For those who are interested in this sort of thing, the Didcot Railway Centre is having a weekend of Victorian Steamings and events on the Bank Holiday weekend (August 27th-29th), including the replica broad-gauge Firefly.
The reason I mention it is that the GWS have invited my wife and me to attend to re-enact as Victorian Railway Passengers.
Although we will be dressed in Victorian costume, I shall just be in my ordinary, everyday persona of Workhouse Superintendent.
The GWS have also asked me to mention that anyone else who feels like turning up dressed in Victorian costume will be very, very welcome.
We will be there all day on the Sunday and the Monday (assuming there is no crisis at the Parish Workhouse).
You have clearly been peeking at my GWR Modernisation Plan for 1897. As we approach the 20th century, it is obvious that steam locomotives, those nasty, noisy, clanking, smelly things, have to be replaced with something sleeker and more befitting the foremost railway in a nation that leads the world.
I have therefore been working on a strategy to scrap all the steam engines before the end of their useful lives, and replace them with a novel form of traction, the High Speed Treadmill, or HST. These trains will consist of double-decker carriages, with the passengers conveyed in the upper deck (GWR tickets would henceforth be redesignated as "Upper Class"). The lower deck will be occupied by "lower class" inmates from Workhouses to be built at strategic locations along the London to Bristol and Wales main line, such as Old Oak Common.
A continuous traction belt, or treadmill, will run the length of the train, powering all axles. I estimate that 4,500 inmates will be needed to power each HST, and speeds of 1.25 miles per hour might easily be attained. Sufficient fuel will be carried in high-capacity gruel tanks coupled to the rear of the carriages. Suggestions of mounting the tanks below the train have been dismissed as providing unwarranted temptation to the motive power, the proximity of all that lovely gruel causing the inmates to stop treading and start eating, with detrimental effects to timekeeping.
A tilting version of the HST is also proposed. This would involve all the inmates, upon a given command, simultaneously hurling themselves to one side of the carriage as the train approaches a curve. I'm still working on the control mechanism for this. Perhaps we could have small windows on the lower deck, and hang pots of gruel outside the windows on one side of the train, just out of reach.
I feel this strategy would provide many benefits: economic gains to the GWR, the elimination of coal pollution, and keeping workhouse inmates gainfully occupied. Remember, this country will always have an endless quantity of workhouse inmates, and we are also the world's leading gruel producers. The fact that I have several thousand shares in British Nuclear Gruels Ltd has not influenced this strategy in any way.
The very idea of a railway train moving at 1.75 miles per hour is utterly preposterous. Consider the following irrefutable scientific facts:
1) It is scientifically impossible for any physical body in the universe to exceed 1.50 miles per hour while travelling on parallel metal rails. The Theory of Relativity states that any object attempting to do so will be brought to a halt at the next signal, where it shall remain stationery for at least two hours until the junction is clear;
2) Passengers who discovered that they were being conveyed at such insane velocities would become immeasurably over-excited, and any ladies who were travelling in said train would be obliged to loosen their corsets, thus bringing about the complete collapse of civilisation;
3) At such speeds there would be a severe danger of the train overtaking and running down the man with the red flag, thus embroiling the railway in costly litigation and the expense of replacing the flag.
I feel that 1.40 miles per hour will be more than sufficient to demonstrate the engineering prowess of the GWR, and I trust we shall not hear any more of this 1.75 miles per hour nonsense. It is apparent that you have caught wind of my plans for the top-secret Assisted Propulsion Treadmill, or APT, and I may tell you that even employing the most efficient self-condensing apparatus does not permit of methane recoveries to the levels necessary for such precipitious locomotion, especially considering that some good percentage of the methane recovered must be diverted to other essential purposes, such as carriage heating for the upper deck and use for cooking fuel in preparing the 20 course banquet that the GWR routinely provides for all its fare-paying passengers between London and Bristol.
No sir, the methane-fuelled turbines will simply act as a power reserve, keeping the APT moving at constant velocity during the tilt phase when the inmates have hurled themselves to one side of the carriage. Rumours that the LSWR are seeking a patent on the same principle of hybrid power sources in a mixed traffic locomotive to be known as the Class 73 are entirely unfounded.
With regard to the recovery of waste deposits along the track, you should be aware that the Strategic Gruel Authority have allocated a Class 66 broad-gauge wheelbarrow for that very purpose.
Yours etc etc Steve (British Nuclear Gruels: Empowering the Future of Rail Transport)
But surely the twenty course meal provided for all fare paying passengers will greatly increase the methane output and so allow the attainment of high speeds. With the advances in technology that we can expect in the coming years of this 19th. century, the possibility of speeds of at least 1.5 miles per hour should not be gainsaid. They said that man could not fly, but with the forthcoming trials of Sir William Caley's steam powered flying machine, the 'Aerodrome', this statement will be proved to be wrong, as will the statement that a speed of
1.75 miles per hour on rails cannot be attained. Regards, Bill. (from the far distant shores of Empah)
An ingenious notion, and one that has not "passed un-noticed" in the Mechanical Applications Department of the Gruel & Workhouse Railway.
Indeed, it is the reason that all the passengers shall be required to sit facing forwards, so that the train's progress may be assisted by a following wind, hence the methane turbines of which I wrote earlier.
However, I have calculated that even a 20 course meal will only yield enough methane for essential onboard functions. There is the plethora of chandeliers in the ceilings of the ballroom cars, as well as the hot steam for the Turkish Bath car, and now recent legislation requires us to illuminate a high-intensity chandelier on the front of the train, even in daylight.
It might barely be conceivable that some young dreamer, with time on his hands, might construct a ludicrously lightweight conveyance to be launched down a perfectly straight, perfectly flat section of track, in a vain attempt to pass the wind barrier, but here at the MAD we are practical men who have to consider the commercial constraints of our work.
I remain, yours etc etc Steve (Gruel: The Stuff of Legend)
Another ingenious notion, and one that certainly merits consideration. I must inform you, though, that the present plans for the APT have the gas-bags mounted in the usual places, that is upon the roofs of the carriages, where they may be watched by the several brakemen.
You may be interested to know that I have been approached by the English Workhouse Society, who wish to adopt my ideas for novel traction to a series of red and yellow locomotives which would haul freight for general customers throughout Great Britain. Apparently they are expecting a rather large postal order from the Americas to fund this venture.
I have told them not to be ridiculous. The government would never permit any one railway company to operate across the nation. Each company must stick rigidly to its own territory, that is a fundamental law of the universe. It is quite bad enough that we, the GWR, should be tangling with the London & Southampton Workhouse Railway all over the South-West, without a bunch of johnny-come-latelies getting in our way.
I remain, yours etc. etc. Steve (Gruel: The Food of the Gods)
One hopes that with the introduction of the HST and APT that the Hon. Proprieters will approach the Celestial Kingdom to arrange for the manufacture there of minature replicas of these advanced vehicles, the inhabitants of said Kingdom are well known for their ingenuity in the production of knick-knacks and geegaws. Whilst it is realised that at this time there are not many persons interested in obtaining such replicas, no doubt in later years these items will increase in value. One also hopes that when this work is being carried out, that small figurines of the Workhouse Children plying their tasks, and especially of the Workhouse Superintendent and his Lady Wife be available for the delectation of future generations. With Felicitations, Yours etc. Bill.
"Steve W" wrote in message news:430e1ff7$0$22939$ firstname.lastname@example.org...
Once again your perceptive anticipation of my plans does credit to your informants. At this very moment our Voyaging Workhouse, the "Great Eastern" is making its way back from the Celestial Kingdom, bearing several containers of such miniature representations, or "models". These models will be distributed to the workhouse inmates for training purposes, and will at all times remain the property of the GWR. I appreciate that some inmates, leaving the GWR after many glorious years of treadmilling the HST's between London and Bristol, might attempt to purloin said models to help keep alive the happy memories, but I cannot conceive of these models being of any interest to ordinary members of the public, when a ticket on the real thing costs only ninety-eight guineas return.
You mention figurines of the Workhouse Superintendent. The initial trials of the HST and APT are due to take place between Paddington and Didcot this very weekend, with the Royal Inspection of the APT on the specially constructed track running in a circle around Windsor Castle. In modest anticipation of the complete and unbounded success of this venture, the GWR Directors have been pleased to issue a Press Release which commemorates a few of my notable achievements.
I most earnestly commend this page for your approbation.
You mention that the models will be distributed to workhouse inmates for Training Purposes. I trust you will instigate a programme of Harsh Discipline to ensure that only the Correct signalling, marshalling, timetabling &c, procedures, as imposed by his Magnificent Worshipfulness Sir Steven, are followed. It is most Vitally Important for their Moral and Spiritual welfare that they be Birch-Whipped should they fail even in the merest minutae of those most Sacred duties. I can only call for the reintroduction of Public Floggings and Beheadings for those that blaspheme by desecrating their models in the livery of Other, Lesser, Railway Companies.
I beg to report that at today's trials of the prototype HST at Didcot, the results were not quite all that we had hoped for.
However, I am able to provide a small pictorial record, which features the delectable and log-suffering Lady W, who had volunteered to be the first passenger on the revolutionary super-train. Naturally I gave her a ticket at concessionary rates. Even a Workhouse Superintendent has *some* heart. And I'm on a promise of a glimpse of her ankles.
'Log-suffering'? Does that mean that she cannot get onto the internet? In re Workhouse Sup'd't and his good lady, the w.s. has a most elegant weskit, but where is the fierce moustache that he can twirl whilst inspecting the inmates? His good lady certainly adds an air of respectability to the scene in comparison with the rude mechanicals in the background. Regards, Bill.
Your correspondent apologises for the unconscionable delay, but begs to advise the esteemed readership that the complete pictorial record of our attendance at the Didcot Victorian Weekend is now available and can be inspected at the offices of the Gruel & Workhouses Railway at the following address:
We are particularly pleased with the following daguerrotype:
By way of a passing note, it seems that the Workhouse Superintendent is wandering around with a Gladstone bag that is clearly marked "W P", and we wonder if anyone can explain the remarkable coincidence to the initials of one gentleman among our readership?
So that's where that damned Gladstone bag has got to. I left it on the Up 'Poona Mail' when I was in Injah, doing my bit for the Civil in '04. Does it still have in it the map in Cyrillic showing details of our railway network on the N.W. Frontier? If so please destroy it, it wouldn't do now to annoy the Tsar by bringing it to public notice. Yr's. in haste, William Pearce.