Monday, November 04, 2013

Locomotives through Barbican to King's Cross

A couple of weeks ago I photographed the disused platforms at Barbican station in London. This video shows them being used by a locomotive-drawn commuter train from Moorgate. We stay on board it until we emerge, via the Hotel Curve, on the western side of King's Cross station.

This curve was closed in 1976 along with the York Road platforms on the other side of the station, where trains, some drawn by locomotives, stopped before diving into a tunnel to reach Farringdon, Barbican and Moorgate. I have clear memories of watching them do that one winter afternoon.


Tim Hall said...

The very tight Hotel Curve was the reason the peak-hour Moorgate trains remained loco-hauled.

All BR's high-density suburban-style DMUs had longer 63' coaches which wouldn't fit the tight clearances of that curve in the tunnel. The only DMUs with 57' coaches were lower-density designs that didn't have the seating capacity peak-hour services into the city. You can see a low-density unit (A Cravens class 105) in the film.

The only high-density 57' stock BR had was the Mk1 Suburban coaches, which survives on that route almost a decade after other coaches of that type had been withdrawn.

The coaches were shorter (57') than either main-line stock, or

The high-density suburban-style DMUs

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks, Tim. The thought of locomotives venturing down there seems so strange now that I am glad of the confirmation that I have got this right.

Graham Clayton said...

The Hotel Curve was steeply graded and curving, and shrouded in smoke so that required repeater signals and hand held lamps for safety. Double-heading was not an option as the pilot locomotive would smother the crew of the second locomotive with smoke and fumes. The GNR employed a man whose job it was to spread sand on the track after each train had passed, in order to decrease wheel slippage. In July 1932, a train slipped so badly that it ran into the train running behind. The tunnel was so dark that engine drivers could only judge if the train was moving forward by reaching out and touching the tunnel walls.