Dear Members

Hopefully, many of you by now will have had or shortly receive their second covid jab. We look forward to when we can all meet up once again. I am sure some of you will identify with this week's Bicknell's Blog Old People don't feel old. Our interest in railways and railway modelling keep us young in mind if not body. Elsewhere, we have the final instalment of Ian's interesting article on London's First Terminus, Keith's travels in Germany, the April edition of T&DMRC Newsletter and all the usual features.

If you see something you would like to share with other members, we would be very pleased to hear from you as we are now getting very short of new articles.

Finally, Michael Portillo's Great British Railway Journeys on BBC2 at 6.30pm next Wednesday and Thursday will be in Hertfordshire.

As always keep safe

Phil and Nigel



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Part 3


Monday 29th May

Today was to be our first taste of the Harz Railway system. An early start at 7.30 saw us board a private coach to take us to Quedlinberg which is the start of the Selkethal section of the Harz Railway system. This section is very rustic and rural not that the rest of the system passes through any great centres of population!


99 6001 at Quedlinburg


Quedlinberg is also on the main railway system and we could have in theory caught a train from Wernigerode but they aren’t very frequent and the timing was wrong. Boarding our train at Qedlinberg the first part of the journey to Gernrode used to be a standard gauge branch. When this was closed the Selkethal line was extended over the former track bed.



The journey continued through remote countryside to Alexisbad. From here a branch from Harzgerode leaves on the left. The first section of this runs parallel with the main line for some distance and at certain times the main and branch line trains depart simultaneously and race to the point where the branch diverges. You may have seen pictures of this in various railway magazines. Unfortunately we were not to see this today.


99 6001 on route to Alexisbad


The next major point of interest is at Stiege. The main line technically reverses here to continue to Eisfelder Talmuhle. There is a branch which continues straight ahead to Hasselfelde. On some occasions the loco will uncouple and run round a reversing loop before recoupling to the other end of the train. However on this occasion the whole train was taken round the loop much to the delight of the track bashers.

Our destination today was at Eisfelder Talmuhle. This is one of the ‘Clapham Junctions’ of the system. The other is at Drei Annen Hohne which we will visit on Tuesday. Three trains some how arrive and depart on the three lines and a railbus was in the platforms as well which went off to the south.


99 6001 at Eisfelder Talmuhle                            99 7245-6 at  Eisfelder Talmuhle


From here it was back on the coach to return us to Gernrode for lunch which was provided at 1.30. After lunch it was back on the coach to Alexisbad from where we caught a train again through Stiege but this time onto Hasselfelde.


99 6001 at Alexisbad                                 99 6001 at Hasselfelde


At Hasselfelde the loco ran round but was of course now bunker first for the return to Eisfelder Talmuhle. Now in order to turn the loco so it was chimney first again it uncoupled and ran round the reversing loop before recoupling to the front of the train. We retraced our steps back to Eisfelder Talmuhle from where we returned by coach to Wernigerode.  After dinner at the hotel a couple of beers in the town completed another excellent day.


7245-6 at Eisfelde Tamuhle





The City of London’s First Terminus


Part 4



Rope and Other Problems

The Achilles heel of the system was found to be the rope itself. Originally hemp was used but after about a month of operation one of the two rope cables twisted and then violently broke, causing substantial damage to the railway infrastructure in the vicinity of Limehouse. It was thought that metal cables might prove more resilient in use and after experimentation the directors settled on 1¼ inch six strand metal cables with a hemp core. These proved to be much more reliable but breakages still occurred after about a year in service.

Snapping and jamming cables not only caused damage and potential injury but seriously affected the line’s image with the public. On occasion male passengers were asked to assist porters in helping to push carriages to the next station so that women and children could disembark safely. Such accidents could cause a complete suspension of service until the offending cable was removed another obtained from the manufacturers and then carefully installed and tested before opening again to the public. If only one cable needed replacing the second might continue in service during parts of this process.

The line also proved unpopular for other reasons. It has already been explained that travel between two intermediate stations was inconvenient and to counter this the directors tried reducing the fare for such a journey. No such problem existed with the competing horse omnibuses which had far more stops than the railway.

Departing holiday-makers with luggage found it more convenient to travel by steamship all the way rather than try to save time by taking the train and then arranging for themselves and their luggage to be transferred to the steamship at Blackwall.

Passenger numbers failed to reach those anticipated in the company’s original prospectus despite the opening of Fenchurch Street Station causing a 50% increase in ticket sales. In desperation the company increased all fares by 2d, which meant that a second class ticket now cost the same as that for the horse omnibuses.

The directors considered alternative methods of propelling the line and even flirted with the atmospheric system. They already had stationary steam engines installed to work the cables so these could be used to exhaust the atmospheric pressure from tubes laid between the rails. However, reports from those lines already using the atmospheric system were not encouraging whilst the directors realised that the future success of the line depended on connecting to the developing national network where standard gauge and railway locomotives were not just the norm, but were steadily proving to be the best option.

Thus in 1848 the line was  converted to standard gauge, acquired railway locomotives and attempted to connect with the Eastern Counties Railway (renamed the Great Eastern Railway) which had also abandoned the 5ft gauge in the same year. The first railway locomotives acquired by the London & Blackwall were six small Crewe type of 2-2-2WT (well tank) layout built by the Jones & Potts Company. These were named ‘Stepney’, ‘Shadwell’, ‘Blackwall’, ‘London’, ‘Bow’ and ‘Thames’.

The Route Described

It is not possible to detail the entire history of the London & Blackwall Railway (L&BR) and the railway lines that grew from it but I hope to briefly summarise some of it by describing the route using Bacon’s Popular Atlas of 1905, see  Route Map (West) and Route Map (East). The railway company survived until the grouping in 1923 but long before that it had ceased to be an operator of railway trains. In 1865 it was leased to the GER and from then on relied for income mainly on rental charges from leasing out its lines and from dividends from railway companies and lines it had projected and invested in. In 1869 the GER replaced the L&BR’s time interval signalling with block working.

The Fenchurch Street Terminus was actually slightly south of the road it was named after and a new access road and forecourt had to be provided and which was originally named ‘Railway Place’, now ‘Fenchurch Place’. Part of the forecourt has recently been pedestrianized and an office block has been built above the station but behind the 1853 façade designed by George Berkeley. Originally the canopy over the entrance was straight and without the saw tooth edging.


Fenchurch Street Station as seen from Fenchurch Place, courtesy of Wikipedia.


In the days of the cable, there were only two platform faces and an overall wooden roof. It also had the very first railway station bookstall ever, which was operated by William Marshall. He was the founder of ‘Marshall & Son’, newspaper distributors and later renowned as a major competitor of ‘W. H. Smith & Son’.

The new 1853 frontage arose from the expansion of the station (to four platform faces) to cope with the expected trains from the ‘London & Tilbury & Southend Railway’(LT&SR) which gained access in 1854 via a junction at Bow. At the time this railway (LT&SR) was under lease to the contractors Peto, Brassey & Betts, whilst the train service was operated by the Eastern Counties Railway which, until the opening of Liverpool Street Station, also ran its own services from Fenchurch Street. The Eastern Counties (ECR) merged into the GER in 1862. Significantly the LTS&R was a joint venture between the ECR and L&BR.

North London trains were also using Fenchurch Street and as something of a bottleneck was developing in 1854 the L&BR opened a second up line from Stepney Junction into the terminus. The North London Railway’s original title was the ‘East & West India Docks & Birmingham Junction Railway’ (incorporated 1846). It finally opened a route and rail services from Camden Town to the docks mentioned in its’ original title in 1850 via Bow Junction and Stepney Junction, although some of its passenger services terminated at Fenchurch Street. In 1865 it switched most of its’ Fenchurch Street bound trains to Broad Street.

Further expansion took place at Fenchurch Street Station in 1882 with all four platforms being extended and a fifth added. In 1896 it was found necessary to add a fourth railway line from Stepney Junction giving two up and two down tracks into the terminus throat.

The next major set of alterations took place in 1935 due to the increasing length of the LT&SR trains attempting to cope with the burgeoning commuter traffic. Bay platform 5 was too short to be useful and was removed and the remaining four lines were extended around two long island platforms (i.e. each platform had two sides) with each island platform having its own long awning rather than the previous single overall roof. The circulating area was enlarged and at the back of this a large waiting room was opened containing a buffet cum bar and cafeteria. At the other end of the circulating area were iron gates to the platforms with new indicator boards. Further remodelling at Fenchurch Street took place in 1961/2 with the electrification of all lines into the terminus.

Public access to Fenchurch Street Station was (and possibly remains) via the three central doorways. These led to a wide hall with gloomy ticket offices at each side on this ground floor. However, as the railway is on a viaduct, it is necessary to climb a wide set of steps to reach the concourse and platforms.

Departing the station the train soon passes over the Minories road by viaduct. The Minories station would have been immediately on the east side of this road. In 1853 there was a nasty accident involving a North London Railway passenger train at the Minories. Two platelayers were killed by the train derailing and crushing them to death against a parapet. Incidentally, in 1866 the North London railway switched its services away from Fenchurch Street when it opened a new terminus at Broad Street.
There were rail served warehouse depots to the south and north of the line between Fenchurch Street and Shadwell Station.  In 1877 a new station called Leman Street was added between the Minories and Shadwell Street.

Notice that Commercial Road is to the north of the line but significantly the straight road immediately to the south of the line is Cable Street. These days the Docklands Light Railway, rising from its’ Bank terminus, joins the railway on the south side of the viaduct and adopts much of the original course of the L& BR almost as far as Blackwall.

Shadwell station was eventually moved westwards to enable passengers to change to the East London Railway which ran under the L& BR. There was no rail connection but passengers could alight at Shadwell and walk down a stairway to the East London station below. This latter railway ran due south from its terminus at Shoreditch (GER) and passed under the Thames via Marc Brunel’s tunnel, to arrive at New Cross where it connected with the London Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) and the South Eastern Railway. The East London owned no locomotives itself but was a joint venture involving the three railways named plus the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District railways all of whom were allowed to run their trains on it.

One source of confusion is that the LB&SCR regularly ran Stroudley A1X Terrier tank engines on the line and named a number after locations in East London including some names already in use for London & Blackwall stations. Three of these have survived into preservation No. 72 Fenchurch, No. 55 Stepney and No. 70 Poplar. The first two are on the Bluebell Railway and the last is on the Kent & East Sussex Railway. Poplar was rebuilt by preservationists incorporating parts from No. 71 Wapping and they adopted its’ later guise of No. 3 Bodiam.

The next station is Stepney. In the 1950’s and 1960’s when I used to travel on the line the best views of the docks and shipping was to be had immediately either side of it. The down station shelter would block the southerly views in the station itself. The L&BR line carried straight on eastwards but in the days that I knew it this was a freight route only, trains for Stratford, Barking and Southend at this junction took the left (northern) route towards Burdett Road, Gas factory Junction, and Bow Junction.

This first part of the line north from Stepney Junction was built by the L&BR as the Blackwall Extension Railway in 1849 although initially the Eastern Counties Railway tried to block its use by refusing to allow a connection with it at Bow Junction.
The L&BR carried straight on past the junction at Stepney with the viaduct actually crossing the most northerly part of the Regents Canal Docks, immediately beyond which the eastern arm of the Blackwell Extension Railway joined the line to the docks, creating a triangular junction. This enabled freight services from the north to access West and East India Docks without having to reverse at Fenchurch Street.

The next station was Limehouse, the line still being carried over roads on its’ viaduct. Gun Lane was crossed over next and then West India Dock Road followed immediately by West India Dock Station. The line then fell to ground level at Popular Station which, however, is not shown on Bacon’s map but was still open at the time.  Next is Millwall Junction Station but this only opened in 1871. The line then slightly curved into Blackwall terminus which had two platform faces. This can be seen below on the eastern edge of Bacon’s map just above the words ‘Railway Dock’, fronting Preston Road.

The line beyond Stepney was closed to passenger traffic in 1926, the stations from Limehouse to Blackwall being taken out of use although most of the buildings survived for some time. It was the coming of the Docklands Light Railway that saw major changes. Stepney’s station name had been changed to East Stepney in 1923 but was now, in 1987, renamed Limehouse. Poplar and Blackwall DLR stations are on different sites to those associated with the old L&BR.


Route Map (West)



Route Map (East)



The route of the London & Blackwell Railway from Bacon’s, ‘Popular Atlas of the British Isles’, 1905.  The upper map displays the western half of the line and the lower the eastern half.


Over time LT&SR services tended to monopolise the line into Fenchurch Street and a two face island platform eventually had to be extended to cope with their longer trains. The Southend area became a popular commuter area for London city workers whilst with the opening of Liverpool Street Station GER commuter services were concentrated there instead of at Fenchurch Street. Remaining GER passenger services at Fenchurch Street station tended to be local and short distance although the line remained important for freight with goods trains avoiding the terminus by taking the docks line at Stepney Junction.

Up until 1880 the GER supplied all the LT&SR locomotives and until 1878 William Adams was the GER locomotive superintendent. When the first 4-4-2T locomotives specially built for the LT&SR appeared in 1880 they bore a striking likeness to Adams 4-4-0 tanks (later converted to 4-4-2 tank engines) and it is suspected that Adams had actually designed them. They were manufactured by Sharp Stewart & Co. of Manchester and this firm sent Thomas Whitelegg to the LT&SR to oversee delivery and prepare the engines for service. The LT&SR company persuaded him to stay as their locomotive superintendent and consequently he is usually credited with the design of these locomotives.

There is certainly a strong similarity between the Adams London & South Western (L&SWR) radial tank to be seen on the Bluebell Railway and the Class 1 tanks of the LT&SR. The former class was introduced in 1882, two years after the Tilbury tanks. In their fine green livery pulling varnished teak carriages with white roofs the LT&SR trains developed something of a reputation.

Whitelegg’s son, Robert, took over from his father and designed a larger version of the Tilbury tank known as Class 37 entering traffic in 1887 and followed this up with classes 51 and 79 of which latter class No. 80 Thundersley, is the last survivor and resides at Bressingham in LT&SR colours.           


London Tilbury & Southend tank engine No. 53 ‘Stepney Green’ of class 51, built 1900 (from an old postcard).


This livery was to change in 1912 when, in a move that surprised the GER, the Midland Railway acquired the LT&SR. From now on Midland red or black would predominate although more Tilbury tanks were continued to be made under the Midland, perhaps because of their fast acceleration and adequate water capacity for the moderately long commuter line (just under forty miles) from Fenchurch Street to beyond Southend to the final terminus at Shoeburyness.

There was an accident in 1912 when a LT&SR passenger train with over 800 passengers crashed into the buffers at Fenchurch Street Station injuring about 86 persons.

From 1927 the LMS switched to 2-6-4T mixed traffic tank engines of Fowler, Stanier and Fairburn designs. Stanier actually designed a three cylinder version for the LT&SR line and provided 37 of them. After nationalisation the LT&SR was designated part of the Midland Region despite the fact that the more northerly route to Southend from Liverpool Street was allocated to the Eastern Region.

The old LT&SR line was finally moved into the Eastern Region in 1949 and from 1951 British Railways supplied Riddles class power 4 2-6-4T tanks as replacements for the ageing locomotive stock. Of the 155 engines of this class produced about 28 started their lives on the LT&SR system. With electrification most of these latter were sent to North Wales and Shrewsbury and many ended up at Barry. Of the 15 preserved survivors of this class 11 originated on the LT&SR.

L. T. C. Rolt described the LT&SR service from Fenchurch Street as “one of the most intensive outer-suburban steam services in the country, with headways of as little as five minutes in peak periods. As a result signals and signal boxes were closely spaced…” This may have contributed to the worst accident on the LT&SR in 1958. Despite having the Hudd electro-magnetic distant signal automatic warning system, in dense fog the 6.35 p.m. Fenchurch Street departure ran into the back of the 6.20 departure at Dagenham East. Ten passengers in the latter train were killed and 89 injured, most of whom were in the two rear wooden carriages demolished by the tender first BR standard 2-6-4T.

Electrification of the line was completed in 1959 although full electric train services did not start until 1961, resulting in a faster, and possibly safer, service. The overhead electrification system adopted was the then new British Rail standard employing alternating current at 25 kilovolts.

From 1965 the chairman and general manager of the Eastern Region was Gerard Fiennes. He had problems with Southend’s Travellers Association which had been formed before the war and had carried out a long campaign in the local press regarding the poor railway service to both Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street. This unreliability was partly due to staff shortages and partly due to the unreliability of ageing steam engines in the late 1950’s. By the time Fiennes was in charge electrification had been a great success on both lines with Southend being served with about twenty trains an hour during the day. Punctuality was very good with Fiennes describing that on the Fenchurch Street service as “more often than not 100 per cent to time”.  The divisional manager at Liverpool Street decided that the off peak service of four trains per hour to Liverpool Street was too generous given the level of demand and cut it to three. Unfortunately the one he cut was the express service and the Association carried out a vitriolic attack in the local press describing what the divisional manager had done as something Hitler failed to do. Matters continued thus for some time with even the Chairman of the British Railways Board becoming involved.

Fiennes was sacked in 1967, not for his handling of the Southend fiasco but by publishing his criticisms of British Rail management and government railway policy in a book entitled ‘I Tried to Run a Railway’. He concluded his book with a quote from Groucho Marx, “I wouldn’t think of joining a club which would elect me as a member”. None the less in 1968 he accepted an invitation to join the board of directors of the Ffestiniog Railway Company.

In 1996 the old LT&SR train services were put out to tender and from 2000 these have been branded as ‘c2c’ although actual ownership of this operating company has changed several times. It is suggested that c2c originally implies “capital to coast” although it sounds more like “capital to sea” which would be more appropriate to the idea that Southend claims to be London’s seaside. c2c marketing publicity has tried to clear the air by stating that its’ title has no intended meaning but then confused the issue by stating that its’ preference would be “commitment to customers”.

The current passenger train fleet consists of Bombardier Electrostar electric multiple units of classes 357 and 387/3. It intends to introduce new passenger stock this year (2021) beginning with six new EMUs of ten carriages each again supplied by the firm Bombardier. These will be Class 720/6 Aventra EMUs.


Few travellers arriving or departing Fenchurch Street Station will realise that this is the City of London’s very first railway station with the first in the world’s railway bookstall. Nor will they be likely to be aware that it originally had such a novel mix of methods of propulsion (cable and gravity). This all seems remarkable when one considers just how well known the City of London and its’ history is internationally.










This week, I thought I would share this article I found in the Radio Times with you.
Click on the image below to view in your browser.






Robert Francis Fairlie



Robert Francis Fairlie (born either March 1831 or 5 April 1830, in Glasgow, died 31 July 1885, in London) was a Scottish-born railway engineer.

Early life

Fairlie was born in Glasgow, the son of T. Archibald Fairlie (an engineer) and Margaret Fairlie. He trained at Crewe and Swindon railway works, then joined first the Londonderry and Coleraine Railway as Locomotive Superintendent in 1852, and four years later the Bombay, Baroda & Central India Railway before returning to London in 1859 to establish himself as a railway engineering consultant.

Ffestiniog Railway

He is chiefly known for the invention of the Fairlie double-bogie articulated locomotive (patented in 1864) that is particularly associated with tightly curved railways and especially narrow gauge mountain lines. The first such, the Pioneer, was built in 1865 for the Neath and Brecon Railway, but it was with the Little Wonder built in 1869 for the Festiniog Railway that Fairlie made his name as the inventor of something special.

On the Festiniog Railway the new locomotive was tested against the railway's existing George England and Co. four-coupled tank locomotives. A series of tests, for which detailed performance records survive, were held between 18 September 1869 and 8 July 1870.


Little Wonder with train of four-wheeled passenger carriages on the Festiniog Railway c1870.


David Lloyd George built new in 1991, one of several double Fairlie locomotives operated by the Ffestiniog Railway today.


On 11 February 1870, a formal demonstration was held, for invited guests from around the world. Further parties of engineers and managers came to Porthmadog on four later occasions in 1870 to observe the locomotive at work.
Fairlie received many orders and commissions following the trials. In 1873-1874 he travelled to Venezuela, but this trip resulted in a serious illness. By 1876 forty three railways operated Fairlie's patent locomotives, not always successfully.

Elopement and marriage

However, Robert Fairlie's professional career and social standing had been seriously threatened eight years earlier by a remarkable case (reported in The Times of 8 April 1862) brought against him in the Central Criminal Court by his longtime business associate, George England, who alleged perjury on the part of Robert Francis Fairlie who had eloped with England's daughter Eliza Anne England and, to procure a marriage licence, had sworn a false affidavit that her father, Mr George England, had consented to the union, which was not true. After this marriage they had run away to Spain.

This accusation would, if proved, have resulted in a prison sentence. Under cross-examination by Sergeant Ballantyne (who appeared for Fairlie), George England was forced to admit that he had run away with his present wife, who was the mother of the young lady in question, and that he had a wife living at that time. He had lived with this lady several years but could not marry her until his wife died. By a quirk of English law, at that time, a child born out of wedlock was considered nobody's child. In law she was nothing to do with George England and could marry whom she pleased. There was no case to answer and therefore a verdict of not guilty was returned.

But none of this stopped George England building Robert Fairlie's remarkable double-engine for the Ffestiniog Railway seven years later. Fairlie's Little Wonder was delivered to the FR in the summer of 1869 and George England retired. In September 1869 Robert Fairlie joined with George England's son and J.S. Fraser to take over the Hatcham Works and to form the Fairlie Engine & Steam Carriage Co. but George England junior died within a few months. Locomotive production ceased at the end of 1870 but the Fairlie Engine & Rolling Stock Co. continued as an office for design and for the licensing of Fairlie locomotive manufacture.

George England died in 1878, and by 1881 Fairlie and his wife Eliza were living at 13 Church Buildings, Clapham with their children, Robert, John, Lily and Jessie (their other son, Frank, was at Charterhouse School as a boarder at the time of the 1881 Census) and Robert's mother in law, Sarah England. Robert Francis Fairlie died in London on 31 July 1885 and is buried at West Norwood Cemetery.




A drive to Heartswood Forest for a walk and a picnic with the old cars and young wives
(or was it the other way round)







Hi Phil and Nigel,
this is just a quickie to let you know that I am still in the land of the living and that I had my second covid jab yesterday afternoon. 
Here's hoping that we can open up the clubhouse soon.  There will be much work to do!
In the meantime keep safe.



Dear Phil,

Reporting in. All’s well and I‘ve just had my second jab. Have you heard from all members yet? I’ve only seen about a third have had their jabs.

Phil (Fulton)




Phil and Nigel have both had their second jabs.



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Answers in the next issue.


  1. How many time zones are there in Russia? 
  2. What country has the most islands in the world? 
  3. What is the slang name for New York City, used by locals? 
  4. When did they open the London underground? 
  5. Where is Billie Eilish from? 
  6. Where was the first modern Olympic Games held? 
  7. When was Netflix founded: 1997, 2001, 2009, 2015? 
  8. What’s the national flower of Japan? 
  9. What’s the smallest country in the world? 
  10. Name the best-selling book series of the 21st century? 





  1. How long is the Hammersmith & City Line? A: 25.5km 
  2. What road is Latimer Road station located on? B: Bramley Road 
  3. How many London Boroughs does the line pass through? B: Nine 
  4. What was the original name of Euston Square station? A: Gower Street 
  5. Which station was originally designed to transport livestock to Smithfield Market? C: Farringdon
  6. Which station apparently replaced a building said to be William Shakespear’s house? A: Barbican 
  7. How many stations does the Hammersmith & City line serve? C: 29
  8. At which station does the Tube line pass above the Overground? C: Whitechapel
  9. Which station’s ticket hall is now a Grade ll-listed building? B: Barking 
  10. What is the newest station on the Underground network? C: Wood Lane