Cuffley Industrial Heritage Society

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Page 10 of 14


The most widely used boiler in industry was introduced, railway gauges were standardised by an Act of Parliament, and the "Tank Engine" was born.

1844 William Fairbairn introduced his "Lancashire" boiler in Manchester during 1844. It became the most widely used boiler in British Industry.

1846 The Regulation of Railways (Gauge) Act was passed in 1846. Under the Act Parliament decreed that all future railways in Britain should be 4ft 805 inch gauge (1.435m) and in Ireland 5ft 3 inches (1.6). Brunel's broad gauge was doomed. Daniel Gooch's locomotives could now run at speeds up to 60 miles per hour (96kmph).

1849 William Bridges Adams designed a small locomotive which carried its own coal and water without a separate tender. The "Tank Engine" was born.

George Henry Corliss, an American, patented a semi-rotary or rocking valve for steam engines. It had far reaching consequences for stationary steam engines in Britain (and the USA).

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Page 10 of 14

A brief outline history of steam through the 17th and 18th centuries

Page 11 of 14


The first marine compound engine was fitted, while John Ramsbottom completed his DX class goods locomotives - 942 were to follow.

1854 and 1855 Randolph Elder and Co. of Glasgow fitted the first marine compound engine in the screw steamship "Brandon" in 1854. It was so successful that the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. ordered compound engines in 1855 for their new steamship "Valparaiso".

1858 The first of John Ramsbottom's DX class 0-6-0 goods locomotives was completed at the Crewe Works of London and North Western Railway. By 1874 the total number built was 943 - an all-time British record for one class of locomotive.

Page 12 of 14


The Corliss engine was imported from the USA, and the first British-made one was built in Fife. The first of 2500 0-6-0 saddle-tank locomotives was constructed and a double bogie locomotive led to an upsurge of narrow gauge railway building all over the world.

1860 The first Corliss engine in Britain was installed in a paper mill near Aberdeen in 1860. It was imported from the USA.

1863 In 1863 the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales opened. It had a 1 foot, 11.5 inch gauge (600mm). The steam locomotives were introduced under the direction of their engineer, Charles Spooner.

Robert Douglas of Kirkcaldy, Fife, made the first British built Corliss engine for an Edinburgh paper mill.

1864 The Great Western Railway built its first 0-6-0 saddle-tank locomotive in 1864. Pannier tanks began to be substituted for saddle tanks from 1901. By the time construction ceased in 1956, nearly 2500 had been built in various sizes.

1865 Passenger traffic on the Ffestiniog Railway commenced in 1865, the first time on so narrow a gauge. The Talyllyn Railway, with a 2 feet 3 inches gauge (686mm) opened with locomotives and passenger traffic. The government had relented a little on gauges. During this time commuter traffic began to develop around the large cities. The railways began to introduce passenger traffic locomotives to handle this traffic.

1867 Alexander McDonnell introduced the "101" class 0-6-0 goods locomotive in 1867 on the Great Southern and Western Railway, Ireland. It was based on John Ramsbottom's DX Class and became the most numerous locomotive class in Ireland. The last survivors were officially withdrawn from service in 1965.

1869 Robert Fairlie introduced his patent double bogie locomotive on the Ffestiniog Railway in 1869. It's capacity for haulage and steady riding led to an upsurge of narrow gauge railway building all over the world, although very few used Fairlie's Patent locomotives.

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The first of nearly 500 miles of 3 feet gauge was laid in Ireland, and an "inverted vertical" engine was patented in 1878 - an ideal engine for driving the early electrical generators.

1874 The Ballymena and Larne Railway, the first passenger carrying 3 feet gauge (914mm) railway in Ireland opened in 1874. The government was still relenting! Nearly 500 miles of 3 feet gauge railways were ultimately built in Ireland.

1878 A high speed fully enclosed "inverted vertical" engine was patented in 1878 by Willans. The moving parts were splash lubricated from an oil bath in the crankcase. It became an ideal engine for driving the early electrical generator's directly from the crankshaft without belts and pulleys..

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Towards the end of the 19th Century, engines had become so economical to run, that sailing ships were virtually rendered redundant. Francis Webb became focused on the compound locomotive, and a Standard Goods locomotive was introduced which gave such sterling service the last one was withdrawn from service in 1956!