An Illustrated History of Great Western Railway Engine Sheds: London Division
This account is the first in a descriptive series, each an examination of one Locomotive Running Division of the Great Western Railway. Each Division was possessed of its own operational character, superimposed furthermore on a unique regional identity, and each account will emphasise these features.
Beginning with the London Division. the book charts the origins of the 'Locomotive Stations', their construction, operation and demise, from earliest days through to the British Railways period.
The Great Western's giant contemporaries had conceived 'standard' buildings, their origins immediately recognisable and attributable. over the decades to the end of the nineteenth century; such practice stamped a highly distinctive styling upon the other great companies but little of this was evident on the Great Western. Only in Churchward's reign did such buildings come into existence. His greatest strength was the successful synthesis of the best in current techniques and practice, and in little more than two decades roundhouses and straight sheds on a scale almost to dwarf earlier buildings were erected at most of the 'strategic' running centres. Churchward perceived in particular the problems of space experienced at many depots by the turn of the century: increasing locomotive size and numbers would render many sites, considered advanced in the 1870s and 1880s, increasingly obsolete in their working.
Most British railways were at their zenith by the 1900s. however; many of the vast schemes seen to completion under Churchward had provision for considerable enlargement but very little of it was even attempted. Such a continuous expansion would have seen eight roundhouses at Old Oak Common and four, gathered under one roof on the same model. at more than a dozen other sites.
After the First World War a period of consolidation saw a fading of these great schemes and new construction was more or less restricted to small, lightly-built sheds. Almost exclusively they were made possible through Government-funded development schemes, and, apart from the materials employed in their construction, the fashion of working was indistinguishable from turn-of-the-century practice. The book is occupied with these themes, traced through the contemporary technical press, reproduced at length. an early history founded on archive material, and a strong emphasis on the day-to-day working of the sheds, on the experience of enginemen and others. The tiny branch line sheds, despite their numbers, played only a minuscule role in the London Division, a great funnelling of goods and passenger traffic into the capital, allied to a lively commuter working, and the larger sheds arc accordingly afforded a much greater emphasis.
Hardback with dust jacket, 378 pages, black & white photographs, line drawings and track plans
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