George Dow & son: Andrew
Steamindex homepage

Dow's title pages and covers, if not perfect, were rather good: the title page shows Dow's passion for green ink, his Art Deco signature and dedication to F.L. Jones Esq rather than the more formal Jones or informal Frank.

George Dow had a direct influnce upon Kevin Jones's life by moving his father to the LNER's Manchester Office shortly after Nationalization and thus it is impossible for Kevin to be wholly objective as this move had a huge influence upon his life, much of it even these many years later, still appears to have been negative in spite of his father's great improvement in status.

Dow's: Great Central (three volumes) is his magnus opus. It was dedicated to his well-known son, Andrew, which must truly have been a literary silver spoon in his mouth. The personal contacts included Sir Sam Fay and J.G. Robinson and A.F. Bound (for signalling). The text is richly illustrated with portraits, gradient profiles, original prospectuses, timetables, and pictures from Illustrated London News. There is an excellent index. The many footnotes give relatively long quotations from contemporary sources: the Manchester Guardian in 1845 wrote about the "Moral and Physical Evils in connection with Railway Works" referring to the construction of the Woodhead Tunnel: the drunkenness, the tally-women; price of food at the camp and so on. Any library collection which lacks Dow is not a "library" (its a mere collection of books: needless to say Norfolk only has an incomplete set: by definition a City of Culture has a library, not an incomplete selection of books)..

His Railway heraldry and other insignia (David & Charles, 1973) encapsulated the fruits of one of his other great interests and is notable (for its time, for the richness of its illustrations: 88 separate colour illustrations, plus 211 black & white photos in the text.

Quotation: In 1938 the Southern emulated the Great Central and the London & North Eastern by seeking full armorial bearings from the College of Arms. Unfortunately the war intervened and the Latters Patent, signed and sealed by the three Kings of Arms, were not finally dated until 6th March 1946. The achievement adopted is of particular interest because it reflected to some extent contemporary heraldic design and, at the same time, demonstrated how markedly it differed from that of the Victorian era. This best exemplified by the multiple crest; the double disc wheel of the latest steam locomotives of the company; the flash through it denotes the extensive electrification; the wings above to indicate the speed of both forms of traction; and the sun as a backdrop, a subtle reminder of the onetime Southern slogan South for Sunshine.

His British steam horses (Phoenix, 1950) remains an excellent introduction to the steam locomotive, its history and its mechanism. In the current parsimonious world one can only marvel at how a nearly bankrupt public utility could tolerate its PR man to prepare such wonders as The first railway between Manchester and Sheffield and The story of the West Highland line to sell to the public for three shillings and six pence in the case of the former. But the immediate Post World War II period was in which some remarkable publishing ventures took off and soared (the Collins New Naturalist series is one paradigm), but of the railways, only the LNER achieved anything historically worthy at that time. Both the Southern and Great Western had achieved great things between the wars although not quite comparable with Tomlinson's magisterial work. In spite of having D.S.M. Barrie, the LMS achieved nothing worthy in bibliographical terms, of what it considered to be a mighty institution. Sadly, Dow ended up on the London Midland Region.

Dow joined the LNER in 1927 and retired as a Divisional Manager within the LMR in 1968.


Paul Karau (Br Rly J., 1987, 2,  308) wrote a thoughtful, "literary" obituary and this follows (with only minor changes and incorporating certain key materail from Wikipedia). Born 30 June 1907 died 28 January 1987. Mention the name George Dow and most readers will surely immediately think of his epic Great Central Trilogy (Locomotive Publishing Co.), 'Midland Style' (HMRS), his presidency of the HMRS and Midland Railway Trust. The titles mentioned are worthy additions to any railway library, but there are many more and a list is appended herewith. His dedication to the railways needs no introduction in these columns, indeed he was one of the very last of the old generation of 'greats' of railway literature. His schoolboy ambitions of being apprenticed under Beames at Crewe were thwarted by the early death of his father, after which his mother could not' afford the £100 premium.

However, after a brief spell in the wool trade, he managed to join the LNER at King's Cross in 1927 as a probationary class 5 clerk. From this humble beginning, he moved through the Press Section to become a canvasser in the Commercial Advertising Department, then on through special design duties and Press Officer (Wikipedia adds was LNER Press Relations Officer throughout WW2: KPJ agrees with this as he suspects F.L. Jones was working for him in Edinburgh from 1942-46) to become on 1st January 1948 Public Relations and Publicity Officer, Eastern & North Eastern Regions of the newly formed BR. In 1949 he took the same post on LMR (Locomotive Mag., 1949, 55, 72) and on that region eventually rose to Divisional Manager, Stoke on Trent, Fell in Backtrack, 2020, 34, 625 before retiring in 1968. Locomotive Mag., 1944, 50, 3 notes that he was formerly Information Agent and became Press Relations Officer in late 1943. Also notes his route diagrams in LNER and LMS carriages and had been railway correspondent for Design for To-day. C.J. Allen (Railway Wld., 1967, 28, 474) notes assistance Dow gave to preparing the ABC of LNER locomotives.

Of course Karau's own contact with George Dow came about through the production of Midland Carriages. He immediately commanded the deepest respect. His manuscripts were outstandingly precise and utterly impeccable - quite the most accurate we have handled. He was the very model of efficiency and, frank at all times (a precious quality these days), he expected nothing less of others, but he was also a very appreciative audience.

Wild Swan is proud to have produced 'Midland Carriages' and thankful that the final volume appeared in good time to put his mind at rest. At the request of Ralph Lacy's widow, he laid aside his personal ambitions and selflessly devoted what sadly proved to be his last years to the enormous and unenviable task of completing his friend's life's work. As if that were not enough, he also refused to take any payment or royalties, instead insisting that the proceeds all go to Mrs. Lacy. A generous gesture typical of a true gentleman who will be sadly missed. He died on 28th January 1987 aged 79 years.

Wikipedia states "He is perhaps best known as a draughtsman for his diagrammatic railway maps for the LNER and London, Midland and Scottish Railway and as an inspiration to celebrated designer Harry Beck on the Tube map. Their work led to a style of design which has revolutionised the world of Urban rail and metro maps." Ovenden p. 152 has a concise appreciation which records that Dowhgrams preceded Beck's much lauded tube maps and an excellent portrait.

Dow, Andrew. That reminds me... Steam Wld, 2005 (222) 46-7.
Photograph of George Dow, Information Agent of LNER, in December 1941 with some of his collection of railway heraldic devices. See also Dow senior's book.

George Dow: a doughty railwayman. Part 1: 21 years on the LNER. Andrew Dow. Steam Wld, 2001 (164) 14-20.
Andrew tells us that his father was born in 1907 and was brought up in Watford. He had hoped to become a premium apprentice at Crewe, but the death of his father in 1922 forced him to become a Grade 5 clerk in the Chief General Manager's Office of the LNER. Here he showed his initiative by studying for an external degree and by designing the Dowagrams used to show the routes displayed in the carriage panels, initially for the Great Northern suburban services.In 1931 he joined the Press Section. KPJ: obviously the story of George Dow and my own father interact, but at which point is still far fom clear.
George Dow: a doughty railwayman. Part 2: 20 years on BR. Andrew Dow. Steam Wld, 2001 (165) 14-20.
Final duties for the LNER included writing the words for the plaques fitted to Mallard in January 1948. He also participated in selecting the names for the A1 Pacifics. In 1949 (Oxford Companion) he moved to become PR&PO for the London Midland Region where he promoted Vic Welch's work, vastly improved the signage on LMR stations; replaced the dreary LMS sepia carriage panels with colour work, including that by Hamilton Ellis of locomotives, and by Kenneth Steel and Claude Buckle of railway civil engineering structures. He was involved, mainly without success, in suggesting names for the Britannia Pacifics and Clans.Before retirement he was responsible for the Birmingham Division and then the Stoke Division of the London Midland Region. There is interesting comment upon the design of the new stations at Coventry and New Street, and the views aof architects. Dow senior was invloved in the creation of the Historical Model Railway Society. There are also interesting comments on how the three volume Great Central impinged upon domestic life. For a time the Dows lived in a rented former GCR house in St John's Wood:

Dow, Andrew. That reminds me. Steam Wld, 2006, (228) 52-3.
Photograph of George Dow as young man on footplate of Gresley A1 No. 2557 Blair Athol in early 1930s: at that time LNER was involved in assisting in making The Flying Scotsman with actor Ray Milland. This article contains a considerable amount of detail about George Dow including his carriage panel maps and his involvement in WW2 radio broadcast
Dow, Andrew. Perception and statistics: meeting the LNER's public relations success. J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2005, 35, 175-7)
Mentions that Dow's total staff numbered eleven in 1944: four in London, two in Manchester, two at York and three in Edinburgh. Also records how father attempted to quantify his relative success as compared with the LMS and GWR: this is based on official LNER internal reports
Dow, Andrew. That reminds me... Steam Wld, 2009 (266) 56-7.
Rental of parental (George Dow) home from LNER. This was a maisonette formed from a substantial dwelling which had been built for the Great Central Railway in Belsize Road on the approach to Marylebone station. His father, George Dow, did a lot of his writing, ntably of British steam horses and the first volume of his seminal Great Central in this house which also housed an extensive model railway, his collection of raiilway coats of arms, and the venue for committee meetings of the Historical Model Railway Society.


The Alford & Sutton Tramway. Chislehurst: Oakwood Press, 1947. (Locomotion Paper No.1)
First edition Ottley 5612, Enlarged and revised edition published by author in 1984. Not in Ottley & Supplements, but reviewed by Michael Harris in Railway Wld., 1984, 45, 238: in this he complaiined that first edition which had been priced at 2s 6d, now commanded £2 secondhand. In the introduction he explained how he was introduced to the remains of the line when taking a family holiday in Sutton-on-Sea in 1946. On Sundays he had to travel from Alford where en route he found Tramway Crossing signal box at Sutton.
Audlem then and now. Audlem District Amenities Society, 1977.
British steam horses. London: Phoenix, 1950. 128pp. + plates
Contents: Foreword by A. H. Peppercorn; Introduction; The Steam Locomotive Explained; Some Famous Locomotive Designers; How a Modern Locomotive is Built; Modern Passenger Types; Modern Freight Types and Some Others; The Locomotive Running Depot; Some Locomotive Speed and Other Records; Three appenices (British Railways liveries, numbering, interchange trials); excellent index. Norman Newsome notes that pp 110 et seq paint a vivid picture of the experimental high speed runs and the inaugural press run of the Silver Jubilee. Section on locomotive nicknames. Section on building No. 525.
By electric train from Liverpool Street to Shenfield. London: Railway Executive, 1950.
East Coast Route. London: Locomotive Publishing Co., 1954. 64pp.
Ottley 6247
The first railway across the Border. London: LNER, 1946. 43pp.
Ottley 6984
The first railway between Manchester and Sheffield. London: LNER, 1945. 44pp
Ottley 5743
The first railway in Norfolk. 2nd ed. London: LNER, 1947. 32pp.
First edition 1944. Review: Locomotive Mag., 1944, 50, 96.
Great Central. Vol. 1. The progenitors, 1813-1863. London: Locomotive Publishing Company, 1959.
Dedicatees include Andrew Dow: Personal contacts included Sir Sam Fay and J.G. Robinson and A.F. Bound (signalling). Richly illustrated within text: portraits, gradient profiles, original prospectuses, timetables, pictures from Illustrated London News excellent index many footnotes: relatively long quotations from contemporary sources: the Manchester Guardian in 1845 wrote about the "Moral and Physical Evils in connection with Railway Works" referring to the construction of the Woodhead Tunnel: the drunkenness, the tally-women; and price of food at the camp
Great Central. Vol. 2. Dominion of Watkin, 1864-1899. London: Locomotive Publishing Company, 1962.
Locomotives and rolling stock are covered on pp. 75-97 for the period 1864-1886 (including Charles Sacré) and on pp. 257-78 for the 1887-1899 period which includes Thomas Parker. Reviewed in Rly Wld, 1963, 24, 119.
Great Central. Vol. 3. Fay sets the pace, 1900-1922.  London: Ian Allan, 1965.
Reviewed by RR in Rly Wld, 1965, 26, 490.
Great Central Album: a pictorial supplement to 'Great Central'. London: Ian Allan, 1969.
Ottley 11722
Great Central recalled. Truro: Bradford Barton, 1978. 96pp.
Ottley 11728
It can now be revealed: more about British railways in peace and in war. London:  British Railways Press Office, 1945. 64pp.
Ottley 588: copy seen by KPJ in secondhand bookshop in Cromer (price £10 in October 2006): excellent photographic record, including re-railing a NBR locomotive with men wearing protective clothing against gas attack (this photograph has appeared elsewhere).
London Tilbury & Southend Album. London: Ian Allan, 1981.
Ottley 18520: as might be expected this is a superior sort of album which begins with clear maps on the end-papers, and interesting colour frontispiece based upon a rare F. Moore oil painting which is stated  to be in the NRM collection (not reproduced well in copy now seen); concise sections of text, and interesting photographs. Copy was inspected to see if itincluded more on the extraordinary saloon built under Whitelegg for which full details are given in Loco. Mag., 1913, 19, 289.
Midland Railway Carriages. Upper Bucklebury: Wild Swan, 1984/6. 2 v. with R.E. Lacy.
Ottley 18640
Midland style:  a livery and decor register of the Midland Railway... Bromley: HMRS, 1975.
Ottley 12236
North Staffordshire Album. London: Ian Allan, 1970.
Railway heraldry and other insignia. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973.
Supplement published by author 1985 according to Karau: see review in Br. Rly J. (9), 350.
The story of the West Highland. 2nd ed. London: LNER, 1947. 63pp. + 4 folding diagrs.
First published 1944 and reviewed in Locomotive Mag., 1944, 50, 180 Second edition, with account of WW2 activity on the line, reviewed Locomotive Mag., 1948, 54, 64..
Telling the passenger where to get off. Capital Transport, 2005, by Andrew Dow
The story of George Dow's diagrams used in railway carriage panels on LNER suburban services and more widely after formation of British Railways: the assanine One could learn much.
The Third Woodhead Tunnel. London: British Railways London Midland Region, 1954.
A very inferior publication compared with those produced by the LNER: cover is reminiscent of a ration book. Reviewed Locomotive Mag., 1954, 60, 117
World Locomotive Models. Bath: Adams & Dart, 1973.
Ottley 12890

Other publications

LMS 'Jinties'. Br. Rly J., (9), 351-2.
This letter refered back to a minor article by Bob Essery on page 277 et seq.
Dow Senior's letter is quoted verbatim: his remarks concerning the BR later logo are highly interesting and put in bold type by KPJ.
In the last paragraph of this article the remarks concerning styles of lettering are confusing and call for clarification. The well-known sans-serif lettering specially designed by Edward Johnston for the then Underground Electric Railways of London first appeared on posters in 1916. Because Frank Pick was so closely involved in its evolution and introduction, it became generally known as Johnston-Pick type and was duly universally employed by London Transport. Eric Gill, sculptor and a pupil of Edward Johnston, did not design lettering for London Transport, but the elegant sans-serif type which bears his name was adopted by the London & North Eastern Railway in. its typographical revolution of 1928, which involved posters, handbills and press advertisements. The use of Gill Sans for station and other signs of the LNER soon followed and before the outbreak of the last war it had appeared on the company's locomotives, rolling stock and road vehicles. Gill Sans was continued universally by British Railways on their formation in 1948 and remained in general use until the search for a new image began in 1965, when the castration British Rail, the barbed wire emblem and the now hackneyed Univers lettering came on the scene. What would George have made of train station?.

Ian Allan (Driven by steam) view of Dow which possibly states more about the Ian Allan Group's frugal approach to publishing than Dow's quest for perfection: Allan first contacted Dow in 1944 and spent many happy days later with him was the world's worst author to deal with. He was unsatisfiable, pernickety, difficult, aggressive but in the end forced you to do a good job with no short cuts. When he was Divisional Manager at Stoke he invited me to spend a day with him on the Cambrian line and these were the days when senior railwaymen did more or less as they pleased without counting the cost — actually I think they still do, having seen Bob Reid arrive at Kidderminster in a special train composed of one coach and a vast locomotive with only himself and small entourage on board — we had the inspection saloon and a locomotive and reasonably impressive 'hospitality' en route. To justify the expense, the Mayor of Aberystwyth was entertained to lunch on board on arrival at the town as a public relations exercise and I always envied General Managers, Divisional Managers and Engineers on their facility to whistle up their respective saloons and accompanying locomotives and go off on jaunts which would have cost the public a fortune. But why pick out the railways. Most captains of industry do things like this — in their hospitality tents. George Dow had a superb model railway in his garden 'house' at Audlem and will long be remembered for his great contribution to railway and model railway history.

The Dow model railway? from Railways photographed in colour
from model railways
; designed by George A. Adams; story by
S.P.W. Corbett. London Collins.

A note on the verso title page acknowledges Georde Dow,
Information Agent LNER for source of some of the models. Other
lines include Fred Aherne's Madderport layout.

Andrew Dow

Died 25 April 2015 aged 71. Former Curator of the National Railway Museum, one time indexer of the British Railway Journal, contributor to the Oxford Companion, columnist in Steam World, and son of George Dow, and now contributor of an eponymous reference work. See also The railway which can only be described as an enormouus reference work.  Telling the passenger where to get off.

Dow's Dictionary of Railway Quotations. John Hopkins.
At last KPJ has seen this magnus opus for himself (National Library of Scotland! and subsequently in the bookshop at the NRM). He was delighted to find a reference to himself concerning his assessment of Nock (steamindex is cited). The potential of the book can be gauged from Stanier's alleged remark of "where's the key" in response to a picture of Bulleid's Q1 0-6-0 is given as H.A.V. Bulleid's Master builders of steam. This is the sort of quotation where one could otherwise search for days without success. There are not unexpectedly 33 references to Hamilton Ellis, 29 to his father's work (mainly in British steam horses: is it really that good, or is it a son's response to his father?), there is only one from Bonavia and none from J.M. Dunn. There is ample evidence of the paucity of bibliographical control in the library service which is supposed to be provided for Norfolk in that this book is not even available in what it considered itself to be a candidate for "the City of Culture". There are four quotations from W.H. Auden (who was educated in Norfolk).

The Oldie (November issus) contains an excellent review by Christian Wolmar of Andrew Dow's latest venture. The Oldie appears to be courting anoraks and has included several items in recent issues which are clearly intended to interest them. This contribution by a well-known journalist into the Barry sector of the railway enthusiast market is exceedingly interesting, and as Kevin is unlikely to see the new dictionary under review until well after Christmas, indeed if ever in the bibliographical breckland in which he resides, he has taken the usual liberty of placing sections of it on this website as he believes that it can only do all of us good: The Oldie, Andrew, Christian, and Kevin (especially if you buy this book via this website through Amazon).

Given this love of the railways, it is strange that no one has thought to pull together a dictionary of railway quotations until now. Andrew Dow, a former curator of the National Rail Museum, has filled that gap with style and brio. Not only has he tracked down some 3,400 of the best quotations, but he has also attempted to source some of those expressions that have entered the language without anyone being quite clear of their origin.

For example, the famous Vanderbilt quote 'The public be damned' may never have been said. Dow tracks down two interviews where Vanderbilt may have used those words, but the millionaire later denied using them. That other favourite railway cliche, 'What a way to run a railroad', a metaphor for any chaotic situation, was originally a caption for a cartoon in which the statement was made by the person responsible for the chaos.

Indeed, chaos on the railways is now routinely explained by that famous excuse, 'the wrong kind of...' which originally referred to snow but has been used routinely by the popular press when anything goes amiss on the railways. Dow has tracked that one down, too, and found that the usual attribution, to a BR railway manager, Terry Worrall, was incorrect and that it was, aptly, a headline writer for the Evening Standard who coined the expression. In fairness to the railway, Dow explains that the type of snow in that winter of 1991 was, indeed, particularly cold, making it dry and powdery, causing disruption not just in the UK but throughout Europe.

This tale demonstrates the extent to which the railways have always had to put up with being an Aunt Sally, the butt of far more criticism than any rational analysis would suggest they deserve. Perhaps it is because they are so loved that when things go wrong, being let down is like a lover's betrayal. Dow has dug out some lovely quotes that put rail enthusiasts in their place - 'gricers', as they are commonly known, though in a separate list he gives all the names used for rail fans, including, bizarrely, 'foamers'. 'We appreciate our fans but like football coaches, we don't consult them on our strategies' is a particularly neat American put-down, as is 'their knowledge of the railways is minimal', but he also finds some praise for them: 'The collecting of locomotive numbers is a perfectly legitimate hobby for railway enthusiasts and pursued intelligently may serve useful and instructive purposes.' However, that does date back to 1945, and I doubt anyone would now defend trainspotters so forcefully.

Dow's book is international, taking us around the world, with quotes ranging from Siberia to San Francisco, and the sheer breadth of the work, which took eight years to compile and ranges from literature to Rail magazine, will ensure that it solves many a Christmas dilemma for those seeking presents for fathers, uncles, brothers and other male relatives. But it is so well put together and so keenly demonstrates the widespread impact of the railways that even a few women may appreciate it, just as Fanny Kemble fell in love with the railways.

Martin Barnes reviewed for J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2006, 35, 450 commends work for its indexing and observes that Margaret Thatcher did say that railway privatisation will be the Waterloo of this government, presumably at Hatfield approaching the gates to the home of the Salisbury family..

The railway: British track since 1804. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. 2014? 475pp
This appears to be a remarkable book [sorry for italics, but unless a book is seen or seeable in full in electronic form the italics must remain]. The part seen via Google seems to demonstrate excellence of a high degree and KPJ yearns to establish whether it answers any of his many questions on the use of rubber in permanent way applications. The index will presumably be of a high standard, but once again the pudding has to be seen.

Memories of a railway childhood
This is a joy of a book, but sadly lacks an index and as its Author attended prep school before advancing to Brighton College it inevitably includes many names, such as Michael Harris, which should be of interest to other railway enthusiasts and the page references will be listed below with, where appropriate, links from elsewhere on the website. This raises the question as to whether the book should have been written as part of a website, or for distribution in Kindle format. Nevertheless, it must be stressed that the book is elegantly produced as a robust paperback and that Kevin has greatly enjoyed reading it in the room of a guest house in Swanage, a place he had last visited in 1956 when he arrived on the push & pull from Wareham behind, or was it in front of an M7 (on a journey which is beginning to resemble St John Thomas's Journey Through Britain).

Big Emma (MR 0-10-0): Fowler's wife was named Emma 29 fn

Hamilton Ellis paintings 24

Cecil Dandridge 8 (Information Agent, LNER)

Belsize Road, No. 11 19-25
Dorset Square
Liverpool Overhead Railway 61-2
Rostron General Manager 61

Byrom, District Passenger Manager 61

Forth Bridge 57
George Dow crossed hauled by P2 57

Frank Riley 59
Meccano Magazine 59
Binns Road 59

Great Central Railway Album. 88
Sutton-on-Sea. 46-50
Alford & Sutton Tramway. 49
Oakwood Locomotion Paper No. 1 49
Great Central Railway 49
East Coast Route 49-50
British Steam Horses 50
  purchase by Roger Ford 50
wheel tappers 51
Watkin, Edward 80-2
Watkin Way 82
Great Central book 80
  drawings by Andrew Dow
Watkin's inspection saloon No. 1033 81-2
Welch, Vic 82-3
MS&LR Class 11 4-4-0 82
Robinson 4-4-2 83

Andrew Dow. A journey to remember. Steam Wld, 1996, (110) 8-11
Footplate journey made on 31 August 1961 from King's Cross to Doncaster. Had hoped for trip on an A4, but was on A2/3 No. 60523 Sun Castle to Peterborough and thence on No. 60500 Edward Thompson to Doncaster. He eventually did manage a footplate journey on an A4: preseerved No. 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley between Crewe and Shrewsbury after its overhaul

Updated 2018-05-05

Constructing A2 No. 525

Having got the General Manager's blessing, the C.M.E then instructs his Chief Draughtsman to prepare a preliminary diagram of the new engine. This diagram will indicate all the principal features, such as size of boiler, the number and size of cylinders, the number, diameter and spacing of wheels and, most important, the estimated approximate weight each axle will have to carry. This having been done, the Civil Engineer has to be consulted, for it is he who will say whether the new engine can safely negotiate the routes over which it is proposed it should be operated. To him, therefore, the spacing of the wheels and the loads their axles have to bear are vital data, enabling him to judge whether the new design will cause any damage to the track or bridges carrying the railway over roads, rivers, or other railways. The Civil Engineer may also have to be consulted in another connexion. If the new engine is of exceptional length, turntables at certain locomotive depots may have to be enlarged, in which case the Civil Engineer will be asked to provide estimates for the alterations involved, for his department will be responsible for this work.
When the requirements of all departments concerned have been met and authority has been secured for the considerable sum of money which even a dozen new engines may cost, detailed designs are put in hand. At this stage the Chief Draughtsman will work in close consultation with the C.M.E, who will have the last word as to what features are to be embodied, for the ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of the new locomotive will fall upon him.
Two other important preliminaries have to be settled whilst the Drawing Office is getting out all the necessary drawings, which may run into some hundreds. First of all , the requirements for raw material have to be assessed and orders placed for all material not already on hand for normal repair work. Secondly a production programme has to be drawn up with the Works Manager or Works Managers. In the case of three of the Big Four, more than one centre was employed for new construction and, to spread the work evenly, it was sometimes decided to manufacture certain components at one centre and assemble at another.
So much for the preliminaries. Let us now follow the construction of an actual locomotive from start to finish. The venue is Doncaster Works, at which the first locomotive for the former Great Northern Railway was built in 1867. Since then these Works have turned out more than two thousand locomotives. When they were first opened in 1853, Doncaster Works covered 11½ acres and employed about 9S0 men. Since those early days several extensions have been made, the first of importance being the construction of wagon shops in 1889, the old wagon shops being converted into carriage shops and extended. Then the Crimpsall erecting shop for locomotive repairs was added in 1901 and by the end of 1926 the total area of Doncaster Works had reached 84 acres, exclusive of sidings, and the staff employed had risen to 4,357. A temporary reduction in acreage occurred during the last war when the carriage body shop was burned out, but new shops have been erected to make good the loss.
The locomotive about to be constructed is a Pacific the 1,424th engine to be built by the L.N.E.R, notable in two respects. It is No. 525, the first of a new class, the A2, and it is destined to be the last locomotive to be completed by the L.N.E.R before nationalization. Although not an entirely new deSign, it differs in certain important respects from its immediate predecessors, the Thompson A2/1, A2/2 and A2/3 Pacifics, With these engines it has been found that the forward location of the bogie pivot, which was over 2 ft in advance of the position hitherto employed on L.N.E.R Pacifics (namely those of Gresley's design) resulted in the imposition of heavy strains on the main frames when negotiating curves. These strains have in turn made it very difficult to keep the joints of the external exhaust passages steam-tight. Hence, with No. 525, its designer, A.H. Peppercorn, has decided that the three cylinders are to be brought closer together by moving the outside pair forward to the more orthodox position between the bogie wheels, this enabling the bogie to be moved back closer to the coupled. wheels, so reducing the total wheel-base by 2 ft 7 in. The pur- pose of the new Pacific, therefore, is neither of those mentioned earlier in this chapter, but to overcome working difficulties encountered in a predecessor class of engine.
The main frames, the foundation of the locomotive, first see the light of day in the main machine shop. To this are brought the plates from which they are formed, first for rolling and then for flame-cutting roughly to profile. This done, they are stacked on what is known as a frame-slotter in a series of ten, sufficient for five engines, and the horn gaps and so on are then finished to drawing dimensions.
Meantime the various details such as frame stays (which hold the frames securely together) and horn blocks (in which the axle boxes will be accommodated), are being processed and made ready for assembly on the frames. Whilst this work is proceeding the frames are drilled as necessary with the aid of a jig (which will itself become part of the last engine) and then erected in pairs, upside down. To them are then fastened the horns, hornstays, and brake and spring brackets.
Elsewhere in the machine shop will be found the boiler, boiler details, cylinders, and motion which have been received from other shops, or perhaps from outside contractors, for pro- cessing, the work being arranged so that they all arrive at the erecting shop in accordance with a pre-arranged schedule. The boiler will have been constructed in the boiler shop, in which the riveting processes taking place make it easily the noisiest part of the works. Steel of the finest quality is employed for the boiler barrel, which is usually formed of two or three 'rings' each of which is a steel plate rolled like a giant napkin- ring to the precise radius, the ends being united by riveted cover-strips. The completed rings are then riveted together to make the whole barrel.
Steel is also used for the outer firebox but, because it stands up best of all to the arduous conditions, avoids complications in the shape of flexible stays and does not collect scale-forming im- purities in the water, copper is used for the inner firebox. The inner firebox is fastened to the outer firebox by hundreds of copper or steel stays screwed at each end. The backplate of the outer firebox and the front tube plate are also secured to the boiler barrel by diagonal stays. The firebox tube plate is stayed to the front tube plate by the fire tubes, some of which are enlarged, as mentioned in Chapter I, to accommodate the superheater tubes.
At the leading end of the boiler is riveted the smokebox, which will rest on the smokebox saddle. The plates forming this latter component which, like the main frames, vary in thick- ness up to I!in., are cut to profile on an oxy-acetylene coal-gas flame cutting machine, bent to shape by hydraulic press, jigged, and then electrically welded in position. Great strides have been made in welding in recent years and nowadays many complicated castings have been superseded by welded fabrications. Welding is also employed for many details such as sandboxes, water pick- up scoops and ashpans.
Like the boiler barrel, the wheels and axles are made of steel. The spokes and rims are castings and the tyres are rolled in one piece. The axles are forced into the hole in the wheel centre by hydraulic pressure and the tyre is fastened in position first by heating it and then by shrinking it on to the rim, to which it is riveted at each alternate spoke. The coupled wheels, together with their cranks and eccentrics, are then taken to the 'wheel- balancing' machines. On these they are revolved at high speeds so that the forces set up by the swinging of the heavy cranks may be determined and counterbalanced by crescent-shaped pieces of steel affixed to the rims. Before they become part of the loco- motive the coupled wheels are usually painted, because of the difficulty in performing this work when the motion is in position.
Our main frames have now left the main machine shop and have been transported to the erecting shop, where the locomotive really takes shape. This time they are set up the correct way and fastened together, when details such as cylinders, brake gear, running plate, and sandboxes are fitted. Above, an overhead crane, carrying the huge completed boiler (which has already been tested), smokebox and firebox, stops above the frames and deposits its burden with precision. The boiler is lagged with asbestos to save loss of heat by radiation, the lagging plates and bands added, and the work of securing it to the main frames proceeds apace. At the same time the horns and wedges are lined up in readiness to take the wheels, to which the axle- boxes are now being fitted.
Again the overhead crane comes into action, lifts the boiler and frames and deposits them on the wheels, all of which, bogie, coupled, and trailing (it is a Pacific, remember), have been placed in position. This done, the work of assembling the valve gear can proceed and the important task of valve-setting taken in hand. By now the cab and cab fittings have been provided.
With the addition of the tender, the assembly of which has been going on nearby, No . 525 now only awaits the fire and water which will bring her to life for the first time. Then, when she is in steam at last, a close inspection of valves, pipes, and joints will be carried out to ensure that there are no leakages. Two further jobs remain to be done before No. 525 makes her initial trial trip on the main line. First she must go to the paint-shop and then to the weigh-house for a final check-up on the load borne by each axle.
In the early days locomotives were painted with pigments, oils, and varnishes which gave them a livery that was sleek, flat, shiny, and good to behold, but it was a long process to produce the beautiful finish for which the engines were famed. To-day, synthetic paints give a finish of equal lustre and beauty with very much less effort. Synthetic paints are hand-applied by brush and as they contain the essential elements of adhesion to the steel plate, together with the brilliance formerly obtained with the varnish coat on pigment paints, it is possible to dispense with the various coats of finishing varnish that were once applied with such care. In practice, the L.N.E.R applied one coat of varnish to the synthetic paint, the object being to give a more pleasing finish after the lining-out had been applied to the surface of the painted locomotive.
When the painting has been completed No. 525 is resplendent in a livery of apple green, lined out black and white, with red buffer beams, lined out white. The chimney, smokebox, smoke deflector plates, cylinder covers, and running plates are left black, the two last-named being given a thin red edging. On the cab sides are transferred the yellow numerals 525 and on the tender the letters L.N.E.R, both in the incomparable Gill Sans type.
Features of No. 525 include the use of 3% nickel alloy steel to permit the use of thinner barrel plates in the boiler; a vee-fronted and wider cab which, together with an alteration in the layout of the fittings, has improved the enginemen's lookout; and a hopper ashpan, rocking grate, and self-cleaning smokebox, together with a turbo-generator for head, tail, and cab lights. Her leading particulars are as follows:
Cylinders 19 in. diameter by 26 in. stroke, and coupled wheels 6 ft 2 in. diameter, the drive being divided, the middle cylinder actuating the leading coupled axle and the outside cylinders the middle coupled axle; steam distribution to the three cylinders is effected by Walschaerts valve gear, the boiler carrying a pressure of 250 lb. per square inch; tractive effort is 40,430 lb. and with the eight-wheeled tender, which holds 9 tons of coal and 5,000 gallons of water, No. 525 weighs 161 tons 7 cwt. in working order.
The time normally taken for the erection of a locomotive like No. 525 is from nine to ten weeks. An engine can, however, be assembled more quickly if need be, and the world record in this connexion is held by the former Great Eastern Railway. On l0th December 1891 it was decided to attempt to break the record of 16¼ hours then held by the Pennsylvania Railroad of the U.S.A, the engine in the making being 0-6-0 No. 930, which later became No. 7930—class J15—of the L.N.E.R. Zero hour was 9 a.m on the date mentioned and the place Stratford Works. All the parts of No. 930 and its tender were in position at the point of assembly, methodically laid out, although none had been fitted together. A gang of 137 men and boys were engaged in the work of assembly and so energetically did they toil that 9 hours 47 minutes from the start No. 930 and tender, complete with one coat of 'shop grey', was ready for the road! Like some predecessors, No. 525 has a naming ceremony to attend whilst completing the 'running-in' trials that always take place before a new engine is handed over to the Operating Department. In this particular case the last Chairman of the L.N.E.R., Sir Ronald Matthews, has decided that the first A2 is to be named after its designer. Accordingly, on the day arranged, No. 525, with name-plates duly fixed but carefully masked, the one on the off side being provided with a hinged 'unveiling cover', waits at platform No. 4 at Marylebone.
Sometimes the naming ceremony is most formal, with mayoral chains of office or red tabs and brass hats much in evidence, but on this occasion it is private, informal, and friendly, and inevitably tinged with some sadness, for in fourteen days' time the L.N.E.R will have ceased to exist.
The Chairman and the C.M.E stroll along the platform, with some of the Directors and Mechanical Engineers in their wake. By the shining green bulk of the engine, waiting to welcome them, are the Locomotive Running Superintendent and one of his District Officers. In the cab are the Driver, Fireman, and a Senior Inspector. There are smiles and handshakes and the Chairman moves towards the leading end of the engine. He pays a well-deserved tribute to the last C.M.E of the L.N.E.R, then pulls the cord on the cover to the name plate, to reveal the legend A.H. Peppercorn. A camera clicks and the genial, rotund designer of the new locomotive makes a characteristic reply of thanks. Amidst much chaff from his brother officers, some of whom say they still think the engine won't go, Peppercorn mounts the footplate and drives his namesake to the end of the platform and back–and another naming ceremony is over.

The Railway - British Track Since 1804. Andrew Dow
Pen & Sword Books Ltd: 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 2AS. Tel: +44 (0)1226 734222 Fax: +44 (0) 1226 734438 Email: Website:
480pp. 175 drawings and 300 black & white photographs

KPJ: to his amasement Norfolk Librariess have acquired two copies of this remarkable book which on initial closer inspection suffers slightly from rather loose referencing (in the form of footnotes) and some slips in the index (which is vastly better than the usual efforts, if any, for books about railways). To an extent KPJ had hoped that the book would cover more: that is the civil engineering works which accommodate the permanent way, but these are only covered in so far as they dictate the form of the permanent way. On the other hand rail-ways are extended to cover street tramways and cliff railways. It is a very heavy tome, but beautifully printed. Steamindex will be modified to correct the omissions being thrown up. Sadly, one of these concerns the tyre/wheel to rail contact area and pressure (a topic known previously from the rubber industry, but with the even more complex interface between pneumatic tyre and road surfaces): would that the late Andrew had corresponded on this. "Samuelson" is credited by Vaughan Pendred to have studied this using gold leaf slips: the Pendred book is available as an e-book, but gives no hint as to which Samuelson (and if it was the Eastern Counties Railway: could it have been the highly motivated James Samuel?). The reference to a Holcroft Paper on page 52 is also difficult to trace (it is Paper 244 published in Volume 19).. The Holcroft paper makes no clear reference to prior art! Simkilarly, Dow frequently gives a major clue to questions without completing them fully: thus the correct Barlow (William Henry) is not linked to the eponymous rail. It seems that Andrew was in a hurry (perhaps aware of his own shortness of time remaining).

Publisher's blurb

Never before has a comprehensive history been written of the track used by railways of all gauges, tramways, and cliff railways, in Great Britain. And yet it was the development of track, every bit as much as the development of the locomotive, that has allowed our railways to provide an extraordinarily wide range of services. Without the track of today, with its laser-guided maintenance machines, the TGV and the Eurostar could not cruise smoothly at 272 feet per second, nor could 2,000-ton freight trains carry a wide range of materials, or suburban railways, over and under the ground, serve our great cities in a way that roads never could.

Andrew Dow's account of the development of track, involving deep research in the papers of professional institutions as well as rare books, company records and personal accounts, paints a vivid picture of development from primitive beginnings to modernity.

The book contains nearly 200 specially-commissioned drawings as well as many photographs of track in its very many forms since the appearance of the steam locomotive in 1804. Included are chapters on electrified railways, and on the development of mechanised maintenance, which revolutionised the world of the platelayer. Author Details:

Andrew Dow was born into a railway family. After a first career in aviation, which later resulted in his book Pegasus - The Heart of the Harrier, he spent two years as Head of the National Railway Museum before joining British Railways as the privatisation effort started. He played a key role in the successful management buy-out that created Fastline Track Renewals, and he led the effort that resulted in Fastline acquiring and operating the first continuous-process track renewals machine in the country. He retired in 1999 and has since been writing, primarily on railways. He has also produced a number of DVDs on railway engineering and maintenance. During the course of research for this book he re-catalogued about half of the NRM permanent way collection.

Reviewed by PT [Peter Tatlow] in Backtrack, 2015, 29, 446 [repeated below]

There are two inseparable components to a railway — the locomotive with its train, and the track. One is no use without the other! When one thinks of the vast volume of literature devoted to locomotives and even carriage and wagons, it is surprising that, until now, almost nothing has appeared dealing with the equally important aspect of the track. Andrew Dow has done railway enthusiasts a magnificent service, therefore, by addressing this topic in what will surely turn out to be the book of reference for decades to come. This 'Magnum Opus' relates the story of the development of permanent way from the development of the flanged wheel on cast iron rails, initially for horse-drawn vehicles; double-head and bullhead rail on timber sleepers, as engineers struggled to find solutions to the ideal rail section, suitable chairs, sleepers, ballast and drainage. The importance of the flexibility of the track to respond to the dynamic loads imposed and the interaction between the flange and the rail was finally appreciated. As materials, tools and methods have improved, this has culminated in the continuously-welded rolled-steel flat- bottom rail on pre-stressed concrete sleepers suitable for the modern high-speed trains we know today. He shows too how turnouts developed from cast iron components without switches, through those with sliding stock rails, 'loose-heal' and fixed switches to fine-entry transitional high-speed switches. These in turn were matched successively with: cast iron 'frogs' without check rails, built-up crossings from rail. to swing nose and manganese steel crossings. Attention is given to the effect of curves, their impact on the safe speed, the need for super-elevation and transition curves. Broad and narrow gauges, trams, tubes and electrification by conductor rail, and the mechanisation of track relaying and maintenance are also considered. I have to confess being at odds with some of the terms used, perhaps due to regional differences or change over time and this suggests that a glossary would have been a useful addition. Likewise, while there are references at the foot of the page throughout the book, a comprehensive bibliography would, nonetheless, not come amiss in a work of such stature. Readers will, nonetheless, find much of interest and afford a greater understanding of how permanent way has reached its present form and perhaps encourage us all to take a greater interest in the infrastructure upon which trains operate.

Reviewed by Martin Barnes. J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2015, 326