Widened Lines

Continuing on from my earlier post , I thought it might be an idea to show how the Extended Circle & Widened Lines, and the East London Railway Extension with the new Thames Tunnel all fits into the geography of East London.

If you’ve read the earlier post you will know how the Extended Lines branch off from the Inner Circle just after Bishopsgate (Liverpool Street), and here you can see the Extended Circle and Widened Lines pushing east as far as Bow before heading south towards the river where there was a junction for the New Thames Tunnel at Limehouse. The Extended Circle and Extended Widened Lines finally headed west, past the docks to Mark Lane, while the new tunnel took the line under the Thames and the Surrey Commercial Docks to Deptford Road, where the line rejoined the ELR to New Cross. For clarity I’ve only marked the Basilica Fields stations on the map (both the GER and Metropolitan ones), but there are other stations on the Metropolitan line which I’ll describe later. For the same reason I’ve omitted the goods depots which will be covered in subsequent posts.

As an aside, welcome to new readers. Unique hits almost doubled yesterday, with almost 100 different visitors which I find staggering.

With the imminent opening of Ludgate Hill terminus, and the projected link with the Widened Lines at West Street, by August 1864 it was obvious to the board of the LC&CR that a more powerful class of locomotive than the Second Sondes was needed for the cross-London trains, and following much discussion, Martley’s design for a larger 2-4-0T was put out to tender. Neilson & Co.returned with the lowest price, but following consultation with the Locomotive Superintendent, Neilson & Co. suggested substituting the design for an 0-4-2 well tank, similar to those being supplied by them to Sturrock of the GNR for Widened Lines duties. Sturrock was approached and had no objection to his design being replicated, and so the Chatham was supplied with fourteen of the well tanks. Named after Scottish islands and rivers, the class became known on the Chatham as Scotchmen; they performed their duties well, and remained on Widened Lines turns until the introduction of Kirtley’s A class 0-4-4Ts in the mid-1870s.

Between 1868 and 1871, Patrick Stirling introduced the 126 class 0-4-2WTs replace Sturrock’s tanks on the GNR Widened Lines services. Concurrently, the LC&DR realised the need for more and more powerful locomotives for cross-London trains, and on the advice of Neilson & co., Martley once again approached the Great Northern, and was granted permission to base the new Chatham locos on Stirling’s design. Like the Scotchmen before them, the Large Scotchmen performed well on Widened Lines duties, showing an aptitude for quick acceleration and improved riding qualities at speed over their predecessors. Their Widened Lines duties included sharing the Victoria to Moorgate Street services with the Second Sondes class, as well as services to Wood Green over the Great Northern, to Hendon via the Midland, and City portions of main line trains from Holbourn Viaduct to Herne Hill. At the turn of the century, the class was still employed on the latter, but by now, instead of terminating at Moorgate Street, services from Victoria ran as far as Basilica Fields.

Erin, No.97, was photographed at Longhedge in the early 1890s. The Westinghouse brake was fitted in 1890-1, and iron brake shoes replaced the wooden blocks seen here, from this date. The rounded corners to the lining, just visible under the grime, replaced concave corners from 1892. Both this, and the photo of the Second Sondes shatter Bradley’s assertion in his book that:

Chatham locomotives were among the best groomed and smartest locomotives in the country. Every express passenger engine was thoroughly cleaned daily no matter what the climatic conditions. Many passenger tanks received similar attention…The Locomotive History of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway – D.L. Bradley (RCTS) p.10.

The loco sports the small Neilson works plate, name plate, and a brass ownership plate on the bunker. It has a replacement Kirtley cast chimney, and has been fitted with a rudimentary all-over roof and rear weatherboard.

Designed by Crampton, these were the first six locomotives built for the Company. The ‘Sondes’ (named after one of the Directors), were delivered as 4-4-0STs in 1857, and were complete failures, suffering from a plethora of design and construction flaws. When William Martley became Locomotive Superintendent in 1860, he relegated the class to minor duties until they were unceremoniously shoved up a siding at Faversham and forgotten about until finally, in 1865, he gave in to a persistent Lord Sondes who had been regularly exhorting him to rebuild them at the monthly board meetings.

It is not on record just how much of the original locomotives were salvaged to be incorporated into the rebuilds; the Engine Register only mentions the boilers, but Bradley, in his RCTS book on the History of Chatham locomotives, suggests that ‘rebuild’ was hardly the correct terminology, and the Accountant’s Register names them ‘Second Sondes’ (some tertiary sources label them ‘New Sondes’), which insinuates that very little was reused.

Whatever the truth, the new double-framed 2-4-0Ts were a neat and very attractive class, and more to the point, became very successful on the suburban duties in which they were employed. Their styling was very similar to Martley’s three other 2-4-0T designs, the Rose, Ruby and Aeolus classes, and with the opening of the Metropolitan Extensions, were fitted with condensing apparatus and put into service alongside the Scotchmen, where they spent many years in service on City trains.

Reboilered in the 1870s, the six members of the class were given enclosed cabs and promptly resumed their duties between Victoria and Moorgate Street until the opening of the Extended Widened Lines, when services then terminated at Basilica Fields.

Number 63, formally named Faversham, will represent the class on Basilica Fields, and is seen here at the turn of the 20th Century at Victoria, under SECR ownership, but still wearing the LCDR livery. It was again reboilered in 1907 as SECR No.522, before being withdrawn in September 1909. Not much chance of a kit appearing on the market, so it’s going to be another scratchbuild.

Passenger services from three companies originating south of the Thames will feature on Basilica Fields, viz; the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, the South Eastern Railway, and the London Chatham and Dover Railway. The latter, known as the East Kent Railway until 1859, was empowered under the Metropolitan Extension Act of 1860 to build a line from Beckenham to Herne Hill where a junction took a line north west to Victoria, and another due north towards the then projected Metropolitan Railway at Farringdon Street (then known as Victoria Street). The line to Victoria was complete three years later, and the City line was opened as far as Blackfriars Bridge in June 1864. Within six months the line had crossed the Thames to a temporary station, Ludgate Hill, but the final stretch from there to an end-on junction with the Metropolitan at West Street took considerably longer as it fell foul of inspections by the Board of Trade, and it wasn’t until the beginning of 1866 that all objections were satisfied, and the line opened.

LCDR services from Ludgate Hill to the GNR terminus at Kings Cross and back commenced immediately, and within two days the GNR was itself running trains between the two stations. Eventually the long arm of the LCDR reached into both Middlesex via the GNR and Midland, and Hertfordshire, with services from Victoria or Herne Hill to destinations such as Hatfield, Enfield, Kentish Town, Hendon, and Alexandra Palace.

Key to Basilica Fields, a eastwards spur between Snow Hill and the Great Western Railway’s depot at Smithfield was proposed, to which the BoT objected, due to the safety aspect of the flat crossing between the spur and the outward line from the depot. After much petitioning, the BoT relented, and the spur was eventually sanctioned in 1871, so Moorgate Street became an alternative destination for the Chatham until the Extended Circle was rolled out in the late 1880s, and Basilica Fields became the terminus for Chatham trains.

The RCH Junction diagram from the turn of the century shows the relationship between the Chatham, the Metropolitan and the Widened Lines companies, although as the diagram is dated post-1899, the Chatham line comes under the aegis of the SECR Committee.

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.

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