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Brake Blocks
A substantial piece of (usually) cast iron which can be brought to bear against the tread of a wheel to provide retardation. Sometimes a large piece of timber (usually Poplar as it resists burning) was used, often with holes drilled into the bearing surfaces and a sand/resin mix inserted.
Brake Coach
Carriage having a hand-brakeExplain 'Hand Brake' for the use of the guardExplain 'Guard'. In addition since c.1900 also fitted with a vacuum brakeExplain 'Vacuum Brake' which enabled the guard to apply the brakes throughout the whole train. Usually also has a luggage area, often with a pair (or two pairs) of double doors.
Brake End Coach
A carriageExplain 'Carriage' which included at one end a compartmentExplain 'Compartment' for the GuardExplain 'Guard' (who operated the brake — hence the name), the remainder of the coach being given over to passengers. In the 19th century the LNWR preferred the centre brakeExplain 'Centre Brake' arrangement, with the guard’s compartment in the middle rather than at one end.
Brake Van
A special vehicle which is fitted with brakes which can be applied from inside the vehicle. A VanExplain 'Van' the same size as a wagon (or bigger) attached to the rear of goods trains to accommodate the guard. They are normally weighted to increase their mass and hence the braking capability. See also Full BrakeExplain 'Full Brake'.
Brakesman
It is extraordinary to consider that the earliest steam locomotives were not equipped with any form of brakes. The tendersExplain 'Tender' of these engines had screw brakes that operated on the wheels of the tender. Supplemental brakes were fitted on some coaches, but were not under the direct control of the driver. A brakesman operated these brakes and an elaborate system of engine-whistle codes had to be devised to alert the brakesmen to the fact that the driver wanted the brakes applied or released.
Branch Line
After the Lancaster and Carlisle line was leased to the LNWR in 1859, the route from Euston to Carlisle became the “main line” and lines off it, however important (e.g. the Manchester and Birmingham line from Crewe to Manchester) were branches. More generally, at any junction the most important through line is the main line and any line off it a branch.
Breakfast Car
See Dining CarExplain 'Dining Car'.
Brick Arch
An arch of bricks was fitted to most locomotives’ fireboxes. Spanning the front half of the fireboxExplain 'Fire Box' just below the tubesExplain 'Tubes' it served a number of functions. Its primary function is to throw the flames and products of combustion from the fire to the back of the firebox and to form an area above where combustion take place. In large modern boilers this is often extended by a combustion chamberExplain 'Combustion Chamber' within the end of the boiler barrelExplain 'Boiler', the tube-plateExplain 'Tube Plate' being set back into the boiler barrel for the purpose. By increasing the distance of the tubes from the fire itself, it protects the ends of the tubes from direct flames. When the fire-door was opened, the brick arch radiated heat and helped to keep an even temperature at the tube plate and reduce unequal expansion and contraction of the tubes which tends to make them leak.
Britannia
A traditional depiction of Britannia was the main feature of the LNWR coat of arms. It seems unlikely that it was patriotism which led the former Crewe apprentice, RiddlesExplain 'Riddles, Robert Arthur (1892—1983)', to take the name “Britannia” for the first standard express locomotive introduced by British Railways.
Britannia Bridge
The tubular bridge over the Menai Strait, carrying the Chester and Holyhead main line. It was designed by Robert StephensonExplain 'Stephenson, Robert (1803—1859)', with the assistance of William Fairbairn Explain 'Fairbairn, Sir William (1789—1874)', and came into use in 1849. As originally designed the railway lines ran through wrought iron tubes of rectangular section. Following a fire in 1970, the bridge was rebuilt as an open structure, with a road bridge above the railway. A tubular bridge, similar to the original Britannia design, is still in use at Conwy.
British Rail
Formed in 1948 by nationalising the existing ‘Big Four’ railway companies, Great Western RailwayExplain 'Great Western Railway (GWR)', London Midland and ScottishExplain 'London Midland & Scottish (LMS)', London North Eastern RailwayExplain 'London & North Eastern Railway (LNER)' and Southern RailwayExplain 'Southern Railway (SR)'. British Rail operated the entire national railway network until privatisation in 1995, since when various sections have been sold to other operators.
Broad Gauge
A railway line laid to a gaugeExplain 'Gauge' significantly wider than standard gaugeExplain 'Standard Gauge'. Most significant use was the Great Western RailwayExplain 'Great Western Railway (GWR)' which was originally laid to 7 foot gauge and was commonly referred to as Broad Gauge
Broad Street, London
Broad Street was the main London passenger terminus of the North London RailwayExplain 'North London Railway (NLR)'. Some distance north of the passenger station was the LNWR goods station, convenient for Smithfield (meat) and Billingsgate (fish) markets, and so the origin and destination of important goods trains to and from the LNWR system — for example the 2.00pm Fish and Meat train Aberdeen-Broad Street. Following redevelopment no trace of the site now remains.
Brougham
A horse-drawn road carriage with a roof, four wheels, and an open driver’s seat in front. Named after Lord Brougham who designed the carriage.
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