Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society 2020
Volume 40 Part 1
Dorian Gerhold. Stage coaches re-examined. 2-11
2019 Clinker Lecture presented at Swedenborg Hall, London on 6 October 2019. Provender (66% of total) was the largest item in coaching economics,
P J Geraghty. Constructing the Great Southern &Western Railway
from Dublin to Cork (1844-55): 'a magnificent undertaking'. 12-30
Within a few years following their introduction, railways throughout the British Isles became a national obsession and by the end of 1843, the length of railways in England and Ireland sanctioned by parliament was 2,285 miles of which 1,952 had been opened. The Great Southern &Western Railway of Ireland (GS&WR) accounted for a significant proportion of mileage constructed in Ireland. It was the most prominent single railway project of the period and at the time, it was by far the longest railway envisaged in the British Isles. At 165 miles in length, it was longer than Brunel's Great Western from London to Bristol (118 miles) and Stephenson's London to Birmingham Railway (113 miles). The Irish Times described it in 1867, as a 'magnificent undertaking of which Ireland should be proud ... Everything about it is as solid as granite ... 'One of the contractors, William Dargan, said that by June 1847, £1.2 million had been spent building it, and 13,407 men employed on its construction (12,006 labourers, 1,001 tradesmen and 400 foremen). These figures are all the more remarkable when one considers that, it was constructed at a time of severe famine, pestilence and great civil unrest in Ireland. The company established to achieve this was originally incorporated on 6 August 1844 as a railway between Dublin and Cashel with a branch to Athy
Pat Jones. Roman tidal levels and the Lincolnshire Car Dike. 31-7
It seems safe to conclude the Ninth Legions site beside the river Nene was chosen because that river could be entered by Romes sea-going supply ships, and that the need to provide access to Lincoln by canal implies the Witham estuary was not navigable from the sea at that time. The original canal would have been cut in the last years of the first half of the first century; cutting the western channel of its northern section was undertaken later, possibly in the last years of the first quarter of the second century, as one of the infrastructure improvement projects initiated by the Emperor Hadrian (117138 AD). Most of it probably remained in water for a time after regular navigation ceased. But eventually land reclamation, and the embankment of its coastline and the lowest reaches of its rivers, would have cut off the supply of seawater, and salt recovery too would have ceased
Timothy Peters, Glyn Phillips and Samuel Harris. The
life and times of the World War I Birmingham Canal Navigations Company reinforced
concrete boats. 38-46
Reviews history of concrete boats up to 1925 and illustrates the apparent progress with the design, building and possible roles for the two canal boats built for the Birmingham Canal Navigations Company (BCN) in 191718. A scoring system introduced by National Historic Ships UK to assess the historical significance and importance of historic boats and ships assesses the age of the boat, its historical association, originality, condition and rarity. The maximum score is 30. The average score of BCN-2 (21.5) compares with the Bristol-based SS Great Britain (24.0) and indicates the importance of preserving, researching and displaying this reinforced concrete canal boat.
Anthony Dawson. Three early tourist carriages. 47-52.
In the background of A F Taits lithograph of the interior of the newly-opened Manchester Hunts Bank (latterly Victoria) Station are three peculiar looking railway carriages
Sunderland's Railways. Neil T. Sinclair, Catrine: Oakwood Press, 2019. 124pp 185 illustrations. (Oakwood Library of Railway History No. 163). Reviewed by John Kirby. page 55
The Yorkshire Lines of the LNWR. Neil
Fraser. Catrine: Oakwood Press, 2019. 208pp. 121 illustrations, 16
maps. Reviewed by Gerald Leach.
Notes lack of bibliography
Number 238 (July 2020)
Ian Martin. On the outside looking in: a short history
of the Worcester Engine Works Co. Ltd., 1864-1872. 70-80
Very little information has been published with regard to the Worcester Engine Works company. This account attempts to detail the issues and provide an explanation as to why things turned out the way they did. The data used to compile this article has come mainly from contemporary reports of shareholders meetings in local newspapers. All company documentation was lost in a fire. From this distance in time it is difficult to fully understand the logic of the Boards decisions. The formal nature and modes of address further hinder understanding. Why the company failed has never been clearly explained, most conclusions being based on a very rudimentary understanding of the available evidence. Due to the lack of data in a number of areas certain assumptions have been made; they are the author's alone, as are the conclusions that have been drawn. Alexander James Sheriff, a man local to Worcester, was very much the leader in the creation of the company.
After a long delay in constructing the building, locomotive production began in 1865. The first batch of locomotives, works numbers 16, are thought to have been contractors engines, all 060, although whether tank or saddle tank, is unclear. Most of the work in constructing them must have been carried out in the open.
The first specific order was for ten 060 goods engines for the North Staffordshire Railway which were built in 186667 (Fig 5). Forty similar engines were ordered by the Great Eastern Railway, these being delivered from 1867 to 1869. The Great Eastern locomotives were followed by six 060 goods engines and two 242T passenger engines supplied to the Bristol & Exeter Railways standard gauge section.
The best known locomotives were those built for the Metropolitan Railway. They were 060Ts designed by R.H. Burnett, the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the railway. They were delivered in 1868. The final order (April 1870) was for fifteen 440 locomotives for the Nicholas Railway in Russia and these were all despatched during 1870. They were based on the then standard American 440.
In the space of five years the company constructed 84 locomotives of various types and on two different gauges. The majority can be traced and illustrated; the problem has always been with the first and last types constructed.
Which, if any, of the above actually made a profit is hard to say. Certainly the Great Eastern contract seems to have been problematic both regarding margins and payments. There is mention in the minutes of quality problems but it is unclear as to which locomotives this refers. Both the Metropolitan and North Staffordshire locomotives had relatively long lives. The Russian locomotives were further produced by local manufacturers, so were presumably a successful design.
The first locomotive is thought to have been an 060ST named Salford which later worked on the Manchester Ship Canal contract of T.A. Walker. It had 3ft 2in wheels and 11½in by 18in cylinders. Further information comes from an auction announcement in June 1874 of the plant used by T.A. Walker in building the Somerset & Dorset Railway extension to Bath. This included four 6-coupled standard-gauge inside-cylinder saddle tanks, of which two were by Manning Wardle, one by Fox Walker and one by the Worcester Engine Company Salford appears again in an auction announcement relating to equipment to be sold by the contractor John MacKay at Gloucester in July 1894. The locomotive had been working on the GWR MaidenheadTwyford (Waltham) widening contract in 189194. It was described as having 12in by 18in cylinders.
In 1895 this locomotive was rebuilt by Kerr Stuart, using parts of California from Kerr Stuart, Stoke on Trent, and named Godshill. The rebuilt locomotive was used on a contract of C.J. Westwood between 1895 and 1897 for the Newport, Godshill & St Lawrence Railway, which later became the Ventnor branch on the Isle of Wight. It was then hired to the Isle of Wight Central Railway in November 1897. The final record is of it going to a contractor, J. Firbank, c1900, and being used on the Great Central Railway MaryleboneSt Johns Wood contract which finished in the same year.
Works numbers 2, 3 and 4
Salford was followed by three contactors locomotives whose wheel arrangement and destinations are unknown. There is, however, a possible link to these locomotives, and that is a bad debt of the contractors, Peto & Betts. The minutes state that this debt had been written down to 7s 6d in the pound, or £1,993, in 1868. If this is grossed back up, it gives an order value of £5,300, sufficient for three locomotives. The problem is that it is not known whether the debt was for locomotives or bridge/girder work, since Peto & Betts were the principal contractors for the Great Eastern Metropolitan Extensions.
An Industrial Railway Society handbook gives details of a further locomotive. A Worcester Engine Works 060ST, no works number, was used on a contract for the Somerset & Dorset extension from Evercreech Junction to Bath, by T.A. & C. Walker in 187274. It was offered at auction by Fuller, Horsey, Son & Co on 11 August 1874. It was next reported as being used by contractor Charles E .Daniel for the Kings SuttonChipping Norton section of the Banbury to Cheltenham Railway in 1885. It was sold for scrap by F. Homan at Hook Norton/Chipping Norton on 9 April 1885.
The final record is from a Manning Wardle memobook that quotes the order of a boiler for a Worcester Engine Locomotive with cylinders of 11½ inches by 18 inches. The order is from the Fryston Coal Company Limited (Yorkshire) and is dated 27 July 1893.
Works numbers 5 and 6
These two locomotives were built in 1865 and eventually found their way to the LembergJassy Railway in Austria-Hungary. They were 060Ts and in service they formed class IIIa and were numbered 101 and 103. 101 was named Mihuczeni; it was sold in 1874 to the Erzherzog Albrecht Bahn and scrapped in 1889. Number 103 was named Brzezany; it was sold to the Imperial State Railways in 1889 and scrapped in 1895.
Two similar locomotives were built by Manning Wardle. Interestingly, a website giving details of all locomotives that ran on the LembergJassy Railway gives exactly the same dimensional data for Manning Wardle and Worcester Engine Company locomotives.
A description of the works in Berrows Worcester Journal, 16 March 1867, states that the company possesses an engine of its own construction. This engine has a funnel of such a peculiar fashion that we should recognise it amongst a thousand others. It would appear that two years after manufacture, the company still had at least one of the first six locomotives in its possession.
The Nicholas Railway, Russia
These were the last locomotives manufactured by the Engine Works (Fig 6). They were built in 1870 for passenger services between St Petersburg and Moscow and were ordered after a trip to Russia by the Works Manager, W.T. Rudd. The Company hoped for further orders but these did not materialise. The order gave rise to a number of problems with regards to additional costs and disputed payments, withheld presumably due to defective workmanship.
However, despite popular opinion at the time, it would appear that these difficulties were overcome and all outstanding payments received. How the engines were transported from Worcester to St Petersburg would be interesting to know. Possibly canal to Gloucester, then to Bristol and finally by sea to St Petersburg. The wheel arrangement was 440, works numbers 70 to 84, and numbers on the Nicholas Railway were 249263.
After these locomotives proved successful Russian and German builders provided additional locomotives. Eleven were manufactured between 1871 and 1873 by Alexandrovskii Zavod in St Petersburg, and these were eventually followed by eleven more from Emile Kessler of Karlsruhe in 1879.
As with the locomotive orders, a number of these were probably influenced by other directorships, such as those for the Metropolitan and the Great Eastern Railways. At the start work was concentrated on a contract with Lucas Bros to supply girders for the Metropolitan Extensions of the Great Eastern Railway. Other orders were for a bridge over the Clyde for the City of Glasgow Union Railway. It carried the line into St Enoch station. The girders for the roof of the vinegar works of Hill & Evans in Worcester also came from the Engine Works in 1866
The one positive outcome from the all of the above, is that the magnificent building still exists. Seeing it can take anyone with a little imagination back to the time of Victorian ambition, optimism and confidence in the future. Illustrations include cover of this Journal; map/plan, interior of works and so the railway company'sme of the locomotive output.
Mike G. Fell. Steam tugs on the Trent & Mersey Canal.
The North Staffordshire Railway had acquired the Trent & Mersey Canal as part of the railway company's formation in 1846. There are three tunnels at the northern end of the Canal at Preston Brook (1,239 yards), Saltersford and Barnton: none have towpaths. The two much longer tunnels at Harecastle are not discussed here. The NSR first experimented with steam tugs in 1864 with one hired from the Grand Junction Canal Company. At the NSR Board meeting held on 9 March 1864, it was reported that the steam tug had been working through the tunnels (note the plural) for a period of five days which was deemed highly satisfactory. The Company obtained statutory authority to use steam power in the tunnels and ordered three steam tugs from Edward Hayes of Wolverton in August 1864. On 20 May 1865 an employee was asphyxiated/drowned in the tunnel and this led to the consideration of ventilation shafts and alternative fuels, including wood. In 1870 a further tug, Barnton, was constructed in the Company Works under tyhe direction of William Hartley. In 1905 the Lytham Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd. supplied a two-cylinder compound tug. The working of the tugs ceased during WW2. Edward Paget-Tomlinson article in Waterways World, 1976 January is cited.
M.R. Connop Price. The narrow gauge in Pembrokeshire.
An examination of many, but perhaps not all, narrow gauge railways in Pembrokeshire. Some were well-known with a literature about them; others were obscure or never came to fruition, like a railway to St. Davids. Originally they served the low grade slate and coal (culm) industries, but these were forced to extend their horizons into roadstone, refractory bricks, etc. The survey covers the railways at Saundersfoot (gauge of 4 feet 0¾ inches) which connected several coal pits to the harbour and employed locomotives latterly. In 1838 slate quarrying began at Abereiddi and it had been hoped that it could be shipped off the beach, but that was too exposed and a tramway to Portgain where works were required to protect the inlet. In 1889 work began on a new quarry on the cliffs at Penclegyr, half a mile to the west of Porthgain: the rock was dolerite, and required dynamite which had been invented recently. To emphasize the toughness of the product, the company marketed it as granite, for use either for road stone or for setts. The slate business was terminated in 1910 and brick-making ended in 1912. Thereafter everything depended upon the success of the Penclegyr quarry, and in 1909 it was decided that the railway should be operated by a steam locomotive. The track was refurbished, and in 1909 a new Andrew Barclay 060 side tank (WN 1185/1909), named Porthgain arrived. A brick-built shed was provided for its accommodation. Two more engines arrived before WW1, namely Charger, a Bagnall 040T (WN 1381/1891) and Singapore, a Kerr Stuart 042T (WN 659/1899) which had previously been employed on contracts in Ireland and Scotland. In 1929 another engine, Hudswell Clarke Newport (WN 311/1889) was brought in. All activity at Porthgain ceased in 1931.
In 1916 the Pencelli Forest 2ft-gauge tramway was built eastwards from Pont Baldwyn towards Pencelli, about 2½ miles. The felling of timber, particularly oak, especially in the Pant Teg Wood area of the forest was a key aim. Two locomotives are known to have been used at this period, the first of which was an 040ST built by Kerr Stuart & Co (WN 2421/1915) which had been previously employed on new works at Catterick Camp. The second was a new small 10hp petrol powered locomotive, built by the Baguley Car Co (WN 609/1918) which did not reach the Tramway until October 1918, but clearance work in the Pencelli Forest possibly continued for as good quality oak was still required for both military and domestic purposes. It is not known when the tramway closed, but it was resuscitated in WW2, again to assist in the extraction of timber when only one 2ft-gauge locomotive was employed, a small 4-wheel 14hp diesel built by F C Hibberd (WN 1823/1933). Very little is known about the second of these forestry tramways, which was located at the village of Maenclochog .
The Royal Naval Mines Depot at Pembroke Dock was served by the standard gauge Milford Haven Estate Railway, but there were tunnels into the hillside above the Haven, primarily to create secure working areas and munitions magazines and these used metre-gauge track. The entire site closed down in 1991. The Royal Naval Armament Depot at Trecwn was developed just prior to WW2. Higgs & Hill and a consortium formed by Paulings and Edward Nuttall & Co. began work on a vast 1,000 acre site extending for almost three miles up the narrow valley. Standard-gauge rail access to the depot gates was achieved by building a 2½ miles branch line from Letterston Junction, some four miles south of Fishguard.
Peter Brown. Travel in the novels of Jane Austen. 109-14
Virgin Rail a new meaning?: extracted by Andy Guy from the Western Times 4 May 1844, on the opening of the Bristol & Exeter Railway (1 May 1844). 115-17
Martyn Taylor-Cockayne. Josias Jessop, civil engineer
to railway engineer. 117-21.
Based on a paper presented at the East Midlands Industrial Archaeology Conference May 2019, Kirkby-in-Ashfield. In 2012 the author chanced upon two letters written by Josias Jessop in the National Library of Scotland in response to two letters from Robert Stevenson. From these it is shown that Josias Jessop might have become a major figure in the ebolution of railways. Josias Jessop was the second son of William Jessop (engineer) and was christened on 24 October 1781 at Birkin St Marys Church, Pontefract in Yorkshire. In 1799, aged 17 years, he carried out several experiments on a railway at Brinsley, Nottinghamshire owned by Joseph Wilkes and accompanied the Committee of the Grand Junction Canal Co to see some railways before they began theirs at Blisworth. The same year he also assisted Benjamin Outram to survey a line of railway from Merthyr Tydfil to Newport (for the Pen-y-Darren ironworks) and on 9 December 1799 accompanied his father William to survey a proposed line of canal from Croydon to the Thames at Wandsworth, which resulted in the Surrey Iron Railway. In his report William Jessop states: Railways of wood or Iron have many years been in use in the northern parts of England, chiefly among the coal mines; it is but lately that they have been brought to the degree of perfection, which now recommends them as substitute for canals; and in many cases they are much more eligible and useful. Josias Jessop continues in his letters by saying: In 1802 I took the levels & made an Estimate for one [railway] from the Wandsworth Railway [Surrey Iron Railway] to Portsmouth and had previously set out the Merstham Railway to the Chalk quarries at Merstham. In the early nineteenth century he was involved in works for the Bristol Floating Harbour, Subsequent ly the Jessops became involved in the Butterley Company and with Edward Banks. In 1817 Jessop was appointed as engineer for the Mansfield & Pinxton Railway, discussions for which had begun as early as 1809 during his fathers lifetime. In 1824 Jessop had landed his biggest railway contract to date, that for the Cromford & High Peak Railway. The railway was some 33 miles in length and was intended to connect the Cromford Canal to Manchester by the most direct route over mountainous terrain rising over 1,000 feet. A prospectus for the Grand Junction Rail Road Company, was headed by Sir Edward Banks and Josias Jessop and William Brunton. The Liverpool & Manchester Railway Act of Parliament was obtained in May 1826, due to the evidence presented by George Rennie and Josias Jessop. The Rennie brothers were asked to become the Consulting Engineers, but stated that while they were prepared to work with Telford or Jessop, they were not prepared to work with Stephenson. The Railway Company refused the Rennies offer and instead appointed Josias Jessop as consulting engineer on 21 June 1826, retaining Stephenson as principal engineer. Then, at this critical and potentially pivotal moment in history, Josias Jessop died on 30 September 1826, his death being attributed to exhaustion. Martyn Taylor-Cockayne. Josias Jessop, civil engineer to railway engineer.
The Corris Railway: the story of a Mid-Wales slate
railway. Peter Johnson. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Transport, 2019.
208pp, 200 photographs (80 colour), 20 maps & diagrams, 12 tables. Reviewed
by John Howat
The authors latest in a prolific output of books on Welsh narrow-gauge railways is another outstanding, comprehensive opus. The slate quarries at Corris and Aberllefenni were located in the Dulas Valley in Merionethshire, approximately six miles north of Machynlleth. Slate, initially delivered by road to a wharf on the Afon Dyfi, west of the town and ten miles from the sea, was transhipped to small vessels for onward passage to the coast at Aberdyfi. From here larger boats were used for onward export. Unsurprisingly, transport developments at quarries elsewhere in north Wales encouraged investors in the local concerns to abandon this cumbersome process in 1850 in favour of a railway line. This well-researched volume describes the birth pangs of the scheme with details of alternative routes, extensions and branches. The 2ft 3in gauge line was materially complete and open in April 1859. Use of locomotives attracted a monetary fine, so originally it was worked by gravity, horses returning the empty wagons uphill. In 1874 public pressure resulted the establishment of a semi-official passenger service in open wagons but soon using purpose-built carriages. The line was re-laid in 1878 to regularise this amenity and permit the use of locomotives.
There are abundant details of the personalities, accidents and operational matters under various ownerships, up to a time of eventual decline and closure in 1948. The remaining locomotives and some rolling stock were transferred to the nearby Talyllyn Railway. The final chapter is concerned with fifty years of effort by the Corris Railway Society to preserve memories of the line by opening a museum and, from 2002, running steam trains again on a gradually lengthening track. The multiple illustrations are initially evocative monochrome shots which, as the narrative proceeds and approaches preservation, morph into first-rate colour photographs. As in his Ffestiniog volumes the author has sought the final resting places of key personalities in the story and includes several pictures of tombstones. Minutiae such as this add to the appeal. Appendices encompass the relevant Acts of Parliament, locomotives, Board of Trade returns and mileage, and there are both bibliography and index. The endpaper maps are confusing. The whole line is illustrated using an early edition of a large scale OS map, split into four, although continuity between sections is not easy to confirm and the presence of non-railway topographic detail makes it difficult to place unfamiliar locations in context.
Modern locomotives of the UK. Pip Dunn. Manchester:
Crécy Publishing, 2019. 256pp, 274 colour photographs. Reviewed
by Matthew Searle
Modern in the context of this book means pos-tprivatisation. The first locomotives of the new era having arrived in 1998, there has already been quite a lot of change affecting the use of the new assets, some leading to unfulfilled potential. The five wholly new classes are examined in turn, followed by reviews of major rebuilds of sometimes quite elderly vehicles, including the High Speed Train power cars. The latter are the only units dealt with here built new for regular conventional passenger work, although any uses of the classes here on passenger workings are fully covered. The book is clearly aimed at the modern traction enthusiast, but gives an overview of changes in the (chiefly) non-passenger market over the last two decades. Appendices list the changing ownerships and identities of the locomotives and the photographs are of excellent pictorial quality.
British railway infrastructure since 1970: an historical
overview. Paul D. Shannon. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Transport,
2019. 176pp, 200 photographs (chiefly colour), 20 maps & diagrams,
12 tables. Reviewed by Ray Shill. page 124
Uses colour and monochrome images to follow the changing face of railways in England, Scotland and Wales after the end of steam traction, when there was a considerable heritage of railway infrastructure in existence. He has provided many images from his own collection that reflect the change from nineteenth-century technology to the present. It is a comprehensive photographic study of stations, signal boxes, freight terminals, depots and yards for the last fifty years, which is supported by text that discusses the developments up to 2018. There is a diverse collection of station images with diesel and electric locomotives and units in most views and there are many snippets of information for those interested in modern transport from someone who visited these places to record the moment. There are summaries of principal passenger line closures and openings and also a table of main line electrification schemes since 1970. The discussion regarding freight services is of particular use. Such is the scope of this book that author has been concise with his facts, but key information has been provided. There is a brief bibliography and index, but reading this book and seeking out information is aided by the way it is laid out.
The Railway Revolution: a study of the early railways
of the Great Northern coalfield 16051830. Les Turnbull .
Newcastle upon Tyne: North of England. Institute of Mining and Mechanical
Engineers, 2019. 172pp, 165 colour figures (maps, drawings, photographs)
6 tables, softback, Reviewed by Kevin Jones. . page 124
In part this is a memorial to Alan Clothier who had encouraged and participated in research into the transport of coal from the pits developed in Northumberland and Durham down to the River Tyne for loading onto sailing vessels for transport to London and elsewhere. The transport was closely linked to local agriculture and the availability of its vehicles and animals (horses and oxen) to convey the coal to the staithes. Wooden tramways evolved to assist the process and it had been considered that these had rotted away or been replaced by iron, but a significant find was made at Willington in 2013 and further discoveries are still in progress to the west of Newcastle. As is usual in works of this type, the reader has to appreciate the topography of the area and that the main rivers discharge into the North Sea via channels with steep banks and that even minor streams may have to be crossed by considerable structures, only some of which have survived. To a great extent local measures were used to assess the output of the pits: fothers for mass and Michaelmas for time. Climatic patterns dictated much activity.
There are four chapters: The first railway revolution (that is the development of timber railways); The first great western railways (that is those wooden railways linked to coal pits to the south west of the Tyne); Pages from an engineers notebook (Richard Peck who lived and worked in what is now the City of Newcastle) and Towards the second railway revolution (the introduction of iron rails and steam locomotives). Part Two is a directory of the early (16051830) railways which extends north to the Wansbeck and Blyth and south to the Wear. This is followed by a concise bibliography and indexes of railways and people (both of which follow a slightly eccentric two-column arrangement).
This is a book of tantalizing glimpses. For instance passengers were admitted to an early railway tunnel and were conveyed in horse-drawn wagons and reference to this was made in Akenheads Guide to Newcastle published in 1807 (see page 87 in book under review). On page 63, when discussing the massive embankment which still impresses today on Wrightsons Waggonway, the reader is directed to a plan for it rather than to an image of what still exists and a quote from a returning grand tour grandee comparing it to the Via Appia adds nothing. The directory lacks references to current locations, but is still a potentially highly valuable guide to what may still be observable on the ground and should be invaluable for those seeking to establish a home in the area. The authors assertion of a railway revolution is largely justified.
The Grand Crimean Central Railway Anthony Dawson. Stroud: Amberley
Publishing, 2019. 96pp, 75 illustrations, softback, Reviewed by Philip Scowcroft.
The Crimean War is often said to be the first modern war. One of its firsts is that it was the occasion for the first railway directly serving the front line. This well-researched book traces its development in considerable detail, illustrated mostly by contemporary engravings. The railway came about when the Allied army, having won its first battle at the river Alma, failed to seize Sevastopol by coup de main, thus condemning it to a siege, more than a year long in the event, putting pressure on its weak supply system, especially for the British forces. The idea of a railway linking the trenches besieging Sevastopol with the port of Balaclava came from the railway contractors Samuel Morton Peto and his partner Thomas Brassey through the Secretary of State for War, the Duke of Newcastle. Peto was to be responsible for building the railway at cost and making arrangements for the rails, sleepers and other materials, plus the necessary construction personnel (350 navvies and platelayers, 230 other workmen and 26 salaried staff). Building the line was a task for civilians; operating it when complete was a matter for the military, namely the specially formed Land Transport Corps, a precursor of the present Royal Logistic Corps.
Work began in February 1855 and was completed within two months, despite the scepticism of elements within the Army and of some newspaper correspondents. It proved to be a boon, conveying guns, ammunition and other supplies to the fighting troops and, in the opposite direction, wounded soldiers. Motive power at first was by horses, but before the end of 1855 five steam locomotives were sent out, while stationary engines were necessary to work two steeper inclines. The railway was the direct ancestor of the narrow-gauge rail links on the Western Front in the Great War.
The story of this groundbreaking railway is well told and in fair detail, drawing on newspaper and Parliamentary reports and various military archives; there is a bibliography of these and of secondary sources. This volume can happily be recommended to railway and military enthusiasts alike.
The Early Pioneers of Steam; the inspiration behind George Stephenson
Stuart Hylton 224pp, 250x155 mm, 67 illustrations, softback, The History
Press, 97 St Georges Place, Cheltenham GL50 3QB , 2019, Reviewed by
Miles Macnair. page 125
When this reviewer was at school many years ago, the subject of history started in 1066 with William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings. The time before then were the Dark Ages, uninteresting, supposedly poorly documented and frankly boring. Very much the same thing happened in the history of railways, which for a long time seemed to have begun with George Stephenson and the Stockton @ Darlington Railway, to be quickly followed by the Rainhill trials, Rocket and then Isambard Kingdom Brunel. More recently, however, many books about this period have been published, by forensic engineers like Michael Bailey, reports of meetings typified by the Early Railway Conferences sponsored by the RCHS and popular booklets such as Early Railways by Andy Guy and Jim Rees in the Shire series. This current book by a well-published historian is an easily readable and wide-ranging text-book that covers early steam engines, railways and locomotives, as well as brief biographies on other important railway pioneers promoters and financiers as well as engineers. A later chapter discusses the role of early railways, both in the UK and abroad, and on the spread of the industrial revolution in general. Particularly relevant and interesting to this reviewer are chapters on The role of Parliament and Lessons learnt from the canal mania in which the author covers topics ranging from financing to labour relations and safety precautions. The extensive illustrations are well chosen, though the reproduction is only of newsprint quality. There is a good index and ample bibliography. This book reveals nothing new, but tells an excellent story of the Dark Ages in a modestly priced package.