A couple of pages looking at how public transports can become more than just a
mere means of getting from a to b.
Nostalgia is very popular concept in our society. People are always looking back, as if they are trying to recall some sort of golden era when life was believed to have been better, even though for the vast majority of people this was not so. (The only possible exception to this is with food, as in ye olde days it was not adulterated with harmful chemicals or had its genetic composition dangerously compromised as is frequently the situation today).
For some people Nostalgia overlaps into Heritage, much in the same way that we often look back to (for instance) Roman times to see how people lived and how that era contributed towards creating the society in which we live today.
Leisure is about enjoyment, rest, relaxation, recuperation and hobbies. Often this involves transport - perhaps to travel to and through beautiful scenery which we enjoy seeing or to visit an exhibition, zoo, historic home, garden festival (etc.,) where - on larger sites - the transport sometimes also performs a useful service linking the various attractions and saving the visitors from long walks.
Transport Nostalgia is primarily about the various types of rolling stock which are no longer used, although there is also some interest in ticketing systems, timetables, station architecture, old railway lines, signal boxes and (for buses & trams) street furniture. Because of past transport 'policies' Britain has an over abundance of railway lines which we are now realising should not have been closed and in some places sections of these closed railway lines have been taken over by preservationists as Steam Centres or Living Museums where visitors can see and ride in trains of older carriages pulled by (usually) steam locomotives. There also exist several such locations dedicated to former street transport - primarily trams and trolleybuses although motor buses are sometimes included too. The television and film industry also frequently use these centres when they want to create a production that is set in an historical time period.
|Nostalgia is not just a British phenomena, although these pages mostly look at British examples.
Two nostalgic examples from Europe - left a preserved carriage from the Berlin (Germany) S-Bahn (urban railway) which has found a second life as a café at the city's Schönefeld airport and right a historic French diesel train at Strasbourg station prior to an enthusiasts' railtour.
Nostalgia requires photographs!
An important part of the process of recording events which in later years will be of historic interest is the collation and storing of images. In 'olden times' this might have included paintings, mosaics, rock / cave wall art, etc.,
(as well as statues, busts, and more) but since the age of photography this has also included the taking of photographs - both still and moving.
The topic of harassment of people using cameras is also raised on the first of the Railfanning London's Railways pages .
Nostalgia requires photographs! These images come from London (left) and Strasbourg, France (right).
The London image was taken at Surrey Quays and shows a railway service [East London line] which has since been discontinued so that the line can be rebuilt and switched from being served by the Underground railway to a mainline railway 'TOC' (train operating company).
The Strasbourg image was taken on day when a special service was about to be operated, using historic rolling stock, as seen above.
Early Day Motion
By March 2008 the harassment of people using cameras had become so severe that Austin Mitchell MP - a keen photographer who chairs the Parliamentary All-Party Photography Group - tabled an 'Early Day Motion' (EDM) in the House of
Commons canvassing the support of fellow politicians in condemning police action against lawful photography in public places.
Photography conforms with the important ethical motto of doing no harm unto others
and the moral code which requires that people
Steam engines are the most popular form of railway nostalgia with many older people remembering them with affection from when they were younger and steam was the primary form of locomotion. However modern-day youngsters also find that despite being old-fashioned museum technology Steam engines posses an almost magical attraction. Maybe this is because with the constant hissing of steam and the general busy-ness of the drive gear they almost seem to be alive. What is usually forgotten is just how dirty they are - belching out massive amounts of sulphurous smoke that if the carriage windows are open will come into the train and make your clothes and face dirty. Steam locomotives are also very labour-intensive, not only needing two people to drive (driver and fireman - whose primary duties included shovelling the coal to keep the fire going) but also needing someone to create the fire long before the journey begins and clean out the firebox after it is over. Coal fired Steam locomotives sometimes also emit small slithers of burning coal which can ignite lineside vegetation.
|In addition to the many living museums / steam centres selected railway routes sometimes host steam 'specials' so that people can enjoy the nostalgic aspect of seeing and travelling on trains using steam locomotives. This sometimes includes
London Underground's District and Metropolitan lines - both of which used steam traction when they first opened.
This busy scene comes from Amersham.
|Although steam engines have a definite "front" and "back" it often happened that they would travel with the tender (which is the back) leading. Seen during a "Thomas the Tank Engine" weekend event (hence the "face") at the Bluebell Railway, West Sussex.|
|Footplate views of the steam locomotive seen in the view above right.
This is from where the train would be driven - ie: the driver's cab in modern parlance. The fire is, of course, essential as it heats the water which when converted into steam provides tractive force. If the fire should die down, and the water cool, then the train would come to a halt.
|This view from a station footbridge offers excellent views of the coal bunker on the tender - and the train driver's bald patch!!!||When standing on the station platform next to a steam locomotive which is ready to depart the constant "busy-ness" of the engine, eg: with steam ejecting out (as here) etc., really helps to create the impression of a living being.|
|The above two views come from The Mid-Hants Railway, which is also known as the Watercress Line. This is just one of the over 50 British living museums where a section of closed railway has been brought back to life so that people can enjoy leisure rides behind a steam (and at some living museums) diesel locomotives.|
|These two images come from the lovingly restored Horsted Keynes station.|
|This preserved passenger carriage has had some of its fixed seats replaced with moveable chairs as this makes space for passengers who use wheelchairs.||Some trains include preserved buffet carriages where passengers can buy light refreshments. Many passengers on the mainline railways might have preferred that when these buffet carriages were withdrawn they had been replaced with new ones offering similar facilities!|
Of the above ten images one comes from Amersham station which is served by Metropolitan Line and Chiltern Railway trains,
Tornado - Where Steam Becomes More Than Just Nostalgia!
Steam nostalgia is such a powerful force that in 1990 a charitable trust fund was founded to build a replica of a type of Steam engine where no examples were saved after the demise of steam as a main form of motive power in the 1960's. Named 60163 Tornado - after the Panavia Tornado military jet - it took until summer 2008 for her to be ready to make the momentous first journey under her own steam.
Designed to meet modern safety and certification standards, Tornado represents an evolution of the LNER Peppercorn Class A1 class, incorporating improvements likely to have been made had steam continued and some other small changes for cost, safety, manufacturing and operational reasons. Tornado is considered the 50th Peppercorn A1, numbered next in the class after 60162, Saint Johnstoun, built in 1949. and now sees frequent use hauling special leisure and nostalgia themed trains on the British rail network and on mainline-connected heritage railways.
Although theoretically capable of 100mph (160 km/h) Tornado is being restricted to just 90mph (140 km/h). Nevertheless she is still the fastest Steam locomotive on the British mainline railway.
Having achieved mainline safety certification Tornado is expected to remain available for premier mainline use at least until her 10-year fire-tube boiler re-certification in late 2018. As with many other steam locomotives, it is very possible that Tornado will remain in service for many decades - or at least until environmental and pollution regulations ban the use of coal in this way.
In an era when other countries are investing in electrically powered magnetic-levitation trains it may seen somewhat bizarre that here in Britain we should want to be investing in Steam Locomotives, however such is the power of nostalgia, the leisure industry and its money - making capability...
60163 Tornado at London Liverpool Street Station in September 2009 having just hauled the British portion of the Winton Train - which commemorates events in 1939 when Sir Nicholas Winton arranged the rescue of 669 children from German occupied Czechoslovakia - and was attended by Sir Nicholas himself, who was in his 100th year.
Railway Birthday Nostalgia
In January 2013 special celebrations were held for it being 150 years since the 1863 opening of London's Metropolitan Railway, this being the first ever underground railway.
The highlight of the celebrations were special train journeys on two Sunday's in January 2013 which included most of the original route... and more. What was truly special was that the special train only comprised original vintage Metropolitan Railway rolling stock - including a 1st class four wheel passenger carriage which was originally part of a fleet of such vehicles that had been built around the time of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, the Ashbury / Cravens passenger carriages which are seen below, a milk van, a steam locomotive (in steam!) and the electric locomotive named Sarah Siddons, as seen in the Electric Nostalgia section below.
The astonishment and bewilderment on the faces of ordinary passengers - especially unsuspecting overseas tourists who just happened to be on a station platform waiting for a train at the time the special train passed - had to be seen to be believed! Of course on seeing so many people with cameras filming the special train so the unaware soon became enlightened.
|The special train passing through Paddington station left and Kings Cross St Pancras station right.
Above are still images, below are videos which have been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website showing the train in action.
Clicking these links will make it possible to see larger versions of the films at YouTube in new windows
Left: Paddington station (District & Circle line platforms which date from 1868) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM3_p3gHKBA.
Right: Kings Cross St Pancras (subsurface platforms which date from 1941) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrOvKgD2yso.
As if the one event described above was not enough, August 2014 saw the same train carrying fare paying passengers who had bought a special advance-purchase ticket as part of celebrations for the 150th Anniversary of the Hammersmith & City railway which opened in 1864. This line comprised an extension from the Great Western Railway (GWR) main line near Paddington station to Hammersmith. Initially services were provided by the GWR using its broad gauge trains, however eventually solely Metropolitan Railway trains plied this route, which nowadays is served by Hammersmith & City and Circle line trains.
It is now more than a generation since diesels started replacing steam engines en masse and there is a slowly growing tendency for them too to become part of the Nostalgia movement (primarily older types that have been withdrawn from normal use by the mainline railway). As with Steam engines the Diesels use irreplaceable fossil fuels, make living (albeit growling) noises and emit exhaust fumes. Some railway living museums also use Diesels because they require far less manpower to operate and are ideal for days when the centre is open but expected visitor numbers are low. Diesels are also used in high summer when a drought alert poses a serious risk of Steam locomotives causing a lineside fire.
|An Ipswich - London Liverpool Street working hauled by a blue-liveried class 37 diesel engine passes through the inner London suburbs. This was seen in the days before the electric
wires had been extended to Ipswich.
The sight of a passenger carriage with a 'brake' section (for the guard & luggage, cycles, etc.,) will also bring tears to the eyes of both nostalgia buffs and present-day passengers who bemoan the fact that nowadays trains do not include such facilities.
The blue/grey livery has also become of nostalgic interest as well!
|After the class 37 locomotives stopped working on this service and before the electric wires reached Ipswich (when electric locomotives took over) these trains were often hauled by Brush class 47
This view was taken at London Liverpool Street Station in the days before it was rebuilt and shows a Class 47 locomotive after it had just been detached from the front of the train and was now waiting for the train to depart before it could travel through to the other end of the station and await its turn to haul the next train back to Ipswich.
The special livery was designed for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977.
Whilst preserved diesels do exist they are far less common than steam locomotives.
In Britain Nostalgic interest in mainline Electric trains is of a lesser order, mainly because until the 1960's only London & Southern England saw any significant railway electrification. Elsewhere there were just a handful of locally based schemes and almost without exception all the old locomotives were scrapped when they were withdrawn from active service. Britain also used to have many electrified industrial railways, such as at collieries, docks etc,. however almost all of these too have been closed and again very little remains. Even if they had been preserved questions related to the voltage and current type of the power supply plus for electric rail locomotives the safety issues would likely have prevented their use in the present era.
Although not true Nostalgia there is also much interest in various planned railway electrification schemes which never actually happened - or in London were partially completed and then the lines were closed.
|Ex-Manchester - Sheffield (via Woodhead Pass) Class 77 electric locomotive at a depôt open day. This route was Britains first mainline passenger overhead electric railway, with electric services commencing in 1954. These locomotives only hauled passenger trains and became redundant when scandalously in 1969 it was decided to divert passenger services over a different (non electrified) route. With no other mainline railway route in Britain being electrified at 1,500v dc these locomotives were then sold to Holland, where they provided sterling service until they were withdrawn in 1986.||Former NER (North Eastern Railway) engine at the National Railway Museum, York. This engine was used for freight duties on the electrified lines around Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and could draw power from both the third rail and overhead wires.|
One of the very few preserved electric locomotives which is still able be used to haul passenger trains, and hence has become a focus of electric railway nostalgia, is London's former Metropolitan Railway No.12, Sarah Siddons.
Clicking any of the four Sarah Siddons images below or here will lead to the first of several pages showing more (and larger) images in a new window.
|This 1980's image shows Sarah Siddons at South Ealing station in London Transport livery whilst it was still being used as a brake block test locomotive.||Sarah Siddons at Watford (Met) station during a steam and electric locomotive haulage event in the year 2000.|
Sarah Siddons has been used as part of so many nostalgic events that they cannot all be detailed here. Most have been on the outer sections of the Metropolitan Line north of Harrow-On-The-Hill station and involved former British Railways passenger carriages in conjunction with either steam or diesel locomotives, however in connection with 2013 celebrations for it being 150 years since the 1863 opening of London's Metropolitan Railway and 2014 being the 150th Anniversary of the Hammersmith & City railway which opened in 1864, Sarah Siddons was used at one end of a special train of solely original vintage Metropolitan Railway rolling stock and included part of the original subterranean section of the Metropolitan Line in central London. On both occasions the special train travelled west from Moorgate station, with all journeys extending to Edgware Road and some journeys travelling onward to other western destinations which varied according to the special event timetable.
|The special train with Sarah at the rear passes through Wood Lane station, also seen is an S stock train travelling towards Hammersmith (Met) station.||The special train headed by Sarah Siddons waits for the correct departure time at Moorgate's platform No.4.|
More about Sarah Siddons and the rest of the fleetOriginally part of a fleet of 20 electric locomotives Sarah Siddons was built in 1923 by the former Metropolitan Railway for its London - Chesham / Amersham - Aylesbury (and beyond) services which until WW2 sometimes even included a Pullman carriage offering light refreshments. These engines hauled trains over the electrified section between London and Harrow-On-The-Hill (or, after 1925, Rickmansworth) whilst steam locomotives operated services over the rest of the route. The use of electric locomotives to haul passenger trains ended in September 1961 and initially Sarah Siddons was one of eight locomotives which escaped the "knacker's yard" - four went to British Railways (London Midland Region) for electric locomotive testing purposes and four remained with London Transport for "operational" reasons, such as acting as depôt shunters.
Eventually however their nostalgic value was realised and two have been preserved. One of these now lives at the London Transport Museum which is located at Covent Garden in central London http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/ whilst Sarah Siddons has been kept in fully operational condition and sometimes takes part in leisure-orientated events such as "Steam on the Met" (above right). Until railway privatisation some railtours even saw her hauling British Railways InterCity carriages on both the Underground and the 3rd rail Southern Electric networks.
Named Galatea and Mayflower (after two yachts contesting in the 1886 America's Cup) the two Pullman carriages were introduced in 1910 and using different electric locomotives were the first electrically hauled Pullman's "anywhere" globally. They were for first class passengers only and as usual there was a supplement (extra charge) for travelling in them. Initially this was either 6d (ie: six pence in real money or 2½p in modern decimal money) or 1s 0d (ie: one shilling, which equated to 12 pence in real money or 5p decimal) according to distance travelled, although later this was reduced to just 6d for all journeys. In addition to offering freshly cooked light refreshments they were also fitted with toilets, which - as was usual in those days - discharged on to the tracks and were even allowed to be used whilst travelling through tunnelled sections of the route. Their demise came as a wartime economy in October 1939, and it is reported that neither survived. Scones and afternoon cream tea anyone?
As an aside, the trains designed by the London Tilbury and Southend Railway for the through Southend Corridor Express service between Ealing Broadway station in west London, over the District Railway tracks to east London and then through to the seaside town of Southend-On-Sea also featured toilets, but rather than allow them to discharge on to the tracks they were fitted with retention tanks.
Passenger Carriage Nostalgia
As with the locomotives most passenger coaches are scrapped when withdrawn from service. Just occasionally however an item of rolling stock escaped the knackers yard because the railway company wanted to use it for various internal purposes (or it was sold to someone to use as a holiday home, chicken shed, etc), and it is these, together with examples of the few types of rolling stock withdrawn within the last decade (or so) that have formed the basis for restoration to become part of the Nostalgia movement. Future historians may regret that in some cases a lack of general interest (and a consequential inability to raise funds) has also seen items 'saved' by preservationists ending up being scrapped.
Passenger carriage nostalgia also includes an interest in what could perhaps be described as the core design / passenger amenities / ambiance of older rolling stock, which sometimes is said to be more favourable than that of modern trains.
|Luxury travel in an observation coach on a preserved railway...why can't more railways offer these sort of facilities nowadays too?||Retired passenger carriages converted for use on
an overhead wire maintenance train.
At one time travelling in the Pullman carriage was considered the height of luxury - with passengers usually having to pay a supplement (extra charge) for travelling in them.
Traditionally Pullman carriages were painted in umber (a form of dark brown) and cream but under British Railways this was changed to a variant of its blue / grey InterCity livery.
|Pullman carriages were usually named and the carriage seen here is Vera. See text below for more information.
Image & license: Phil Scott / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
|The former Manchester Pullman which ran until 1985;
this train is seen in the revised white / blue Pullman livery.
The Pullman carriage named Vera seen above was originally part of the Brighton Belle train which between 1934 and 1972 linked the fashionable south coast town of Brighton with London's Victoria
station. (5BEL Car No.284, train No. 3052). The Brighton Belle was a prestigious service which consisted of three sets of five carriage electrically powered multiple-unit
trains, with the entire train featuring Pullman carriages. Following the withdrawal of these trains all the carriages were preserved - although alas one was since lost in a fire - with some of them having
found a second life working on the British section of Venice Simplon Orient Express (VSOE) service, as seen here at London's Victoria station.
Brighton Belle Pullman Restoration
In 2008 it was decided to try and restore a 5-carriage Brighton Belle train so that it could be used on the leisure market. The project will be as
faithful as possible to the train as it originally was, but will include some 'present-era' upgrades - including with the electrics and the requirement for either centralised door control or secondary
locks on the passenger doors. In that respect it is fortunate that some ex-Brighton Belle Pullman cars are already operating with an accepted 'safety case' on VSOE services. Although the revitalised train will
be capable of operating on the Southern 3rd rail electric network on its own, another new feature will see it being able to be hauled over other routes behind a diesel (and possibly electric) locomotive.
Another famous Pullman train was the 'Golden Arrow' Boat Train, and one of its former carriages (named Orion) has now found a second life as a static dining car at 'Pecorama',
which is one of Devon's leading leisure destinations.
The private four seat compartment in the Pullman Car 'Orion' at Pecorama. See text left for more information.
In the early days of the railways passengers travelled in four wheel carriages which were not that different to horse-drawn stagecoaches. One (of the many) railway companies which built such carriages was London's Metropolitan Railway. One of these carriages is still extant and after restoration has become of heritage / nostalgic interest.
The fleet of Jubilee carriages (so named in honour of Queen Victoria's 1887 Golden Jubilee) were built for services which travelled to Chesham and Aylesbury, although similar carriages were also built for what at the time was known as the Inner Circle and nowadays as the Circle Line. They were withdrawn in 1905, when the Metropolitan Railway introduced new electric trains on its urban services.
Having ended up as a shed on a farm, this beautifully restored 1st class varnished teak carriage makes for a stark contrast with trains of the present era! Note how it is luxuriously furnished with deep buttoned upholstery - even on the insides of the carriage doors. Each seating bay also includes the Metropolitan Railway MR logo. Originally they used pressurised gas lighting, however when refurbished it was found that electric LED lights offered a visually similar but much safer way to mimic the appearance of the gas mantles.
This carriage is used variously with the Metropolitan Heritage train and the Metropolitan Vintage train, alongside an original Metropolitan milk van which also survived to the present era and has been restored.Further reading:
Restored 1st Class four wheel Metropolitan Railway Jubilee carriage.
Clicking either of these two images or here will lead to one of several pages about former Metropolitan Railway vintage and historic passenger coaches showing more (and larger) images in a new window.
There are so many preserved passenger carriages that it is not possible to mention more than a handful of examples. Virtually all of the 50+ British historic / leisure-themed railways use historic rolling stock which may vary from Victorian-era vintage four-wheelers to former British Railways passenger carriages which were built in the 1960's.
|Seen at the Bluebell Railway are two 3rd class 1889 London Chatham & Dover Railway (LCDR) brake vans.
Left: No.114 has been restored to its original unpainted / varnished teak condition, which includes the distinctive LCDR guard's ducket (lookout) at one end of the carriage which allows the guard to see along the train without sticking his head out the window (see insert at image left edge). Alongside it is part of similar brake van No.3360 which has been painted in the South East & Chatham Railway (SECR) purple lake livery it carried from 1901 onwards.
Right: As several of these LCDR brake vans survived to the present era it was decided to take advantage of the double doors and make it possible for the Bluebell Railway to have a vintage item of rolling stock that is wheelchair accessible. Therefore only two of the compartments in No.3360 were restored as such. The former guards area near the double doors plus the adjacent compartment have been combined to form an accessible saloon. Much of the finance to restore this brake van in this way came from the Big Lottery Fund's 'The People's Millions' where people vote for the project they would like to see funded.
Preserved GWR 1920/21 Churchward City Stock passenger carriage at Didcot Railway Centre which specialises in all things from the former GWR.
Extra platform staff were needed when calling at Metropolitan Railway stations, this was to ensure that all passenger doors were closed and the train was ready to depart as soon as possible. On a busy railway that (in the peak hours) ran more trains per hour than is possible in the present era it was seen as very important that no station dwell time became a source of delays for the entire service.
The City Stock carriages were primarily used on suburban services out of Paddington station, however until 1939 some peak-hour workings were extended to the City area of London via the 1863 route of the Metropolitan Railway - these switched between steam and Metropolitan Railway electric locomotives (such as Sarah Siddons, as seen above) at Paddington.
Initially there were six close coupled sets of City Stock passenger carriages which operated in six carriage formation, formed of 2x third class brake, 2x third class and 2x 1st/3rd composites. In 1925 a further three trains were built, these comprised two sets of 3x triplet articulated carriages per train.
Clicking the photograph of the City Stock passenger carriage or here will lead to one of several pages with more (and larger) images as part of an eclectic collection of historic British trains and their interiors in a new window.
|Whilst most passenger carriages on the Mid Hants Railway have now been painted in British Railways Southern Region Green this 2005 photograph also shows preserved British Railways Mk1 and Mk2 passenger carriages in London Midland Region Maroon, green and Network SouthEast liveries.||A film of the GWR Travelling Post Office in action at the Didcot Railway Centre, as described below|
|A former GWR Travelling Post Office vehicle at the Didcot Railway Centre and lineside apparatus for collecting mailbags whilst the train is passing by.
A video showing the Travelling Post Office vehicle in action has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched either above or at YouTube by clicking here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EGQWAZghaM .
|Also at the Didcot Railway Centre are these present-era replicas of third (both images) and second (right) class passenger carriages from the early days of the railways
- in fact from the days when the GWR used broad gauge trains. They were built in 1984 for the Science Museum, to celebrate 1985 being 150 years since the passing of the Act of Parliament which formed
the Great Western Railway Company in 1835. The third class carriage is based on an 1838 design. Whilst the second class carriage also originally dates from 1984 it was rebuilt in 2010.
Third class passengers travelled in open wagons which were fitted with wooden cross-bench seats. Second class passengers were more fortunate in that they benefitted from carriage roofs and sides, although there was no glazing. There were four compartments, with semi-open wooden partitions between them. Each compartment could only be accessed from its own side doors.
Clicking the photographs of either of the replica passenger carriages or here will lead to one of several pages with more (and larger) images as part of an eclectic collection of historic British trains and their interiors in a new window.
'Open' and 'Compartment' Seating Comparisons in a Nostalgic Context
Some of the photographs seen below are part of an eclectic collection of historic British trains and their interiors
|Apart from preserved carriages no British trains still feature the 'traditional' compartment (with side corridor walkway), passenger controlled lighting and heating controls, large picture windows plus (in first class) 3 aside seating, fold-up armrests and individual reading lamps. These images come from an early version of the Mk2 carriage which has opening windows rather than air conditioning.|
|Especially in first class compartments often included reading lights which the passengers could use if they wished. Also note the full luggage rack.||Passenger controlled heating controls within a compartment. Both these images come from an older Mk1 carriage which features bench type seating.|
|A comparison between standard class individual seating in
an early version of the Mk2 carriage which has opening windows (left) and a later build with sealed windows and air conditioning (right).
|Older style standard class bench type seating in a Mk1 open carriage.||Opening window - the guides marked the extent to which it could be opened to provide ventilation without causing a draught.|
Individual seating in a refurbished MK1 open carriage which used to operate on medium distance services in southern England. The seats are arranged in bays around large picture windows where the lower sill is low enough for a seated child to see out of the window. Note the "mini" tables under the windows which are ideal for a cup of coffee (from the refreshment trolley, as regrettably in the latter years these trains no longer had proper buffet carriages), but not much else.
Some people would say that with the easy visibility through the picture window and its low window sill this type of seating represents where nostalgia points to the pinnacle of passenger carriage design. The ability of family / social groups to sit together in a seating bay (or several seating bays) is part of what makes the journey so enjoyable. However, as not all passengers (especially singles / couples) want to sit with total strangers in this way so some 'airline' style seating is desirable as well - providing the seat pitch gives sufficient leg room.
At the lowest end of the luxury scale are these third class 100 seater carriages from the former Southern Railway. They were so named because they have 10 compartments per carriage, each of which can seat 10 passengers (five a side). Railway carriages with sliding doors tend to trade considerably fewer seats with significantly more space for standing passengers - and usually a few carriages (per train) will also include dedicated spaces for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
Also of note in the image above left is the golden honey coloured carriage seen next to the Southern Railway carriage, and (in both images) the hand operated open 'slam' doors. The 'golden honey' carriage has wooden sides which were varnished instead of painted, this is further explained below, after which the hand operated open doors are further explored.
Passenger Carriage Painting
Early railway carriages were based on the horse-drawn stagecoach, and (initially) used similar materials and construction techniques. As time progressed methodologies changed and once the skills for building metal sided carriages had been developed this (eventually) became the preferred option as metal was much stronger, and safer, especially in case of fire. However where the metal used is steel it (like wood) needs protecting from the elements, which usually means painting it. Other benefits of painting include that where trains are dedicated to specific services / specific routes they could be painted in ways which make them easier for passengers to identify (typically by means of different colours / special brandings) and that it can help build a corporate image, so that the items of rolling stock could be seen as mobile advertisements for the railway company.
During the era of wooden sided carriages some railway companies preferred to varnish their trains rather than paint them. The LNER (London & North Eastern Railway) was famous for this - although they did paint some rolling stock too - and prior to the grouping of 1923 some other railway companies also chose to highlight the natural beauty of the wood by varnishing rather than painting their rolling stock. Typically these carriages featured teak panels. Teak was often chosen because it is easily worked and has natural oils that make it suitable for use in exposed locations - where it is durable and long lasting, even when not treated with oil or varnish.
On the London Underground trains built between the late 1950's until the 1980's featured unpainted aluminium sides. There are several reasons for this choice of metal which dates from the post-war era when steel was in short
supply. These reasons include:
However by the mid-2000's the process of mid-life refurbishment saw the previously unpainted trains being painted. One reason why painting came back in fashion was that the process of removing graffiti vandalism damaged the surface of the metal, which created a 'down at heel' impression. Painting also brought the trains into line with newer legislation that requires railway carriage entrance doors to be in contrasting colours, so as to help people who do not have 20/20 vision find where to board the trains. For what it is worth painting also saw the unpainted fleet being brought into line with respect to 'corporate image'. (Different people will have different points of view on the necessity for this).
|Some LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) passenger coaches with teak panelled sides. The variations in shade seen here were not unusual, bearing in mind that the wooden panels were a natural product of different ages.
Image & license: Black Kite / en.Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0
|This train dates from the early 1960's and is seen in its original unpainted format. Later in their life these trains were painted in corporate red / white / blue livery.
This view comes from Chesham station, and the train is on a service which at one time was operated by the former Metropolitan Railway carriages seen below. As with the mainline railways, replacing slam door trains with these sliding door trains also resulted in a significant reduction in seating capacity.
Another railway which varnished its wood sided passenger carriages was London's Metropolitan Railway (MR). These views show the 'Ashbury' carriages which date from 1898, this being a time when the MR was just one of the many privately owned British railway companies.
The MR's demise came in 1933 when - at the government's behest - it was forcibly merged into what became known as The London Passenger Transport Board. It should be noted however that despite
its mainline pretensions (the MR saw itself as a mainline railway company and vigorously fought against its de facto takeover by the motorbus & tube railway operating combine) the MR had escaped
the groupings of the mid 1920's, which affected virtually all the other British railway companies outside of London.
Passenger Carriage Doorway Nostalgia
For many years passenger trains were accessed via hand operated outward-opening swing doors, which passengers had to open and close just like most house etc., doors. In Britain these were often called slam doors, although other English speaking nations sometimes used different names. These doors were (and are, where they still exist) very simple in operation, but unless locked by a railway official prior to leaving each station there was always a possibility of someone opening one during a journey - and falling out. Whilst the locking of doors was often possible it was rarely done - except to prevent passenger use of a / several specific doorway(s) for reasons such as the complete closure of a section of the train. One reason for this would be because a lot of station staff would then need to be available at every station the train stopped at to unlock and (prior to departure) re-lock the doors. Otherwise with just a couple of station staff there would (potentially) be very long station dwell times. Of course this would be totally unviable & uneconomic - especially for services where the trains stopped frequently. Another reason for not locking the doors between stations follows a handful of events in the early days of the railways when there were accidents which saw the passenger carriages (which in those days were mostly made out of wood) catching fire and resulting in high losses of life of the otherwise unhurt but trapped passengers.
Mention should also be made of the various railcars (combined steam locomotive plus passenger accommodation in the one vehicle) which operated on quieter rural routes and sometimes featured either inward swinging or hand operated sliding doors. However compared with the rest of the coaching stock these were relatively few in number.
A comparison between trains with hand operated slam doors and guard controlled powered sliding doors.
This is Harrow & Wealdstone station. Filmed in the early 1980's this viewpoint is now blocked by a brick wall.
British Railways (North London Lines) Class 501 electric train left and London Transport (Bakerloo Line) 1938 Tube train right;
both trains were northbound - travelling to Watford Junction.
Nowadays (2014) the Euston - Watford Junction service is operated as part of the London Overground network whilst the Broad Street - Watford Junction / Croxley Green services no longer operate. In addition, this station has become the northern terminus for the Bakerloo Line London Underground trains.
Using passenger carriages of virtually identical physical formation to the other urban railways, when they first opened London's Metropolitan Railway and Metropolitan District Railway originally did the same as other mainline steam railways, although the 'slam' doors sometimes were a nuisance in the tunnels as where clearances were tight a swinging open door would occasionally physically strike the tunnel wall as the train continued its journey. Britains' first urban 'open air' electric railway (the former Liverpool Overhead Railway - LOR) also built its trains with the traditional 'slam' doors.
Starting in 1903, when the first steam-hauled urban railway electrification schemes began operating in Merseyside, Tyneside and then London, some railway companies decided to copy the solution which had been adopted on London's deep level tube lines (see below) and built new trains with end vestibules (sometimes open, sometimes enclosed) that used metal lattice gates which were opened by guards specially employed for this duty. For reasons of weather protection the guards were often allowed to travel in 3rd class carriages between stations. However this arrangement did not last very long and the gates were soon replaced with either inward opening swing-type doors or hand operated sliding doors. Some railway companies fitted balancing gear and self latching locks to make the doors easier to close and prevent them from sliding open when the train was braking. With present-day risk adverse eyes the idea that it was not unusual for hand operated sliding doors to be left open whilst travelling between stations must sound alarming, but despite the danger of people falling out it seems that this rarely (if ever) happened - even on crowded rush hour trains. Passengers understood the risks to life and limb and acted in ways which ensured their personal safety.
As time and experience progressed, attempts by the first two London railways which electrified their trains to reduce station dwell times as passengers boarded and alighted at just the carriage ends saw the Metropolitan Railway adding an extra set of hand operated sliding double doors located midway along the carriage, although right up to the end of its independence new trains for longer distance services which mostly travelled on surface alignments were still being built with hand operated outward opening slam (swing) doors. By way of contrast, the Metropolitan District Railway saw a solution in doing away with the end doors completely and instead building trains which featured three sets of hand-operated double sliding doors spread along the carriage sides. However as far as I've been able to discover, none of the other railways which introduced new trains when they electrified their urban / suburban services subsequently changed the door configurations to reduce station dwell times. To a large extent this will be because the new trains still featured the traditional slam doors. eg: MSJ&A (Manchester - Altrincham), LNWR to the north and west of London and LSWR / LBSCR in south London.
The 1905 electric trains built by London's Metropolitan District Railway included the innovation of air-operated sliding doors, however the air equipment proved to be troublesome and they were soon converted to hand-operation. In London air operation was tried again on some of the new trains built in 1935, and having (this time) been found viable many older trains were converted to air operation, with all newer trains featuring this from the outset. However the use of trains with hand operated sliding doors only fully ended on London Underground subsurface services when the relevant rolling stock was replaced with newer trains after WW2. Outside of London new trains introduced in 1938 for the Merseyside (Liverpool, etc) area featured air operated doors, with a second batch finally replacing the rest of the older trains in the 1950's, and the last trains with hand operated sliding doors were taken out of service in Tyneside in the 1960's. Perhaps inspired by matters financial, when (after WW2) the LOR modernised some trains it included replacing the slam doors with sliding doors, and perhaps had the line's fate been different the rest of the fleet would have been rebuilt in a similar way.
This is not meant to be about railway electrification, which explains why some railway electrifications are only minimally mentioned (if at all).
Information about these can be found on the Suburban Electric Railway Association website.
|These images show one of the Metropolitan Railway's (MR) 1898 'Ashbury' carriages which features a single leaf hand operated slam door leading to each of the individual compartments and therefore is typical of the many
thousands of passenger carriages on most railways throughout Britain (and beyond).
Until the early 1960's several fleets of slam door compartment trains such as these were operated on Londons' (now truncated) Metropolitan Line between London and Aylesbury, changing between steam and electric locomotives during station stops at either Harrow-On-The-Hill or (after 1925) Rickmansworth stations. Even in 1931 the MR was building new slam door trains, although by then they featured steel sides (which were painted maroon) and were of the self-propelled 'electric multiple unit' type.
|This image taken at London's Liverpool Street station in the 1980's shows a train built by British Railways demonstrating how passengers would often leave the doors open after alighting, often delaying the train as it could not leave
until they had all been closed.
In this example the station is a terminus where everybody alighted and there was a short period of time before the train left again, nevertheless a member of staff would be required to walk along the platform closing all the doors before it could commence its next journey.
|This image taken in Sydney, Australia in the 1980's shows a train with hand operated sliding doors, three of which have been left open. The train had just crossed the famous Harbour Bridge and is
seen whilst entering the tunnels which travel under the city centre.
Apologies but the scanner I was using at the time introduced a thin green line to images...
Because of the small diameter of the single bore tunnels and limited clearances between the side of the trains and the tunnel walls the use of traditional railway outward-opening swing doors was prohibited on the deep level tube lines. In addition, especially at first inward-opening doors were regarded as being almost impossible to arrange within the very restricted height of the carriages, and when at a later date they were introduced (in London) it was found that by opening inwards they impinged upon passenger space (something which was then forgotten until experienced again in the 1980's on London's Docklands Light Railway). Therefore instead of fixed doors the early deep level tube lines decided to copy a solution already used on rapid transit lines in the USA, this being that of locating entrance platforms at the car ends and protecting them using various types of hand operated metal gates. Being mostly (or even entirely) below ground weather protection was not a major consideration. Depending on the railway company these included Bostwick style sliding gates (as were used on lifts) and hinged opening gates (as seen below) which were opened / closed by 'gatemen' who travelled with the trains. Even with the entrances of two intermediate car ends controlled by one gateman this system was labour intensive. In the USA it was usual for trains to only pick-up a relative few passengers at intermediate suburban stations and then for all passengers to want to alight at the terminus - where it was relatively easy to allow plenty of time for everyone to disembark, but as London's trains became busier it was soon found that with large numbers of passengers trying to both board and alight at the many stations en route by only having entrances at the carriage ends the station dwell times often became quite lengthy.
Later batches of rolling stock tried to reduce station dwell times by means of an extra doorway in the centre of the carriage. After an unsuccessful trial (circa 1911 - 1914) with a new train which featured pneumatically operated sliding doors (at the carriage centre and at both ends) the chosen solution was to retain the outer gates and add one set of inward opening double swing doors at the centre of the passenger saloon. The central doors were self closing (by means of springs fitted under the floor) and electronically latched, with the system being designed so that they would be automatically unlocked by the gatemen when they opened the gates and it then being up to passengers to physically open the doors, as required. A red light by the gateman's position illuminated when the doors were released, and a green light when locked. Switches located on the roof canopy above the end platforms allowed the gateman to decide whether the central doors should remain locked, or could be opened even if the end gates remained closed. Although this system worked reasonably well experience soon showed that the self closing feature resulted in passengers often struggling to pass through the middle doorway whilst holding both doors open, with the alternative of only holding one of the doors open leaving an opening that was a 'bit of a squeeze'. To remedy this and make life easier for the passengers, soon after their introduction the trains were modified so as to replace the double doors with single wider doors.
The next few batches of trains (which entered service in the 1920's) retained the central single leaf door but also completely replaced the gatemen by featuring similar doors at the car 'ends' as well. Also around the same time a small batch of new trains was introduced which featured air powered sliding doors, which eventually became the favoured solution with many (but not all) existing gate end trains being converted to air operated doors too. In some cases the conversion saw trains being fitted with extra wide single leaf doors about 1/3rd and 2/3rds along the car side, with the former gate ends being sealed and incorporated within the passenger saloon. Since then door configurations have varied with trains typically featuring two sets of single or double doors in the main 'body' of the car plus sometimes extra single doors at the ends as well.
Britain's only other small profile 'tube' railway is in Glasgow, and here they initially used collapsible steel gates (some sources suggest that these were power-operated). Later the gates were rebuilt with solid sliding doors, and nowadays the trains have powered sliding doors. A unique feature of the Glasgow system is that originally all stations used island platforms and the trains only needed entrances on one side of the carriage. However that is no longer the situation.
Although no complete gate-end carriages survived into preservation the rear of a 1909 motor car built by the former Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway (which nowadays is known as the Piccadilly Line) has been preserved so that future generations can see the gate end arrangement.
The view above right shows the inside as seen looking through the glass window.
These photographs were taken at the London Transport Museum's Acton Depôt, which is only open to the public on special occasions.
|This 1920's tube car features air operated sliding doors with a central pillar between them. Possibly the idea was to encourage twin passenger flows through the two doorways, but experience showed that
this door configuration slowed down passenger access during station stops and therefore was not repeated on later batches of trains.
The original trains on London's Docklands Light Railway (which were known as P86) featured inward opening powered doors, this being a configuration which had been tried and found wanting many years before... and as before it was quickly realised that by impinging upon passenger space just inside the doorway - especially at busy times when the train was crowded - they reduced the train's overall passenger capacity by preventing people from standing near the doors whilst they opened and closed.
There is a saying that those who forget the lessons of history are destined to relive it, and this is exactly what happened!
This image shows one of these trains after having been sold to Essen in Germany and before conversion to single leaf sliding doors.
Historical return: a P86 DLR train with inward folding doors
- see text to explain the significance of this.
Nowadays virtually all trains have doors which will only open after the guard / train captain or the driver activates an electronic unlock. Once released passengers using the few types of rolling stock which still have hand operated doors still have to manually open the doors (usually from the outside - passengers inside the train must open the window and use the hand operated lever on the outside) whilst on trains with powered doors they (usually) have to press a button near to the door for it to open. Many types of train on the London Underground are fitted with buttons to open the doors (and on some trains close them too) however the transport operator prefers that its staff open all doors at all stations, and (apparently) has even threatened to discipline its staff for allowing passengers to use the passenger door buttons. Especially in the winter passengers would prefer that they controlled the doors, so that doors not being used during station stops remained closed - particularly at 'open air' stations, as this helps reduce draughts and keep the train warm.
Of course the use of electronic over-ride locks on the trains with hand operated doors and the widespread use of powered sliding doors is by far a safer way to operate the railway, however many of the passengers who are old enough to remember the hand operated sliding doors still lament their loss - especially as in hot weather a slightly ajar door could be a very good source of a refreshing breeze.
|An enclosed end vestibule and the inside of a door on a 1950's Mk1 'slam door' Inter-City carriage which nowadays is used in the leisure market giving passengers railtours around Britain. At the top of the door
is a retrofitted extra lock (seen here unlocked) which ensures that the door is properly closed when travelling between stations, thereby bringing it up to present day standards.
In the insets along the right-hand side of the image can be seen a lock in the closed position plus some of the passenger information notices seen at this and other doorways on the train.
|Passenger push-button door controls on a modern Mk4 InterCity train. Before the door will open the guard must first 'enable' the door open button, and on this train this is indicated by the red light above the 'open' button extinguishing and the yellow LED lights around the open and close buttons illuminating.|
Self-propelled Passenger Carriage Nostalgia
Some passenger carriages are self-propelled, which means that they do not need a locomotive somewhere along the train (usually at the front) as tractive power is spread along the train.
Self-propelled trains existed for many years alongside trains hauled by steam locomotives. The earliest versions actually consisted of a passenger railcar with a small steam engine at one end. These were often called Railmotors and their intended purpose was to provide a more economic way of operating low capacity services and to increase the attractiveness of services on routes which faced stiff competition from tram and motor bus competition.
Railmotors came in two basic variants, these being of a small 0-4-0 steam locomotive with one end of a coach hung on it like a semi-trailer and a passenger carriage with a steam engine built into one end of it. The latter type would sometimes have a vertical (ie: upright) or transverse (ie: sideways, across the carriage width) boiler which required less floor space.
Railmotors were not normally very powerful, usually being just about able to power themselves plus perhaps an extra carriage. This made them very inflexible, as they were unable to cope with greater than expected passenger demands - an example being busy market days on an otherwise lightly-used rural branch line. They were also unable to haul goods wagons, requiring conventional locomotives to be stationed on the same line for these duties.
For the busiest of urban railways a different type of self powered train was the electric train, and despite the cost of the trains (or converting existing trains to electric traction) and installing the electrical infrastructure along the entire route for a while this became the only viable alternative to steam traction. Electric trains are looked at below.
|Railmotor as used on the Cardiff, Penarth & Cogan section of the Taff Vale Railway. There were 16 of these railmotors, which in those days was considered to be a large fleet.
Image: Wikipedia encyclopædia. Copyright expired / public domain.
|LNER publicity photo of a Sentinel-Cammell Steam Rail-Car.
Image: Wikipedia encyclopædia. Copyright expired / public domain.
After borrowing and being impressed by a 1902 steam railmotor which had been built for the London and South Western Railway, in 1903 the Great Western Railway (GWR) introduced its first railmotor, and by the time production finished in 1908 it had a fleet of 99 carriage units plus 112 interchangeable power units which could be swapped between the carriages to suit maintenance needs. Although many other railway companies also used steam railmotors the GWR had the largest fleet. A few railway companies also used fuels other than steam, however always in small numbers. Whilst there was no doubt that the railmotor offered many passenger enticing features and helped keep railway services successful in the face of tram and (nascent) motor bus competition, the vehicles themselves presented maintenance challenges in that when being serviced they took up much valuable workshop space (after all, they were longer than steam locomotives) and the proximity of the boiler made it difficult to keep the passenger space clean. In addition, their success soon became such that on some routes longer trains became required, but adding an extra carriage often made them so sluggish that they had difficulty keeping to the timetable.
To solve this (in 1905) the GWR experimented with adding extra equipment to some small tank engines and separate passenger carriages so that they could work as fixed units where the driver could drive from the far end of the passenger carriage(s), eliminating the need to run the engine round to the other end of the train at the end of each journey. These became known as auto-trains, and the carriages which were fitted with the extra equipment at the vestibule end for the driver to use becoming known as autocoaches or auto-trailers. This concept allowed the trains to operate in 'push-pull' mode, making them similar to short multiple-unit (electric) trains where only one of the passenger carriages are motored. Experience found that one intermediate trailer (which had been fitted with the required mechanical train control linking equipment) could be located between the autocoach and locomotive without there being so much slack in the mechanical linkings that the concept started to become unworkable. Another option was for trains to be formed of several autocoaches with the locomotive between them.
With trials of autotrains having proven successful, withdrawals of the railmotors began in 1914 and by 1935 they all had either been scrapped or converted to auto-trailers. The design proved very successful, with 163 examples in total - and the last being built by British Railways as late as 1954!
In addition to creating an 'almost' self-powered train where the power unit was powerful enough to haul several passenger carriages another advantage of the autotrain concept was that the locomotive could be detached for maintenance - or for use on a freight train.
None of the former GWR railmotors survived in that format but No.93 (which in 1934 became autocoach No.212) has been converted back to its original format (albeit with a new power unit). It is normally kept at the Didcot Railway Centre where it is sometimes used in passenger service.
Photographs of the mechanical linkage system used on autotrains which facilitated the train driver controlling the locomotive from the auto-trailers can be found on this page at Wikipedia which also has some other autocoach photographs.
| Clicking these Railmotor photographs or
here will lead to a dedicated page showing
more (and larger) images in a new window.
|GWR Railmotor No.93 painted in Edwardian-era Crimson Lake livery at the Didcot Railway Centre.||Amid much smoke, steam and noise GWR Railmotor No.93 departs from Didcot Halt.|
Internal views of the larger passenger accommodation, which would have been for non-smoking passengers.
The view on the left is from Autotrailer No.92 whilst the view from the right is from Railmotor No.93.
At the far end of the Railmotor image it is just possible to see inside the much smaller passenger area, which was dedicated to passengers who liked to smoke - of course nowadays the entire train is designated as being 'non-smoking'.
More information about GWR Railmotor No.93, Autotrailer No.92 and the Didcot Railway Centre can be found by visiting these websites:
|Preserved Great Western railway 4757 class locomotive 5542 arriving at Totnes station on the South Devon Railway, England. The leading carriage of the train is a post-war autocoach which has been painted in British Railways crimson-and-cream livery.
Image & license: Geof Sheppard / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
|The driving end of an autocoach - these used a mechanical linking system which physically connected into the steam engine whilst the driver drove from the carriage end, making them the first viable type of multiple unit train.
Image & license: Les Chatfield / Flickr. CC BY 2.0
Other attempts at more economic ways of operating low capacity services typically provided by railmotors saw the use of liquid fuel railcars, which either used a mechanical drive system or were fitted with a way of producing electricity for an electric drive system. One of the railway companies which pioneered these alternative traction technologies was the North Eastern Railway (NER).
In 1903 the NER augmented the new fleet of 3rd rail electric trains which it was introducing on some of its busier services in the Tyneside area with two petrol-electric railcars. This is believed to have been the first time that an internal combustion engine had been used in a passenger carrying rail vehicle. They were withdrawn in the early 1930's but the bodywork of one of them saw a second life as a holiday home and therefore has survived to the present era. It is currently being restored to its 1923 form and will eventually be used on a living museum railway. Also being restored is a NER autocoach and the desire is to be able to operate the two together.
Another railway which experimented with a petrol-electric railcar was the Great Central Railway (GCR). The GCR had been influenced by such vehicles which since 1905 had been being used with reasonable success in Hungary. This vehicle was both lighter and more powerful than the NER vehicles and capable of hauling up to two unpowered passenger carriages as well. The GCR's vehicle was reasonably successful and lasted until 1936, by when it was under LNER ownership. When withdrawn from service it was replaced by a Sentinel railmotor.
In 1912 the GWR also built a four wheel petrol-electric railcar. This could out-perform the Railmotors, as it could travel at up to 35mph and had a range of 250 miles on a tank of liquid fuel but it suffered from an overheating problem and was withdrawn in 1919.
|NER petrol electric.
Image & license: Geof Sheppard / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
|restorng NER .
Image & license: Les Chatfield / Flickr. CC BY 2.0
With liquid fuel technologies advancing rapidly in 1922 the NER converted one of its petrol mechanical motorbuses to become a railcar, in the process adding driving controls and a radiator at the rear of the vehicle plus a passenger door on each side in the middle. This vehicle proved to be reasonably successful but in 1926 it met an untimely demise whilst being refuelled when someone used a naked paraffin lamp to check the amount of fuel in the tank(!) ...and within just 15 minutes the ensuing fire had sealed its fate. Another petrol railcar which the NER built in 1923 also only had a short life, being withdrawn in 1934, by which time it was under LNER ownership.
In 1924 the LNER trialled a Railmotor built by Sentinel and was so pleased with the results that in the period between 1925 and 1932 it bought 80 of them. These were were known as steam railcars, or to be exact Sentinel-Cammell Rail Cars. Over these years there was a continuous programme of innovation and improving technology which saw the Sentinel railcars become more powerful, with smooth six cylinder engines, gear drives and speeds of 40mph easily being achieved. Towards the end of this time period Sentinel built some double engined steam railcars which had an engine at each end and used a single larger, more powerful marine coal powered boiler. There was even one articulated twin car steam railcar, the trailer shared one of the railcar's two powered bogies plus had its own bogie at the far end. It had a very respectaphiliosophble claimed top speed of 64mph.
In 1927/8 the LNER also bought 11 steam railcars from Clayton. This was something that they soon came to regret as Clayton ceased trading in 1929 and it became so difficult to source spares that they ended up having to fabricate these themselves. The last of the Clayton railcars was withdrawn from service in 1937.
Initially the LNER's steam railcars were unpainted / in varnished teak 'livery' but this was changed to the green and cream livery the LNER used on its tourist passenger carriages.
What might have happened next is all conjecture, because the onset of war in 1939 saw everything change. The core operating philosophy of the railways changed from trying to attract passengers through more frequent services with cheaper to operate trains to trying to dissuade people from travelling and providing a bare minimum basic service. The very drastic reductions in service frequencies meant that fewer trains were needed whilst the reduced maintenance affected everything. Increasing age also started to affect the steam railcars and the wartime make do and mend philosophy was not suited to a series of small highly specialised rail cars that often needed intensive maintenance and repairs. By the end of the war only a handful of the LNER's Sentinel steam railcars remained in service and there was insufficient appetite (or ability) to restore service frequencies to prewar levels. The last of these steam railcars was withdrawn from service in 1948.
By the early 1930's oil fuel (diesel) was starting to find favour in Europe and several British railway companies decided to trial diesel railcars. Undoubtably the railway company which had the greatest success was the Great Western Railway (GWR) who by the onset of war in 1939 had a small fleet of diesel mechanical railcars.
The LMS bought just three streamlined Leyland four wheel railcars in 1933, these lasted until 1951. Although just single railcars (ie: not articulated) they could perhaps be seen as early examples of the Pacer trains that British Rail introduced many years later. Also in 1933 a luxury Armstrong Whitworth diesel-electric railcar operated a 12-seat express service on the LMS for two weeks in connection with a British Industries Fair. In 1934 this was purchased by the LNER. In 1937 the LMS bought a streamlined three carriage articulated trainset which was based on a design that was operating in Ireland. This was withdrawn in WW2. The war also scuppered the construction of a planned second similar trainset.
Between 1932 and 1934 the LNER bought four Armstrong Whitworth diesel-electric railcars. In 1934 the LNER investigated the effectiveness of its various railcars and this found that the best of the Sentinel steam railcars easily outperformed the diesel-electric railcars. This probably explains why it did not buy any more diesel-electric railcars. The LNER also noted how these railcars performed best when new and that their performance deteriorated as they aged. This may be been due to lack of knowledge of what maintenance needed doing. Several of these spent many months out of service after engine failures and all were withdrawn in 1939.
In addition to a perception that the technology was not quite mature enough to be relied upon another reason for the slow drift away from coal to liquid fuelled traction on the railways of mainland Great Britain would have been that this a was coal mining country which did not have any appreciable oil reserves, and in those days the concept of 'home' (or 'Empire') sourced goods was seen in a much more favourable light than it is nowadays.Karrier's Ro-Railer was a hybrid single decker bus, capable of running on both road and rail, intended for towns and villages distant from a railway. Also designed by J Shearman, road motor engineer to London, Midland and Scottish Railway it was tested by the chairman and board of directors of LM & S in January 1931 by travelling between Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead. Though it was not a success, Karrier's road railbus looked like a bus and could be changed from road to rail in 2½ to 5 minutes. With a six-cylinder engine and a body by Craven it ran at up to 50 mph. Said to be very rough-riding it ran for 1930/31 on the Stratford-on-Avon and Midland joint line. Finally it became a ballast vehicle on the West Highland Line.
Once the technologies became effective, the ability of diesel (and electric) traction to use multiple unit control offered many operational benefits over steam traction, as they facilitated several smaller trains combining at busier times and being driven by just the one driver. Whilst it was always possible to add extra carriages to locomotive hauled steam trains this was a much more involved process which required time consuming shunting of the carriages onto the train. As for railmotors, steam railcars and autotrains, the lack of an effective system for one person to simultaneously control all the traction packages from the front of the train plus the need for each coal fire to be looked after at all times makes it is difficult to see how multiple unit operation of these could ever have been practical option. For the sake of completeness, its worth noting that whilst sometimes trains were 'double-headed', which means that they had two steam locomotives at the front, each locomotive still needed people on its own footplate.
In the mid 1930's the Great Western Railway found that diesel railcars were attractive enough to passengers to increase passenger loadings on quieter routes. This this example is AEC Railcar No.22, it was constructed in 1940 and has been preserved as a working museum exhibit at the Didcot Railway Centre.
By the 1950's diesel railcar technology had advanced greatly but here in Great Britain the upheaval of war and nationalisation had resulted in the steam engine still reigning supreme. It was only with their demise that most railway routes around Britain started to become served by self powered trains, of which there were many types and on the vast majority of routes used diesel traction.
For lightly used lines in the late 1950's British Rail experimented with various designs of Railbus which - as the name suggests - shared many aspects of their construction with buses, usually having a bus-type body and four wheels on a fixed HSFV§ base, instead of being on bogies. Some could only be used on their own whilst others were also equipped for multiple-unit operation. §HSFV = High Speed Freight Vehicle, this being a generic term for a number of prototype 4-wheeled rail vehicles.
Even some routes which were eventually closed by Dr Beeching lived long enough to see diesel traction replacing steam. Despite the new diesel trains being cheaper to operate (ie: helping to make branchlines more economic by reducing their operating costs) the reality is that officialdom - politicians & civil servants - had already decided that railway closures were needed. To their thinking the 'only' [sic] way forward was for the closures to continue. This was irrespective as to whether the new diesel railbuses could have represented a more cost effective solution.
In the 1970's the twin axle railcar concept was revisited and in co-operation with Leyland some single and two-car railbuses were built and tested. These vehicles were given a generic name of LEV (Leyland Experimental Vehicle) and in some cases comprised Leyland National bus bodies mounted on a modified four wheeled rail chassis. These became the forerunners of the two and three carriage Pacer (or Skipper on the Western Region) type trains which were built in the 1980's and are mostly still in use. Because of the short wheelbase, single axle wheelsets and type of suspension used these railbuses are sometimes nicknamed nodding donkeys, reflecting their up and down motion on uneven track.
A photograph of a triple-unit Pacer train at Knaresborough station can be seen on the Railways page, and of a twin-unit Pacer train near to York station on the Short Distance Trains page. The latter page also includes an internal view showing the bus-type seating.
|Railbus no. 79964 at York Railfest exhibition on 3rd June 2004. This vehicle now lives at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
Image & license: Our Phellap / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
|RB004 / LEV1 at the Telford Steam Railway.
Image & license: WaltTFB / en.Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0
After several decades almost all of the older first generation 1950's types of rolling stock were replaced with newer trains, and whilst many were scrapped in most cases the vehicles which remain extant have also become part of the nostalgia movement, both as single (static) vehicles and as fully working trains. It is perhaps ironic that even the operators of many museum and heritage railways which typically were created to keep steam locomotives alive have realised the cost effective benefits of using (historic) diesel railbuses on days when fewer visitors are expected and therefore it may not be financially viable to 'fire up' the steam engines (or when a shortage of volunteers means that there are not staff to operate the steam locomotives).
Other enthusiastic users of older / historic diesel rolling stock are the locally operated community railways who see the benefit in trains which are fully paid for.
Image courtesy of © http://www.the-siding.co.uk
|Both these views show Class 117 diesel multiple units. The view on the left was taken at Bishops Lydeard on the West Somerset Railway and it shows a trainset which has been restored to
near-original condition (plus behind it are some unknown carriages in Great Western Railway - Chocolate and Cream - livery).
The view on the right was taken in the 1980's when these trains were in daily use on services out of London Marylebone station. Here it is seen at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre (which is located at Quainton Road station) on a special passenger working from Aylesbury along part of the former Marylebone - Nottingham - Sheffield - Manchester Great Central Railway route. Passenger services are extended over what is now a little used freight-only rail line to this living museum several times a year.
These images show Class 105 diesel multiple unit trains in the mid-1980's when they were being used on routes serving London's Docklands and the Lea Valley which were later split into two services with the Docklands route eventually being electrified as part of London's North London Line.
Both photographs seen above were taken at London Stratford's low-level station. The image on the left looks north towards the high-level platforms and the top of a westbound unpainted aluminium livery Central Line 1962 tube stock train can be seen on the bridge in the background. Nowadays this entire area has been completely rebuilt so as to be totally unrecognisable - in 2010 a new platform (No.3A) for the Central Line trains opened on this side of the bridge (so that trains open their doors on both sides) and after a period of reconstruction 2011 saw the Docklands Light Railway's service between Canning Town and Stratford International using these low-level platforms, which are now Nos. 16 and 17.
Clicking either of these images or here will lead to a dedicated page showing more (and larger) images of DMU's at Stratford low-level station in a new window .
Although it was recognised that for busier routes electrification would provide a more cost effective transport solution, outside of London and southern England the period before the 1950's saw only a handful of lines being electrified, and as new trains were introduced almost all of the older trains were scrapped. Unfortunately even when attempts at preservation were made these sometimes ended in failure.
|In 1904 the North Tynside services between Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Tynemouth / Whitley Bay formed the first British suburban network (rather than just single lines) to be converted to electric traction.
This North Eastern Railway (NER) electric Motor Parcel Van No. 3267 is all that survives from the original rolling stock. Nowadays it is a static exhibit at the Stephenson Railway Museum.
Image & license: Robby George / Wikipedia encyclopædia Public Domain.
|In 1937 the LNER introduced a new fleet of electric trains for the North Tyneside services which unusually for Britain were articulated - each train unit comprised two carriages that shared a central bogie (wheel unit).
Services comprised 2, 4, 6 or 8 carriages depending on expected passenger demand and time of day.
Alas when these trains were replaced the entire fleet was scrapped / only photographs remain.
Image & license: Roger Cornfoot / The Geograph Project.
CC BY-SA 2.0 http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/295329
Nowadays much of the former Tyneside Electrics network is operated as part of the Tyne & Wear Metro, which in its own way is as innovative as the original 1904 electrification. As with the 1937 LNER trains, the Metro's rolling stock (called Metrocars) are also articulated / comprise two passenger carriages which share a central bogie, although here the carriage ends are fully open creating the ambiance of one very long walk-through carriage.
The one aspect of the conversion of the existing mainline railway routes to become part of a local urban transport system that was not wholly beneficial was the loss of the network effect with the mainline railway. Passengers are no longer able to buy through tickets from local stations to destinations on the mainline railway elsewhere in the UK, and the former through trains (especially on summer weekends) from other British towns and cities to the coastal resort of Tynemouth have had to be withdrawn.
More information about the Tyneside Electrics (plus links to further information) can be found at these links: ,
|The Liverpool Overhead Railway was electrically operated right from the outset in 1893. Here a southbound working is seen approaching Seaforth Sands railway station in May 1951.
Image & license: Dr Neil Clifton / The Geograph Project. CC BY-SA 2.0
|A display at the Museum of Liverpool showing the fully upholstered 1st class seating (left) and wooden slatted 3rd class seating (right) on the Liverpool Overhead Railway.
Image & license: Rept0n1x / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
|One LOR carriage was successfully preserved and it is now on public display in the Liverpool Overhead Railway gallery at the Liverpool Museum.
As these images suggest, to enhance the authenticity the display includes a replica of the 16 feet (4.9 m) high wrought iron girders on which most of the railway operated.
It is even possible to go inside part of the carriage.
Clear screens restrict the area which can be entered with dummy passengers populating the closed part of the carriage.
In 1903 the Mersey Railway - which linked Liverpool city centre with Birkenhead / the Wirral via a tunnel below the river Mersey - became the first British railway to fully convert to electric traction.
However it is worth noting the context in which this line was electrified.
In 1900 the then steam operated railway had been declared bankrupt - because despite using condensing type steam engines the air quality in the tunnels and stations was such that only the unwary / unknowing or the desperate used this railway. In 1901 the line was rescued from bankruptcy by people who realised that it really should be profitable, all it needed was breatheable air in the tunnels - which would be easily obtained if only it was converted to electric traction. They were right and nowadays the route below the River Mersey is an essential component of the Merseryrail Wirral line.
|An electric train emerging from the Mersey Railway Tunnel.
Image & license: Vintage photograph for which the copyright has expired.
|A Mersey Railway EMU travelling towards Liverpool having just departed from Birkenhead Park railway station in circa 1910.
Image & license: Vintage photograph for which the copyright has expired.
These views show what became known as the Class 503 Electric Multiple Units (EMU) in their final format, sporting the BR all-over blue with yellow ends livery. This is one of the original 1938 trains. They were used on the 3rd rail electric lines in Liverpool and its hinterland which form what is now known as the Merseyrail Electrics network.
The images seen here were taken in the late 1970's shortly before the trains were replaced.
These trains were first introduced in 1936 by the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS), at which time they were seen to be of a very advanced design for a mainline railway's suburban passenger trains, featuring things such as air operated sliding doors which were opened & closed by the guard. The routes they operated on in the Merseyside area included an underground link under the River Mersey between Wirral and Liverpool which in 1903 was the first British railway conversion from steam to electric traction (even before London!) - an act which probably saved the (then) Mersey Railway from bankruptcy due to people choosing to use the slower ferry over the Mersey and avoid the choking atmosphere created by the steam trains in the tunnel under the river.
In 1956 the then British Railways (BR) built a second batch of near identical trains, which in many ways was quite remarkable - as for virtually all other services elsewhere in Britain BR was still building and even designing new types of the more traditional 'slam door' trains.
Designed for speeds of up to 70mph (110km/h) they originally featured flat fronts - the doors were added in the 1970's to meet safety requirements for when the city centre single-track underground loop was built.
Attempts at preservation of Liverpool's historic trains has been somewhat tragic, with some preserved rolling stock then being destroyed, however some of the LMS trains remain extant, albeit in need of restoration. None of the pre-1930's trains are known to have survived.
More information about the Liverpool Overhead Railway and Merseyrail Electric trains (plus links to further information) can be found at these links:
|Although these trains were designed in the late 1930's by the LNER for local services in east London and Manchester they were not introduced until after war, by which time the LNER had been nationalised.
In their day they were seen to be of an advanced design for a British mainline railway as they featured powered sliding doors instead of the more traditional hand operated doors.
Withdrawn in the early 1980's, the one surviving 3 carriage unit has been painted into as near its original green livery as is possible - present-day rules require the yellow section at each end.
Nowadays the wooden marquetry inside the train is seen as a relic of a different era.
These trains were formed of 3 carriage multiple-units, with typically each complete train being formed of three such units, although single and double unit trains were sometimes operated. These views show what became known as Class 306 Electric Multiple Units (EMU) in their final format, sporting the BR all-over blue with yellow ends livery and operating under wires energised at 6,25kV AC and 25kV AC (at different sections of the line). When first built they were designed for 1.5kV DC operation, with conversion to AC power being undertaken in the early 1960's.
The Manchester versions of these trains (known as Class 506) remained in their original 1,500V DC format until they were withdrawn in 1984, this being concurrent with the electrical conversion of the remaining section of the Woodhead Manchester - Sheffield line to 25kV AC. These images them in two liveries, green with partial yellow front and their final format - the blue / grey livery. Generally they operated as solo 3 carriage units, except in then rush hours when two units operated as 6 carriage trains.
(The section of the Woodhead route east of Hadfield [towards Sheffield] was closed in 1981 - including the brand new specially built 3miles 66yds long Woodhead Tunnel which had only opened in 1954).
|Class 506 train with car no. M59404 leading at Manchester Piccadilly in July 1984. Note the location of the diamond shaped pantograph.
Image & license: Phil Richards / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 2.0
|A Class 506 (left) with an unidentified EM1 (Class 76) or EM2 (Class 77) electric locomotive at Guide Bridge in 1967.
Image & license: Geoffrey Skelsey / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC-BY-SA-4.0
More information about the suburban railway lines in the Manchester area which were electrified around the time of WW1 and the early 1930s (plus links to further information) can be found at these links:
Also worthy of note is the former Heysham - Morecambe - Lancaster line which was electrified in 1908 at 6.6 kV, 25 Hz AC. The original trains were replaced (none survived) with steam trains in 1951, whilst the line was
converted to 6.6 kV, 50 Hz AC, as part of trials for future mainline railway electrification elsewhere. In this guise it operated from 1953 - 1966 using rolling stock that had originally been built for the London area
but had stopped being used during WW2. The line is now closed.
Glasgow and the Strathclyde area was another conurbation where the electrification of urban railways saw British Railways eschewing slam-door trains and instead both designed and built a new design of sliding door train. Many years later these trains also became of nostalgic interest.
Introduced in 1960 they were known as the Class 303 electric multiple units, although their striking Caledonian Blue livery saw them being nicknamed as "Blue Train". The last of these trains were withdrawn from service in 2002.
In the late 1960's a second batch of very similar trains was also built in connection with further railway electrification in the Strathclyde area. These were known as Class 311 and amongst the few changes which applied to the new trains was that whereas the older trains had been fitted with tungsten filament bulbs the newer trains featured fluorescent lighting . In the 1970's both types of train had their wrap-around driving cab windows replaced with flat, toughened glass as this offered train drivers better protection in the event of attacks by stone-throwing vandals - and were cheaper to replace, if damaged.
In the 1980's the ScotRail-sector of British Rail began a major refurbishment programme for 50 of the older trains. The many changes included the removing of asbestos insulation (to conform to contemporary health and safety standards) the installation of connecting doors between coaches, a new type of push button passenger door control, all-new interiors and new fluorescent lighting. Most units also received new "hopper-style" windows and were repainted in the (then) new orange/black livery which had been introduced by the newly-created Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive (PTE).
The refurbishment did not meet with universal approval. For instance, whilst the original seating was fully upholstered, deep sprung and (arguably) very comfortable the new seating comprised a hard plastic frame with a thin fabric covered foam squab cover. This style of seating was similar to that fitted on the more modern Class 314 trains which were being introduced on services within the Strathclyde area (and were variants of similar trains which were being introduced in several areas around Britain). Other gripes were the 2+2 seating configuration which allowed for many more standing passengers, but with far fewer seats than previously, and the loss of the glass bulkheads behind the driving cabs, which meant that passengers could no longer enjoy the driver's view through the front windows.
Left: These trains comprised 3 carriage multiple-units, with typical formations being one, two or sometimes even three such units coupled together at a time (ie: trains of 3, 6 or 9 carriages). Very occasionally four unit (12 carriage) trains were also operated, although not normally when in public service.
Right: A video which includes these Scotrail trains (plus classes 314, 318, the Glasgow Subway and some buses) has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched either above or at YouTube by clicking here -
Mostly filmed in 1994, with added scenes from 1998 and 2005.
Virtually everything in this film is seen in the now historic orange Strathclyde livery.
Although the London UndergrounD is famous for its small profile 'tube' trains the initial parts of the network used mainline sized trains. For a while services on the Metropolitan Railway were shared with the broad gauge trains of the Great Western Railway, which used tracks 7ft 0.25in (approximately 2.14m) wide.
Trains such as the mainline sized examples seen below were introduced in the 1930's and lasted until the 1980's. Although there were several variants which featured different electrical components the differences which passengers would have noticed were in their external colouring and their internal illumination, with the red trains using light bulbs and the white trains using fluorescent tubes.
The flared body design with the lower edge riding slightly over the platform edge was introduced as a safety feature, although it also resulted in trains of an iconic design. The flare was instead of the wooden footboards mounted along the trains' bodyside at floor level which began to be fitted to earlier designs of trains shortly after electrification. Their purpose was to prevent passengers from falling through the gap between the train and platform edge, however the wooden boards then became the scenes of several accidents as passengers tried to board moving trains which were leaving stations by standing on the wooden board and hurriedly open the sliding passenger doors (which in those days were hand worked) before the train had left the station. The danger was especially acute at subsurface stations when the trains reach the end of the platform / the tunnel walls.
Despite being a significantly beneficial safety feature the flared design overriding the platform edge also made special needs 'level access' impossible, so this feature is deemed to be unsuitable for present-day train design.
As with many other trains when they were replaced a few commemorative tours were operated for staff & railway enthusiasts and they carried special headboards.
As an aside, on the London UndergrounD passenger trains are normally referred to using the American term 'cars' and not the English 'carriages'. This is because much of the system was built by (or eventually passed into ownership of) American financiers, whose influence and operating practices included referring to the rolling stock as 'cars'.
|Left: In the latter days the red trains were known as 'CP' or 'CO' stock and the white trains as 'R' stock, although the information painted on them also referred to the individual cars' nominal year
of manufacture eg: R38, R47, etc. At one time some trains of this physical design were also known as 'Q38' stock, but (as a general theme) these were rebuilt (electrically) and repainted (red to white) to
match a newer build of R stock, some of which, as an experiment, featured unpainted aluminium instead of steel bodywork.
Right: An 'R' stock train on a commemorative tour, seen at Kensington Olympia Station. When this train visited the single-track Olympia branch it replaced the 'normal' passenger service so also carried fare paying passengers (like me!); I do not normally trespass on the tracks (it can be dangerous, even lethal) but in this specific instance permission was granted.
Left: When the trains with the flared skirts were first built District line services included provision for first class passengers. So the fleet included some composite cars which featured two internal doors which separated first and third class passengers plus split the first class section into smoking and non-smoking areas.
First class on the District line was abolished in 1940 (and on the Metropolitan Line in 1941) as a war-time economy and smoking was banned after the 1987 escalator fire disaster at Kings Cross station, which apparently happened shortly after government-inspired financial economies saw escalator shaft litter cleaning reduced from daily to alternate days.
This specific photograph shows the interior of the preserved car seen below, and not the inside of one of the trains with a flared skirt.
Right: A mixed R stock train showing two experimental unpainted cars (left and right) plus between them an older car that has been painted white to be visually very similar.
More and larger images of the CO / CP / R stock trains (including internal views) have been placed on these two pages at the free online "Wikipedia" encyclopædia:
|Preserved underground car at a railway depôt open day complete with a sales stand laden with books, videos and 'freebie' leaflets promoting the various railway
preservationist organisations and their activities. This is a former District Railway N stock composite trailer which later became known as Q35 stock. Cars such as this often worked together with the Q38 red trains
which were visually (but not electrically) similar to those seen above, resulting in trains of a mixed visual appearance. Note the clerestory roof, a feature of many trains built for use on the District Railway.
Originally numbered 8083 it was renumbered to 08083 in 1950 when its passenger doors were converted from hand operation to air (power) operation by the guard.
Nowadays it is owned by the London Underground Railway Society which has a website at http://www.lurs.org.uk/ .
|The 'Traditional' view of a London Underground tube train. This type of train was first introduced in 1938 and although now withdrawn from London some examples are
still in use on the Isle of Wight.
A 4-car unit of this type of train has been preserved in the care of the London Transport Museum and sees occasional use on nostalgic railtours over parts of the Underground system.
|Internally these trains offered a degree of seating which many claim is far more comfortable (and numerous) than more modern UndergrounD trains.
This image dates from when these trains were in normal daily public service. The other images of this type of train were taken during 'special events'.
|Two videos of the 1938 stock 'Heritage Train' have been placed on the
‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched either above or (larger versions) at YouTube by these links:
Left: 1938 Tube Train passes through Mornington Crescent Station http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd7JjIuA1vI.
Right: Inside The 1938 Tube Stock Train http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PljZiHxiCcY.
|These trains had some rather quaint features such as hanging grab handles for standing passengers, varnished wood interiors and internal ventilation by means
of opening windows. Admittedly the latter let more noise in too (see image above).
Internal illumination was by means of bulb lighting with fluted glass lampshades - although once their fragility and cost of replacement was realised the latter were normally not used (also as seen in the image above which dates from when the trains were in daily public service).
And then there was the message on the inside of the sliding doors, which sometimes was 'modified' to read
obstruct the doors cause delay and anger us!
Even in 2011 a few of these trains are still in public service on the Isle of Wight. These images are courtesy of Peter Skuce whose fotopic photogallery portal used to be at this link (which by August 2012 no longer worked) http://peterskuce.fotopic.net/.
Despite being experimental in design, dating from the 1960's and only four trains having actually been constructed the "Craven" tube trains have also become part of the nostalgia movement.
Only the motor cars were built new - they were intended to work with older trailer (non powered ) cars dating from the 1920's. In the 1990's the older trailers were replaced with newer examples dating from the late 1930's, this being the format in which the train has been preserved.
They saw most of their lives working on the Hainault - Woodford shuttle service as test-beds for automatic (self driving) trains. Nowadays the preserved train is used as a working attraction during special events.
|1960 Tube Stock "Craven" train at North Weald station on the former Epping - Ongar branch of the Central Line in April 1990, which was closed in 1994. At the time the line was celebrating it being 125 years since it opened.||
A video of these trains on the Epping-Ongar line has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched either above or at YouTube by clicking here -
The railway builders of the 19th century left us with a rich heritage of (often) architecturally interesting station buildings & structures, many of which are still in frontline use. This is because if well cared for a station will be a substantial physical structure which can outlast several generations of trains and other rolling stock. However, whilst many older (and some younger) people may find them to be visually pleasant in many cases they can be expensive to maintain and / or do not conform to modern-day expectations / demands in term of amenities. This issue is more fully explored on the Historic stations - the challenge of meeting modern-day needs! page.
Some (usually younger) people compare older railway station buildings which date from the Victorian, Edwardian (etc.,) eras somewhat unfavourably with stations on modern (overseas) railway systems which are only several decades old, and even with airports, and suggest that they would wish that everything 'old' could be replaced with shiny new steel & glass space age style structures. By way of a contrast, other people look at some modern minimalistic stations and cringe in horror! Replacing everything that is old - just because it is old - would change the face of Britain, resulting in a loss of our urban landscapes' distinctiveness. Experience from towns and cities where this type of urban renewal was done in the period between 1945 and 1975 has shown that the newer so-called modern structures only sometimes represent actual improvements which stand the test of time. A contrary view might include that as living entities our towns and cities need to change as time passes, and should not become fossilised with changes prohibited.
Inside the station master's office at Chappel and Wakes Colne Station on the East Anglia Railway Museum.
This station is on the Sudbury to Marks Tey branch line, the living museum uses one platform plus footbridge, the main station building and former goods yard whilst mainline trains call at the other platform. Marks Tey is on the Great Eastern Main Line out of London Liverpool Street.
The EARM website is at http://www.earm.co.uk .
Over the years Britain's railway system has contracted somewhat and many stations have become redundant. Mostly these have been allowed to decay to a point whereby the structure is no longer viable, but some have been saved and converted for other uses, such as private residences. One station which has been saved and (in 1972) was moved to a living museum where it can be used in an educational role is the former Rowley Station, which was near Consett in County Durham. This has been painstakingly restored at the Beamish Open Air Museum where it has become a central feature at Beamish station yard. The passenger building, which includes a ticket office and waiting room for ladies only, dates from 1867 but is shown as it would have around 1910. During its working life this station was always illuminated by oil lamps, as it was never provided with gas or electricity. Heating of course came from coal fires. In 1914 it became a temporary three day home for a trainload of passengers who had been stranded by deep snowfall.
|The former Rowley station, which was dismantled and transferred to Beamish in 1972. In the distance in the view on the left can be seen a former signal box. A view inside the signal box can be seen further down this page.|
These views also show the ticket office window, the entrance to a waiting room, the scales for weighing parcels, and more.
A different form of station nostalgia is where the stations become the means through which the nostalgia is conveyed. This can come in several forms, including art exhibitions and platform wall murals - as seen here.
These first examples portray aspects of life in the communities close to the stations and include examples of railway arches (from railway lines which are elevated with light industrial workshops below them), local tenement housing and shops selling products (foods in this case) which some of the people who live in the area see as traditional delicacies - although the multi cultural aspect of these communities mean that not that everyone who lives in these areas would wish to eat these products.
Old advertising posters (such as were often located at stations) can also be of nostalgic value. Examples of these abound, however just two images are shown, with these being of advertising issued by the railway companies promoting different aspects of their services. Posters such as these would have been found at various locations around the stations, including platform and passageway walls, as well as alongside / near to information displays with timetables and other passenger information.
Left: These examples are promotionals by the former GWR (Great Western Railway) for their domestic air transport services and the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) to encourage leisure travellers (tourists) to use their services and visit London.
Right: This example dates from the 1939 - 1945 war when leisure travel was discouraged. It was seen outside the 'Britain At War' visitor attraction which is located in central London / near to London Bridge and the station of the same name. More information about this visitor attraction can be found by visiting their website at: http://www.britainatwar.co.uk (beware of the loud air raid siren which starts as the page downloads).
In addition to the items detailed above another aspect of station nostalgia can come from old fixtures and fittings, such as from when the station was built or renovated 'many years ago' and which people often like seeing and may even (sometimes) find visually preferable to modern equivalents. However, there can be a sting in the tail in that when the old fixture / fitting becomes life expired or otherwise requires major (ie: 'expensive') overhaul the item may not justify the investment, and therefore either need to be replaced or result in the survival of the entire station being jeopardised.
The lifts at the station seen below were over 100 years old and eventually it was decided that the low passenger flow meant that major modernisation works could not be justified, so the station was closed.
|Left: A still image from video showing the inside of an old lift ('elevator' in American) at the former Aldwych station in London.
The man with the purple shirt is actually using a hand control to 'drive' the lift. He was also the ticket collector, hence the small booth behind him. The inside of the lift shaft can be seen through the (hand operated) lattice gate.
Right: A video of Aldwych station which includes this lift has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched either above or at YouTube by clicking here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYD44UMtNh8 .
These more recent views show more of the lifts. Although the station is now closed it is being retained as a film studio and for other uses.
Because the entrance to the lift is open it cannot be seen here that lifts had lattice gates at the bottom and doors with windows at the top.
Especially in the image on the right it is possible to see the emergency evacuation door which allows passengers to pass from one lift to the other in order to evacuate a lift which becomes stalled midway between the upper and lower levels.
Other Infrastructure Nostalgia
In addition to stations nostalgia can also be for things which represent significant engineering, technological (etc.,) achievements, the maintenance of which sometimes poses a significant challenge for railway operators who have historic systems and who would wish to use the cheapest engineering / maintenance solutions rather than those which preserve original features which are (usually) far more visually appealing. In addition to stations this includes tunnels and bridges.
The three wall murals below are of the Thames Tunnel, which is the first known tunnel under a navigable tunnel. Some of the information about the tunnel has been sourced from two pages at the free online "Wikipedia" encyclopædia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thames_Tunnel and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_London_Railway ) where further and much more detailed information can also be found.
35ft [11m] wide, 20ft [6m] high and 1,300ft [¼ mile / 396m] long, this tunnel runs between Rotherhithe and Wapping at a depth of 75ft [23m] below London's River Thames.
The Thames Tunnel as it would have been shortly after opening.
|These images are located on the platform wall at Wapping station in south-east London and show how it would have been shortly after it had opened and what would have been a typical scene in the early 1960's when it and the East London Line (of which the Thames Tunnel was a constituent part) were used / served by both London Underground electric passenger trains and mainline (British Railways) steam (later diesel) powered excursion passenger and freight trains.|
Wapping station and the Thames Tunnel (with a now historic Metropolitan Line A stock trains) in December 2007, just days before the entire railway line was closed for rebuilding and conversion into a segment of the London Overground network. The tunnel mouth and the lights inside the tunnel were specially illuminated as part of a special event prior to the line's closure.
This was the second significant closure of the East London Line in little more than a decade. The first closure (1995 - 1998) was necessary to facilitate construction of the platforms for the new Canada Water station, during which time it was decided to also perform long-term maintenance on the tunnel, including works to stop water leaks which would have changed its internal appearance. This angered preservationists and the issue became embroiled in a legal wrangle which was great for the lawyers but left passengers without any trains for much longer than had been intended.
The East London line reopened after its second (2007) closure in 2010 as part of the London Overground network and the passenger services which pass along here were extended (in stages) at both ends, with some trains now operating as part of an orbital service that joins-up the East London Line, the North London Line, the West London Line and replaces part of the South London Line (ie: this saw SLL trains being withdrawn and not fully replaced). The orbital service is operated in two segments (east & south plus north & west) rather than as complete loops.
The moving of freight is an essential part of our way of living. Whether it is parcels containing birthday gifts being sent to friends or goods such as foodstuffs there was a time when the railways handled almost all of it. Furthermore, before the age of containerisation most packages / boxes (etc)., were handled individually, often travelling via mixed goods wagons which would be (un)loaded in a transhipment facility in a station yard. Beamish shows how it 'used to be done'!
|The station yard at Beamish includes some coal and lime cells, showing one way in which how coal / lime wagons would be emptied to horse drawn wagons prior to bagging and delivery to the end users - such as someone's house.|
|As these images show, the coal (or lime) wagon is raised above ground level so that (in this instance) four road barrows can be located under it. The bottom of the coal wagon is then opened and the coal will fall through holes located between the railway tracks and into the road barrows below.|
|These scenes from Milestones depict another way to empty coal wagons (by hand / hard graft!)... visitors to this museum can also hear the waxwork 'people' seen here discussing the work at hand and other related topics.|
Beamish also includes a transhipment facility (between railway and local delivery system) such as existed at many smaller towns and villages around Britain - and probably elsewhere too!
Signal boxes (which are sometimes also known as signal cabins or interlocking towers) can be very interesting places to visit, especially older ones with the very large levers, dials, knobs, etc. Of course, being a trained professional the signalman (in 'olden days' it invariably was a man) would know what everything is for, but to the untrained eye it is all a mystery. Dating from an age when electricity was still 'new', the large levers would be (and still are, on the lines where such still exist) physically attached via mechanical rodding to either points (also known as 'turnouts' or 'switches') or signals, and especially for those which were located possibly a mile from the signal box it would require a person of reasonable strength to move them.
The mechanical lever frames also included a feature known as 'interlocking', which would ensure that it was not possible to create conflicting movements that would result in a collision between two or more trains. If the signal box also controlled a level crossing (ie: a road crossing) or an opening bridge, then the interlocking would only allow the signals to be set to allow a train to pass if the route was safe (ie: the gates closed to stop road traffic from using the crossing, the swing bridge in the correct position for railway traffic, etc).
Some of the advantages of mechanical signalling systems such as this include that because they only looked after small areas they if they failed then the consequences would (usually) be less wide-ranging than with modern hi-tech electrical signalling systems, and that experience has shown them to have been hardly affected by the coronal mass discharges, gamma ray bursts etc., which periodically rain down upon us from the Sun and wider cosmos.
However, mechanical signalling systems were very labour intensive, as more or less every junction required a signal box (large junctions might even require several signal boxes) plus even along plain track there would still need to be a signal box approximately every couple of miles.
Inside Beamish signal box, which comes from Carr House East
and dates from 1896.
Over the years there has been a trend towards replacing mechanical rodding with electrically operated signalling and points and relocating of signal control from small localised boxes to regional control centres which might look after hundreds of miles of trackage. In addition, for many lines electricity has created the possibility for the signals to be automated, so that far less human intervention is required. Even at junctions it is possible for the computers to change the points etc., to suit the train's preplanned route.
Inside the former signal cabin on the westbound London UndergrounD Central Line platform at London Liverpool Street Station.
A video showing this signal box in action has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched either above - right or (a larger version) at YouTube by clicking here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz8mlpRhcA4 . The video was taken after the signal box had been equipped with a touch-screen computer display system which is not seen in the still photograph.
Dating from 1937 the second signal box seen here uses what is known as a 'power frame'. The signalman still only looks after a small section of track but instead of using long rods which physically link the signals / points with the levers everything would normally operate electrically (occasionally power frames operate pneumatically).
As seen here, the route is represented pictorially, but with the addition of small lamps which for reasons of safety (in case of lamp failure) only illuminate when the tracks they represent are unoccupied. Therefore the two siding tracks (seen on the panel to the right) are unoccupied, whilst below them dark (not lit) section of route shows that a westbound train is approaching the station. In addition another westbound train can be seen having just left the station and passing a crossover, with the rest of its route to the edge of the board being outside the area that this signal box controls - so there are no lights to illuminate. There is also a train in the eastbound station platform.
Power frames usually feature miniature levers. In some cases, the interlocking is still done mechanically, but in others, electric lever locks would be used. Sometimes there would be a 'king' switch which might be locked to prevent accidental use. This switch would only be used in cases of extreme emergency, as it could effectively override the normal safety interlocking which prevents the signal box being used in ways which potentially create danger.
This signal box also controlled access to two sidings where during off-peak times of the day many trains would reverse. It was replaced in the early 1990's when the line was resignalled, with many other signal boxes elsewhere along the route also being closed and a new centralised signalling control centre replacing them.
As a schoolboy I used to change trains here every day and as I walked along the platform to the escalators I would pause for a few moments and watch the signalman operating the levers, knobs and dials. Much to my delight I would sometimes be invited in and given a quick 'tour' of how the system worked. The signalmen also made sure I did not stay too long and become late for school!
In addition to controlling the flow of the trains, another duty of the signallers in this signal box was to advise passengers of the destinations of the approaching trains.
A video showing a selection of (mainly) historic and modern next train describers has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched either above - right or (a larger version) at YouTube by clicking here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k54-xCr6Z3w .
The video only shows a selection, alas I regret not having filmed more - when it was still possible.
Train operator Nostalgia
It is indeed possible to become nostalgic over former railway companies, train liveries and train operators, especially if they were well known for something people liked or was very beneficial to them, be it good service, longevity, or something else.
|Class 86 electric locomotive in plain British Railways blue at Euston station in London.||Class 73 electric locomotive at East Croydon station in the version of the Intercity livery used when working on the Gatwick Express service.|
Just about visible behind the Class 86 locomotive can be seen part of a passenger carriage in the former blue-grey livery. This can also be seen in several places elsewhere on this page.
In 1986 the government instituted some business-led reforms of the then state-owned British Railways. In southern England this saw the creation of Network SouthEast which operated all services (except InterCity) in London and its hinterland - this roughly being south and south east England plus East Anglia. The new operator, along with some new ideas and helped by a boom in London's economy, successfully reversed a long term decline in passenger traffic. One of its most innovative and popular ideas was the introduction of a railcard which offered discounted off-peak travel. Although this railcard had to be purchased many people found that it was a cost effective marketing tool which not only saved them money but encouraged them to make journeys they might not otherwise have made.
Since railway privatisation what became known as the network effect has been killed off. The privatised railco's did not (still do not) like the Network Card as they saw it as being too generous and a threat to the more restrictive offers they wanted to make for their own sphere of operations only. So, slowly by slowly, over several years the railcard's terms and conditions were so savagely eroded (for instance: on weekdays discounted tickets cannot be used before 10.00am - previously it was 9.30am - and there is now a minimum weekday fare of £10.00) that many people no longer bother with them - myself included.
The phrase 'death by 1000 cuts' comes to mind.
Class 313 electric multiple unit at Watford Junction
(heading for London Broad Street station via Primrose Hill)
in the original version of the Network SouthEast livery.
Ticketing Nostalgia can be looked at in several different ways.
For many people there is an interest in old tickets as issued over the many years by the many railway, tramway, ferry and bus companies. This covers their shapes, sizes, colours, the information on the ticket, the ticket issuing process, and much more.
Some people will also look at the fares and how much it used to cost to travel compared with 'today'.
Self-service vending ticket machines at either Charing Cross or Bond Street stations in circa 1979 when these stations were rebuilt for the (then) new Jubilee Line.
When considering the prices quoted in this advertisement
it is perhaps worth remembering inflation
and how personal incomes have risen as well.
A different type of nostalgia is for things 'as they were' within recent living memory - where the changes have been inspired for reasons political and or business rather than technological. Such as changes to the ticketing system which result from changes in how the transport system (primarily the railways) are owned and operated - although there is always the possibility that (some of) these might have happened anyway, in one form or another.
Since railway privatisation the ticketing system for longer distance travel in Britain has undergone a marketing-led revolution. No longer are fares based solely on the distance being travelled - instead the motto is what the "market" is deemed to be able to afford, and indeed some tickets (especially full fare singles and returns) are so expensive that they could be made out of real gold! Whilst the railcos still offer off-peak discounted tickets (many of which are *very* advantageously priced) these are only for passengers who are prepared to book seats in advance, as if they were travelling by airplane. And, as with airlines, people who miss their timed transports often lose the tickets' monetary value (ie: few railcos offer either transfer or upgrade facilities on these tickets), so if they wish to travel they must buy a brand new ticket - at whatever fare is available. By way of a contrast no-one ever has to book their private car in advance - they just "turn up" - and can even decide change their travel itinerary, delay return journeys, etc., after having started their journey. The nostalgia here is for the discounted walk-on tickets, and route interavailability.
Discounted off-peak walk-on "Super-Saver" tickets
British Railways offered the "Saver" and "Super-Saver" tickets which offered discounted walk-on travel on longer distance services after 9.30am. ('walk-on' means just turn up, buy a ticket & travel on the service of the passenger's choosing, no advance booking required). Since privatisation the railcos have more or less totally abolished the Super-Saver and (most of them) wanted to get rid of the Saver too. However this was not allowed as during privatisation there was a public outcry against the possibility of the Saver's demise so to placate public opinion the Saver became a 'protected' ticket, which meant / means that it must still be offered and its price can only be raised in line with the national inflation figures. Many people lament that the Super-Saver was not similarly protected too. The reasons why the railcos were not / are not in favour of Super-Saver and Saver tickets include that the railcos want to use demand management techniques to help fill emptier off peak services / reduce demand for their busier services (something which unrestricted walk-on ticketing does not facilitate) and that they prefer to sell tickets where they receive 100% of the revenue - walk-on tickets often share the revenue between different railcos, depending on the dynamics of the specific journey.
Despite the Saver tickets' protection the railcos have still managed to find some backdoor methods with which to undermine their true value, in the hope that so few people use them that they would be deemed irrelevant and (eventually) the decision makers would abolish them. One way in which they were able to make Saver tickets less attractive to the travelling public was / is by pushing back the weekday morning starting time from 9.30am to 10.00am - as this change makes day trips far less viable for people who wish to spend many hours at their destination. At present however it is still permitted to break one's return journey - as long as at all times one is travelling towards the return destination. The combined effects of inflation and abolition of Super-Savers means that on many longer distance routes the cheapest walk-on fares can be as much as 50%-65% higher than they were when the railways were privatised in 1995.
By 2008 the airline style marketing led system of train tickets had created such confusion that the railway industry decided to revamp the system and try to simplify it. The confusion was not just because of the plethora of ticket type and names but also because often the same ticket, for the same journey, would be available at several different prices. Its protected status means that the Saver ticket is being retained (albeit renamed) although a way to erode its overall scope has still been found, for instance on some routes Saver tickets are being replaced with day return tickets.
Ticket Routing Interavailability
There was a time when a ticket between two stations could be used via any "reasonable" route. Where there were several routes passengers with return tickets could travel out via one route (eg: Exeter to London Waterloo or Southend Central to London Fenchurch Street) and return via the other route (eg: London Paddington to Exeter or London Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria). Since privatisation passengers can only do this with full-fare (and for certain routes Saver / off-peak) tickets, these not being the cheapest tickets by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed with these tickets it is sometimes cheaper for even single people to travel by car - even with Britain's very expensive petrol and congested roads! So nowadays the only way passengers can buy cheaper tickets is to restrict themselves to specified trains, on one route only, out and back.
Although prior to the 1950's Britain had very little mainline railway electrification there were many urban electric tram systems. Of these only the Blackpool - Fleetwood inter-urban survived, but preservationists were able to save enough examples of rolling stock from some of the other systems to create several Transport Centres where they give rides to delighted passengers. Nowadays double-decker trams are very rare - with only two locations globally still using them in full passenger service (Hong Kong and Alexandria, Egypt) Blackpool still has some available for normal passenger service, but they are rarely used..
Britain's foremost tramway living museum is at Crich in Derbyshire.
Left: As this picture shows even transport museums are not immune to the very much modern-day curse of the "white van driver" parking just about anywhere and blocking all other road traffic in the process.
The green tram which has been blocked by the parked van is Liverpool Corporation Passenger Transport 869, which was built in 1936, sold to Glasgow in 1954 and withdrawn in 1960. In the distance can be seen Leeds City Tramways 399, which was built at Leeds Kirkstall works, entering service in 1925. The vehicle behind that is unidentified.
Right: Passengers queue for their tram ride experience. At one time open top double deck trams were commonplace, and whilst they can offer a very pleasant form of transport on a warm summer's day, the same may not be so when the weather is less than favourable (winter, rain, etc).
The open top tram is former Southampton Corporation Tramways 45. Back in 1949 this was the first tram bought for preservation by enthusiasts, costing £10. The other tram is former Metropolitan Electric Tramways 331. First entering service in 1930 it was the last of 5 experimental cars. In 1933 the Metropolitan Electric Tramways was forcibly absorbed in to the London Passenger Transport Board, who in 1937 sold it to Sunderland.
Other living museums which operate trams include Beamish North of England Open Air Museum in Co. Durham (near to Newcastle Upon Tyne and Durham), The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley (near Birmingham) and the East Anglia Transport Museum, (near to Lowestoft). At Beamish and the BCLM the trams (and trolleybuses) are used as 'serious' transports helping carry people around extensive sites which primarily look at how people lived in days gone by, for instance the early 1900's, when trams such as these were often in mainstream use. In this way they have become useful extras that enhance the visitor experience, but not the main attractions. The use of trams & trolleybuses at Beamish & BCLM are looked at on the Leisure page.
|Left: Ex-London (red) and Blackpool trams at East Anglia Transport Museum. Note the 'tram pinch' road sign.
London tram No.1858 is one of a batch of 101 trams bought by the London County Council in 1930. Built by English Electric it is of type HR/2, which being intended for use on hilly routes featured equal-wheel trucks with each axle powered, automatic run-back and slipper brakes. When built it had open driving positions. It was withdrawn in 1952, after which an enthusiast bought it for preservation.
Tram No.159 was one of the Blackpool standards and was built in Blackpool's Rigby Road works. Originally an unvestibuled open-balcony car, in 1930 it became the first totally enclosed standard car. In the 1950's it became part of the promenade's 'summer only' fleet, whilst in 1959 it became one of the illuminated trams. It was withdrawn from service at the end of the 1966 Illuminations.
Right: Former Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways tram No.34 at the Black Country Living Museum. Built at the Tivdale Works in 1919/1920 it was used on a route where shortages during WW1 had resulted in the track being in such poor condition that the Board of Trade refused permission to run double deck trams. When the line closed in 1930 the tram's bodywork became part of bungalow (a residential property), but it was eventually rescued / restored and in 1997 arrived at the BCLM. Nowadays the tram is powered by Brill 21E trucks which became surplus to the requirements of the Brussels tramways and was acquired by the BCLM. The tramway at BCLM has a the same 3'6" gauge (approximately 107cms) as other first generation tramways in what is now known as the 'West Midlands' area.
Inside London tram No.1858 at the EATM, showing the upper deck with its 2+2 seating (left) and lower deck with fully upholstered 2+1 seating plus some space for standing passengers (right). Because these trams could travel in either direction they featured reversible seat backs, so that passengers would normally always sit facing the direction of travel.
Milestones in Basingstoke, Hampshire is a slightly different type of living museum, as the site is local government owned, undercover / indoors in a large modern building and the transport exhibits are static. There are two themed areas representing the Victorian era and the 1930's.
|In its Victorian-era section Milestones features a small section of street tramway plus one tram, which originally came from Portsmouth in Hampshire. However this is a static exhibit and as these images show despite being an electric tram with a trolley pole it is devoid of even an attempt at 'dummy' overhead wiring. It could be said that in many ways this omission detracts from the attempts at realistically portraying life in this time period.|
|Tram 84 was originally built in 1880 as a horse-drawn double decker. In 1903 it was rebuilt as an electric tram and fitted with Brill trucks. It was withdrawn in 1935.||The inscription on the inside edge of the stairway reads passengers must not ride on the platform.|
However whereas the Steam based Living Museums are based on what almost everyone agrees is outmoded technology many of these tramway transport centres were created by people who held / still hold the firm conviction that British transport 'policies' were seriously flawed in encouraging the closure of our tramway systems, and that whilst the money invested in the replacement motor buses appeared to be cheaper at the time experience from overseas has shown that in the longer term it would have been far cheaper to have kept the trams and slowly upgrade them to light rail standards.
To a large extent these views have now been proven correct; especially following the success of Manchester's Metrolink and Croydon's Tramlink: so its not surprising that now many other places also want to bring them back - including London where plans include new lines right through the heart of the central area, serving areas where previously the trams had not been allowed to operate.
For more information about these living museums visit their websites:
Of course some places retained their trams...
|These Swiss (Basle) motor + trailer combinations were in full active service (every 10 minutes!) on a route split into two sections by major trackworks. This view was taken at one of the temporary termini where a motor unit would be
attached at one end (and detached from the other end) so that the "train" could turn round.
Using historic museum cars like this was deemed preferable to temporary substitution by fume belching, polluting motor buses.
|Melbourne, Australia is another city which retained its trams and this historic 'toastrack' tram is also at its terminus. As it uses a trolleypole for power collection the driver is swapping it from one end of the vehicle to the other - thus ensuring that it is at the back relative to direction of travel. 'Toastrack' trams are so called because of the full-width crossbench seats which can only be reached from the vehicle sides.|
A video showing the vintage Basle trams has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched either above or (a larger version) at YouTube by clicking here -
A video showing some old trams in the German city of Düsseldorf has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched either above or (a larger version) at YouTube by clicking here -
Transport nostalgia is seen as being so commercially sound that even the famous Walt Disney Company has joined-in. This is in their Disney California Adventure Park which forms part of the famous Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.
Here the nostalgia is for the former Pacific Electric Railway "Red Cars" which at one time operated an extensive light rail streetcar and interurban service in southern California. Built by Brookville Equipment, the Disneyland streetcars are replicas of the Pacific Electric "Hollywood" class cars that date from the 1920s. Although the original Red Car system used standard gauge tracks this Disneyland line is metre gauge.
Don't let these photographs fool you... despite appearances these replica streetcars are not quite what they seem to be. Although they still use trolleypoles that make contact with overhead wires, they actually take typical North American pastiche-ness to the ninth degree by using dummy / unpowered overhead wires! Instead they are battery powered!
Buena Vista Street at California Adventure,
unfortunately without a trolley car in the image.
Red Car No.623 whilst used as a prop in an entertainment skit performed by the Red Car News Boys.
|License information for both images above plus below - right:: HarshLight / Red Car News Boys
and either Wikipedia encyclopædia or Flickr as per link below the image. CC BY 2.0
Red Car Trolley No.717 on Buena Vista Street at night.
Image & license: Patrick Pelletier / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 4.0
Inside Red Car No.717.
Also in California is the city of San Francisco where real historic streetcars can be found.
In what is one of the top tourist destinations planetwide, the city of San Francisco, USA uses historic streetcars on frontline passenger services on route F. This includes many PCC vehicles painted in liveries from other North American cities, plus some Peter Witt tramcars from Milan, Italy and other types of tramcar from a diverse range of locations which include Melbourne Australia, Horishima & Kobe Japan, Porto Portugal, Blackpool England and Zürich Switzerland.
Despite being leisure orientated this line provides a useful public service linking various parts of the city which are popular with tourists.
|PCC type streetcars on route F in San Francisco. The orange and yellow vehicle is in Los Angeles Railway livery.
More information on the diverse liveries of San Francisco's streetcars can be found at this link: http://www.streetcar.org/streetcars/ .
|Although this streetcar shows an F destination it was on a depot journey travelling towards the F route.||In Portland, Oregon the construction of the (then) new MAX light rail line was followed by periodic (mainly weekend) use of leisure-orientated vintage trolley services over part of the system.|
"Peter Witt" trams in Milan left and San Francisco right where it is calling at a stop with a raised platform to permit special needs access to the historic railcar. Route F was originally a trolleybus line and it remains fully wired so that if the trams have to be suspended the electric buses can substitute.
Sometimes there is just a fine dividing line between leisure and nostalgia and further complications are added when the same tramcars are used for both "serious" passenger services and leisure-orientated nostalgic rides.
For instance: Milan, Italy is still using some of its Peter Witt tramcars for "serious" passenger services whilst in cities such as San Francisco they are share duties with restored PCC streetcars on the tourist orientated services.
Until the 2012 introduction of the single-deck articulated Flexity2 trams some of Blackpool's trams also came into this category too, with (for instance) the open top tram seen below being similar to many others (with 'closed' tops)
which provided "serious" passenger services.
|Trams 644 and 726 in normal passenger service on the Blackpool - Fleetwood inter-urban tramline.||An open top double deck balloon tram giving pleasure rides in Blackpool.|
|Although Blackpool was famous for its double-deck trams it always also had some single-deckers which pointed towards the modern tramcars that have been reintroduced back into Britain (and are now also used in Blackpool). These views show one of the twin-sets (motor + un-powered trailer) using the street trackage in Fleetwood, Lancashire, and the inside of one of the trailers.|
Preserved trams on a 'tramtour' in May 2008. The trams seen here are ex-Sheffield 513 'Roberts' tramcar (left) and Blackpool Coronation tramcar 304 - the 'Vambac' - (right). In these images they are both using street trackage in Fleetwood, Lancashire.
As previously stated buses also feature in the Nostalgia industry and there are several places where it is possible to ride fully-working preserved trolleybuses (and / or preserved / replica motor buses). As with the tramway preservation movement the trolleybus living museums were created by people who held / still hold the firm conviction that British transport 'policies' were seriously flawed in encouraging the replacement of the electric trolleybuses with fossil-fuel powered polluting motor buses. They see it as a serious error that (so far) the return of the tram has not been matched by the return of the trolleybus.
Arguably Britain's foremost Trolleybus living museum is the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft, this being located on an ex-WW2 airfield near the village of Belton, in North Lincolnshire. (Also near Doncaster, Yorkshire and the M180).
Preserved but still alive trolleybuses at the Sandtoft Trolleybus Museum.
Taken using a 'stretch / panoramic' camera this shows a general view of the main circulating area at the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft. The three vehicles on the right are being used to give passengers rides on a circuit which includes locations not seen in this view. The trolleybuses comes from Bradford (front), Huddersfield (middle) and Nottingham (rear).
Seen on a different visit these vehicles are from...
Left: Porto, Portugal (front), Limoges, France (front middle), Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (rear middle) and Liège, Belgium (back).
Right: Thoughts of thoroughbred (horses) resting in their stables - as with most other living museums there are some vehicles which cannot be used because they need refurbishing / restoration before they can enter passenger service, for which donations of money and time are very welcome! Being a registered charity donations from UK tax payers should be made as 'gift aid' as then the taxman (ie: the Inland Revenue) will enhance the donation too. In front of the sheds is the Aachen 1½ deck trolleybus. A dedicated page with more images of this vehicle can be reached by clicking here.
In addition to historic motor buses, trolleybuses and trams the East Anglia Transport Museum (which is at Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft) has a large museum collection of vintage vehicles including cars, a taxi cab, vans, lorries and steam-rollers, many of which can sometimes be seen operating on its 'olde worlde' style street scene. There is also a miniature railway.
|Preserved but still alive trolleybuses at the East Anglia Transport Museum (EATM). These views show vehicles from....
Left: Ashton-under-Lyne (red) and Derby.
Right: Bournemouth (No. 202, the seaside resorts' open top trolleybus which dates from 1935) plus Solingen, Germany partially visible behind it.
Left: Maidstone (going to 'Loose') and London (x2). Next to the Maidstone trolleybus is ex-London 1523, on a special short term loan from the London Transport Museum. Whilst here it operated electrically and carried passengers for the first time since 1961 - a function it performed flawlessly, requiring surprisingly little amount of advance preparation either!
Right: Once a year the EATM opens late, so that people may experience the transport after nightfall. The passengers flocking to this trolleybus come from a wide cross section of the population... no anoraks in sight!!!
In 2008 the EATM opened a new section of trolleybus served roadway, this being the first new section of trolleybus wiring for many years. This was made possible by a generous donation and in honour of the donor the road served by the trolleybuses is named Herting Street.
Left: As with the rest of the EATM (and most other 'living museums') Herting Street features many historic 'fixtures and fittings' which have been sourced from around the country and reassembled
here to help create an authentic historical ambiance. Some of these are listed below.
This elevated view comes courtesy of the upper deck of Bournemouth 202 which was parked in Herting Street.
Right: Initially Herting Street has only been wired for one-way trolleybus operation, although provision has been made for additional wiring to be added at a later date. The trolleybus seen here comes from Portsmouth. This photograph was taken in a way which made best use of the late afternoon sunlight and showed the road name.
Both: Also visible are some 1930's style street lights (from Reading) which are attached to support poles that come from an elevated road in London's Docklands which was demolished in 1995. Some of these poles still bear scars from 1940's war-time bombing, but obviously having survived for many decades since then their damage can only have been superficial.
|More information on the image above left.
In the foreground:
* London trolleybus 260,
* Some 1930's 'keep left' bollards which come from London's Knightsbridge,
On the left:
* A K6-type telephone box (next to the station for the miniature railway),
* The back of a visiting minibus which dates from the 1930's,
* A vintage road sign,
In the background:
* Former Baden Baden, Germany trolleybus,
On the right:
* The red and cream structure is actually a former single-deck Lowestoft tram which dates from 1903 and which is now resting on blocks and forms part of an indoor exhibition,
* A former Yarmouth Corporation Tramways feeder pillar (grey box, next to green street light / overhead wire support pole).
A closer inspection of the 'keep left' bollards, which as can be seen here feature night-time illumination. Note the name Carlton Colville on the upper side windows (near to the 'keep left' message).
The Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) is another place where the trolleybus lives on, although since these photographs were taken a change in policy has resulted in only trolleybuses which are of a 'local' interest being used here.. As this is a large museum covering an extensive area the trolleybuses (and tram) provide a useful service linking various sections of the complex with the main entrance. As such this is the world's only double-deck trolleybus route (at present - but it would welcome many companions!). It is 0.8 mile (approximately 1.3km) in length and configured in a figure-of-eight loop.
|(left to right) Former Walsall, Derby and Maidstone trolleybuses plus Dudley and Stourbridge tram at the Black Country Living Museum.||Trolleybuses from Derby (dark green and cream) and Wolverhampton (light green and yellow) plus a red liveried motor bus (Birmingham Midland Motor Omnibus Company) at the BCLM. (With grateful thanks to Brian Dominic for assisting with identifying the trolleybuses).|
Before the age of the railway, rivers & canals were the best way to move freight inland. Nowadays the waterways are very much under-used, however while visiting the BCLM it is also possible to get a taste of what life on the waterways was like by taking a fascinating 45 minute ride through the Dudley Canal Tunnels and Limestone Mines on an electrically powered narrow boat. This is provided by the Dudley Canal Trust and is a separate visitor attraction which can be easily reached either via its own street entrance or via a direct access from the BCLM.
It is also possible to ride through the Dudley Canal Tunnels and Limestone Mines on electrically powered narrow boats. During the journey passengers can practise 'legging', which quite literally is propelling the narrow boat through the tunnels by laying on one's back and walking on the inside of the tunnel. In 'ye olden days' this was necessary because the horses which pulled the boats along the canals could not be used underground.
The use of water transports for leisure is looked at in greater detail on the Leisure page.
Although Beamish has some trolleybus wiring their vehicle is too modern for the time periods they are recreating. However they also have two replica 1913 motor buses which are used in the summer season. These are copies of a double-deck bus owned by Gateshead Tramways in 1913 and of a London General double-deck bus. On this rather dismal Sunday only the London bus was being used.
|The replica London General vintage bus (and bus driver in period costume) seen at the Beamish recreated town centre.|
|The static vehicles at Milestones include a 1913 bus in the Victorian section plus in its 1930's area an open top double deck diesel bus, both of which come from Portsmouth in Hampshire.|
Milestones also features a trolleybus and a tower wagon, such as which would be used by both tram and trolleybus systems for overhead wire maintenance people to reach the overhead wires. It is hoped that in the future there could be waxwork crew demonstrating this!
It is also regretted that there is nothing to advertise that the trolleybus is just that. Not only is there a total lack of overhead wires but the vehicle does not even have trolleypoles, which is rather unfortunate given that these were essential aspects of successful trolleybus operation.
It could be said that in many ways the lack of overhead wires detracts from their attempts at realistically portraying life in their chosen time periods.
For more information about the living museums visit their websites :
The Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft - http://www.sandtoft.org.uk/
The East Anglia Transport Museum - http://www.eatransportmuseum.co.uk/
The Black Country Living Museum - http://www.bclm.co.uk/
The Dudley Canal Trust - http://www.dudleycanaltrust.org.uk/
The National Tramway Museum - http://www.tramway.co.uk/
Milestones Museum - https://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/milestones-museum
Apologies if this link does not work but this museum is run by a local government who frequently change it!
|In 1979 there were large celebrations for it being 150 years since George Schilliber started the first regular urban omnibus service in London. The early buses were horse-drawn, and more akin to the inter-city stagecoaches which operated at the time. As part of the celebrations some of London's red buses were painted in a the special livery similar to that used on the first buses, and adorned with special 1829-1979 logos.|
|In 1983 there were large celebrations for London Transport's golden jubilee and these included rallies where bus staff would compete for the smartest showbus!
[The London Transport Passenger Board was created in 1933 when Parliament gave a pre-existing motor bus and UndergrounD Railway combine (cartel?) full ownership and control of all their commercial rivals with the intention of creating a single unified transport authority for London. It would be interesting to speculate whether the dis-possessed transport operators such as the London County Council (a local government whose remit included much of central London but not the outer suburbs) would have dis-invested in their electric street transports had they retained control of their transport operations]...
|At least one of the rallies included a preserved trolleybus
which unfortunately had to be towed to get there.
|Bus Nostalgia even extends to such arcana as bus stop flags!
Clicking either this image or here will lead to a dedicated page showing more (and larger) bus stop flag images in a new window.
Sometimes people will complain when items of nostalgic interest are swept away by progress, but it can happen that going backwards can actually equate with undoing previous "wrongs" and / or going forwards.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this is what happened in Berlin, Germany, after the city was re-unified. With the building of the wall in 1961 some sections of the U-Bahn (underground railway) in the western sector of the city ended up being closed to passenger services. At Gleisdreieck station one of the disused platforms was incorporated in to the experimental Magnetic Levitation railway (M-Bahn - more information on this page) whilst nearby a section of disused elevated U-Bahn was effectively "re-opened" by means of a vintage tram shuttling along one of the tracks between Bülowstrasse and Nollendorfplatz stations. Furthermore, Bülowstrasse station became a Turkish bazaar (shopping arcade) whilst Nollendorfplatz station became a flea market with stalls along the platforms and inside the two vintage U-Bahn trains which were stabled in the station.
However, with Berlin's re-unification all these have been swept away and the lines re-established as part of the modern-day U-Bahn.
|Most of these views date from April 1990, shortly after the Berlin wall
had been opened but before work had began to restore U-Bahn services.
Vintage U-Bahn train stabled in the platform at Nollendorfplatz station
- the red livery denotes these carriages as having been for
1st class passengers - the rest of the fleet was painted orangy-yellow.
|A vintage tram used one of the former U-Bahn tracks to link Nollendorfplatz and Bülowstrasse stations.
|The same view (albeit from a slightly different angle) as seen in September 2005 after U-Bahn services had been restored.
The train seen here is travelling along the tracks that had previously been used by the vintage tram.
The corrugated metal sides identify this specific train as being part of the fleet originally built for services in the former East Berlin.
A video of trams in Berlin in 1990 has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched either above or (a larger version) at YouTube by clicking here -
In addition to the historical tram, Turkish bazaar and flea market this video includes trams in the former East Berlin.
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