|THE INDUSTRIAL RAILWAY RECORD
© DECEMBER 1967
Readers may be interested in the following information which I have collected from various sources concerning these locomotives which were mentioned on page 261 of RECORD 11, and referred to in Mr Clingan’s letter in RECORD 13.
The Club’s Fox Walker/Peckett collection contains two photographs one being reproduced herewith. I cannot identify the actual locomotives illustrated, but I would say that they are, in fact, the same machine – an inside cylinder 0−4−2 saddle tank of more or less 4ft 8½ in gauge. The collection also includes an undated and unfinished drawing numbered 2274, of a similar machine with detail differences (e.g. shape an number of roof supports, position of levers and piping) but it probably represents a different design. It is drawn 1/8th full size from which the cylinders scale 8in by 9in. Most of the general arrangement drawings in the Peckett collection are dated a year or more after the delivery date of the first locomotive they represent, and it was evidently normal practice to make a drawing of the loco "as built" after that event. Perhaps drawing 2274 was never completed due to Fox Walker’s ceasing business or perhaps the loco was never built. The drawing number is appropriate to the period, and is titled both Six Wheeled Tram Engine and SWTE. My copy of the Hon. Records Officers’ Fox Walker works list quotes :-
|361 to 367 of 1878
|Class TE, 0−6−2 tram, 8in by 9in cylinders, gauge not stated. For C.P. Harding & Co, Rouen.
|380 & 381 of 1877
|Class SWTE, 0−6−0 tram, 8in by 9in cylinders, gauge not stated. No customer given – perhaps never built.
|387 & 388 of ?
|Class SWTE, wheels unknown, 8in by 9in cylinders, gauge not stated. No customer given.
|412 to 420 of ?
|Class SWTE, 0−6−2 tram, 8in by 9in cylinders, 4ft 8½in gauge for unknown customer.
The journal of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers, Vol XXVII (1937), contains an article "History of the Steam Tram" by Dr Whitcombe, wherein (pp360-361) it states that "Fox Walker & Co of Bristol constructed three classes of Tram Engine with horizontal boilers, but few particulars are known as the records are lost. The first one was built in 1877, having 7in by 10in outside cylinders, 2ft 6in wheels and a 4ft 6in wheelbase. A larger one was made in 1878 with 8in by 12in cylinders, and about the same time several powerful six wheeled engines (2−4−0), with a saddle tank condensing arrangement, were despatched to Paris and Rouen. The engines appear to have been similar to Hughes’ engines – about a dozen were built; one for Milan and the rest for France." A photograph is shown of a loco on trial in Bristol in 1877 – it appears very similar in size to that in the photograph reproduced here, but of a different design with square cab ends, very tall chimney, no apparent saddle tank and different panelling on the cab side which could indicate some form of side tanks. No wheels or cylinders are visible due to the side sheets or skirts.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers held a Summer Meeting in Paris in June 1878 and one of the papers read, on Wednesday 12th June, was entitled "Mechanical Traction on Tramways" by M Anatole Mallet. Pages 411-413 deal with France, and after a lengthy description of the Merryweather locos used by Mr G.P. Harding "from the middle of 1876 until a very recent date", he goes on to say that the "Rouen tramways are worked by engines of the same class, some by Merryweather and others by Fox Walker. They draw on weekdays one tramcar with seats on the roof and three on Sundays, the route being tolerably level." Then follows a reference to the trial of a Brown tramway engine on another Paris line, after which he says "A third type of engine about to be employed in Paris is one built by St Leonard Works at Liege, having three axles, two of them coupled for driving while the third, being only a carrying axle, has play allowed it to facilitate running round curves. The cylinders are outside on the level of the wheels …. This engine is only on trial in Paris; one of the same make is shown in the Exhibition, where also may be seen several other tramway engines."
In the subsequent discussion a Mr W. Lyster Holt (p 434) said a few words as "during the last five months I have been Locomotive Superintendent for Mr Harding in Paris and have had an average of twenty engines running daily. After three weeks running a loco would be out of service for the replacement of all bearings etc. This no doubt occurs partly from the machinery being so close to the ground and I am now designing an engine in which it will be raised very much off the ground. I would suggest that the engine, at all events in the present state of the roads with bad joints, should have six wheels, not necessarily coupled, but in order to distribute the weight better so that there would always be four wheels on the solid part of the way. There should be four wheels coupled, and another pair with either radial axles or a bogie truck, or on any other system that would allow transverse movement."
Mr D.K. Clark, in the 1894 edition of his book entitled "Tramways – Their Construction & Working" refers (pp 437-440) to C.P. Harding’s lines and Merryweather Tram Engines, and on page 444, under the heading "Merryweather – Rouen Tramways" says:-
"Of the Merryweather tram engines at work on the Southern Tramways of Paris at the time of Mr Harvey’s contract in 1878, ten engines were transferred to the Rouen Tramways, the engines stock of which was, in 1881, as follows:-
Six Merryweather; 6in by 9in cylinders, 2ft wheels, 2½ tons empty
Four Merryweather; 7in by 11in cylinders, 2ft wheels, 5½ tons empty
Six Fox Walker; 8in by 12in cylinders, 2ft 6in wheels, 6 tons empty
One Fox Walker Six Wheels; 7in by 10in cylinders, 2½ft wheels, 6 tons empty
Six Fives-Lille; 7in by 11in cylinders, 2ft wheels, 5¾ tons empty."
All of these engines, excepting three by Fives-Lille, had done service on the Southern Tramways of Paris at the time of Mr Harding’s contract. There were seventeen engines in the Working List, of which thirteen were in working order and four under repair.
"The Engineer" 1878 (1) page 328 mentions tram engines (a Hughes and a Merryweather) at the Paris Exhibition, and the issue for 18th August 1878 (1878 (II)) page 108 illustrates the Societe St Leonard 0−4−2 loco which had close coupled driving wheels with outside cylinders pointing rearward between the centre and trailing axles.
In view of the above it seems just possible that the Fox Walker locos were 0−4−2 as previously suggested, particularly in view of their greater weight and therefore need to increase the number of axles to keep axle loading low (though curiously only the smaller one is quoted by Clark as being six wheeled). The note in "Iron" certainly implies that one at least was intended to go direct to Rouen – possibly more than one – so if Clark is correct, and the locos he lists did in fact come from Paris, then they must have been replacements for earlier machines.
It is just possible that the drawing No.2274 represents a batch of locos that actually went to Rouen with 8in by 9in cylinders, the odd 7in by 10in loco being a prototype and illustrated in Dr Whitcombe’s paper, and the photograph reproduced here shows an 8in by 12in loco which went to Paris first – experience having shown that larger cylinders were required for working the more steeply graded lines there. This does not, however, explain the curious fact that all the locos are quoted in the Fox Walker list as having 8in by 9in cylinders.
One thing that can be stated with certainty from the foregoing is that there are discrepancies and anomalies in the information. Firstly, one would not expect street tramway engines to have six coupled wheels in view of the relatively sharp curves encountered on such lines, yet all the Fox Walker locos are recorded thus. Is this a case of misreading a badly written figure 4 as a 6, or perhaps a misinterpretation of such a term as "six wheeled engine with two wheeled bogie"? This does not explain the class TE being 0−6−2 nor the SWTE (Fox Walker 380 and 381) being recorded as 0−6−0, for if the first suggestion was correct then 380 and 381 would have actually been 0−4−0, unless SWTE was further mistaken as meaning a six coupled engine. The drawing shows quite clearly that SWTE meant only a loco having six wheels not necessarily all coupled – in this case an 0−4−2, though it could equally have been 2−4−0 or 2−2−2!
The implication of M Mallet is that in June 1878 the Fox Walkers at Rouen were 0−4−0 like the Merryweathers. If the delivery was direct to Rouen it would be nice to equate 361-367 with the seven Fox Walkers mentioned by Mr Clingan, except that they did not come from Paris, though they could perhaps have been replaced by others that did. Certainly it is just possible that, if the six wheeled design came about after the suggestion made by Mr Holt (if that is the reason for the St Leonard trial loco with six wheels) then the locos 361-367 if at Rouen would then be only four wheeled. Again, if 380-381 were built, and in 1877, why were they built so much earlier than the twenty or so preceding locos? It could be that, having already allocated works numbers to actual orders scheduled for construction, it was felt prudent t build a couple of trial locos, though one would perhaps have expected them to be 0−4−0 and not as indicated by SWTE.
* * *
The note in "Iron" which started this discussion is one of those wonderful snippets of information that say very little when analysed. It may refer only to one engine built for trials, or to the first of a batch being tried out in Bristol. If the latter were true one would have expected this to have been mentioned – "one of a large number" for instance. The note could therefore refer to either 380 or 381, in which case the photograph in Dr Whitcombe’s history could be of the same loco. But if an odd loco did go, it upsets the tie between "seven locos" and "361-367" both dated 1878, though the trail was on 8th December 1877 – but, whichever it was, was this in fact the only loco tried on the Bristol system?
It is of course just possible that, in fact, all or most of the locos were 0−4−2 (or six wheeled) in an endeavour to keep axle loads low to suit the light track of the period. This of course is partly at variance with Dr Whitcombe’s notes – doers anyone know the source of his data? Mr Holt may have suggested a six wheeled loco after having seen locos at Rouen so arranged. One would perhaps have expected him to mention that fact, but at the same time he may have seen no real reason to say anything other than that a six wheeled machine would be better. Equally M Mallet, even if he had seen the locos at Rouen, may not have been aware of the wheel arrangement especially if their "skirts were down", though as an engineer one would have expected him to have made a thorough examination, so perhaps he had not in fact seen them.
Another interesting note in Clark’s book appears on page 462: "On the Bristol Tramways seven of the Hughes engines that worked in Paris were set to work on the Horfield section." When Bristol started to use steam power one would have expected local builders to have supplied the equipment, especially if the 1877 trial was a success, as we are led to believe, but the drawing of the Fox Walker tram engine shows no condenser – a necessity for English use. Perhaps the Hughes engines were more easily adapted, or perhaps the Fox Walkers were retained in France as being better suited to the work there.
Again, in the photographs the drivers position appears to have been at the firebox end and at the side of the boiler in the drawing, though no means of access is visible on the side illustrated in the photographs. Perhaps the crescent shaped tank and bunker may not have proved entirely satisfactory.
Anyway, the foregoing should provide interested readers with something to scratch their heads over and reference to the following may provide further information:-
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers Vol 1 1877.
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 1884 (December; The Working of Tramways by Steam).
Tramways, Their Construction & Working, by D. Kinnear Clark (1878 and 1894).
Engineering Journals of the period may have other references, and perhaps to the Exhibition at Paris.
Local Bristol newspapers may say more about the trials, or refer to any locomotives exported.
Local French newspapers may contain references, as may any contemporary literature of the Societe des Ingenieurs Civils.