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Moor Street Passenger Station (65) Moor Street Goods Station (39)
GWR Article - Operating Moor Street Station GWR Article - Electrical Labour-Saving Equipment
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GWR Article - Traversing Tables GWR Article - District Inspector
GWR Service Time Table - Instructions Engine Whistle Codes

Electrical Labour-Saving Equipment at Moor Street Station

Great Western Railway Magazine Vol XXIX No 5 published May 1917.

We gave, a few months ago (Part 3), a general description of the Great Western Railway station at Birmingham, Moor Street. This station is of more than ordinary interest, as it comprises several unique features. The most noteworthy characteristic is that the goods depot consists of two low-level sheds in addition to a shed and yard on the level of the railway lines and passenger station. The passenger station, which was opened on July 1st, 1909, was projected before the provision of the goods depot was contemplated. Owing to the configuration of the ground at the site, it is built on a brick viaduct, the northern end of the station abutting Moor Street, which, from that point southward, falls away rapidly. To support the high-level goods yard alongside the passenger station, the viaduct was widened as a ferroconcrete structure designed to serve also as a low-level goods station. On the low level are two sheds (known as Shed A and Shed B), which are separated by Park Street. Due to the natural fall of the ground Shed B is about 8 feet lower than Shed A. The relative positions of the high and low level premises are shown in the accompanying sectional drawing (see 'gwrms1204').

The peculiar situation of the accommodation naturally dominated the design of the equipment provided for dealing with the traffic passing to and from the several sheds. Further, the modern tendency in the development of expeditious goods handling, of bringing the loading and unloading machinery to the wagons, instead of bringing wagons to fixed cranes, was followed wherever possible. The result is that at Moor Street is to be found a variety of electrical traffic handling appliances of the most interesting and up-to-date type. The supply of electricity is taken from the Birmingham Corporation.

Dealing first with the high level accommodation, designed primarily to deal with perishable market traffic, and after this is dealt with, with general traffic, the covered goods shed in the yard comprises under one roof two long sidings, a platform beside one of these sidings and a cart road between the platform and the other siding. The platform and the siding beside it are served for a length of 400 feet by an overhead travelling crane made by Messrs Royce Ltd of Manchester. The travelling bridge with a span of 28 feet 4½ inches moves at an average speed of 250 feet per minute and carries a traversing carriage with an underhung revolving jib below it, the jib having a radius of 16 feet. The carriage with its jib traverses the shed at a speed of 70 feet per minute, while the jib revolves at a speed of two revolutions per minute and the hoisting gear raises and lowers a load of one ton at an average speed of 33 feet per minute. The combined action of travelling the bridge, traversing the carriage with the jib, and sluing the latter can take the load to or from any wagon in the siding from or to any cart in thee cart road. Two covered openings in the shed platform are provided through which goods in special crates can be raised from or lowered to the low-level sheds A or B. The electrical equipment was made by the British Westinghouse Company.

Outside the high-level shed is a fixed jib crane capable of raising and lowering a load of six tons. The gear can raise and lower its full load at a speed of 20 feet per minute, and slue it at a speed of two revolutions per minute, the jib radius being 15 feet. An automatic electric brake is fitted to the hoisting gear, while provision is made for lowering either by a separate hand-lever brake or by the use of the motor itself as an electrical brake. The crane was made by Messrs Stothert & Pitt, the Electric Construction Company providing the motors, and Messrs Allan West the controllers and resistances.

For marshalling the goods wagons, which are raised to or lowered from the low-level Shed B by a 20 ton lift (referred to hereafter), the north-east end of the yard is provided with a 25 ton bridge traverser. It is designed to transfer wagons between three parallel lines of rails, the wagon being hauled on to or off the traverser by an electric capstan. The traverser was made by Messrs Ransomes & Rapier. Thirteen Clyde capstans and a large number of reels are disposed in the yard to haul wagons, either singly or in trains, to and from the 20 and 30 ton wagon lifts, the 6 ton crane, the long siding beside the covered platform, and two turntables at the Moor Street end of the yard. The rope used on a Clyde capstan is never handled by the capstan man except to unwind it from the barrel and haul it to the wagon, which can be done by the hook. This allows steel ropes to be used instead of hemp ropes, which must be used where the rope slips on the barrel and the capstan man hauls in the slack. The consequent saving in the annual cost of ropes, and in the labour of handling hemp ropes when wet, is remarkable. All these capstans have been made by Messrs Stothert & Pitt, and the switchgear by Messrs Morris & Lister. The squirrel cage motors were provided by the Electric Construction Company.

In the low-level sheds, A and B, there are fourteen similar capstans. Four in Shed A to serve the 30 ton lift and traverser and the sidings, and ten slower speed capstans in Shed B where the number of sidings is greater. All the necessary reels for guiding the capstan ropes are provided. The electric equipment for the capstans in Shed B was provided by Messrs Crompton & Company.

Shed A contains only two long sidings for which power appliances are needed. Between the sidings which run for a distance of 285 feet at right angles to the cart entrance from Park Street, are two platform, one beside each siding and a broad cart road between the platforms. A cross platform at the Moor Street end (farthest from the Park Street entrance) connects the two long platforms, the whole forming a U shaped continuous platform. Here a walking jib crane has been provided, which runs on a one-rail U-shaped track extending down each platform, forming the legs of the U, and round the cross platform. The crane hoists and lowers its full load of 30 cwt at a speed of 40 feet per minute, and slues the jib at a speed of 2.5 revolutions per minute. The crane travels at a speed of 250 feet per minute on the straight, and the jib radius of 18 feet allows of anything within reach on either platform being transferred to a cart backed against the platform or vice versa. The crane and top guide with its three conductor wires was made and erected by Messrs Babcock & Wilcox, the motors were provided by Messrs Harding Churton & Company and the controllers by Messrs Allen West.

A 30ton lift is provided in each shed to transfer wagons between the high level yard and the shed. The 30 ton lifts serving the two sheds A and B are similar in all respects except the height of lift. In the lift for shed A the distance between rail level in yard and the shed below it is 24 feet 1½ inches. The cage can take a wagon 25 feet over buffers and weighing 30 tons. Such a wagon has been raised and lowered at an average speed of 128 feet per minute. The lifts were made by Messrs S H Heywood & Company, three phase motors being provided by the Lancashire Dynamo Company and semi-automatic switchgear by Messrs Electric Control Ltd.

The switchgear is worked by means of a master controller in the cage. Its handle is interlocked with disappearing rail stops on the cage rails. The controller handle cannot be moved until the rail stops have been raised, after the wagon is in position, to prevent its movement either way in the cage. Other safety devices consist of automatic gear to hold the cage should any of the ropes break or stretch unduly. Limit switches are provided to prevent over travel of the cage either at the top or bottom which act first on the control gear and should this fail a second switch cuts off the main supply.

In Shed A wagons are transferred from the lift to the sidings or from the sidings to the lift by a 30 ton wagon traverser. The sidings on either side of the cart road are 100 feet apart, and only these two sidings are served. It was decided to drive the traverser by an induction motor of the one speed cascade type, as made by Sandycroft Ltd, arranged to creep while exerting full load torque. This latter feature has proved most useful in aligning the traverser rails with the siding or lift cage rails. The traverser was made by Messrs S H Heywood & Company. The traverser can travel the whole width of the shed with a 30 ton load at an average speed of 275 feet per minute. A capstan with head fixed to the gearing and using a slipping rope is provided for hauling wagons on to and off from the lift cage. It is worked by a Sandycroft squirrel cage induction motor with special high resistance motor windings to give great starting torque for moderate current expenditure. It can give a pull of 750 lb at 300 rpm. and a maximum pull of 2,000lb.

Shed B is served by a 30 ton lift similar to that already described. The distance between rail level in the high-level yard and that in the shed is 33 feet 4 inches, and the average speed of raising and lowering a 30 ton load is 137 feet per minute. Shed B is further provided with a 20 ton lift at the corner opposite to the 30 ton one. This lift was built by Sir William Arrol & Company, the British Thomson Houston Company providing the electrical equipment. The height of the lift is 33 feet 4 inches, and the average speed when raising and lowering 20 tons is 145 feet per minute.

Shed B is provided with eight parallel lines of sidings some of which are only a few feet apart. A 30 ton wagon traverser runs the whole width of the shed for 256 feet at the Park Street end. The perishable market traffic dealt with in the early morning in this shed requires the most rapid handling possible. This accounts for the high speed of the large lifts and it is essential that the traverser should not only have a correspondingly high speed but be able to stop very accurately at any of the sidings. This is accomplished by the use of Hele Shaw oil pressure transmission gear. By turning a hand wheel the traverser can be stopped or started in either direction and the rapid acceleration and high maximum speed obtained (the average speed with a 20 ton load for the journey of 220 feet being 350 feet per minute) and combined with the slowest possible creeping speeds and rapid reversing for secure rail alignment.

There being two lifts to serve at opposite sides of the shed, two traversing carriages, each to take a wagon, are necessary. Each of these carriages has been made detachable from the central locomotive, automatic couplings being provided to quicken the process of attaching and detaching. The locomotive part of the traverser is able to haul both traversing carriages, one empty and the other being loaded, at an average speed of over 300 feet per minute for the whole journey. The traverser was made by Messrs. Stothert & Pitt and the motor by Messrs Crompton & Company, British Thomson Houston controllers being used. The Hele Shaw transmission gear was made by Messrs Compayne Ltd.

The sidings, lifts and traverser are worked by ten Clyde capstans of the same type as described for the high-level yard. The central loading platform in Shed B is provided with two 1 ton fixed jib cranes, either of which can deliver goods from wagons in the siding beside the platform to the cart road on the other side of the platform or vice versa. These cranes were made by Messrs Stothert & Pitt. They can raise or lower loads of one ton at an average speed of 30 feet per minute and slue the load at a speed of two revolutions per minute. The motors were supplied by the Electric Construction Company and the controllers by Messrs Allen West & Company. The load can be lowered by a hand brake or by using the motor as a brake, and the sluing motion is stopped buy a pedal brake. The whole of the electrical machinery at Moor Street was made to the drawings and specifications of Mr Roger T Smith, the Electrical Engineer to the Great Western Railway.