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Edward Thompson: Both sides of the story - lecture Feb 2018

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by S.A.C. Martin, May 2, 2012.

  1. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    Apparently, most CME's weren't! :eek:
     
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  2. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Just a heads up to anyone in the London area...

    Based on my research and writing, I’ve agreed to give a short lecture on Edward Thompson at the Model Railway Club of London on 8 February 2018.

    Titled “Edward Thompson: both sides of the story” this is your opportunity to challenge me in person in a Q&A session and the chance to look at some of the documents, models and interviews I’ve conducted.

    This is likely to be a complete one off - I intend to finish the book and self publish it later this year.

    More details here: http://www.themodelrailwayclub.org/events/2018-lectures
     
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  3. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Active Member

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    Simon, just in case you haven't read it, "Express Steam" by Rogers gives some interesting (anti-Thompson) quotes, from letters to the author by Harrison and others.
    It's a grand book well worth the read anyway.
     
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  4. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Yes, “interesting”. My view of JF Harrison has changed substantially since I started researching on Thompson.

    There’s inconsistencies and then there’s JF Harrison talking about Edward Thompson.

    Colonel Rogers is potentially the one who has done the most damage to Thompson’s reputation - his book on Thompson and Peppercorn is the greatest work of fiction in railways (if you discount Lord Adonis’ recent tweets).
     
  5. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Active Member

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    Simon, I tend to agree with much of what you about Thompson getting a raw deal. But don't overstate your case or you'll undermine it entirely.
    Rogers is an invaluable source because he counted so many of the big players in the late part of the steam era as personal friends. He was undoubtedly a Gresley partisan (an offshoot of his adulation of Chapelon) and in writing about the later years he tended to reinforce his own views by associating with people who agreed with him. He also apparently didn't bother to do research very thoroughly when he could get a personal anecdote from Riddles, Bond, Cox, Harrison. But nevertheless all those quotes are real and effectively primary evidence: biased or not you have to take them into account. Rogers does slightly contradict himself about the Thomson pacifics anyway. But despite the spin he puts on things, the facts he reports are real, albeit partial, and if you don't address them your Thompson writings/lecture will be unconvincing.
    When it comes to the 19th century and pre-WW1 Rogers writings appear well researched including material not found elsewhere. In particular, he is not content to merely repeat the general reputation of loco designs/designers or unfounded rumour but finds performance and operations data to illustrate their actual merits. The advantage of not having anecdote to fill the pages and needing to find real material!
    Re Harrison, the LNER is not my area, but I know that e.g. on the LNWR much of the reputation of Webb in his later years is down to relying too heavily on second hand revisionist opinions from the camp of Whale (who had excellent qualities nevertheless) and Trevithick III (who probably didn't).
    Have you read Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey...?
     
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  6. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Active Member

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    Incidentally, I would leave Andrew Adonis out of it, if I were you. Your own views on the current running of the railways have little relevance to Thompson, but such is the general mess of the current railway politics, you are just going to get people's back up so they won't listen objectively to your expiation of Thompson.
     
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  7. GWR Man.

    GWR Man. Well-Known Member

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    The biggest problem is Edward Thompson followed what people thought was the Lord Mayor's Show and, so will always be treated as the second best and by going for the equal length connecting rods produced engines which didn't give a good looking engine didn't help. If Great Northern (and his other rebuilds) had been built with the same front end like the Peppercorn engines people would have been less likely to put his engines down. While he was working under Gresley he was plodding away introducing standard fireboxes/boilers on different classes of engines to save money on the maintenance of these classes.

    To me Gresley was just an average CME with luck on his side such as Mallard which is only famous because the LNER has a stretch to run the engine fast on and, if the LMS had the same one of the Coronation class would be the holder of this title. Miss Money Pit is only famous because of its antics after preservation.

    Also look how much money Gresley wasted which the LNER didn't have building the V1/3 classes with three cylinders when they would have done the same job with two cylinders and, after the cracking of the mono-block cylinders on the V2 was found to be a problem he still went on to start building the V4 with them, and this was another class which should have been built with two cylinders. Also when the A1 were first built there were a second class engines and only when the GWR showed them up he had to improve them when he would have already known about the GWR engines when his was on the drawing board and Maunsell in 1917 took the GWR cylinder design and built them into his N class. Also look at his famous hump back wooden underframe wagons which no other railways had problems with as they realised where the problem was and removed the problems before the first one was built.

    He just introduced in most cases new classes of simple engines which the LNER wanted at least 10 years quicker to get a modern fleet of engines.
     
  8. Lplus

    Lplus Well-Known Member

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    Yes! Yes! Let the hate flow, young Paduan; the Dark Side beckons!
     
  9. Robin

    Robin Member

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    Out of interest, Hawksworth succeeded Collett in the same year that Thompson succeeded Gresley. Few people would claim that Hawksworth was the equal of Collett or that he produced anything of great beauty either (1501 q.v.), but he does not suffer the opprobrium that Thompson does.
     
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  10. The Green Howards

    The Green Howards Part of the furniture Friend

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    I'll get the eggs sitting on the radiator now, then...;):D

    Sadly, I can't make it - working :Arghh:
     
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  11. The Green Howards

    The Green Howards Part of the furniture Friend

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    I quite like 1501: I had a chance to examine that engine in some detail when the A1 got shut one summer due to some tool crashing his car whilst being chased by the police!
     
  12. Lplus

    Lplus Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps because he didn't try to prove how much better he was than his predecessor - and fail.....;)
     
  13. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Active Member

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    Perhaps toxicity of environment can prove more telling than ability?
     
  14. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the heads-up - have grabbed a copy at a great price :) Will look forward to reading it.
     
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  15. 60525

    60525 Member

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    Ditto......
     
  16. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 New Member

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    The difference is Thompson and Gresley had very different philosophies as to how locomotives should be designed. Hawksworth largely followed in Collett's shoes, just with a few detailed differences (such as putting Walschaerts valve gear and 6'3" wheels on Counties).
    It is also interesting to note that I have a couple of books written by a Mr Harold Gasson, who was a Didcot Fireman in the 1940s, and he (and the other enginemen he worked with) seemed to rate the original Halls as better than those which received Hawksworth's modifications...
     
  17. class8mikado

    class8mikado Well-Known Member

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    Sorry I cant make your Talk. Hope it goes well.
    Maybe the A1/P2slt chould have you on as the warm up on the P2 roadshow... that would make it a bit more even handed and perhaps shame them into doing an L1 instead of a V3...
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
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  18. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    I have it on good authority (multiple interviews) that the “toxicity” at Doncaster was limited to around five people total, all of whom were in some way put out by Thompson’s decision to remove conjugated valve gear from the LNERs future plans.

    Funny how Peppercorn didn’t revive it or change any of Thompson’s policies, in reality.
     
  19. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Re Colonel Rogers:

    Part of the reason I’m so outspoken about Rogers is that he employs - outside of the sources he uses - some clearly exaggerated descriptions that have no basis in fact.

    The idea that the Thompson Pacifics were incapable of pulling trains is a total nonsense.

    You wouldn’t employ a locomotive unable to pull trains for over twenty years...
     
  20. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    But my impression from my spotting years at KX 1956-61 is that at the south end of the line in that period the likes of 60504-6 were used on second level workings while locos such as 60513/4 were always in unimpressive external condition based at New England while at the same time the A1s, A3s and A4s dominated the top workings. Looking back at my books, A2s from the NER were unusual in London compared with NER A3s and A4s.

    I realise the above is nothing more than a schoolboy impression based on a small sample but I can't remember Townend's book even mentioning the A2s.

    So what happened, and if I had been standing at York or Waverley, would my impression be different?
     

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