Mike G's catch up.

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IANATEXTON
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:12 pm

Re: Mike G's catch up.

Postby IANATEXTON » Wed May 12, 2021 9:48 am

Apologies for the extended diversion of Mike's thread into fishy material, but I hope the following is of interest.

There were, in fact, regular workings of LNER fish vans into both the South West and South Wales during the grouping period. This was a consequence of the popularity of fish and chips, which grew in Victorian times. Nationally the number of fish and chip shops peaked in the 1930s at around 35,000. The majority of the white fish catch was landed at East Coast ports, and a pattern of train services was developed to distribute the fish from the East Coast on a daily basis.

By the early 1920s the Great Central Railway was dispatching daily eight complete fish trains from a purpose-built fish market at Grimsby to London, Liverpool, Manchester and also to GWR territory. In the 1930s fish trains carried 200,000 tons per year of fish from Grimsby, 220,000 tons from Hull and 70,000 tons from Fleetwood.

Amongst the range of destinations served by fish trains from the East Coast ports there were two trains to the Great Western, via Banbury. In the 1920s there were a Grimsby to Whitland train and a Hull to Plymouth train. It is believed that these trains called at Marston sidings, Swindon, to exchange portions. I have a 1938 Exeter Division Great Western timetable which shows daily paths for Swindon to Plymouth and Swindon to Paignton fish trains. These left Swindon in the early hours of the morning, with calls at Taunton and Newton Abbot with sufficient time to drop off a fish van, or alternatively to unload some fish boxes, at each stop.

Some workings of the LNER fish vans have been captured on camera, though it seems to have been the empty return workings that have been photographed. This is probably not surprising, as a significant part of the outward journey on Great Western metals would have been at night.

The pattern of fish traffic carried by rail was maintained until the 1950s, but the volume of fresh fish carried halved between 1953 and 1963 as the household demand for wet fish declined in favour of fish frozen on board trawlers and sold through supermarkets. There were 9 fish trains per day from Grimsby operating in the early 1950s but by the mid 1960s the traffic was lost to rail completely.

So in answer to Steve’s question, yes an LNER fish wagon could be seen in the South West – at least as far as Plymouth - and they could also be seen in South Wales.

Ian

bécasse
Posts: 161
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:26 am

Re: Mike G's catch up.

Postby bécasse » Wed May 12, 2021 11:34 am

Ian has given a remarkably comprehensive reply on the subject of the workings of LNER fish vans. Those workings should not have been unexpected but it should be noted that they were all to significant centres of population (with, presumably, their own wholesale fish markets) and that they would normally have involved groups of the vans doing the same out and back journey every working day (depending on fish landings, of course). LNER fish vans would not have been seen off-territory on branch lines and very rarely anywhere as lone vans. In fact, the most likely situation to see a solus van would be where one had been red-carded en route or at destination and was awaiting repairs before it could be moved, and, given that they would have been well maintained, that probably didn't happen very often.

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Noel
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Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:04 pm

Re: Mike G's catch up.

Postby Noel » Wed May 12, 2021 3:34 pm

IANATEXTON wrote:In the 1930s fish trains carried 200,000 tons per year of fish from Grimsby, 220,000 tons from Hull and 70,000 tons from Fleetwood.


Note that Fleetwood is in Lancashire, so traffic from there would be in LMSR vans.

bécasse wrote:Those workings should not have been unexpected but it should be noted that they were all to significant centres of population (with, presumably, their own wholesale fish markets) and that they would normally have involved groups of the vans doing the same out and back journey every working day (depending on fish landings, of course).

IANATEXTON wrote:In the 1920s there were a Grimsby to Whitland train and a Hull to Plymouth train.


Whitland is hardly a major centre of population, although this train would have passed through several on the way. In that era, road transport of fish, even locally, would have been minimal to non-existent beyond convenient horse-drawn radius from the station, usually taken as three miles. Almost anywhere, including quite small towns, would probably have had its deliveries by rail, local shops placing orders with the buyers at the ports either direct or via wholesalers, with the buyers arranging delivery direct, given the need for minimum handling or delay. The train to Plymouth probably shed portions on the way for places such as Bristol, Exeter, Torbay [until it got its own train], and Weymouth, and portions probably continued into Cornwall as well. Intermediate places would get a van forwarded on from the nearest major station if there was enough traffic to justify it, otherwise, like any other passenger rated traffic it would presumably travel in the guards van of the first stopping passenger train.

IANATEXTON wrote:he volume of fresh fish carried halved between 1953 and 1963 as the household demand for wet fish declined in favour of fish frozen on board trawlers and sold through supermarkets


The invention of refrigerated lorries also had a big influence on this, once lorries were allowed to travel at more than 20 or 30 mph.
Regards
Noel

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Guy Rixon
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Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:40 pm

Re: Mike G's catch up.

Postby Guy Rixon » Fri May 14, 2021 9:27 am

Noel wrote:
IANATEXTON wrote:In the 1930s fish trains carried 200,000 tons per year of fish from Grimsby, 220,000 tons from Hull and 70,000 tons from Fleetwood.


Note that Fleetwood is in Lancashire, so traffic from there would be in LMSR vans.


With significant numbers of ex-LYR and ex-LNWR vans, since the line to Fleetwood was joint between those companies.

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Noel
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Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:04 pm

Re: Mike G's catch up.

Postby Noel » Fri May 14, 2021 10:03 am

Guy Rixon wrote:With significant numbers of ex-LYR and ex-LNWR vans, since the line to Fleetwood was joint between those companies.


Plus LMS built vans and those surviving from any other constituent company that had had them, since all fish vans would have been common user within the company. By the 1930s both LMS and LNE fish trains would have had quite a variety of stock, whichever port they started from, the only restriction being that each would consist only of the originating company's stock.
Regards
Noel

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Captain Kernow
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Joined: Sat Jul 26, 2008 8:08 pm

Re: Mike G's catch up.

Postby Captain Kernow » Fri May 14, 2021 10:10 am

Lovely work you've been doing there, Mike. Very impressive both in terms of quality and sheer output.
Tim M
Member of the Devon Riviera Area Group.


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