Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society 2016

Volume 38 Part 7

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No 225 March 2016

'Railway Returns ... for the year 1913'. front cover
see pp. 410-426

Tony Sheward. The financial state of Britain's railways in 1913. 410-26.
Mainland Britain's railways reached their zenith in the period immediately prior to WW1. This concept is confirmed with statistical data for the railways as a whole forv the period 1908 to 1913 and specific data for 1913 for each of the twenty major railways: that is capital raised; rent, guarateed and preference stocks; loans and debenture stocks; total track mileage; steam locomotives (3084 LNWR down to 100 Cambrian); coaching stock; goods and other vehicles; gross receipts (LNWR £17.2m); net receipts; balance available for ordinary dividends; rate of ordinary dividend; gross receipts from passenger traffic and goods traffic; traffic expenditure as percentage of traffic receipts

Philip Riden. Waterways history research: an alternative view. 426-40.

Nicholas Hammond. Francis Egerton's visit to the Canal du Midi in 1754 and its extraordinary aftermath. 440-9.
Francis Egerton became the Duke of Bridgewater: attempts to show how his visit to the canal du Midi in France in May 1754 influenced the structures on the Bridgewater Canal, especially the aquaduct over the River Irwell and the bridges on the Trent & Mersey Canal. 

Paul Blurton. The Eagles of Crewe – some modern myths corrected. 450-4.
A myth has grown in the past decade that the eagle sculptures situated at three locations in Crewe were originally at Llanddulas (or Llandulas) where a viaduct was washed away on 17 August 1879. It is argued that the eagles came from the Robert Stephenson bridge over the River Dee which collapsed on 24 May 1847 and shows John Romney engravings of the bridge and its collapse: an extreme enlargement probably makes the "birds" visible.  

Arnold Bennett's memories of the Staffordshire steam tram. 454-5.
Short extracts from These Twain and Clayhanger show how steam trams featured in Arnold Bennett's novels: in the latter "Bleakridge" mirrors Cobridge where Bennett resided between 1880 and 1888.

Correspondence 456

Reviews 458

River, railway and ravine: foot suspension bridges for Empire. Douglas Harper. Stroud: The History Press,  164pp, 129 b&w and colour illustrations, hardback. Reviewed by Peter Cross-Rudkin. 466
John Harper was an iron gate and wire manufacturer in Aberdeen; level crossing gates and lineside fences for railways were an important part of the business. In 1863 he obtained a patent for a fence strainer. This device, together with cambered cables at deck level, enabled him to develop a type of light suspension footbridge that was noticeably more rigid than earlier examples. The bridges could be kit-built from components designed by Harper's to suit information provided from a site survey. Over fifty of them are known to have been built, in places from Nepal via Estonia to the Falkland Islands; only five are known to have survived the ravages of time and the elements.
This book, by John Harper's great-grandson, describes the progressive improvement ofthe bridge design, at first by John and then by his son Louis. The author is not an engineer and describes the process in layman's terms, but there is plenty of technical detail. He also gives space to John and Louis in their family background, showing how the family business expanded into areas as separate as motor car manufacture. The largest part of the book however is devoted to a historical record of each bridge, the author's search for information about them in documentary sources and his travels to known sites to find what remains. It is well illustrated by photographs, old and new.
Confining himself to the history of Harper & Co, the author hardly mentions other companies such as James Abernethy & Co or David Rowell & Co, who also made light suspension bridges. Despite this, a wealth of new information is provided about a subject that has not been treated at this level of detail before. The book is well produced and excellent value for its reasonable price.

Abandoned & vanished canals of Ireland, Scotland and Wales .Andy Wood. Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2015, 156pp, 12 b&w photographs, 11 maps, paperback, (e-book also available). Reviewed by David Pedley. 
The last book recording abandoned navigations was Ronald Russell's Lost canals and waterways of Britain in 1982. Research moves on, and where Russell's book recorded seven cases in Scotland, for example, this book has seventeen. Even then, the author has missed some, such as the short Lewis Chemical Works canal in the Outer Hebrides. He has not trawled the Society's Journal as he missed, for example, a detailed article about the Plas Kynaston Canal near Pontcysyllte.
The format is, at best, a short history of each canal's life and death, an OS reference (but no more detailed illustration of the route, even where it will not be clear from a modem map) and details of visible remains, including structures. However the uniformity of this format is somewhat variable. A major reason for buying the book would be to know what to look out for on the ground. The total omission of such details in some cases is therefore frustrating, as it is not clear if there are no remains or whether the author has not actually visited the site to find out. There are some small-scale diagrammatic maps covering most (but not all) of the listings and (curiously) the 'Burnturk Canals' in Fife, which are not dealt with in the text.
It might be charitable to regard this book as Work in Progress. It does prompt the thought, though, that it might sometimes be wise to send out a review copy before, and not after, publication.

The Victorian steam locomotive: its design and development 1804-1879. G.D. Dempsey. 177pp & 16 plates, 31 illustrations (mainly photographs), 78 diagrams, hardback, Barnsley: Pen & Sword Transport, 2015, Reviewed by Kevin Jones. 466-7.
Originally published in 1879 with the florid title A rudimentary treatise on the locomotive engine in all its phases, popularly described, with illustrations for students and non-professional men (Ottley 2965), the title page of this reprint shows an incorrect date range. Daniel Kinnear Clark provided the preface; indeed CIark is the author of the second and larger part of the book. There is no bibliographical history and the preface by Pete Waterman adds little. The plates in the centre are not from the original work but fall within the spirit of it. This is not a facsimile reprint, but is a product of a scanner and OCR software: 'Kailway', and 'Pigs' instead of 'Figs', all too clearly indicate its limitations. To an extent the book is something of a curiosity, but it does give some indication of how mid- Victorians regarded locomotive design and its history: a history in the first part which gives a surprising emphasis to the light locomotives associated with William Bridges Adams and to the Fairlie type. Chapter 9 begins with a description of D. Luiz; a Beyer Peacock 2-2-2 supplied to the South Eastern Railway of Portugal, surely an obscure choice; although it won a gold medal at the Paris International Exhibition of 1862, by 1879 it would have been rather out-of-date. This is not really a popular account as, for example, the section on reversing mechanisms is written in a highly demanding fashion.

Where to, Guv? The complete history of the British taxi service. Danny Roth. Stroud: The History Press, The Mill, Brimscombe, Brimscombe Port, GL5 2QG, 2015, 208pp. Reviewed by Brian A.L.Jones. 467
As grandson of one of London's last hansom cab operators, I looked foward to reading this book. It is a great disappointment to report that, apart from not matching the promise of the title, much of the text is difficult to read. If the publisher had chosen to separate paragraphs more clearly in the dense text, that problem might have been eased. More positive editing of the author's sometimes difficult phrasing of sentences would also have improved aspects of the flow of the story.
Despite the publisher telling us on the rear dust jacket that the author has 'a fascinating collection of images' , a significant number of pictures in the sparse sections of illustrations are identified as being sourced from the Library of Congress.
There is a great amount of information to be gained by studying the contents, which primarily relate the development of the taxi trade in London, rather than Britain. Unfortunately, while obviously diligently researched, no reference details are provided, nor is there a bibliography. A good index is included, together with 22 appendices, which include a guide to taxicab 'language', regulations and statistics plus other matters that, arguably, might have been more usefully included in the main text.
When the motor taxicab era is reached, there is a considerable amount of interesting information concerning manufacturers and their relationship with operators and the Public Carriage Office while trying to produce viable vehicles. The support of relevant illustrations could have transformed that narrative. This is essentially an interesting book with an important story to relate that is seriously inhibited by poor planning, indifferent layout and lack of appeal for the serious transport historian, let alone a general reader.

Warwickshire's lost railways. David Blagrove. Catrine: Stenlake Publishing, 2015, 82pp. 102 illustrations, softback. Reviewed by Willlam Featherstone
This book combines two bêtes noires of the railway reviewer – a misleading title and descriptions arbitrarily cut-off at a county boundary. It describes closed stations on lines, both closed and open, within the author's definition of the historic county boundary. The lines are dealt with by company – London & Birmingham, L&NWR, Midland, Great Western, and finally Great Central – and there may be a logic in this but since the book lacks a contents page, map and index, locating a specific station or line is more difficult than it should be. Each line description commences with a helpful tabulation of ownerships and dates, although these do differ on occasion from the body of the text, not itself faultless. The redeeming feature of this book, and one which recommends its purchase, despite its faults, is its photographs. These depict scenes full of the atmosphere of the rural and suburban station, and are packed with interesting details which will fascinate the social as much as the railway historian. What makes these illustrations come alive is the high quality of the reproduction values; amply illustrated in the eight double-page photographs, where the reader becomes totally absorbed in their reality, and the 'lost railways' live again.

Back: (upper) Plaque on the Cesse River aqueduct, Canal du Midi; (centre) Repudre aqueduct on the Canal du Midi, commune de Paraza; (lower) The flight of eight locks on the Canal du Midi near Beziers (all from Wikimedia Commons) (see pp. 440-450)

Number 227 (November 2016)

Dennis R. Mills. George Giles, MICE, 1810-1877: the biography of a civil engineer. 538-49.
Notes the rather tenuous boundary between engineering and surveying and the ectivities of sevveral family members in early reailway construction. George was resident engineer on the Winchester to Southampton Railway. Later he was employed by the contractors o construct a viaduct near Rugby to carry the Midland Counties Railway across the River Avon. He then became involved in the railway between Lubeck and Hamburg and following his return to Britain with the Great Northern Railway between Gainsborough and Boston. Then he worked on sewers in Lincoln,

Robert F. Hartley. George Stephenson — the railway surveys. Part 1: 1819-1832.
Figure 1 commands attention as it shows routes surveyed in 1824 between Liverpool and Machester on an alignment north  of that eventually adopted and a route from Birkenhead through Chester, Nantwi fromm wheree there was a branch to Stoke on Trent, Audlem, Childs Ercall,  Newport, Brewood, Woverhampton, Tipton, Dudley, Smethhwick and Birmingham. A subsequent survey of 1834 was routed from Liverpool via Widnes, Church Coppenhall, Whitmore, Norton Bridge, Penkridge and Perry Bar into Birmingham.

Peter Brown. Thmas Gilbert's proposal: alternative ways of financing ths Trent & Mersey Canal. 561-5

Pat Jones. The Lincoln Navigation: Fossdike in the Ellison era. 566-79.

Adrian Gray. Divine intervention? Thomas Cooper and the Nuneaton accident, 1858. 579-81.
On10 May 1858 a LNWR northbound expess struck a cow and was derailed and this led to the deaths of three passengers; all of whom were travelling in the Glasgow coach — the second vehicle of the train. At Euston Thomas Cooper had intended to board the Glasgow coach but was disuaded from doing so and joined the train lower down and he noticed his friend Frederick James Jobson passing and called him to join him. Cooper considered this to be Divine providence and wrote about it in his autobiography: The life of Thomas Cooper, written by himself published in 1872..

Peter Rigney. Labour markets, enlistment and demolisation in Wotld War One: the case of the Irish railway companies. 582-8.

Obituary: Edwin Course (1922-2016). 589
Edwin Alfred Course was born in Brixton in 1922, the son of Captain Alfred George Course, who had qualified as a Cape Homer by voyaging around Cape Hom under sail, but by 1924 he was a Port of London Authority dock master. From 1924 Edwin grew up living in a company house in Victoria Dock and then from 1926 in Tilbury Dock. But this was not the only early influence on his interest in transport; his paternal grandfather was a Metropolitan District RaiIway station master at Alperton and Park Royal.
From 1930 to 1939 he was educated at Palmer's School, Grays, and shortly afterwards he was called up for service in the Royal Navy for the duration of the war, serving as Petty Officer Radio Mechanic and Petty Officer Mechanic Instructor in RADAR. After demobilisation in 1946, he became a teacher with the London County Council, at the same time taking evening classes at the London School of Economics. He went on to become a full-time student and, by the time he joined the RCHS shortly after its formation in 1954 as member number 65, he was a PhD student in the Geography department at LSE, researching for his thesis on 'The evolution of the railway network of south east England'. Anyone undertaking research in this field might find it useful to have a look at this prodigious work of 948 pages in three volumes.
'History and geography of London's railways' was the title of one of the London University extra-mural courses conducted by Edwin Course while at LSE. Two of his students were Desmond Croome and Alan A Jackson, authors of Rails through the clay: a history of London's tube railways (1962), in which they acknowledged 'Edwin's enthusiasm and tuition that generated the original idea of the book, the first either of us had ever written'. Alan and Edwin remained close friends until Alan 's death in 2009. In 1956, now with a PhD, Edwin was appointed assistant lecturer, and later senior lecturer, in the University of Southampton Extra-Mural Department, where he remained until retirement in 1988. Even after retirement he continued for another ten years as a part-time lecturer in the Civil Engineering Department.
His first published work was a paper on The Bexleyheath Railway, 1883-1900 given to the Woolwich & District Antiquarian Society in 1954. At Southampton he started to adapt his thesis for publication. London Railways, which appeared in 1962, was one of the most significant railway books of its time and remains one of the best historical geographies of British railways. This was followed in 1973-6 by The Railways of Southern England in three volumes. All were distinguished by Edwin's easy style, with flashes of wit. Other works included Portsmouth Railways (1969), The Southampton & Netley Railway (1973), The Itchen Navigation (1983), and Portsmouth Corporation Tramways 1896-1936 (1986). The Society's AGM Weekend in 1993 was organised by Edwin, based in Southampton. On the coach tours, his running commentaries on the passing scene revealed his exhaustive knowledge of not only transport history, but also local, national, agricultural industrial, and cultural history. He was much involved in local preservation and restoration groups, including Twyford waterworks and Hockley viaduct, and was at various times president ofthe Hampshire Field Club, the Society for Nautical Research (South) and the Southampton University Industrial Archaeology Group (later the Hampshire lA Society). He was elected President of the RCHS in 1992-4. Sadly, the onset of dementia restricted his later years, but we remember his many decades of substantial contribution to our field of interest. Edwin died in February at the age of 93. GAB

Reviews. 592-600

Early Main Line Railways: papers from the International Main Line Railways Conference; edited by Peter Cross-Rudkin. xii,308pp, 106 figures (including maps and portraits), 21 tables, hardback, Clare: Six Martlets Publishing, 4 Market Hill. Reviewed by Kevin Jones
The Early Railways Conferences changed our perception of how the concept of the railway emerged from something of local significance into something greater; and the Liverpool & Manchester Railway has come to be accepted as the paradigm initial main line. Clearly it is much more difficult to establish a concluding point for this 'early', especially when considered on an international basis: 'early' in the Argentine was remarkably late.
Space limitations preclude a listing of all the authors, but the topics covered demonstrate the extent of coverage. Professor Casson examines railway promotion in Victorian Britain using a counterfactual approach: the discussion generated is surely a significant loss. Bailey's analysis of engineering development and Boyes' examination of progress towards common standards are pivotal papers. Similarly, the emergence of new professions and the adaption of existing ones to meet the new order; the development of drawing offices and steps towards electromagnetic traction all reflect a cultural shift. Contractors' lines also fit within this new techno-economic landscape.
Carr Glyn's approach to monopoly and competition; the construction of the Dublin-Galway main line; early main line railways in Egypt (a tainted gift); railway development in British India (two papers); the British railway monopoly in Colombia; the inter- colonial railway idea in British North Arnerica which led to the trans-continental ine, Herb MacDonald's final contribution to Canadian railway history before his death; the impact of main line railways on the iron and coking industries in northeast England; the Central Argentine Railway; the architecture associated with early British main lines and lengthmen's cottages on the Semmering Railway complete the contents.
Some of the contributions are so excellent that their authors should consider whether they might form the basis for articles in more widely circulated journals, such as BackTrack.
The Early Railways Conference proceedings brought railway history up to the standards set for academic studies for most disciplines. These include clearly observable objectives and identification of original sources: these are clearly maintained in this volume and indicate many possible future avenues for research.