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Regency Rails - Georgian, Williamine & Early Victorian Railways

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I’d always regarded the term as denoting something so robust that even stokers (roughnecks, roustabouts, welders, miners, delete as not applicable) couldn’t break it...

 

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<quick check - anything about modelling happening here yet? No. OK, go back to other threads>

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40 minutes ago, RLWP said:

<quick check - anything about modelling happening here yet? No. OK, go back to other threads>

Sorry about that.

As I was writing the Stokerproofing post, I was actually projecting a model for the mantelpiece of Little Salkeld's wooden mechanisms in the manner of a skeleton clock.

dh

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50 minutes ago, rockershovel said:

I’d always regarded the term as denoting something so robust that even stokers (roughnecks, roustabouts, welders, miners, delete as not applicable) couldn’t break it...

I agree, but do you not recognise that 'they' are all lesser creatures than the Military/Civil/Mechanical Engineer?

dh

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

 

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.

 

 

Actually no. Agriculture was not the same as practised in Roman times. Improved crop rotation in late medieval times, the move to cash crops in the 15th and 16th centuries and then the Agricultural Revolution in the early eighteenth century all preceded the Industrial Revolution. True, agricultural was still a seasonal thing, but then it still is today to a very large degree. We can't abolish the seasons.

 

Nor is it true that there was no consumer economy before the Industrial Revolution. Golden Age Holland had a flourishing consumer economy. It wasn't just the Vermeers and Rembrandts we see in museums, it was a small army of lesser painters turning out still lives and classical scenes for ordinary burghers' houses. Delftware pottery was originally cheap copies for the middle classes of the imported Chinese porcelain adorning the "elite's" tables. Porcelain, which the Delft potters - and those of Stoke on Trent - eventually perfected was also unknown in Roman times.

 

In the more democratic (the term used loosely here) societies of the Low Countries and England, literacy rates among males were high compared to Classical times, two out of three men had functional literacy. Not so high among women, but even there rates were higher than in earlier times. Since the invention of printing - with movable type, we need to make that distinction - the spread of information and opinion was hugely more efficient than in earlier centuries, alarmingly so in the eyes of traditional princes and aristocrats who sought to censor and ban.

 

It's true that before the late eighteenth century, industry could not harness the muscle of steam power, but one thing we must not lose sight of is that the Romans could not have built a steam engine even if they understood the principles. They did not have the metallurgy. Quality wrought iron was a late medieval development, cast iron even more recent, Abraham Darby starting to produce the stuff in the early eighteenth century. Lathes and boring machines needed to produce cylinders and pistons didn't exist till the 16th century.

 

But most important, though largely hidden, was the economic advances made since the Renaissance. Banking enabled many things. One of the first things was to allow agricultural specialisation. Every European ate bread made from grain, not every European lived where it was productive to grow grain. As early as the 15th century the Dutch realised they would do better to buy grain from the Poles and Lats and instead concentrate on dairy products they could sell in France and Germany. That was more than a straightforward trade and needed a money economy to enable it.

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3 hours ago, runs as required said:

I agree, but do you not recognise that 'they' are all lesser creatures than the Military/Civil/Mechanical Engineer?

I thought military were included in that group. Hence the comment about the oxymoronic military intelligence... :diablo_mini:

I'll now don a military hard hat and retire to a military bunker.

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One very distinctive feature of England in the 18th century was the accumulation of capital by a group of people excluded by the state on account of their religion from participation in the political, military, academic, or professional life of the country. A reflection which does bring us back very directly to our avowed topic.

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Is there a chance of any modelling taking place?

Gordon A

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50 minutes ago, Gordon A said:

Is there a chance of any modelling taking place?

Gordon A

It's a discussion, not a modelling thread. IMHO it has wandered way off-topic but, hey, no one's forced to read it...

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2 minutes ago, Ruston said:

It's a discussion, not a modelling thread. IMHO it has wandered way off-topic but, hey, no one's forced to read it...

 

No, but it would be nice to occasionally find some early railway modelling in here. Otherwise people will start a new thread

 

Richard

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3 minutes ago, RLWP said:

 

No, but it would be nice to occasionally find some early railway modelling in here. Otherwise people will start a new thread

 

Richard

I'm sure no one will mind you posting your own early railway modelling in this thread.

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Strangely enough, I drop in here for interest and inspiration, and perhaps to learn something about early railways

 

Richard

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2 hours ago, Ruston said:

I'm sure no one will mind you posting your own early railway modelling in this thread.

Is that railway modelling from circa 200 years ago, railway modelling from one’s own youth, or models of railways from circa 200 years ago?

I think it very important that we shouldn’t be told. We need rigidly defined areas of doubt, uncertainty and indeed ambiguity.

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"your own modelling of early railways" - in my case an ambition to build a model of Earley c. 1900.

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51 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

"your own modelling of early railways" - in my case an ambition to build a model of Earley c. 1900.

If only you were prepared to go back 55 years or so, it could then be a model of early Earley station...

 

(Would a Viscount qualify as being Earley? I mean, they are apparently ranked adjacently, so it’s certainly Earlish…)

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4 hours ago, Ruston said:

It's a discussion, not a modelling thread. IMHO it has wandered way off-topic but, hey, no one's forced to read it...

 

As far as I am aware this is a modelling chat group.

 

Gordon A

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I'm enjoying the discussion very much, and I'm learning a lot from it. I'm not sure where one sets the balance between physical modelling and discussion of the prototype in a thread like this, but I do think understanding the social and economic context in which the early railways existed can help us model them more sympathetically.

 

So is any modelling is going on? Not from me at the moment, I'm afraid, due to pressure of work. Unless you count armchair modelling, my current armchair usually being a  seat on a Thameslink train. I'm planning a rebuild of my A4-sized terminus as a portable exhibition layout  (that's portable as "can be carried on the bus"):
 

1092263060_-PlanTinories.jpg.cf5fd15de1a032552145fb074924264a.jpg

 

and also getting together secondhand points for a fly-shunting micro layout:

 

1057999360_-PlanFlynories.jpg.563c39ededd34140feb4f336b127c836.jpg

 

If we're not modelling, is anyone else toying with layout ideas or plans for models?

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I'm finding some recent posts rather odd. This topic was started because the OP and others have a common interest in learning more about early railways, whether or not they intend to actually model them. The group this topic sits in is called "Pre-Grouping - Modelling & Prototype", so discussion of the prototype seems to be entirely within its remit. There are plenty of topics on RMWeb that are entirely devoted to the prototype without any reference to modelling at all. 

 

I'm afraid this all seems to be a manifestation of the adversarial and polarised spirit of the times - from which lunacy, I thought, an interest in railways of any sort was supposed to be an escape.

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The way I see it is that it's difficult if not impossible to properly model the railways of an era without being aware of the political, social and  economic landscape of that era.  I've found the recent discussion to be really interesting and I've certainly learned some things from it.

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... I’d say that “adversarial and polarised times” summed up the period under discussion, quite accurately. 

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What were early operating practices like? How were trains controlled, in the absences of telegraph or other long-distance signalling devices, or consistent time-keeping? 

 

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As I understand it, trains were dispatched on the time-interval system and regulated by Railway Policemen at intervals who would have a watch of some description.  They would pass a train if it arrived after the allotted time interval, and stop it if it arrived earlier. Intermediate stations would have local signals (Readings famous Ball, for example), they would also dispatch trains according to the time interval. The loco crew were supposed to keep an eye out for "obstructions" ahead and the guard toddle off with his red flag/light if the train had had an incident to protect it from the rear.

 

"Red For Danger" by LTC Rolt has a catalogue of such practices and how they could go wrong....

 

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49 minutes ago, rockershovel said:

What were early operating practices like? How were trains controlled, in the absences of telegraph or other long-distance signalling devices, or consistent time-keeping? 

 

 

Well, for signalling: initially there's nothing except perhaps hand signals and, in desperation, screaming at the driver.

Once you move beyond the colliery stage of one-loco-in-steam-if-it's-working, then it's the "time interval" method of operation: a train has to wait at principal stations until its predecessor has a 5 or 10 minute lead, then it can follow with a careful lookout by the driver. It's really only when main lines start to get junctions that we see the first semaphores and other fixed signals. The Liverpool and Manchester began using flag poles instead of just signalmen for its signal flags around 1833, and fixed signalling posts the next year.

The Great Western Railway was using its own fixed signals (a US-style ball signal lowered to show danger) around 1837, and the LSWR was using a rotating disc signal around 1840.

Sam Fay in A Royal Road (1883, p 45) described the introduction of fixed signals on the LSWR: “Up to 1840 the only signals provided were flags by day, and common horn lanthorns by night. Standard signals were then erected, and a revolving light at Nine Elms; but distant signals did not come into use until eight or ten years after.”

Edit: sorry, cross-posted with Hroth. Hope my repetition reinforces his truth!

Edited by Ian Simpson
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I'd forgotten to add that on early colliery style railways (ie before passenger carrying became the norm), it was purely up to the driver and fireman to avoid bumping into broken down trains and to protect themselves, which allegedly involved carrying a bucket of coals back down the line and building a fire between the rails to warn following trains.  This would only be sensible on railways which mounted the rails on stone blocks....

 

At least with a barely more than walking pace speed, there would be a chance of stopping before colliding!

 

 

Edited by Hroth
spelin
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