The Crystal Palace Pneumatic Railway

The History of Sydenham from Cippenham to present day. Links to photos especially welcome!

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Postby will greenwood » 24 Apr 2008 14:24

thats brlliant!
thanks, Steve.
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Postby neilgunn » 25 Apr 2008 19:23

Great Article, thanks Steve.
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Postby Steve Grindlay » 25 Apr 2008 21:18

The thanks are due to Falkor. It was he who identified and then let me upload the articles; I was merely the intermediary.
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Postby peter coppin » 27 Apr 2008 11:24

Just being a pain - looking at the engravin's

The bristle collar is at the rear of the carriage in both engravins - artist licence or was there a turntable at each end - piston rings are near to of piston's -

I put to the forum that if the pressure did not impinge on the end with the collar, then as the carriage traveled around the curve in the tunnel the pressure on the side of the carriage, considering the area would biais to one side and derail and jam the carriage in the tunnel.

Perhaps there was a problem in design and it was quickly abandoned and is why there is no records - lending it to the urban myth of the carriage geting stuck and people dying.
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Postby will greenwood » 27 Apr 2008 12:46

I think momentum and gradient could explain why it wasnt such a problem.
also, the collar must have been flexable,and the carriage was only short.
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Postby peter coppin » 27 Apr 2008 13:18

was the carriage not 35ft long? of course the collar had to be flexible that was the nature of it to seal the tunnel to the carriage. Therefore to negociate the curve the air gap around the carriage had to be a few inches. inner edge of any curve has a less distance therefore - pressure = force over area - the seems to me by the nature of it the outer side of the carriage would have more force - just trying to account for the urban myth.

However without seeming to be stateing the obvious - the carriage is faceing into the tunnel in both engravings. so either they are both the same entrance, one with the artist licence showing hills and one more accurate or there must be a turn table.
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Postby will greenwood » 27 Apr 2008 15:18

I dont think there was a turntable.
the fact that the collar is at one end is of little importance, the pressure would take effect as soon as the collar end entered the chamber.
..and 35 ft is pretty short.
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Postby peter coppin » 27 Apr 2008 21:02

will

with out going on - the carriages in both engravings face the same way so its the same tunnel entrance and I would believe the penge end in order to push the carriage up the incline and the return would have been under ithe influence of gravity - possibley controled by the pressure from the fan.
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Postby neilgunn » 27 Apr 2008 23:01

A standard gauge coach that size could weigh up to ten tons or more. I doubt if a pressure of 2.5 ounces per SI could derail it. I notice that the bristle brush is slightly outward of the axle. So the brush would of overhang a bit on the curves, but not by much as the radius was 500+ feet. Difficult to say really.

I dont think the bristle would of had to of been that efficient as once it was moving - momentum took over. It all depends on how much air the fan could provide I suppose.
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Postby peter coppin » 28 Apr 2008 05:49

The business about derailment etc was to comply with the urban myth.

The real matter was that in both engravings the carriage is faceing the same way into the tunnel. So without a turntable its the same entrance.

That being so one is an artist impression and one is more like reality. If the fan was at the penge end then this produced enough pressure to push the carriage up the incline and around the curve to the sydenham end.

That being so to return to the penge end the incline and gravity is all that is needed - regulated by the amount of air that is allowed to expell from between the closed doors at the fan end and the carriage hence the large grated drain/void mentioned.

As to a vaccume to pull the carriage, cant see that was possible with the simple sealing, and the carriage would hve to be air tight in order not to suck all the air out of the carriage - to risky.

In the french artical it appears the fan/pump was at the penge end and makes scence.

Furthermore - this being an experimental Railway - for it to only operate for a few months means it did't work or something happened to cause it to close, considering the cost and the fact that it dissappeared without a trace.
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Postby tulse hill terry » 28 Apr 2008 07:56

I know absolutely nothing about this subject, but I am aware that images can often be reversed.

Engravings of the time, were hand cut in reverse, and printed producing a mirrored proof image, like all printing.

Hope this clarifies rather than confuses the matter further.
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Postby will greenwood » 28 Apr 2008 08:42

I'm pretty sure both images are of the sydenham gate station.
There would be no need for a turntable.
As far as I can tell, the whole train had to be inside the tunnel for the pneumatics to take effect, so would have been pulled into the tunnel at both ends until the seal was complete.
If the images had been reversed, it would be quite clear, in this particular instance.
I reckon the stop at the penge gate was just a halt, with little structure, with the engine house beyond, which is why theres no trace of a staion at that end.
Its all conjecture, but we all like a good mystery, eh?
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Postby peter coppin » 28 Apr 2008 09:05

Well who knows.

I accept there was no turntable - all I was trying to point out is the carriages entre the tunnel the same way round. front end of carriage (furthest away from the seal) first. No turntable then same entrance - albeit artist licence.

As for the power plant Victorian's were good engineers they would have pused the carriage up hill - so my case rests the power plant had to be at penge end - no need to push the carrige downhill.

I'am happy with my explaination - but who knows - been good to keep it going. If no one made a response the forum would not work
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Postby will greenwood » 28 Apr 2008 15:51

I totally agree...push/pull, its all the same..:wink:

the`power plant is, however , visible in the engravings, unless there was another one the same at the penge end, which is at least a possibility.
I know most atmospheric railways have a pump at both ends, as did the Forest Hill - Norwood atmospheric railway, and that pressure was hard to maintain on a gradient....
but..in the spirit of debate...
It just could be that the cutting we discussed earlier, is in fact the area of the station in the engraving, with the tunnel entrance at the north end....which would mean the track ran 600 yards from there, not penge gate as such....
so the sydenham station would be further north beyond`sydenham gate.....
interesting!
(in fact, now I say that out loud, its worth checking that out)
i certainly cant explain that cutting otherwise.....
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Postby will greenwood » 28 Apr 2008 16:54

...in fact, that would put the north end up near`the gate at Chulsa rd, and certainly agrees with the positioning of the lower engine house and the suction basin.

amended from Steve's route..
Image

in which case, this would be the site of the station...and it almost fits with the view on the engraving, with the pump\off to the west;
Image
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Postby peter coppin » 28 Apr 2008 18:49

will

Do me a kindness - assume that the lower engine house is the power plant at the penge gate. Re-read the ILN artical as if it was writtern around an engine house at the penge gate and I would say the physics of the artical make the penge gate the engine house.

If passengers got on at the sydenham end they costed by gravity down the incline towards penge - that so a parcial vaccume would been caused sydenham side of the carriage while natural pressure would have been cased by the weight of the carriage overcoming enersure(?), because of the gradient (same as blanking off a cycle pump) - that said the pressure built up on the penge side of the carriage had to be relieved as air would have to be bleed into the sydenham side of the carriage to relieve the vaccume.

Somewhere whilst investergating on the net - I read the tunnel was only 1/4 mile long (440yds). Will from the embankment which could be the start of a tunnel how does 440yds fit in.

Sorry for being a pain by logic says your right with the lower engine house.

regards peter
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Postby neilgunn » 28 Apr 2008 20:15

I think there was only one engine house at the Sydenham end. There is almost nothing describing the Penge end 'station'. We dont even no if the line exited the tunnel at Penge either. The station(s) had a gradient built in so the coach rolled off on its own (presummably they had a brake?)
towards the tunnel mouth - once inside pneumatics took over. Its amazing so little is left of the line above ground though...
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Postby neilgunn » 28 Apr 2008 20:51

Image

Looking at Multimap I noticed this! This could line up with the excavation ' on the northern edge of the cricket pitch' that Steve mentioned earlier. Im not sure it is the miniature railway either as the alignment at the bottom end is out of place with steve's photo.
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Postby Steve Grindlay » 28 Apr 2008 22:08

The "Artesian Well" and "Lower Engine House" were probably constructed when the park was originally laid out. They appear on the 1862 Stanford map, two years before the pneumatic railway was built. I'm sure they have nothing to do with the railway and everything to do with supplying water for the fountains. I'm also fairly sure that the "Suction Basin" and "Pipe" are part of the same system. As the article below explains, the artesian well was the principal source of water for the fountains, and a fairly powerful engine would have been needed to pump it up the hill towards the water towers:
Image
From the ILN (6/11/1852). Again, click on the image for a hi-res version and here for the accompanying image.

I suspect the raised bank that you've identified, Neil, was for spectators watching the cricket; there is a very similar feature round the playing field at Mayow Park.
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Postby will greenwood » 28 Apr 2008 22:18

I've been checking things out.
I personally now believe there may only have` been 1 station, and it was where the cutting is., adjacent to the engine house, as shown in the engraving....also, he carriage is described as being blown and sucked, implying power at 1 end only.
theres only 1 engine and engine house mentioned anywhere.
440 yards would take it to the main sydenham gate, or just beyond where steve's route ends.
there were only return tickets, and no mention of the other door mechanism, or how it left or re entered the tunnel...or mechanisms of any kind at the supposed Penge end.

most of the tunnel was, apparently above ground, or at least above ground level, so the only sign of the gradient would be the cutting.

If there was a station at sydenham gate, i fail to see where the earthworks have gone, whereas the cutting on the shooting range area fits the bill perfecly...

I dont know what I think anymore...but things are often not how they have been recorded....
Travellers were directed to the Sydenham gate to catch the train, so perhaps I'm off on a wild tube chase.
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