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GWR Lamp Irons, why so different


Brit70053

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A question that has occured to me periodically is "Why were the GWR Lamp irons so different and complicated in comparison to the (generally) simple amd straightforward designs of other companies?". GW Lamp irons, especially those fitted in loco smoke box top positions just seem so complicated, having right angles through two planes to acheive the sideways on orientation which distinguishes them from other British designs.

Was there rhyme and reason to this and having their lamps fitted with clips on the side as opposed to the rear of the lamp casing, or was it just down to the GWR's oft quoted individualism.

Any information/ explanation would be appreciated

 

Apologies in advance if this topic has been covered elsewhere, but my searches drew blanks.

 

Regards,

 

John

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As you say, it's probably just the GWR being different. However, you could argue that the design is the simplest way to produce an iron that both fits the slot in the lamp and provides support beneath the lamp body. Other railways accomplished this in different ways, most of which were actually more complex that the GWR solution.

 

Nick

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Thanks for your reply buffalo

I can see your point about the support being provided under the base of the lamp. Its just always struck me as odd that the GW lamps should be affixed by a bracket to the side anyway, meaning that the lamp iron needs to be offset so that the lamp appears centrally at the smokebox top position. That particular lamp iron, when not adorned with a lamp, always appears to me as a blemish on the otherwise generally clean lines of GW Locos. (Just a personal opinion)

I'd be interested to know if the GWR perceived an actual practical advantage in the side mounting of their lamps on locos and stock.

 

Regards,

 

John

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...I'd be interested to know if the GWR perceived an actual practical advantage in the side mounting of their lamps on locos and stock.

I doubt it. This pattern of iron was adopted in 1903 and replaced an earlier type where the lamps had a spigot on the bottom which plugged into socket irons on the engine. The side mounting arrangement was already in use for side and tail lamps, so they probably just adopted it and may have been able to make use of the same lamp bodies. An entirely pragmatic solution at a time when standardisation was becoming important at Swindon.

 

Nick

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Thanks again buffalo,

this gets down to the core of my query, inasmuch as this seems to be half way between a deliberate design, not made with the specific intentention of being 'different' for the sake of it, and adapting and making use of hardware already in existence. It occurs to me that existing lamps with these side mountings will have been numerous and if appropriate irons/ brackets were already fitted to stock other than locos, it would make sense that the locos be brought into line, presumably being vastly outnumbered by other types of rolling stock.

 

Regards,

 

John

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Well I always thought the reason was to stop other railway companies "borrowing" the GWR's lamps. Say a train from Bristol to Glasgow, if the lamps all had the same fittings, then GWR lamps could easily end up in Glasgow and from there to say Euston. And vice versa of course.

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That's an interesting theory csvt2004 and not one I'd have come up with myself.

I know there were great rivalries over such things as running permissions in the early (pre-grouping?) days and have heard stories of trains on 'foreign' rails being blockaded when due payments had not been made promptly, or agreements were thought not to have been adhered to.

 

Philately, I believe the re positioning of lamp irons you ask about was due to safety considerations in respect of the overhead power cables (catenary) being installed on the West Coast Main Line at that time.

Fixing a lamp or train name board in the original lamp iron positions would put the crew into danger of electrocution, so the fixing positions were lowered to less hazardous locations.

 

Regards,

 

John

 

Edit for spelling

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Can anyone, please, explain why, in the latter years of steam, London Midland locos (in particular freight engines in the North West) had the centre and top lamp mounts offset to the left?

Wasn't this to reduce the height of the top lamp "under the wires" and reduce the risk of shock?

 

Keith

 

EDIT beaten to it!

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I think several pre-group companies had 'non-standard' lamp irons. The LNWR did for starters. The point is the GWR was never 'grouped' so it carried on with many of its pregrouping practices as there was no higher authority seeking to force standardisation upon it. Instead it 'standardised' the companies it had taken over/amalgamated with, none of which approached the GW in terms of size or importance.

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Agreed Poggy1165,

The GW was by far the biggest fish in its area of the pool, eventually 'swallowing up' the minnows if you like and imposing its standards on them on the whole.

Your mention of standardisation brings to mind the fact that even post nationalisation, it was necessary to change the lamp irons on 'BR Standard' classes of locos (and others) to accommodate the GWR style of lamp fittings for operation in their former territory.

I don't know if any design of lamp iron could be regarded as 'standard', there were indeed many variations. Fom a personal viewpoint, I still find the appearance of the GW smokebox top iron the most complicated and visually detracting, even though, as stated by buffalo, it could be regarded as the simplest design affording most support to the lamp carried on it of them all.

 

Regards,

 

John

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Philately, I believe the re positioning of lamp irons you ask about was due to safety considerations in respect of the overhead power cables (catenary) being installed on the West Coast Main Line at that time.

Fixing a lamp or train name board in the original lamp iron positions would put the crew into danger of electrocution, so the fixing positions were lowered to less hazardous locations.

 

Regards,

 

John

 

Edit for spelling

 

Many thanks for the info! Thank you too to Melmerby

 

Richard

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