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MR 1895 Derby Works


    In presenting to our readers a description of the Midland Railway Works, we feel sure that no apology will be required if we first briefly trace the history and development of this important line. Although nominally dating from May 10th, 1841, the Midland Railway system really may claim to have originated some twelve years prior to this date, when a short line sixteen miles long was constructed under the supervision of Robert Stephenson, called the Leicester and Swannington Railway, and formed tho means of communication with the colliery districts of Leicestershire. This was opened in July, 1832, and the fall in the prices of fuel which ensued at Leicester resulted in the combination of the colliery proprietors of ths Nottinghamshire district and formation of another line from their own coalfields to Leicester.

    This was called the Midland Counties Railway. Somewhat singularly the road to Pinxton, which supplied the raison d'etre for the railway, had, however, to be suspended for some years in favour of a route projected by Mr. Vignoles, extending from Nottingham to Derby on the north, and from Trent towards Leicester and Rugby. At the last-named place this railway joined the London and Birmingham line, now known as the London and North- Western. The opening of the two sections took place in 1839 and 1840 respectively, and almost simultaneously the North Midlands line projected by George Stephenson from Leeds to Derby via Masborough, Chesterfield and Ambergate - sprung into existence. Still another of Stephenson’s lines - the Birmingham and Derby - already constructed, was connected with the London and Birmingham system, above referred to, at Hampton Junction, and the keen competition for the London traffic which resulted from the forma- tion of so many roads eventually resulted in the merging of the whole into one common interest. This occurred in 1844, when the Midland Counties, the North Midland and the Birmingham and Derby systems, affording altogether 181½  miles of road, consolidated, forming part of what is now known as the Midland Railway.

    The extensions of the system which afterwards succeeded were numerous. The first acquisition under the new regime was a narrow gauge line between Birmingham and Gloucester, this being quickly followed by another road, called the Bristol and Gloucester Railway - a broad gauge line, in which the prime mover was Brunel. This section was afterwards altered to the existing gauge, and thereby afforded a direct main route from the North and Midlands to the West of England. A very short period afterwards saw the opening of yet another branch from Trent, through the Erewash Valley, to Tye Bridge and Pinxton, and thence, sometime afterwards, to Clay Cross, where it joined the original main line.

    The connection of Leicester and Peterborough, via Syston and Stamford, took place in 1848; and then the Midland acquired the Leicester and Swannington system, and extended it to Burton on Trent. A stretch of road from Ambergate to Rowsley was then acquired, and a branch line extending from Nottingham, by way of Newark, to Lincoln, was constructed.

    Worcester was the next important centre connected up, and in the same year the Midland trains claimed joint occupation of New-street Station, Birmingham. This was in 1850, and the succeeding year saw the annexing of the Leeds and Bradford Railway. The company was thus enabled to negotiate for the lease of a line between Lancaster and Morecambe, hitherto called the Little North-Western.

    The Lancaster and Carlisle route to the North was joined at Ingleton - an arrangement which resulted in the introduction of a Bill before Parliament by the Midland and Furness companies for the construction of a joint line from Wennington Junction to Carnforth. At the latter place, by means of a junction with the Furness Railway, another through route was provided for Midland trains to the popular Lake District resorts Grange-over-Sands, Ulverston, and Lakeside and Barrow-in-Furness and Whitehaven.

    By this time the Midland Company either owned or had running powers over about 520 miles of well-laid roads. One of the earliest trunk roads opened out was that through Matlock and the magnificent Peak District, whereby access was gained to Manchester, Blackburn, Stockport, Warrington, Southport and Liverpool.

    The next important addition took place in 1858, when the line southward from Leicester, through Market Harborough, Kettering, Wellingborough and Bedford, to Hitchin on the Great Northern system, was completed. This departure was the means of providing another London terminus, for the Midland trains had hitherto relied on the connection with the London and North Western at Rugby, the tolls paid to which company amounted to no less than £193,000 in one year.

    The demands on the company still continued to grow so rapidly that powers were obtained to construct an independent main line from Bedford by way of Luton, St. Albans, and Kentish Town to London, which was success- fully completed in 1868. Several minor branch lines were afterwards constructed, and in 1866 the Bill for the Settle and Carlisle extension obtained the sanction of Parliament. This line, which is seventy miles in length, and crosses the Pennine Range, involved the expenditure of four millions sterling before being successfully completed in 1875, and now affords a direct route from London, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester, to Carlisle, and thence by the Glasgow and South-Western system via Dumfries to Ardrossan ; Kilmarnock for Ayr; to Greenock and to Glasgow.

    The main line of the North British Railway may also be joined at Carlisle, thereby supplying a direct route to Edinburgh; while by crossing the Forth Bridge to Perth, the Highland system is reached. By crossing this bridge, too, Dundee may be reached via Kirkcaldy and the Tay Bridge, and by going to Aberdeen the Great North of Scotland Railway gives access to the Deeside Mountains. Meanwhile, the rapid growth northward had not deterred the company from pushing forward in a southerly direction, for almost simultaneously with the completion of the main line to Carlisle a noteworthy extension throughout the south and west of England took place.

    Having for some time had access to Bristol, whereby connection could be established with the Bristol and Exeter line - purchased later by the Great Western Co. - travellers on the Midland Railway were enabled, by changing trains, to reach Taunton, Exeter, Torquay, Plymouth, and other neighbouring towns. A branch line afterwards a main line was also constructed in 1869 from Mangotsfield to Bath, and preceded by only a short period of time the joint purchase by the Midland and London and South Western companies of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, whereby connections could be made at Templecombe Junction with the South-Western expresses to all parts of the West of England. The completion of the Swinton and Knottingley line, some fifteen miles in length, conjointly with the Great Eastern Company in 1879, formed a link between two great traffic corporations, and provided a through trunk line from Berwick-on-Tweed, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Durham, Darlington and York, across the Midland counties via Sheffield, Derby, Burton-on-Trent, Birmingham, to the places on the extreme south and west of the System.

    Space will allow of only a passing reference to other roads which are associated with the subject of this article.

    By arrangement made with the Great Western Company, and by leases of the united systems known as the Hereford, Hay and Brecon, the Brecon and Neath and the Swansea Vale, a route was established from Worcester to Malvern, Hereford Hay, Brecon and Swansea. Another important departure by way of Carlisle was the connection of the Midland Scotch expresses either at Carlisle or Dumfries with the trains that traverse the south-western counties of Scotland to Stranraer, the port of embarkation for the short sea route to Larne and the north of Ireland. Again the North Staffordshire system is joined at Derby and Burton, so that Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe may be reached, while the Midland Company's share in the acquisition of the Eastern and Midlands Railway - now known as the eastern section of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railways - affords an additional route from Derby and the Midland Counties to Norwich, Cromer, and Yarmouth on tho east coast. With the recent construction of the Dore and Chinley line which provides a new means of communication between Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool; the Midland system has acquired another branch which bids fair to prove a source both of convenience to the travelling public and of profit, richly deserved, by an enterprising company.

    We now come to the headquarters of the Midland Railway Company, located at Derby. These were erected in the year 1844, and it may be of interest, as illustrating the growth of the system, if we briefly compare the place in that year with the present works.

    In 1844 the locomotive and carriage works combined covered 8½ acres of ground, on which stood 2½ acres of buildings.

    At present the locomotive works alone cover an area of ground of 80 acres, on which stand 20 acres of buildings, while the carriage works, covering 24 acres, stand upon a ground area of 86 acres, giving a total ground area of 166 acres, and a covered area of 44 acres.

    The plan on page 582 shows clearly the manner in which this large area has been utilised. The locomotive department, which forms the subject proper of this article, it may be scarcely necessary to state, is presided over by Mr. Samuel W. Johnson, M. Inst. C.E., M.I.M.E., and finds employment, all over the system, for 18,823 men.

    The number of hands actually employed in the locomotive department at Derby in June last was 1346, of whom 257 may be classified as foremen, clerks and draughtsmen. This staff earns an average weekly wage of £5272, and is responsible for the efficient working of 2400 locomotives and 23 stationary engines of an aggregate horse power of 2400.

    Although the company does not build all its own locomotives, the shops at Derby turn out on an average 40 new engines annually, while 120 are provided with new boilers, and about 800 undergo repairs in the same period. Speaking generally, the works are admirably arranged and maintained, the lighting and ventilation being particularly good.

    The buildings are lofty, and operations are conducted almost exclusively upon the ground floor. All the water required in the works is drawn from the river Derwent by powerful pumping engines, and undergoes a softening and purifying process before being used in the boilers. We shall have occasion to refer to this process hereafter. The artificial light required in the shops and offices is provided by the company's own gasworks, which originally belonged to the town of Derby. The output of these works last year amounted to 122,208,000 cubic feet of gas. There is also an oil-gas works, shown in the plan, for supplying the illuminant for the railway carriages; but as this does not come strictly within the province of this article, only passing reference is necessary. It is not our intention to describe the whole routine of such an extensive establishment; indeed, the space at our disposal would be totally inadequate. Rather we have considered it advisable to take the different departments in a systematic order; that is to say, to follow as nearly as possible the materials in their passage from the crude to the finished products: viz., locomotive engines taking note of appliances and systems which call for special comment. We may therefore dispose briefly of several portions, such as the mess-rooms, where not only the material, but also the spiritual requirements if desired of the workmen are supplied during meal hours.


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