UK coaling stages in action

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by WesternLancer, 15 Jul 2019.

  1. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Hi - passed the Carnforth coaling stage the other day. Was trying to explain to my travelling companion what it actually was, why it was significant structure and how they worked.

    Found I could not describe it very well to someone with only a very rough knowledge of steam age!

    Anyone know of any vintage you tube type film clips of a large coaling stage like that in action back in the day, showing the process?

    This LMS film shows part of it - but don't think it shows how wagons would be raised to the top to fill up hoppers etc see (2mins 50sec)
     
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  3. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    It's not a given that wagons would be raised to the top - many coaling stages used a skip to lift coal from ground level to the hoppers. This, apparently, made it much easier to get the right grade of coal in the right hopper. No conclusion had been reached on which was preferable before coaling stages became obsolete.
     
  4. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Interesting - thanks
     
  5. neilmc

    neilmc Member

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    One such redundant coaling stage which stood out of use for over fifty years until demolished in 2018 was at Immingham, towering over the flat lands around a bit like Ely Cathedral. So I think Carnforth is the very last traditional BR "tower", although the enterprising NYMR actually BUILT a new one!
     
  6. RichA

    RichA Member

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  7. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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  8. randyrippley

    randyrippley Established Member

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    I've seen a film of Carnforth tower actually in use with the coal being lifted.
    Can't remember the origin of the film - its been some years since I saw it, but it was probably borrowed from the NorthWest Film Archive by a friend. Unfortunately he's no longer around
     
  9. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Different designs by different manufacturers worked in different ways, but the classic one did indeed lift the coal wagons up high. A track alongside had a lifting plate the size of a coal wagon, it was shunted on, secured, and then hoisted the best part of 100 feet up and turned right over, for the coal to fall into the hopper, which held several hundred tons.

    I did read that the delivery of wagonloads of loco coal to the shed might also include a whole wagonload of cast iron brake blocks, and on a wet and dark night the shunter would not notice and this too would be inadvertently hoisted and dumped into the hopper. That was then an interesting logistical problem to deal with, especially as it wouldn't be noticed until the brake blocks started dropping into a loco tender - or until the foreman was missing those blocks.
     
  10. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Or when the fireman found a brake block on the shovel I guess!!
     
  11. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Here's one with a wagon actually in mid-hoist

    https://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=https://i.pinimg.com/originals/3a/dc/19/3adc19296f6fa4e8db83f8acfeb843da.jpg&imgrefurl=https://www.pinterest.com/pin/350717889729205844/&docid=0AXcQkroMSJ2jM&tbnid=SMAmS3gJq368_M:&vet=10ahUKEwir2empsLrjAhWZRBUIHV-hD74QMwhEKAEwAQ..i&w=700&h=890&itg=1&bih=628&biw=1366&q=railway mechanical coaling plant&ved=0ahUKEwir2empsLrjAhWZRBUIHV-hD74QMwhEKAEwAQ&iact=mrc&uact=8

    The GWR didn't go for them, not because of their usual "look at how everyone else does it and then do the opposite" approach, but because Welsh coal is far more liable to breakage into dust if roughly handled, most GWR sheds had a short but steep ramp to propel coal wagons up just above tender height, which made it easy to just tip into the locos. There were normally three or four coal wagons up there.

    The spectacle here was not hoisting a wagon high, but the Pannier Tank shunting the coal drop, normally done mid morning at Taunton. The gradient was about 1 in 8, there was very little siding space to get a run at it, but the shed turn crew were always game. All spotting at the station ceased and everyone assembled at the west end of the platforms. It helped if it was raining. The Pannier, propelling two or three wagons, would suddenly go to full regulator and storm at it, wheels then starting to spin, and might almost but not quite make it, with most impressive sparks from the wheels. Some crews were better at it than others. Back down and try again, eventually just getting over the top, which could even be accompanied by a "Popeye style" display of arm muscles as they made it, and a cheer from the spotters. The coal drop road only went about one wagon length beyond, ending up high in a bufferstop which was notably twisted and bent, where the more exuberant crews had not then been able to pull up in time.
     
    Last edited: 16 Jul 2019
  12. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Thanks - good pics and enjoyed that recollection, superb.

    Sounds like the one still at Didcot is a good example of the design you outline.
     
  13. The Crab

    The Crab Member

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    The GWR didn't go for them, not because of their usual "look at how everyone else does it and then do the opposite" approach, but because Welsh coal is far more liable to breakage into dust if roughly handled, most GWR sheds had a short but steep ramp to propel coal wagons up just above tender height, which made it easy to just tip into the locos. There were normally three or four coal wagons up there.

    As I understand it the wagon was not tipped into the tender/bunker but instead the coal was shovelled into tubs, perhaps containing a couple of hundredweight of coal, which were then tipped into the engine.
     
  14. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    Wonderful post. Please let's have more of these recollections.
     
  15. CarltonA

    CarltonA Member

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    I've got a very dim recollection of coal being replenished somewhere on the ECML. Doncaster perhaps. I can remember being shown two men shovelling coal across to/on the tender, though perhaps it was just being moved forward for accessibility. Were there any coaling stages at the end of platforms? It would have been about 1963.
     
  16. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Unlike the USA, I don't believe there were any en-route coaling stages on main line tracks in Britain. It was preferred to change engines. However, there were a few points where a local shed crew would be assigned to assist in bringing coal forward in the tender of a through express. Doncaster sounds likely; one I read about previously was at Crewe on the Irish Mail, where this was performed; the assistants would also give a heavy charge to the fire and perform other quick tasks, and hopefully bring along a couple of cans of tea for the crew.
     

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