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traffic up to London, and one of Kirtley's goods engines, "No. 479,"
was shown in the Exhibition.

In 1870 he placed forty-eight still larger express engines, known as
the " 800 " class, on the Midland, which did excellent work for many
years, and after being rebuilt are still in effective working to-day.
These engines, together with a type known as the "890," are of great
historic interest. When the great policy of third class by all trains
was first introduced, the length of the Midland express trains was,
of course, greatly increased. Previously express trains had con-
sisted of five or six coaches, but directly afterwards they were
increased to thirteen and even more vehicles. To run this greatly
augmented weight up heavy gradients at a high speed called for a


great expansion of locomotive power; and when the time arrived
in 1872 for this policy to be inaugurated Kirtley had sixty-eight new
and powerful locomotives ready for the work, which they performed
with great ease and satisfaction.

Matthew Kirtley was a man who made a great mark in locomotive
engineering in the early period of its history. Of course, he was
one of the "old school" of strictly practical working engineers who
had thoroughly mastered all the details by actual personal experience
in the management and running of engines. At that time, when
engines were much more liable to break down on the road and when
so many repairs had to be executed on the spot in order to enable
an engine to bring its train to its destination, the driver had to be
much more of a fitter and operative mechanic than a driver is called
upon with more perfect appliances to be to-day. At that time a driver
had what was known as a " shed day " once a week, when he had
to put in the whole day, together with the fireman, repairing, packing
glands of the piston rods and valve spindles, making tight joints, and
generally overhauling his own engine.

This experience was very valuable to Kirtley, and he had also had
the great advantage of his merits being recognised by the Stephensons.
It was while Kirtley was working on the London and Birmingham
Railway that the Stephensons recommended him to the Birmingham
and Derby Junction Railway; and it was afterwards, through their
favourable opinion of Kirtley, even although he came from the
smallest of the three companies amalgamated, that he was given this
highly important position on the Midland.

At that period there were considerable differences among engineers
as to whether engines should be placed upon four or six wheels. The
Midland Counties Company, following the lead of the London and
Birmingham, had adopted four-wheeled engines. Mr. Kirtley, having
had actual experience of the unsteadiness of these four-wheeled
engines, was, on the other hand, a strong advocate for the six-wheeled
type ; and immediately after he assumed control of the Midland he
introduced six-wheeled engines exclusively, and placed the four-
wheelers to unimportant work as speedily as possible. This change
proved of great utility, and added largely to the safety of railway

Kirtley's life presents a fascinating picture of sturdy work some-
what similar to that of George Stephenson in the development and
carrying out of his ideas. It was, of course, of great advantage
to him that his own practical experience enabled him to know exactly
what engines did and could do, and assisted him largely in his manage-


ment and dealing with the men under his control, and also in designing
engines for specific work.

Here we have a man beginning life in the humblest position with a
clear head, gifted with great natural mechanical intelligence, mastering
detail after detail, and giving practical instructions to his assistants as
to the drawing of the designs which he intended to be reproduced.
It would be idle to pretend that Kirtley was a man of great book-
learning, or of polished education, or of high scholarly attainments ;
on the contrary, he was essentially a plain, sturdy specimen of a
Durham man, whose mind was imbued with the all-important fact
that everything came down to the test of practical working, and that
the practical outcome of a thing was the true gauge of its value.
And it was the possession of these great natural gifts and qualifications
that for so many years made him the valued and esteemed servant of
the Midland Railway Company until the day of his death. Mr. E. S.
Ellis, who was Chairman of the Company at the time of his decease,
and whose admiration and veneration for the Stephensons was of the
highest possible character, his association with them in his young
days exercising an abiding influence with him all his life, extended
that admiration in no slight degree to Matthew Kirtley. Kirtley, in
the early stages of his career and afterwards, was sometimes, for a
variety of reasons, fiercely attacked by those who had not, as he had,
gone through the initial stages of great railway expansion and develop-
ment in England. He was even accused of being " tailor bred " in the
railway press and the pamphlets of the period. How small, paltry, and
feeble-minded these attacks read to-day ! But the fact that Kirtley
was so attacked only increases our respect for the man and our
admiration for the responsible directors who had the courage as well
as the sound business instinct to support and uphold one who, although
not cultured, was a great practical mechanical engineer, whose name
and whose fame deserve to live in locomotive history.

In his memory a handsome granite obelisk has been erected in the
Corporation Cemetery at Derby, which bears the following inscription:


BORN FEB. 6TH, 1813.
DIED MAY 24x11, 1873.

Locomotive Superintendent of the Midland Railway Company
from 1844 up to the time of his death.

This monument was erected by the Employees of the

Locomotive and Carriage Departments as a

token of their affection.

" The way of the just is uprightness."

ISAIAH xxvi. 7.


MR. SAMUEL WAITE JOHNSON, M.I.C.E., who was President of the
Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1898, is a native of Bramley,
near Leeds, and was educated at the Leeds Grammar School. He
entered on his career as an engineer at the important works at Leeds
of Messrs. E. B. Wilson and Co., of the railway foundry, where he
was a pupil under the late Mr. James Fenton, an engineer of some
note and importance, who, in the early days of railways, constructed
some locomotive engines that were famous in their day. At these
works general engineering work was carried on as well as the construc-
tion of stationary and locomotive engines. He showed a decided

favour for the locomotive depart-
ment, and accordingly his first
step in the ladder of progress
was his appointment as manager
of workshops for the repair of
engines on the Great Northern
Railway, whose works were then
under the control of Mr. Archi-
bald Sturrock. From thence
he removed to Gorton, near
Manchester, when he entered
the service of the Manchester,
Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Rail-
way Company (now Great Cen-
tral) as Works Manager of the
locomotive, carriage, and wagon
shops, then under the superin-
tendence of the late Mr. Charles
Sacre. This position he occupied
for five years, and he resigned to
take up the still higher office as

Locomotive, Carriage, and Wagon Superintendent of the Edinburgh
and Glasgow Railway at the Glasgow headquarters of the Company.
During his tenure of that office this line was absorbed by the
North British Railway Company, who retained his services as
Locomotive Superintendent of the Western (or Glasgow and Edin-
burgh) Division of the North British system. After spending about
two years in Scotland, Mr. Johnson, in 1866, took a still more
important step when he accepted the position of Locomotive,
Carriage, and Wagon Superintendent of the Great Eastern Railway at
Stratford. He occupied this post for seven years, and during that
period he initiated some important mechanical changes both in the



design of locomotives and in the construction of machinery, as well
as great improvements in administration. After the death of Mr.
Matthew Kirtley in 1873, the Midland directors were extremely
fortunate in securing Mr. Johnson as his successor. This position
also carries with it the offices of Locomotive Engineer to the
Somerset and Dorset Joint as well as the Midland and Great Northern
Joint Railways.

It will thus be seen that for over thirty-five years Mr. Johnson has
had a most varied and wide experience in the designing and con-
struction of locomotive engines as well as a great practical acquaintance
with the construction and management of all kinds of rolling stock.

Indeed, he may be said to be the doyen of locomotive superintendents
in this country, and his experience is of the most varied and extensive
character, which places his scientific knowledge of this department of
railway working in the highest eminence. Some of the leading features
of the great work which he has accomplished for the Midland are dealt
with in the chapter relating to the locomotive works at Derby. Some
idea of the progress and development of the locomotive requirements
of the Midland Company during his administration may be gathered
from the fact that when he was appointed in 1873 the train mileage
of the Company for the year was 19,811,000 train miles, whereas
the mileage calculated for 1900 was no less than 48,400,000 train
miles, which is very nearly one million miles run by the Company's
engines every week.


The Way and Works Department, the fourth great division (of which
Mr. J. Allen McDonald is Engineer-in-Chief) has the care and main-
tenance of the whole of the way and works of the Company, which
include, as the name implies, the permanent way, rails, sleepers, banks,
viaducts, culverts, bridges, aqueducts, telegraph posts, signal-boxes,
canals, stations, goods sheds, engine sheds in fact, it covers all the
real property of the Company with the exception of the rolling stock.
There are three branches, all of which are under the Way and Works
Committee, consisting of four directors, and the Engineer-in-Chief
takes the control of everything except the subsidiary branches, which
are under the Estate Agent and the Electrical Engineer.

The Engineer-in-Chief has associated with him an assistant engineer
for new works, who deals entirely with the new works which the
Company is constructing; and an assistant engineer, who is charged
with the maintenance and efficiency of the works already completed.
This latter department is subdivided, and is controlled by three


divisional engineers, one for the Northern Division (north of Derby),
another for the Southern Division, and the third for the South Wales
line. Further, there are district engineers, who are stationed at the
most convenient centres, eleven in number. Under these district
superintendents there are forty-three inspectors, whose duty it is to
walk constantly over the lengths of line committed to their charge
and carefully examine the condition of the road, culverts, bridges,
and everything on their section. They mark places requiring repair,
enter them up in a book, and give instructions to the gangers of plate-
layers or to the department or workmen concerned, and see that the
necessary repairs or alterations required are at once attended to. In
order to ensure, as far as possible, the absolute safety and efficiency
of the line, the whole of the rules relating to the supervision and
maintenance of the permanent way have to be read over to every
man on entering the department, and also twice a year to each man


employed ; and the district inspector is responsible for seeing that this
is done. There are seventy-seven of these rules and sub-rules, so that
it will be seen that at least twice a year the district inspector has
almost to hold a school of instruction. This duty is necessarily very
strictly enforced, and the utmost stress is laid on the rule that the great
and paramount duty of all is to see that the lines are kept absolutely
safe for running. When this duty of reading the rules has been per-
formed, each man to whom the rules and regulations have been so
read and explained must sign a declaration that this has been done,
which declaration is forwarded to the permanent way inspector for
the district. In addition, the permanent way and works inspectors
have to take care that the whole of these rules and regulations are
duly observed, and any departure therefrom must be promptly reported
to the Engineer-in-Chief.

Each inspector must have a register of the names and places of
residence of all the men employed in his district, so that in case



of accident he may be able to summon them in the event of their
services being required either by day or night, to remove any obstruc-
tion caused by snow, frost, slips, or other sudden emergency.

The men who keep the line in order are divided in gangs for
ordinary purposes of six or eight men, who are under the charge of a
foreman or ganger, to whom is allotted a length of line, say, from half
a mile to five miles, according to the number of lines and the amount
of traffic on it, and all their attention has to be devoted to it, the
ganger being personally responsible for the whole.

Each foreman, ganger, or leading man must walk over his length of
line every morning and evening on weekdays, and where passenger


trains are run, once on Sundays ; and he must examine the line, level,
and gauge of the road, and see that everything is sound and in proper
order and repair.

He has in addition to examine gates at crossings, and report any
irregularities which he observes, in order that the persons who are
required to keep such gates closed and fastened may be charged with
the penalties. In case of floods the foreman or ganger has to examine
carefully the action of the water through the culverts and bridges, and
in case of any sign of danger he must stop the trains and take all pre-
cautionary measures till the inspector arrives, and thus secure the
stability of the line and the safety of the traffic.

The ganger is also responsible for the extinction of fires near the


line, and in the event of snow or fog he has to see that work ceases in
the Permanent Way Department, so that the services of the men may be
transferred to the Traffic Department as fog signalmen or as clearers of
snow, so that the traffic may proceed smoothly and safely as far as
possible without interruption.



W. H. Barlow .
J. S. Crossley .
A. Johnston
J. Underwood .
A. A. Langley .
J. A. McDonald

July, 1844, to 1857 .
January, 1858, to 1875
April, 1875, to 1883.
April, 1875, to 1889.
October, 1883, to 1890
July, 1890 .

Lines open for traffic.
Lines under construction.

In the early days of railways the lines were designed and constructed
by independent engineers who were not officials of any particular
company, but who were called in for the performance of special work,
and to carry out specific schemes for the extension of old lines or the
inauguration of entirely new works. The railways and the railway
companies of the kingdom had not yet become sufficiently large and
important to be able to retain exclusively the services of an eminent
engineer for their own special benefit; and it was only after the
companies had by great combinations and amalgamations grown to


gigantic proportions that they were able to command, and indeed were
compelled by the necessities of the case to have, their own engineer,
whose services should be entirely and exclusively devoted to the
interests of one company. This system of calling in special engineers
was followed for a very considerable period, and applied to all the rail-
ways of the kingdom ; and one of the chief duties of these engineers
was to prepare plans for the Acts of Parliament, and to give pro-
fessional evidence of their practicability and utility before Parliamentary
Committees. A very good example of this is to be found in the two
Stephenson's, George and Robert (father and son), who at the time
they held the position of chief engineers to the lines which subsequently
formed the Midland system, also held a similar position on many other
lines all over the country. That necessitated each company having a
resident engineer of its own to act under the advice of the Stephen-
sons (practically for the whole of the narrow-gauge railways, of which
they were the champions), Brunei (for the broad gauge), and a few

During this period Robert Stephenson and Co. were also locomotive
engineers at Newcastle-on-Tyne, where they designed and built engines
for use on the various railways ; and as a matter of fact this firm have
supplied locomotives to the Midland from the earliest lines which
formed the foundation of the Company, including the "Comet,'' which
opened the Leicester and Swannington line in 1832, down to the
present day. Both George and Robert Stephenson were also owners
of the Snibstone Collieries, near Leicester; the Clay Cross Collieries,
Derbyshire ; and the lime pits at Crich, near Ambergate.

The resident engineers who had been gradually acquiring practical
knowledge and experience in carrying out works under such master
minds, on the death of the Stephensons received the appointments as
chief engineers ; but a new order of things came into operation, and
these chief engineers no longer had a purely nominal connection
henceforward they were the responsible officers of the company to
whose interests the whole of their energies had to be devoted. There
was in fact no longer that exclusive prominence that belonged to the
great railway pioneers ; but their pupils and assistants raised up a new
generation of engineers to follow them, and each company was then
able to command the exclusive services of its own practical and highly
trained official.

ROBERT STEPHENSON having been the engineer-in-chief of the North
Midland, occupied a similar position for the united Company in 1844,
and his distinguished father, George Stephenson, who had been the
engineer for the making of the North Midland, became " consulting "


engineer for the Midland, which office he held up to his death.
Robert Stephenson, who was engineer for the Leicester and Swanning-
ton in 1830, was engineer for the London and Birmingham line, which
gave the Midland its first communication with London (over what is
now the London and North Western Railway via Rugby), while his
father, George Stephenson, was engineer for the North Midland;
Birmingham, and Derby ; Leeds and Bradford ; Leicester and Burton ;
Syston to Peterborough; and between them they were practically
engineers for the whole of England rather than for any particular
company. In fact, at the time Robert was engineer to the Midland
he was making the Chester and Holyhead Railway, including the cele-
brated tubular bridge.

Robert Stephenson died October i2th, 1859, in his fifty-sixth year,
and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

MR. WILLIAM HENRY BARLOW, the first Chief Engineer of the Midland,
is the oldest official of the Midland Company still living; and he is still
one of the consulting engineers of the Company. He was the Resident
Engineer of the Midland Counties Railway at Leicester, and at the
time of the amalgamation he was selected and removed to Derby as
Chief Engineer of the united Company. For many years he acted
under Robert Stephenson, who was Consulting Engineer. Mr. Barlow
constructed many lines, including the Bedford and London, for the
Midland ; but the great work with which his name will ever be
associated is the St. Pancras roof, which he designed, as well as all the
arrangements and offices connected with the station, except the hotel
and offices, which were the work of the late Sir Gilbert Scott. He
was joint engineer with Sir John Hawkshaw for the Clifton Suspension
Bridge (1861); he was one of those appointed to investigate the cause
of the fall of the old Tay Bridge (1879); constructed the new Tay
Bridge (1880-7) \ was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
(1880); consulted as to the feasibility of the Forth Bridge (1881); and
is the author of several books on technical subjects. He was born on
May loth, 1812, and is the son of the late Professor Peter Barlow,
F.R.S., who was one of the three commissioners appointed in 1845 to
report on the question of railway gauge. He was educated by his
father, and in the Engineering Department of the Royal Arsenal,
Woolwich. In 1832 he went to Constantinople and erected works and
machinery for Turkish ordnance. He was appointed Resident Engineer
to the Midland Counties Railway in 1842 ; Chief Engineer to the Mid-
land in 1844; and Consulting Engineer to the Midland in 1857.

MR. JOHN ALLEN MCDONALD, the Chief Engineer of the Midland,
is a member of the Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He


3 2 9

is a son of the late Mr. George McDonald, surgeon, of Bristol, where he
was born in 1847. After the completion of his educational course at
Clifton, he commenced his engineering career on extensions of the
London and South Western Railway, being trained as a pupil of his
brother, Mr. A. H. McDonald, who was then Resident Engineer for
Mr. W. R. Galbraith, the Chief Engineer for these lines. He was
next engaged as an assistant to the late Mr. Charles Richardson, the
engineer and originator of the Severn Tunnel ; and afterwards he did
some work in the construction of the London and North Western and
Rhymney Companies' joint line in South Wales. At the end of 1871
he entered the service of the
Midland, when he was engaged
by the late Mr. J. S. Crossley,
the Chief Engineer of the Mid-
land; and in 1872 he entered
on the great extension work,
which has, on one part of the
system or other, been con-
tinuously in progress on the
Midland Railway since that
period. Mr. McDonald was
appointed Resident Engineer
on the widening of the main
line from Trent to Leicester.
He continued his valuable
work as Resident Engineer on
different new lines and works
till 1889, when he was trans-
ferred to Derby as Chief Assis-
tant for new works under Mr. A.
A. Langley, the Chief Engineer.

Shortly afterwards the maintenance of the Southern Division of the
Midland lines was added to his other duties, and in July, 1890, on the
retirement of Mr. Langley, he was appointed Engineer-in-Chief. Since
that period he has been responsible for many great works, including
the provision of four roads from Kettering to London, with very heavy
tunnelling at Ampthill and Elstree ; and also for the vast alterations
which have been effected at Kentish Town, which have proved of
enormous advantage in the working of the traffic. The construction
of the new direct line from Sheffield to Bradford, the extensive new
works at Sheffield, the Leicester and Wigston widening, the new
widening from Trent to Chesterfield, now approaching completion,
are all included among his achievements.



The Architect (Mr. C. Trubshaw) has to design station buildings and
to perform all the duties which come within his department.

The Superintendent of the Signal Department (Mr. T. Woodward)
has about twenty district inspectors under him, and at the large centres
where there is much traffic the duties of all concerned are not only
very onerous, but they are of vital importance and require constant and
most earnest supervision, because the safety of the line so largely
depends upon the efficiency in signalling. This department has made
very rapid progress in recent years, both as regards its importance and
its complicated machinery. When railways were first introduced there
were no telegraphic signals, but with the growth of traffic the use of
signals has been enormously extended until practically every movement
of traffic on the main line, no matter how simple it may be, is controlled
and regulated by the movement of a signal arm or disc on a fixed
post. These signals in all cases work in conjunction and are inter-

Online LibraryClement Edwin StrettonThe history of the Midland railway → online text (page 28 of 36)