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Beyer Peacock Steam Locomotives


Beyer Peacock order No. 3175 WP No. 1416 "Loch" built in 1874 for the Isle of Man Railway and still in service.

The First Engines

Beyer’s reputation must have stood remarkably high, for the first order for engines was received from the East Indian Railway (Order No. 25) before any part of the works had been built. The first engine actually completed at Gorton Foundry was one of eight 2-2-2 tender engines for the Great Western Railway (Order No. 5) to Gooch's design for their standard gauge. This engine left the works on 21 July 1855 and cost £2,660.

Beyer designed the new works himself, and built many of the machine tools to equip it. Beyer Peacock continued to build machine tools for the greater part of their history, supplying lathes, etc. to the railways where they sent their engines, but these are outside the scope of this brief history.

From 1856 until they closed in 1966, Bayer, Peacock took a photograph of nearly every type of engine which they built, and the surviving negatives are part of the Museum of Science and Industry collection. The Edinburgh and Glasgow 2-2-2 tender (66) was the first engine to be photographed, and the General Arrangement and other detail drawings are preserved. The photograph of a 2-4-0 tender engine for the Swedish Government Railway (97) is a recent copy taken from the oldest surviving negative of 1856.

Very soon a number of almost standard engine designs appeared. The Edinburgh & Glasgow 2-2-2 and the D. Luiz for the South Eastern of Portugal (629) were similar but built for different gauges. This later engine was exhibited at the International Exhibition of 1862 in London, where it was awarded a bronze medal. Beyer, Peacock were justly proud of this achievement, partly because it marked the firm establishment of Gorton Foundry. Both these engines proved to have the excellent design and workmanship for which Beyer, Peacock soon became noted, for the E. & G. engines worked for over fifty years and the D. Luiz remained in service for over 65 years and is now preserved in Portugal.

We have seen how Bayer, Peacock built engines to other people’s designs, like the engines for the Great Western Railway. For a long time the firm had a close association with Joseph Beattie, the Locomotive Superintendent of the London & South Western Railway. Beyer, Peacock built for him some early experimental coal - burning engines ( for these first engines burnt coke to lessen the smoke), with boilers to Beattie's own design, although the engines had many Beyer, Peacock features. Some of the Beattie well tanks (649), which until recently worked between Wadebridge and Bodmin in Cornwall, were built by Beyer, Peacock, the first engine of this class being completed in 1862.

Hermann Lange joins the firm

In 1861 Beyer invited Hermann Ludwig Lange (1837 - 1892), who was born in the same town in Saxony, to come to Gorton. In 1865 Lange became Chief Draughtsman and on Beyer's death on 2 June 1876 he became Chief Engineer, which he remained until his own death on 14 January 1892. The engine designs of this period must be seen as the work of these two men who collaborated closely, the younger carrying on where the older left off. One Such example was the 4-4-0 condensing tank engines (773) which were built in 1864 for the Metropolitan Railway of the London Underground, where they were very successful and one engine is preserved in London. These engines were developed from a 2-4-0 tender engine (621) for the Tudela & Bilbao Railway, which was followed in the same year, 1862, by the first 4-4-0 design (626) for the same Company. The inclined cylinders and front bogies became almost a Beyer, Peacock trademark, for the design proved remarkably successful with a variety of wheel arrangements in both tank and tender forms. It was particularly suitable for narrow gauges, and fifteen out of eighteen engines in the Isle of Man Railway were built by Beyer, Peacock on the same pattern beginning in 1873 (2965), the last being completed in 1926 (144).

Engines for Export

Beyer, Peacock exported the greater part of their production. For example, in 1863 the Dutch State Railway ordered four 2-2-2s (750). A 2-4-0 built in 1864 travelled nearly a million miles before it was withdrawn for preservation in 1913, and can still be seen at the Railway Museum in Utrecht. Between 1863 and 1922, Beyer, Peacock built 666 engines for Holland, one of the most famous and long - lasting designs being 2-4-0. The first of these was built in 1863 (761) similar to some engines built for the Midland Railway in England. A more powerful design was produced in 1865, of which 74 locomotives were built and between 1873 and 1879 fifty engines with the same wheel arrangement but with outside cylinders were constructed (2848). In 1880, there was a reversion to inside cylinders because the other type was not so steady as had been hoped. 175 engines of this type (3878) were ultimately built which were the largest engines with this wheel arrangement in Europe at the time of construction, and became a standard engine for both goods and passenger work, in spite of their 7ft dia. driving wheels. One of these engines also is preserve at Utrecht. This design was enlarged in 1899 into 4-4-0 (0446), of which 135 were built, and then further extended into an Atlantic (8458), of which five were built in 1900. Although in 1910 Gorton Foundry delivered 36 4-6-0 engines (069) for express work, these engines probably had a different parentage. In addition there were many shunting and tank engines built by Beyer, Peacock for Holland.

A country with which Beyer, Peacock maintained an even longer association was Ireland. Beginning in 1858 with an order from the Dublin & Drogheda Railway for two 0-4-2 tank engines (225) and for an outside cylinder tank engine for the County Down Railway (145), Beyer, Peacock continued building engines for the successors of these railways, the Great Northern Railway
and the Belfast and County Down Railway, until the end of the steam era. Leinster (729) was an express engine for the Ulster Railway (which was amalgamated later into the Great Northern Railway) and was one of the earliest of a series of 2-4-0s built for the Great Northern Railway. In 1885 the first of the 4-4-0 express passenger engines was delivered (6466), in 1913 a superheated class "S" was built (0471), and the last ones were sent across the sea in 1948 (1558). While considering countries which had a long association with Beyer, Peacock, it is interesting to note that in 1875 the Cape Government Railway ordered a 2-6-0 tender engine (3355) which was the first of many orders from South Africa, where the Beyer Garratts were to be so remarkably successful in later years.

Taken from A Short History of Beyer, Peacock by Dr. R.L. Hills