George Jackson Churchward

Best Known for designing GWR 3440 City of Truro, which held the unofficial record for the first steam locomotive to travel at over 100 miles per hour, British railroad engineer George Jackson Churchward sadly died 19 December 1933. He was Born 31st January 1857, and was Apprenticed in the Newton Abbot works of the South Devon Railway in the GWR’s Swindon Works, and rose from draughtsman through several positions, including Carriage Works Manager, and in 1897 was appointed Chief Assistant to William Dean. After 5 years as Chief Assistant, he succeeded Dean as Locomotive Superintendent. In the 19th and early 20th century, railway companies were fiercely competitive. Speed meant revenue and speed was dependent on engineering. Churchward delivered to the GWR from Swindon a series of class-leading and innovative locomotives. Arguably, from the early 1900s to the 1920s the Great Western’s 2-cylinder and 4-cylinder 4-6-0 designs were substantially superior to any class of locomotive of the other British railway companies. On one occasion, the GWR’s directors confronted Churchward, and demanded to know why the London and North Western Railway were able to build three 4-6-0 locomotives for the price of two of Churchward’s “Stars”. Churchward allegedly gave a terse response: “Because one of mine could pull two of their bloody things backwards!”

Churchward preferred locomotives without trailing wheels, to maximise adhesion on the South Devon banks of Dainton, Rattery and Hemerdon on the West of England mainline to Plymouth, then the Great Western’s most important route. Due to the weight and dimensional restrictions required to pass over all the GWR’s lines, he designed narrow fireboxes, but with good circulation. Combining high boiler pressures with superheating made efficient use of the high calorific-value steam coal from the mines in South Wales. Other refinements included feed-water distribution trays beneath the top-fitted clack boxes to minimize boiler stress and large bearing surfaces to reduce wear. Churchward also made advancements in carriage design. He introduced the GWR’s first steel-roofed coaches and is also credited with introducing to Britain several refinements from American and French steam locomotive practice. Among these were the tapered boiler and the casting of cylinders and saddles together, in halves. His choice of outside cylinders for express locomotives was also not standard in Britain for that time. Many elements of British practice were retained, of course. His locomotives for the most part used British plate frames, and the crew was accommodated in typical British fashion. The selection of a domeless boiler was more common to Britain than to the U.S. In 1922 Churchward retired, and C. B. Collett inherited his legacy of excellent, standardised designs. These designs influenced British locomotive practice to the end of steam. Major classes built by the LMS and even British Railways 50 years later are clearly developments of Churchward’s basic designs. The LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 and the BR standard class 5 are both derived from his Saint class early examples of which date to 1902.

 

The first class of locomotives with which Churchward won success and worldwide recognition was the 4-4-0 ‘City’ class, which soon became one of the most famous class locomotives in the world at the time. One of them, City of Truro, became the first engine in the world to haul a train at 100 miles per hour in 1904 (although unauthenticated). He went on to build the ‘County’ class and the ‘Star’ class. Number 3440 City Of Truro is a Great Western Railway (GWR) 3700 (or ‘City’) Class 4-4-0 locomotive, designed by George Jackson Churchward and built at the GWR Swindon Works in 1903. (It was rebuilt to a limited extent in 1911 and 1915, and renumbered 3717 in 1912). It is one of the contenders for the first steam locomotive to travel in excess of 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h). City of Truro was timed at 8.8 seconds between two quarter-mile posts whilst hauling the “Ocean Mails” special from Plymouth to London Paddington on 9 May 1904. This timing was recorded from the train by Charles Rous-Marten, who wrote for The Railway Magazine and other journals. If exact (Rous-Marten’s stopwatch read in multiples of 1/5 second), this time would correspond to a speed of 102.3 mph (164.6 km/h), while 9 seconds would correspond to exactly 100 mph.Its maximum speed has been the subject of much debate over the years.

Emily Brontë

Best remembered for her classic novel, Wuthering Heights, the English novelist Emily Brontë sadly passed away on 19th December 1848 from tuberculosis . She was Born 30th july 1818 in Thornton, near Bradford in Yorkshire, Emily was the third eldest of the four surviving Brontë siblings and the younger sister of Charlotte Brontë, and published under the pen name Ellis Bell. when Emily was three years old, the older sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Charlotte were sent to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge, an experience later described by Charlotte in Jane Eyre.

When a typhus epidemic swept the school, Emily was removed along with Charlotte and Elizabeth, who sadly died soon after their return home. From then on The three remaining sisters and their brother Patrick Branwell were educated at home by their father and aunt Elizabeth Branwell, their mother’s sister. In their leisure time the children created a number of fantasy worlds, which were featured in stories they wrote and enacted about the imaginary adventures of their toy soldiers along with the Duke of Wellington and his sons, Charles and Arthur Wellesley. When Emily was 13, she and Anne began a story about Gondal, a large island in the North Pacific. Sadly most of their writings on Gondal were not preserved, although Some “diary papers” of Emily’s have survived in which she describes current events in Gondal.

At the age of seventeen, Emily attended the Roe Head girls’ school, where Charlotte was a teacher & stayed three months before returning home. Charlotte and her sisters Emily And Anne intended to open a small school of their own. In September 1838 Emily became a teacher at Law Hill School in Halifax, Unfortunately the stress of the 17-hour work day took it’s toll and she returned home in April 1839 staying at home & teaching Sunday school. In 1842, Emily accompanied Charlotte to Brussels, where they attended a girls’ academy in order to perfect their French and German before opening their school. In 1844, Emily began recopying all the poems she had written neatly into two notebooks & In the autumn of 1845, Charlotte discovered the notebooks and insisted that the poems be published, then Anne revealed she had been writing poems in secret and In 1846, the sisters’ poems were published in one volume as Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell ( these being the pseudonyms they had adopted for publication).

ln 1847, Emily published her novel, Wuthering Heights, and Although it met with mixed reviews and controversy when it first appeared,it is considered a classic of English literature today. The Novel takes place at a Yorkshire manor & centres on the all-encompassing, passionate, but ultimately doomed love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and the peopLe around them.Emily Brontë sadly passed away on 19th December from tuberculosis and is interred in the Church of St. Michael and All Angels family vault, Haworth, West Yorkshire . However the novel Wuthering Heights together with her sister charlotte Brontë’s noval Jane Eyre both represent classic examples of English Literature and both novels have been adapted tor television and film numerous times As Well as musicals, ballets and operas

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The classic novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Was published 19 December 1843. The Novel begins on a “cold, bleak, biting” Christmas Eve exactly seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner Jacob Marley. Scrooge is described as “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!” who has no place in his life for kindness, compassion, charity or benevolence. He hates Christmas, calling it “humbug,” refuses his nephew Fred’s dinner invitation, and rudely turns away two gentlemen who seek a donation from him to provide a Christmas dinner for the Poor. His only “Christmas gift” is allowing his overworked, underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off with pay – which he does only to keep with social custom, Scrooge considering it “a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!”

However returning home that evening, Scrooge is visited by Marley’s ghost, who warns Scrooge to change his ways or he will share the same miserable afterlife as himself. Scrooge is then visited by three additional ghosts, who accompany him to various scenes with the hope of persuading him to mend his miserly ways. The first of the spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past, takes Scrooge to Christmas scenes of his boyhood and youth, which stir the old miser’s gentle and tender side by reminding him of a time when he was more innocent. They also show what made Scrooge the miser that he is, and why he dislikes Christmas so much.

 

The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, beckons “come in man and know me better”. The spirit takes Scrooge to several differing scenes – a joy-filled market of people buying stuff for Christmas dinner, the celebration of Christmas in a miner’s cottage, and a lighthouse. They also visit the family feast of Scrooge’s impoverished clerk Bob Cratchit, introducing his youngest son, Tiny Tim, who is seriously ill but cannot afford treatment due to Scrooge’s unwillingness to pay Cratchit a decent wage. The spirit and the miser also visit Scrooge’s nephew’s party. The spirit also warns Scrooge against the perils of ignorance and want.

The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, scares Scrooge witless with dire visions of the future. These include Tiny Tim’s death as well as scenes related to Scrooge’s own death including a conversation among business associates who will only attend the funeral if lunch is provided. Scrooge’s charwoman Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge’s laundress, and the undertaker steal some of Scrooge’s belongings and sell them to a fence named Old Joe. Scrooge’s own neglected and untended grave is then revealed, which terrifies the old miser into changing his ways.

Following the visits by the three spirits Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning a changed man with joy and love in his heart. He then spends the day with his nephew’s family after anonymously sending a prize turkey to the Cratchit home for Christmas dinner. In fact such is the completeness of his transformation that Scrooge has become a different man overnight and now treats his fellow men with kindness, generosity and compassion, gaining a reputation as a man who embodies the spirit of Christmas. A Christmas Carol has also been adapted for stage, film and television numerous times and remains a firm favourite during Christmas.