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STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 8, 2017 11:26 am
by orris49
Not a signalling buff, guys, but I have been trying to find information about the old STRAD machines and found this site! I think that STRAD stands for Signal Transmission Reception And Distribution and had something to do with Cable & Wireless. When I joined BR at the end of 1970 as an ATI clerk, I was sent to Eversholt House at the back of Euston Station, to learn how to touch-type and we were taught on STRAD machines. I recall that if you needed to send a message you had to be very prepared as you had to keep the connection open. Stop and you have to start again! It was a system used to send messages about, notices, special traffic movements, requests for empties and other fairly urgent matters. I worked in what had been the old Centre Box at Toton and we had one there and I know there was also one in the Traincrew Office as the guy who operated that one was on the same course as me.
If anyone has any further information, like getting hold of the code book for the system, then I would be pleased to hear from them. Even the NRM at York doesn't know what I'm talking about!
Regards

Re: STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 8, 2017 9:56 pm
by JRB
I remember when STRAD was around. I was not much involved with it, but as I remember there was a centre/exchange at Crewe where everything connected into an early electronic storage device, some form of magnetic drum, I think.

Re: STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 8, 2017 10:45 pm
by Bob Davies
Indeed. STRAD was the LM Region's teleprinter network operating system, with its hub, as JRB says, in a building at the north end of Crewe station at the back of the Crewe Arms Hotel. It used a rotating magnetic drum store - a very early application of magnetic storage - which looked a bit like an old-fashioned upright drum washing machine. All teleprinter messages on the LM were sent via STRAD which was in turn connected to hundreds of machines across the region.

I never had anything directly to do with it but I was given a look around when I was working in the Crewe Divisional S&T Office in the late 60's. BR's National Teleprinter Network introduced in the 1980's put an end to it.

If you want to know more about it in detail, there is an IRSE paper on it if you can lay your hands on one. The system would, I guess, date from the very late 50's or early 60's but regrettably the proceedings of the IRSE for that period have not yet been uploaded to the IRSE website but it may be that someone on this Forum can direct you to a copy.

Re: STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 9, 2017 4:54 am
by baconandeggs
Bob Davies wrote:If you want to know more about it in detail, there is an IRSE paper on it if you can lay your hands on one. The system would, I guess, date from the very late 50's or early 60's but regrettably the proceedings of the IRSE for that period have not yet been uploaded to the IRSE website but it may be that someone on this Forum can direct you to a copy.


Some years ago the IRSE proceeding could be downloaded from the Australian IRSE web site. I have just checked and the files seem to have been deleted. Fortunately I downloaded the files when they were available - the proceedings for 1913 - 1985 are sitting on my hard drive :D

I suspect that the files were deleted for copyright reasons so I cannot make my copies publicly available. However I am willing to send copies privately. I cannot remember any copyright or restricted use notices with the files so as far as I am concerned they were a legitimate download.

Please contact me privately with the name of the paper and the year of the publication. If that info is not available then any info that will help me locate the paper. I am not sure how to send and receive private messages on this forum so if I do not reply within a reasonable period prompt me on the public forum (without your email address of course).

As an aside I remember watching a "torn tape" teleprinter system in use by a local airline. This pre-dated magnetic drums.

PS The file for 1958 has the word "damaged" in the title so I hope that is not the year you want.

Re: STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 9, 2017 6:50 am
by Andrew Waugh
Bob Davies wrote:If you want to know more about it in detail, there is an IRSE paper on it if you can lay your hands on one. The system would, I guess, date from the very late 50's or early 60's but regrettably the proceedings of the IRSE for that period have not yet been uploaded to the IRSE website but it may be that someone on this Forum can direct you to a copy.


From my paper copies...

The Crewe Electronic Telegraph Relay Centre
P.P. Robbins
IRSE Proceedings 1965/6 pp174-194

(The article starts... "The Crewe Electronic Telegraph Relay Centre (commonly but incorrectly known as the Crewe STRAD)...")

Re: STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 9, 2017 7:57 am
by baconandeggs
Andrew Waugh wrote:
The Crewe Electronic Telegraph Relay Centre
P.P. Robbins
IRSE Proceedings 1965/6 pp174-194

(The article starts... "The Crewe Electronic Telegraph Relay Centre (commonly but incorrectly known as the Crewe STRAD)...")


I have uploaded the 1965 proceedings to my web site. I will try and send a private email with the link to orris49.

Re: STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 9, 2017 8:06 am
by baconandeggs
baconandeggs wrote:I have uploaded the 1965 proceedings to my web site. I will try and send a private email with the link to orris49.


orris49 I have sent you a PM with the link.

Re: STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 9, 2017 8:43 am
by JRB
Slightly off subject, but I remember when visiting Austria many years ago a room in the railway head office where railway telegrams which could not be switched directly for any reason were received on punched taped and retransmitted from it. I saw one message from BR to somewhere in the Balkans.

Re: STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 9, 2017 10:23 am
by davidwoodcock
JRB wrote:Slightly off subject, but I remember when visiting Austria many years ago a room in the railway head office where railway telegrams which could not be switched directly for any reason were received on punched taped and retransmitted from it. I saw one message from BR to somewhere in the Balkans.


BR teleprinter messages to and from the continent were passed via the telex operators at Liverpool Street (EASTDAY LONDON) to the Nederlandse Spoorwegen at Utrecht using a private line. Punched tapes were used at Liverpool Street and if one wished to have a message passed through one had to dial up EASTDAY LONDON, send ICU? and wait for an OK response to indicate that they had switched the tape on, before commencing to send the message. Victoria (SUDESTIA LONDON) was by far and away the biggest user of the system.

I never asked, but I presume that the NS at Utrecht passed messages on in a similar fashion.

It is worth noting, perhaps, that all the continental railways were linked to a common telephone system (BASA), installed by the Nazis, which automatically routed calls through to their dialled destination in a rather similar manner to the system installed by the SR c1960, one peculiarity being that the continental system told you how far the routing had got. Essen on the DB must have been a major hub because I have an outstanding memory of "Essen Essen Essen Essen ......." coming out of the ear piece. In theory, BR became linked to the system during the latter stages of the construction of the Channel Tunnel, but the BR ETD system and BASA weren't really compatible so, if one had an international call enabled ETD phone, it was much easier to dial through using the BT network.

Re: STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 9, 2017 9:13 pm
by Frank
Hello Davidwoodcock,

there
that all the continental railways were linked to a common telephone system (BASA), installed by the Nazis,


i must corect you.
BASA was introduced in Germany before WW I and fully finished in 1928 as the Telephone-System of the German Railways.It also was the first self dialing System before the Public Phone System( In Public first at 1921).

The Number System was simpel

1*** = Operator / Telephone People
2*** until 6*** Work Places like Signal Box,Ticket Shop,Goods Shop etc.

7** Short Line beetwen 2 Stations

8** Pre-Dial for a Station, for Example 800 = Dortmund HBf , 844 Essen Hbf

9** Pre-Dial for wide Range connections , like other Direktionen (Administrations) and foreign Countrys

0 Connection over the Public Phone System establish

Great Stations and the Direktion (Administration) had a grammophone Record, witch was played, when you dial that Number
844 and 944 gives you Essen Esssen Essen Essen until you dial the Number of the workplace you want to talk to.


The German Army had a private Telephone Network,too but since 1938 they where intensive using Radio Telephone.


received on punched taped and retransmitted from it. I saw one message from BR to somewhere in the Balkans


For the old Teletypewriters that was the common praxis,because with the punched Tape you don`t have to type the message again,simply lay the Tape in and send again.
1991 i do it the last time on my Box,then FAX and other electronic Eqipment replaced it :-(

Re: STRAD machines

Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 9, 2017 9:53 pm
by davidwoodcock
Thank you for that extra piece of history, Frank. I hadn't realised that BASA went back before the Great War, although that doesn't entirely surprise me, and it is possible (probable, even) that it was extended to the Belgian railways during that conflict (when lines in the occupied area were treated and operated as an extension of the German system). However, it was the Nazis that extended it to cover much of the rest of continental Europe. Indeed that "Essen" call I remember making from an SNCF office in Paris.

The dialling system was a sequence of routing codes - very similar to that used on the Southern Region in the 1960s, which even allowed you to ring the phone on the next desk routing the call from exchange to exchange all the way round the Region - it survived until superseded by ETD.