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Edward Thompson: Discussion & Analysis 2012 - Present

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

  1. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Depends on how selective or old that dictionary is.
    A quick search finds the following definitions :
    A person who offers an argument in defence of something controversial.
    A person who supports a particular belief or political system, especially an unpopular one, and speaks or writes in defence of it
    Someone who defends something such as a belief


    Language develops and meanings change over the years.
     
  2. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Interesting view on front axle drive. In removing the front set of driving wheels on the P2, he changed the remaining driving wheels around to retain the centre driving wheel configuration to the outside cylinders and walschaerts valve gear.

    However, the centre cylinder DOES power the front set of wheels on a Thompson Pacific, hence the position of the bogie at the front end. This is Thompson's divided drive layout with three sets of walschaerts gear, with equal length connecting rods. This same layout is used on the Thompson A2/1 and A2/3 classes.

    Great Northern - A1/1 - uses a very similar layout, but, crucially, has a different length connecting rod for the centre cylinder.

    On the later Peppercorn A1 and A2, the centre cylinder is inclined higher and has a shorter connecting rod to the crank axle, but retains divided drive and three sets of walschaerts valve gear, hence the more compact wheelbase.

    I hesitate to be "revisionist" when saying this - but I think the conventional wisdom of Great Northern being the development for the Peppercorn A1 is wrong.

    The A1/1 utilised a lot of the Gresley A4 design (frames, boiler, cartazzi, cab and frame layout) and in almost all respects is a post-war Gresley A4, minus the streamlining, but retaining a similar outline to Thompson's earlier A2/1 and A2/1 cylinder layout (but not, as I stated earlier, identical due to the centre cylinder's connecting rod).

    The Peppercorn A1 shares more of its DNA with the P2 and A2/2 builds in terms of its frame, cartazzi, boiler and cylinder arrangements.

    I would therefore group the developments thusly:

    Group 1
    Gresley P2 > Thompson A2/2 & A2/3 > Peppercorn A1 & Peppercorn A2

    Group 2
    Gresley V2 > Thompson A2/1

    Group 3
    Gresley A10/A3 & Gresley A4 > Thompson A1/1

    All of the above groups have some interchangeability of parts with other classes within their own group, the A2/1 overlapping with Group 1 for cylinder layout, kylchap arrangement and similar.

    I've been called many things. Apologist, revisionist, maniac, hate preacher (yes this was aimed at me recently for my views on Thompson!), but never a researcher, interested party, railway enthusiast...!

    Well - when you put it that way - yes.
     
  3. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    It absolutely does, I agree.

    And in one other respect I agree - I fully accept that my offering an argument in defence of some of Edward Thompson's actions could be considered controversial - but I think the more one looks at the overall context of the war, the bits of information never given by some LNER historians (such as Cox's report), my views become less and less controversial and more reasonable.

    I accept, that's my personal viewpoint.
     
  4. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    I have had some new primary evidence presented to me today by the Inreach Team at the National Railway Museum (Search Engine). It's the transcript of an interview with Edward Thompson conducted by a writer, Brian Reed, in 1948.

    This was two years after Thompson had retired and the Peppercorn A2s and A1s were emerging as the last new LNER Pacific designs.

    I am limited in what I can publish with these notes: due to the terms and conditions of the NRM research. Reading Brian Reed's notes (and what must be the last known handwritten letter of Edward Thompson extant) has been a real education.

    I don't mind saying that there was a strange moment earlier when I first laid eyes on Thompson's handwriting. It is in cursive, carefully laid out to respond to Brian Reed's questions using an A-Z system of response.

    It was when I read down to point L that I smiled. "H.N.G said to me, with a hearty laugh - said, to buck up the G.E. people".

    I have no idea of the context as the Inreach Team will be sending me a further set of scans in a few weeks to complete the story, but the warmth towards Gresley here, and with regards the A1/1 and conjugated valve gear in other points, is quite acute.

    One thing stands out about the interview. Brian Reed notes that the Stanier/Cox report was studied by McCosh, Matthews and Charles Newton (all directors of the LNER - Matthews was the chairman of the LNER at the time of Thompson's role as CME) and explicitly states that the B1 was authorised off the back of this report along with "the modification of 4470".

    I will need to see the full documents when they are rescanned and sent to me, but this does not make much sense.

    The A10 conversion of 4470 into A1/1 did not happen until 1945, and the first of the Thompson A1 designs was not on the drawing board until at least 1943. The Stanier/Cox report was written and published in 1942 and this led in fact to the rebuilding of Thane of Fife.

    I am uncertain without the full context and full scans as to whether this is an error but it seems strange 4470 would be mentioned specifically in reference to the Cox report. Perhaps it is more of a point towards what became possible for Thompson to do once the report had been made.
     
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  5. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    This is something I've struggled with trying to do some research into whys and wherefores for GWR policy at Kew. By and large I couldn't find any records that would tell me why decisions were made, let alone what people were thinking. And I know, when I was responsible for IT infrastructure, sometimes I had future developments in mind that might not be written down, let alone be delivered, for years.

    1942 to 1945 isn't that long in terms of a busy executive who has a whole heap of priorities to juggle. How long have you been writing your Thompson book? So in 1942 the board and Thompson agree a general trend of things to come. In 1942/3 the companies had, I think, limited control over budgets and priorities, and no doubt factory capacity was limited and heavily prioritised to keeping the services running. I don't find it at all improbable that policies sketched out in 1942 wouldn't appear in metal until 1945 or later.

    As an example, the NRMs list of GWR drawings indicates that the design work on what was to become the 15xx outside cylinder 0-6-0PTs was already under way in early 1944, but the class wasn't in service until 1949. The same list suggests that work on the inside cylinder 9400s may not have been in progress until mid 1945, but they were in service in Feb 1947. I don't know I'd set much store on the specific mention of 4470 in a 1948 letter. Without seeing the context, that could easily be hindsight, and in 1942 they weren't considering specific locomotives at all, just that a radical A1 rebuild was something to explore when the time came.

    The other thing to beware of, as you don't need me to tell you, is excess speculation. If you take my 1500/9400 example above, it would be very easy to form the hypothesis that the radical outside cylinder design 1500 was highly problematic, so Hawksworth decided to build the very evolutionary 9400 instead, but it would be just as feasible to suggest the 1500 was a kite flying "nice idea" that was only given drawing office time when there wasn't anything more important on. The tales of the 'Hawksworth' pacific and the compound Castle both indicate that the Swindon drawing office weren't averse to kicking off studies that the CME hadn't asked for.
     
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  6. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    A very fair point - and I have had that same struggle in some respects, though Thompson appears to have made things easier for me with his correspondence with certain writers of the time.

    Too long...must be a good six or seven years, maybe longer, now. Its gone through a lot of rewrites. I think I now have the chapters down in themes and the evidence is nearly collated (i.e. the primary and secondary quotations and bibliography are nearly done).

    Putting things in a way which is not biased in one way or another, but presenting alternate views, is difficult. That's taken the most amount of time. It has almost become an exercise in playing devil's advocate on paper.

    Fair. I will keep that in mind. Many thanks :)
     
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  7. 60525

    60525 Member

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    Fascinating stuff Simon. I look forward to a further update as more information comes to light. I had thought that all primary sources had been exhausted on a CME whose career ended in 1946. Brian Reed is an interesting character. I turned, as I often do to the steamindex site when I want to find out more about a railwayman and the page on Brian Reed is of particular interest. I hope that this inspires you to complete your book..
     
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  8. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    Can you elaborate please? It seems strange that the publicly funded NRM can spend time digging out information and can let you have it but not let you pass it on.
     
  9. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    Anything
    Everything from National Archives has a whole heap of conditions attached. I have various scans of GWR drawings from them, for instance, but I'm not allowed to pass them on to anyone else, and if I wanted to reproduce them in a book I'd have to get special permission and pay a lot more money. Thir standard form has this:-
     
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  10. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Jim has covered this rather well above.

    For my part, it is helpful to have the core material here to understand Thompson better. These notes were elaborated on by a writer in Steam World two decades ago but in my opinion didn't really get to the heart of the issues. Particularly where Thompson's locomotive policy is concerned.
     
  11. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    The documents I am looking at are very interesting. The rebuilt W1 features quite heavily in Thompson's locomotive policy and one suspects he was rather fond of it. Certainly it and the P2s pointed the way in terms of firebox and boiler proportions and the use of the kylchap for him.
     
  12. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Whilst not fully aware of the Swindon situation it also needs to remember the post-WWII situation in the wider context whereby the GWR needed locomotive replacements very quickly hence built the 10 94xx and 10 15xx locomotives at Swindon. It is my understanding that experience soon confirmed that the 94xx was the best of the 2 designs and for urgent delivery orders were placed with private industry both to support the companies with orders and to leave Swindon free to continue repairing its locomotive stud. Further orders were placed by British Railways but that simply continued the policy of allowing the pre-nationalised companies' locomotive orders to be fulfilled whilst Riddles prepared his Standard range of designs.
     
  13. Bulleid Pacific

    Bulleid Pacific Part of the furniture

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    No different to the TNA with Milk Marketing Board records, then.
     
  14. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure that stacks up. According to RCTS:
    The first 10 9400s, with standard 0-6-0 T wheelbase, superheated, and with screw reverse, were delivered between Feb and April 1947. The big order for externally built 9400s was approved Dec 1947: I've seen the minute.
    Number 1500, with short wheelbase, no superheater and lever reverse, was delivered in June 1949.
    One should also note that 40 more 8750s, with standard wheelbase, lever reverse and no superheater, where delivered right through 1948 and 1949, although half of these were the steam brake only variant.

    (opps, sorry that's off topc. I only brought out the GW orders as an example, didn't mean to divert the topic. If this should go on we'd better ask for a topic split).
     
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  15. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    No need to apologise. Thread drift happens!
     
  16. 60525

    60525 Member

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    The rebuilt W1..... I wonder what piqued his interest in this locomotive in particular?
     
  17. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    I feel it likely that the larger boiler type and the use of the kylchap probably interested Thompson most. It was used on the P2's home ground as a comparison (Pacific to Mikado) and the results of that comparative trial led to no.2005 being rebuilt I suspect.
     
  18. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Well-Known Member

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    The W1 was a Hudson...
     
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  19. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Sorry I've not made myself very clear (and the W1 was not a Hudson - it was a 4-6-2-2. Subtle difference I know).

    The intention was to rebuild the P2s as Pacifics. The W1 had a similar boiler and kylchap setup to the P2s and was used to show a six coupled wheelbase was adequate. That led to the rebuilding of no.2005.
     
  20. huochemi

    huochemi Active Member Friend

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    Or was it a 4-6-2-2? :cool:
     

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