Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society 2018

Volume 39 Part 4

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No 231 March 2018

Christopher Lewis and Terence Baddeley.  Josiah Clowes, 1735-1794, 'a celebrated engineer'. 202-8.

Tony Sheward. The financial performance of the Big Four. Part 1: the overall picture, 1923-1928. 209-22.
96pp
Part 2 of this article will provide a more detailed view of the financial performance of the Big Four in the years 1933-38. Thus, the comments in this section only give part of the picture. The two sections after the Introduction give the backdrop against which the financial performance of the Big Four should be measured. Although the start date for the Big Four's existence was over four years after the end of World War I, the companies were by no means restored to their condition before the War. The government compensation for wartime neglect of repairs and maintenance was only agreed in 1921 and regarded by the railway companies as niggardly. The post-war economic boom and slump had also adversely affected the financial situation of the pre-vesting companies. The Big Four, therefore had much to do to stabilise the situation as well as deal with the problems of amalgamation. Despite the best efforts of Lloyd George's coalition government to improve upon the Victorian legislation on railway rates and charges, the system established under the 1921 Act left the Big Four with considerable difficulties in competing effectively with other forms of transport. Of most significance was the link with standard net revenue in 1913 and the inflexibility of the system for changing rates. As with all UK companies, the Big Four had to operate within the parameters of the UK economy. In general terms the economy showed an improving trend up to 1929, but it needs to be emphasised what a shock the six-month miners' strike and related ten-day general strike caused to the railway industry. The Big Four were hit both as bulk carriers of coal and large users of coal, not to mention the impact of the strikes on their other customers, and of course the ten-day general strike seriously disrupted their business across the board. The Great Depression years 1929-32 saw falling demand on a world-wide basis. The Big Four were particularly affected because the old staple industries of the Victorian period, which were major customers, suffered disproportionately and were slow to recover, if at all. The years of economic recovery 1933-37 provided opportunities for the Big Four to grow, but the downturn and the threat of war in 1938 presented new problems.
The scale of the competition from road transport both in private and public transport over the years 1923-38 is indicated in the analysis by Stone and Rowe. Whilst this was undoubtedly a serious problem for the Big Four in particular sectors, such as door-to-door transport of non-bulky goods over relatively short distances, the Big Four still in 1938 retained a competitive advantage in several sectors. As the trunk road network was of relatively poor quality, railways were a preferred option for both passengers and freight for journeys over about 100 miles. For heavy and bulky goods, road transport often lacked the equipment to cope. Although the quality of private cars had improved markedly since 1923, there were still limitations, such as the need to decoke the engine of most cars after 1,000 or so miles.
The figures for gross receipts, net revenue and dividends show that for the most part, despite the shock in 1926, the Big Four had maintained their financial performance in the period to 1929. It also needs to be borne in mind that this was the period during which they had made good wartime depredation and reorganised themselves following the amalgamation. The Great Depression years were undoubtedly difficult for the Big Four, but they remained profitable at the net revenue level, although the LMSR and the LNER had to cease payment of dividends for a few years. By 1937 there had been a reasonable recovery, although not to the level of 1929.
In 1938 the Big Four were still well-regarded members of the London Stock Exchange. The LMSR was in fact one of the giants of the Exchange on a par with the majors in other sectors, such as lCI. They were still organisations generating large amounts of cash and had regularly paid their debenture holders, even if their shareholders had fared less well.

Pat Jones. The cast iron girder bridge carrying the Great North Road over Milby Cut, Boroughbridge, Yorkshire. 223-31.

Michael Quick. Frederick Manning: a notorious Great Western criminal. 232-4.
Great Western Railway guard at Taunton . Born on 20 March 1820 and trained at Taunton as a coach painter. During his period as a guard he was twice in trouble: on 10 September 1847 he left a horse behind at Bristol which should have gone to London and a couple of months later for allowing a passenger to travel in a second-class carriage with a third-class ticket. Manning was dismissed in 1848 for not apprehending robbers when thefts had taken place on trains on which he was in charge. On leaving the railway he became proprietor of the White Hart Hotel in Taunton with his wife Maria de Roux/Raux.

R.F. Hartley. S.W.A. Newton and the building of the Great Central Railway. 235-47.
Born in Leicester in 1875; died in Beverley in 1960. Photographer and son of Alfred Newton who owned a photographic business. Photographed work on the construction of the London Extension of the Great Central Railway and he estimated that he had taken 3000 photographs of it. About 2250 of his photographs are housed in the Leicestershire Record Office.  Includes a portrait of Sydney Newton

The Great Central in the 1930s. 248

Reg Harman. Railway war service badges of World War 1. 249

Correspondence . 250

Reviews 252

George Carr Glyn: railway man and banker. David Hodgkins. xii, 486pp, 60 illustrations on 32 plates, 7 maps, softback, Wolffe Press Reviewed by Kevin Jones. 253
Glyn, as ennobled as Lord Wolverton, received a fulsome obituary from an unexpected source, namely Edward Watkin. The following brief extract comes from near the end of this lengthy tome: 'When the history ofrailways comes to be written the name of Lord Wolverton will stand out as conspicuously on the page as, or more so, than that of Stephenson or any of the other pioneers of our noble industry. Lord Wolverton brought to bear upon its initiation and progress that which Stephenson never could have accomplished. '
Glyn was a private banker throughout his life and, like most such individuals, was the product of a banking family whose roots were in the Welsh aristocracy, but by George Carr's time were mainly in London. For a time he took an interest in London docks, notably in St Katharine's, then in the London & Birmingham Railway which of course was a huge undertaking. This interest dominated his thinking and led him to adopt a monopolist policy: intriguingly Cassen's work on counterfactual railways is cited in defence of the subject's attitudes, most notably to establish a link with Peterborough. The 'battles' with other companies, especially the Great Western, and the significance of rapid access to Dublin are recorded at length. GIyn's also financed other railways, many of which, but not all became part of the LNWR.
This is a book of very considerable scholarship, manifested in the extensive bibliography and in the multitude of footnote references, but its structure makes assimilation difficult. Thus most of the bank's overseas activities, notably those in Canada, are treated together towards the end of the book, but they had emerged far earlier, indeed prior to the L&BR. Thus there is some repetition and the prime subject's basic humanity fails to materialise. Understandably abbreviations are sometimes used, but TVR for the Trent Valley Railway causes one to pause and think Taff Vale. Chapter sub-headings would have greatly eased the reader's task. It lacks the clarity of the late Peter Braine's The Railway Moon which received a very warm welcome in this journal from Terry Gourvish. In fact Braine states very clearly that Glyn 'had early appreciated the importance of railways and took the lead in backing railway development'. The financing of the London & Birmingham Railway by a private bank must have been awesome: perhaps we should envisage the Branson or O'Leary HS2 to get some feel of the scale and risk. It is also strange that Glyn's had not ventured into financing canals but only London docks, although the risk was offset to a great extent by the infusion of Liverpool capital where railways were truly born. It should also be noted that Glyn established the style of management, especially during his period as Chairman of the London &-Birmingham, which led to the formation of the LNWR. Another notable innovation was the creation of the Railway Clearing House. An Appendix records Glyn 's liabilities and assets. There is an extensive bibliography plus footnote references on most pages and a better than average index.

The early railways of Manchester. Anthony Dawson. 96pp, 58 photographs (40 colour), 20 illustrations and maps, paperback, Stroud :Amberley Publishing, Reviewed by Gerald Leach. 253-4
The opening chapter describes how in the late eighteenth century the growth and expansion of the local cotton industry led Manchester to develop and become a large industrial town. It already had the advantage of a transport infrastructure that contained a network of short and long distance canals and following the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in September 1830 industrial growth accelerated, which eventually resulted in Manchester becoming Britain's first industrial city. The immediate success of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway acted as a catalyst for investors and businessmen to promote other railways that would Iink Manchester with Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield and eventually London. Subsequent chapters provide a history of three other early railways that were centred on Manchester, namely the Manchester, Bolton & Bury in 1838, the Manchester & Leeds in 1840 and the Manchester & Birmingham in 1842. A line map for each is included. The narrative history of each company records the building and opening of their lines, descriptions of terminal stations, early locomotives and passenger rolling stock. The final chapter summarizes how Manchester's early raiIways quickly amalgamated with their local competitors, eventually leading to major consolidations when they were subsumed within the Lancashire &Yorkshire Railway in 1847 or the London & North Western Railway in 1846. The history has been well researched mainly from archive material lodged in Manchester's Museum of Science and Technology and extracts taken from contemporary newspapers of the time. The generous selection of illustrations and old postcards are from the author's collection and together with the photographs, mainly taken by the author, all combine to provide a good pictorial content which is unique, interesting and informative. A bibliography is included. There is no index and no I ists of source references, except for those referring to the newspaper extracts contained within the text. This compact book provides an interesting and easy read and is useful for the railway historian in providing some new information relating to Manchester's early railways.

No 232 July 2018

David Slater. The Corn Brook feeder of the Leominster Canal: evidence for its existence and its rare sump pound function. 266-77.

Tony Sheward. The financial performance of the Big Four. Part 2: From depression to the threat of war, 1933-1038. 278-91.

Alan M. Levitt.  A canal as the voice of a major American political movement. 291-3.

Stephen Rowson. Low Water Pier 1870-c1890 : an overlooked railway station at Cardiff. 293-305.

Paul Reynolds. An early toy train in Dombey and Son. 306-7.

Driver Wallace Oakes. 307
Driver Oakes awarded posthumous George Cross for bringing Britannia locomotive to a halt following a massive blowback near Winsford on 5 June 1965. This brave man had an unmarked grave until a headstone was erected at St. Matthew's church Haslington in 2018.

Correspondence. 308

New directipns in waterways history. Alan Richardson

Josiah Clowes and the Shrewsbury Canal. Peter Brown

Reviews. 312 -

Cambridge Station: its development & operation as a rail centre. Rob Shorland-Ball. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Transport, 2017. 180pp. Reviewed by Philip Scowcroft.
"A well-written book, spicced by the author's often humorous recollections of his working as a goods porter in vacations 1958-65..."

Railway renaissance. Gareth David. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Transport, 2017. 330pp. 192 illustrations. Reviewed by Graham Bird.
All re-openings and new lines opened 'since Beeching'.  Exclusions are heritage railways, and a few lines re-opened and later closed, such as Sinfin and London Underground lines other than CrossRail alias the Elizabeth Line (still time for it to change its name yet again).

The Hixon Railway Disaster: the inside story. Richard Westwood. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Transport, 2017. xii, 120pp. Reviewed by Grahame Boyes 
Building on well-established experience in France and the Netherlands, unmanned Automatic Half Barrier (AHB) level crossings were introduced experimentally on British Railways from 1961 and in increasing numbers from 1965. On 6 January 1968 a Manchester-Euston express travelling at 75 mph ran into a 120-ton electrical transformer on a low-loading trailer which was moving cautiously across one of the new crossings at Hixon, Staffordshire. Eight passengers and three train crew were killed and 45 injured, six seriously. Because the Railway Inspectorate had been closely involved in specifying the requirements to be incorporated in the new crossings and in inspecting and approving each new installation, it was decided that the accident inquiry should be held before a judge and the terms of the Inquiry were extended to inquire generally into the safety of AHBs.
The origin of the accident was the failure by the Ministry of Transport and BR to communicate the safety procedures effectively to heavy-haulage operators and to the police. The report of the public inquiry found it 'astonishing that, though so many talented and thoughtful men had the full facts in their minds, the essence of the matter did not occur to any of them' . An important contributory factor was the poor design and location of the warning signs for road users.
This book is not a straightforward historical description and analysis of the events surrounding one of the most significant railway accidents of the British Railways era. The author has instead produced a sensational volume claiming gross negligence and withholding of information by officers of the Ministry of Transport and Railway Inspectorate and a 'turf war' with BR. However, it is clear that the author does not understand that, unlike today, there was a clear separation of powers between government and the statutory corporations, with strict limits on the extent to which the Minister of Transport and his department could interfere in the British Railways Board's responsibility for managing the railways. BR would have been responsible for planning, design and installation of the new crossings, taking account of the Inspectorate's published list of 'requirements' that would have to be satisfied before each AHB could be passed for opening. Both had equal responsibility to ensure that the inherent risks were 'as low as reasonably practical' (to use a later definition of safety management). It is quite wrong to suggest that Colonel W P Reed, one ofthe inspectors, was in 'operational charge' (p 1), 'day-to-day charge' (p 3) or 'overall charge' (p 5) of the introduction of AHBs, with the implication that BR was somehow absolved. Much is made of Colonel Reed's decision not to make it a requirement for a telephone to be provided at all AHBs. The author interprets this as a direction to BR not to provide telephones; in fact BR exercised its freedom of decision in order to provide telephones at all new AHBs from the beginning of 1966 and commissioned a vandal-resistant design. In any case telephones were provided from the start at Hixon, so this was not a factor in the accident. Nevertheless, this seems to have been the starting point for the author's decision to cast Reed as the villain of the piece.
The author concludes that the deficient warning signs were 'the single most important causal factor' and that, if the inquiry had done its job properly, it would have found that the wording of the signs, suggested by Reed, was 'the essential causal element in the chain of events' (p 12). The author deserves credit for the time he has spent in reading through the voluminous records, but his interpretations of the evidence are suspect; they certainly fail to consider how the circumstances of fifty years ago differed from those today.

The Tavistock Canal: its history and archaeology. Robert Waterhouse. Camborne: Trevithick Society, 2017, 536pp. Reviewed by Peter Brown.

Joseph Locke: civil engineer and railway builder, 1805-1860. Anthony Burton. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Transport, 2017. 180pp, 31 illustrations, hardback,Reviewed by Peter Brown. 317
Joseph Locke is less well known than Robert Stephenson or Isambard Brunel, the other great ngineers who oversaw the construction of much of Britairi's railways from the 1830s to the 1850s, robably because his works were less visibly spectacular. Locke's works fitted with the landscape. He tried to avoid tunnels, even when crossing mountainous areas such as the Lake District and Southern Scotland; this meant steeper gradients but he was more confident than others that locomotives would progressively improve to cope with these. He believed in detailed specifications for his works, well communicated and closely monitored. Locke had a deserved reputation for avoiding unnecessary cost, delivering projects which rarely exceeded their original budget — issues of importance to investors at the time but not to posterity.
But Locke's unassuming competence is a problem for a biographer: no major catastrophes, no real controversies. or has much personal material survived to reveal the man behind his achievements: no diaries, few letters. The author appears to have relied on secondary sources (no references are given), hence this new biography contains no surprises. Locke's sometimes fraught relationship with George Stephenson is particularly well covered, and his works in France, Spain and Holland are given deserved attention. Owners of N.W Webster's Joseph Locke: railway revolutionary (1970) need not buy this new book, but anyone else wanting a biography of Locke will find it a commendably clearly written outline of his life and works.

The locomotive pioneers: early steam locomotive development 1801-1851. Anthony Burton. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Transport, 2017. 192pp, 150 illustrations (20 colour), hardback, Reviewed by Victoria Owens. 317
In his preface Anthony Burton relates how making programmes about early locomotives for the BBC honed his appreciation of the challenges which their engineers confronted. His study of locomotive design between 1801I and 1851 — from Richard Trevithick's experimental hill-climb near Camborne to the Great Exhibition's celebration of railway technology — combines technical insight with warm- hearted zeaI.
In the context of the locomotive's British evolution, Burton shows a refreshing readiness to bring his experience — be it frustration with the accident-prone replica NoveLty at the 150th anniversary re-enactment of the Rainhill trials or grasp of the procedure for altering the valve gear - to bear on his subject-matter. Viewing the new technology in its international context, he details the near-simultaneous development by Marc Seguin and Robert Stephenson of multi-tubular boilers —the one for use in the locomotives of the Saint-Etienne & Lyon Railway, and the other for Rocket — and recounts the struggle that New Jersey man John Stevens had when he initially sought to promote the railway idea in America.
The book includes a glossary of technical terms, index and very brief bibliography. Despite frequent quotation from nineteenth-century material, it supplies no references. The adventures of Timothy Hackworth's 16-year-old son John, who escorted a Shildon-built locomotive destined for the Tsarskoye Selo Railway across Russia before witnessing its ceremonial consecration in St Petersburg, assuredly deserve to be better known. It is one instance among many where a footnote giving bibliographic details of the information's source would have been welcome.

'An immense and exceedingly commodious goods station ': the archaeology and history of the Great Northern Railway's goods yard at King's Cross, 1849 to present day. Rebecca Haslam and Guy Thompson. Pre-Construct Archaeology, 2016. xxxii, 356pp, A4, 99 photos, 7 maps, 155 plans & drawings, hardback, Reviewed by Grahame Boyes
This immense and exceedingly thorough study by the archaeology consultants to the King's Cross Central redevelopment project far exceeds all previous records for the number of words and illustrations devoted to a single feature of the railway infrastructure - the King's Cross granary, goods shed and related buildings, extending over less than twenty acres. The buildings in this complex largely survive, so the archaeological investigation comprised both building analysis and below-ground excavations. Additionally the research extended to the railway company records at The National Archives, enabling the accurate dating ofthe various features of the site and the buildings. The main text comprises eleven chronological chapters, with a chapter devoted to each period of expansion and adaptation, the wartime and inter-war austerity years, and the slow decline from the 1950s. Each is illustrated with a comprehensive set of scaled coloured plans and elevations, supplemented by many historical and modern photographs. At the end of each chapter is a synopsis which relates the evidence that has been gathered to the commercial, competitive, government and financial influences and pressures upon the railway company, and discusses how effectively it responded to them.
Whereas these chapters might be likened to a series of horizontal layers, each corresponding to a period of time, the concluding chapter takes the form of a series of vertical excavations which look at how the handling of each of the main classes of traffic - coal, agricultural produce, fish, bricks and stone, and general merchandise - changed over time. It also compares King's Cross goods station to its two major rivals - Camden (L@NWR) and Somers Town (Midland Railway).
Interspersed between these chapters are articles about particular aspects of the work undertaken at the depot, its traffics and some of its features. They include one by our member, Tim Smith, who provided specialist advice on the remains of the high-pressure hydraulic systems that powered sack hoists, cranes and shunting capstans; another gives a detailed classification of the bricks used at the site. All this and more have been brought together in an impressive volume at a very reasonable price.

Edwardian railways in postcards. John Hannavy . Wellington (Somerset):  PiXZ Books, 2017, 144pp, 280 cards illustrated (many tinted), hardback, Reviewed by Phllip Scowcroft
In the Edwardian era (1901-15) annual postcard sales probably exceeded 500 million. Many featured aspects of railways, then at the height oftheir public impact. This book has a general introduction followed by regional sections and gives a rounded picture of the subject: the illustrations, fully captioned, are not confined to locomotives and roll ing stock but include stations - even quite obscure country ones - road feeder vehicles, railway ships, accidents (including Quintinshill) and even a few saucy ones. Useful for dipping into - the index helps in this.

Cover images:

Front: 'Miss Tox pays a visit to the Toodle family' (an illustration by Phiz from

Dombey and Son) (see p 306).

Back: Tavistock Canal wharf, 1905 (upper); GWR 7333 at Venn Cross on the

Taunton-Barnstaple line, 1961 (lower). From books reviewed on pp 314 and

323 respectively.