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British Railway History Item


Frederick W Hawksworth

Frederick W Hawksworth ( )

In 1941, Hawksworth succeeded Collett as Chief Mechanical Engineer. He took over at a difficult time, when constantly varying coal quality was showing up the drawbacks of of moderate superheat in the Great Western boilers when coal, driving and firing were not all of the highest standard.

His locomotive designs were derived from Churchward's and included:

  • He raised the superheat in a batch of Hall class 4-6-0s built in 1944, which became known as Modified Halls.

  • His plans for a Pacific locomotive did not materialise. However, in 1945 a further batch of 4-6-0s were authorised and he produced a new design with 6ft 3in coupled wheels and 280lb boiler pressure. These became the County Class, the last GW express type built before nationalisation.

  • He started to built more Castle Class locos in 1946, which were given more superheater surface, the increase being from 263 to 313sq ft.

  • Experiments in oil fired locos began when a coal crisis developed, beginning with some 2-8-0s, Halls and Castles. After a national fuel crisis the government of the day made funds available for widespread conversion to oil firing on all the countrys railways. However, when it was realised that foreign exchange to buy oil was in short supply, the scheme collapsed and locos were converted back to coal firing.

  • His other new design was an 1500 Class 0-6-0 pannier tank shunter with outside cylinders and Walschaerts valve gear, which was a radical departure from existing GWR designs

    In 1947 the GW announced that it was purchasing a gas turbine locomotive from Brown, Boveri of Switzerland. Hawksworth and General Manager, Sir James Milne, had looked at this form of traction during a visit to the International Railway Congress meeting in that country. The loco, allocated number 18000, was purchased for ?99,000 along with another example in 1951 from Metropolitan Vickers numbered 18100; both were delivered after nationalisation. Neither was a success, much of their time being spent under repair.

    He carried out a major program of workshop re-equipment and greatly improved locomotive construction methods. Greater engineering precision gave a large increase in mileages between overhauls. He extended the use of the GWR Automatic Train Control System to almost all of the important routes and was a member of the 1927 Pringle Committee studying the use of such systems in Britain. From 1926, he modernised the Swindon locomotive testing plant to absorb the maximum power of larger locomotives. His later locomotive policy was rather conservative. However, he was amongst the first to consider complete deiselisation.

    Last Updated : Friday 14th April 2006 05:45

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