Practice and Performance: City of Truro

Practice and Performance: City of Truro – Final, final thoughts?

A Practice & Performance Extra article in The RM August 2015 threw new light on the location where Charles Rous-Marten claimed to have recorded a quarter mile in 8.8secs (effectively 102.3mph) by City of Truro with the ‘Ocean Mails’ special.

In essence, the platelayers that caused a brake application appeared to have been at Bradford-on-Avon and not west of Wellington, thereby allowing more time to attain the high speed. A reconstruction of the log showed Mr Rous-Marten’s timings could be harmonised with speeds of a shade under 100mph.

No. 3440 City of Truro speeds past Branston, Burton-on-Trent, with a special from Derby, complete with top-hatted driver. TRACKS NORTH

Power output experts convincingly continue to maintain that the reduction in the steepness of the gradient would have prevented a speed approaching 100mph to be reached, even allowing for the extra distance.

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My original correspondent, retired aircraft engineer Bill Hemstock, has provided me with further research, particularly concerning the claims of other runs in the 90-100mph range that Rous-Marten noted around this time.

Two statements in the RM June 1906 (p462) caught Bill’s eye. Rous-Marten stated he had recorded maxima of 95.7 and 97.8mph with ‘Atbara’ and ‘City’ class engines, and on one occasion a Great Western Railway 7ft 8in single-wheeler that covered six miles at 90mph downhill at 1-in-1320.

Read more in the May 2019 issue of The RM – on sale now!

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt