Monday, August 13, 2012

The Docker's Umbrella

The L&YR built 0-4-0ST, AKA the "Pug", which I blogged about before, was such a versatile shunting engine that it could be found in a number of locations across the railway network. When working in some locations though it had to be modified slightly.

As far as I know there were two main modifications made to these locomotives but today I want to talk about just one of them. As you can see in this photo (lifted from Wikipedia) a metal disc on a pole has been fitted to the front of the locomotive. The disc could actually rotate and would normally have been seen positioned directly over the chimney. The idea being that it would reflect the smoke back downwards onto the engine. In general this seems like a daft idea; you usually want the smoke to clear upwards and out of the way so that you could see where you were going. There was, however, one place where it was desirable to try and keep the smoke from wafting upwards -- Liverpool Docks.

Now I doubt the dock workers really wanted to be surrounded by lots of steam and smoke reflected back down at them, but criss-crossing the docks was the Liverpool Overhead Railway. How do I know that's the reason for the smoke deflectors being fitted, well an information sheet told me so!

Having said previously that I didn't know of any L&YR locomotive ever having been produced in L&YR livery in OO gauge I then came across an eBay auction for just such a model -- a limited edition of just 100 pieces. As you can see from the photo this is the same underlying model as the BR liveried "Pug" I already own. The difference of course is that it's painted in the L&YR goods livery and with the smoke deflector fitted. As I mentioned before the tooling for this model has passed through a number of hands and while the BR liveried version is sold by Hornby this is actually a Dapol model.

Of course I couldn't resist this model and so I placed a bid for it which turned out to be the highest bid so I do now have at least one L&YR liveried model for my layout. Now the purists will notice that there are a couple of problems with this model. Firstly the smoke deflector isn't really in the right place; it should be a lot higher up and the pole should be attached to the top of the chimney. I'm guessing this was done so it would fit in the same polystyrene box as the normal model and in my opinion doesn't really matter. The more glaring inconsistencies are due to the fact that the underlying model represents the engine from the LMS years onwards when it had a number plate fitted to the smokebox door as well as a second sandbox placed on the running plate next to the tool box. Neither of these would have been present on an L&YR liveried locomotive -- which explains why the number plate is blank!

So what did the information sheet that came with this model say about the smoke deflector:
Because a large section of the Liverpool dock lines ran directly underneath the elevated sections of the Liverpool Overhead Railway and the directors of that company felt that undue amounts of smoke, steam, sulphur and other impurities would cause deterioration of the steel decking.

So why did we christen the model the Docker's Umbrella Pug? Because the smoke deflector did indeed look like an umbrella?

No! The reason is that the Liverpool Overhead Railway which ran close to the dockside for miles was a very convenient shelter from the rain for men loading or unloading the ships.
So now you know.

1 comment:

  1. The Dockers' Umbrella also provided dry passage from the docks to the Pier Head where most of the busses and trams had their town terminus.

    A few days ago when I commented about the Overhead Railway on one of your posts I didn't know about this post but had been looking at several books on it. Such memories!