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GWR The Great Western Railway and Its Personnel 1960
"The Great Western Railway and Its Personnel
By H . HOLCROFT
The scheme for a railway from London to Bristol received assent 125 years ago [in 1835]. In the article which follows the author deals with the broad gauge period of the Great Western Railway and the later acquisition of slandard gauge lines which made it necessary to introduce a mixed gauge. The years from 1863 to 1892 saw the spread of standard gauge to all parts of the system, and the first step lowards the Paddington to South Wales main line as it is known to-day by the building of the Severn Tunnel. in this period !he G.W.R. took on the conslruction of all its own locomotives and rolling stock at Swindon and Stafford Road.
Of all the railway companies in Great Britain, the Great Western was the most distinctive; this was due to those amongst its personnel who laid its foundations, guided its destiny, and developed and expanded its system.The rank and file ever gave loyal and devoted service to the one company that retained its identity, its name and traditions for well over a century. Even after some twelve years, the old Great Western is still recognisable in the Western Region of British Railways, retaining such features as its own form of the automatic vacuum brake, its own automatic train control, the position of the driver on the right-hand side of the footplate, and its own method of testing locomotives in service. The old traditions and loyalties linger not far below the surface; the former Great Western may be dead, but it won't lie down! ...
A standard gauge system from 1892, the Great Western undertook the construction of cut-off lines to shorten its main routes, and with new locomotives and coaches attained a high place in public esteem for the comfort and speed of its services. its individuality and reputation were little changed by the railway grouping, for it remained the dominant constituent of the G.W.R. group.
FOLLOWING on the disappearance of the broad gauge, J. C. lnglis was appointed chief engineer. He had before htm the replacement of Brunei's track, now reduced to standard gauge, of bridge rails and longitudinal sleepers, extending from Paddington to Penzance, by heavy bull head rails carried on chaired transverse sleepers and supported on granite ballast. The main line as far as Didcot was to be quadrupled and Reading Station rebuilt, while much of the single line in Devon and Cornwall had to be doubled and old wooden viaducts replaced by others of masonry. Great activity prevailed, so that it was possible 10 three years to accept heavier locomotives between Exeter and Penzance. For this, Dean designed his famous " Duke of Cornwall " class, a 4 4 0 locomotive with 5ft 71/2in coupled wheels of traditional doubleframed construction. These engines were so well suited to the conditions that a much improved train service was possible...
Administrative reorganisations at the beginning of the railway grouping period paved the way for the fullest expansion of the Great Western Railway Company in the years before the second world war. This concluding instalment deals with the active development policies which, while giving ever-improving service to passengers and traders, also earned a reasonable dividend for the ordinary stockholder. Among engineering matters, the author analyses the events leading to the decision to build the "King" class Locomotives.
WHEN Pole took his seat as general manager in June, 1921, he had ahead of him two pressing tasks. The first was to restore the company to financial stability, for Government control was . to end in August, and it was known that the railways were being operated at a loss, although the shareholders had received a dividend of 53/4 per cent throughout the war years and 71/4 per cent after. The outlook was not reassuring, but there was a feeling of relief that the company would regain control of its own affairs, and the officers and men were eager to show what could be done. The second task was to weld into one organisation the seven constituent and twenty-six subsidiary companies which from January 1, 1922, would constitute the enlarged Great Western Railway...