A Celebrated Locomotive Type that is now Defunct
THE single driver locomotive originated in England, and is specially identified with locomotive practice in Great Britain. It has had a long and honourable history, and the type was the first to demonstrate the possibility of high speed on the railway. Indeed, until its disappearance, it had always been associated with speed. Some authorities even claim that it was only the constant increase in train loads, which added so greatly to the deadweight, that led to the abandonment of the “single”.
Although coupled engines were in use at a very early date, and represented the standard
type on the North of England colliery lines that preceded the first public railways,
the “single” is the oldest of all locomotive types. The first locomotive on record,
that built by the French engineer Cugnot in 1769, was of this type. Designed to run
on the highways for the purpose of hauling the heavy artillery of those days, it
was a three-
unconnected with the cylinder. Cugnot’s second engine, built in 1771, had the same wheel arrangement.
Murdoch’s model of 1780, the pioneer of steam traction in Great Britain, was also
George Stephenson’s first locomotives, which were constructed for colliery lines,
An English Type
George Stephenson, who left his mark so deeply on the locomotive, designed a considerable number of historic single drivers after “Rocket”. There was, for instance, “Northumbrian”, built for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830, and
similar in general design to “Rocket”, save that its cylinders were horizontal instead
of being inclined. For the same railway in the same year Robert Stephenson built
“Planet”, one of the first engines whose appearance suggested the locomotive as we
know it to-
siderably to the neatness of its outline. It has, in fact, been described as “the
real point of departure from which the modern British locomotive has been derived”,
because of the combination of such features as inside cylinders, crank axle, and
A drawback of the “Planet” class was that, although the engines weighed only eight
or nine tons, they were too heavy for the light rails then in use. These were of
The beginnings of this type are of exceptional interest, since the 2-
A SINGLE DRIVER EXPRESS ENGINE designed by J. Holden for the Great Eastern Railway. The driving wheels were 7 ft diameter and the cylinders 18 in by 24 in. The earlier engines of this class had a boiler pressure of 140 lb; in later engines the pressure was 160 lb. The total heating surface was 1,230 sq ft, and the grate area 17.9 sq ft. The weight, without tender, was 40 tons 3 cwt in working order.
As the design of the earliest Continental and American locomotives was so largely
influenced by contemporary British pract-
As early as 1780, Nathan Read, of Salem, Massachusetts, who is also claimed to have
taken out the first patent for a multi-
drive was upon the rear driving axle. This machine has the distinction of being the first locomotive designed in America, but it does not appear to have gone beyond the theoretical stage. “Tom Thumb”, built for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, in 1829, and illustrated on page 1025 of this work, had geared drive on to one of its two axles, and cannot strictly therefore be described as a “single”.
In 1832, John B. Jervis, one of the great American Pioneers, built his “Experiment”,
which had the 4-
and the typical American “cow-
A year after “Pioneer” there appeared another American locomotive that was celebrated in its day. This was “Lafayette”, built by William Norris of Philadelphia, who subsequently established locomotive works in Vienna.
Successful American “Singles”
The locomotive, an outside-
THE LAST “SINGLE” in regular passenger service in Great Britain, the famous “No. 123” of the Caledonian Railway, later Engine No. 14010 of the LMS. The locomotive is shown in its original condition. Its cylinders measured 18 in by 26 in. The diameter of the driving wheels was 7 ft, the boiler pressure was 150 lb per sq in and the total heating surface 1,085 sq ft. The locomotive was withdrawn in 1935.
speeds they seem to have developed a common defect -
During the period between 1837 and 1841 six-
out of Paddington on June 4, 1838, was a 2-
With the opening of the Great Western Railway, the real reign of the “single” may
be said to begin. It remained the standard on this railway for express passenger
work until the passing of the broad gauge in 1892. Even then the type was still so
far from being doomed that the broad-
Various types of 2-
The London and North Western “singles”, designed by Alexander Allan, were of the
“Crewe” type; they had slightly inclined outside cylinders and pierced driving wheel
splashers, and in general design were forerunners of the same company’s well-
fuel than the coupled engines in use at the same time. The three fastest booked times
in 1845 were all on the Great West-
“BULKELEY”, a broad-
The “Iron Dukes”
We will now trace the evolution of the single-
of the country became manifest, and in 1845 a Royal Commission investigated the position.
One effect of its recommend-
In 1846 the Great Western Railway built an 8 ft single-
considerably above the average for British locomotives of more than a generation
later. Daniel Gooch, the designer, was justified; one of “Great Western’s” recorded
performances was to run the 77.3 miles from Paddington to Swindon in seventy-
ance the leading axle broke, and “Great Western” was then fitted with an additional
pair of leading wheels, converting it into a 4-
We thus get the origin of the “Iron Duke” class, which included “Lord of the Isles”,
perhaps the most famous of all “singles”. Between 1847 and 1851 twenty-
1892. Most of the original machines were broken up between 1870 and 1880, but they were replaced by engines of virtually similar design, in which, however, the pressure was further increased to 140 lb. Considerable mileages stood to the credit of many of these engines; that of “Lord of the Isles” was 789,309.
A GREAT EASTERN EXPRESS ENGINE designed by Massey Bromley in 1879. The cylinders measured 18 in by 24 in, and the driving wheels had a 7 ft 6 in diameter. The heating surface of the first ten engines of this class was 1205.6 sq ft. The grate area was 17.1 sq ft, and the boiler pressure was 140 lb per sq in. The engines were built somewhat after the design of P. Stirling’s 8 ft
Great Northern “singles”, but differed in their details.
An inevitable result of the findings of the Gauge Commission, which advocated that
no further broad-
These were six-
This 1855 class was of neat design; it had inside cylinders, was domeless, had the
characteristic Great Western long, low tender, and, save for the absence of the additional
pair of leading wheels, followed closely on the lines of the broad-
If we move forward ten years we shall find that the majority of British locomotive
engineers had discarded the “single”, although the abandonment of the type was in
many instances only temporary. There were, however, two exceptions, the Great Western
and Great Northern Railways, the heads of whose mechanical departments continued
to believe in the single-
and 1902 as six-
Both this class and the first of the single-
the only one to have a dome, the remaining twenty being without one. The heating surface of these engines was 1278.5 sq ft, the pressure 140 lb, and the weight in working order 33½ tons (without tender), of which 14 tons were on the driving axles. They were subsequently rebuilt with domes, and the weight was increased by a ton. They were employed to haul many of the fastest express trains until the beginning of the present century.
described as “probably the most graceful express engines of their day”. For twenty years they hauled fast trains between London and Swindon and London and Wolverhampton.
“PRINCESS ROYAL”, one of the “Lady of the Lake” class engines built by J. Ramsbottom for the LNWR between 1859 and 1865. They had cylinders 16 in by 24 in, driving wheels 7 ft 7½ in diameter, a total heating surface of 1,098 sq ft, and a grate area of 14.9 sq ft.
Under William Dean’s regime at Swindon there was built a locomotive that was the
only one of its class. This was the 2-
except that it was domeless, had an unusually long boiler, and had bogies of such faulty design that the engine was apt to leave the track. Little record of its service survives.
No. 9 established the reputation of being powerful, but not so fast as the standard
We come now to the last phase of the “single” on the Great Western Railway, and it
makes an unusually interesting chapter in locomotive history. As already mentioned,
the Great Western had ceased to be an entirely broad-
“ROVER”, a Great Western 4-
Most of the locomotive stock was already narrow-
with a view to their ultimate use on the 4 ft 8½ in tracks.
These convertible engines were the forerunners of a class of bogie “singles” of which
eighty were built in all, the last leaving the shops in 1899. The type replaced the
reconditioned for the narrow gauge. They underwent a double conversion, since, as
first converted, they still remained six-
STROUDLEY’S EXPRESS ENGINE, built for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway in 1874. The cylinders measured 17 in by 24 in and the driving wheels had a diameter of 6 ft 9 in. The total heating surface was 1,132 sq ft and the boiler pressure was 150 lb per sq in. Later engines of this class had the driving wheels reduced to 6 ft 6 in.
Four batches were built in all. The first eight, the convertibles, were followed
figured in the last part of the record-
“Locomotive Speed Records”, which begins on page 529.
“NORTH STAR”, of the Great Western Railway, built in 1837 by Robert Stephenson and Co. The photograph shows the engine after it had been reboilered at Swindon in 1854. The cylinders were also enlarged to
16 in by 18 in. The total heating surface of the new domeless boiler was 850 sq ft.
had a diameter of 7 ft. The locomotive was one of the most successful of the Great Western Railway’s early engines.
These Great Western engines have several special claims to historical interest. They
were built to carry on the traditions of the fastest broad-
tween February 1908 and December 1915, the first to go being No. 3020, “Sultan”,
and the last, “Royal Sovereign” and “Princess Helena”. The names of some of the class
were taken from their broad-
“Single” Express Tanks
During the period that the Bristol and Exeter was a broad-
From the locomotive standpoint, the Bristol and Exeter is celebrated chiefly for
its express tanks. These were ten-
features of the design were that the firebox was provided with transverse water tubes, and that the driving wheels, which supported 18½ tons of the load, were without counterweights.
The express tanks remained in service for nearly a quarter of a century, and they
were withdrawn after one of them had in 1876 been involved with the “Flying Dutchman”,
in an accident, due to defective permanent way. But their career was not yet at an
end. The Great Western, which had in the meantime absorbed the Bristol and Exeter,
converted them to 4-
tender engines, the trailing bogie, with wheels 4 ft in diameter, being replaced
by a single pair of 4 ft 6 in wheels. The large driving wheels were cut down to 8
ft, and the weight on them was lessened. As reconstructed, two of these tanks remained
at work until the passing of the broad gauge. There were also two other ten-
GREAT NORTHERN “SINGLE” designed by P. Stirling. Twenty-
between 1886 and 1894. The driving wheels had a diameter of 7 ft 7½ in, the cylinders measured 18½ in by 26 in, total heating surface was 1,045 sq ft, and boiler pressure 160 lb per sq in.
The Bristol and Exeter ten-
moving in opposite directions in the same cylinder. The stroke was 15 in, but the
double piston arrangement made this the equivalent of 30 in. Very little is on record
concerning the performance of the South Eastern engine, but the one built for the
Brighton line remained at work in its original form until 1859, when it was reconstructed
on orthodox lines with new 15-
Some noteworthy six-
Sixty were built, all of which, in accordance with London and North Western practice, bore names. Several are of historic interest. “Lady of the Lake” herself won a gold medal at the Great Exhibition of 1862, and “Marmion” set up speed records
between London and Crewe during the first “Race to Scotland” in 1888.
Although the “Problems” were small -
The “Problems” represented a development of the “Crewe” type, to which reference
has already been made. They were also preceded by the “Bloomers”, introduced by J.
E. McConnell in 1851, which were six-
and 7 ft driving wheels. Their designer disbelieved in the low, centre of gravity
theory and placed the boiler centre 7 ft 1 in above rail level. He was also a believer
in high boiler pressures, and, as originally built, the “Bloomers” worked at 150
lb, which, was, however, later reduced to 120 lb by Ramsbottom. Forty in all were
built of the first type, and until as late as 1880 most of the expresses between
Euston, Rugby, and Birmingham were worked by them. There were also thirty-
REBUILT. A Ramsbottom 2-
The most remarkable locomotives designed b McConnell were the six-
was represented by a combustion chamber. The working pressure was 150 lb.
“Cornwall”, a famous London and North Western “single”, which still survives as a
placed outside, and, with the exception of “Cornwall”, was the only engine of this
wheel arrangement ever constructed for the North Western. It was subsequently rebuilt
as a six-
To catalogue even the best known types of “singles” used on British railways would
be tedious. But mention must be made of the “Jenny Linds”, 2-
Great Northern “Singles”
The celebrated Caledonian 2-
Nor must we forget the Great Eastern 2-
type with an excellent record of service on the Great Western, Great Central, Great
Northern, Midland, Great Eastern, and North Eastern, and other railways. Those built
for the North Eastern included a number of two-
Next to the Great Western, the “bogie single” is especially identified with the Great
Northern Railway. This line used both the inside-
heating surface of 1719.2 sq ft.
The best known of the Great Northern bogie “singles” were, of course, Patrick Stirling’s
features of their design were the absence of a dome, pierced driving-
The type proved itself eminently suitable for the work for which it had been designed,
that of hauling the fastest and heaviest expresses, and by the end of 1895, fifty-
The heating surface appears to have been unduly small for the comparatively large
cylinders, especially when it is remember-
The period between 1890 and 1901 may be regarded as the last stage in the building
The railways in question were the Great Western Railway and certain lines now forming part of the LMS or of the LNER. The Great Western singles have already been dealt with in this chapter. The other railways concerned were the Midland, the North Eastern, the Great Eastern, the Great Central, and the Great Northern Railways. The London and North Western
Railway was a notable exception, as were the southern English lines and the Scottish lines. (No. 123, the famous Caledonian locomotive referred to below, was built in 1886.) The Locomotive Superintendent of the London and North Western Railway at this time was F. W. Webb, whose compound “double singles” are detailed in the chapter “The Evolution of Compounds”,
which begins on page 1046. As far back as 1874 W. Stroudley had built some 2-
The Last “Singles”
The Midland Railway, had two main classes of “single”. The “115 Class” had 7 ft 9 in driving wheels, cylinders 19½ by 26 in, a total heating surface of 1,233 sq ft, and a grate area of 21.3 sq ft. The working pressure was 170 lb per sq in, and the total weight in working order and without tender was 47 tons 2 cwt. The “2601 Class” had driving wheels of half an inch greater diameter. The cylinders were of the same dimensions as those of the preceding class. The total heating surface was slightly smaller at 1,217 sq ft, and the grate area larger at 24.5 sq ft. Working pressure was higher at 180 lb. The total weight, in working order, without tender, was 50 tons 3 cwt. One of the “2601 Class” was exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1900.
The North Eastern locomotives of the “1517 Class” began life as two-
wheels remained unaltered. The total weight in working order, without tender, was 46 tons 19 cwt.
Great Eastern “singles”, of the “10 Class” had driving wheels of only 7 ft diameter, and cylinders 18 in by 26 in. The total heating surface was 1,292.7 sq ft, and the grate area 21.3 sq ft. Working pressure was 160 lb per sq in, and the total weight, in working order, without tender, was 49 tons. These “singles” were fitted for burning oil fuel.
The Great Central “singles”, designed by H. Pollitt, appeared about the time of the opening of the Great Central extension to London, in 1899. For some years after its opening they were often employed to draw the light expresses of the new trunk line between Marylebone and the north. They had 7 ft. 9 in driving wheels, and cylinders 19½ in by 26 in. The total heating
surface was 1,194 sq ft, and the grate area 24.8 sq ft. Working pressure was as high as 200 lb per sq in, and the total weight, in working order, without tender, was 47 tons 5 cwt.
The last “singles” built for a British railway were some Great Northern Railway 4-
As a class, the Midland Railway “singles” survived longer than any others. The last British “single” to remain in service was the former Caledonian Railway No. 123 (LMS No. 14010), which distinguished itself in the “Railway Race” of 1888, and was not withdrawn until March, 1935.
ON THE GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY. A 4-