Passenger cord communication

Any aspect related to the prototype stock.
Post Reply
Barry Rhys
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:25 am

Passenger cord communication

Post by Barry Rhys »

** Edited 2013.01.22: This topic was originally titled "1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord" - but it got identified, then the topic "just growed"! I've changed the title to allow Searches of the subject of passenger communication cords to find this thread more easily. **

Dave Lochrie posted the following photo of CR 50' Corridor Third No.982 of 1902 in the 'Changeover from Mansell carriage wheels to 4-hole discs' topic here, a glorious picture that now leaps out of my office computer screen at me whenever I turn it on. I've reposted the picture here as I have a question totally unrelated to the wheels thereon.
CR 50' Third No.982.jpg
CR 50' Third No.982.jpg (118.21 KiB) Viewed 15131 times
Just visible on the photo, but very visible if you whack up the screen magnification (the picture resolution even at 400% magnification is still very clear on my screen), is what almost appears to be a continuous external cord immediately below the roof gutter line on the upper moulding. The cord, if indeed it is that, seems to be running through retaining rings fixed at intervals - namely, above each left and right hand doorpost and at two further points between each door - and droops slightly between each pair of suspension points.

Of course my first thought was of the external emergency communication cord of the late 19th Century, connected continuously from carriage to carriage and finally to a gong in the locomotive cab, to be pulled in case of emergency by a passenger leaning out of a carriage window to request the driver to "Put the 'effing brakes on quick!" But of course it is not that, as this is 1902 and the passenger operated emergency braking system is fitted and clearly visible on the end of the carriage. So I have to ask, was the emergency braking system on this coach (at least on the corridor side illustrated) operated by an externally suspended passenger cord? I know it sounds fairly ridiculous, but I'm grasping at straws a little here! If it isn't that, what is it?

Indeed, is it a cord at all? It is just about possible that the wavy line is the edge of the roof itself, formed of loose canvas drooping between its fixing points and possibly still to be stretched tight. But no, that would be too ridiculous.

Could anyone put me out of my misery and tell me what it is please? On the off chance that it is indeed an external emergency brake cord, was it extant only on the corridor side (for whatever reason)? And, was it present on all coaches built to this diagram, and on coaches built to other diagrams (eg. brake composites) of the 50' corridor stock? I'm amazed that I've never seen it before, but I'm sure other folk must have.

Just as an irrelevant aside, I wonder what the weird colouring on the wheels nearest the camera is - they actually appear to be painted like that, although it is just about (though barely) conceivable that it is an effect of the sunlight shining through the footboards, or even post-treatment of the negative/glass plate for some reason - sort of Victorian Photoshopping! Curiouser and curiouser...

Conjecture welcome, knowledge even more so. Thanks, Neil
Last edited by Barry Rhys on Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:40 am, edited 4 times in total.
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
JimG
Posts: 273
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:15 pm

Re: 1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord

Post by JimG »

Barry Rhys wrote:Just as an irrelevant aside, I wonder what the weird colouring on the wheels nearest the camera is - they actually appear to be painted like that, although it is just about (though barely) conceivable that it is an effect of the sunlight shining through the footboards, or even post-treatment of the negative/glass plate for some reason - sort of Victorian Photoshopping! Curiouser and curiouser...
I would go with the sun shining through the gaps between the footboard and the axleboxes. It looks as though the sun is quite high in the sky and at the right angle.

As another irrelevance ( :) ) is the lamp in the background pentagonal in plan?

Jim.
jimwatt2mm
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:36 pm

Re: 1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord

Post by jimwatt2mm »

JimG wrote: As another irrelevance ( :) ) is the lamp in the background pentagonal in plan?

Jim.
No, I would say it is hexagonal and you are looking directly along the most right hand face. I would agree that the pattern on the wheels looks like the shadow of the footboard, though it isn't repeated on the other bogie. As to the original querie re the cord on the cantrail - no idea! :(

Jim W
dumb buffer
Posts: 519
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:13 pm

Re: 1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord

Post by dumb buffer »

The emergency cord was just that. In the early days it operated a gong on the tender; later it operated a cock in the braking system. But it would operate just the same whether the cord was internal or external. I don't know when the cord was run internally, but it may not have been coincident with the connecyion to the automatic brake.

Allan F
Barry Rhys
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:25 am

Re: 1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord

Post by Barry Rhys »

dumb buffer wrote:The emergency cord was just that. In the early days it operated a gong on the tender; later it operated a cock in the braking system. But it would operate just the same whether the cord was internal or external. I don't know when the cord was run internally, but it may not have been coincident with the connection to the automatic brake.

Allan F
Thanks Allan. Bearing in mind some evidence I found last night, I think you're probably right particularly regarding your last point.

I often find valuable information relating to Caley queries in publications on other railways of the time, particularly regarding widely used equipment, but I always forget to look first! Not having any idea of the nature of the earlier external communication cords and when they were superceded by the emergency brake application system, I checked through the authorative volume on Midland Railway carriages by Messrs. Lacy & Dow and found a paragraph of text that not only accurately places the changeover dates (on the Midland of course) but also relates in detail a situation that could apply perfectly to this Caley coach. I think it's sufficiently interesting that I've tapped it out in full below.

"On 21st September of that year [1899] it was reported that agreement between the railway companies had been reached on the standard means of communication between passengers and the train crew; this was to be achieved by the partial application of the air or vacuum brake. In mid-1900 the Carriage & Wagon Committee was asked to fit the equipment on Midland carriages (CW3730), but progress was slow because the manufacturers had been overwhelmed with the demand from all the railways. In April 1901 176 carriages had been equipped and 70 were in hand. Photographs of carriages taken about this time show a T-connection on the brake stand-pipe, ready for coupling to the gear when it became available. Drawings of old carriages have had added to them the guide-tubes conveying the chains running above the windows inside the compartments. Hitherto, a cord running in guides on the edge of the roof, connected to a bell in the guard's van and to a whistle on the locomotive, had been employed."

Midland Railway Carriages Volume 1 p.142; R.E. Lacy & George Dow


So around the time that the CR 50' corridor stock were on the drawing board it appears that there may have been a good deal of uncertainty as to which emergency system - passenger communication or brake application - would be fitted at building. Equally there would have been no previous experience of how and where to fit the passenger pull cords required for the new brake application system, only those of the existing communication system. So it would be very feasible that the then current external cords would be retained for the new coaches, but adapted when necessary for controlling the new brake application equipment, as appears to be the case on No.982.

I have noticed that the external communication cords and their retaining rings are notoriously difficult to pick out on carriage photos, which has often left me wondering whether, for example, the cords were only fitted on one side of non-corridor stock. A clear photo of two connected Midland non-corridor clerestory coach ends in the above book (also reproduced in David Jenkinson's Historic Carriage Drawings Vol.2 LMS) shows continuous cords on both sides, but whether this was generally applied by all railways I do not know.

Regarding the Caledonian practice, particularly on these 50' corridors, I found 2 further picture sources - a photo and a drawing. First in Caledonian Livery, p.259 Plate 34 is a photo of the compartment side of a Dia.59 Brake Composite behind an LNWR loco at Oxenholme. Although the photo is a little blurred, again there appears to be a wavy line at gutter level similar to that on No.982. The 'high points' of the wavy line are at each left and right doorpost, and also at 2 equally spaced points between the final inboard compartment door and the guard's double doors, so definitely suggest that these coaches - which were the last built of the four 50' corridor diagrams, not appearing until 1/1904 - also had external passenger cords on the compartment side. Finally in David Jenkinson's British Railway Carriages of the 20th Century there is a drawing of a Dia.54 50' Third, which actually is not a corridor vehicle as it has an 'open' layout with a central walkway, but still has gangways and identical features to the corridor stock. Although the drawing is relatively small it is nevertheless very clearly reproduced, and there appear to be clear 'dots' breaking up the gutter line at each door post and also above the central lavatory window and long end half-'compartment' window. Not conclusive I know, but persuasive! The drawing is probably reproduced from one of the engineering or railway magazines of the time, so if anyone has a larger sized original or copy perhaps they could check whether these 'dots' are identifiable?

For my 1912-ish era modelling purposes I think I will assume these external cords had been replaced by internal cords. Nevertheless, for historical purposes, any further information would be very welcome.


As to the other matter:
jimwatt2mm wrote:I would agree that the pattern on the wheels looks like the shadow of the footboard, though it isn't repeated on the other bogie.
Thanks for showing such interest, Jims. Actually if you zap the piccy up a little more you can see that the left-hand wheel of the other bogie also has identical marks, but the wheels themselves are not such an insanely bright hue. So, although I agree that you are probably right about the dainty camouflage pattern being due to the light, I am now convinced that the nearby wheels have in fact been intentionally painted a light colour by a visionary Caledonian shed foreman to enable future generations of CRA Members to identify that they were Mansell not disc wheels. And how many holes they contained...

Neil
Last edited by Barry Rhys on Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
jim mac
Posts: 636
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:20 pm

Re: 1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord

Post by jim mac »

Neil
The composite coach at Oxenhome certainly appears to have the external cord, but a very clear illustration is in Plate 12 p249 of the Livery book which shows the end of the McIntosh Family Saloon. Note how the cords terminate on the end below the roof, the end of the cord on the far side is also visible, which would confirm that there was a cord on both sides of the coach. A supplementary question - are the ends of the cords attached to a hook and will be attached to an adjacent coach during coupling up, or is there a hidden connection from the roof line to the brake and/or alarm system.
In the photograph on the opposite page note that the cord is running above the roof.

jim mac
jimwatt2mm
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:36 pm

Re: 1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord

Post by jimwatt2mm »

Barry Rhys wrote:..... Finally in David Jenkinson's British Railway Carriages of the 20th Century there is a drawing of a Dia.54 50' Third, which actually is not a corridor vehicle as it has an 'open' layout with a central walkway, but still has gangways and identical features to the corridor stock. Although the drawing is relatively small it is nevertheless very clearly reproduced, and there appear to be clear 'dots' breaking up the gutter line at each door post and also above the central lavatory window and long end half-'compartment' window. Not conclusive I know, but persuasive! The drawing is probably reproduced from one of the engineering or railway magazines of the time, so if anyone has a larger sized original or copy perhaps they could check whether these 'dots' are identifiable?
Some years ago I spent time going through the Raiway Engineer and Railway Magazine back numbers in the Mitchel Library and photocopying anything which took my interest. Among these I find is a drawing of a 50ft open 3rd. This may well be the original of the drawing to which Barry refers. The 'dots' are clearly open circles on the drawing when examined under magnification, which would confirm them as being rings to carry the cord. The drawing was in the July 1902 issue of 'The Railway Engineer' on page 217. There were accompanying note, but I didn't copy all of them.

Jim
Barry Rhys
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:25 am

Re: 1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord

Post by Barry Rhys »

Jim Watt2mm, thanks very much for confirming the rings on the drawing. That must be one hell of an archive you've created, so many even day to day things seem to have been reported and analysed in every detail in those 2 mags. By the way, sorry about any confusion over my name - actually Neil. I originally chose the name Barry Rhys on another forum to encapsulate my partially Welsh heritage and love of a particular South Welsh pregrouping railway. I did consider 'Alexandra (Newport & South Wales) Docks Rhys', but it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. It would be easier if I was called Jim I guess, but it wasn't to be.

Jim Mac, since your post I've managed to do some research on the railway communication cords and rather surprisingly found sufficient contempory records to pretty much answer all my questions, and those you asked, regarding how the cords worked, their fitting etc. There's some fascinating stuff. I'll sort it out and post the relevant details on here hopefully within a couple of days.

In the meantime do you have any details regarding the date of the Oxenholme photo? It would be very helpful to know a date at which the cords remained fitted to at least one 50' coach, even though connected to the brake system rather than as a continuous communication cord. If the date is not recorded, are there any particular features visible to help date the photo, or any other photos taken by the photographer at the same time?

Thanks, Neil
Last edited by Barry Rhys on Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
JimG
Posts: 273
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:15 pm

Re: 1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord

Post by JimG »

I've been following this thread with interest - I have to confess that I had never noticed the external cord on any coach pictures before, but now I keep seeing them. :) This morning I thought I might take a look at the drawings I had got from the NRM for my modelling of the 48ft compartment stock. I did note something of interest. On the all First drawing for H176 dated 27/9/99, the supports for the external cord are shown on the edge of the roof, but nothing else. However, on the drawings for the all Third H182 dated 01/08/00 and the composite H186 dated 11/12/00, and internal communication chain is shown...
CommChain.jpg
CommChain.jpg (136.77 KiB) Viewed 15032 times
...this small excerpt coming from the composite drawing. So it could be that 1900 was the year of redesigning stock for the internal chain. There are no end elevations on the H182 and H186 drawings but there appears to be the brake valve control apparatus fitted to the ends. No such apparatus is shown on the earlier H176.

I wonder if both internal and external systems had to be provided for several years to allow working with stock which didn't have internal fittings, hence the 50ft coach could have had both systems fitted.

Jim.
Barry Rhys
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:25 am

Re: 1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord

Post by Barry Rhys »

Jim (G), that's perfect! Now that I've seen this, and based on what I've learned and still have to describe here, I now believe that the 50' coach pictured above and the one at Oxenhome almost certainly have the internal chain fitted as shown on your 48' drawing, and that the internal chain is connected and fully operable to apply the brake system when pulled. In addition, I believe that the external communication cord has also been fitted, exactly as you suggest, to enable stock not having the brake connection to be used in the same train as these coaches. The duplicated external cord will not be connected to the brake system, contrary to my earlier presumption based on the 50' Third photo above, but instead will function as originally intended to enable continuous communication - it simply will not be operated by the passengers in the new coaches, since they will use the internal chain connected to the continuous brakes.

I'm afraid I can't present my evidence yet, largely due to domestic duties! But in the meantime, I wonder whether it would be possible for you to check those 3 drawings again to see whether the H182 Third and H186 Composite drawings also show the external cord supports at the edge of the roof as shown on the H176 First, in addition to the internal chain? Of course the omission of the external cord supports from the drawing will not prove conclusively that they were not in fact fitted at building, since it is quite possible that only the new internal chain system would be drawn and the external supports were simply added according to previous practice. On the other hand, if both systems are shown on the H182 and H186 drawings, then it would be a very convincing assumption about the operational practice.

So you're also now experiencing this preoccupation with checking for little rings on the gutter on every photo you see? I now find myself checking the front end of my subway train on my way home to see whether there's any external cord...

Neil
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
JimG
Posts: 273
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:15 pm

Re: 1902 50' Corridor Stock - unidentified cantrail cord

Post by JimG »

Neil,
Barry Rhys wrote:But in the meantime, I wonder whether it would be possible for you to check those 3 drawings again to see whether the H182 Third and H186 Composite drawings also show the external cord supports at the edge of the roof as shown on the H176 First, in addition to the internal chain? Of course the omission of the external cord supports from the drawing will not prove conclusively that they were not in fact fitted at building, since it is quite possible that only the new internal chain system would be drawn and the external supports were simply added according to previous practice. On the other hand, if both systems are shown on the H182 and H186 drawings, then it would be a very convincing assumption about the operational practice.
The later H182 and H186 drawings show the external cord supports. I've extracted a small bit of the composite drawing to show them....
Cantrail.jpg
Cantrail.jpg (105.26 KiB) Viewed 15014 times
....and I've included a bit of the coach end to show the fittings associated with the internal chain.

What an apparent coincidence that I happened to have a set of three Hxxx drawings which seemed to have bridged the change. :)

Jim.
Barry Rhys
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:25 am

Passenger cord communication

Post by Barry Rhys »

Passenger Communication Cords (1)

Having come so far now with the help of others, I've decided to set down the information I've acquired regarding the passenger communication cord system for future reference. I'll do this in a couple of posts, and edit the topic title to broaden the subject outside that of a 1902 50' Corridor Stock Unidentified Cantrail Cord! Such is the expansive nature of these topics, but at least in future a more representative title will allow easier Searches for this subject. Nevertheless, my information is most certainly not conclusive, so please if anyone has further info or comment, do add it.

I hope now that some of you are open to some historical diversion. Having become intrigued by questions such as "do communication cords run down both sides of coaches or just one?", "what happens when coaches go round corners - does the bell accidentally ring and the driver puts on all the brakes?", and "So why haven't I ever seen a Dunalastair tender with a gong on it?" (ooh, a little close to home, that one), I started trying to find some definite - preferably contemporary - information on just how these systems work.

The most comprehensive information I have located up to now is hidden within a Board of Trade (Railway Department) report on 2 incidents that occurred in July 1871 in which the Failure of Communication Cords was highlighted as a contributory factor; one an accident near Penrith involving minor damage to 2 carriages of an LNWR Night Mail train in which 4 post-office sorters and clerks were "thrown to the floor in different positions, and one of them has complained of injury, so that he has been obliged to give up work for the time" and, perhaps more significantly, the Duke of Sutherland and sundry other Lords and Gentry sleeping in the Duke's Saloon were "rudely awakened, Colonel Marshall being slightly injured receiving a blow behind his shoulder"; and the other incident one near Blisworth, again on the LNWR, in which a gentleman had to struggle with a fellow passenger who "apparently went mad", the good gentleman declining riding any further in the same compartment with him from the next station thence, and complaining adding that he "could not pull or could not get at the confounded cord". The author of the report is the well-known Capt. H.W.Tyler, Secretary of the BoT Railway Dept., who had a very 'hands-on' approach to his accident investigations and frequently conducted experiments of his own making on actual railway equipment to reproduce circumstances of incidents. Sometimes the experiments appear in danger of causing more damage to life and limb than the original accidents, but they are invariably very instructive and often give details on equipment and working practices that are difficult to find elsewhere.

I must emphasise that the relatively minor nature of these two incidents in no way reflects the critical importance of this subject to the saving of lives on the railways; the report just happens to be one in which Capt. Tyler firstly describes the incidents, but then continues with a fairly detailed description of the passenger communication cord equipment and its installation, and also describes his own personal experiments into the effectiveness - or otherwise - of the cord system. The system described and its application varied a little between railways and was improved during the period of its usage, but was almost ubiquitous across the British railways except for some companies south of the Thames that had adopted various early electrical communication systems. The cord system was usually known as Harrison's cord or the 'North Eastern' system after its development by T.E. Harrison, Chief Engineer of the North Eastern Railway. The railway companies' reluctant adoption of a passenger communication system was largely as a result of the Regulation of Railways Act 1868, whose Provisions for Safety of Passengers (Section 22) required that:

"After the First Day of April One thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine every Company shall provide, and maintain in good Working Order, in every Train worked by it which carries Passengers, and travels more than Twenty Miles without stopping, such efficient Means of Communication between the Passengers and the Servants of the Company in charge of the Train as the Board of Trade may approve."

The requirement for implementation only on trains travelling more than 20 miles between any 2 stops (although what is meant by a "stop" is not specified) should be noted, as this could be a reason for not fitting cord equipment to carriages intended exclusively for specific routes or services, eg. particular suburban train sets, as long as that exclusivity could be maintained in traffic.

Also to be noted is that, in the Act itself, the particular "Servants of the Company in charge of the Train" are not identified. Generally such meanings would be specified in detailed regulations drawn up between the BoT and the railway companies; however such details frequently changed over time according to operational factors, technical considerations, experiences of accidents and failures etc, and are much more difficult to locate and pin down. Capt. Tyler in the 1871 Penrith and Blisworth incidents report states that a means of communication should be "accessible to passengers, for attracting the attention of the engine-drivers, or of the guards riding in vans, either before or behind them, or both"; thereby apparently permitting communication with a guard at the rear of the train only. He then apparently contradicts this 2 sentences later by stating "In cases in which there is no van between a passenger carriage and the engine the passengers are in direct communication with the engine-driver", implicitly identifying a requirement for communication with Servants of the Company both before and behind the passengers. Other reports also intimate that communication should be enabled between passengers and both a guard at the rear and the driver at the front of the train; however it is unclear whether, for example, communication between passengers and another guard at the front of the train in place of directly with the driver would in fact meet the legal requirements at any particular time. It probably will remain conjecture therefore whether the apparent lack of gongs on most Caledonian tenders, and also of communication cord apparatus on the tenders of other railways' locomotives in most late 19th Century photographs, is due to the presence of a guard's van or brake carriage at the front of the train, a particular interpretation of the BoT's regulations current at that time, or indeed of a widespread non-adherence to the regulations referred to in accident reports throughout the era.

The key features of the communication cord system as described by Capt. Tyler in the 1871 Penrith and Blisworth incidents report, with some additions extracted from a Court of Inquiry Report into the 1874 Shipton-on-Cherwell accident on the GWR, are as follows (my arrangement, but transcribing the original text where possible):
(i) Individual cords are fitted to both sides of every vehicle, each cord running the length of the vehicle through rings or pulleys generally mounted at the cornice or at the roof edge at an average of 3 feet apart, so that the cord is accessible to passengers.
(ii) Only the cords on the off-side of the train (ie. right hand side in direction of travel) are coupled up to form the means of communication. It is clearly desirable, as long as the cord communication is employed, that the passengers should find it always on one particular side of a train; and as the carriages may run either end first, it has for that reason been considered necessary to provide cords on both sides of them.
(iii) The unused cord on the near-side of the train is a fixture, its ends being fastened down to the ends of the carriage with hooks and eyes; a passenger mistakenly pulling this cord would therefore find that he was pulling an unyielding cord in place of one which would yield more or less to his efforts.
(iv) At a van containing a guard, the cord passes into the van at right angles to its line along the carriages, running over two extra pulleys, and therein is connected with a balance-weight, in a covered slide about 6 feet high, which compensates, in rising and falling, for the action of the buffers in the train. The balance-weight takes up the slack which it would be otherwise necessary to leave; and in this way the rope is kept always taut, and is less liable to get entangled with lamp-irons, footsteps, or other projecting parts of the carriages. At the same time, rather more power is required, and especially in long trains, to ring the bells in the vans (see below), on account of this cord being brought in, and being connected with the balance-weight, in a transverse position in the van.
(v) The cord in the van is passed around a wheel having a diameter of about 15 inches furnished with a groove round its circumference. An adjustable cam is screwed onto its circumference so that, when the wheel is turned by the cord on its being pulled, the cam strikes and pushes over a lever projecting from a bell, and the bell then rings on continuously for about seven minutes, unless purposely stopped and put out of action by the guard. The cam may be transferred from any one part to any other part of the wheel, working round the groove on the circumference, and as soon as the train is started the guard must see that it is carefully adjusted to a distance of about 10 inches from the lever of the bell which will be struck by the cam when the cord is pulled, so as to enable passengers to ring the bell with ease, and avoid any ringing which might otherwise be caused by the lengthening or contraction of the buffers, either when the train is leaving a station, after being brought to a stand, or in passing round a curve. The bells are wound up by the guard to ring for about seven minutes without stopping.

Capt. Tyler also states that the cord (which he often refers to as "rope") "is of hemp, which has been found to be upon the whole the most satisfactory material. In the first instance wire was used, but it was found to kink. It is hardly an economical system, though cheap in first cost; the ropes wear out rapidly; and too much attention is constantly required. As the ropes chafe and wear out at particular points, there are no means of repairing them, and the guards habitually carry spare lengths in their vans, to replace portions of rope that may fail on the journey." (A copy of the GWR's Instructions issued to guards regarding Passenger Cord Communication appended to the Shipton-on-Cherwell report states "Each guard must carry with him six spare cords, fitted at both ends with cord couplings complete, to replace any cords which may be damaged on the journey." Presumably of various lengths to suit the different lengths of carriages provided!)

Finally I cannot find any specific details of the connecting means attached to the cord ends. In (iii) above Capt. Tyler refers to fastening the unconnected cords to carriage ends with hooks and eyes (one of which is presumably part of the cord), which may mean that every cord has a hook at one end and an eye at the other as a simple interconnection means, while the GWR Instructions simply refer to the cords being fitted at both ends with cord couplings. In the close-up photo of the coupled Midland Railway clerestories referred to previously I cannot make out any coupling point whatsoever, but any well designed coupling method could become indiscernible on a photo so that is of no help. (In light of the above descriptions, I now have my suspicions as to whether the Midland photo is genuinely of an in-service train at all, as the cords are clearly connected at both off- and near-sides of the 2 carriages, which obviously contradicts the above practice.)

Well, if you're still with me, I'm sorry that you've had to suffer so much text without pictures. So here is an excellent illustration of the communication cord fastened at the end of a Caledonian coach, which exactly fits Capt. Tyler's description; the picture referred to by Jim (Mac) above of the McIntosh Family Saloon No.15, which I've copied over from the Mansell wheels topic (thanks to Dave Lochrie for providing it there, though for other purposes!)
CR%20%22Observation%20Car%22%20No%2015.jpg
CR%20%22Observation%20Car%22%20No%2015.jpg (131.42 KiB) Viewed 14952 times
Further, if you look back to the photo of the 50' Corridor Third No.982 that started off this whole topic, when magnified (I suggest 200% should do it) there is definitely a straight line below the carriage end roof that finishes at a similar position to that on the Family Saloon, which I now believe is an external communication cord fitted to this coach when built in 1903, and most likely largely unused, in addition to the internal chain system connected to the automatic brake, evidenced by the projecting ears on the carriage end; exactly as shown in JimG's H186 Composite drawing above.

In the next part I'll describe Capt. Tyler's absolutely fascinating experiments into the effectiveness of the communication cord system, and also what details I've found about the introduction and changeover to the new passenger-activated braking system.

Neil
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
jim mac
Posts: 636
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:20 pm

Re: Passenger cord communication

Post by jim mac »

Looking forward to the next part, but can I draw attention to the article in TTL101 Cords, Bells and Whistles, which goes some way in explaining the absence of a bell on CR tenders in the late 19th century.
jim mac
Barry Rhys
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:25 am

Re: Passenger cord communication

Post by Barry Rhys »

jim mac wrote:Looking forward to the next part, but can I draw attention to the article in TTL101 Cords, Bells and Whistles, which goes some way in explaining the absence of a bell on CR tenders in the late 19th century.
jim mac
Thanks for the tip-off Jim - sorry for the delay in responding. I hadn't thought to check the TTL Index first - luckily I've got a copy of TTL101, in fact it was my very first after joining and has got my name in it!

If you don't mind I'll summarise the relevant details here for those that don't have that issue. To be frank, I've been ignoring the locomotive-connecting portion of the cord in my search for references, whereas actually there are probably a lot more photos of locos showing connection arrangements than of carriages.

The article describes that a communication system between the guard and driver by means of a rope and a bell was initiated on the CR, possibly at the request of the LNWR, sometime after 1860. Whether this was initially implemented to also incorporate communication by passengers too is not mentioned specifically, however from pictures of early coaches with the gutter-height communication cord and the requirements of the 1868 Railways Act for passenger communication I think the two functions must soon have been combined. Photographs in the article and in the Caledonian Livery book show early (possibly Connor and Brittain) CR locos having tenders with a large circular bell or gong attached to the tender side close to the loco, with a cord leading therefrom to a fitting (possibly just a ring) at the upper rear corner of the tender, and presumably thence to the leading carriage. A photo of such a tender attached to CR 29A in the article is taken from the CR 1897 Album, so clearly this arrangement still existed then; however only 10 photos of the 70 in the Album illustrate locomotives with a bell on the tender. This apparent dearth of pictures of such bells led to my questioning whether this was due to the cord communication direct to the driver having been abandoned on account of the BoT's requirements for passenger communication being met by communication with a guard only.

The article shows however that a different cord communication had been introduced. Drawings in the article of the cabs of Drummond locos CR123 and CR124 and also of Lambie's Class 13, along with photos of further pre-McIntosh locomotives, show an arrangement whereby the communication cord from the front carriage leads directly above the tender to a small fitting mounted on the cab roof near its leading edge. The cord, or an attached extension thereof, then leads vertically downwards through the cab roof and is connected to an extension of the locomotive's whistle, so that pulling the cord would sound the whistle. This is similar to the system used by the LNWR, which utilised a second whistle mounted on the roof specifically for this communication purpose, and the Midland Railway, and probably several others. The LNWR's arrangement involved suspending the cord on its way forward above the offside tender side from two suspending-stanchion-like thingies (just see this photo here), and this is very visible on many LNWR photos. The MR appears to have restricted itself to one suspending-thingy (the Yorkshire influence I expect) halfway along the tender offside. Unfortunately the Caledonian's arrangement for guiding the cord above the tender is not visible in the pictures in the article. On the one photograph in which the communication cord can be seen between the cab roof and the first carriage (and then only barely, in good light, and after staring at the piccy for several minutes - sadly apparently it is the only known such photo) the cord appears to drape in a graceful curve at either end but cannot be made out as it passes the heaped coal - but I certainly cannot see any support whatsoever. Any knowledge of the original piccy Jim?

Jim notes in the article that none of the photos of McIntosh locos show any connection point on the cab roof, but mentions that an accident involving a communication cord connected to a locomotive occurred on 21 June 1898 (ie. during McIntosh's superintendency) near Cove, in which a driver was killed when his head struck a bridge, apparently having climbed up on the tender to adjust a problematic cord. His engine was CR 780, which is confusing since this was a McIntosh Dunalastair II introduced in 1897 (I believe). Unfortunately there are no details of this accident in the Board of Trade accident reports website, so I cannot investigate further.

I will discuss various changeover scenarios further in my next part (hopefully at the weekend), some of which are directly relevant to the Caledonian; but one particular point of note is that, when the various direct communication systems to the guard and/or driver were superceded by passenger communication via application of the continuous brakes (by means of an internal emergency cord or chain), the Board of Trade were prepared to accept this indirect form of 'communication' of an emergency to a driver simply by him experiencing the unexpected brake application as meeting the requirements of the 1868 Act. But that would surely imply that the previous communication cord system to the driver was already made unnecessary when the continuous brake system had been introduced across the 1880s, so long as direct passenger communication via the cord to the guard was retained, since the guard was then able to communicate with the driver indirectly through application of the continuous brake.

All contributions welcome!

Neil
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
jim mac
Posts: 636
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:20 pm

Re: Passenger cord communication

Post by jim mac »

Neil
I could not find an Accident Report for Fenwick's death and the Company Minutes deal with it very briefly. However I have a series of copies from the local papers and railway journals and have attached one which gives more details.
The other major aspect was that he was in charge of the Royal Train at the time and Queen Victoria paid for his memorial stone. My contact at AK Bell Library, who sorted out the extracts from the local papers, also confirmed that the stone is still in place. As a local she had not previously heard the story.
Fenwick's memorial.jpg
Fenwick's memorial.jpg (321.06 KiB) Viewed 14910 times
jim mac
Attachments
Fenwick's accident.pdf
(1.45 MiB) Downloaded 341 times
Barry Rhys
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:25 am

Re: Passenger cord communication

Post by Barry Rhys »

Passenger communication cords (2)

After a long delay... thanks for the newspaper article about David Fenwick's death, Jim. Considering it's only from a newspaper, it describes the accident in a lot of detail, although obviously there are no details about the particular problems with the cord. An accident report would I think be of great interest, but unfortunately there is no reference whatsoever to this accident in the 'railwaysarchive' website. Interestingly, while Googling for information, I found an entry in Leslie's Directory for Perth and Perthshire 1889 listing local residents: "Fenwick, David, engine-driver, 33 Pomarium Street". Very likely the bloke who later died, as he was driving trains based on Perth. It is possible that the accident may even have played a role in prompting the replacement of the cord communication system - but I'll come to that later. Sadly I have no photos of my own to illustrate the text, but I've included clickable links to photos and relevant documents below. The rather heavy bit below details the introduction of the cord system and its early years.

Adoption of passenger communication cord system

As previously mentioned, the Regulation of Railways Act 1868 required implementation of a BoT-approved means of communication between passengers and servants of the company by 1st April 1869.

The BoT approved Harrison's cord communication system on 27th February 1869, and reported this to Mr. James Allport (General Manager of the Midland Railway) in his role as chairman of a group formed of the general managers of most of the principal railway companies, while reserving the right of reconsidering the approval in the event of the system proving defective when tried upon an extensive scale. The BoT also approved Walker's electrical communication system already implemented by the South-Eastern Railway, which incorporated a bell-pull inside each passenger compartment connected to an electrical bell in the guard's van, and the similar Preece electrical system already installed on the LSWR.

Harrison's cord system was adopted by all of the railway companies north of the Thames, and was applied, apparently without much discussion, externally on the offsides of trains. Interestingly, the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway put the cord inside, centrally beneath the roof, where it could be easily and safely reached by passengers - much too easily, in the opinion of most railways - and did not require to be uncoupled for changing sides at termini; the London, Chatham & Dover Railway, on the other hand, chose to stow it under the floorboards, where passengers in emergency had to grope around beneath the seat! The LNWR some time later raised objections to impracticalities in working the offside arrangement, as the cord could not be coupled and uncoupled, adjusted and closely examined by staff walking along a nearside station platform, and instead these tasks had to be accomplished by staff walking at track level and climbing up where necessary - when in the dark, holding a lamp in one hand, the grab rail with another, and coupling the cord ends with...their third hand, presumably. However there was a general feeling among the companies exchanging stock with the LNWR that it was safer for passengers needing to use the communication cord to put their heads and arms out of the carriage windows on the offside rather than the nearside of the train, and also that cords on the nearside would be in the way of engine drivers looking out on starting from stations; hence the idea of an alteration was abandoned. So at all terminal stations and principle junctions at which trains were liable to be broken up or have vehicles attached to them, men were specially charged with the care of this apparatus, and having no other duties to attend to during the stoppage of the trains.

Here is an excellent detail photo of the cord coupled up between a carriage and guard's van on an LNWR train at Coventry station, captioned in the full photo as 1880 but which a contributor believes is around 1874.

The following shot of CR Open Carriage Truck No.1618 (converted to this form in 1889), reproduced much larger in the John Boyle Carriage Truck thread in Modelling Q&A here, illustrates perfectly how even low-sided NPCS vehicles had to be equipped with their own communication cords simply to continue the connection. Originally I had thought this was a part of the equipment for securing the carriage load!
Open%20Carriage%20Truck%20reduced.jpg
Open%20Carriage%20Truck%20reduced.jpg (51.54 KiB) Viewed 14847 times
Not that all these regulations should be applied too rigorously by all railway companies, of course... as an accident on 16th August 1872 at Eglinton Iron Works sidings (BoT Accident Report), near Kilwinning on the G&SWR Glasgow to Ayr main line, illustrates. A 10-carriage G&SW passenger train, having passed a distant signal at danger, collided side-on with a mineral train crossing over the line. Although the passenger engine and 3 carriages were derailed and ran down an embankment, fortunately there were no fatalities and only a few minor injuries. The fault was found to be mainly that of the passenger train driver's inattentiveness to his speed and signals; however the passenger guard had seen the danger indication of the distant signal but was unable to communicate this to the driver or fireman. The Accident Report notes that "The train, though running more than twenty miles without stopping, was not supplied with a communication cord by which the guard might have called the driver's attention to the indication of the distant-signal"; and later, "It is also possible that had the provisions of the Act of Parliament, which prescribe that there shall be means of communication between the passengers, guard, and driver in trains running more than 20 miles without stopping, been complied with, the guard might have roused the driver's attention and have thus mitigated the violence of the collision."


Doubts about the cord system, and experiments on installed cords

Having approved the cord system as meeting the requirements of the 1868 Act and having seen its general adoption by the railway companies, the Board of Trade clearly began to have doubts about its effectiveness in use, based on reports and complaints of those who had needed to use the system. In July 1871 Captain Tyler was requested to report on two incidents in which failure of the communication cord system was seen as having played a major part (BoT Report). The first of these was an incident that would normally not be investigated by the Board of Trade, which occurred near Blisworth on the LNWR on 17th July 1871, wherein a gentleman who was attacked by another in a compartment had attempted to pull the communication cord, and subsequently alleged the cord to be useless when actually required. Unfortunately for the railway companies operating this system, the gentleman concerned was a certain Mr. Galloway - an Inspector of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade!! Capt. Tyler records the experience in detail, highlighting the hurried nature of coupling the system and lack of proper testing and adjustment undertaken when the train first started from Euston. Between Blisworth and Rugby Mr. Galloway reports that a fellow passenger had a fit and "apparently went mad", and had to be forcibly restrained by him. On reaching Rugby Mr. Galloway left the compartment and demanded to see the station inspector, and was given another compartment, while a guard travelled further with the invalid passenger. None of the guards travelling with the train had been aware that anybody had tried to pull the communication cord; but Mr. Galloway stated in writing that "The one fact cannot be disputed: I pulled the cord about 20 times, and when the train arrived at Rugby, I stood at the carriage door some time before anyone came to me, showing that the signal did not act - otherwise the guard would have run along the train to ascertain the cause of the signal being made."

The second incident was more serious, and could easily have resulted in a major accident. On 24th July 1871 close to Penrith the engine of a northbound mail train ran over what later turned out to be a bale of stair carpet that had fallen off a goods train. The engine driver and fireman had seen the bale but experienced no shock of any description as the engine passed over it; neither did the front guard or the rear guard. However on examining the train at Carlisle, having been informed of the rough experiences of some of the passengers, it was found that something which had been on the line had struck and damaged certain vehicles. Six clerks and sorters in the post-office had felt a severe shock, as if something had struck the carriage from below, and the post-office had travelled for a short distance very uneasily. The clerks had been thrown to the floor, and three of them reached out and caught hold of the communication cord and pulled hard for 3 to 5 minutes, until they gave up the attempt when the train appeared to be travelling all right. Further along the train, in the Duke of Sutherland's personal saloon, the Duke and several associates (including two Lords, a Colonel and his son) were asleep when they felt a violent shock. Rudely awakened, the Duke and Colonel "both tugged at the communication card, each of them several times as hard as they could, and then both together, but without any useful effect, as will be seen by the statements of the guards of the train; those men not having either heard their bells ring, or noticed any motion of the cord." In fact the damage to these two carriages was quite serious: a sole-bar and axlebox bolts of the post-office were fractured, while the Duke of Sutherland's 6-wheel saloon suffered a broken axlebox and spring clips, the floor had been indented by the middle wheels being forced 4 inches beyond their normal play in the axleboxes, and the centre body panel had been split longitudinally. However from various telltale signs on other carriages and their general lack of damage it was clear that the carpet bale had been thrown violently upwards only after the engine and forward guard's van had passed over it, and the train staff were quite unaware of any unusual occurrence until they received complaints from the occupants of the Duke's saloon and the post-office on arrival at Carlisle. In contrast to the Blisworth case however, reports showed that the communication cord system had been tested properly on departure from Euston, and indeed had been successfully used earlier in the journey at Tamworth when a passenger was inadvertently being left behind on the platform and the front guard had communicated with the engine driver by pulling the cord.

As Capt. Tyler states, "The conclusion cannot be avoided, either that some part of the apparatus was out of adjustment, in spite of its having been properly adjusted and tested at the commencement of the journey, or that the apparatus is not, even when in proper adjustment, to be depended on in practice." One wonders whether such a conclusion could have been reached, or this investigation and report even made, had the complainants not included a Board of Trade inspector and the Duke of Sutherland?

Tyler continues, "In commencing my investigations into these cases, it occurred to me to test the apparatus in the first two trains with which I happened to meet."

(Warning: Don't read the following if you are of a delicate nature)

[On an LNWR Euston to Manchester train] "I tested the cord-communication 10 or 12 times between Euston and Willesden, five and a half miles. I pulled the rope, sometimes with a bias towards the front van, and sometimes towards the rear van, sometimes with a harder pull, and sometimes with a less hard pull. The bell was rung at least three times in the front van, but at other times, during some of which the rope was pulled down to the bottom of the window, it was not rung. The apparatus acted well about five times in the rear van... [Tyler then explains that the guard had not always replaced the adjustable cam in its original position, hence not being able to strike the bell afresh - nevertheless the guard would have noticed the rope moving if pulled successfully] ...The guards and others in the van were aware of the experiments being made, and were on the look out. The front van was the seventh vehicle, and the carriage from which the rope was pulled the eleventh vehicle in the train, in which there were 16 carriages. Signals were made from the front and rear vans to the carriage from which the rope was pulled, by a white flag when the bells were rung, and by the hand and arm held out from the carriage when the rope appeared to be pulled without the bell being rung."

Tyler conducted a second experiment on the LNWR between Willesden and Euston on a train from Liverpool and Birmingam. Prior to embarking at Willesden he tried the rope between the front van (five carriages back from the engine) and the engine, whereupon a steam jet on the loco boiler successfully opened and released steam visible to the driver (this was the LNWR's method prior to the adoption of a second dedicated whistle). However he found that the cord inside the front van was not in working order, having not been attached correctly within the van and incapable of ringing the bell, and also having fallen off the balance weight pulley. Since Liverpool ? - as a good engineer, Tyler does not speculate on such things but simply describes his experiments in a very matter-of-fact manner. The guard having set the apparatus right and the train started, Tyler relates that "I pulled the rope frequently from the third-class carriage (intermediate between the two vans), and found it to work well in every case. I observed however, after the train stopped, that the rope from the front van to the engine had caught under a label-socket for receiving the moveable board which showed the destination of the vehicle. At the further end of the carriage from which I pulled the rope the cord was not threaded through the pulley; and the cord required on this account to be pulled much harder."

Even more eye-opening however was his final experiment, conducted on the Great Northern Railway's 5.25pm King's Cross to York express on 4th August 1871:

"In approaching Retford in that train I pulled the cord into the carriage for a length of about 18 feet, until it reached the opposite window, and then down (doubled) to below the bottom from the top of the window. I then pulled with some violence in both directions, - towards the rear van and towards the engine; and I wound the cord round and round the arm on the seat of the carriage (No.135, 1st class). There were 12 vehicles in the train. I rode in the third vehicle from the engine, one carriage only having been between that in which I rode and the front van. When the train stopped at Retford I called both guards to see what I had done, and inspected the wheel in the van behind the train. The guards were quite unaware of any one having touched the cord; and the driver uncoupled his engine, and went away before I could speak to him. There was a bell on the tender, and a bell above the wheel in each guard's van."

After conducting these experiments, Tyler concludes "In the above cases [ie. the incidents at Blisworth and Penrith], the cord was found, when required in practice, to be quite useless as a means of communication between the passengers and the servants of the company. It was tried under circumstances favourable in all respects for success; on the 17th July with only four vehicles between the tender and the leading break van; on the 24th July with only seven carriages between the two break-vans. The passengers who vainly essayed to use it, from real risk and necessity, were strong, cool-headed men, exceptionally accustomed to railway travelling, and unusually well qualified to make it succeed. The apparatus was, according to the evidence of the servants of the company, in perfect order; and had been coupled up, adjusted, and tested, in each case before the starting of the train."

He summarises that "although the cord system may appear to be the most simple, practical, and easily applicable of the various means of communication in trains, the actual practice of working is far from simple. There are too many adjustments to be attended to whenever a train is made up, and before it is started [he then lists all of the numerous adjustments required for setting the cord, balance weights, wheel and cam, bells etc], such that this very simple system depends for success upon a complication of adjustments which must be difficult to invariably enforce; and which are the more liable to be neglected by railway servants, after a long period during which the system has been proved to be not required. The cord system is, no doubt, capable of some improvement. It is used with differences of details on other lines. The London and North-Western Company are now, I understand, making some alterations in their apparatus with a view to its improvement. But I do not myself think that the cord-system will ever be a satisfactory system."


Board of Trade withdraws approval of cord system

A little over 2 years after the Board of Trade's approval of Harrison's cord system of communication and its general adoption by the railway companies, on 15th July 1872 the BoT wrote to James Allport intimating that, on account of the inefficiency of the system, and in some cases of its total failure, their approval of it would be formally withdrawn within 3 months, and requested that some other means should be submitted by the companies for approval. On representations from Mr. Allport the time for the withdrawal of the Board's approval was ultimately extended to the 1st August 1873; but then a letter dated 30th July 1873 was sent by the Board to 123 railway companies notifying their revoking of the approval of the cord system.

The railway companies were not very pleased...


Thanks for reading if you've got this far!

Neil
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
JimG
Posts: 273
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:15 pm

Re: Passenger cord communication

Post by JimG »

I just found something else in the drawings I have of the 48ft stock. I was working on the brake end for the brake third coach. There is no actual drawing available for the Brake Third, but a detail GA is available for the brake end alone. I only very recently noticed the internal arrangements for what I assume will be the internal emergency chain operating a valve on the brake system.
BrakeEndInterior.jpg
BrakeEndInterior.jpg (201.72 KiB) Viewed 14802 times
This drawing is dated 14-12-99.

It also answers the question about the glazing of the brake ends - at least for the 48ft stock. :D

Jim.
jim mac
Posts: 636
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:20 pm

Re: Passenger cord communication

Post by jim mac »

A visitor to the Forum (found via a Google search) has requested that the following information on this topic be shared:
For some years now (in between other activities) I have been researching the external, gutter mounted communication cord known as Harrison or North Eastern as fitted to LNWR coaches as a group of us wish to refit it to a Picnic Saloon (built 1894, Wolverton) we are restoring as it was originally fitted. The opportunity also exists to refit it to the LNWR Full Brake of 1891 and some parts have been made to this end. As an aside we are also looking to recreate a horizontal diaphragm vacuum sack for the Picnic Saloon and, again, some original parts are in stock for this as well as "working" gas lamps - worked with either fibre optics or low heat halogen bulbs. The fact that the LNWR in 1894 was still fitting a system that the BoT had discredited in 1873 shows that Parliament had still to give legal teeth to the BoT and that it's Officers (Majors and Colonels) were outranked, socially, by the Lords that owned or Chaired the railway companies if the BoT's ruling wasn't to their liking!
Your discussion thus far has outlined very thoroughly the Harrison cord system and I shan't go over it as it would only be repetition. However, there are some parts not fully described by the BoT Inspector (it was after all an accident report) and some years ago I purchased on ebay a bound and gold blocked book that, using dimensioned drawings and text, answers many of the questions. Entitled "Inter-Communication on Railway Trains" it is the answer to Question XV111 Sections A and C at the St Petersburgh International Congress on Railways in June 1892 and was written by Mr Harry Pollitt of the MS&LRailway. Unfortunately, I can only guess what the question was! This is a fascinating book of around 50 pages with about a dozen fold out drawings and I have no idea how it survived but it includes tabulated details of continental railways as well as one or two in the USA and Russia detailing all the systems in use drawn onto a MSLR train!
Many of the details in the book have been photocopied and shared with the Great Western Society, Didcot and Vintage Carriages Trust, Ingow, Keighley who are also building replica cord sysyems. Didcot has a genuine original clockwork bell and a brakevan wheel survives in a brake van body end 'slice' at the NRM, York. Rings survive on gutters of, I think, the Duke of Sutherland's coach at NRM as well as another style of pulley where a cord could be pushed in without the need to thread it through as needed with a ring. However, a quick look shows the potential for the cord to jump out of the grooved wheel and get jammed beside it. I found a suitable ring to copy on our LNWR first kitchen/diner no.77 (1901) where it was being used to tie off the vacuum cylinder release string.
So, what do we still not know?
Despite pouring over many photos in a wide variety of books and collections we still dont know what form the end of a cord took and are currently presuming (guessing) that one end had a metal eye and the other a closed sprung hook (similar to that on a dog lead) arranged such that each coach end had an eye one side and a hook the other and woe betide the individual who turned a coach without changing the cords over!
We also dont know what the fitting fixed to the coach end to tie off the cord looked like. Virtually every photo shows the cord end fixed back to something - but what? Again presumption and guess work produces a small fitting with a pig's curly tail to allow quick storage and release beit a hook or eye but, maybe, were there 2 fittings - one for the eye (pigs tail) and another for the hook (a ring)?
Incidentally, in some photos that show light coloured (or white) carriage roofs there appears to be a hair on the photo. This is actually the cord that has been thrown back up on the roof following a shunting where coaches were split but the shunter either couldn't, or wouldn't, climb up to disconnect the cords which have then pulled out of the rings. The LNWR rule book requires the Guard, overseen by the Station Master, to ensure that the cords are connected along the whole train on the right hand side of the direction of travel (Lord knows what happened at reversals and country station single platformed terminals). The LNWR system had the cord connected to a whistle on the loco cab roof. The GWR rule book requires each Guard to carry his own clockwork clock for the cord as part of his equipment in his bag (along with Rule Book, flags, whistle, lunch, etc!)
The BoT Inspectors assertion that the cord was made of hemp that rotted and wore out too often strikes me as a little odd. Surely, the railways, looking to reduce costs, would have found a longer lasting method such as waxed linen? Certainly, in our repro system at Quainton we are more likely to use a longer lasting material for expediency.
Tony Lyster, the enquirer, is heavily involved with a number of heritage railway projects, including the LNWR Picnic Saloon; he has kindly offered to make available a copy of Mr Pollitt's half page description and his single paragraph assassination of its 7 Achille's Heels and the drawing, requests via the undersigned please. He will continue to monitor the Forum for responses.
jim mac
jim mac
Posts: 636
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:20 pm

Re: Passenger cord communication

Post by jim mac »

A copy of the paper previously discussed has now been received from Mr Lyster
Inter-Communication.pdf
(134.97 KiB) Downloaded 341 times
jim mac
Barry Rhys
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:25 am

Re: Passenger cord communication

Post by Barry Rhys »

Firstly my thanks to Tony Lyster for taking the trouble to share the information above and the extracts from Pollitt's book. My apologies too for the delay in writing this response.

I suspect that the information contained in Pollitt's 50-page "answer to a question" (sounds like one of my posts above) pretty much eclipses that found by me by delving in the somewhat limited resources available to me at this time. In particular I think the date of Pollitt's publication, June 1892, would enable a much clearer picture of the cord communication system's operability in use compared with that provided in Capt. Tyler's Penrith and Blisworth incident reports of 1871. It is almost inconceivable that no at least incremental improvements in details of the system would have been made in the intervening 20 years, although possibly more for economical reasons on the part of the railway companies than for purely safety improvement. So the use of hemp for the cords as being "upon the whole the most satisfactory material" described by Capt. Tyler (closely followed by several reasons why it appears to be a most unsatisfactory material!) may well have been history by the time of Pollitt's writing.

Similarly I can imagine that the form of the connectors at either end of the cord changed significantly based on operational and manufacturing experience. In the beginning maybe an open hook and corresponding eye at opposite ends of a cord were the first connectors, with little consideration of shape and size relative to, for example, the diameter of the cord. However it would not be difficult to design a closed sprung hook that connects to an identical closed sprung hook on the end of an adjacent cord instead of to an open eye, hence making the cord reversible and at the same time requiring manufacture and stocking of only one connector component instead of two. The fitting at the end of the coach to which an unconnected cord would be attached (ie. as shown in both of the Caley coaches above) could then be a simple ring for both cord ends. The hooks could also be designed to be no larger than the diameter of the cord, which may ease the threading of a cord through the rings at the coach gutter without snagging - which could even be a reason why the connectors appear so difficult to make out in contemporary photographs. Clearly all these possibilities are simply conjectural, and unless some dated and identifiable drawings, or even original connectors, are found then they will probably remain so. It would be great to see a restored coach with a communication cord fitted though, even if the connectors are based on estimation rather than hard evidence. I think the rings and the cord would be the most noticeable items deserving of comment.

I'll finish by saying that seeing Tony's unexpected contribution has motivated me to gather up my hidden notes to finish off the story as I had intended, though hopefully in a much more concise style - perhaps more as a timeline leading up to the changeover from the cord communication system to the passenger activated emergency braking system. Expect Part 3: The Decline and Fall at your local cinemas shortly.

Neil
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
Barry Rhys
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:25 am

Re: Passenger cord communication

Post by Barry Rhys »

Passenger communication cords (3)

Here are some snapshots of events connected in some way with the development of cord communication until their phasing out around the end of the nineteenth century.

1874: Shipton-on-Cherwell accident, 24th December 1874
34 passengers were killed in a derailment of a GWR London - Birkenhead express at speed caused by a carriage tyre fracture. The Court of Enquiry report of the Board of Trade (here) was extremely critical of the company's lack of provision of sufficient brake power for the very heavy train, in particular the fact that the GWR had apparently ignored all attempts from the BoT to require such provision to be carefully calculated and controlled by the railway companies. The Inspector comments on the failure of communication between guard and driver, and describes in detail the GWR's continuing use of Harrison's communication cord system in spite of the Board's withdrawal of its authorisation.

The report and its appendices go into great detail about the application and shortcomings of the cord system; however more than this the report perfectly illustrates the conflict between the BoT and the railway companies in their respective roles. One appendix contains the evidence of the General Manager of the GWR, a Mr. Grierson, who quite vehemently attacks the BoT for its withdrawal of approval for the cord system without any other practical alternative being available (including also the General Manager's disparagement of the alternative Board-approved electrical communication systems) to meet the 1868 Act's statutory requirements. The General Manager continues his attack on the Board's lack of practical knowledge and experience with regard to the controlling factors for brake power provision. Mr. Grierson has a way of making his arguments seem so technically obvious, practically reasonable and indeed supportive of the safety of the passenger that it is easy to see what the Board was up against. Definitely recommended reading!

1890: Dunphail accident, 27th April 1890
Nobody was killed and only one passenger was injured in this derailment on the Highland Railway south of Inverness of a nighttime down passenger train from Perth, again caused by a failure of a carriage wheel (BoT report here). The total lack of any communication apparatus on this train in direct contravention of the statutory requirement (the train travelled a distance of 23½ miles from Blair Atholl to Dalwhinnie without stopping, ie. more than the statutory limit of 20 miles) was deemed to be a contributory factor to the accident as passengers had become aware of the wheel failure and had attempted to find a bell-cord during the 3 miles for which the train crew had continued to proceed unaware of the breakage.

This accident report possibly contributes a little to the background knowledge in that, while relating the absence of any means of passenger communication in clear breach of the law, the inspector Major Marindin states that "if there had been a communication cord it is very improbable that the train would have run for three miles before being stopped." Should this be taken to mean that the use of Harrison's cord would now (ie. in 1890) be considered to comply with the Act's requirements? In which case, I wonder whether the cord system had again received an official approval by the BoT at some time after the withdrawal thereof in 1873, or whether the Board simply no longer deemed the continuing fight against use of a non-approved system to be worthwhile.

Also notable is that according to the evidence of the train's regular guard this particular Highland Railway scheduled train never ran with a communication cord. Whether this is representative of a prevailing floutation of rules on this particular railway, or in a geographical region, or type of train, or even generally, cannot be known simply from its mention in one accident report; but the Major's reporting does not exactly make the event sound extraordinary.

1890-1899:
(Following sourced from Nineteenth Century Railway Carriages by C. Hamilton Ellis, 1948) In 1892 the Great Western Railway introduced its first corridor train into regular service between Paddington and Birkenhead. The train featured a new system of passenger communication in the form of a taut wire stretched along the gutter rail of each carriage in place of the previous communication cord; pulling on the wire caused a partial application of the vacuum brake to immediately communicate a danger to the train crew who could then take appropriate action.

Having described this particular GWR configuration, Hamilton Ellis later addresses the background thereto and writes that the concept of giving passengers access to the continuous brakes to meet the passenger communication requirements of the Railways Act was provisionally approved by the Board of Trade in 1890. To quote his version of events: "Approval was confirmed in 1893 and the arrangement was taken up by the Cambrian Railways, Furness Railway, and Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. In an early form it was operated by a handle which opened a valve in the train pipe, still employed on electric underground trains. A committee of the Railway Clearing House Superintendent's Conference, in a report of April 1899, recommended the general adoption of such systems, with inside operation, and for many years now it has enjoyed universal application on British mainline railways, with the familiar piped chain inside the carriage over the windows on each side."

Unfortunately it is unclear from Hamilton Ellis whether the GWR's specific configuration of an external taut wire attached to the brake system itself ever received Board approval, and whether this external wire arrangement was the one implemented by the Cam Rys, FR and MS&LR or whether they implemented the abovementioned handle operated system. No further details of the handle operated system are supplied (are there any readers here who were familiar with the Underground in 1948?!), and I have not come across further references thereto in my limited research. Hamilton Ellis does not give any sources for his information.

Certainly the stated RCH committee recommendation of April 1899 fits with Lacy & Dow's quote from Midland Railway Carriages Vol.1 that "On 21st September of that year [1899] it was reported that agreement between the railway companies had been reached on the standard means of communication between passengers and the train crew; this was to be achieved by the partial application of the air or vacuum brake. In mid-1900 the Carriage & Wagon Committee was asked to fit the equipment on Midland carriages, but progress was slow because the manufacturers had been overwhelmed with the demand from all the railways."

It would be interesting to know more about the motivating reasons for the railway companies' acceptance and implementation of this system at that time. At least the concept of passenger-activated brake application can hardly be considered 'new', having been approved in 1893 as detailed by Hamilton Ellis above. From an economic viewpoint, the new system would enable much more flexible operation and interchange of carriages between companies as each carriage contained its own integral safety apparatus, irrespective of orientation or the apparatus of other carriages, and would make unnecessary all the messy connecting and adjusting operations of the continuous communication cord. On the other hand, the internal chain and brake connecting valve apparatus would require investment and possibly higher manufacturing costs for new carriages, plus the likely expense of retrofitting carriages (or restricting their use to trains outside the statutory requirements - eg. those not travelling more than 20 miles between stops) at a point in the future when use of the existing cord apparatus within a train was no longer possible.

Sometimes though, just as the continuing use of the archaic cord system probably had more to do with the influence of the titled owners and boards of the railway companies than any regard for safety of the travelling passenger, some social or political event may have a large influence on actions above and beyond pure technical or financial considerations. In the newspaper article provided earlier by Jim MacIntosh related to the death of David Fenwick, the Caledonian driver killed in June 1898 when in charge of Queen Victoria's train due to his actions in trying to adjust a twisted communication cord on his tender, the Perthshire Advertiser's reporter refers to Queen Victoria's continuing concern for Fenwick's family and quotes a message sent by Sir Arthur Bigge at Windsor Castle to Mr. Irvine Kempt, general superintendent of the Caledonian Railway, stating that "The Queen is anxious for news of Mrs Fenwick's health, and how she has borne the terrible shock of her husband's death. If you have ascertained any further particulars as to how the accident occurred, please write me." I say, Mr. Kempt, just what are you doing to alleviate Her Majesty's suffering?

Possibly the influence of this event, or maybe even some action on the part of representative associations of locomotive drivers or railwaymen, might have motivated the railway companies to look more speedily at a solution.

That is obviously pure conjecture. The actual introduction of the internal chain system to new carriage construction and dates thereof, at least as far as the Caledonian is concerned, has I think been very satisfactorily answered through Jim Guthrie's earlier contributions regarding the 48' corridor stock drawings of 1899 and 1900.

Any further information or comment would be extremely welcome.

Neil
Last edited by Barry Rhys on Sat Mar 29, 2014 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
dumb buffer
Posts: 519
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:13 pm

Re: Passenger cord communication

Post by dumb buffer »

In about 1905 or 1906 Neil Munro wrote in his Para Handy series about Hurricane Jack ("The Complete Gentleman"), who, having come into some money, determined to spend it as excitingly as possible.
"He took the train to Edinburgh. It was an express, and every noo and again he would pull the chain communication with the guard. The train would stop and the guard would come and talk with Jeck....."
Later " 'It's five pounds o' a fine for pullin' the cord' said the guard.
" 'That's only for the wan cord; I pulled the two o' them' said Jeck, quite nice to him: 'first the port and then the starboard. You canna be too parteecular. There's the money and a shilling extra for a dram'
"The guard refused the money, and said he would see about it in Edinburgh, and the train went on. Jeck pulled the cords till he had them all in the cairrage wi' him, but the train never stopped till it came to Edinburgh, and then a score o' the offeecials came to the cairrage.
" 'What are you doin' with them cords?' they asked.
'Here they are, all coiled up and flemished down', said Jeck, lightin' another cigar, 'When does this train go back?' and he hands them over a bunch o' notes, and told them never to mind the change"

I wouldn't for a moment suggest that this is serious history, but it's entertaining, and it's contemporary.

For those who don't know the Para Handy stories, I very strongly recommend them, particularly how they stole a sheep at Catacol. The television films were a poor imitation.

Allan F
Post Reply