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Edward Thompson: Wartime C.M.E. Discussion 2012 - 2020

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

  1. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    I'll drop you a PM later when I've read through all of it
     
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  2. Cartman

    Cartman Member

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    I've just watched a you tube broadcast featuring SAC Martin on this topic, I think it was called Edward Thompson Hero or Villain, and it's very good indeed. Interesting and recommended. I'd post a link if I knew how to!
     
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  3. bluetrain

    bluetrain New Member

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    I would echo Cartman's praise for the video, but I think there was a link to it some pages back in this thread?

    Turning to the draft chapter on the Thompson A1/1 ("Great Northern") at post #3434. Reading this and some other material educated me about certain matters, notably that the "rebuild" was not a rebuild at all but creation of an entirely new engine that re-used some components from the dismantled A10, and then took its number and name. Is it known whether Thompson intended future new construction to follow the A1/1 model, notably in using the A4 boiler? Or would he have planned to use an A2/3 boiler with its larger 50 sq ft grate?

    I note the lengthy section on the controversy that grew up around the A1/1 project. I appreciate that Simon Martin is keen to counter the claims that the project, and especially the selection of 4470 "Great Northern" as the prototype, was some kind of conspiracy to spite Gresley's legacy. But I wonder whether the chapter is being unbalanced by giving so much space to discussing a matter that Mr Thompson himself would have regarded as much ado about nothing.

    Of course, there may be further material in other chapters that restores the overall balance of the book. Small classes or one-off non-standard designs are always vulnerable to early withdrawal, as with the Gresley P1, V4 and C9 designs. The A1/1 survived longer than the Thompson A2/1 and A2/2 classes, until 1962 when general withdrawal of LNER pacifics began. So BR must have regarded it as at least a reasonably useful asset. The A2/3 was the most numerous and long-lived class of Thompson pacifics, so will no doubt get suitably prominent coverage in the book.

    I have been looking at the discussion of Thompson pacifics in Colonel Rogers' book "Express Steam in Britain and France". Roger's tone is very anti-Thompson, but even so not wholly black & white. He describes the dropping of conjugated valve gear as "probably a wise decision" and Thompson's move to divided drive as "a perfectly reasonable preference". He also says of the Thompson pacifics that their "steam circuit was excellent and they were very free runners". There is criticism of them as vehicles, for reported frame weaknesses and poor riding (which I think was eventually solved by stronger bogie side-control?). However, the main focus of criticism seems to be on the allegation that they were ugly, mainly as a result of the bogie and cylinder layout. I find this focus very strange. Beauty and ugliness are of course entirely subjective and would not normally be seen as the major criterion for judging a locomotive's worth. Bulleid's Q1 was undoubtedly ugly but its merits earned it a place in the NRM. The Dean-Churchward "Kruger" class was both ugly and a design aberration, but has not tarnished the reputation of the engineers involved.
     
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  4. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Just want to thank everyone for their PMs and messages - I have a bit of time around lunchtime today so will be thanking everyone personally for their help, advice and in some cases lengthy edits - something I wasn’t expecting but am very grateful for!

    I do think there are fair points about balance.

    The problem with the book is that so much of it is a stream of consciousness where the controversies are concerned - the more factual stuff is in the quotations and citations that are a big part of it.

    You can see I hope why it has taken nearly eight years and many rewrites to get to this stage.

    I’ll be doing my first two lectures of the year on Thompson this month - they are my first priority at present. A copy of the book - unedited but containing the main manuscript and many, many notes - will be available to look at together with samples of my research and some models I have made.
     
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  5. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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  6. paullad1984

    paullad1984 Member

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    This has to be, by far, one of the most researched, thought out, balanced and thorough discussions I have ever heard.
     
  7. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    That's most kind Paul, thank you for writing that.
     
  8. paullad1984

    paullad1984 Member

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    I enjoyed every minute of it
     
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  9. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    When originally asked to do it, I had mixed feelings about how it would be received. Luckily, those who have listened have either provided good feedback or have responded amicably on points they disagree with.

    Given the thread has been going for nearly a decade (eight years by December!) I’m pleased to have made a lot of headway in my research.

    Today I did something which I consider a personal landmark. I printed the manuscript of the book for myself for the first time. It’s only in a ring binder, and it’s going to be covered in red crossings out, notes and labels, maybe photographs, but it now exists as forty three pages of double sided A4, mostly complete (minus bibliography which is being printed separately).

    It’s such a daft thing to get emotional over but it did make me feel quite happy that the end - what end it is - is finally in sight!
     
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  10. bluetrain

    bluetrain New Member

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    Hi Simon. Congratulations on achieving your milestone of a complete draft! You must now be able to see light at the end of the tunnel. But after 8 years, you are clearly not aiming to emulate Mr OS Nock for quantity of output!

    The title of this thread indicates that your main focus will be on Thompson's wartime period of office, but I assume that you will also give some space to Thompson's post-retirement legacy. In quantitative terms, Thompson's major locomotive output was the 400-plus B1s mostly built after his retirement, which finally moved the LNER to greater standardisation by facilitating the withdrawal of many pre-grouping classes.

    Further to my previous mention of the Thompson A2/3 engines, I believe that these were identical in major features to the later Peppercorn A2s except in respect of the different bogie and cylinder configuration. Given that there were 15 of each type and they had similar life-spans, records of their operation may indicate whether there was any difference in the efficacy of the two sub-classes in terms of performance, reliability, ease of operation and maintenance, etc.

    And then there is of course the Thompson carriage building programme, which carried on until new construction moved to BR standard types. There seem to have been significant numbers built, but with very few surviving in preservation. By introducing steel outer sheeting, Thompson brought LNER constructional practice into line with what the other companies had done since 1923 or before, but David Jenkinson's account suggests that Thompson should have dumped "ersatz teak" and introduced a new carriage livery. Now that would really have caused controversy!
     
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  11. 60525

    60525 New Member

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    This would be an interesting comparison. I understand that the Peppercorn A2s' performance were impacted by the adoption of a single blastpipe (due to a lack of space to accommodate this and the self cleaning apparatus in the smokebox) and only a subset were equipped with the Kylchap arrangement. This in itself I consider strange given the proven benefits on engines so fitted.
     
  12. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I will catch up to all of the discussion later today (my apologies everyone). But first...

    A9ECAF80-C582-4923-B7EF-0F32C8052DB8.jpeg

    A reminder that you can hold me to account in person this coming week! I am giving a lecture at the Model Railway Club of London.

    Eggs and tomatoes will be confiscated at the door...!

    Please feel free to challenge, question, but I only ask that you see the presentation - which is a bit of a warm up for the Gresley Society one at the end of the month - and keep an open mind.

    Hope to see some of you there. A rough draft of the book, plus some of my research notes and models, will be on display.
     
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  13. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I hesitate to talk down one of railway heritages most prolific writers - but - I think it’s a case of quality not quantity. If this was my only railway history book and it was well received I’d be very happy.

    I will, but only in passing - that is part of the overall point of “context of his reign”.

    There was - and this week there will be some surprises revealed in my lecture I am giving.

    Watch this space, I will put the info out for discussion next weekend.

    There’s a lot in that - I personally think Thompson was quite conservative in his remit as CME - using tried and tested techniques and ideas - to get the LNER through the war.

    I hope that this weeks lecture will show something of this.
     
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  14. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Just a heads up that we are going to try and do something a bit different this week at the model railway club of London - I will try and live broadcast the lecture through YouTube or Twitter/with a recording to be made for my own YouTube Channel later on, so that if people wish to see what the slides were, and what we were discussing, they can.

    There will be some copyright restrictions on some material which I will have to respect, but I intend to do my best here for everyone.
     
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  15. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Member

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    I see that a link to your podcast on at least one FB Group has unleashed the sadly predictable hostility from some, Simon :(
     
  16. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    Unfortunately I can't make it this Thursday.

    Presumably another instance of "Our minds are made up. Please don't cloud the issue with facts".
     
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  17. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Not seen it: likely that I’ve blocked or been blocked. I’m not fussed.

    Nothing can be as bad as the old gent who came up to me at the NNR while out with a girl for the day who gave me a barrage of abuse including a few choice swear words.
     
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  18. segillum

    segillum New Member

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    Remember the Buddhist saying that when you point at someone, three fingers are pointing back at yourself (or himself in this case).
     
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  19. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Member

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    Probably blocked. Looks like your critic blocks anyone who disagrees with his PoV. *sighs*

    As for the old bloke giving you abuse - good grief... :(

    Mark
     
  20. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    It was a few years back and very much a minority these days. When I first started this thread I got hate mail :confused:
     

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