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Lacathedrale

Finding out about 1870-1880s railways

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Jack Kite's books, I have two, are excellent with most pre group companies covered. He had an eclectic taste in railways. However most views are late Victorian or Edwardian period as are most photos available from the collections from which prints are sold. Remember photography was new and expensive in the period we are discussing here.

Ian.

To put this in perspective, I scanned through both books, and noted that in Vintage Album there were only eleven or so views earlier than 1890, out of over 190 pictures. The book's subtitle says 1850-1925, so the first half of that period produces only 6% of the pictures. (Many of those are SER views, which will please the OP!) The second volume, Vintage Steam, has an even worse percentage, with just eight photos out of over two hundred. So if albums aimed at covering the earlier epochs can only muster less than 5% success rate, what can we expect from the more general approach usually adopted? I look forward to an album dedicated to pre-1880 pictures, as I think Edwardian suggested, where all these views can be seen together.

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I think I'd be OK with 1880's shots, since all the latest 1870's developments would still be in evidence - especially if  they are more common. I guess one would simply have to be very careful about including "modern" elements. I do like the idea of a railway 'dark age' - it will preclude my rivet-counting obsession.

 

So if I were to summarise what we've discussed so far typically we'd see slot-in-post signals, low platforms, fine ballast over the rails (but with sagging to show said timbers), flatbottom rail on older lines and sidings spiked directly to the timbers. Carriages would be short bogie, six or four wheeled depending on main, secondary or branch line status. Wagons would be a mixture of sprung and dumb buffered. 

 

My own research has indicated there might be a carriage loading dock, cattle dock,  and as per my previous post - probably a greater preponderance of three ways, diamonds, wagon turntables and so on. A common use policy wasn't in effect so one would typically only see wagons of the home railway. The SER is constantly bemoaned as preferring continental travellers running gleaming expresses and first class carriages to the detriment and filth of the lower class passenger and freight workings. 

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Bill

I would reiterate the points that Nick Holliday and others have made. There is no substitute for joining the relevant line societies if you want to get really accurate information on the particular companies. A lot of effort has been spent over the years in analysing the relatively few available photos, to date them  and draw out the detail in them. Together with information from the minute books, rule books and any other official and unofficial records that may exist, this builds up a picture of how the railway looked and how it evolved over time.

As far as the Brighton in concerned, the 1870s and 80s saw the transition from time interval working to block working, the removal of 3 position semaphores, the introduction of the Westinghouse brake, as well as the transition from Craven designed to Stroudley designed locos and stock. Even by 1890, bogie carriages would be the exception rather than the rule - notably the Pullmans. Ballast was shingle taken from the Crumbles at Eastbourne and spread deeply to cover the sleepers - as noted in accident reports. Platform heights were standardised fairly early in the period and the clue is often whether carriages still have long, low footboards. Common user arrangements for wagons are not relevant at this time, as the Railway Clearing House facilitated the through working of "foreign" vehicles to their destination (save only to the GWR where transhipment was often unavoidable); they would then be returned home. Therefore, although trade was still pretty locally based in this period, a station goods yard would see a fair proportion of "foreign" wagons. Coal started to arrive on the Brighton by rail in significant quantities from the 1860s when the West London line was opened - until then, it had arrived by sea. 

For a portrayal of this period and discussion of some of the issues involved, see Ian White's East Grinstead.      

I hope that some of these sweeping generalisations will help and are not too misleading.

Best wishes

Eric  

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Many thanks for all the links and assistance. I do appreciate now that the information may be available in specific societies. I've registered an interest with the South East & Chatham Society to get a view there. I was naievely hoping there were articles and scans online - but as has been described it's mostly second-hand sources! 

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I was about to make the point about ‘foreign’ wagons, and the fact that they did arrive, but went back empty.

 

Regarding through traffic in general, and coal in particular, the opening of Snow Hill Tunnel in 1866 also facilitated flows, and it was what led to the opening of Midland and GN coal depots in south London and, believe it or not, Maidstone (1882).

 

Passenger and NPCS-type traffic also wandered about under London by way of Snow Hill and the ELR, and the Met and Met District were fully part of the ‘national network’ in a way that they ceased to be from electrification in the early 1900s. If your layout is to be in the suburbs, you could certainly justify a short train of coal wagons headed by GN or MR loco, but I guess (only that) that the MR locos didn’t get all the way down to Maidstone.

 

Anyway, here is on that is on-line: Peckham Rye in 1870.

post-26817-0-33582000-1517226451_thumb.jpeg

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Funnily enough just on the corner of my old road there was a GN coal depot (on an SER branch line to Greenwich, crossing the LB&SC line to Croydon). The fact that the branch line diverged from Nunhead (just one stop after Peckham) means that your train above might even have been a candidate for it! 

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Can you check your sources? That looks more like a Chatham 2-4-0, and also the coaching stock suggests, for that era, a main line service. If you have Bradley’s RCTS books on the SER and LCDR, you will find details under each class of the services worked, sometimes down to exactly which service an engine or a class operated. From memory, the LCDR used the Scotchmen or Large Scotchmen 0-4-2WTs on the Greenwich Park services.

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Anyway, here is on that is on-line: Peckham Rye in 1870.

Nearholmer

Lovely photo and a classic example with masses of detail to study and speculate about. The station was built by the LBSCR but used also by the LCDR.  My first thought is that it looks like a Craven outside framed 2-4-0 with a lantern roofed brake van as the first carriage - or did the Chatham have locos and carriages with those features?

Best wishes

Eric

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I’ve no idea what the train is. My first, gut, reaction was LCDR, but it was gut, not science, and although I’ve been there hundreds of times, I can’t remember which route it is in the foreground.

 

[looking at an old map, the train is on the Up South London, so LBSCR metals]

 

My main interest was in how sparkling new everything looks.

 

The coal trains up to nunhead faced a stiff old climb, when you consider how high up Nunhead is ........ on a clear day you can see all the way across the city and beyond, to where the trains started near Bounds Green ....... downhill all the way to just short of Farringdon, then uphill all the way from there, I think.

Edited by Nearholmer

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Here's that shown now: https://binged.it/2EjExvN

 

Can you check your sources? That looks more like a Chatham 2-4-0, and also the coaching stock suggests, for that era, a main line service. If you have Bradley’s RCTS books on the SER and LCDR, you will find details under each class of the services worked, sometimes down to exactly which service an engine or a class operated. From memory, the LCDR used the Scotchmen or Large Scotchmen 0-4-2WTs on the Greenwich Park services.

 

AFAIK the line went Peckham Rye -> Nunhead -> whereupon the Crystal Palace branch split south. Carrying on straight ahead was the GN coal depot, then the bridge over the LB&SCR at Brockley (and the Brockley Road station itself) to either the Greenwich Park branch over the top of St Johns, or connecting chord towards Lewisham (site of that awful train crash in the 60's).

 

I may have been a bit hyperbolic when I said that the GN depot was literally on the Greenwich Park Branch, but in my defense it's on the same route about a mile up the line! Here's the 1897 map showing the depot at the far bottom, crossing over the LB&SCR line: http://maps.nls.uk//view/101919891. At the top of the map you can sew New Cross Low Level station which was AFAIK a GER station (i.e. East London Railway) that briefly resurged as a goods-only and then was subsumed into the goods yard for what is now New Cross Gate.

Edited by Lacathedrale
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My point is that I think you are actually talking about the LCDR, and not the SER.

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I think you’ve got a bit crossed-over Monsieur La Catherdrale.

 

This should help, although exactly when St Leonard’s on Sea became part of South London I’m not sure.

post-26817-0-89149500-1517237556_thumb.jpeg

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Indeed, Regularity; it was merely a random, and interesting, picture of a station at the period under discussion, not an attempt to find something SER. I actually stumbled upon it by googling for ‘Rye’, of which I know there is a picture c1875, although clearly not on the web.

 

Rather fortunate, though, that it is in an area known to our host.

Edited by Nearholmer
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Ah, so Midland at Nunhead, GN at Brockley (albeit in LCDR as per Simon's keen observation). I hadn't really considered that this kind of operation was particularly frequent in THE DARK AGES (henceforth accompanied by ominous fortissimo organ chord) but clearly you're correct.

 

I'm heartened to hear that my MR 8-ton van can find some use on the SER layout!  On one hand maybe it would behove me to model some kind of joint station (LCDR/SER, or SER/LBSCR as at Purley), but...

 

I feel as though I can justify a cramped urban terminus Minories-style specifically because of the internecine bickering between the SER/LCDR and SECR/LBSCR. It seems entirely plausible that much like the Bricklayers Arms terminus was a galvanising force allowing the SER to lease LGR metals into London Bridge, it would entirely be within character for the SER to strike out in some other direction towards the centre of town just to spite the Brighton or Chatham.

Edited by Lacathedrale
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Can you check your sources? That looks more like a Chatham 2-4-0, and also the coaching stock suggests, for that era, a main line service. If you have Bradley’s RCTS books on the SER and LCDR, you will find details under each class of the services worked, sometimes down to exactly which service an engine or a class operated. From memory, the LCDR used the Scotchmen or Large Scotchmen 0-4-2WTs on the Greenwich Park services.

Almost definitely the train is a Brighton one, as Burgundy surmised. The southern half of Peckham Rye station, to the left of this view of its eastern end, was on the South London line to London Bridge, with the main line from Tulse Hill and Sutton joining it at the western end. The LCDR used the northern set of platforms, and in 1916 there was no connection between the two, the LCDR line from Nunhead crossing the LBSCR lines on an over bridge. Peckham Rye coal yard was actually an LNWR depot, and it was served solely for the Brighton line, with trains having come from Clapham off the West London Line.

The history of the LCDR lines east of Peckham Rye is a typical Victorian railway speculation story. The original line was to be to Greenwich, and was devised in the one week when the SER and LCDR were on talking terms, as it was intended to connect up with the former's line into Greenwich. As often occurred, the scheme was delayed for technical reasons, and, because the LCD reneged on some of the agreements, the connection was never achieved, and, eventually the LCDR found its own way to Greenwich Park, a service which only ran for thirty years or so. This meant that the first line eastwards was the independent, at least originally, line to Crystal Palace High Level, and so the Greenwich line did become a branch off that. A couple of decades later, as a result of property speculation raising hopes, the Catford loop line was built, to meet the original LCD mainline at Shortlands. The Crystal Palace line started work around 1868, but there was no Nunhead station until 1871. The CP line closed in the fifties.

Re one of Bill's comments, the GN goods yard was on the Greenwich branch - there was no link to the main line at Lewisham for some time, I suspect it was built in SR days, without checking. There were Midland coal depots in south London, although I can't see any sign of one at Nunhead. There is little need to invent reasons why MR goods stock should be seen, as they turn up quite often, especially open wagons, in many shots of yards in the south east, as do GER vehicles.

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Either Greenwich Park or Crystal Palace HL would make interesting models ...... that latter might be better in N, or even Z though, to get the greenhouse in.

 

While en route to CP-HL, we have Lordship Lane, which painting I trot out regularly on such occasions, thanks to Pissarro. Right period, methinks.

post-26817-0-50177400-1517242080_thumb.jpeg

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 My father had one of his first jobs in an antique shop just opposite the old station building, if you can believe it! 

 

I had often thought that Greenwich Park was the perfect urban passenger terminus - sat in a cutting hedged on one side by a tunnel and the other by the station building, retaining walls on one side and a steep cutting on the other.  How would freight have been dealt with in these small stations (I'm thinking of Greenwich Park in particular, which as far as I can see only had three platform faces and a tiny loco pocket.) ? In my theoretical SER Minories, I would envision a Grand Vitesse depot for 'proper' freight but surely even ostensibly passenger stations would have had SOME things delivered by wagon?

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The ‘residential and lieusure’ stations on the CP-HL and GP branches probably didn’t get goods facilities because the ‘biggie’, coal, came from the specialist depots, and more general goods traffic was already served by the LBSCR and SER stations. There are so many stations of the three companies in such a small area, much of it within a horse and cart radius of places like New Cross, Norwood Junct etc.

 

A ‘Minories’ in/near the City of London is also unlikely to have had goods facilities. This is because the City was served by multiple specialist goods stations (Broad Street, Bishopsgate, the multiple sites in the real Minories area, White Cross Street, and Farringdon) and there was the specialist goods station at Smithfield for meat. Even the Lovers Walk and Bricklayers Arms complex isn’t far away across Tower Bridge, or by way of Covent Garden, as a source for fresh fruit and veg from Kent and Sussex.

 

Coal is a bit more of a mystery to me ..... the City had a long tradition of coal arriving by sea/river, and probably still got a fair bit that way, but post-1870s must have been served by the MR and GNR coal depots at St Pancras and Kings Cross. The other goods arrival point was City Road Basin on the Regents Canal, but I think the big traffic there was timber up from the docks, rather than bulk coal.

 

The one tiny goods station in the City was the Met Railway one at Vine Street, near Farringdon, which seems to have specialised in relatively low-volume, high-value consignments, and was a bit of a late-comer. CJF grafted versions of it onto some variants of Minories.

 

Kevin

 

PS: I’m thinking mainly of the ‘developed’ situation as regards goods stations in the City; they didn’t all exist at the start of the 1870s.

Edited by Nearholmer

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Coal is a bit more of a mystery to me ..... the City had a long tradition of coal arriving by sea/river, and probably still got a fair bit that way, but post-1870s must have been served by the MR and GNR coal depots at St Pancras and Kings Cross. ...

I read somewhere that when the GNR was opened through to London the price of coal in the city fell from 30/- a ton to 7/6d.

 

Jim

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Well the majority of the locomotives that are available as kits that i'm looking at are post 1878 so that's not unreasonable. In the meantime I've bought 'Victorian and Edwardian Railways' and 'Victorian and Edwardian Railway Travel with Old Photographs' for a few pounds each in addition to the Ahron book, I'll report back on their usefulness.

 

One thing I really want to avoid in a possible layout is a 12' x 18" flat board with a 3' platform at one end and a siding with a cattle dock and coal staithe - I think part of me would die inside. I wonder if a Minories layout on top, with a very small representation of lines leading to or from something like Vine Street on a lower level may give the best of both worlds? Or some kind of Ricean layout which would have the platforms and signal box/footbridge framing the exit to the fiddle yard and have the layout itself be a spaghetti of loco servicing roads and goods warehouses.

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Funnily enough just on the corner of my old road there was a GN coal depot (on an SER branch line to Greenwich, crossing the LB&SC line to Croydon). The fact that the branch line diverged from Nunhead (just one stop after Peckham) means that your train above might even have been a candidate for it! 

 

Bill, The Greenwich Park branch was LCDR.  Three of the "northern" companies operated coal depots in South London.  The LNWR trains came down the West London Railway so their depots were often on the LBSCR (Knight's Hill and Peckham Rye, the latter shared with the MR).  The MR and GNR came through the Widened Lines and as they had running powers over a fair chunk of the LCDR, often has their depots on that railway.  I don't think there were many "foreign" depots on the SER., possibly because there were few junctions with other railways. 

 

Do join the SECR Society.  A friendly bunch and they meet twice a year in Keen House.

 

Bill

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Bill,

 

Because the SER and LCDR spend a fair chunk of their money on fighting each other, their was minimal replacement of stock.  So an SER layout, set in the1890s, would have locos and coaches going back at least to the 1850s.  That would let you run Dan Garrett's splendid locos (and I had a small hand in the F class, doing some research for him at the NRM).

 

Many South London railways were on viaducts, as can be seen in the photo of Peckham Rye.  What you can't quite see, is that the LNWR / MR coal yard is at ground level.  Some of the trackwork is still extant.

 

But an alternative to a coal yard could be to invoke either the London docks or the Surrey Canal.  Passenger station on a viaduct, sidings to a wharf on the front scene.  Sort of a bit like Inkerman Street, albeit different location and era.  Coasters could unload coal into Cory wagons, although you might want the actual unloading to be off scene, with just the shunting on scene.

 

Bill

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Hi Bill, 

 

I've often wondered what the trackwork was in that little builders yard adjacent to Peckham Rye station - I guess it's too much to ask if there's any photos? If I remember correctly there was a wagon hoist on the side of the viaduct to get down to ground level? Or am I making that up? Would this have been the maze of wagon turntables you often see depicted in early goods yards? I'm not at all fussed about wharf scenes, though I do admit they are very modelgenic. A combination of SER passenger station on a viaduct, with a "bitsa" ground-level MR/GNR coal depot underneath does sound just dandy. 

 

I'm chuffed to hear you had a part in the F-class too - it was 100% exactly the reason for this whole escapade. 

 

All the best,

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