Cover

“Per Rail” – Transportation is the Life Blood of Commerce. Knapp Drewett and Sons, for the Great Central Railway,1913.[ebook]

£4.55

Hard cover book in pictorial boards, pp240. Scores of B&W photographs, plans and other illustrations, including some early works by a young Italian artist, Fortunino Matania, who would soon achieve fame as a War Artist with his cover pictures, in various media, for “The Sphere” magazine.

Product Description

This very scarce publication describes, and illustrates in detail, how an Edwardian railway handled all classes of freight traffic, from coal to fresh fish – locomotives, rolling stock, depots, warehouses, docks, cranes, shunting, manually and by capstan, staff and uniforms, also road collection and delivery services. A “must read” for anyone interested in the history of the Great Central, or for railway modellers seeking to accurately represent the working of a pre Great War railway.

It was in part a celebration. Just over a decade earlier, financially exhausted by the cost of extending the line to London, few would have predicted that the Great Central would provide fast express sevices, using carriages amongst the most comfortable in the Kingdom, through trains between the NE and SW parts of the country, run 60 mph fish trains with automatic brakes, build a vast marshalling yard at Wath-upon-Dearne, and a new port on the Humber.

Per Rail” is probably the most sumptuous publication ever issued by as British railway to promote its services. Every aspect is of the highest quality – paper, type setting, presentation of illustrations, layout design and binding. It was in part a celebration. Just over a decade earlier, financially exhausted by the cost of extending the line to London, few would have predicted that the Great Central would provide comfortable passenger services, including, through trains between the NE and SW parts of the country, woulde run 60 mph fish trains with automatic brakes, build Wath -upon- Dearne mardhalling yard for the efficient handling handling of millions of tons of coal traffic to London, or for export; the exports went through a large modern port, which the GCR had built at Immingham, complete with coal bunkering equipment, graving docks and a passenger station for steamer services to the Continent. The GCR was also in the fore front of other technical developments, including power operated and colour light signalling.

Although the GCR was still unable to pay a dividend on its ordinary shares, it was a remarkable achievement, by a first class team of officers and managers, led by Chairman Sir Alexander Henderson and newly knighted (at the opening of Immingham Docks) General Manager, Sir Sam Fay. Henderson, a brilliant financier and businessman, with extensive interests in South America , steered the GCR through some very shallow financial waters, while Fay, one of the outstanding railway managers of the age, provided the ideas and the flair. One imagines being a fly on the wall

at a GCR board meeting. Fay has just announced his latest scheme, and a quiet plaintive voice from an elderly Director is heard “But where is the money to come from?”

There is a murmur from the others, studiously avoiding the Chairman’s eye. Sir Alexander has worked miracles before… hopefully he will do so again!

The year 1913, marked by “Per Rail”, and with revenue increasing from the capital investments showed the GCR viewing the future with optimism. Sadly, it was not to last. On 4 August 1914 the Great War broke out. The export coal market collapsed and the port of Immingham, with the company’s steamers were immediately requisitioned by the Admiralty.

In 1883, a young clerk on the London & South Western Railway at Kinston-on-Thames, realising that promotion depended not just on ability, but being known to the right managers, wrote and published, at his own expense “A Royal Road” the history of the LSWR, and as a result, was appointed to a post in the head offices at Waterloo. Designed printed and bound by the local Kingston firm of Drewett, it was a handsome little publication, bound in blue cloth, with an embossed gilt design on the cover. Move on 30 years and the clerk is now the newly knighted Sir Sam Fay, and wants a prestigious publication to mark over a decade of achievement by his railway, and to promote the extensive range of freight services which the company provides. The Kingston printer is now Knapp, Drewett and Sons, with a large works in London additional to the Kingston premises. They were awarded the valuable contract to print and publish “Per Rail”.

Sam Fay had a long memory

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