George Dow & son: Andrew
Dow's title pages and covers, if not perfect, were rather good: the title page shows Dow's passion for green ink, his Art Deco signature and dedication to F.L. Jones Esq rather than the more formal Jones or informal Frank.
George Dow had a direct influnce upon Kevin Jones's life by moving his father to the LNER's Manchester Office shortly after Nationalization and thus it is impossible for Kevin to be wholly objective as this move had a huge influence upon his life, much of it even these many years later, still appears to have been negative in spite of his father's great improvement in status.
Dow's: Great Central (three volumes) is his magnus opus. It was dedicated to his well-known son, Andrew, which must truly have been a literary silver spoon in his mouth. The personal contacts included Sir Sam Fay and J.G. Robinson and A.F. Bound (for signalling). The text is richly illustrated with portraits, gradient profiles, original prospectuses, timetables, and pictures from Illustrated London News. There is an excellent index. The many footnotes give relatively long quotations from contemporary sources: the Manchester Guardian in 1845 wrote about the "Moral and Physical Evils in connection with Railway Works" referring to the construction of the Woodhead Tunnel: the drunkenness, the tally-women; price of food at the camp and so on. Any library collection which lacks Dow is not a "library" (its a mere collection of books: needless to say Norfolk only has an incomplete set: by definition a City of Culture has a library, not an incomplete selection of books)..
His Railway heraldry and other insignia (David & Charles, 1973) encapsulated the fruits of one of his other great interests and is notable (for its time, for the richness of its illustrations: 88 separate colour illustrations, plus 211 black & white photos in the text.
Quotation: In 1938 the Southern emulated the Great Central and the London & North Eastern by seeking full armorial bearings from the College of Arms. Unfortunately the war intervened and the Latters Patent, signed and sealed by the three Kings of Arms, were not finally dated until 6th March 1946. The achievement adopted is of particular interest because it reflected to some extent contemporary heraldic design and, at the same time, demonstrated how markedly it differed from that of the Victorian era. This best exemplified by the multiple crest; the double disc wheel of the latest steam locomotives of the company; the flash through it denotes the extensive electrification; the wings above to indicate the speed of both forms of traction; and the sun as a backdrop, a subtle reminder of the onetime Southern slogan South for Sunshine.
His British steam horses (Phoenix, 1950) remains an excellent introduction to the steam locomotive, its history and its mechanism. In the current parsimonious world one can only marvel at how a nearly bankrupt public utility could tolerate its PR man to prepare such wonders as The first railway between Manchester and Sheffield and The story of the West Highland line to sell to the public for three shillings and six pence in the case of the former. But the immediate Post World War II period was in which some remarkable publishing ventures took off and soared (the Collins New Naturalist series is one paradigm), but of the railways, only the LNER achieved anything historically worthy at that time. Both the Southern and Great Western had achieved great things between the wars although not quite comparable with Tomlinson's magisterial work. In spite of having D.S.M. Barrie, the LMS achieved nothing worthy in bibliographical terms, of what it considered to be a mighty institution. Sadly, Dow ended up on the London Midland Region.
Dow joined the LNER in 1927 and retired as a Divisional Manager within the LMR in 1968.
Paul Karau (Br Rly J., 1987, 2, 308) wrote a thoughtful, "literary" obituary and this follows (with only minor changes and incorporating certain key materail from Wikipedia). Born 30 June 1907 died 28 January 1987. Mention the name George Dow and most readers will surely immediately think of his epic Great Central Trilogy (Locomotive Publishing Co.), 'Midland Style' (HMRS), his presidency of the HMRS and Midland Railway Trust. The titles mentioned are worthy additions to any railway library, but there are many more and a list is appended herewith. His dedication to the railways needs no introduction in these columns, indeed he was one of the very last of the old generation of 'greats' of railway literature. His schoolboy ambitions of being apprenticed under Beames at Crewe were thwarted by the early death of his father, after which his mother could not' afford the £100 premium.
However, after a brief spell in the wool trade, he managed to join the LNER at King's Cross in 1927 as a probationary class 5 clerk. From this humble beginning, he moved through the Press Section to become a canvasser in the Commercial Advertising Department, then on through special design duties and Press Officer (Wikipedia adds was LNER Press Relations Officer throughout WW2: KPJ agrees with this as he suspects F.L. Jones was working for him in Edinburgh from 1942-46) to become on 1st January 1948 Public Relations and Publicity Officer, Eastern & North Eastern Regions of the newly formed BR. In 1949 he took the same post on LMR and on that region eventually rose to Divisional Manager, Stoke on Trent, before retiring in 1968.
Of course Karau's own contact with George Dow came about through the production of Midland Carriages. He immediately commanded the deepest respect. His manuscripts were outstandingly precise and utterly impeccable - quite the most accurate we have handled. He was the very model of efficiency and, frank at all times (a precious quality these days), he expected nothing less of others, but he was also a very appreciative audience.
Wild Swan is proud to have produced 'Midland Carriages' and thankful that the final volume appeared in good time to put his mind at rest. At the request of Ralph Lacy's widow, he laid aside his personal ambitions and selflessly devoted what sadly proved to be his last years to the enormous and unenviable task of completing his friend's life's work. As if that were not enough, he also refused to take any payment or royalties, instead insisting that the proceeds all go to Mrs. Lacy. A generous gesture typical of a true gentleman who will be sadly missed. He died on 28th January 1987 aged 79 years.
Wikipedia states "He is perhaps best known as a draughtsman for his diagrammatic railway maps for the LNER and London, Midland and Scottish Railway and as an inspiration to celebrated designer Harry Beck on the Tube map. Their work led to a style of design which has revolutionised the world of Urban rail and metro maps."
Dow, Andrew. That reminds me... Steam Wld, 2005 (222) 46-7.
Photograph of George Dow, Information Agent of LNER, in December 1941 with some of his collection of railway heraldic devices. See also Dow senior's book.
George Dow: a doughty railwayman.
Part 1: 21 years on the LNER. Andrew Dow. Steam Wld, 2001
Andrew tells us that his father was born in 1907 and was brought up in Watford. He had hoped to become a premium apprentice at Crewe, but the death of his father in 1922 forced him to become a Grade 5 clerk in the Chief General Manager's Office of the LNER. Here he showed his initiative by studying for an external degree and by designing the Dowagrams used to show the routes displayed in the carriage panels, initially for the Great Northern suburban services.In 1931 he joined the Press Section. KPJ: obviously the story of George Dow and my own father interact, but at which point is still far fom clear.
George Dow: a doughty railwayman. Part 2: 20 years on BR. Andrew Dow. Steam Wld, 2001 (165) 14-20.
Final duties for the LNER included writing the words for the plaques fitted to Mallard in January 1948. He also participated in selecting the names for the A1 Pacifics. In 1949 (Oxford Companion) he moved to become PR&PO for the London Midland Region where he promoted Vic Welch's work, vastly improved the signage on LMR stations; replaced the dreary LMS sepia carriage panels with colour work, including that by Hamilton Ellis of locomotives, and by Kenneth Steel and Claude Buckle of railway civil engineering structures. He was involved, mainly without success, in suggesting names for the Britannia Pacifics and Clans.Before retirement he was responsible for the Birmingham Division and then the Stoke Division of the London Midland Region. There is interesting comment upon the design of the new stations at Coventry and New Street, and the views aof architects. Dow senior was invloved in the creation of the Historical Model Railway Society. There are also interesting comments on how the three volume Great Central impinged upon domestic life. For a time the Dows lived in a rented former GCR house in St John's Wood:
Dow, Andrew. That reminds me.
Steam Wld, 2006, (228)
Photograph of George Dow as young man on footplate of Gresley A1 No. 2557 Blair Athol in early 1930s: at that time LNER was involved in assisting in making The Flying Scotsman with actor Ray Milland. This article contains a considerable amount of detail about George Dow including his carriage panel maps and his involvement in WW2 radio broadcast
Dow, Andrew. Perception and statistics: meeting the LNER's public relations success. J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2005, 35, 175-7)
Mentions that Dow's total staff numbered eleven in 1944: four in London, two in Manchester, two at York and three in Edinburgh. Also records how father attempted to quantify his relative success as compared with the LMS and GWR: this is based on official LNER internal reports
Dow, Andrew. That reminds me... Steam Wld, 2009 (266) 56-7.
Rental of parental (George Dow) home from LNER. This was a maisonette formed from a substantial dwelling which had been built for the Great Central Railway in Belsize Road on the approach to Marylebone station. His father, George Dow, did a lot of his writing, ntably of British steam horses and the first volume of his seminal Great Central in this house which also housed an extensive model railway, his collection of raiilway coats of arms, and the venue for committee meetings of the Historical Model Railway Society.
The Alford & Sutton Tramway. Chislehurst:
Oakwood Press, 1947. (Locomotion Paper No.1)
Enlarged and revised edition published by author in 1984: not in Ottley: in this he complaiined that first edition which had been priced at 2s 6d, now commanded £2 secondhand. In the introduction he explained how he was introduced to the remains of the line when taking a family holiday in Sutton-on-Sea in 1946. On Sundays he had to travel from Alford where en route he found Tramway Crossing signal box at Sutton.
Audlem then and now. Audlem District Amenities Society, 1977.
British steam horses. London: Phoenix, 1950. 128pp. + plates
Contents: Foreword by A. H. Peppercorn; Introduction; The Steam Locomotive Explained; Some Famous Locomotive Designers; How a Modern Locomotive is Built; Modern Passenger Types; Modern Freight Types and Some Others; The Locomotive Running Depot; Some Locomotive Speed and Other Records; Three appenices (British Railways liveries, numbering, interchange trials); excellent index. Norman Newsome notes that pp 110 et seq paint a vivid picture of the experimental high speed runs and the inaugural press run of the Silver Jubilee. Section on locomotive nicknames..
By electric train from Liverpool Street to Shenfield. London: Railway Executive, 1950.
East Coast Route. London: Locomotive Publishing Co., 1954. 64pp.
The first railway across the Border. London: LNER, 1946. 43pp.
The first railway between Manchester and Sheffield. London: LNER, 1945. 44pp
The first railway in Norfolk. 2nd ed. London: LNER, 1947. 32pp.
First edition 1944.
Great Central. Vol. 1. The progenitors, 1813-1863. London: Locomotive Publishing Company, 1959.
Dedicatees include Andrew Dow: Personal contacts included Sir Sam Fay and J.G. Robinson and A.F. Bound (signalling). Richly illustrated within text: portraits, gradient profiles, original prospectuses, timetables, pictures from Illustrated London News excellent index many footnotes: relatively long quotations from contemporary sources: the Manchester Guardian in 1845 wrote about the "Moral and Physical Evils in connection with Railway Works" referring to the construction of the Woodhead Tunnel: the drunkenness, the tally-women; and price of food at the camp
Great Central. Vol. 2. Dominion of Watkin, 1864-1899. London: Locomotive Publishing Company, 1962.
Locomotives and rolling stock are covered on pp. 75-97 for the period 1864-1886 (including Charles Sacré) and on pp. 257-78 for the 1887-1899 period which includes Thomas Parker.
Great Central. Vol. 3. Fay sets the pace, 1900-1922. London: Locomotive Publishing Company, 1965.
Great Central Album: a pictorial supplement to 'Great Central'. London: Ian Allan, 1969.
Great Central recalled. Truro: Bradford Barton, 1978. 96pp.
It can now be revealed: more about British railways in peace and in war. London: British Railways Press Office, 1945. 64pp.
Ottley 588: copy seen by KPJ in secondhand bookshop in Cromer (price £10 in October 2006): excellent photographic record, including re-railing a NBR locomotive with men wearing protective clothing against gas attack (this photograph has appeared elsewhere).
London Tilbury & Southend Album. London: Ian Allan, 1981.
Ottley 18520: as might be expected this is a superior sort of album which begins with clear maps on the end-papers, and interesting colour frontispiece based upon a rare F. Moore oil painting which is stated to be in the NRM collection (not reproduced well in copy now seen); concise sections of text, and interesting photographs. Copy was inspected to see if itincluded more on the extraordinary saloon built under Whitelegg for which full details are given in Loco. Mag., 1913, 19, 289.
Midland Railway Carriages. Upper Bucklebury: Wild Swan, 1984/6. 2 v. with R.E. Lacy.
Midland style: a livery and decor register of the Midland Railway... Bromley: HMRS, 1975.
North Staffordshire Album. London: Ian Allan, 1970.
Railway heraldry and other insignia. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973.
Supplement published by author 1985 according to Karau: see review in Br. Rly J. (9), 350.
The story of the West Highland. 2nd ed. London: LNER, 1947. 63pp. + 4 folding diagrs.
First published 1944
Telling the passenger where to get off. Capital Transport, 2005, by Andrew Dow
The story of Dow's diagrams used in railway carriage panels on LNER suburban services and more widely after formation of British Railways: the assanine One could learn much.
The Third Woodhead Tunnel. London: British Railways London Midland Region, 1954.
A very inferior publication compared with those produced by the LNER: cover is reminiscent of a ration book.
World Locomotive Models. Bath: Adams & Dart, 1973.
LMS 'Jinties'. Br. Rly J., (9),
This letter refered back to a minor article by Bob Essery on page 277 et seq.
Dow Senior's letter is quoted verbatim: his remarks concerning the BR later logo are highly interesting and put in bold type by KPJ.
In the last paragraph of this article the remarks concerning styles of lettering are confusing and call for clarification. The well-known sans-serif lettering specially designed by Edward Johnston for the then Underground Electric Railways of London first appeared on posters in 1916. Because Frank Pick was so closely involved in its evolution and introduction, it became generally known as Johnston-Pick type and was duly universally employed by London Transport. Eric Gill, sculptor and a pupil of Edward Johnston, did not design lettering for London Transport, but the elegant sans-serif type which bears his name was adopted by the London & North Eastern Railway in. its typographical revolution of 1928, which involved posters, handbills and press advertisements. The use of Gill Sans for station and other signs of the LNER soon followed and before the outbreak of the last war it had appeared on the company's locomotives, rolling stock and road vehicles. Gill Sans was continued universally by British Railways on their formation in 1948 and remained in general use until the search for a new image began in 1965, when the castration British Rail, the barbed wire emblem and the now hackneyed Univers lettering came on the scene. What would George have made of train station?.
|The Dow model railway? from Railways photographed in colour
from model railways; designed by George A. Adams; story by
S.P.W. Corbett. London Collins.
A note on the verso title page acknowledges Georde Dow,
Information Agent LNER for source of some of the models. Other
lines include Fred Aherne's Madderport layout.
Former Curator of the National Railway Museum, one time indexer of the British Railway Journal, contributor to the Oxford Companion, columnist in Steam World, and son of George Dow, and now contributor of an eponymous reference work. See also Telling the passenger where to get off.
Dow's Dictionary of Railway
Quotations. John Hopkins.
At last KPJ has seen this magnus opus for himself (National Library of Scotland! and subsequently in the bookshop at the NRM). He was delighted to find a reference to himself concerning his assessment of Nock (steamindex is cited). The potential of the book can be gauged from Stanier's alleged remark of "where's the key" in response to a picture of Bulleid's Q1 0-6-0 is given as H.A.V. Bulleid's Master builders of steam. This is the sort of quotation where one could otherwise search for days without success. There are not unexpectedly 33 references to Hamilton Ellis, 29 to his father's work (mainly in British steam horses: is it really that good, or is it a son's response to his father?), there is only one from Bonavia and none from J.M. Dunn. There is ample evidence of the paucity of bibliographical control in the library service which is supposed to be provided for Norfolk in that this book is not even available in what it considered itself to be a candidate for "the City of Culture". There are four quotations from W.H. Auden.
The Oldie (November issus) contains an excellent review by Christian Wolmar of Andrew Dow's latest venture. The Oldie appears to be courting anoraks and has included several items in recent issues which are clearly intended to interest them. This contribution by a well-known journalist into the Barry sector of the railway enthusiast market is exceedingly interesting, and as Kevin is unlikely to see the new dictionary under review until well after Christmas, indeed if ever in the bibliographical breckland in which he resides, he has taken the usual liberty of placing sections of it on this website as he believes that it can only do all of us good: The Oldie, Andrew, Christian, and Kevin (especially if you buy this book via this website through Amazon).
Given this love of the railways, it is strange that no one has thought to pull together a dictionary of railway quotations until now. Andrew Dow, a former curator of the National Rail Museum, has filled that gap with style and brio. Not only has he tracked down some 3,400 of the best quotations, but he has also attempted to source some of those expressions that have entered the language without anyone being quite clear of their origin.
For example, the famous Vanderbilt quote 'The public be damned' may never have been said. Dow tracks down two interviews where Vanderbilt may have used those words, but the millionaire later denied using them. That other favourite railway cliche, 'What a way to run a railroad', a metaphor for any chaotic situation, was originally a caption for a cartoon in which the statement was made by the person responsible for the chaos.
Indeed, chaos on the railways is now routinely explained by that famous excuse, 'the wrong kind of...' which originally referred to snow but has been used routinely by the popular press when anything goes amiss on the railways. Dow has tracked that one down, too, and found that the usual attribution, to a BR railway manager, Terry Worrall, was incorrect and that it was, aptly, a headline writer for the Evening Standard who coined the expression. In fairness to the railway, Dow explains that the type of snow in that winter of 1991 was, indeed, particularly cold, making it dry and powdery, causing disruption not just in the UK but throughout Europe.
This tale demonstrates the extent to which the railways have always had to put up with being an Aunt Sally, the butt of far more criticism than any rational analysis would suggest they deserve. Perhaps it is because they are so loved that when things go wrong, being let down is like a lover's betrayal. Dow has dug out some lovely quotes that put rail enthusiasts in their place - 'gricers', as they are commonly known, though in a separate list he gives all the names used for rail fans, including, bizarrely, 'foamers'. 'We appreciate our fans but like football coaches, we don't consult them on our strategies' is a particularly neat American put-down, as is 'their knowledge of the railways is minimal', but he also finds some praise for them: 'The collecting of locomotive numbers is a perfectly legitimate hobby for railway enthusiasts and pursued intelligently may serve useful and instructive purposes.' However, that does date back to 1945, and I doubt anyone would now defend trainspotters so forcefully.
Dow's book is international, taking us around the world, with quotes ranging from Siberia to San Francisco, and the sheer breadth of the work, which took eight years to compile and ranges from literature to Rail magazine, will ensure that it solves many a Christmas dilemma for those seeking presents for fathers, uncles, brothers and other male relatives. But it is so well put together and so keenly demonstrates the widespread impact of the railways that even a few women may appreciate it, just as Fanny Kemble fell in love with the railways.
Martin Barnes reviewed for J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2006, 35, 450 commends work for its indexing and observes that Margaret Thatcher did say that railway privatisation will be the Waterloo of this government, presumably at Hatfield approaching the gates to the home of the Salisbury family..
Memories of a railway childhood
This is a joy of a book, but sadly lacks an index and as its Author attended prep school before advancing to Brighton College it inevitably includes many names, such as Michael Harris, which should be of interest to other railway enthusiasts and the page references will be listed below with, where appropriate, links from elsewhere on the website. This raises the question as to whether the book should have been written as part of a website, or for distribution in Kindle format. Nevertheless, it must be stressed that the book is elegantly produced as a robust paperback and that Kevin has greatly enjoyed reading it in the room of a guest house in Swanage, a place he had last visited in 1956 when he arrived on the push & pull from Wareham behind, or was it in front of an M7 (on a journey which is beginning to resemble St John Thomas's Journey Through Britain).
Big Emma (MR 0-10-0): Fowler's wife was named Emma 29 fn
Hamilton Ellis paintings 24
Cecil Dandridge 8 (Information Agent, LNER)
Belsize Road, No. 11 19-25
Liverpool Overhead Railway 61-2
Rostron General Manager 61
Byrom, District Passenger Manager 61
Forth Bridge 57
George Dow crossed hauled by P2 57
Frank Riley 59
Meccano Magazine 59
Binns Road 59
Great Central Railway Album. 88
Alford & Sutton Tramway. 49
Oakwood Locomotion Paper No. 1 49
Great Central Railway 49
East Coast Route 49-50
British Stream Horses 50
purchase by Roger Ford 50
wheel tappers 51
Watkin, Edward 80-2
Watkin Way 82
Great Central book 80
drawings by Andrew Dow
Watkin's inspection saloon No. 1033 81-2
Welch, Vic 82-3
MS&LR Class 11 4-4-0 82
Robinson 4-4-2 83