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Scammell Mechanical Horse


The Unit looks pretty-well complete, but there is some mechanical work yet to be done. Not much further work has been carried out recently, but the onset of poor weather will doubtless drive us inside, so the Scammell and the Thornycroft will both benefit!


During the September Gala we were boxed in to the Storage Shed as the car park was already full to capacity when I arrived on Friday afternoon. The intention was to drag out the Scammell for public display, but this was not possible. A shame, as I would like to have had it on display again. However, Paul Fathers, who was one of the joint owners of both the Scammell and the Thornycroft before ownership was transferred to 'The Friends', called in to see progress and was very impressed. He was also really disappointed that the lorries were not on display, but there is always the gala next spring...



Taking a Look Back


The November 1933 edition of the Great Western Railway Magazine contains an article by C. Lock, appropriately enough, on the introduction of Standard Time.


Prior to the introduction of railways, travel was so slow that the difference in the 'local' time at places passed through on a journey east or west was unnoticed. As the railways extended across the land, however, bringing towns and communities within hours instead of days of each other, the difference was not only noticeable but decidedly confusing.


The need for a systematic plan of Standard Time was felt chiefly in America. While in Britain the railways were run by Greenwich time, it was not to be expected that railways in the middle or western states of America would adopt Washington time, differing by several hours from 'local' time. Hence each American railway company had its own time, or in cases of longer lines, several different time zones, and great confusion arose at overlapping points. It was estimated that in 1880 there were some eighty different standards of time in use by the American railway systems – a state of affairs which made a long rail journey awkward and very complicated.


A Scottish engineer and publicist, Sir Stanford Fleming, brought about a plan which divided the world into zones, in each of which a uniform time would operate.


Fleming had emigrated to Canada in 1848 where he was responsible for engineering the construction of much of the Canadian Pacific and other lines. He could, no doubt, see at first hand the problems caused by the lack of Standard Time. In 1878 he brought forward his scheme for dividing the Earth into twenty-four time zones. After much discussion the scheme was adopted on Sunday November 19th, 1883.


The zones are divided by standard meridians running north to south, like divisions of an orange, and are fifteen degrees apart in longitude, starting from Greenwich. Each zone has a standard uniform time which changes by one hour when passing from one zone to the next.


Britain the variation in 'local' times was experienced principally by the Great Western Railway, there being a difference of over twenty minutes at places at the extreme west of England. The Great Western had adopted Greenwich time as its standard early on and an example of a timetable printed in 1840 contained a note as follows:–


'London Time' is kept on all the stations of the Railway, which is about 4 minutes earlier than Reading time; 5½ minutes before Steventon time; 7½ minutes before Cirencester time; 8 minutes before Chippenham time; 11 minutes before Bath and Bristol time and 14 minutes before Bridgwater time.


The Bradshaws Timetables of the day contained a map ruled with meridian lines at every 1¼ degrees of longitude, for every five minutes of time from Greenwich, so as to show at a glance the difference between local time and Greenwich.


There is no evidence to show from where or by what means Paddington was able to check its time with Greenwich, in the earliest days the time would be carried by the Guard of the train, but presumably the time was passed down the line from the very start of the electric telegraph, which the Great Western Railway was the first to install. In 1839 this was in operation between Paddington and Hanwell, and by the end of 1852 the telegraph wires were up to Swindon, Gloucester, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Birkenhead, and throughout South Wales.


In that year the direct communication of correct time was introduced. A general order dated 30th October 1852 informed operators that "commencing on November 1st the hourly signals will be transmitted at stated times, and the operators are warned to keep the lines clear for two minutes preceding the hour and to watch for the signal to check station clocks."


The order goes on to say "You are at liberty to allow local clock and watch makers to have Greenwich time, providing such a liberty shall not interfere with the Company's services etc."


It will be seen, therefore, that by developing the telegraph systems as the railways grew and expanded, and by using Greenwich time throughout their systems, the railways facilitated, as well as necessitated, the introduction of Standard Time.


There is no other industry to which time is so vital a factor as the railways, and as the whole of their services to the public are built upon time schedules, the maintenance of a correct and universal time is of paramount importance. As towns, industries and communities developed in the wake of the railways, they relied almost entirely upon the railways for their transport needs. Consequently railway time was the time around which communities moved and lived, and would quickly become universal.


The signal by which, to-day every watch and clock throughout the Great Western Railway system is set is sent out from Paddington at 10 o'clock every morning. It comes from Greenwich via the Post Office telephone lines and is instantly flashed throughout the system. All lines of communication are kept clear for the purpose two minutes before the signal is due, just as in 1852. Time takes precedence, and all other communications occupying the line must stop for it.


As if designed to show the communication working to its maximum extent, at Penzance, the 'Cornish Riviera Express' is timed to leave at 10 o'clock precisely. Here the telegraph clerk stands at the door of the office and when the time signal comes through, blows into a horn which is the signal for the guard to give the engine driver "right away".

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