biassed my mind against the classics and the beautiful language of France, for long years. Things are much different in educational matters nowadays. Some serious attempt is made to give vocational bias to a youth's studies before he completes his secondary school training. The "Intermediate" and its marks were then the be-all and end-all of Irish education, and the Methodist College was in close competition for the title of "the first school in Ulster."
The summons to Inchicore came at last. When the time came to say
"good-bye," and to wring the hands of all the fellows who, I knew, would
miss me for a little while, I felt that the old College was not reaIly such
a bad place after all. It was, however, only after I had settled in lodgings
in Dublin that I fully appreciated the truth of the lines of Byron :
" . . dear is the schoolboy spot,
We ne'er forget, though there we are forgot."
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE WORKSHOP.
If my recollection is correct, it was on April 16 at I commenced work at Inchicore. After a brief Interview with Mr. Ivatt, I was conducted to the office of the works manager, Mr. Robert Coey, who transferred me to the paternal care of Mr. Cronin, the fitting shop foreman. He led me through the drawing office into the shop, and finally left me before a lathe in the care of an apprentice of some eighteen months' standing.
It was a new world in which I found myself, and at first it seemed to me a noisy and bewildering world. The innumerable revolving belts and pulleys, the lines of shafting, the rows of lathes, the benches surrounded by workmen, the racks supporting connecting rods and other engine parts, the hum of machinery, the hammering the staring eyes cast on the newcomer, all made me feel shy, strange, depaysé. I concentrated my immediate attention, however, on the operations of the lathe before me. This was a simple, non-screw-cutting machine, and the particular job in hand consisted of bolts to be turned to gauge. The person under whose tutelage I was placed was a lanky youth of the pure Dublin type, Louth by name. He was a very decent fellow, and soon put me at my ease, initiating me into the habits and conventions of the shop, things to do and things to avoid, and pointing out the chief persons of importance and interest. First there was Dick Cronin, the gaffer, grim of countenance, abrupt of speech. Then there was Tom McGuckin, machine charge-hand, a northerner who spoke the forceful dialect of Belfast. Next there were the bench charge-hands, old Ned Sadlier, with his paper cap and smooth, greasy face, Jem Harvey, a tall, straight, handsome man, and Charlie Cuddy, with his melancholy countenance and taciturn manner. Finally, there were the workmen and apprentices near by, Jack Pell, Billy Graham, and Joe Osborne. The next lathe but one to ours was operated by a big-headed, dull-eyed boy, who was continually hazed and cursed by the charge-hand. The poor wretch led the life of a dog, and was dismissed after some little time as unfit for a mechanical career. I was, however, informed later on that he had an abnormal genius for abstruse mathematical problems.
On the second morning I started work at six o'clock, walking to the works to the rather dismal dirge of the bell. The hooter which now marks the hours of toil and acts as general time-checker to the householders of Inchicore, was not installed for long years afterwards. At the present day the bell is still used on occasions when the hooter is temporarily out of action. As I listen to it in my house, the monotonous ding-dong always recalls those early mornings; the shuffling stream of men in the dark of winter, and the piercing blast of the wind coming in from the open country on the road leading up to the works. Upon my arrival in the shop there was an opening of lockers and drawers, and then a sudden crescendo note in the hum of the wheels caused by all the machines being switched into action at once as the foreman came in the door.
The bell was tolled by Pat O'Hara, a faithful old servitor, trustworthy and punctilious as regarded his humble but important duty. I do not think he ever lost an hour from his work, until one day, years afterwards, when he fell sick and died, leaving the old bell and rope behind him. The controlling deity in the time-office was Mr. McEvoy, "Micky Mac," as he was called, a fierce-eyed little man, brusque and snappy in manner as he shied out the checks to the men who passed in file before his window. Inexorable if a man arrived a fraction of a second after Pat's last decisive dong.
It was a long day from six in the morning till a quarter past five in the evening, broken by intervals of three-quarters of an hour for breakfast and dinner. Louth had chalked an improvised sundial on the window sill near the lathe, by means of which he could tell at a glance the number of hours until the longed-for time of release. The work of the lathe tended to become monotonous. Those were the days before automatics and semi-automatics were in vogue. There were bolts to be turned by the gross, each one having to be centred, trued, rough turned, finished, and faced. Louth soon taught me all the operations, and then, when I could be trusted to go on by myself, he improved the opportunity thus gained by going for lengthy chats to various chums about the shop. He was a bad time keeper, and I was frequently alone until breakfast-time. He finally received a "lead check," the possessor of which was kept out by Micky Mac for the whole day if he missed the "first quarter."
In the evening, when the day's work was done, the time at first hung heavy. Want of companions after the friendships and intimacies of school life gave rise to a distressing nostalgia, dulled by the daily routine of the shop, only to return acutely after working hours. At Whitsuntide the shops shut down for a week for the annual clean-up and machinery overhaul, and I went to my home in the West. This holiday, with a visit to the old school for the Distribution of Prizes, went far towards effecting a cure, and in time the formation of fresh acquaintances, and the growing interests of the new surroundings, brought final relief. (To be continued)
apprentices. 138-40. illus.
(Continued from page 106) My earlier acquaintances in the works were naturally made amongst the apprentices of my own general standing and age. In a day or two Louth had introduced me to a few of these, of three of whom I have particular recollections. They were the two Brays and a young man named Moulang. Later on, my friendship with the three deepened, and my association with them did much towards making life pleasant both inside and outside the works. We were students together in the Technical Institute in Kevin Street, and almost always walked there and back after our day's work. Trams were slow and dear in those days, and pocket money was scarce and precious. It was a long day's work, three times a week in the winter, from 6 a.m. to 9-30 p.m., but we never missed a class night or disappointed the teacher, Mr. C.B. Outon, whose zeal was indefatigable. Moulang was a native of Dublin, and his knowledge of the streets, by-ways, and corners of the city seemed to me absolutely mysterious, almost uncanny. He was one of the brightest and most cheerful fellows I ever met, Frank by name and frank by nature, full of light humour and good-natured pranks. I often envied him his buoyant spirits and imperturbable temper. At the same time, beneath this merry and exuberant exterior he possessed a very serious mind and a great fund of practical common sense. He was a crack cyclist in those days when cycling was in its prime, and was regarded by all in the works as the authority on everything connected with the pastime. It w.as he who taught me how to ride: and advised me m the purchase of my first machine. He was very popular with the workmen. I remember paying him a visit one day at his lathe. He and Bill Gaynor, the turner nearest to him, were engaged on long traversing jobs, and while the cut was proceeding, they were amusing themselves by calculating how long it would take the tool to travel to Cork at the rate at which it was moving.
Generally speaking, the premium apprentices, or, as the young ladies in Inchicore termed them, "the gentleman apprentices," were popular with the men. They had an air of gaiety and mirth, they joked and made fun, they never put on "side," and, in short. showed a complete adaptability to their surroundings, never transgressing any of the shop traditions or conventions. An exception was so rare that it formed an event. There was one apprentice before my time, of whom the others told me, who could not bring himself to fit in with the ways of the place. It appears that he turned in to work the first day in a shooting jacket and immaculate white shirt front. Before five minutes had passed, a dirty oily patch arrived from the middle of nowhere on the snowy linen, evoking the irritated ejaculation, "Blagyawds, blagyawds!" Some little time afterwards, being sent with some job to be attended to in the smithy, he was directed to apply to "The Guardsman," a tall. well-built smith with drooping moustachios and a military appearance. The aristocrat enquired, "Aw you the man they call the Gawdsman ?"
"Guardsman, who are you calling 'guardsman,' you ! Get away with you to or I'll knock your two eyes into wan, yourself and your guardsman !"
A fool of this type was, however, an exceptional case. During the first winter I was at Inchicore, one of the pupils and an apprentice got into trouble together at a dance in the dining hall. A sligiht wetting of alcohol caused them to go beyond the bounds of mere hilarity, and to end up by an insulting jocularity addressed to the fitting shop foreman. Mr. Ivatt, who was present, summoned the pair to his presence the next morning, and suspended them for a week. Needless to say, their popularity with the men was in no wise diminished when the escapade was reported in the shop next day. Both of these young men, I believe, afterwards obtained honourable positions in the engineering world.
I have seen many premium apprentices pass through Inchicore Works in my time, and have come across many diverse types of character amongst them. Some have fared well in their careers; a few turned out complete failures; some were studious; others never opened a text book or saw the inside of a technical school. I have not always found, however, that burning the midnight oil is a sure means of attaining to the best prizes in the engineering profession. I have known several who never studied, and of whose abilities, I fear, I had a poor enough upinion, who afterwards achieved success as this world understands it. Mere knowledge, indeed, or a college diploma does not necessarily bring one far in an engineering career. Other qualifications are required, such as personality, independence of character, clearness of judgment, confidence, quickness in decision, strength of will, a knowledge of men, and the power of command. Besides all these, there are varied circumstances which some are quick to make use of while others let them pass by. Some of those whom I knew in their young days, took life very seriously and yet never achieved more than mediocre success, humanly speaking, of. course. Others saw their opportunity, seized it, improved it, and strode ahead. As I recall the successes and failures which I observed, I find that in the engineering world, as elsewhere, it very often happens that "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them al1." The other apprentices, workmen's sons, whom I met in the shops were, as a rule. very decent fellows, but I came across a few very "hard cases" amongst this class. There was one of these at Harvey's bench near me, an individual who wore a wasp-striped Jersey as an under-vesture beneath his white slop, and. whose mouth was permanently twisted by his habit of leering. He was popularly known as "The Gauger," a term applied to fellows of that type whose character and conduct were on a level below that which the workshop canons of decency ordained as the normal. In later years, particularly in con- nectron with the work of the Technical Schools, I came across many workmen's sons who were apprentices at Inchicore. Some of these were as intelligent and capable youths as I ever met, keen on their work and a credit to themselves and to the works. It is always a satisfaction to meet with such, and to feel that the good reputation of the shops as a training ground for excellent mechanics is being upheld by the new generation.
I very soon discovered that an engineering workhop is not an academy of polite manners. The studied expressions, petty civilities, and harmless insincerities which are the current coin of ordinary society, have little or no place in the workman's order of thought or daily practice. He has to deal with solid materials and had facts. The job has got to be done, and done. against time, or he will suffer. Why waste unnecessary words and expressions over it? It is simpler and much more to the point to say "give me." It does not make the meaning clearer, to preface it by "will you kindly." Indeed, it is still simpler to take what you want, if you see it, without asking for it at all, and the workshop code of conduct condones this usage. Broadly speaking, the workman is crude in his manners, impulsive in his movements, and curt in his language. His expressions are more forceful and vigorous than nicely chosen, and his adjectives are commonly stained with crimson. Workshop life tends to the elimination of habits of speech and conduct not strictly required for the performance of the daily task. It also assists to develop habits of manner and language which experience teaches to be most likely to secure the immediate object in view. Furthermore, in a community composed entirely of men, anything that is not patently virile, or at least considered so, is regarded with distrust. An affectation of polite manners at 'a display of the gentler emotions is apt to be looked upon as the sign of a "softy." Civility of speech is likely to be misunderstood, and is not uncommonly suspected to be a hypocritical mask disguising a treacherous soul. An expression I have often heard is "That fellow, I always feel, is too sweet to be wholesome."
To a certain extent, undoubtedly, the rough. exterior of the workman is a reflection of his settled inner nature. It would hardly be natural to expect that a long heredity of toil and.an.environment free from refining influences, would not leave a, permanent mark on the character, Nevertheless, it always appeared to me that the workman's manner was largely conventional and deliberately assumed, It seemed to me to be a sort of carapace which he considers it advisable to wear both for defence and attack. The workshop life is hard. A man has got to stand there on his own feet amongst his fellows; "You've got to hold on to your bone or another dog will take it" is the prevalent feeling. When the workman is out of the shop and comes in contact with other people, his attitude is different. Allowing for a certain gaucherie,' he can be just as .polite as most when the occasion permits it. A very hard nut, besides, often contains a soft kernel, and the man with suppressed powers of nice expression has often more real heart than many with a polished exterior, but whose souls have been atrophied by an easy life and an.undue enjoyment of this world's good things. I have known not a few workmen who were perfect gentlemen in their conduct and ideals, honourable and upright in their principles, and possessed of a native courtesy of their own. I have known very few, indeed, who had not kindly hearts beneath theirgrimy skins. Some whom I have met were men of the most sincere Christian piety and habits, living stainless lives, free from vices, and a credit to any community. On the other hand, some workmen I knew were amongst the undesirables one would wish to shun. In fact, the whole gamut of human character and conduct is met with in a workshop, just as outside. The workman is simply a human being, moulded and coloured by his traditions and environment in a similar manner to all other classes of mortals. The sneering definition of a workman as "an individual who is keen on his beer and slack on his job" is very far from true in my experience of him. I found the workshop to be a somewhat easier school than others in which to study human character. The workman is blunt in his speech and usually says what he thinks and feels. Hypocrisy is not one of his common failings and is one of those upon which his bitterest invectives are poured. He has many faults peculiar to his class. His horizon is often restricted, his field of vision confined. The angle at which he considers objects is frequently too acute to enable his judgment to make an accurate decision. He is no more perfect than other classes of men, but I have found him, at bottom, a down-right good fellow, and I like him. A knowledge of life and any degree of understanding of its problems are not a gift with any man. They can only be gained by suffering, experience, and observation. For much of such knowledge of human life as I possess I am indebted to workmen whom I knew during my career in Inchicore. I was not long in the shops without becoming aware that the work-man's peace was always darkened by a sense of insecurity. An error of judgment in the performance of his work, a job partially spoiled, or a period of slackness, might mean a decisive word from the foreman and the outside of the works gate. The chief thing that struck me in my shop days, however, was the general cheerfulness that prevailed. There was remarkably little grumbling or grousing. Some of the men with whom I struck up acquaintance were sparkling with good humour, and never failed to utter a bright and cheery word when I stopped for a few minutes' chat. I may be mistaken, but still cannot help feeling that workmen of the present generation have largely lost that note of cheerful-ness. The younger men I meet certainly seem to me more morose, more self-absorbed, more taciturn. No doubt there is a reason for this beneath the surface of things. The older men were badly paid, had to work far longer hours, and had not the same strong support from those powerful trade unions which are now such a force in industrial life. Yet somehow, they appeared to be more blithe, more cheery, less care-absorbed, less fearful and sus-picious, happy to have their work to do, and for the rest, saying :
"E'en let the unknown to-morrow
Bring with it what it may."
I recently re-visited the works and found two or three of the "old-timers" of my pupilship days still there working away, now aged and white-headed. It was a real pleasure to grasp the grimy hands hardened with a lifetime of honest toil, and to note the same old cheerful twinkle sparkling in the corner of the eye. These men were unconscious disciples of the old seer who wrote : "There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God'
38: 171: FOREMEN.
The foremen in an engineering workshop occupy a similar position and are of similar importance to the non-commissioned officers of an army. They are the backbone of the force. Given a works manager with energy, initiative, and practical com-mon sense, and foremen of force of character, experts at their trade, the concern is sure to prosper. With two or three temporary exceptions, the successive foremen with whom I came in contact in Inchicore Works were all fine men, firm of will, quick in decision, and who knew their job. My subsequent life in the drawing office brought me into close business relations with most of them, and much of my knowledge of practical engineering and of economic machine design was obtained from information which they never hesitated to place at my disposal. Mechanical principles and the basic calculations of engineering design may be learnt at a technical institute or in one's study, but I have found foremen to be the best practical text books. Is a boiler joint, for instance, to be designed? The calculations are simple, but only the foreman boiler-maker can say with authority what the pitch of the rivets should be to ensure an easily caulked steam-tight joint. Similarly with other classes of work. The foreman is the person who has to get the job done and to make it pay, and it helps both himself and the draughtsman to work in harmony with each other.
When I first entered the works there were a few elderly foremen there, some of English origin, with whom I never came in personal touch. Of these were Mr. Clark, of the carriage paint shop, Mr. Lloyd, of the foundry, and "Buffer Nut" Coates, of the wagon shop. I early came in contact with Mr. Joe Caswell, of the boiler shop, a very worthy man, to whose counsel and friendship I owe much, and who was greatly respected by his men. During one of my "first quarter" rambles in the forge I came across old Mr. Owens, the foreman smith, a man of very pleasing conversation and recognised technical skill. He was then in enfeebled health and allapproaching his retirement. The foreman, however, was Mr. Richard Cronin, whose jurisdiction at that period embraced the machine shop, erecting shop, brass shop, copper shop, grinding shop, and pattern shop. Indeed, in my early ignorance, and impressed as I was with his ubiquity and importance, I imagined that he was foreman over all the shops, and that the others merely revolved as satellites round him. Mr. Cronin was a man of short stature, turning grey, springy in gait, pugnacious in appearnce, firm of will, his orders clear and unmistakable. He was feared by all, disliked by many, secretly admired by most, for he had been a workman himself, the son of an engine driver. He had raised himself from the ranks by force of character, determination, and study. Besides this, he bore the reputation of having been a light-weight boxing champion, a reputation which counts for something in a sporting country like ours.
In those days the foreman was a power in the land. His word was law, his decisions final, his judgment always trusted by the management. He was then almost the only officer that counted with the men. Mr. Ivatt was a distant god to them, merely "The Big Fellow," whom they saw at intervals when he emerged from his inaccessible Olympus for a tour round the shops. Mr. Coey, the works manager, they saw in consultation with Mr. Cronin every morning. He was known to be thoughtful, deep in knowledge, wise in counsel, one to determine matters of general shop policy, and to direct the larger events of life. The gaffer, however, was the man who could tell you to put on your coat and get outside the gate. "The Gaffer" was indeed a name to conjure with in those days, a name of dread even outside the precincts of the works. Were you to catch any of the little urchins about the pond field or neighbourhood in an act of wilful damage or depredation, it were vain to threaten them with words. You would soon find that their command of language was greater than yours, and you would only get derisive jeers for your trouble. Threaten them with the police? No use. The little savage of twelve to fourteen who allowed himself to be "taken by a polisman" would never regain his self-respect. There was only one way of dealing with the disturber of the peacethe threat, "I'll tell your father's gaffer." This would be sufficient to make the most reckless pause and consider the error of his ways.
Some of the foremen had developed a remarkable talent for vigorous language which they applied with telling effect when they considered the circumstances called for it. This strong language, however, was purely professional and used for effect. The gaffer was really far too good-natured at heart to wish his victim any of the flames and torment to which he consigned him with his tongue, but his language made an impression. It was a shorter way, and experience taught a more efficacious way of treating a delinquent than moral suasion.
I was one day sitting with a foreman in his office discussing a matter of shop business, when a boy tremblingly opened the door, with anxious eye and hanging lip, summoned to explain some act in which he was detected in flagranti delicto. I saw the foreman stand up, commence with a few quiet words, increasing in volume and intensity as he expanded the subject, then with the veins standing forth on his temples, empty all the vials of his invectives on the culprit. He then finished up with a stamp of his foot and a shout, threatening the sinner with the outside of the gate, and eternal torment beyond, "if ever you are reported to me again." The unhappy wretch, with tearful eye and shaking in every mem-ber, fled from the office in terror, whereupon the fore-man sat down. He then resumed the conversation with me in the same quiet tone as before the little episode. The gaffer was indeed a man to be feared and watched in those days. With some of the idler men in the shop "watching the gaffer" had developed into a fine art. The times of his rounds were noted, the keeping of "nix" was perfected by a system of well-defined signals, and when "himself" was seen approaching, a plausible appearance of diligent work took the place of the previous restfulness. Mr. Cronin had the foreman's gift of expression in no small degree, but as I got more acquainted with him I personally liked and respected him. During the winter months he taught science classes in a room next the library in the dining hall building, and it was he who gave me my first lessons in machine drawing and the steam-engine, lessons which were of no little value in my subsequent career. A year or two after I had passed through the shops he was appointed locomotive engineer of the Dublin & South Eastern Ry., a post from which he retired some few years ago.
In later years the management, in their wisdom, deprived the foremen of much of their authority over the men. The result was a loosening of the bonds of discipline, and a slackening in the work of the shops which time has not improved. One of its effects was that a lot of the time of the management had to be wearily spent in receiving deputations of the men, parleying with them, and devising plausible solutions for insoluble labour problems The fore-men could only report or wait outside on the lobby away from their shops. In my early days they ruled, were obeyed and respected, and the work went on with regularity and certainty. Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in Os!
THE FITTING SHOP.
The fitting and machine shop at Inchicore, during my pupilship and until the years of the Great War, consisted of two rather narrow bays with a row of columns down the middle. The wall at one side adjoined the old engine shed. The other wall flanked a yard covered with rails and engine wheels, from which there was access to the erecting shop and smithy, and which communicated with the outside by means of an arched gateway. The entrance door was at the end next the drawing office, from which a wooden stairway descended to the shop. The fore-man's office was at the other end, where there was also a door leading to the extensive running shed yard, beyond which the wagon shop could be seen. The central columns, in addition to holding up sthe roof, acted as supports for the frames and gearing of a series of drilling machines, which were specially designed for the conditions. Most of the lathes were placed along the inside of the wall next the yard. There were a few others against the shed wall, also cylinder boring machines, a piston rod grinder, a cylinder planer, generally known as "Old Billy Osborne's machine," and others. At the further end of the shop, in the middle, there were drills, shapers, and slotters. There was also a large frame-plate slotting machine, operated for many years by a very interesting old man named Bill Pell. The wheel and crank lathes were near the erecting shop, and were served by a mono-rail travelling crane operated by an endless rope and friction wheels. This "traveller" was operated by a little subdued man called John Blanchford, whose duties also comprised the sweeping of the floor. The wheel turners were elderly men, grave of aspect as they watched the slowly revolving tyres. The fitters' benches were at the side near the lathes, from which they were separated by a series of racks for holding connecting rods, motion, and other parts of engines. These racks also served the purpose of gaffer-dodgers, for which their position seemed particularly well chosen. The shafting, in the old days, was driven by a wall engine in the corner near the foreman's office. There was a spare engine on the end wall beside the office, also a mercury manometer. The boiler was housed in an open shed outside, both engine and boiler being tended by a sturdy, elderly man named Connolly.
The chargehand over the machines was a northerner named McGuckin. Having learnt that I had come from Belfast, he made the mistake of assuming that I was a native of that city, and thus apostrophised me, "I hear you come frum Balfost. Et's a gron setty, a gron setty ! When I was a little boy, Royal Avenge was only a wee bet of a street about half the wedth of this shop. Now see what a mogneficent thorrafare it is. Why thot free library in Royal Avenue is a craddit to the warld !"
Another principal chargehand was Charlie Cuddy, a doleful looking, silent man who kept a tin box full of tobacco plugs cut to size. He would periodically transfer one of these confections to his mouth at the point of a scriber, lingering thoughtfully on the flavour. Then there were Jem Harvey, tall and straight behind his marking table, and Ned Sadlier. Harvey's bench was largely manned by apprentices who were usually engaged on jobs of minor importance. "Jem Harvey's nigglers," they were called. Sadlier was in charge of the heavy motion bench. He was an exacting chargehand, noted for the good work he turned out, also for his extraordinary mis-pronunciations and misapplications of the English language. He pronounced "ambulance corps" ambumbalance corpse, but he was never known to send a badly fitted connecting rod up to the erecting shop. To be trained under him was to be well trained, but he had his frailties, poor man. Which of us mortals, even the most perfect, is exempt? One of the processes to be done at the bench was the forcing of the bushes into the ends of the coupling rods Ned always superintended this job himself, the operation being performed by a hand-worked 'hydraulic pump. It was a coincidence that a bush had almost invariably to be put in during the first quarter. The rod would be packed up with the eye in position under the ram. Old Ned would take his seat on a- low wooden block and enter the bush in its place. The labourer at the pump handle would give a few strokes, just sufficient to cause the block to go in an inch or so. Ned would then direct him to stop, and would appear to be absorbed in thought over the job. His elbows would rest on his knees, his head between his hands, his eyes closed in meditation. The labourer would rest on his handle, knowing from experience that Ned's reverie would probably last until the gaffer appeared at the far end of the shop on his way to breakfast. Then animation would be restored, the pump would be vigorously worked, and the bush would go home with certainty and despatch.
The prevailing working uniform in my early days consisted of a white linen slop or jacket, and the rubric prescribed the wearing of a clean washed one every Monday morning. In the winter time a dark blue slop of heavy material was very generally worn, and the rubric also required the exclusive use of a red cotton pocket-handkerchief. The white slops began to be discarded in course of time, and have long disappeared from Inchicore Works in favour of light blue or tan overalls. There was little or no piecework in those days. An old clerk, Mr. Behan, with an ink-bottle suspended from a button on his coat, and provided with a pen and a large book, visited each man in the forenoon to check the time spent on each job. He was a former soldier who had been in the charge of the heavy cavalry brigade at Balaclava. Amongst other minor officials of the machine shop I recollect the little old man who used to empty the chips and turnings from the trays beneath the lathes I never knew this humble labourer's name ; he was simply known as "Billy Dust."
There was only one milling machine then in the shop. This was operated by a man named Brannigan, who went to much trouble to explain the various movements and capabilities of the machine to me. He impressed upon me that there was a "lot of the know-how about it." One's engineering instruction usually begins with the "know-how" of things. This is followed by the "know-why," a more intricate quest, likely to last a lifetime in this age of machinery and incessant dis-covery. Then there are other things to learnand others ! When I was serving my time, man was still the master, the machine the willing servant. Nowadays the machine is rapidly becoming the master and man the helpless slave. Indeed, I have helped in my own little way, as a designer, in bringing this state of affairs about. An inevitable evolution, no doubt, but I often wonder if it has really uplifted the worker, or has only made him a neces-sary detail of the appliance whose automatic move-ments he merely directs.
I remained in the machine shop tills the close of the year, engaged during the whole period in turning at two or three different lathes. Mr. Cronin then announced to me his decision to "give me a shift." He said I was the only pupil he ever saw who did any work or who kept good time, and sent me up to the, tool bench, which was considered to be the one in the works at which the best fitting jobs were done. (To be continued)
38: 202-3 THE TOOL SHOP.
The shop in which the tool bench was situated formed a wing at right angles to the main erecting shop, with which it communicated by two doors. The same shop also contained the brass-finishers' lathes and bench, the vacuum brake, gauge, and safety valve repair and testing bench, and the tin-smiths' benches. There was also a painter and glazier named Stack employed in connection with the tinsmiths' work, and a good portion of the shop was taken up by the tool store. The authority and autocrat in this latter enclosure was Jem McDonnell, a worthy old character, very conscious of his importance as dispenser of the tools, tallow, oil, sponge-cloths, and other necessities of the busy life of the fitting and erecting shops. The tool bench extended from the end of his store to the middle of the shop, the tool portion being on one side, the vacuum brake fitters being placed at the opposite side. The brass bench was at the further end of the shop, with a universal milling machine between it and the tool bench.
The chargehand of the vacuum brake bench was a tall, acrid man called. Mick Landy. He was assisted by a cheery little man of Welsh origin, Rees Jones by name, also by an apprentice. My chargehand was old George Griffin. The others at the bench were his two sons, "Young George" and Stephen, a highly-skilled fitter named Tom Gilmore, and "Nedyeen" O'Neill, an apprentice. Nedyeen was a slight, fair Cork youth, suspicious by temperament, and afflicted by a haunting dread of the gaffer.. Old George was a first-class mechanic of the old school, intelligent, particular, and devoted to his work. He was a good man, of a religious habit, and treated me in a very kindly and fatherly manner. The period I spent with him and my other bench companions in that shop is a very pleasant memory.
There was a continual variety of work to be done at the bench ; damaged or worn-out parts of machines from the various shops to be repaired or renewed ; jigs and gauges to be made ; taps, dies, and hand tools to be kept in condition ; hydraulic jacks to be cleaned and have their parts re-fitted; faceplates to be scraped, and many other miscellaneous classes, of instructive and accurate work. One of the little jobs which most took my fancy was the cutting out and finishing of a set of steel stamping type upon which Tom Gilmore was engaged. The universal milling machine turned out a quantity of twist drills, the backing-off of which was one of Nedyeen O'Neill's staple jobs. The work necessitated frequent excursions to other shops, in which I was generally Tommy Gilmore's "mate?' He was one of the most particular workmen I was ever associated with, and taught me much in methods of accuracy. He was placed in charge of the new tool room after the retirement of George Griffin some years later.
The other workmen in the shop were very pleasant to get on with. There was an elderly turner called Bobby Ormsby who operated a new toolmaker's lathe. He was a little man with a high-pitched voice, who gave me some sage advice regarding my dealings with, and attitude towards the men, which I have never forgotten. One of my poor virtues is that I am never too proud to learn from anyone who is willing to teach me, and I do not think I ever yet met a fellow-mortal who had not some knowledge which I did not possess. I made full use of the workmen in my hunger for information, and can say that I hardly ever came across one in Inchicore who was not glad to communicate to me the knowledge which he had acquired himself through experience, although he had nothing to gain personally by giving it away.. Another turner, who went to much trouble in displaying the capabilities of his brass-turning lathe, was Jack Osborne, one of the most cheerful of men, and there were others like him in the shop. Amongst the tinsmiths I particularly recall Jemmy Griffin, son of Old George. He was one of the most intelligent metal-plate workers I have ever met, of an inventive turn of mind, and, quite unconsciously, I have no doubt, possessed by a sense of the essential dignity of skilled work. An old man of contemplative appearance worked an axlebox boring machine behind me. He was named Bob Killigrew, and is always associated in my memory with his large callipers and the horrid screech of his machine as the cutters finished the bronze fillets of the axle-boxes.
The chargehand over the brassfinishers was Billy Meagle, a man of some notoriety in his day. He was early pointed out to me as the first important witness for the prosecution in the cause celebre of the Phoenix Park assassinations. He happened to have been riding his bicycle round the park on that fatal Saturday afternoon, and arrived at the scene just after the dread deed had been accomplished. He thought that he had simply seen a scuffle between roughs, and only realised the next morning the true nature of the tragic event upon which he had un-willingly stumbled.
Mick Landy was another of the personalities in evidence in the shop. He was stationed just opposite me at the bench. His tongue was always going, now scathing and abusive as he cut into the apprentice under him with biting sarcasm or profane invectives ; now ribald and jocular as he retailed jokes and stories of the most dubious moral quality. Old George would frequently reprove him across the bench for his looseness of speech with young boys listening to him. Mick would laugh derisively at the rebuke and reply, "Sure, they've got to take all that in with their trade, and the sooner they learn it the better." Nedyeen O'Neill's fear of the gaffer was the subject of constant torment by Mick. Ned would enquire, after he had been away from the shop, if "himself" had been in since. "Yes," Mick would say. "He's just after being here and asked where in blazes O'Neill was, and how it was he was never at his work when-ever he came into the shop." Poor Nedyeen would resume his work trembling, and wondering what the gaffer would "have in for him" the next time he came round. I have afterwards known officials of the railway, very much higher placed than poor Nedyeen, exhibit signs of perturbation when informed that the Chairman had been enquiring for them on the telephone during their absence. The importance of chairmen, managers, and gaffers to those whose immediate duty it is "to report" to them is only relative, and may be expressed by a formula of the type x/y = a constant.
Just outside the brass shop there was a further room, chiefly used by Mr. Tuohy, the foreman millwright, but partly occupied by a smith's hearth and anvil used by the tool smith, Billy Allen. During my period at the lathes, there was nothing I disliked more than having to go to this place to get a tool dressed. Billy Allen was a rather low-sized, thick-set smith, who wore a chin beard. He would take the tool, hold it between his finger and thumb as he looked at it sideways with an air of the most withering contempt and disgust, and ask with an oath, "what sort of a thing is that you're asking me to dress?" He would finally throw "the damned thing" on the floor, and say, "I'll see if I can do anything with it." After I came to the tool bench, however, he became more affable, even friendly, explaining, "I see you're one of our own now." In this remote corner, where the gaffer only penetrated occasionally, politics were discussed with vigour during the first quarter. We were then in the throes of the Parnell schism, and Billy's assistant, Paddy Carroll, was one of the strongest protagonists for the great leader and his policy. In after years Paddy left the works and became an employer of labour in Inchicore. An upright, charitable citizen he turned out to be, and a worthy councillor in the Dublin Corporation.
During the first quarter in those winter months I paid many visits of exploration to the boiler shop and forge, studying the machines and the various operations being performed. I was especially interested in the bolt-making and nut-making machines, and in the Siemens furnace and steam hammer. The chief man in charge of the hammer was Sandy Wright, long, lean, and sallow, with a grey chin beard a la Americaine, and reputed to be in the habit of devoting most of his earnings to alcohol. The scrapping furnace went on by day and by night, and often in the dark, as I lay awake in bed in my lodgings, I would hear the sound of the systole-diastole, "hiss-boom, hiss-boom, hiss-boom" of Sandy's steam hammer as it pounded the livid iron into shape. The gas producer was situated in the middle of the yard between the smithy and the foundry. The gas was led through a sheet-metal pipe high overhead into the smithy. The pipe was permanently bent, and its ugliness was enhanced by a drum through which it passed. This hideous tube was a constant subject of witticisms between Mr. C. B. Outon and myself. After every winter night's storm we would look out next morning to see if it had succumbed. But no! It outlived us both, and died a natural death, being removed upon the installation of the present modernised producer plant.
Some years later, during the managership of Mr. R. E. L. Maunsell, the shop where I had worked was reorganised and given up to brass-finishing and tinsmiths' work. William Meagle was put in charge as an independent foreman. The tool bench was absorbed in a new tool room at the end of the machine shop. The tool store enclosure, however, remained as long as I was at Inchicore. Jem McDonnell died, "being old and full of years," and was succeeded by Harry Beatley, another old wide-awake soldier. Old George retired and lived to a ripe old age, and of all the occupants of the shop in my days there, I only know five or six who are still working.
Correction.-In the last issue of THE LOCOMOTIVE in the second paragraph on page 172, we regret to, notice a typographical error in the sentence which reads :-"The result was a loosening of the bonds of discipline, and a slackening in the work of the shops which time has not improved." The word "not" should read "now." The Inchicore Works, with the facilities available, can compare favourably with any similar establishment in the British Isles, either as regards work or cost. (To be continued)
38: 257 THE NEW ENGINES.
I was transferred to the erecting shop in the spring or early summer of my second year at Inchicore. There are two erecting shops in the works, both arranged in the same way, with the pits transversely fixed, parallel to each other. A low traverser running on f our rails communicates across the wide open space between the two shops, and serves to bring the engines to or from the various parts of the building. The shops are further served by powerful overhead gantries, in my time operated by high-speed endless steel cables. The pits w ere arranged in a series of five "gangs," each in care of an experienced chargehand. Four of these gangs were entirely devoted to engine repairs. The one nearest to the boiler shop door was specially set apart for the erecting of new locomotives, and was always known as "the new engines." The opposite erecting shop comprised one engine repair gang, the remaining pits being principally given up to the repairing of tenders: I spent a much longer part of my time in the new engine gang than in any portion of the works. It was by far the most interesting and most important place in the shops. Indeed, it might almost be said that none of the other shops would possess any raison d'etre apart from "Dick Tate's gang." Dick Tate was the chargehand ; he was also Mr. Cronin's cum tenens upon such rare occasions as he was sent from work himself. Dick was a middle-aged man with mutton chop whiskers, of a somewhat nervous temperament, one of the worthiest of in-dividuals whose memory will always be green with those who were ever associated with him. When I first went to the erecting shop there were not any actual new engines under construction, but a series of old engines built in 1868 or 1870 were being rebuilt with new boilers and such other new parts as they required. The new boilers were placed across a pit at the end of the shop, where they received their mountings and flue tubes. Beyond these there was a gang of boilermakers engaged on cabs, splashers, lagging sheets, and tanks. The whole group, new engine fitters and boilermakers,, in that corner, formed a sort of family by themselves, and at that time, at any rate, a very happy and harmonious family. The men worked, and laughed, and played tricks on one another, and generally appeared to enjoy life. Perhaps it was the nature of their special worklaying down, puttinP- together and completing new enginesthat unconsciously contributed to this general cheerfulness. I fancy that I have observed something of the same spirit in a dockyard at the building of a new ship. There is a peculiar satisfac-tion in the thought that one is adding something new
to the world. Workmen, of course, would never permit themselves to admit that they experienced the joy of the creator, but I think it is there all the same. There were not a few "characters" at the new engines during my term there. One of them was Oliver Sharpe, a man who never spoke without a witticism falling from his lips. He was entirely employed on boiler mountings, and appeared to me to be saturated through clothes and skin with red lead. I think, indeed, he actually did die in the end of acute blood poisoning. One night, years later, 1 was travelling on a goods engine at the head of a long train of wagons through the sleeping country. In the glare of the fire and to the rhythmic pounding of the engine the driver recounted the following story :"I was down to see poor Oliver Sharpe in hospital, a few days ago, just before he died. He had the funny way with him up to the very end. 'How are you, Oliver ?' says I, when I sat down beside the bed. `One hundred and three, point four,' says he. 'What does that mean, Oliver ?' says I. 'It means,' says Oliver, 'the doctor told me if I go up to one hundred and four I can put the regulator full over.' That was a quare one, wasn't it ?" Poor Oliver ! Before the night was over he did go up to 104, and put the regulator full over. There was another very entertaining character in Dick Tate's gang, who always kept his immediate entourage in fits of laughter, although he himself always maintained the most imperturbable gravity. This was a youth of a very swarthy complexion, handsome aquiline features, dark eyes, straight, jet-black hair, springy and graceful in the movements of his limbs. I could imagine him vaulting over the back of a bull and planting banderillas in his neck in some Spanish plaza de torus. His name, Paddy Halligan, however, was sufficiently Irish. Among those men with whom I was an actual workmate, I particularly recall Paddy O'Hara, Tack Jones, and Bob Stephens. Paddy was a very hard nut indeed, rough, and at times violent in speech, and a great "slavedriver." Paddy worked hard himself and made everyone else on the job do the same, but we got on very amicably together. His forte, however, was in repair jobs that had to be done against time, and he was afterwards transferred to the running shed and the breakdown gang. It was Jack Jones, with whom I worked on my first new engineNo. 35, a small passenger tank loco-motive.* I was also assistant to Bob Stephens on another new engine. He was- a most genial mate, full of dry humour, a first-class workman who was afterwards made chargehand, and finally foreman of the machine shop. I owe much to him for all he taught me and for the interest his conversation gave to the work we were associated together in at the new engines.
* This engine was illustrated and described in our issue of July 15, 1918, pp. 112/3.
The most laborious job to me in the erecting shop was the filing of the hornplates. These would be worn to a surface as smooth as glass and almost as hard. They had to be filed square across the frame, parallel to each other, and brought to a plane sur-face. Nothing but a new fine file would cut the shining cast-steel surface, and it was always a relief when the job was done. I doubt if, in those days, there was any locomotive works where engines were so carefully built or so well repaired as at Inchicore. Nothing but the best work was allowed to pass. The most elaborate pains were taken to ensure that the frame plates were absolutely straight, the boiler true in position on the frame, the horns square and accurate to size, every part fitting, to use Bob Stephens' expression, "just as if it was made for it." In after years, modern efficiency methods came in, and a lot of the meticulous care that I was familiar with was cut out. Nowadays there are no polished handrails, no attempts at finished appearance. The glossy sheen of the locomotive as it used to leave the paint shop is replaced by a daub from the brush of a labourer. Even the bright surface of the steel coupling rods is found a burden, and is blotted out under the paint brush. Ii faut faire des econo-miesn'est-ce pas? Hang appearances, so long as the old thing will pull the train ! I am glad I was not brought up under modern methods, and look back with pleasure on the year I spent with the gang at the new engines, when men took a pride in finished work, and when they were given the oppor-tunity of doing finished work to take a pride in. (To be continued)
There are few things so efficacious in relieving the monotony of daily toil, or in helping one to put up with the worries and annoyances of life as a sense of humour. A faculty for seeing "the funny side" often gives relief in circumstances that would otherwise be intolerable, and I have frequently found laughter at the stupidity of things assuage the irritation to which they first gave rise. There was plenty of fun in the works in my shop days, but it will be easily surmised that it was usually of anything but a refined type. It almost always, indeed, took the form of practical joking, the victim being somebody who, through ignorance, conceit, or some other peculiarity, was considered "fair game" for entertainment at his expense.
New apprentices were common victims of tricks, particularly those who came from the unsophisticated country districts. I escaped most of the usual "gags," thanks to Louth's kindly warnings, and to the fact that I had come direct from a public school where pranks played on the individual were the ordinaire. A typical game was to send an apprentice for the "lend" of some fanciful tool, such as a guzzling tongs, or a golliping tool, or a physical drill, sinister sounding appliances, all of them recalling the instruments used in Continental torture chambers of medireval Europe. The guileless one would be instructed to "run up to Charlie Cuddy for the lend of the small guzzling tongsthe small one, mind you; don't let him give you the big one." Charlie, when approached, would pause, absorb a plug of tobacco from his box, look carelessly over the bench and enquire, "anyone seen that small guzzling tongs ?" Yes, one of the fitters had seen it, had in fact been using it himself about five minutes ago, but had lent it to Jack Conroy, the turner. Across the shop, accordingly, the innocent would proceed and give his message to Conroy. Conroy certainly had had the very thing he wanted, "only just this very minute."(Boney Maher, at the wheel lathe, had taken it away for a tyre he was doing. "Stop where you are and I'll go and get it from him for you, or sure, wait now, as you're going back that way, it will be just as aisy for you to ax him for it yourself. Do you see that raw- boned fellow there across the shop at the wheel. lathe? That's Maher; step over to him and he'll give you the guzzling tongs. Tell him I sent you." The apprentice would then proceed with his request to Boney Maher, a fleshless youth with a crooked mouth, who snarled in a low-caste dialect. Yes, he had it right enough, "but sure you can lave nothin' out of yer hand in this place but wan of them fellows at the wheel gang comes and takes it on you. You'll find it there on the bench." The next stage in the search would take him to the bench at the wheel gang, over which his eyes would wander, trying to decide which of the appliances there could safely be catalogued as a "guzzling tongs." A friendly fitter would enquire, "Lookin' for anything?" The object being stated, the fitter would shout out to the gang, "Which of yez has the small guzzling tongs?" No one would happen to have the article, but one man would explain that he had just left it back with J em McDonnell in the tool store. The applicant would then be shown the way across the erecting shop to his destination. But woe betide the unfortunate who approached the tool store window with a demand for a guzzling tongs, or a golliping tool, or a hard lead hammer, or a physical drill, or a wim-wom, or a piece of five-eighth chalk! Old Jem's narrow mind would interpret any such enquiry as an endeavour to take a rise out of him, and the unhappy youth would be sent back to his job silent and abashed, walking softly.
A type of witticism sometimes seen would have for its subject an individual who had "had a good time" on Saturday night and turned in to work on Monday morning with a black eye, or a plastered nose, or otherwise damaged. A large green official card used for wagons, and bearing the legend, "Return to Inchicore, FOR REPAIRS," would be pinned to the back of his slop. He would probably bear this label until he discovered it when putting on his coat for breakfast time, having given much cause for merriment the while.
The "new engines" was a great place for pranks, practical jokes, banter, and mirth-making. I remember, one early morning, seeing a boilermaker's helper enjoying a quiet nap, seated on a block in a smokebox with the door half closed, whilst his mate was somewhere else. A young imp of a rivet boy climbed up on top of the boiler and emptied a pint of cold water down the chimney. The imprecations uttered by the victim who had received the douche would make a thoughtful person grave, but were unheard by the little monkey who had disappeared before the man could get out of the smokebox.
On Christmas Eve morning the "new engines" would hold a fete. Each one interested would subscribe a gift according to his ability and taste alcohol, fruit, or other comestibles. The firebox of the largest new boiler on the ground was usually selected as the scene of the festivities. A gas flare inserted through a tube hole provide.d illumination, and a piece of sacking suspended over the tube-plate served to hide the scene from the prying eye of the gaffer. Sometimes as many as ten or more individuals would be congregated in the copper firebox. Healths were drunk, the good things consumed, jokes were cracked, and the first quarter passed happily and merrily. As the grate area of the largest fireboxes in those days did not exceed 18 sq. ft., one can imagine the atmosphere which existed inside during the entertainment!
Those were "the good old days." Men earn far more wages to-day; they don't have to work before breakfast, and they have powerful trade societies to protect their interests. Still, everyone tells me that all the mirth and fun and joie de vivre are gone from the shops. It appears to be an inexorable law of nature that for every advantage gained one has to pay by giving up something else.
Mirth and fun may be vanity, but they fill a large place in this sad old world. If laughter and gladness of spirit have to be sacrificed as the price of some material advantage, one wonders if the bargain is worth the price.
Names, nicknames and
shop colloquialisms. 316-17
I remember the sense ot depression I experienced as I left the railway station in the company of the resident master the first time I arrived at Belfast. He asked me what was my Christian name, and then gave me to understand that at the college, for the future, I would only be addressed by my surname. This, somehow, seemed a deprivationa parting with home conditions for good, the loss of something that I was accustomed to and wanted to keep. When I came into the workshop all this was changed. My Christian name once more came into common use, my surname not being employed by anybody of lesser rank than a foreman. In the shop it was all Bill, or Mick, or Bob, or Tom, or Paddy, or Jack. Surnames were reserved for special occasions, and when used at all were prefaced by the Christian name as well. Even the chief was referred to as "Harry Ivatt." It was quite against the prescribed usage to say "Mister," except on very formal occasions. Nicknames, however, were just as common as any others, and were generally preferred. To this day there are names of men which I have never heard, but whom I was familiar with by their workshop soubriquets. In certain cases, indeed, such names were almost a necessity. In an Irish workshop there are bound to be a number of Kellys, Byrnes, Holohans. Confusion is avoided, in such cases, by the use of suitable nicknames. For example, there was "Mouse" Kelly, a slight man with a small chin and a bristly and scanty moustache. There was "Duckegg" Kelly, who had large eyes with prominent whites of a bluish tinge. There was "Grunt" Kelly, so named from his gruff voice and his after hours' pastime of rearing swine, a subject with which his conversation was habitually coloured. Then there was "Jassack" KeIly, the name being a metathesis for "jack ass." Most nicknames were derived, as in the case of the Kellys mentioned, from some physical peculiarity on the part of the possessor. I have already referred to "Boney" Maher, and there was another youth of the same physical type near him, but of a more scraggy build, called "Necky" Cullen. The first foreman I knew in the wagon shop was known as "Buffernut" Coates his head being square in profile and firmly set on a neck of large diameter like that of a cast-iron buffer. There was an old fitter in the erecting shop who walked with a peculiar bobbing movement of the head and neck, whom I never heard called by any name save "Micky the Hen." A tall, rather effeminate looking "gentleman" apprentice was known as "Julia," but the most absurdly appropriate nickname I ever heard was "Oxo." This was spontaneously bestowed on an official in the running department who bellowed oaths in a voice which reminded one of a bull with a sore throat, and who had, in addition a glass eye, which was always fixed in the characteristic aimless stare of the bovine race. Some men such as "Blazes" Wright and "Damna were named after their favourite oaths, but the origin of other nicknames was not so obvious. There were four fitters known as "AI," "Second to None," "Well-up," and "Nine-sixteenths." There was a chargehand in the machine shop who was never known otherwise than as "Gelsh" Kinsella, and there was a "Yowlers" MacManus in his day.
The above-mentioned were just a few of the typical nicknames which most readily come to my memory. The shops were also full of slang words and colloquialisms, only some of which, however, I shall refer to. Certain Anglo-Irish words, such as "bockity" (Irish, bacach) "lame, hobbling," were in common use. A man who was always working and fussing about his work was known as a "mulliker,' a word whose derivation I have often tried to trace, without success. Throughout the works, and generally, indeed, amongst the working classes in Dublin, a boy or man is nearly always referred to as a "fellow," the corresponding feminine being a "wan" (one). A workman would never say "my son." He would say "my young fellow," or "that young fellow of mine." Similarly "father" and "mother" are rendered "th' oul' fellow," and "th' oul' wan" respectively. It must not be imagined for a moment, however, that the use of such terms implies any want of filial affection or respect for the old people at home on the part of the workman. He has just as much regard for his parents as the college youth who refers to his father as "the guv'nor," and his mother as "the mater." or the pert miss who speaks of her parents as "Paw" and "Maw.' The workman's method of expression is simply the convention I have known men in Inchicore whose devotion to and tender care of "th' ou!' wan" was one of the chief interests in their lives, and whose existence became a cheerless blank after she had been taken away. One day, when walking up towards the works, I met a workman whose daughter, I heard, had been seriously ill. In reply to my interrogatory glance he turned aside his head to gulp down the grief which was choking him. He then turned round, and with as much of an air of unconcern as he could assume, merely said. "The young wan, she's after going this mornin'." This shrinking from an outward display of emotion is characteristic of most workmen. It is, I believe, the reason why, in many cases, when bereavement or suffering invade the home, men try to stifle emotions which pass their powers of control by stupefying themselves with alcohol. .
"Gouger" was a term of contempt and dislike applied to a low fellow whose language and character provoked feelings of disgust. "Congers" and "hard chaws" are, of course, found in every community, but the workshop names express rather more than the more polite "cad" or "beast" heard outside. An affected or conceited person would be described as . "a fellow that had a lot of the mick about him." The common word for a female acquaintance not related by blood was "motte." Even elderly married women were referred to by their husbands as "my motte." I was much amused one evening, when calling at the lodgings of a friend near the works. The door was opened by an ancient female whom I had never seen there before, who volunteered the information that "Mick and the Motte is gone off to the circus to-night." Mick, the head of the house, was a veteran of seventy who had served in the Crimea, and the "motte" was a bulky and shapeless old woman a year or two his junior. The origin of this word would be an interesting thing to find out. Nicknames and slang have a certain value as an index of the mentality of a particular community. The argot of Inchicore Works had a flavour of its own. characteristic both of the man of toil and of the jocular Irishman.
With most of the apprentices at the works lodgings were a common subject of conversation and criticism. The merits and demerits of different andladies were discussed, their methods, or want of ethod, commented on, and the general discomfort of life in "diggs" reviewed. In many cases it was a tale of impenetrable and inflexible beef steaks, of lard potatoes, of half-boiled cabbage, of smoky chimneys and ashy grates, of rooms unswept and mgarnished, of windows hermetically closed. There set« also stories of coffee in the morning and tea n the evening, both decocted in the same pot, so hat the lodger had always to ask the landlady which it was, when curious to know which beverage he was actually drinking.
For my own part, I had really little or nothing to cornplain about. As lodgings go, I was well fed and provided for in the different places where I stayed. for the greater portion of my pupilship I lodged with a Mrs. B--- in a little house on the road to Chapelizod, just opposite the Model School. There were a parlour and kitchen on the ground floor, the bedrooms being reached by a stairway along the kitchen wall.
Mrs. B--- was a tall, lean woman of English origin, On one occasion, when piqued by a fancied slight, she reminded me she had seen better days. She was supported by three sons, WiIlie, Dick, and Charlie. WiIlie was a fitter at "the tenders." Dick vas a fireman on the Athlone goods ("Arthlone," he Iways pronounced it), and Charlie was an engine cleaner. Then there was a daughter Rosie, the most important member of the household. Rosie was a rather good-looking girl, two or three years my senior, gifted with very fine and expressive eyes. In virtue of her seniority she used to give me many little pieces of grave counsel and womanly advice. this, in turn, led me to give her certain of those little confidences which women seem specially made to receive, and which, somehow, one would never think of imparting to a man. I have very kindly recollections of poor Rosie. She would often sit in fle parlour knitting, and chat to me at meal times. One of the earliest confidences she gave me was that he really did not mind much who she married so long as he was a soldier. She was indeed actually engaged to a sergeant in the hussars. Every evening the worthy man arrived to pay his court. As I read upstairs in my room I could hear the family playing cards below, and if I happened to be awake at a quarter to twelve each night I would hear the front door opened, and the musical "clink, clink, clink," of pair of spurs, as with military precision and martial tread the amorous trooper retraced his steps towards Island Bridge barracks. The sergeant was the first representative of that peculiar genus, the English soldier, I came in contact with. He was a well-fed, and well-favoured man, a tight fit for his cut-away tunic with its yellow facings, and a still tighter fit for his pants. He wore a diminutive pill box cap poised at a perilous angle to the right on top of his well-lubricated hair. He was remarkably incapable of pronouncing his native tongue. His English was of a chipped variety, deprived of all consonants except those strictly necessary for mere intelligibility. Many natives of southern England habitually drop their h's, and make an ill-balanced attempt to compensate by adding an h where it has no business to be. The sergeant, however, was not one of these. He had no use for the aspirant under any circumstances. "Sergeant Howe of the Third Hussars" became, in his mode of speech, "Sawnt 'Owe of the Thud 'Zaws." Not, indeed, that I ever personally had much occasion of conversation with him. I usually got his opinions and views second-hand through Rosie. His thoughts appeared to be principally concerned with regimental personalities and affairs; "Kernal" This, Cap'n That, Regimental "Sawnt Majors," "boot and saddle," and the "awses and stybels.'
Willie, the eldest son, was a quiet, silent man, with a rather furtive manner: I learnt afterwards that Rosie and he never spoke to one another. Such snatches of conversation as he ever exchanged with me related to his earlier career as a fitter at the Port and Docks; about "a job four of us done wance on the dredger"; or "a fella I seen wan day fall off a crane into the Liffey, and then what did he do but grumble because his dinner got wet in his pocket"; or anecdotes about Mr. Stoney, the famous harbour engineer. One of his sideshows was conjuring tricks, which he performed at various entertainments in the locality under the nom de guerre of "Professor Purlu." One Saturday night I was awakened by a noise in the next bedroom, where the men slept, and was shocked by the dreadful profanity which I heard uttered in a raucous voice. Mrs. B--- apologised to me in the morning, explaining that "Willie is a very quiet man as a rule, and takes very little, but whenever he mixes his drinks his expressions is something 'orrible.' It is always thus, it seems. It is never that a man drinks too much, but it is some secondary cause, such as mixing the drinks, or the bad whisky, or some other circumstance which brings out the malign influence of alcohol.
Dick, the fireman, was a tall, frank young man, greatly admired by his sister and loved by his mother. His conversations with me were largely concerned with "th' injin," and the trials and vicissitudes of his daily, or rather, nightly, duties on the railway; how "the right injector gev up on the down trip, and th' other one showed signs of kicking, and it was a case of humoring it all the way home"; or how "we had 45 on out of Portarlington and I noticed the gauge going back after us passing Monasterevan, so I looked inside the firebox, and if more than half the tubes hadn't started weeping. I can tell you it was the divil's own time coming up the bank into Kildare !" Once he was suspended for a couple of days for some breach of the rules. Rosie's fine eyes blazed with sisterly indignation at her beloved brother's treatment, and she gave me her opinion about it in no uncertain voice. "Indeed, Dick was scandalously treated, but it was the night foreman, he always had an edge against Dick and was only waiting for a chance against him. But really he's a first-class fire-man, and even Mr. Gorman said that his footplate was one of the best kept in the shed !" Everything appears to be relative in this life. The minister of state negotiates a. foreign treaty, receives a knighthood, and aspires to a niche in the temple of fame. Poor Dick B cleans his footplate, polishes his brasses and copper pipes, receives a word of commendation from the gaffer, and hopes it may lead to a shift to a better link. And both go on their way rejoicing. Rosie's marriage took place in the Spring. The ceremony was performed in the early morning in St. Jude's Parish Church. As being almost de la famine, I was present amongst a few select others, friends of the bride. I do not recollect who the clergyman was. At a wedding a clergyman is neces-sary, also a bridegroom and some witnesses to the contract, but the bride is really the only person one comes to see. I remember poor George L , who acted as sexton, with his pallid face and bright eyes, always full of humour. I also think our next door neighbour, Sergeant Bassnet, another military man of a more solemn type than our sergeant, was present. At any rate, he was in the house in the evening, un-steady, and indistinct of speech. The happy pair proceeded to England by the mid-day steamer. I returned to the works. The brothers had the day off and celebrated the glad occasion in their own manner, visiting several taverns in the course of the after-noon. When I arrived at the house in the evening they were all in the front room. Mrs. B was in the kitchen in company with two girls, one of whom was one of the prettiest young women I have ever seen, and with whom I was on terms of formal acquaintance. I had removed the grime of the work-shop from my person, and was about three parts dressed, when I heard muttered imprecations below, followed by some angry words addressed to Willie by Mrs. B . The conjurer, I suspected, had been mixing his drinks again. All of a sudden there was a piercing scream, and I rushed out to the landing. Mrs. B was holding her son's arms pinned with all her force to the banisters. The two girls were shrinking together at a corner of the room, the brothers were at the doorway. The conjurer's extended hand was clenching an open razor, with which, I learnt, he had been about to attack one of his brothers. I stretched over the stair rail and managed to wrench the implement from him and throw it away. The brothers then caught hold of him and removed him from the precincts of the house. The girls rushed out and clutched m arms in a state of intense excitement, while poor Mrs. B collapsed over the table in a paroxysm of hysterical weeping. It was a deplorable, and I might have been a tragic, end to a wedding day. It made me reflect that the virtues of alcohol as a promoter of human mirth and good spirits have been greatly exaggerated. Shortly afterwards, the 3rd Hussars were transferred to the Curragh. The sergeant returned once to the house whilst recovering from an attack of pneumonia. He asked me for the loan of a book, and I handed him The Downfall, by Emile Zola, a story of the horrors of war. He lay on his face on a bed all day and read the book through at a single break. The poor sergeant ! A few years later he was drafted to South Africa to fight against the Boers and I believe an enemy's bullet brought his destiny to an end on the veldt. The brothers also emigrated and joined the South African railways, and so we all went our several ways.
(To be continued)
Gas plant and millwrights'
Continued from page 365. The oil-gas works in Inchicore was built about 1892, and during the course of the following year or so, the coaching stock of the railway was provided with the fittings necessary for the new illuminant which had been adopted. As this was a novelty at the time Mr. Cronin thought it wise to give me an opportunity of seeing how this class of work was done, and transferred me temporarily to the charge of the lighting engineer, Mr. C.B.Outon. who was my teacher at the technical institute in the winter evenings. He was one of the most zealous officers of the company, and one of the kindest and rnost charming personalities I have ever met. In after years our association became, much closer, particularly in connection with the work of. the CIty of Dublin Technical Schools, in which. I, in turn, became a teacher. His friendship was one of my very precious possessions, and only came to an end a short time ago, when he was suddenly called away in the early years of his well-earned retirement.* During my time in the drawing office·I was also much in contact with him, particularly in connection with the reconstruction of the gasworks at Inchicore, and the new gasworks at Rosslare Harbour. His technical knowledge was very exact, both in theory and practice, and his many students at the technical schools were unanimous in their opinion that he was the most lucid lecturer they had ever listened to. He was gifted with a keen sense of humour, and was in consequence a particularly bright companion. I really owe more to his counsel and guidance in my engineering career than to any other influence which came in my way. In the shops, however, I was only for a brief period under his direct control. I soon learnt all that was necessary about oil and coal gas manufacture and use. I was then transferred for a short time to the millwrights' shop, where I was placed under the tutelage of a hard-working man named Tommy Murtagh. The foreman millwright at that time was Mr. Michael Tuohy. Later on, the growth of the railway necessitated a division of the duties. Mr. Jim Bruton was put in charge of the work in the shops, the shifting and installation of machinery, and the works plant. Mr. Tuohy was assigned to the outdoor or "country" work, turntables.rcranes, water tanks, pipes, columns, and pumping plant. With both of these foremen I had a lot to do over many years, and very interesting characters they were. I developed a great regard .for Mr. Tuohy. He was a very Irish and a very worthy man. He spoke the mellowist Munster brogue, full of quaint modes of expression, and with a running vein of humour. The company had not got a more faithful or devoted servant. His interest in his pumps and turntables was almost of the nature of affection, and his knowledge of the position of every water pipe under ground all over the system was extraordinarily accurate and reliable. He had a piece of ground of his own where he collected his heavy material for despatch to the country, and which flanked a siding on the way to the coal bank. This was always known as "Mick Tuohy's bank," and it was served by a crane which had done duty for many years and which Mick had a great affection for. One day he was walking on the bank with his faithful henchman, Dan Duffy, when an engine happened to pass along the siding. Owing to some carelessness on the part of the driver, the locomotive struck the jib of the crane, doing it some slight damage. Mick saw the act, and were it a child that had been struck could not have been more upset. "Oh, Dan, Dan, Dan!' he cried, "would you look what he's after doing! Has he ne 'er an eye in his head? Oh, my ducky little crane, my ducky little crane!"
Mr. Tuohy was always willing to place the benefit of his information and intimate knowledge of the work under his charge at the service of others. The chief difficulty, indeed, with him was that he was too willing. It was a trouble to confine him to the particular point under consideration and to get him to cut out irrelevant matters. I went to him one day to get some information regarding No. 40 stationa boiler. He adjusted his spectacles on the point I his nose, extracted a book from his drawer, and the proceeded to enlighten me as follows: "I've got book, I've got a book here, an' ther's ne'er a biler ( the road I haven't got in it. No. 69 and 70, then the two hydhraulic bilers in Cork=-ye'Il have dhrawin' of thim above in th' office. No. 65, 66, 6 an' 68, them's four new bilers that's building th very minute, pumpin' bilers, if ye go over to M Caswell in the biler shop he'll show ye them. No. ( and 64, them's two pumpin' bilers, No. 62 and 6 them's the two big vertical bilers above in th ( gas house, an' ther's another, wan just the san above at the creosote pump,". "No. 40 is the one want, Mr. Tuohy," I interjected. "Aye, No. 4 I'll not be long tell in' ye that. No. 30, that's not tl wan ye want. No. 31 and 32, oul' Tangye biler No. 33, that's the wan at Ballybrophy, an' be t1 same token, the firebox is very bad and I'll have 1 take it out of that soon. No. 34, that's wan of t1 oul' copper top bilers, ye know them oul' copper tc wans, grand little bilers they were, never a bit ( trouble with thim, but ther's only two of them le now, 34 and 35. No. 36, Charleville, No. 37, Kildar No. 38, Fermoy, No. 39, Cork, on the coal bank, } .Icnow th' ouI' injin' that does be going on the ove head ganthry there? No. 40, now we have it, th is the very wan you want."
It can be imagined that a certain amount of patience was necessary in getting business done wit Mr. Tuohy. The works manager during Mr. Coey term of office, Mr. R.E.L. Maunsell, was a busy man, and found it rather trying to listen to such roundabout methods of imparting information. When I became chief draughtsman, Mr. Tuohy would sometimes come up to me and go into some matter which he had to report to the manager, but which did not directly concern my own work. When he had done speaking I would repeat a resume of the report. Mr. Tuohy would listen with smiling contentment and say, "For the Lord's sake will you g in and tell it to him, he has ne'er a bit of patience with me and my rigmarole!" I would accordingl go with him into the office and act as his mouthpiece and the explanation would be got over to our unite satisfaction. He was a delightful old character: chatty, cheerful, and full of anecdotes, all connected with his work. He was, indeed, one of those "good and faithful servants," whose work so often passed unnoticed at the time, but who are missed whe they are gone. He looked upon the various urban councils, with their exorbitant water rates and their tendency to fight with the company over every trick as enemies of his own. He was never so contented as when he felt he had "done one of them in th eye," and I could relate many little amusing tales he told me as to how he had "got one in on them " in the interests of the railway. Even in his retirement 'I have known him to be asked to come up to the office to clear up some obscure point connected with locomotive
* Mr. Outon died October, 1925.
THE PATTERN SHOP. 38: 426-8
Of all the classical learning I was forced to absorb at school and over which I spent such weary hours, I merely retain a few disconnected lines from the Latin poets. Of these, the following from the "Satires of Horace" most frequently come back to me :-
"Qui fit, Maecenas, ut nemo, quam sibi sortem,
Seu ratio dederit, seu fors objecerit ilia
Contentus vivat, laudet diversa sequentes-?"
In some cases, no doubt, there is a certain amount of truth in the lines of the poet, but they have no application whatever to the engineering and allied trades. I never met a fitter yet who envied the happy lot of the boilermaker. I never met a boilermaker who sighed to be a brassfinisher, or a brassfinisher who considered moulding a more desirable occupation. My experience is that each trade is considered the best by the men -engaged in it, and I have often come across little jealousies in connection with a higher rate of wages being given to some than to others. In my opinion, however, patternmaking is, on the whole, the most highly-skilled engineering trade. The patternmaker must not only be a trained woodworker, but he must understand the whole art and practice of moulding. He must be something of a draughtsman, and be able to comprehend drawings of the most complex castings. I have learnt a very great deal from patternmakers at Inchicore and else-where.
I spent the spring and half the summer of my second year in the pattern shop, then situated at the end of the joinery. There was only one bench, occupied by two men, Joe B and Joe F-. The pattern store was in a loft overhead and was looked after by an old and rather peevish man named Darcy. B- was an Irishman of the Dan O'Connell type, full of humour, of a broad and tolerant outlook on life, and a highly-skilled woodworker. He had served his time at Inchicore, spent some years in the United States, worked in a Birkenhead shipbuilders, and then returned to Inchicore Works, where he remained till 1927. F- was an Irishman of a different but very native type. He was a slight built man, not robust physically, inclined at times to be morose, an intense hater of England, to which he always referred as "the bloody Saxon." He had been trained in Drogheda, a town in which the memory of Cromwell is ever green, the sorrow of the Boyne ever poignant. It took me some little time to get to know poor F-, but when I had got used to his manner I found him one of the most interesting types I met before or since. As a workman I have not yet come across a better patternmaker. The moulders would stake their lives on his accuracy. He loved difficult work, especially a complicated pair of engine cylinders with intricate passages and ports. In later years, when I was in the drawing office, he would waylay me, should I happen to be passing through the shop, and enquire, "Any chance of a new pair of cylinders ?" Like many more good workmen I have met, he was "unfortunate." Not that he used to drink regularly, but he would "break out" at intervals. On the day following one of these bacchanalia he would be silent and moody, unable to do any work, simply making an effort in the presence of the gaffer. The next day he would start at six in the morning, and if he happened to have an interesting job on hand, would work, work all day till evening bell sounded, with the perspiration falling from his face in acrid drops. His continual denunciations of "the bloody Saxon" amused the other workmen very much. They considered him "a harmless poor divil with it all," and even Englishmen, as a rule, endured his caustic remarks with good-natured toleration. There was a coremaker in the foundry whom I only knew as 'Manchester Jack." He was not a very estimable representative of the British race, and of ten came in for much verbal abuse whenever his business brought him to the pattern bench. One day, while I was there, F- thus addressed him : "Before ever the bloody Saxon was heard tell of, Ireland was one of the grandest countries in the world, the island of saints and scholars." "Wot's that you're saying, F-?" said "Manchester Jack." "Saints ! I ain't seen no bloomin' saints, not since I came to Ireland ; I seen plenty of the other sort though !"
Old Darcy, in charge of the pattern loft, was of a suspicious character. One of his common delusions was that whenever he observed two men talking together near him, he was the subject of the conversation. On one occasion, Mr. Cronin spent some time with F-, and whilst speaking to him, frequently pointed up towards the pattern loft. The old man was narrowly watching the two conversing from the top of the stairs. When the foreman had gone away o he came down and asked F , "What was that man saying about me ?" "Mr. Darcy," said F-, 'he was sayin' ye wer' gettin' very ould, and he was wondherin' how much longer ye'll hould out. He was remarkin' to me about yer bockity ould leg !" Darcy got into a rage and sought Mr. Cronin to demand what right he had to make such remarks about him to another man. Mr. Cronin's reply is not on record. During all these little incidents Joe B- would remain behind the door of his press, suffocating in his efforts to conceal his laughter.
One Saturday night poor F- mixed his drinks, or was otherwise incautious in his libations, and finished up the week by an act of violence on another person. For this he had to appear before the magistrate on Monday morning, and was summarily sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Mr. Cronin decided that he would not let him come back to his work after coming from jail. The chief draughtsman at that time was Mr. W. C. Irwin, a gentleman of a very rare and sympathetic Christian character. He took a great interest in F , and interceded on his behalf with the foreman. Mr. Cronin agreed to his request, and I well remember the warm Sunday forenoon when I accompanied Mr. Irwin to the grim and forbidding portals of Kilmainham Jail. He was anxious to have a message conveyed to F to let him know that his job was waiting for him when he was released. While Mr. Irwin was being conducted to the office of the governor, to the accompaniment of gates and doors being unlocked, banged, and re-locked, I chatted with one of the warders. My companion finally reappeared with the information that F was not there but in Mountjoy, but that the governor had telephoned the required message across. When F- was liberated his gratitude was unbounded, and when, a year later, Mr. Irwin died an untimely death, there was no one more sorry than the poor patternmaker. His account of his prison experience was most entertaining. Fortunately for himself, he was not in robust health, and completed most of his term in hospital. The most amusing part of his experience to me was the intense interest awakened in his mind by the perusal of the official Bible which the bloody but religious Saxon made an obligatory article of prison cell equipment. F began at Genesis and had worked his way into Deuteronomy before he was removed to hospital. His impressions of familiar scriptural characters and events, read by him for the first time, and related in the Doric of James Street, were most delightful and instructive. He was particularly exasperated at the hopeless obstinacy of the Children of Israel. "Them Jews," he said, "beat the very divil for contrariness. I never came across such hard chaws. How did Moses put up with them at all, at all? If it was me I'd have let them all go to blazes ! And them sacrifices ! Killin' cattle, killin' cattle and burnin' them from one end of the month to -the other ! Where could they get all the cattle to slaughter at that rate ?"
Shortly before the South African War commenced, the increase of the work in the pattern shop- necessitated an additional man, and an English pattern-maker was brought in. This was a tall, bony, red-haired Yorkshireman, a "bloody Saxon" by nationality, but an ardent Socialist by conviction. F-- and he pulled it off rather well together at first. The Saxon disliked queens and emperors' as gilded rulers of "capitalistic" political systems. F-too, hated queens, but only English ones. The Saxon detested earls and lords on account of their privileged position, "living like parasites on the workers." The Celt also detested aristocrats, but only because all those he knew of were in the English interest. When the war broke out, the Saxon was opposed to it on account of its sordid capitalistic origin. The Celt also hated those responsible for it, but only because they were endeavouring to crush a small but sturdy people who were struggling against the same tyrannical power that had crushed his Irish . fore-fathers. Then came the series of British reverses at the close of the year. F exulted at the humiliation of the "bloody Saxon." After each Boer success he would taunt the Yorkshireman, "that's another fine kicking Paul is after giving you !" After Majersfontein he gloated ; after Colenso he became insulting. The unfortunate Englishman could stand it no longer. The Saxon in him overcame the Socialist, and he left this impossible and incomprehensible country behind him. Joe B-, who listened to all these passages at arms from behind his press door, almost did himself damage in trying to hide his laughter. Poor Joe F- ! He was a character in every way, one of the most entertaining I have ever met. In after years he married, "settled down," and lived an exemplary working man's life till he, in his turn, passed away. (To be continued)
MlILL GEARING: 39-52.
The pattern shop, so called, was really only the end of the joiners' shop. It was not till years afterwards that it was removed to a separate building in its natural position of proximity to the foundry.
At the further end of the joinery and separated from it by a wall, was the grinding shop, At the other end there was a small shop containing a moulding machine and band saw. This shop opened on to the side of the sawmill. All of these places I explored during the "first quarter" whilst I was stationed at the pattern bench. The grinding shop was I resided over by a chargehand named Sweeney, and a very dusty and gritty job he had. There were two very large wet grindstones and several buffing wheels. At one corner of the room there was a large pulley against the wall which received the drive from an underground shaft for the line shaft along the wall of the erecting shop. The belt was very wide and thick, as the drive was such a powerful one, and this rapidly moving band exercised a peculiar, almost a superstitions fascination on my mind. It seemed to me like a living thing enslaved and tied down to its unceasing cycles, but villainous and cruel, could it get anything in its grip. I often dreamt of that belt at night. Of all mechanical devices, moving belts have always been to me the most terrifying, and the greatest chamber of horrors to me was the sawmill pit. The first time I descended into those nether regions "Where Pluto dwells, far from the blest gods apart," a white-bearded old sawyer earnestly warned me of the danger I was needlessly incurring. Down I went, however, impelled by curiosity, and that spirit of adventure which usually impels one whilst young, to go into all sorts of forbidden places. The sawmill pit in those days was indeed a veritable death-trap. It was a maze of moving belts and revolving pulleys, some of these of large diameter. The drives went in all directions, some of them nearly horizontal, so that one had to stoop low to pass underneath. In addition to this, many of the belts were loose, causing them to flap and sway in the most alarming fashion. The place was full of dust, and was dimly illuminated by gas jets. It was with a series of thrills, not altogether of an unpleasant kind, that I gathered my jacket dose to my body and passed under these drives. They reminded me of those hideous polypi with their grasping tentacles described by Hans Christian Andersen in his tale of "The Little Mermaid." I explored the noisy pit right to the end and then retraced my perilous footsteps as far as the passage which led off at a right angle under the joiners shop. The main shaft from the engine drove the cross shaft by means of a pair of large bevel wheels, exposed and naked, revolving with a deafening clang. These wheels were very terrifying. They reminded me of a vicious monster, chained and secured in his den, gnashing his teeth and implacable in his impotent rage.
The sawrnill pit was decidedly not a place for a solitary youth to take a safe and healthy morning stroll in. but it had an attraction of its own. such is our peculiar human nature. Even in my time, two millwrights were killed therecaught by the bells and terribly mangled. Those were the days before a paternal Board of Trade began to harass employers with its requirements and restrictions. The supercilious higher official, with his important government airs and his spats, whom we got to know in after years, had not as yet appeared on the scene. The old sawmill pit would have given him material for a glorious report had he ever inspected it, or perhaps the sight of it might have given him a stroke of apoplexy! Some time later, however. the sawmill and joinery came under the charge of Mr. Thomas Kirkham, a foreman who knew how a shop should laid out and driven. The whole sawmill was reconstructed. The maze of belting was done away with; the number of pulleys and drives was reduced to the minimum necessary, and finallv, the entrance to the pit was closed and locked to prevent unauthorised wanderers like myself from exploring its mysteries
The sawmill engine was the most powerful one the works. It was an inverted tandem compound with two cylinders. The crankshaft was coupled direct to the main shaft to the sawmill. and by means of the bevel wheels and pulley I have mentioned, drove the line shaft in the erecting and boiler shops. The engine was housed in a deep narrow room by itself, adjacent to the boiler house. For some reason which was never clearly investigated, the engine made a pronounced pounding noise, and although provided with a variable expansion governing device, had a endency to race when the power transmitted was temporarily reduced. The boiler, like all the other stationary boilers at Inchicore, was of the locomotive type. The engineman was a tall, straight, grey-bearded man of a grave and impassive expression, named Connolly. I think he only retired from his charge when the old sawmill engine was done away with, a few years before the Great War. It was then superseded by the Sultzer-Diesel and electric-generator sets at present installed in the new power-house. A few years still later, two Bellis-Morcom high-speed steam engines fed by Babcock & Wilcox boilers were added, and electrical transmission generally replaced the old-fashioned drives of my pupilship days. (To be continued) ?
Reminiscences of an Irish Locomotive Works By E. E. JOYNT, M.I.Mcch.E. (Continued from page 53) 1933 p.96
The old engine shed at Inchicore was the most remarkable looking building in the premises. It was built of stone, and the side facing the railway suggested the appearance of an English baronial hall with its ornamental stonework and buttresses, its crenated parapet, and its handsome. turret. There was nothing in its aspect, as viewed from a passing train, to suggest that behind the ivy-clad wall locomotives were housed, and grease-stained men were busy. Indeed, the good work executed at the opening of the Great Southern and Western Ry. about the vear 1843 was very creditable not only to the foresight, but also to the aesthetic taste of the architects and builders of that period. Nothing that has been done in this age of bricks and concrete has equalled it in quality and appearance.
For some months during the summer of 1894, this shed was my working headquarters, the period being spent by me on the railway. It was an interesting and instructive experience. There was much to be learnt in connection with the firing, driving, and general running of locomotives, and it was pleasant to spend a time in the open air.
The running shed foreman was an Italian named Mr. Pizani. He was a rather low-sized man who spoke with a Continental accent. He was very clever, devoted to scientific hobbies, and, with the possible exception of Mr. Denis MacNamara, was the best photographer of locomotives ever known at Inchicore. His chief assistant was Mr. Gonnan, a big, active, strenuous man whom I do not remember having ever spoken to. Then there was Johnnie Quinlan. the principal clerk in the shed office, more active on his single leg and his crutch than many a youth about the place who possessed all his members. The charge-hand over the cleaners was Mr. Foley, and a very greasy and foul-mouthed gang be had to control. Of other characters about the shed, I recollect John Cox, who was in charge of the lamp room on weekdays, and acted as sexton in the Methodist chapel on Sunday. One would almost fancy to look at him, that his very veins were filled with lamp oil. I also recall three of the shed fitters in particular: Halligan, a dark complexioned. grave type of man; McConnell, and Watson Nolan, tall, swarthy, outspoken, and independent of character. Then there was the bar boy. who, one would think. had "been kept small on purpose," like the burglar's boy in Dickens, to enable him to get into and out of hot fireholes quickly.
At that period the passenger trains operated from the Dublin end of the system were arranged in four graduated "links." The most important of these was the "Mail Link." The principal trains comprised the day mails and expresses between Dublin and Queenstown. The largest engines, those of "60" class, were employed on this service, which the best in Ireland, and the most experienced enginemen were in charge of the work. Amongst those men, I specially recall Johnny Brennan, Mick Egan, "Boxer" Harte, Pat Kenny, and Larry Rochfort. Those were the Famous "mailmen," the crack engine drivers of the last decade of the nineteenth century "the men which were of old, the men of renown." The Day Mail in those days was a faster train than it became later. It was non-stop between Limerick Junction and Cork, and it frequently ran down the bank and passed Mallow station at a speed of seventy-five miles an hour. The trains, of course, were then very light as compared with those on the main line nowadays. The other links comprised the Night Mails, trains of secondary importance, stopping trains, and trains to Kilkennv and other branches. The drivers of these trains were also experienced men, some of them> such as John Garrett and Johnnie Gaw, being too old for the fastest work. Mr. Garrett was a very interesting man. He had been an engine-driver from his boyhood, starting work on the railwav at its very commencement. He was a man of very courteous habit and of a bright and pIeasant personality. Then there were Owen Donnelly, a man named Murphy, and Mick Cardiff, the latter bearing the reputation of having been one of the drollest characters on the railway in his "firing" davs. There were also Arthur Dyer, a man of prodigious size and weight, who was always engaged on the North Wall branch, and Micky Ramsbottam, the driver of the steam cab between Inchicore and Kingsbridge of many long years, both of them well-known personalities about the shed. There was one train which occupied a special link all to itself. This was "3 o'clock" from Dublin to Cork, a light but very fast train with only a few stops on the way to Limerick Junction. This portion of the journey was worked by engine No. 53, a small locomotive, but al ways specially groomed and cared for. It was in charge of the best driver on the road, Mr. Bat MacNamara, a tall, firm-willed, fine-looking man, with whom business was a science. The "3 o'clock" was the to go on to see the best practice in locomotive and management. The people at the country stations set their timepieces by this train and by the Day Mail.
Of the various goods trains, I did most of my firing on the one to Nenagh, which left the Kingsbridge yard at midnight. This was a convenient train for me, as I got off at Roscrea and could rest during the daytirne at my sister's home in that town. There was more romance about the goods trains. There was the sleeping countryside; the dark and deserted stations, so animated by daylight; the long train of wagons moving like a huge snake round curves; the glare of the fire periodically lighting up the clouds of steam from the chimney; the shunting operations at the stopping stations. directed by a single man with a lamp : the dawning of the early summer mornling; the other trains passing in the dark. It was all full of interest. It is only when in charge of a locomotive shovel that one appreciates the effect of gradients. One of the severest of these I found to be the Ballybrophy bank, and I was never sorry to see the distant signal light of the station after we had reached the top.
There was only one type of goods engine on the line in those days, the old six-coupled "101" class. The maximum load was forty-five loaded wagons. One engine, No. 165, on the Nenagh goods, was the only compound on the line, and she was undesired and unbeloved. She was always known as "the compoundher," partly owing to her irregular asthmatic blast, and partly because she pulled more on the high-pressure than on the low-pressure side, producing a pounding effect. She had the reputation of being heavier on coal and water and of being less powerful than the ordinary goods engines. This curious fact in connection with a compound I always ascribed to the fact that the front of the low-pressure cylinder, 26 in. diameter, was fully exposed to the air and the elements. In my opinion it combined the functions both of a steam cylinder and a surface condenser.
I found it rather difficult at first to sleep in the daytime. After working to Roscrea all night and returning the next night, with only a few hours' rest in the meantime, I could hardly manage to "stick it" as far as Sallins. After that I handed the shovel to the fireman, laid down on the hard splasher, and slept peacefully till we got to Inchicore. When one is young one can do things like that !
I stopped at the Cork end for a couple of weeks. I had already been down there for a short time during the previous February. The Cork district was a very busy and important one. A lot of the operations in the low-lying goods yard and on the adjacent quay are effected by hydraulic power. The pumping plant and boilers were contained in the "tank house," which also covered the electric light generating sets. There was also a small engine repair shop, a wagon repair shop, and a steam shed which was much larger than the old one at Inchicore. The district superintendent was Mr. W. M. Smith, an Englishman, who spoke nasally like Mr. Ivatt. When he retired he was succeeded by Mr. J. Johnson, formerly district superintendent at Waterford.
I did not take to the Cork enginemen. They appeared to me to be suspicious and secretive, and to regard me as a sort of spy from, headquarters. The Kerry men were altogether different, friendly, chatty, and full of fun. One day as I was on the footplate of an engine of No. 2 class going towards Tralee, we came on to a bit of newly-laid track. A permanent way overseer stepped on the engine at a station, apparently in order to "feel the road." Of all rough-spoken and profane men I have ever come across, permanent way overseers are an easy first. This old chap, however, appeared quite placid and satisfied in mind, and kept looking intently ahead through the cab window. Seeing his absorption, the fireman winked at me in a droll manner and lifted up the wooden flap between the engine and tender platforms. He then poured some oil from his long feeder on the faces of the buffers, and gently replaced the flap. Immediately the friction between the buffers was relieved, the engine began to dance up and down on the springs. The overseer was greatly disconcerted and wondered what on earth was wrong, causing such a sudden change in the movement of the locomotive. The fireman then whispered in my ear, "Now when he gets off he'll give hell to the gangers !"
I noticed the same jocular spirit during a trip I made to Cahirciveen and Valencia Harbour. Part of the railway towards the end of this branch runs on a shelf on a ten-chain curve round the side of the mountain, Dingle Bay being far below on the other side. In some places there is nothing to be seen ahead but sky looking through the cab window as the railway disappears in a curve behind the slope. It is a very wild locality, and some of the stations seem to belong to no place in particular. At one stopping place called Mountain Stage the fireman pointed out to me the local post office, a little thatched cabin. Two enormous pigs were reclining outside this official building. "Them's the office staff," said the fireman, "taking a rest outside." (To be continued)
I have said that I thought the Cork men suspicious. One engine-driver I came across there was certainly the most suspicious and disgruntled railway man I ever spoke to. He was an old fellow called John Power, a most entertaining grumbler and fault-finder. He used to take an early morning train from Limerick Junction to Cork and return with a train which left the latter station at six in the evening. This train was rather heavy and was always packed with people leaving the city after the day's marketing or other business, for different stations on the main line and southern branches. The engine, No. 66 was one of the smallest type, was certainly none too powerful for the load it had to haul. Once I got on the footplate old John began. He was on duty all day from half-past seven in the morning till ten at night, "The last time Misther Ivatr was down I had to complain to him about the way I was thraited. The mail train, I said, have only five or six hours duty in the day, and they get more money than me, Sure that's not fair! Mr. Ivatt said he couldn't see his way to do anything more for me he couldn't see his way! 'John,' says he, 'you're not on duty all the time. You have the best part of the day off down in Cork.' 'That may be so,' said I, 'but I have the care of the injin on me mind all day, and her lying under steam in Cork yard.' But Mr. Ivatt couldn't see his way!'
His rancour against the "mail men and their privileged position was unbounded. "Would ye look at that tindher,' he said, pointing to the pile of coal, .. "would you just look at what they put on it. The dirt of the yard; I'm tellin' ye, the dirt ot the yard! The mail min gets the best lumps on the bank picked for themhand-picked for them; but I'm expected to keep time on that!" "Just come here a minute." he then said to me, stepping down on the platform. "Just look at the people that's steppin' into that train. There's not a coach in it they're not stannin' up in. And I'm responsible for everv livin' sowl there! It's the heaviest thrain out o' Cork, and they give me the smallest injin. It's nothin' but floggin' her the whole way!" I could not help thinking that it was the fireman who wielded the shovel that really did the "flogging," yet he was not complaining about anything except the evil fate that had mated him, for the time being, with such a cantankerous companion. Immediately at the end of the platform at Cork the railway enters a tunnel on a severe rising grade. The incline at Kilbarry end is as much as 1 in 60. The tunnel, moreover, is always dripping, making the rails very slippery. All trains oi my weight require the assistance of a pilot engine as far as Blarney. On this particular occasion the leading engine was a six coupled goods locomotive. As soon as the train got well into the tunnel the engine began to slip, and then old John started at the fireman, telling him to "give her sand." If the fireman worked the sanding handle too vigorously It would be "Aisy with that sand there. damrnit, or we won't have a grain left agin we get to Kilbarry." He then began to curse "that damn' pilot, he's givin' me no help at all!" When the pilot cut off at Blarney and crossed over the road, the old man shook his fist and shouted across to him. "Ye scoundherel, it's pushin' y'up the tunnel all the time I was!"
After these little excitements John proceeded to instruct me in the art of engine driving. "There's three ways of dhrivin' an injin," he explained, "there's the good way, the middlin' way, and the bad way." This sounded rather like a platitude, and the fireman muttered in rny ear. "Listen to th' oul' cod: he doesn't know a damn' ha'porth hisself about drivin' an injin, the good way, the middlin' way, or the bad way!" At last we arrived at the ticket check platform outside Mallow, from which there is a sharp gradient up to the station. When the tickets were checked and the guard had given the starting signal, the engine could not stir the train, Again and again old John tried the regulator, but without result. The station-master then ran down the line in a state of great perturbation and said, "John, I've a goods engine up in the station and I'll send him down to you to give you a pull in." "Ye'll do no such thing! Ye ll do no such thing I" John replied "There's nothing wrong with my injin, only the guard in that back van is keepin' his brake on. Get that damn' fellow to take off his brake and I'll have no throuble at all.' The station,master was in despair. The fireman growled curses between his teeth at the cross- grained old sinner he had to work with. The train delayed and passengers' heads began to appear at each window, At last John opened the regulator again, and this time the engine gave a wheeze and began to pull slowly ahead. The old fellow was exultant. "There, now, I tould you!l I only wanted that brake taken off!" He then turned to' me, and said with an air of injured innocence. "Them' young guards, ye know, always with their damn' thrickin'."
The train proceeded on its way, leaving coaches behind at each junction and dropping passengers at every station. By the time Limerick Junction was reached, half an hour or fortv minutes behind the scheduled time, there were only three coaches and a van left, The sight of MacNamara's engine standing fresh and impatient to take the train the rest of the way to Dublin, was a final cause of exasperation to old John. As he moved off towards the shed he said with a contemptuous snort, "There he is now with his three empty boxes, and yet he can't keep time." I once had a glance at a "Soldier's Pocket Book." written bv the late Field Marshal Wolseley. One of the notes I remarked in it advised officers never to check men when grumbling during a wearying march, as it served as a sort of safety valve. If grumbling is a safety valve, old John Power could report concerning himself in the familiar language of the steam shed report book, "Safety valve blowing off light, wants adjusting."
I afterwards heard that about a month later he was given a larger engine, No. 59, a notoriously bad steamer. At: this he let himself go again, saying, "It's to get me sacked they gave me that wan. She's the worst cursed steamer in the shed!" Poor old chap I forgive him all his faults,which were rnany, in return for the rare entertainment of his company,
As it matter of fact. Bat McNamara. if he could not catch up on three-quarters of an hour with his "empty boxes," made a fine effort to do so. It was a flying race home in the earlv night. The forty-two miles from Portarlington to Kingsbridge were covered in forty-eight minutes, start to stop. A peculiarity of this last part of the run was that not an ounce of fuel was put into the firebox on the way. The fireman merely spread the livid coals once or twice with the pricker, and I could see the fire "boiling" as the air rushed up through the firebars. The fire was worked so economically that, after stopping at the terminus, a shovelful of slack had to be sprayed over the surface to make enough steam to take the engine back light to Inchicore.
Great changes in the running have been introduced since those days. Enormous locomotives have been placed on the rnain line to haul the modern corridor express and heavy goods trains. This has all meant huge and ever-growing expense. Permanent way and bridges have had to be strengthened to sustain the increased loads and stresses. Wear and tear ard fuel costs have progressiveIy mounted up. On avance, mais on casse des oeufs. The advent of the eight hours day did away with the affectionate care of the drivers for their engines which was so noticeable when first I was out on the line. Then it was "Johnny Brennans engine," or "Larry Rochfort's engine." Now it is everybody's engine, nobody's engine. and nobody worries if it is not even cleaned, Still, I am inclined to think that there are few classes of workers more interested in their job than locomotive men. I have met manv of them on the other Irish railways, and found that their machine and its peculiarities and action are always a ready subject of conversation with them,
I have spent several periods with running engines frorn time to lime, but that first one was the most enjoyable. "He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." I was then fresh and inexperienced. The locomotive was still a thing oi romance. Later on it became a subject of design, and the romance dropped out.
The pursuit and progressive acquirement of any form of knowledge is undoubtedly one of the greatest human pleasures. 'The knowledge itself, however, when acquired, often proves a delusion and a vapid source of satisfaction. This, I think is one of the principal causes of human advance. One wishes to learn rnore, to experience the sober joy of penetrating a further mystery, to get on to something still beyond one's ken, but I must stop at these reflections. They are not of the nature of Reminiscences, andI have to describe further stages in my adventurcs in pursuit of wisdom as it is taught in an engineering works.
39: 151-2: THE FOUNDRY.
I started work in the foundry in the middle of the autumn and remained there until the early part of the new year. It was a great, and at first anything but a pleasant change of scene after the experience of the summer months. Every evening during the casting operations the grimy shop, to my imagination, assumed an appearance which had something of the infernal about it, The atmosphere was dense with smoke and reeking with pungent gases. Lambent flames came from every moulding box and from castings in the sand on the floor. The stream of white-hot metal from the cupula fell in a sputtering cascade into the crucible with a dazzling accompaniment or' sparks. Portions of hot solidifying metal lay all over the place, Boys with skimming irons, shading their faces from the livid glare and burning heat were busy at each crucible as the metal was poured into the moulds. Their aspect and movements reminded one of the traditional demons of the nether pit. As I watched the scene and thought of the open-air life on the engines on the line, I remembered the lines from my Milton :----
...Farewell, happy fields.
Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! Hail'
Infernal world, and thou profoundest hell,
Receive thy new possessor!....
The foundry. nevertheless, proved to be a most interesting and instructive place to work in. Moulding is one of the most important and highly-skilled engineering trades. It demands not only great care and deftness on the part of the workmen, but great technical knowledge of the metals he had to deal with on the part of the foreman. The foundrymen in Inchicore did not earn their money easily. The shop had the reputation of being the hardest worked in Dublin, and whatever might be said about any other place in the works, there, at least, no time was wasted. even during the unnatural first quarter.
The foreman was Mr. William Lyons and it was his brother George who gave me my first lesson. George Lyons was a delicate, languid, phthisical man with bright eyes, of a peculiarly cheerful spirit and full of humour. I was subsequently placed under the particular charge of Charlie Larkin, whose responsihilities included the surveillance of the apprentices and juniors. Charlie was a fairly "hard case." He ruled principally by his tongue, his command of sarcastic and abusive epithets being very comprehensive. He was a rather popular character about the works, and resided in the once classical neighbourhood of Meath Street. He was reputed to have been engaged to the same girl for almost a couple of decades. but about the time of my entry into the foundry had apparently decided to bring the affair to its proper conclusion. At any rate, I was waited on by a deputation consisting of old George Griffin and Mick Landy. They explained that Charlie Larkin had been "long enough on the job, but we are getting him married at last." and they were collecting subscriptions for a gift to present to him in recognition of his tardy courage. In spite of Charlie's watchfulness, behind his back the boys managed to do a fair number of "nix" jobs. such as "Ally Slopers" and various other little cast-iron ornaments with which every moulder's house is adorned.
The shop was then served by two cranes. One of these was an overhead gantry worked by hand from the ground, the other was a jib swivel crane made of timber. I often wondered how this wooden construction lasted so well, considering the heavy and constant work it performed and exposed as it was to the scorching heat of the crucibles around it every evening, A moulder told me of a remarkable event that happened one evening during casting. Five tons of metal had just been poured frorn the large crucible into a mould, The empty vessel was being swung dear of the. box when suddenly the chain snapped and it fell on the floor. One can imagine the tragedy it would have been had the chain failed while the crucible was full instead of empty.
The blower for the cupolas was driven by all old stationary locomotive engine housed in a shed along the end wall outside. This engine also drove a loam mill and a sieve in the corner of the shop. There was no other machinery there at that time. The brass foundry was in a separate room. There were only two brass moulders.
The winteI I spent in the foundry was one of the coldest I ever remember. For two or three weeks there was an intense frost. The pond around the dining hall was thickly frozen over, and was covered bv skaters every night, moving to and fro under the light of flares placed around the brink of the water. The sand in the foundry was frozen solid everv morning, and was only kept thawed by day by means of lighted braziers placed at intervals over the floor. These, however, failed to warm the icy air, and the shivering men would retire at intervals to the stifling core oven, from which they would emerge half roasted. For most of this time I avoided the shop altogether before breakfast. I was not very well that winter, and the physical discomfort of the early hours was too much for me. I did not consider, however, that moulding is a particularly unhealthy trade. The acrid fumes never hurt my lungs in the least. Foundry work is certainly laborious and physically exhausting, more so in some respects than other trades, but the moulders at Inchicore were generally fine strong men. My chief discomfort, I remember. was the way in which the damp sand used to cut up my hands in the cold weather.
In those davs there were no moulding machines, Even the brake blocks were made frorn separate wood patterns. At successive later periods the foundry was enlarged and improved. Mouldling and corernaking machines were introduced. The brass foundry was placed in a better and more open position, which also provided a more efficient draught for the melting furnaces. A new blower was erected and by bringing the pattern shop close to the moulders, the whole foundry arrangements were brought into line with modern practice and requirements. (To be continued)
Office. 39: 180-1.
Continued from page 152. The foundry was the last shop in which he worked. Early in the spring he entered the drawing office, a place in which he was destined to spend most of my years at Inchicore.
The chief draughtsman at that time was Mr. C.H. Dutton. His immediate predecessor had been Mr. W.C. Irwin. I had only been acquainted with Mr. Irwin during the last two years of his life. He was a man of a very exceptional type, highly strung, intense in his interests, strict and exacting with his staff, and a peculiarly neat and careful draughtsman. My short friendship with him is a treasured memory. He helped me with his counsel, guidance and experience in the deeper and more important matters of life. He was serious in everything he undertook, but the rectitude of his character was tempered by a saving sense of humour and by a heart whose capacity for sympathy could only be realised by the few who were privileged to know him intimately. Unhappily his health failed and he came to a sad and premature end in 1895.
In those years the drawing office staff was small, and for a time the work was not arduous. I think there were not more than six on the staff. The three senior draughtsmen were Mr. Aubrey Ohren, Mr. Denis MacNamara and Mr. John Woods. Mr. MacNamara was one of those in Inchicore for whom I early conceived a strong attachment. His character was attractive by virtue of its simplicity and goodness. Not even the most malevolent could point to anything in his life or conduct which could be termed a vice. He was an extraordinarily clever man, of an inventive and painstaking genius, a great amateur of the sciences. He was a pioneer experimenter in photography and phonography, electrical phenomena, the Rontgen Rays and wireless telegraphy. Before the Great War he used to set the time office clocks by the Eiffel Tower time signals. He made the model locomotive which stands in the hall of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers in Westminster, and the model dining car which figured in the last Paris Exhibition and other shows. His house was full of his handiwork, one of the best examples of which was a Wimshurst machine which could produce a spark nine inches long and which he utilised for his X-ray experiments. His talents and knowledge were freely made use of by the Railway Company but shockingly badly rewarded. He had travelled far in Europeto Rome, Milan, Paris, Brussels, Lourdes. I myself had two holidays with him on the Continent. A brighter or more interesting compagnon de voyage it would be difficult to find. Had his lot been cast in a country different to ours. he would have achieved great worldly success. In Ireland, however, bounce count for much and intellect and loyal service count for little, and Mr. MacNamara's chief reward for a long and useful career was the possession of a quiet and peaceful conscience, a thing the value of which cannot be reckoned in terms of the gold standard. He died 31st December, 1926.
Mr. Ohren was a man of quite different type. He was of English nationality and was turning grey when I first knew him. He had then been in Ireland for nearly fifty years, but he was just as English the day he died as when he first arrived. The men in the shops, however, gave his name the Irish form of "Horan." There are two kinds of English gentlemen that I like to meet. One is the person who has travelled in many lands, and who, whilst retaining his British characteristics, has had his native exclusiveness toned down by a healthy internationalism. The other is the delightfully insular and narrow Englishman who feels that all is well with the world as long as a Conservative government is in office, to whom loyalty to the throne is a religion; who regards Americans as mongrels, and the non-English-speaking races as "lesser breeds without the law." Mr. Ohren was an Englishman of the latter type, but he was a perfect gentleman who would have been at ease in any society. He was of very cultured tastes, a lover of poetry, music and the arts. As a draughtsman he was methodical and beautifully neat.
Johnny Woods was at the other extreme of character from Mr. Ohren. He loved neither letters, music or the arts. He dwelt very far from that region where aspirations ascend and inspirations descend. His thoughts were materialistic, and, if popular belief was justified, chiefly concerned with lucre, of which he was understood to have amassed a goodly store. His real or fancied accumulations were a perpetual source of banter in the office. Mr. John Power, the works manager's chief clerk, never passed his board without going through the pantomime of clearing imaginary piles of coin from the table into his trousers pocket. Woods, however, always took this chaff in the most perfect good part He enjoyed the reputation of being a sort of financial expert, and was frequently consulted by members of the various offices on money matters, particularly in connection with the completion of income tax forms. He was a master in the subject of "deductions" and "allowances," and was always willing to advise as to what emoluments a person who took an easy view of such matters might safely omit from his return of "total income from all sources." The tax collector he regarded as an unscrupulous and implacable rogue, one to be watched and outwitted. Should any of his declared income escape taxation, Woods would say, ."That's their mistake, not mine; let them find it out. Should he be mulcted sixpence too much, he would fight tooth and nail with the authorities till he secured a refund. Woods was a small sized man, with steel grey hair resembling wire, fleshless and meagre of person. He was engaged entirely on carriage and wagon work, but his drawings were far from being models of technique. En rèvanche, he knew every stick in the coaches and wagons. His shrill voice was dreaded by the coachbuilders almost as much as that of the gaffer when he went to the shop to see how a new job was getting on. He was well liked by all in the office. With all his reputation for "nearness" he possessed an equable temper, and everyone was sorry when he left the service to manage a farm which was bequeathed to him in the midlands.
From the first I found the work of the drawing office quite à mon gré. I had no idea when I entered. as to whether I would spend any length of time or not, but I remember making the resolution that I would aim at being the best draughtsman in the office.
For a year or so there was a great slackness of work, but shortly after Mr. Coey's appointment an exceptionally busy time set in. I shall touch upon the work of the succeeding years later on. At the start I was engaged upon the usual jobs given to a beginnertracings, minor details, miscellaneous drawings of secondary importance, charts. I arrived shortly after the period when photographic prints had begun to replace tracings for shop use. In a few years the last of the shop tracings had disappeared from circulation like dirty banknotes. but for a long time the prints retained the familiar name of "tracings" in the shops. In the old days the same tracings of details did duty in the various shops in which they were required. In later days. when it was possible to send separate prints of the same drawings to all the foremen concerned, I often wondered how the work had been done so well formerly when the same dirty and often almost illegible tracing was passed along from place to place.
There were a great many drawings of an early date in the office. Some of these were beautifully finished in that old time style which was the custom when engineering draughtsmanship was more of an art and less of a science than it is to-day. Mr. Irwin. I think, was one of the last draughtsmen of the old school. Some of his finished and coloured drawings of locomotives excited my imagination whilst I was in the erecting shop. In later years, from the very complete materials to my hand. and assisted as regard obsolete engines by Mr. Joe Clothier, foreman of the erecting-shop, I compiled a locomotive history of the railway from 1891 to 1916*. There were many gaps in the information to be obtained irom the older drawings I have referred to. I had, however, conceived the project of preparing an account of the earlier locomotives of the railway. but left the service before I could carry it into effect. I hope to say something more, further on in these reminiscences. about the work of the drawing office at Inchicore.
During the years of my pupilage I do not think that the total length of all my conversations with Mr. Ivatt exceeded twenty minutes. This, however, did not trouble me much. I had a " free leg," got pretty much all I asked for, and as the Chief never commented on my progress or conduct, I presumed that he was satisfied with such reports about me as he got from the shops.
Mr. Ivatt was held in great esteem by the engine drivers, as he had the reputation of being a good "running man." In 1896 he was appointed locomotive engineer of the Great Northern Railway of England, and left Inchicore for Doncaster.
His successor was Mr. Robert Coey, who had previously held the position
of works manager. He remained as locomotive engineer during the greater part
of my service with the railway. He was one of the best qualified and most
capable engineers I ever met, and it was a great privilege to serve under
him. On the theoretical side he
had been a brilliant student and was a Whitworth Scholar. On the practical side he was not only a mechanical engineer of great knowledge and skill, but had also had a long and arduous experience of civil engineering, particularly in the service of the Dublin Port and Docks Board. I remember him telling us once that one of his most trying experiences was that, on a certain occasion, he went down in a diving suit to the bed of the Liffey. Whilst there he lost hold and sight of the guiding rope, and had to grope about in the murky and opaque water of the river for over half an hour before he could regain the surface. He was a man of great but quiet energy of character, possessed of a firm will, and using much judgment in his decisions. He was of a thoughtful habit, parsimonious of speech, but when he expressed himself, his words, if few, were clear and to the point. His taciturnity, added to the universal confidence in his ability and judgment, made him greatly admired by the foremen and respected by the men. Jim Bruton, the foreman millwright, once told me that whilst he was charge-hand, his men had to get a specially urgent piece of work done against time. Mr. Coey showed some signs of uneasiness and frequently came down to see how the job was going on. On one of these visits, Mr. Cronin who was with him, stepped over to Bruton and said, "Mr. Coey is anxious to know when you'll have the job finished." "For the Lord's sake," said Bruton, "try and coax him away and we'll get it done in half the time." The job was indeed completed well within the time fixed, and Mr. Coey came down to have a final inspection. He had a look and then merely said in his staccato North of Ireland way, A good quick job." "You know," said old Bruton to me, "the men thought more of that than if another man made a speech."
I have had conversations, however, on technical subjects with Mr. Coey, and found that when speaking on matters in which he was keenly interested, he could be almost eloquent, and animated even to the extent of gesture. One could not be closely associated with him in the work of the place without conceiving a deep esteem and respect for his knowledge and sagacity, his devo- tion to the service and economic interests of the Company, and his strong virile character. There was also another side of his nature which was not apparent to all, concealed as it was beneath an unemotional exterior and a manner somewhat defective in expression. There were some, how- ever, including myself, who had occasion to know that Mr. Coey had a gift of sympathy and kind- ness of heart which was of a very rare quality.
Mr. R. E. L. Maunsell, who was works manager during Mr. Coey's period of office, possessed a very different temperament. He was splendidly energetic and showed it. He was full of ideas, enterprising, enthusiastic, hard working, and ex- pecting hard work from others. I do not think a happier combination could be found for the management of an engineering establishment than Mr. Coey as chief, and Mr. Maunsell in charge of the shops. During the years succeeding 1896 up to the period preceding the War, Inchicore Works enjoyed an unprecedented period of pros- perity and progress. Successive types of locomo- tives were designed and built to cope with the ever growing demands of the traffic. The old six-wheeled stock was replaced on the main line and important branches by modern bogie and corridor coaches. A whole new train of cars each sixty-six ft. long was built for the new Rosslare service. Wagons of all types and sizes were turned out of the shops in hundreds. Great works were carried out in which the Mechanical Engineer's department had its share. The size of the boiler shop was doubled, and pneumatic plant and a powerful hydraulic riveter were installed. Modern machines and appliances were added to the machine shop and the smithy. A power house and electrical installation were provided at Rosslare Harbour. The absorption of the former Waterford and Central Ireland, Waterford and Lismore, and Waterford and Limerick Railways in the Great Southern and Western system, caused a great increase in the amount of work to be done at Inchicore. ew turntables of increased size were laid down to accommodate the larger engines which were added to the traffic. The water supply at important centres such as Mallow, Clonmel, Fermoy, Dungarvan and Killarney, was improved. Nothing necessary for the efficient operation of the Locomotive Department was overlooked, and generally, the Great Southern and Western was made a model of the best railway practice. In the shops the men worked with zest. The energy of the management was seconded by the confidence of the foremen and charge hands, and by the diligence of the staff.
The incessant effort affected Mr. Coey's health. He had to cease work for a period, and finally retired in 1911. He was succeeded in office by Mr. Maunsell, who carried into effect two projects which had been in contemplation. These were the completion of the new power house operated by Diesel engines for the electrification of the works, and the new carriage and wagon shops. At the same time, the former wagon shop was converted into a running shed large enough to house all the locomotives operating from Inchicore.
The period of Mr. Coey's and Mr. Maunsell's regime is looked back upon as the busiest and brightest in the history of Inchicore Works. There was nothing revolutionary in the changes effected. The improvements were made in stages to meet the necessities of the work. No money was foolishly expended. The saving to be effected by each addition to the place was carefully con sidered before the outlay was decided upon. It was really a process of well-directed evolution carried out by men of practical foresight, and by a loyal and efficient staff. The chiefs had what might be termed the Inchicore tradition; their work was their chief interest in life, and they could inspire those who served under them with their own spirit.
I have often reflected that amidst all the babble of politicians and the strife of tongues, engineers are really the people who make the world go. It is they who subdue the forces of nature to their will; who fill the seas with steamers; who cover different countries with a network of railways; who build and construct; who develop industries, and unconsciously knit the nations together. When the politicians have messed things up with their stupid perversities and statecraft, and have succeeded in forcing great nations into war, even they have to fall back on the skill of the engineers to help them out of the muddle.
There was another departmental chief who held office at Inchicore up to a short time before my departure, and with whom I came in frequent business contact. This was Mr. C. R. Riley, head of the General Stores Department. During my early years at Inchicore I had met him in the meetings of a literary society composed principally of gentlemen connected with the railway, civil service, and other public offices, and which used to meet once a week during the winter months. I there learnt to admire the culture and refinement of Mr. Riley's mind. In later years I could appreciate the scrupulous integrity of his character, the extent and accuracy of his knowledge, his business ability, and the excellence of his judgment in every matter in which the Company's interests were concerned. The kindly courtesy of his manner rendered him one of the pleasantest officers to approach or consult with. I do not think that his qualities, and the efficiency WIth which he performed his responsible duties, w~re really ever adequately realised by the directors whom he served so faithfully.
Amongst other officers of the Company, I also had much to do from time to time with the district locomotive superintendents, Mr. Johnson at Cork, and Mr. Harty at Limerick. Of these I have nothing but pleasant memories, and it is a pleasure to know, that after the many changes which have taken place since I left, they remain trusted officers of the Mechanical Engineer's Department. *
Mr. Maunsell resigned his position as Locomotive Engineer towards
the end of 1913 consequent on his appointment as Chief Mechanical Engineer
of the South-Eastern and Chatham Railway. When he informed me of his impending
departure I recollect the sense of depression I experienced.
This feeling was not peculiar to myself. Shortly before his departure, Mr. Maunsell had a photograph taken of the whole staff at Inchicore, including the principal members· of the various offices, and the foremen. Walking back with some of the foremen from the new carriage shop where the group was photographed, we discussed the event of Mr. Maunsell's leaving Inchicore and its probable effect on the future of the works. It was not a cheerful conversation. We felt that with his loss, the place had seen its best days, and our forebodings were of the nature of those which oppressed the Children of Israel when, "there arose up a new King over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." (To be continued)
*Mr. Johnson has since retired from active work, and in 1932 Mr. Harty was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Southern Railways.
The strike of the fitters and turners at Inchicore in 1902 was the first industrial dispute of which I had any experience. Strikes were rare in those days and consequently, when they did occur, they formed an event. In more recent times they became such common places in Dublin that the public ceased to concern themselves about them, and people passed by the pickets at. the side of the street without troubling to enquire. who was out or what the issue was. The stnke m the year referred to was however a serious one. The men were out from Whitsuntide until well into the autumn. I cannot now recollect if they were understood to have gained in any material way as the result of their sacrifices. The apparent result to me was a change in the internal economy of the works which meant the introduction of piecework, and other modifications of previous conditions. Only the fitters and turners and a couple of patternmakers were involved. The men at first hoped to be joined by the boilermakers. The latter, however, tried diplomacy before deciding on war, and succeeded in obtaining, if not all they demanded, at least a satisfactory compromise. In later days we became accustomed to stnkes for subtle principles and causes which to the non-participant were not easy to understand. In 1902 men were less idealistic, and the casus belli was the timeworn one of more pay. A demand for increased wages is a clearly defined issue, and the circumstances at the time admittedly justified it. I here recall a story which I heard of at least one isolated case in which the demand was for more work. "Grunt" Kelly, it is recorded, at the end of his apprenticeship, proceeded one morning to Mr. Cronin's office to ask for a "rise." The time chosen for the request was rather unfortunate. The gaffer, with his coat removed, was in the act of washing his hands before leaving the shop for breakfast a meal hungrily longed for, even by foremen, in those " 6 o'clock" days. Mr. Cronin turned round and asked impatiently, "Well, Kelly, what is it you want?" "Sir- sir," said Grunt, upset by the brusqueness of the gaffer, "I want-I want more work for my money." " More work for your money!" the foreman replied, " get out of that if you do; get a brush and whitewash the walls!"
The famous Trades Disputes Act was not in operation in 1902. A week's
notice had to be given before ceasing work, and in that week the plan for
counteracting the strike was decided upon and put into operation. A large
wooden building was erected m a few days by a Dublin contractor. This was
designed as a dormitory and dwelling-rooms for the use of blacklegs. The
latter were provided by Graeme Hunter, an individual of some little repute
in those days, and who was self-styled " the Strike Fighter." He was a big,
heavy, strong-willed. swaggerIng, combative man. The most conspicuous of
his at tributes seemed to be insolence. He appeared to make a great point
of assuming an air as offensive as possible, not only to the strikers, but
also to the men remaining at work. He was a type which, I believe, is only
developed in its greatest purity in certain parts of the Scottish Lowlands.
In August of that memorable year he hired an outside car to take him to the
Horse Show. Several of the men on strike were waiting about the pond field
as he drove past, arrayed in kilts. Reclining easily in the car, his mouth
embracing a large cigar pointing upwards at an angle of 45 degrees, bonnetted,
be-tartaned, bare-kneed, in Hizhlarid canonicals complete, the chieftain
proceeded on his way to Ballsbridge, a sight for gods and men. How many there
were in Inchicore that hot summer who would have been glad had someone else
had the courage to murder him!
The "scab" labour imported on Graeme Hunter's contract was, with a few exceptions, of Scottish nationality. The dregs of industrial Lanarkshire were dumped inside the Works wall. At first these blacklegs worked during the night, leaving off at six o'clock in the morning, just as the regular workmen entered the shops. For an hour or so they were refreshed after their night's work by the skirl of bagpipes which Hunter had provided with the dual object of enlivening their prison and of incensing the strikers. After a period the blacklegs were put on day work, and it was then that I came in contact with them personally. There were unquestionably a few good mechanics amongst them, but on the whole, they appeared to me to be a very wretched crew, many of them pronounced decadents, alcoholic, and filthy in their person and habits. Graeme Hunter, however, affected to treat of them as if they were a sort of elite in the order of labour. ., They're a pretty well teetotal lot," he remarked one day, " We only give them a pint a day. Of course we give them a glass o' whusky evra time they take a bauth. They all take bauthes!" The exiguity of the alcoholic ration prompted some of the "scabs" to venture abroad at the week-ends. This led to encounters and scuffles when any of them were recognised by the men on strike, with subsequent proceedings in the police courts. Indeed, anyone who spoke with a Scottish accent at that period was suspect in the neighbourhood of Inchicore, Kilmainham and Chapelizod. One Saturday afternoon two Scottish engineers employed in Guinness's Brewery to keep the mails going, no matter what happens." It is easy, however, to criticise men on strike, and, from my knowledge of workmen, I am always chary about blaming them. I know, in fact, that in many cases, the ostensible is not the real cause of a strike. The trouble is often fostered by a series of petty injustices and irritating circumstances which have a cumulative effect. Individually the men are inarticulate. In a body they can make their voices heard. A strike, even if it may not only not help but actually injure them, gives them a means of protesting and kicking against the humiliations which they feel they have been subjected to.
Strikes may be stupid, but it must be admitted that the stupidity is not always on the men's side. (To be continued).
The Daily round, the
common task. 39: 340-2.
Continued from page 314. I have already referred to my entry to the drawing office and to some of the draughtsmen with whom I was earliest associated. I now pro- pose to give a few brief notes of the period I spent there, extending over some twenty-five years, but avoiding, as far as possible, matters of a mere technical nature.
Drawings have been not inaptly termed the written language of the engineering world. This language is moreover international in character, as the drawings made in any particular country are just as intelligible in all the others. A drawing is the principal method by which an engineer expresses his ideas and conveys them to the men whose business it is to transform them into actual solid machines or structures. This is why the subject of Machine Drawing occupies such a leading place in the instructional schemes of all technical institutes and engineering schools and colleges.
While no more free from drudgery than any other human occupation, the draughtsman's work is usually congenial. It demands knowledge, intelligence and skill. It is progressive, full of variety, ever presenting fresh problems, and providing somethmg additional to be learned each day. As the drawing office is the fountain head of the activities of the works, those employed there experience, perhaps more than others, the joy of the creator. It is of course, responsible and, at times, very anxious work. A slight mistake in a dimension, a small detail overlooked or an error in a calculation, might cost very heavily in money afterwards, as it is usually the case that faults of this kind are only revealed when the whole job is approaching completion. I have met draughtsmen, who told me that their anxietv regarding a new engine, on the drawings of which they were engaged, has kept them awake at night. I cannot personally recollect any experience of this kind, but still there was always a sense of relief when, at last, an important job was done and the trial was successful.
Some of my pleasantest recollections are connected with those days when I was responsible for the drawings of a new locomotive. Mr. Coey would come up to my board and give me in a few words his general ideas of the design he required. The general arrangement would be commenced, grow day by day, be modified here, added to there, till it was sufficiently advanced to start on the leading details. Of these the most important was always the boiler, that locomotive boiler which is, I think, the most bothersome steam producer ever designed, with its flat sur- faces, corners, angles, pockets, stays and difficult seams. Then there were the cylinders, motion, brake gear and the hundred other details to be fitted into their proper places to form one harmonious whole. Mr. Coey did not go in for what have been termed "petticoats" on an engine, No fanciful trimmings or aesthetic curves, no nonsense such as arranging the centre line of the dome in line with the centre line of the driving wheels. He was very insistent, however, on turning out a well proportioned locomotive, pleasing to the eye of an engineer, presenting a simple appearance, and with all its parts easily accessible.
In those days the drawing office staff was small and there was plenty to be done. There was consequently little or no time to spare on any work except what was strictly necessary for the shops. There were three or four types of locomotives designed by Mr. Coey of which there were never any general arrangements completed, It was very fortunate that with all the rush to "get the thing into the shop," there was hardly a mistake of any consequence made. One very troublesome and hurried drawing office job was a steam motor coach which was designed for the Cashel line. I recollect Mr. Coey rushing up to me straight from the cab with a piece of brown paper in his hand, on the corner of which he had made some calculations in soft pencil of the size and heating surface of the proposed boiler. He had evidently found these calculations a more congenial method of passing the time than listening to the discussion at the board meeting at which he had just been present.
Apart from locomotives, I can do no more than refer to the various other classes of work which fell to my share as a draughtsman. Amongst these were coaches of all types, wagons, gas plant, hydraulic machinery, cranes, tanks, valves, the lay-out of a new power house at Rosslare Harbour, charts, curves, etc. With my appointment as chief draughtsman in the summer of 1908, my responsibilities were increased, my duties altered, my scope widened. My job thenceforth was rather "to get the work out of the other fellows," as Mr. Coey put it, to be responsible for general questions of design, and to deal with the miscellaneous questions arising each week in the shops and elsewhere, which it is the function of the drawing office to answer. This kept me in intimate touch with the principal foremen, with the General Stores Dept. and with the District Superintendents at Cork and Limerick. There were also quantities to be listed, materials to be ordered, specifications to be prepared. The office routine was varied by "journeyings oft" to stations on the line, for different purposes, and by visits to other railway worksCrewe, Derby, Darlington, Brighton, Swindonand various other engineering establishments.
One of the chief concerns of Mr. Coey during his later years of office, was the provision of an adequate water supply for the engines at the important stations. A large tank was erected at Mallow and this was followed by tanks and water supplies at Clonmel, Killarney, Fermoy and Dungarvan. Of these the last mentioned was the most interesting, and the most characteristic of Mr. Coey's engineering instinct and judgment. It was his custom to spend a day periodically in the country inspecting the outdoor plant under his control. In one of his walks along the line near Dungarvan, his attention was arrested by a fall in the river near the railway bridge. This at once suggested the idea of a ram for supplying the new tank which he had decided to erect at the station for the use of the engines of the Rosslare expresses. The next day he directed me to go to Dungarvan, interview the farmer who owned the field by the railway along the river, offer him a sum£50 I think it wasfor a spot in the corner on which to erect a small house, and for permission to open the ground for a water pipe as far as the river above the weir, If he did not like the bargain, I was to tell him we did not mind, as we would then build a pump house on our own ground. I accordingly went to Dungarvan, met the owner of the soil, and put the proposition to him. He scratched his head, grunted, and said, "Now this is how it is, isn't it? I can give ye the use of the land for £50 if I like; an' if I don't, what ye'll say is, I can go to hell?" I told him he had explained the position very clearly in his own language, and be decided he would consult his solicitor about it. He did not "go to hell," and the ram was installed. Day in, day out, it has worked away by itself ever since then, except when periodically stopped by the flood tide, utilising a fall of four or five feet to supply a tank a mile and a quarter away against a rising gradient. This was what 1 liked about Mr. Coey, he knew. He could decide, by himself, without waiting for lengthy reports or trusting to the opinions of others, and there was universal confidence in his sagacity. Whenever a new machine or an addition to the plant was contemplated, he would always make an estimate of the cost, calculate the interest on the expenditure at five per cent., and then reckon the saving in money to the company he expected to realise.
In many of those "country" jobs Mr. Tuohy was my guide and source of information. He was a most entertaining character to be associated with. Apart from his religious devotions, the company's work was his main interest and pleasure in life. As a rule, people who talk "shop" are frightful bores, but not so Mr. Tuohy. His invariable cheerfulness, his whimsical method of expression, and his delight in giving information always kept his conversation free from dullness. One case in which both of us were concerned was particularly interesting, and had also its humorous side. In the summer of 1912, the Athlone Urban Council threatened the railway with law proceedings for using thousands of gallons of water from the town's supply without accounting or paying for it. It appears that some person unknown had surreptitiously connected a lead pipe from the town supply to the station master's house with the company's main which supplied the cattle bank and led on to the tank house at the Great Southern station. When Mr. Maunsell, who was then in supreme charge, heard of this, he was very angry. He at once sent for Mr. Tuohy to give an explanation. I always suspected that the worthy old man knew more about that secret pipe than he cared to admit. To his mind, the company's advantage was a more important consideration than any little ethical niceties concerning the impropriety of obtaining "a little dhrop o' wather you wouldn't miss," from a rapacious urban council, without its going through a meter. He came into my office wiping his forehead after a bad quarter of an hour with Mr. Maunsell. "Mr. Maunsell is a terrible sthraight man," he said, "but sure I tould him a pipe might aisy be there, an' I'd know nothin' about it." Mr. Maunsell subsequently sent for me, and over the plan of the station, explained the case. The irregularity was admitted, but the Locomotive Department could prove that none of the stolen water had ever gone to the engine shed or tank. The valve was not only shut, but had got so much rusted up by long disuse that it could not be opened. I was to go to Athlone next day, see Mr. McGibney the engine driver in charge of the shed, satisfy myself as to the state of the valve, and then try my persuasive powers on the solicitor to the Urban Council. When I got to Athlone on the morrow, I met McGibney, a swarthy, thick-set, determined man, who recalled a type one meets with In Southern France. He showed me over the ground, and it was clear to me that the valve and water pipe had not been in use for years. With regard to the possibility of a successful result following my visit to the solicitor, McGibney was more than dubious. He was a tough nut to crack, that solicitor, and the local press was full of the businessthe "barefaced robbery" of the Athlone ratepayers' water by the Great Southern and Western Railway, one of the wealthiest corporations in Ireland! No, they would show up the company in the courts and teach them a lesson! McGibney then explained to me the actual method by which the tank was supplied, and it was surely unique. The suction pipe to the pump came from a well close by. This well, however, was always dry except in the depth of winter. It was periodically replenished in the following extraordinary manner. A Great Southern engine and tender would proceed to the Midland Great Western station, and by a friendly and informal arrangement with the latter company, would draw a tenderful of water from the tank at the Midland steam shed. The engine would then go back to the Great Southern line where the tender would be emptied into the "well." The pump would then transfer this water to the tank overhead, from which it would afterwards be doled out to engines requuiring a supply.
As McGibney had predicted, I found the solicitor a "tough nut to crack." He received me with a certain brusqueness, but after I had given him my name, and stated my business, for some reason which has always been somewhat of a mystery to me, he became quite friendly and told me some anecdotes relating to railway cases in the courts at which he had assisted, his object being to explain to me that it was well known that "a railway man would swear anything," and that our man, McGibney, naturally, would swear everything he was put up to by the company. It was rather disconcerting to learn that our reputation for veracity, even under oath, was so low but at the close of the interview, the solicitor gave me a hearty grip of the hand and said, "Well I hope we won't meet in court." We did not meet in court. The company negotiated with the Council for a meter supply to the tank and station from the new town reservoir, and the law proceedings were suspended and finally dropped.
I mention the above incident as a type of the odd jobs which came my way during my service as head of the drawing office at Inchicore in those busy years.
Dunng Mr. Maunsell's few years of office, superheaters were first fitted on the locomotives, at :first experimentally, and finally as a permanent feature of design, The superheater, in my opinion, gave a fresh lease of life to the steam locomotive. After I had left Inchicore, I was informed that some new express engines were built without this appliance, with disastrous results from the point of view of coal consumption.
Before Mr. Maunsell resigned, he placed a number of iron-framed wagons on the line, for the first time. He also built several new goods engines and a fine express locomotive, Sir William Goulding, the only one on the railway, except the pay carriage engines Sprite and Fairy, and the shunters Sambo and Negro, which were distinguished by a name. Mr. Maunsell was a very pleasant chief to work under. His energy of character was infectious, and his fertility in new and progressive ideas kept the drawing office always working on full load. The activities of the works after his departure from Inchicore will be dealt with in my account of the war period, and of my last years with the railway company. (To be continued.)
(Continued from page 342, Vol. XXXIX).
INCHICORE WORKS I WAR TIME 40-24.
A few months after Mr. Maunsell's departure the great European war broke out. For most of the period of the struggle, and indeed until I left the service of the Railway Company, the works were engaged in turning out military equipment of one kind or another.
It was a somewhat significant circumstance that during the winter of 1913-14 it fell to my duty to prepare drawings of a. complete ambulance train so that should need anse, the necessary coaches could be withdrawn from the ordinary traffic and converted into vehicles for carrymg wounded men and treating them en route, at the shortest possible notice. These drawings were completed in April 1914, and once they were placed in the drawer, I concluded thev would never be taken out again, and almost forgot. all about them. How glad I was in the followmg hectic August, that they were complete to the smallest detail! The order came at once to prepare the train, and there was nothing to be done but to get the coaches into the shop, order the beds, and hand the drawings to the men. The train was completed and ready for the road inside a fortnight, and it subsequently transported many a load of maimed and shattered humanity from the southern seaports to the hospitals in Dublin and other Irish towns.
Later on in the year a large number of army service carts were built for the British War Office, and, in the following year, in common with all the railway works in the British Isles, Inchicore became actively engaged in the production of munitions. The only item that was extensively manufactured was the standard shell fuse. For this purpose the brassfinishers' shop was metamorphosed. Every suitable lathe that could be spared from elsewhere was installed there, but even these were not sufficient. Trinity College provided one, and even gave the works the services of the expert turner attached to the professor of Engineering. A special gauging department was provided and placed in charge of Mr. Fraser, my chief assistant in the drawing office. Amongst those employed in gauging and checking the finished fuses were Professor Joly and Professor Dickson of Trinity College, and other gentlemen who volunteered their services. The greatest worry at first arose from the difficulty of producing a standard interchangeable Whitworth screw thread. How much, not only we at Inchicore, but also those in charge at Crewe, Derby, Swindon and elsewhere, had to learn about screw threads at that time, although we fancied we knew all about them!
The final touch to the equipment of the brass shop for fuse work, was. added when the works shared with the new mumtion factory at Parkgate Street, in the spoliation of the machine shop of the Technical Institute in Bolton Street. As this formed a little episode in itself, it is worthy of a particular record.
The machinery in the technical schools had been installed some years previously, and, from its nature one would have fancied that those responsible for choosing the items, had the vision of possible war requirements. There were automatic and semi-automatic lathes specially designed for mass production, peculiarly suitable for turning out fuses, and capable of bemg operated by semi-skilled labour. These were scented out by the fussy little Scottish army captam charged with the development of the munitions industry in Dublin. He negotiated the purchase of all the machines at Bolton Street for the sum originally paid for them by the Technical Education authorities, and the management of the works secured a few of the best lathes for use in the brass shop. At this particular period the management, for some occult reason, adopted an air of secrecy regardmg everythmg connected with war work. Everyone in the works and outside, of course, knew that Inchicore was busily engaged in munitions manufacture, and, in. addition, everyone connected m any capacity with the work was provided with a brass badge wherewith to adorn his button hole.
Nevertheless one could only refer to those matters with bated breath. One never knew,those German spies! When, therefore, the removal of the machinery from the technical schools was entrusted to the railway company, it had to be effected secretly. Now everyone acquainted with Inchicore knows well that the best way to noise a matter abroad there is to hint that a secret is on foot. The whole business will be through the shops in half an hour and the facts will not suffer diminution in transit. They will, on the contrary, be enhanced, touched up, embellished, and have suitable trimmings added to them to make the story more picturesque. In this particular case, in order to keep the secret, it was sagely decided to entrust the job to two foremen who were to have the assistance of a squad of soldiers from the barracks. One of these foremen was Mr. Moore of the brass shop; the other was Mr. Jim Bruton, the foreman millwright. I am adopting the account given me in his own expressive diction by the latter in the drawing office the following morning.
Tommy, it appears, in charge of a sergeant, secretly marched towards the city, secretly arrived at the technical schools, marched up the steps in his heavy army boots, clattered down stairs to the basement, and, at the sergeant's stentorian word of command, removed his coat. He then got to work, armed with spanners, hammers and other tools, the use of which he had no previous experience of. The machines were wrenched from their foundations, dragged, pushed, slung up, and put out through the window casements. Mr. Bruton stood by the while, uttering pious ejaculations at the treatment being meted out to such high grade machines, revolving the quid in his mouth and fervently praying, in his own interests, that each machine might have all its parts intact before it left the place. Then the numerous children of the neighbourhood assembled to see the thing through, and Tommy's lady friends arrived, and various other inhabitants of the vicinity came to watch the proceedings. Tommy had a glorious day out, singing, whistling, gesticulating, till finally he was got into formation again and accompanied the carts conveying away the precious machinery. A job that would have been effectively and quietly carried out by the expert machinery shifting gang became the wonder of every street and road from that to Inchicore and Phoenix Park.
During the rebellion of 1916, Inchicore was completely isolated from the rest of Dublin which had become a city of mystery and apprehension. We could only guess at what was going on from the distant rattle of rifle fire and machine guns, the booming of cannon and the reflection of gigantic conflagrations in the sky at night. The works were shut down for a few weeks and from that period on to the end of my service at Inchicore, the precincts were rarely free from military occupation in greater or less degree.
During these latter years I came for the first time in close contact with officers of the British Army. Some of these were staff officers, mighty importances, supercilious in bearing, and, to my civilian instincts, overbearing in speech and manner. One of these men, a lieut.-colonel, who was continually about the offices on some mission or another, particularly excited my antipathy. He had an irritating propensity for speaking loudly and in a peremptory tone, whilst looking at his auditor from half over his shoulder; he was to me a man of offensive type. The mere officers of the line whom I came across at Inchicore, on the other hand, appeared to me to be simple British gentlemen, courteous and forbearing in their demeanour, but at times wearing a very bored and wearied look. Their duties, to us civilians, at least, seemed to be absolutely devoid of sense or meaning. On some mornings we would arrive at the watchman's hut to find a sentry on guard there, in full war kit with steel hat and glistening bayonet. There would be another at the corner of the paint shop, another before the gate of the fitting yard shop, another at the stores bank, another marching to and fro before the office door. There would be a row of armed sentinels all the way up to the wagon shop'. Seeing the trains pass by as usual, hearing the birds singing over- head, and observing the cows peacefully ruminat- ing in the fields on the far side of the railway, we would enquire, "whence these alarms?" By rriidday, however, the "war clouds rolling dun" would have passed away. Military wagons would arrive and afterwards clatter out the gate laden with kits and bedding, and by the early after- noon the formidable military force would have departed, and the works would have resumed their pristine peaceful aspect. The whole business, no doubt, must have been inspired by some wise and lofty purpose, but to my mind it would appear to be the very acme of meaninglessness.
Of all the military activities at Inchicore during the late-war and post-war period, the armoured train was, perhaps, the "bouquet."
Hostility to British rule had deepened and had spread rapidly throughout the country. Disaffection was so general that the military found it increasingly difficult to distinguish between friends and foes. It was, however, the guerilla warfare instituted bv the Irish Volunteers which caused the authorities their greatest anxiety and apprehension. The famous armoured train was an imposing object lesson, calculated to impress us as a sign of the determination and sagacity of the army chiefs in dealing with the growing menace. A number of 15-ton steel coal wagons were brought into the boiler shop and encased in half- inch steel plates. Loopholes for rifles and Lewis guns were pierced at intervals in the sides. A tank locomotive was covered all over with steel plates, in a similar manner, and was provided with powerful electric head lights. This train was housed in the running shed in charge of a special guard, the engine being always in steam. Its completion afforded much satisfaction to some members of the office staffs, who would say under their breaths, "That's the stuff to give them!" This train, however, always intrigued me mightily. I could never make out what on earth its purpose was. Was it intended to attack the Volunteers as it moved along the railway? If so, was it assumed that they would line up on either side with their hearts and other vital parts conspicuously marked, so as to facilitate the soldiers' exterminatory task? Some said it was intended to use the train whenever a bridge was destroyed. One does not require an armoured train, however, to hold a post-mortem on a wrecked bridge. It was also contrary to experience of the ways of the elusive Volunteers to expect them to await the arrival of such a train at any of the scenes of their activities in order to assist the authorities in their investigations. Some ten years later an ex-captain of the Royal Engineers solved the problem for me, with a knowing gnn. "It was simply a conception of a few staff-officers," he explained,' "who had to make some kind of a show to justify their position."
Another bright conception on the part of the army staff was the introduction of some of the famous" tanks." I was in my home late on a Saturday night, when I was visited by the confidential clerk of the loco. engineer. He wore an air of mystery and secrecy. He could hardly bring himself to pronounce the word "tank." I proceeded with him to the works' manager's house. He directed me to meet him in the drawing office on Sunday morning to consider the question of a suitable vehicle for transporting these tanks by rail from North Wall. By Monday morning a new group of young staff-officers had arrived from England, resplendent in unsullied uniforms. The lieutenant-colonel was also there of course, and the important event was discussed m the office and presence of the chief. By mid- week the work was in full swing. A permanent way bogie sleeper wagon was placed secretly on a sldmg outside the boiler shop. Long baulks of timber were secured to the floor of this wagon by a large detachment of workmen. An inclined plane was made in the carpenters' shop to enable the tank to mount over the back of the wagon. Finally the tanks were lifted out of the ship by the hundred-ton crane at the North Wall slung up in the air, deposited on the wagon, and conveyed by the North Wall extension line to their destination. (To be concluded).
LAST YEARS AT INCHICORE 40-90.
The last five years I spent at Inchicore are not a particularly happy memory: It was a penod of discouragement and depression of spirrt. Apart from the general gloom caused by the protraction of the bloody drama on the Continent and the struggle in Ireland which followed, the internal economy of the works underwent a radical change. Upon Mr. Maunsell's departure the opportunity was taken of introducing "new blood" into the management of the place and there was a break with the traditions of the past when Inchicore Works had flourished and prospered. The feeling deepened in the minds of the staff that to have given of one's best to the interests of the railway, to have gained a long experience and to have a thorough knowledge of one's duties were positive disqualifications for advancement. The esprit de corps which in my earlier days, and under the three chiefs I have previously referred to, had characterised the whole locomotive department, was undermined. In the shops discontent showed itself rife and labour troubles became a chronic difficulty. One of the more important works carried to a conclusion during those years was the addition of a new bay to the machine shop, thus practically doubling its size. The new engine shed had been put into use during Mr. Maunsell's period of office. Part of the former shed was embodied in the machine shop extension, the remaining portion being utilised for housing coaches and for other purposes. Amongst other innovations, an analyst's laboratory and test room was fitted up something on the model of that at Swindon Works. Two high-speed steam engines supplied by Babcock and Wilcox boilers were added to the power house to deal with the increased demand for electric current, and there were various minor additions to the plant and machinery, not forgetting the installation of the hooter which knocked the old works bell out of commission.
War work, as previously mentioned, occupied a prominent place in the activities of the shops from 1914 to 1919. There was, however, a fairly continuous building programme of coaches and wagons and two new types of locomotive were introduced. One of these was represented by one engine only, No. 900, designed for shunting and banking operations, the other, No. 400, was a four-cylinder express engine. The wisdom of introducing locomotives of these particular types on an Irish railway appeared to me, personally, somewhat doubtful. I suspected, indeed, that an underlying motive was the desire to produce something as different as possible from anything that had been tried before. No. 400, closely modelled on the four-cylinder engines of the Great Western Railway, formed however one of those interesting jobs which locomotive draughtsmen love to get. Were the sense of dissatisfaction I have alluded ·to peculiar to myself in those days I should have attributed it to pure conservatism. No doubt I did experience to some extent a feeling of regret akin to that expressed by the Last Minstrel in his reverie:-
" Old times were changed, old manners gone;
A bigot fill'd the Stuarts' throne."
This feeling was generally shared, however, by all who had a concern for the future fortunes of the works. There were also certain actions which displeased and other circumstances trifling in themselves, but of such a nature as. to produce a cumulative numbing effect on one's spirit. I have met fellows from time to time who informed me that they had left their employment in the railway service or elsewhere because they had come to the conclusion that "there was nothing to be got out of the place." Somehow, this way of looking at things never appealed much to my own mind. When one feels that one no longer has the heart to give anything to the place, then, I think the period of dry rot has begun to set in. I had reached that stage and quietly decided to make a change at the first suitable occasion. The opportunity arrived sooner than I had anticipated, when I applied for and was appointed to a much more congenial position in the engineering profession.
I was genuinely sorry to part with so many good friends, workmen whom I had learnt to esteem, foremen with whom I had had such close and mutually helpful relations, heads and members of the various offices and, not least, my own drawing office staff. It was finally, perhaps, with a certain feeling of regret that I passed the gate-man's hut and walked homewards along the limestone boundary wall for the last time. And so, at the end of August, 1919, I dropped out.