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PostPosted: 24 Jan 2018, 14:59 
Registered User

Joined: 11 Dec 2013, 13:22
Posts: 4
Location: Warwick
The FHBR model railway layout is beginning to look like a proper dock yard and I am starting to consider the many cranes which have been identified from photos. The first one is a little unusual and the story is that the normal run of cranes on the quayside were small steam powered one on gantries or rail mounted trolleys from 1880 to load baggage boxes. In 1910 the use of motorcars for continental touring brought in a mobile railway crane, probably with a 2-3 ton lift, and this was upgraded in 1921 with a proper breakdown crane to load buses.

There has been a development of the story of a crane lifting the bus at Folkestone docks. My conclusion is that the SECR is testing a new railway breakdown crane at the quayside and are using a Tilling Stevens bus from its factory in nearby Maidstone. The railway is interested in increasing the lifting capaity at the docks in preparation for trans-shipping larger and heavier vehicles. The bus company is preparing to export buses to the Continent.

After an appeal for help from the two Bus societies in Kent, a member of the Maidstone & District and East Kent Bus Club has collected the following information and Chris Duncombe has responded as follows:

Some further research has come to light as a result of a chance remark on your question at our committee meeting yesterday. It appears that Tilling Stevens sent some buses to Barcelona in the early 1920s, with 4 TS double deckers with British registration plates were shipped to Barcelona in May 1922. A Kent registration dating from 1921 would just about fit, There is also some footage on YouTube of the Madrid order being loaded at Folkestone:

There is also a short article in Catalan on the website of the current Barcelona municipal: ... ys-despres

From the information from the Bus Club and on KHF the highlights of this story so far is that:
1. The early Tilling Stevens buses were electrically driven with petrol engine powered dynamos. These machines were easier to drive than the non synchromesh buses and in the time of very few qualified drivers made vehicle maintenance and driver costs less expensive.
2. The TS petro-electric buses were not sent out to France in 1914-1918 as they were very different to use and maintain than the majority of conventional buses, so the bus-on-a-crane in the picture is not returning from France in 1921.
3. The picture shows a new bus and a new crane. It appears that this was a test of either or both as there are no stretcher bars on the lifting hook to protect the topsides of the bus. Whereas in an earlier photo dating from 1911 a similar crane is lifting a car on a flat tray with stretcher bars so this method was known about and used years before the subject bus is shown being lifted.
4. The crane is fairly unique. It is a railway mobile crane of about 15 tons capacity. This type of crane would be used on railway breakdown trains and would normally be recovering railway locos and vehicles after a derailment. In Folkestone Harbour the story of the cranes is: 1850-1900 - hand operated swan neck cranes on simple rail trolleys. From 1905 (after the big rebuild and extension of the South Quay and southern pier) the cranes were used for lifting luggage and baggage boxes of about 1 ton, and were gantry mounted on the pier or on railway trolleys on the pier and quayside. These appeared in two steam powered versions, the housing of corrugated sheet was either pent roofed or curve roof. The gantry cranes were replaced by electric powered versions from about 1930. The railway mobile crane is a railway vehicle chassis on which the crane is mounted. This means that crane can be marshalled into a train and moved at speed on the railway. The first crane of this type on the Folkestone docks appears in 1910 and is used to load private cars, this has a corrugated sheet housing. The crane in the picture is, I think, a more modern version and is a proper railway breakdown crane. As far as I know the only crane of this type for the SER was a 15 ton swan neck travelling crane by Cowans Sheldon. Peter Tatlow bible on railway cranes volume 1 has not yet reached my bookshelves.
5. There is evidence that buses were lifted onto channel ferries in Dover in 1926 as a Manchester firm had started a Continental coach tour from that port. The Tilling-Stevens history does not mention any export details but the information from the M&D and EK Bus club, above, shows that the municipal authorities in Spain had started a public bus service in their main cities in the early 1920's. This new transport system has proved so popular that the local transport suppliers were unable to meet the demand. So the authorities ordered Tilling-Stevens buses in 1922 and 1924. These driven from the Maidstone factory to Folkestone to be shipped across the channel and driven to Spain. However, British Pathe camermen recorded a single decker being loaded onto the SS Quaysider at Folkestone. This vessel was built in 1909 at North Shields for T Steam Coasters of Newcastle. In 1913 it was sold to a shipping line based in Tenerife and subsequently ended up in various ports in Spain, including Barcelona, before being scrapped in 1973 at Cadiz. It is possible that this shipment went directly to Spain via sea.
6. Tilling Stevens supplied 140 buses to China for Hong Kong and a firm there sells cast die models of these.

Model FHBR up train DSC00041 TN.jpg
Model FHBR up train DSC00041 TN.jpg [ 195.98 KiB | Viewed 171 times ]
FHBR Pier Crane Maidstone Queen 1920 BrianHart P100932.jpg
FHBR Pier Crane Maidstone Queen 1920 BrianHart P100932.jpg [ 116.38 KiB | Viewed 171 times ]
SECR FHBR MobileSteamCrane MotorCar 1915 BrianHart FolkRailp45 small.jpg
SECR FHBR MobileSteamCrane MotorCar 1915 BrianHart FolkRailp45 small.jpg [ 148.56 KiB | Viewed 171 times ]
FHBR Pier craneliftingbus 1921 Invicta 65 TN.jpg
FHBR Pier craneliftingbus 1921 Invicta 65 TN.jpg [ 133.88 KiB | Viewed 171 times ]
Model FHBR SwingBridge USA DockTank Feb2015.jpg
Model FHBR SwingBridge USA DockTank Feb2015.jpg [ 184.27 KiB | Viewed 171 times ]
PostPosted: 24 Jan 2018, 16:21 
BDCA Member

Joined: 24 Dec 2010, 11:52
Posts: 199
Location: Queens Park, London
A couple of years ago I spent some time chasing contacts regarding a particular crane that was delivered to the SER at Folkestone. I got a couple of replies, and promise of more to come; but little did.

The crane lifting the Tilling Stevens bus was Cowans Sheldon 1110 of 1881; for 16 ton capacity on six wheels. The typical early style of florid worksplate can be seen on the crab side.
It was probably requisitioned by the military in WW1 and not returned to the railway.

The machine I was interested in was made by Thomas Smith in 1880, works no. 2784; for 16 ton capacity on four wheels ( a fair capacity for an 1880 crane ). It was noted as ""Deliver to Bricklayers Arms; for use at Folkestone Harbour"".
It was firstly to be used for harbour construction; and then to go onto the railway as a travelling breakdown crane, despite having a fixed jib that would require setting up and subsequent dismantling at each use. I doubt it did enter railway service as a breakdown crane; for that reason and because it was probably outmoded.

These are some notes I made at the time ....
"""""""Folkestone Harbour
My principal crane interests are railway breakdown cranes and block-setting cranes; preferably steam powered. The crane at Folkestone appears to have been intended for both uses.
The South Eastern Railway ordered a crane from Thomas Smith, Rodley nr. Leeds in 1880 ( given works no. 2784 ); and it is described as being a railway breakdown crane, but initially to be used on the construction of that phase of Folkestone harbour handling blocks, piles, kentledge etc.
It had the reasonably high capacity for the time of sixteen tons and was mounted on ( only ) two axles.
It had a fixed jib that was able to be lowered to allow it to travel within the loading gauge, and was given couplings, buffers and suitable running gear for travelling in train.
It was the capacity for the date that attracted the attention of the late Bruce Ward, a crane enthusiast in New South Wales. We searched the web and the websites devoted to the harbour and we emailed the collators of a number of websites ( e.g. Stuart Pendrill, for one ), unfortunately getting replies saying that was the extent of their knowledge; or no reply ( e.g. ******, who I emailed again without success. ) . Bruce stated he had put an advert in a local paper and had had a reply with a photograph. One of his last ever emails said ‘more later’. I have particularly asked his partner to look for such, but she has not found it; neither a paper print nor scanned.
Another crane was ordered by the SER at much the same time and it remained at Folkestone ( Cowans Sheldon, Carlisle works no. 1110 of 1881 ; see 1920s photo with Tilling Stevens bus ). CS were a tad more conservative putting this 16 ton fixed jib machine on three axles."""""""""""""""

I have some photos and material taken from websites . I won't put these as attachments on this site but if you wish to see them ( you probably have the same ! ) please contact me directly.

Chris Capewell OW

PostPosted: 24 Jan 2018, 18:29 
Registered User

Joined: 11 Dec 2013, 13:22
Posts: 4
Location: Warwick

Thank you for a very prompt response, with some great and useful information, it will help to finish off my article on the bus-on-a-crane nicely,


PostPosted: 31 Jan 2018, 18:35 
Registered User

Joined: 11 Dec 2013, 13:22
Posts: 4
Location: Warwick
I have taken the opportunity to refesh my understanding of the historical timeline of FH and its development. The harbour has had many changes over the years so the identification of crnae typoes was becoming a little difficult.

1846-1850: South Quay and Railway station built: two hand cranes with rotating swan neck jibs on four wheel rail trollies noted in 1887 in a photograph recording the departure of Queen Victoria from the south quay on the PS Victoria.
1949 Jan 01: Folkestone harbour branch line opened,

1857: SER builds the Stade on the north quay,
1860: the south pier is extended for some years by the SER to keep ahead of the shingle build up. The shingle bank became a strong defensive wall, lighthouse was built on the horn.
1861 – 1862: SER builds the low water landing timber pier from the south quay heading south east. A photo of the time shows a crane which is probably laying in rubble into the frame of the pier.
1871: Channel station built onto the south timber pier.
1881-1883: first southern stone pier extension built: SER builds stone extension to the south pier, which will cover the old timber pier and extend the pier head to 600ft, this will allow steamers to berth at any state of the tide and provides for a fixed timetable for both ships and trains. Concrete blocks are lifted in position by a yard engine and positioned underwater by two divers. On the west side piles are driven in by two men on a windlass and the whole is infilled with rubble to provide a seawall. During rough weather the yard engine is unable to carry concrete blocks to the works face and can be used for pile driving by being connected to the pile donkey with a chain over pulleys and running forwards to lift the weight. A man releases the donkey onto the pile giving 15 blows in ten minutes, two piles per day.
1897 – 1905: south Quay enlargement and second south pier extension: The extension of the old pier by 900ft. of solid work, with the provision of four new berths available at all tides and in all weather; the protection of the west face of the old pier by a solid wall carried down to a secure foundation; the strengthening of the root of the pier by a wall founded on cylinders and protected by a wave-breaker of 10 ton blocks deposited pell-mell; the renewal of the east face of the old pier in greenheart piling, and the provision of a new deck throughout its length. The pier is provided with a sheltering parapet along the whole of the western side. The parapet covers the railway platforms, and provides a public promenade on the top. The main lines and Sidings on the pier are controlled by electric signalling, and the whole of the pier, landings, station buildings, &c., are lighted by electricity. The 900 ft long pier terminates in a roundhead 65ft. in diameter, upon which stands a granite lighthouse, exhibiting a fourth-order double-flashing light, and a foghorn house with air compressing machinery. The new extension was built using 20 ton concrete blocks faced with granite. Blocks are lifted in using two 20 ton Goliath cranes and positioned underwater by divers. Diving bells are 16 tons and 13 x 10 x 6ft and are positioned by two 30 ton Goliaths. These cranes are on staging 101 ft wide 400 ft long, and 21ft above the water level, being built on Oregon pine piles carrying lattice girders of 40ft span, and which covers the width and length of the construction. There are slipways built into the pier for the handling of horses of which there is much traffic and special cranes on travelling gantries for the lifting of passenger’s baggage. The cranes were used for lifting luggage and baggage boxes of about 1 ton, and were gantry mounted on the pier or on railway trolleys on the pier and quayside. These appeared in two steam powered versions, the housing of corrugated sheet was either pent roofed or curve roof. The gantry cranes were replaced by electric powered versions from about 1930.

1910: Transhipment of motorcars: x2 steam mobile railway breakdown cranes on four wheel trollies with corrugated housings.
1921: Transhipment of motor buses: x1 steam mobile railway crane on six wheel chassis with plate steel housing.

PostPosted: 31 Jan 2018, 18:59 
BDCA Member

Joined: 26 Dec 2010, 19:06
Posts: 222
Were the Transhipped cranes for Export / Import ?
Or was it for some sort of work going on?


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