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Cf G K Chesterton’s homily about his barber’s “virtues being cast up against him.... being a specialist, he is not quite a slave”

 

there was certainly a period of serious, and deep-rooted mass unrest in the period roughly 1770-1840, embracing the French and American Revolutions and the uprooting of significant sections of the population by enclosure and industrialisation. It would end with the dissolution of the first generation of colonial empires (in the Americas) and the creation of completely new political structures in the USA and Canada, and the introduction of (limited) mass franchises in most European and American countries following Chartism. The legalisation of the right of assembly is a part of those changes, or so I was taught at school. 

 

This brings us back to Germany. I’ve always regarded Germany as a very interesting case, a modern industrial state which had its historic aristocracy and financial structure completely destroyed, in the period 1914-45, and was then completely rebuilt by its conquerors in the light of their best judgement. 

 

It’s particularly instructive that great effort was devoted to avoiding the chronic, adversarial labour/owner relationships which plagued their own industries, for reasons which were well known at the time. 

 

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2 hours ago, rockershovel said:

This brings us back to Germany. I’ve always regarded Germany as a very interesting case, a modern industrial state which had its historic aristocracy and financial structure completely destroyed, in the period 1914-45, and was then completely rebuilt by its conquerors in the light of their best judgement. 

It’s particularly instructive that great effort was devoted to avoiding the chronic, adversarial labour/owner relationships which plagued their own industries, for reasons which were well known at the time. 

Um ...

Quote

We didn't win 2 World Wars to be dictated to by a [email protected]

Do we know exactly who tweeted the above yesterday? 

Was it someone in the Boss class - possibly in a Research Group that specialises in Europe?

dh

 

Edit

I think my earlier question has inflected us down a route that gets further and further away from the emergence of rail technology .

Our recently re-opened Community pub next door has this famous Alex Glasgow motto "As soon as this pub closes the Revolution starts !" 

Edited by runs as required
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1 hour ago, runs as required said:

Our recently re-opened Community pub next door has this famous Alex Glasgow motto "As soon as this pub closes the Revolution starts !" 

 

Remaining in the spirit of the recent discussions of labour relations and German reconstruction but returning to railways, Lenin is reputed to have said that the Germans would never have a proletarian revolution because before storming the railway station they would all queue up to buy platform tickets. 

 

Which just goes to show that even the advocates of international communism could stoop to humour based on national stereotypes.

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The railways were part of that great change called the Industrial Revolution. And it was a revolution because up until the late 18th century, apart from relatively minor advances in things like ship construction (e.g. wooden ships got larger with better sail technology, and things like firearms) Europe was essentially, as far as technology went, not much advanced over the way the Romans had left things. During the intervening 1300 odd years our major social and intellectual changes were essentially in non-technological areas and so the large majority of working people were still bound to the land, or trades and crafts not much changed for thousands of years. Jobs with little or no chance of personal advancement. 

 

The harnessing of steam to power machinery and the factories that used that machinery to make their products gave us the need for both efficient transport but, more importantly, the need to sell the products and those sales depended upon a working class with some discretionary income. And the best source of that income was not the old rural trades and labour but the specialised skills needed to run new factories and their machines. Machines that first powered the factories that used the coal, that was from mines drained by steam power and was transported to the factories by trains which in a very short time evolved into transport efficiently carry the factory produce and the workers, as well as the factory owners. It was a grand time for any enterprising person who wanted to break the cycle of seasonal farm labour or escape the old Guild bound trades in the cities. It was essentially a time when ordinary people discovered that their labour had a real value if they took the opportunity to learn the skills needed to work in manufacturing industry. And they found that the opportunities these skills opened up, if not all well paid, were at least pretty boundless.

 

No more tugging the forelock to the local land owner to whom you were tied by being a farm labourer doing a seasonal job that had been unchanged since the Neolithic period; or no more frantically scrambling for a living in the old city based economies with their rigid trade based hierarchies and apprenticeships. People began to find that the economic system needed them just as much as they needed to work and that was something altogether new for most people and why there was the great migrations to the new industrial centres. Of course there would be activism to get better pay and conditions because both sides needed each other, and that more importantly led to collectivism amongst the workers and pretty quickly to unions and the muscle to flex the power of being an essential part of the aspiring magnates plans. Basically the mood was "Oi sunshine you ain't going nowhere unless we come too!!". So it wasn't just an industrial revolution it was something much more; a social revolution. Certainly there was a lot of kicking and screaming along the way but the pre industrial revolution world would be pretty alien to a modern observer transported back in the TARDIS.       

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1 hour ago, Compound2632 said:

 

Remaining in the spirit of the recent discussions of labour relations and German reconstruction but returning to railways, Lenin is reputed to have said that the Germans would never have a proletarian revolution because before storming the railway station they would all queue up to buy platform tickets. 

 

Which just goes to show that even the advocates of international communism could stoop to humour based on national stereotypes.

 

Lenin was, of course, quite right. One of the major questions of the 1920s was WHY, exactly, Communism had failed to establish itself in Germany amid the general chaos of the period. Germans generally had been educated by what might be called State Socialism - their pre-1914 provision of education, accommodation, health care and pensions was far in advance of the Anglo Saxon world or for that matter, the sclerotic bureaucracies of the Austrian-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. If you don’t share the ideological zealotry of the Communists of the era, that’s a fairly logical conclusion. 

 

Germans believed, in sufficient numbers, that restoration of the pre-War world (minus its more exotic elements, and the aristocracy) was preferable to revolution. They were ultimately wrong in believing that the National Socialists were the answer, but it’s not hard to see why they were able to attract support. 

 

Edited by rockershovel
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1 hour ago, rockershovel said:

Lenin was, of course, quite right. One of the major questions of the 1920s was WHY, exactly, Communism had failed to establish itself in Germany amid the general chaos of the period. Germans generally had been educated by what might be called State Socialism - their pre-1914 provision of education, accommodation, health care and pensions was far in advance of the Anglo Saxon world or for that matter, the sclerotic bureaucracies of the Austrian-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. If you don’t share the ideological zealotry of the Communists of the era, that’s a fairly logical conclusion. 

Germans believed, in sufficient numbers, that restoration of the pre-War world (minus its more exotic elements, and the aristocracy) was preferable to revolution. They were ultimately wrong in believing that the National Socialists were the answer, but it’s not hard to see why they were able to attract support. 

 

And after the above quote I can triumphantly cry "Mr Norris Changes Trains" to claim this thread's  equivalent of "Mornington Crescent" 

written by Christopher Isherwood in Samuel Oldknow's Marple, Cheshire

image.png.4c97fb55a60eb945023977769f48940e.png

I re-read the book after staying in the same Berlin streets earlier this year. I found it very pertinent to the present.

 

Phew! Are we back OT now?

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2 hours ago, rockershovel said:

 

Lenin was, of course, quite right. One of the major questions of the 1920s was WHY, exactly, Communism had failed to establish itself in Germany amid the general chaos of the period. Germans generally had been educated by what might be called State Socialism - their pre-1914 provision of education, accommodation, health care and pensions was far in advance of the Anglo Saxon world or for that matter, the sclerotic bureaucracies of the Austrian-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. If you don’t share the ideological zealotry of the Communists of the era, that’s a fairly logical conclusion. 

 

Germans believed, in sufficient numbers, that restoration of the pre-War world (minus its more exotic elements, and the aristocracy) was preferable to revolution. They were ultimately wrong in believing that the National Socialists were the answer, but it’s not hard to see why they were able to attract support. 

 

 

Emmanuel Todd made the connection between the traditional way that land was inherited in a region and the type of governments that subsequently formed. So places that use primogeniture, ie the firstborn son inherited all the land, such Germany, much of France and much of Eastern Europe, became authoritarian states while those that divided up land between sons, such as parts of Northern Italy, Russia and Kerala became communistic states. His take on England, but not Scotland or Ireland, was that it's system of inheritance was more anarchic than almost anywhere else in Europe, which may explain the sort of shambolical governments that we see to prefer.

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2 hours ago, runs as required said:

Phew! Are we back OT now?

I do hope so! I thought this was a model railway forum , not a political history one. :no2:

 

Jim 

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2 hours ago, runs as required said:

 

And after the above quote I can triumphantly cry "Mr Norris Changes Trains" to claim this thread's  equivalent of "Mornington Crescent" 

written by Christopher Isherwood in Samuel Oldknow's Marple, Cheshire

https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/uploads/monthly_2019_10/image.png.4c97fb55a60eb945023977769f48940e.png

I re-read the book after staying in the same Berlin streets earlier this year. I found it very pertinent to the present.

 

Phew! Are we back OT now?

 

Drat! And I was trying so hard to avoid Godwin's Law! 

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3 minutes ago, Caley Jim said:

I do hope so! I thought this was a model railway forum , not a political history one. https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/uploads/emoticons/default_no2.gif

 

 

Ah, but political history determines the shape taken by the railways we seek to model, and is therefore on topic!

 

It comes round to the view maintained by my elder son, that all subjects are interesting and important insofar as they inform the study of geography.

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15 hours ago, Malcolm 0-6-0 said:

After all the lives of paying passengers would be put in danger if unskilled driving staff were employed, not to mention the risk of damage to complex machinery if unskilled or scab mechanics were employed.  

 

 

Didn't middle class train buffs like O S Nock and J Maskelyne do stints on the footplate during the General Strike in 1926?

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6 hours ago, Malcolm 0-6-0 said:

The railways were part of that great change called the Industrial Revolution. And it was a revolution because up until the late 18th century, apart from relatively minor advances in things like ship construction (e.g. wooden ships got larger with better sail technology, and things like firearms) Europe was essentially, as far as technology went, not much advanced over the way the Romans had left things. During the intervening 1300 odd years our major social and intellectual changes were essentially in non-technological areas and so the large majority of working people were still bound to the land, or trades and crafts not much changed for thousands of years. Jobs with little or no chance of personal advancement.

 

This is the Classicists belief, but it completely understates the developments in medieval times.

 

The Ancient civilisations of Rome and Greece were slave economies. Apart from weaponry, technology was pretty poor. The Roman empire did not have windmill or watermill technology, why bother when slaves were plentiful.

 

It's true that for some eight hundred years in Europe that technological advances were non-existent - not so in the Arab world and China where there were advances in metallurgy and other materials technologies and in chemistry - but then in the 14th century came the Black Death. The sudden drop in population and the resulting labour scarcity drove medieval mechanisation. Water mills and then windmills were developed and refined, improvements came in brick making and ceramics, and in glassmaking - many of these developed from knowledge pinched from the Arabs - and of course there was the invention of printing, a technology that would not have been possible without a good papermaking industry, another thing the Romans didn't have.

 

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries banking and financing came of age in Italy and the Low Countries and that drove further advances. Agriculture went through the first of its revolutions and mechanisation of many processes took place using wind power in Holland. The Industrial Revolution in England took that a stage further, first with water power and then with steam power. Why in England? Because the key components of coal, water, iron ore and - often forgotten - finance, came together. France had the first three, as well as engineers and inventors every bit as good as the British ones, but ancien regime France did everything through aristocratic patronage, not hard nosed finance. Someone like Watt could team up with someone like Boulton and then find customers willing to pay for horsepower. Watt's French equivalent would have to get Marquis de Quelquechose to make an introduction to the Duc de Jenesaisquoi who would then make a recommendation to the Royal Commission for La Industrie. Not surprisingly the French fell behind .....

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11 minutes ago, whart57 said:

 

French equivalent would have to get Marquis de Quelquechose to make an introduction to the Duc de Jenesaisquoi who would then make a recommendation to the Royal Commission for La Industrie. Not surprisingly the French fell behind .....

Which explains French bureaucracy to this day...

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The link you provide suggests the first practical windmills appeared in Persia in the 10th century AD.

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The story goes that a keen Roman inventor went to Vespasian with plans for water-powered corn mills, which would do the work of dozens of slaves. Vespasian pointed out to him that Rome ran on slave labour, and the importation of slaves as war booty, so the idea wasn't much of a runner. The inventor was given a purse of gold coins and told to contract amnesia.

In Gaul the economic situation was different.

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4 hours ago, whart57 said:

Why in England? Because the key components of coal, water, iron ore and - often forgotten - finance, came together. 

 

Also the finance for the early phases of the the English industrial revolution came for sources that were completely outside the control of the state, to whit, friendly societies control by non-conformist communities.

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59 minutes ago, billbedford said:

 

Also the finance for the early phases of the the English industrial revolution came for sources that were completely outside the control of the state, to whit, friendly societies control by non-conformist communities.

 

... and hence, the fundamental difference between the development of Continental railways, designed to support the political aims of the State - be it German invasions of France, French counter-measures to perceived invasion threats, or bolstering the fractious Austro-Hungarian populations; and British railways, built to no overall plan, designed to transport raw materials and manufactured goods between ports and factories, internal raw materials (coal and ironstone) to the point of consumption, and foodstuffs from ports to a country which had lost the ability to feed itself. 

Edited by rockershovel
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Indeed. It often feels that the ability to run a country without any sort of long term plan is deeply embedded in the English psyche.

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5 hours ago, rockershovel said:

Romans didn’t have watermills? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbegal_aqueduct_and_mill

 

 

I totally agree with your response to that claim, of course they did - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ancient_watermills for even the most basic coverage. 

 

As I said despite it being called a classicist view whatever that is, early to mid-18th century European technology was essentially not very different to that which was in existence in Roman times. The major advances in the post-Roman world had been until then essentially philosophical and artistic. The main building materials were still wood, stone and brick, power was still mainly human, animal, wind or water and consequently not capable of yielding the raw strength that steam and subsequent forms of machine derived power did. Agriculture was still practised in much the same seasonal labour way as it was in the classical world, which meant long idle periods with no actual monetary income, which in turn impacted on the growth of consumer goods production which was the driving force of the wealth created by the industrial revolution. People in general did not live very mobile lives unless in military service or the maritime trades, and literacy was really only within the access of a few.

 

As for the matter of slavery, much of the initial wealth derived from the nascent industrial culture of late 18th century Britain rode on the back of slavery, by which I don't mean the low paid industrial mill workers but the volume of products directed at supplying cheap goods to support the trade in slavery going to the New World. It was the hidden evil so to speak - Britain might have been moving towards abolishing slavery at home but it didn't stop the factory owners earning tidy profits supplying the trade at arms length.

 

And of course the cheap raw cotton had to come from somewhere and where better than the slave run plantations of the southern United States. The collapse of slavery in America was formalised by the Civil War but it was slowly dying before then as the new American industrial centres in the north eastern states were able to mass produce consumer goods using steam powered machinery and steam powered transport at a fraction of the cost that any southern enterprise using slave labour. The other factor was of course the payment of regular wages which fuelled the growth of consumer economies - something that a slave based economy couldn't do because slaves weren't paid with anything they could spend. The only advance in the technology of the southern states had been the cotton gin and even that was the invention of a northerner.

 

The view might be dismissed as classicist but remains correct. The harnessing of steam and all that grew from that transformed the industrial revolution into a social revolution. And those lovely little engines and the interesting rolling stock were things of wonder then and to my mind still are, given the speed with which they helped end the old sluggish traditional economy. In any case, lest the Miss Marples amongst us begin complaining that this just isn't what we say in St Mary Mead, what I am saying is not political (heaven forfend), or even a lecture in economic history (heaven even more forfend), but a comment on the background of what created the railways of which we are all enamoured. It's a wonderful and exciting period in history and well worth the discussion.

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Nautical chronometers,

 

Very important post-roman idea.

 

Proper plough-harness for horses; gunpowder; quite a bit more maths (although rather late in the game)?

 

What did the Post-Romans do for us, eh?

 

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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1 hour ago, Nearholmer said:

What did the Post-Romans do for us, eh?

 

 

Ocean-going ships.

Trial by jury.

Paper money.

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16 hours ago, rockershovel said:

 

Drat! And I was trying so hard to avoid Godwin's Law! 

What is Godwin's Law?

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35 minutes ago, Ruston said:

What is Godwin's Law?

That if an online debate is allowed to go on long enough, the probability that someone will make a comparison with the Nazis approaches certainty. 

If it's a heated political debate, this tends to happen fairly quickly. Usually with the comparison being made to one's opponent. 

In discussions on railway history it can take a bit longer.

Edited by Ian Simpson
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Stokerproofing

This very loaded word came into my head reading about the posts above about early technologies and political societies.

I first heard it in my late twenties from an Irishman when I shared the company of EAR Works engineers (dominated by Horwich) while staying for long periods at the railway Tabora Hotel in central Tanzania [built as an ornate Bavarian summer palace for the Kaiser stay to open his new capital for Deutsches Ost Afrika in October 1914]

 

I’m sure every Engineer will know the RN term for making a new mechanism/procedure ‘foolproof’. In Tabora it was said about blacks by a white Dubliner (Inchicore?) with clearly racist implications.

But the principle must have dated back before C19 RN steam power ‘men of war’ to the big sailing wooden walls and the Press gangs.

I also remembered the elaborate ‘pre-industrial’ timber mechanisms I had seen working as a child in UK wind and water mills.

 

I’ve become familiar over recent years with Little Salkeld water mill (beside the Settle/Carlisle line just before Long Meg; milling flour since) where I call by regularly to collect our bread making flour. When taking the grandchildren one can get a tour of the machinery and I have come to ‘read’ the mill without its pink stone overcoat as an oak timber framework (rather like a skeleton clock) holding a complex of wooden mechanisms acting as a set of systems to safeguard and ease the millers’ tasks when hard at work. 

Leather clutches engage hoists through trap doors between the low floors and additional shafts driven by cartwheel construction pegged cogs power other mechanisms for shaking and cleaning grain.

 

We had a return visit, courtesy of one set of grandchildren, to Whissendine wind mill near Oakham and were allowed to inspect the mechanisms tuning and handling the sails as well the milling. These are mid Victorian wrought and cast iron having been continually upgraded compared to the water mill.

 

To sum up Stokerproofing may be debatably a “boss word” or a “safeguarding the workers” welfare word, but it is also indisputably describes a difficult process to weigh against ‘short term’ financial considerations.

I’d instance the APT project and its abrupt cancellation as a rushed example of this when we subsequently had to buy  tilt  back as Pendolinos from Fiat.  

dh

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