Posted in steam locomotives, Trains

Severn Valley Railway 50th Anniversary

23 May 2020 sees the 50th anniversary of The Severn Valley Railway heritage line, which reopened on 23 May 1970 . The Severn Valley line Railway was originally built between 1858 and 1862, and linked Hartlebury, near Droitwich Spa, with Shrewsbury, a distance of 40 miles (64 km). Important stations on the line were Stourport-on-Severn, Bewdley and Arley within Worcestershire, and Highley, Hampton Loade, Bridgnorth, Coalport, Ironbridge and Broseley, Buildwas, Cressage and Berrington in Shropshire.

Although the railway was built by the original Severn Valley Railway Company, it was operated from opening on 1 February 1862 by the West Midland Railway which was absorbed into the Great Western Railway on 1 August 1863. In 1878 the GWR opened a link line between Bewdley and Kidderminster. This meant trains could run direct from the Black Country to areas of Shropshire. Most Kidderminster to Bewdley trains continued through the Wyre Forest line (dismantled in the 1960s and now forming part of National Cycle Route 45) to Tenbury Wells or Woofferton. At Buildwas Junction (now the site of Ironbridge Power Station near what is now Telford) Severn Valley trains connected with services from Wellington to Much Wenlock and Craven Arms.

Prior to preservation, the Severn Valley line was never financially successful. Freight traffic, mostly agricultural, and coal traffic from the collieries of Alveley and Highley were the principal sources of revenue. The line was strategically useful in the Second World War as an alternative diversionary route around the West Midlands. After nationalisation in 1948, passenger traffic started to dwindle. Whilst it is generally believed that the line was closed under the Beeching cuts of the 1960s, the Severn Valley Line was, already scheduled for closure prior to the publication of Beeching’s report ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’ on 27 March 1963. British Railways had announced in January 1962 that the Severn Valley line was under review, and the B.T.C. published closure proposal notices on 1 October 1962 in advance of a meeting of the West Midlands Transport Users Consultative Committee which took place at Bridgnorth Town Hall on 8 November 1962? Objections to the proposed closure were unsuccessful and the line was closed to through passenger services on 9 September 1963 and to through freight services on 30 November 1963. Following closure, the track north of Bridgnorth was dismantled. After 1963, coal traffic survived south of Alveley until 1969, while a sparse passenger service continued to link Bewdley with Kidderminster and Hartlebury, until this too ceased in January 1970. Freight traffic between the British Sugar Corporation’s Foley Park factory and Kidderminster continued until 1982. A very small section of the original Severn Valley line continued to carry coal traffic to Ironbridge Power Station until its closure in November 2015. For much of its working life the Severn Valley line was operated by the Great Western Railway and subsequently the Western Region of British Railways.

The Severn Valley Railway Society was formed in July 1965 by a group of members who wished to preserve a section of the line which had closed in 1963. To achieve this, the Severn Valley Railway Company was incorporated in May 1967. Even at that early date, the objective of the company was to ‘preserve, retain and restore the standard-gauge railway extending from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster via Bewdley’. The SVR initially acquired 5½ miles of the line between Bridgnorth and Alveley Colliery from BR at a cost of £25,000. In May 23 1970 a Light Railway Order was granted allowing services to begin between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade. And the Severn Valley Railway began operating as a heritage railway. The end of coal trains from the colliery in 1973 then allowed SVR to acquire a further 8½ miles of the line as far as Foley Park, the purchase price of £74,000 being raised by the floatation of a public company initially under the chairmanship of Sir Gerald Nabarro and Services were extended to Bewdley in May 1974.

Following the end of freight traffic from BSC at Foley Park in 1982, the SVR purchased the final section of the line to Kidderminster at a cost of £75,000. The SVR also rented the former Comberton Hill goods yard at Kidderminster from BR, on which a new station would be built. This was achieved in time for services to Kidderminster to begin on 30 July 1984. Major developments on the SVR since 1984 have included the commissioning of a newly constructed signal box at Kidderminster in 1987, the opening of a new boiler shop at Bridgnorth in 1990, the opening of a new carriage shed at Kidderminster in 2003, the completion of the east wing and canopy of Kidderminster Station in 2006, and the opening of the Engine House Museum at Highley in 2008. 2010 marked the Severn Valley railway’s 40th anniversary since opening in 1970 and the 175th anniversary of the formation of the Great Western Railway. 2015 marked the 50th anniversary since the birth of the Severn Valley Railway Association on 6 July 1965. Special events were staged during both years to mark these anniversaries.

Posted in steam locomotives, Trains, Uncategorized

Talyllyn Railway

Trains began running on the 7.25 miles (11.67 k Talyllyn narrow gauge Talyllyn Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Talyllyn) in Wales for the first time since preservation on 14 May 1951, from Tywyn on the Mid-Wales coast to Nant Gwernol near the village of Abergonolwyn.

The line was originally opened in 1865 to carry slate from the quarries at Bryn Eglwys to Tywyn, and was the first narrow gauge railway in Britain authorised by Act of Parliament to carry passengers using steam haulage.Slate quarrying began in the hills above Tywyn in the 1830s, but although many small quarries and test levels were established, only one major quarry was developed in the region, at Bryn Eglwys, 7 miles (11 km) north east of the town. Underground working began in the early 1840s, and by 1847 the quarry was being worked by local landowner John Pughe. The finished slates were sent by packhorse to the wharf at Pennal, transferred to boats for a river trip to Aberdyfi (Aberdovey), and then finally loaded into seagoing vessels, a complex and expensive transportation arrangement which limited the quarry’s output. In 1861 the outbreak of the American Civil War cut off supplies of cotton to the mills of the north west of England and as a result a number of prosperous mill owners looked for new business opportunities to diversify their interests. One such owner was William McConnel of Lancashire who, in 1859, had purchased a house near Dolgellau, north of Tywyn. In January 1864, McConnel formed the Aberdovey Slate Company, which leased the land including Bryn Eglwys from the landowner, Lewis Morris of Machynlleth.

McConnel set about improving Bryn Eglwys to increase its output. He focused on providing rail transport for the isolated quarry, and in April 1864 he reached agreement with local landowners to purchase the land necessary to build a railway towards Tywyn and the port of Aberdyfi. Construction was well underway by July 1864. The standard gauge Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway was expanding rapidly from its base at Machynlleth, however, and in 1863 had reached Tywyn, so McConnel decided to build his line from the quarry to Tywyn, as the nearest point where slate could be transferred to the standard gauge railway. This was despite the line’s initial isolation from the rest of the system because of difficulties in bridging the estuary of the River Dover( Afon Dyfi) to the south. An Act of Parliament allowing the company to operate passenger trains as a public railway was given Royal Assent on 5 July 1865, and the company appointed James Swinton Spooner as engineer for the construction. By September 1866 construction of the line climbing steadily from Tywyn to the quarry was progressing nicely

However it was discovered that the loading gauge of the line was too small. The internal width of the overbridges was only 9 ft 1 in (277 cm), but the railway’s passenger carriages were 5 ft 3.5 in (161.3 cm) wide, leaving less than 2 ft (61 cm) clearance on either side, less than the minimum required clearance of 2 ft 6 in (76 cm). To alleviate this problem, McConnel made an unusual alteration, and proposed that the doors on one side of each carriage be permanently barred and the track slewed off-centre beneath the bridges to allow adequate clearance at least on the side with doors, which would allow passengers to get out of the carriages if the train stopped underneath a bridge. Consequently all carriages on the Talyllyn have doors on one side only.

Improvements were also made to the railway’s first two steam locomotives, as locomotive No. 1 suffered from excessive “vertical motion” and No. 2 was said to suffer from “horizontal oscillation”. No. 1 was returned to its manufacturer where a set of trailing wheels was added to reduce the rear overhang, and the springs on No. 2 were adjusted and crank pins shortened to reduce oscillation. The first public passenger timetable was issued in December 1866, and the first purpose-built, steam-worked, narrow gauge public railway in Britain opened for service with two locomotives, one carriage and several goods vehicles in use. It was operated under a “one engine in steam” policy to ensure that two trains could not collide Initially the working locomotive was housed in a wooden shed at Ty Dwr on the mineral line above Abergynolwyn station, while the main engineering works at Pendre were constructed. The Pendre works opened on 17 February 1867 and from then on trains began working from Pendre instead of Abergynolwyn. Stations were provided at Pendre and Abergynolwyn. In 1867, the halt at Rhydyronen opened, followed by Brynglas and Dolgoch in 1873. Some time shortly after the opening of the railway a branch to Abergynolwyn village was provided. A steep incline dropped from the mineral line east of Abergynolwyn station to the village below, where a series of tram lines radiated. Unlike the horse-drawn Corris Railway The Talyllyn Railway used steam locomotives from the start, . The original two locomotives, although of entirely different design, were both purchased from Fletcher, Jennings & Co. of Whitehaven in Cumbria and both are still in service, 150 years on.

The Talyllyn’s unusual gauge is thought to have been adopted to match that of the Corris Railway, and the line’s two original steam locomotives were among the earliest locomotives built for such a narrow gauge. No. 1 Talyllyn is an 0-4-2ST (saddle tank) and No. 2 Dolgoch is an 0-4-0WT (well tank). The line carried slate from the quarry to the wharf at Tywyn and general goods along its length. Public passenger trains initially ran between Abergynolwyn, Dolgoch and Pendre stations only; quarrymen were carried from Abergynolwyn to the foot of the Alltwyllt incline in Nant Gwernol gorge. The line served the quarry industry and the local district. By 1880, Bryn Eglwys employed 300 workers and was producing 8,000 long tons (8,100 t) of finished slate per year, all shipped via the railway. Passenger traffic rose from 11,500 passengers carried in 1867 to over 23,000 (roughly equivalent to 40,000 passenger journeys) in 1877. From the 1880s onwards the “Grand Tour” was a popular option with tourists. This used charabancs to link the Talyllyn and Corris railways via Tal-y-llyn Lake and Cadair Idris, returning on Cambrian Railways trains.
The last two decades of the 19th century saw a decline in the demand for slate and many smaller quarries fell on hard times, including Bryn Eglwys, where by 1890 production had halved to 4,000 long tons (4,100 t) a year. In 1896, production at the Penrhyn Quarry in north Wales, one of the largest producers of slate, was stopped due to labour disputes, resulting in a temporary increase in demand at other quarries. However In 1910 McConnell’s lease expired and work began on dismantling Bryn Eglwys quarry’s equipment. The Bryn Eglwys quarry had been the primary employer in the Abergynolwyn district, so its closure caused significant distress. In 1910, local landowner Henry Haydn Jones was elected the Liberal MP for Merioneth. He understood the importance of Bryn Eglwys, and purchased the quarry company for just over £5000. The quarry re-opened in January 1911. The first workings reopened were on the “Broad Vein”, which yielded relatively hard slate that was less popular and therefore difficult to sell. The lack of an available market for this output forced the quarry to switch to extracting softer slate from the “Narrow Vein.

Following the First World War A brief construction boom saw production return to around 4,000 long tons (4,100 t) per year and The 1920s also saw an upsurge in holiday traffic, as Britain recovered from the war and tourism gained in popularity. The Talyllyn saw summer passenger numbers grow significantly and regularly had to supplement its formal passenger stock with slate wagons fitted with planks as seats. An unusual tourist service offered by the railway was to hire a slate wagon, which would be left at Abergynolwyn. At the end of the day the tourists would return to Tywyn in the wagon, powered by gravity. However This service was discontinued in the early 1930s. The lease on Bryn Eglwys expired in 1942, but was extended on an annual basis. Sadly on 26 December 1946, several weakened support columns in the quarry gave way, resulting in a significant collapse; the quarry was deemed unsafe and closed immediately. Haydn Jones had promised to continue operating the railway as long as he was alive and so, despite the closure of the quarry, the railway continued to run trains on a shoestring budget. In 1948 the British railway system was nationalized however the Talyllyn was one of the few operating railways not included. Between 1947 and 1949 the railway ran a passenger service two days a week. In 1949 Haydn Jones, who owned the Aberllefenni Slate Quarry purchased 10 tons of rail from the recently lifted Corris Railway.

Sadly Haydn Jones died on 2 July 1950 and closure of the railway seemed inevitable, but the line continued to operate until October and in 1951 it became the first railway in the world to be preserved as a heritage railway by volunteers after the author and biographer Tom Rolt, visited the line in 1949, along with the locomotive engineer David Curwen and wrote a letter to the Birmingham Post newspaper suggesting that a rescue of the Talyllyn be undertaken. He received sufficient positive response for a meeting of interested enthusiasts to be held on 11 October 1950 at the Imperial Hotel in Birmingham. Around 70 people, including Patrick Whitehouse, attended the meeting. The committee – with Rolt as chairman and Whitehouse as Secretary – met for the first time on 23 October and entered into negotiation with Haydn Jones’ executor concerning the legally complex transfer of ownership from Haydn Jones’ estate to a new company called Talyllyn Holdings Ltd which took place on 8 February 1951, henceforth the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society effectively took control of the Railway and immediately began to publicise its efforts, hoping to raise funds and find further volunteers to help reopen the railway, and by May nearly 650 members had joined the society. The railway re-opened under the control of the Society for the first time on the Whit Monday bank holiday, 14 May 1951, with trains running between Wharf and Rhydyronen stations. Regular trains began to run on 4 June throughout the summer, with David Curwen acting as the first Chief Mechanical Engineer.

During the early years of preservation, the line struggled to operate using the original rolling stock. When the line was taken over in 1950 Dolgoch was the only operating locomotive and it was apparent that it was in need of a major overhaul. To enable operations to continue two further steam locomotives, Nos. 3 and 4, were purchased from the recently closed Corris Railway in 1951 and named Sir Haydn and Edward Thomas respectively. Because both railways were built to the unusual gauge of 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) it was relatively easy to adapt the Corris locomotives to work on the Talyllyn. No. 3 became the first new locomotive to travel on the railway for over 80 years in 1951, but it frequently derailed, and on inspection it turned out that the Talyllyn track was laid approximately half an inch (13 mm) wider than the official gauge, a deliberate policy by the old company to accommodate the long wheelbase of Talyllyn.

Both Talyllyn and Dolgoch had unusually wide wheel treads that allowed them to stay on the wide-of-gauge track however This problem was eventually cured. No. 4 was unserviceable when it arrived, but John Alcock, the chairman of the Hunslet Engine Company, was a member of the Preservation Society and had No. 4 overhauled free of charge at his works. No. 4 then began service on the railway in 1952 and worked the majority of the trains that season. On 22 May 1957 the BBC produced a live outside broadcast from the railway, during which Wynford Vaughan Thomas and Huw Weldon undertook a trip from Dolgoch to Abergynolwyn. The publicity from this broadcast drew substantial numbers of visitors to the railway that summer, with more than 57,500 passengers carried, and this increase in revenue in turn enabled the railway to continue to improve its infrastructure and provide tourists with a better experience. In 1958 No. 1 Talyllyn also returned to steam after an extensive overhaul.

The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum at Tywyn Wharf station was also built. The first exhibit for what was to become the museum was a locomotive donated in 1952 by Guinness from their recently closed St. James’s Gate Brewery railway. In 1954 the Preservation Society agreed to start work on a formal museum and exhibits from around the United Kingdom were acquired to form the nucleus of the collection. In 1955 work started on converting the old gunpowder store at Wharf station into a temporary museum building, and in 1956 the first exhibit arrived at Tywyn. The preservation society had long held ambitions to extend the railway along the former mineral extension from Abergynolwyn to the foot of the Alltwyllt incline but construction did not start until 1968 when the winding house for the Abergynolwyn village incline was demolished. In 1976, an extension was opened along the former mineral line from Abergynolwyn to the new station at Nant Gwernol by Wynford Vaughan Thomas who drove in the ceremonial “golden spike” to complete the extension. creation of footpaths also began connecting to the new station and A new footbridge was built crossing the Nant Gwernol gorge and connecting the station with the existing path on the east side of the river. The bridge and paths were opened on 3 May 1980 by Lord Parry, the chairman of the Wales Tourist Board

The Preservation Society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2001, and as part of the year of celebrations a major new project was launched to once more extend and improve facilities at Tywyn Wharf station. semi-permanent buildings existed housing the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, but the new plans for the station included the construction of a new two-storey building to house the museum and the extension of the existing station building to house a new cafe and booking office these were officially opened by Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall on 13 July 2005. In 2008 a large amount of equipment was purchased from the 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge military railway at RNAD Trecwn, including a large quantity of track components and three diesel locomotives. In 2011, the railway celebrated the 60th anniversary as a heritage line and In April 2012, locomotive No.2 Dolgoch appeared at the Steel Steam and Stars Gala at the Llangollen Railway, running on a temporary section of narrow gauge track. In June 2013 the railway was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. 2015 was the 150th anniversary of the official opening of the railway. The Talyllyn has also inspired many other people; The fictional Skarloey Railway, which featured in Thomas the Tank Engine by The Rev. W. Awdry, was based on the Talyllyn Railway and preservation of the line inspired the Ealing Comedy film The Titfield Thunderbolt.

Posted in locomotives, steam locomotives, Trains

Richard Trevithick

Cornish Inventor and Mining Engineer Richard Trevithick Sadly died April 22 1833 at the Bull Hotel, Dartford After spending a week in bed with pneumonia. He was born 13 April 1771 in Tregajorran, Cornwall Trevithick’s most significant success was the high pressure steam engine and he also built the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive. On 21 February 1804 the world’s first locomotive-hauled railway journey took place as Trevithick’s unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway of the Pen-y-darren Ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. Trevithick was an engineer at a mine in 1797 and with the help of Edward Bull pioneered the use of a High Pressure Steam Engine, but ran afoul of Matthew Boulton & James Watt, who were working on a similar device and held a number of Patents. He improved boiler technology allowing the safe production of high pressure steam, able to move pistons in steam engines instead of using atmospheric pressure.

William Murdoch also demonstrated a model steam carriage to Trevithick in 1794. In fact, Trevithick lived next door to Murdoch in Redruth in 1797 and 1798. Oliver Evans in the U.S. Was working on something similar and Arthur Woolf was also experimenting on a similar engine whilst working as the Chief Engineer of the Griffin Brewery. However Trevithick actually made high pressure steam work, eliminating the need for a condenser, and allowing the use of a smaller cylinder, saving space and weight. Making the engine more compact, lighter and small enough to carry its own weight even with a carriage attached. Trevithick started building his first stationary models of high pressure steam engines, then attached one to a road carriage. Exhaust steam was vented via a vertical chimney, thus avoiding a condenser and any possible infringements of Watt’s patent, with linear motion being converted into circular motion via a crank instead of a beam.

Trevithick built a full-size steam road locomotive in 1801 in Camborne. He named the carriage ‘Puffing Devil’ and, on Christmas Eve it successfully carried seven men from Fore Street up Camborne Hill, past Camborne Cross, to the nearby village of Beacon with his cousin and associate, Andrew Vivian, steering. This is inspired the popular Cornish folk song “Camborne Hill”. However, a steam wagon built in 1770 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot may have an earlier claim. During further tests, Trevithick’s locomotive was prone to break down and on one occasion the Boiler was allowed to run dry and the machine exploded. Trevithick did not consider this a serious setback, but rather operator error. In 1802 Trevithick took out a patent for his high pressure steam engine.

To prove his ideas, he built a stationary engine at the Coalbrookdale Company’s works in Shropshire in 1802. The Coalbrookdale company then built a rail locomotive for him, but little is known about it, including whether or not it actually ran. To date, the only known information about it comes from a drawing preserved at the Science Museum, London, together with a letter written by Trevithick to his friend, Davies Giddy. The design incorporated a single horizontal cylinder enclosed in a return-flue boiler. A flywheel drove the wheels on one side through spur gears, and the axles were mounted directly on the boiler, with no frame. Unfortunately The Puffing Devil could not maintain sufficient steam pressure and would have been of little practical use. In 1803 he built another steam-powered road vehicle called the London Steam Carriage, which attracted much attention from the public and press when he drove it that year in London from Holborn to Paddington and back. It was uncomfortable for passengers and proved more expensive to run than a horse-drawn carriage and so the project was abandoned.

In 1802 Trevithick built one of his high pressure steam engines to drive a hammer at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. With the assistance of Rees Jones, an employee of the iron works and under the supervision of Samuel Homfray, the proprietor, he mounted the engine on wheels and turned it into a locomotive. In 1803 Trevithick sold the patents for his locomotives to Samuel Homfray. Homfrey was so impressed with Trevithick’s locomotive that he made a bet with another ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, for 500 guineas that Trevithick’s steam locomotive could haul 10 tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil Tramroad from Penydarren to Abercynon , a distance of 9.75 miles (16 km). Amid great interest from the public, on 21 February 1804 it successfully carried 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph (3.9 km/h). As well as Homfray, Crawshay and the passengers, other witnesses included Mr. Giddy, a respected patron of Trevithick and an ‘engineer from the Government’. The locomotive was relatively primitive comprising of a boiler with a single return flue mounted on a four wheel frame. At one end, a single cylinder with very long stroke was mounted partly in the boiler, and a piston rod crosshead ran out along a slidebar, an arrangement that looked like a giant trombone. As there was only one cylinder, this was coupled to a large flywheel mounted on one side. The rotational inertia of the flywheel would even out the movement that was transmitted to a central cog-wheel that was, in turn connected to the driving wheels. It used a high pressure cylinder without a condenser, the exhaust steam was sent up the chimney assisting the draught through the fire, increasing efficiency even more. The proprietor of the Wylam colliery near Newcastle, heard of the success in Wales and wrote to Trevithick asking for locomotive designs. These were sent to John Whitfield at Gateshead, Trevithick’s agent, who built what was probably the first locomotive to have flanged wheels. Unfortunately Trevithick’s machine was too heavy for the wooden track.

Then In 1808 Trevithick publicised his steam railway locomotive expertise by building a new locomotive called ‘Catch me who can’, built for him by John Hazledine and John Urpeth Rastrick at Bridgnorth in Shropshire, This was similar to that used at Penydarren and named by Mr. Giddy’s daughter. This was Trevithick’s third railway locomotive after those used at Pen-y-darren ironworks and the Wylam colliery. He ran it on a circular track just south of the present day Euston Square tube station in London, Admission to the “steam circus” was one shilling including a ride and it was intended to show that rail travel was faster than by horse. So Recently a group of dedicated people down at the Severn Valley Railway decided to build a replica of Catch-Me-Who-Can.

In 1805 Cornish Engineer Robert Vazie, excavated a tunnel under the River Thames at Rotherhithe and had serious problems with flooding getting no further than sinking the end shafts. So Trevithick was consulted and paid £1000 (the equivalent of £67,387 as of 2014 to complete the tunnel, a length of 1220 feet (366 m). In August 1807 Trevithick began driving a small pilot tunnel and By 23 December after it had progressed 950 feet (285 m) progress was delayed after The tunnel was flooded twice and Trevithick, was nearly drowned. Progress stalled and the project was never actually completed until 1843 when Sir Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a tunnel under the Thames. Trevithick’s used a submerged tube to cross the Detroit River in Michigan with the construction of the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel, under the engineering supervision of The New York Central Railway’s engineering vice president, William J Wilgus. Construction began in 1903 and was completed in 1910. The Detroit–Windsor Tunnel which was completed in 1930 for automotive traffic, and the tunnel under the Hong Kong harbour were also submerged tube designs. Trevithick’s high-pressure steam engines had many applications including cannon manufacture, stone crushing, rolling mills, forge hammers, blast furnace blowers and traditional mining. He also built a barge powered by paddle wheels and several dredgers.

In 1808, Trevithick entered a partnership with West Indian Merchant Robert Dickinson, who had supported Trevithick’s patents. Including the ‘Nautical Labourer’; a steam tug with a floating crane propelled by paddle wheels. He also patented Iron tanks in ships for storage of cargo and water instead of in wooden caskS, these were also used to raise sunken wrecks by placing them under the wreck and creating buoyancy by pumping them full of air. In 1810 a wreck near Margate was raised in this way. Trevithick worked on many other ideas on improvements for ships: iron floating docks, iron ships, telescopic iron masts, improved ship structures, iron buoys and using heat from the ships boilers for cooking. In May 1810, he caught typhoid and nearly died and in February 1811 he and Dickinson were declared bankrupt. Around 1812, Trevithick designed the ‘Cornish boiler’. These were horizontal, cylindrical boilers with a single internal fire tube or flue passing horizontally through the middle. Hot exhaust gases from the fire passed through the flue thus increasing the surface area heating the water and improving efficiency. These types were installed in the Boulton and Watt pumping engines at Dolcoath and more than doubled their efficiency.

Again in 1812, he installed a new ‘high-pressure’ experimental steam engine also with condensing at Wheal Prosper. This became known as the ‘Cornish engine’ and was the most efficient in the world at that time. Other Cornish engineers contributed to its development but Trevithick’s work was predominant. In the same year he installed another high-pressure engine, though non-condensing, in a threshing machine on a farm at Probus, Cornwall. It was very successful and proved to be cheaper to run than the horses it replaced. It ran for 70 years and is exhibited at the Science Museum. Trevithick attempted to build a ‘recoil engine’ similar to the aeolipile described by Hero of Alexandria in about AD 50, this comprised a boiler feeding a hollow axle to route the steam to a catherine wheel with two fine-bore steam jets on its circumference. The first wheel was 15 feet (4.6 m) in diameter and a later attempt was 24 feet (7.3 m) in diameter. To get any usable torque, steam had to issue from the nozzles at a very high velocity and in such large volume that it proved not to operate with adequate efficiency. Today this would be recognised as a reaction turbine.

Around 1811 a miner, named Francisco Uville bought one of Trevithick’s Hight Pressure Steam Engine for draining water from his silver mine at Cerro de Pasco, Peru. In 1813 Uville set sail again for England and, having fallen ill on the way, broke his journey via Jamaica. When he had recovered he boarded the Falmouth packet ship ‘Fox’ coincidentally with one of Trevithick’s cousins on board the same vessel. On 20 October 1816 Trevithick left Penzance on the whaler ship Asp accompanied by a lawyer named Page and a boilermaker bound for Peru where he travelled widely, acting as a consultant on mining methods. The government granted him certain mining rights and he found mining areas, but did not have the funds to develop them, with the exception of a copper and silver mine at Caxatambo.

After serving in the army of Simon Bolivar he returned to Caxatambo but was forced to leave the area and abandon £5000 worth of ore ready to ship. Uville died in 1818 and Trevithick soon returned to Cerro de Pasco And After leaving Cerro de Pasco, Trevithick passed through Ecuador on his way to Bogotá in Colombia. He arrived in Costa Rica in 1822 to build mining machinery. However transporting ore and equipment, using the San Juan River, the Sarapiqui River, and the railway proved treacherous And Trevithick was nearly killed on at least two occasions – he nearly drowned, and was nearly devoured by an alligator.He made his way to Cartagena where he met Robert Stephenson who was on his way home from Colombia. And Stephenson gave Trevithick £50 to help his passage home. He arrived at Falmouth in October 1827 with few possessions other than the clothes he was wearing, unsurprisingly Trevithick never returned to Costa Rica. In 1829 he built a closed cycle steam engine followed by a vertical tubular boiler. In1830 he invented an early form of storage room heater, which comprised a small fire tube boiler with a detachable flue which could be heated either outside or indoors with the flue connected to a chimney. To commemorate the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832 he designed a massive column to be 1000 feet (300 m) high, 100 feet (30 m) in diameter at the base tapering to 12 feet (3.6 m) at the top where a statue of a horse would have been mounted. but it was never built. he was also invited to work on an engine of a new vessel at Dartford, Which involved a reaction turbine.

Following his death Trevithick was buried in an unmarked grave in St Edmunds Burial Ground, East Hill, Dartford. The burial ground closed in 1857, with the gravestones being removed in the 1960s. A plaque marks the approximate spot believed to be the site of the grave. The plaque lies on the side of the park, near the East Hill gate, and an unlinked path.

Posted in locomotives, steam locomotives, Trains

Richard Trevithick

Cornish Inventor and Mining Engineer Richard Trevithick was born 13 April 1771 in Tregajorran, Cornwall and his most significant success was the high pressure steam engine and he also built the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive. On 21 February 1804 the world’s first locomotive-hauled railway journey took place as Trevithick’s unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway of the Pen-y-darren Ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. Trevithick was an engineer at a mine in 1797 and with the help of Edward Bull pioneered the use of a High Pressure Steam Engine, but ran afoul of Matthew Boulton & James Watt, who were working on a similar device and held a number of Patents. He improved boiler technology allowing the safe production of high pressure steam, able to move pistons in steam engines instead of using atmospheric pressure. 

Richard Trevithicks next door neighbour in Redruth William Murdoch also demonstrated a model steam carriage to Trevithick in 1794. Meanwhile Oliver Evans in the U.S. Was working on something similar and Arthur Woolf was also experimenting on a similar engine whilst working as the Chief Engineer of the Griffin Brewery. However Trevithick actually made high pressure steam work, eliminating the need for a condenser, and allowing the use of a smaller cylinder, saving space and weight. Making the engine more compact, lighter and small enough to carry its own weight even with a carriage attached. Trevithick started building his first stationary models of high pressure steam engines, then attached one to a road carriage. Exhaust steam was vented via a vertical chimney, thus avoiding a condenser and any possible infringements of Watt’s patent, with linear motion being converted into circular motion via a crank instead of a beam. Trevithick built a full-size steam road locomotive in 1801 in Camborne. He named the carriage ‘Puffing Devil’ and, on Christmas Eve it successfully carried seven men from Fore Street up Camborne Hill, past Camborne Cross, to the nearby village of Beacon with his cousin and associate, Andrew Vivian, steering. This is inspired the popular Cornish folk song “Camborne Hill”. However, a steam wagon built in 1770 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot may have an earlier claim. During further tests, Trevithick’s locomotive was prone to break down and on one occasion the Boiler was allowed to run dry and the machine exploded. Trevithick did not consider this a serious setback, but rather operator error. In 1802 Trevithick took out a patent for his high pressure steam engine.

London Steam Carriage
Pen-y-Darren
Coalbrookdale Engine

To prove his ideas, he built a stationary engine at the Coalbrookdale Company’s works in Shropshire in 1802. The Coalbrookdale company then built a rail locomotive for him, but little is known about it, including whether or not it actually ran. To date, the only known information about it comes from a drawing preserved at the Science Museum, London, together with a letter written by Trevithick to his friend, Davies Giddy. The design incorporated a single horizontal cylinder enclosed in a return-flue boiler. A flywheel drove the wheels on one side through spur gears, and the axles were mounted directly on the boiler, with no frame. Unfortunately The Puffing Devil could not maintain sufficient steam pressure and would have been of little practical use. In 1803 he built another steam-powered road vehicle called the London Steam Carriage, which attracted much attention from the public and press when he drove it that year in London from Holborn to Paddington and back. It was uncomfortable for passengers and proved more expensive to run than a horse-drawn carriage and so the project was abandoned.

In 1802 Trevithick built one of his high pressure steam engines to drive a hammer at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. With the assistance of Rees Jones, an employee of the iron works and under the supervision of Samuel Homfray, the proprietor, he mounted the engine on wheels and turned it into a locomotive. In 1803 Trevithick sold the patents for his locomotives to Samuel Homfray. Homfrey was so impressed with Trevithick’s locomotive that he made a bet with another ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, for 500 guineas that Trevithick’s steam locomotive could haul 10 tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil Tramroad from Penydarren to Abercynon , a distance of 9.75 miles (16 km). Amid great interest from the public, on 21 February 1804 it successfully carried 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph (3.9 km/h). As well as Homfray, Crawshay and the passengers, other witnesses included Mr. Giddy, a respected patron of Trevithick and an ‘engineer from the Government’. The locomotive was relatively primitive comprising of a boiler with a single return flue mounted on a four wheel frame. At one end, a single cylinder with very long stroke was mounted partly in the boiler, and a piston rod crosshead ran out along a slidebar, an arrangement that looked like a giant trombone. As there was only one cylinder, this was coupled to a large flywheel mounted on one side. The rotational inertia of the flywheel would even out the movement that was transmitted to a central cog-wheel that was, in turn connected to the driving wheels. It used a high pressure cylinder without a condenser, the exhaust steam was sent up the chimney assisting the draught through the fire, increasing efficiency even more. The proprietor of the Wylam colliery near Newcastle, heard of the success in Wales and wrote to Trevithick asking for locomotive designs. These were sent to John Whitfield at Gateshead, Trevithick’s agent, who built what was probably the first locomotive to have flanged wheels. Unfortunately Trevithick’s machine was too heavy for the wooden track.

Then In 1808 Trevithick publicised his steam railway locomotive expertise by building a new locomotive called ‘Catch me who can’, built for him by John Hazledine and John Urpeth Rastrick at Bridgnorth in Shropshire, This was similar to that used at Penydarren and named by Mr. Giddy’s daughter. This was Trevithick’s third railway locomotive after those used at Pen-y-darren ironworks and the Wylam colliery. He ran it on a circular track just south of the present day Euston Square tube station in London, Admission to the “steam circus” was one shilling including a ride and it was intended to show that rail travel was faster than by horse. So Recently a group of dedicated people down at the Severn Valley Railway decided to build a replica of Catch-Me-Who-Can. In 1805 Cornish Engineer Robert Vazie, excavated a tunnel under the River Thames at Rotherhithe and had serious problems with flooding getting no further than sinking the end shafts. So Trevithick was consulted and paid £1000 (the equivalent of £67,387 as of 2014 to complete the tunnel, a length of 1220 feet (366 m). In August 1807 Trevithick began driving a small pilot tunnel and By 23 December after it had progressed 950 feet (285 m) however progress was delayed after The tunnel was flooded twice and Trevithick, was nearly drowned consequently the project was not completed until 1843 when Sir Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a tunnel under the Thames. Trevithick’s used a submerged tube to cross the Detroit River in Michigan with the construction of the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel, under the engineering supervision of The New York Central Railway’s engineering vice president, William J Wilgus. Construction began in 1903 and was completed in 1910. The Detroit–Windsor Tunnel which was completed in 1930 for automotive traffic, and the tunnel under the Hong Kong harbour were also submerged tube designs. Trevithick’s high-pressure steam engines had many applications including cannon manufacture, stone crushing, rolling mills, forge hammers, blast furnace blowers and traditional mining. He also built a barge powered by paddle wheels and several dredgers.

In 1808, Trevithick entered a partnership with West Indian Merchant Robert Dickinson, who had supported Trevithick’s patents. Including the ‘Nautical Labourer’; a steam tug with a floating crane propelled by paddle wheels. He also patented Iron tanks in ships for storage of cargo and water instead of in wooden caskS, these were also used to raise sunken wrecks by placing them under the wreck and creating buoyancy by pumping them full of air. In 1810 a wreck near Margate was raised in this way. Trevithick worked on many other ideas on improvements for ships: iron floating docks, iron ships, telescopic iron masts, improved ship structures, iron buoys and using heat from the ships boilers for cooking. In May 1810, he caught typhoid and nearly died and in February 1811 he and Dickinson were declared bankrupt. Around 1812, Trevithick designed the ‘Cornish boiler’. These were horizontal, cylindrical boilers with a single internal fire tube or flue passing horizontally through the middle. Hot exhaust gases from the fire passed through the flue thus increasing the surface area heating the water and improving efficiency. These types were installed in the Boulton and Watt pumping engines at Dolcoath and more than doubled their efficiency.

Again in 1812, he installed a new ‘high-pressure’ experimental steam engine also with condensing at Wheal Prosper. This became known as the ‘Cornish engine’ and was the most efficient in the world at that time. Other Cornish engineers contributed to its development but Trevithick’s work was predominant. In the same year he installed another high-pressure engine, though non-condensing, in a threshing machine on a farm at Probus, Cornwall. It was very successful and proved to be cheaper to run than the horses it replaced. It ran for 70 years and is exhibited at the Science Museum. Trevithick attempted to build a ‘recoil engine’ similar to the aeolipile described by Hero of Alexandria in about AD 50, this comprised a boiler feeding a hollow axle to route the steam to a catherine wheel with two fine-bore steam jets on its circumference. The first wheel was 15 feet (4.6 m) in diameter and a later attempt was 24 feet (7.3 m) in diameter. To get any usable torque, steam had to issue from the nozzles at a very high velocity and in such large volume that it proved not to operate with adequate efficiency. Today this would be recognised as a reaction turbine.

Around 1811 a miner, named Francisco Uville bought one of Trevithick’s Hight Pressure Steam Engine for draining water from his silver mine at Cerro de Pasco, Peru. In 1813 Uville set sail again for England and, having fallen ill on the way, broke his journey via Jamaica. When he had recovered he boarded the Falmouth packet ship ‘Fox’ coincidentally with one of Trevithick’s cousins on board the same vessel. On 20 October 1816 Trevithick left Penzance on the whaler ship Asp accompanied by a lawyer named Page and a boilermaker bound for Peru where he travelled widely, acting as a consultant on mining methods. The government granted him certain mining rights and he found mining areas, but did not have the funds to develop them, with the exception of a copper and silver mine at Caxatambo.

After serving in the army of Simon Bolivar he returned to Caxatambo but was forced to leave the area and abandon £5000 worth of ore ready to ship. Uville died in 1818 and Trevithick soon returned to Cerro de Pasco And After leaving Cerro de Pasco, Trevithick passed through Ecuador on his way to Bogotá in Colombia. He arrived in Costa Rica in 1822 to build mining machinery. However transporting ore and equipment, using the San Juan River, the Sarapiqui River, and the railway proved treacherous And Trevithick was nearly killed on at least two occasions – he nearly drowned, and was nearly devoured by an alligator.He made his way to Cartagena where he met Robert Stephenson who was on his way home from Colombia. And Stephenson gave Trevithick £50 to help his passage home. He arrived at Falmouth in October 1827 with few possessions other than the clothes he was wearing, unsurprisingly Trevithick never returned to Costa Rica. In 1829 he built a closed cycle steam engine followed by a vertical tubular boiler. In1830 he invented an early form of storage room heater, which comprised a small fire tube boiler with a detachable flue which could be heated either outside or indoors with the flue connected to a chimney. To commemorate the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832 he designed a massive column to be 1000 feet (300 m) high, 100 feet (30 m) in diameter at the base tapering to 12 feet (3.6 m) at the top where a statue of a horse would have been mounted. but it was never built. he was also invited to work on an engine of a new vessel at Dartford, Which involved a reaction turbine.

Despite his many innovations Richard Trevithick died penniless on April 22 1833 while lodging at the Bull Hotel, Dartford After being taken ill with pneumonia. Following a week’s confinement in bed he died on the morning of 22 April 1833. Trevithick was buried in an unmarked grave in St Edmunds Burial Ground, East Hill, Dartford. The burial ground closed in 1857, with the gravestones being removed in the 1960s. However A plaque marks the approximate spot believed to be the site of the grave on the side of the park, near the East Hill gate. He made a valuable contribution to engineering and technology and many replicas of his machinery have since been built. A replica of Catch-me-who-can has been built at the Severn Valley Railway

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Sir Nigel Gresley

Best known for designing the A4 steam locomotive, Sir Nigel Gresley, The Chief mechanical Engineer of London North Eastern Railway, sadly passed away 5 April 1941. He was Born 19 June 1876 he became one of Britain’s most famous steam locomotive engineers, rising to become Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). He was the designer of some of the most famous steam locomotives in Britain, including the LNER Class A1 and LNER Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific engines. An A1, Flying Scotsman, was the first steam locomotive officially recorded over 100 mph in passenger service, and an A4, number 4468 Mallard, still holds the record for being the fastest steam locomotive in the world (126 mph). Gresley’s engines were considered elegant, both aesthetically and mechanically. His invention of a three-cylinder design with only two sets of Walschaerts valve gear, the Gresley conjugated valve gear, produced smooth running and power at lower cost than would have been achieved with a more conventional three sets of Walschaerts valve gearMechanical .

Gresley was born in Edinburgh, but was raised in Netherseal, Derbyshire, a member of the cadet branch of a family long seated at Gresley, Derbyshire. After attending school in Sussex and at Marlborough College, Gresley served his apprenticeship at the Crewe works of the London and North Western Railway, afterwards becoming a pupil under John Aspinall at Horwich of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR). After several minor appointments with the L&YR he was made Outdoor Assistant in the Carriage and Wagon Department in 1901; in 1902 he was appointed Assistant Works Manager at Newton Heath depot, and Works Manager the following year.

This rapid rise in his career continued and, in 1904, he became Assistant Superintendent of the Carriage and Wagon Department of the L&YR. A year later, he moved to the Great Northern Railway (GNR) as Carriage and Wagon Superintendent. He succeeded Henry A. Ivatt as CME of the GNR on 1 October 1911. At the 1923 Grouping, he was appointed CME of the newly formed LNER (the post had originally been offered to the ageing John G. Robinson; Robinson declined and suggested the much younger Gresley). In 1936, Gresley was awarded an honorary DSc by Manchester University and a knighthood by King Edward VIII; also in that year he presided over the IMechE

During the 1930s, Sir Nigel Gresley lived at Salisbury Hall, near St. Albans in Hertfordshire. Gresley developed an interest in breeding wild birds and ducks in the moat; intriguingly, among the species were Mallard ducks. The Hall still exists today as a private residence and is adjacent to the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, with its links to the design of the famous Mosquito aircraft during World War II .In 1936, Gresley designed the 1,500V DC locomotives for the proposed electrification of the Woodhead Line between Manchester and Sheffield. However The Second World War forced the postponement of the project, which was completed in the early 1950s. Sadly Gresley did not live to see the result, tragically dying after a short illness on 5 April 1941 he was buried in Netherseal, Derbyshire. Gresley was succeeded as the LNER CME by Edward Thompson. There is a statue of Sir Nigel Gresley at Kings Cross in London, complete with duck although there are moves afoot to have the duck removed and the new statue without the duck was unveiled 5 April 2016.

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Pen-y-Darren

Pen-y-Darren

On 21 February 1804, the world’s first self propelling locomotive, the Pen-y-Darren, ran along the Merthyr Tydfil treatment road from Pen-y-Darren to Abercynon a distance of 9.75 miles(16 kilometres). The Pen-y-Darren was based on a 1802, high-pressure steam engines which had been built by Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick to drive a hammer at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan . With the assistance of Rees Jones, an employee of the iron works and under the supervision of Samuel Homfray, the proprietor, The engine was mounted on wheels and turned it into a locomotive. In 1803, Trevithick sold the patents for his locomotives to Samuel Homfray.

Homfray was so impressed with Trevithick’s locomotive that he made a bet with another ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, for 500 guineas that Trevithick’s steam locomotive could haul ten tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil Tramroad from Penydarren to Abercynon. Amid great interest from the public, on 21 February 1804 it successfully carried 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph (3.9 km/h). as well as Homfray, Crawshay and the passengers, other witnesses includedMr. Giddy, a respected patron of Trevithick and an ‘engineer from the Government’. the engineer from the government was probably a safety inspector and particularly interested in the boiler’s ability to withstand high steam pressures.

The configuration of the Pen-y-darren engine differed from the Coalbrookdale engine. The cylinder was moved to the other end of the boiler so that the firedoor was out of the way of the moving parts. This obviously also involved putting the crankshaft at the chimney end. The locomotive comprised a boiler with a single return flue mounted on a four wheel frame at one end, a single cylinderwith very long stroke was mounted partly in the boiler, and a piston rod crosshead ran out along a slidebar, an arrangement that looked like a giant trombone. As there was only one cylinder, this was coupled to a large flywheel mounted on one side. The rotational inertia of the flywheel would even out the movement that was transmitted to a central cog-wheel that was, in turn connected to the driving wheels. It used a high-pressure cylinder without a condenser, the exhaust steam was sent up the chimney assisting the draught through the fire, increasing efficiency even more.

Pen-y-Darren
Despite many people’s doubts, he won the bet and showed that, provided that the gradient was sufficiently gentle, it was possible to successfully haul heavy carriages along a “smooth” iron road using the adhesive weight alone of a suitably heavy and powerful steam locomotive. Trevithick’s was probably the first to do so; however some of the short cast iron plates of the tramroad broke under the locomotive as they were intended only to support the lighter axle load of horse-drawn wagons and so the tramroad returned to horse power after the initial test run. Homfray was pleased he won his bet. The engine was placed on blocks and reverted to its original stationary job of driving hammers. In modern Merthyr Tydfil, behind the monument to Trevithick’s locomotive is a stone wall, the sole remainder of the former boundary wall of Homfray’s Penydarren House. A full-scale working reconstruction of the Pen-y-darren locomotive was commissioned in 1981 and delivered to the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum in Cardiff; when that closed, it was moved to the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. Several times a year it is run on a 40m length of rail outside the museum.

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Metropolitan Railway

The Metropolitan Railway (also known as the Met opened on 10 January 1863 between Farringdon Station and London Paddington Station. It served London from 1863 to 1933, its main line heading north-west from the capital’s financial heart in the City to what were to become the Middlesex suburbs. Its first line connected the main-line railway termini at Paddington, Euston, and King’s Cross to the City. The first section was built beneath the New Road using the “cut-and-cover” method between Paddington and King’s Cross and in tunnel and cuttings beside Farringdon Road from King’s Cross to near Smithfield, near the City. It opened to the public on 10 January 1863 with gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives, and became the world’s first passenger-carrying designated underground railway.

The line was soon extended from both ends, and northwards via a branch from Baker Street. It reached Hammersmith in 1864, Richmond in 1877 and completed the Inner Circle in 1884, however the most important route was the line north into the Middlesex countryside, where it stimulated the development of new suburbs. Harrow was reached in 1880, and the line eventually extended to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 50 miles (80 kilometres) from Baker Street and the centre of London.

Electric traction was introduced in 1905 and by 1907 electric multiple units operated most of the services, though electrification of outlying sections did not occur until decades later. Unlike other railway companies in the London area, the Met developed land for housing, and after World War I promoted housing estates near the railway using the “Metro-land” brand. On 1 July 1933, the Met was amalgamated with the Underground Electric Railways Company of London and the capital’s tramway and bus operators to form the London Passenger Transport Board. Former Met tracks and stations are used by the London Underground’s Metropolitan, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Piccadilly, and Jubilee lines, and by Chiltern Railways.