Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Ghosts of Aberglaslyn

 
Portmadoc Beddgelert & South Snowdon Railway
‘Ghosts of Aberglaslyn’ tells the amazing story of an electric railway project in North Wales that was never completed, involving a predecessor of the Rosyth based electrical engineering company Parsons Peebles, the inventor of Beechams Pills and father of the famous orchestra conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham, a Hungarian locomotive builder and the great great grandfather of Tara Palmer Tomkinson, the English socialite, "it girl", television presenter, model and charity patron. The book explains how James Cholmeley Russell, the Chairman and  Receiver of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Company  played an instrumental role in causing the project to fail.

Some of the line was constructed between 1901 and 1909, but it never opened and the track bed eventually became part of the Welsh Highland Railway. The heady and fascinating story of political manoeuvrings, dashed hopes, obstructionism and technology is the subject of a new book, ‘Ghosts of Aberglaslyn’ - the brief life of the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway by John Manners and Michael Bishop.
If the aspirations of the promoters of the Portmadoc, Beddgelert & South Snowdon Railway (PBSSR) had been realised, electric trains might now be carrying passengers between Porthmadog and Caernarfon in North Wales
In the book, John Manners examines the design, technology and building of the PBSSR and plans for electrifying the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways line from Rhyd Ddu to Dinas, near Caernarfon. This is set within the story told by Michael Bishop of the companies that were involved, including how some six electric locomotives were built by Bruce Peebles & Co Ltd but none delivered and how a power station was constructed that still generates electricity today.  The legacy includes the Leeds built steam locomotive "Russell"  - named after James Cholmeley Russell and the unused bridge by the Goat Hotel at Beddgelert and nearby bridge abutments. 

The book comprises some 120 pages of text and a rich collection of photographs, including several published for the first time.
‘Ghosts of Aberglaslyn’ is available direct from the publisher, the Welsh Highland Railway Heritage Group at for £18 post paid in the UK or via your local bookshop quoting:

ISBN number 978-0-9930821-4-6
The Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway (PBSSR) was a 1 ft 11 1⁄2 in (597 mm) narrow gauge railway intended to connect Porthmadog with the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways link terminus at Rhyd Ddu. Although some of the line was constructed between 1901 and 1906, it never opened and eventually became part of the Welsh Highland Railway, that now runs from Caernarfon to Porthmadog where it connects with the famous Ffestiniog Railway.

James Tomkinson PC (1840 – 10 Apr 1910) was an English landowner and Liberal politician and a director of the North Wales Power & Electric Traction Co. Ltd that built a power station originally intended to provide electricity to the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway.
Born in 1840, Tomkinson lived at Willington Hall, Chester, He was the son of Battle of Waterloo veteran Lieutenant-general William Tomkinson and Susan, daughter of Thomas Tarleton of Bolesworth Castle, Cheshire. He was a High Sheriff of Cheshire, unsuccessfully contested Nuneaton for the Liberals but at the 1900 general election he was elected as Member of Parliament for Crewe, holding the seat until his death in April 1910. He was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Cheshire, became Second Church Estates Commissioner and was  a member of the Privy Council.

In 1871 Tomkinson married Emily Frances Palmer, a daughter of Sir George Palmer, 3rd Baronet.  Tomkinson died on 10 April 1910 from injuries sustained in a fall while participating in the House of Commons Steeplechase.
Descendants
Charles William Tomkinson (1877–1939); James Edward Tomkinson, later Palmer-Tomkinson (1879–1961); James Algernon Palmer-Tomkinson (1915-1952) ;Charles Palmer-Tomkinson (born 1940); James Palmer-Tomkinson; Santa Palmer-Tomkinson, now Santa Montefiore (born 1970); Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (born 1971)  - great great grandaughter of James Tomkinson
 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Evelyn Mary Gordon Pangman 1926 - 2016

Evelyn Pangman who died on April 12, 2016, in Canada aged 90 was the younger daughter of Sydney and Margaret Saunders. Margaret, was the only child of James Cholmeley Russell and his wife Eleanor. She married Sidney Saunders in 1919 and their first daughter Elizabeth, always known as Betty, was born in 1922, she died a spinster in 1998. Evelyn was born in 1926 and grew up in Surrey, never knowing her father, who had died before she was born. Towards the end of the Second World War Evelyn met and married Peter Pangman a Canadian Navy Officer stationed in England. They subsequently moved to Canada. Peter died in the 1990s.
Evelyn had recently enjoyed her 90th birthday and is happily remembered by son Michael, daughter Wendy, five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Russell at Oxford


Until now the only known photographs of James Cholmeley Russell were those in the
Russell at Magdalen College
possession of the late Evelyn Pangman (1926-2016), his grand daughter and these largely dated from the last ten years or so of his life. However, we now have one of when Russell was a young undergraduate, thanks to one Alfred Earle and Dr. Robin Darwall-Smith the archivist of Magdalene College, Oxford.
 
Dr. Darwall-Smith has recently been making the College’s archives catalogue available on the Internet with the express objective of helping researchers and generally making the College’s archives more publicly accessible. This excellent policy resulted in the Group’s chairman Nick Booker, visiting the archive one Friday morning in October 2014 to look though the Photograph Album of Alfred Earle that is in the archives. Mr Earle matriculated from Magdalen in 1859 and took his BA in 1865 and his MA in 1866. He was thus a contemporary of Russell who left Harrow School at Christmas 1859 going up to Magdalene and matriculating the following year, graduating in 1864.
 
The large bound album is a personal photographic collection of local scenes and buildings including pubs (!) but more particularly of many of Earle’s fellow students including photographic studio portraits, group photographs taken around the College, the Oxford University Volunteer Force on parade with their uniforms and rifles and at camp in Wimbledon and views around Oxford and locally. Interestingly there are several photographs devoted to the Prince of Wales and his entourage, later King Edward VII, who was at Magdalen from October 1859 to the summer of 1860; so Russell may have met the future King.
 
The photograph of Russell shown here is believed to have taken around this time. Dr Darvill - Smith commented that it was then the  practice for undergraduates to have a number of photographs taken of themselves, which would then be passed round in exchange for one from the  recipient, a sort of analogue Facebook!
 
What is remarkable about this album is that is that it was assembled some twenty years before George Eastman of Kodak fame developed roll film, in 1884, to replace the photographic plates and toxic chemicals that the photographer had to carry around.
 
Nick Booker extends his thanks to Dr Darwall- Smith and his Archives Assistant Mr Ben Taylor for their help and co-operation. The photographs of Russell and the College are reproduced courtesy of the President of Magdalen College.
James Cholmeley Russell
Magdalen in the mid 19th Century

Thursday, 21 August 2014

JCR Life & Times Talk

A talk by the blog's author is now available on the life and times of Russell. For details see the page 'Talk on JCR'   
 
The presentation is suitable for audiences ranging from local historians, railway enthusiasts etc to more general groups.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Bridge House Aldershot

A recent find on the web concerning Russell's property activities is a site describing the history of a private house - Bridge House Aldershot  where Frederick Eggar sold the land to Russell in 1877 ;he subsequently then sold it to Susan Sumpster in 1905. This is close to Manor Farm. Russell's will refers to his property development interests, the Aldershot Lodge Estate and other property in the area, including the Manor Estates.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Russell's trophies

James Cholmeley Russell competed in both rowing and shooting competitions in the early part of his life and this is illustrated by the trophies he won. 


Harrow School Shooting Trophy
Harrow School Trophy  - J C Russell
Russell was at Harrow School from Easter 1855 to  Christmas 1859. Here on the 7th April 1859
he won a prize for either shooting or archery,note the arrows on the coat of arms. The motto on the tankard (see picture) reads  'Stet Fortuna Domus' - Let the Fortune of the House Stand - the motto of Harrow School.


Russell's Rifle Challenge Cup Trophy
Russell's Rifle Challenge Cup Trophy
In 1860 Russell went up to Magdalene College, Oxford as a Commoner. Here he remained until June 1864, graduating with a BA, 3rd class Moderations and 2nd class in Law and Modern History. Whilst at  Magdalene he was a member of the Rifle Club and in 1863 won third prize in the Rifle Challenge Cup competition.


J C Russell 'Scratch Fours' Trophy
Magdalene College 'Scratch Fours' Trophy
Russell was also a rower and following graduation he subsequently competed in the Magdalene College 'Scratch Fours Competition in 1868.
 
Shooting Trophy 23rd Middlesex
Handicap Prize Third  Class
As a barrister, Russell joined the 23rd Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps and while a Sergeant won the Handicap Prize Third  Class in 1876. He was later commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant and was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant in 1877. The motto on the trophy reads Salus populi suprema lex esto ‘The health of the people should be the supreme law’