Midland Railway


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”.

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In 1899, Johnson unveiled the first of what would become a class of 60 new goods tank locos, the 2441 class. Descendants of the 1102 class and antecedents of Fowler’s 3F ‘Jinties’, the first thirty of the class had condensing equipment from new for working the sub-surface lines in London between the various goods depots, and carried various detail differences which separated them from their normally aspirated sisters. To counter the side tanks from being blistered from the very hot water passing through the condensing pipes – a problem encountered on other lines, for example the Great Eastern – an outer skin was fitted to the tank sides with a small airspace between. This arrangement produced a squared front corner to the tanks with pairs of cooling slots on the front edge, whereas the normally aspirated locos without the outer panel had rounded tank corners.

Those allocated to London were initially painted and lined in the highly decorative ‘London style’ of crimson lake with almost everything above and below the footplate lined out. No. 2444 is seen here on 6th June 1903 at Cricklewood in just such a livery, and despite appearing at first glance to be in ex-works condition (a misused phrase so beloved of authors of books and magazines), it instead bears the marks of hard work on the Widened Lines; traffic dust and grime haze over the wheels, underframe, valence, bunker and tank sides – the numbers have had attention from the tallow cloth to make them appear clearer, and there are signs of a hot smokebox and chimney too. It’s worth noting the slightly shorter boiler fittings, especially the chimney and dome, and especially the arrangement of the Salter valves, with the pillars attached to the sides of the tank rather than the top of the boiler.

Kirtley’s 690 class has already been touched upon by way of my post on the closely related 780 class. These six locomotives were delivered in 1869 from Messrs Beyer Peacock specifically for the coal traffic via the Widened Lines to Herne Hill and Battersea which commenced on 17 November 1868 (in fact, the tender for the locos was accepted the following day). The route taken involved the 1:38 incline from Farringdon to Blackfriars which imposed a severe weight limitation on the trains, and the class performed very well on these duties, which then expanded to also include goods trains.

Initially fitted with hand brakes to wooden blocks, the 690 class were given steam brakes in 1878 which clearly defined their goods only role, as the 780 class were fitted with Smith’s simple vacuum for passenger duties later that year. In 1882, the 690 class were also fitted with Sanders automatic brake which continued to segregate them from the 780 class, as they were unable to operate the Smith’s brakes on the Midland’s carriages, and it wasn’t until 1888 that the superior automatic brake was finally fitted to the 780 class, enabling the 690 class (at least on paper) to finally work passenger duties. The 690 class continued to work on Widened Lines goods and coal duties until the introduction of the 2441 class in 1899.

Aesthetically, the 690 class went through many changes up to the Basilica Fields period, and 692 is seen here post-1898 on the duplicate list. At this time, some members of the class had the position of the numbers and maker’s plates transposed. Cabs were been fitted between 1888 and 1893 when the Kirtley boilers were scrapped and Johnson’s C Class boilers fitted, which resulted in an immediate visual difference between the 690 and 780 classes in the route taken by the condensing pipes from the smokebox.

Up to rebuilding, members of the class were probably still in the green livery, but once in crimson lake, the fully decorated ‘Kentish Town’ lining style appears not to have been applied to the 690 class, and although above the footplate they were fully lined, it would seem only the outside cranks and wheels were so treated below.

As mentioned previously, S.W. Johnson’s 0-4-4Ts looked after much of the Midland Railway’s passenger, goods and coal services on the Widened Lines during the 1890s.

Johnson built 205 0-4-4T locos for the Midland over a period of 25 years between 1875 and 1900, all to a design based upon his 134 class built during his time at Stratford as Locomotive Superintendent of the Great Eastern Railway. Although superficially the design remained constant throughout the 25 year building period, there were of course many minor changes and improvements over the years which resulted in several distinct (and indistinct!) classes.

Many of Johnson’s 0-4-4Ts were fitted with condensing apparatus and sent to work on the Widened Lines services, and after much deliberation and scouring dozens of photographs, I chose one of the P class locos built by Neilson in 1893, more commonly referred to as part of the 1833 class. It was rather interesting to find that this particular batch of ten was built as the result of a report by Johnson on 22 September 1892 which stated that:

‘…there are not sufficient four wheels coupled bogie tank condensing engines for working the passenger, goods and coal traffic over the Metropolitan Railway and to the stations beyond.’

How could I resist?

To model 2222 I have a Slater’s kit for the 1252 class as a basis, and will need to make several alterations during the build, not least the size of splashers, as there was a reduction in wheel diameter between the two classes, as well as a change in the wheelbase itself.

Number 2222, delivered in September 1893, is seen at Cricklewood, just short of it’s 10th birthday in June 1903, looking resplendent in the fully decorated London livery where just about everything panel and fitting was lined both inside and out. Blimey.

The well-documented and fierce competition between the Great Northern and the Midland Railways began in the late 1860s, and London’s goods traffic was not exempt, especially not the Widened Lines or Extended Widened Lines. In a seemingly endless, and very expensive game of tit-for-tat, wherever the Great Northern went, the Midland was sure to follow. Therefore, the Midland’s Whitecross Street depot was built as a direct response to the Great Northern’s Farringdon Street depot, but constructional and financial difficulties ensured that the GN depot had already been open for four years before Whitecross Street was finally opened in 1878. The Midland depot had four stories above ground and one basement level, and was located in the heart of the lucrative textile district. In a rather cheeky pawn-takes-queen move, the GNR then opened a non-rail served depot in Whitecross Street almost opposite the Midland, offering a goods and parcels collection service, and warehouse space to rent.

With the coming of the Extended Widened Lines, the Midland Railway found itself in a position to finally get the jump on its arch rival, and a large depot with rail access to the huge six-storey warehouses that surrounded St. Katherine’s Docks was opened in 1889. St. Katherine’s Docks had an infamous reputation in the 19th century; the construction of Telford’s masterpiece left over eleven thousand people homeless and caused the demolition of historical ecclesiastical buildings. Opened to great fanfare, it soon became a white elephant as the twin wet-docks soon became too small for the new and larger ships being built, and by the mid-1860s had merged with London Docks. After this, much of the traffic was brought in by barge and lighter from the lower docks, and the warehouses were used mainly for storing and distributing imported luxury goods such as ivory, shells, sugar, marble, rubber, carpets, spices and perfumes.

Midland goods traffic through Artillery Lane will reflect these imported goods, and the majority of wagons will be opens of various sizes and covered vans, with some perishable goods.

The photo is of the Midland’s depot at Poplar, and is an early photo as at least one of the sheeted wagons is unbraked.

The earliest Midland sets for Moorgate Street – Bedford services were introduced in 1868 by Kirtley. Calyton’s first sets were ordered from the Gloucester Wagon Co. in 1875, and were 27′ long and 8’6″ wide, and similar carriages with detail differences continued to be built up to 1898. They were gas lit from the outset, initially the gas being carried in leather bags on the roof encased in a long wooden box resembling a clerestory, and from 1883 the bags were replaced with cylinders mounted on the underframe. More batches of these carriages were introduced in 1883/4, this time built at Derby, and these became the standard type for the various Lots over the next 15 years. In a previous post I mentioned the discovery of a short formation in 1893: B3/3/1/1/3/B3 in Lacy & Dow Vol.2, which also gives five of the six running numbers in that set. Fortunately I believe I can deduce the missing number. Like the GWR City sets, these carriages had short buffers (standard length ones on the brake ends) and were close-coupled.

The Brake 3rd in the photograph was one of Lot 100, a batch of 44 carriages built in 1884 to Diagram 505, drawing 596. Straw-lined in the crimson Lake livery of the period, the short buffers on the inner end (long on the outer end), close coupling pinion and side chains are clear, as is a prominent roof destination board.

Mercian produce kits for these carriages, but I’m concerned about the depth of the lower panels and windows – it may just be the photograph, but I’ll need to measure a kit up to be sure. Once I have the opportunity to do so, probably the ALSRM show [edit: ALSRM site unavailable pro tem, alternative link provided] at Reading in May, I’ll report back.

In the 1890s, the Midland passenger services on the Widened Lines were mostly in the capable hands of Johnson 0-4-4Ts, though several of Kirtley’s fascinating double-framed 0-4-4BTs had avoided being displaced, and were still available for passenger turns. Kirtley’s 780 class were unusual in that they had a ‘Back Tank’, the water being carried in a tank in the bunker. The class of twenty, built in 1870, was the Dübs & Co. version of the Beyer, Peacock 690 Class built the year previously, but due to differences in the type of brake fitted, the 690 class spent its early life on goods duties, whereas the 780 class were used on passenger services. All members of the class received wrap-over roof, and apart from the fitting of the automatic vacuum brake in 1889, and an earlier change from green paint to lined Crimson Lake, the external appearance remained very much unchanged over the years, and into the period covered by Basilica Fields.

The photo shows Number 786 sometime after 1889 and displays the crimson lake livery with elaborate ‘London lining’ – absolutely gorgeous to look at, but a challenge for my Laurie Griffin kit.

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