Luckily for Bruce

Luckily for Bruce many makers of goods wagons kept photographic records of the wagons they had built and sold to private traders.  Once the wagon was delivered and was despatched onto a railway company, the Railway Clearing House had 20,000 staff recording the movements from one railway company to another as it wended its way empty to a colliery or brickworks

etc and then returned loaded.  Every movement was recorded so the owner of the wagon could be presented with an invoice for its journeys.  Even running repairs were carried out at approved workshops and details invoiced to the owners.  Railway companies did not like private owner wagons, due to their varying standards of repair and designs.  Dumb buffers were prohibited and proper handbrakes released on both sides of wagon were written into the statute books.  

Bruce’s background is steeped in industrial history, having worked for British Waterways, with a Masters degree in Industrial History; jokingly he describes himself as a qualified anorak!  He enjoys the research and of course making out the colour schemes used; an experienced eye can often decide from a black-and-white print wagon colours.  One company still trading today is Bradford’s the builders merchants based in the Yeovil and surrounding area.  Remarkably they owned over 300 of their own railway wagons and kept very detailed records of their locations.

Derek and I had a most enjoyable masterclass on history on wheels, opening our eyes to a past age familiar to our great-grandparents when coal was the life blood of the nation.  Today with natural gas, electricity, etc the hard manual work of 80 to 100 years ago is buried in the sands of time.  Luckily, thanks to Bruce and Wessex Wagons, it is now recorded as every town and village was dependent on having a station and more importantly a goods yard.  It made us wonder what would happen in 200 years time when the way we live will be the subject of future generations’ curiosity – will computer discs be kept or even be able to be read?  Bus tickets are fast becoming a relic of the past.  Even if you get one, like shop receipts they gradually fade as thermal plastic printers are no longer able to create a permanent image, unlike the print of the Wessex Chronicle!  Many issues of which have been deposited in the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester for future generations to enjoy.©

A Night to Remember

What is claimed as the oldest purpose-built, continuously-operated cinema in the world, the Curzon at Clevedon (above), celebrated its centenary on 20 th April.

Its first screening was a charity event in aid of survivors and relatives of those who died on the Titanic.  Two-thirds of the crew came from Southampton and, of those, 92% drowned, a third of all lives lost.  With the ship having sunk, the surviving crew were discharged by the White Star Line as surplus to requirements and abandoned to fend for them-selves in New York.  The story of Titanic is told in Southampton’s new museum, SeaCity, which opened on 10 th April, 100 years to the day after the ship set sail.  Bath, which supplied the ship’s Stothert & Pitt cranes and some of the furniture, also marked the anniversary.