Laman utama The Journal of Transport History Book Review: Beyer Peacock: Locomotive Builders to the World, Crewe Locomotive Works and its Men,...
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76 and the company's top-heavy capital structure, High gearing, he correctly argues, hindered the acquisition of new capital for innovation and forced the company to rely on the meagre funds generated internally and on governmentassisted schemes. He offers a vivid narrative, interlaced with personal reminiscences, of the LNER's response - with even sparser resources - to the demands of wartime, including the movement of evacuees from London, the problems of operating under the blackout and the danger of bombing raids. After 1945 Bonavia was personally involved at headquarters in efforts to retain some autonomy for the company in the face of nationalisation proposals and to fight for fair compensation. His antipathy towards the Attlee government 'steam-rollering vast measures of social and economic change through Parliament as quickly as possible' (vol, 3, p. 88) - is at least unequivocal. The tone of the criticisms, however, might lead some readers to worry about the author's capacity to stand outside and view historically the company's final few years. The LMS offers a number of interesting contrasts with the LNER. It was the largest company to emerge from the Railways Act and it handled the full spectrum of rail traffic - long-distance passenger hauls, busy commuter services, holiday traffic, and an immense goods and mineral business. Unlike the LNER, the administrative system that emerged was centralised, and during the early years there was a great deal of conflict between the constituent companies, not least because of what Nock, with unveiled hostility, calls the attempted 'Midlandisation' of operating practices (frequent, light trains). Operational details and descriptions of locomotives abound in Nock's volumes and, while there is an attempt to describe the characteristics of the leading managers and engineers (for example, Stamp, Fowler and Stanier), nowhere are the commercial implications of their policies discussed. Thus while the process of standardisation in the '3 Os is described fairly effect; ively, the business or economic historian is left with a deep sense of frustration: what were the effects on corporate performance? Nock's account therefore stands on one side The Journal of Transport History of the divide that still characterises much writing on transport history. On the other hand, Bonavia, who is sensitive to both technical and business developments, offers a few ways across. But neither of the volumes reviewed here makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of these major companies, for that would require archival research and the explicit definition of problems and method. The material for such studies is waiting in the Public Record Office. Geoffrey Channon Bristol Polytechnic R. L. Hills and D. Patrick, Beyer Peacock: Locomotive Builders to the World, Transport Publishing, Glossop (1982), 302 pp., £25. Brian Reed, Crewe Locomotive Works and its Men, David & Charles, Newton Abbot (1982),256 pp., £10·95. Christian H. Hewison, Locomotive Boiler Explosions, David & Charles, Newton Abbot (1983),144 pp., £6·95. Here are three valuable contributions to the history of the steam locomotive: sharply different from the usual run of books currently appearing on that subject, which are composed mainly of pictures and tell us almost nothing new about the machines, their construction or their use in service. For over eighty years Beyer Peacock were a firm of world-wide importance. Locomotives of their construction are still to be seen, withdrawn after long and honourable service, in Sweden, Holland and Portugal, in Kenya and Australia. This was one of the classical exporting firms in British business; and it managed to retain a valuable share of the international market in the years between the wars, through the development of the Beyer-Garratt articulated locomotive. Beyer Peacock was also one of the classical Anglo-German partnerships of Victorian England, of a kind associated particularly with Manchester and Bradford: a partnership formed in 1855 between the Saxon Charles Frederick Beyer and Richard Peacock, a Yorkshireman from Swaledale. They borrowed capital first Book reviews from the banker Charles Geach and then from the engineer-contractor Henry Robertson (whose life cries out to be written from his papers in the National Library of Wales). Beyer, the senior by seven years, was strictly the company's ehief engineer; Peacock's principal business was to travel, visiting customers. Orders soon flooded in - after ten years Beyer was writing, 'our success is our trouble'; and almost from the outset a majority of the firm's machines went overseas. The account of the development of the business given here is admirably clear and thorough, attending most properly to the equipment of the works, the machine tools it required and to some extent pioneered, and to its financing as well as to the locomotives it turned out. If the financial information is not always as full as one might wish, that may well be because the recording of it is incomplete, as with so many private partnerships of the kind. It enables the authors nevertheless to tell us something useful about profits (see, for example, pp. 35-7,65,69,283-4). This history is the best we have had so far of any private manufacturing firm of locomotive builders in Britain: the most comprehensive, the best balanced, the most rewarding for the historian. It is also the best illustrated. Beyer himself appreciated the value of photography for the presentation of the firm's work to potential customers; a photograph was taken of almost every locomotive produced, and the negatives (now, through Dr Hills's efforts, in the North Western Museum of Science and Industry at Manchester) provide a record quite unmatched by any other similar undertaking. They are used here liberally and to good purpose. Mr Reed's book is, no less clearly, the best yet produced about a British railway company's locomotive building 'works. It is tightly organised, well balanced and steadily informative, a worthy complement to W. H. Chaloner's admirable account of Crewe as a railway town; and the author's expertise as a mechanical engineer, mature and discriminating, enriches his text throughout, raising it well above the level of a simple narrative. He is interested not only in machines but 77 also in practices and persons. He displays, for instance, the changes in the London Midland & Scottish Railway's policies in the provision of locomotive power from 1930 onwards (pp, 170-2) just as clearly as he analyses the total production of the works and its record of performance under F. W. Webb in 1870-1903 (pp, 87-93). When Webb is accorded the biography he deserves, its author will be much helped by the assessment of his policies and their results given here. All that mars one's pleasure in this book is the knowledge that Mr Reed died while it was in the press. The third of these works is much shorter than the other two, but it is also useful. It is the first study of railway accidents to be written by a member of the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Transport. Although it is confined to one class of accidents, that was, in the nineteenth century, a large and important class, involving the design of steam locomotive boilers, the materials they were made of, and the way they were treated in service: all part of the unfolding discovery of the right handling of the steam locomotive. The experimental nature of railway opcration and the lessons gradually learnt from it form the most interesting element in Mr Hewison's analysis of all the explosions (more than 130 of them) that are officially recorded in Britain from 1840 to 1962. The author himself entered the inspectorate from the railway industry in 1953, and he shows little sympathy for the older kind of inspectors, recruited from the Royal Engineers. Too little, indeed. They had to build up their knowledge slowly, as any other set of men would, in a wide range of matters, both technical and human. They made mistakes, sometimes overlooked what they should have noticed and then diagnosed wrongly; their handling of the particular category of accidents studied here exemplifies that clearly enough. From 1899 onwards boiler experts were detailed to act with them as assessors. That was the right solution for a problem of this kind, and it should have been adopted earlier. The steady, patient work of the inspectors (concerned with management and labour as well as with technology) would make a good study in scientific, 78 economic and social history. There are ample materials for it. Perhaps some reader of this lively work of pioneering will now be moved to undertake it? Jack Simmons University of Leicester Alastair Penfold (ed.), The Public Works of Thomas Telford (microfilms). Microform Ltd, East Ardsley, Wakefield (1983), nine reels, plus booklet of 99 pp., £25 per reel (plus VAT). Thomas Telford has usually been regarded by cognoscenti as the doyen of civil engineers. His life's work was enormously varied, embracing many important canals, virtually every contemporary form of bridge and aqueduct, warehouses, docks and harbours and even a few miles of waggonway. Some of the very greatest structures of the age, such as the Clifton and Menai suspension bridges, the Caledonian Canal or the Holyhead road, were designed and executed by him. And yet, as the editor of this compilation remarks, Telford has never quite fired the public imagination in the same way as have some later civil engineers. Perhaps, continues Alastair Penfold, he would be better known today if he 'had worn a large stovepipe hat and smoked cigars'. Telford was, of course, growing old as the railway age dawned and the Institution of Civil Engineers, of which he was founder president, initially contained men who had established their reputation in canal building and harbour schemes rather than those who were yet to make their name constructing railways. Indeed, Telford had hardly shared the unbridled enthusiasm of his late contemporaries for railways, a point made by John Rickman, who in 1838 edited his friend's autobiography and selected papers. Some of the great engineer's finest works, through no fault of his, were not of enduring commercial importance. But if Telford's name is not as famous today as those of the Stephensons or Brunel, there can be no doubting the tremendous achievements of his career, achievements sung in their day by men as different as Parnell and Southey. No engineer before or since can have done more in his generation. And it is not the least The Journal of Transport History virtue of this present microfilm compilation that it at once celebrates the scope of Telford's works and makes available to a wide public a rich selection of his reports (or those with which he was closely associated) and working correspondence. Rickman's edition of the Life, which nowadays commands an exorbitant price in the antiquarian book trade, is 'reissued' for good measure. This reviewer was sent reels one and two (out of nine in the set) and he was suitably impressed by their technical excellence. The ninth reel concentrates on the Gotha Canal, but the others centre on the improvements to communications in the Scottish Highlands, including the Caledonian and Crinan canals, the creation of the Holyhead road, and the building of the Menai suspension bridge. A bonus on the second reel is the Select Committee report of 1815 on the Carlisle to Glasgow road. It is naturally necessary to bear in mind that this is only a selection of Telford material. The serious researcher will often therefore need to look beyond this compilation. Nevertheless, the choice of sources (based upon what was sent for review) is a judicious and interesting one. It will be particularly useful - besides its role in helping to make Telford as well known as the man in the stovepipe hat - for specialised university teaching and, no doubt, for undergraduate dissertations. It also gathers together very helpfully the many commissioners' reports (on Highland roads and bridges, the Caledonian Canal and the Holyhead road) for which almost anyone concerned with the transport history of the early nineteenth century can be grateful. The reels are accompanied by a booklet which acts as a finding aid, carefully lists all the material photographed and also provides valuable introductions to Telford the man and to the main subjects covered. Baron F. Duckham St David's University College Lampeter c. J. A. Robertson, The Origins of the Scottish Railway System, 1722-1844, John Donald, Edinburgh, 1983,430 pp., £20. Although much specialist work has appeared on