Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society 2015
Number 222 (March 2015)
'The Great Railway Guy for 1849'. Drawing by John Leach in Punch,
November 1849. front cover
(© Mary Evans Picture Library). See pp. 227-234
Brian J Goggin. Steam, the Shannon and the Great British breakfast (Clinker Memorial Lecture). 214
David Hodgkins. Two railway rhymes: 'The Board' by Tom Young: 'George Hudson' by W.E. Gladstone. 227-34.
Brian Lewis. The Oldham family of railway contractors. 235-41.
John van Laun. John Cooke Bourne (1814-1896), lithographer: drawings of the London & Birmingham Railway (1836-1838). Chapter 4. Engineering Kilsby Tunnel. 242-51.
Robert Humm. Memorials to railway and canaal individuals.
Lord Aberconway at Baker Street station (also Robert H. Selbie and W. Willox); Sir William Arrol (Woodside Cemetery, Paisley); John G,. Axon (NRM); Matthias Baldwin statue; Andrew Barclay offices; Peter Beames (stained glass window formerly in Christ Church Crewe);Harry Beck, Thomas Brassey, G.J. Churchward, Zerah Colburn, Terence Cuneo, G.R.S. Darroch, David Davies, John Dobson, Captain Fryatt, Benjamin Gimbert GC, Jay Gould, Gresley. R.G. Jarvis,, Marples, Donald Matheson, John Meikle VC, James Nightall GC, Frank Pick, George Pullman. See also letter from Kevin Jones
Paul Braithwaite. Notes on the British Newspaper Archive. 256-7
Victoria Owens. The private property debate. 258-9.
Duke of Bridgewater failed in his attempt to remove the statutory protection that the 1766 trent and Mersey Canal Act had afforded Sir Richard Brooke and his home at Norton Priory.
The North British Railway: a history. David
Ross. Catrine: Stenlake Publishing, 287pp. Reviewed by David
This is an example of the genre of what I have described in a previous review as 'modem histories' . A large format provides plentiful pictures, the captions of which, to a greater or lesser extent, add to the actual text. The otherwise excellent index, however, has missed recording information contained in these captions.
Detailed area maps are extremely clear, and most places mentioned in the text are traceable on them (not, unfortunately, a universal attribute of railway histories).
Chronological chapters take the reader through the whole existence of the company, with illustrative statistics at regular intervals. A very short chapter sums up the general ethos and image of the company (mainly parsimonious). The final chapter covers locomotives and rolling stock, eschewing technical detail ('available elsewhere') and concentrating on the statistical. Two appendices give a snapshot of staff in 1901, and details of all company-operated ships. There is no family tree of the company, but a detailed timeline. The author's industry is shown in the extensive footnotes and a bibliography covering every imaginable source.
The content appears to cover every major or not-so-major issue affecting the company throughout its existence. It would help concentration on the major details in the narrative if the extensive footnotes contained not only references but more minor details which were of interest mainly to specialised readers. The book does lack the human face which would make it more attractive to the generally interested reader. It provides instead pithy summaries, an example of which is 'If Lord Tweeddale had a particular expertise, it was in the mechanism of the stock market rather than in the operational details of railway management, but Wieland was the prime architect of the North British stock conversion scheme'.
Having said all that, the book is a treasure trove of historical information. Reading it, two examples arose, for example, in relation to my own research interests.
The published details of the Wigtownshire Railway say that Thomas Wheatley, the former locomotive superintendent who virtually saved the company, arrived from the North British under some sort of cloud. This book explains it.
Again, I have long tried to decipher what went on at the NBR goods station above the Caledonian suburban station at Stobcross, to the west of Glasgow centre. Personal information told me of a steep connecting line to the Caledonian, but no published details showed any connection there between the two systems. The references given in this book to the construction of that line would quite possibly lead to a resolution of this question.
This book should therefore be high on the list of any interested member of the Society.
Michael Aufrere Williams. The importance of fieldwork in researching railway
The Whitby to Loftus line had been constructed along the coast and involved several tunnels and viaducts as well as steep gradients and severe curves
How railways changed Britain: a new social and economic
history. David St John Thomas (Editor) 232 pp, 43 illustrations, 3 maps,
1 graph, hardback, Railway & Canal Historical Society, 2015, Reviewed
by Roy Edwards
This is a good introduction to railway history and a fitting final publishing venture from David St John Thomas. The stated object of the editor as described by David Joy in his forward is to provide an introduction to British railway history. The contents of the volume are relatively even, no mean feat given the variety of backgrounds and expertise of the authors. However, given this, it would have been useful to have had a summary that contextualised each section within the overall narrative theme of the book.
The editor was well known for his aversion to referencing, but this has been tempered a little so there are guides to further reading, although of varying length and quality. Many of the academic references are a little dated though the works have stood the test of time. The work of John Quail on railway management, Charles Loft on Beeching and Mark Casson on the development of the railway network were notable omissions that do unfortunately detract from the usefulness of the volume as a guide to novices.
The structure of the book follows a broadly chronological order beginning with early railways followed by a summary of railway development in the 19th century. These were both excellent although it would have been useful to have had more on the commercial aspects of railway management during this early period. Chapter 3 examines the financial aspects of railway development, and covers a great deal of ground on both how railways utilised the financial system and how in so doing they changed financial institutions in their wider context. The increased movement of people caused by decreased cost of transport is described in Chapter 4 as a leisure revolution, a not unreasonable claim that sheds light on both the product of rail haulage and the impact on people. The effect of haulage is further examined in the chapter on railways and towns, with special emphasis on Peterborough. This builds on the early work of Kellett and others on urban transformation shaped by railways. Similarly Chapter 7 explores the role of railways as employers, although at only eleven pages this is a little too short to constitute a significant contribution.
Chapters 6 and 9 examine the regulation of railways and their role as business enterprises respectively. It is refreshing to have in the former details relating to Irish railways considered along with the mainland network and the importance of light railways, also often neglected. Chapter 8 places rail transport within the rural community, including the gradual abandonment of lines through the late 20th century. To a novice this volume constitutes a sound introduction to the importance of railways, and the reader would hopefully be encouraged to follow up on the further reading, and perhaps their own investigation of transport history.
Shannon Commissioners' crane at Portumna. rear cover (upper);
The pierhead at Killaloe, the base for the nineteenth century Shannon steamers
. rear cover (lower)
(© Brian J. Goggin). See pp. 214-226
Number 223 (July 2015)
Victoria Owens. James Brindley and the (unbuilt) Monkey Island Canal. 278-90
Jack Simmons. The Victorian railway in retrospect. 291-5,
Gordon Biddle noted Professor Jack Simmons died in September 2000 at the age of 85. Among his effects was this unpublished monograph written two years previously. (It is dated 14 November 1998.) It was given to Biddle by his executors, but had lain forgotten in a file ever since. Simmons attempted to present the railway as a powerful force in the social, political, economic, and intellectual life of Britain between 1830 and 1914 in two books The Railway in Town and Country, whiich dealt with England and Wales alone, published in 1986 and The Victorian Railway, which treated Scotland also.The purpose of this paper is to draw out some themes and arguments presented there, and to add others touched on there only lightly, or were not discussed at all.
The first stage began in Leeds in 1813 with the opening of the Middleton Railway, which handled all its traffic by the power of steam though that comprised coal only: it carried no fare-paying passengers. Then in 1825 the Stockton & Darlington Railway followed, another line intended primarily for coal traffic which it entrusted wholly to steam power, though it also took passengers, in trains hauled by horses. Finally, in 1830 the Liverpool & Manchester Railway was opened, which revealed the railway's potential at its fullest extent: for it hauled all its traffic (passenger as well as freight) by steam power and it linked two of the greatest cities in Europe. (The combined population of Liverpool and Manchester-with-Salford was 420,000 in 1831, almost half that of London, which was then the largest city in the world.)
In 1833-6 Acts were passed for building railways from London to Brighton, Southampton, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester, and these were all successfully opened in 1837-41. Their construction had been due entirely to the initiative of private persons. The government put no money into any of these enterprises. That was unnecessary, for a great deal of British capital was available then, seeking investment in securities that promised to afford more reliable returns than many of those into which it had recently gone, especially in the Americas. Moreover, there was no well established habit in Britain of looking to the state to finance large-scale public works. In France all the magnificent canals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were built and paid for by the government. The British canals built then (less splendid, but still very impressive) had been financed by private investors. Perhaps even more striking, the British government took only a small part in determining the routes that the lines should take. No general plan was ever drawn up, to serve the needs of the country as a whole.
The railway: British track since 1804. Andrew
Dow. 458pp, 320 photographs, 223 line drawings, hardback, Bamsley:
Pen & Sword, 2014. Reviewed by Martin Barnes.
This is a major railway history book by an author who sadly died on 24 April last. It is major as to weight and size and much more importantly, for its major contribution to the record of the history of railway track in Britain. The research and scholarship which must have gone into the production of the book are clear from the text and illustrated by the fact that there are 831 footnote references to sources of information.
Early track comprised short cast iron, flanged plate rails spanning between stone blocks with occasional tie bars to maintain gauge. Their evolution culminated in modern steel rails in long welded lengths clipped to iron plates mounted on sleepers which also control gauge. The many stages in this evolution over 2l 0 years are each carefully described and illustrated by both photographs and by line drawings which are clear and accurate. Street tram track and special track for tube tunnels are covered in full detail.
A wide variety of types of points and crossings are described and illustrated by drawings and photographs. Interesting technical issues such as superelevation and transition curves are explained and illustrated.
A particularly interesting chapter details of the work of the 'platelayers' laying and maintaining the track over the years. Before mechanisation, it was obviously a very labour intensive activity. It took 40 men, for example, to lift a 60ft length of a rail. It was also very dangerous. Most years, more than a hundred platelayers were killed on the track by passing trains.
Another chapter deals with the distinctive features of track on various narrow-gauge railways. The history of railway track, pointwork, etc changed as mechanisation of laying and many maintenance tasks began about 1935 and gathered pace quite quickly. The design of track was also modernised with the use of innovations such as flat bottomed rail, concrete sleepers and new designs of fastenings. All these are fully described and illustrated in the book.
In summary, this is an important new book of British railway history. The range of topics covered, including research results, is awesome. The illus- trations and drawings are many, well selected and reproduced.
Cover images: Front: Reconstruction drawing showing the internal structure of Chirk aqueduct as originally designed. The bed of the trough comprised iron plates resting on hollow stone arches; the sides were waterproofed with high-fired brick and hydraulic mortar, faced in stone. © RCAHMW. From Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site by Peter Wakelin (reviewed on pp. 332-3)
Back: Vigorous ironwork at Tynemouth station, designed by William Bell (upper); Hoylake station, a sketch by the architect, William Henry Hamlyn (lower). Both from Railway Architecture by Bill Fawcett (reviewed on p. 333)
Number 224 September 2015)
Sandsend station, North Yorkshire, c1905. Note the signal cabin at the far end of the platform (see pp. 377-387). Front cover
Paul Braithwaite, Transportation of Corris slate before 1878. 342-52
John van Laun. John Cooke Bourne (1814-1896), lithographer: drawings of the London & Birmingham Railway (1836-1838). Chapter 6. Iconology. 352-71.
Joseph Boughey. Some future directions for waterways history. 372-6.
Michael Aufrere Williams. The importance of fieldwork
in researching railway history. 377-87
See also letters from Richard Maund and William Featherstone
Ray Shill. A reason for railway expansion in Britain from 1840 (Kyanisation). 388-9.
Pat Jones. The discovery of a statuette of Mars in the Fossdike at Torksey in the 18th century. 390
Davyhulme Sewage Works and its railway. Robert
Nicholls. Newark: Narrow Gauge Railway Society. 2015. 70 pp.51
illustrations. Reviewed by Richard Couthurst. 405.
Works opned in the 1890s. Includes a chapter on the locomotives which worked the railway. Sludge used to be taken from a wharf on the Manchester Ship Canal to be dumped in the Irish Sea until banned in 1998.
Curzon Street station, Birmingham, from a later postcard issued by the LNWR (see pp. 352-371). Rear cover (upper)
Quay at Derwenlas on the river Dyfi, Montgomeryshire; from J.G. Wood, The Principal Rivers of Wales (1813) (see pp. 342-352)