|Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical
Volume 38 Part 7
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.
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.
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.
Memorials to railway and canal individuals. Kevin
Jones (RCHS Journal, March 2015, pp.
Robert Humm's excellent survey includes Peter Beames, but fails to link his name to his more famous father, Hewitt Pearson Montague who was briefly Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNWR and has suffered much to his reputation by the ill-chosen words used by E.S. Cox to denigrate his competence. It must have been a dreadful blow to loose one of his two sons and he must have arranged for a memorial window to be installed in Christ Church, Crewe. Sadly the church funded by the Grand Junction Railway in 1843 has had to be demolished, except for the later tower, but the stained glass window depicting Saints George and Michael and a plaque are in sto age according to the Imperial War Museums website.
Some future directions for waterways history (RCHS Journal, November 2015,
Joseph Boughey suggests a range of themes, each with examples of specific neglected topics, that might be included in a new waterway history research agenda. May I be permitted to add another?
One of Joseph's proposals is a comparative study of why British canals failed to be enlarged and developed, in contrast to continental Europe and parts of North America. There is arguably a more intriguing study to be made of British canals being held up as a model, following the Napoleonic wars, that the French should follow in order to match Britain's economic development. In 1819-25 no less than three comparative studies of British and French waterways were published in France' which contrasted the much higher density of Britain's privately-financed, pragmatic mix of wide and narrow canals with France's public investment in a more limited system of wide canals which had a tendency to display 'ostentatious magnificence and ridiculous vanity'.
1. Joseph Michel Dutens, Memoires sur les travaux publics de l'Angleterre (1819). Baron Francois Pierre Charles Dupin, Voyages dans la Grande-Bretagne entrepris relativement aux Services Publics de la Guerre de la Marine, et des Ponts et Chaussees, en 1816,1817,1818 et 1819 (1820-40); English edition, The commercial power of Great Britain (1825). L F Huerne de Pommeuse, Des cannaux navigables consideres d'une maniere generate (1822). Grahame Boyes
A reason for railway expansion in Britain from 1840 (Kyanisation) (RCHS Journal, November 2015, pp. 388-389) Further to my piece on Kyanisation in the last issue of the Journal, readers might be interested in this advertisement from Aris's Gazette, 4 October 1841, which gives details of the sale of the Anti Dry Rot Co in Birmingham. The location of this canal side property appears to have been on the Oozells Loop, offside near the New Union Mill; it had previously been a boat yard.
The importance of fieldwork in researching
railway history (RCHS Journal, November 2015, pp. 377-387) . WilIiam
The message of the article by Michael Aufrere Williams is an important one, and the value of fieldwork in complementing and validating other forms of research cannot be too highly stressed. With the vast amounts of data available electronically one can see researchers being more and more led down that well known path lined with good intentions to conclude that it is no longer necessary to move from one's desk to complete any given project.
Apart from the lack of exercise being bad for one's health, this is a complete fallacy and Williams's article should be a standard text for any would-be researcher. My own experience chimes exactly with that of Williams. Many years of field walking the 33½ miles of the former Cromford & High Peak Railway have not just elucidated what was written about the line, contemporaneously and since, but also identified much that has never been written about at any time.
Even a well trodden (on the page) theme, the subject of repetition in authoritative publications over many years, still should be checked out by personal observation. Repetition in print does not make something true, if the facts were wrong in the first instance.
Perhaps I may be permitted to give a rather dramatic example of this from another project in which I am closely involved. Just over a 100 years ago the first naval battle of the Great War took place in the Falkland Islands, ending in a decisive victory for the British forces and the sinking of the two German armoured cruisers that took part in the encounter. Nothing surely could be simpler than identifying what took place in the battle and, more significantly, where it took place. The British warships, departing at full speed from Port Stanley, soon caught the retiring Germans and the encounter could be seen from the land. Yet there is only one contemporary account by a participant in the engagement and no known location for the sunken warships. A multi-million pound search project is now going on to carry out the all important fieldwork necessary. Understandably, since the search has to penetrate 5,000 feet of water, walking an old railway or canal is far easier!
The importance of fieldwork in researching
railway history (RCHS Journal, November 2015, pp. 377-387). Richard
The full name of 'C Camwell' (p. 378) was WilJiam Arthur Camwell (18 November 1906 - 14 January 1995).
Owen's Cliff signal box (p. 381) is shown (as 'S.B.') on the OS 6 inch map re-surveyed in 1893 and published in 1895 see <http://maps.nls.uk/view/100941776>. The box itself is even more clearly marked on the OS 25 inch map of 1894 see <https://www.old-maps.co.uk/#/Map/48382115l5791/12/100392> just south of the mouth of Kettleness tunnel but on the opposite (coastal) side of the line from the position Dr Williams speculates. The signal post carrying both home signals, as mentioned in Fig 9 is also marked. Both box and signal post have gone by the edition re-surveyed 1911-13 and published in 1919 see <http://maps.nls.uk/view/l0094l773>.
However, what Dr Williams doesn't tell us it why the NER originally deemed a signal box with no crossing loop necessary in this location and had then, by some 20 years later, changed its mind! The box's only function can have been to break up the block section and to allow two trains running in the same direction to follow each other more closely than would otherwise have been the case. Also, if I'm scaling the map correctly, I'd put the open-air distance between the Sandsend (or Deepgrove) and Kettleness tunnels as nearer 300 yards than the' 100 yards of so' given on p. 381.
The Regional Railways Story - Gordon Pettitt and Nicholas Comfort
240pp,280x205mm, 12 b&w and 230 colour illustrations, 10 maps
&diagrams, hardback, Oxford Publishing, Heritage House, Hamm Moor Lane,
Addlestone KT15 2SF, 2015, ISBN 978 0 86093 663 3, £30
In similar format to its two predecessors on InterCity and Network SouthEast, this volume relates the growth, development and transformation of the organisation which, from 1990 to 1997, was known as 'Regional Railways'. The main author was formerly its Managing Director and this means that we get the 'inside story' on the developments described. The first six chapters are broadly chronological, starting in the 1970s with the run-down and demoralised state of many local lines and services and the continuing threat of their possible closure. The story then moves on to a slow but steady improvement in the guise of the Provincial Sector, designation as Regional Railways in 1990, and the transition to a privatised operation. The remaining seven chapters are subject-based, covering topics such as urban services (including the involvement of the PTEs and the development of local identities such as Midline), the increasing success of inter- urban services, and efforts to minimise costs on the more rural lines.
Whilst in broad outline the story will no doubt be familiar to many, the clarity and detail with which it is related here mean that the book is an eye-opener. At all stages there is a clearly related analysis of the challenges involved in turning the operation round. Chapters 5 and 6, covering the privatisation process and its aftermath, well relate the managerial frustrations involved in responding to the rapidly changing demands of politicians, developing marketable proposals, and at the same time keeping the existing railway running. Chapter 11, 'Engaging with communities and stakeholders", brings out particularly well the varying attitudes and successes oflocal councils with sometimes conflicting interests and policies; Chapter 12 deals with rolling stock matters including the early mechanical troubles with the Pacer units and the long delays in delivery of later rolling stock. The main text concludes with a look at the future and a postscript on the case of the Settle & Carlisle line.
The book is profusely illustrated, indeed some may feel that there are rather too many small images at the expense of fewer, but potentially more effective, larger
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.
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
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. 550-60
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
See also The level at Lincoln
Adrian Gray. Divine intervention? Thomas Cooper and the Nuneaton accident,
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
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.