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May be of interest?

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Richard Roper, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Richard Roper

    Richard Roper Member

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    I've recently been reading up about a few of the names associated with early railway history, having in recent years expanded my interest from the railways of late Victorian times onwards...

    One name who crops up as an opponent of early railways is Dionysius Lardner, a gentleman who held views such as people being suffocated when passing through tunnels, as so much air would be evacuated by the train's progress.

    In reading up about Lardner, I came across this link to a report he published in September 1844, regarding a boiler explosion in Reading, USA. I thought it may be interesting reading, particularly in that the conclusion reached seems ridiculous, considering that the most likely cause is also discussed and rejected...
    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id...ce=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

    It seems like an early form of deflecting blame, as Lardner had been conducting business with Norris, the Locomotive manufacturers.

    Hopefully, someone may find the link of interest... If not, I apologise for taking up bandwidth!

    Richard.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  2. daveannjon

    daveannjon Active Member

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    No need to apologise, Lardner was famous, or infamous!

    Dave
     
  3. estwdjhn

    estwdjhn New Member

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    Lardner was a well known quack, with his professional opinion available for hire for any side of an argument provided he was paid by them.

    The GWR board employed him to argue against Brunel on various occasions, with little success (Brunel was more than a match for him).

    I'm not aware of a biography of Dr Lardner - I suspect one could be an entertaining read if well written. If I'd nothing better to do, I'd love to sit down, do the research and write one... (one day, maybe).
     
  4. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    Not everything he said was rubbish, just most of it. He did point up the issue of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway purchasing its locomotives almost entirely from Robert Stephenson & Co while their Engineer had a large stake in that concern. History would repeat itself with Edward Bury and the London & Birmingham.
     
  5. Mencken

    Mencken New Member

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    Er, not quite.

    Bury was contracted by the L&B to run their trains at a speed of 22.5 mph, with engines built to his specification. Despite what has been repeated in book after book, Bury's firm did not build all (or even most) of the original engines, and their alleged lack of power was not the reason for the rope-worked incline at Camden. They seem to have worked the line efficiently; the L&B paid a regular 10% dividend (better than, say, the GWR) and after Bury's contract was annulled in 1839 and he became the Manager of the Locomotive Dept on a normal salary, he always also received an annual profits bonus.

    Of course the Stephensons were against Bury as he'd blocked their attempted monopoly in providing the L&B with locomotives, but his efforts seem to have satisfied the L&B Board. The story that they sacked him at very short notice is simply untrue; it was invented by that irrepressible writer of rubbish, Clement Edwin Stretton, but it too goes on being repeated in book after book. In fact his resignation in November 1846 came as an unwelcome surprise to the LNWR Board.
     
  6. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    As I understood it, and I am open to correction, Bury was responsible for the maintenance of the loco stock, but also of the ordering of new locos, as well as being the proprietor of the loco building firm which received the orders. He relinquished the latter post to become the L&BR Locomotive Superintendent, thus removing the clash of interest.

    As for blocking out Robert Stephenson & Co, revenge must have been sweet, as this is exactly what George Stephenson did to him on the Liverpool & Manchester. As you say, there are many conflicting stories about those days, and many of these originate from the period. Press standards seem to have been no better then than now! But this was the RM said:

    “The Directors have entered into a contract, under the guarantee of two responsible sureties, with Mr. Edward Bury, of Liverpool, an able and experienced builder of locomotive engines, for the conveyance of passengers and goods, on the railway, by locomotive power, to whatever extent may be required, at a fixed rate of remuneration; the Company providing engines of Mr. Bury’s specification, and Mr. Bury on his part maintaining and keeping them in repair; the contract to be in force for three years from the opening of the railway. The Directors have also contracted for such locomotive engines as will be first wanted, and for a portion of the carriages.”

    The Railway Magazine, Vol. 1 (1836).
     
  7. Mencken

    Mencken New Member

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    Yes, that's fine, except that Bury's recommended orders had to go through the L&B Board and latterly he often didn't get what he asked for. And he remained in charge of his Liverpool works which became Bury, Curtis & Kennedy in 1842. The question of his "dual role" as a manufacturer and a company servant was raised more than once at L&B Board meetings, but it was agreed that "in his delicate position" he had always conducted himself with great care, and that his was a "special case".

    It seems obvious now but it was a novelty in those days: he attempted to equip the line with engines all of a standard type with interchangeable parts. But he had problems with some of the other manufacturers who wouldn't work precisely to his specified dimensions, and with L&B directors who queried his need for spare parts. Not an easy job!
     

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