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GWR stables (2): Internet archaeology

I have a thing for GWR stable blocks.  The subject isn't systematically covered in the literature, so in a previous post I tried to obtain a tentative overview of the major types and styles. Since then I’ve been searching Britain from Above, Google street view and old online  maps looking for past and present traces of stable blocks. It's all a bit esoteric, but for what it's worth here is a selection of my favourite 'finds'.

 

 

Westbury

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It's 1929 and a plane soars over Westbury, capturing the photo above. The small stable block with the distinctive roof vents can be seen at the entry to the goods yard, a common and logical location for them (Britain from Above. Embedding permitted).

 

 

 

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The stable block at Westbury can be seen in this 1901 map.  The station and goods area was later extensively rebuilt, as can be seen in the photos below and in this map. The stables here were built in 1899, with capacity for three horses. Many of the standard stable blocks on the GWR were built around the turn of the century, when the GWR decided to rely less on agents and do more of its own cartage (National Library of Scotland, Creative Commons).

 

 

 

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A grainy close-up, showing also the cattle dock. There must have been a lovely whiff in this part of the yard :) (Britain from Above. Embedding permitted).

 

 

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Toboldlygo of this parish has modelled Westbury stables, using the 4mm Timbertracks kit.

 

 

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Note the manure pit, a standard feature. Thanks to Toboldlygo for allowing use of the photos, there's more about the build in his thread.

 

 

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So, does anything remain of the Westbury stable block today? A look on Google maps suggests that there is in fact a building more or less in the location where the stables were situated :yahoo_mini:! (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

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But alas, it is only the signal box that was built later :cray_mini:. Nothing seems to remain of the stable block (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

Basingstoke

 

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The stable block at Basingstsoke has had a happier fate. Well, sort of. Lost in a sea of cars, it is seen here on Google Maps in the guise of - appropriately - a car wash. Thanks to Western Star for the tip (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

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This 1949-68 series map shows how  the stables at Basingstoke were originally located at the perimeter of the goods yard, near the road. The structure does not appear in pre-1914 maps (National Library of Scotland, Creative Commons).

 

 

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The Basingstoke stable block in Google street view. Looks like the car park has been covered since the first photo was taken (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

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Details of the roof vents on the Basingstoke block, which appear to be in original condition (though not the colour!). The vents are often a useful distinguishing feature when looking for stable blocks in aerial photos etc (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

Chipping Norton

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The stable block at Chipping Norton was built in in 1904. In 1929 it was converted - like a number of other stables - to a garage for GWR motor buses  (National Library of Scotland, Creative Commons).

 

 

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Alan Lewis' excellent photo of the Chipping Norton stable block in 1983 (Copyright and courtesy Alan Lewis).

 

 

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The stable block at Chipping Norton lives on today, the only remaining building of that station (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

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There's a Royal Mail facility next to it, so the delivery theme hasn't entirely gone (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

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The stable block itself seems to be on private property now. It isn't much to look at from the road, but think of all the stories it could tell ! (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

Slough

 

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Moving on to the larger types, this is the stable block at Slough in 1928, again conveniently situated between road and yard (Britain from Above. Embedding permitted).


 

 

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The Slough stable block was a fairly large example of what I call the "Archetype" design. The large variants of this design were simply "stretched" versions of the smaller versions. Note the horse drawn vehicles outside. I wonder if they were parked there overnight  (Britain from Above. Embedding permitted).

 

 

 

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Like most stable blocks of the standard designs, the one at Slough had no windows at the back, presumably to keep things quiet for the horses. Prairies on the line!  (Britain from Above. Embedding permitted).

 

 

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Today’s, er, view. The stable block was approx. where blue container/lorry is (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

Park Royal

 

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An aircraft passes over modern day London NW. The red line below shows the extent of what used to be the main GWR goods yard at Park Royal (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

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Back in the heyday of the GWR, Park Royal had a 12-stall stable block  (National Library of Scotland, Creative Commons).

 

 

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The stable block at Park Royal was almost identical to the one at Slough, but had an extra door and room for fodder. It is seen here in 1930, illustrating how substantial these buildings were (Britain from Above. Embedding permitted).

 

 

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Here is the Park Royal stable block again in the 1950s, now a good deal shorter! Part of the building has been torn down and has been turned into a garage or similar (Britain from Above. Embedding permitted).

 

 

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My 4mm model of the Park Royal stable block. Details here.

 

 

Handsworth & Smethwick

 

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Multi-storey stable blocks were only found in the major urban areas, where space was in high demand. So far the smallest multi-storey block I have come across is the one at Handsworth & Smethwick, as seen on the Warwickshire Railways site

 

 

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The two storey stable block is seen at the bottom of this map, showing one of the yards at Handsworth & Smethwick. A single storey stable block was located next to it, and can be seen to the right in the photo above  (National Library of Scotland, Creative Commons).

 

 

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I was intrigued to find that the lower sidings of the yard can still be seen on Google maps at the time of writing, now apparently a scrap yard (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

 

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It's hard to be certain, but I wonder if the yellow structure top center in this view is in fact the cut-down and shortened remains of the old two-storey stable block? The location and door/window relationship fits - though one window on the left side is missing (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

Paddington Mint

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Lastly, a look at the big one - Paddington Mint stables. (Britain from Above. Embedding permitted.)

 

 

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The original stables here were built in 1878, but expanded and rebuilt several time since then.  I've often thought that the interior yard and ramps would make an interesting diorama. There's good info and drawings in Janet Russel's "Great Western Horsepower" (Getty Images, embedding perimitted).

 

 

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A modern day view of the Mint stables (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

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The stables now house St Mary's Hospital. Some interior views can be seen here (Google Maps, Map data ©2019 Google, Google Fair Use principles).

 

 

 

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I found a 1922 view of Paddington Mint on  Britian from Above, and zoomed in. Two horses can be seen on the upper level, bringing life to the scene (Britain from Above. Embedding permitted).

 

 

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I tried to zoom in further to see the horses better. But it's a funny thing, the past: When you try to pin it down...

 

 

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....it slips through your fingers :).

 

Edit: See Tim's excellent photos of the stable blocks at Witney, Shrewsbury, Westbury, Shipston and Abingdon posted in the comments below.

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On 03/01/2020 at 22:29, Mikkel said:

Oops, sorry James. Now corrected. Thanks again for sharing the photos. :)

 

No problem @Mikkel, hopefully this year there'll be photo's of it in situe on my Client's layout ;) 

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A model of image referencing! @AY Mod will be happy.

 

I note the Moira wagon in the second Slough photo. 

 

A couple of photos showing Midland stables, for comparison:

 

Probably Derby London Road stables, 16 December 1909:

 

1846977462_DY9140MRHorseDrayshewingchainattachedtoHorsesLeg1909.jpg.8a5fe19ac3ea215979c85126952683eb.jpg

 

NRM DY 9140, released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) licence by the National Railway Museum.

 

Derby London Road stables, 16 August 1905. Note the garage for carts etc.

 

1096116491_DY2732HorsesatLondonRoadStablesDerby.jpg.c354d51a093ed0bff8aca1190997783f.jpg

 

NRM DY 2732, released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) licence by the National Railway Museum.

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13 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

@AY Mod will be happy

 

So appropriately executed it's brought a small tear to my eye. :winkclear:

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16 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

A couple of photos showing Midland stables, for comparison

 

Great stuff! Very elegant doors, and numbered too. The stylish Midland as we know it. The photo also illustrates why doors on stable blocks had to be so large. Compare the height of man/door, then horse/door.

 

16 hours ago, AY Mod said:

So appropriately executed it's brought a small tear to my eye. :winkclear:

 

:D Allowing embedding is a smart move by image/copyright holders. Free promotion. They can't control small scale copying anyway.

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Your doing it again Mikkel, your encouraging me!  My bank manager demands that you stop such action immediately ... personally I think you should carry on!  

 

Only just got round to reading it, but really interesting run-down of stables - it goes to show the GWR (and indeed most other significant pre-grouping) railways I suspect did a lot more than just shovel coal into noisy mechanical things and move trucks and passengers from A to B.  The GWR Goods Services books really show another side that we don't associate with railways today, that of the cartage services, whether horse-drawn or later mechnical/petrol horses.  Really is a fascinating subject.

 

Well Done.

 

Rich

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

Thanks Rich, and yes completely agree. There is much more to modelling goods operations than locos and wagons (not that I could do without them!).

 

I've been thinking of putting together a list of all the job titles I can find related to goods workings (checkers etc), but there are so many I hardly know where to begin.

Edited by Mikkel
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Marvellous inspiration there, @Mikkel. Now I need to research whether I can get a stable into SR of 1938! :D

 

On 04/01/2020 at 14:24, Mikkel said:

maybe the HMRS or similar. It would require more thorough research though.

 

My only suggestion would be to clearly delineate the stables in the photos and maps. You have in most later cases, but I spent a long time over Westbury trying to figure out how the two images related. I thought that I had the stables nailed (I had, confirmed when I scrolled down to the third image), but it took some time to match that up with the map...and come to the conclusion that the map wasn't totally accurate, unless the cattle pens had moved and the good shed demolished, of course.

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

Thanks truffy. I understand your confusion, the goods area and station at Westbury were extensively rebuilt  between the date of the map and the photos.

 

I'm reasonably sure that the building I've marked on the Westbury map is in fact the stable block. You can see the manure pit has been drawn in, both in the map shown above and in this 1888-1913 map

 

The 1949-1968 map is less detailed, but does show the new arrangements, with the cattle dock moved and now sitting next to the stables: https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=51.2655&lon=-2.2006&layers=193&b=1

 

I've edited the caption to avoid confusion.

Edited by Mikkel
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Just found this picture - taken at Westbury in 1978!

 

Westbury_Rolleiflex_March_1978_117-_(10).jpg

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

Thanks Tim, what a treat! This must be one of the best and clearest photos of a GWR stable block I have yet come across - and  involving a Rolleiflex it seems.

 

Very useful too as it shows certain details which are often not clear or no longer present in other photos of stable blocks. E.g. the brickwork around the tap, which is in the drawings but I hadn't seen a photo of it.

 

Edited by Mikkel
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1 hour ago, Mikkel said:

Thanks Tim, what a treat! This must be one of the best and clearest photos of a GWR stable block I have yet come across - and  involving a Rolleiflex it seems.

 

Very useful too as it shows certain details which are often not clear or no longer present in other photos of stable blocks. E.g. the brickwork around the tap, which is in the drawings but I hadn't seen a photo of it.

 

 

Were the taps a standpipe like set up against the building, or did the pipe originate inside and hence, why the brick work almost defined the tap area?

 

@Tim V fantastic shot :)

Edited by MarshLane
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22 minutes ago, Tim V said:

I miss that Rolleiflex.

The square format made optimum use of the image circle from the lens and could be cropped to whatever format you liked afterwards.  I still have my late Father's pre-war model and the shutter still runs as sweetly as ever.  The waist-level finder is good, too and I use the tilting screen of my digital camera to emulate that style of working.

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A brilliant blog as usual Mikkel,

 

That Smethwick photograph intrigued me too. The more I look at it the more I think that the building you see in the modern photo is indeed the upper floor of the old stable block with the roof replaced with a flat one and the left hand end altered somewhat. The Google Streetview only shows the back that has been clad in steel (well it would be for a European Metal Recycling yard wouldn't it!). The birds eye view on Bing provides a slightly better angle showing where the ramp goes down to the lower level where it previously went up to the top floor, but still isn't definitive. It also shows why you can still see the sidings in the scrapyard as a big ugly EWS loco has just pushed 30 empty wagons in to be loaded with scrap.

 

I'm sufficiently curious that next time I'm in the area I'll have to pay EMR Smethwick a visit to ask if I can take a look at their office building! If I can, and it looks like it is the original stable, then I'll take a few snaps.

 

On 04/01/2020 at 13:24, Mikkel said:

I'm not sure a commercial publisher would see the market for such a narrow topic

Maybe a self published work on lulu.com. For small runs it looks a reasonable way to go without having the upfront costs of a traditional publisher. I've set up a couple of projects on there in the past though never quite got to the publishing point! An individual book may cost slightly more to the buyer (and definitely will pay less to the author), but it gets it out there... and I'd buy one!

 

Kind regards, Neil

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On 22/01/2020 at 21:28, MarshLane said:

Were the taps a standpipe like set up against the building, or did the pipe originate inside and hence, why the brick work almost defined the tap area?

 

Rich, the Park Royal drawings show them as originating inside.

 

image.png.a8fd8b8eb3b8ef9a329a3e9f57a49493.png

 

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

 

On 23/01/2020 at 19:57, Anotheran said:

That Smethwick photograph intrigued me too. The more I look at it the more I think that the building you see in the modern photo is indeed the upper floor of the old stable block with the roof replaced with a flat one and the left hand end altered somewhat. The Google Streetview only shows the back that has been clad in steel (well it would be for a European Metal Recycling yard wouldn't it!). The birds eye view on Bing provides a slightly better angle showing where the ramp goes down to the lower level where it previously went up to the top floor, but still isn't definitive.

 

Thanks Neil, that Bing map is a great find! 

 

I hadn't thought of this being the upper floor. My thinking was that what we see is the lower floor, while the upper floor and roof have been torn down? If you look at the 1933 photo on Warwickshire Railways, the level where the lorry is is a good deal lower than the upper floor of the stable block. But as you say it's all a bit hard to establish what is what.

 

Anyway it's a joy to see those wagons in the sidings, and that there is still a bit of railway life there. Would be very interesting to see your snaps if the opportunity arises.

 

On 23/01/2020 at 19:57, Anotheran said:

Maybe a self published work on lulu.com. For small runs it looks a reasonable way to go without having the upfront costs of a traditional publisher. I've set up a couple of projects on there in the past though never quite got to the publishing point! An individual book may cost slightly more to the buyer (and definitely will pay less to the author), but it gets it out there... and I'd buy one!

 

Thanks for the tip about lulu.com, hadn't heard of that. I'm impressed that you got past the point where all my book plans are at, namely having the title and nothing more :D

 

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How about this! Shipton (for Burford) in 1981. A small stables, modified.

 

Shipton 8 August 1981 HP5 OM1 217-006.jpg

Shipton 8 August 1981 HP5 OM1 217-007.jpg

Shipton_8_August_1981_HP5_OM1_217-008.jpg

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

Thanks Tim!  What a unique collection you've got - and those are just the stable blocks. It was foresighted of you to take those shots back then. Even in the early 80s, I doubt many people would have gone to the trouble of capturing the details of lowly stable blocks.

 

Interesting details again, including the - can't remember the English word - ring on the wall (first photo).

 

There's a 1989 photo of the Abingdon stables here: http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/a/abingdon/index26.shtml

 

Edited by Mikkel
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... but on second thoughts they're rather neatly and evenly spaced, so maybe.

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, ChrisN said:

Tethering Ring?

 

Thanks Chris. I must remember it by thinking of teeth. But then how do I remember to think about teeth?

 

6 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

... but on second thoughts they're rather neatly and evenly spaced, so maybe.

 

Yes they are a bit undernourished, but I can't think what else they would be. They are also in Tim's photo of Westbury above.

 

12 hours ago, Tim V said:

Abingdon.

 

I had a look on Britain from Above. Couldn't find views showing the Shipton stables, but a couple of Abingdon:

 

abingdon1.JPG.d94310bc923f18f8f8acaa7d8d671a07.JPG

(Britain from Above. Embedding permitted).

 

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(Britain from Above. Embedding permitted).

 

There must have been a number of layouts done on Abingdon. I wonder if anyone has modelled the stables - especially as drawings exist.

 

Edited by Mikkel
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12 hours ago, Mikkel said:

Thanks Tim!  What a unique collection you've got - and those are just the stable blocks. It was foresighted of you to take those shots back then. Even in the early 80s, I doubt many people would have gone to the trouble of capturing the details of lowly stable blocks.

 

Interesting details again, including the - can't remember the English word - ring on the wall (first photo).

 

There's a 1989 photo of the Abingdon stables here: http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/a/abingdon/index26.shtml

 

By the early 80s such architecture was fast disappearing. Film was cheap (relatively) so I invested in doing my own processing. That meant I could fire away on the camera (OM1 by this point). Very few of these pictures were printed. With the advent of computers and scanners, I was able to scan my entire negative collection, producing some gems like these.

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5 hours ago, Mikkel said:

 I must remember it by thinking of teeth. But then how do I remember to think about teeth?

There used to be (allegedly) a way of removing loose teeth by tying them with strong twine to the handle/knob of an open door, then slamming the door shut, thus pulling the tooth out. (Obviously this only works if the door opens into the room in which you are standing and the twine is relatively tight before you shut the door.)

As this involves tethering the teeth, you can use simple visualisation to create a mnemonic to help you remember.

Wow, never thought I would make use of my early classes in memory from 1984!

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