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lanchester

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Everything posted by lanchester

  1. That's sort of the inverse of the well-known 'Van Halen rider', whereby the band specified M&M's in the dressing room with a particular colour removed. The justification was that the band had a particularly complex technical set-up, and if the promoter hadn't read the contract/ couldn't be bothered about the M&Ms, they probably weren't observing the more important/expensive/potentially life threatening requirements either.
  2. The 'Wiltshire Cure' was, and still is, a highly regarded treatment (unlike the 'York Cure', which was at least equally regarded but now, as I understand, is extinct). So the pig trade into (and products out of?) places like Cirencester or Calne may have been of pretty high value/priority?
  3. Totally off-topic, but why are the wheels on that 0-8-0 so small? Or alternatively, why are the splashers so big - it hardly looks as though it needs splashers at all. As regards the lack of plates on ex-LNWR engines, could it be that, because the smokebox door didn't have to support a dart or wheel mechanism, it was of significantly lighter construction?
  4. Just to clarify, Northmoor, ALL the lines I listed as CLOSED DESPITE BEECHING were mapped in red for retention in the Report's map. One could make another list of lines that Beeching recommended for closure, but which hung on, apparently reprieved, for 8-10 years before succumbing: the Penrith-Keswick remnant of the CKPR would be an example (1972), Ilfracombe (1970), Minehead (1971). Some of these had only just been reduced to 'basic railway' with no time properly to assess the economies.
  5. When ‘blaming Beeching’ it’s worth asking to what extent his report was actually implemented. It seems to me the network we ended up with differed very considerably from what he had in mind, both in terms of routes closed that he recommended be retained; and those he marked with the black spot that none the less survived. I’ve done a couple of little lists – not fully comprehensive, but I think I’ve got most of the more obvious differences. I haven’t included lines like Coventry-Nuneaton which were closed and subsequently reopened, or Airdrie-Bathgate, which doesn’t seem to be on the Beeching Report maps at all. I’ve included a few notes where possible reasons for the anomalies occur to me. THE SURVIVORS Inverness – Wick/Thurso Dingwall- Kyle Ayr-Stranraer Glasgow-Edinburgh via Shotts (although diverted from Princes St to Waverley, of course) [I imagine Scottish politics was a factor in these: I forget what the state of the Scots Nats was in the 60’s, but outside of Red Clydeside the Tories were still a force, and the Liberals kept winning by-elections] Craven Arms – Llanelli Bidston – Wrexham Llandudno Jn - Blaenau [Nationalist politics again? Although I think Blaenau may have been because the road alternative was so hopeless. Alston’s closure was long delayed for the same reason – and then the new all-weather road was closed by the first snows IIRC] Middlesbrough-Whitby [There was a big campaign, although I seem to remember it was the Pickering/York route (now in part the NYMR) that they expected to save?] York-Harrogate Leeds/Bradford-Ilkley [home town of some of West Yorkshire’s most affluent and articulate citizens] Settle-Carlisle [a well-known and heroic saga] Whitehaven-Barrow [possibly to do with the politics around Sellafield, or Calder Hall or Windscale as we called the complex then] Blackpool North [they closed the Central route instead] Sheffield – Manchester via Hope Valley [Woodhead closed instead] Skegness – Boston [odd this survived, when the comparable Hunstanton branch was not on the Beeching hit list but closed anyway] Ipswich-Lowestoft Peterborough – Leicester [surprised that was ever proposed for passenger closure, at least as a through route: did the powers that be effectively swap that for closure of Oxford-Cambridge?] Ashford-Hastings [now how that survived is truly beyond me!] Ryde-Shanklin IOW Peterboro – Spalding [but March-Spalding closed instead: I think because of better opportunities to improve the roads, which in fairness needed doing] Nottingham – Lincoln Liverpool – Southport [surprised they thought the Manchester traffic justified retention, but not the Liverpool? But a lot of ‘Manchester money’ used to live in Southport, club car and all] Wigan-Liverpool via Orrell Wigan-Liverpool via St Helens [did the good Doctor have a traumatic childhood experience in Liverpool, by any chance – he seems to have had it in for Scousers] Penistone – Huddersfield Burnley-Todmorden [part of the rethink of which Transpennine routes to retain?] Severn Beach branch Braintree branch [I suspect another enclave of high net worth individuals] New Holland/Barton on Humber branch [needed until the Humber Bridge was built, by which time the mood had changed somewhat] Darlington – Bishop Auckland CLOSED DESPITE BEECHING Hunstanton branch Woodhead route Matlock-Buxton [Both of these part of the Transpennine rethink] Cheltenham – Stratford on Avon [civil engineering problems, as the Glous-Warks Rly knows full well] March-Spalding Oxford-Cambridge (except the Bedford-Bletchley bit) [A truly unfathomable decision, being painfully reversed] Skipton-Colne Lincoln – Langwith (or possibly Mansfield) [I do wonder if that isn’t an error on the map] Lincoln-Grantham [the Nottingham line survived instead] Blackpool Central [North retailed instead – might have been something to do with property values, but I seem to remember the Central site remained undeveloped for decades] Ayr – Heads of Ayr [but why was that retained on Beeching’s map – it served a holiday camp and we are told Beeching didn’t like assets that only got used in high Summer] Gunnislake branch [another case of truly inadequate roads?] Kidderminster-Bewdley [a funny little stub to propose for retention in the first place] Paignton – Kingswear Swanage branch Fawley branch Barring one or two special cases, neither the unexpected retentions nor the off-report closures make any kind of sense. For example, one can see that the growth in package holidays in the 70s might undermine the case for Heads of Ayr, Swanage and Hunstanton, - but not apparently for Skegness even though the latter was supposedly already unviable a decade earlier. I haven’t looked at station (as opposed to route) closures, but there is equal weirdness. Nottingham-Newark not only survives, but retains all its wayside stations (as does Notts-Grantham, not on the Beeching closure list). Yet in the same county Mansfield becomes the largest town in England without any service at all! It all has a rather modern feel – Government is of course ‘guided by the science’, but in the end the decisions are political. By elections, local elections, money talking (not necessarily Tory money either: I bet Jack Jones and the TGW had a word in Barbara Castle’s shell-like about the Liverpool services and Labour's funding needs). T’was ever thus. Some of this is detail, but there are some very big changes in the ‘implementation’ of Beeching – especially in Scotland – which must have made a fair-sized hole in his financial projections (and eventually lead to the Social Obligation, taking some of the burden off BR’s books). The Beeching process notoriously failed to meet its long term goals (I seem to remember that the short-term goal, of an operating profit, was actually met, for about as long as Mallard managed 126mph) but I wonder how much closer it would have got if it had been implemented in full (including, of course, the investments, which is another story). If he were alive now, I could imagine him going to Court to demand that his name is taken off the report, rather like some film directors do when their philistine studios edit out all the good bits!
  6. A factor that I don't think has been mentioned yet is axle length. Even on the standard gauge in Victorian times, broken axles (not just crank axles) were distressingly common, and the longer they are the more they flex. I think I am right in saying that on the seven foot gauge, locomotives and perhaps some rolling stock were typically double-framed to give more support to the axles, so whereas you can imagine a seven foot gauge outside framed loco giving more room for larger/additional inside cylinders, in practice I think much of that would be taken up with extra framing?
  7. I have a vicarious connection with 'Twizell'. Back in the Seventies, when my late mother was a magistrate, she had the pleasure of sentencing some scrote who had nicked the nameplates off Twizell. I think said plates were successfully recovered. I forget the sentence, and any suggestion that Dad and I might have urged her upwards in severity would of course be against everything that British Justice stands for, But sometimes you have to do the right thing?
  8. Good points, but it isn't just Europe - serious driver shortages are reported in the US and Canada too. Besides the issues already raised, the fact is that driving an HGV just isn't an attractive career any more. 'Knights of the Road' visiting far flung exotic places it ain't. Driving is no longer a pleasure (I'm told, I don't drive). Truckers have to cope with congestion, accidents, stroppy and officious border officials etc. They are expected to master other skills in paperwork and its electronic equivalent, which means IT. They are at risk, not just of accidents, but of robberies and hijackings, and of being collared for inadvertently imported illegal migrants. Places they can safely pull over for their breaks are diminishing, (and remember how at the start of the pandemic they weren't being allowed to use restrooms at the firms they were delivering too). And if you do want to make a living from driving, why take a job that requires you to spend many nights, vulnerable, kipping in your cab, when you could be meeting the rapidly growing demand for local/last mile delivery drivers - les risk, 'gig economy' hours if that's your thing (and a lot of people do like working that way) and you get to sleep in your own bed every night! What's not to like. Specifically on Brexit, it must have had some effect but it is truly unquantifiable. Far more Europeans than expected signed up to continue their residency/work rights, but there are many reasons why they may not be exercising those. The pandemic, obviously - you probably don't want to leave your family when 'death is stalking the streets', and you may not wish to risk being stranded, perhaps for weeks, if the UK, or Poland, or any of the countries you travel through, do something creative with travel restrictions. More generally, even before Covid, and indeed before Brexit, working abroad was becoming less attractive/important for citizens of many Central/East European countries, for the simple reason that their home economies were doing rather well. While I am sure they have their pockets of deprivation like we do, overall the Polish unemployment rate was down around 3%, which is as close to full employment as it gets in a modern economy, and their wage rates were converging with those of Western Europe. We, and other West European countries (and the US too) have built economies based on an endless supply of cheap, available labour, whether that be manufacturing in the Far East, or services provision here. Essentially a colonialist mindset, even though most of the source countries were never actually colonies. Breaking news - a lot of this labour is no longer necessarily available, or particularly cheap. But moving to a higher-skilled, higher wage economy isn't straightforward, and at least in the short term is likely to widen still further the gap between the high-earning, allegedly skilled (although sometimes you doubt it) middle classes, and the basic wage service providers. In a lot of industries, the 'high skill high wage' bit is going to be the people who design and manage the automation; the rest of us can get a day rate clearing up when the automation goes bang (which it will) or providing personal services to this new priesthood. (The push in the public sector to make careers like nursing or the police graduate-only is of course an understandable attempt to ensure they end up on the privileged side of the new divide). We've been here before: when Victorian England was the 'workshop of the world', you may not believe it but we were actually, in European terms, a high wage economy, and if you had any sort of skill, from millwright to coal hewer, recessions aside you had 'never had it so good'. But there was a huge underclass of unskilled day labour. Compare the prospects of a riveter in a Birkenhead shipyard, and his cousin picking up work by the hour in the Liverpool docks. Finally, and in a desperate attempt to wrangle this back to the 'freight by rail' theme, if multimodal freight is going to work at scale, we will need a lot of automation - both in the physical handling of containers etc to reduce transshipment times and costs, and in IT to get real-time co-ordination between fixed timetable rail, and the much more flexible but unpredictable road legs (including, for example, offering backloads to empty trucks that become available at short notice). Technically it is all do-able, and not grossly expensive, but only if a large part of the goods transport sector and its customers commit - like most networks, you can't really demonstrate the advantages in small scale pilot programmes. But should we nationalise rail and road freight under a National Freight Corporation to achieve this efficient and green nirvana? You decide!
  9. A couple of memories. Spring of 1966, unaccompanied trip Newcastle to Aviemore, changing at Waverley, to join Scottish relatives ski-ing. Copped 'Kingfisher' at Perth, also a J37 somewhere south of there (what an impressive machine, and I say that as a lover of J27s). I would have been 9 at the time. Shamefully, I was perhaps more interested in the 'Type 2's, both BRCW and NBL - A4s I knew, and an 0-6-0 is an 0-6-0, but these diesels were definitely out of my comfort zone. Uncle Sandy would take us down from our boarding house (a Mrs Kennedy, whose High Tea crockery was, strangely, all 'a souvenir of Devon') to see the London sleeper go through, double headed by any random pairing of Type 2s. Slightly later, 1969 and my last summer term at a prep school near Castle Howard, Yorks. We were allowed our bikes in that term, but with kid brother at school, and two trunks to get home to County Durham, no space for my bike at end of term. So, cycle to Malton, train to York, change for Durham and cycle 8 miles home (which place you can guess from my moniker). Just one snag - someone forgot it was the Durham Miner's Gala! Wheeling a bike the wrong way through that lot in a 'posh' boy's school uniform was, how shall I say, interesting! But from around 1964 when I was say 7, it was quite normal to get the bus into Consett (for 9Fs), or Durham (Wharton Park, or South end of the up platform underneath the 'parachute' water crane), or if aged relatives had been generous with their half-crowns (the last proper money) then getting a train on to Newcastle, East end platform 9/10 usually. Darlington once or twice too. Limitations were certainly not parental - more financial! Around 1970 so I'd have been perhaps 13, my mate Ian Lawson and I were spotting at Newcastle Central. Miserable dreich day, and we were flush (it may have been just after Christmas, perhaps,) so we went for the table d'hote in the station restaurant - 10 bob for three courses, but coffee was I think a shilling extra. Snooty waiter enquires whether we are sure we can afford to pay. We tipped him sixpence, as the lowest figure we could think of that would be suitably insulting!
  10. Many, even most, of the major grocery chains have tried and are trying to use rail, at least over long distances - for example, goods landed at London Gateway or Felixstowe, perhaps, for Northern England or Scotland. They and their logistics partners have spent significant amounts of money and shown real commitment, but it has been difficult, to say the least, to justify. A really big problem isn't the outward flow - it is the near-impossibility of getting a back haul. If you are Tesco, for example, it is actually quite easy to shift a lot of your bulk inputs to rail from ports or major manufacturing areas in, typically, the South East of England, to rail to appropriately sited Distribution Centre in the East Midlands, North East, Scotland. But with what are you going to backload those containers, and their trains, from Inverness or Tyneside or Doncaster? Road haul, you can maybe pick up a load from Aviemore to Kilmarnock, and another from Carlisle to Rugby and another from Aylesbury to a Channel port. It isn't easy, but there are some interesting IT applications on the market making some inroads. Here and across Europe, around 25% of freight truck journeys run empty; over half at well below nominal capacity (tonnage or cube - previous correspondents are quite right: almost always, trucks 'cube out' before they hit weight limits. That is partly because of inefficient/excessive packaging, which we have all experienced in home deliveries). The much-maligned EU has put a lot of Horizon 2020 research money (including ours until just recent events) into trying to find ways of making multimodal traffic more viable, but even though trans-Europe distances are typically greater and the various pilots of physical and IT technology have proved concepts, in practice it is proving very difficult to promote uptake of multi-modal in a real economy. Nearholmer's Almeira fruit and veg illustrate the problem. For bulk (trainload) shipment over many hundreds of miles, train wins - but only just. And I doubt there is any significant balancing load from Germany to Iberia (and if they are shipping, say, Mercedes, there may be problems in using the same containers that ship tomatoes and salad leaves?) Most logistics managers I know (and I know quite a few since I write about the subject for a living) would really like the rail option to work - but in current conditions, by and large, it don't, or not at a cost (money and time/freshness) that is acceptable to their customers, ie us.
  11. As it happens, there is a piece in the current 'Steam Railway' that quotes Black Five 5025 as costing new £5,540 which they equate to £4,067,168.80 in today's money. Now, converting values is a notorious minefield (modern labour rates are much higher, but costs for materials and techy stuff including machinery are often much lower relative to what they were) but that puts a production-series 5 in the same ball-park cost as a one-off A1 or P2 modern rebuild! Certainly, manufacturing of precision parts such as motion is far cheaper nowadays - not only machining, but even forging, can be largely computer-controlled to 'right first time' standards,; much less fitting and fettling and scrapping etc. Peppercorn's A1s were costed at around £14 -15, 000 in 1948/9. Using the National Archive's currency converter for 1950, £14,000 comes out at £4,369,204. Again, in the ballpark for a modern rebuild! We can conclude that modern manufacturing, even of old technology, is remarkably more efficient even if we have to pay the staff a decent wage and allowing for volunteer input and firms offering services 'at cost' as many have done for Tornado etc.; and that the write off of major capital assets less than half way through their budgeted life was absolutely scandalous, although as far as I know never challenged in the then climate (starting under MacMillan but that culminated in the Wilson govt vision of the 'white heat of technology' - of course, the decisions on the railway had been largely taken before Wilson, but the Civil Servant advisors were the same, and Wilson and the ineffable Benn did accelerate this destruction of capital). Approaches to accounting for these things have, mostly rightly, changed over time (to a point - we still have 'Concorde syndrome' where we can't stop doing something expensive because we have already spent so much: you may or may not view HS2 in this light). But that commitment to future possibly unwise expenditure is a little different to deliberately abandoning assets that have already been paid for?
  12. No - Robert died in 1859, same year as IK Brunel. Geordie died 1848. The 'Rocket' nameplate seems unlikely to be original, or even from a time 'in service' if only because it is attached directly to the iron boiler whereas in service Rocket, at least as originally built, had timber boiler cladding. The 'No 1' on the buffer beam when delivered to the Science Museum obviously isn't 'Rainhill condition' as Rocket didn't have a front buffing arrangement then. The nameplate on Locomotion No 1' now doesn't accord with that in the 1925 pictures - the latter having the name integral with a numeral 1 above - neither version likely to be original. I don't think the early S&D locomotives were physically numbered at all (although they might have been for accountancy purposes, I suppose). Later S&D locos like Derwent carried numbers on the dome - not an option for Locomotion, of course. As for North Star, judging from pix of the original in Swindon paint shop pre-scrapping, I think the name was in the form of individual letters, rather than a 'plate'. Don't know if the letters on the montage in Steamport's illustration are those originals. Reckon the works plate likely is kosher, though.
  13. (Slightly) seriously, though, if you had been creating a 'strategic reserve' in, say, the 50s, what and how many would you have reserved. I'm guessing nor front-line express passenger stuff: probably black 5s, 8Fs, 28XX and their more modern successors: 75XXX and of course 9F. Mebbis not Austerity 2-8-0s, which hadn't been designed to last (although of course they did). But what would you reserve at power classes below that, and why? I'm imagining that in a national emergency, freight needs trump passenger. Would the reserve be national or regional (eg you might focus a steam reserve on coalfield areas and reserve such diesels as you can fuel for areas distant from the coalfields). And, of course, given the Civil Service's legendary and almost intuitive understanding of how railways actually work, what do we think the biggest bloopers would have been? (Series production of the, to put it mildly, 'unproven' Leader class - which does look quite neat on whatever Whitehall's equivalent of a spreadsheet was in those days, and is easier to store cos there ain't no tender?).
  14. Comparing pix 1 and 2, although in the second a number of tracks have been lifted, including what I assume would have been 'platform 2' on the island, , a siding seems to have been re-instated on the outside of the island platform. Any ideas why? Did the track rationalisers just get carried away?
  15. Slightly off topic, but Nearholmer mentioned wayleaves - does anyone know how long these lasted? I suppose in the case of most waggonways etc that later became the routes of 'proper' railways, the wayleaves were bought out under authority of Act of Parliament, but did any wayleaves last through grouping, or even to nationalisation? I'm thinking some very early stuff like the Stanhope & Tyne, or the Tanfield Branch of the Brandling Junction (both later NER): the latter was built, presumably under wayleaves, in the 1720s, I think, and lasted to the 1960s - but what was the legal basis for it by then?
  16. Seems improbable, if only because Cairo in 1902 wasn't the megalopolis it is today, and I don't think the benevolent British administration was particularly interested in building overbridges to facilitate the transit of the fellahin's donkey-carts.
  17. Getting on for ten years ago now I was told by the owner of a fairly large haulage company that employing ex-Forces drivers was becoming increasingly uneconomic because insurance companies had for some reason started to regard them as exceptionally high risk - premiums charged were significantly greater than for some kid with the ink still wet on their licence. He could see no reasoning behind this - I do wonder whether the insurers just regard every ex-squaddie as a potential PTSD case? On the apprenticeship levy scheme, there are significant problems but it isn't really relevant to the driver situation - apprenticeship funding is for training of several years' duration leading to a lasting quasi-academic qualification (which could be anywhere between HNC and post-grad), not for a short courses leading to a renewable licence. You could envisage some sort of apprenticeship which combined HGV training with other more 'academic' aspects of logistics, supply chain, transport management, route planning etc and we need people like that, but they probably wouldn't settle for life as a full-time driver. Incidentally, among the reasons why existing drivers are jacking it in is the increased risk of criminal activity - from hijacking to illegal immigration. While for young people contemplating a career as a driver, why would you take up a trade that most of your peer group regards as the number one enemy in the battle against climate change?
  18. Just wobbling even further off topic, but you did mention hammers... If you are using said object to assist a component into position, in some parts of the English Midlands you 'bray' it in; elsewhere, you 'flirt' it in (despite what you might think, it doesn't appear that these denote any difference in the amount of force used). Any other regional variations out there?
  19. 'A grooved piece of iron..' If you look at the old wooden waggonways, like the bits discovered at Lambton a few years ago, there are shallow grooves in the timbers, rather than proper flangeways, and I'm guessing the chaldron or whatever might have needed a bit of a heave to get the wheels over. So I wonder whether they might have called that a 'frog', because that is where you 'hopped' over to the other track? No evidence for that, of course, but I think it''s a nice idea!
  20. For seasonal market garden produce in the area, how about forced Rhubarb? Although Ackworth is outside the 'classic' triangle, conventionally bounded by Morley, Wakefield and Rothwell.
  21. Could it be commercial rather than technical? Say a regular flow from a GE area manufacturer to the Clyde for export, with a contract for carriage with the North British?
  22. The version I heard was a train stopped on the King Edward Bridge, Newcastle, during the WW2 blackout, with a couple of Free French officers in a compartment. One, assuming he is at the station, steps out and, as he plummets 100 feet to a watery grave, snaps to attention and sings the first lines of the Marseillaise. His colleague, teetering on the brink, looks down and observes "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la gare". I'll find my own way out.
  23. Nothing to do with railways, but I have a notebook that my grandfather kept during Great War training, in which there are instructions for where to keep your new-fangled armour - on a 'tankodrome' of course. Funny that never caught on!
  24. In that last 'derrick' picture, it appears to be above a railed-off area. Is the derrick in some way serving some sort of basement facility? And what could that be?
  25. By strange co-incidence there is a 'colourised' version of what I take to be the pic you are thinking of in today's 'Daily Mail Online'. Which raises a completely different topic - since 'colourising' seems to be all the rage, are we in danger in future years of having our livery researches skewed by bogus colourisations?
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