Front Cover: This view of the signal box at Ravenstone Wood Junction was taken by John Evans on 29th March 1966 from the down side of the box. It shows the steps, the window to the locking room and, through the widows, the twenty levers inside the box, all in remarkably good condition some two years after the box had closed on 27th July 1964.
Several Train Registers from this box have survived, and four of them were recently bought by two of our members. The information from these four is the basis of the article by Robin Cullup that we publish in this issue. We are very fortunate that a few of these routine and mundane documents have been rescued by far-sighted individuals, for they show part of how the railway was actually operated then, sometimes conforming to, and sometimes diverging from, official plans. [Courtesy of John Evans]
Back Cover: How different it was then!
Our back cover reproduces a letter, dated 27th February 1911, from the General Manager’s Department to a Mr. Rigbye, of Carlisle, in reply to Mr. Rigbye’s enquiry concerning the Midland Railway’s coat of arms. Not only is this letter carefully composed, but it is signed personally by the General Manager himself, W. Guy Granet. I would be extremely surprised if such a simple enquiry to one of our top FTSE companies received a reply at all, let alone one that had enough attention from the Chief Executive as to have a personal signature.
Mr. Rigbye was persistent. The Study Centre also contains a companion letter from the General Manager’s Department replying to his questions concerning the coats of arms of the Dore & Chinley section of the MR (RFBMCT No. 21311; 5th February 1914). In addition,there is one from the Manager’s Office at Fenchurch Street concerning Rigbye’s query about the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway (RFBMCT No. 21309; 26th February 1914), and another from the Manager’s Office, Belfast, in reply to a similar question about the Northern Counties Committee (RFBMCT No. 21310; 6th February 1914). [Roy F. Burrows Midland Collection Trust, No. 21308: Midland Railway Study Centre]
Front Cover: This photograph shows the paddle steamer Duchess of Buccleuch (the one with two funnels) alongside Ramsden Dock Harbour station, Barrow-in-Furness, in about 1905. Built by the Fairfield Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. on the Clyde at Govan in 1888 for the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway and named Rouen, she was the last vessel to be obtained for the Barrow Steam Navigation Co. (BSNC) when she was bought and transferred to Barrow in 1903. Just over two years after Heysham opened in 1904, ownership of the BSNC ships were transferred to the Midland Railway, but in this picture Duchess of Buccleuch was still carrying BSNC colours. Our cover photograph shows part of the story of the Midland’s Irish Sea traffic, the first part of which appears in the article by Dave Hunt in this issue. [Roy F. Burrows Midland Collection Trust, No. 68660: John Alsop collection, Midland Railway Study Centre]
Back Cover: After all these years have passed, it is easy to forget how important to the Midland Railway was its traffic from and to Liverpool and Birkenhead. This un-dated coloured poster was for display in the offices of its major customers. The copy at the Study Centre is about 30 inches wide, and is mounted on thick card ready to be hung on a suitable wall. All the Midland’s goods traffic sites are shown in red. The omission of the important Midland business of the Liverpool Adelphi hotel was, of course, that it was not part of the goods activity. It was sited a little north of the Central station. Reading from left to right on the Liverpool side, we see the goods stations at Langton & Alexandra Dock, Sandon & Canada Dock, Huskisson (CLC) and Victoria Street. There was a Midland Parcels office on Castle Street. Smaller items could be also be dealt with at the Central station (CLC). The final station on the Liverpool side was the CLC complex at Brunswick. The CLC Shore Road goods station was on the Birkenhead side. [Roy F. Burrows Midland Collection Trust, No. 11816: Midland Railway Study Centre]
Front Cover: This interesting photograph was taken on the south quay, probably in the summer of 1905, with Londonderry alongside the Belfast goods shed. The group on the quayside were presumably passengers about to board Londonderry and it is noteworthy how close to the railway wagons and travelling cranes they were allowed to go without any apparent restriction — not something that would be countenanced today. The rail wagons were to D271 and were designed to carry four of the ship’s coal containers seen on them here that could be transferred by the cranes directly into the ships’ bunkers. On Londonderry herself it can be seen that the bridge was open to the elements with just a small wheelhouse in case of extremely inclement weather; in 1906 the bridge was moved about thirty feet aft of the position shown. Note also the small, furled foresail carried at that time, the only evidence of one ever being used being in photographs of the ships undergoing sea trials. [Roy F. Burrows Midland Collection Trust, No. 06480: Midland Railway Study Centre]
Back Cover: This is one of the letters in a bundle of 31 that your Editor bought many years ago from a second hand bookshop in Sheffield. All the letters are to Frederick Swanwick, one of the engineers with a major influence on the form and structure of the early Midland Railway. I hope to include an article on Swanwick in one of the future MRS Journals.
This letter was sent to Swanwick on 25th January 1850 by G.N. Browne from Leicester Station. It is on behalf of John Ellis, who had taken over the Chairmanship of the Midland Railway from George Hudson following the exposure of Hudson’s very questionably business methods and financial dealings. Ellis was very concerned about the precarious financial state of the Midland at the time, and he needed from Swanwick a clear and accurate statement of the state of affairs on the five recently constructed lines mentioned in the letter. The text written in the left hand margin says ‘I thank you for your letter upon the subject of Taylor’s claim’. [Ian Howard collection]