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wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Trying to think of somewhere romantic to take his girlfriend on Saint Valentine’s Day three years ago, Ajit Chambers hit upon the idea of opening up a disused underground station as a night club and restaurant.

Three years later his plan is edging closer to reality. Mr Chambers has won the commitment of Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Recently 60 MPs went on a visit to Old Brompton Road station which closed in 1934.

The station is owned by the Ministry of Defence and is one of 26 disused stations that could be converted.

Ajit plans to open Old Brompton Road in time for the Olympics.

Next on the list is Aldwych in the heart of London’s theatre land.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Work started this month on repairing the collapsed embankment, known as ‘Chicken Curve’ just north of Winchcombe on the volunteer-run Gloucester and Warwickshire Steam Railway.

The embankment collapsed in January 2011 and severed the railway in two. Since the collapse started the embankment has continued to move.

The £670,000 project involves stabilising the embankment. The company needs another £170,000 to complete the work and re-connect the separated parts of the railway.

The work will involve digging out a substantial part of the failed earthworks and rebuilding with new material.

Other parts of the embankment will be stabilised using high-tech solutions such as ‘soil nails’ which extend through the embankment into the ground beneath, holding the embankment in place. The project also includes substantial drainage works.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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VOLUNTEERS are being sought for two West Somerset Railway events in the summer.

Help is needed for setting up and running the Day Out with Thomas on July 7 and 8 and the Steam Rally in early August.

There is a recruitment and open day for volunteers on April 22.

For more information, contact Mel Hillman via or 01823-433856.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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With its world famous collection, York’s National Railway Museum (NRM) is truly a Mecca for railways enthusiasts. Impressive though its locomotives are, the museum’s small exhibits can be equally worthy of the visitor’s interest. This is certainly true of the eight cases forming the NRM’s “Talking about Trains” exhibition celebrating the birth of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers (ILocoE) in 1911. In 1969, it amalgamated with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) to become the IMechE’s Railway Division.

The exhibition was opened on 17 January by Steve Davies, Director of the NRM, and Bill Reeve, Chairman of the IMechE’s Railway Division. Bill was glad to see today’s Railway Division continuing the traditions which were started a hundred years ago; to promote railway engineering excellence and give today’s engineers the opportunity to develop their skills. Although technology changes, the basic engineering challenges remain and he was confident that today’s railway engineers could match the achievements of their predecessors.

In his address, Steve acknowledged the engineers contribution, with Mallard’s 126 mph steam speed record in 1938 being a good example. The NRM is to celebrate next year’s 75th anniversary when two preserved A4 locomotives are to be shipped from North America to join the UK’s four preserved A4s and the NRM’s Mallard. These celebrations, together with NRM’s Railfest in June will be a treat for anyone interested in steam locomotive traction. He encouraged those wanting further information to consult the museum’s website

Eight months in the planning, the exhibition is open until 15th April and includes exhibits from the Museum’s collection and the IMechE’s Library. These provide a wealth of information about the history of the Institution, its Engineers, the railway industry and today’s Railway Division.

The Institution of Locomotive Engineers

At the end of the nineteenth century, there was little information available to help those who wanted to know more about railway rolling stock, so self improvement groups were started at major railway centres. In 1909, the Stephenson Locomotive Society was formed to cater for both enthusiasts and professionals. Feeling that this did not adequately address technical issues, George Frank Burtt of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway led a breakaway group of London-based railway companies to form a new society, the Junior Institution of Locomotive Engineers, which first met on 4 February 1911. With senior engineers joining, the prefix Junior was dropped. By 1911, the ILocoE had a membership of 52.

At first costs were minimal with meetings held in company offices, but with increasing activity a Finance Committee was set up. In 1915 the Institution had 178 members and was incorporated as an Association Not for Profit with the principle objective being “The advancement of the science and practice of Locomotive Engineering by enquiry, experiment or other means; the diffusion of knowledge regarding Locomotive Engineering by means of lectures, publications, exchange of information and otherwise; the improvement of the status of the Locomotive Engineer”.

Membership and activities rapidly expanded with the first regional centres being established in Leeds (1918), Manchester (1919) and Glasgow (1920). By 1921, membership was 1120 and a Library was founded. Presentation and discussion of papers at each of these centres was an important activity. From 1915 these were published in the ILocoE’s journal which reported the discussions verbatim. Together with a full programme of UK and overseas visits and social events such as the annual luncheon, the Institution was clearly meeting its objective.

Six of the Institution’s Presidents (Henry Fowler, Edwin Kitson Clark, Nigel Gresley, William Stanier, Oliver Bulleid and Roland Bond) also served as IMechE Presidents, a reflection of the close links between the two Institutions. It was first suggested that the two Institutions should merge in the 1920s but agreement could not be reached on a number of issues. By the 1960s it was becoming clear that the ILocoE could not continue as an independent body and so, in 1969, the two Institutions amalgamated with the ILocoE becoming the IMechE’s Railway Division.

International Affairs

From the start the ILocoE had an interest in overseas practice and developed international connections. The first paper presented to the Institution on 27 May 1911 was “French Locomotive Practice”, and later that year there were visits to Belgium, Austria and Germany. In 1920, the first overseas centre was established in Buenos Aires. Around this time ILocoE representatives were appointed in India, Nigeria, South Africa and China. Further overseas Centres were established in Calcutta (1930) and Western Australia (1932).

A visit to Germany in 1936 took place three weeks after the Reichsbahn’s 4-6-4 steam locomotive 05.002 had achieved a 124.5 mph speed record. This visit included a trip hauled by this locomotive at up to 118 mph. Steve Davies considers that this visit arguably led to Mallard’s 126mph record two years later beating its German rival by 1.5 mph, truly a close run thing! To modern eyes the swastikas in exhibits from this visit appear sinister. However, despite the growing divide between Britain and Germany, the engineers had a close relationship. One exhibit is the paper presented to the Institution in 1935 “High Speed and the Steam Locomotive” by Richard Wagner, the Reichsbahn’s Chief Mechanical Engineer. German engineers also joined the ILocoE’s 1938 summer meeting in Scotland.

The IMechE Railway Division has continued the tradition of overseas visits. With the globalisation of the rail industry in more recent times, it has arranged visits well beyond Europe to Singapore, Malaysia, USA, Japan and China.

All Sides of Industry

The Institution provided an important forum between Britain’s manufacturing industry and engineers running Britain’s railways. Presidential addresses showing the value of this forum include those by Richard Maunsell (1916) and William Stanier (1938) who both highlighted maintenance problems from poor design. Maunsell’s strong views are reflected in his paper’s conclusion “the engineer instinctively looks for the prominence of details which he knows should be accessible and he rightly regards as a monstrosity a machine which is lacking in this respect”.

In 1921 the Institution elected its first President from the locomotive manufacturing industry, Lt-Col Kitson Clark of Kitson and Co. Presidents followed from Vulcan Foundry, Beyer Peacock, Hunslet, English Electric and the North British Locomotive Company. This once strong industry provided the Institution with a great deal of support. Unfortunately, its decline resulted in a significant loss of advertising in the Journal, one of the reasons why the ILocoE was unable to exist as an independent Institution.

A long tradition of meetings with railway infrastructure engineers dates back to the first joint meeting held with the Permanent Way Institution in 1928, when Harold Holcroft presented his paper “Some points of common interest in Rolling Stock & Permanent Way”. In 1949 the first meeting with the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers was held when famous author Oswald S Nock, a member of both Institutions, presented his paper “The relationship between Signalling and Brake Power in the Handling of Modern Traffic”.

Testing Testing

With the development of the modern steam locomotive, testing became increasingly important to perfect designs. Although France, Germany and America had static locomotive testing plants in the 1930s there were none in the UK. Hence testing required special test trains with dynamometer cars, sometimes with test staff accommodated in wooden testing stations on a locomotive’s front buffer beam. Gresley devoted his 1928 Presidential address to a plea for a static locomotive plant to be part of Britain’s National Physical Laboratory, which then had expensive facilities for perfecting designs of ships and aeroplanes. Such was Gresley’s belief in static testing facilities that, in 1934, he arranged for his prototype P2 2-8-2 locomotive to be tested at the French test plant in Vitry-sur-Seine near Paris.

Construction of a testing plant at Rugby started in the late 30s. One exhibit is a progress report showing construction to be well advanced by July 1939. Unfortunately, the war delayed completion until 1948, 12 years before production of the UK’s last steam locomotive. Although this limited the plant’s contribution to UK steam locomotive design, it was a useful facility as demonstrated by one exhibit, a 1953 test report on the efficiency of an exhaust steam injector with two types of coal. As this test required 9120 miles of static running it may not have been possible without this static plant.

Changing Times

The ILocoE, and subsequently the Railway Division, have had to respond to the many organisational, industrial and technical changes faced by Britain’s railways. In 1948, nationalisation brought about a common locomotive maintenance practice throughout British Railways. President Lt-Col Harold Rudgard’s address “Organising & Carrying Out of Examinations at Running Sheds in Relationship to Locomotive Performance and Availability” outlined LMS practice which was soon adopted throughout British Railways of which an exhibit of an X Exam card provides an example.

The 1950s onwards were a challenging time with diesel and electric motive power replacing steam, the introduction of specialised rolling stock and the manufacturing industry’s decline. One exhibit is the programme for the Institution’s visit to Brush at Loughborough in 1965 showing class 47 locomotive construction. The ILocoE provided support as engineers adapted to these changes and, in 1957, widened its scope to include carriage and wagon engineering. With the new motorway network, railway engineers had to combat increased competition from the car. Various exhibits illustrate how the development of the High Speed Train met this challenge. The spirit of this time is exemplified by another exhibit, Bruce Sephton’s 1986 Chairman’s address to the IMechE Railway Division entitled “Railways Do or Die?”.

Today’s Railway Division

Today the Railway Division has a membership of 4,226 and runs an extensive programme, including UK and overseas visits with lectures and seminars at HQ and its six Regional Centres (Midlands, South East, South West, North West, Scottish and North East). It also has a thriving young members section with a prize awarded for the best paper. The Division’s Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit attracts research papers from around the world although it contains little that is presented at Railway Division meetings. Instead webcasts of key presentations are available from the “Playitback” page on the IMechE website. This, no doubt, is a reflection of the internet age and perhaps is the only significant departure from ILocoE traditions.

In this way, the Division continues to act as a learned society promoting best practice in railway engineering, including new rolling stock, international standards and research and development. Its programme encourages the development of today’s engineers, as do its training workshops and prizes awarded for papers and innovations. The Division’s popularity is such that its Annual Luncheon is held in London’s only hotel that can provide over a 1000 lunches. Bill Reeve’s confidence in the Railway Division’s success is therefore well justified. The “Talking About Trains” exhibition contains much to explain this success and is a must for anyone with an interest in railway engineering.

Much of this article was based on a booklet “One Hundred Years of Locomotive and Rolling Stock Engineering” compiled by past Chairman Allan Baker, copies of which are available from the IMechE. Further information is available from the Railway Devision’s website.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Museum of the Great Western Railway, called STEAM, is putting on an exhibition devoted to royal rail travel.

‘The Royal Road’ exhibition shows the original clock from Queen Victoria’s Royal Waiting Room at Windsor Station and original fittings from Queen Victoria’s Royal Saloon, as well as documents, notices and artworks relating to royal travel.

The original notes of Queen Elizabeth II to the Royal Train inspector are among the selection of royal pieces.

Says Felicity Jones, Curator at STEAM, ‘Queen Victoria’s first journey on a train of any kind was on the Great Western Railway line, from Slough to Paddington in 1842. It is fascinating to think that STEAM has links with Queen Victoria’s first rail experience.

‘As well as the many royal items on display, our new exhibition tracks royal rail journeys and also royal visits to railway stations. These include those made to Swindon Works by King George V and Queen Mary in 1924 and by Princess Elizabeth in 1950.’
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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The station master’s house at Frodsham in Cheshire is to be restored following agreement with the local council.

The Grade II listed building dates back to 1850. Inside all the rotten woodwork will be removed and the flooring renewed.

The roof will be renewed and the original Welsh slates relaid. The work will be done to match the Victorian original. Brickwork will be repointed using a lime based mortar.

External doors and windows will be renewed on a like-for-like basis to match the Victorian originals using materials agreed with the local conservation officer.

Work on the £400,000 project is expected to be finished by the end of May and will have no effect on the running of train services from the station. Network Rail then wants to let the building for use as a restaurant, studio or offices.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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A HERITAGE railway line and visitor centre is planned to boost tourism in the East Riding.

Yorkshire Wolds Railway wants to reinstate a mile of track on the old Malton to Driffield line so people can ride on old steam trains.


  1. TOURISM HOPE: Members of the Yorkshire Wolds Railway group discuss plans at the site. Picture: Michael Hopps

It has funding to kick-start the project on land next to the B1248 near Wetwang, close to the site of the old Sledmere and Fimber station.

Now, a planning application has been submitted to East Riding Council.

Peter Dymock, chairman of The Yorkshire Wolds Railway, said: "This is an exciting step forward in our plans to reinstate part of the former Malton to Driffield line.

"Heritage railways are popular tourist attractions around the country, making a contribution to their local economies, and we hope our project will play a similar role for East Yorkshire."

The visitor centre plan has already attracted £40,000 of European funding.

The Railway is well on the way to achieving match funding for that money to meet the estimated £80,000 cost.

That is the first stage and the new length of track will follow when more money is available.

A spokesman for the project said: "The funding we have is just for the visitor centre, the mile of track will be stage two but it's all in the planning application, the total will be about £150,000.

"In the long run, we'd like to open as much track as we can. But that would mean crossing roads and there is also a disused tunnel in the way."

Heritage railways pull in visitors across the UK. Once it is up and running, the Wolds line intends to match that success by buying a locomotive of its own.

Failing that, it hopes to borrow locomotives from established heritage lines or museums.

Public consultation on the planned scheme has so far resulted in no objections.

The application is likely to be considered by councillors in April and, if approved, the centre should be built by this time next year.

It will provide an addition to the Wolds' rich tourism offering, which last year saw increasing visitor numbers.

Mr Dymock said: "The local roads are well used by people heading to places like York, Scarborough, Eden Camp and the North Yorkshire Moors. If our project can persuade some of those people to spend a little more time in the Wolds then that can only be of benefit to local businesses and tourist attractions."

Yorkshire Wolds Railway also wants to attract new members.

The Railway's annual general meeting takes place tonight at Driffield Community Centre from 7.30pm.

Visit http://www.yorkshirewolds or call 01377 338053 for more information on the group.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
The Channel Tunnel is to be featured on a postage stamp in Britain.

Issued by the Royal Mail the stamp forms part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The special commemorative Channel Tunnel stamp has a face value of £1.00 and celebrates the historic linking of our two nations in May 1994 when the Channel Tunnel first began operations.

Says Jacques Gounon, CEO, Eurotunnel, ‘It is a great honour for us to see the Channel Tunnel on a British stamp. This is recognition of the magnificent feat of engineering that was the building of the Channel Tunnel and of the enormous impact the Tunnel has had on travel and trade for the United Kingdom over the past 18 years.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Flying Scotsman to carry Olympic torch

Published: March 8, 2012

YORK, England – The Olympic Games are coming to London this summer, with the Olympic flame making its way around the United Kingdom before the games open on July 27. On June 20, the famous “Flying Scotsman” steam locomotive, presently under restoration, will pull a train carrying the torch from York to Thirsk.

The 4-6-2 was built in 1923 for the London & North Eastern Railway and was used to pull long distance express trains. On Nov. 30, 1934 pulling a light test train, it became the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at 100 mph.

Now owned by the National Railway Museum at York, the Class A3 Pacific is currently in the final stages of a $3.4 million overhaul at a shop in Bury. Its first team tests are expected to take place on the East Lancashire Railway in the last two weeks of May. The engine’s loaded main line test run is expected to take place between Bury and York on May 31.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Two A4 class steam locomotives are returning to Britain to take part in celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of Mallard’s world record breaking 126mph run down Stoke Bank on 3 July 1938.

The National Railway Museum has reached a formal agreement to temporarily repatriate A4s, 60008 Dwight D Eisenhower, from Wisconsin, and 60010 Dominion of Canada, from Montreal, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of sister locomotive Mallard’s 1938 record breaking speed run.

The survival of 60008 owes much to the tenacity of the then chairman of the National Railroad Museum’s board, Harold Fuller.

Learning that there was a steam loco named after President Eisenhower, Fuller decided to add it to the museum’s collection.

When the A4 was withdrawn in 1963 British Rail agreed to donate it to the museum along with two LNER carriages.

Fellow A4 60010 was also donated by British Rail and resides in the Canadian Railway Museum. Mallard, with driver Joseph Duddington at the regulator and Thomas Bray on the shovel, reached 126 mph near Little Bytham on 3 July 1938.

Such was the high esteem that driver Duddington was held, that when he retired in 1944 not only was it covered by a Pathe film team, but the LNER ensured that his last turn was on Mallard.

Both 60008 and 60010 are expected to arrive this autumn. Says Steve Davies, Director of the National Railway Museum, ‘I am delighted that the two museums involved have shared in the National Railway Museum’s vision to make this happen and I have no doubt that what is being planned will be beneficial to all parties.’

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

TOURISM in the Yorkshire Wolds could be given an added boost if plans to create a heritage railway and visitor centre get the green light.


The Yorkshire Wolds Railway has submitted a planning application to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council for a visitor centre and just under a mile of track on the former Malton to Driffield railway.

The proposed visitor centre would be located on the B1248 road near Wetwang, close to the site of the old Sledmere and Fimber station, which is now a picnic area.

Peter Dymock, Chair of The Yorkshire Wolds Railway, said: “This is an exciting step forward in our plans to reinstate part of the former Driffield to Malton line. “Heritage railways are popular tourist attractions around the country, making a significant contribution to their local economies, and we hope that our project will play a similar role for East Yorkshire.

“The local roads are well used by people heading to places like York, Scarborough, Eden Camp and the North Yorkshire Moors, and if our project can persuade some of those people to spend a little more time in the Wolds then that can only be of benefit to local businesses and tourist attractions.”

The plans are open for consultation until March 16, and members of the project have urged local businesses and residents to write to the Council in support of the plans.

If planning permission is granted, a car park and wooden railway platform will be built, enabling visitors to access carriages and vans sited on a short length of track.

These will contain exhibitions about the history of the line and the plans for the future.

The Railway has secured £40,000 of funding from the European Union LEADER fund which has paid for a professional feasibility study and will contribute towards the cost of the visitor centre.

The group have to match that with a further £40,000 and are waiting until planning permission is secured before finalising further funding bids.

If given the go ahead the centre, which is the first phase of the project, could be completed by the end of next March.

The operational track, heading towards Wetwang, will be the second phase and will be built once further funding is secured.

The Yorkshire Wolds Railway Project Group was formed in 2008 - some 50 years after the closure of the Driffield to Malton Railway.

The Project’s Annual General Meeting will take place tonight (March 8) from 7.30pm at Driffield Community Centre. All members are invited and new members are welcome to join on the night.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The Severn Valley Railway is celebrating 150 years in the business. The first train ran between Worcester and Shrewsbury on 1st February 1862.

Says David Postle of the SVR, ‘A lot of the railways have disappeared – there was a big cull in the 1960s – so it is important because not many that were closed have reopened.’

Over 250,000 passengers still use the SVR each year. The line was built between 1858 and 1862, and originally ran for 40 miles between Hartlebury, near Droitwich in Worcestershire and Shrewsbury in Shropshire. The railway now runs between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth.

However, the anniversary was marked by more hard work. Contractors were out in force, just as their Victorian forerunners were 150 years ago, laying and connecting up new 60ft lengths of track.

The race is on to complete the work in the 480-yard long Bewdley Tunnel before the February half term. A major £250,000 civil engineering project will see new drainage channels cut in the tunnel. Track will be replaced and the bed reballasted.

‘We are officially celebrating the 150th anniversary on May 19th and 20th with a brand new event – our first ever Victorian Weekend – which, with the help of ‘Queen Victoria’ herself, and some amazing Victorian steam locomotives from the 1860s and 1870s period which we are bringing in specially.

‘We will create the mood of the Severn Valley Railway just as it was when it first opened in 1862,’ says SVR General Manager Nick Ralls.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Known for his searing indictments of social and economic poverty in working class Victorian Britain, Charles Dickens is less well known but no less respected for his timely intervention in the affairs of the railways, writes Andy Milne.

Dickens was travelling in the forward car of the Boat Train from Folkestone that derailed at Staplehurst in Kent in June 1865. Ten people died and 40 were injured. 42 feet of track had been lifted for repair and the supervisor did not expect the train until much later.

To compound it, the accident happened on a bridge. Most of the train toppled into the river below. All but one of the first class coaches plunged in. Dickens and his party, returning from Paris, were in the surviving carriage. Far from fleeing the scene Charles Dickens descended gamely to the river and helped rescue the injured. He described the scene as unimaginable.

‘The Signalman’

The accident troubled Dickens for the subsequent five years of his life. The short story ‘The Signalman’ remains one of his most evocative. It tells of a railwayman who has a presentiment of death.

An earlier work by Dickens is rather more cheerful in its dealings with railways. Dickens witnessed at first hand the unfolding of the railway age – he was born in 1812. In Dombey and Son, published in installments and completed in 1848, he describes the hive of activity surrounding the building of the new railway as an earthquake. The scene is set in Camden Town.

‘The first shock of a great earthquake had, just at that period, rent the whole neighbourhood to its centre. Traces of its course were visible on every side. Houses were knocked down; streets broken through and stopped; deep pits and trenches dug in the ground; enormous heaps of earth and clay thrown up; buildings that were undermined and shaking, propped by great beams of wood.

‘Here, a chaos of carts, overthrown and jumbled together, lay topsy-turvy at the bottom of a steep unnatural hill. … Everywhere were bridges that led nowhere; thoroughfares that were wholly impassable. In short, the yet unfinished and unopened Railroad was in progress…’

Dombey and Son

Dickens’ wife Catherine lived in Gloucester Crescent in Camden hard by what is now the West Coast Main Line. She had separated from Charles but he would have visited her there. Later in Dombey and Son he talks of the changes railways wrought to the landscape – long before the irritants of town and country planning.

‘Staggs’s Gardens…had vanished from the earth. Where the old rotten summer-houses once had stood, palaces now reared their heads, and granite columns of gigantic girth opened a vista to the railway world beyond.

‘The miserable waste ground, where the refuse-matter had been heaped of yore, was swallowed up and gone; and in its frowsy stead were tiers of warehouses, crammed with rich goods and costly merchandise. The old by-streets now swarmed with passengers and vehicles of every kind. The new streets that had stopped disheartened in the mud and wagon-ruts, formed towns within themselves, originating wholesome comforts.’

Powerful and prosperous relation

He writes of traders and local people forsaking their initial reservations about railways and joining in the commerce and opportunities to be had. ‘As to the neighbourhood which had hesitated to acknowledge the railroad in its straggling days, that had grown wise and penitent, as any Christian might in such a case, and now boasted of its powerful and prosperous relation.

‘There were railway patterns in its drapers’ shops, and railway journals in the windows of its newsmen. There were railway hotels, office-houses, lodging-houses, boarding-houses; railway plans, maps, views, wrappers, bottles, sandwich-boxes, and timetables; railway hackney-coach and cabstands; railway omnibuses, railway streets and buildings, railway hangers-on and parasites, and flatterers out of all calculation. There was even railway time observed in clocks, as if the sun itself had given in.’

‘Even the local chimney sweep has got in on the action securing a contract with the railway company. He, the sweep, ‘Now lived in a stuccoed house three stories high, and gave himself out, with golden flourishes upon a varnished board, as contractor for the cleansing of railway chimneys by machinery.

‘To and from the heart of this great change, all day and night, throbbing currents rushed and returned incessantly like its life’s blood.’

Urgency and power

In his prose Dickens manages to capture the urgency and power of the steam railway age. ‘Night and day the conquering engines rumbled at their distant work, or, advancing smoothly to their journey’s end, and gliding like tame dragons into the allotted corners grooved out to the inch for their reception, stood bubbling and trembling there, making the walls quake, as if they were dilating with the secret knowledge of great powers yet unsuspected in them, and strong purposes not yet achieved.’

A friend of the railways

Charles Dickens remains a powerful writer but he should also be remembered as a friend of the railways. At Staplehurst he filled his top hat with water and produced a flask of brandy to comfort the injured and the dying. He watched a man die, pinned under the train. He gave a sip of brandy to a lady who subsequently died. Dickens stayed at this work for three hours. Eventually railway staff and local militia arrived to help. The site was sealed.

Walking away Dickens suddenly remembered he had left the manuscript of his latest novel in the carriage. Despite the risk, he scrambled back onto the bridge and climbed into the carriage to retrieve it. The book would later be published under the title, ‘Our Mutual Friend.’

The courage and help Dickens rendered rail staff and passengers on the Boat Train that day should never be forgotten. Charles Dickens remains a mutual friend indeed.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The original architectural drawings of the Forth Bridge, Paddington station and other great railway structures have been published for the first time on a new Network Rail virtual archive.

Some of the drawings carry Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s signature. Visitors to the site can chart the history of the railway’s most significant structures and stations including the Forth Bridge, the Tay Bridge, Box Tunnel, and many main line stations.

The archive holds records by most famous railway engineers including Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Robert Stephenson, Joseph Locke and William Henry Barlow. The website celebrates the heritage of today’s railway infrastructure and provides public access to view a special selection of the Network Rail archive, which holds over five million records.

Says Network Rail’s archivist Vicky Stretch, ‘The history of the railway is fascinating with some of the oldest records dating back to the 1680s and Charing Cross station with Sir Christopher Wren’s signature. The drawings and documents we hold are an absorbing window on understanding the incredibly detailed and beautiful architectural work carried out by some of the world’s greatest engineers, and are still important for engineers working today.

‘We can’t yet showcase anywhere near the five million records we hold but we’ll publish new images and documents all the time and through the ‘ask the archivist’ and blog sections we can share more. We hope this will be a great resource for enthusiasts, historians, architects and students alike.’

The oldest records Network Rail holds are from the deeds collection. This collection charts the history of all the land the railway is built on. A set of deeds from 1684 relating to the land Charing Cross is now built on, bears the signature of Sir Christopher Wren. Land he once owned was sold to the railway in the 19th century.


Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

An Update on Preserved Railways’ Expansion Plans, Articles for Sale and Disposals

Published 13th March 2012

Permission Granted for Glyn Valley Tramway Revival

THE Glyn Valley Tramway Trust has been granted planning permission to rebuild a section of the long-closed, but never forgotten, Glyn Valley Tramway. The permission granted by Wrexham Council on February 6 covers a mile of 2ft 6in gauge line from Chirk station following the route of the B4500 Chirk to Glyn Ceiriog road to Pontfaen station, north of Chirk Fisheries.

Chirk’s GVT station (adjacent to Chirk’s national network station) will be reconstructed on the original site along with stock storage building, plus a small building at Pontfaen. Work will start almost immediately with the first stage projected for completion by autumn 2014.

The GVT opened as a horse-worked tramway in 1873 to link quarries at Glyn Ceiriog to the canal south of Chirk six miles away. On conversion to steam operation in 1888 it was re-routed through Chirk Castle estate to reach the GWR station at Chirk. Mineral lines extended beyond Glyn Ceiriog to other quarries. GVT passenger trains ceased in 1932 and the line closed in 1935.

The GVT is widely remembered with great affection, but revival has proven rather controversial. The trust has pursued this project, based on 2ft 6in gauge, with the idea of making comparatively rapid progress by utilising equipment available following the closure of ex-military networks which used this gauge.

A separate organisation, The New Glyn Valley Tramway & Industrial Heritage Trust (formerly the Glyn Valley Tramway Group) is dedicated to replicating the GVT’s original, almost-unique, 2ft 4.5in gauge and is progressing a different project centred on Glyn Ceiriog loco shed.

Welshpool Effort to Make Resita a Really Useful Engine

Winter work at the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway has focused on a major effort to get its Resita 0-8-0T No. 764.425 (WLLR No. 19) into traffic for this season – and keep it in traffic.

The locomotive has not enjoyed the happiest of times since it arrived at the WLLR in June 2007 after being overhauled in Romania. The leading axle and the driver’s side coupling rod broke on August 31 2008, it returned to action for the WLLR’s September 2009 gala but soon after leaking tubes sidelined it until the start of the 2010 season, it broke the rear driver’s side coupling rod on August 4 2010, returned to appear in the September 2010 gala but was out of action again mid-event when a broken stay was discovered, hence the latest period in the workshops.

Since being stopped on September 5 2010, around 300 firebox stays have been replaced, the driver's side cylinder has been removed on discovering it was out of alignment with the motion (it is being re-fitted correctly, with the motion and bearings rebuilt accordingly) and the Klein-Lindner ‘articulated’ rear axle has been removed for attention to the bearings. The leading axle assembly has also received attention as has the regulator linkage. A new ashpan has been made and a new cab has also been produced to both increase headroom and produce a stiffer structure.

Downpatrick Double Track Project

The Downpatrick & County Down Railway is to double the track out of Downpatrick Station, thereby separating the railway’s north and south lines. The project is being undertaken in conjunction with installing track into the new HLF-backed ‘Carriage Viewing Gallery’ and Downpatrick’s new signalling layout. Long term, the new arrangement will make it easier to operate two trains when the Ballydugan or Racecourse line extensions are opened

The revised layout will be implemented in stages, periodic main line severances being worked around operating requirements. The project should be finally completed in 2013.

Avonside 0-6-0ST Scrapped at Elsecar

The Elsecar Heritage Railway has courted controversy by scrapping Avonside 0-6-0ST 1945/1926, the frames and boiler having been sold “for recycling”. The connecting rods are reportedly sold to a preservationist for use on another restoration project.

The loco last steamed at the Nene Valley Railway in the early 1970s, was displayed at Peterborough NVR station for several years then moved to Wansford. The loco was sold to an NVR volunteer in early 2006 who commenced restoration work, then sold the dismantled loco to Elsecar. The new owners intended to use useful parts in the restoration of its Avonside 0-6-0ST 1917/1923 Earl Fitzwilliam. Income from the ‘recycling’ of 1945/1926 will go towards funding heavy maintenance of Peckett 0-6-0ST Mardy No. 1 (The ‘Mardy Monster’) in preparation for the forthcoming season.

Restoration of Sole Surviving Stephen Lewin Loco Approached Completion

Restoration of Beamish’s 1877-built ex-Seaham Harbour 0-4-0ST No. 18, the last surviving locomotive built by Stephen Lewin, is in the final stages. Hopefully it will appear at Beamish Museum’s April 12-15 Great North Steam Fair.

The locomotive was rebuilt from a well and wing tank into saddle tank form by Seaham Harbour Engine Works in 1936 – there is an argument to the effect that the loco should be regarded as having been built by Seaham Harbour Engine Works, incorporating substantial Lewin parts! The current restoration will present the loco in this form.

Having worked at Seaham Harbour for 93 years, No. 18 was withdrawn in 1969, in very poor condition. Presented to Beamish in 1975, work undertaken two years later to return it to as-built condition was unsuccessful. The current restoration effort got going in 2005 with work allocated to various contractors.

The chassis, boiler, saddle tank, cab, bunkers and fittings are being brought together at Alton Engineering in Derbyshire for final assembly.

Interested in Buying a Carriage – or Two?

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway is offering a number of coaches for sale, some owned by the railway, others privately owned with disposals being handled on behalf of the owners by the G-WR.

Some of the vehicles are in good condition but requiring finishing work (e.g. 1948 Swindon-built GWR Hawksworth Inspection Saloon) while others are in very poor condition. Some of the latter will be stripped and scrapped if not sold in a reasonable time. A two-car Class 108 DMU is also available. For details see

The disposals are a recognition that the vehicles are taking up desperately needed siding space and will never reach the top of the queue for restoration.

The Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway is also handling the sale of vehicles. In this instance, four vintage carriages which were owned by a P&BR member who died last year.

The vehicles, all needing work to bring them back up to passenger carrying standards, are 1896-built GWR clerestory brake first open No. 231 (once used as the Newport Engineers Saloon, preserved in 1967 originally at the South Devon Railway), 1923-built LSWR 'Ironclad' brake third corridor No. 1357 (heavily modified as a staff and tool coach by BR), 1939-built SR post office tender vehicle No. 4958 (substantially intact, originally preserved at the Mid-Hants Railway as a workshop extension) and 1907-built LSWR restaurant composite No. 70 (a clerestory coach until 1931 and converted to an ambulance coach in 1943, seeing service on the Longmoor Military Railway).

The P&BR is also selling a GWR restaurant coach chassis which is surplus to requirements. Details of all the vehicles can be found on

Expressions of interest and offers should be sent to

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed



Renewing century-old

Written by Phil Sowden, Severn Valley Railway

The Severn Valley Railway (SVR) is a standard gauge, heritage railway, predominantly operated by steam locomotives, running between Bridgnorth in Shropshire and Kidderminster in Worcestershire. The railway regularly carries more than 200,000 passengers each year.

SVR operations began in 1970 between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade, a distance of approximately 5 miles. The line was extended in stages to its current length of 16 miles when trains began running into a brand new station constructed by the Severn Valley at Kidderminster, adjacent to the Network Rail station.

Storm damage

During 2007, the railway suffered major storm damage which resulted in closure of the line between Bridgnorth and Bewdley while repairs were carried out.

Damage occurred to the line in more than 40 locations, but at seven of these, significant work was required including the rebuilding of embankments using reinforced earth and soil nailing techniques. The cost of the repairs was £3,700,000 and the railway was fully reopened after nine months.

Since reopening at Easter 2008, the railway has carried out a number of significant infrastructure projects amounting to virtually £1.5 million. These have included:

  • Major work on the main Worcester Road rail-over-road bridge at Kidderminster which involved digging down to expose the arch of the bridge and also included minor work on an adjacent bridge and the replacement of approximately 1/3 mile of life expired bull head track with new, continuously welded, flat bottom rail;

  • Work on the steam locomotive repair facilities at Bridgnorth including the “rescue” of a locomotive wheel drop (capable of taking wheels up to 6’ 9” diameter) from the former Leicester locomotive shed and its restoration and installation at Bridgnorth;

  • The design, build and installation of a traditional-style passenger footbridge spanning three tracks at Highley Station;

  • The installation of a new drainage system through Arley Station which required the removal of all trackwork and formation through the platforms, demolition of both platform faces, provision of new deep drainage followed by the replacement of the formation and trackwork and the rebuilding of new platform faces and surfaces in a traditional pattern;

  • The removal of the double track formation across a ten arch sandstone viaduct at Bewdley followed by the provision of new drainage, a concrete deck with waterproofing and the replacement of all track and formation.

Renewal plans

During the first few weeks of 2012, major work has been carried out in the vicinity of the tunnel between Bewdley and Kidderminster. This work involved the provision of a new drainage system and the replacement of all track through the tunnel, and the renewal of additional track for approximately 600 feet in the Bewdley direction.

The single bore tunnel was constructed by the contractor Charles Dickinson in 1876 under the supervision of GWR engineer Edward Wilson.

The tunnel is just over 478 yards long and passes through a ridge of red sandstone. Various problems occurred following its construction which resulted in it being partially brick lined.

The GWR carried out a full relining of the tunnel between 3 August and 20 October 1910 and an article describing the relining appeared in the Great Western Railway Magazine of December 1910.

Comparatively little engineering work has been carried out on the tunnel structure since then. The drainage through the tunnel has now failed and this, in turn, has led to contamination of the ballast and sleeper failure.

The existing bull head rail through the tunnel has also reached the point at which replacement is necessary. Fortunately the main tunnel structure and brickwork is in good condition.


A specification for the work was produced during summer 2011 and a number of contractors were invited to bid for the work. Tenders were submitted and once these had been evaluated a preferred contractor, Walsh Construction from Worcestershire, was selected to carry out the civil part of the contract.

The Severn Valley Railway in-house permanent way department was responsible for the trackwork aspects of the contract.

Tunnel work was carried out between 3 January and 10 February 2012 when the line was closed to all traffic.

Trains operated during the school half term week of 11 to 19 February after which further Monday to Friday possessions took place to permit completion and tidying of the site. The project has a budget of £250,000, including track replacement, and is scheduled to be completed by 16 March.

Initial work was carried out during November 2011 to install linear soakaways within the cesses at both ends of the tunnel in readiness for the connection to the main tunnel drain.

Each soakaway is 40 metres long with a depth of 1.2 metres, lined with geotextile and including 100mm perforated pipes and 40mm aggregate fill. Some repairs were also made to the brickwork of the tunnel refuges.

It was essential that this work did not jeopardise either the railway’s weekend running or the Santa operation – when about 30,000 passengers travelled on the line during the weekends in December to visit Santa in his Grotto at Arley.

Work in progress

The first stage was the removal of signalling and telecommunication cables through the tunnel, after which track lifting commenced from the Bewdley end of the site.

Once the track had been lifted Walsh Construction removed the ballast and began installation of the new drainage system. This consisted of longitudinal 100mm perforated pipes with rodable inspection pots at 100m centres set 400mm below sleeper level along both sides of the track.

Once the drainage was installed, the Walsh Construction team placed bottom ballast in readiness for the SVR track gang to follow them through the tunnel.

The tunnel has a prevailing gradient of 1 in 100 and was force ventilated during the work using a fan system supplied by Factair Ltd. Background and specific task lighting was also required.

Plant and machinery for carrying out the drainage work was sourced by the main contractor but the SVR utilised its own road rail machines for the track relaying. The nearest road access to the site was approximately 700 metres from the Kidderminster tunnel portal.

The bull head rail and sleepers through the tunnel were removed to the Kidderminster end of the site for temporary storage, sorting and scrapping by the SVR. Flat bottom rail (113lbs) was installed on concrete sleepers throughout the tunnel and for 10 lengths on the Bewdley side (35 panels / 2100 ft in total).

Initially, jointed rail was used in order to facilitate completion of the work for the half-term holidays, but this was subsequently welded during weekday possessions to produce CWR.

The rail was sourced from Network Rail as part of their disposals policy having been cascaded down from the east coast main line. The rail was inspected and ultrasonically tested by the SVR at Whitemoor recycling centre before purchase and delivery to site.

Sleepers were obtained from two primary sources. Ballast was clean 40mm sourced from Clee Hill. Once laid, the track was tamped, finishing at 21:30 on 10 February so as to be ready for operations to resume the following morning.

New concealed signalling and telecommunication cables were installed during the work throughout the length of the work site and these were tested and commissioned prior to the resumption of passenger services on 11 February.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Alan Pegler, savior of England’s Flying Scotsman, dies at 91

Published: March 19, 2012

LONDON – British businessman Alan Pegler, best known for saving England’s famed Flying Scotsman steam locomotive from scrap, died Sunday after a short illness. He was 91.

Pegler purchased the 4-6-2 from British Railways in 1963, had it restored to operating condition, and operated it on special trains around Great Britain. The engine was the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at 100 mph on a test run in November 1934. Pegler organized a promotional tour of the Flying Scotsman to the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The trip was initially a success, but when his backers withdrew their support he went bankrupt and was forced to sell the engine in 1973.

Pegler had earlier had helped persuade British Railways to organize special trains for enthusiasts which utilized preserved steam locomotives. Pegler was president of both the Festiniog Railway Society and the Festiniog Railway Co., a narrow gauge heritage railway in Wales. It was his ability to provide the necessary funds to gain control of the Festiniog Railway in 1954 that made restoration of the railway possible.

He was awarded an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2006 for services to railway heritage.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Alan Pegler, savior of England’s Flying Scotsman, dies at 91

Published: March 19, 2012

LONDON – British businessman Alan Pegler, best known for saving England’s famed Flying Scotsman steam locomotive from scrap, died Sunday after a short illness. He was 91.

Pegler purchased the 4-6-2 from British Railways in 1963, had it restored to operating condition, and operated it on special trains around Great Britain. The engine was the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at 100 mph on a test run in November 1934. Pegler organized a promotional tour of the Flying Scotsman to the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The trip was initially a success, but when his backers withdrew their support he went bankrupt and was forced to sell the engine in 1973.

Pegler had earlier had helped persuade British Railways to organize special trains for enthusiasts which utilized preserved steam locomotives. Pegler was president of both the Festiniog Railway Society and the Festiniog Railway Co., a narrow gauge heritage railway in Wales. It was his ability to provide the necessary funds to gain control of the Festiniog Railway in 1954 that made restoration of the railway possible.

He was awarded an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2006 for services to railway heritage.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
on March 22, 2012 in Europe

Plans for the Olympic torch to be carried from York on 20 June by the veteran steam locomotive Flying Scotsman have had to be cancelled, the UK National Railway Museum announced on 16 March. An extensive $3.4 million overhaul of the loco at Bury near Manchester has been delayed by difficulty in sourcing replacement parts. The engine will still be on display at the National Railway Museum’s Railfest 2012 at York in June as no main-line certification for this is needed.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

One of East Coast’s record-breaking locomotives, 91110, will be named ‘Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’ on 2nd June.

The RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight preserves fully operational Spitfires, Hurricanes and several bombers.

The loco naming will be staged under a fly past at York at the start of the Railfest 2012 celebration organised by the National Railway Museum. Carol Vorderman will conduct the ceremony.

The locomotive will carry a specially-designed livery featuring the planes and insignia of the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (RAF BBMF).

91110 achieved a national speed record for electric trains at Stoke Bank, north of Peterborough, on 17 September 1989, a record which stands to this day.

Says Carol Vorderman, ‘It would be a privilege to be asked to name any train. But to be asked to unveil this particular East Coast locomotive, named ‘Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’, is a deeply moving honour.

‘I’ve been a friend and supporter of the RAF BBMF for a long time, and I’m thrilled to be invited to carry out this important ceremony. It’s firmly in my diary and I am very much looking forward to being part of such a landmark event.’

East Coast’s Director of Communications Paul Emberley said, ‘Our named and liveried locomotive will be an ambassador for the RAF BBMF, and everything it stands for, along the East Coast Main Line between London, Leeds, York and Edinburgh.

‘Bestowing the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight name on this electric locomotive is highly appropriate, and the commemorative plates kindly donated by the National Railway Museum will continue to emphasise the power and prestige of the East Coast route, just as Sir Nigel Gresley’s streamlined locomotive ‘Mallard’ did in the steam age.’

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

"Fab Four" steam gala begins in Great Britain

Published: April 13, 2012

Two A4 4-6-2s are displayed for the "Big Four" event at Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Center in Chesterfield, England. No. 4492 'Bittern' (left) is under steam, while No. 4468 'Mallard' is on display and will not run again.
Photo by Ian Loasby

CHESTERFIELD, England – This weekend the Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Center in Chesterfield is hosting the “Fab Four” steam gala. The event is billed as an “unprecedented meeting of iconic steam locomotives unlikely to be repeated for many years.”

The four major steam locomotives featured at the gathering are: 
Class A1 4-6-2 No. 60163Tornado, the first main line steam locomotive to be built in the United Kingdom for 50 years, and now a star of BBC’s “Top Gear;” 
Class A2 4-6-2 No. 60532 Blue Peter, the last surviving member of its class and star of the BBC children’s TV program of the same name; and
Two Class A4 4-6-2s, No. 4468 Mallard and 4492 Dominion of New Zealand also known as Bittern. The Mallard is the holder of the official world steam speed record.

In addition to the four “star” locomotives, these engines will also be part of the event:

Class V2 2-6-2 No. 60800 Green Arrow 
Class C1 4-4-2 No. 251
Great Central Railway 4-4-0 No. 506 Butler-Henderson
Class N2 0-6-2T No. 1744 
Class J72 0-6-0T No. 69023 Joem
Class J17 0-6-0 No. 8217
Class J94 0-6-0ST Austerity 
Midland Railway half-cab No. 1708
Class Y7 0-4-0T No. 1310 
4-6-0 No. 45110 Black Five
Peckett 0-6-0ST No. 2000
Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST Henry

Several of the locomotives at the gala will pull passenger trains, and will be lined up in the yard or at the engine shed (roundhouse). Barrow Hill is Britain’s only surviving operational roundhouse engine shed.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Former Conservative cabinet minister Michael Portillo is to present a documentary about cuts to the UK railway network for BBC Radio 4.

Portillo will present One Way Ticket: The Beeching Cuts Revisited for Archive on 4 on Saturday at 20:00 BST.

It will examine the cuts to the network recommended by Richard Beeching, chairman of the British Railways Board, in 1965.

Portillo also presents the BBC Two series Great British Railway Journeys.

As part of the Radio 4 programme, Portillo travels along the Settle to Carlisle line, which lost many of its stations during the Beeching era.

He also hears from former transport ministers about the impact Beeching's plans have had on government rail plans and policy over the past five decades.

The programme is being made by independent production company Made in Manchester.

Producer Ashley Byrne said: "Michael loves the railways and his passion for their history and heritage really comes through in this programme."


wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Green Bay locomotive returning to England

Mark Hoffman
A visiting school group makes like a train while passing by a locomotive named for Dwight D. Eisenhower at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay on Wednesday. The locomotive will be lent to a museum in York, England.

Green Bay - The mighty steam engine named after Dwight Eisenhower is about to get its passport stamped again.

Almost half a century ago, the locomotive and coal tender traveled from England via rail and sea to Green Bay, where it has attracted thousands of train fans and World War II history buffs to the National Railroad Museum.

Soon it will head back across the pond for the 75th anniversary celebration of the world speed record for steam locomotives. The record wasn't set by the London and North Eastern Railway A4 locomotive housed in a climate-controlled building in Green Bay. But since there are only six surviving A4 steam engines in the world, the Eisenhower is highly sought after.

The dark green locomotive and tender are attached to two rail cars used by Eisenhower as a mobile command headquarters in England during the planning for the D-Day invasion in 1944.

Aside from the Green Bay museum's A4, there's one at a Montreal museum and four in England.

Officials from Britain's National Railway Museum in York, England, contacted the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay last year to see if the Wisconsinites would part with the historic locomotive for two years.

"It's one of the pieces we love," said Jacqueline Frank, executive director of the Green Bay museum. "We definitely are sad to see it leave, but it's an opportunity for us because it will spur us to change our exhibits and do some preservation projects" while the locomotive and tender are overseas.

It's common for museums to lend artifacts to each other. Most museum pieces don't weigh 122 tons, though. And moving a steam locomotive and tender is not like shipping a Van Gogh.

Since the Green Bay museum's A4 hasn't chugged along tracks in decades, it will be jacked up and moved to the other side of the museum building to train tracks that connect with an old Wisconsin Central Railroad spur. One or two large cranes will place the locomotive on a flatbed rail car - the tender will be moved the same way a day later - and then transported by Canadian National Railway to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where it will be joined by the A4 at the Montreal museum.

Both locomotives and tenders will then travel by sea to England, still on the same flatbed rail cars, where they'll be transported by train to the museum in York. The flatbed cars are lower than American flatbeds because many old rail bridges in England are lower than their counterparts in America, explained Frank.

England's National Railway Museum houses the country's collection of historically significant railway vehicles - either built in Britain or operated on British railways - and is considered one of the premier rail museums in the world.

Transportation costs will be paid by the British museum for the exhibit celebrating the steam engine speed record of 126 mph set in 1938 by an A4 called Mallard. Organizers are discussing using one of the A4s in an attempt to break the old record.

Meanwhile, Eisenhower's staff cars, which are outfitted with a conference room, sleeping cabins and beds adorned with green Army blankets, will remain in Green Bay. When Ike traveled, the cars sported bulletproof plates on the roof and sides.

Visitors to the Green Bay museum have until mid-July to see the A4 locomotive before it leaves. The engine will be gated off for the move, although spectators will be able to see it prepped for the journey. The actual lifting will be done after the museum has closed for the day.

While the locomotive and tender are on their British sojourn, Green Bay museum officials plan to spruce up the two Eisenhower staff cars by painting interiors and exteriors, replacing furniture and installing new interactive features.

The National Railroad Museum gets about 75,000 visitors each year. Eisenhower visited Green Bay for the train's dedication at the museum in 1964.

Though it was named after Eisenhower, the locomotive actually never pulled the supreme allied commander's heavily armored rail cars during World War II. After the war, it continued to be used for passenger service and was dubbed the Dwight D. Eisenhower in honor of his service. In 1959, Harold Fuller, the Green Bay museum's board chairman, asked the British Railway Board if it could be purchased.

The British Railway Board rebuffed attempts to acquire the Eisenhower because it still had many years "of sterling service in front of it," according to museum archives. Two years later, Fuller tried again and, after hundreds of letters and telegrams, the National Railroad Museum managed to buy the locomotive and tender.

It traveled under its own steam to the Southampton docks in England, sailed to New York and then chugged to Green Bay in May 1964. The two staff cars used by Ike followed four years later.

Railway Museum

For more information about Green Bay's National Railroad Museum, go to

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Jonathan Grossman, a professor of English at UCLA, rides a Metro train. His new book, “Charles Dickens’s Networks, Public Transport and the Novel," examines the great English author's views on the Victorian-era revolution in transportation. "Dickens would have been surprised at how long it has taken Los Angeles to build its rail system," Grossman says. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times / May 3, 2012)

May 8, 2012

"Here we are — no, I mean there we were… Flash! The distant shipping in the Thames is gone. Whirr!… Dustheaps, market gardens, and waste grounds. Rattle!...Shock!...Bur-r-r-r! The tunnel…I am… flying for Folkestone…Bang!… Everything is flying." 

-- "A Flight," by Charles Dickens, describing a rail trip from London in the journal "Household Words," 1851


Video paints doomsday scenario for planned Westside subway extension

Panorama: Expo Line's La Cienega/Jefferson station

Video: Metro Expo Line time-lapse video

Editorial: Clear the tracks, Beverly Hills

Review: Lackluster Expo Line reflects Metro's weak grasp of design

Expo Line opens variety of possibilities for riders


Who knew that Charles Dickens, master scribe who brought us Scrooge, Copperfield and tale upon cautionary tale of hard 19th century life, was a transit aficionado with a story to tell traffic-snarled Angelenos about their plight?

I didn't.

Then I met Jonathan Grossman, a UCLA English professor who has spent years studying Dickens' views on the Victorian-era revolution in transportation, from horses to carriages to trains to steamships.

"Dickens was constantly analyzing the relationship between transportation and society," said Grossman, author of the new book "Charles Dickens's Networks, Public Transport and the Novel."

"He tried to reflect back to the people of his day how the revolution they were experiencing was affecting their culture," he said. "If he were alive now, looking at Southern California, it's easy to imagine him doing the same."

Intrigued, I invited Grossman for a light-rail ride. We ended up taking a trip from his thriving suburban hometown of South Pasadena to USC, which like UCLA is one of the region's most important and vibrant institutions. We couldn't have made this trip until last month. Train service has finally come to USC via the Expo Line, which is scheduled to link downtown to Santa Monica by 2016 — 204 years after Dickens' birth.

"Dickens would have been surprised at how long it has taken Los Angeles to build its rail system," the professor said as our Gold Line train eased into Chinatown. "He was so into the power of rail. Amazed by the sense of making you fly without effort. He'd say that creating a network can change the way a place views itself."


In the 1830s, Dickens was an avid rider on what then was a popular form of mass transit — the stagecoaches that play a pivotal role in books like "The Pickwick Papers." He watched trains replace stagecoaches and London's subway system begin.

By 1870, the year Dickens died, London's transit system was arguably better than the one serving Los Angeles today.

That's right: 1870.

L.A. was just a dusty cow town then, but that's no excuse. As the city boomed. we tore out our sprawling streetcar system to make more room for the almighty automobile. It wasn't until the early 1990s that trains began carrying people again from one side of the city to another.

The rail network that's being created — at a frustrating pace by multiple bureaucracies and warring politicians — has real merit. Parts are even fantastic. But taken together, it's a disjointed mess with too many slow trains, too many transfers and not nearly enough service to prime locations.

Let's put it this way: USC has train service now. Wonderful. That subway to UCLA? Don't hold your breath.

It's different in London and has been since Dickens' day.

As Grossman tells it, Dickens heralded the way the working class now traveled with the upper crust. The man known as "The Inimitable" loved the controlled chaos, the way trips outside London that once took days suddenly took a few hours. "The world," Dickens said to a friend, "was so much smaller than we thought. We were all so connected … without knowing it, people supposed to be far apart were so constantly elbowing each other."

Grossman described how, for Londoners in the 1800s, "the transit network created a sense of togetherness, a sense that this is your place, your community."

I didn't get that feeling as I battled last week for a freeway lane change with a maniac, perched in his giant Escalade, tossing me a middle-finger salute as he nearly drove my Civic into a ditch.

But community is exactly what the professor and I felt as we transferred to our third train of the day. We were now on the last leg of our journey to USC, surrounded by school kids and secretaries, lawyers and unemployed accountants, old and young. Surrounded, basically, by L.A.

Grossman noted how we'd been on the rails for just over an hour. A drive under ideal conditions would take half that time. Not good. But then he looked out the train at a street jammed with cars and smiled.

Dickens would have embraced the automobile, the professor said. But he would also have found a way to skewer our belief that as we sit in our cars we're masters of the universe, disconnected Scrooges cut off from the rest of the world, not responsible for anyone but ourselves.

The Inimitable would have plenty of other fodder in the land of the eternal traffic jam. You can imagine him cautioning about ill-designed train tracks dissecting neighborhoods. You can see him hammering L.A.'s bus service for being the nearly exclusive province of the poor. He'd burn a hole in the hides of politicians for paying little more than lip service to the simplest modes of getting around: biking and walking.

In "The Old Curiosity Shop," Little Nell undertakes a fatal walk from London using treacherous paths that she is told were "never made for little feet like yours." Reading that jolted me to think about the young woman who was recently hit by a car in my Silver Lake neighborhood. She died on Rowena Avenue, which has become yet another of our virtual freeways.

Dickens himself almost died in 1865, when a train he was riding on derailed, killing 10.. "No imagination can conceive the ruin of the carriages," Dickens wrote, "or the extraordinary weights under which the people were lying, or the complications into which they were twisted up among iron and wood."

Dickens wouldn't shy from the perils of mass transportation. He'd give us a modern Little Nell and skewer transit apartheid and buses that have become roving billboards. Then he'd remind us that cars are far more dangerous, far less efficient, often far less fun.

"I can see him writing about this sense that we're more than atomized beings, moving about in our cars, alone," Grossman said. "We're a community, there on the transit map, linked together. He'd believe as we build more of a network that can be seen as a whole, this togetherness is a concept people will begin to feel."

People? Does that include maniacs in Escalades?

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

ASHWAUBENON — After a nearly 50-year stay at the National Railroad Museum, a locomotive named for President Dwight D. Eisenhower could be headed temporarily to England.

Museum officials have agreed to loan the World War II-era locomotive to a British museum that promises to give the dark green artifact a facelift and then return it in two years.

During those two years, the British-made locomotive would be part of a celebration related to steam engine history in England.

If details of the exchange can be worked out, the Eisenhower-named engine could be gone from the Green Bay area by the summer.

National Railroad Museum officials said they are willing to loan out the prized artifact partly because their British counterparts have agreed to pay all transportation costs and to invest thousands of dollars more in refurbishing it.

Officials said the exchange also would boost their museum's profile, especially when the restored engine makes returns in 2014 as the only one of its kind in the United States.

"It gives us national visibility, which is good for the museum, which is good for Green Bay," said Kerry Denson, a member of the museum's board of directors.

Founded in 1956, the museum is a privately owned attraction that draws about 75,000 visitors annually. The 33-acre campus includes more than a dozen locomotives of various kinds, as well as other collections, special exhibits and educational programs.

Attached to the Eisenhower steam engine are two railroad cars that were used by Eisenhower himself to travel throughout Europe during World War II, when he was the supreme commander of Allied forces fighting Adolf Hitler.

The cars — which the museum obtained a few years after the locomotive got here in 1964 — will stay behind in Green Bay and get an overhaul during the next two years. They will then be repackaged with the returning steam engine in an upgraded WWII exhibit starting in 2014.

Jacqueline Frank, the museum's executive director, called it a "tradeoff" to lose a significant attraction temporarily, but to establish a valuable relationship with an overseas museum.


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