Tuesday 16 August 2011

Delving into Dagenham Dock [outtakes]?

Bits missed out from the recent mini-series.

Disaster at Dagenham Dock: 18th December 1931:-  

The 9.25 p.m. down passenger train, Fenchurch Street to Southend via Tilbury, travelling at 25 to 30 miles an hour, in dense fog, collided with 10 stationary wagons and a brake van, the rear portion of the 6.53 p.m. down freight train, Brent to West Thurrock, which had become divided as the result of the breakage of a draw-bar.

 It is estimated that there were some 250 passengers in the train, and I regret to report that one (who was probably travelling in the leading coach) and the guard of the freight train..., were killed. Ten passengers were seriously injured; and, with 23 others, were detained in Old Church Hospital. In addition, 51 other passengers and one of the Company's servants (travelling as a passenger) suffered from shock and minor injuries.

The full report can be read here.

The passenger train was similar to this.

Ford's Ferroequiniolical Feast.

Of course, Ford's works, adjacent to Dagenham Dock railway station and originally served by another tranche of beautiful red buses, had its own train set. Apart from big trains whizzing around the country with trucks full of bits of motor car, as here in 2005, ...
... Ford's operated its own locomotives including this delightful Pecket tank.
This sort of chuffer train was superseded by traditional diesels, similar to those operated on the big railway ...
... but the hero of the day is this beast, dating from the 1930s ...
... and believed to be the first diesel electric loco ever operated in GB. Fortunately it is preserved, seen here on the Kent and East Sussex Railway at Rolvenden.
So that's just a fraction of the fascination at Ford's.

Misjudged Modernisation Memory.

Just half a mile or so west from Dagenham Dock is (or, more correctly, was) Ripple Lane Marshalling Yard. Built as part of the ultimately doomed railway modernisation plan of the mid 50s.
It was further "upgraded" in the early 60s ...
... but suffered an inexorable slow death as wagon-load freight faded from the railway's economy and moved to the roads. Today the site is stripped almost bare of its huge fan of sidings to make way for a container terminal.
Still in use, but looking decidedy empty when this aerial shot was taken. Despite the emptiness, the site is still trading as below.
But much of this internal GB "box" trade (Dr Beechings "Liner Train" concept) now travels all the way by road and container traffic is concentrated on deep water ports like Felixstowe and Southampton.

fbb wonders how long it will be before the Ripple Lane site is a new housing estate, complete with retail park and multi-screen cinema. The clattering of shunted trucks will be a long lost memory as road traffic seizes up all over our green a pleasant land. (Cue orchestra playing "Jerusalem" accompanied by a massive 1000 voice choir.)

It does you good to have a real super sulky grump every now and again.
"It's being so cheerful as keeps me going." catchphrase of Mona Lott played by Joan Harben on the radio programme ITMA (It's that man again!") starring Tommy Handley.

Next blog : due Wednesday August 17th  

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