November 2011

With this entry the Basilica Fields journal is one hundred posts old. Not only that, but in the last week it passed the 30,000 views mark. I am all astonishment; twenty one months of waffle, a little progress and lots of fantastic feedback. All in what is, to be honest, a very niche subject.

I wanted to mark this milestone with something a little bit special so I looked up all the possible prototype locos of the various companies which might have worked the Basilica Fields lines with a running number of 100. Two locos presented themselves, both Great Eastern tanks, and they ran consecutively – although there was, strictly speaking, a few months of overlap. The earliest of the two, an E10 class 0-4-4T, worked throughout the whole period covered by this project, whereas the latter, an M15 2-4-2T, appeared right at the end of the timeframe, therefore I’ve no expectation of it appearing on the layout.

Shortly after Massey Bromley took the post of Locomotive Superintendent at Stratford the E10 0-4-4T class appeared. The design was obviously that of his predecessor William Adams, essentially being an elongated version of his K9 class and very closely related to his 61 class. Sixty of the new locos were built between 1878 and 1883, the final twenty being fitted with the Westinghouse brake from new and the rest of the class fitted retrospectively shortly after.

© Public Domain

Number 100 was the eighty-third locomotive to be built at Stratford Works, and was constructed under Order R10. The loco was ex-works on the 18th June 1879 and released to traffic two days later in the then standard Great Eastern livery of black, lined red – the class being the first to benefit from Bromley’s widened lining style compared to that applied by Adams. It had 8″ yellow numerals hand-painted on the buffer beams, and was fitted with a pair of Bromley’s new-style cast iron elliptical number plates on the side tanks.

In November 1894 No.100 was rebuilt with a new boiler pressed to 140psi, fitted with larger diameter cylinders and standard Holden-pattern boiler fittings. New round-spectacle front weather boards replaced the Adams-style square window type, and for the first time a matching rear weatherboard was fitted, finally enclosing the cab. It was painted in the then standard ultramarine blue livery (probably for the second time) with Holden’s enlarged ‘GER’ transfers on the side tanks, and fitted with Worsdell-style brass number plates cast with the legend ‘Rebuilt 1894’ on the bunker sides.

In July 1905 it was one of nine E10 tanks placed on the duplicate list to make way for two new batches of Holden’s version of Worsdell’s M15 2-4-2 double-ended radial tanks destined to take the 91-110 number series, the new No.100 appearing in October of that year. On the duplicate list the E10 received a 0 prefix and a new set of cast brass numberplates were fitted to ring the changes. However, the sands of time were running out for the locomotive and No.0100 was withdrawn from service in January 1906. Thirty nine of the class remained in service, their numbers dwindling over the next six years, and the last of the class, No.097, was withdrawn from service in November 1912 rendering them extinct.

The photograph is precious old, as Mr. Jonas would have it; no earlier than 1882 from the early-style low-slung Westinghouse brake pipe, but no later than c1885/6 from the early-style spoon-shaped lamp irons which were rapidly phased out upon Mr. Holden’s appointment as Locomotive Superintendent. Also fitted are early style clack valves and steam cocks on the boiler, along with the old sanding apparatus looking not unlike scaffolding climbing up the smokebox sides. I don’t think anyone could say that the Adams stovepipe was a thing of beauty; ‘characterful’ is probably as generous an adjective as one could muster.

The location had me stymied for a while, and even though I found an untouched version of this photograph in an early GERS Journal, the background is too indistinct to help. Given that the loco was working out of Fenchurch Street when the photograph was taken, I couldn’t correlate that with the design of any engine sheds on the routes out of the terminus. Initially I posted that I thought it was Epping goods shed, but Colin Dowling (Eastsidepilot) sent a photo of Millwall and it’s patently obvious he’s hit the nail on the head. The photo is reproduced here.

So there we have it, No.100 at Millwall in the early 1880s. The loco may well make it onto the layout too – it’ll have to be scratchbuilt, but will make a perfect partner for No.101 which was fitted with condensing apparatus for working the East London Line, but that’s a tale for another time…and no, not for the 101st post either…

Edited for correction; location now identified.

I recently chanced upon the rather unique Spitalfields Life blog, the (gentle) author of which has committed to write one post a day until 2037 – a task which seems to me to be a very tall order, but kudos if that comes to pass! Covering not only historical, but contemporary life stories of the area, by far the greater proportion of posts are largely irrelevant in the context of Basilica Fields, but nevertheless are usually interesting, and the writing style always engaging, so I’ve bookmarked it as one of my ’10 minute coffee break browses’ as I work back through the archive of posts.

Some posts have an immediate air of relevance for us here, others appear less so at first glance, but on closer examination are a treasure trove. A fantastic example of the latter is a post on photographs of car crashes at Clerkenwell during the late 50s – a somewhat dark and macabre theme one might think, but actually that’s not the case, and there’s a tangible, attractive atmosphere to the remarkable images. However, as I scrolled down through the post the last thing I expected to see was a number of photographs unintentionally detailing not only the civil engineering of the Met & Widened lines in the vicinity of Ray Street Gridiron, but a number of the old buildings on the periphery too. Perfect!

For the connoisseur of old Victorian and Edwardian photos, the posts here, here and here give an interesting insight to not only the East End, but other parts of the sprawling Metrop. You can click a number of these images to enlarge, then click to enlarge further.

There are many more gems hidden within the site (bollards…no, seriously!), but I’m not going to spoon feed you. Well, not too much…

Bit of a lull in proceedings I’m afraid, due entirely to the uncertainties of selling a house and buying another, and the inordinate amount of time taken up with all that entails.

© Jack Hill

So, as a bit of an intermission (grab your ice creams)… I’ve had this print for a little while and thought I’d better get a frame to protect it during the intended move. I doubt there are many artists who’d find inspiration enough to produce a painting of the Inner Circle (although another was the catalyst for this whole project) which I think is fantastic and captures the spirit of the prototype.

The District train on the left is on the Inner Circle and the Great Northern 126 class No.119 is coming up from Ludgate Hill with a goods train. Although exact numbers varied during the 1880s and 1890s, the GNR was in charge of approximately fifty goods trains which daily crossed the Thames via the Widened Lines, half of which were mandatory, the rest running as required.