Miniature Railways

Miniature railways are so often regarded as something of a novelty that it is not always realized that as much care and precision are required in their operation and control as in a full-sized line.

The Duke of Westminster’s light railway connecting Eaton Hall with the neighbouring Great Western Railway station at   Balderton, near Chester, was the forerunner of the modern miniature railway. This line, built to a gauge of 15 in. between the rails, was constructed in the late ‘eighties by Sir Arthur Heywood to demonstrate the usefulness of what he termed the “minimum gauge line,” which could be worked by steam locomotives. Sir Arthur had already constructed a short line of this gauge in the grounds of his own house at Duffield Park, near Derby, and had built several locomotives to run on it.
There were already “toy” railways, introduced by Americans, at various exhibitions, and quite a number of garden railways which were worked by externally perfect scale models of full-size engines.

In 1904-5 several 15-in. gauge “Atlantic” 4-4-2 locomotives were built for various seaside resorts, including Blackpool, Southport and Rhyl, to work lines laid down for pleasure trips and light passenger transport.
The steam railway locomotive can be made to work quite as successfully in a small size as in a big one. It is not claimed, however, that the midget is as good as the mammoth, even when due allowances are made for differences in weight and fuel consumption. Size tends to make the large engine more efficient ; but no radical difference in design is essential. It is rather the reverse. The miniature must be made with a proper locomotive type boiler, complete with inside water-spaced   firebox and a relatively large number of fire-tubes from furnace to smoke-box.
The intensity of the steam exhaust up the chimney – the “blast,” as locomotive   engineers term it – increases with load and gradient, no matter what size of engine is used. The driving of any locomotive, large or small, requires the same degree of skill.
The first of the 15-in. gauge “Atlantic” locomotives, the “Little Giant,” was tested on the Duke of Westminster’s line at Eaton Hall. At this time the “Atlantic” or 4-4-2 type of engine was popular on our great railway systems and the advantages of the design were as apparent – even more so – in the model as in the original. The    firebox, placed behind the coupled driving wheels, could be made without undue restriction in length, and an ample grate area was obtained.
This engine was built to a scale of 3 in. to the foot (one-quarter full size), and was of a “free lance” design conforming to no special prototype. It gave satisfactory service on the line at Blackpool, which was about a quarter of a mile long.
The four-coupled driving wheels measured only 18 in. diameter, but so well did the engine perform when “full out” on a down grade that, on several of the test runs at Eaton Hall. over 26 miles an hour was attained, with perfect steadiness and freedom from oscillation.
The “Little Giant” was designed to haul trains of four open bogie coaches carrying 48 adult passengers—a total load of 3-1/2 tons—on a level track.
The cylinders, 3-3/8 in. diameter by 6 in. stroke, were placed outside the frames with the valves inside, actuated by Stephenson’s link motion reversing gear. The firebox had a grate area of 204 sq. in., and the boiler worked at 120 lb. per sq. in.
The weight of the locomotive was only 1 ton 9 cwt. in working order, and, in addition to the driver, it carried 56 lb. of coal and 35 gallons of water in the six-wheeled tender. The driver had also to serve as fireman, and as there was insufficient room for him to stand on the footplate, a seat was provided in the tender. The flue tubes were 7/8 in. diameter, and a smoke-box superheater was fitted. When at Blackpool the engine made 120 trips a day, carrying a maximum of nearly 1,500 passengers.

On another railway, built later at the Marine Park, Rhyl, North Wales, the best performance for the “Little Giant” type of engine was the hauling of 5,003 passengers by two locomotives in one day. The line consisted of a circular route one mile in circumference. At a later date some new engines were built at Rhyl for this railway. They were slightly larger, but still of the “Atlantic” type, and were provided with two cylinders 4-1/4 in. diameter by 6-3/4 in. stroke, and a boiler with a moderately wide firebox stretching over the trailing or rear carrying wheels of the locomotive. Nominally they were 50 per cent more powerful, and weighed 2 tons 10 cwt., instead of the 30 cwt. of the previous “Little Giant” type engines.
The principles tried out at Eaton Hall, Blackpool, Rhyl and Southport were adhered to in the more powerful engines made for other lines in various parts of the country. At Eskdale, in Cumberland, the first locomotives for the light railway from Ravenglass to Dalegarth were of the “Pacific” 4-6-2 type. The increase of scale from 3 in. to 3-1/4 in. to the foot on 15 in. gauge, and the use of larger cylinders and 20 in. diameter, six-coupled wheels, made a big difference to the hauling power. The cylinders in these engines were made larger in both bore and stroke—4-1/4 in. diameter by 7 in. stroke against the 3-3/8 in. diameter by 6 in. stroke of the “Little Giant” locomotives – but the boiler proportions were considerably increased.
The Eskdale line was originally built as a 3-ft. gauge railway. It went out of use, but after WWII its activities were revived as a 15 in. gauge passenger railway.
The original line was operated because of the iron ore found in the hills at the foot of Sca Fell. When the iron ceased to be worth mining the small amount of passenger traffic was not enough to make the line pay, with the existing type of
rolling stock and engines.
The attraction of the new miniature express locomotives, however, brought      hundreds to see the line and take a trip up the picturesque valley to Dalegarth   almost every fine day during the summer months. The miniature locomotives were speedier than the lumbering old contractor type of engine used in the 3-ft. gauge days, and more pleasing to the eye.
Many useful experiments have been conducted at Eskdale. Simple vacuum brakes in a miniature size were made to suit the Eskdale engines and trains, and this led to the export of these fittings for use on several of the continental miniature railways which followed the opening of the British lines.
Oil firing was tried on one of the smaller engines, the idea was to do away with the “smuts” to which front passengers in open coaches were exposed. The smell of the oil, however, proved to be much more objectionable.

An equally famous miniature line is the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.
The first two locomotives on this line were similar to the “River Esk.” The engines had been tested on the Ravenglass and Eskdale line, and the “Pacific” type wheel arrangement (4-6-2), the piston-valve cylinders and the Walschaerts valve gear, with which the locomotives were fitted, proved eminently satisfactory in this small size. The site of the Romney Marsh railway had at one time been proposed for a tramway by the former South Eastern Railway, but the company abandoned their powers. These were revived by the Miniature Railway Company as a double-line railway of 15 in. gauge.

On certain other miniature railways the locomotives had “steam” outlines, but relied on petrol or Diesel crude oil engines for their propulsion. One of the earliest ventures of this kind was by C. W. Bartholomew, of Blakesley Hall, near Towcester, in Northamptonshire. He laid a 15-in. gauge railway to connect the Hall with the  Stratford-on-Avon and Midland Junction Railway (part of the L.M.S.), at Blakesley Station, in order that coal and other stores might be brought up to the Hall in this way. To work the line he had built a locomotive designed externally as a 4-4-4 tank engine, but driven by a petrol motor, which worked the traffic successfully.
The same principle was adopted by the Scarborough Corporation on the popular railway was laid down in the pleasure gardens on the North Bay at that resort. Here, to give more accommodation in the trains, a wider gauge of 20 in. was adopted, but the engines, modelled on the “Flying Scotsman Pacifics” of the L.N.E.R., one-third full size, similar to those of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. They were driven, however, by Diesel engines instead of by steam.
Another miniature railway employing Diesel-engined locomotives for running the trains was the “Golden Acre” miniature railway, situated in a pleasure park on the outskirts of Leeds. This was about half a mile in length and was also built to the 20 in. gauge. The locomotive resembled in appearance a 4-6-4 tank engine and was driven by a 26 h.p. engine. The length of the locomotive was 18 ft. 3 in.
At Great Yarmouth a railway of 15 in. gauge was built for pleasure rides on       Yarmouth beach, 600 yards long, laid out in the form of an elongated loop. On leaving the station the train, having traversed a curve of about 90 ft. radius, ran down a 1 in 80 incline to a tunnel thirty-three yards long. After it had emerged from the  tunnel the line climbed a gradient of 1 in 72, and then returned to the station. On this railway the engine was turned round after its trip by means of a turn-table at the station. The points and signals operated by hydraulic power, and all the signals were interlocked with the points, as in a full-size railway. Both Diesel and steam power were used on the Great Yarmouth line.

Passengers can be carried, however, on gauges narrower than 15 in. One of the smallest of seaside miniature railways was the 7-1/4-in. gauge line at Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, on which trains ran regularly throughout the summer months. Leaving the main station, the line went over a viaduct, then through a tunnel, over a lattice-girder bridge, and finally through a longer tunnel and back to the station. All the signals on the line were operated by electricity. Among the  engines used to haul the trains, one was a 4-6-2 express engine, weighing 8 cwt., capable of  hauling a load of three tons. The working pressure of the boiler 100 lb. per sq. in. and the two cylinders 2-1/4 in. bore by 3-1/2 in. stroke. Another engine on this line was a model 4-4-0 type weighing only 3-1/2 cwt., which was capable, however, of pulling a load of one ton.

Even gauges of 10-1/4 and 7-1/4 in. do not represent the minimum width of track on which it is possible for miniature locomotives to pull their owners and their friends. Many model railway enthusiasts have built railways of 3-1/4 in. gauge with passenger-carrying equipment, and the limit was probably reached when, at a Model Engineer Exhibition, a locomotive running on a gauge of 2 in., built to a scale of 1/2 in. to the foot, or one-twenty-fourth full-size, pulled three adults along a test track.
At the other end of the scale there are the many railways which have been built to gauges slightly wider than those of 15 in. and 20 in. & North Wales in particular has long been famed for its so-called “toy railways.” They were built in the first place to bring slate down from the mines inland to the coast. Best known of all these lines, probably, is the Ffestiniog Railway, which, in conjunction with the Welsh Highland Railway, forms an extensive system. All these lines have been laid to a gauge of 1 ft. 11-1/2 in.

Hopefully this has proved a good introduction to the subject of which we may return in the future.

The Great Steam Challenge 

The recent description of a visit to Budapest told by Ken Philcox in the Ribble Pilot reminded me that each September the museum site at Vasuttorteneti Railway Park becomes the focus of a European Grand Steam Challenge when steam locomotives from all over Europe are brought together to take part in a series of locomotive tests.
My introduction to this spectacle came in 2006 when Bill Parker, owner of the Dean Forest Flour Mill and with commercial involvement in Hungary was tasked to gain publicity within the UK for the event and asked an editor friend who kindly nominated me.
Thus I found myself in Budapest one Friday night and was taken directly to the museum where I was introduced to Bill Parker and his team followed by a brief description of the event which is run over 2 days with the large (normally tender) locomotives on the Saturday and the smaller (normally tank) locomotives on the Sunday.
As mentioned in Ken’s article the main roundhouse covers 34 tracks and is the largest surviving example of its type in Europe; also on site is a second turntable with radiating lines on which are stored further steam locomotives on permanent display in the open.
The Steam Challenge is held on the Demonstration Tracks which radiate from the roundhouse turntable and this first began in 2001 to give visitors chance to see many of the museum’s working fleet in action.
The first event held in October 2001 commemorated George Stephenson, the acknowledged inventor of railways as we know them, and was geared to test locomotive driving skills rather than locomotive designs; such was the success of the contest that it has continued ever since and has now become one of the major activities in the museum’s annual programme.
The British interest in the challenge began in 2003 when Bill Parker, owner of the Flour Mill workshops in the Forest of Dean whose business interests in Hungary led to his becoming an informal adviser to the museum management, brought over a team of his workers; they not only won their category but enjoyed the experience so much that they have returned every year since.
The Steam Driving Challenge is run over a 100 metre length of 4 of the 8 demonstration tracks and the 2006 competition involved teams from Austria, Croatia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and the United Kingdom whose skills provided much of the entertainment for visitors to the 70,000 square metre site.
The challenge consists of two locomotives at a time undertaking five separate tasks starting with the English Post Office, in which crews have to collect a package using an elongated hook and deposit it in the post box before racing to the finishing line. This is then followed by the Beer Gear where two cans / bottles of beer are balanced on the connecting rods and teams have to drive the full course length without dropping their load.
The third task is a combined Firefighting / Damsel in Distress race in which crews have to speed to a point where the fireman jumps off the locomotive to collect a bucket then race back to collect water from the ejectors before rushing to put out the fire. As this is completed the locomotive begins to move forward whilst the fireman races to a keyboard to collect a key that unlocks the padlock securing a “damsel” to the tracks ( actually on the platform adjacent to the track ); once released the fireman and damsel then race the locomotive to the finishing point where they are joined by a support member from the locomotive and then the trio have to return to the start point in a handcart.
The fourth task, introduced in 2006, involves blindfolding the driver who then drives his engine towards a barrier on the instruction of his fireman; the team being to get nearest to, but not through the tape barrier, and points are awarded for closeness.
The final task is a simple race over the 100 metre length before the locomotives return to the start point and then run onto the roundhouse display area where an exchange of locomotives takes place for the next pair of crews to undertake the challenge.
The driving challenges are split over both days with the contest for large engines being held on the Saturday and that for small / shunting engines held on the Sunday; the 2006 visiting English Team delighted the crowds by coming 2nd out of the 6 large locomotive teams, losing narrowly to the Serbians with their Class 01 2-6-2 01.088, but their second prize of “Most Beautiful” locomotive of the 6 challengers provided more satisfaction as their Class 424 4-8-0 424.009 is one of the museum’s prize exhibits.
The English team did not compete the following day on the Small Locomotive Challenge, leaving eight competing teams from which Serbia won with its USATC look-alike 0-6-0 62.315 whilst the “Most Beautiful” prize went to the local Dock Shunter 0-6-0 No 27.
Supporting the Steam Challenge is also the Dining Contest which is run on the Saturday only and involves the dining car ( which usually accompanies each visiting locomotive ) producing a typical meal from their home country and the visitors voting with their feet by sampling the wide choice of menus on offer. Prizes are awarded in this contest for both the most “ethnic” menu and for the best overall combination of menu and presentation.
As part of the two days of hectic activity the museum organises a gala dinner on the Saturday night for all those involved in the programme of events, using the dining area set up within the roundhouse, where a meal and entertainment are provided. This proves to be a welcome relief, more so when the cabaret is provided by a bevy of belly dancers, which help the various groups to relax and further cement the friendships made during the day.
The Museum, however, is not the only activity that MAV Heritage controls as its other activities include the sale of railway books and memorabilia, general travel services, currency exchange, organising of tourist excursions throughout Hungary, reservation of accommodation and the overhaul and sale of rolling stock.
This activity includes the regular operation of 2 heritage train services using museum stock with tickets being bought from the museum’s shop on Budapest Nyugati station; the shop is not clearly identified but is located on Platform 10 where a small selection of books and memorabilia is available and well worth a visit especially if there is limited time available to visit the museum.
The first service is the regular dmu shuttle that runs daily from April thru late October between Nyugati station and the museum’s platform, a distance of about 3 miles, and is included in the museum’s admission fee.
The second service is the regular Saturday train running from early April thru end of September alternately to Szob and Esztergom, giving 12 trains to each destination; this main line run costs only about £3:00 and gives a round trip of approximately 100 miles behind one of the museum’s 12 working locomotives using a rake of 4 coaches.
A less well-known feature of the Museum is its separate workshop facility located nearby at Istvantelek, only a couple of miles from the museum site, where its fleet is restored and where items are stored pending use as spares or awaiting display once space becomes available.
This rarely visited location is a veritable treasure trove, both in showing the engineering tools / skills needed to keep main line traction operating and revealing some of the items being kept for re-use with many examples of steam locomotives and early diesel shunters showing signs of long term storage. That visit however is a story best left for another edition of Ribble Pilot.
(Fred Kerr)

Latvia – The Blackpool Connections

Latvia was not top of our shopping list for a holiday, or at least it wasn’t until we had dinner one night with Steve Bradshaw from Radio Wave.
We were sharing a table with Steve at a charity night at the Gurkha Restaurant in Blackpool. Steve had recently returned from Riga, the capital of Latvia, at the invitation of Valeri Belokon the President of Blackpool Football Club. (Mr Belokon is Latvia’s Richard Branson and it his investment in the club that had been a major factor in the Seasiders rise from the bottom of League 1 to the Premiership)
Steve painted a wonderful picture of Riga and told us we had to go.  Ollie was convinced so the following morning I entered into Google ‘Latvian Railway Museum, Riga’ more in hope than expectation. There was on!  This museum has an excellent web site – we began to plan our visit.
However, I was under a warning from my good lady. I visited Moscow in 1980 back in the days of hard line communism, as one of a delegation of sixty American and European businessmen. My Intourist (KGB) guide flatly refused to take me to a railway station. I could only watch the trains entering the city on the bridges over the river Moskva – but no photographs! When in Poznan shortly after I was informed I would be arrested if I photographed the steam trains (how times have changed). On holiday, I had my knuckles rapped by the station master in Split, then Yugoslavia, for photographing the express from Vienna entering the station. I promised to behave.
The Ryannair flight to Riga was a real red-eye. After changing our money we caught the airport bus downtown. The fare was 28p like all the bus, tram and trolleybus rides in Riga.
After checking in at our hotel, we enjoyed a beer in one of the town square’s and planned our meander around the small, but old city centre, a mini Prague.
When we found ourselves by the railway bridge crossing the Daugava River we followed the line into Riga station. The line is on top of a high embankment, but as an unashamed trainspotter, I could kop the numbers of the diesel locos. Writing down numbers which are a mix of Cyrillic letters and numbers was challenging! Behind this embankment are four old Zeppelin airship hangers, which now form a huge market.
The frontage of Riga station, which is the same size as Preston station, had recently been modernised to incorporate a shopping arcade, but the wood panelled ticket office was reminiscent of the old St Pancras booking office.  We studied people movement as the signage in Latvian (non-cyrillic) and Russian Cyrillic lettering meant nothing to us. There appeared to be queues for information, for local trains and international trains, deduced by the number of travellers with suitcases in some queues. The railway map showed local services to the seaside – we would ask the receptionist at the hotel the best place to go.
The following morning we took the trolleybus to the National Stadium wearing our tangerine Blackpool shirts.  When we arrived at the reception ‘Mr Belekon – Blackpool’ we proudly  proclaimed and instantly we were ushered in.  (Could you image two Latvian pensioners blagging their way into Wembley!)  In truth the stadium is more like the Sheffield Arena, but some of the Latvian team were preparing for the next European Championship match.  A succession of heavy goods trains passed by one side of the stadium on their way to the  Baltic coast.
Back in the centre of Riga we jumped off the trolleybus at the railway station to have another look round. This time we noticed there were no ticket barriers and travellers entered the platforms through a series of glass doors. We followed – Ollie was a little apprehensive.
The cafe spilled out onto the platform and seemed to be the meeting place in the sun – for all the old folk in town. A goods train with a permanently coupled diesel twin set thundered through the station.
When I heard another 10 minutes later I took a photograph – no-one cared. I even photographed the departing Moscow express and no-one took any notice. So next day we would be brave.
The following morning was bright and sunny so we wandered through the city parks to the station. The hotel receptionist had written the name of the station on a piece of paper (‘Majori’ in English). We chose what we thought was the right queue. We indicated 2 people, return, and were issued two tickets with a smile. The cost for the return journey, the equivalent from Preston to Blackpool, was less than £1.
There was no train in the platform but an old green Russian EMU duly arrived. The huge loading gauge provided 4 x 4 wooden seating.  Ollie suggested counting the stations – I scoffed, but she was right!  Even the first station out of Riga consisted of no more than a platform 8 or 9 coaches long, with a garden shed in the middle with the station name on the roof the only signage.
Majori is a major station, where many passengers alighted. We followed and after a 10 minute stroll through the town centre we came to a sandy beach. Having not packed our swimwear we sampled the local beer and wine while soaking up the sunshine!
The return journey was made on a new, state-of-the-art EMU in a very attractive blue and yellow livery.
We had saved what we hoped was the best till last, so the following morning we wandered through the city in the opposite direction before catching the tram to the Latvian Railway History Museum.

The tram stop was right outside the main entrance. We wandered in and immediately recognised the locomotives on display from the photos on the web site. There was no one in the ticket office, so after waiting around for a while we wandered around photographing the locomotives on display.  Pride of place goes to the German Henschel Class 52 2-10-0 steam loco attached to a 1925 armoured saloon car used by Soviet Army General J Bagramjan in World War 2. Various types of Ex-Soviet diesel locomotives and multiple units make up the rest of the exhibits.
The museum was opened on 30 August 1994 with the promise that as locomotive and    multiple unit classes were withdrawn, the last would go to the museum instead of being scrapped. Looking at the web site during the course of writing this article this does appear to be the case as there are more locomotives on display now than during our visit.
The ticket office was now open. We bought two admission tickets for next to nothing and with a cheery wave we were invited into the indoor exhibit area. The exhibits are a collection of old station buildings, signalling equipment, uniforms and most fascinating of all a series of photographic enlargements depicting the steam era when Latvia was part of the USSR. To be able to get so close now to a railway network that was ‘off limits’ only 20 years ago was truly memorable.

For our final afternoon in Riga we decided to ride the ‘Retro Tramvajs’, a beautifully restored tram dating back to 1901.
This tram operates a city tour using the same tracks as the regular trams. Apparently prior to restoration the body was used as a chicken shed!
The conductress looked more like a movie star and after taking all the fares came and sat next to us. ‘You live in London?’ she enquired. ‘No, we live in Blackpool in the North of England’ Her face lit up. ‘I am a dancer. I dance for Latvia – every year in the Tower Ballroom’.
So the connections between Blackpool and Latvia were complete. We vowed we would go back, but have been put off by the severity of the downturn in their economy. But we will return, even if we have to chat up Mr Belokon.

The web site for the museum is

(Ken and Olive Philcox)

12 Historical Railway Facts You Possibly Never Knew!

The Duke of Wellington –  Although the “Iron Duke” – hero of the Battle of Waterloo – officially opened the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830, he was not a fan of this radical form of travel. He stated publicly that because of the railways, sedition and revolution would easily spread throughout the country by the “lower orders”.

Never on a Sunday – The ultra-religious Victorians disagreed strongly with rail travel on Sundays. On one particular Sunday in 1883 a group of protestors tried to prevent fish being loaded onto a train. Ten people were arrested during the ensuing skirmish who, when released, were hailed as heroes by their fellow villagers. By 1889, eight thousand members had joined the “Anti-Sunday Travel Union”, who had nearly sixty branch offices up and down the country.

A day out for everyone –  With the advent of the railways, Victorian working class families were able to take advantage of a one-day holiday. Such was the popularity of cheap excursions that, in 1848, thousands of people travelled on special trains to Liverpool in order to witness, at first-hand, the public execution of an infamous murderer.

Letting the train take the strain – With the coming of the railways the number of people travelling on the network increased to an extent that could never have been imagined. In 1842, over 24 million passengers had used the railways. By 1850 numbers had risen to a staggering 73 million!

Queen Victoria on the Rails – Although Queen Victoria travelled quite regularly on the railways, she was never completely comfortable with the idea. Her first journey by train, from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace on the 13th June 1842, was not by personal choice, but as a result of two assassination attempts two weeks earlier. Her advisors believed she would be less vulnerable in a railway carriage than in the traditional horse-drawn carriage. On the footplate of the locomotive used for this trip was none other than Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

“Don’t encourage the working classes” – In the early days of rail travel there were three classes of accommodation. First class travellers enjoyed a good measure of luxury; a glazed door to each compartment, armrests, padded upholstery, oil-lamp lighting etc. Second class passengers were only slightly worse off, but third class passengers were treated no better than animals. As no railway company provided third-class carriages, they rode in goods wagons completely open to the elements, sitting on backless wooden benches with holes drilled in the floor, allowing the rainwater to escape.

Karl Marx didn’t get the job – Described as the father of modern communism, Karl Marx, who famously pronounced that, “the workers have nothing to lose but their chains”, failed to get a job on the Great Western Railway – his handwriting was simply not good enough!

In 1923 the London Midland & Scottish Railway was the largest of the “Big Four” railway companies; the other three being the Great Western, the Southern, and the London & North Eastern. The “LMS” employed a quarter of a million people; operated across 7,000 miles of track, had 3,000 goods depots and 2,000 stations. Before the nationalisation of the railways in 1948, it was the biggest private transport company in the world, moving 85 million tons of coal a year.

“Good morning campers” – Camping coaches were a popular form of holiday accommodation in the 1930’s, with the railway companies placing old vehicles on disused sidings in attractive places and equipping them with kitchens, toilets and washing facilities. The peak weekly rental charged by the London & North Eastern Railway was around £2. Since its coaches could take up to six holiday-makers, this was a bargain price. On one occasion the company was quick to make a profit. This occurred during “Coronation Week” in 1937 – when London was invaded by sightseers. The LNER placed 52 camping coaches at various sites around London, charging £10 per coach – five times the normal rent!

A grave incident indeed – When the plans for London’s St. Pancras station were drawn up, it emerged that the approach lines would pass through an old cemetery. As nothing could stop the advance of the railways, it meant that the area had to be cleared. Reports soon reached the general public of gravestones being ripped up and placed in piles, the bones of the dead being scattered on the ground, while others were being sold to local bone-mills to be ground up for fertilizer. The slum dwellings that were on the site, where the station now stands, were demolished. The inhabitants were simply evicted – all 10,000 of them!

One drink coming up Sir! – When the railway companies built their lines, they invariably built a large number of railway hotels near to their stations in the larger towns and cities. The first, a very basic establishment known as the ‘Victoria’ close to Euston station, opened in 1839. One of the most popular of these hotels was the “Queen”s’ in Birmingham, opened by the London & North Western Railway in 1854. Some of its guests included Queen Victoria, General de Gaulle and Roy Rogers accompanied by his horse “Trigger”. Many people visited the hotel not only to spot the rich and famous, but to witness at work the hotel’s famous barman, “Flash” Battersby. Battersby was able to slide a drink along 6 metres (20ft) of bar top, bringing it to a stop directly in front of the customer in question.

The Station of the Stars – Due to its location at the London end of the railway line from Southampton, Waterloo station was ideally situated to bask in the attendant publicity generated by the numerous celebrities visiting Britain from America. When the famous entertainer Liberace arrived at Waterloo in 1956, he was met by thousands of fans who had laid a carpet of pink paper rose petals along the platform in his honour.

The Railways go to the Movies – It was inevitable that the railways would in time attract the attention of movie-makers. In 1895 the French Lumiere brothers made the first railway film; a 15-minute film of a bustling station and the arrival of a steam train pulling four coaches. The film was screened in Paris on 28th December 1895 as part of the world’s first public cinema show. The railway movie had been born!


Britain’s First Railway Murder

On the evening of the 9th July 1864, the chief clerk of a firm of London bankers boarded a train at Fenchurch Street station, sadly he was never to reach his destination.
Thomas Briggs became the first person to be brutally murdered on Britain’s railways.
As in the case of the former Board of Trade Minister, William Husskison, who died as a result of his injuries after being struck by a locomotive at the grand opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830, fatalities on the railway were confined to straightforward accidents, or work-related incidents. However, in the summer of 1864 this would cease to be the case. Britain was about to experience a hitherto unknown breed of crime – murder on the railways!

Late in the evening of the 9th July 1864, a train approaching London made a sudden and unscheduled stop between the suburban stations of Bow and Hackney. The driver and fireman of the locomotive had spotted something strange on the line ahead. Climbing from the cab they approached what they thought to be a discarded bundle of clothing. Recoiling in horror as they began to examine the item, they realised immediately that the bundle was in fact the body of an elderly man; his clothes soaked in blood.
The police were quickly summoned to the scene and the man, who was barely alive, was taken to a nearby public house and placed in a private room. A doctor arrived and after a brief examination, revealed that the man had suffered an extremely violent assault, resulting in a number of serious head wounds, one of which was a skull fracture.

The badly beaten man died the following evening from the injuries  that he had sustained.
Without delay an investigation into the horrific murder began, headed by Chief Inspector William Tanner, an experienced police officer from Scotland Yard. The identity of the victim was soon established as Thomas Briggs, the chief clerk of a firm of bankers in Lombard Street, London. Apparently he had boarded an evening train at Fenchurch Street station that was bound for Hackney. He never reached his destination.
Tanner was in no doubt that the motive for the murder was one of robbery, after receiving credible information from those who knew him that he was in the habit of wearing a black top hat, gold spectacles and a gold watch and chain in his waistcoat. A subsequent search of the railway carriage revealed three personal items – a walking stick, a black beaver hat and a leather bag, all of which were lying in sickly pools of congealed blood. The spectacles and the watch and chain were missing.

Due to the nature of the missing items, the police naturally concentrated on London’s jewellery trade, and it was some time before they came up with their first promising lead.
In an area known as Cheapside, their investigations led them to a jewellery shop owned by a Mr. John Death. Death informed Inspector Tanner that a few days previously he had purchased a gold watch chain from a customer in his shop. Giving Tanner a full description of the customer, he added that he was certain he was a foreigner, with what he believed to be a German accent. Also, something that struck the jeweller as odd was that the man was wearing an unusual style of black hat.
On the 18th July, the police had their biggest breakthrough to date in the case of the murdered Thomas Briggs. Information had been received from a cabman by the name of Matthews which would shed further light on the crime. While interviewing Matthews, Inspector Tanner learned that the man’s eldest daughter had in fact been engaged to be married to a young man known as Franz Muller. Muller it seems had given the lady in question a gift in a small box; the box was given to Matthew’s youngest daughter to play with. Proud of her little box, the girl had shown it to her father who, purely by chance, noticed the name “John Death” printed inside; although he was not aware of its significance at the time. Matthews also informed Tanner that Muller often wore a black beaver hat.
In a further stroke of luck for the police Inspector, Matthews was also able to supply a photograph of Muller that John Death confirmed was the customer with the watch chain. On the 19th July a warrant was issued for the arrest of the suspected murderer.
Until now the case had progressed smoothly. However, Tanner was about to suffer a setback. News had reached Tanner at his Scotland Yard office that the imminent arrest of Muller had been thwarted. Muller was at that very moment on board a ship bound for America. Not to be outdone at the final hurdle in his search for the miscreant, Tanner, along with Sergeant George Clarke, wasted no time in travelling to Liverpool where they boarded the steamship “City of Manchester” bound for America.
Muller would no doubt have been extremely happy with himself as he stepped ashore from the sailing ship “Victoria”, onto the safety of American soil. After all, had he not outwitted the entire London police force, and literally got away with murder? Now he could start a new life in a new country on the proceeds from the sale of the gold watch, stowed safely in his luggage. All his troubles were over!

Before Muller had taken more than a few steps along the quayside, the words he thought that he would never hear uttered reached his ears. “Franz Muller, I arrest you for the murder of Thomas Briggs…” Standing in front of Muller was Inspector Tanner and Sergeant Clarke.
What the fleeing Muller did not know was that although he had left England well ahead of the two policemen, the ship they had boarded was faster and more powerful than the sailing ship in which he had travelled, and that they had arrived in New York three weeks ahead of him. Muller’s luggage was duly searched and the gold watch was discovered along with a strange black hat. Muller, being a tailor, had cut down the height of the top hat to alter its appearance.

After being brought back to England, Muller stood trial for murder at the Old Bailey on the 27th October 1864. Although much of the evidence against him was circumstantial, and also that an alibi had been provided by a known London prostitute, the jury took a mere fifteen minutes to return a verdict of guilty as charged.
On the 14th November Franz Muller was released from his shackles and led from the condemned cell in Newgate Prison to the scaffold where, it is claimed, he confessed to his crime to the German minister, (some believe it was a priest), who was in attendance.
Muller was hanged, publicly, in front of an estimated crowd of 50,000 people who had turned out especially to witness the spectacle, many making a one-day holiday out of the whole affair. However, this was not the last time that the name of Franz Muller would be on the lips of the British public.

Unwittingly, by cutting down the height of Thomas Briggs’ top hat, he had created a fashion for shorter top hats, known as the “Muller Cut-Down”. The style survived for many years to come.  One of its most ardent admirers was none other than the famous British Prime Minister – Winston Churchill!

(Britain’s First Railway Murder by Charles Moorhen)

The Devon Belle

On Friday June 20th 1947 the Southern Railway introduced a Pullman Car train named the “Devon Belle”.  Although initially envisaged as an express service to Ilfracombe in north Devon, when it started it had a front portion for Plymouth.
The “Devon Belle” left London’s Waterloo Station at 12 Noon every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday between Friday June 20th and Monday October 27th that year.
It was due to pass through Clapham Junction Station at 12.07pm, Surbiton at 12.17pm, Woking at 12.31pm, Andover Junction at 1.21pm, and Salisbury Station at 1.42pm.  The first stop out of London was at Wilton, where it was due to arrive at 1.47pm but only to change the locomotive.  Six minutes later the train was off again.  Templecombe was due to be passed at 2.20pm and Yeovil Junction at 2.33pm, the first stop for the passengers’ benefit being at Sidmouth Junction at 3.16pm.
From there it was but a short sprint to Exeter Central Station, where the “Devon Belle” was due to pull up at 3.36pm.  Here the train was split into two portions, the front for Plymouth and the rear for Barnstaple, Braunton, Mortehoe and Ilfracombe.
The Plymouth portion was due to depart from Exeter Central at 3.41pm and Exeter St David’s, the Great Western Railway’s Station, at 3.44pm.   Only two stops were then made, at Okehampton, arrive 4.25pm, and Tavistock, arrive 4.53pm, before the “Devon Belle” reached the Southern Railway’s Devonport Station at 5.20pm.
Shortly after leaving Devonport Station the train went on to Great Western metals at Devonport Junction.  A short stop  was made at North Road Station at 5.26pm and then it was off for the final swing through Lipson Junction to the Southern’s terminus at Friary Station, where the “Devon Belle” was due to arrive at 5.36pm.
The upward journey began at Friary Station at 11.30am, leaving Devonport Station at 11.44am.  After connecting up with its north Devon portion at Exeter Central Station again, the train was due to arrive at Waterloo Station at 5.20pm.  The Up and Down trains passed each other somewhere between Yeovil Junction and Sidmouth Junction.
Mr George M Pullman, an American disgruntled by the poor standard of passenger accommodation on his country’s trains, devised the luxurious carriage that bore his name.  That was in 1858 but it was not until 1875 that a constituent company of the Southern Railway, the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway, introduced them on their express trains between London and Brighton.
When first run the train consisted of ten carriages, six for Ilfracombe and four for Plymouth but this was soon found to be inadequate, especially during the height of the holiday season.  As a result, the “Devon Belle” usually consisted of twelve carriages, eight for Ilfracombe, including the famous Pullman Observation Car at the rear, and four for Plymouth.  This allowed for 70 first-class and 138 third-class passengers, with every seat having a dining table.   When required the capacity was increased by the addition of two more carriages, bringing the total seating capacity to 94 and 168 respectively.  The train would normally weigh 460 tons but the larger one would increase that to 540 tons or around 575 tons with passengers and luggage.
Every pair of carriages had a kitchen and pantry so that meals could be served quickly and efficiently to all tables.  Indeed, there were 22 Pullman staff on each train, including an attendant for each carriage and the conductor.   They travelled right through to either Ilfracombe or Plymouth and then stopped overnight at each terminus in old Pullman cars that were specially converted for sleeping.
In the first-class carriages the parlour seats were arranged down each side.  For a party who wished for privacy, four seats were partitioned off to form a coupé.  In the third-class carriages the seats were arranged in pairs down one side and singly down the other and the capacity of the coupé was increased to six persons.  The kitchens were tiny but could serve anything from an ice cream to a full dinner.  The carriages were entirely of wood construction.   Nine men were employed to clean and polish the carriages of the “Devon Belle”, starting at 6am in the morning.
Although the Observation Cars did not run on the Plymouth portion it might be mentioned that they were rebuilt by the Pullman company from two ordinary third-class carriages, numbers 13 and 14.  Seating was in comfortable armchairs and double settees that could swivelled to face any direction.  Each Observation Car had its own refreshment buffet and kitchen.
The Southern Railway ceased to exist from Midnight on December 31st 1947, following which its system became the Southern Region of British Railways, under the terms set out in the Transport Act of August 6th 1947.
During the 1949 summer season the trains ran in the Down direction on Thursdays to Mondays and in the Up direction on Fridays to Tuesdays. However, in the summer of 1950 the Plymouth portion was detached at Exeter Central Station and kept there until the return working the following day.
Thus 1949 was the last year in which Plymouth saw Pullman carriages in regular service.


Varosliget and Szentendre Railway Museums, Budapest

I am a very fortunate fellow.  My wife Olive not only shares my passion for football – we were both at Wembley cheering the Seasiders into the Premiership, she is also stirred by the sight and smell of a steam locomotive at speed.
For our 60th birthdays we decided we would treat ourselves to two very special holidays.  For Ollie a two-week cruise (courtesy of her Pru pension fund) around the Mediterranean was a holiday she had always dreamed of and the glorious weather meant we cruised in style.
My shopping list comprised the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne, the SNCF Museum in Mulhouse and the MAV museum in Budapest.  After browsing the web for a few days we discovered there was more to Budapest than Vasuttorteneti Railway Park, so we decided on Budapest.  The array of riverside bars and restaurants helping Ollie concur with my decision.
So in the first week of October we flew to Budapest, via Heathrow.  We had travelled south to see the family on route.  (A mental note – do not fly from Heathrow again.  We are not a pretty site stripped half naked for the security searches, but nether were many of the other passengers!)
At Ferihegy airport we purchased our Budapest travel cards and boarded the service bus to Kobanya-Kispest metro station.  The narrow passageways and the market stalls reminded us of India before we boarded a venerable and very Eastern European metro train on the M5 line direct to our Ibis hotel, which was right on top of Dozsa Gyorgy metro station.

A quick wash and brush up and back on the metro to Nyugati main line station for lunch.  The First Class restaurant is now a MacDonald’s, so we chose a snack in the cafe on the station concourse – reminded us of the Blue Train restaurant at the Gare de Lyon in Paris.  We meandered down to the Danube taking in all the attractions on route before enjoying the unseasonal warmth and taking in a glass (or two) of beer and wine at a riverside bar.  Felt like home at Blackpool with the trams rattling past every few minutes!
The following morning we took the trolleybus to Heroes Square and wandered through Varosliget Park, passed Vajdahunyad Castle, to the Kozlekedesi Transport museum.  A cosmetically restored 2-10-0 adorned the entrance in a structure which also included an old bi-plane.

The following morning we took the trolleybus to Heroes Square and wandered through Varosliget Park, passed Vajdahunyad Castle, to the Kozlekedesi Transport museum.
A cosmetically restored 2-10-0 adorned the entrance in a structure which also included an old bi-plane.  Also outside of the museum we came across an old steam shunting loco and a wonderful cafe, once was an Orient Express carriage.  Looked very promising, but on entering the museum we told very brusquely ‘ no photos’ and my camera bag ands my wife’s handbag were immediately placed into a locker.  I had to fight to keep hold of my notebook and pen!  Inside, the collection of old steam locos, cars, bikes, photos and artefacts was fabulous.  On leaving we were told by a Dutch visitor that you can take photos but you have to buy a ‘permit’, but the English signage did not make this obvious.  Nevertheless, it was well worth the visit.
The following day we scheduled a visit to the MEV (suburban) museum at Szentendre.  After a short journey on the metro we boarded a very modern EMU for the very attractive half hour journey alongside the

As we pulled into Szentendre station we could see the old depot, which dates back to 1914.  The entrance was like going into a private house but the two ladies on reception were very friendly, even though they could not speak English.  The museum comprises 5 exhibition rooms, two displays halls, plus the outside sidings and was opened in 1992.

The exhibits include a trolleybus, over 20 preserved trams, including a steam tram, some of which are operated on public holidays.  Displayed in the exterior yard was a collection of steam, diesel and electric locomotives which operated the suburban services before the current fleet of EMUs.  The old ladies in reception periodically checked on our well-being as we were the only visitors for most of the time we were there.  They could see we really enjoyed our visit and as we left gave us a number of magazines on the current HEV operation.  After a visit to the Marzipan Museum and a glass of wine in the old village square, we headed back to Budapest.  In many cities this museum would be the star attraction, but this was only to be the hors d’oeuvre…..
On the Thursday we crossed over to the Buda side of the city riding the 1870 funicular up to Buda castle.  After taking in the stunning views across the Danube, Ollie was serenaded (not by me!) in the cafe in the ramparts, before riding the quaint M1 metro back to Heroes Square.
Next day – my big Six 0! On arrival at Nyugati Station the vintage diesel railcar shuttle was already indicated on the departure board.  The rail fare and the museum entrance fee was included in our Budapest travel card.

The railcar ran along the main line for several miles before turning off alongside a marshalling yard and then on to the tracks of what used to be the Hungarian State Railways (MAV) Budapest North Depot.  The 34-bay roundhouse of this huge depot, built in 1911, has remained intact and is the focal point of the museum which opened in 2000.
Our visit was towards the end of the season and again we were the only visitors apart from an Hungarian family who were treating their father, a retired railway worker, to a special day out on his birthday. We wandered passed the display sidings, but they would have to wait until we had been to the roundhouse at the far side of the shed.  On passing the cafe, the chef advised us in sign language he would cook lunch for us at anytime.  And then – a sight that took my breath away.  In front of us was a line up of 17 steam locos in the roundhouse, all in date order and all beautifully preserved.  There were very early locos through to the large suburban tanks at the end of steam era and five express locos in full working order.  The loading gauge is much bigger than British railways and the size of these giants basking in the sunshine took my breath away.
After photographing the line-up, the sun unfortunately was behind most of the locos, we studied each one in turn with the help of the Hungarian/English information boards.  Many you could climb aboard.  Inside the roundhouse were carriages undergoing restoration and few diesel locomotives.  The demonstration sidings were quiet except for a diesel preparing the stock for the steam special at the coming week-end.  The celebrity steam loco 109.109 came into view also being washed, oiled and coaled for the week-end special.
I did not want to turn away from this nostalgia, but my stomach said I should.  We then ambled through the display sidings which also contained many gems: a fully restored rotary steam plough, a pre-war stream-lined DMU, a 1912 teak dining car for the Orient Express, as well as many interesting early diesel and electric locomotives. Finally, on our last day in Budapest we dined in the ‘Baross Terem’ the first class international restaurant at Keleti station.  Resplendent with its oak panelling , four Corinthian columns,  120 year old ‘Clock Cupboard’ and the white grand piano centre stage this was dining in style from a bygone era, but at the price of a pavement cafe. A glorious end to a glorious holiday

(Ken Philcox)

Vasuttorteneti Park –

Szentendre Transport Museum –

Kozlekedesi Transport Museum –


Furness Railway – Barrow & Fleetwood Services

The first railway to reach a port on the North West coast of England was the the Furness Railway at Barrow on Furness. Railway companies were not empowered to run shipping services at this stage, so the Barrow Steam Navigation Co was formed to start service from Barrow to Belfast. Both the Midland Railway and the Furness Railway had interests in the Barrow Steam Navigation. In 1904, the Midland Railway’s purpose-built port at Heysham was opened, with direct rail connection. Four new steamers were built to open services to Belfast and Douglas (Isle of Man). In 1907, the Barrow Steam Navigation was taken over by the Midland Railway, and the City of Belfast and Duchess of Devonshire joined the fleet, mainly used as relief and summer extra vessels.

The Furness Railway was a relatively minor English company, which founded its early prosperity on the carriage of iron ore. As this traffic declined towards the end of the 19th Century, the Company sought to increase the tourist passenger traffic to the English Lake District, the area in which its trains operated. In 1900 they introduced a passenger ferry service across Morecambe Bay, between Barrow and Fleetwood. There were tram connections onwards from Fleetwood to Blackpool. This service operated successfully, using a total of four paddle steamers, until the outbreak of war in 1914. The service was not revived after the war.

The first Barrow-Fleetwood boat was the Lady Evelyn, acquired to inaugurate the service in 1900. She had been built by Scotts of Kinghorn for the service, and was so successful that she was lengthened by 30ft in 1904 to increase passenger accommodation. She remained with the Company until requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1914. After the war, she was sold for Bristol Channel service, eventually becoming the Brighton Belle of P & A Campbell. She was lost at Dunkirk in 1940.

Due to the success of Lady Evelyn, a second paddlesteamer was acquired in 1903 from P&A Campbell. She was the Lady Margaret of 1895, which retained her name in Furness service. She was larger and faster than Lady Evelyn, but was sold to the Admiralty in 1908 for tender duties, and was broken up in 1923. She had a short history with both civilian operators, but references are not clear as to why both should discard her so soon. It is suggested that she was heavy on fuel.
Furness needed a replacement for the Lady Margaret which was sold in 1908. They acquired the elderly General Steam Navigation steamer Philomel, which had been built in 1889. She required considerable expense before entering service, but soon acquired the local nickname “Full-o’-smell”. After only two years in service, her boilers needed replacement, which was to cost almost as much as her purchase price. Furness were unable to sell her for further service, and she was scrapped in 1913.

The Furness Railway again needed a replacement steamer for the 1910 season, following the boiler problems of Philomel. They planned to buy the magnificent Barry Railway vessel Devonia for £22,750 (Philomel had cost £5250), but the condition of the machinery was deemed unacceptable. Money was authorised to repair the Philomel, until the Devonia’s sistership Gwalia was offered at the same price of £22,750. She received a blue hull in Furness service, and the new name Lady Moyra. She operated until she was requisitioned at the start of WW1. After the war, she joined Lady Evelyn/Brighton Belle in the P&A Campbell fleet as the Brighton Queen, and she was also lost at Dunkirk, three days after her fleetmate on 31st May 1940.

Atlantic Coast Express

The forerunner of the “Atlantic Coast Express” was the LSWR 11:00 am departure from Waterloo for Plymouth. This was quite a notable train in its day as, in 1904, it was running to Salisbury in 1 hr 32 mins, changing engines there, then on to Exeter in 1 hr 38 mins where, after another change of engine, it departed for the next booked stop, Devonport, where it arrived at 3:44 pm, followed by North Road, Mutley and finally Plymouth Friary at 4:05 pm. The LSWR advertised the service as non-stop from Exeter Queen Street to Devonport, though of course the GWR would never allow the train to pass through their St Davids station without stopping!
It was largely the success of this train that prompted the GWR to build two of its cut-offs, at Westbury and Castle Carey, to shorten its own route to London, then some 22¼ miles longer from Exeter. The LSWR supremacy, though, was not to be long-lived as in July 1904 the GWR intoduced the “Cornish Riviera Express” with its non-stop run from Paddington to Plymouth in 4 hrs 25 mins, some 19 minutes quicker than the LSWR train with all its stops and changes of engine.
No longer competitive on the time to Plymouth, the LSWR started adding extra stops, calling at Sidmouth Junction, North Tawton, Okehampton, Lydford and Tavistock, as well as acknowledging the stop at Exeter St Davids. Extra destinations were bolted on and with Plymouth no longer a competetive run, this portion became of secondary importance to the Ilfracombe portion and there were portions for Bideford, Bude and Padstow with through coaches detached for other places. Then in the late 1920s, by which time there were nine different destinations for parts of the train, came one of those PR masterstrokes for which the Southern Railway was known. A competition was held amongst staff to find a name for this many-destination train and one Guard Rowland of Woking came up with the winning suggestion, and the “Atlantic Coast Express” was born. The inaugral run under this name took took place on 19th July 1926, behind King Arthur class loco Nº779 Sir Colgrevance.
With the arrival of the Lord Nelson class locos through running from Waterloo to Exeter had been tried, but did not last for long and the Salisbury engine change was re-instated (though Wilton was used for the later “Devon Belle”). In 1939 timings were 1 hr 26 mins to Salisbury where five minutes were allowed for the change of engine, then on to Sidmouth Junction in 1 hr 23 mins and a further 18 times for the 11:00 Waterloo departure were: Torrington 3:58 pm, Ilfracombe 4:05 pm, Plymouth Friary 4:19 pm, Bude 4:39 pm and Padstow 5:37 pm. All this ceased for the duration of WWII, though there was still a 11:00 am departure from Waterloo.
Upon restoration of the “ACE” after the end of the war the railway now had its new Bulleid pacifics to call upon. The train would normally leave Waterloo behind a Merchant Navy which would go all the way to Exeter, though the stop at Salisbury was still required for water and a crew change, then a light pacific would take over for duties west of Exeter. Lack of proper maintenance during the war meant that initially schedules were slower than pre-war, but by the summer 1952 timetable timings had been reduced to lower than in 1939. Through the height of the summer season loadings were so great that the train would run in two portions, the main train left Waterloo at 11:00 am with portions for Ilfracombe, Torrington, Sidmouth and Exmouth whilst the relief train left at varying times just before or after this with portions for Bude, Padstow and Plymouth, also calling at Axminster to connect with the Lyme Regis branch. The up journeys were basically the reverse of the down with one exception, a through portion from Yeovil Town which called at all stations to Gillingham where it was added to the rear of the “ACE”, also only a brief halt at Sidmouth Junction was required as the through coaches from Sidmouth were attached along with a coach from Seaton, to the preceding 10:30 am ex-Exeter service. During the late 1950s traffic could be so heavy on summer Saturdays that there was a succession of trains needed to carry all those wanting to travel to the Devon and North Cornwall resorts but by the early 1960s this traffic was in decline. As the private motor car became more reliable and affordable so the numbers travelling by train dropped off rapidly with the result that the last ever “ACE” ran on 5 September 1964.
The “ACE” had no rival in the UK for the number of individual portions incorporated into one train, so much so that at times it almost seemed it consisted entirely of brake coaches! Leaving Waterloo a typical winter formation would be a second corridor and composite brake for Ilfracombe, composite brakes for each of Torrington, Padstow and Bude, second brake and composite for Plymouth, buffet, kitchen and open restaurant cars to be detached at Exeter, composite brakes for each of Exmouth, Sidmouth and all stations Salisbury to Honiton, the latter detached at Salisbury.
One sad footnote to the “ACE” story concerns Guard Rowland who moved from Surrey to live in Torrington in Devon where he was unfortunate enough to become the only railwayman ever to be killed on the Halwill – Torrington line.

Damaging A Locomotive Engine!

William Steevens was charged, on the complaint of William Thomas Mosley, of West Monkton, with having on the 7th of September contracted with John Logan to serve him as an engine-cleaner, and also that, having entered into such service, he was guilty of misdemeanour and ill-behaviour, to wit, that he did by negligence and misconduct damage a locomotive engine, thereby doing injury to the amount of £100. Mr H. Trenchard appeared for the complainant, and Mr Taunton for the defendant.
Mr Trenchard having explained the circumstances of the case, called Mr Mosley, who said that he lived at Bathpool and was the superintendent engineer and manager of the Taunton and Chard Railway. The defendant was in his employ, and was paid by the week. His duty was to clean the engine at night, and to light the fire in the engine in the morning, about two hours before it commenced work. The defendant had no right to put the engine in motion. In consequence of some information witness saw the engine which was under the care of the defendant, on Thursday morning, near Thorn Water. It was very much damaged, which was caused through water not having been pumped into the boiler. This arose through the engine having been used by some one who could not put on the feed-pipe to convey the water from the tank into the boiler. Supposing a fire were lighted and the water were exhausted, an explosion of the boiler‘ would take place. He found the tubes and boiler of the engine bursted; they were safe the night before. It was the duty of the engine-driver to leave sufficient water and coal in the engine at night for it to be fit for work the following morning. It was the driver’s duty to leave water both in the tank and the boiler. The defendant had been in his employ about two months. It was no part of the duty of the defendant to supply the engine with water.
James Needs said he was the driver of the engine named BUSY BEE, of which the defendant was the cleaner. He (defendant) had been engaged in that occupation about nine nights before Wednesday last. The duty of the defendant was to clean the engine at night, and to light the fire at half-past three in the morning, so as to get the steam up by the usual time. He had no right to move the engine after witness left it at night. He (witness) provided coal and water, and he left the engine in a proper state on Wednesday night for the fire to be lighted the next morning. Just as witness left his lodgings, about five o’clock on Thursday morning, he heard an explosion. He went to the spot where he left the engine and found all the water gone and the tubes bursted. There was plenty of water in the feeder to the boiler, which could have been put into the engine by a person who understood it. Moving the engine would consume the water much faster than if it were allowed to stand still. He left sufficient water in the engine to prevent any explosion taking place before he got to it if it had not been moved. Witness provided the usual amount of coal on the previous night. When he first saw the defendant he was lying in a dyke, near to the engine, with his hair standing up, as if he‘ were much frightened. The feed-pipes in the morning were shut off, as witness had left them on the previous evening. Some water was in the tank which he had not left there on the previous evening.
By the Bench: When he saw the defendant in the morning he said to him (witness) that he had been down to look for coals.
By Mr. Trenchard: He first saw the defendant about one hundred yards from the engine, in a field. Supposing coals were wanted, it was the duty of the defendant to go to witness and tell him of it. The defendant would have to go to Thorn Water for coal, and if he had burnt all the coal left by witness and fetched more he mast have lighted the fire two hours earlier than he was ordered to do.
John Bicker, stoker on the BUSY BEE, said that the night before the explosion there was plenty of water in the boiler, and the usual amount of coal left. If the engine had been lighted at the proper time, and was not moved, there was ample water in the boiler to prevent an explosion. It was not the duty of the defendant to drive the engine. He did not hear the last witness give the defendant any orders as to what was his duty.
John Godfrey, watchman on the line, said he heard an engine whistle on the line about two o’clock on Thursday morning. About a quarter to three o‘clock the BUSY BEE passed him with only one man on it. At a quarter past four o’clock the engine returned, and the steam at that time was blowing off freely. Witness could not tell who was on the engine.
For the defendant Mr Taunton contended that there was no more pretence for this charge than there would be if a servant of one of the magistrates, who was instructed to lead a horse into Taunton, rode it instead, and thereby an accident occurred. The fact was, that the defendant, acting as an energetic servant in his masters’ interest, rose up early In the morning in question, and, manifesting his energy and zeal without skill, went to get a sufficient supply of coal, which the engine-driver had not provided. There was no pretence for saying that there was any negligence in the case, the only thing against the defendant being over-zeal in the discharge of his duty.
Mr. Badcock said the magistrates thought the case had been proved, and the act of the defendant was fraught with immense danger, inasmuch as if he had driven on to the main line and come in contact with the mail train, the lives of many persons might have been sacrificed. They thought it necessary to make an example of the defendant, and should sentence him to one month’s imprisonment, with hard labour.

This most illuminating account was extracted from the “Somerset County Gazette”, issue dated 9th September 1863. One can but wonder how present-day vandals would have been punished by the Courts.

(Industrial Railway Society Records)

The Ribble Tunnel

Newspaper report relating to the proposed Ribble Tunnel Scheme.
Lytham Times, 22 March, 1907.

Mr. Hardman’s proposals for linking up Blackpool and Southport with Wigan by a new railway aroused much interest at a meeting in the Blackpool Winter Gardens on Friday evening.
Mr. Hardman said it was with pleasure he conveyed to the Blackpool Traders’ Association of the heartiest wishes of the Southport Chamber of Commerce for the prosperity and success of the trade of Blackpool. The members of the Southport Chamber of Commerce had been considering for some time what would be the most feasible scheme for joining Blackpool with Southport by a shorter route in their mutual interests and to see whether they could not in reality make Southport and Blackpool one watering-place.
As the crow flies, Southport and Blackpool were twelve miles apart, but by rail the shortest route was 34 miles, and via Burscough to Blackpool Central was 42¼ miles. The missing link in the railway systems in the district was a direct line from Wigan to Blackpool passing either over or under the estuary of the Ribble, and the proposals which he submitted to the Southport Chamber of Commerce, and which their members believed to be the best scheme was a line from Wigan, following the Douglas Valley to Gathurst, through an important colliery district, then via Appley Bridge, with its stone quarries, corn mills, etc., to Parbold, a beautiful residential district; then on to Rufford, a picturesque old-world village, which would become an important centre of traffic, and from which station they could assume new lines would be constructed to Southport, and would form the junction for Liverpool, Ormskirk, etc., into Blackpool; then to Hesketh Bank, which would form the junction with he Southport and Preston line, crossing by a double tube railway underneath the estuary of the Ribble to Warton, going by a straight route to Blackpool, and obtaining running powers over existing lines or building independent lines in default of obtaining such powers. The members of the Southport Chamber of Commerce appointed a Sub-committee with a view to furthering this project, and he was appointed with Mr. Blakey on a deputation to the then Mayor of Blackpool, Coun. Broadhead, who received the deputation in a most cordial manner, and he, might say that at a Council meeting held the previous Friday the members expressed the great pleasure they would have in co-operating with their sister association in Blackpool. Obviously such a line would shorten the railway mileage in a very marked degree.
Mr. Haigh estimated the cost of the new line from Wigan to Blackpool, inclusive of the tunnel, at £1,800,000, including rolling stock and equipment. Careful statements had been prepared of the estimated traffic on a very conservative estimate of £170 per mile per week.
Then there were other stations like St. Helens, Oldham, Ashton, Stockport, West Leigh, etc., from which the new line would receive a large traffic and the mileage distances would be either similar or shorter than existing routes. The enormous mineral traffic of Wigan would obviously take advantage of the short direct route. The great advantage to Blackpool of the distance would be a saving of time in railway travelling and an automatic reduction of railway fares. Whenever a new line was made between points which shortened the mileage to get there the shortest competitive line ruled the rates and fares. Goods rates would also fall, and there would be splendid reductions in railway rates, with a large saving of time in transit of goods. Goods traffic from the South would be expedited by 24 hours, and Blackpool would get goods from London 16 hours after despatch.
He had had a very interesting interview with Mr. Sam Fay, the general manager of the Great Central Railway, and after discussing the scheme with him, he asked Mr. Fay what his opinion was as to the power of the short route to Blackpool to attract traffic, assuming three expresses started from Wigan to Blackpool at a given time, one from the Great Central on the short route, one from the North-Western, and another from the Lancashire and Yorkshire, and his opinion was the short route would unquestionably capture the bulk of the traffic. If the new line became an accomplished fact, that was by an extension from Wigan under the joint use by Great Central, Midland and Great Northern Companies, or by the two first-named Companies, the benefits they would each confer to the Fylde district would be incalculable.
First the town of Blackpool would be on the through main line, and not on a branch section, as at present. Secondly, it would also compel the present Companies (Lancashire and Yorkshire and London and North- Western), as a protection in their own selfish interests against the new competitors, to grant the full benefit of their centre line to the public use, and throw down the present restrictions. Even if this was done how fare and rate reductions would automatically follow because of the reduced mileage.
The London and North-Western at present did not push their Company’s traffic to the fullest extent to Blackpool, as they had seaside resorts on the North Wales coast which they catered for, also in the Lake District and Scotland. If the Midland and Great Central had an independent line into Blackpool, it would be to their interests to press its claims on their passengers.
The residents of Blackpool should do all in their power to further the proposed new line in order to obtain more visitors, and to secure more independent competition which would also make large towns more accessible. The completion of the Ribble “tunnel” would completely change the aspect of railway communication to Blackpool. Mr. Haigh and his friends had recognised that it was only the first link in a new system to serve the traffic of Blackpool, but it was of the greatest importance to Mr. Haigh and his friends to confine their energies for the present to the main Wigan and Blackpool line; the extensions to Southport and the north would follow. When the line was finished no doubt Northern outlets would be sought for!

Railway Accident, Moss Side, Lytham 1849

Following on from the report of a Train Crash in Preston……

Newspaper report about a serious collision on the Preston & Wyre Railway at Moss Side near Lytham. Many passengers were returning from the Lytham Agricultural Show.
The Preston Guardian, Saturday, September 22, 1849

We have noticed in another part of to-day’s paper, the serious mismanagement of the trains on the Preston and Wyre Railway on Thursday last. On such an occasion as the Agricultural meeting, when the stress of passengers is great, we may expect some little longer time to be occupied in the transit; but on Thursday the length of time taken in travelling between Preston and Lytham was out of all character. There appeared the whole day, (indeed, I we hear that to some extent this is observable on other occasions,) an entire absence of management or system, as if the persons in connexion with the line acted independent of one another, and of any plan of subordination or authority.
This irregularity had on Thursday evening well nigh been attended with most disastrous results. As the special train from Lytham, which left there about twenty minutes past nine, neared the Moss Side Station, about two miles from Lytham, it came in contact with an engine and a train of six empty carriages which were coming from Fleetwood, some one or other there having fancied they might possibly be wanted at Lytham. We may remark that this train entered the Lytham branch line after the time commenced for the dispatch of the special train to Preston, and that from the main line to Lytham there is only a single line of rails. As they came within sight of the Moss Side station, the station master had held out two white lights the signal for “all right,” so the train proceeded, fortunately at a slow rate.
As the train from Lytham approached, the same signal was held out to it. The train had travelled the whole way, at an exceedingly slow rate, and this was being slackened for stopping at the station. The engine men and stokers on each train saw the other advancing, and immediately reversed their engines, and as they were not going fast, the speed was soon greatly reduced, but not so as to avoid their coming in contact, with considerable force.
Before this took place, the men in charge of the respective engines jumped off.” The concussion took place about thirty or forty yards on the Lytham side of the station. It shook the passengers from their seats,— throwing some of them with such force that their heads staved in panels of the partitions between the compartments, and smashed thick plate glass panes in the coupés. Both engines were disabled from proceeding any farther, and one of them was thrown off the line; the body was injured, the wheels damaged, buffers broken and otherwise seriously “wounded.” Some of the carriages were very much smashed, and in this respect the company will suffer a very heavy loss. A considerable number of the passengers were severely cut and bruised, and many ill shaken, but no lives were lost, nor did any one receive any serious injury likely to be permanent. Blackened arms and legs, a few cat lips, scratched faces, and a few bloody noses, were the principal injuries sustained, beyond a multitude of hats staved in, and a few coats torn. The escape from serious loss of life was almost Miraculous.
On the accident occurring, the two engines appeared immovable, one being off the line, and the other, though on the line, was so injured that the water came from the boiler; so the fire was at once raked out. It was the opinion of the railway employees that no movement of the engines could be made for some hours either one way or the other, and nearly an hour
elapsed before any effort was made to remedy the evil. Some of the passengers returned to Lytham, others sought the hospitality of the, farmers of the neighbourhood, many walked to Kirkham, some few, we believe, to Preston, while a considerable number “stood by the ship,” determined to see the end of the catastrophe. The night was cold, but fair, and the unfortunate travellers whiled away their time as best they could, in congratulating themselves on their hair-breadth escape, in jokes on their scratched and “bonnetted” companions, and in denunciations of the mismanagement that had caused the delay. After some time an attempt was made to get—by the aid of an engine which arrived from Lytham—the battered engines to the siding, about half a mile nearer Lytham, and this was with some difficulty at length accomplished.
Punch says the best way to prevent railway accidents is to have a director in the train; but this, it appears, is not always effective, for Mr. Marshall, one of the directors of the company, was a passenger. It was well it was so; for we believe it was only his authority, and that rather tardily exercised, that got the passengers off at all. The disabled engines being got on the sidings the train proceeded, though at a very slow rate. It got off by the help of an engine sent from Kirkham, about half-past eleven, and arrived at Preston three or four minutes before one o’clock—the whole of the party thankful for their safe arrival.
When the train reached the Maudland station, another strange proceeding took place. The Preston passengers were all ordered by the porters to alight at this unusual spot, although the train had to proceed under the tunnel, on account of the Blackburn and Lancaster trains being there waiting for passengers for those places. Remonstrance was made, so the train was allowed to proceed to its proper destination. We understand that a searching investigation will be made into the cause of the accident; and it would not be amiss, at the same time, to extend the inquiry into the general management of the line.

We learn that there was a narrow escape from an accident at the Moss Side station, a short time ago, from the neglect of a signal or a shunt.
In the morning of Thursday a serious if not fatal accident occurred on the line. A servant-man, taking to the show some cattle belonging to W. Turner, Esq., of Flax- moss House was riding on one of the boxes containing the cattle, when his head came in contact with one of the bridges, and he was thrown down and seriously hurt. He was alive yesterday morning, though in a very precarious state.

SERIOUS COLLISION ON THE LYTHAM BRANCH RAILWAY as reported in the papers of the day.

Railways At War

Over 70 Years Since War Was Declared But What Part Did Our Railways Play?

By far the largest part of the burden of war production fell on the railways.
The materials to build the new war factories, the raw materials to make the munitions of war, the men and women who fashion them as well as the finished products, had all to be carried on the railways.
Loads ranging from the heaviest naval guns and tanks to the lightest rifles and pieces of equipment rolled along the railways. Aircraft, petrol and fuels; ammunition, bombs, mines, shells and foodstuffs, the list is endless.
Heavy consignments were continually being carried to British shipyards, helping them to achieve new records in building and repairing merchantmen and warships.
Vast tonnages of high explosives were handled through the railways’ freight services, thousands upon thousands of tons of dangerous goods were safely conveyed.
In addition to railway equipment sent abroad at the beginning of the war, one hundred and forty-three powerful British railway freight locomotives, specially equipped for service overseas, with tenders and the necessary spare parts were despatched. 1,600 steel-framed 12-ton wagons were built and sent overseas in double-quick time. By working day and night shifts, the 1,800 parts required to complete each wagon were fitted together at the railway assembling works so that a new wagon was turned out every 37 minutes!

Railways assisted in the construction of the new factories. Bricks and building supplies were conveyed as fast as they could be absorbed. Sidings were laid into fields, signal boxes built, new factory stations erected and services arranged both inside and outside the factory areas. Some of the factories were served by main lines, others, some miles from the nearest towns, were linked by specially built spur lines. The breaking-up of industry into dispersed units for strategic reasons meant that instead of carrying materials, goods, and workers in bulk into large centres, the railways had to cater for smaller consignments to many additional destinations. Often the raw materials required by the factories were heavy while the products are light. This meant that the wagons which bring the raw materials to the factories were not suitable to distribute the finished product, so that the demand on transport was a double one.
Seven thousand additional trains were run every week to convey workers to and from Government factories. At one factory alone nearly a quarter of a million train journeys were made by workers in over 400 trains every week. At another factory 200,000 people travelled by over 350 trains.
Millions of people also worked at privately-owned factories on war work. These were carried by the railways’ ordinary train services, augmented as necessary. During 1942, 400 million passenger journeys were made by the holders of Workmen’s Tickets.

Amongst the heaviest freight trains were “block” coal trains worked by the L.M.S. from Midland collieries to the South. These were hauled by Garratt locomotives with 86 13-ton wagons which, together with the brake van, exceed 1,400 tons. Iron ore trains weighing as much as 1,700 tons were hauled by two L.N.E.R. locomotives of medium size. G.W.R. locomotives of the 2-8-0 type also hauled heavy loads such as 49 20-ton wagons of coal between Swindon and London, the gross weights including the brake van being 1,490 tons.
Locomotives of the British railways attained huge mileages, 100,000 miles being frequently run between general repairs. On the G.W.R. freight engines recorded 1,500 miles between Mondays and Fridays, and L.M.S. diesel locomotives work 144 hours continuously every week. Express passenger locomotives which prior to the war worked exclusively on passenger trains were being used for the haulage of war goods trains. The stock of locomotives became more of a standard design and engines were being used over much wider areas, resulting in a much smaller variety of spare parts, less time required for fitting them, and less manufacture. Strenuous efforts were made to speed up repairs to railway locomotives and to keep as many in traffic as long as possible without overhaul.

Spread throughout Britain there were 544,715 railwaymen and 105,703 railway women. They were without 102,984 of their colleagues released to join H.M. Forces; 90,000 trained as Home Guards and 170,000 fully trained in Civil Defence. The Railways were among the first to form their own L.D.V. (Home Guard) units; hundreds of thousands of railwaymen volunteered.
Amongst the units of the Army almost exclusively manned by trained personnel drawn from the railways were the Docks Groups, Movement Control units, and Railway Construction Companies of the Royal Engineers.
Before the war the railways employed 26,000 women, mainly in the clerical grades, as shorthand typists, machine telegraph and telephone operators, and in smaller numbers as carriage cleaners, waiting-room attendants, cooks and mess-room attendants, crossing keepers and office cleaners.
Since the outbreak of the war women were trained and employed in many other trades as men were released to the Forces. Their employment was under a national scheme, and, by agreement with the trade unions, women employed on manual work formerly done by a man were, after an agreed period, paid the standard rate of the man replaced.
At passenger and goods stations women handled parcels and merchandise. They checked and weighed goods and acted as porters, signalmen and lampmen and “man” the horses and delivery vans and acted as stablemen. Women also did the work of booing and enquiry clerks and announce, by loud speaker, the arrival and departure of trains and other notices to passengers. Women also acted as ticket collectors and cleaners on the London tubes.
In the engine sheds and docks the work is usually heavy. Women were employed as loaders and porters and on engines as oilers, greasers and firelighters. They assisted in the maintenance of the permanent way, and in the workshops they did useful work in most trades and were able to undertake skilled work as core-makers, coppersmiths, concrete mixers, turners, welders, etc.

The British railway woman adapted herself quickly to new surroundings and work which was very different from her pre-war occupation, and she took her share of night work. In many cases her husband was in the Forces, and she showed a marked devotion to duty, sometimes in difficult circumstances during and after enemy air activity. She did her turn of duty and went home to the cares of a house and children. She made a vitally important contribution to the war effort.
The zoning of supplies, district by district, to make each area of the country as self-supporting as possible, meant the re-arrangement of hundreds of freight services. The increase of home-grown foodstuffs, with millions of acres of land under cultivation, resulted in increasing demands for railway transport. Fertilisers, seed potatoes, sugar beet, tractors and farming equipment, as well as land workers, were catered for, frequently by special trains.
Meanwhile, owing to the shortage of cups and glasses for refreshments at stations, amounting to 5,000,000 cups, passengers were advised to carry their own drinking utensils!!!

Compiled By Chris Mills with extracts from ‘Facts About British Railways In Wartime’ : British Railways Press Office, 1943

Tramways in Britain 1807-1960

The word ‘tram’ is derived from a Scandinavian word for a beam or baulk of wood, the term being used mainly in the North of England and Scotland. When these beams were used as guides for wagons used in mining or other industrial activities, the tracks laid were referred to as ‘tram ways’.

For our purposes a tramway is regarded as one that transported fare-paying passengers to a regular timetable, and although freight had been carried by this method in Britain since 21st May 1801 when the Surrey Iron Railway opened, it was not until 25th March 1807 that the Oystermouth Railway (running between Swansea and Mumbles) began to offer a service to fare-paying passengers. Pioneered by Benjamin French, using a converted stagecoach, it was the first such tramway in the United Kingdom, and also the first in the world, to carry fare-paying passengers.
Subsequently, however, tramway development continued abroad, mainly in the United States of America, where many ‘street railways’ were opened. In Europe initial interest was minimal. Only Paris had what amounted to a tramway, a guided horse-bus in 1853. It was not until the American entrepreneur George Francis Train, arrived in England in 1860 that ‘street railways’ were introduced into Britain. His first request to Liverpool City council went unanswered, and so he turned to neighbouring Birkenhead. On 30th August 1860 he opened Britain’s first street tramway running between the Woodside Ferry terminal and Birkenhead Park, a distance of 1½ miles. When Train returned to America in 1862, he had opened lines in London, Darlington and the Potteries, although not all survived for long, but he had demonstrated the potential of the tram and others would follow his lead.
Towards the end of the 1860’s, interest in tramways had increased so much that an Act of Parliament was necessary to reduce the amount of Parliamentary time required to process all the applications. The first Tramways Act went onto the statute books on 9th August 1870 and provided protection for those local authorities through whom the schemes were promoted. It was designed to encourage local authority participation in tramway operation and included clauses which gave local authorities the right to veto absolutely, without right of appeal,
any proposed tramway construction in their streets; the right to compulsorily purchase any tramway after 21 years; to require tramway operators to pave and repair roadway between, and 18 inches to either side, of the track, and to assess the land occupied by the tracks at full rateable value. These clauses, understandably, had far reaching effects. In London, for example, the veto was used by the City Corporation to prevent tramway construction in the heart of the city, effectively preventing cross-city tram links. The 21-year purchase clause meant that little investment was made in the system as it approached compulsory purchase and many became run down. Operators with double track systems were effectively required to pave the entire road, whilst rates were levied on the extra 18 inches on either side of the track that were required to be paved.
Nevertheless, despite all these obstacles, the tramway began to prosper and by the turn of the century the tram had become a common sight in many towns and cities.

The Horse Tram
The first trams to operate on the street tramways were the horse trams. Because of the reduced friction between metal wheel and metal track, railed transport had one great advantage over the horse bus; a horse could pull a larger vehicle and thus more passengers. Typically, more than double the number of passengers could ride in a tramway carriage. It also gave a smoother ride than the horse bus, which had to negotiate the often, rutted roads of the time. As a result horse trams became more popular and potentially more profitable than omnibuses.
The earliest horse trams were built along the lines of the American street car design by companies such as Brill of Philadelphia, and Stephenson of New York, with the first English company being that of George Starbuck of Birkenhead.
Although improvements were continually made in their design, the main drawback was the need to maintain a large stable of horses for only a few tramcars. Horse tram operators calculated that an average of 10 horses was required for each tramcar in service, which meant that a small fleet of only ten tramcars would have required 100 horses to operate it. Needless to say, that the feeding, grooming and stabling of these animals ate into the profits of the tramway company to such an extent that hardly any of them made a great profit. What was needed was a more reliable and efficient motive power.

The Steam Tram
Although steam technology had been pioneered on the railways, the use of steam on the roadways had been severely hampered by the Locomotives on Highways Acts, which had been intended to stop the heavy steam powered vehicles from churning up the roads. When steam trams were first considered they, too, were deemed to be covered by these Acts. A further problem was that when the Tramway Act of 1870 had been drafted it had been assumed that the motive power would be by horse and any other method needed approval by a Special Act of Parliament.
Once again this form of traction was pioneered abroad. In America, steam trams had been used on the New York and Harlem line from 1831, but with little success. They were used in Philadelphia between 1859 and 1861, but it was not until 1873 that the first steam tram was tried out in London, although the power it produced was barely enough to move itself, let alone haul a passenger carriage.
The first successful carriage of fare-paying passengers in the United Kingdom was between Handsworth and West Bromwich on the 8th January 1876, by a locomotive designed by John Downes of Birmingham, but built by Hughes & Company of Loughborough.
Even though existing legislation restricted the development of steam tramways, a loophole in the law allowed experiments with steam to take place. Proposed tramways that ran alongside an existing road were not covered by the current legislation, and it is interesting to note that all the early steam lines were either roadside or rural tramways (such as the Swansea and Mumbles Railway and the Vale of Clyde Tramway, both of which adopted steam power in 1877).
New legislation, in the form of the Use of Mechanical Power on Tramways Act of 1879, opened up the use of steam tramways for urban areas, but they were still subject to strict provisions, which included governing the locomotives to ensure that they did not exceed 10 mph, all working parts had to be enclosed to within 4 inches of the roadway and no visible smoke or steam was to be emitted.
The additional power afforded by the locomotives meant that they could haul larger loads and for a longer time than even a team of horses could. The steam locomotive, hauling a trailer car, was preferred to the self-contained steam tram. It became common practice by some operators to couple several carriages together to form a road train, although this was not condoned by the Board of Trade, and eventually larger trailer cars were constructed. On the 26th June 1883, one such car, a double-decker seating 60 passengers and constructed of steel, with the bogies at each end for increased stability, was introduced on the South Staffordshire and Birmingham District Steam Tramway Company’s line between Handsworth and Darlaston. The largest trailer cars produced were for the Wolverton and Stony Stratford line in 1888 and seated 100 passengers.
The steam tram era was to last but a short while. Although 45 steam tramways were opened in the 1880’s, not one was opened in the 1890’s, instead, the advances made in electric traction made the steam trams obsolete virtually overnight.

The Electric Tram
Experiments with electric traction had taken place around the world in the early part of the 1800’s. In the United Kingdom, Robert Davidson built an electric locomotive that was demonstrated on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway in 1842, but, because all the early electric vehicles were propelled by battery power that had limited capabilities, interest in electric power as a motive source waned.
Werner von Siemens demonstrated the first practical application of electricity to the movement of people in 1879, when he constructed a narrow gauge line for the Berlin Industrial Exhibition. The train comprised a four-wheeled locomotive pulling three passenger cars capable of carrying six passengers each and operating on the third rail principle whereby the current is supplied by a third rail and returned via the running rails, the locomotive completing the circuit.
By the middle of the 1880’s, the United Kingdom had witnessed many demonstrations of the electric traction principle, including the Volk electric railway at Brighton; in Ireland at the Giants Causeway and at the Bessbrook and Newry Tramway; at Blackpool, which introduced the conduit system in 1885, although problems with salt and sand led to a conversion to the overhead system in 1899, and the Ryde Pier Tramway in 1886.
In June 1890 an electric line was constructed in the grounds of Craiglockhart in Edinburgh, which differed from usual by using an overhead wire to distribute the circuit. Although this line closed in November 1890 at the end of the exhibition, having carried in excess of 15,000 people, the principle of an overhead electric tramway had been established. When the Roundhay Park tramway opened in 1891 in Leeds, it operated on this principle and demonstrated the simplicity and efficiency of this system. Subsequently this design became the normal mode of operation for most of the electric tramway systems, although not all local authorities appreciated the unsightly overhead and support equipment necessary. As a result several alternative methods were tried (including accumulator trams, conduit systems, and surface contact systems), but none were as simple and easy to operate as the overhead method.
Even so, the rate at which new tramways were constructed fell dramatically in the early 1900’s. By 1910 there were over 300 tramway operators, but in the period from 1910 only five more opened. Part of the reason was that some tramways had been built in areas that could not provide sufficient passenger numbers to repay the enormous costs of construction and to satisfy eager shareholders. Consequently, the tram, on its fixed route, built at great cost, totally inflexible and unable to move to accommodate passenger numbers, lost favour to the more mobile motorbus and to some extent the trolleybus. By the 1920’s, the motorbus had become more reliable and offered more flexibility than the tram and was seen as the transport of the future by some operators. In 1917 the trams of the Sheerness & District Electric Power and Traction Company were replaced by motorbuses, the first abandonment of an electric traction system in the United Kingdom.
The tramway, however, continued to be a major part of the transportation system, but as overhead and track wore out, consideration was given to the enormous costs of replacement and many operators chose instead to replace the trams with motorbuses (or trolleybuses). It is interesting to note that tramway passengers peaked in 1928 when over 4,000,000,000 passengers were carried, but subsequently fell year after year, as more and more services went over to motorbus operation. The following decade saw more tramway abandonments in the United Kingdom than any other, and it was probably only the intervention of the Second World War in 1939, that led to the extended life of many systems.
Following the cessation of hostilities, the postwar price of many raw materials began to rise and it soon became uneconomic to replace worn out track and overhead. The final nail in the coffin must have come with the nationalisation of electricity supplies in April 1948 that removed the source of cheap electricity for many undertakings, who had owned their local power company. By then, however, there were relatively few street tramway systems operating, and in 1962 the last of all, that of Glasgow Corporation, closed for good, leaving only the Blackpool Corporation system as sole survivor and the system still remains today as a tribute to the Golden Age of British Tramways.

(Peter Gould & The Tram Book by Paul Collins)

Steam Spotting Memories

There are now so many preserved railways  and rebuilt and lovingly restored locomotives that for an enthusiast  they are always  within fairly easy access. Not quite so easily reached down Nostalgia Lane are the memories of  locations and  experiences from days when Diesel  and Electric engines were still in the future. Those times of  first long trousers, bikes  and summer holidays when it never rained.
My first recall of  an interest in Railway  is of in about 1955/56 being given a friend’s cast-off  Ian Allen Spotters Book when I was aged about  14 years old. At the same time I was introduced to the ‘Glass Bridge’ which provided entry to the South end of Preston Station. From West Cliff a short track led down to a large, stone mullioned out-door room that overlooked the Railway. As we approached we could go left through a Wicket Gate, onto the Railway Embankment. The opposite direction was through a wood and glass built enclosed bridge, over lines 6 & 7, to stairs which led to the end of  No.6 Platform (Now No.4). A Ticket Collector, in his little wooden Office, guarded the entry at Platform level. From these vantage points we had perfect views of all traffic that passed. The area was always well attended  and someone always knew what was on the 5  o’ clock , or if an unusual Loco. Was in the area. Standing on the bridge we looked down the chimneys of all the large passenger expresses awaiting the ‘Clear Away’ to the South. On occasions when the short stop caused the Safety Valve to lift the noise was deafening. I can still smell the steam and smoke!
We were free from school on Wednesday afternoons and could usually be found on the embankment at Skew Bridge where we had an unrestricted view of a mile of straight track to the bridge over the River Ribble and Preston Station beyond.
Traffic was controlled by a fine Gantry of Semaphore Signals across virtually the whole pathway with the ‘Up Fast and Slow’ in the opposite direction. Signals then were positive, unlike today, and caused immediate interest as they were raised or lowered ,to indicate an imminent train. We could see the Southport line  passing under the main line, and glimpses of the East Lancs through the trees. Locos leaving Preston presented a fine sight as they powered over the upgrade, and those headed North freewheeled the approach to Preston. The Oak bushes which once were so much part of the scene, are now well grown and almost completely obscure the views.

As Train Spotting was part of our young lives, so our ‘bikes’ were basic to our spotting. We relied on them, and only by them, could we travel to the locations we loved. On Sunday Mornings Preston Shed -10B- was a must. As far as I can remember we were never refused entry, but then  I don’t remember ever asking.
This was our Patch – a Patch that is long gone. What I still think of as the ‘New Power Box’ has stood in it’s place for at least 20 years. Entry to Lostock Hall Shed (24C) was easy and we visited often. It was usually filled with Austerity 2-10-0s – large, powerful freight engines which strangely, we saw little of in our day to day spotting. Wigan Springs and Lower Darwen were more of a challenge but distance meant little to us in those far-off days. A visit to Horwich Works was special, with permits in advance and the journey by train to Blackrod Station so much a part of it. We were always amazed to see different parts of the same Loco scattered throughout the departments.
A favourite place on Saturday afternoons during Autumn was Farrington. Here, the line from Blackburn and East Lancs crosses above the Main Line heading West before a sharp right turn to drop down to join the Main Line North into Preston. We were here to see visitors from the LNER that ran excursions from Yorkshire and the Northeast  to Blackpool illuminations. They were always in the charge of a B 1 or ‘Antelope Class ‘which could handle all but the heaviest passenger trains, and were hailed with delight by us. Ourebi, Topi, Wildebeeste, Hartebeeste and the exception ‘William Henton Carver ‘were regulars. The first of that Class, No. 61000 – Springbok  crossed the Pennines often. They would appear without prior warning, steaming slowly and silently, crossing the bridge to the downward curve to Preston.
Soon, work and other pursuits pushed my interest in Railway into the background. I didn’t even notice that Steam was being replaced. It was to be some 20 years  later that on passing The Railway Station I suggested that my young son may like to see the trains. We left that day each carrying new Ian Allen’s – but that’s another story.
(Gerry Wareing)

Peckett’s Only Fireless Loco

When the Co-operative Wholesale Society‘s Irlam Soap, Candle and Starch Works, near Manchester, found another locomotive was needed, they at first envisaged a diesel, but at that time no builder could satisfy their needs with regard to wheelbase, tractive effort, and immediate power. As there were several stationary boilers on the premises it was suggested that an 0-4-0 fireless locomotive be obtained, and this was delivered in 1955 by Irlam‘s traditional builder, Peckett & Sons Ltd. of Bristol, works number 2155. It is unique and represents Peckett‘s one and only entry into the fireless market. In relation to other fireless locomotives its boiler is comparatively small, but in actual fact was of the same size as those fitted to Irlam‘s more conventional engines, a pair of 1951 Peckett 0-4-0 saddle tanks. The Fireless managed to perform its duties satisfactorily and proved quite reliable but, owing to its relatively low weight, the tractive effort was limited. Wheel slip easily occurred and only a small number of vans could be moved round the rather sharp curves inside the works. Since most of the curves were left-handed, the tyres wore rather badly on the flanges and had to be changed every two years. The steam reserve of the Fireless, although quite considerable, naturally had a limit, and the receiver pressure had to be watched lest it fall too low for operation at some place remote from the charging point. This was not unknown in the early days and the Fireless had to be towed back for charging at some inconvenience by one of the other engines. One charge was supposed to last four hours, but generally two hours were the limit.

The Fireless was in regular use for internal shunting of vans until early in 1960 when a rearrangement of the works‘ departments resulted in a large reduction in the amount of shunting which needed only one locomotive per day to cope with it. This had to be done by one of the Peckett saddle tank locomotives as one of the remaining duties was the haulage of loaded vans up the steep gradient to the mainline sidings at Irlam station. The small power reserve of the Fireless rendered it unsuitable for this job, and it was taken out of service. When efforts to dispose of this locomotive proved unsuccessful, consideration was given to the possibility of improving its efficiency by increasing the power reserve, selling one of the saddle tank engines and retaining the second as a spare. The Fireless had shown itself to be an economical proposition and experiments were carried out using compressed air as motive power. A fairly large contractors‘ type of air compressor to charge the steam receiver through a flexible hose was mounted on a flat truck. This most unconventional combination worked much better than expected on the level, but the steep gradient proved to be a major problem. By using a compressor large enough it is clear that this difficulty could have been overcome, but the size and cost of the equipment would have been considerable. After due consideration it was concluded that this would not be justified under the present circumstances, and the Fireless was offered for sale at a sum of £500.

(Industrial Railway Society Records)

The Steam Bus 1833-1923

Until the rise of the tramway, the majority of stage carriage services in Britain were provided by the horse bus, but with the advances in steam and especially with the success of the railway network, application of steam to road transport was also tried.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney experimented with steam road traction from 1823 onwards and at least one of his four-wheeled steam tractors hauled a coach between Gloucester and Cheltenham several times daily. The nine-mile journey, operated by Sir Charles Dance, was undertaken in as little as 45 minutes, but the apparent success alarmed other operators. On June 23rd 1831, piles of loose stones were scattered across the road and resulted in the coach breaking its back axle. Consequently the Turnpike Trusts imposed additional tolls on self-propelled vehicles and the venture came to an end. The opposition of the Turnpike Trusts (whose apparent dislike for these vehicles stemmed from an opinion that the roads were inadequate for this type of vehicle, even though a House of Commons Select Committee had found that the wheels of horse-drawn vehicles were more likely to damage the roads than those of the steam-drawn vehicles) proved the downfall of many innovative ideas. Some idea of the excessive nature of the tolls can be illustrated by the toll of 48 shillings demanded for steam carriages operating between Liverpool and Prescott, whilst that for horse coaches was just 4 shillings.

Whilst the first steam-drawn coaches were more closely allied to the stagecoaches of the time, the introduction to London, on the 22nd April 1833 of a regular steam carriage service marked the beginning of the history of the mechanically propelled bus. Walter Hancock’s steam omnibus named ‘The Enterprise’ was built for the London and Paddington Steam Carriage Company and ran between London Wall and Paddington via Islington. It was the first mechanically propelled vehicle specially designed for omnibus work ever to be placed into service. Although a dispute between Hancock and the operators curtailed this service, Hancock himself built and operated steam buses between 1833 and 1840. In 1836 he introduced the 22-seat ‘Automaton’ and ran over 700 journeys between London and Paddington, London and Islington, and Moorgate and Stratford, carrying over 12,000 passengers and reaching speeds in excess of 20 mph.

Hancock was not alone; pioneers ran steam buses in other parts of the country. John Russell ran 6 vehicles between Glasgow and Paisley on an hourly service in 1834. Built by the Steam Carriage Company of Scotland, they were an undoubted success, but sabotage caused a fatal accident and the service was abandoned.

A novel concept proposed by the London, Holyhead and Liverpool Steam Coach & Road Company, would have seen the construction of a stone pavement alongside existing roads upon which the Company would operate its own vehicles and charge tolls for other traffic, but the proposals came to nothing.
Frank Hills of Deptford built a 12-seater steam-powered coach in 1839, which made the return journey to Brighton in a single day, demonstrating that passengers could be carried at twice the speed of a stagecoach and at half the expense.

By 1840, however, the development of steam-powered road vehicles had lost impetus and the heavy tolls imposed by the Turnpike Acts had turned inventive talents away from steam. In London even Hancock was forced to give up the struggle and leave the way clear for the horse bus proprietors. There were those that continued on, but their talents were turned more towards traction engines and agricultural machines rather than road transport.

Harsh legislation from 1861 onwards virtually eliminated mechanically propelled vehicles from the roads of Great Britain. The Locomotive Act of 1861 imposed speed limits on ‘road locomotives’ of 5mph in towns and cities, and 10mph in the country. Four years later, the Locomotives Act of 1865 (the famous Red Flag Act), reduced the speed limits to 4mph in the country and just 2mph in towns and cities. In addition the act required a man bearing a red flag to precede every vehicle and at the same time gave powers to local authorities to specify the hours during which any such vehicle might use the roads. It effectively killed development of the mechanically propelled omnibus for some 30 years, although from 1879 street trams were authorised under licence from the Board of Trade.

Steam never lacked its proponents and in 1873 they managed to secure the introduction into Parliament of the Locomotives on Roads Bill, intended to remove some of these restrictions but fierce opposition led to its withdrawal. There were changes to the legislation introduced under the Highways & Locomotives (Amendments) Act of 1878, but these did nothing to encourage the development of mechanically propelled transport, although the need for the pedestrian preceding road locomotives to carry a red flag was removed.

It was not until the internal combustion engine achieved a modicum of success on the Continent that public opinion against mechanically propelled vehicles began to change, and, in 1896, the Government passed the Locomotives on Highways Act. This removed the most stringent restrictions and sanctioned a maximum speed of 14 mph, although this was later reduced by the Local Government Board to 12 mph. The Act came into force on the 14th November 1896 and from that date the mechanically propelled bus took a giant step forward.

Experiments with steam vehicles restarted. In 1899 a double-deck steam bus built by E. Gillett & Company of Hounslow was licensed for use in London, although it was basically a horse-bus body, seating 10 inside and 14 outside, mounted on a steam lorry chassis, with a light awning to protect potential passengers from soot and steam. In the event no regular service was operated with the vehicle.

The Dover & East Kent Motor Bus Company Ltd. (formed on the 9th March 1899) operated three Lifu steam buses between Dover and Deal, but the Company failed.
In 1901, the Potteries Electric Traction Company bought two Straker steam buses, which were built at the Vulcan Ironworks in Bristol, and started work in April of that year. They were fitted with double-deck bodies with glass windscreens to protect the upper-deck passengers, but the pinion drive proved noisy and unsatisfactory. They were ineffective against the steep hills in the Potteries, eventually being sold in March 1902.

On the 17th March 1902 an experimental service between Hammersmith and Oxford Circus via Shepherd’s Bush using a Thorneycroft coke-fired steam bus was inaugurated by the London Road Car Company. The vehicle had coachwork based on a horse bus body, but was adapted to seat 36 passengers by elongating the upper deck over the driver. It had steel tyres and carried sandboxes, but was uneconomic in operation and only ran until May. Single-deck steam buses were introduced by the London General Omnibus Company and the London Road-Car Company, both of whom used Chelmsford (later renamed Clarkson) steam chassis, but all were withdrawn by 1905 because of heavy losses.

By 1909 the London General Omnibus Company had abandoned steam, although the inventor, Thomas Clarkson [1864-1933], formed his own company called the National Steam Car Co. Ltd, which commenced services on the 2nd November 1909 with four steam buses. The fleet was gradually built up and in 1914 it was operating a total of 184. However this was to be the pinnacle of the steam bus era, which was never able to compete satisfactorily against the rise of the petrol engined bus.
The vehicles soldiered on through World War 1, but when the question of renewal arose the Company chose petrol vehicles; the last National steam bus ran in London on the 18th November 1919 and although one or two continued to work in the provinces until 1923 the age of the steam bus was over.

(Peter Gould) – Peter is a Transport Enthusiast and keeps a website of much interest at –

The Preston Train Crash 

Some of you might be a bit worried about the title of this piece. Did you miss something in the news? The answer is no as the accident in question happened over a 100 years ago, the 15th August 1896 to be precise.  It involved the 8pm express from London Euston to Scotland which derailed as it passed through Preston Station in the middle of the night. Fortunately it was lightly loaded and only one of it’s 16 passengers was killed. However the circumstances of the crash would, some historians claim have an effect on rail travel that would last almost 40 years.

As most of you will know the West Coast Main Line through Preston was operated at the time by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) the self styled “premier line” of British railways and in purely financial terms the largest railway company in the country. The route was permanently in competition with the East Coast Main Line for the lucrative traffic from London to Scotland and in 1888 there had been the first of what history would call the “race to the north”. Over a period of weeks the two routes had slashed journey times in the race to get trains to Aberdeen first. Ultimately the East Coast was declared the victor. Seven years later in 1895 the races would resume with again locomotives and their crews pressed to the limits. This time there was a reverse of fortune and it was the LNWR and it’s Scottish counterpart the Caledonian Railway which prevailed. One of the stars of that event the locomotive “Hardwicke” survives in the National Railway Museum.

The effect of the 1895 race was that overall train speeds of some express services had increased markedly to bring down journey times. The express train subject of this article was expected to maintain an average speed of 60mph for 105 miles of it’s journey. This obviously required enormous skill from the loco drivers not just because of the rapid change from previous practice but particularly at night bearing in mind how poor lighting of landmarks was compared to today (including of signals) and of course engines had no speedometers or any kind of on board warning system. Most importantly it required good judgement on sections of line with tight bends and points.

On the night in question the 8pm “Down Highland Express” was running with two locomotives called “Shark” and “Vulcan” well capable of pulling the 200 ton load. The railway companies had in fact that June already negotiated a minimum journey time for the Anglo-Scottish trains to reduce the possibility of excessive speeds. However that only applied to daytime services not those which ran overnight. As it happened neither driver on the 15th August 1896 had driven this particular express before and in addition neither had ever driven a train non-stop through Preston Station. At Preston due to a sharp curve at the north end of the station by the goods yard there was a speed restriction of just 10mph which applied to all trains. The accident investigator Colonel York determined that in fact on the night in question the “Highland Express” was travelling around 40-45mph through the station with the result that when it hit the speed restricted curve instead of going round it the train effectively carried on in a straight line ploughing through the goods yard coming to rest just short of a bridge wall. Perhaps surprisingly both locomotives stayed upright but the coaches were scattered across the mangled tracks and one of their occupants was fatally injured. For anyone interested there are photographs of the results on the internet.

Colonel York conducted his investigation for the Board of Trade and concluded as follows:
“The cause of the accident is clear. A reverse curve without any intervening tangent, without a check rail, with superelevation suitable only for very low speeds, and badly distributed and with a radius at one point of only seven chains; a train drawn by two engines each having a rigid wheelbase of 15ft 8in; and lastly a speed of 40mph or more form a combination of circumstances which were almost certain to lead to disaster”.

The crash immediately attracted the attention of politicians and Mr Herbert Roberts the MP for Denbighshire West raised it in Parliament.
“ I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the serious accident which occurred to what is known as the London and North Western “Racer” at Preston, at midnight on Sunday night on it’s journey from Euston to Aberdeen, a train which held the record this year for travelling 105 miles in 105 minutes; and whether , in view of the great risks to the travelling public connected with this practice of rival railway companies racing to Scotland, the Board of Trade will make strong representations to the said companies on the subject?”
The President of the Board of Trade was the minister responsible for safety on the railways at the time and replied “I have received a return of the accident referred to and have directed an inspecting officer of the Department to hold an inquiry. Until I receive the report of his inquiry I am unable to say what representation if any I shall make to the railway company”.
That didn’t satisfy another MP Sir Wilfred Lawson who then asked “Whether there had been a single accident due to the high speed of those trains”. The President replied “I cannot answer that question without notice, but I am not prepared to admit that high speed means danger”

There was to be no ban by the Government on high speed trains (hardly a surprise) However the result of the crash was arguably that train speeds for the rival Anglo-Scottish expresses would remain lower for many years than experience had shown was possible and there would be no repeat until the late 1930’s of anything remotely like the races of 1888/95. Journey times of 8 hours or more from London to Scotland would now remain the norm until 1932. Although the results of the Preston crash in terms of lives lost had not been that great no doubt some in management and, based on the above in government feared what the consequences could have been at Preston had it involved a heavily loaded train. 10 years later the nation would find out when over a period of months overnight express trains derailed at speed at Salisbury, Grantham and Shrewsbury with a combined loss of more than 60 lives, none of those accidents ever being fully explained. A decade on and the intervention of the First World War meant the railways would anyway suffer from a period of neglect and shortage of investment. Nevertheless despite newer much bigger and more powerful locomotives being built from the 1890’s onwards it was not until the 1930’s in the face of competition from cars, coaches and even planes combined with an international financial crisis that the successors to the LNWR and their rivals would engage again in pushing high speed running to the limits both to gain publicity for their crack services and rake in badly needed revenue.

(Mike Bailey)

Locomotive Recognition (Industrial Railway Society Archives)

Interest in industrial railways and locomotives has increased very rapidly, and many of those whose study has hitherto been confined to main line locomotives may find this article some help in recognizing the loco under observation as the product of a particular locomotive builder. By including also notes on the locations of the works-plates, the individual locomotive’s number may be established.
The most common location of the worksplate is on the cabside, and fully ninety per cent of steam locomotives have their plates at or just above eye-level. The most common variations are those of Hudswell Clarke who sometimes favoured the sandbox; Hawthorn Leslie and Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns who fixed the plate very high up on the cab side above the driver’s look-out (some Peckett plates also appear in this position); and Yorkshire Engine Co, who often found room for plates on the cab steps. Other places at which plates are occasionally fixed are at the sides of the smokebox North British and Beyer Peacock), and the frames above the driving wheels (Sharp Stewart and Beyer Peacock), while the rear of the bunker has been used on odd occasions, as well as the inside of the rear cab sheet.
The above, of course, assumes that the loco carries a plate. Often, alas, this is not the case. The depredations of those who regard themselves as enthusiasts, but remove the plates from locomotives, have been condemned several times, and a plateless loco will often defy identification. The cause isn’t lost, however. Most makers stamp the locomotive number on the motion, and although it is sometimes necessary to remove layers of grime with a knife to make the identification, it is usually possible. The wheel centers are usually stamped, similarly the connecting rods just above the wheel centers, and in some cases the slide bars.
Other points of possible identification are the pressure gauge in the cab, which sometimes bears the locomotive’s individual number, and the regulator handle, which on occasions also gives the vital clue.
The foregoing notes refer mainly to steam locomotives, but may be taken as applying – in the main – to those makers who made both steam and diesel locos. However, some makers engaged themselves solely on internal combustion locos, whilst others made few steam locos before entering the internal combustion field, and notes on their quirks of identification will not come amiss.
Except for a few isolated cases I have noted, where the locomotive user has moved the plate outside the cab, the locomotives of Ruston Hornsby, both standard and narrow gauge, carry them within the cab. The place of fixing varies. On the standard gauge locomotives, it is invariably fitted on the front cab plate at the right hand side or the centre. Variations in siting occur in the narrow gauge locomotives with the plates being fitted, in some cases, on the short section of cabside on the right, immediately in front of the cab entrance, and on others, in a similar position on the left inside cab sheet – but in this case there is no cab entrance. It is perhaps typical of nature that the plates fitted in these two places are very often badly tarnished, often to the extent of being unreadable with a lamp. If this should prove to be the case, a clean piece of paper and a pencil, with which a rubbing can be made, will usually prise the information from the reluctant plate. This method proves exceptionally useful when one meets one of the fibre plates fitted during the war years – the letters are about 1/8th inch high, and one can go squint-eyed attempting a reading in a dim cab. If no plates are found in the cab, all is still not lost! Ruston & Hornsby fix another plate – not the loco number – to the engine unit. On the right hand side, usually plastered with dirt.
Whilst engaged on steam locomotives, the normal cabside plate was used by Sentinel. Since the introduction of the diesel-hydraulics, the plate – only one per loco – is usually fixed at the front end on the left, immediately above the running plate where the steps are fitted, there may be others including the fitting of the plate inside the cab, at almost roof level.
The Sentinel’s half-brother, the Vanguard, has had the plate fitted in the cab always, just above the control panel. The number is suffixed by either “S” or “V”, the former indicating a new locomotive, and the latter a conversion from steam or a re-engined diesel locomotive.
The diminutive Lister narrow gauge locos provide a wealth of information on the plate, which is situated on the centre of the chassis below the running plate on one side only. As well as the running number, the type number is included, and the gauge. This plate is often so begrimed as to take a good deal of finding. If it should be missing, there is a small brass plate about 3in by 3/4in affixed to the side of the bonnet, just above the removable inspection plate. The works number only is carried on this, and conversion to diesel usually means its removal. A third plate which can provide the number if it can be discerned, is a small raised portion of metal at the bonnet front, below the name “Lister”. The number is stamped upon this portion, but is usually too weathered to be read.
The Drewry railcars are another type for which the would-be identifier has to bend his back very low. The plate, which is carried on the front “buffer beam” on the right hand side when facing the car, often receives a coat of paint when the loco does! The Drewry loco offers a more civilised type of cabside plate; in the case of a narrow gauge loco this is usually a cast iron plate with a stamped number.
Baguley locos are not numerous, and the early designs can often be mistaken for a “home-made” loco. Quite often in an inconspicuous corner of the cab will be found a plate with the legend “If requiring spares quote number xxxx”.
Orenstein & Koppel locos (known to drivers and engineers as “Montanas”) have the worksplate fixed at the rear. This shows only the number in German style figures, but the English agents, William Jones & Co Ltd, also fitted their own plates with the O&K number stamped on. If this fails, a third clue is the number stamped on the starting handle. This is, of course, not one hundred per cent foolproof identification.
Motor Rail have produced a range of designs of both standard and narrow gauge locomotives. Of the very earliest, some were used by the Army and were armour plated. On these locos and on the early standard gauge locos, the works plate is usually found on the pedestal forming the driver’s seat. On narrow gauge locos built in the 1920’s and early 1930’s, the works plate found its home on the flat plate immediately between the front buffer and the radiator, where it can still be found, although often not before the removal of accumulated clay, sand or whatever product is being quarried! The third, and still the standard place for the narrow gauge, is on the transverse girder immediately in front of the driving cab. The easiest way to read it is usually to enter the cab, but in some cases home-made screens – to exclude draughts – obscure the plate, and it is then necessary to lift up the bonnet covers to inspect the plate. On odd occasions plates are fixed in or outside the cab by users (or by dealer Bungey) and it is always worth inspecting the front girder to see if the plate has been fitted there. The standard gauge locos of more modern design have the plate inside the cab, near the driver’s controls. On my latest visit to Motor Rail I found a number on the framing on the welded piece by the brake column of the narrow gauge locos being built.
Lastly, the identification of F.C. Hibberd’s “Planet” locos. The earliest narrow gauge locos are easily recognised. They have bonnets just like the old cars of the period, and a rather wide running plate of non-slip metal in a criss-cross pattern. The works plate if still carried and still decipherable, is on the loco side. The “Simplexes” which followed were fitted with bronze plates on the side of the bonnet covers, but if these have gone there are two clues to help. The Hibberds were fitted with “National” engines, and the presence of one of these almost certainly indicates a “Planet”. The second is the sand-box covers, which usually have “Hibberd” or “Motor Rail” cast on them. If uncertainty persists, the front girder can be inspected for the marks of screws which may indicate a Motor Rail.

It would be possible to spend more time on the subject, but the main problems with which the enthusiast in Great Britain is likely to be confronted have been covered. The true enthusiast who wishes to improve his own knowledge and those of fellow-interest will in future remember his “kit of tools”. Steel tape for measurement of gauges, knife for scraping plates and motion, torch for dark corners, clean paper and pencil for rubbings, old rag or cotton waste for grime laden plates. His screwdriver and pliers stay at home.


‘The Duchess’ On Preston Dock

This locomotive entered service during July 1932 and was fitted with the same equipment that went into the three heavyweight railcars – a 250hp 6LV22 engine & GEC electrical equipment, the locomotive did not immediately have a buyer, and spent much of 1932-1933 working several LNER goods yards in the Newcastle area. Initial service was in the Forth marshalling yard, spending most of its time there apart from a short stint at Blaydon. Loads at the Forth Yard were up to forty wagons totalling 600 tons, whilst the Blaydon Yard with its gradients permitted a maximum load of 750 tons. After a month at Blaydon it moved to Heaton Yard. Here it was challenged by taking 800 ton loads up the 1 in 150 Benton Bank. Fuel consumption with this type of working was about 2.5 gallons per hour. This locomotive also spent a brief period under trial on the Southern Region. This machine would soon be bought by the Preston Corporation for use in the Ribble Docks. Its works number was D8, it later gained the name ‘Duchess’ and was still in operation during 1960, and was noted withdrawn as late as the winter of 1968.
A second machine similar to D8 was built during 1933, to be tested along with a number of other shunters by the LMSR authorities. This machine carried the numbers 7408 & 7058 on the LMSR and was allocated the British Railways number 13000 in the post nationalisation re-numbering scheme, although it was broken up prior to carrying this number.
Allocated Works number D20 of 1933 it was fitted with a Armstrong Sulzer 6LV22 diesel engine, powering a Laurence Scott & Electromotors generator and single traction motor. With the engine rated at 250hp @ 775rpm with a maximum tractive effort of 24,000lb and a maximum speed of 30mph, this shunting locomotive clearly had the best characteristics that the LMSR was seeking when compared to the other locomotives tested. Most significant were its electric transmission, its heavier weight and a fuel capacity that would allow a week of shunting prior to refuelling.

Preston Dock Remembered

It is early on a Tuesday afternoon in the summertime. The year is 1950. My mother is at the loom at Horrockses on Salmon Street, Dad is working at Dick Kerrs on Strand Road and I and my siblings are being looked after by Grandma Wareing at her home on Maudland Road. Through the window, across the street, I can see the Star cinema. I have checked the Weather Forecast several times. This I do by looking at St.Walburgh’s steeple. If it is grey it will rain. Today it shines gleaming white and our afternoon of adventure can begin. Down Leighton Street, collecting ice creams sold from the door of a private house, past the end of the canal and down Marsh Lane. We enter the Dock Estate at Strand Road passing old bonded warehouses and the gatehouse. Grandma’s kindly eye ensured that we were never turned away.
We usually followed the left hand path along the river catching glimpses of long dead ships being broken up at Wards. Stacked, curing timber and blackberries characterised this area. About this time the Geest operation came to Preston sited on this side of the dock, with climatised storage for bananas and other tropical fruits, brought across the Atlantic from the Caribbean in the good ships Windward Islands and Leeward Islands.
Continuing, we reached the lock gates at the seaward entrance to the dock and looked out over ‘Little Blackpool’ and the remains of a concrete ship which we were told had been used for war training. If our timing was right, and the tide was less than full, we could now cross the closed gates, over the water, by the outer basin to where coastal tankers loaded and unloaded at Petrofina. Our own Tanker Trains are a result of this earlier trade.
Down the North side of the Dock we watched as coal was lifted in Railway wagons to be tipped into chutes which loaded directly into the holds of coastal tramps. Our own dredgers and tugs lived on the Eastern wall and names like Bibby -an old dredger and John Herbert come easily to mind.
But although Liverpool seeks the credit Preston’s great claim was to be the worlds first Roll-on Roll-off port, which brought containers from Larne and Belfast to the Northwest. I well remember when the first container ferry came through the long narrow approach and entered the Albert Edward Dock. Empire Cedric, a converted wartime landing craft was the largest craft to enter up to that time. This passage became commonplace with Empire Doric, Empire Gaelic and Bardic Ferry becoming regular visitors.
But even at my tender years the highlight at the dock was to see the many shunting engines as they fussed around the yard or steamed quietly awaiting their next duty. Loco names come easily across the years. Courageous,Perseverance,Indomitable,Impregnable,Energy,Progress,Prince,Princess and Duchess. I have a vague memory also of ‘Queen’. Of course the fireless Duke has a special significance for me now after my close association with Heysham No2 at RSR.
The work of these engines either started or finished with the workings of Super D Class 49s. These, braking hard down the underground Fishergate incline on the way to the dock loaded with coal, exploded in great eruptions of smoke, steam and noise with massive tractive effort on their way back up the hill to emerge at the Southwest end of Preston Station
These afternoons ended back at Grandma’s for three tired but happy kids carrying jam jars of blackberries and already looking forwards to the next day.
Years have passed, and so much has changed, but in my mind’s eye for a short while I see it all again.
(Gerry Wareing)

BARDIC FERRY built in 1957 by Wm. Denny & Bros, Dumbarton for the Atlantic Steam Navigation. She entered service on their Transport Ferry Service route between Preston-Larne, transferring to the Tilbury-Antwerpen route between 1958-61. Bardic Ferry then reverted to Preston-Larne, with some sailings to Belfast from 1967. In 1971 ASN operations were combined with Townsend-Thoresen, and Bardic Ferry  received their orange livery. In 1974, Bardic Ferry transferred to the Cairnryan-Larne route. She was sold in 1976 to Fratelli Cosulich, Genoa, and renamed Nasim II.

Wonderful views of Preston Docks in the late 1970’s

Photos courtesy of Ted Crosby


Railways Around Preston Remembered

My memories of Preston’s Railways goes back over fifty years, to the early 1950’s, when as a youngster I went to Fleetwood for family holidays. My father had built some model yachts and liked sailing them on Fleetwood’s large model boating lake.
As my dad didn’t drive at the time, we had to go by train from our home in Southport, to Fleetwood, with a change of train at Preston. To a youngster of about 6 or 7 Preston Station seemed a vast place with its 13 platforms. After my mum died in 1957 and dad remarried I never went to Fleetwood for holidays again.
In late 1958, when I was old enough to get a paper round, I saved some of my wages to go trainspotting at Preston. During school holidays at Easter and Summer, as I lived near Southport’s St Lukes Station, I would catch the first available train after 9-30am.
After arrival at Preston, I would make my way to my favourite area for trainspotting at Platform 6’s south end. From here I would see Anglo-Scottish Expresses with Duchesses, Princess Royals, Royal Scots or Brittanias. Local passenger trains were hauled by Black Fives, Stanier and Fairburn 2-6-4 tanks, Goods trains were worked by BR 9f 2-10-0’s, Stanier 8F 2-8-0’s and Super D 0-8-0’s. In the mid-afternoon I made my way home to Southport.
I always enjoyed spotting at Preston as it was an important junction for trains to all parts of the country and such a large variety of traffic made it very interesting.
When I left school, at 15 in December 1960, I wanted to get a job on the railways but was told I had to wait until I was 16. So I tried again about a month or so before my birthday and was successful starting a few days before I was 16 in November 1961 as an Engine Cleaner at Southport’s Derby Road steam shed (later to become Steamport Railway Centre).
After a few months of cleaning engines and various labouring jobs I was given instructions on the Rule Book and lessons on how to fire a steam engine. Soon I had become a passed cleaner or junior fireman. As I gained experience I began going further afield and soon renewed my acquaintance with Preston.
In the summer of 1962 I began regular trains over the Southport and Preston line. I worked on all shifts on the line, the early shift covered the first train to Preston at 5-47am and the late shift saw the last train back to Southport at about 10-30pm. I used to fire a variety of locomotives on the line including Black Fives, Stanier and Fairburn class 4 2-6-4 tanks and BR class 4 4-6-0, 75000 series.
The line from Southport to Preston was fairly level so the engines were easy to fire. On arrival at Preston we sometimes had a quick turnaround but other times we had a couple of hours to wait before our return trip. Sometimes we used to run tender or bunker first one way or the other, other times the turntable was used so we could travel chimney first. If we had a long wait between trains I used to have a wander around Preston to see what the rest of the station was getting up to.
In September 1964 the Southport – Preston line was closed, but a few months before, in June 1964, I had been transferred to Edge Hill Shed in Liverpool and so kept up my regular visits to Preston on various Passenger and Freight workings.
While working the Liverpool Edge Hill to Carlisle freights we sometimes stopped for water at Preston. On the return trains from Carlisle, whether or not we stopped for water, when we passed St Walburgs Church we knew we were on the last lap for Liverpool.
On the passengers I sometimes worked the 12-45am Liverpool to Glasgow sleeper trains, usually with a diesel loco as far as Preston, where it combined with the sleeper from Manchester continuing to Glasgow with the Manchester loco in charge whilst we waited at Preston for our return work to Liverpool.
I did have some more trips to Preston but, in January 1968, circumstances dictated that I left the railways and then still managed visits to Preston by car, bus, coach or train from time to time.

(Arthur Nettleton)                                                                             

Excursion Ships of the North West

The majority of sea excursions taken from the Lancashire and North Wales coast resorts were with the two dominant companies in the area, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co (IOMSPCo) and the Liverpool & North Wales Steamship Co (L&NWSS). The major railway companies, Furness Railway, Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and Midland Railway operated a network of ferry services across the Irish Sea, and all also operated local excursion ships. The area was also covered by a network of passenger services run by Coast Lines.

Preston Excursion Steamers
Excursion services from Preston were never very successful, although Blackpool steamers often ran from there during the annual Wakes holiday weeks. The Ribble Passenger Transport Co had two vessels named Ribble Queen based in Preston. The Ribble Queen (1) was a twin-screw steamer built in 1903, which was used between 1903-1905. The second attempt came in 1922, when the 1896-built paddle steamer Ribble Queen (2) was tried until 1925. She had previously been the Cloghmore and Greenore.

Blackpool Excursion Steamers
Blackpool had the largest number of local vessels, which used the first of its three piers, the North Pier, built in 1863. Steamers were operated from the pier from the start, initially by the pier owners, and later the North Pier Steamship Co. Vessels included the Ocean Bride of 1858, Wellington and Clifton of 1871, and the Queen of the Bay (1) and Queen of the Bay (2) of 1867 and 1871. The fleet was joined by the Belle in 1895, and the Greyhound, the finest of the Blackpool paddle steamers. She was joined by the twin-screw steamer Deerhound in 1901.Other early steamers included the Dhu Heartach (W.H.Cocker: 1875-1884) and the Bickerstaffe (1879-1928). Bickerstaffe was joined by the similar, but larger Queen of the North in 1895. Bickerstaffe and Queen of the North were owned by J.Bickerstaffe, who formed the Blackpool Passenger Steamboat Co in 1894.

The Blackpool Passenger Steamboat Co took over the North Pier Steamship Co fleet in 1905, giving them a monopoly in the resort. The Deerhound was sold soon afterwards, leaving the fleet as Bickerstaffe, Queen of the North, Belle and Greyhound until the start of the war. Only the Queen of the North was lost in the war, but Belle and Greyhound were sold in 1921 and 1923, leaving just the long-lived Bickerstaffe to continue until 1928, latterly under the name of H.D.Bickerstaffe (to whom the Blackpool Passenger Steamboat Co passed to c.1923). Robina was chartered to the Blackpool Passenger Steamboat Co in 1919, and again to the Blackpool Steam Shipping Co in 1923 and H.D.Bickerstaffe in 1924.
The IOMSPCo tried the elderly Tynwald at Blackpool in 1929, but she did not return and was laid up the following year. The L&NWSS then brought their elderly Snowdon during the illuminations in 1930. Again she did not return, and again she was withdrawn the following year.
It was was 1933 before a ship was based at Blackpool again when Blackpool Pleasure Steamers Ltd (later Blackpool Steam Navigation Co) brought the Mersey ferry Minden to the resort. They later acquired the Queen of the Bay (2) and the Atalanta, although 1937 was the only year when all three steamers were in the fleet. None of these vessels reappeared after the Second World War, but Blackpool Steam Navigation Co (1947) was formed out of the old company, and used the Fairmile launch Pendennis until 1961. Since then, Waverley and Balmoral have made occasional calls.

Morecambe Excursion Steamers
One of the earliest steamers in the area was the Helvellyn, owned by the Furness Railway. Others included the paddle steamer Morecambe Queen (1), and the Queen of the Bay (1), which moved to Blackpool. The Morecambe Steamboat Co had the twin-screw steamers Morecambe Queen (2), Sunbeam and Britannia, plus the paddle steamer Roses. The twin screw steamer Britannia operated with the Morecambe Steamboat Co between 1888-1904. She was later renamed Duke of Abercorn, and served at Dublin, Southend and with David MacBrayne. From 1908, excursions were offered from adjacent port Heysham by the Midland Railway on their tug Wyvern.

The Clyde steamer Isle of Bute ran for a short while in 1912, but was damaged against against a pier and was scrapped in 1913. Her place was taken by the Robina, which built in Ardrossan for the Morecambe Central Pier Co in 1914. She was registered for them until 1922, when she was transferred to W.A.& P.Cordingly. In 1919, Robina was chartered to the Blackpool Passenger Steamboat Co, and the following year for Bristol Channel service. This was followed by charters to the Blackpool Steam Shipping Co in 1923 and H.D.Bickerstaffe in 1924. Robina was sold in 1925.

Fleetwood Excursion Steamers
Sir Peter Hesketh, founder of Fleetwood, owned three former Clyde steamers, Cupid, Express and James Dennistoun, in the 1840s. There were brief services from Fleetwood to Scotland from 1847-1851 whilst through rail links were still being built. The fleet of the Barrow SN Co, which also ran from Fleetwood, later became part of the Midland Railway.
Fleetwood became a major port for services to Ireland, which started in 1843, and were later run by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (jointly with the LNWR). They maintained the excursion steamer Lune at Fleetwood from 1892-1913.
The Furness Railway was a relatively minor English railway company, which founded its early prosperity on the carriage of iron ore. As this traffic declined towards the end of the 19th Century, the Company sought to increase the tourist passenger traffic to the English Lake District, the area in which its trains operated. In 1900 they introduced a passenger ferry service across Morecambe Bay, between Barrow and Fleetwood. There were tram connections onwards from Fleetwood to Blackpool. This service operated successfully, using a total of four paddle steamers, until the outbreak of war in 1914. The service was not revived after the war.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Co (IOMSPCo) ran summer services to Douglas from Fleetwood, frequently using their newest and best steamers, some built for the route. The most popular excursion for visitors to Fleetwood was always a day trip to the Isle of Man.

Preston Station By Night

Ever wondered, whilst you are sleeping, what the railway through Preston might see overnight? Here is a sample from one night observations….

325004 north through Preston at 2353 on Warrington RMT – Shieldmuir RMT postal.
66035 south through Preston at 0015 on New Cumnock – Earles sidings loaded HTA coal hoppers.
66513 south through Preston at 0023 on Killoch – Fiddlers Ferry PS loaded HHA coal hoppers.
66425 north through Preston at 0027 on Daventry – Grangemouth intermodal.
90018 arrived Preston at 0038 and departed at 0052 on London Euston – Inverness sleeper.
90048 south through Preston at 0115 on Coatbridge – Felixstowe freightliner.
92026 north through Preston at 0115 on Hams Hall – Mossend Yard intermodal.
66557 north through Preston at 0120 on uid working empty HHA coal hoppers.
66417 south through Preston at 0134 on Grangemouth – Daventry intermodal.
86604 + 86638 north through Preston at 0150 on Crewe Basford Hall – Coatbridge freightliner.
66843 north through Preston at 0212 on Chirk – Carlisle Yard empty timber bogie wagons.
92034 north through Preston at 0216 on Portbury – Mossend Yard wagon load freight.
90028 arrive at Preston at 0300 and depart at 0308 on Glasgow Central – London Euston sleeper.
66546 south through Preston at 0316 on Hunterston – Fiddlers Ferry PS loaded HHA coal hoppers.
70010 light engine. South through Preston at 0320 on Carlisle Yard – Crewe Basford Hall Yard.
66531 south through Preston at 0355 on Hunterston – Fiddlers Ferry PS loaded HHA coal hoppers.
90021 arrive at Preston at 0331 and depart at 0356 on London Euston – Glasgow Central sleeper.
57309 + 390034 arrive at Preston at 0435 presume from Longsight.
90036 arrived Preston at 0451 and departed at 0459 on Inverness – London Euston sleeper.
66013 south through Preston at 0507 on New Cumnock – Clitheroe loaded coal bogie boxes.
31602 pushing south through Preston at 0521 on Carlisle Wapping Sidings – Derby RTC test train.
66137 north through Preston at 0523 on Crewe Basford Hall – Carlisle Yard departmental.
66520 north through Preston at 0610 on Rugeley – Carlisle empty HHA coal hoppers.

Observations overnight on 020711 by Steve Sumners and posted on Preston RailGen

Going Bananas in Preston!

Many visitors to the Ribble Steam Railway will admit that their love of steam began with journeys by train to the seaside. There was always something magical in boarding a train hauled by a big express locomotive which would whisk you away for a week at your family’s chosen destination. Were those not happy days!
Many steam excursions came through Preston on the way to exotic places such as Blackpool, Windermere, Grange-Over-Sands or Morecambe.

There really is nothing to compare with a day out by steam train.
The Ribble Steam Railway based on Preston’s Docklands mixes those heady days of steam travel with a look back at England’s Industrial Heritage, when not only passengers travelled by train but all our goods trade was moved by the railways rather than by modern day road traffic.

Preston Docks moved tons of freight by train having been unloaded from visiting ships at the quayside. Limestone, Timber, Coal, Cattle and Bananas were amongst the goods traffic of the day.


Bananas in particular were a big import through Preston Docks and lines of Banana Boats could be seen off the coast awaiting the right tides on which to enter along the River Ribble to the dock for unloading. One of the biggest and best known Banana importers was Geest.

Until the 1950s, imports of bananas to the United Kingdom had been almost entirely under Ireland-based Fyffes’ control. Geest, however, decided to challenge that company’s dominance of the banana trade, as the fruit swiftly gained popularity among British consumers. Geest started its own banana import operations in the early 1950s, turning specifically to the countries in the Windward Islands chain–St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, Grenada, and Dominica–for their banana production. The company also played a major role in developing the banana industry on these islands and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Through its banana imports and its other produce interests, the company also was able to attract a number of the United Kingdom’s largest supermarket chains to its growing customer lists. In the late 1950s, the company’s banana imports had flourished, and the company even started its own shipping line, offering vacation cruises as well as cargo space for its banana imports. By the 1960s, Geest had successfully captured 50 percent of the U.K. banana market from Fyffes.
The banana boat Windward Islands together with her sister ship The Leeward Islands were both regular visitors to the port in the 1960’s
The proximity of the West Coast mainline railway, giving access to destinations North and South and other good links to Yorkshire no doubt were factors in Geest’s decision to use Preston as their base. Rail distribution was the norm throughout the 1950’s and well into the 1960’s. To give a flavour – a round voyage to the Windwards took close on 4 weeks. Very little cargo was carried outward but on the return holds were full of bananas as well as much smaller quantities of what were then regarded as “exotic fruits”. As an example the “Geestland” arrived Preston 13th August 1963 and departed after completing cargo on the afternoon of the 15th. She discharged over 75000 stems of bananas (897 tons).

With the exception of 75 stems to lorry and 10000 stems conveyored into dock store, the balance was loaded to rail truck in what was quite a slick operation. Geest had strategic ripening stores near Airdrie, Bradford, Preston and at their headquarters in Spalding.
In addition rail trucks were despatched direct to customers who had their own ripening rooms, usually adjacent to rail. Having commenced discharge at around 0800,13 rail trucks were on their way by lunchtime.


28 wagons departed at 1500hrs for customers in Penrith, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Kilmarnock, Galashiels, Newcastle, North Shields, and West Hartlepool closely      followed by a further 28 wagons at 1700hrs for Derby, Nottingham, Mansfield, Crewe, and various destinations in West Yorkshire as well as Hull and Darlington. Later in the day at 1930hrs and 2230hrs further despatches were made. In total 197 rail trucks were loaded to complete this one cargo.