It is an arresting image, the volcanic Dugald Drummond standing at a lectern, sober-suited and grave as any Elder of the Kirk, delivering a veritable sermon on the importance of economy in the working of the steam locomotive, before a subdued “congregation” of footplate staff. The 12 lectures in Drummond’s name were said to have been delivered at Nine Elms, Southampton, Salisbury, Exeter, Yeovil, Portsmouth and Guildford. Even read at racing commentary speed, each would have taken at least an hour to deliver. Were these “one off” events, and were all delivered by Drummond in person? It would be nice to think that we are getting a hint of Drummond’s own voice in these words but I do not think we are. There are no traces of educated Scots English usage, like “outwith” for “without”. If Drummond dictated the text for the lectures to an amanuensis then some polishing took place before the final version was arrived at.
Were the lectures given during “paid” time? It seems unlikely, more probably men were “invited” to attend when off duty, a hint being given that names of those attending would be noted. Drummond died in 1912, much feared as a strong disciplinarian, but much respected too. He was always “The Old Man”, while his successor was just “Mr. Urie”. Not surprising therefore that the LSWR continued to use his wise words to educate staff. Drummond did the Company a disservice, by refusing to countenance the single biggest improvement in steam locomotive technology in decades – superheating – which he would not adopt at any price.
It was Robert Urie who adopted this technology for LSWR locos, designing his own superheater, carefully avoiding infringement of Schmidt and Robinson patents. Urie’s version, modestly called the “Eastleigh ” superheater was patented in 1914. The lectures contributed by Urie to the book cover this and the early stages of something which was about to change the face of the LSWR for ever – electrification. I have always wondered what the interior of rotary convertor looked like !
PREVIEW BELOW – MAY TAKE A WHILE TO LOAD.