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Edward Thompson: Both sides of the Story. Discussion 2012 - 2019

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

  1. ragl

    ragl Member

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    Of some relevance to the low mileages attained by the A2/2 after rebuilding could well be the standard of repairs given at Cowlairs, Peter Townend mentions this in his book "East Coast Pacifics at Work". He highlights that during 1945 2005 made 8 visits to Cowlairs despite only being rebuilt just 2 years previously, reading between the lines it appears that Mr. Townend was not impressed with the quality of the work undertaken at Cowlairs in this period.....


    Cheers,

    Alan
     
  2. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    But number of visits to work does not indicate how long it was out of action for. And therein lies the problem: that stat in isolation is interpreted negatively. But do we know what the other classes were like? How many visits? How many days in works?

    I can see from the raw data I have that thane of Fife’s total number of days in works and out of use was by no means onerous or particularly poor in 1945 - decidedly average and better than most other classes.

    Is going to works more times but being out of use for less overall time better or worse than one which goes less but stays longer?
     
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  3. ross

    ross Member

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    Simon,
    I worry that you are attempting to use statistical analysis to understand what happened a half century ago. You have an incomplete set of facts, with a great many "known unknowns" and great many more "unknown unknowns".
    Are you not aware that successful statistical analysis requires that you have the conclusion already at the outset. Then it is simply a matter of highlighting relevant numbers which appear to justify said conclusion. That seems to be what consultants do, anyway.
    Ross
     
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  4. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps someone who is familiar with all Cox' works could step in here. "Chronicles of Steam" contains a fair sized section on running costs which would give a good comparison the the LNER data, but its not very good on Stanier and later. Cox says other books cover the later period, but not which ones. Perhaps someone could suggest what would be a good comparison to the LMS data.
     
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  5. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn’t call that successful statistical analysis. What you have described is called ‘spin’ and if you are clever enough to see through it I expect others are too. The LNER kept these stats for very good reasons so there is no reason why modern historians shouldn’t use them as a source, like any other historical records.
     
  6. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Hi Ross. Trying to work out if you are being humorous or not. I will assume you are.

    I am not going to assume a final conclusion at this point.

    However the evidence is pointing me in the direction of several hypotheses. I am sharing that with the wider enthusiast community as it benefits us all to have the discussion, and ultimately learn from it. I certainly have. All of these things are firsts for me - statistical analysis is something I did in a limited way at the Ombudsman service and I am mostly unfamiliar with it.

    So being able to speak to people and learn from their own experiences and see what they think is very useful. I am also happy to share my research which can only really benefit everyone.

    However even an incomplete set of facts can show us some things. The one thing which the raw data, the letters, minutes, memorandums, notes, diagrams and similar clearly show is that Edward Thompson was not over egging the pudding when he claimed there were issues on the LNER. That much is fact.

    It has been widely reported by a number of "historians" that he exaggerated the problems of the P2s to get them rebuilt. The absolute opposite is true, abundantly so. In the debate of whether Edward Thompson was trying to rid the LNER of Gresley or not, the answer is clearly he was not.

    The problems were real, the factors many, and the truth has been shrouded for a long time in much emotive language and some incredibly unkind things being written.

    So whilst we might not have all the facts on certain things, we can definitely say categorically that the LNER had an availability problem. Thompson, Stanier, the Emergency board and several others write about it. There are memorandums giving instructions to depots and works to change their regimes. We have these mileage figures. There's a wealth of information I have collated and it bucks the assumed "truth".

    And I put all of this in the public domain so I can be scrutinised for it. That much I hope is clear. I assume responsibility for my own research and for what I write. If in the end, people disagree with me, that is perfectly acceptable. If I change my views based on new evidence, that should be fair and reasonable to do so.

    I have not gone out of my way to try and decide a conclusion beforehand. The evidence speaks for itself.
     
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  7. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    I took post 2183 to be tongue firmly in cheek, hence giving it a "like"; though a smiley would have helped.
     
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  8. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    I imagine that there's a whole book in comparing and contrasting the maintenance and running costs of the big 4. Whether there's a readership is perhaps another matter!
     
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  9. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    Many years ago, the Regional History of the Railways series took popular railway history away from company/line specific micro-history, into something with much broader focus that placed the railways in their broader context.

    I have yet to see a similar broadening of approach in terms of the locomotives and stock of the railways, where we are still very dependent on a combination of "great man" accounts and "Top Trumps" style accounts of locomotive capabilities, reinforced by the cab rides and timing logs of such as Nock and CJ Allen.

    What interests me about the work that @S.A.C. Martin is doing is how it is trying to get under the skin of the history, to interpret what was really going on within the railways. There is an important niche there, and it seems the records to support it. Whether it confirms or undermines old assumptions is almost irrelevant, but that such research is taking place is heartening.
     
  10. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member

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    Further to my posting 2180, it has occurred to me that the LNER had a great increase in freight traffic during the war also. Despite continued building of V2s and a batch of 25 O2s they lost around 100 O4s to the War Department for overseas use. Things only improved with the loan of WD and the US S160 2-8-0s from 1943 and later the Stanier 8Fs. Pacifics must have been used for freight work which would curtail their mileage. I've certainly seen photos of such unsuitable locos of C1 Atlantic and even the W1 on freight trains.
     
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  11. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Given that there were only 5 P2's it seems to me that anything that made them 'less non standard' would make sense and of course particularly in the conditions prevailing at the time
     
  12. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Most kind. It comes coincidentally on my part, admittedly - for my own interest stems from Edward Thompson as whether history has treated him fairly.

    The source material I have collated absolutely screams “no” at every turn.

    I would be interested to hear from those in the against Thompson camp if the mileage issues influence their thinking in any way.
     
  13. ross

    ross Member

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    Mostly not serious. I am keen to read your Thompson book though, and I hope that you won't become mired in years of ever-deepening, greater-encompassing number crunching.
    It is quite clear from your Thompson work that you aren't going to presume a conclusion. It is a fact though, that if one does presume a conclusion, then once you have sufficient data to support your view, you can stop digging
     
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  14. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    And, of course, quietly ignore all the data that supports any different conclusion.
     
  15. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    It is amazing how easy and how tempting it is to do that...
     
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  16. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Not for me. I think there’s ample evidence to suggest Thompson wasn’t perfect. Or that his decision making was perfect. But it’s the major controversies we need to address and ask questions of.
     
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  17. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    No you can’t, unless you’re a bad historian or a conspiracy theorist. Good writers don’t want to be so easily proved wrong and therefore tend to be more diligent in their research.
     
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  18. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think if @S.A.C. Martin is diligent in his approach, then he's had a reasonable degree of "peer review" of his hypothesis and analysis through this thread, which is a luxury not necessarily available to many amateur authors.

    Tom
     
  19. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    I agree. Actually it is probably possible to say more with several years of data. The only things I conclude from the 1942 data are :

    If those classes of loco were not in the shops or under repair, wash out etc at the shed, they were out on the road. If they were available they were at work. All of them.

    The average time in the shops per shopping event was about 60 days. The cycle time was about 21 months, maybe 18 months for the A4s. In 1942 the average shop time per loco for the P2s was 58 implying that all six of them were in the shops that year. This is a prime cause of the low 34000 utilisation. So a question is whether that was just random chance or something more. If it's random, the 1943 data should show a very low shop time, possibly even zero, and a utilisation up around 45000. If it doesn't show that, bells start to ring.
     
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  20. ross

    ross Member

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    Ok. I'm being sarcastic about business and government statistical analysis which seems often a bit flawed to say the least, but I know, and you know, that such generalisations do contain some truth in a lot of cases. In others, no truth at all.
    The statistical analysis of locomotive utilisation is great, but if one starts to look at some of the "whys" then you end up looking at say, coal production figures, which will be a whole nother lot of stats, or agricultural production. Good year for spuds? what was the weather like in 1943, was there a change in Min of Ag policy....... What was the effect on railways of the bomber offensive in 43-44. Do traffic patterns show an increase of heavy freight from the midlands to Lincolnshire, with no corresponding return loads?
    Trying to piece together a picture of the past(even yesterday) from stats and recorded information could be a very large undertaking. Not saying it isn't worthwhile, mind.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018

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