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Edward Thompson: Discussion & Analysis 2012 - Present

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by S.A.C. Martin, May 2, 2012.

  1. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    His hands may well have been tied by the LNER board. Always strapped for cash, I would imagine they would have been only too happy to stay Gresley's hand until the patent expired.
     
  2. Lplus

    Lplus Well-Known Member

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    Gresley would surely still have paid ALE for the equipment, but ALE would not have had to add on the patent fees which they no doubt had to pay to the patent holders. It might have made no financial difference to ALE.
     
  3. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Well-Known Member

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    I believe that that was one of the reasons for the adoption of the vacuum brake instead of air brakes
     
  4. John Stewart

    John Stewart Part of the furniture

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    I'm sure that Gresley would have explained that he could not (in modern parlance) make a business case with the royalty element but once that no longer applied it would be different. Companies are resigned to the fact that the world will be different when their patents expire.
     
  5. John Stewart

    John Stewart Part of the furniture

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    That was why people kept inventing slightly different forms of interlocking in the 19th century.
     
  6. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Just to give a bit of a heads up: I'm trying to get more momentum into making the book feel more like a book and less a list of sources and quotations, I'll be updating on a bi-weekly basis this series on Channillo: Edward Thompson

    Channillo is a pay-per-read website (you get the first chapters free and have to subscribe to read).

    I am not suggesting anyone here pays for reading this work in progress as and when I am able I'll be happy to share PDFs of each chapter by email. The idea is to make it open for debate still without upsetting the apple cart here, so to speak.

    I do want to put on record once more my thanks for everyone who has or does contribute to this thread (whether we agree ultimately or not). I know it sometimes feels like all I am doing is trying to sell my book - assuredly, that's not the case - but this whole development has been an incredible learning curve for me. This is my first long term research project in this vein and I just hope it has some little merit at the end of it.

    I started this thread because I was interested in why Thompson was so dismissed by history. I think I can say honestly researching him has turned me into an admirer of his somewhat, and his machines. Perhaps there's an inevitability of getting close to the subject matter.
     
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  7. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Er Yes! I very much fear it does sometimes when a posting seemingly pops up from no-where.

    Sorry

    PH
     
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  8. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Good god Mr Hitch, do you ever not jump on my posts? :eek::Woot:
     
  9. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    No.

    PH
     
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  10. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Well at least you're consistent, I'll give you that! :rolleyes::)
     
  11. John Stewart

    John Stewart Part of the furniture

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    They just invite that "Wouldn't it be nice" response you old gricer!";)
     
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  12. pete2hogs

    pete2hogs Member

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    I think Gresley could be quite tactless at times. There was an unseemly falling out with Beyer-Peacock over the last batch of B12's.
     
  13. damianrhysmoore

    damianrhysmoore Active Member

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    Do tell. I've not heard that
     
  14. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Same here.
     
  15. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    There's a passage in Bulleids autobiography which gives details on this as it happens.

    The events described bear a remarkable resemblance to events described in Graftons book on Thompson in some instances, albeit from the opposite point of view.

    I'll try and dig out the relevant bits this evening.
     
  16. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    It says "Category: Fiction Book Chapters"
    Pardon????
     
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  17. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Oh dear, should read "non fiction"...
     
  18. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Something I meant to share way back in November last year, but a number of personal things happened and it got thrown to the back of the line...

    I picked up my copy of Steam Days November 2016 eagerly anticipating the article "Sir Nigel Gresley's finest". I imagined there'd be photographs of the usual locomotives, his A3 and A4 Pacifics together with a whole host of his other three cylinder locomotives.

    Yet on pages 34 and 35 appear the LNER's class B12/3 and D16/3. Rebuilt locomotives attributed to Gresley, but in fact having little to do with him other than approval for rebuilding.

    For the design work and rebuilding was in fact carried out by Edward Thompson and his assistant, A.E. English, whilst the former was head of Stratford Works. Peter Grafton writes in "Edward Thompson of the LNER" that "As CME, Gresley was nominally responsible for the rebuild [of 8579] but the work was carried out entirely under Thompson's supervision at Stratford. It is likely that he proceeded under his own initiative with no.8579...the rebuilding of 8579 showed judgement and perception and Gresley was apparently satisfied with the outcome, as he authorised the rebuilding of the class".

    This is further confirmed by Richard Hardy in an article in Steam World in May 1992, where Mr Hardy states "Thompson maintained a drawing office at Stratford which would not normally be involved with Doncaster rebuilds but would play a major role in the design of such rebuilds as the D16/3 and the B12/3, the latter a particularly successful design...handled by Thompson and his people, including A.E. English, his technical assistant".

    Michael Harris' article in Steam Days of October 2000 also gives another side to the B12/3 and D16/3 story, recounting the following: "[regarding the rebuilds] Eric Bannister, who had been junior technical assistant to Gresley, recalled in the book Trained by Sir Nigel Gresley, that when Bert Spencer, Gresley's technical assistant, had registered his disapproval of the B12 being rebuilt with with a round topped boiler, Gresley had retorted "Well I've got to find something to keep Thompson amused!"

    It is a shame that the B12/3 and D16/3, accepted as Gresley rebuilds as they came under his tenure, are not at the very least given some partial attribution to both Edward Thompson and A.E. English. Peter Grafton describes in his book that the two prototype rebuilds of each class were something of a "cloak and dagger affair", "Thompson paid particular attention to the valve modifications [to the B12/3]. A full sized mock up of the valve gear was made and housed in Stratford Works and Mr English relates how he spent many afternoons working out the valve events from the mock up with Thompson enthusiastically turning the handle which operated it".

    It is sometimes difficult to see the wood for the trees. There's several more reported instances like this I have collected.

    One of the issues I have found when collating the material and trying to write on Thompson's work is that of unconscious bias, whether by myself or others. I am trying a different approach this year and taking much of what I have learned in a professional capacity and trying to apply it to my writing on Thompson. It is not easy to be self regulating in this way.

    The above is not an example of this - it was something I wrote in November before I started thinking deeply about my approach to this subject. I will try this year to be more objective and less partisan in my own approach.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
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  19. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Working on my bibliography, I have come across a quotation I haven't used in the book. I have reproduced it below for your own amusements. Make of it what you will!

     
  20. pete2hogs

    pete2hogs Member

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    It's important to remember Gresley had the responsibility, though. Had the rebuilds been failures it is he who would have to account for the waste of momey, not Thompson. There is no evidence that Gresley doubted Thompson's technical judgement - he would hardly have allowed such autonomy if he did. Ill feeling between them seems to be due to their differing priorities rather than personal or technical. It doesn't help that for a long time the writings of and by the Bullieds seem to be taken as gospel - it seems clear that Oliver Bullied had no time for Thompson and vice versa. In fact Thompson had the more responsible job.

    The dispute with Beyer Peacock is documented in "LNER 4-6-0's at work" by Geoffrey Hughes, pages 60 and 61. It includes the text of a letter by Sam Fay which is a masterpiece of politely expresxsed irritation. I've seen a picture of the letter elsewhere but I can't remember in which publication. The argument resulted in court procedings, but the LNER settled out of court.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
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