Tribute to Fredrick Hawksworth

Chief Mechanical Engineer Frederick William Hawksworth was born 10 February 1884. He was the last Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway (Great Britain) (GWR). Hawksworth was born in Swindon, and he joined the GWR in 1898, aged 15, but did not become CME until he was 57, in 1941. Having been at the forefront of steam locomotive development under George Jackson Churchward, ideas at Swindon Works had somewhat stagnated under the later years of his successor C. B. Collett, whose reluctance to give up the CME’s post resulted in Hawksworth’s lateness in taking up this position. Hawksworth had been one of Churchward’s “Bright Young Men”, and was involved in Churchward’s designs: he worked on, for example, the general arrangement drawings for “The Great Bear”.

BR 2-6-0 1501pt

BR 2-6-0 1501pt

Hawksworth continued in the design tradition which he had been involved in throughout his career, but made some important improvements. In particular increased superheat started to be fitted to the larger classes under his regime, and the works started to make much more use of welded construction. Another prominent new concept was a tender with slab sides, using welded construction, giving a much smoother appearance than the traditional design with stepped sides and riveted plates. His first design to be built, from 1944, was the Modified Hall, a significant development of the Collett design with increased superheat and very different cylinder and frame construction.After the war there were four more new designs, mostly improvements of earlier types. The ‘County’ Class 4-6-0 was the last and most powerful GWR 2-cylinder 4-6-0, the culmination of a line that began with the ‘Saints’ 42 years before. The chassis was similar to the modified Hall, but the boilers were to a new design, larger in diameter than the Std 1 (Hall) boiler but smaller in diameter and appreciably shorter than the Castle boiler. This boiler used tooling which was available from LMS 8F 2-8-0 boilers which Swindon had built for the Railway Executive during World War II and was pressed to 280psi, higher pressure than any previous GWR boiler.

They used some of the names from the vanished Churchward County Class 4-4-0s. He also designed The taper boilered 9400 Class 0-6-0 pannier tank, which were similar to the 5700 class under the footplate but had a much larger boiler giving them more power and adhesive weight – and thus braking capacity. Only the first ten, built by the Swindon, appeared under the GWR. The last two designs were only seen in British Railways livery. Arguably his most radical design was the 1500 Class. This had the same boiler as the 9400 but an all new short wheelbase chassis with outside Walschaerts valve gear and no running plate, and made considerable use of welded construction. They were designed for easy maintenance by the trackside. The last Hawksworth design was a very light conventional 0-6-0 pannier tank, the 1600 Class. This was a modernisation of the 2021 Class. Hawksworth remained Chief Mechanical Engineer through the formation of the Western Region of British Railways in 1948, continuing to work on locomotive design until retiring at the end of 1949.[2] He died in Swindon 27 years later in July 1976. His ashes are buried in St. Mark’s Church, adjacent to the former site of Swindon Works.

Fyodor Dovstoyevsky

imageBest known for writing the novel “Crime and Punishment” and featured in the recent Winter Olympics opening ceremony, the Russian Novelist Fyodor Dovstoyevsky sadly passed a way on 9th February. Born 11 November 1821 in the Mariinsky hospital in Moscow, Russia. Dostoyevsky was introduced to literature at an early age – fairy tales and legends, as well as books by English, French, German and Russian authors. His mother’s sudden death in 1837 devastated him. At around the same time, he left school to enter the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute. Once he graduated, he worked as an engineer and briefly enjoyed a liberal lifestyle.

He soon began to translate books to earn extra money. Around the mid-1840s he wrote his first novel, Poor Folk, allowing him to join St Petersburg’s literary circles. He also wrote short stories and essays which explore human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russia. Although Dostoyevsky began writing books in the mid-1840s, his most remembered are from his last years, including Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. He wrote eleven novels, three novellas, seventeen short novels and three essays, and has been acknowledged by many literary critics as one of the greatest and most prominent psychologists in universal literature.

In 1849 he was arrested for his involvement with the Petrashevsky Circle, a secret, however society of liberal utopians as well as a literary discussion group. He and other members were condemned to death, but the penalty proved to be a mock execution and the sentence was commuted to four years’ hard labour in Siberia. After his release, Dostoyevsky was forced to serve as a soldier, but was discharged from the military due to his ill health. In the following years Dostoyevsky worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and later a serial, A Writer’s Diary. When he began to travel around western Europe, his finances suffered because of his gambling addiction and he had to face the humiliation of begging for money. He suffered from epilepsy throughout his adult life. But through sheer energy and the volume of his work, he eventually became one of the most widely read and renowned Russian writers, His books remain popular and have been translated into more than 170 languages and sold around 15 million copies. He has also influenced a vast range of writers, from Anton Chekhov and James Joyce to Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre and Ayn Rand, to name but a few.