|THE INDUSTRIAL RAILWAY RECORD||
© DECEMBER 1968
That invaluable source of information on contractors’ locomotives, "The Builder", has thrown up a number of obscure items which give scope for thought. For instance, in the issue dated 22nd August 1863, "To be sold ...contractors’ locomotives ... by Gwynne. - H. Lee & Son, Crown Wharf, Nine Elms." Gwynne owned the Thames Ironworks at Hammersmith and it has been suggested elsewhere that he built locomotives there. But is there any certain evidence?
Them again, Rowland Brotherhood keeps appearing. On 12th November 1864 an auction sale of his plant off the Oxford & Thame Railway at Wheatley station was announced for the 21st, including two narrow gauge locos. On 30th January 1864 his plant off the Bristol & South Wales Union Railway (which ran between Bristol and Portskewett with a ferry at New Passage) was to be auctioned on 16th February at Patchway, Pilning and Portskewett, and included were three narrow gauge light contractors’ engines. No particulars can be found of these five, but two of the latter may well be those by Brown & Co (or Brown & May) referred to on page 59 of RECORD 3/4 and page 245 of RECORD 10; the third may have been by Alexander Chaplin. Since these lines were of 7ft 0¼in gauge the term "narrow gauge" might perhaps mean "standard gauge".
A note on 11th March 1865 states that three locos from the Northern Outfall contract in London had been sold for £1,000, £550 and £270. There was no undue difficulty in identifying 0-6-0 saddle tank, Manning Wardle 44 of 1862, named NORTHERN OUTFALL and sent new to George Furness, the contractor. After this notice it disappears. A second may have borne the name WHITMORE. Of the third there is no news. But Mr C.H. Dickson (SLS Journal, 1961, page 213) states that the last two were by George England.
In the issue dated 28th April 1866, it was advertised that on 7th and 8th May, the plant, including locomotive engines used on the Cheadle Branch Railway by Garside & Stead, would be auctioned. Again, on 12th May 1866, Mr Minter advertised that he would sell at Faversham on the 28th Mr Crampton’s surplus materials from the Kent Coast Railway contract, including a locomotive and tender. No further information on these two items can be found.
A great deal of activity is evident in 1870. On the 20th July two locos used by W. Jackson on the construction of Exmouth Docks & Railway were sold there. On 6th July "a powerful tank locomotive engine, nearly new" was for sale by auction at Caernarvon, having been used on the construction of the Caernarvon & Llanberis Railway - perhaps by S.C. Ridley, who is supposed to have had a Chaplin vertical boilered locomotive there. On 3rd August, Mr Edwards having presumably completed the work, two Manning Wardle locomotives used on the construction of the National Defences, Hilsea Lines, were sold. One appears to have been Manning Wardle 79 of 1863 which started life as James Rennie’s BUSY BEE: further details of this locomotive appear in RECORD 13, pp. 31-32.
J.T. Chappell’s locomotives are a troublesome lot. Two separate advertisements in August and September 1870 offer what is presumably the same engine, a six-coupled with 3ft 0in wheels and 12½in cylinders by Manning Wardle - "nearly equal to new" - which had been used on the three mile tramway from Stoats Nest to the new Imbecile Asylum at Caterham which Chappell built. There are at least three contenders: the engine which was sold to the LB & SCR in 1871 becoming 66 and which, Burtt presumes, they didn’t like and sold back to Chappell: MW 80 of 1862 for John Watson & Co., Swansea, which went from John Dickson to Chappell in 1868, became LB & SCR 290 in 1871, went back to Chappell as SAMBO in 1874 and, after being rebuilt for Chappell by MW as their 709 in 1882, went to the L & SWR as 459 in 1884: or, finally MW 81 of 1863 which went round several contractors, starting with Geo. Thomson & Co, then with John Dickson on a contract in Gower - at a guess the Llanmorlais branch, thence going to Chappell, then to Knight & Pilling at Bolton, and by 1889 to J.T. Firbank who used it on the Metropolitan Railway extensions from Rickmansworth to Chesham (by which time it was named WREXHAM).
On 7th December the contractors’ plant used by I. Nelson of Carlisle in building the Marsden Tunnel at Diggle was sold. The four-wheeled tank loco by Manning Wardle was clearly INDEPENDENCE, MW 225 of 1867, and was purchased by E.W. Goodenough, a London dealer. The next owners are supposed to have been Lucas & Randall; then in 1885 it turned up on Joseph Firbank’s Hurst Green to Ashurst Junction contract on the LB & SCR, being kept by J. Firbank and J.T. Firbank until sold to C. Williams, the dealer, of Morriston, Glamorgan, after the Fishguard Harbour contract in 1907. (I am indebted to Mr G. Alliez for the history of this engine).
Finally, in December 1870 two locomotives used on the construction of the "new South West India Dock" are advertised; there are no other clues.
Two advertisements in 1872, the first dated 6th July, state that the plant used by Brassey, Ogilvie & Harrison on the Wolverhampton & Walsall Railway is to be sold. One advertisement gives three tank locos, one of Manning Wardle, and one tender loco, but the other refers to "six ... powerful locomotive, tank and other engines by ... Haigh Foundry, Manning Wardle, Aveling & Porter, Garrett & Sons, George England, T. Cross, St. Helens, and others". Brassey collected a strange mixture of engines, as the incomplete list in "Contractors’ Locomotives, Part 1" (Union Publications) demonstrates. Of these, Aveling & Porter 220, 221 and 235 are said to have been delivered to Brassey in 1866, whilst it is tempting to identify the tender engine with the Haigh Foundry engine and both with the famous GIPSY LASS (HE 42 of 1840) which worked on the Leicester to Hitchin and the Worcester to Hereford contracts.
The name of the contractor for the SER Tonbridge Direct line seems to have escaped record; so too does the reason for the circumstance that the work was completed in 1868, but not until 1st July 1872 was the plant sold, when two locomotives, inferred to be six-coupled, built by England in 1865 made £1,520, three by Brotherhood in 1863 made £1,310 and three by Hughes £735; among buyers at the sale (but not necessarily of locomotives) are noted Peto, Cowdy, Homer, Deardon, the Landore Steel Co, Colman, Glassbrook, Tomlinson and Walker. On the 23rd another engine, a four-coupled six-wheeled saddle tank by Brotherhood was also for sale. None of these nine have been identified.
Cowdy continually advertised in "The Builder" throughout the 1870’s, either as J. Cowdy or later as Basnett & Cowdy, having invariably a locomotive tank engine for sale or hire, usually with no details. Occasionally he is more communicative: for instance, early in 1877, Basnett & Cowdy of 38, Great St. Helens and King Street, Southwark Bridge Road, London, offer for sale or hire a tank locomotive, six-coupled, 9½in; or again, in 1874 J. Cowdy of 40A, Queen Street, London, offers a four-coupled tank locomotive, 8½in, in March, and a 9in tank loco in October, and both in September. All these seem to be different engines from the 9½in six-wheeled four-coupled engine by England advertised elsewhere.
J. Perry, of Tredegar Works, Bow, is another obscure London contractor. He built the GWR Titley to Presteign branch in 1872 and the North Somerset Railway from Bristol to Radstock, where Pensford viaduct failed and had to be rebuilt. On 22nd February 1873 a sale of his plant at Hallatrow on the latter line included two six-wheeled saddle tank locomotives. He is known to have owned at least eight later engines, but the only one of about this time is the ECLIPSE, a 2−4−0 saddle tank purchased from I.W. Boulton.
Finally, notices on 28th June and 16th August 1873 state that four locos used by J.L. Read on the construction of the Devon & Somerset Railway, a broad gauge line running from Norton Fitzwarren to Barnstaple, and worked by the Bristol & Exeter, were to be sold. The interesting point is that whilst one was a 12hp chain locomotive by Aveling & Porter, the other three were six-coupled Fox Walker tanks to the 4ft 8½in gauge. Also, there is the strange case of Bristol & Exeter 111, of which not much is known; the RCTS Great Western History (page B36) gives it as an 0−6−0 tank with 4ft 8½in wheels, bearing (again) a Brotherhood plate dated 1874 "but it is improbable that this firm actually built the engine". Could this have had some connection with this contract?