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One morning long ago


Mikkel

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One morning long ago, an 1854 class shunted the Old Yard at Farthing.  

 

 

 

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The crew were slightly bored. Nothing much ever happened in the Old Yard. Just a handful of sidings.


 

 

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A carman (sic) watched them roll by, perched on his trolley (Birmingham pattern). The carmen at Farthing were famous for not using reins. 

 

 

 

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William Simmons was particularly skilled. Known as The Horse Whisperer, he worked without reins for 46 years and never had an accident. People did wonder why his rounds took so long. It turned out his whispers worked on women too.

 

 

 

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On the other side of the tracks, lad porter Herbert Pocket was busy cleaning the lamps.  

 

 

 

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Herbert had two goals in life: He wanted to drive locomotives, and he wanted to die like a hero.

 

 

 

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He was last seen in the Congo in 1924, hanging off the tender of a runaway loco. They say he was smiling.

 

 


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Meanwhile, porter Alfred Jingle watched the train draw closer.  The morning fog was thick as pea soup. He liked a good pea soup.

 

 

 

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As the wagons rolled past, Alfred tried to avoid eye contact with Thomas Grig up in the lamp. They hadn’t spoken since the lardy cake argument. They’d been friends for years, but you have to draw a line somewhere.

 

 

 

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Thomas, for his part, had other matters on his mind. A lamplighter for 26 years, he had so far scaled the lamps at Farthing 81.121 times.  He knew, because he counted. He counted, because secretly… 

  
 

 

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…Thomas had an intense fear of heights.

 

 

 

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When he finally retired, Thomas bought a one-storey cottage in Holme Fen, sawed the legs of all his furniture, and heaved a long sigh of relief.

 

 

 

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The train rumbled on through the pointwork. The unsheeted Open carried a shipment of Empty Promises. A local MP would pick it up later.

 

 

 

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Shunter John Redlaw changed the points to No. 3 siding.

 

 

 

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Known as "The Phantom" he had a manner of appearing from nowhere exactly when needed, only to disappear again as soon as the job was done.

 

 

 

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The loco propelled the wagons into the siding...

 

 

 

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... towards the covered goods dock. 

 

 

 

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Goods porter Samuel Slumkey watched the wagons approach. 

 


 

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As a veteran of the Red River Rebellion, the Urabi Revolt and the Sikkim Expedition, Samuel had travelled to the ends of the earth.

 

 

 

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It turned out, however, that the real edge of the world was right here in Farthing.

 

 

 

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As the train came to a halt, the porters prepared to put in some heavy work.

 

 

 

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Not Tom Roker though. Comfortably seated on his favourite barrow, he always found an excuse for not working. In fairness, whilst sat there thinking he invented a universal vaccine, a waterless crop, and an unlimited supply of clean energy. He never wrote it down though. He couldn’t be bothered. 

 

 


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As the crew prepared to pull back, George Rouncewell said good morning. Not to the crew, but to the loco. He often spoke to the locos.

 

 

 

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They all thought he was potty, but George had his reasons. He had worked ten years in the A shop in Swindon, before an errant bar of hot iron put a stop to it.

 

 

 

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So these weren’t just locomotives, they were old friends.  He would even order pints for them at the pub. And drink it all. On their behalf, you understand.

 

 

 

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Uncoupled, the loco backed away, leaving the wagons behind.

 

 

 

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As they drove off, bunker first, the driver said: “Staff here seem quiet today”.

 

 

 

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“Yep”, said the fireman, “Bit of a dull lot”.
 

 

***

 

PS: Most of the figures have been modified, some extensively. The captions are all true, only the facts have been changed.

 

 

Edited by Mikkel

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3 hours ago, Mikkel said:

 

Yes a bit odd that the author doesn't go more into that, although it does crop up occasionally (e.g. mid-p59). It's also not clear why it developed differently in the US, although in fairness that would be a whole study in itself. More generally speaking, I found this table interesting:

 

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Source: Boughey, D. (1999) The Internalisation of Locomotive Building by Britain's Railway Companies during the Nineteenth Century. 'Business and Economic History , Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 57- 67, 1999

 

I note that the Cambrian is ignored.  They probably saw the Pre-grouping map produced by Hattons, (I think), that had the whole of the Cambrian absorbed by the GWR.    (*shakes head*)  :)

 

The Cambrian had over 100 locomotives.  The numbers only went up to around 100 but when old locomotives were replaced they took on old numbers.  It made the Directors think they were not spending any money.  Of these the Cambrian only built one themselves, and that was from bit from Sharp Stewart, so nothing original to their workshop.  Oswestry Works did all the repairs.  They had a locomotive Superintendent who I think did the designs but it obviously was not worth their effort to actually have the infrastructure to make their own, and I assume they could not afford it.  

 

They did however make their own carriages and wagons which would have been easier but they also bough these in as well.  (If you want to know the ratios I will go and look, they only had about 200 at grouping, most of which the GWR scrapped- they were worn out.)

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I was rather lucky as I saw Laira at a show and had a chance to discuss it with John while he showed me all the bits.

 

Regarding bought in locos. In the US most railroads seemed quite happy to buy standard classes if they suited them. Whereas most British Railways wanted distinctive locos.

Don

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On 17/10/2020 at 11:38, ChrisN said:

 

I note that the Cambrian is ignored.  They probably saw the Pre-grouping map produced by Hattons, (I think), that had the whole of the Cambrian absorbed by the GWR.    (*shakes head*)  :)

 

The Cambrian had over 100 locomotives. 

 

The criterion is 100 locomotives in 1872. Thus not only the Cambrian, but the Glasgow & South Western, Highland, and Furness are excluded, along with the Hull & Barnsley and Midland & Great Northern, neither of which existed in 1872. All over or very nearly at the 100 locomotive mark by 1900. 

Edited by Compound2632
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Please excuse the revival following my last comment on atmospheric scenes, I've now found the video I made some reference to...

 

 

G

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That does create a special atmosphere! Also conveniently filters out the background.

 

On 17/10/2020 at 08:45, Mikkel said:

 

Yes a bit odd that the author doesn't go more into that, although it does crop up occasionally (e.g. mid-p59). It's also not clear why it developed differently in the US, although in fairness that would be a whole study in itself. More generally speaking, I found this table interesting:

 

image.png.bb9f526c3792cddbf6da4f046cb1e483.png

Source: Boughey, D. (1999) The Internalisation of Locomotive Building by Britain's Railway Companies during the Nineteenth Century. 'Business and Economic History , Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 57- 67, 1999

 

I calculated the percentage increase in loco numbers up to the end of Victorian times. Interesting differences between e.g. LNWR and MR.

 

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The big difference between the LNWR and MR in the 1872 - 1900 period is that the LNWR was, with exceptions in the West Riding, largely complete, whereas the Midland was still vigorously expanding. The same could be said of the LSWR and certainly the MSLR / GCR. The SER increase is a bit spurious, one should compare the combined SER and LCDR total in 1872,  357, with the SECR 1900 total, 697, giving an increase of 340, 95%.

 

Some data, comparing 1870 and 1900, extracted from R.J. Essery & D. Jenkinson, An Illustrated Review of Midland Locomotives Vol. 3 (Wild Swan, 1988) Ch. 6:

 

Total route mileage:

                       1870                1900             growth

LNWR            1,507               1,937              28%  

GWR              1,387               2,627              89%

Midland          972                1,437              48%

 

Total train mileage (millions):

                       1870                1900             growth

LNWR             25.0                 49.2                97%  

GWR               16.1                 46.4              188%

Midland         17.9                 48.0              168%

 

Reported loco stock:

                       1870                1900             growth

LNWR            1,591               2,984               88%  

GWR                 929               1,988             114%

Midland           850               2,615             208%

 

Locomotives per million train miles:

                       1870                1900             

LNWR             63.6                 60.7

GWR               57.7                 42.8

Midland         47.5                 54.5

 

Train mileage (millions) per route mile:

                       1870                1900             growth

LNWR           0.017                0.025               47%  

GWR             0.012                0.018               50%

Midland       0.018                0.033               83%

 

The biggest mileage growth for both the GWR and the Midland was between 1870 and 1880, the GWR expanding by absorption of the B&E &c., the Midland by the opening of new lines, notably the S&C. It's interesting that only on the Midland was the growth in locomotive stock greater than the growth in train mileage: dividing one by the other we have: LNWR: 0.91; GWR: 0.60; Midland: 1.24. This is reflected in the increase in the number of locomotives per million train miles, though that utilisation measure remained better than the LNWR. In 1870 the Midland was desperately short of locomotives. By 1900 the LNWR and GWR were both working their systems 50% more intensively whereas the Midland was working its system 83% more intensively - no wonder Train Control was just around the corner!

 

The trade should not have been complaining about the Midland at least, since over 70% of the locomotives built for it in the period came from the trade.

Edited by Compound2632
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I think your figures for the LCDR are way off, Mikel. (SECR was a joint management committee, but legally they were still separate railway companies.)

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I was assuming that the LCDR locos were included in the 1900 entry for what the author ambiguously calls "South Eastern".

 

But I have added to the confusion by using the shorthand "SER". It should probably be "SECR" - though the author's intentions aren't very clear.

 

Interesting to see the mileages, thanks Stephen.  

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3 hours ago, Mikkel said:

Interesting to see the mileages, thanks Stephen.  

 

Yes, I've lost track of how we got onto that! However, one final point: The Midland's loco stock and train mileage increased much more than its rout mileage, giving that high route mile utilisation figure. What this obscures is the increase in capacity through quadrupling of tracks etc. that went on steadily through the 1880s and 1890s. A better measure to look at would be miles of running lines rather than miles of route.

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