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Sir Nigel Gresley - The L.N.E.R.’s First C.M.E.

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by S.A.C. Martin, Dec 3, 2021.

  1. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Hesitate to post this - but...

    I have had the go ahead for writing the Gresley book, and am in the process of writing up much of my initial findings into a basic manuscript.

    Would a - separate - thread for Gresley be welcome, in order to keep that discussion specific, or should I retitle this thread and keep everything L.N.E.R. together?

    That is, of course, if forum members want to do an open discussion all over again - I am aware that we all probably have a level of fatigue with responding on this thread, and PTSD when the usual stuff gets argued about...!
     
  2. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    We're all familiar with designs that did not come to fruition ie Fowler Pacific, Chalmers' 2-8-0 etc, taking into account the hiatus in new designs caused by the poor financial situation of the LNER, did Gresley ever work on a go anywhere 4-6-0 which did not come to be because the railway was too poor to build it, or was it only with Thompson that it entered the design agenda?

    I have to ask whether the LNER's biggest need in the middle of the 1930s given the financial state of the company was a further batch of 35 express engines

    To ask a deliberately provocative question - if Mallard did not hold the speed record and the PR that it has given him, would Gresley's record as a designer not be a lot thinner? Afterall in 30 years as a CME (GNR and LNER) how does it stack to 20 years of Churchward or Stanier in 13 years?
     
  3. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'd ask two questions. Firstly, whether the discussion about Gresley would generate as much light as that about Thompson. Second, whether your ideas need as much testing and probing as did your evolving ideas about Thompson.

    Personally, I'd be inclined to let well alone and move away from the research plus crowd-sourcing approach, but knowing that there are a number here who have contributed to your thoughts and review of the Thompson book, and whom you can reach privately.
     
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  4. Hermod

    Hermod Member

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    I look forward to it being in the open form again.
    Title?: LNER/Gresley /Bulleid practise versus rest of UK/World.
    Do You read french or german?
     
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  5. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Since Gresley’s go anywhere design was the V4, I’d say he didn’t need an equivalent 4-6-0.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2021
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  6. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    With all the many months of interesting, informative, sometimes illuminating debate we've (mostly) enjoyed concerning Thompson*, I'm surprised there's even a question!

    *plus the odd insight into the psyches of one or two closer to home. ;)
     
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  7. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Gresley and his team worked on a 4-6-0 design in 1925 - and it didn't get off the drawing board. NBL subsequently produced the B17/1 for the LNER.

    The large scale replacement of pre-grouping classes happened only by removing them from front line services and relegating them to secondary services, in the main. This meant that Gresley designs were first link, and then accepted "standard" locomotive classes like the N7, B12s, A5s, etc.

    A very interesting question, for which the answer, as ever, depends on your point of view. The A4s were an excellent PR exercise - did it translate into monetary value for the company? That requires more examination.

    I would argue that even without the 126mph record, Gresley would still be remembered as one of the greatest railway engineers in the British Isles, and would still be compared favourably to those engineers amongst others.
     
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  8. Hermod

    Hermod Member

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    In Germany the P8 (4-6-0) from 1906 outlived the Baureihe 23 (2-6-2) from 1950 .
    The thread is on track already.
    Lovely
     
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  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    What would be interesting to look at (*) is the relative change, year by year, of locos. That is, for each year, what got built and what got scrapped. I think as a general rule - at least on the SR - was that broadly speaking each year more locos got built than scrapped up to roughly the beginning of World War I (i.e. fleets gradually got larger). That process then went into decline, i.e. from the end of World War I, fleet gradually got smaller - tempered to a degree by larger locos, for example, a number of elderly 0-6-0s being replaced by a smaller number of more powerful 2-6-0s and 4-6-0s etc.

    What you might then see in terms of policy is to think about what the average age of the fleet was through time, and what the replacement rate was. In Victorian times that was often about 3% per year, i.e. locos had typical lives of about 30 years (and the average fleet age was probably just under 15 years). But how did that change in the 20th century: my sense is that locos started lasting longer, and the average age went up, until you got the post-war issue where a radical policy shift sent that into reverse, and new locos got withdrawn way before time.. Was that universal, or not? What drove it - changes in capital costs? Better maintenance and build standards? Changing traffic patterns? I don't know.

    What that might then feed into re Gresley would be to study the constraints he was under (financial etc) and to what extent that drove loco policy. For example, you have made the point that the LNER had large numbers of elderly pre-group designs that lasted right through to World War II - but was that poor policy, poor finance, or actually what you would expect given normal replacement lifecycles? How different were, say, the NER, GNR, GCR, GER sections?

    I'd read a book like that - maybe others wouldn't ;) - and to me that would be more innovative and illuminating about Gresley than just another retelling of the story of the big pacifics, which is surely well-trodden ground.

    (*) But it would be a monumental task, one I keep shying away from on the SR, and the LNER was four times bigger ...

    Tom
     
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  10. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I actually have started work on that Tom. I have produced a - ridiculously large - heat map by way of excel showing when all of the classes were withdrawn and introduced. It made quite an interesting exercise and has taken nearly a year…!
     
  11. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    We all know why there were only two V4s built. It’s all supposition but had the Austrian Corporal not started his shenanigans and Gresley not died when he did, then we would probably have seen more built.
     
  12. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    This speculation has no basis in fact.
     
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  13. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    In one respect the V4 anticipated Riddles; a wide firebox on a medium-sized loco (which I think was originally envisaged down to BR Class 5).
     
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  14. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    So what's your version of what would have happened if there had been no WW2 and Gresley had not died when he did?
     
  15. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I’m reporting and analyzing actual history. That’s the point. This wild speculation detracts from what actually happened and a serious assessment of it.

    Dare I say it’s easier to speculate than to admit that Thompson instigated what Gresley should have done?
     
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  16. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Wow. You must be a bundle of laughs at parties.
     
  17. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres

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    Surely the V4 duo were only prototypes for different boiler / firebox designs with a view to identifying which suited LNER practice best whilst the 2-6-2 wheel arrangement was to be the new "standard" for the proposed go-anywhere design that was expected to follow. To my mind the more intriguing question from the Gresley era is what consequence did Gresley's commitment to the 3-cylinder conjugated valve gear concept have on his reputation; did it prevent him from adopting more economic designs or did it restrict his vision for future LNER designs. To me that would be an excellent theme on which to interpret Gresley and his work with locomotives whilst his time with the L&YR could be interpreted through his subsequent effect on GNR / LNER coach design.
     
  18. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    As always, I note the personal commentary starts the moment you have no actual response to a point being made.
     
  19. Hermod

    Hermod Member

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    Can it be studied somewhere?
    It is easy to visualize today.Take a 3D CAD model and cut and paste.
     
  20. RalphW

    RalphW Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Administrator Friend

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    Don't you recognise a jokey aside?
     

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