The Working and Management of an English Railway/Chapter 7
Rolling Stock (i.).—Engines and Brake-power.
faulty construction, for she was the fruitful mother of a race of giants! It was reserved for the engineers of a later generation to clothe Stephenson's great idea in forms of beauty and of strength, and they are entitled to all credit for the- perfection they have attained; but immeasurably greater must be the fame of him whose master-mind first gave the great conception to the world, with all its infinite possibilities of development for the advancement and happiness of mankind. His achievement can only be rivalled, and can hardly be eclipsed, by the genius of the man, perhaps yet unborn, who may endow the human race with a new faculty, by teaching them to navigate the air with the same ease with which they now traverse the ocean and the land.
It is extremely interesting to turn back to the reports of the directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, in 1826, and for some few years after, when the plan for working railways by means of locomotives was still hardly out of the region of experiment, and was not yet freed from a great deal of hostile and sceptical criticism. Thus we find them writing on the 27th March, 1828, when the railway was under construction and the works were well advanced:—
"The nature of the power to be used for the conveyance of goods and passengers becomes now a question of great moment, on whatever principle the carrying department may be conducted. After due consideration, the engineer has been authorised to prepare a locomotive engine which, from the nature of its construction and from the experiments already made, he is of opinion will be effective for the purposes of the Company without proving an annoyance to the public. In the course of the ensuing summer it is intended to make trials on a large scale, so as to ascertain the sufficiency in all respects of this important machine. On this subject, as on every other connected with the execution of the important task committed to his charge, the directors have every confidence in Mr. Stephenson, their principal engineer, whose ability and unwearied activity they are glad of this opportunity to acknowledge."
It is, however, clear, from the perusal of these reports, that even while the works were in progress, and the railway was actually nearing completion, the directors were still somewhat doubtful whether steam engines were the best form of motive power to adopt. Stephenson was at this time continually experimenting, altering, and effecting improvements in his original conception, but the result was not yet conclusive, and in 1829 a prize of £500 was offered for the best engine that could be devised, when Stephenson's "Rocket" was entered for competition, and was successful. The circumstances of this trial, which took place at Rainhill, have been recounted in ample detail by Mr. Francis, in his "History of the English Railway," and by others, and they need not here be recapitulated; but the result was to complete Stephenson's triumph over all his rivals, and to establish the right, which he had so justly earned, to be considered the founder of railways.
The present writer may be excused for taking a special interest in the circumstance just related, inasmuch as he was born at Rainhill in the year 1829, just about the period of the famous trial, his father, who was then engaged under George Stephenson in the construction of the principal viaducts and bridges on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, being at that time occupied in the building of the Rainhill Skew Bridge. This bridge, which is believed to be the earliest example of an oblique arch constructed in masonry, is still standing, and is a most remarkable work. George Stephenson at this time was so pleased at the result of the trial of the "Rocket," that he presented the writer's father with an English silver lever watch (then a scarce and valuable possession), which is still preserved in the family.
The Liverpool and Manchester directors now commenced to build engines of the "Rocket" type, although with continued improvements; but, as time went on, it was found in practice that the parts were too weak to withstand the heavy wear and tear. The directors were astonished and dismayed at the large expense incurred for renewals and repairs; the engineers were spurred on to tax their inventive powers for still further improvements, and it was thought that a great triumph had been achieved when, in February, 1831, an engine called the "Samson" carried 107 tons of merchandise from Liverpool to Manchester, a distance of about 30 miles, in two hours and a half. It was not, however, until five years later (1836) that the directors felt they could congratulate themselves upon having at length obtained engines upon which they could rely, and, although no model of the engines of this period has been preserved, so far as the writer is aware, there can be no doubt that they were vastly inferior to those in use at the present day.
The London and North-Western Company now employ, for the various purposes of their traffic, engines of eight distinct types, and an Appendix to this chapter gives, in a tabulated form, the details of construction of these different types, including their wheel diameter, cylinders, heating surface, weight, and other particulars.
Our illustration (Plate XIX.) shows an express goods engine with six wheels coupled, cylinders 18 inches by 24 inches, and wheel diameter 5 feet.
Plate XX. shows a special tank engine for goods trains, having six wheels coupled, 4 feet 3 inches diameter, and cylinders 17 inches by 24 inches.
Plate XXI. is an engine used for drawing coal trains, having 6 wheels coupled, 4 feet 3 inches diameter, and cylinders 17 inches by 24 inches.It was formerly the practice to work the express passenger trains with single engines of the "Lady of the Lake" class (see Appendix), although, later, it was found better to work the heavier trains with four-wheeled coupled engines; but these, having proved to be too small for the increasing loads and the higher rate of speed demanded, are now being superseded by compound engines of a new construction, invented by Mr. Webb, of which the "Marchioness of Stafford" (Plate XVIII.) is an example, and which may be thus described: The engines differ from the compound engines in use on other lines chiefly in the number and disposition of the cylinders, there being two high-pressure cylinders fixed outside the frames, between the leading and middle wheels (the connecting rods working on to crank pins, set at right angles to each other, in the trailing wheels), and one low-pressure cylinder carried between the main frames at the front end of the engine, the connecting rod working on to a single throw crank in the middle pair of wheels. For the benefit of non-professional readers, it may be explained that the underlying principle of a compound engine is that the steam, instead of being allowed to escape after having once done duty, is compelled, by an arrangement of
duplicate cylinders, to do duty again, and thus the maximum development of power is obtained, with the minimum expenditure of fuel. The advantages claimed for the improvement are:—
(1.) That the engine, being practically balanced, runs very steadily at a high rate of speed.
(2.) That the power of the engine is distributed over two axles instead of one, as in ordinary non-compound engines, and the strain on the various parts is thus very much reduced.
(3.) The adhesion of two pairs of driving wheels has been obtained, without the use of coupling rods, which become unnecessary.
(4.) The driving wheels may be placed further apart than would be advisable if coupling rods were used, and a larger fire-box can be introduced.
(5.) With independent driving wheels there is less friction in passing round curves, and, if more convenient for the working out of the general design, each pair of wheels may have a different diameter.
The first compound engine was set to work on the London and North- Western Railway in 1881, since which time seventy-three others of the same type have been built, and have run collectively upwards of 11,000,000 of miles. On their first introduction they were met, like all innovations upon recognised methods, by a great deal of hostile criticism, but it is believed that they have lived this down, and are now pretty generally admitted to be a success. An actual trial has shown that, with one of these engines and a train of 321 gross tons in weight, one ton of dead weight can be hauled one mile at a speed of twenty-four miles an hour, with an expenditure of 1·26 oz. of Welsh coal, while to haul the same weight one mile at a speed increased to forty-four miles an hour required 2.06 oz. of fuel—a striking testimony to the great increase in expenses which railway companies have had to incur to keep up the high rates of speed now demanded in railway travelling. The economy of fuel effected by these engines is very considerable, and the fact is not without importance to a Company whose engines consume in the aggregate an average of 3,000 tons of coal per day, or upwards of a million tons in a year.
The compound engines are fitted with "Webb's radial axle-box," which is described as follows:—The axle-box consists of a single casting, with brasses fitted in each end for the journals, and which works between two curved guides formed of flanged plates stretching from frame to frame, thus allowing a lateral motion of inch to the axle on either side of the centre line of the engine. Underneath the axle, and within the box, are placed two horizontal helical springs, coiled right-hand and left-hand, and working one within the other, so that when the engine enters a curve the springs are compressed to one side against cross pieces connecting the axle-box guide-plates, and the shock transmitted from the rails through the wheels is minimised, while, as soon as the engine gets on the straight line again, the springs resume their normal position, and the engine is kept central. The axle-box, as originally designed, had two sets of controlled springs placed laterally on each side of the centre line of the engine, but as it was found that there was a tendency, in the case of a broken spring, or of one set being stronger than the other, for the wheels to be forced out of the centre line when running on the straight, the present arrangement was designed to come the difficulty. These axle-boxes were introduced in the year 1876, and there are now nearly 700 of them in use on engines, with the result that, in addition to the improved running, a considerable saving has been effected in the wear and tear of the flanges of the wheel tyres. A number of the long 42-feet carriages in use on the London and North- Western Railway have also been fitted with the same species of controlling gear at each end, their rigid base being thus reduced from 32 feet to 16 feet, with the best results as regards easiness of running, and saving of wear and tear; and the steady running of these vehicles in the fast trains running between London and Edinburgh last year was very noticeable. The under-frames of these carriages are constructed of steel, which is found to give them greater strength and elasticity than iron.
In addition to the various types of engines enumerated in the Appendix, Mr. Webb has constructed, for certain special purposes in connection with the railway, some small engines for narrow gauge lines, in which the usual link motion is done away with, and the engine is reversed by a pair of spur wheels, one of these spur wheels being keyed in the driving axle, and the other, equal in diameter, being fixed in a counter shaft, on each end of which is a crank driving the two valve spindles. The spur wheel on the driving axle is a broad one, occupying the space between the two bearings, and the spur on the counter-shaft is a narrow one, and held in position on the shaft by a skew-key, so that, by traversing the narrow wheel across the face of the broad wheel on this key, the relative position of the counter or valve shaft with the driving axle is altered, and so the engine is reversed, thus doing away with all eccentrics and link motion. The construction is simple, and there being so few parts, and those principally having a rolling motion, the engines are not likely to get out of gear, or, if they do, they are easily put right. These engines, of which Plate XXII. contains an illustration, can be driven from either end, and only require one man to work them. Some engines have also been built somewhat similar in construction, but for the ordinary gauge, and are found useful for certain special purposes in connection with shunting yards. It is believed that engines of this type would possess great advantages for the working of military field railways, and that they could easily be protected by armour-plates if necessary.It may here be mentioned that, in order to facilitate the working of the trains, and to avoid the necessity of their having to stop to take water at places where they are not otherwise required to stop, a number of narrow troughs have been laid down between the rails at convenient distances along the main lines, which, by an automatic arrangement, are kept always filled with water. The tenders attached to the engines have a "pick up" apparatus, provided with a scoop, which can be lowered into the trough while the train is passing over it at full speed, and the tanks are filled with water in a few seconds. Thus, not only is the time saved that would otherwise be spent at the stations in pulling up, obtaining a supply of water, and getting up speed again, but it is possible to use a smaller tender containing a less quantity of water, and consequently there is less dead weight to be handled. These troughs were first introduced by Mr. Ramsbottom in 1857, and, having since been improved and developed, have now been
laid down at eleven different places on the main lines; so that a train may run through, if need be, between London and Carlisle, or Holyhead, without once having occasion to pull up at a water column. Fig. 23 shows, by means of a diagram, the manner in which a tender picks up water from the feed-trough while in motion.
The Crewe works, where the locomotive engines of the London and North-Western Company are manufactured and kept in repair, constitute the largest railway works in the world, and have come, in process of time, to be looked upon as one of the most interesting sights to be seen by almost every Royal or distinguished personage who has visited our shores for many years past, as well as by engineers and railway officials from all parts of the world, who have visited England for the purpose of acquiring information as to the methods and processes of railway working in this country. A brief description of the works, and of what is done there, will not, therefore, be out of place in a work of this character, which professes to give some account of the means and appliances which have resulted in causing a first-class English railway to be regarded as a model for the rail- ways of the civilized world.
The works were originally established in 1843 for the purpose of repairing the engines, carriages, and waggons of the Grand Junction Railway, which was afterwards incorporated in the London and North- Western system, in 1846. As the locomotive requirements gradually increased, the carriage and waggon works were by degrees removed to Wolverton and Earlestown, respectively, and, since the year 1865, Crewe has been exclusively given up to the mechanical and engineering departments, and has become the chief centre of the London and North-Western Railway Company's works. In 1864 a very important addition was made to the establishment by the erection of works for the manufacture of Bessemer steel, and, as the whole of the space at that time available had been already occupied, these new works were placed a short distance from the junction, adjoining the Chester and Holyhead Railway. This railway had hitherto run through the works, but it was now thought desirable to divert it, and the land lying between the old line and the deviation was utilised for the new workshops, which thus came to be designated the "Deviation Shops," in contradistinction to the "old works." Other additions to the premises have been made from time to time as required, and the total area enclosed now amounts to about one hundred and sixteen acres; the covered shops and mills comprising thirty-six acres. It must be borne in mind, however, that at these works, not only are the engines used upon the railway made and repaired, but a number of other processes of the most varied description are carried on, including the manufacture of steel rails, signal work, the under-frames for carriages, cranes and machinery of all kinds for warehouses, girders for bridge-building, bricks, and joiners' work for houses, stables, and signal cabins, gas, water, and drain pipes, hydraulic machinery, and a multiplicity of other railway appliances far too numerous to catalogue.
The capabilities of the works are such that the Company is enabled to purchase the raw materials and to become the actual manufacturers of every part of the locomotive engines and other machinery constructed at Crewe, with the exception of brass tubes and copper plates.
The total number of engines constructed at these works from their establishment up to the end of April, 1888, was 3,031, of which no less than 146 were constructed in one year, viz., the year ending the 30th November, 1872. In addition to constructive works, however, about 2,000 engines annually undergo repairs, there being usually about 330 in the works for that purpose at one time.
The old works are now entirely devoted to the manufacture and repair of engines, and contain a shop for their erection, three repairing shops, a wheel shop, a fitting and turning shop, a smithy and forge, and a spring shop and copper smithy, as also the offices and general stores. With the exception of the light forgings and smiths' work made in this smithy, the various parts of the engines are brought to the old works in their rough state from other portions of the works; for instance, the frames and other wrought-iron plates come from the plate mill; the crank and straight axles, the tyres, the spring steel, the coupling and connecting rods, and other steel forgings come from the forge at the steel works; and the cylinders, wheels, horn blocks, axle-boxes, and other iron and brass castings come from the foundry. The different portions of the finished work ultimately find their way to the erecting shop, where the actual fabric of the engine is built up, and, as soon as the frame or skeleton is complete, the boiler is added. The engine is then grasped by two overhead travelling cranes, reaching down like giant hands, and is run bodily out of the shop in order that the boilers may be tested. This done, it is conveyed back to the shop, and the boiler is covered in, and all the remaining portions of the internal machinery and the external fittings are added, when the cranes again seize the engine and convey it to the paint shop. Meanwhile the tender has been constructed in another shop. It is now coupled to the engine, the two are painted, and, after receiving a trial, are ready for service. The usual time required in the erecting shop for building an engine is about four weeks, while the shortest time in which any engine has been built in this shop in the ordinary way of business is fourteen days. As an illustration, however, of what could be accomplished at these works in case of emergency, it may be mentioned that some time ago, as an experiment, the erection of an engine was commenced at six a.m. on a Monday, and at one o'clock on the following Wednesday, or within a space of twenty-five-and-a-half working hours from the time the frame plates were selected and laid down, the engine was finished, and in steam, and ready to work a train.
In the fitting shop, which, to the unaccustomed eye, presents a most bewildering appearance, with its endless ramification of pulleys, shafting, revolving wheels, and machinery of every description, all kinds of operations connected with the making of the various parts of an engine may be seen in progress. Here are turning lathes, planing, shaping, slotting, boring, and drilling machines. Here are made the cylinders, the pistons, the valves, connecting rods, injectors, axle-boxes, and a hundred other small fittings and castings, all these being adjusted to standard gauges suitable to the various classes of engines, without respect to the individual engine for which they may happen to be used. Thus, to a great extent, the interchangeability of parts is secured, so much so, that four of the standard classes of engines have many of their parts exactly alike, and any of these could be taken from one engine and fitted to another without difficulty, the result being to secure the greatest economy in effecting repairs. To such an extent is this principle carried, that when, as is sometimes the case, one of a pair of cylinders in an engine is damaged, a new cylinder can be straightway procured from the fitting shop and bolted to the remaining one, without any further fitting being required.
The nuts, bolts, pins, and a good many of the small parts are prepared, in an upper room over the fitting shop, by boys, who enter the works as apprentices, and remain at this work for some time before being drafted out as journeymen in the various branches.
The wheel shop, where the wheels and axles of the engines are constructed, is fitted with large and powerful machinery, suitable for the work which has to be carried on, some of the lathes being capable of turning a pair of wheels as much as 8 feet 9 inches in diameter. Interesting features in this shop are the "roughing lathe," in which seven cutting tools are employed at one time in "roughing out" the crank axles, and the "nibbling machine," designed for cutting out the "throws" in the cranks, and which has no less than 160 cutting tools arranged round the circumference of a large disc. An ingenious mechanical contrivance exists in this shop for lifting the wheels and axles into the lathes and other machines. It consists of a series of light jib cranes travelling on a single rail laid on the floor of the shop, parallel with the lathes, and worked by a cotton cord ⅜ of an inch in diameter, running at the rate of a mile a minute, by which motion is transmitted to the various parts of the cranes. These latter travel along the shop, wherever they are required, at the rate of 80 feet per minute, and lift their loads at the rate of 9 feet per minute. Special light machinery of a similar type has been provided also in the erecting shop, and in the various repairing shops, and is found almost invaluable in facilitating the operations to be carried on.
One portion of the works which seldom fails to interest visitors is the steel works, which, at the time of their opening in 1864, consisted of a converting house with two converters, a cogging shop, and a small forge, but have since been greatly enlarged, the steel-making plant being now capable of producing 50,000 tons of steel per annum, besides which there have been added a large forge, iron, brass and steel foundries, rail- rolling mills, a boiler shop, and several repairing and other shops. To those who are not acquainted with the Bessemer process of converting iron into steel, a brief description of the operation may be interesting
The converting plant consists of four retorts or vessels, each holding 5 tons, and arranged in two groups, with the cupolas behind them. The pig-iron is first melted in a cupola, to which the air is supplied by a Root's blower, after which the liquid metal is run into a huge ladle moving on a line of rails, and is conveyed to the converting vessel. This latter is lined with ganister, and in the bottom of it are a number of small holes, through which air is injected upwards through the molten mass, the oxygen of the air combining with and eliminating the carbon of the iron, and keeping up a fierce combustion until the whole of the impurities are ejected. The blowing is continued for some fifteen or twenty minutes, until the metal is thoroughly decarbonized, when the process ceases, and a quantity, varying according to the quality of steel required, of "spiegeleisen," an iron highly charged with carbon and manganese, previously melted in a furnace, is run into the converting vessel, and combines chemically with the decarbonized iron. The vessel is now turned down and the liquid steel is poured out into a ladle carried at the end of a crane, the crane swings round, and the steel runs out through a small orifice in the bottom of the ladle into cast-iron moulds, and is thus formed into ingots ready to be used for making rails, or for any other purpose required. The air is supplied to the converting vessels by a fine pair of horizontal blowing engines of 450 horse-power, made by Hick, Hargreaves & Co., of Bolton. The steam cylinders are 36 inches in diameter and have a stroke of 5 feet, and the air cylinders are 48 inches in diameter with the same stroke. There are also three reheating furnaces, in which the steel ingots, as they come from the converter, can be reheated, and taken direct to the rolling mill.
The rail-making plant has an annual capacity of 45,000 tons, the rolling mill being driven by a Corliss condensing engine, developing, in ordinary working, about 700 h.p. The rails, while hot, are sawn off to the required length by a circular saw, and, after cooling, are drilled and straightened ready for use.
The powerful forge machinery consists of a duplex steam hammer of 30 tons, and one of 10 tons, together with eight vertical steam hammers weighing from 15 cwt. to 8 tons, tyre rolling, plate rolling, and merchant mills, saws, and shearing machines. The 30-ton hammer was designed by Mr. Ramsbottom, the late chief mechanical engineer of the Company, and consists of two huge blocks, each weighing 30 tons, moving upon rails, with eight small wheels. The blocks are actuated by steam cylinders placed behind them, and on steam being admitted to these, the blocks are propelled with enormous force against the mass to be forged, which is held between them.
An interesting machine to watch in operation, is the large circular saw, 7 feet in diameter, which is used for sawing off the crop ends of forgings, and which is driven by an engine at a great velocity, running at no less speed than 13,000 feet per minute. This will cut its way through an iron axle 9 inches in diameter in 30 seconds.
The tyre mill, plate mill, and merchant mills require no detailed description, as, although the machinery employed is powerful and admirable of its kind, it is analogous to what may be seen at work in other rolling mills, and possesses no features of special interest. In the steel works there are thirty-seven furnaces for heating the metal, all of which are Siemens' Regenerative Gas Furnaces. There are also seven for making steel by the Siemens'-Martin process, viz., three 20-ton, two lo-ton, and two 5-ton furnaces. The gas for the furnaces is generated in a series of forty-nine gas producers, the gas being conveyed to the furnaces in underground pipes.
Steam is supplied to the various engines and steam hammers by two ranges of stationary boilers, each range consisting of eight boilers of the Lancashire type, 7 feet in diameter, and 30 feet long, with double flues, and constructed entirely of steel plates.
The engine repairing shops occupy an extensive range of buildings, 993 feet long, and 106 feet wide, and are fitted with wheel lathes for turning the tyres of the engine wheels as they become worn, and with all kinds of machinery for effecting the necessary repairs to the various parts of an engine. They are also furnished with boiling pans for removing the oil and grease from the parts when they are taken to pieces for repairs, so that they are turned out well cleaned at very little cost, the grease removed being collected and converted into soap.
It may here be mentioned that up till about the year 1873, the attempts which had been from time to time made to introduce steel into the manufacture of boilers, had resulted in failure, but at the International Exhibition in Vienna, in 1873, a locomotive boiler and fire-box were sent from the boiler shop at Crewe, which were fine specimens of boiler work, and were constructed entirely of steel, and since that time no less than 2,863 locomotive, and 218 stationary boilers, have been made of that material without a single case of failure having occurred other than those due to ordinary wear and tear. The greatest care is taken to ensure the selection of reliable plates for the boilers, a piece being cut from each plate and subjected to the most severe tests of all kinds, and a register being kept of the result of the tests, and of the position occupied by every plate in each boiler.
Extensive brick-making plant exists at Crewe, consisting of two brick-making machines, and a large circular kiln, and drying sheds, the turn-out being some five or six millions of bricks in a year. The "Deviation Works" previously referred to, consist of a range of shops built alongside the deviation of the Chester and Holyhead Railway, and comprise a chain and plate testing shop, a millwright's shop, devoted to the manufacture and repair of all the shafting and machinery in the works, shops for the making of cranes, warehouse machinery, and stationary engines, joiners' and pattern makers' shops, saw mills, &c.
The check upon stores of all kinds used in the works is very strict, and necessarily so; the stores are kept at the old works, and not the smallest article can be obtained from them without a written order signed by one of the foremen, none but the storekeepers being permitted to enter the stores.
A notable feature in the life of the Crewe works is the narrow-gauge railway, of which nearly five miles have been laid down, traversing every part of the works. The gauge of this railway, is eighteen inches, and it is worked by small locomotive engines of the type shewn by Plate XXII., which draw trains of strong, low-wheeled trollies, conveying materials and finished work from one part of the premises to another. It also affords a ready means of locomotion for the workmen and officials from point to point, and visitors to the works seldom fail to make acquaintance with it.
Dining, or "mess" rooms, are provided at Crewe for the convenience of the artisans who live at a distance from the works, and here they can leave their food in the morning, and have it prepared and placed ready for them when dinner-time arrives.
The number of persons of all classes employed in these works is about 6,500, but in addition there are some 600 engine-drivers, firemen, cleaners, and others at the steam sheds at Crewe station, making a total of upwards of 7,000 persons employed in connection with the locomotive department at Crewe. Although the steam sheds referred to form no part of the Crewe works properly so-called, they yet contribute in no slight degree to the establishment of Crewe as the most important locomotive centre of the London and North-Western Railway. About 140 engines are kept in steam at this station daily, for the stabling of which suitable sheds have been provided, covering an area of nearly 2½ acres, and including a washing shed and soap factory. Here the waste and sponge cloths used for cleaning engines all over the London and North-Western system, are washed and dried, and afterwards returned to the stations from which they have been received; the oil and grease collected from them in the process of cleansing being converted into soap, to be used in the various steam sheds.
The Company manufacture and supply gas, not only to their own works, but to the whole town of Crewe, and they also supply water to the works and to the town, the supply being derived from the red sandstone at Whitmore, about twelve miles distant, on the Crewe and Stafford Railway. The water is pumped from a large well into reservoirs, and descends to Crewe by gravitation.
Crewe, which previous to the establishment of the locomotive works was inhabited only by a few farmers and cottagers, has now developed into a flourishing town of thirty thousand inhabitants, composed almost entirely of the Company's workmen and their families, and the tradesmen who supply their wants. In 1877 the town applied for and obtained a charter of incorporation, and Mr. F. W. Webb, the chief superintendent of the works, was elected Mayor for the Jubilee year (1887), being re-elected for the year 1888. In commemoration of Her Majesty's Jubilee, and of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the railway through Crewe, the Company presented the town with a public park, about forty acres in extent, which was dedicated by Sir Richard Moon, Bart., chairman of the Company, on the 4th July, 1887, and was formally opened to the public by H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge, on the 9th June, 1888.
The Company have built, and are the owners of, nearly 800 houses occupied by their workpeople, in addition to which a considerable number have been built by the workmen themselves. The town being almost entirely dependent upon the works, and constituting, in fact, a veritable railway colony, the directors have aided by their countenance, and by material support, every public movement deserving of their liberality. They have erected and endowed a church belonging to the Establishment, and have subscribed to the expenses of building several places of worship of other denominations; have established large schools for the education of the children of the men employed in the works, and erected public baths. They have also provided a Mechanics' Institute, which contains a library of more than 8,000 volumes, a comfortable reading-room, well supplied with newspapers, periodicals, and magazines; class-rooms, a smoking-room, a gymnasium, and a lecture hall seating 800 persons. During the winter months evening classes are held for the instruction, both in elementary and advanced subjects, of the young people employed in the works during the day, and these are largely attended, the fact that since 1871 no less than twenty-four of the students have been successful in gaining Whitworth scholarships, being a sufficient testimony to the character of the results accomplished at this institution. Habits of prudence and economy amongst the workmen are encouraged by the establishment of a savings bank, the Company paying interest at three per cent, on all sums deposited.
The question of Brake-power is one which has an intimate relation to the locomotive department, since it is the great development in the speed and power of the engines employed, which has led to the imperative necessity of devising equally powerful means for bringing the trains quickly to a stand in case of need. The trains of the London and North-Western Company were formerly fitted with a chain brake invented by Mr. Clark, and improved by Mr. Webb, but in matters of this kind continued progress is demanded, and the Company have now adopted a system of continuous brake known as the "Automatic Vacuum," with which the greater portion of their stock has already been fitted. This brake is applied to all the vehicles of a train, except the engine and tender, which are fitted with a separate steam brake. Each carriage carries its own length of train-pipe, flexible hose, and universal couplings; also a reservoir and brake cylinder or "sack," the latter being supplied with a flexible diaphragm and connected through the piston rod with the brake-rigging. The piston rod works through a flexible stuffing-box attached to the bottom of the sack, and which adapts itself to every movement of the rod, but prevents the air from leaking into the sack when it is not required to do so. Attached to the train-pipe, and in connection with the reservoir and the top and bottom of the sack, is an automatic cock, with a valve inside the plug through which the air passes to and from the train-pipe, so that when the air is being exhausted it is drawn from the reservoir, and the top and bottom of the sack, but when air is admitted to the train-pipe, the valve in the cock closes the connection to the top of the sack and reservoir, but leaves the bottom of the sack open to the train-pipe. While the train is running a continual vacuum is maintained in the train-pipes, reservoirs, and sacks, by means of a small ejector on the engine, and in this condition the brakes are "off," but when it is desired to apply them, air is admitted into the train-pipe by the driver or guard; the valve in the automatic cock moves as previously described, and the pressure of the atmosphere, acting on the under side of the diaphragm, lifts the piston rod and applies the brakes. The same result ensues if the train becomes separated or a coupling breaks, air being thus admitted to the train-pipe, and the brakes being applied automatically throughout the train.
When the brakes have been applied, and it is desired to take them off again, all that is necessary is to renew the vacuum by means of the ejector. The driver's brake valve on the engine is so arranged that both the steam and vacuum brakes can be applied simultaneously by one movement of a lever, but the train-pipe may be used without the steam brake if desired, by means of a separate valve provided for the purpose, both on the engine and in the guard's van. By means of the automatic cock previously referred to, the brake on each vehicle may be released while shunting is going on, and may also be shut off if the brake gear is out of order, leaving the train-pipe intact throughout the train.