Monday, 11 November 2013


The Electric Brae

A  first  class  lounge


The White Swan Inn at Alnwick in Northumberland boasts a very fine dining room within its portals.   The first class lounge from the S.S Olympic, 1910-1936, (twin ship to the legendary S.S Titanic), is reconstructed within the White Swan.  When the Olympic was broken at Jarrow in 1936, the fixtures and fittings were sold off in lots, and the owner of the White Swan who had often travelled on the ship, bought the lounge and other fittings for just £40.




Robinson  Crusoe


A very fine statue is to be seen above the doorway of a small cottage in Main Street, Lower Fargo in Fife.   An inscription reads :

‘ In memory of Alexander Selkirk, mariner, the original Robinson Crusoe,

who lived on the island of Juan Fernandez in complete solitude

 for four years & four months.

He died in 1723, Lt. Of HMS Weymouth, aged 47 years.’

Selkirk was born in the cottage in 1676.   In 1694 he was employed as sailing master on board ship bound for the south seas.  Due to dissension between the Captain and crew and a feeling that the boat was not seaworthy, Selkirk asked to be put ashore and was marooned with just his basic belongings.

His story inspired Daniel Defoe to write his celebrated book, Robinson Crusoe.




Tay Bridge Disaster

The Tay Railway Bridge some two miles in length and built in 1883-1888 is the successor to the ill-fated original bridge carrying the main line between Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The original bridge was blown down in a gale in 1879 whilst a train with six carriages was crossing and with heavy loss of life.

The original bridge had been complete in 1878 to the design of Thomas Bouch who was responsible for the construction and maintenance of the bridge and he was knighted for his work shortly after Queen Victoria had used the bridge, At that time it was the longest bridge in the world.

When the bridge collapsed it was thought that some 75 people were on the train and there were no survivors.

A Court of Inquiry found that the fall of the bridge was occasioned by the insufficiency of the cross bracing and its fastenings to sustain the force of the gale. Bouch died within a year of the disaster his reputation in tatters.

The disaster is one of the greatest bridge failures and is still one of the worst structural engineering failures in the UK.



A  railway tragedy
Two gravestones in the churchyard of St John the Baptist at Bromsgrove in Worcestershire tell their own story :
‘ Sacred to the memory of Thomas Scaife, late engineer on the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway, who lost his life at Bromsgrove Station by explosion of an engine boiler on Tuesday the 10th of Nov. 1840.  He was 28 yrs of age, highly esteemed by his fellow workmen for his many amiable qualities, and his Death will be long lamented by all those who had the pleasure of his acquaintance.  The following lines were composed by an unknown friend as a memento of the worthiness of the deceased.
‘My engine now is cold and still, No water does my boiler fill.
My coke affords its flames no more, My days of usefulness are o’er.
My wheels deny their noted speed, No more my guiding hands they need.
My whistle too has lost its tone, Its shrill and thrilling sound has gone.
My valves are now thrown open wide, My flanges all refuse to guide.
My clacks, although once so strong, Refuse to aid the busy throng.
No more I feel each urging breath, My steam is now condens’d in death.
Life’s railway’s o’er each station’s pass, In death I’m stopp’d & rest at last.
Farewell dear friends and cease to weep, In Christ I’m safe in him I sleep.’
This stone was erected at the joint expense of his fellow workmen 1842.
‘ Sacred to the memory of Joseph Rutherford, late engineer to the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway Co. who died Nov 11 1840 Aged 32 yrs.
O’h! Reader stay, and cast an eye, Upon the grave where I lie.
For cruel Death has challenged me, And soon alas! Will call on thee.
Repeat in time, make no delay, For Christ will call you all away.
Mt time was spent like Dew in Sun, Beyond my cure my glass is run.
This stone was erected by his affectionate relict 1841.
The Train
DARLINGTON is an engineering and railway town in the Tees Valley.

Sited at Morton Park alongside the A66 road at Darlington, is a huge sculpture, loosely based on the famous steam train, The Mallard and used 185,000 bricks at a cost of £750,000 to build.  Commissioned in 1997, by Morrison’s Supermarkets and Darlington Council and supported by lottery and other funding, this 120 feet long sculpture was designed by David Mach, to commemorate the world’s first scheduled railway service between Darlington and Stockton.   It is a major feat of design and engineering depicting a steam train emerging from a tunnel in the hillside, and was so constructed as to be a suitable habitat for bats.

The highest Railway Station

A  railway  snowplough
A rather unusual  railway snowplough can be seen in a siding at Goathland Station on the North York Moor Railway.
Railway bench
A relic from the time when railway excursions brought hoards of visitors to the sea-side at Scarborough is a railway bench.   It stretches along the platform for some 90 yards and is the longest station bench in the country.



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