water column

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A water column at Leicester London Road Station, England


water column (plural water columns)

  1. (environmental sciences, hydrology) A notional column of water from the surface to the bottom in a natural setting, notable for the differences in physical and chemical properties at various depths.
  2. (deep-sea diving) The zone in which ascent and descent occur.
  3. (rail transport) A column alongside a railway track used to replenish a steam engine's water supply.
    • 1943 January and February, Cecil J. Allen, “British Locomotive Practice and Performance”, in The Railway Magazine, page 16:
      At Carlisle, as is customary, there was a very slow stop for the engine to draw to the water column.
    • 1961 March, “Talking of trains”, in Trains Illustrated, page 130:
      There could be no easy reversion to the pre-electrification timetable, as that provided for working over the Hyndland branch, which no longer existed, and new stations had come into use at Hyndland and Garscadden; moreover, water columns all along the routes concerned had been removed.
    • 1979 August, “Preservation Scene: Midland Railway Trust”, in Railway World, page 429:
      Recent acquisitions include LMS open No 7991, formerly on the Severn Valley Railway, several wagons and a swan-necked water column.