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Southern Nouveau & The Lineside


Oldddudders
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I picked up a copy of this new-ish Irwell Press book today at Taunton Railex. If you are interested in anything Southern that doesn’t have steel wheels on steel rails you may learn more within its almost 400 pages. I have only skimmed the first quarter of it, but find it to be scholarly and full of original drawings and references, supported by a myriad photos, many from very early in Southern’s reign. Fences, signposts, lampposts, lineside signs, water columns - all these have come into that first quarter. Exmouth Junction’s famous concrete yard is heavily featured, since its products were so ubiquitous. Further chapters cover stations ‘Nouveau to Art Deco’, signalboxes, engine sheds, goods yard fixtures and finally corporate colours. Authors are George Reeve and Leslie Tibble, but that isn’t announced on the cover. I paid less than £30 for a goldmine of detail. ISBN 978-1-911262-02-2.

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I bought it when it was first published and not long after had to all but crowbar it away from my Father In Law who had he kept reading so intently would have missed his train home...

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I was talking with a colleague earlier about how many of the various concrete structures, fencing, line side huts, etc, etc have survived to this day.  Ironically, thirty minutes later I passed through Lancing where contractors had just started removing the concrete panel fencing alongside the line on the Brighton side of the level crossing to be replaced with metal fencing that won't last nearly half as long.

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Here is what I wrote as comments on Graham Muz's blog back in March when the book first appeared:

 

"My copy arrived today so I haven’t had time to go through it with a fine tooth comb. However, my first reaction is that it is disappointing, there are certainly some excellent (and well produced) photographs, but I have seen most, if not all, of the drawings before and there are a lot of standard SR/BR(S) concrete items which are not covered by them. (Memo to self, must get round to drawing up all my dimensioned sketches made 50 years ago.) It also seems to me that the authors’ knowledge of the history is a little lacking, perhaps best illustrated by the coverage of speed restriction signs where temporary restriction signs are covered in depth with drawings, but references to permanent restriction signs refer to the cut-out metal signs which were IIRC a BRB-inspired import from the LNER in the early 1960s [so not really Southern nor even BR(S)] and there seems to be no mention at all of the standard SR △ markers at all, even though examples lasted through to the late 1960s. The coverage of the early LSWR concrete footbridges is excellent (with rare good pictures of the example at Bollo Lane which certainly lasted into the late 1960s and possibly later), but there doesn’t seem to be any mention, let alone explanation, of the two different SR designs [most probably SR/BR(S)] even though they are pictured on the same page. I suspect that, at the end of the day, a lot of modellers are going to be mislead by the book.

 

I should add that one of the real bonuses of the book for modellers is the complete (or near complete) set of “structure” painting guide sheets included in its final pages. I already had a lot of these but there are ones included that I hadn’t seen before. The sheets are “corrected” to the BS colours used by BR(S) rather than the hand-mixed paints used by the Southern Railway but nobody should get hung up on this, the differences are negligible and well within the range of variations resulting from wear and exposure to sun, rain, wind and pollution. Although, typically, structures were repainted once a decade, there were odd and strange exceptions where particular locations seemed to miss out on repainting altogether. As an example, well into the 1950s Catford station (on the Nunhead-Shortlands line) appeared to be what can best be described as dilapidated, but on closer examination bore clear evidence of the late SECR paint scheme with a very large “CATFORD” painted within the wooden down-side platform shelter."

 
The book seems to have been put together largely from cullings from the Railway Gazette between the wars (which contained regular very informative articles on works on the Southern Railway - largely due to Herbert Walker's insistence on leaving no potential PR stone unturned) and from items uncovered more recently in the infamous plan arch at Waterloo. There wouldn't be a problem with that if the authors knew more of the history but it is obvious that not only don't they knew but they haven't managed to infer some of it from things obvious in both photos and drawings. In practice, there were probably three distinct epochs for the products of Exmouth Junction - the LSWR epoch which continued until the Southern expanded the works c1927-8, the prewar Southern epoch which greatly expanded (and often restyled) the range of concrete products produced previously, and the postwar epoch (which definitely started just pre-nationalisation) when the majority of products were redesigned again. I suspect that this last redesign, which was very comprehensive, may have been intended to minimise the amount of steel reinforcing used, steel being in very short supply throughout the late-1940s, but that is only an inspired guess on my part. As one further example of the failings of the book, I would mention cattle docks, the pre-grouping designs of which the Southern seemed to have replaced with a 101 variations of a standard Exmouth Junction design by about 1935, there being two basic versions, the first having the horizontal planking bolted outside the posts, the latter having them bolted inside (I don't know the changeover date but it was before 1932), presumably as a result of experience of cattle forcing the horizontal timbers off their fixings. The book pictures a handful of these docks but the drawing is of something totally different, whose location is unknown to me but which is probably not a Southern Region (and definitely not a Southern Railway) design at all.
 
The book is undoubtedly useful but it could have been a lot better.
Edited by bécasse
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  • 11 months later...

I picked up a copy of this new-ish Irwell Press book today at Taunton Railex. If you are interested in anything Southern that doesn’t have steel wheels on steel rails you may learn more within its almost 400 pages. I have only skimmed the first quarter of it, but find it to be scholarly and full of original drawings and references, supported by a myriad photos, many from very early in Southern’s reign. Fences, signposts, lampposts, lineside signs, water columns - all these have come into that first quarter. Exmouth Junction’s famous concrete yard is heavily featured, since its products were so ubiquitous. Further chapters cover stations ‘Nouveau to Art Deco’, signalboxes, engine sheds, goods yard fixtures and finally corporate colours. Authors are George Reeve and Leslie Tibble, but that isn’t announced on the cover. I paid less than £30 for a goldmine of detail. ISBN 978-1-911262-02-2.

 

Are there any references to Sheerness/Sittingbourne area in the book?

 

Paul C. 

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Are there any references to Sheerness/Sittingbourne area in the book?

 

Paul C. 

I don't recall anything specific ..................... but this book's more about generalities - and no doubt some of thfences, signposts, lampposts, lineside signs, water columns etc WOULD have appeared on Sheppey or the mainland nearby !

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  • 2 years later...

Can anyone tell me if the book has any information about the Provender Stores (grain stores) which the Exmouth Concrete Works made? I am looking for info about these - which were also used in other Regions. I don't want to buy a copy then find it's not included. Thanks

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  • RMweb Gold
10 minutes ago, Batteryboy said:

Can anyone tell me if the book has any information about the Provender Stores (grain stores) which the Exmouth Concrete Works made? I am looking for info about these - which were also used in other Regions. I don't want to buy a copy then find it's not included. Thanks

 

They are covered in great detail in Chapter 5.

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Can anyone tell me if the book has any information about the Provender Stores (grain stores) which the Exmouth Concrete Works made? I am looking for info about these - which were also used in other Regions. I don't want to buy a copy then find it's not included. Thanks

 

Thanks Graham. I will get myself a copy now.

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