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Highland Goods locomotive 1894

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Highland Goods locomotive 1894

The most numerous tender engine type for mixed and passenger work in Britain was the 4-6-0 yet the first didn't appear until 1894, and then only in the most northerly reaches of the British Isles. It was designed by Highland Railway loco superintendent David Jones and built by Sharp Stewart 8c Co, of Glasgow.

Highland Goods locomotive 1894

Highland Goods locomotive 1894
Introduced  1894
Builder  Sharp Stewart
Weight (loco)  56 tons
Boiler pressure  175psi
Cylinders (2)  20 x 26 in
Valve gear  Stephenson

Driving wheel diameter  5 ft 3 in

Tractive effort  24.560 lb
Other numbers  17916

Withdrawn 1934
Preserved  Glasgow Transport Museum

Little could Jones have realised as he chose the wheel arrangement for this humble goods engine class that he was starting a trend that would lead to ‘Stars’, ‘Castles’, ‘Kings’, ‘Nelsons’, ‘Claughtons’, ‘Scots’, ‘Jubilees’, B12s, B1s et al. For, by the time the last BR 5MT No. 73154 had emerged from Derby Works in June 1957, the railways of Britain had seen no fewer than 75 different types of ‘ten-wheelers’ operated by 13 different companies. In this respect, the rather traditional British loco chiefs had realised late in the day what American railroaders had known since as early as 1847 - that the 4-6-0 is an ideal set-up, enabling engines to make clean starts and keep their feet well on gradients, yet also allowing fast running. That the type should have appeared so late is even harder to understand given that private British loco builders had for several years been building such locomotives for export. Jones’ so-called ‘Big Goods’ engine, No. 103, was at the time of its construction the largest and most powerful in the country, mainly due to the high (for the period) boiler pressure of 175psi, but it was nevertheless a major claim for a railway so far off the beaten track.

On the twisting, mountainous routes of northern Scotland, it and the other 14 members of its class gave sterling service to both the HR and, later, the LMS and it is a testament to Jones’s abilities that the design survived, very little altered, through the LMS’s swingeing standardisation culls, most retaining louvred chimney and other 19th century accoutrements. When, in 1934, the time came to retire the class leader (by then numbered 17916), the LMS decided that its special place in history warranted preservation, so it was restored and kept at St Rollox Works in Glasgow. Happily, representatives of other Scottish railways, the Caledonian, North British and Great North of Scotland, had been preserved too and, in 1959, the popular decision was taken to restore 103 and others to working order. Resplendent in pre-Grouping liveries, the contingent travelled far and wide on main line routes in Scotland and helped create a taste for main line preserved steam several years before such specials became commonplace. An interesting point about the striking yellow lively No. 103 carried on those tours - and indeed still does today - is that it almost certainly wasn’t borne by the engine when it was in Highland Railway service, for this bright yellow (officially known as Stroudley's improved engine green!) had been replaced by a more normal shade of green on the HR in 1885. Today the famous ‘Jones Goods’ can be found as a static exhibit in the Glasgow Museum of Transport ... the only Highland engine still in existence following the controversial scrapping of the ‘preserved’ 4-4-0 Ben Alder in 1966.

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