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Tour of Northern Ireland and Scotland - May 1938:

by Fred Dukes of the Great Southern Railways (Ireland).

This account has been slightly edited.  Unfortunately the original typed document is slightly difficult to interpret in places, so apologies if there are any errors, particularly with regards to place and trade names.  Please email me if you are aware any thing amiss.  Tom Chaffin.

Friday 20th:

Forty-four members left Euston at 3.45p.m. for Holyhead on the Irish Mall on the 20th May 1938.  At Holyhead they boarded the Royal Mall Steamer for Dún Laoghaire and arrived in Dublin, Amiens St. at 8 a.m., 21st May.  Here they were joined by five members from the Great Southern Railways (Ireland).  The party now forty-nine in number, left Dublin for Dundalk by the 9 a.m. ex Amiens Street on the Great Northern Railways (Ireland).  One stop was made at Drogheda, where the English visitors had an opportunity of viewing the famous River Boyne as the train was slowly gathering speed while crossing the famous viaduct.  We were met at Dundalk Works of the G.N.R. (I) by the Chief Engineer, Mr Howden, who conducted us on a tour of the Works.

First we inspected the diesel rail car which is an articulated unit, with the centre bogie fitted as a power unit.  The particular unit inspected weighs 37.5 tons carries 180 passengers and engines develops 120 H.P.  The acceleration being the same as a steam locomotive viz. 0.5 m.p.h.p.s.  The cost of the rail car (nett) being 8.5 pence per train mile.  Leaving the rail car we were shown the Carriage Building Shops where a new dining car was in course of construction.

Special feature of this Car: Gas stoves are adopted, the gas being stored in high pressure bottles underneath the car at 59,000 lbs. (pressure per square inch).  The size of the bottle being the same size as the common oxygen and hydrogen bottles, as used for welding.  Only four of these bottles are required and they store sufficient gas to supply stoves during even the busiest season from Belfast to Dublin and back to Belfast again.  The discharged bottles are removed at Belfast and replaced by charged bottles.  This extra-high pressure gas is only available at Belfast.   The advantages of this system are that there are no reservoirs necessary, as seen on ordinary gas cooker dining cars.  Therefore, reduced air resistance, more room for examiners and repair staff and a less complicated underframe.

Proceeding through the Shops, we saw new buses being built.  These buses are entirely designed by the G.N.R. and everything, with the exception of the engines, are manufactured at the Dundalk Works.  Leaving the Bus Shop, we next inspected the Machine and Engine Repair Shops.

After leaving the Shops we were shown the original railway station and also the Dundalk, Newry and Greenore Line.  After returning through the Running Shed, we said "Good-bye” to our guides and left for the station by two luxury buses, just completed.  We left Dundalk at 1.5 p.m. for Belfast and lunched on the train.

The party, on arrival at Belfast, proceeded to the Royal Avenue Hotel where rooms ware allotted.  At. 4.30 p.m. two buses awaited us and we left for a tour of Belfast.  The route taken: first, we passed by the Albert Memorial, then crossed Queen's Bridge and went direct to Stormont Parliament Buildings, passing Campbell College on the way.  We halted at Stormont to inspect the exterior of the Buildings and Carson's Monuments.  Leaving Stormont we observed on our left Stormont Castle the residence of the Prime Minister (Craigavon).  We drove through the city streets and kept to the road by the River Largan for some distance, then crossed and visited Balmoral District, returning to the Hotel at about 6.30 p.m. when light tea was partaken.  The evening being free, the party broke up into small groups.

Sunday 22nd:

Nothing concerning the party took place until 2.5 p.m. when two Northern Transport Buses met us and took us for a tour of County Down and Mourne Mountains.  After leaving the Hotel we went out via Ballynahinch, Castlewellan and right through the Mountains via Hilltown Bore.  Here we saw some beautiful scenery.  We eventually arrived at our destination, Rostrevor, where a short time was spent before having tea in the G.N.Rly. Hotel.  We left Rostrevor at 5.30 p.m. and proceeded home via the coast, passing Newcastle and Downpatrick.  At Downpatrick a halt was made to inspect the grave of St. Patrick and also the Cathedral dedicated to the Saint.  Here we left at 7.15 p.m. and returned direct to Belfast, arriving at 8 p.m.

Monday 23rd:

Breakfast was at 8 a.m.  We left the Hotel at 9.30 a.m. for Harland Wolff's Ship Building Yards.  Here we were divided into groups of ten each and directed over the Yards and Shops.  About a dozen ships were seen in course of  construction including cruisers for British Admiralty, which we were not allowed near.  We passed along the slips and over the slip on which the ill-fated "Titanic" was born.  After leaving the slips the Shops were visited. Thre we saw cabins, life-boats, and engines all in the course of construction.  We left Harland Wolff's at 12.noon for lunch at the Hotel.

We left the Hotel at 1.30 p.m. for York Road Station L.M.S. (N.C.C.) to inspect their Works.  First we visited the Drawing Offices then the Carriage Shops where some new wagons, coaches and a diesel car were in course of construction.

Diesel Car: One of these cars are built each year and are of the bogie-type, sufficiently horse-powered to draw a trailer.  The running cost of these cars is roughly 7d. per mile.  The Engine Shops were interesting to the loco engineers of the party as there was a new engine of the “Mogul” type under construction.   After leaving the Works we inspected some coaches and dining cars, then we boarded a rail car which took us to the new Loop-line, which was completed In 1934. This new work, including viaducts, results in a direct service to the North of Antrim without reversing at Greenisland.

After spending some time here we proceeded to Monkstown Halt, and returned by the old line to Greenisland which line was now single track and of the branch line status.  At Greenisland the party was shown over the new Signal Cabin which is electrically controlled and was built to replace five other cabins.  We returned to Belfast and immediately proceeded to the City Hall where, at 3.55 p.m., The Lord Mayor, Sir Crawford McCullagh, received the party and welcomed them to Belfast.  Messrs. A.W. Agnew and Headlam replied and thanked the Lord Mayor for this kind reception.  After tea kindly provided by the Lord Mayor, we were conducted over the Building by the Mace Bearer.

In the evening the party went to the Opera House to see Ice Spectacle “St. Moritz"

Tuesday 24th:

Te party left York Road Station by the 9.45 a.m. train for Portrush where we arrived at 11.45 a.m.  We proceeded direct to the N.C.C. Hotel Portrush for lunch and then went by bus to the Giants Causeway where sometime was spent inspecting this famous spot.  Leaving the Causeway we toured through the Co. Antrim Coast via Ballycastle, Cushendun , Cushendall and Glenariff.  Here some beautiful scenery was witnessed, which would compare easily with Switzerland, exempt that Antrim had no snow.  We walked down the Glen at Glenariff and saw the numerous waterfalls.  This was the most beautiful spot on the trip.  We left Glenariff and returned to the coast and passed through Glenarm and on to Larne, where tea was obtained in the Laharna Hotel (L.M.S. N.C.C.).  We left Larne and continued on to Belfast via Carrickfergus where the visitors obtained a splendid view of the Castle there.  On arrival at Belfast we collected our bags and proceeded to the R.M.M.V. “Royal Scotsman" for Glasgow.  After leaving Belfast at 10 p.m. we had the privilege of inspecting the engine room which contained two large eight cylinder diesel engines.  Three small diesel sets drove the D.C. Dynamo.

Wednesday 25th:

The party awoke whilst the boat was running up the River Clyde.  Those who rose early enough were able to ace the new Atlantic Liner No. 552 of Messrs. John Brown, Shipyards.  From this point, right up to Glasgow, there wore numerous ship yards, all busy with plenty of ‘steel’ on the slips.  The boat stopped away down the river down/for the purpose of letting off live-stock and a few passengers, while the remainder stopped on board until the boat moored in Glasgow.  Breakfast was partaken on board at 8 a.m.  This completed an excellent and comfortable passage.

We left the ship at 9.30 a.m. and proceeded direct to the North British Locomotive Works.  First. we were shown over the Drawing Office, then to the new Engine Gang where engines ware we built for Brazil, China and Egypt.  Leaving the Engine Shops we were shown through the Machine and Boiler Shops before finally leaving the Works, we went into the Laboratory and saw the various tests in operation.

First we saw the Buckton tensile testing machine in operation, testing a sample piece of steal. Next we viewed the Izod impact test on a notched sample piece of steel. We also saw the hardness test. This particular test took the form of the height a hard steal ball rebounds after striking the metal. We left the Works after thanking the Chief, Mr. Robinson, and had lunch in the Cadoro Restaurant.

After lunch, at 1.30 p.m. we boarded a double-decker bus and toured Glasgow (North City). We passed by the Cathedral, Botanic Gardens, Kelvin Hall, Fossil Park, Victoria Park, Royal Infirmary and made a halt at St Gorge's Square., where we 'invaded' the City Chambers to see the Lord Provost, Sir John Stewart, who gave us a civic reception. He told us that the Trams, Buses, Gas Works and Electricity Supply being were all municipalised, the result being that everything was at the service for a small charge. –Examples: 6d. per Therm – Gas, 2 d. Maximum Pare - It being possible to cover 22 miles for this cost. Sir John kindly provided tea for the party. Mr. Agnew, our acting President, thanked Sir John for his kind reception, it being very appropriate a Scotchman thanking Scotchman. After being conducted over the Chambers, we completed the tour of Glasgow, this time on the South side of the River and left Glasgow at 4.55 p.m. for Edinburgh.

On arrival at Edinburgh the party was ‘put up’ at the Royal Stuart and Brooklands Hotels in Abercromby Place. Light tea was taken, then we boarded two luxurious buses for a tour of Edinburgh, passing on our way. Murrayfield, Redford, Drakes Glen, the Royal Observatory and entered Holyrood Park. Here we rose high up over the Park and had a splendid view of the district, but unfortunately there was a haze over Edinburgh, which made visibility poor. We arrived back in Prince's Street, Edinburgh after a most enjoyable tour.

Thursday 26th:

 Breakfast 7.30 a.m.  Left Edinburgh for Glasgow by the 9.5 a.m. train. On arrival at Glasgow we were surprised to see a streamlined Loco. No. 4486 "Merlin" at the head of our train. This we had the pleasure of inspecting.

The morning was spent at the L.N.E.R. Works at Cowlairs, looking over methods adopted here compared with other places. We had lunch In the Cadoro Restaurant at 12.30 p.m. Incidentally, "Ca’doro" means "Casa d'oro" or "House of Gold". Afterwards the party broke up to have freedom of the Empire Exhibition. The best way to talk about the Exhibition is to give my own Impression and tour.

I entered at Paisley Road and in front of me were the Cascade steps with its line of fountains. At the bottom one saw a huge fountain, which took various shapes periodically. At the top of the stops was the famous Empire Tower. I straightaway entered the Scottish Pavilion on my left. I could only glance over the exhibits but I found sufficient interest there. Next. I entered the British Government Pavilion. This was most interesting. First one saw the "Keep-fit" section, showing the various stages of health from childhood to manhood. Then cam the Engineering, Coal Industry and Ship Building. These all provided plenty of interest. Leaving England, the G.P.O., B.B.C. and Women of the Empire Pavilions ware visited. The telephone was of the main interest among these. I then visited Dominion Avenue. First, I was in Canada, where a "Mounty" was on duty, then New Zealand where I got samples of cheese and fruit. Ireland, where the layout of the Shannon Scheme and the Drumm Train wore exhibited. Australia had its interest too. The main exhibits of the Dominions consists of agriculture and forestry. After leaving the Dominions, I went up the Tower, over 500 ft. in height. Two high-speed lifts took only a few seconds to reach the top. From the tour one had an excellent view of the country for miles around. Unfortunately, the day was dull and misty or I should have spent more time up the tower and taken more views. When I returned to "Earth" I had my tea In the Tower Tearooms. These rooms ware built around trees on the Tower Hill. Trees shoot up through the floor for two stories. After tea I visited the various religious exhibits: The Catholic Truth Society, Church of Scotland, Christian Science etc.

I then went to the British Railways exhibits where each railway was represented, compartments from each of the four big railways being on view, while models of their express trains ran alternately through model scenery representing England and Scotland. The L.M.S. Coronation Scot, L.N.E.R. Silver Link, G.W.R. King George and Southern Express Electrics were represented as well as two goods trains. After leaving here I visited the Palace of Engineering, which proved very interesting with models of ships to the machinery. One could spend hours here but the time at my disposal only permitted a glance at everything. After leaving Engineering, I visited Rubber., Gas and Oil. Then I called on the Colonies. The most outstanding here was in Southern Rhodesia where a model of the Victoria Palls was on show. Here a cycle of one day was put through in five minutes. First we have night with the stars shining, then dawn would break and daylight would gradually brighten then the spray from the falls became visible as the water poured over. At the end of the day of the day twilight set in and the red of sunset reflected on the falls giving a beautiful tone until night finally fell and the stirs once more appeared. When one is standing watching this, it appears very realistic and you forget that one is standing In Scotland, in the midst of the Empire Exhibition. Nothing of very great interest appeared elsewhere in the Colonies except Animal life and Rubber. Northern Ireland was next visited where Harland Wolff's have exhibits on Ship Building and Agriculture was prime here. Leaving Northern Ireland the Industries Pavilion was next visited, but when about half-way through here the loud speaker announced closing times, this was 9 p.m.

There was nothing left but to see the illuminations fountains and water-sprays. At 9.30 p.m. I left the Exhibition after getting wet feet owing to the wet weather and boggy state of ground. The party met at 10.50 p.m. at Queen St. Station to board the 10.45 p.m. Glasgow to Edinburgh.

Friday 27th:

We left by the 9.5 a.m. ex Edinburgh for Glasgow, to visit the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society's premises. Here we had an interesting trip through the stores and saw thousands of articles ready for dispatch to Retailers.

Lunch was at 12.30 p.m. in the Cadoro (an usual). After lunch we broke up to go our own way to the Exhibition.

This day I entered by Moss Side and proceed direct to the Industrial Section and commenced where I left off the previous night. Here the Co-op had a model factory, a bakery, boot manufacturing, looms and printing. I then went to Industries North where tartans were in course of manufacture. A number of looms were in operation here. Next, I visited the second Scottish Pavilion on the right hand side of the Paisley Road entrance. This was very interesting. First to be seen was the care of mothers-to-be, mothers after the birth of the child and development of the child. Next was the model of Scotland with model railways. Finally the arts and crafts section which, showed some lovely work all done by children between the ages of 8 and 17, in both painting drawing and making models. After leaving Scotland I toured the Arts Pavilion where some splendid painting was on view. I then climbed up to the Tower Hill for tea in the teamrooms, again. Leaving here I toured the Amusement Park, but decided not to take part in anything; there was plenty of excitement for the children. I then called at the Air Force, Navy and Army Pavilion where an aeroplane was on view as well as a model of an air raid and ancient weapons of war. I left the exhibition site at 9.30 p.m. after only a ‘glance’ at the Exhibitions. It would be impossible to really see the exhibition in just two days. One would require about a fortnight there. However, from what I did see it would justify recommendation to anyone.

The party left Queen's St. Station by the 10.40 p.m. train to Edinburgh.

Saturday 28th:

We left Edinburgh for Queens Ferry (South) at 9 a.m. Here we were met by the Engineer in charge and conducted over the Forth Bridge. This famous bridge is over ,5,300 feet long and requires forty men permanently employed on repairs and maintenance, including twenty painters. It takes three years to paint the bridge from end-to-end. When finished, they start all over again. The max-expansion per span over the year is fifteen inches, average per day is five inches. Sag due to two trains on one span is between five to six inches and the uplift on the counter-span is two and a half inches.

The rails are 160f eet above high water mark and the bridge is three hundred and sixty feet at its highest point. Trains are not allowed to travel faster than forty miles per hour over the bridge. Each train is timed and if the crossing is less than two minutes twenty-seven seconds the driver is reported. Two hundred trains pass each day. After leaving the bridge we boarded the train at North Queensferry at 10.55 a.m. for Edinburgh. Here one hour was spent before lunch in the Picture House Cinema, Princes St. at 12.30 p.m. The Irish Contingent, after exchange of greetings, left at 1 30 p.m. for Princes St. L.M.S. Station and left Edinburgh at 2.5 p.m. for Liverpool to board the B &I motor vessel "Leinster" for Dublin. We arrived In Dublin at 8 a.m. on Sunday. The English party left for London at 2.5 p.m., arriving in London at 9.30 p.m.

We had a most interesting and enjoyable tour, especially In Northern Ireland. The time was very busy. It was ‘go’ all the time, but nevertheless we fulfilled a good deal in a short time which could not have been done without the co-operation of the various transport Companies and especially the L.N.E.R.

To the Executive Committee gratefulness is due for the splendid organisation, especially the amount of work done by the organising Secretary - Mr A. Headlam.