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Notes from Bob Carr — August 1993

Waterloo & City trains

The superbly atmospheric Bulleid period Southern Railway electric stock which has been working the British Rail Waterloo and City underground railway line in London from Waterloo to Bank for the past 50 years is finally being withdrawn. An example will go to the National Railway Museum at York and the rest will be cut up.

Riding in the elderly stock has been likened to a flight in a wartime Dakota with turbulence. Some coaches still had grills at the end with the words Southern Railway and the compact glass lampshades with tungsten bulbs were a joy to behold.

Sadly for industrial archaeologists this unique London experience finally ceased at the end of May. No doubt regular commuters to the City will greatly appreciate the comfort of the new trains when service recommences on Monday 12 July.

The Waterloo and City underground railway line was opened by the London and South Western Railway in 1898. A memorable GLIAS visit took place on 27 July 1979 (GLIAS Newsletter October 1979). Bob Carr

Ship in West India Docks

In the fourth week of June a sizable ocean-going ship once more occupied a berth in the West India Docks bringing back memories of the 1960s when small Union Castle liners operated from here. The twin-screw motorship Anastasis was berthed on the south side of South Dock (latterly Main Section) just to the west of the South West India dock entrance.

Launched in Italy in 1953 for service between Italy and Hong Kong via the Suez Canal the Anastasis was the Italian liner Victoria until 1978. She is now operated by Mercy Ships and, equipped with three operating theatres, carries out medical relief and missionary work in places like Africa. The closure of the Suez Canal in 1956 meant that the route the ship was constructed for became impassable and she worked as a cruise ship for a time before her original owners, Lloyd Triestino, sold her. By this time the advent of long distance jet airliners had made ships obsolete for world travel and the vessel is a remarkable survivor of a vanished age.

The Anastasis is 11,695 tons gross, with an overall length of 522 feet and a maximum beam of 68 feet. Close to she looked big and a ship of this size was about the biggest that would have operated from the West India Docks before their closure. Even so from a distance the ship was dwarfed by the Isle of Dogs new buildings. She is registered in Valletta and flies the Maltese flag.

Maximum draught for the Anastasis is about 23 feet and she was drawing most of this while berthed in London. This shows that dredging around the West India entrance is still well maintained. Depth markings on the hull were in feet, perhaps surprising for a ship built in a metric country. It seems the use of feet for ships' draughts is quite widespread, partly because of the convenient size of the unit. The original Victoria was built for a route where most of the ports were under British control (or had been recently) and this would be another reason for not using metric. Ships using metric units are usually marked at intervals of 0.2 metres.

From the quay the hull looked very traditional — of riveted construction reminiscent of British practice of the 1930s and 40s. In fact construction is welded and riveted. The builders were C.R.D. Adriatico, Trieste, and the ship's yard number was 1765. The styling of the funnel and superstructure is rather modern for its date. Originally air-conditioned for the uncomfortably hot Red Sea and Indian Ocean route she was designed for, this luxury feature no longer functions.

The interior of the ship is magnificently original and most of the Italian language notices and fittings are retained. Extensive wood panelling of the period reminds one how the world's stock of trees has diminished. Any recent ship has plastic panels. This is a real ship in a very strong sense and now has few equals. The Anastasis (Greek for resurrection) is still classified 100A1 Lloyds and is a remarkable example of ship preservation. She is still operating 40 years after launching.

The twin screws are driven by a pair of FIAT diesel engines type A750.10L; ten cylinders of 750mm bore and 1,320mm stroke developing 16,100 bhp. The engine builders were C.R.D. Adriatico, Trieste. Speed is now 13 knots, reduced from 19 for fuel economy. From London her next port of call was to be Bristol. Bob Carr

Brunel chimney a new landmark

The replica iron chimney extension on the Brunel boiler house at Rotherhithe is now erected. Although we have seen the drawings for this restoration the effect on the local landscape was difficult to visualise. The new erection is very prominent and a little surprising. It certainly advertises the boiler house in a dramatic way and should draw larger numbers of visitors to the exhibitions held there. Bob Carr
The Brunel Engine House is on Railway Avenue, SE16, by the Rotherhithe tube station. Website: www.brunel-museum.org.uk

Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe.  Robert Mason, 28.3.12 Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe.  Robert Mason, 28.3.12

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© GLIAS, 1993