Station Name:EPSOM DOWNS

[Source: Nick Catford]

A rather delightful watercolour by PR Perry depicting Epsom Downs station on Derby Day Wednesday 5 June 1878. Four-wheel carriages predominate, together with a number of 0-6-0T locomotives which are presumably supposed to represent Class A1, better known by their 'Terrier' nickname. On the turntable is what appears to be an 0-4-2, perhaps of Class D2 (The 'Lyons') although the dome is rather too far forward for a D2. Of course, as was often the case there is a degree of artistic licence. At platform 8 stands the Royal Train with the Royal Saloon being the fourth vehicle behind the locomotive, which appears to be a representation of a 2-2-2 single driver, perhaps of Class G although this designation embraced a number of types built at various times. The Royal Train could use either platform 8 or 9 but one suspects that the artist chose platform 8, which may or may not have been used in reality in 1878, in order to depict the Royal party departing for the racecourse in their road coaches. Left of the station building the driveway and arch allowing Royalty unhindered access to and from the station can be seen and this depiction can be taken as accurate. Other examples of artistic licence are the hill in the background, the signals and the water crane beside the turntable. The hill is suspected of being exaggerated in order to show the procession of people trudging from the station to the racecourse; the latter is depicted in the distance. The signals are a crude depiction of the pre-1879 signalling and the posts are far too tall. Drivers of departing trains would have had to look up at the sky to see the position of the arms. Not every platform is signalled and this is probably deliberate by the artist in order not to obscure the foreground scene. The water crane is something of a joke and was no doubt added to the painting for effect. It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a locomotive to fill its tanks from a water crane located at such a position. In all likelihood this was the water crane located further along near the water tower, assuming there was one, and the artist simply 'moved it' into the picture. The Royal Train, in reality, would have conveyed the Prince and Princess of Wales, later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. It is well known that following the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria largely withdrew from public life and resided mainly at Windsor - a situation which very nearly saw the end of the British Monarchy. During this period the Prince and Princess of Wales effectively deputised for Her Majesty, both at home and abroad. Queen Victoria did not, however, withdraw herself entirely and continued with many official engagements; for example she made several visits, usually by train, to Netley both during construction of and after opening of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital and continued to do so until shortly before her death. Her Majesty did not, of course, attend the 1878 Derby to see Sefton, ridden by Harry Constable, trained by Alec Taylor Snr. and owned by William Stirling Crawfurd win the race..
Watercolour from Jim Lake collection

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