My next published work

Cover ERC6

Early Railways 6  – Edited by Anthony Coulls

This book, Early Railways 6, for which this is the advance call for subscriptions, will be my next academically published work.

Cover of Early Railways 6
Cover of Early Railways 6 (Source & Copyright Six Martlets)

The series of Early Railways Conferences held its sixth gathering in June 2016 in the cradle of railway history that is Newcastle, with visits and events across Tyneside away from the conference venue. A full programme of papers showed that there is still a rich seam of research being undertaken into early railways across the globe. In this volume, a selection of papers cover that international aspect whilst others break new ground in terms of location and subject, always part of the excitement of the conference, where conversations over coffee turn up new research potential almost every minute. Dr Michael Lewis examines the very basics of early pointwork and track, John R New’s paper explores why the horse was displaced as motive power and Dr David Gwyn reflects on the first railways in Africa. Between the variety of other papers, the social, economic and technological history of early railways is covered. Given the amazing wooden waggonway discovery and excavations on Tyneside in the summer of 2014, the book begins with Discovering the Willington Waggonway which was the public lecture and sets the tone for the rest of the publication.

The papers

Discovering the Willington Waggonway: Archaelogical excavations at Neptune Yard on North Tyneside in 2013, R Carlton, L Turnbull & A Williams

Early Railways In The Bristol Coalfield,Steve Grudgings

Why Killingworth?,Robert F Hartley

Pointwork to 1830, Dr M J T Lewis

Why Displace the Horse? John R New

Early Locomotives of the St. Etienne-Lyon Railway, Miles McNair

Blücher and After: A Re-assessment of George Stephenson’s First Locomotives Dr Michael R. Bailey

Interpreting Sources for the operation of the Durham & Sunderland Railway 1836-56, Colin Mountford

Early Locomotive Performance, Peter Davidson

Penydarren Re-Examined Andy Guy, Dr Michael Bailey, Dr David Gwyn, Robert Protheroe Jones, Dr Michael Lewis, John Liffen, and Jim Rees

Two Early French Non-Railways, Dr M J T Lewis

Joseph Atkinson and the Early Images of the Tanfield Arch, Robin Adams

Plateways, Steel Road Rails, and Rutways in Australia, Dr Jim Longworth and Phil Rickard

The First Railways in Africa, Dr David Gwyn

When to Stop Digging: Assessing the Excavated Evidence, Helen Gomersall

Sierra Leone: Proposals for a Colonial Early Railway, Anthony Coulls

Publication

The book will be published by Six Martlets Publishing on behalf of the sponsors at the discounted price of £35 each plus postage and packing. To reserve a copy go to www.earlyrailways.org.uk or contact the publisher for an order form.

The postage and packing rates will be: UK, £3.50 per book. Europe, £9.00 per book. Other countries, £14.00 per book.

All subscribers will receive a copy of the book at the discounted price for advance payment and will have their subscription acknowledged in the preliminary pages. The subscription list will close on 1 October 2018 and the book will be published shortly after. This will be the only opportunity to obtain a copy at the discounted price. To order contact Six Martlets Publishing, c/o Better Prepared Ltd, 15 Diamond Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes MK15 0DU. sixmartlets@uwclub.net

ER6 was sponsored by The Newcomen Society, The Railway and Canal Historical Society, The Institution of Civil Engineers & The National Railway Museum. The Stephenson Locomotive Society also fully support the publication of this volume containing papers presented at the Conference by several SLS members. Although, as at the 2016 event date, the SLS, of which I am a Director, was not one of the official event sponsors the SLS has subsequently become actively involved in promoting the Early Railways Conference serial.

Notes

  1. More about the 2016 Conference was in my September 2016 blog post.
  2. List of all my published work.

 

Last week I caught a train

Trains, the ticketing nightmare
Trains
Southbound Cl 185 Trans Pennine Express at Shipton by Beningbrough (Yorks). The acceptable side of train travel.
Southbound Cl 185 Trans Pennine Express at Shipton by Beningbrough (Yorks). The acceptable side of train travel.

Trains are an interest, last week I even rode on one just like that pictured above. For people who know me well, or sometimes visit this blog, that probably seems an obvious statement. I am PRO for a railway society (The SLS) and manage the website for two other rail related groups so train travel should be a norm. Unfortunately it isn’t, partly down to geography/available routes, and partly down to the nature of the rail industry today. This blog post is reflections on trying to actually plan/use the train to make three main-line trips from the major UK rail hub of York; for only one was the train actually usable!

Ticketing
Tickets and cards.
Tickets and cards.

It used to be easy, you turned up, you bought your ticket and got on the next train. These days each Train Operating Company (TOC) has its’ own range of discounts and options; woe betide the person who gets on a wrong train or thinks they can just buy one from the guard/ticket collector. On Friday I was 50:50 lucky, there was a very substantial discount to travel restricted to Trans Pennine Express but it meant leaving at a set time to get the last train back. Why was that only 50% lucky, the event over-ran so I missed the last few minutes.

Empty reservations

Even though I take advantage of it because it is there what is annoying to me as a passenger is the discount for advance payments. This is for two reasons, (1) the number of no-shows means reserved seats get left empty and (2) it is simply illogical from a passenger perspective. It may make wonderful commercial sense to travel providers, be they train or airline operators, but for the passenger it means the turn-up and go fare payer (where there is all the risk of no seats etc.,) pays the premium rate. The premium should be for the early booking guarantee of a seat. Why this observation; in my coach on Friday of the 10 reservation slips visible only 4 were actually occupied for the leg specified!

Parking and evening buses

Another issue that creates an issue for train choice is parking and lack of late evening buses. On top of the train fare you have the parking tax as the lack of evening buses means a car or taxi is needed to get you home, and if the journey is rural, that can be surprisingly early. A Park & Ride scheme is great, but useless for the inward journey if the car-park is locked after 8pm so you can’t get your car out even if you get a taxi back to the P&R site after the last bus.

Why do I write this? In a fortnight I want to go to an evening meeting. It is in a neighbouring town to York and the expected 9:40 to 10pm finish is hardly late! However, I will be staying over that weekend at a relative’s house and there is no public transport option back out of York to their village after 7pm, outcome will be a 90 mile round trip drive.

My experiences using Scotrail whilst on holiday earlier in the month were slightly better but these general principles still have validity for services north of the border too.

Seating and people types
A southbound Voyager near York
A southbound Voyager near York. The route I won’t be taking!

The final straw, to this cumulative disaster, is the Cross-Country Voyager train. My Saturday afternoon meeting in Derby shortly coming up has to be another 100 mile plus round trip car journey as everything conspires to make the train a non-starter. The first blow, no evening village bus home and the park and ride alternative would be touch and go for getting back on the last one, so dare not risk.  Car park fee at station -don’t ask! However even if I pay that fee the train has such jammed in seating that as a tall man I can only sit in First Class with a guarantee of getting enough leg room.

So another weekend another motorway journey, not from a lack of motivation to use public transport but because it isn’t available as a practical alternative.

Going back to that Friday trip last week, people watching sure is fun. What a mix. Outward it was fine despite the train being pretty full but another downer for evening travel are the parties of tipsy and drunk fellow travelers. Not fighting on this occasion but raucous and with hardly the most desirable language choice at times.

General status update

The Kelpie statues, at Falkirk.

General status update

The Kelpie statues, at Falkirk.
The Kelpie statues, at Falkirk.

A general status update as it has been a while since I posted anything here so time to get back onto the blogging trail. It has been busy summer including helping both my daughters make family house moves, two brief holiday breaks, one in the Lake District and a second in Scotland together with presenting and writing a conference paper. In Scotland we saw the amazing, award winning, Kelpie statues at Falkirk.

Early Railways Conference 6
A wooden waggon at the Causey Arch. Typical of the early railway period.
A wooden waggon at the Causey Arch. Typical of the early railway period.

The conference was an excellent event held in Newcastle, with the cradle of early railways being Tyneside and adjacent areas a most appropriate venue. My own paper was on Why Replace the Horse? The subsequent write up stretching over the summer; now awaiting the peer review, and hopefully, acceptance for the ultimately published proceedings book.

Current status

Working full-time at home this week on web updates and management committee reports in my role as PRO for the Stephenson Locomotive Society (SLS) but definitely missing the anticipation of a further year at Uni. After several short courses on IT and Graphics at Kingston Maurward College, and then three years at Bournemouth University, it seems very strange not to be getting new books etc., and anticipating the new modules. I have plenty of on-going research in hand, to say nothing of the website rebuilding and writing to be done, plus attacking the Autumn tasks of the garden, so I won’t be short of tasks, that is for sure.

Corrupted software issues

As for today a fight with the blog software; this would have been posted yesterday if the part of the package needed for adding new posts hadn’t been corrupted.  I still have to fix the Instagram links and plug ins as isolating that has fixed the editing and updating processes.  Why can’t IT stuff just work?!