Clement Edwin Stretton.

The history of the Midland railway online

. (page 20 of 36)
Online LibraryClement Edwin StrettonThe history of the Midland railway → online text (page 20 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Mr. E. S. Ellis, the Midland Chairman, to the effect that the Sheffield
Company should be converted into a Midland and Great Northern
joint railway.

For ten years previously the Sheffield Company's dividend had
averaged only 2 3^. 6d. consequently the offer of 4 per cent,
made by the other two companies was a most liberal one. However,
at a meeting of the chairmen of the three lines held at King's Cross
on November gth, 1877, Mr. (now Sir Edward) Watkin, on behalf
of his Company, demanded another half per cent. Thus the negotia-
tions failed, and the Sheffield Company immediately issued the follow-
ing statement:

" The directors of the Sheffield Company announce that they have
received a notification from the chairmen of the Midland and Great
Northern Companies that the negotiations for the joint purchase of
the Sheffield undertaking are at an end. The terms proposed by the
Great Northern and Midland were an ultimate rent charge of 4 per
cent., which was declined by the Sheffield Board, who proposed in
return 4^ per cent., with contingent reserves. The latter terms are
now declined by the two companies, and the negotiations initiated
by them are at an end."



It will thus be seen that los. per cent, was the small "rock"
on which these most important negotiations were wrecked. It would
certainly have been a most advantageous arrangement for the share-
holders of the Sheffield Company had it been carried into effect,
but in that case there would have been no Great Central Railway
to London to-day, and a vast capital expenditure would have been
saved. The shareholders would further have had the benefit of a
fixed 4 per cent, investment, which is a vastly different position to
that held by the Great Central shareholders at the present time.

If the Askern Junction and Rushton joint railway had been carried
out, a very excellent communication would have been formed between
the Midland and North Eastern systems; but as the Bill was not
sanctioned by Parliament it became necessary in order to carry the
constantly increasing traffic to arrange for a new route which should
avoid the delays which frequently took place at Normanton. The
Midland and North Eastern Companies, on July i6th, 1874, obtained
powers jointly to construct a railway about 15! miles in length to
connect the Midland at Wath Road Junction, Swinton, with the North
Eastern at Knottingley Ferry Bridge, the Midland Company to have
running powers to York and the North Eastern to have similar powers
to run its own trains to Sheffield.

This useful link in the chain was opened for goods trains on
May i Qth, 1879, and on July ist of the same year passenger traffic
commenced, a new service of trains, worked by Midland engines
and carriages, running from Sheffield to York. At the present time
through carriages are run by this route between Newcastle- on -Tyne
and Bristol ; also between York and Bournemouth via Bath.

In connection with the Swinton and Knottingley route the Midland
Company from Milford Junction obtains access for its traffic over the
North Eastern rails to Selby and the important port of Hull.

From the early days of the Midland Counties Railway Nottingham
was served by a branch line from Trent Junction, but gradually the
importance of the town and traffic required a more direct route
both to London and the north. At the same period it became
evident that the existing main line between Leicester and Kettering
was overcrowded with traffic, and it was ultimately decided that
instead of widening that portion of the railway to four sets of rails,
an alternative main line should be constructed, and the necessary
powers were obtained by the Acts of 1872-4. The first section
extends from Kettering to Manton Junction, where it forms a com-
munication with the Company's Syston and Peterborough line, and
which is used as far as the Melton Mowbray Junction ; then the


Melton and Nottingham line was constructed and continued to the
eastern end of the station at Nottingham, thus reducing the distance
from London to 123! miles, which, by recent improvements at Bedford
and Saxby, has been further slightly reduced.

By means of the then existing line from Nottingham to Radford
and the extension from Radford to Trowell a perfectly independent
main line was obtained between Kettering and the junction with the
Erewash Valley, 5^ miles north of Trent.

The chief works upon this route are the Corby Tunnel, 1,920 yards,
and the viaduct between Harringworth and Seaton Tunnel, which
spans the valley of the Welland and is built of red brick, the height
being 60 feet and the length about three-quarters of a mile; after
which the railway passes through the Glaston Tunnel for a distance
of 1,842 yards.

North of Melton Junction there are short tunnels at Asfordby and
Saxelby, followed by Grimstone and Stanton tunnels ; and near to
Nottingham the railway crosses the River Trent by an iron girder-bridge,
the three main spans of which are each 100 feet. On December ist,
1879, the new route was brought into use for goods and mineral traffic,
twenty trains per day in each direction running via Nottingham,
Melton, and Manton and Kettering. In February and March, 1880,
the Nottingham and Melton and the Kettering and Manton lines were
respectively opened for local passenger traffic, but it was not until
June ist, 1880, that Nottingham received the full advantage of the
alternative route. However, upon that date a completely new service
of express trains was put into operation between London, Kettering,
Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, and Bradford.

The great value of this second main line has been further enhanced
by the fact that it enables the Midland Company at the present time to
successfully repel the attacks of the Great Central and the Great
Northern Companies upon its through Nottingham traffic, which it
might have experienced some difficulty in doing via the Trent route.

Within the triangle at Trent Junction the Company, on May ist, 1862,
opened the Trent Station simply as a convenient centre from which
passengers could journey. Every passenger train from either London,
Leeds, Nottingham, or Derby ran to Trent, and the various portions or
through carriages were then properly arranged for their destination.

This arrangement, after continuing for a number of years, had
to be greatly modified, and with the opening of the Nottingham,
Manton, and Kettering route to London and the necessity for running
the Manchester expresses with a minimum of stoppages, the Trent
Station has now become of secondary importance.


Communication with the district roughly embraced between Peter-
borough, Bourne, King's Lynn, Yarmouth, and Cromer was originally
provided by a number of independent railway companies, who each
dealt with a particular portion. For instance, the Peterborough, Wis-
bech, and Sutton Bridge Railway dealt with one district, the Midland
and Eastern Railway with the section from Bourne to Spalding and
Lynn, the Lynn and Fakenham Railway, which connected these towns,
the Yarmouth Union Railway, and the Yarmouth and Norfolk Railway.
All these what may be called subsidiary lines were united as the

(Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway).

Eastern and Midlands Railway Company by an Act of August i8th,
1882. This Company, amalgamated in its turn by virtue of the
Midland and Great Northern Companies' joint Act, was transferred
from July ist, 1893, to the Midland and Great Northern Railway
Companies jointly. The total length of the railway thus acquired
was 1 88 miles, the capital being provided by both partners in equal
proportions. The traffic in this case is managed by a Board of six
directors, three from each system. There are seventy engines, and
these are controlled by Mr. S. W. Johnson, the Midland Locomotive
Superintendent ; they are exactly Midland in design and working parts,
but are painted yellow and carry the letters " M. & G.N. Jt."


To save the construction of a duplicate line to Lowestoft the
joint committee arranged with the Great Eastern Company to convert
a portion of its railway into the Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Railway, thus
giving the Midland uninterrupted communication to Lowestoft.

The joint branch line from Melton Constable to Sheringham and
Cromer gives access to a very beautiful part of the Norfolk coast,
which is yearly attracting a large number of visitors. By means of
the Saxby and Bourne line, constructed by the Midland Company, the
route to the Norfolk coast is considerably improved and shortened.
The building of a new station at Saxby and the increase of the radius
of the well-known Saxby curve have proved very advantageous.

One of the most remarkable illustrations of the fact that a line which
is entirely or almost entirely local in its character and in its traffic is
comparatively valueless and unimportant, yet when it is combined with
or made a portion of a through route it at once becomes of great
value and importance, is furnished by the Somerset and Dorset Rail-
way. Originally there was a Somerset Central Railway Company and
also a Dorset Railway Company, each dealing with practically only
local traffic. These two lines the Somerset, a broad-gauge system,
incorporated June, 1852, and the Dorset, a narrow-gauge system,
incorporated July, 1856 were amalgamated as the Somerset and
Dorset Company, with 66 miles of lines. The amalgamated Company,
with a view to forming a junction with the Midland at Bath, con-
structed a connecting link 26 miles in length from Evercreech Junction
to the Midland terminus at Bath. This extension was opened for
traffic on July 2oth, 1874. The separate existence of this Company,
however, speedily came to an end, for on November ist, 1875, tne
line was leased for a period of 999 years jointly to the London and
South Western and Midland Railway Companies. Thus it came about
that by means of the Midland branch from Mangptsfield to Bath, the
jointly leased line from Bath to Poole, and the running powers from
Poole to Bournemouth, the Midland line stretches in an uninterrupted
route right through the whole of England from Carlisle in the north
to Bournemouth in the south. The working of this leased line is one
of the very few instances in which the whole of the traffic is dealt with
by engines which are owned by the joint committee who manage
the line. There are sixty-eight engines, under the control of the
Locomotive Superintendent of the Midland Railway, and the committee
is formed of three directors from both the Midland and South Western

The Dore and Chinley branch, which unites the Midland, Chester-
field, and Sheffield direct line at Dore with the Ambergate and



Manchester line at Chinley, was only constructed after long efforts.
The district traversed is a picturesque one, and many sanguine persons
thought that the line would be a valuable one for holiday traffic,
especially from Sheffield ; but the wild character of the Peak caused
engineers to pause on the ground of the cost of construction. Holiday
traffic, moreover, is not at all sufficient to make a line pay, and it soon
became evident that to be at all remunerative it must form a link
in through traffic. In 1884 an Act was passed to form an independent
company to make the Dore and Chinley line, but the scheme did not

(Dore and Chinley Line).

attract sufficient financial support, and but for the intervention of the
Midland the line would never have been formed. The Midland saw
that the line would give communication from Sheffield to Liverpool,
Manchester, and also to Buxton, as well as providing communication
from Nottingham and Chesterfield to the Peak district. It also pro-
vided an alternative route to Manchester in the event of any obstruction
on the line between Ambergate and Chinley, and it completed four
sets of rails from London to Chinley, either by quadruple lines or
by alternative routes. It also opened up pleasure resorts in a district
not previously touched by any railway. The Midland obtained


parliamentary powers in 1888, whereby the scheme was vested in the
Midland Railway Company, who at once proceeded with the con-
struction. The line is 20 miles 8 chains long, with two short curves,
one at each end. The work was of a very heavy character, and
necessitated two of the longest tunnels on the Midland system, namely,
the Totley Tunnel, 6,226 yards, and Cowburn Tunnel, 3,727 yards.
The gradients also were very severe, including long stretches of i in
100. The most trying piece of the line was that from near Hope
Station to the mouth of the Cowburn Tunnel, a distance of 5^ miles.
The Totley Tunnel is of such exceptional length that there is specially
devised electrical communication in addition to the block system,
whereby drivers, firemen, guards, or platelayers are able to com-
municate with the signalmen at each end of the tunnel in the event
of any accident or obstruction requiring the stoppage of traffic. In
the event of anything necessitating this arising, all that has to be done
is to cut or break a special wire, when the alarm bells in the signal-
boxes will ring and all traffic will be stopped. The same arrangement
is also carried out in Cowburn Tunnel. The line, which was a very
costly one to make, was completed and opened for goods traffic in
the autumn of 1893, and on June ist, 1894, through express trains
were run over the line from Sheffield to Manchester. The local
passenger traffic commenced the following month. Messrs. Parry and
Story were the engineers for this line.

The last railway purchased by the Midland was that of the Barnolds-
wick Company, which was formed on August i2th, 1867, to make a
local line two miles in length from Barnoldswick to Barnoldswick
Junction to join the Midland, Skipton, and Colne branch. The
Midland agreed to work the line in 1867, and it was opened on
February i3th, 1871. It was vested in the Midland and the small
company dissolved by the Midland Act of 1899.


o > L ;> I !ii,,,

*** is ^ Ii 1 Hi I I i iEiili

10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 KO 150 160 170




THE over-sea traffic of the Midland has constantly grown in magni-
tude and importance, and the value to the system of having its
own direct outlets for the goods and minerals from the towns and places
served by the system cannot be overrated. By this means it is enabled
to collect its own traffic, convey it to the quayside on its own wagons,
and tranship it, under the direct control of its own officials, by its own
servants, to have full and absolute control of its own quays, berths, and
the management of a port of its own, thereby avoiding delays, demur-
rage, and many other disadvantages. To have the power, the space,
and the means for extending and amplifying the siding, quay, and dock
accommodation from time to time, as traffic is developed or attracted
to a port, is a privilege of the most vital concern. When it is con-
sidered how many of the great centres of industrial and mineral
activity are to a large extent dependent upon the Midland Company
for communication between, for instance, Lancashire, Yorkshire,
Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and London itself, both
to and from all parts of the world, the future possibilities in the way of
development are of the most important character. And it is to this
end, as well as to meet a great deficiency at Morecambe, that the great
harbour scheme and works at Heysham have been entered upon, and
which are at the time of writing in a very advanced stage.

At Morecambe steamers drawing 14 feet and over have only four
hours available each tide in which to enter or depart from the harbour.
The great expansion in the size of passenger and freight-carrying
steamers rendered it more and more desirable, if not absolutely
essential, for the Midland to have control of a port with infinitely
better accommodation in waterway and wharfage. Heysham Harbour
would not be a practical undertaking but for one very fortunate circum-
stance. In the Bay of Morecambe, extending right over the mouth of
the new harbour up to a point where the River Lune falls into the sea,
there is a great depression or valley in the bed of the bay which is



known as Heysham Lake. The depth of this ocean valley ranges from
24 feet to 156 feet, and at the harbour entrance, even at the lowest
spring tides, when the water has receded to its minimum limits, there
is always a depth of water of 36 to 42 feet. Now the scheme of the
engineers was this : To run out from the cliffs north and south of
the harbour two great embankments or breakwaters each 900 yards
long, and forming together a semi-circular or crescent shape, with
an aperture or opening 100 yards wide at the apex. Each of the
breakwaters terminates in a very massive concrete head, and their site
is 300 yards within the low-water mark. By closing the aperture be-
tween the heads of the two breakwaters whilst the works are in progress
there is an inclosure of about 180 acres in extent, which, when the
banks were completed, was reduced to about 140 acres. At the time
of writing a great army of men, inhabiting two separate and specially
constructed "colonies," or temporary townships, were engaged in
widening, strengthening, and completing these great breakwaters, and
in excavating the inclosed land for the harbour works. Four miles of
double line, forming the new Heysham branch of the Midland, have
been completed, whilst outside what will hereafter be the harbour
entrance a temporary jetty has been constructed for the use of the
steamers and barges conveying concrete and materials for the new
works. The two great breakwaters were commenced in November,
1897, and they were completed and united by the intervening dam on
March i7th, 1899. They were formed in the ordinary way by tipping
earth, and their slopes towards the sea were protected by large pieces
of rock from the excavations, and afterwards by the permanent stone
facings from Barrow and Horsforth. The harbour proper will, at the
outset, be 44 acres in extent, leaving the remainder for future exten-
sions. It will be 800 yards long, 300 yards wide, and down its centre
is a pier 300 yards in length. There will be wharfs both north and
south, and all will be connected by sidings communicating with the
new branch and the various buildings, etc., required for the storage of
goods. Twelve miles of temporary railway were used in the excavations,
eleven steam excavators, eleven locomotives, two steam pile engines,
six steam pumps of great power, and other plant in proportion, together
with large cement stores, repairing sheds, etc. The breakwaters keep
the temporarily sealed harbour free from the tidal action of the waters,
and the powerful pumps, operating in deep sumps formed in the rock,
to which all the water was drained, kept the workings clear.

When the piers and harbour have been completed, and all is in
readiness, the 100 yards dam which connects the two breakwaters will
be removed at low tide somewhere, it is expected, towards the end of


1901 and the waters of the bay will flow into the harbour. Then
steam-dredgers will cut a deep channel 450 yards long between the
harbour and the bed of the Heysham Lake or Valley, and thus there
will be a free and open waterway for the largest steamers available at
all stages of the tide.

The work is a vast one, and it has required great engineering skill to
carry it out successfully. At the period when the sea embankments
were erected and the tidal water excluded from the site of the harbour
serious difficulties were reported to have been encountered, but it turned
out that the only obstacles met with were those which had been fore-
seen and duly provided for by the engineers ; and they were only such


as were likely to be met in so big a scheme, for these works may be.
said to rank second to none in the kingdom for commercial purposes
carried out by one great company.

The Midland Company have already one very important adjunct to
the new port of Heysham in full operation, namely, what we may call
the Mansion Hotel, at Heysham Tower, which is delightfully situated
within a mile of the new harbour.

The whole of the new works have been and are being executed under
the supervision of the responsible engineers, Mr. J. A. M'Donald, who
has associated with him Mr. G. N. Abernethy; and Messrs. Price and
Wills, of Westminster and Manchester, are the contractors.



WHEN the three companies were merged in one Midland Com-
pany in 1844 eacn of them had its own locomotive shops
established, and all adjoined one another at Derby, which was the great
connecting centre and the joint passenger station for all three. At that
period the locomotive and carriage works were combined, and they
occupied altogether a site of 8J acres, of which the buildings covered
2\ acres. In 1873 tne carriage and wagon works were placed on a
separate basis and new works constructed on another estate, thus
leaving the old site and the adjacent land available for additional works
necessary for locomotive building and repair. The present locomotive
works alone occupy an area of over 80 acres, and there are buildings
covering 20 acres. The works are almost a town, and the employees
certainly form a community by themselves. The site is somewhat of
an oval shape, 1,500 feet in width and 3,500 feet in length, and is
bounded on one side by the Derby Station buildings and offices, the
main line to London, and on the other side by the Derby Canal.

It is very difficult to give an adequate idea in words of what these
stupendous works are, and of the great and manifold operations carried
on within them. Some parts resemble broad thoroughfares intersected
by lines of rails, and the visitor is puzzled to find his way about from
building to building. There are over 5,000 skilled workmen employed,
earning about ^6,000 per week ; about fifty new engines are turned out
every year; 130 are provided with new boilers \ and about 900 engines
undergo repairs during the twelve months.

The most striking features of the buildings are their lofty roofs ; they
are admirably heated, lighted, and ventilated, and they are almost
entirely of one storey, the heavy character of the operations necessitat-
ing their being conducted on the ground floor. Electricity and gas are
the artificial illuminants, both of which are provided by the Company's
own plant. The works also embrace a laboratory in charge of a fully
qualified chemist and his assistants, drawing offices for locomotive work



and machine tools, millwrights' department, stores, and photographic
studio. The principal workshops and buildings which come under the
immediate control of the Works Manager are as follows : Drawing
offices, pattern shop, foundry, smiths' shop, boiler shop, wheel and axle
shop, tender shop, machine shop, erecting shop, and paint shop.

To commence the construction of a set of new engines of, say, ten or
more in number, if they are for goods traffic, they will be of a fixed
standard pattern, the main features of which are six coupled wheels of
5 feet diameter with 1 8-inch cylinders with 26-inch stroke, which have
been found so effective for their work that there has been very little
alteration in recent years.

But with regard to passenger express engines a very different state of
affairs prevails. The Locomotive Superintendent becomes aware,
through the reports of his assistants, that engines of greater power
are required for working certain traffic in consequence either of increase
of speed being required or the load on certain trains becoming heavier.
Another object in view in the construction of larger engines is as far as
possible to avoid double-engine running. The Locomotive Superin-
tendent has to decide and determine what are the best means of
meeting the requirements of the traffic and overcoming the difficulties

Locomotives of greater power can be obtained either by an increase
in the size of cylinders or higher working steam pressure or by smaller

Online LibraryClement Edwin StrettonThe history of the Midland railway → online text (page 20 of 36)