September 2011


All change! (Peter Gabriel, Supper’s Ready)

“[The Rookery]… crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from which to look upon the slime beneath; windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out, on which to dry the linen that is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem to be too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud and threatening to fall into it – as some have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage…” Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist.

A house move on the horizon means some changes to the current plans for Basilica Fields. Don’t worry, this journal isn’t going to disappear into the ether or grind to a halt, nor am I instead going to take up a new hobby knitting my own slippers, but the intention to build Artillery Lane as the first segment of Basilica Fields is now under intense scrutiny.

None of the potential new houses we’ve looked at so far have an outbuilding large enough to house the scenic segment of AL and I don’t really want to go down the road of constructing such a building just yet. All have a larger workshop space than I already enjoy, and would see me up and running in the day job again very quickly.

The change means that this journal will at last slip into the format which I had initially conceived; that being research on one segment (in this case Artillery Lane) will continue apace, while building of another segment (The Rookery) gets under way. In fact, initially I’ll be building just a portion of The Rookery, and not the whole shebang, but that’s all to come.

So, the next few posts will be dedicated to unpacking The Rookery before you, the research for which is mostly well in hand.

© Public Domain

The backs of houses at Collingwood Street, part of the Old Nichol Rookery, Bethnal Green. It’s obviously Monday morning with the washing on the lines, and a bathtub hangs from the eaves of the outbuilding in the distance. Lots of lovely chimneys and pantiles!

After the Great War all of this slum and more was swept away and the first post-World War One London County Council housing built on the site.

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The Great Northern introduced a 19′ covered van in 1906 and vans for perishable traffics were built to the same design, unfortunately all fall just outside of the Basilica time frame in the strictest sense so will not appear here.

However, there were at least two types of 19′ long refrigerated vans in service at the turn of the century; Diagram 113, for which I have seen neither drawing nor photograph and have limited information (8 tons, 10 meat hooks, 4 end posts and two sample numbers 30127 & 430133), and Diagram 116, illustrated below.

These vans had insulated bodywork lined with zinc sheeting and internal ice boxes at each end into which fresh ice was fed though sealed hatches in the roof. The cupboard doors were fitted with India rubber piping to ensure an airtight seal. All were designed for meat traffic and were fitted with 12 meat hooks on traverse bars.

As before, they were fitted with all the trappings of contemporary fast-fitted goods vans, and as well as the vacuum brake, were fitted with the Westinghouse brake (or more likely a through pipe).

© Public Domain

No. 9494 was built in March 1900, and carried the standard livery of refrigerated vans – white with black (some possibly brown oxide) solebars, buffers and running gear. Sources disagree on the colour of the lettering and shading and it also displays the legend, ‘To be returned to Victoria Dock when empty’.

I would be very interested to learn the dates both Diagrams 113 and 116 were introduced, any examples of running numbers beyond those given in Tatlow, and especially drawings of either type.

Around the turn of the century, the Great Northern elongated their standard 6T covered vans to 18′ over headstocks but changed the design to an inside-framed body with sliding doors to the right hand side. Initial batches of these Dia.117 vans had 3′ 6″ Mansell wheels, opposite hand brakes, and retained the four end posts. Later batches which were rated at 8T, gained ventilators in the ends, losing two of the posts in the process. I would be very interested in the introductory date of these vans, but this entry is more concerned with the 18′ vans for perishable traffics.

Five ton perishable vans to 18′ retained the outside wooden cross frames of the 16′ designs and sported a variety of ventilator positions depending on the designated use. Diagram 110 was designated for fruit and milk traffic, and Diagram 111 for fish, the former having louvres in the tops of the cupboard doors, the latter having plain sliding doors to the left and right. All had clerestory louvred roofs with three torpedo vents each side.

© Public Domain

Fish van no.8148 of 1899, built for traffic between Grimsby and London, exhibits all the contemporary standard fittings for GN vans designed for fast perishable goods; two foot boards, tall vacuum brake standard, screw couplings, safety chains, oil axle boxes, carriage-type swing-links to the springs, Mansell wheels, long spindle buffers, either-side brakes and carriage-style shaded lettering on the GNR brown oxide paintwork.

I’d be very interested to find out the date in which both diagrams 110 and 11 were introduced.

Following closely on the heels of the last post, I am interested in more information on the GNR 16′ covered vans for perishable traffics.

There were a number of van types which appear to have been based on the 16′ outside framed van with 9′ 6″ wheelbase and four end posts, but with alterations to the roof (louvred clerestory and torpedo ventilators), to the body (various louvred openings) and fitted with the automatic vacuum brake and Westinghouse brake or through pipe, screw couplings, side chains, oil axle boxes, and sometimes, but not always, Mansell wheels. On release to traffic two step boards below the centre doors were also fitted.

Ventilated van 19319, to Diagram 114, with a load capacity of five tons was one of a number of vehicles built for the conveyance of lard and butter between London and Liverpool and may have been built (or repainted!) in April 1900. I understand it is recorded on page/block 16/7 of the official GN book of wagon illustrations.

Three other types of five ton vans, possibly similar in design to the lard van, are also of interest, two of which I’ve not been able to ascertain a GNR diagram for, neither have I seen a photograph or illustration of them:

A (non-diagrammed?) meat van, page/block 16/12 of which No.9213 was built in 1899.

A clerestory fruit van to diagram 115, page/block 17/13, one running number known is 19328

A (non diagrammed?) clerestory meat van page/block 18/17, of which No.9115 was built in 1901

Any information and/or corrections to the above vehicles greatly appreciated.

I’m also keen to hear comments on the livery. Despite the large GN initials being introduced in on goods stock in 1898,covered vans for special traffic obviously continued to have been lettered with small shaded figures.

August flew past without a single entry to the journal – not sure how that happened, but it has been very busy here of late.

Time to pick the collective brain of the readership; Great Northern general merchandise vans are nicely illustrated by Peter Tatlow in Part One of his history of LNER wagons (Wild Swan), but whereas the section on the Great Eastern (which, in my opinion, is unnecessarily shorter than the Great Northern and Great Central sections) gives the reader various dates of introduction of the types, the Great Northern section is decidedly mute on the matter. All very well I suppose, if you’ve no more than a casual interest or your modelling is set during the Grouping (a census of types taken in 1922, 1940 and 1947 is given in each chapter), and I admit the book is pitched predominantly at those with an interest in the LNER period, but is less useful for those of us modelling earlier decades.

So, on with the queries.

This type isn’t mentioned or illustrated in Tatlow, so I assume was extinct by Grouping. It’s not unlike Diagram 118 (LNER code 4082) which was an express, dual fitted van, though the latter omitted the diagonal ironwork. The number of planks suggests it is also 16′ long. It retains the original single lever acting on a single wheel brake block, and despite the June 1900 date on the solebar (which may indicate the date of the photo, rather than the repaint date), shows the pre-1898 livery in quite a dilapidated condition. One wonders why (an apparently official) photograph was taken of this particular van in such a condition, unless the type was to become extinct in the near future?

So, my questions for this van are:

1. When was the type introduced?

2. When did the type become extinct?

3. (Very long shot) is there a drawing of it?

More Quirky Questions to follow

There is now a follow up post to this query here.