Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society 2019
Volume 39 Part 4
No 234 (March 2019)
Thorley's animal food manufactory, Spitalfields, London. front cover
Timothy Peters and Samuel Harris. A serious epidemic of horse
disease on the Bridgewater Canal in 1872-74: urgent requirement for tugs.
Glanders and farcy. Apppointment of a veterinary surgeon: Frederick A. Wall. Preventative measures included better provender and Thorley's food. Steam tugs were ordered from Edward Hayes of Stony Stratford
Bill Wilson. Capital investment by the LNER, 1923-1939. 397-411
Some commentators believe that if the LNER management did not have money to invest, one cannot criticise them for not investing. Did the LNER, however, undertake all that might reasonably have been expected of it to improve performance and therefore the possibility of raising capital? 61 Given that freight traffic was such a high proportion of total revenue throughout the company's existence (Table 16), it was poor judgement that more effort was not concentrated on this part of the business. Containerisation was introduced, but generally innovation in freight handling was limited. There was a need to concentrate general merchandise traffic on fewer yards to reduce inefficient trip working. By the 1930s the LNER was replacing the traditional staging of urgent traffic from one marshalling yard to another by through trains between principal centres.
Closer attention should have been given to the problem of achieving control of conveyance operations. Whilst the LMS developed centralised train control which enabled a systematic analysis of information to be made, the LNER introduced localised traffic control which did not allow such systematic analysis.
The LNER maintained many passenger services which even the unsophisticated accounting at the time showed were unprofitable. The company only closed about 18% by length of their branch lines to passenger traffic. In their defence, however, the pressure to act as a social service was unremitting. The Board did not maintain sufficiently close scrutiny of major installations, such as construction and repair shops, and little was done to streamline clerical procedures. A strict control was not kept on staffing numbers. Following table shows reduction in traffic receipts compared with employees (Source: LNER Annual Accounts and staff numbers, 1923-1945; Ministry of Transport)
Appointments to senior positions were mainly from career railwaymen.
Aldcroft [not available via SAGE dung heap] contends the failure to recruit
management staff from outside the industry meant the possibility for questioning
traditional railway practice was limited.
Was the Board structured in the best way to address its prime responsibility of promoting the success of the business and benefiting its shareholders? The conclusion must be that the Board was over conservative, the structure weak, and a smaller, more professional Board was needed. The statutory minimum was 16. It has been suggested the headquarters structure of permanent committees should have been abandoned and the control of functions assigned to individual board members.
Bonavia, through his personal knowledge and interviews with some of the principal managers of the time, makes the case that the performance of railway managers of the era needs to take into account the handicaps that they had to work under, such as the imperfections of the Railways Act 1921 and the economic forces over which they had no control. He claims some such managers were forward looking and innovative. Hughes states it is easy to criticise directors and management with the benefit of hindsight, but nevertheless feels the company would probably have benefited had certain alternative strategies been followed."
The LNER had to rely extensively upon government assisted finance (the main source during the I 930s) for investment. The comfort of acceptable collateral for the loan to provide the NWP, the largest source of assistance, satisfied the Treasury.
Pat Jones. The level at Lincoln. 412-29
See also earlier contribution
John King. The railway dance bands. 421-3
The Midland Hotel in Manchester and Henry Hall, Joe Orlando and the LMS.
Robert Humm. The Murmansk road and the Nikel branch.
Based partly on an excursion made by the Author in 2004 to what is probably the most northern railway in the world in Arctic Russia where the extraction ofr nickel caused a major environmental disaster.
Obituary Alan Henderson Faulkner (1938-2018). Hugh Potter. 433
Obituary Neville Birch (1932-2018). David Joy. 434
The changing face of British Railways. Bruce
Peter. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Lily Publications, 2018. 336pp, 769
illustrations (494 colour), Reviewed by Peter Brown. 438
The cover, with pictures of locomotives and multiple units, gives a misleading impression of this superb book's content it is actually a wide-ranging discussion of design relating to all aspects of British Railways' operations, including carriages, wagons, shipping (with an emphasis on the public areas), architecture, catering, signage and ephemera. The author, Professor of Design History at Glasgow School of Art, is not dogmatic in his opinions, being realistic about practical and financial constraints. The text naturally divides into sections dealing with BR's early search for unity, the Modernisation Plan of the 1950s, the Beeching years and the creation of a corporate identity, and sectorisation which lead to privatisation. The design history is set in the context of the economic, social and political history of the country and the railways, hence the backgrounds to the trends are explained. It is also a history with people: the senior managers and engineers as well as the designers, both those employed within the organisation and the consultants. Recurring themes are tensions between engineers and design consultants, between the centre and the regions, between a unified vision and individuality, between drawing-board ideals and day-to-day intensive usage. Mere rebranding and repainting made little impression on the public unless the service was seen to improve, and was particularly unconvincing on aged items.
Good design matters, but design fashions change every ten to fifteen years, whereas locomotives and rolling stock are expected to last for a quarter of a century. High praise here for the HST, a merging of engineering and design which produced a 'classic' which remains attractive forty years later. Perhaps changing fashion is seen most clearly in railway architecture: the 'Festival of Britain' style with patterned brickwork and decorative finishes; the International Style of the Modernisation Plan era; prefabrication in the later 1960s and early 1970s; postmodernism and the revival in appreciation (and de-cluttering) of nineteenth-century station buildings in the 1980s. But each concept tended to start with high ideals, then become progressively debased. With over 250,000 words of text, the print size is quite small but the book is well laid out, a particular strength being the many series of photographs showing how key designs evolved. It has an extensive bibliography, detailed (but not excessive) references and an index. And it is remarkably good value at under £30.
Grouping Britain's railways: creating the 'Big Four'
in 1923. A.J. Mullay. Easingwold: Pendragon Publishing, 2018.
88pp.. 60 illustrations in text plus two coloured illustrations on covers,
2 tables. Reviewed by Kevin Jones
In the rapidly failing current railway franchise system at least two of the Groupings Big Four names have re-emerged: the GWR and the LNER; the latter being the more unlikely. It is doubtful if the author or publisher were privy to this, yet on page 78 it is stated: The grouping was unnecessary, its conception flawed, its planning muddled and its execution clumsy. The blame for this is placed firmly in the lap of Eric Geddes.
There are separate chapters on how the railways functioned in the pre-1914 era; on the Railway Executive Committee set up to co-ordinate railway transport during a time of war and to liaise with the military; Eric Geddes; the Ministry of Transport, Command Papers 787 and 1292; and the Railway Act of 1921 and its Parliamentary progress. The Command Paper 787 was more radical than the Bill as it envisaged worker representation on railway boards Then there are accounts of how the Act was implemented and the immediate effects. Mullay accepts that 1923 was certainly not the time for railway nationalisation and that the status quo should have remained instead, but does not really consider the full consequences.
Whilst discussing the Scottish problem, namely the high cost of railway provision in large empty tracts of country and the difficulties which the LMS inherited in Ireland the future problem of transport in London is ignored by Mullay, although brilliantly resolved by the creation of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933. Is it not tempting to wonder whether that structure, like the British Broadcasting Corporation might not have been applied to the entire railway network.
Only the Southern Railway made major changes to its infrastructure, namely by its low cost system of electrification. The LMS did not even electrify to Oldham and permitted Dickensian conditions to prevail on its subterranean lines in Glasgow. The book is thoroughly researched and well written.
Great Western Railway architecture in colour.
Vol 1. Buildings, from Brunel to Beeching. Amyas Crump.
Manchester: Crecy Publishing, 2018. 176pp, 248 photoraphs, Reviewed by Matthew
The author of this, the first of two intended volumes, has a keen eye for the often unregarded relics of railway history and here uses his and others' colour images chiefly from the 1960s to give a visual history of station buildings provided by the Great Western, concentrating on the more modest examples. The illustrations have been carefully selected to illustrate the sequence of building styles adopted and the captions are knowledgeable. Many of the stations as depicted were in their latter days, and, although in some cases this serves to reveal hidden features and liveries, this makes us even more grateful for those examples which have survived intact through to the present.
Rebuilding the Welsh Highland Railway, Britain's longest
heritage line. Peter Johnson. Bamsley: Pen & Sword
Transport, 2018. 288pp, 320 photographs (271 colour), 22 maps and plans,
Reviewed by Matthew Searle
The author of earlier histories ofthe Welsh Highland, Peter Johnson has now produced a volume primarily devoted the remarkable modem reconstruction of the line, with which he was closely involved, and making extensive use of the colour photographic record of the project made by himself. It is reasonable to ask how it compares with Gordon Rushton's Welsh Highland Railway renaissance, which covered the same story comprehensively: in fact, to some extent they are complementary. The present book includes more historical background (about a quarter is devoted to pre-revival history) and gives more emphasis to the formidable legal and planning framework. The reviewer found its style and presentation made for a clearer understanding of a far from straightforward story and, although it goes into little detail on locomotives, it has the benefit of a postscript bringing the story down to the present. Those fascinated by this extraordinary scheme will find it enhances their appreciation of the line.
Little Giants: a history of the Ffestiniog Railway's
pre-revival locomotives, their mentors, manufacture and maintenance.
Chris Jones and Peter Dennis. Lydney: Lightmoor Press, 2018. 592pp,
many photographs, 16 maps and plans, hardback, Reviewed by Matthew Searle.
Another blockbuster on Welsh narrow-gauge l locomotives! Although the outlines of this story are well known, this volume is the first to make extensive use of recently catalogued Boston Lodge works records to give a remarkably detailed picture. Although the fine detail of which locomotives were in service at which time will be of interest only to specialists, the overall narrative of a railway moving gradually from the forefront of technological achievement in the 1860s to the desperate straits of the 1940s comes over clearly. Points of particular interest are the description of a virtual footplate turn circa 1870 and due attention given to internal combustion locomotives and to the works and operating staff. The whole is presented with the publisher's usual excellent photographic reproduction (although the clarity of some double page spreads is compromised by the presence of the fold). Although this is likely to be the last word on the subject, the authors are careful to point out that there are still some mysteries left to argue over.
The Murmansk road and Nikel branch. rear cover
Upper: pair of class L 2-10-0 locomotives at work near Malaya Vishera on the Moscow-St Petersburg main line in 1959.
lower: Soviet 2,000hp class M62 came in single, double and triple formations: the lead member of the 3-section type, 3M62-0001 is seen at Suoyarvi locomotive depot, summer 2004 (both from Robert Humm collection). (see pp 424-432)
No 235 July2019 (Volume 39 Part 8)
The River Teme aqueduct. Artist, Elizabeth Mary Bailey of Easton Court. frront
Stated to be from 1856 (but probably earlier, see text). See pp 487-498.
Matthew Searle. The Society, 2004-2019. 454-6.
Grahame Boyes. A note on railway ticket agencies. 456-62.
Marlin Connop Price. Canals in Pembrokeshire.
Short canals off the Cresswell and Carew Rivers served limestone quarries at West Williamstown.. Also mentions Thomas Kymer's Canal from Kidwelly into the Gwendraeth Valley.
Michael Lewis. A new locomotive drawing from the 1820s. 476-86.
The Neath Abbey collection (West Glamorgan Archive Service) consists of some 8,000 working drawings of stationary engines, marine work, gasworks and locomotives, all of nineteenth-century date. While some are complete general arrangements, most are details of components, although many are without titles or dates. Almost all are of work designed and built by the Neath Abbey Iron Co, which to the best of our knowledge began producing locomotives in 1829-30 with Speedwell for Thomas Prothero on the Monmouthshire Canal's Western Valleys tramroads. Down to the mid and late 1840s when it adopted more orthodox designs, its products were highly idiosyncratic, with a penchant for unusual drives via bell cranks or rocker beams, and are readily recognisable as Neath Abbey work.
The collection came to the Archives from Taylor & Sons Ltd of Briton Ferry, a successor to the Neath Abbey Iron Co, and recently there has been a small new accession of some twenty drawings from the same source. One of these, DID NAIIL/63/3, stands out as distinct from all the rest. Without any title, inscription or date, it is of a locomotive that bears no similarity whatever to Neath Abbey's usual output, with none of what became the firm's hallmarks such as 'gothic' wheels and feed water heaters wrapped around the exhaust pipes. In the sense that it appears to have been drawn elsewhere and to have had no input from Neath Abbey, it is an odd man out. None the less, much can be deduced about where this engine stands in the evolution of the locomotive.
Dating obviously from before 1830, the drawing shows a four-coupled engine with flanged wheels. There is no scale, but on the assumption that the wheels are of 3ft diameter, the gauge is 4ft 6in, the boiler (whose ends, notably, are not dished as had hitherto been the norm) is 4ft in diameter and 12ft long, and the cylinders are 10½in outside diameter (i.e. about 9in bore) by 24in. All of these are eminently reasonable figures. The vertical cylinders, in contrast to the 'in-line' arrangement sunk into the boiler top as was normal in the earlier 1820s, are here set on either side at the back of the boiler. For this position, the only precursors were the Wylam locomotives of 1813-14, usually ascribed to William Hedley the viewer, but in whose design and construction Timothy Hackworth, the foreman smith, arguably played as large a part, if not a larger. At all events, cylinders at the back would come more naturally to an ex-Wylam man than to a Killingworth man accustomed to in-line cylinders. The cylinders drive upwards with return connecting rods to the rear wheels, and are mounted on cast- iron tables that in turn are supported on the wooden main frame. The whole arrangement of slide-bars, cylinder, table and crankshaft seems to be copied directly from Maudslay's table engine for powering small workshops that was patented in 1807 (Fig 2). Even Maudslay's favoured form of crosshead, a double-flanged wheel running between round-section slide-bars, is replicated here. Table engines like this were produced in such large numbers that one cannot suggest any particular region as the point of origin of their application to locomotives.
Coupling rods, said to have been devised by Hackworth to replace the old chain drive, are first found on Locomotion, built in 1824-5, which gives a starting point for dating the drawing. The wheels are of neither the south Wales gothic nor the northern plug type that was introduced in 1825 with Robert Wilson's Chittaprat for the Stockton & Darlington, but eight-spoked with a quadrant strengthening the spoke carrying the crank pin, as on the Killingworth engine illustrated in the first edition of Wood's Treatise. This, published in April 1825 and engraved probably in 1824, shows the current state of the art of locomotive technology. L/63/3, however, has neither the old steam springs nor the new leaf springs which are first recorded with certainty on 26 December 1827 when Hackworth saw them on an engine at Killingworth.' Instead, there is a 'cannon box' visible in the inverted front elevation. This was a horizontal pin on which the front axle, encased in a tube, could pivot, as came to be employed on traction engines. It corresponds to a similar detail on the earliest designs for Locomotion, undated but of late 1824 which suggests that L/63/3 was drawn by someone with an intimate knowledge of Locomotion.
David Slater. The Teme aqueduct on the Leominster Canal: the secrets of a unique military centrepiece in World War II. 487-98.
Pat McCarthy. Sheffield (Victoria) telegraph. 498-500.
Owen E. Covick. Watkin's struggle at the SER Board 1876-79, and R
W Perks. (abstract) 501.
Becoming a trusted confidante to Sir Edward Watkin was a key step in the business career of Sir Robert William Perks (1849-1934): a career that included the financially successful 'rescue' of the Barry Railway during 1887-1889; the rather less financially successful rescue of the Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway from 1894; and securing the commitment of C.T. Yerkes and his backers to the expansion and electrification of the London Underground from 1900. How did Perks become Watkins right-hand man? The 1909 biography of Perks by 'Denis Crane' (pen-name of Walter T Cranfield, 1874-1946) tells us that the trigger was a telegram from Watkin received by Perks as he sat eating Christmas dinner in 1878 with his wife of eight months, at his father-in-law's house in Banbury. Crane tells us that Perks cut short his family festivities and travelled to meet Watkin at 6.00 p.m. that same day in London. But Crane is evasive about what the 'important business' was that Watkin wanted to see Perks about with such urgency. All we get is: 'From that day forward for fourteen years Sir Robert was by Sir Edward Watkins side in all his battles' (pp 72-73). That sentence does give us a hint however: Watkins Christmas Day summons was for Perks to assist him in a 'battle'.
That 'battle' lasted through the whole of January 1879, and into early February. It was the decisive engagement in a 'civil war' that had been raging (with varying degrees of intensity) on the board of the South Eastern Railway Company since 1876. To appreciate the value Watkin placed on the contribution made by Perks during the weeks following Christmas Day 1878, it is useful to look more closely into that whole 'civil war'. That is the purpose of this paper. Why was it that such strong antagonism developed among men who had apparently co-operated and collaborated with one another on a basis of mutual respect prior to 1876? What was it that drove and fuelled that antagonism? How was the struggle waged? How close did Watkin come to losing? Why was it that he prevailed? And what were the broader consequences for Watkin of that outcome?
This paper does not purport to give definitive answers to those questions. But it attempts to critically review the available evidence including previously unpublished material from the personal diaries of one of the central protagonists, Edward Knatchbull-Hugesson. And it attempts to draw some tentative conclusions. Among these, one concerns the issue of 'corporate governance', arguably as contentious a matter in the 1870s as it is in twenty-first-century capitalism. It is suggested that whereas previous writers have sought to understand and explain the 1876-79 SER board struggle in terms of 'matters of company policy' on which views diverged at board level, it might be wiser to focus on a core question of governance as such: namely when the company chairman's view is at variance with the view held by a clear majority of the board, what can both sides reasonably expect should happen next? If on this question the company chairman's view is at significant variance with the views of a majority of his or her colleagues, it may simply be a matter of time before enough 'issues' emerge to trigger a breakout of hostilities and a breakdown of 'normal' board functioning.
Obituary David John Hodgkins (1934-2019). 502
Cambridge educated senior civil servant and biographer of Sir Edward Watkin (The Second Raillway King) and Transport Book of the Year award-winning George Carr Glyn
London's District Railway: a history of the Metropolitan
District Railway Company. Volume One. Nineteenth century. M.A.C.
Horne. Crowthorne: Capital Transport Publishing Ltd. 320pp. 238 x
150mm. 155 illustrations, 25 maps, 18 plans, 25 diagrams, 1 table. Reviewed
by Kevin Jones
The high cost of constructing a railway through the centre of the City is captured on page 149 where it is stated: "west of the King William statue it had been as high as £30 per inch". Although there was a strong sense that there was a need for a circular railway around the Cities of London and Westminster this took a long time to achieve although the Metropolitan Railway had partially opened an underground railway in January 1863 between what is now Paddington to King's Cross and was extended two years later into the City of London to what would become Liverpool Street station. At Farringdon Street it connected with a railway which crossed the Thames. The District Railway was promoted to complete the southern portion in association with the Metropolitan. In part this was assisted by the needs to improve the highways and sewers and to restrain the Thames. In this respect it was highly unusual for a British railway. Further difficulties included agreement with the Metropolitan Railway for meeting points in the west and east; and over-riddingly in raising capital. Eventually Westminster was reached (there is an amazing photograph of Westminster Abbey under siege by the railway, page 37) and further effort extended the line eastward to a terminus at Mansion House it being decided that as further work towards completing the circle was too costly as all the stations would be in easy walking distance of each other. In an effort to increase its traffic there were both westward and eastward extensions the latter assisting in the completion of the Circle. The former included nominally independent companies thrusting out to Ealing, Putney, Hounslow and Wimbledon; and eventually to Uxbridge. The Whitechapel @amp; Bow Railway provided a link with the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway and access to Brunel's Thames Tunnel. The District was eager to encourage other companies to work over its lines and the London & North Western operated an Outer Circle from Broad Street to Mansion House via Earls Court. The book contains very full details on how the railway was constructed and how expertise in underpinning buildings was gained. Some critical structures like the stations at Earls Court, Westminster, Charing Cross, Temple and Blackfriars receive extensive coverage, although in several cases subsequent works have radically changed these. There are extensive appendixes on exhibitions (and access to them from South Kensington station); on steam locomotives (virtually standard with those on the Met), carriages, and directors and officers. James Staats Forbes receives considerable attention. The book is copiously referenced and where sources cannot be traced this is noted. Clearly this is a work of considerable substance and scholarship and another volume is in preparation to complete the story of electrification and incorporation into London Transport. There is an excellent index.
The Liveries of the Pre-Grouping Railways. Volume
1: Wales and the West of England; Volume Two: The East of England and Scotland.
Nigel J L Digby. Lydney: Lightmoor Press. 96pp. (each Volume)
approximately 40 of the author's paintings in colour plus 40 illustrations
(many in colour). Reviewed by Kevin Jones. 506
The essential feature of these volumes which represent the half way point of what is intended to be four is to display as accurately as possible the colours in which the locomotives and rolling stock, but not the structures (stations, bridges etc.) appeared. In many cases extra paintings show details of lining or lettering. The introduction in the first volume makes it abundantly clear that finding the authentic colour can be very difficult (Digby is scathing on the startling yellow colour applied to the preserved Jones Goods) and notes how the National Railway Museum established Great Eastern blue: Digby's own attempt is displayed on pages 122-3. At present the North Norfolk Railway has its J15 0-6-0 decked out in this way and one can see the effects of cloud and sunshine and steam and smoke on this magnificent livery. Those unable to get to York or to wherever the J15 is currently can gaze at Digby's handiwork. The succeeding volumes are intended to cover the north and northwest and should include the Midland and Caledonian Railways and the final volume should cover London and the south. The reviewer has had access to the files of the North British Railway Study Group and is particularly impressed by Euan Cameron's colour interpretations of its 'difficult' locomotive liveries. Obviously Digby with his single painting can only give an approximation to an overall style.
Henry Eoghan O'Brien, an engineer of nobility.
Gerald M. Beesley. New Ross Ireland): Authoor. 242pp, 118
illustrations (4 colour), Reviewed by Stephen Rowson. 509
O'Brien is rightly remembered as being responsible for electrification on the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. His railway engineering education began at Kitsons and the Yorkshire College (Leeds) from where he returned home to work briefly under Thomas Benjamin Grierson on the Dublin, Wicklow & Wexford Railway. Through family connections he then joined the L&YR (on the same day in 1898 as Herbert Nigel Gresley) staying with them through to the grouping. He did not last long with the LMS, resigning in 1925 because of the larger company's negative attitude to further electrification. During the Great War interlude, having by now risen to the position of Assistant Chief Mechanical Engineer of the L&YR, he started with the military as a Captain and came out as Lieut Colonel. With Aspinall's agreement, O'Brien was given a temporary role as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Irish branch of the new Ministry of Transport before returning to Horwich in May 1919.
This is a solid biography by a fourth-generation engineer. Insightful treatment covers each stage of O'Brien's career and electrification in detail, enhanced by access to family papers though whether the reader needs to know the names of all the nurses and doctors who attended to O'Brien's father's illnesses is a moot point. A feature of the book throughout is analysis of the cause of each change in direction for O'Brien in terms of who he and his family knew and worked with and what organisational structures were affected at his workplace. This is an amazing exercise in name-dropping which is reflected in a helpful nine-page two-column index that, for example, includes eighty railway engineers. Our O'Brien doesn't appear on the scene until page 40 of the book whilst the O'Brien clan's pedigree is dissected back to the tenth-century Brian Boru (after whom a Kitson locomotive for the Waterford, Limerick & Western Railway was named) to discover what in his inherited DNA directed an Irish-born Eton schoolboy towards railways. To help understand O'Brien's philosophy on the issues of railway electrification and workshop practice the author has interwoven into his story O'Brien's own published papers to professional bodies and his contribution to discussion of many others where he was in the audience. There are eleven appendices, an excellent bibliography and a thorough index. The black and white photographs are small and poorly reproduced yet adequately illustrate a fine book.
England's railway heritage from the air. Peter Waller. Swindon:
Historic England, 2018. 302pp, 151 photographs (some colour), hardback, Reviewed
by Stephen Rowson. 509
This is not the first railways volume Peter Wailer has compiled from the Aerofilms collection of oblique aerial views but it won't disappoint. The quarry is not worked out. The book's format remains uniform throughout the left hand page has the photograph (bled to the edge of the page) and the right hand page has a thoroughly detailed essay as caption. The captions typically cover the history of railways that served the locations and the architects of the succession of railway structures that were once there. That the captions therefore do not necessarily describe what the photographs show means readers are left to experience the joy of further interpreting the images themselves. Subject matter is organised into chapters: Major stations; Minor stations; Locomotive and other works; Viaducts, bridges and tunnels; Locomotive sheds and depots; Goods yards and other freight traffic; Railway offices and hotels; and Preservation.
The former Point quarry at West Williamston, Pembrokeshire. upper illustration.
showing the navigable channel which served it.
A barge tied up on the Eastern Cleddau at Haverfordwest, early 20th century. lower illustration rear cover
see pp 463-475.