North British Railway Study Grouup Journal
Journal Number 147 November 2022
Euan Cameron. The Drummond/Neilson 0-4-0 saddle tanks.
Part 1. [The Neilson/Holmes 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotives (the Y9
There is a change in title between the contents listing and the article title: the former is shown within brackets. Among the smallest locomotives run by the North British Railway in the 20th century were the 38 members of the 546 Class of 0-4-0STs, allocated to power class G in 1915 and classed as Y9 by the LNER. They served as shunting pilots in yards, on dock branches, and on numerous assignments for shunting in industrial concerns alongside the main line railway. Since they tended to work at slow speeds with regular breaks, they were often photographed and are extensively documented in the Study Group photographic archive and elsewhere. Many of the class lasted into the British Railways period; a handful survived into the 1960s, and one is preserved in the museum at Boness.
Moreover, the overall style of the 0-4-0STs was adopted for a miscellaneous collection of old four-coupled engines, which were rebuilt by Matthew Holmes to resemble their more standard counterparts. Space and time precluded giving full drawings of all these variants, but they are mentioned briefly towards the end of this article.
The engines of this attractive little class, which had close relatives on the Caledonian Railway and on the products of Neilson & Co. for industrial use, appear fairly consistent across their existence; many of the key components, such as boiler, cylinders and valve gear were not altered in any major way. However, there were many smaller changes made over time, which affected the engines' overall appearance and introduced some diversity. Any complexities about the engines' mechanical details are far exceeded by the complexity of their numbering. As low-status locomotives they were assigned whatever numbers were vacant in the running sequence. Moreover, some were moved on to the duplicate list much earlier than was normal, and twelve of the later-built engines of the class took the numbers of earlier examples of the same design, which had just been given duplicate numbers. Identifying examples of the class in photographs by numbers alone before the 1946 renumbering scheme sorted everything out can therefore be quite a challenge.
It is known that the NBR 0-4-0STs were derived from a standard class of saddle tank built by Neilson & Co. of Glasgow. Neilsons built a variety of four-wheeled saddle tanks down the years, some with rectangular box tanks, some with the curiously curved piano tank and many with the conventional round saddle. In the closing months of Dugald Drummond's superintendency, on 7 April 1882 the railway ordered two of this design, Order No. 549, works Nos. 2935 and 2936. Delivery was specified within two months, which implies that these two were off the peg purchases. The engines had 3-ft 8-in wheels on a 7-ft 0-in wheelbase and were driven by 14-in x 20-in cylinders. They were numbered 546 and 547, taking numbers immediately after some 17-in 0-6-0s (later class J34) built at Cowlairs in April 1882. The use of new numbers rather suggests that these two were charged to capital. Two of the Neilson-built design, apart from the preserved NBR example, survive today. Works No. 2203 of 1876 was delivered for William Baird & Co. of Gartsherrie Iron Works in 1876 and worked on the Rowrah and Kelton Fell Railway in Cumbria, where hematite or kidney ore, a particularly rich type of iron ore, was mined. This locomotive is preserved at Bo''ness under its original name of Kelton Fell . Works No. 2937, the number immediately following the two examples bought by the N. B., was also used by Bairds of Gartsherrie and later by the National Coal Board, and is preserved at the Chasewater Railway under the name Alfred Paget. Both these locomotives have worked in preservation, though neither is operable at present. A rare photograph of the first No. 546, one of the Neilson-built engines, survives in original condition.
This shows clearly that the Neilson pair were distinct in multiple details from the remaining 36 engines of the class which were built at Cowlairs. The differences between the contractorbuilt and the railway-built examples can best be illustrated in the on the previous page. At some unknown time, the Neilson pair were fitted with standard N. B. fixtures and fittings and lost much of their distinctiveness. However, even in LNER days, Nos. 10101 and 10102 were distinguished by still not having the inverted T-shape angle iron on their roofs.
From 1887 to 1899 the North British Railway built a further three dozen of these locomotives at Cowlairs, with the modifications as described in the table above, and in general with standard Holmes fixtures and fittings, many of which were retained throughout the engines existence. Thus, for example, the preserved Y9 displays the traditional Holmes non-lifting injector supplied by a screw-down steam key on the top of the firebox, feeding the characteristic double-chambered valves on the boiler sides. These fittings were replaced on nearly every other class long before withdrawa
While the Cowlairs-built engines had all these detail differences from the Neilson pair, there remained certain traits which were distinctive to the whole class. The most peculiar feature was that these engines were fitted with reversers for right-hand drive, despite Drummonds and Holmess clear preference for left hand drive as standard. Not only that: in the case of the 0-4-0STs the blower valve was also set on the right-hand side of the smokebox. The driver normally opens the blower whenever the regulator is closed, to ensure a draught on the fire. For that reason, on the N. B. the blower valve was normally on the (left-hand) drivers side. On older right-hand drive 2-4-0s which were rebuilt by Holmes (the 351 and 382 classes) the reversers remained on the right-hand side as built, but the blower valves were on the left side of the smokebox. Only in the case of these small saddle tanks was this anomalous arrangement perpetuated, and retained throughout the engines existence.
Another unusual feature for a main line locomotive was the springing: the bearing springs were set above the axleboxes and were visible above the mainframes. Not only that: the rectangular blocks securing the spring leaves at the centre line were linked to each other by a large casting, arching across underneath the boiler from one side to the other. The valve gear was a Stephensons link motion with relatively long eccentric rods of 5' 9" centres, attached to a launchtype expansion link, which from the drawings appears to have been designed to work mostly in full forward or full reverse gear. (My experience of bouncing back and forth on an elderly Barclay tank at the Frances Colliery in Dysart in the early 1970s suggested that such industrial tanks were normally driven in full gear.) The cab roof with its distinctive pillars was another feature not seen before on the N. B., though Holmes would also use it on all his 0-4-0ST Locomotives
Above: No. 146 (the Lochend Pilot) at Craigentinny, returning from Portobello with a cask wagon next to the tender. The locomotive, built at Cowlairs in 1899, appears to be in lined black livery. Photo: TG Hepburn, from the Hennigan Collection, courtesy of WW Lynn Below: No. 1089 at Leith Docks with 4-wheel open goods wagon attached and an NBR covered van in the background. This locomotive was built at Cowlairs in 1891 and entered service as No. 227, but was put on the duplicate list in 1896, initially as No. 889. Photo: NBRSG Photo Archive ref 23089. conversions derived from the Neilson tanks. The Cowlairs drawing of the engines in original condition, No. 1081 (RHP 53814, OPC card 13058), suggests that the spectacle plate had no circular windows in it as first built. That seems improbable, as the works photograph of Neilson No. 2937 definitely shows spectacle windows, and all the NBR engines had them when photographed. The 36 Cowlairs examples of the class, despite being built over a thirteen-year period and containing a curious mixture of Cowlairs and Neilson characteristics, appear to have been fundamentally identical to each other. They were in effect the closest that the NBR came to building a 'standard' industrial tank engine for main line railway use. Illustrations:
|No. 546, later LNER No. 8092, with its distinctive number plate showing the number inside a quatrefoil but without any other indication of company identity. This is the only photograph so far known which shows one of the Neilson engines as built.||4|
|Locomotive No. 341 at Cowlairs. (Hennigan Collection, courtesy of RW Lynn. originally Locomotive Publishing Company)||4|
|No. 546 (LNER Y9) at South Leith, with driver Jimmy Wrisberg. This was the second engine to bear this number and was built in 1899, as may be read on the works plate. The reversing rod on the right-hand side of the boiler is clearly visible. The full lining is just visible on the tank, cab, and sandbox. (I Watson Collection)||5|
|0-4-0ST No. 310 as built in 1887: renumbered 910 in 1899 and 1100 in 1901, and rebuilt in 1915. Note large wooden block buffers, safety valves on dome and mostly open cab. (Euan Cameron coloured diagram)||5|
|0-4-0ST No. 1098, formerly Nos. 146 and 898, as rebuilt at Cowlairs in December 1913, when it would have been painted in full colour livery. Note longer metal buffers at both ends, reduced height dome and safety valves on firebox. Technical details of rebuilding will be described in part 2 of this article. (Euan Cameron coloured diagram)||6|
|Locomotive No. 547 at an unknown location. After rebuilding, this locomotive would spend some years shunting at Dundee docks. (AB MacLeod, from the Hennigan Collection, previously in collection of AG Ellis).||6|
|Locomotive No. 1084, formerly No. 342 then No. 884. Despite less than ideal quality, this photograph is important for showing how the first engines to be rebuilt carried their safety valves on the firebox without the long funnel to draw steam away from the cab, a fixture added after 1915. Note also small class plate above the numberplate. (NBRSG Photo Archive, Ref 20954)||7|
|Locomotive No. 40, later LNER No. 9040, at Dunfermline shed in September 1922. Another locomotive of same class had also been No. 40 but was put on duplicate list when it was only seven years old and in LNER period was No. 10093: noteworthy for showing slightly wider cap to chimney, also front coupling had a hook: these were normally plain shackles on this class. No. 9040 would serve as the Dunfermline pilot until replaced by 10080 in the 1930s. (RD Stephen, from Hennigan Collection, courtesy RW Lynn)||8|
|Locomotive No. 1090, which had been No. 231 when built, at Granton on 27 March 1925: by then LNER No. 10090 but still in NBR livery (T Findlater, from Hennigan Collection)||8|
|No. 146 (the Lochend Pilot) at Craigentinny, returning from Portobello with cask wagon next to tender: locomotive, built Cowlairs in 1899 appears to be in lined black livery. (TG Hepburn, from the Hennigan Collection)||9|
|No. 1089 at Leith Docks with 4-wheel open goods wagon attached and NBR covered van in the background: locomotive built Cowlairs 1891 and entered service as No. 227, but was put on duplicate list in 1896, initially as No. 889. (NBRSG Photo Archive ref 23089)||9|
Robin McHugh. Lockdown loco modelling NBR Reid
Atlantic No.510 The Lord Provost: Part 2. 12-19
Part 1 see Issue 143 page 31. Construction of a model for Dugald Cameron of NBR Atlantic No. 874 Dunedin, in NBR livery and carrying its NBR number but with the initials L. & N. E. R. on the tender. The locomotive is pictured at Eastfield in January 1923 before leaving for London, for exhibition to the Directors of the new company at Marylebone Station, along with other locomotives, to allow an informed decision on the new livery to be made. In the event, a variation on the GNR livery was selected. (Hennigan Collection, courtesy Bill Lynn)
Alan Simpson. West Fife collieries & the NBR. Part 13 Loch
Fitty and Kingseat to Lilliehill Junction. 20-30
|Name of pit||Location||Operating firm|
|Dean No. 1||Near south shore of Loch Fitty||Kingseat Colliery Co. and later Kingseat Co. Ltd)|
|Dean No. 3||
Kingseat Colliery Co. and later Kingseat Co. Ltd)
|Near Lilliehill Junction:|
|Muirbeath||Near Highholm||Henry Ness & Co. Ltd|
|Muircockhall||East of Lilliehill Junction||Henry Ness & Co. Ltd|
Map 1: Dunfermline and area to immediate north in the 1930s. NBR (later LNER) lines shown in dark red, and mineral lines in green. Extracted from Ordnance Survey One Inch to Mile map, Shwet 67 Stirling and Dunfermline. Published 1927, Re-issued with minor corrections 1920?
Map 2: Muirbeath, Dean and Kingseat Collieries. Extracted from Ordnance Survey 6 Inch to Mile: Fife and Kinross Sheet XXIV.SW. Revised 1913, published 1920.
Map 3: Kingseat No. 3 Pit, later Dean No. 3 pit. Extracted from Ordnance Survey 25 Inch to Mile map, Fifeshire Sheet XXIV.10. Revised 1913, published 1914.
Coal waybill of type used at Kingseat Pits for consignment to Methil Docks
Map 4: Kingseat No. 1 Pit: Extracted from Ordnance Survey 25 Inch to Mile map, Fifeshire Sheet XXIV.14. Revised 1913, published 1915.
Map 5: Muircockhall Pit. Extracted from Ordnance Survey 6 Inch to the Mile map, Fife and Kinross Sheet XXIV.SW. Revised 1913, published 1920.
Coal waybill of type used at Muircockhal Collieries for six-wagon consignment to Methil Docks
The lettering used on Henry Nesss wagons. Details of livery are unknown.
Wallace Brothers was the successor to an earlier firm of coalmasters called Henderson, Wallace & Co (a partnership).The following is a brief description of its antecedents. The firm of Henderson, Wallace & Co. was formed in 1850 and comprised as partners Henderson, Andrew Wallace ( Wallace was also a director of the West of Fife Mineral Railway Co) and Fraser. Henderson died in 1864 but the firm continued to trade as Henderson, Wallace & Co with the two surviving partners. The firm started by working the collieries of Halbeath and Cuttlehill, located near the village of Crossgates in west Fife. Henry Ness & Co.Ltd was a local company and operated pits south of Kingseat and near Lilliehill Junction. It was headed by Henry Ness who had previously been the mine manager for many years with the West of Fife Coal Co. at their Muircockhall colliery, before leaving in 1883 to become the managing partner in the Benarty Colliery (which later became part of the Lochore and Capeldrae Coal Co Ltd). Ness later went on to lease Muircockhall Colliery (the West of Fife Coal Co. had since failed) from Dunfermline Burgh who owned the mineral rights. Muirbeath Colliery: during the early 1890s Ness & Co. leased from Dunfermline Burgh the minerals in the Highholm coalfield to the west of Kingseat and sunk the Muirbeath No. 1 & 2 pits. These pits were in production by the mid-1890s and were initially very productive. Later, difficulties arose due to flooding, geological problems, limited reserves of coal and increased working costs. Due to these major difficulties, Muirbeath as closed in 1914 and from then, Ness & Cos production was solely from Muircockhall colliery. The West of Fife Coal Co. started to sink pits here in 1868 to the coal seams leased from Dunfermline Council. Valuations placed on collieries Kingseat Co.Ltd £32,093; Henry Ness & Co.Ltd £9,919 Bibliography: 29 A.W.Brotchie and H. Jack, Early railways of West Fife: an industrial and social commentary, Stenlake Publishing, 2007; A. Simpson. The West of Fife Section of the North British Railway, NBRSG Journal No. 59, June 1995; A.S. Cunningham. Mining in the Kingdom of Fife (1st edition) 1907; A.S. Cunningham. Mining in the Kingdom of Fife (2nd edition), 1913; Alan Bridges. Handbook N Industrial Locomotives of Scotland. Industrial Railway Society, 1976; NBR Distance Tables 1920. NBRSG; D.M.E. Lindsay. NBR- Register of Stations, Routes and Lines, NBRSG, 2003; E. McKenna, Scottish Traders wagons, Railway Archive Issue 34, 2012, P. Marshall, Burntisland Fifes Railway Port,Oakwood Press, 2001; A. Simpson, NBR Traders' Wagon Register, NBRSG Journal No. 46, December 1991.
The grouping of British railways: an alternative to the Government scheme;
reprinted from The Railway Magazine, December 1920. 31-3.
Essentially a West Coast Route built onto an extended LNWR; an East Coast Route as per LNER, but terminating in Edinburgh; a Midland Route based on most of thar railway, but extending into Scotland via the GSWR and the NBR route to Carlsle. The Great Central was mainly fed to the bloated Midland. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway was retained, as were each of the Southern Railway components. The Great Western was permitted to absorb the Welsh lines and use Marylebone as a sort of overspill terminus. It also absorbed all the railways in the Wirral. Two very strange companies were envisaged for Scotland: an Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway (Alternative title Caledonian Railway) approximate route mileage, 1,500 and Highland Railway approximate route mileage, 1,000 the then Highland system; West Highland Railway (north of Helensburgh); Great North of Scotland Railway; Callander and Oban Railway. Illustration: No. 874 Dunedin in NBR livery and carrying its NBR number but with the initials "L. & N. E. R." on the tender at Eastfield prior to departure for Marylebone where part of locomotive fashion show for Directors to select a Company livery: in event modified GNR livery selected.
Douglas Yuill. The South Leith branch: Part 4. 38-49
Tabulated statistics of freight trains leaving and arriving at South Leith, with separate tables for Sundays basrd upon working timetables and ships and their tonnages imported and e xportedusing Leith Docks between 1910 and 1943. Portobello owes its name to a retired sailor George Hamilton, who had served under Admiral Vernon in the expedition of 1739 to the Isthmus of Panama when the town of Puerto Bello was captured. About the beginning of the nineteenth century the beauty of the beach and its suitability for sea bathing, now fashionable, began to draw the attention of Edinburgh citizens and from then on many dwelling houses and villas were built, and in summertime the town with its fine promenade attracted many visitors eager to get a whiff of sea air. A pier was built out into the Firth of Forth in 1871 with a pavilion containing a restaurant and concert hall at its seaward end. The pier also became a calling place for the excursion steamers of M P Galloway of Leith which plied on the Firth during the summer months. Galloways effectively became a subsidiary of the NBR in October 1889 when the North British Steam Packet Company purchased the majority of their shares. After the arrival of the main line railway in 1846 many of the visitors to the resort came by train to the station, it being only a half a mile walk along Brighton Place with its pleasant park and villas, across the High Street at its centre, then along Bath Street to the sea front. Sadly, the start of the Great War brought an end to the pleasure sailings The pier fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1917.
The first Portobello station or (depot as known by the Edinburgh and Dalkeith railway) was on the South Leith Branch from Niddrie and is shown on the Reduced Plan of the Edinburgh and Dalkeith Railwayas being close to the junction of the roads from Leith to Niddrie and from Portobello to Duddingston. If this is correct, the South Leith Branch would be on an embankment, still evident today, as the Parliamentary plan accompanying the NBR (Consolidation) Act of July 1858 clearly shows the line crossing Duddingston Road on a bridge. The depot would surely be inconvenient for access by passengers so any clarification would be welcome. The original main line station on the NBR Edinburgh to Berwick line opened on 22 June 1846 and had a conventional, albeit staggered, two platform arrangement, the first booking office being located in the forecourt off Southfield Place, this building surviving as a dwelling house until comparatively recently. A staircase provided access to the down platform above, with a footbridge connecting to the up platform. By 1856 a new booking office had been erected on the down platform and the station office accommodation was further improved in 1861. By the end of January 1863 a new passenger access was made under the lines at Portobello enabling passengers to pass between the Leith Branch station and the main line platforms and allowing the footbridge to be dispensed with. As part of an improvement scheme to alleviate the huge increase in coal traffic passing through Portobello, the NBR Board decided to carry out work to construct a south loop line which was planned to strike off the main line about 20 yards west of Portobello
|Portobello in 1896. South Leith Branch has yet to be doubled and the lines from Portobello to Piershill Junction yet to be quadrupled. Both the Abercorn and Westbank Brick and Tile Works are in production, and also Woods Bottle Works. The South Leith Branch passenger station at Portobello is shown, being still operational, and can be located on the plan just north of the main line station to which it is connected by a subway.Extracted from Ordnance Survey Edinburghshire Sheet IV.5. esurveyed 1893-94, published 1896.||38|
|Portobello in 1932. South Leith Branch now doubled (1912) and lines from Portobello to Piershill Junction quadrupled (1909). The Portobello or east end of Craigentinny Carriage Sidings, first of whch opened in 1909, is shown as are the extended Portobello marshalling yard and the Lothian Lines. Both the Abercorn and Westbank Brick and Tile Works closed but New Westbank Brick and Tile Works still operating albeit for four years. New Portobello electricity generating station building is outlined on the plan but not named and sidings for reception and discharge of the coal to fire boilers and connection from the Meadows Yard can be identified. Extracted from Ordnance Survey map, Midlothian Sheet IV.5. Resurveyed 1893-4, revised 1931-2, published 1934.||39|
|Commercial postcard image of Portobello Pier with excursion steamer alongside. Pier was designed by Thomas Bouch, the engineer of the ill-fated first Tay Bridge, and cost £10,000 to build, opening on 23 May 1871. Storms caused much damage to the pier over the years requiring expensive maintenance, so not surprisingly it was demolished as a result of the Great War.||40|
|Photograph, taken in 2015: embankment carrying the rising spur authorised in 1846 carrying original E&DR main line from Baileyfield to the NBR main line at Portobello West. First Portobello Depot (station) would be hereabouts on Baileyfield Road below and to right. Bridge carrying ECML in background. (Bill Roberton: colour)||40|
|Portobello Station north side on 30 May 1959 with the Up Queen of Scots Pullman, A1 Class No.60126 Sir Vincent Raven in charge, passing on the fast line. Leith South Junction signal box is to right and Yardmasters office, formerly the South Leith Branch station, is behind the box. (George Staddon)||41|
|Portobello Station south side looking west. Down fast line is on far left. Portobello West signal box can be seen in distance.||41|
|Probable line of the E&DR Niddrie to South Leith Branch crossing Figgate Burn at Abercorn Bridge, Baileyfield. When original wood trestle and iron arch bridge carrying the NBR main line across the Leith Branch and burn, as illustrated in Part 1, was replaced circa 1855 with an earthen embankment through which the Figgate Burn was culverted. (The original bridge had to be reinforced due to settlement just a few years after opening in 1846) When the 1859 spur from Portobello to the South Leith Branch was constructed the culvert was extended below it. (Bill Roberton, colour)||42|
|Close-up view, of Yardmasters Office at Portobello, the former South Leith Branch passenger station.||42|
|Signalling Diagram of South Leith Junction and Portobello West. A.A. (Sandy) Maclean||43|
|Edinburgh East Junctions and Lines: diagram depicts the several lines of the North British Railway in eastern Edinburgh and is not to scale or time-specific. (Joppa Station (1847-1859) NBR spur line (1847-1859) A.A. (Sandy) Maclean||44|
|Close-up view of Leith South Junction box (formerly South Leith Junction), opened 22 August 1909; closed on 8 January 1967. The image appears to have been taken after the closure of the marshalling yard (Nigel N. Mundy)||45|
|South Leith Junction with Portobello West signal box in background. Photographer standing on Lothian Lines Railway No. 7 looking north west with the siding to Woods Bottle Works dropping to far right and South Leith Branch descending on 1 in 69 grade to rigtht of signal gantry. (Mike Smith)||45|
|LNER Class J36 No.65329 coming off South Leith Branch at Portobello with mixed goods. (Harry Watson)||45|
|Aerial view from 1930: Woods Bottle Works dominates scene with site of the closed Abercorn Brick and Tile Works top right and part of the LNER Engineering Works bottom right. Large building with ridged roofs running back to a high chimney is Tramway Depot.||46|
|LNER Class Y9 No. 68119, Rose Lane (Abbeyhill) Pilot whose duties included tripping to and from Portobello, and working Power Station Turbine House Siding and Woods Bottle Works Siding where recorded in this image, dated 30 May 1959. The Bottle Works are to the rear while to the left across Baileyfield Road are some of the buildings at the NBR / LNER engineering workshops. (George Staddon)||46|
|Aerial view from 1930 at Westbank Brickworks with clay pits and coal sidings for Portobello Power Station lying beyond Fishwives Causeway which runs across view from the left. South Leith Branch is to right with Baileyfield signal box visible at bottom right, across from which are LNER Engineering Works with Woods Bottle Works top right.||47|
|Former engineering workshops of NBR/ LNER at Baileyfield after redevelopment into modern fabricating workshop specialising in switches and crossings: South Leith Branch singled but rail traffic continues at workshop. (Bill Roberton)||47|
|Bridge across South Leith Branch at Fishwives Causeway was good viewpoint to capture photographs mainly of Up trains. Following three, all taken looking towards Kings Road, depict motive power commonly working freight traffic||48|
|LNER Class J36 No.65329 coming off South Leith Branch at Portobello with mixed goods. (Harry Watson)||48|
|On same day, LNER Class J35 No. 64517 is pounding up the grade to Portobello with train of empty mineral wagons: reception sidings for coal required to fire Portobello Power Station boilers can be made out on the left of image.||48|
|LNER Class D34 No. 62474 Glen Croe from Eastfield with a mixed freight banked at the rear, tackling the 1 in 69 grade on 19 June 1950.||48|
|Y9 Class, No. 68099, on Rose Lane Pilot duties, this time to Portobello Power Station Siding. Tenements of Kings Road form the background.||49|
|Coal reception sidings for Portobello Power Station showing two rotary wagon tipplers with the former clay pit beyond used to stockpile coal.||49|
|The Andrew Barclay built 0-4-0 diesel hydraulic locomotive was the second one used at the site. (Bill Roberton)||49|
|Kings Road Junction Signal Box (opened 7 April 1915, closed 6 May 1973) controlled entrance to Meadows yard. Siding into Power Station yard, although not apparent in this view of 1967, tracked in behind the cabin. (Nigel Mundy)||49|
A lamp from Brunstane Park. 50-1
Impressed with Fogsignalman Brunstane Park Signal Cabin. Three images and request for more information Paul Tetlaw; also Brunstane and Niddrie area, showing the layout of lines, which was complicated by the construction of the Lothian Lines by the NBR. These are shown on this extract as LNER Lothian Railways extracted from Ordnance Survey 6 Inch to the Mile map, Edinburghshire Sheet IV.SW. Revised 1932, probable date published 1934 from F.Alexander and E. S. Nicoll The Register of Scottish Signal Boxes
Grant Cullen The North British Railway and the Great War: Part
6. Conclusion, Armistice and aftermath. 52-9.
Concludes series previous part in Journal 145. The Armistice happened with the collapse of the German political and military systems: the Kaiser fled to neutral Holland and there were military and naval mutinees. Few in Britain or France had expected this. In December 1918, the personnel of the Grand Fleet was granted leave for 12 days: the strain involved on the North British Railway was such that as thirty-two specials ran into or from Rosyth Dockyard or Port Edgar, in addition to many leave specials run for the Army. Sir David Beatty, Commander in Chief of the Grand Fleet, addressed a letter of appreciation to James Calder, the General Manager of the NBR, on the excellence of the arrangements (quoted).
The sudden cessation of hostiliities led to agitation by the British Army and Naval personnel and this was agravated by a lack of cooperation by the French railways.
Troóps were allowed to retain their uniforms with the exception of their greatcoats which they were required to return to railway stations.
Decontrol and reorganisation
The war left the NBR in near collapse. Many old locomotives had been kept going but were withdrawn in the first few months of peace. Arrears of maintenance, even on the most modern of stock, fell behind: it was nearly 70 years since things had been so bad. So acute was the situation that between 12 October and 14 December 1920 685 Sunday specials had to be run as engines were not available on weekdays. The desperate engine power shortage was highlighted by the failure by the Highland to return two engines which the Highland had borrowed during the war. When the NB demanded the return of the engines, the Highland claimed that its service would collapse if it complied with the demand.
The NB tried to cope with the situation by establishing a night shift at Cowlairs but the engineers were handicapped by old, run-down machinery, some of which had been in use since Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway days. Engines were sent for repair to any outside contractor who would take them, including W.G. Armstrong Whitworth, Vickers, J. F.Wake of Darlington and North British Loco. There was some relief for the hard pressed locomotive department with the return of 25 NBR rebuilt C class 0-6-0 locomotives (later class J36) which had been loaned to the Royal Engineers (Railway Operating Division) from to work supply trains on the Western Front in France. The ROD drivers had found them easy both to maintain and operate with a comfortable cab.
The dearth of locomotives was aggravated by an acute shortage of coal. The average monthly delivery to the NB fell from 18954 tons in 1913 to 11207 tons in 1919 and a high proportion of the coal supplied was of a quality that would not have been accepted before the war. Complaints to the Coal Commissioner, the wartime functionary who still regulated supply, as often as not met with no reply, this despite the fact that the Coal Commissioners representative in Scotland was an NB man. John Strachan, District Traffic Superintendent of the NBR at Burntisland had been, at the request of Sir Guy Calthrop, loaned to his department and took up his position in April 1917 and returned to the company in November 1919. Calthrop had been General Manager of the Caledonian Railway from 1908 until 1910. In 1910 he had left Britain to become General Manager of the Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway but returned in 1913 where he was appointed General Manager of the LNWR in succession to Sir Robert Turnbull in 1914. Subsequently he was seconded by the Government, who appointed him Controller of Mines.
In December 1919 the NB presented the Commissioner with a list of 33 collieries which had supplied bad coal, the locomotive department claiming that this coal had resulted in no fewer than 124 engine failures during October and November.
By mid-December stocks had dwindled well below safety level and with the prospect of a weeks closure of the Scottish pits over the New Year holidays, Hugh Inglis of the NBs locomotive department was despatched to England to look for coal. However, this expedition was fruitless as English railway companies were no better off than the NB as they were facing a backlog of deliveries following the Christmas holidays. Calder made an urgent appeal to the Edinburgh office of the Coal Commission Controller and was given authority to requisition all loaded coal wagons lying in colliery sidings on the NB system which were consigned to works and businesses known to be closed for the holidays.
In January 1920, the Ministry of Transport, which had been created the previous September by the Ministry of Transport Act 1919, anticipating industrial disruption in the coal mines, ordered all railway companies to raise their stocks of locomotive coal to the equivalent of six weeks supply. For the NB this meant 98,400 tons. Existing stocks totalled 42105 tons and even that figure was dropping alarmingly. When Calder inquired of the Coal Controller as to what steps he should take to meet the requirement of this government order, he received no reply. Further telegrams produced no response and it was only when industrial action in the coalfields was imminent that the Ministry authorised the NB to seize any coal train on its system irrespective of to whom it was consigned.
Experiments were made with oil replacing coal as fuel but these failed to live up to expectations, possibly due to the hurried nature of these trials. The Scarab apparatus fitted on NBR Class A (LNER N14) 0-6-2T No. 859 showed some promise but all other oil fuel experiments, such as trialled on class mate No.860, were abandoned by August 1921, No. 859 being retrofitted for conventional coal burning three months later. No.859 was subsequently allocated back to Eastfield for Cowlairs banking duties.
The business of war: the NBR joins a Union
The first post war Annual General Meeting of the Company was held in Edinburgh on Saturday 22 February 1919. Chairman William Whitelaw gave the assembled members of the Company some details of wartime Government traffic carried free under the guarantee arrangements during the previous year. NBR stations forwarded 750,000 tons of merchandise, 322,000 tons of coal and 172000 tons of other mineral traffic. 136,000 officers travel warrants were collected and over one million from other ranks. Whitelaw stated that he had been advised by the Company accountants that this was worth £1.75 million in revenue to the Company. He reported that surviving requisitioned ships had now returned but required extensive refitting before they could be considered for further service: Marmion, Talisman and Kenilworth with William Muir about to be handed back. It was noted that it would be a further year before Waverley was to be returned. Whitelaw noted that the Railway Executive Committee had ordered all the railway companies under its control to implement an eight hour working day (48 hours per week) from 1 February and he advised the NBR shareholders to back his recommendation to join the Scottish Railway Stockholders Protection Association (SRSPA) in order to protect their interests in an effective pressure group. The Scottish Railway Stockholders Protection Association Limited had been formed following a meeting in Glasgow on 19 December 1917 and incorporated with limited liability on 12 August 1918 to press for fair treatment of railway stockholders in the measures to be taken by government in the post-war period. The SRSPA was not wound up until full nationalisation of the national railway system took place in 1948. Subsequent to the NBR AGM on 22 February, the Dundee Courier reported three days later on a meeting of the SRSPA which was held at the Foresters Hall, Dundee, the previous afternoon.
Under the headline Dundee Railway Stockholders Join in Movement to Obtain Fair Treatment Under Any Government Scheme, the newspaper reported that in the somewhat nebulous atmosphere of nationalisation the stockholders are concerned about getting fair treatment and are taking united action through the Scottish Railway Stockholders Protection Association.
Arthur J.Cox of Foggyley who presided stated that. the magnificent system of the railways in this country had been built up by private enterprise and capital without any state assistance railway stockholders were not plutocrats but were from the small and thrifty class whose average holding was £500 . F.W.Russell of Glasgow, Chairman of the SRSPA, reminded attendees that Winston Churchill (who was at that time Member of Parliament for Dundee and Secretary of State for War and Air) had recently stated in the House of Commons that nationalisation was a government policy and that government control was to last for a further two years. Russell said this was not a satisfactory situation and that the fate of stockholders was thus to be suspended for the next two years.William McKenzie said he hoped that unless there was a similar organisation in England then Scottish railway stockholders could have little influence. Russell responded that he understood that moves were taking place in England to form a similar association. A resolution was unanimously passed on the motion by A.B. Gilroy, seconded by James Guthrie, urging all stockholders and others interested to join the association now in their own interests.
To railway Directors and Shareholders, the improvements in railway workers pay and conditions since 1914 during the period of government control seemed extraordinary though much else had changed dramatically in those years and the railwaymen were at best keeping pace with employees in other industries. However the railway companies earnings were not rising to match. In 1913 the North British wage bill, excluding salaried staff, was 24.5% of receipts; in 1919 it was 36.25%. The proportion of receipts allocated to dividend fell from 27% in 1913 to 14.25% in 1919. Figures such as these, and the continuing downward trend, gave good reason why Whitelaw urged the Companys shareholders to join the SRSPA. To attempt to deal with the complex postwar problems an aptly-named Congestion Committee was convened. One of its decisions was the deliberate diversion of some goods traffic from railway to road, the NB hiring a fleet of former army trucks from the government with which it set up a business as a road haulier.
Whitelaw versus Geddes
Appreciation for the railways wartime efforts came from the military leaders, Horatio Herbert Kitchener (who died in June 1916), Sir John French, Sir Douglas Haig and Sir William Robertson. Added to these were the President of the Board of Trade, Sir Auckland Geddes, and the Transport Select Committee. Among those individuals praised was Eric Geddes, formerly Assistant General Manager, North Eastern Railway Company. Geddes had been sent to France in 1916 to advise on transportation, as bottlenecks of military supplies had built up right across the Western Front. Initially this visit was only for a few days but surprisingly Sir Douglas Haig, Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, was so impressed that the visit was extended to a month and then Geddes was appointed Director General of Military Railways and Inspector-General of Transportation with the rank of Major General. Geddes and his team got the ports and railways working efficiently and built light railways to bring materials to the front. He was knighted in 1916 for his earlier work with the Ministry of Munitions. Geddes became controller of the navy before he was installed as First Lord of the Admiralty by Lloyd George on 6 July 1917. In this role, Geddes assisted in the implementation of a convoy system to combat the German submarine menace, and was instrumental in the dismissal of the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John Jellicoe (1859-1935), in December 1917. Following Jellicoes removal, Geddes requested a return to transport duties, but was denied the opportunity to coordinate the movements of allied manpower and material on the Italian Front. He spent the last year of the war reorganizing the board of the Admiralty, and on missions to Italy, north Russia and the United States. No other civilian had held the ranks of Major General in the Army and First Lord of the Admiralty with the honorary rank of Vice-Admiral. The Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, evaluation was that Geddes was one of the most remarkable men which the State called to its aid . Geddes left the Admiralty in January 1919 and was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. Lloyd George then asked him to organize a new Ministry of Transport. Until the bill setting up this new office was passed in May 1919, he remained in the cabinet as minister without portfolio. In May 1919 Geddes was appointed the first Minister of Transport. The new ministry was given control over railways, roads, canals and docks but was subsequently criticized in both houses of parliament for giving in to virtual nationalization and for its large size.
In common with the other railway companies, the NBR received a government grant towards the greatly increased costs of maintenance which was to continue up to the time of decontrol (15 August 1920). Geddes, as Minister of Transport, was concerned about possible claims for huge sums from impoverished railway companies. The NB claimed an instalment of £616,194 due on 28 January 1920. The Ministry replied that the Companys claim required investigation and meantime paid up only to the amount of £186,194. The heavy hand of state bureaucracy had been strengthened by the war and the NB was not only indignant but uneasy. The matter resolved itself into a duel between the NBR Chairman William Whitelaw and Geddes. Whitelaw submitted the NBs case to the Railway and Canal Commission. This was a Court of Record, a trial court in which the record of proceedings was preserved for the possibility of appeal. That written record was preserved at least long enough for all appeals to be exhausted.
While it was thus sub judice the Government improperly published the correspondence although this may have been the Ministry seeking to gain an advantage in the eyes of the public as it had been advised by Whitelaw that he would have to make a statement to his shareholders as to why the Company could not pay a dividend. In May the Railway and Canal Commission made an interim order that the Ministry immediately pay the North British the sum of £430,000, the company being bound to refund such moneys found later to be in excess of its legitimate claim.
The exchanges in correspondence between the Company and the Ministry became increasingly acrimonious. Much of this can be found in the interchange of letters between the NBR and the Ministry of Transport published and presented to Parliament lodged in the House of Commons library in 1921, Cmd 1162.
In June 1920 the Treasury was ordered to pay up forthwith. The Lord Advocate appealed for the Treasury and the Ministry against the Railway and Canal Commission. Early in November 1921 the First Division of the Court of Session recalled the Commissions judgement and refused the NBRs application on the grounds that the Minister had discretion to withhold the sum for the time being, pending final judgement after de-control, and that he had not improperly used that discretion. Costs were not allowed. The core of the NBs claims was the great depreciation of permanent way and equipment owing to heavy naval traffic. The worn-out engines were being rebuilt as rapidly as Robert Chalmers (who had taken over from William Paton Reid upon the formers retirement as locomotive superintendent) could manage, as they had to be, but carriages had also deteriorated into a poor state and subsequently shareholders received no dividends. Other railway companies watched the case anxiously while in London the Ministry and Treasury sat tight. The Railway Gazette published a detailed running commentary on the wrangle as it recurred throughout the year while Modern Transport criticised Geddes for creating a grandiose and overstaffed Ministry. When Government control ended, there had been further deductions from the amount of £690,000, from payments made on monthly claims made by the North British for the period 1 January to 15 August 1921. By diligent application on the part of its accounts officers and clerks, the NB had furnished the most minutely detailed accounts, the amount of the total claims by the Company being £10,681,243, of which the Government paid £9,790,545 thus closing this long, expensive, complex haggle only a short time before the North British Railway Company itself ended its separate existence.
The Company had the great satisfaction in seeing its Chairman, William Whitelaw, becoming the first Chairman of the London & North Eastern Railway, a Chairman who presided over what became a golden era of the LNER with massive strides in locomotive development which saw his railway take the Blue Riband for steam locomotive speed with No. 4468 Mallard, a feat which will never be bettered. Whitelaw served the LNER with distinction, stepping down as Chairman in September 1938, just as the storm clouds of war were gathering over Europe once again. It was noted within railway circles that, despite his outstanding service to the Highland Railway, the North British Railway and the LNER he was denied a knighthood or a peerage. His name lived on, though, adorning one of Gresleys A4 Pacifics and made its swansong on the Aberdeen Glasgow three hour expresses during the 1960s.
These legal arguments had caused needless expense to the taxpayer, had impoverished the NBR in its last years and brought the government intodisrepute at a critical time of social unease throughout the country. The Law, however, had reaped a fat harvest.Whitelaws bête noire, Eric Geddes, who himself had coveted the LNER position, stepped down as Minister of Transport in November
1921 and followed that by leaving Parliament, where he had been Member for Cambridge, a year later. From 1924 until his death in 1937 at the age of 61, he was Chairman of Imperial Airways which never achieved the levels of technological innovation of its competitors, and was merged into the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).
As detailed in part 3 of this series of articles, the NBR gave names to the 25 Class C 0-6-0 freight engines which served with distinction with the ROD on the Western Front, the only railway company to do so out of the hundreds of locomotives from Companies across the UK which had served abroad. One of these, NBR No.673, which was given the name Maude later being renumbered in LNER days as No.9673, then No.5243 and finally as British Railways No.65243, survives today and can be found at the Museum of Scottish Railways at Boness. When funding permits, the Scottish Railway Preservation Society plan to restore this venerable locomotive to full operating condition. The accompanying photograph shows the engine in NBR colours at one of the Open Days in the 1970s at the SRPS former base in Falkirk.
Whilst Maude may be the most remarkable of Memorials, the North British Railway created monuments and Memorials to their employees who went to war and paid the ultimate sacrifice. At Edinburgh Waverley there is a large plaque divided into three main sections, with 775 names in relief in three columns on each section. A much smaller plaque is placed below the names with the dedicatory inscription on it. Palm leaves with a cartouche of the company monogram in the center are depicted in relief above the central section of the main plaque. Laurel leaves with a shield within them are placed above the outer sections of the plaque. The left shield shows the St Andrews cross and the right shield, the Scottish lion. The lower plaque on the left states: This Tablet is erected in memory of The Members of the Staff of The North British Railway Company Who Gave Their Lives For Their Country in The Great War 1914-1919. The plaque on the right which was added for a later conflict reads, In memory of all railway men and women who gave their lives in the 1939-45 conflict Lest we forget. This memorial was placed here by Railtrack and the Railway Mission. The memorial was unveiled and dedicated on 12 March 1922 in the presence of the Duke of Buccleuch and William Whitelaw.
These bronzes were cast by the foundry of Charles Henshaw & Sons of Edinburgh. This foundry opened in 1904, is still operational today and was visited several times a number of years ago by the author of this article in his capacity as a supplier of specialist foundry materials. In recent times Henshaw have undertaken a £4m contract to design, supply and install parts of the new glazed roof system at Waverley Station. As part of the £130m refurbishment project to redevelop the station, the new glazed roof was installed in less than two years, with more than 23,000 panes of laminated glass glazed into a new bespoke aluminium patent glazing system. The new roof is the third largest glazed overhead structure in the UK. On 20 March 1922 at Kipps Locomotive Depot in Coatbridge, a granite plaque with iron lettering was unveiled in the presence of William Whitelaw and dedicated by Rev. Adam Maxwell: the plaque has three columns of names of all the men from the depot who went to the war, the column in the centre commemorating the twelve who did not return. When the shed closed in the 1960s it was used for a time to store the preserved Scottish pre-grouping locomotives until a permanent home could be found for them. With demolition and site clearance, the plaque was removed and fitted to the outside wall of the Railway Staff Association Social Club located about half a mile away adjacent to Coatbridge Sunnyside station. That subsequently closed but reopened as a Public House. In time that too closed and was sold on being converted into an Indian restaurant the Shimla Cottage. There was an outcry in 2012 when the owners of the restaurant hung up an advertising banner obscuring the plaque but this was removed after representations by local people and publicity in the national press.
This series of articles is concluded by a reference from the late John Thomass two volume seminal work on the history of the North British Railway which ended with this account of The Great Silence: If there was one poignant moment above all in the history of the North British Railway it occurred at eleven oclock on the morning of 11 November 1919. On the eve of the first anniversary of the armistice that had ended World War I, His Majesty King George V had issued a proclamation in which he asked that At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day there may be for a brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all normal activities. During this time except in the rare cases where this may be impracticable all work, all sound and all locomotion should cease so that in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead. The NB ordered complete suspension of normal business and locomotion together with a cessation of sound from engines.
And so, on that winter morning a great silence fell over the North British a silence symbolic of the stillness that had fallen over the battlefields when the guns had stopped firing a year ago to the very minute. All over the system, from Northumberland to Inverness-shire, on main lines and on branches, in yards and sheds, passenger trains, goods trains and shunting engines stopped wherever they happened to be. Engine crews stood bare-headed on the footplates, passengers sat silent in the compartments. Great stations fell suddenly silent, passengers froze into immobility. People had much to remember, few in those trains and stations had not lost a relative or friend in the recent war. Of the 4836 NB men who had joined the armed forces, 775 had not returned.
At two minutes past eleven, the platform trolleys rumbled again and the hiss of steam rose from the engines. Trains everywhere started up simultaneously.
The North British Railway a history(David Ross) Stenlake Publishing, 2014.
The Dundee Courier newspaper 21 January 1919 and 25 February 1919 (via British Newspaper Archive);
British Railways and the Great War (Pratt), Vols 1 & 2. originally published by Selwyn and Blount, Ltd.
The North British Railway 2nd edition (C Hamilton Ellis). Published by Ian Allan Ltd 1959 No ISBN number on volume in this authors possession;
The North British Railway Vol 2 (John Thomas), David & Charles 1975
Correspondence between the Minister of Transport and The North British Railway Company. HMSO Cmd 1162 dated 1921
Advert for Scarab Oil Burning Company Ltd 1921, Graces Guide.
Britains Railways in World War 1, J.A.B. Hamilton. George Allen & Unwin 1967.
War Memoirs of David Lloyd George, Vol 2; London: Nicholson & Watson, 1932.
Niddrie West Junction and the Cattle Market Siding. rear cover