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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 9 (December 1, 1938)

Our London Letter — When Winter Comes

page 33

Our London Letter
When Winter Comes.

Clearing the snow from exposed tracks in the North of England.

AmerryChristmas to everyone! At the moment of writing, London Town has yet to taste its first winter snowstorm, but in many corners of Europe snow and ice already have played havoc with railway working and rendered the railwayman's task unenviable in the extreme. Britain is fortunate in escaping from really severe snowstorms, although on some of the exposed tracks in Northern England and Scotland, December can be a very trying month for the railway worker. We are reminded of this fact by the news that the London and North Eastern Railway has just provided for use on its Scottish lines five additional steel snowploughs, and has also converted three existing wooden ploughs to the latest type of steel construction. Actually, the King's Cross authorities now have fifteen steel snow-ploughs available for use in Scotland as well as a number of ploughs ready at a moment's notice to clear exposed tracks in the North of England. An interesting feature of these modern snowploughs is that they are so designed as to throw the snow to the off-side of the line, so that on double-track sections the clearance of either line can be carried out without interference with the opposite track.

One of England's most difficult railway routes under wintry conditions is the Newcastle and Carlisle section of the L. & N.E. system. This is a particularly interesting rail link because of its associations with George Stephenson, the “Father of Railways.” Travelling to-day from Newcastle to Carlisle one may still see on the line-side at Wylam the humble stone cottage where “Geordie” himself was born. Recently there has been celebrated the one-hundredth anniversary of the opening of the “N. & C.” The official trains making the throughout run between Carlisle and Newcastle one hundred years ago occupied just four hours on the 64 1/2 miles run. Unfortunately, on the return trip, several derailments occurred, but early mishaps such as these were speedily overcome, and the Newcastle and Carlisle became one of the most efficient of our early railways. An outstanding figure on the line was Thomas Edmondson, stationmaster at Milton, near Carlisle. Edmondson was the inventor of the card ticket and the ticket dating press, which by degrees came to be employed on railways the world over. In 1862, the Newcastle and Carlisle was acquired by the North Eastern Railway, which in turn was absorbed into the L. & N.E. group.

Celebrating a Golden Jubilee.

In a previous letter, reference was made to the far-famed “Railway Race to Scotland” of exactly half a century ago. By way of celebrating the “Railway Race” golden jubilee, the King's Cross management hit upon the happy idea of operating a special excursion train, from London to Cambridge and back, the rolling-stock employed being an 1888-style “Flying Scotsman” set. The seven six-wheeled coaches, weighing 98 tons, and seating 170 passengers,
Kirkcaldy local train leaving Waverley Station, Edinburgh. L. & N.E.R.

Kirkcaldy local train leaving Waverley Station, Edinburgh. L. & N.E.R.

were hauled by the historic Stirling 8-ft. single locomotive No. 1, of the former Great Northern Company; while at King's Cross, the point of departure, there was given to the scene a picturesque background in the shape of a group of passengers attired in the costumes of half a century ago. Stirling locomotive No. 1, it may be recalled, was withdrawn from service in 1910, and since the Railway Centenary of 1925 has been on exhibition in the York Railway Museum. Built in 1870, the engine weighs 38 tons 9 cwt. The tender weighs 26 tons 10 cwt. The two outside cylinders are of 18 in. diameter by 28 in. stroke. Working pressure is 140 lb. per sq. in., and tractive effort 11,245 lb. So successful did the Cambridge excursion prove, that it has been followed by a tour of the L. & N.E. system, the 1888 train everywhere exciting the greatest interest.

London's First Main Line Railway.

Yet another link with Victorian travel has been afforded by the celebration of the centenary of London's first mainline railway—the London and Birmingham page 34 page 35 system. Actually, the first sections of this vital rail connection were opened in 1837, but it was not until the following year that throughout working began. Robert Stephenson was the London and Birmingham Company's engineer, and a feature of the construction was the enormous amount of excavation undertaken in order to keep gradients down to a minimum. Euston Station, London, to-day possesses numerous relics of the old “L. & B.,” among which may be noted the world-renowned Doric Arch which dominates the approach to the terminus, and the “L. & B.” coat-of-arms on the iron gates at the easterly entrance. The Birmingham terminus of the system was situated at Curzon Street (now a goods station), this terminus, however, giving place to New Street Station, in 1852. For working trains over the London and Birmingham line four-wheeled locomotives, designed by Edward Bury, were principally used. Another worthwhile point is that on July 25th, 1837, there was demonstrated the first application of the electric telegraph to railway working, Wheatstone's apparatus being tried out over a distance of 1 1/2 miles between Euston and Camden Town. The centenary of the London & Birmingham Railway, now part of the L.M. & S. system, was suitably celebrated, one of the features being an exhibition of railway locomotives and rolling-stock, old and new, held at Euston.

The Railways and Sport.

Football, the great winter sport of Britain, is now in full swing, directing attention to the wonderful facilities afforded by the railways for sports of every kind. Principal among these facilities is the running of day and half-day excursions by special trains, which each year carry several millions of supporters to football, cricket and tennis matches, racing and other sports events. Parties of four or more members and officials of sports teams travelling together to participate in matches may obtain tickets based on a single fare for the double journey.
Liverpool and Manchester Railway train, with “Lion” engine in Euston Centenary Celebrations. The “Lion” was built in 1838, and has a wooden boiler-casting, and rubber buffers.

Liverpool and Manchester Railway train, with “Lion” engine in Euston Centenary Celebrations. The “Lion” was built in 1838, and has a wooden boiler-casting, and rubber buffers.

Similar parties on tour have the benefit of tickets at the rate of two-thirds of the ordinary single fare for each stage of the tour. Considerably, reduced fares are also offered for party travel Parties of eight or more adults travelling together in each direction may obtain day tickets at a single fare for the double journey; while parties of not less than thirty, by prior arrangement, are carried from one-and-two-thirds to two-and-a-half miles for a
Thomas Cook, the great excursion pioneer.

Thomas Cook, the great excursion pioneer.

penny. The longer the distance to be travelled, the cheaper the fare per mile Guaranteed day and period excursion arrangements are catered for by special trains when not less than 200 passengers are travelling between the same points. The fares charged in this case vary from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 miles a penny according to distance.

Automatic Train Control.

In recent years increasing attention has been paid by the Home railways to automatic train control, the Great Western Company being well to the fore in this activity. For nearly a quarter of a century the Great Western has steadily been extending its train control system, and very shortly the equipment will embrace 2,852 miles of track, 2,114 signalling locations, and 3,250 locomotives. The Paddington management favour a contact system of control, with a track ramp effecting contact with a shoe fitted under the locomotives. A new installation, now being tried out on the L. & N.E. Edinburgh-Glasgow main-line, employs what is known as the Hudd induction system of control. This system has, over a period of years, given very satisfactory service on the southern branch of the L.M. & S. railway, where 36 route miles of track are covered. Modern highspeed services call for every possible signalling refinement, and it seems likely that the L. & N.E. Company, interested as it is in high-speed running on all its main lines, will by degrees make automatic train control a permanent feature.

A Luxury Holiday Camp.

The Home railways rank among the largest hotel owners in the world, hotel operation proving one of their most profitable side-lines. A new develop-ment is the opening, jointly by the Lm. & S Railway and the travel house of Thos. Cook & Son Ltd., of a luxury holiday camp at Prestatyn, on the North Wales coast. Holiday camps run by various private individuals have sprung up all over Britain recently, and this new vacation idea has captured the public fancy to an enormous degree The Prestatyn camp is to be opened early in the New Year, and the promoters are applying ideas inspired by a close study of the camp movement here and in America. Accommodation will be provided for about 2,000 vacationists, in picturesque chalets having running-water and all up-todate facilities The attractions will include a heated swimming-pool, tennis-courts croquet lawns, bowling greens, and accommodation for table-tennis, dancing and entertainments. There will be a first-class resident dance band.