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I love ambiguity, provided it’s in the form of puns and that special subclass, double entendres.

 

But I don’t like it when it causes confusion, and a particular bête noir is using “hundreds” in place of “century”.

 

Here’s an example, from BBC Radio 4 of all places! Last week I heard the wonderfully sonorous Mariella Frostrup talking about the “Great American Novel”*, and how it had come into being during the “Eighteen hundreds”. This confused me. Surely it was much later than that, I thought - closer to the time of the American Civil War? Yep. The next voice on the radio confirmed it was 1868, by John William De Forest. So, nineteenth century, then.

 

Maybe I am being pedantic, but to me, “eighteen hundreds” is either a count of a number of subdivisions of counties of England, or the decade from 1800-1809? (I am aware that since we date years without a zero point, using ordinal numbers, it should be 1801-1810, but I’ll let that one lie for now.)

 

Am I just being overly pedantic, having too rigid a view, or am I correct in preferring a clear meaning to the phrase “1800s”?

 

* This was an important point in the development of American (as in national to the USA, and not state-specific) cultural consciousness. We don’t have an equivalent need in the U.K. - or didn’t until recent decades - as our political unity was established long before the arts began to develop.

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As a modeller of the 19th century, who agonises over having a collection of unbuilt/unfinished kits, plus one finished loco, from the 1840s/50s, but has decided that it's more practical to set my layout from the late 1880s to 1892, the idea of modelling the "1800s", where presumably I could run anything from the whole century, is quite appealing. After all, it's ancient history, so no one will know or care!

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As a modeller of the 19th century, who agonises over having a collection of unbuilt/unfinished kits, plus one finished loco, from the 1840s/50s, but has decided that it's more practical to set my layout from the late 1880s to 1892, the idea of modelling the "1800s", where presumably I could run anything from the whole century, is quite appealing. After all, it's ancient history, so no one will know or care!

You say that, but Adrian Swain was just entering his teens then so beware those lamp iron positions and chimneys.

 

I imagine that locomotives from 1830 will be very different from 1890, we think things change quickly now and didn't in the past, that's a very big illusion.

 

In 1903 we had the first powered flight, less than 60 years later Yuri Gagarin was in space.

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Maybe I am being pedantic, but to me, “eighteen hundreds” is either a count of a number of subdivisions of counties of England, or the decade from 1800-1809? (I am aware that since we date years without a zero point, using ordinal numbers, it should be 1801-1810, but I’ll let that one lie for now.)

 

Am I just being overly pedantic, having too rigid a view, or am I correct in preferring a clear meaning to the phrase “1800s”?

 

That seems like just the right level of pedantry if you ask me. It has always bugged me when people use it for anything except the first decade of the century.

 

Gary

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Now if you told someone you were a GWR Modeller doing a 45, would they expect it to be 4501-10?

I'd assume they were doing some sort of futuristic diseasally thing, to add a bit of variety to their modelling. Traditionally, GWR classes starting with a round 100 number are referred to as, in this case, 45xx. Although for my modelling period, referring to them as the 2161 class would be more appropriate :).

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I imagine that locomotives from 1830 will be very different from 1890, we think things change quickly now and didn't in the past, that's a very big illusion.

 

In 1903 we had the first powered flight, less than 60 years later Yuri Gagarin was in space.

 

 

To be pedantic, I think you've just undermined your own argument there...   :-)

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On the rare occasions when I've been obliged to refer to one of the later Great Western classes, I've said, for example "fifty-seven hundred" not "fifty-seven ex-ex". Which is considered correct by the cognoscenti?

 

OK, so setting myself up as a target time, but rightly or wrongly, I have always considered the 'XX' suffix to be some nasty post-war/Western Region thing, and that formerly the classes were '00's.

 

Many classes did not have an '00' number for the originating class member, so my OCD takes an instant dislike a mix of 4 digits and 2 digits plus 'XX'.  For similar reasons, I may be many things, but I will never be amoral.  

 

EDIT: PS, is it just me, or is this month's BRM promotional making your eyes go funny?

Edited by Edwardian
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OK, so setting myself up as a target time, but rightly or wrongly, I have always considered the 'XX' suffix to be some nasty post-war/Western Region thing, and that formerly the classes were '00's.

 

Many classes did not have an '00' number for the originating class member, so my OCD takes an instant dislike a mix of 4 digits and 2 digits plus 'XX'.  For similar reasons, I may be many things, but I will never be amoral.

You're probably right. I think it's what we grew up with, depending on age, and links (or lack of them) to real railways. RMweb seems to be infested with people who use some weird and incomprehensible numbers for what seem to be the diseasals that were around when I was into such things. Why can't they just refer to them with understandable names, like Warships, Westerns, Brush Type 4s etc.?

 

EDIT: PS, is it just me, or is this month's BRM promotional making your eyes go funny?

I've already stirred that that one up on the WTF topic in Wheeltappers. If anyone knows a way to block one image in Firefox, without screwing up the rest of the internet, please let me know.

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2-6-0 Mogul. Vague, thought to be linked to the Moguls of India as an embodiment of power.

2-8-0 Consolidation. Built by Baldwin’s in 1866 for the Lehigh & Mahoney, consolidated with the Lehigh Valley the same year.

2-4-2 Columbia. Exhibited at the Colombian Exposition at Chicago in 1893.

4-4-2 Atlantic. Baldwin’s in 1895 for the Atlantic Coast Line.

2-8-2 Mikado. Baldwin’s in 1897 for the Nippon Railway of Japan.

4-6-2 Pacific. Baldwin’s in 1901 for New Zealand Govt. Railways, and shipped across the Pacific.

 

Just for extra information - no pedantry intended!

 

The other day I happened to open a copy of 'Steam Locomotive Nicknames' by Thomas Middlemass, Silver link Publishing, 1991 and (whilst looking for something else, Little Egberts, I think) there on page 97 was a picture of William Adam's last design for the Great Eastern Railway, before he left for Nine Elms in 1878.

 

It's a 2-6-0 locomotive; which apparently introduced the type to Britain. "Fifteen were built for the GER by Neilsons in 1878/1879 and entered service under Massey Bromley's aegis.  First No.527 and later No. 539 both carried the legend 'MOGUL', proudly painted in capital letters on the centre driving wheel's oblong splasher."

 

The caption to O.J. Morris's photograph of No. 539 says that, "MOGUL and her sisters proved a disappointment employed upon the London-Peterborough mineral traffic . . . and were all scrapped by 1887".  A great shame for an engine which looks a bit like the U.S. built outside-cylindered 2-6-0s supplied to the Great Northern and Midland in the 1890s, but equipped with Adams parallel boiler and stovepipe chimney and a comfy 'colonial-styled' cab.  I wonder why it was a such a disappointment, when it clearly looks a lot better than some of the 0-6-0s of 1879?  

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RMweb seems to be infested with people who use some weird and incomprehensible numbers for what seem to be the diseasals that were around when I was into such things. Why can't they just refer to them with understandable names, like Warships, Westerns, Brush Type 4s etc.?

 

 

 

Or "Rectangular Can Class", "Very Similar Rectangular Can Class", "Indistinguishably Dull Rectangular Can Class" and "Let's Face It, It's Another Rectangular Can Class"

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Now if you told someone you were a GWR Modeller doing a 45, would they expect it to be 4501-10?

Different thing.

Entirely.

 

I would assume they meant an engine in the number range 4500-4574. If it was a large tank variant, that would be a 4575, even if numbered in the 55xx series.

 

I get the impression that once they started using numbers to help define classes, the GWR simply put two zeros after the main number, unless there were some strange starting point for a class (4073, 2251, 8750, etc) and that the XX is a modeller’s/enthusiast’s thing. As has been said, to most enginemen, it would be the first two digits that were used, so a “45”, and if the later versions were around, maybe a “large tank 45” or similar.

 

During the brief period I went spotting, I never heard of a “gronk”, “rat”, “duff” or “chopper”: 08, 25, 47, 20. That was the class number, and that was it.

No, I was seeing stars

40xx class? ;)

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On the rare occasions when I've been obliged to refer to one of the later Great Western classes, I've said, for example "fifty-seven hundred" not "fifty-seven ex-ex". Which is considered correct by the cognoscenti?

 

 

 

And this sort of short hand is not confined to the UK.

 

In France they count axles - so a Pacific is a deux cent trente et un.  - two hundred and thirty one - 231.  So far so good.

an 0-10-0 (in our parlance) would be 050 - or a cinquante (fifty) but were normally referred to in speech (on the PLM at least)  as a cinq (five).

 

 

All very confusing to the initiated. 

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And this sort of short hand is not confined to the UK.

 

In France they count axles - so a Pacific is a deux cent trente et un.  - two hundred and thirty one - 231.  So far so good.

an 0-10-0 (in our parlance) would be 050 - or a cinquante (fifty) but were normally referred to in speech (on the PLM at least)  as a cinq (five).

 

 

All very confusing to the initiated. 

 

Or an "050 billion" (BREXIT bill)

Edited by Edwardian
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