Private Owner Wagons. Before nationalisation in 1948, it is said that private owners operated over 2 million wagons on the British railway system. The railway companies indeed suppled rolling stock to their customers, but many regular users of freight service found it more efficient and more economical to operate their own fleet. Company owned rolling stock could be held at will at a plant or used for the storage of raw materials. Such wagons could readily be used for materials handling in internal plant operations. Numbers of smartly liveried wagons in a goods train would spoke well of the stability and prosperity of an enterprise. The wagons would serve as high visibility advertisements, ubiquitous mobile hoardings, widely distributed and furnished at a modest cost. Built to very high standards, they had a very long service life. Admittedly, at the end of the post-nationalisation era, wagons might, while remaining safe and functional, sport patches and repair plates, replacement staves of raw lumber, and a different pattern of wheel at each axle end.
Coal Tar and its Derivatives. The fractional distillation of coal was a key process of the industrial era. At local gas works, coal was heated in iron ovens to drive off coal gas which was then condensed, and a layer of coal tar separated out. The gas was stored in gasometers for distribution, and employed as a power source for industry, and also used for domestic heating and lighting. The coke which remained was a valuable source of fuel and of carbon for the steel industry. The coal tar proved to be a valuable raw material with many uses in its raw state, and which yielded, upon further processing, a wide range of chemicals and lubricants.
Upon further distillation by secondary processors, the primary coal tar distillate yielded a number of valuable oils and chemicals including:
All in all, when I.K. Brunel's needed a preservative for his sleepers, his exploitation of coal tar as a source of creosote led to the development of products ranging from aniline dyes to pharmaceuticals, olefin carpeting to tarmacadam, as well as many invaluable industrial lubricants.
The cost of railway equipment in 1935. According to the bulky two-volume work: "Railway Wonders of the World," edited by Clarence Winchester and Cecil J, Allen, and published by the Amalgamated Press (London) in the late 1930's, the cost in Britain of rolling stock was as follows:
A Comment. As we find more of this highly informative mind-clutter we will add it. For example we may tell the tale of the burial (alive, so to speak, of a Furness Railway Company locomotive on September 22nd, 1892. We might, to raise the tone of this page, publish the poem "The Tay Bridge Disaster" by William McGonagall, the Bard of the Silv'ry Tay. (On his death certificate his name was misspelled: McGonigal — you were warned, this page includes useless information, and now you will never forget how to spell and indeed misspell the man's name.) Nor would you forget his horrible poetry were we to inflict it on you. Oh, why not, here is a sample from "The Ancient Town of Leith"
"And as for the Docks, they are magnificent to see,
They comprise five docks, two piers,
1,141 yards long respectively."