Great Western Railway


Quirky Questions No.8 “Covering up (in) the Past” is about a simple and important aspect of goods services…  how were wagon sheets, and the ropes which secured those sheets to open wagons, managed within and between railway companies?  Modellers with a hankering for the Midland Railway are served well by an excellent article in issue no.3 of the Midland Record journal (Wild Swan).  Other railways are not so well served as the Midland Rlwy. hence the request for information within Quirky Query No.8.

An initial response has been posted to the GWR E-list (a Yahoo Group) which reminds us that a GWR Sheet Store was at Worcester – clearly something to be pursued.  Thanks to John Greenough who is an ex-pat in the Antipodes.

Graham

Edit the first

An extract from the GWR WTT/STT section no.5, 1925, courtesy of Brian Bailey.

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Now this is a conundrum…  how to ask a small and simple question about a subject which is so little considered and yet was of such importance to the carriage of goods in the late 19th century…  and a subject which was relevant to all railway companies since wagons from most (any?) of those companies could have been seen on the Extended Widened Lines.  OK, possibly wagons of the North London Railway might not have penetrated the gloom of those hallowed tracks..   maybe a reader can offer a plausible scenario for NLR wagons working over the EWL?

So to the subject of this post…  sheets ands ropes, required in their thousands for covering and protecting goods in transit when carried in open wagons.

Much has been written about how the railway companies managed the movement of loaded and empty wagons….  and about how the Railway Clearing House kept records of  foreign* wagon movements between railway companies….  little has been written about the management and return of the sheets and ropes which would have made similar journeys across railway boundaries.  A good explaination of how the Midland Railway (and its successors) managed wagon sheets and associated ropes is provided by Midland Record No.3 (Wild Swan)…  good enough to prompt investigation into how things were done on other railways.  Such a task seems necessary to the working of goods services through Basicilia Fields and yet such a task is onerous in the extreme.

How can readers of this journal assist?  Initially, by contributing to what is known and where such information is recorded relating to wagon sheets / ropes for those railway companies whose wagons are likely to form the bulk of the goods stock working over the Extended Widened Lines.  Please feel free to provide such details by comments to the Quirky Answers post for this subject.  Our initial thoughts are that such wagons are likely to come from the following companies:-

* Great Central Railway;
* Great Eastern Railway;
* Great Northern Railway;
* Great Western Railway;
* London and North Western Railway;
* Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway;
* Metropolitan Railway;
* Midland Railway (recorded in Midland Record No.3).

thank you, Graham

[BTW – information received on this subject is available in “Querky Answers – Sheets and Ropes“]

* foreign in this context means a wagon owned by railway company “A” working over the tracks of railway company “B”.

The recent completion of a commissioned X2 MICA B in post-1904 livery prompted this entry which otherwise might have been written at a later date. The two photographs illustrate this model.

© Adrian Marks

Located as it is between the dock and Smithfield market, meat traffic will play a significant part of goods traffic passing through the subterranean levels of Basilica Fields, with the GWR shouldering the greatest load. If, like me, you grew up unsullied by Great Western telegraph code nomenclature, and therefore completely in the dark about MORELS, MITES, MACAWS, MINKS, MOGOs and MAGOOS (one of those is a red herring, and that’s nothing to do with fish traffic!), then hopefully you’ll at least have some idea of what a MICA is by the end of this mini series. As these vehicles came in so many varieties I’ll be dealing with each type separately, so this first entry serves as a detailed overview.

Perhaps the most famous of GWR meat trains were those running between Birkenhead and Smithfield via Acton, but there were other services to Plymouth and Avonmouth, as well as one between Victoria Dock and Cardiff via the North London Railway. The Circle & Widened Lines Extension to the docks also gives an opportunity to transport meat from there to Smithfield, and occasionally direct to Acton without recourse to the NLR.

Through the 1890s, beef from the Americas landed live at Birkenhead, and after a short period of recovery from the arduous journey the cattle was slaughtered and butchered locally. Their carcasses were then chilled before forwarding to Smithfield – a process taking up to 20 hours from abattoir to market. Ventilated vans were found to be sufficient keep the meat cool for this journey, and for the purpose of Basilica Fields we need go to back no further than the 110 vans built between 1889 – 1891 which were later diagrammed X1 and given the telegraph code MICA. Ventilation was via hinged bonnet ends that ran the full width along the top of the vans with scalloped bottoms to the sides, and a series of 1ft 8ins ventilation slots along the side of the vans on the third plank down. Construction was double-cased tongue and grooved planking with flush-fitted doors and no exterior bracing. These vans were fully vacuum fitted for running at fast goods speeds.

Contemporaneously, a batch of 13 vans were built at Swansea Wagon Works for the South Wales Railway and later diagrammed X3 with the code MICA A. These were non-ventilated and were used for rushing chilled meats between Victoria Dock in London to Cardiff. They had ice containers installed and used straw for insulation. The vans were diagonally planked with a narrow cupboard door and were fitted with a vacuum through pipe for travelling at passenger speeds.

With the increase of chilled and frozen meat such as mutton from Australasia, a new van emerged based on the X1 design but without the side ventilation slots and having plain bottoms to the ventilator bonnet sides. These vans were fitted with X3-type ice containers which were filled from the inside, and a 3″ air space between the double body sheeting provided some degree of insulation. As such, these 240 vans to diagram X2 could be used either as ventilated or refrigerated, depending on the requirement, and were given the code MICA B. Ten further examples of X2 were built without the end ventilator bonnets and coded MICA A, and another ten X2 were fitted with the end bonnets but had no ice containers and were simply coded MICA.

© Adrian Marks

The liveries of the MICAs throws up a few interesting questions which I’ve not had answered satisfactorily yet, and so I’ll begin with extracts from Slinn’s Great Western Way pp.97 – 102:
Period ending 1903: “It was at the time of the start of the right hand small lettering that refrigerated meat vans began to be painted with white bodies and it is believed that the lettering was black. Photographic emulsions of the time do not differentiate between black and red and no trace has been found in official documents to say which colour was used…”

1904 – 1919: “Refrigerated vans had already appeared painted in white but now their lettering was executed in red.”

  • Question: Right-hand small GWR lettering was introduced c1893, so what colour were the X3 vans between being built in 1889 and 1893?

I had assumed that the red lettering was introduced with the white livery from comments in other sources, such as Tourret et al.

  • Question: Is there any other source to confirm black lettering was used on white-painted X2 and X3 MICA A and MICA B up to 1904, or did small red lettering in fact appear much earlier during the 1890s?

The whole debate over the colour of general merchandise goods stock in the 1890s also throws up one further interesting query.

  • Question: Were X1 MICAs originally painted red?

The floor is open for debate!

For the record, the model was built from a WEP brass kit, pretty much as designed, and given a light weathering. Screw couplings and safety chains from Laurie Griffin. Contemporary photographs show these vans got absolutely filthy, no doubt in part due to their journey to Smithfield on the Metropolitan Line, so this one represents a fairly recently repainted example c1912.

Just an update on this earlier post with some better photos as promised. This time I was able to use natural light which makes a big, big difference.

© Adrian Marks

© Adrian Marks

 

Twelve examples of the Great Western’s 13 ton AA7 brake vans were built between 1897 and 1898 to Lot 206 for working the company’s trains from Acton over the Metropolitan and (for a short stretch between Farringdon Street and Aldersgate Street) the Widened Lines to Smithfield – they were numbered in the series 56985-96.  Essentially they were a short version of the AA3 vans with a 9ft wheelbase, measuring 16ft over headstocks with a proportionally smaller verandah than the larger vans.

© Adrian Marks

It has been suggested by various authors that the AA7s must have been the among the first fitted brake vans on the GW because of the Smithfield meat trains, which included fitted Micas, but in reality, the perceived volume of meat traffic to Smithfield has been blown out of all proportion, and careful study of the relevant WTTs show that in fact the meat trains made up only a very small percentage of the traffic over the route as Smithfield was also the main general merchandise goods depot for central London and the City. To put things in perspective; in 1912, out of sixteen daily goods trains only four were scheduled for meat traffic, and of these, three were mixed trains of meat and general merchandise. Quite surprisingly, only one single trip each day was solely reserved for the conveyance of meat. It’s worth remembering that Mica’s were vacuum braked to convey chilled and frozen meat between Birkenhead and London at passenger-rated speeds, and it would have been the brake vans on those trains which were first vacuum fitted. It wasn’t until later, maybe much later (post-Grouping?) that vacuum braked stock was required on the Smithfiled trips.

The model is from Big Jim’s wonderful Connoisseur range, and the only major deviation I made was the addition of WEP compensation units rather than a solid chassis. GW paint from Precision, weathering from Humbrol and transfers from the HMRS. Glazing is 0.13mm glass, instanter couplings from CPL and sprung buffers from Slater’s.

This example was built to commission, and is in 0 Finescale, but I have a pair to build for Basilica Fields where meat traffic not only shuttles between Acton and Smithfield, but east from Smithfield to St. Katherine Dock via Basilica Fields on the (Middle) Circle Extension.

© Adrian Marks

No photoshoppery…well, just a little to get rid of a couple of specks of dust, but the colours and lighting is au natural care of the fat old sun.

Some 1600 ten ton open merchandise wagons to Diagram 03 were built by the Great Western Railway in four batches during the years 1904-5 and 1912. These wagons were a development of the Diagram 04 introduced three years earlier and incorporated a 4⅛” wider top plank bringing the internal height to 3’3″ which remained the basic standard for GW 10 & 12/13T opens in all future builds. At the same time the width was made wider by 6″ bringing the inside and outside dimensions to 7’7″ and 8′ respectively. Many, perhaps most, of the 03s were fitted with the Williams patent sheet supporter to aid the wagons sheets protect the merchandise when in transit.

I recently completed a commission for an 03, built from a WEP kit and this was given a light weathering as if recently built. The running number suggests that it is one of the final batch, and as the wagon will fit into a c1912 scenario, I think the degree of weathering is appropriate.

As these wagons were introduced in 1904 it would be reasonable to incorporate a small number in amongst the larger proportion of 4-plank wagons running on the Metropolitan Line between Acton, and Smithfields through Basilica Fields on the Extended Circle around to the GW depot at St Katherine Docks. Of course they will have S7 wheels whereas this has standard 0 Fine wheels.

I’m not too happy with the photo as the light was fading so I used some artificial daylight to help but it mucked the colours up and I couldn’t fix it to my satisfaction on the computer. If I get some decent mid-morning light before the wagon gets delivered I’ll upload some better photos and hopefully show the folded wagon sheet inside too.

Or ‘cartage’ by another name.

Basilica Fields is set in the period 1890-1905 at which time options for the transport of goods were limited to canal, rail and road with movement on the road being mostly by ‘horse and cart’.  So in the late Victorian era goods traffic was moved between towns (or village, or city, or colliery or dock…) by the railways at a fine pace…and then delivery to customer’s premises would be dependent upon how fast the horse would go whilst pulling a loaded lorry. Whilst the GWR, in common with many other railway companies, used steam lorries for heavy loads, the use of petrol /diesel power for mechanisation of the collection and delivery of traffic was not viable in the Basilica Fields timescale.  We prefer to leave such advances to be hidden in the mists of time – or the depths of a London pea-souper.

Back to the topic… This journal has introduced previously the subject of Artillery Lane and the GWR Goods Depot at Gun Street, a small depot which acted as a satellite to the GWR depot which served Smithfield Market.  In truth the East End of London seemed to be awash with goods facilities for some of those railway companies which served London – try ‘Town And Country’ Vol. 1, (Irwell Press) for a map showing the coal, grain, potato and general merchandise depots and yards to be found within a few miles of Fenchurch Street station.  Artillery Lane is the first part of Basilica Fields to be described in detail so far; there are many more locations to be described in the journal and some of those locations include goods facilities such as coal drops, warehouses and docks…mostly served by the Great Eastern Railway.

Which means that the streets, yards and depots of Basilica Fields will feature a wide range of railway wagons (to carry the traffic to / from the sidings) and an equally wide range of horse-drawn lorries, vans and poles.  Each location in Basilica Fields will illustrate the handling of specific traffics and the horse-drawn vehicles will be those appropriate to the traffic and the railway company.  So, for example, the traffic which is handled at the Gun Street depot requires horse-drawn vehicles of the type(s) which the GWR developed for it.  In addition to the horses and the horse-drawn vehicles, the cartage services dictated that the railway company provided ‘bed and breakfast’ for the horses, and so Gun Street is provided with stables and a provender store – which is cue for two specialised traffics, being provender in and manure out.

As a description of the horse-drawn lorries and vans for Gun Street requires an understanding of the traffic through that depot, then the GWR Cartage Services for Gun Street Depot starts with details of goods received and dispatched.

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