The two green lights standing out from the rest of the cityscape are the harbor range lights - ships entering the harbor know that they’re sailing through the deepest part of “the Narrows” when these two lights are lined up, one directly on top of the other.
At the very top of the photo is the Cabot Tower on Signal Hill. The mouth of the harbour is straight ahead. From other photos, I believe that there were cod drying flakes (wooden platforms) in the distant harbour area in the centre of the photo.
from: North and South America - The New World Wide Geographies; Jasper H Stembridge; 1931-1952; Richard Clay and Co, Bungay, Suffolk.
… as St John’s was known by some foreigners associated with the Atlantic convoys. The city and its wonderful harbour provided a welcome break for escorts and other craft involved in the six year long Battle of the Atlantic.
The Atlantic convoy system was essential to help Britain survive while continental Europe was occupied. Food, fuel, other ‘commodities’, ammunition, aircraft, vehicles and weapons were placed on regular ocean-going cargo ships operated by Merchant Marine personnel.
Canadian and British naval ships provided an armed escort. Convoys travelled at the speed of the slowest ship … sometimes this was as slow as 7 knots. The North Atlantic was a particularly nasty place to be during winter.
After growing pains, convoy escort ships became efficient in hunting and defending against German U-boats using rapidly evolving technology. Allied code-breaking efforts also made a difference as planned convoy tracks could avoid areas where U-boats were active.
By the time the US became involved in World War 2 in Europe … American troops … as well as US lend-lease materials … travelled from the Eastern Seaboard, then via the Halifax and St John’s areas toward Britain.
Long-range sub-hunting aircraft eventually had sufficient range to cover almost the whole route … except for a small mid-Atlantic area. During the last couple of years of World War 2, the U-boat threat had been almost completely eliminated.
Map from: The Naval Service of Canada, Vol 2; Gilbert Norman Tucker; 1952; King’s Printer, Ottawa.
during the last 24 hours … regarding the St John’s city archives now in the top storey of the former St John’s station and the ancient railway viaduct arrangement. Here is …
“Trestles leading to the station and dockyard at Riverhead, St John’s.”
from: A History of the Newfoundland Railway; AR Penney and Fabian Kennedy; 1990 and 2003; Harry Cuff Publications.
The still water in this location has all been replaced by fill. In the foreground you can see an adorable little saddle-tank switcher handling the baggage and mail cars of The Express. This train was later unofficially named The Newfie Bullet by US military passengers during World War 2.
Across the horizon from left to right: St John’s station; railway locomotive and car shops; harbour, ships and railway drydock; Signal Hill and probably the Cabot Tower.
At the Newfoundland shops here at Mile 0.0, in the earlier days, they often built their own equipment … such as locomotives, rotary snowplows (‘steampunk railway snowblowers’), passenger and freight cars. As the railway was beefed up for military service, US-built steam locomotives and equipment were provided to increase capacity. After the CNR took over responsibility in 1949, mainland-built diesel locomotives were supplied.
This postcard was mailed from St John’s to Erie, Pennsylvania in September 1928.
This building is preserved to this very day. During the life of the Newfoundland Railway’s various corporate forms, it served as both head office and dispatching centre. Telegraph lines relayed the dispatchers’ instructions across the island to keep the trains running smoothly … when the printed railroaders’ timetable needed to be modified for all sorts daily exceptions.
Beyond the station is the steam and power plant. Steam would be used for building heat, preheating passenger cars … and perhaps for driving some machines in the nearby railway shops and railway-owned drydock (located behind the camera). Among other things, the ‘railway electricity’ would be used for lighting, machinery, and to recharge telegraph batteries.
It seems likely that ‘company housing’ is visible at the extreme left … they always liked to know where the officials were because the railway never sleeps.
This railway’s eastern-most point was at the excellent harbour at St John’s. Originally, the area between the station and the distant houses was open water.