Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society 2019
Volume 39 Part 4
No 234 (March 2019)
Thorley's animal food manufactory, Spitalfields, London. front cover
Timothy Peters and Samuel Harris. A serious epidemic of horse
disease on the Bridgewater Canal in 1872-74: urgent requirement for tugs.
Glanders and farcy. Apppointment of a veterinary surgeon: Frederick A. Wall. Preventative measures included better provender and Thorley's food. Steam tugs were ordered from Edward Hayes of Stony Stratford
Bill Wilson. Capital investment by the LNER, 1923-1939. 397-411
Some commentators believe that if the LNER management did not have money to invest, one cannot criticise them for not investing. Did the LNER, however, undertake all that might reasonably have been expected of it to improve performance and therefore the possibility of raising capital? 61 Given that freight traffic was such a high proportion of total revenue throughout the company's existence (Table 16), it was poor judgement that more effort was not concentrated on this part of the business. Containerisation was introduced, but generally innovation in freight handling was limited. There was a need to concentrate general merchandise traffic on fewer yards to reduce inefficient trip working. By the 1930s the LNER was replacing the traditional staging of urgent traffic from one marshalling yard to another by through trains between principal centres.
Closer attention should have been given to the problem of achieving control of conveyance operations. Whilst the LMS developed centralised train control which enabled a systematic analysis of information to be made, the LNER introduced localised traffic control which did not allow such systematic analysis.
The LNER maintained many passenger services which even the unsophisticated accounting at the time showed were unprofitable. The company only closed about 18% by length of their branch lines to passenger traffic. In their defence, however, the pressure to act as a social service was unremitting. The Board did not maintain sufficiently close scrutiny of major installations, such as construction and repair shops, and little was done to streamline clerical procedures. A strict control was not kept on staffing numbers. Following table shows reduction in traffic receipts compared with employees (Source: LNER Annual Accounts and staff numbers, 1923-1945; Ministry of Transport)
Appointments to senior positions were mainly from career railwaymen.
Aldcroft [not available via SAGE dung heap] contends the failure to recruit
management staff from outside the industry meant the possibility for questioning
traditional railway practice was limited.
Was the Board structured in the best way to address its prime responsibility of promoting the success of the business and benefiting its shareholders? The conclusion must be that the Board was over conservative, the structure weak, and a smaller, more professional Board was needed. The statutory minimum was 16. It has been suggested the headquarters structure of permanent committees should have been abandoned and the control of functions assigned to individual board members.
Bonavia, through his personal knowledge and interviews with some of the principal managers of the time, makes the case that the performance of railway managers of the era needs to take into account the handicaps that they had to work under, such as the imperfections of the Railways Act 1921 and the economic forces over which they had no control. He claims some such managers were forward looking and innovative. Hughes states it is easy to criticise directors and management with the benefit of hindsight, but nevertheless feels the company would probably have benefited had certain alternative strategies been followed."
The LNER had to rely extensively upon government assisted finance (the main source during the I 930s) for investment. The comfort of acceptable collateral for the loan to provide the NWP, the largest source of assistance, satisfied the Treasury.
Pat Jones. The level at Lincoln. 412-29
See also earlier contribution
John King. The railway dance bands. 421-3
The Midland Hotel in Manchester and Henry Hall, Joe Orlando and the LMS.
Robert Humm. The Murmansk road and the Nikel branch.
Based partly on an excursion made by the Author in 2004 to what is probably the most northern railway in the world in Arctic Russia where the extraction ofr nickel caused a major environmental disaster.
Obituary Alan Henderson Faulkner (1938-2018). Hugh Potter. 433
Obituary Neville Birch (1932-2018). David Joy. 434
RCHS Sales Officer. Lived in Lincoln. Author of Waterways and railways of Lincoln and the Lower Witham (1968)
The changing face of British Railways. Bruce
Peter. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Lily Publications, 2018. 336pp, 769
illustrations (494 colour), Reviewed by Peter Brown. 438
The cover, with pictures of locomotives and multiple units, gives a misleading impression of this superb book's content it is actually a wide-ranging discussion of design relating to all aspects of British Railways' operations, including carriages, wagons, shipping (with an emphasis on the public areas), architecture, catering, signage and ephemera. The author, Professor of Design History at Glasgow School of Art, is not dogmatic in his opinions, being realistic about practical and financial constraints. The text naturally divides into sections dealing with BR's early search for unity, the Modernisation Plan of the 1950s, the Beeching years and the creation of a corporate identity, and sectorisation which lead to privatisation. The design history is set in the context of the economic, social and political history of the country and the railways, hence the backgrounds to the trends are explained. It is also a history with people: the senior managers and engineers as well as the designers, both those employed within the organisation and the consultants. Recurring themes are tensions between engineers and design consultants, between the centre and the regions, between a unified vision and individuality, between drawing-board ideals and day-to-day intensive usage. Mere rebranding and repainting made little impression on the public unless the service was seen to improve, and was particularly unconvincing on aged items.
Good design matters, but design fashions change every ten to fifteen years, whereas locomotives and rolling stock are expected to last for a quarter of a century. High praise here for the HST, a merging of engineering and design which produced a 'classic' which remains attractive forty years later. Perhaps changing fashion is seen most clearly in railway architecture: the 'Festival of Britain' style with patterned brickwork and decorative finishes; the International Style of the Modernisation Plan era; prefabrication in the later 1960s and early 1970s; postmodernism and the revival in appreciation (and de-cluttering) of nineteenth-century station buildings in the 1980s. But each concept tended to start with high ideals, then become progressively debased. With over 250,000 words of text, the print size is quite small but the book is well laid out, a particular strength being the many series of photographs showing how key designs evolved. It has an extensive bibliography, detailed (but not excessive) references and an index. And it is remarkably good value at under £30.
Grouping Britain's railways: creating the 'Big Four'
in 1923. A.J. Mullay. Easingwold: Pendragon Publishing, 2018.
88pp.. 60 illustrations in text plus two coloured illustrations on covers,
2 tables. Reviewed by Kevin Jones. page 442
In the rapidly failing current railway franchise system at least two of the Groupings Big Four names have re-emerged: the GWR and the LNER; the latter being the more unlikely. It is doubtful if the author or publisher were privy to this, yet on page 78 it is stated: The grouping was unnecessary, its conception flawed, its planning muddled and its execution clumsy. The blame for this is placed firmly in the lap of Eric Geddes.
There are separate chapters on how the railways functioned in the pre-1914 era; on the Railway Executive Committee set up to co-ordinate railway transport during a time of war and to liaise with the military; Eric Geddes; the Ministry of Transport, Command Papers 787 and 1292; and the Railway Act of 1921 and its Parliamentary progress. The Command Paper 787 was more radical than the Bill as it envisaged worker representation on railway boards Then there are accounts of how the Act was implemented and the immediate effects. Mullay accepts that 1923 was certainly not the time for railway nationalisation and that the status quo should have remained instead, but does not really consider the full consequences.
Whilst discussing the Scottish problem, namely the high cost of railway provision in large empty tracts of country and the difficulties which the LMS inherited in Ireland the future problem of transport in London is ignored by Mullay, although brilliantly resolved by the creation of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933. Is it not tempting to wonder whether that structure, like the British Broadcasting Corporation might not have been applied to the entire railway network.
Only the Southern Railway made major changes to its infrastructure, namely by its low cost system of electrification. The LMS did not even electrify to Oldham and permitted Dickensian conditions to prevail on its subterranean lines in Glasgow. The book is thoroughly researched and well written.
LNER: The London and North Eastern Railway. Tim
Bryan. Oxford: Shire Publications, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018,
64pp, 74 illustrations (32 colour), softback, Reviewed by Philip L Scowcroft
This, in the admirably concise Shire series, is a readable survey of the second largest of the Big Four created by the grouping of 1923. The LNER was not profitable, particularly with the challenges it faced, including the development of road transport. We begin with the grouping and manner in which the company established itself and pass to locomotives, Al to A4 and other important classes. It was lucky in having at hand the genius of Gresley and, later, Peppercorn; here even the difficult Thompson is given his due and electric locomotion is not ignored. A section on passenger services covers named trains, railcars, excursions, camping coaches, stations and hotels; but freight traffic earned the LNER two thirds of its revenue and this section also deals with docks and shipping. The LNER's contribution to World War II is separately dealt with and the text ends with the company's legacy, its effect on BR's earlier days and beyond to the present. The LNER brought stylish, comfortable passenger services, and industry was surely grateful for its freight operations. It made the most of itself with its genius for publicity and its achievement may be seen as remarkable even 70 years after it passed on the baton to British Railways. The author has produced a first-rate introduction to its subject - it is amazing how much he includes in text and well- chosen illustrations. There are an index, select bibliography and list of places to visit.
The Southwold Railway. Peter Paye. Lydney:
Lightmoor Press, 2018. 248pp, 229 photographs, three maps, 11
plans, 10 diagrams, 12 timetables, 13 cartoon postcards plus ephemera, Reviewed
by Peter Johnson. page 447
It is surprising that no in-depth history of the Southwold Railway, one of only two 3ft gauge lines in England, has hitherto been published. Opened in 1879, the railway avoided the grouping but failed to celebrate its 50th anniversary by a few months. Abandoned in fact but not legally, its moveable assets were requisitioned for the war effort in 1941, but despite that the company's liquidation was not completed until 1995. One thing that is immediately clear is that the author has been interested in this railway for a long time, competently describing its history, its trials and tribulations, to produce a book that will be enjoyed by many. Wisely, he has not attempted to cover the current attempt to revive the railway.
There are some points to raise, though. The claim, in the introduction, that the Southwold Railway was 'the first narrow gauge line to close' is wrong. The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, the other English 3ft gauge line, was closed in 1913, although revived in a different form two years later. The 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey map of the route, usefully reproduced on the endpapers in colour, does not include the line's western terminus at Halesworth. Chapter I, which describes the development of railways in Suffolk, would have benefited from a plan showing their location, and none of the railway's deposited plans are illustrated.
The design is good, although spreading some photographs across two pages provides impact at the expense ofa loss of visual data in the fold. Some of the paragraphs cover more than one topic and some are over-long; two exceed half-a-page in length. There is an index and a bibliography, both of which should be more detailed to be really useful. Do not let these criticisms detract from what is still the best book so far published about the Southwold Railway. It will be referenced by others for a long time to come. At £25 it is good value. I understand that another book about the railway, due to be published in 2019, looks at it from a social perspective. See also review of book by David Lee on p. 578.
Great Western Railway architecture in colour.
Vol 1. Buildings, from Brunel to Beeching. Amyas Crump.
Manchester: Crecy Publishing, 2018. 176pp, 248 photoraphs, Reviewed by Matthew
Searle. page 449
The author of this, the first of two intended volumes, has a keen eye for the often unregarded relics of railway history and here uses his and others' colour images chiefly from the 1960s to give a visual history of station buildings provided by the Great Western, concentrating on the more modest examples. The illustrations have been carefully selected to illustrate the sequence of building styles adopted and the captions are knowledgeable. Many of the stations as depicted were in their latter days, and, although in some cases this serves to reveal hidden features and liveries, this makes us even more grateful for those examples which have survived intact through to the present.
Rebuilding the Welsh Highland Railway, Britain's longest
heritage line. Peter Johnson. Bamsley: Pen & Sword
Transport, 2018. 288pp, 320 photographs (271 colour), 22 maps and plans,
Reviewed by Matthew Searle. page 449
The author of earlier histories ofthe Welsh Highland, Peter Johnson has now produced a volume primarily devoted the remarkable modem reconstruction of the line, with which he was closely involved, and making extensive use of the colour photographic record of the project made by himself. It is reasonable to ask how it compares with Gordon Rushton's Welsh Highland Railway renaissance, which covered the same story comprehensively: in fact, to some extent they are complementary. The present book includes more historical background (about a quarter is devoted to pre-revival history) and gives more emphasis to the formidable legal and planning framework. The reviewer found its style and presentation made for a clearer understanding of a far from straightforward story and, although it goes into little detail on locomotives, it has the benefit of a postscript bringing the story down to the present. Those fascinated by this extraordinary scheme will find it enhances their appreciation of the line.
Little Giants: a history of the Ffestiniog Railway's
pre-revival locomotives, their mentors, manufacture and maintenance.
Chris Jones and Peter Dennis. Lydney: Lightmoor Press, 2018. 592pp,
many photographs, 16 maps and plans, hardback, Reviewed by Matthew Searle.
Another blockbuster on Welsh narrow-gauge l locomotives! Although the outlines of this story are well known, this volume is the first to make extensive use of recently catalogued Boston Lodge works records to give a remarkably detailed picture. Although the fine detail of which locomotives were in service at which time will be of interest only to specialists, the overall narrative of a railway moving gradually from the forefront of technological achievement in the 1860s to the desperate straits of the 1940s comes over clearly. Points of particular interest are the description of a virtual footplate turn circa 1870 and due attention given to internal combustion locomotives and to the works and operating staff. The whole is presented with the publisher's usual excellent photographic reproduction (although the clarity of some double page spreads is compromised by the presence of the fold). Although this is likely to be the last word on the subject, the authors are careful to point out that there are still some mysteries left to argue over.
The Murmansk road and Nikel branch. rear cover
Upper: pair of class L 2-10-0 locomotives at work near Malaya Vishera on the Moscow-St Petersburg main line in 1959.
lower: Soviet 2,000hp class M62 came in single, double and triple formations: the lead member of the 3-section type, 3M62-0001 is seen at Suoyarvi locomotive depot, summer 2004 (both from Robert Humm collection). (see pp 424-432)
No 235 July2019 (Volume 39 Part 8)
The River Teme aqueduct. Artist, Elizabeth Mary Bailey of Easton Court. frront
Stated to be from 1856 (but probably earlier, see text). See pp 487-498.
Matthew Searle. The Society, 2004-2019. 454-6.
Grahame Boyes. A note on railway ticket agencies. 456-62.
Marlin Connop Price. Canals in Pembrokeshire.
Short canals off the Cresswell and Carew Rivers served limestone quarries at West Williamstown.. Also mentions Thomas Kymer's Canal from Kidwelly into the Gwendraeth Valley.
Michael Lewis. A new locomotive drawing from the 1820s. 476-86.
The Neath Abbey collection (West Glamorgan Archive Service) consists of some 8,000 working drawings of stationary engines, marine work, gasworks and locomotives, all of nineteenth-century date. While some are complete general arrangements, most are details of components, although many are without titles or dates. Almost all are of work designed and built by the Neath Abbey Iron Co, which to the best of our knowledge began producing locomotives in 1829-30 with Speedwell for Thomas Prothero on the Monmouthshire Canal's Western Valleys tramroads. Down to the mid and late 1840s when it adopted more orthodox designs, its products were highly idiosyncratic, with a penchant for unusual drives via bell cranks or rocker beams, and are readily recognisable as Neath Abbey work.
The collection came to the Archives from Taylor & Sons Ltd of Briton Ferry, a successor to the Neath Abbey Iron Co, and recently there has been a small new accession of some twenty drawings from the same source. One of these, DID NAIIL/63/3, stands out as distinct from all the rest. Without any title, inscription or date, it is of a locomotive that bears no similarity whatever to Neath Abbey's usual output, with none of what became the firm's hallmarks such as 'gothic' wheels and feed water heaters wrapped around the exhaust pipes. In the sense that it appears to have been drawn elsewhere and to have had no input from Neath Abbey, it is an odd man out. None the less, much can be deduced about where this engine stands in the evolution of the locomotive.
Dating obviously from before 1830, the drawing shows a four-coupled engine with flanged wheels. There is no scale, but on the assumption that the wheels are of 3ft diameter, the gauge is 4ft 6in, the boiler (whose ends, notably, are not dished as had hitherto been the norm) is 4ft in diameter and 12ft long, and the cylinders are 10½in outside diameter (i.e. about 9in bore) by 24in. All of these are eminently reasonable figures. The vertical cylinders, in contrast to the 'in-line' arrangement sunk into the boiler top as was normal in the earlier 1820s, are here set on either side at the back of the boiler. For this position, the only precursors were the Wylam locomotives of 1813-14, usually ascribed to William Hedley the viewer, but in whose design and construction Timothy Hackworth, the foreman smith, arguably played as large a part, if not a larger. At all events, cylinders at the back would come more naturally to an ex-Wylam man than to a Killingworth man accustomed to in-line cylinders. The cylinders drive upwards with return connecting rods to the rear wheels, and are mounted on cast- iron tables that in turn are supported on the wooden main frame. The whole arrangement of slide-bars, cylinder, table and crankshaft seems to be copied directly from Maudslay's table engine for powering small workshops that was patented in 1807 (Fig 2). Even Maudslay's favoured form of crosshead, a double-flanged wheel running between round-section slide-bars, is replicated here. Table engines like this were produced in such large numbers that one cannot suggest any particular region as the point of origin of their application to locomotives.
Coupling rods, said to have been devised by Hackworth to replace the old chain drive, are first found on Locomotion, built in 1824-5, which gives a starting point for dating the drawing. The wheels are of neither the south Wales gothic nor the northern plug type that was introduced in 1825 with Robert Wilson's Chittaprat for the Stockton & Darlington, but eight-spoked with a quadrant strengthening the spoke carrying the crank pin, as on the Killingworth engine illustrated in the first edition of Wood's Treatise. This, published in April 1825 and engraved probably in 1824, shows the current state of the art of locomotive technology. L/63/3, however, has neither the old steam springs nor the new leaf springs which are first recorded with certainty on 26 December 1827 when Hackworth saw them on an engine at Killingworth.' Instead, there is a 'cannon box' visible in the inverted front elevation. This was a horizontal pin on which the front axle, encased in a tube, could pivot, as came to be employed on traction engines. It corresponds to a similar detail on the earliest designs for Locomotion, undated but of late 1824 which suggests that L/63/3 was drawn by someone with an intimate knowledge of Locomotion.
David Slater. The Teme aqueduct on the Leominster Canal: the secrets of a unique military centrepiece in World War II. 487-98.
Pat McCarthy. Sheffield (Victoria) telegraph. 498-500.
Owen E. Covick. Watkin's struggle at the SER Board 1876-79, and R
W Perks. (abstract) 501.
Becoming a trusted confidante to Sir Edward Watkin was a key step in the business career of Sir Robert William Perks (1849-1934): a career that included the financially successful 'rescue' of the Barry Railway during 1887-1889; the rather less financially successful rescue of the Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway from 1894; and securing the commitment of C.T. Yerkes and his backers to the expansion and electrification of the London Underground from 1900. How did Perks become Watkins right-hand man? The 1909 biography of Perks by 'Denis Crane' (pen-name of Walter T Cranfield, 1874-1946) tells us that the trigger was a telegram from Watkin received by Perks as he sat eating Christmas dinner in 1878 with his wife of eight months, at his father-in-law's house in Banbury. Crane tells us that Perks cut short his family festivities and travelled to meet Watkin at 6.00 p.m. that same day in London. But Crane is evasive about what the 'important business' was that Watkin wanted to see Perks about with such urgency. All we get is: 'From that day forward for fourteen years Sir Robert was by Sir Edward Watkins side in all his battles' (pp 72-73). That sentence does give us a hint however: Watkins Christmas Day summons was for Perks to assist him in a 'battle'.
That 'battle' lasted through the whole of January 1879, and into early February. It was the decisive engagement in a 'civil war' that had been raging (with varying degrees of intensity) on the board of the South Eastern Railway Company since 1876. To appreciate the value Watkin placed on the contribution made by Perks during the weeks following Christmas Day 1878, it is useful to look more closely into that whole 'civil war'. That is the purpose of this paper. Why was it that such strong antagonism developed among men who had apparently co-operated and collaborated with one another on a basis of mutual respect prior to 1876? What was it that drove and fuelled that antagonism? How was the struggle waged? How close did Watkin come to losing? Why was it that he prevailed? And what were the broader consequences for Watkin of that outcome?
This paper does not purport to give definitive answers to those questions. But it attempts to critically review the available evidence including previously unpublished material from the personal diaries of one of the central protagonists, Edward Knatchbull-Hugesson. And it attempts to draw some tentative conclusions. Among these, one concerns the issue of 'corporate governance', arguably as contentious a matter in the 1870s as it is in twenty-first-century capitalism. It is suggested that whereas previous writers have sought to understand and explain the 1876-79 SER board struggle in terms of 'matters of company policy' on which views diverged at board level, it might be wiser to focus on a core question of governance as such: namely when the company chairman's view is at variance with the view held by a clear majority of the board, what can both sides reasonably expect should happen next? If on this question the company chairman's view is at significant variance with the views of a majority of his or her colleagues, it may simply be a matter of time before enough 'issues' emerge to trigger a breakout of hostilities and a breakdown of 'normal' board functioning.
Obituary David John Hodgkins (1934-2019). 502
Cambridge educated senior civil servant and biographer of Sir Edward Watkin (The Second Raillway King) and Transport Book of the Year award-winning George Carr Glyn
London's District Railway: a history of the Metropolitan
District Railway Company. Volume One. Nineteenth century. M.A.C.
Horne. Crowthorne: Capital Transport Publishing Ltd. 320pp. 238 x
150mm. 155 illustrations, 25 maps, 18 plans, 25 diagrams, 1 table. Reviewed
by Kevin Jones
The high cost of constructing a railway through the centre of the City is captured on page 149 where it is stated: "west of the King William statue it had been as high as £30 per inch". Although there was a strong sense that there was a need for a circular railway around the Cities of London and Westminster this took a long time to achieve although the Metropolitan Railway had partially opened an underground railway in January 1863 between what is now Paddington to King's Cross and was extended two years later into the City of London to what would become Liverpool Street station. At Farringdon Street it connected with a railway which crossed the Thames. The District Railway was promoted to complete the southern portion in association with the Metropolitan. In part this was assisted by the needs to improve the highways and sewers and to restrain the Thames. In this respect it was highly unusual for a British railway. Further difficulties included agreement with the Metropolitan Railway for meeting points in the west and east; and over-riddingly in raising capital. Eventually Westminster was reached (there is an amazing photograph of Westminster Abbey under siege by the railway, page 37) and further effort extended the line eastward to a terminus at Mansion House it being decided that as further work towards completing the circle was too costly as all the stations would be in easy walking distance of each other. In an effort to increase its traffic there were both westward and eastward extensions the latter assisting in the completion of the Circle. The former included nominally independent companies thrusting out to Ealing, Putney, Hounslow and Wimbledon; and eventually to Uxbridge. The Whitechapel & Bow Railway provided a link with the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway and access to Brunel's Thames Tunnel. The District was eager to encourage other companies to work over its lines and the London & North Western operated an Outer Circle from Broad Street to Mansion House via Earls Court. The book contains very full details on how the railway was constructed and how expertise in underpinning buildings was gained. Some critical structures like the stations at Earls Court, Westminster, Charing Cross, Temple and Blackfriars receive extensive coverage, although in several cases subsequent works have radically changed these. There are extensive appendixes on exhibitions (and access to them from South Kensington station); on steam locomotives (virtually standard with those on the Met), carriages, and directors and officers. James Staats Forbes receives considerable attention. The book is copiously referenced and where sources cannot be traced this is noted. Clearly this is a work of considerable substance and scholarship and another volume is in preparation to complete the story of electrification and incorporation into London Transport. There is an excellent index.
The Liveries of the Pre-Grouping Railways. Volume
1: Wales and the West of England; Volume Two: The East of England and Scotland.
Nigel J L Digby. Lydney: Lightmoor Press. 96pp. (each Volume)
approximately 40 of the author's paintings in colour plus 40 illustrations
(many in colour). Reviewed by Kevin Jones. 506
The essential feature of these volumes which represent the half way point of what is intended to be four is to display as accurately as possible the colours in which the locomotives and rolling stock, but not the structures (stations, bridges etc.) appeared. In many cases extra paintings show details of lining or lettering. The introduction in the first volume makes it abundantly clear that finding the authentic colour can be very difficult (Digby is scathing on the startling yellow colour applied to the preserved Jones Goods) and notes how the National Railway Museum established Great Eastern blue: Digby's own attempt is displayed on pages 122-3. At present the North Norfolk Railway has its J15 0-6-0 decked out in this way and one can see the effects of cloud and sunshine and steam and smoke on this magnificent livery. Those unable to get to York or to wherever the J15 is currently can gaze at Digby's handiwork. The succeeding volumes are intended to cover the north and northwest and should include the Midland and Caledonian Railways and the final volume should cover London and the south. The reviewer has had access to the files of the North British Railway Study Group and is particularly impressed by Euan Cameron's colour interpretations of its 'difficult' locomotive liveries. Obviously Digby with his single painting can only give an approximation to an overall style.
Henry Eoghan O'Brien, an engineer of nobility.
Gerald M. Beesley. New Ross Ireland): Authoor. 242pp, 118
illustrations (4 colour), Reviewed by Stephen Rowson. 509
O'Brien is rightly remembered as being responsible for electrification on the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. His railway engineering education began at Kitsons and the Yorkshire College (Leeds) from where he returned home to work briefly under Thomas Benjamin Grierson on the Dublin, Wicklow & Wexford Railway. Through family connections he then joined the L&YR (on the same day in 1898 as Herbert Nigel Gresley) staying with them through to the grouping. He did not last long with the LMS, resigning in 1925 because of the larger company's negative attitude to further electrification. During the Great War interlude, having by now risen to the position of Assistant Chief Mechanical Engineer of the L&YR, he started with the military as a Captain and came out as Lieut Colonel. With Aspinall's agreement, O'Brien was given a temporary role as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Irish branch of the new Ministry of Transport before returning to Horwich in May 1919.
This is a solid biography by a fourth-generation engineer. Insightful treatment covers each stage of O'Brien's career and electrification in detail, enhanced by access to family papers though whether the reader needs to know the names of all the nurses and doctors who attended to O'Brien's father's illnesses is a moot point. A feature of the book throughout is analysis of the cause of each change in direction for O'Brien in terms of who he and his family knew and worked with and what organisational structures were affected at his workplace. This is an amazing exercise in name-dropping which is reflected in a helpful nine-page two-column index that, for example, includes eighty railway engineers. Our O'Brien doesn't appear on the scene until page 40 of the book whilst the O'Brien clan's pedigree is dissected back to the tenth-century Brian Boru (after whom a Kitson locomotive for the Waterford, Limerick & Western Railway was named) to discover what in his inherited DNA directed an Irish-born Eton schoolboy towards railways. To help understand O'Brien's philosophy on the issues of railway electrification and workshop practice the author has interwoven into his story O'Brien's own published papers to professional bodies and his contribution to discussion of many others where he was in the audience. There are eleven appendices, an excellent bibliography and a thorough index. The black and white photographs are small and poorly reproduced yet adequately illustrate a fine book.
England's railway heritage from the air. Peter Waller. Swindon:
Historic England, 2018. 302pp, 151 photographs (some colour), hardback, Reviewed
by Stephen Rowson. 509
This is not the first railways volume Peter Wailer has compiled from the Aerofilms collection of oblique aerial views but it won't disappoint. The quarry is not worked out. The book's format remains uniform throughout the left hand page has the photograph (bled to the edge of the page) and the right hand page has a thoroughly detailed essay as caption. The captions typically cover the history of railways that served the locations and the architects of the succession of railway structures that were once there. That the captions therefore do not necessarily describe what the photographs show means readers are left to experience the joy of further interpreting the images themselves. Subject matter is organised into chapters: Major stations; Minor stations; Locomotive and other works; Viaducts, bridges and tunnels; Locomotive sheds and depots; Goods yards and other freight traffic; Railway offices and hotels; and Preservation.
The former Point quarry at West Williamston, Pembrokeshire. upper illustration.
showing the navigable channel which served it.
A barge tied up on the Eastern Cleddau at Haverfordwest, early 20th century. lower illustration rear cover
see pp 463-475.
No 236 November 2019 (Volume 39 Part 9)
Neil K Dickson. Professor Blackburn of Roshven and the
West Highland Railway. 518-27.
Roshven, rather than Mallaig, was the original intended terminus of the West Highland Railway, but was dropped before the line from Craigendoran to Fort William was granted Parliamentary approval. Nevertheless, Roshven did receive Parliamentary scrutiny and various myths which grew up in Mathematics Department at the University of Glasgoww concerning its eminent Victorian professors Blackburn an Kelvin are largely dismissed, but at the expense of Charles Foreman, engineer of the West Highland, whose plans for an anchorage at Rothven were weak.
Mike G. Fell. Via the River Trent to India. 529-40.
The rolling stock for the original electrification of the Mumbei (Bombay) was manufactured at the Cammell Laird works in Nottingham and was shipped to India on special brages built for use on the River Trent and transhipped at Hull onto MV Belpareil. or MV Beljeanne. English Electric equipped two battery electric locomotives built by Bearmore at Parkhead in Glasgow: these were intended to assist on miantenance of the 1500 V dc electric catenary.There are photographs of the operation: at Nottingham where a steam traction engine was employed to tow the vehicle from the works; loading them onto the special barges to be towed by the diesel tug Motorman; the tug hauing the barges out of Hazelford Lock on the River Trent Navigation; crane on MV Belpareil lifting a trailing coach aboard at King George Dock, Hull; MV Beljeanne at Bombay on 20 November 1927 (one photograph includes Bombay Harbour Trust 2-6-0T No. 28 built at Vulcan Foundry in 1922; onee of the battery electric locomotives being unloaded from a Christen Smith heavy load ship; Bombay Baroda & Central India electric locomotive No. 902
R.F. Hartley. George Stephenson and the Grand Junction
Railway: a twist in the tale?. 541-7
There has been a tendency to reduce George Stephenson's role in dictating the route of the Grand Junction Railway and this has been changed by a fresh examination of the plans maintained in the archives at Stafford. Stafford together with Penkridge are placed on Stephenson's route whereas Raiistrick's route via Haughton would have required greater earthworks. Hartley's earlier contributions are cited: George Stephenson the railway surveys. Part 1: 1819-1832. J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2016, 550-60; Part 2: 2017, 2-14
David Parry. Henry Robertson and the Dee Navigation.
Brief biographical details of Robertson including hi s failure to impress the Duke of Hamilton as a coal mining engineer and his move south to the Bymbo Estate and its links to ports on an improved River Dee below Chester at Queen's Ferry (Queensferry) and Saltney in association with the North Wales Mineral Railway. Connah's Quay is mentioned but mainly as a navigation hazard.
Neil Clarke. An iron master's transport issues. 562-7.
Old Park ironworks on the manor of Malinslee ewas owned by Isaac Hawkins Browne and leased to Thomas Botfield. He moved his output partly by short railways and the Shropshire Canal, by wagon on the roads and on the Severn
Tony Sheward. A financial history of the Metropolitan Railway, 1853-1933 (abstract) . 567-8
Brian Parsons 'Place on Rail'. Transportation of the dead by train in the UK (abstract) . 569
Matthew Searle The suspicions of Mr Eccles. 570-1
Theft of watches despatched from Aronson, a jeweller in Bangor (Wales) in parcels loaded at the LNWR station for transport to Southampton and shipment to Melbourne in Australia: George Eccles was the LNWR's chief detective.
The Teme aqueduct on the Leominster Canal: the
secrets of a unique military centrepiece in World War II. Robin
Suggests that the signalmen's registers at Tenbury Wells and Easton Court must have recorded the railway bridge being demoilshed by the military.
The Great Eastern Railway in South Essex: a definitive
history. Charles Phillips. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Books, 2019.
256pp, 100 illustrations, Reviewed by Tony Kirby. page 574
Lacking any major centre of population, south east Essex between Southend and Maldon was devoid of railways until the opening of the Great Eastern Railway's 'Essex New Lines' (Shenfield-Southend and Wickford-Southminster and Maldon) in 1889, in spite of a number of earlier schemes, starting with the Essex Iron Railway of 1811. In eight detailed chapters, Mr Phillips outlines the history and operation of the lines from inception to the present day, drawing on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources including some such as parish council records that historians often overlook.
The network appears to have been built due to a combination of local pressure and the desire of the GER to protect itself against any incursions by the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway: the author discounts the theory sometimes advanced that the lines were built with a strategic objective (protection against invasion). Traffic was slow to develop: in 1911 there were only 33 season ticket holders from Southend (compared to 6,000 on the rival LT &SR) but from that year an improved timetable led to rapid passenger growth, encouraged by facilities today's travellers would marvel at, such as restaurant cars and even Pullmans. The Maldon branch, however remained a rural backwater and closed to passengers in September 1939. On the 'main' line, things were very different: electrification to Southend in 1956 had the 'sparks effect' in terms of population (and house prices) and was extended to Southminster in 1986. Appendices include a chronology and a distance table. There is a full bibliography and index but only one (rather inadequate) map. Oddly, the publishers have printed the first two words in each caption in bold typeface, regardless of context.
Gares en Guerre: stations in wartime 1914-1918 (La Revue d 'histoire
des chemin de fer combined volumes 50 and 51) - publication director
Jean-Louis Rohou 354pp, 45 illustrations, 25 maps, and tables, softback,
Association pour l'histoire des chemin de fer, Paris, 2018, Reviewed by William
Featherstone - see note below) pages 574-5
It is indicative of the length of time necessary to gather together a set of papers delivered at a conference that the collection under review was delivered in the year ofthe hundredth anniversary of the start of the Great War and has been published in the year following the armistice that bought to an end the fighting on the Western Front. The 15 essays printed here range widely, both geographically and in terms of subject matter. In fact, despite the nicely alliterative title of the volume, in French at least, the word 'station' is very widely interpreted, such that some authors do not seem to be dealing with stations at all!
Nevertheless, there is much here to interest and intrigue. In this review it will suffice to provide a number of examples but for those with basic skills at reading written French I am sure a closer study would be rewarding (each essay commences with a short French and English precis of the topic). For instance, Chantal Dhennin provides an explanation of why the German trench lines in the Fromelles sector of the Western Front remained static for the remainder of the War after the initial German advance. Fighting on two fronts, 'quiet' sectors were of great value to Germany but still needed a constant supply of munitions, food, clothing and rested troops. The 'Michon' line along the Lys valley, with its regularly placed stations and halts, was a perfect supply line and ultimately evacuated the German forces in 1918. Although the German Army was showing increasing signs of collapse during 1918, the eventual armistice could not be anticipated and there could be no slackening in the Allied effort. This is illustrated by Michael Vottero's essay on the ephemeral American Nevers avoiding line. Plans to avoid the bottleneck of Nevers were conceived in November 1917 but work did not start until early June 1918. Despite this, a workforce of 2,000, including Indo-Chinese, Italian and 'Black Americans' completed the five mile, double-track line by 30 October, including a 500 yard bridge over the Loire. Its probable utility was demonstrated on 3 November when ten trains carried 5,000 tons of freight, and five others carried 5,000 troops to the front. But the end was inevitable, and the line closed for good less than twelve months later.
War brought mixed blessings to the wine growers and negociants of the Languedoc. On the one hand supplying the millions of poilu with their dai Iy ration (a quarter litre at the start of the War but increasing to twice that in 1916, and finally ¾ of a litre in 1918), with prices increasing steadily, was a profitable business and fortunes could be made. On the other, most of the tank wagons and barrel carrying platform trucks had been requisitioned by the French Army in 1914. The resolution of this conundrum forms the topic of a most interesting article by Stephane Lebras. Finally, I would single out the essay by Aurelien Prevot which the describes the reconstruction of the many destroyed or badly damaged stations of the Nord railway company in the immediate post war period. Although the State agreed to pay for the work, material and labour shortages had a considerable impact on the form and priority given to this. Goods depots were first to be re-built to three standard designs in reinforced concrete. There was an attempt to achieve similar standardisation around small, medium and large passenger station designs. This was less successful, particularly when municipalities wanted to restore their stations to their former glories. With such a diversity of authors and disparate range of subject matter the quality of the essays is inevitably variable, and overall the book lacks the coherence that a more rigid interpretation of the central theme would have provided. Nevertheless, this is an interesting work and proved, to the reviewer at least, that there is always something new to learn. Three final examples may whet the reader's imagination. The catastrophic accident at Saint-Michel-de- Maurienne is fairly well known but how many know that a few weeks earlier (13 January 1917) at Ciurea, in Romania, a crowded train with failed brakes ran into munitions wagons causing over 600 fatalities? Or that in the chaos of the early months of the War, when millions were either moving to the front or fleeing from it, 150,000 Italian citizens, commonly seen as quasi enemies, but whose country was undecided whether to enter the War, and if so on whose side, were adding to the chaos by trying to escape back to Italy? Or that on the 6 September 1917 Haydarpasa station in Istanbul, a key logistical link, and used to store thousands of tons of supplies, including munitions, suffered a calamitous explosion, and this single event probably shortened the conflict in the Middle East by a number of months?
As the Society's correspondent with our sister organization in France, the AHICF, I receive all their publications. The printed version of the volume under review will not be generally available in the UK. If any readers wish to borrow it I am very happy to forward it to them provided postage is paid in both directions. I can also supply copies of the content pages, which are bilingual. Contact me at 114 Dunkirk Avenue, Desborough NN14 2PN
The Mediaeval Exe Bridge, St Edmund's Church and excavation of waterfront
houses, Exeter. Stewart Brown. Exeter: Devon Archaeological Society, 2019.
xv+ 195pp, 90 colour and b&w illustrations, Reviewed by Peter
Cross-Rudkin. page 575
The medieval bridge at Exeter originally had seventeen or eighteen arches (London Bridge had nineteen) and carried houses and a church. Following construction of two new bridges over the River Exe in 1969-72, the area round the old bridge was cleared and the remaining nine arches consolidated and repointed. This splendid book is the product of an archaeological survey undertaken in 1975-79 and subsequent examination of the records relating to the bridge and its buildings. Printed on good quality paper, the illustrations and diagrams are clear and informative. Each feature of the bridge is discussed and set in context, and there is a short section on the later bridges. Six appendices include a transcription of the bridge wardens' accounts of 1343-52. A full bibliography and index complete the book excellent value for a publication of this standard.
The Southwold Railway 1879-1929. David Lee, Alan
Taylor and Rob Shorland-Ball. Bamsley: Pen & Sword Transport,
2019. 248pp, 144 photographs, 68 maps and other illustrations, Reviewed by
Michael Messenger. page 578
The Southwold Railway is almost the only British narrow-gauge passenger railway not to have had a full published history but now it has two. The first, by Peter Paye and published by Lightmoor last year, was reviewed by Peter Johnson in the March 2019 issue of this Journal and now a second book, published by Pen & Sword, has arrived and, inevitably, comparisons must be made. ot surprisingly both use many common sources but that is even more pronounced here as the respective authors have had access to the researches of David Lee of Southwold and the late Alan Taylor, the latter being the author with Eric Tonks of the last decent history of the railway published by lan Allan in 1965. The subject of this review has been written by Rob Shorland-Ball with contributions by Lee and Taylor and the three names share equal billing on the cover and title page.
The book is a competent history of the railway and its vicissitudes, with accounts of the route, locomotives and rolling stock and the present revival plans. The role of Arthur Cadlick Pain, a pioneer of early light railways who promoted, built and controlled the line throughout its life, is clear. This book does give his name properly but the fact that most of the Southwold station buildings were the same design as his other lines has been overlooked. The tendency to refer to him as Engineer Pain or Chairman Pain as if this was some sort of title is irritating. There are duplications and some chapters appear to have been written without reference to others but overall the writing is clear and readable, sometimes conversational, without the dense factual approach ofthe Lightmoor book. The range of photographs is excellent and they are well reproduced. Whilst some, inevitably, are common to both books, there are many unique to this volume. They convey well all aspects of this railway. What does let the book down though is the motley collection of maps and diagrams, all different in style and badly reproduced. Some are very crude, others have been over-enlarged. Why do some reproductions of original documents need to be partly re-set, in an inappropriate typeface? There is no good overall map of the railway. The short index is laughable: Arthur Pain and H. Ward are listed under A and H respectively, and many entries seem to be there simply for the humour. Too many publishers these days seem not to employ editors. This is an expensive book and for that price one expects, and is used to getting, considerably better.
Source references are minimal in both books, and traffic and financial statistics would have been welcome in both. They are pretty much equal for photographic illustrations and the Pen & Sword book is more readable but for decent maps and diagrams the Lightmoor book is far better. Readers must make their choice, or buy both.
Branch Lines to Chard. Ian Harrison. Lydney:
Lightmoor Press, 2018, 320pp, 402 photographs (89 colour), 12 drawings, 60
maps & plans, gradient profile, 86 facsimiles, 17 tables. Reviewed by
Matthew Searle. page 578
Covering primarily the branch from Taunton opened (after various prior attempts) by the Bristol & Exeter Railway, but not neglecting the London & South Western connection from Chard Junction, the meat of this book, following a succinct historical section, is a very detailed description of the route and stations, complemented by a lavish collection of photographs (including an evocative colour section), drawings and plans, all produced to the publisher's customarily high standard. Points of particular interest include a summary history of the Chard Canal (acquired by the railway) and the Great Western's branch line economy drive of the 1920s. Although the book will be of special interest to modellers, this can be commended as a clearly-written and well-indexed West Country branch line history.
Holiday trains. Greg Morse. 64pp, 67
illustrations (42 colour), softback, Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2019. Reviewed
by Philip L Scowcroft. 580
One of Amberley's Britain's Heritage series, this volume traces concisely the railways' part in holidays and excursions, opening up seaside resorts and later helping pursuits such as cycling, rambling and camping. The story is brought up to date with post- 1945 developments and railway involvement with the Continent. The varied, well-reproduced illustrations, several of them new to me, underline the argument appropriately. This is a good introduction to its subject and mentions appropriate literature and documentary films. There is a brief bibliography and list of heritage railways and museums to visit.
Steam traction on the road. Anthony Burton
200pp, 103 illustrations (many in colour), hardback, Bamsley: Pen
& Sword, 2018. Reviewed by Peter Brown. 580
Like many RCHS members, I have over a thousand transport books. Rarely do I see anything which fills a major gap in the collection but this is one such volume. The history of steam traction on roads and farms is dealt with thematically in eleven chapters, starting with Cugnot's experiment in 1769 and concluding with the Sentinel steam waggons exported to Argentina in 1951. Each chapter deals with its topic chronologically. Although Britain's contribution was important, developments in the rest of Europe and in America are also covered.
Success started on the farm. Portable steam engines had been used to power threshing machines. In the 1840s various agricultural machinery manufacturers made these self-moving. From this was developed the general purpose traction engine used both in agriculture and road haulage. Specialist developments included the road roller and the fairground showman's engine.
The Marquess of Stafford bought a small steam-powered carriage as early as 1858 but it was not until the 1890s that steam cars became viable due to the invention of the flash boiler, the substitution of paraffin for coal or coke, and changes in the laws governing road vehicles. In 1906 a Stanley car broke the world land speed record, attaining a speed of 127.7mph. But cars proved to be a transport 'dead end', largely because of their cost. The steam wagon (Sentinel insisted on 'waggon') proved more successful in the medium term, particularly for heavy haulage.
The reasons for the various developments, the engineering challenges, and the factors which led to success or failure are clearly explained. The book is well presented and appropriately illustrated, with a brief bibliography and an index but regrettably has no source references.
Crime on the canals. Anthony Poulton-Smith. 119pp, 44
illustrations, softbound, Bamsley: Pen & Sword, 2019, Reviewed by Roger
Various books cite crime on the canals. This is the first to concentrate fully on the topic. The author has selected 45 cases, from the period 1826 to 1949, which cross the whole spectrum and identify the range of criminal acts committed on the waterways. The murder of Christina Collins on a flyboat on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Rugeley is well documented, but the other cases cited provide a useful insight into this murky world. A few identify how goods were pilfered but others raise the many unanswered questions about human relationships that had gone wrong. Canals themselves provided a way to dispose of stolen goods or mutilated bodies. Linking the two relied on luck, or a witness coming forward who saw the act. Many of the cases mentioned show just how much that process rested on chance.
Early Railways 6: papers from the Sixth Early Railways
Conference edited by Anthony Coulls. Six Martlets Publishing,
2019, 275pp, 55 illustrations, 75 diagrams, 28 maps, 9 tables. Reviewed by
Kevin Jones. page 579
The joint efforts of the Institute of Railway Studies & Transport History in York, the National Railway Museum, the Newcomen Society, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Railway & Canal Historical Society have certainly brought dividends which are evident in the proceedings ofthe six Early Railways Conferences and this, the Sixth, shows it markedly. The compilation begins on a high note with what the editor rightly calls an 'amazing discovery', namely the wooden waggon way at Wallsend on North Tyneside in 2013. For those who still consider that archaeology is really only intended to serve to unearth the Classical period, it is not without significance that the researchers were seeking the remains of a Roman fort, but encountered what must be the Mary Rose of railway archaeology.
The proceedings have a 'coming of age' sense within them and this is probably most evident in Helen Gomersall's 'When to stop digging' which 'seeks to identify archaeological fieldwork in Great Britain since the beginning of the 21st century which has unearthed material of this type, to assess the results of this fieldwork, and to consider need for further work in these areas'.
Michael Bailey's 'Blücher and after' is a careful re-examination of George Stephenson's claim to have engineered sixteen locomotives between his initial effort at Killingworth and the launch of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. In contrast Colin Mountford, an authority on rope haulage, and his co-authors show that the Durham & Sunderland Railway could function as a useful means for transporting coal down to the tideway over undulating country for distances of up to thirteen miles for nearly 25 years. Nevertheless we all know that steam won in the end, but John New does have the audacity to seriously question why horse traction lasted so long on railways.
Peter Davidson examines very early locomotive performance, that is up to the Rainhill trials where the ability to haul a load was the primary criterion, and Davidson states that 'all these engines were fit for purpose'. Andy Guy, Michael Bailey, David Gwyn, Michael Lewis, John Liffen, Jennifer Protheroe-Jones and Jim Rees may seem to be an excessive number of authors for a single paper, but they have been able to show that many of the proposed manifestations ofthe Trevithick locomotive just would not have been capable of completing the course at Penydarren.
Miles Macnair (whose name is spelled in several ways in this document) examines the highly innovative locomotives of the St Etienne-Lyon Railway which were developed following visits made by Marc Seguin to the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 1825 and 1827. These included the use of fan draught, a multi-tubular boiler and a form of steam tender. Macnair's use of the phrase 'complete bunkum' when describing a diagram in Pearce's Locomotives of the Stockton & Darlington Railway is refreshingly frank.
The book cover features a colour image of the Tanfield Arch. Robin Adams demonstrates that this image is the work of Joseph Atkinson of Newcastle in spite of several alternatives and that it dates from no later than December 1803. Also included are papers on Australian plateways, railways in Sierra Leone and French non-railways which exploited turntables.
The above review is published as a record; it is believed that by the time of publication the volume will be out of print.