Quirky Queries


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 world of Basilica Fields is more than a railway…  Basilica Fields includes and represents a part of the East End of London across a broad spectrum of geography, commerce, life…  a window into a world that is beyond memory.   Just the other day, probably sometime next week, a discussion took place about the interior of the late 19th century hovels which spread across the East End like jam on butter….  smeared onto the face of the world.  Neither of the authors could recall much knowledge of how the rooms were arranged or the approximate sizes of the buildings which were “home” (or “Des Res”) to thousands of those who spent most if not all of their lives in the dismal sprawl of this part of London.

So why were we discussing such a subject…. and how does that discussion relate to the Quirky corner of Basilica Fields?

The sketches of the The Rookery and of Angel Yard depict row upon row upon row of dreary houses, many of those houses are not much better than slums and soon to be swept away.  Those rows occupy a significant area of the proposed scenes and having dimensions of a representative, typical, building will be of great value when setting out the miniature real estate.

In best Quirky tradition this post offers an opportunity for readers to help with some questions and thoughts.  What might have been the size of a terraced house, for a labourer, in the East End?  How many rooms downstairs and upstairs?  What would be the size of the yard and how big might be the requisite out-house?

Photos, drawings, pointers…  what do you have that can help us in this quest?

regards, Graham

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.

Ref:- The Permanent Way of the Great Western Railway for Gun Street depot (part 2)

Ref:- Quirky Answers – GWR PW Chairs

Many years ago I was asked to collect a “package” for a fellow S7 modeller…   he had won an E-bay auction and the buyer had requested collection for the “package” weighed around 90-100 lbs..  When my friend called to collect his “purchase” I was shown what I had collected –  two cast iron rail chairs.  One of the chairs was from the L&NWR and has no relevance to this journal.  The second chair was from the Great Western Railway and my friend suggested that I might like to retain the item and that is how I came to be the custodian of a (very) small part of GWR history.

I  have tripped / fallen over the GWR chair so many times in the last few years without giving any thought as to the part which it might play in the  alternative world of Basilica Fields…  and ‘Quirky Queries’ owes its inclusion in this journal to yet another encounter between my toes and that immovable object.  Some weeks after the Permanent Way of the Great Western Railway for Gun Street depot (part 1) was written I came across the chair again and this time the lettering on the base attracted my attention.  There are several collections of railway chairs at different “heritage / preservation” centres and most of those chairs have raised letters / numbers on the top surface of the base.  In general, the letters /numbers give information about the relevant railway company, where and when the chair was cast plus an indication of the chair type (for example:- plain line chair, switch chair, crossing chair… ).  However, this chair does not conform to the norm for the only markings on the chair are “GWR” and “86”, markings which appear to have been recessed into the casting.

GWR rail chair - top view

GWR chair - three quarter view

GWR rail chair - side view

Now it is possible that the chair dates from a time when the “normal” expected details were not included on the casting.   However, the general size and shape of this chair suggests that it pre-dates the style of chair shown in the drawings of the Permanent Way of the Great Western Railway for Gun Street depot (page 2).

So, do the photos show a rail chair for the 86lbs per yard rail which was instroduced in 1882?

What do you think?

regards, Graham

[further information on this type of chair has been found and the topic is now continuing as a Quirky Answer ]

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