No. 54 - p264-270

© JUNE 1974




    With the complete disappearance of narrow-gauge steam locomotives from the industrial railways of this country, would‑be preservationists have had to look elsewhere for their material. As a change from exporting engines to practically every country in the world it is well known that they are now being imported in ever increasing numbers as a result of which some interesting and unusual machines are now to be found here. The subject of this letter is a fairly standard product of Orenstein & Koppel - makers number 12740 of 1936. Quite a number of this firm's locomotives worked in this country at one time or another but as far as I am aware this is the first six‑coupled well tank to be seen here. The locomotive has been purchased by Mr A.R. Fisher of Kings Langley and was formerly owned by the Cameroons Development Corporation on which it was their No.932. It is believed to have worked at a rubber mill and was in use until about 1970. Designed to burn wood fuel, the engine has a long firebox and this item requires some attention otherwise the general mechanical condition is good, including the boiler. 12740 arrived at Liverpool on 5th April 1973 as deck cargo on the "ORANYAN" of Lagos (with a Jung 0‑6‑0 well tank for company and to help balance the ship!). The accompanying photograph was taken at Liverpool before it journeyed by road to Leighton Buzzard five days later. One unfortunate aspect of this importation was that the vessel which was due in Liverpool in late March, was diverted to Dublin by the owners and so did not reach this country until after the introduction of Value Added Tax on April 1st! It is expected that restoration to full working order will be completed by 1975 and if traffic continues to increase at the present rate on the LBNGR this attractive 8¼ton machine will be a most useful and powerful addition to the stock of that line.



Orenstein & Koppel 12740 of 1936 at the South Alexandra Branch Dock No.3, Liverpool, on 9th April 1973.    (J. F. Ward)



    This works, about which Mr Boot enquired in RECORD 34 (page 382) and RECORD 40 (page 172), was situated on the south side of the Great Float West (now known as the West Float), adjacent to an inlet which may have been known as "Gillbrook Basin". This latter term was used by W.R.S. McIntyre in "Birkenhead Yesterday and Today" for locating the works. By the time the first edition of the 25‑inch Ordnance map had been surveyed in 1875 it was known as "Brassey and Logan's Cut" and appears in a modern street map of Birkenhead as "Canada Creek". The grid reference is SJ 303903.

    A diary of events for 1853 in Osborne's Directory of Birkenhead (1854) contains the following entry: "The Birkenhead Dock Company having completed their Wharf Wall on Wallasey Pool, commenced disposing of their land for manufactories, the first in operation being the Engineering Factory of Messrs. Peto, Betts, Brassey and Jackson, the Contractors for the Grand Canadian Trunk Railway." This appears between entries dated 11th June and 16th July which would appear to indicate that things started happening during that period, although whether it was construction of the works or production of railway plant is not clear: I would think it applied to the former. The quotation of course explains the name "Canada Works".

    An 1858 map of Birkenhead reveals that the "Dock Cottages" referred to in the 1912 volume of the "Railway Magazine" were located on Stanley Road. Mr Boot's suggestion that the works might be situated there is not too far off the mark!

    Some references to Canada Works are to be found in the Minute Books of the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board which was of course the lessor of the works from its formation in 1858. It is noteworthy in all the earlier minutes that the firm occupying the works is referred to as "Thomas Brassey & Co". (The earliest minute is dated 26th August 1870.) Most of the minutes are concerned with the extension of the firm's lease, a fresh one being taken out on 12th February 1878 for three years (with the option of extending it to six or ten years) "for the purpose of carrying on the business of a Foundry, Locomotive Shop, Iron Shipbuilding, Tubular Bridge Building and the manufacture of materials for Railways...". It was recommended by the Works Committee of the Board on 31st December 1880 that on expiration of the lease, on 11th February 1881, a new lease be granted for twenty-one years, but in the following month Thos Brassey & Co intimated that they were negotiating the sale of their interests in Canada Works and requested the Board's approval of a lease being granted to a Mr Warwick Stevens. No reason is given for the firm's decision to cease trading but their departure appears to set in motion the decline of the works. Possibly the terms of the new lease differed from the original and were not advantageous.

    Mr Stevens, the new lessee, is mentioned as laying down ships and borrowing pontoons for repair work at Seacombe Ferry, but in March 1885 the lease was transferred to Mr Joseph Brown, a coal merchant, who formed the Canada Works Engineering & Shipbuilding Co Ltd. However, this coal merchant turned engineer-cum-shipbuilder was not destined to rival Laird Bros, for in October 1888 the company went into liquidation. The works then lay idle for some time, the machinery apparently being sold off in 1889, and the site was used piecemeal for a variety of purposes, the most important being by the MDHB Dock Engineer for a Pontoon Yard. Three sheds were demolished by Maden & McKee Ltd in late 1935 and early 1936 and it seems likely that these were some of Brassey's buildings. Finally the Pontoon Repair Shed was gutted by fire on the night of Saturday, 15th June 1963, the watchman, one D. Duffy, being the culprit! I have not investigated the site but the current 25‑inch Ordnance map compared with that of 1875 shows no buildings which could possibly be a part of the original Brassey Works.

    Does anyone know anything about the four-coupled saddle tank reputedly built by Brassey & Co about 1879, which was at the Whiston Colliery of the Wigan & Whiston Coal Co Ltd. Was this a product of the Canada Works?



    (Ray Mulligan has also written, much of his letter duplicating the information set out above. Apparently the Dock Cottages, mentioned by Mr Boot, were not cottages at all but seven parallel blocks of flats, each four storeys high! They were constructed by the Birkenhead Dock Company, an undertaking which had been formed to build the dock complex in Birkenhead, and the 'cottages" were provided to house the labourers who worked on this. Ray's letter also mentions a reference to the Dock Cottages in the "Railway Magazine" for April 1938 in an article on the Wirral Railway. Here, while referring to a projected branch into Birkenhead it is stated that "the only line built had its town terminus at Bridge Road, not far from the present Birkenhead (North) Station" : As the latter is situated off Stanley Road, it would appear possible that this was once known as Bridge Road, evolving into the "Stanneybridge" which Mr Boot's friend from Vancouver mentioned in his letter. TJL)



    After reading the article on page 134 of RECORD 39, I visited the Great Eggleshope Beck area and located several decaying sleepers still in situ. These were sufficiently intact to enable me to measure them, and the gauge worked out at 1ft 10in (some sleepers) and 2ft 0in (others). Two types of chair lying around, one far more substantial than the other, may indicate that there was a "main line" laid with heavy rail and large chairs, with lighter rails and the smaller chairs on branches to the actual tipping sites.





    Further to my letter on Middleton-in-Teesdale (page 332 of RECORD 45) I have now been able to obtain a photograph of the Lewin locomotive used at the Cornish Hush Mine, Howden Burn. The photograph came from Mr H.L. Beadle of Richmond via Mr Russell Wear. Although the right hand side is shown, the engine would appear to be the one that appeared in "The Engineer" for 1st January 1875, and illustrated on page 136 of RECORD 39.




    In RECORD 47 (page 20) Sid Barnes asked if it were possible that the second batch of 0‑6‑0 tank locomotives built by Beyer Peacock for Russia were, in fact, 0‑4‑0 tanks. He also asked if these 0‑4‑0 tanks belonged to a separate order. Having had the good fortune to work for Beyer Peacock I am able to answer these questions. In fact there were three orders altogether. Order No.1412 was for six 0‑6‑0 tank engines, No.1413 was for a further 15 such engines, and No.1414 was for six 0‑4‑0 tank locomotives. All of these orders were placed by Arcos Ltd, the then Russian trading organization in London. Both 0‑6‑0 and 0‑4‑0 engines are illustrated in the last 'ordinary' engine catalogue issued by the Company. The term 'ordinary' was used by them to distinguish all non-articulated locomotives from Garratts These three orders came as a godsend, if one may describe something emanating from an atheistic country, for the Company was then desperately short of work. Only those who went through the depression in the heavy-engineering industry can appreciate how bad things were. We used to say that even those customers who had never been known to pay for anything had stopped ordering! In the whole of 1932 Beyer Peacock received only six orders; four of these for ordinary engines and two for Garratts. The Russian tank engines accounted for three of the ordinary orders and the Russian Garratt was one of the latter. The other engines were the 0‑4‑0 tank for W. Gilbertson & Co, Pontardawe, Glamorgan, and a 2ft 6in gauge 2‑6‑2+2‑6‑2 Garratt for the Nepal Government. Thus, of the 30 engines for which the Company received orders during the year, 28 were for Russia. It is no exaggeration to say that they enabled the Company to remain in the locomotive-building industry. Beyer Peacock had considerable hopes of doing larger business with Russia, as evidenced by the publication of a Russian-language edition of their Garratt catalogue, but this did not materialize. I note slight differences in the dimensions as given by Mr Barnes and the builders' figures, which are probably due to translation from metric figures. The 4‑8‑2+2‑8‑4 Garratt had cylinders of 227/16in bore and these were probably the first cast-steel cylinders produced in Britain. It is interesting to note that the cut-off was limited to 65 per cent.




    I am able to add a little to the notes provided by Sid Barnes on page 20 of RECORD 47. A Beyer Peacock catalogue illustrating the locomotives in question shows the 0‑4‑0 tanks had 3ft 3.37in diameter wheels, while the 0‑6‑0 tanks had 3ft 11½in wheels. Presumably this means that Beyer Peacock 6759‑64 were four-wheel tank locos, as suggested. I find the exceptional cylinder dimensions more interesting: those on the 0‑6‑0 tanks were 22.05in x 23.62in, and those on the 0‑4‑0 tanks 18.7in x 19.68in.




    The Porter, Bell locomotive shown on page 26 of RECORD 47 is probably works number 173 of July 1873. This was a 3ft gauge 0‑4‑0 saddle tank with Bin by 16in cylinders for the Laurenceville & Evergreen Railroad, and named EVERGREEN. The Porter records I have do not give the location of this railroad and there was more than one Laurenceville. "Evergreen" was a term used for cemeteries so this does not help in determining just where the L&ER was.

    With regard to the steam excavator mentioned in the second paragraph on page 26, Souther (1818-1911) managed or owned shops in Boston, then in Richmond, Virginia. He later opened a new loco works in Boston (the Globe Works) in 1854, but ceased production about 1864. He continued in the machinery business after giving up locomotive construction.





From the IRS French records, compiled jointly by Noel Needle and myself, I can add a little information to that given about the Pithiviers - Toury engines mentioned in the editorial footnote to Mr Bayliss' letter which appeared on pages 27 and 28 of RECORD 47. Noel and I corresponded with the Engineer for the Chemins de Fer d'Intérét Local de Pithiviers a Toury (to give its full and correct title) and learned that Orenstein & Koppel 1772 of 1905 had been acquired in 1929 from a Baron de Caters. She was scrapped on site in May 1963. However, sister locomotive Pithiviers - Toury 22.5 (Orenstein & Koppel 1769 of 1905), which had been purchased in 1921 from Bellier & Carrot (? a firm of contractors), Verdun, Meuse, remained at Pithiviers until October 1965 when she was sent for preservation, in working order, on the Chemin de Fer Touristique de Meyzieu, near Lyon. There she remains for the time being and will be found listed in "The Industrial Locomotives of South Eastern France" on page SEF 77.

    To complete the picture it would be interesting to learn to whom the locomotives were supplied new, for they presumably came to France as reparations after the First World War. Knowledge of the nature of the business carried on by Baron de Caters and the location of his premises would also be useful. Such information is, unfortunately, much more difficult to ascertain than contemporary information about British locomotives. Many important and extremely useful documents were destroyed by acts of war, particularly allied air attacks in 1944, and piecing together the histories of these very interesting locomotives is a task that will probably never now be completed.




With reference to the editorial footnote on page 28 of RECORD 47, I would like to point out that outside main frames were a common feature on Mallet narrow gauge locomotives. Many engines of this type still exist in Indonesia. The only advantage to be gained by putting the cylinders at the rear of such a locomotive is that a larger firebox can be fitted.




    The last part of the list reproduced with my letter (RECORD 47, page 30) was misprinted and should have read:-

Kramatorski Metal Works, Kharkoff 1899
South Uralskie Metal Works, Ufinsk 1898
Fitzner & Gamper, Sosnovetsi 1880
Sievernie Engineering & Boiler Works, St Petersburg 1906





    With reference to the query on page 31 of RECORD 47 regarding the South Eastern Railway engine employed in pumping at the Dover Colliery No.1 shaft, the Ashford Works Register states that it was 0‑6‑0 goods No.47 sold for £184 in July 1896. After its work at this colliery ceased in November 1897, No.47 remained derelict until October 1904 when it was purchased by the SE&CR for £52 and broken up at Ashford Works at the end of the year. No.47 was a standard Cudworth 0‑6‑0 built at Ashford Works in 1874 with a long coal-burning firebox of the pattern favoured for many years by the SER. Other main line engines engaged locally on pumping duties included SER 2‑2‑2 No.177 (built at Ashford in 1857) and Cudworth standard 0‑6‑0 goods No.171 (Ashford 1856) which were both hired by the Channel Tunnel Company in November 1884. The former was returned to Ashford for disposal in November 1898, but the latter was left on site until July 1915 when it too was hauled back to Ashford Works for scrapping. Some years later in February 1922 activities recommenced at the borings with steam supplied to the pumps by a domeless 'B' class boiler built at Ashford in 1904 and latterly fitted to 4‑4‑0 No.441 (Neilson Reid 5326 of 1898). When work once again ceased, this boiler was left derelict until August 1942 when it was removed to Ashford, reconditioned and set to work in the smiths shop until withdrawn and broken up by British Railways in April 1950.




    I am able to add something to the recent correspondence in RECORD 47 (page 31) on the use of locomotives as stationary engines, if only to confuse the matter a little further! At least two locomotives were used as winders at the Mouzell haematite mines at Dalton-in-Furness. These mines were operated in the 1890's by the Millom & Askham Hematite Iron Co Ltd and were partly served by a railway of nominal 3ft 3½in gauge dating from about 1850. There were six locomotives, by Neilson, plus an odd one by Fletcher Jennings. At least two of the Neilsons were of the single cylinder type but it is not clear if either of these was involved in the conversions. It seems that by about 1894 or 1895 two of the Neilsons were still in existence but out of use. One of them had the boiler missing, and was altered to become a winder at the company's Goldmine Pit at Thwaite Flat (between Dalton and Askham), which was closed in 1902. The other went to Boon Bank Pit at Dalton, closed about 1899 or 1900. Here it occupied an engine house built for an earlier engine, and retained its original boiler although this was soon replaced by a vertical boiler placed alongside. Apparently the locos were left in one piece, wheels and all, the frame being simply mounted upon wooden supports with a connection to the winding drum alongside. They were driven from the footplate, and my informant stated that (on the one at Boon Bank at least) all the wheels went round, a few inches off the ground. This suggests to me that this locomotive, at least, was a single cylinder example as the wheels would have to be left coupled in order for the anti-dead-centre arrangement to function.



    (The anti-dead centre arrangement mentioned above was achieved on these Neilson 0‑4‑0 single cylinder locomotives by having a return crank on the trailing pin of one side which enabled the coupling rods to be a quarter of a wheel revolution out of sequence: on the other side of the locomotive the coupling and connecting rods were on a common crank pin. This ensured that the leading and trailing wheels moved in the same direction at the beginning of the stroke. Obviously, uncoupling or removing the wheels would render this provision ineffective. TJL)


    I found the notes on page 90 of RECORD 49 interesting since they amplify and correct some of my own information. I consider that Wainwright's letter of 6th November 1920 is inaccurate, since at that period only two collieries (Mells and Newbury) and one quarry (Vobster) were served by the Newbury Railway. The third colliery would have been Mackintosh, closed in 1919, while a second quarry was not apparently connected to the railway until about 1934. Perhaps Wainwright's wished to emphasise the urgency of their request!

    The ownership of Vobster Quarry is confusing. Pocket Book 'B' suggests that Mendip Mountain Quarries Ltd owned Vobster prior to 1926, but it now appears that John Wainwright & Co Ltd were the owners in both 1920 and 1933 - and presumably in between those dates. Furthermore, the notes on Sentinel rebuilds (also on page 90) suggest that Mendip Mountain Quarries Ltd and Roads Reconstruction Ltd were in some way connected in 1926; in other words, these three firms had some interest in Vobster Quarry at about the same time. Can anyone provide more definite information?



    (Chris Down and Alastair Warrington are preparing an article on the Newbury Railway which. served Vobster Quarry and the collieries mentioned above. It will include a discussion of the Mells Siding Committee, and readers with any information or photographs relating to the railway are asked to contact the Editors. KPP)