The Metropolitan Railway (also known as the Met opened on 10 January 1863 between Farringdon Station and London Paddington Station. It served London from 1863 to 1933, its main line heading north-west from the capital’s financial heart in the City to what were to become the Middlesex suburbs. Its first line connected the main-line railway termini at Paddington, Euston, and King’s Cross to the City. The first section was built beneath the New Road using the “cut-and-cover” method between Paddington and King’s Cross and in tunnel and cuttings beside Farringdon Road from King’s Cross to near Smithfield, near the City. It opened to the public on 10 January 1863 with gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives, and became the world’s first passenger-carrying designated underground railway.
The line was soon extended from both ends, and northwards via a branch from Baker Street. It reached Hammersmith in 1864, Richmond in 1877 and completed the Inner Circle in 1884, however the most important route was the line north into the Middlesex countryside, where it stimulated the development of new suburbs. Harrow was reached in 1880, and the line eventually extended to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 50 miles (80 kilometres) from Baker Street and the centre of London.
Electric traction was introduced in 1905 and by 1907 electric multiple units operated most of the services, though electrification of outlying sections did not occur until decades later. Unlike other railway companies in the London area, the Met developed land for housing, and after World War I promoted housing estates near the railway using the “Metro-land” brand. On 1 July 1933, the Met was amalgamated with the Underground Electric Railways Company of London and the capital’s tramway and bus operators to form the London Passenger Transport Board. Former Met tracks and stations are used by the London Underground’s Metropolitan, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Piccadilly, and Jubilee lines, and by Chiltern Railways.
The Big Four Railway Companies were created in the United Kingdom On 1 January 1923. This involved almost all the railway companies in Britain including the Great Western Railway, the London and North Eastern Railway, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the Southern Railway companies being grouped into Four larger companies. A number of other lines, already operating as joint railways, remained separate from the Big Four; these included the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway and the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway. The “Big Four” were joint-stock public companies and they continued to run the railway system until 31 December 1947. The LNER Class A4 streamlined express trains of the 1930s offered a high-speed alternative to road transport.
However competition from road transport during the 1920s and 1930s greatly reduced the revenue available to the railways, even though the needs for maintenance on the network had never been higher, as investment had been deferred over the past decade. Rail companies accused the government of favouring road haulage through the construction of roads subsidised by the ratepayer, while restricting its ability to use flexible pricing because it was held to nationally-agreed rate cards. The government response was to commission several inconclusive reports; the Salter Report of 1933 finally recommended that road transport should be taxed directly to fund the roads and increased Vehicle Excise Duty and fuel duties were introduced. It also noted that many small lines would never be likely to compete with road haulage. Although these road pricing changes helped their survival, the railways entered a period of slow decline, owing to a lack of investment and changes in transport policy and lifestyles. During the Second World War, the companies’ managements joined together, effectively operating as one company. Assisting the country’s ‘war effort’ put a severe strain on the railways’ resources and a substantial maintenance backlog developed. After 1945, for both practical and ideological reasons, the then Labour government decided to bring the rail service into the public sector.
So On 1 January 1948, the railways were nationalised to form British Railways (latterly “British Rail”) under the control of the British Transport Commission.Though there were few initial changes to the service, usage increased and the network became profitable. Regeneration of track and stations was completed by 1954. In the same year, changes to the British Transport Commission, including the privatisation of road haulage, ended the coordination of transport in the UK. Rail revenue fell and, in 1955, the network again ceased to be profitable. The mid-1950s saw the hasty introduction of diesel and electric rolling stock to replace steam in a modernisation plan costing many millions of pounds but the expected transfer back from road to rail did not occur and losses began to mount. This failure to make the railways more profitable through investment led governments of all political persuasions to restrict rail investment to a drip feed and seek economies through cutbacks.
This desire for profitability led to a major reduction in the network during the mid-1960s. Dr. Richard Beeching was given the task by the government of re-organising the railways (“the Beeching Axe”). This policy resulted in many branch lines and secondary routes being closed because they were deemed uneconomic. The closure of stations serving rural communities removed much feeder traffic from main line passenger services. The closure of many freight depots that had been used by larger industries such as coal andiron led to much freight transferring to road haulage. The closures were extremely unpopular with the general public at that time and remain so today. Passenger levels decreased steadily from the late fifties to late seventies. However Passenger services then experienced a renaissance with the introduction of the high-speed Intercity 125 trains in the late 1970s and early 1980s.The 1980s saw severe cuts in government funding and above-inflation increases in fares, but the service became more cost-effective.
Between 1994 and 1997, British Rail was privatised Ownership of the track and infrastructure passed to Railtrack, passenger operations were franchised to individual private sector operators (originally there were 25 franchises) and the freight services sold outright (six companies were set up, but five of these were sold to the same buyer). The Conservative government under John Major said that privatisation would see an improvement in passenger services, however the railways continue to have problems, although many lines that were originally closed by by Doctor Richard Beeching have since become popular Heritage lines and have experienced a resurgence in popularity.
Best Known for designing GWR 3440 City of Truro, which held the unofficial record for the first steam locomotive to travel at over 100 miles per hour, British railroad engineer George Jackson Churchward sadly died 19 December 1933. He was Born 31st January 1857, and was Apprenticed in the Newton Abbot works of the South Devon Railway in the GWR’s Swindon Works, and rose from draughtsman through several positions, including Carriage Works Manager, and in 1897 was appointed Chief Assistant to William Dean. After 5 years as Chief Assistant, he succeeded Dean as Locomotive Superintendent. In the 19th and early 20th century, railway companies were fiercely competitive. Speed meant revenue and speed was dependent on engineering. Churchward delivered to the GWR from Swindon a series of class-leading and innovative locomotives. Arguably, from the early 1900s to the 1920s the Great Western’s 2-cylinder and 4-cylinder 4-6-0 designs were substantially superior to any class of locomotive of the other British railway companies. On one occasion, the GWR’s directors confronted Churchward, and demanded to know why the London and North Western Railway were able to build three 4-6-0 locomotives for the price of two of Churchward’s “Stars”. Churchward allegedly gave a terse response: “Because one of mine could pull two of their bloody things backwards!”
Churchward preferred locomotives without trailing wheels, to maximise adhesion on the South Devon banks of Dainton, Rattery and Hemerdon on the West of England mainline to Plymouth, then the Great Western’s most important route. Due to the weight and dimensional restrictions required to pass over all the GWR’s lines, he designed narrow fireboxes, but with good circulation. Combining high boiler pressures with superheating made efficient use of the high calorific-value steam coal from the mines in South Wales. Other refinements included feed-water distribution trays beneath the top-fitted clack boxes to minimize boiler stress and large bearing surfaces to reduce wear. Churchward also made advancements in carriage design. He introduced the GWR’s first steel-roofed coaches and is also credited with introducing to Britain several refinements from American and French steam locomotive practice. Among these were the tapered boiler and the casting of cylinders and saddles together, in halves. His choice of outside cylinders for express locomotives was also not standard in Britain for that time. Many elements of British practice were retained, of course. His locomotives for the most part used British plate frames, and the crew was accommodated in typical British fashion. The selection of a domeless boiler was more common to Britain than to the U.S. In 1922 Churchward retired, and C. B. Collett inherited his legacy of excellent, standardised designs. These designs influenced British locomotive practice to the end of steam. Major classes built by the LMS and even British Railways 50 years later are clearly developments of Churchward’s basic designs. The LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 and the BR standard class 5 are both derived from his Saint class early examples of which date to 1902.
The first class of locomotives with which Churchward won success and worldwide recognition was the 4-4-0 ‘City’ class, which soon became one of the most famous class locomotives in the world at the time. One of them, City of Truro, became the first engine in the world to haul a train at 100 miles per hour in 1904 (although unauthenticated). He went on to build the ‘County’ class and the ‘Star’ class. Number 3440 City Of Truro is a Great Western Railway (GWR) 3700 (or ‘City’) Class 4-4-0 locomotive, designed by George Jackson Churchward and built at the GWR Swindon Works in 1903. (It was rebuilt to a limited extent in 1911 and 1915, and renumbered 3717 in 1912). It is one of the contenders for the first steam locomotive to travel in excess of 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h). City of Truro was timed at 8.8 seconds between two quarter-mile posts whilst hauling the “Ocean Mails” special from Plymouth to London Paddington on 9 May 1904. This timing was recorded from the train by Charles Rous-Marten, who wrote for The Railway Magazine and other journals. If exact (Rous-Marten’s stopwatch read in multiples of 1/5 second), this time would correspond to a speed of 102.3 mph (164.6 km/h), while 9 seconds would correspond to exactly 100 mph.Its maximum speed has been the subject of much debate over the years.
Influential and Prolific English Animator Oliver Postgate sadly died in Broadstairs on 8 December 2008, aged 83. He was born in Hendon, Middlesex, England, on 12 April 1925. He was the younger son of journalist and writer Raymond Postgate and Daisy Lansbury, making him the cousin of actress Angela Lansbury and grandson of Labour politician, and sometime leader, George Lansbury. His other grandfather was the Latin classicist John Percival Postgate. His brother was the microbiologist and writer John Postgate FRS. Postgate was educated at the private Woodstock School on Golders Green Road in Finchley in north-west London and Woodhouse Secondary School, formerly known from 1923 onwards as Woodhouse Grammar School, also in Finchley (and now renamed Woodhouse College), followed by Dartington Hall School, a progressive private boarding school in Devon.
In 1942 Postgate joined the Home Guard while studying at Kingston College of Art, but when he became liable for military service during the Second World War the following year, he declared himself a conscientious objector, as his father had done during the First World War. He was initially refused recognition; he accepted a medical examination as a first step to call up, and then reported for duty with the Army in Windsor, but refused to put on the uniform. He was court-martialled and sentenced to three months in Feltham Prison. This qualified him to return to the Appellate Tribunal, where he was granted exemption conditional upon working on the land or in social service, the unserved portion of his sentence being remitted. He worked on farms until the end of the war, when he went to occupied Germany, working for the Red Cross in social relief work.
On return to the UK, from 1948 he attended drama school, but drifted through a number of different jobs, never really finding his niche. In 1957 he was appointed a stage manager with Associated-Rediffusion, which then held the ITV franchise for London. Attached to the children’s programming section, he thought he could improve upon the low budget black and white television productions. Postgate wrote Alexander the Mouse, a story about a mouse born to be king. Using an Irish-produced magnetic system – on which animated characters were attached to a painted background, and then photographed through a 45-degree mirror – he persuaded Peter Firmin, who was then teaching at the Central School of Art, to create the background scenes.
After the success of Alexander the Mouse, Postgate agreed a deal to make the next series on film, for a budget of £175 per programme. Making a stop motion animation table in his bedroom, he wrote the Chinese story The Journey of Master Ho. This was intended for deaf children, a distinct advantage in that the production required no soundtrack which reduced the production costs. He engaged an honorary Chinese painter to produce the backgrounds, but as the painter was classical Chinese-trained he produced them in three-quarters view, rather than in the conventional Egyptian full-view manner used for flat animation under a camera which made the characters look short in one leg, but the success of the production provided the foundation for Postgate with Firmin to start up his own company solely producing animated children’s programmes.
Postgate and Firmin Set up their business in a disused cowshed at Firmin’s home in Blean near Canterbury, Kent, producing children’s animation programmes. Firmin did the artwork and built the models, while Postgate wrote the scripts, did the stop motion filming and many of the voices. This enabled Smallfilms to produce two minutes of film per day, ten times as much as a conventional animation studio, with Postgate moving the cardboard pieces himself, and working his 16mm camera frame-by-frame with a home-made clicker. As Postgate wholly voiced many of the productions, including the WereBear story tapes, his distinctive voice became familiar to generations of children.
They started in 1959 with Ivor the Engine, a series for ITV about a Welsh steam locomotive who wanted to sing in a choir, based on Postgate’s wartime encounter with Welshman Denzyl Ellis, who used to be the fireman on the Royal Scot. (It was remade in colour for the BBC in 1976 and 1977.) This was followed by Noggin the Nog for the BBC, which established Smallfilms as a reliable source to produce children’s entertainment, when there were only two television channels in the UK. Postgate would go to the BBC once a year, show them the completed films and they would say: “Yes, lovely, now what are you going to do next?” We would tell them, and they would say: “That sounds fine, we’ll mark it in for eighteen months from now”. Postgate had strict views on story-line development, affecting each particular series development. The Clangers adventures were surreal but logical. Postgate disliked fantasy for its own sake and felt that Once things become unbelievable science fiction becomes science nonsense. Everything must be strictly logical aand abide by the laws of physics.
During the 1970s and ’80s Postgate was active in the anti-nuclear campaign, addressing meetings and writing several pamphlets including The Writing on the Sky. In 1986, in collaboration with the historian Naomi Linnell, Postgate painted a 50-foot-long (15 m) Illumination of the Life and Death of Thomas Becket for a book of the same name, which is now in the archive of the Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury. In 1990 he painted a similar work on Christopher Columbus for a book entitled The Triumphant Failure. A Canterbury Chronicle, a triptych by Postgate commissioned in 1990 hangs in the Great Hall of Eliot College on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus
Postgate also narrated the six-part BBC Radio 4 comedy series Elastic Planet in 1995. In his later years, he blogged for the New Statesman. in 2003 Postgate narrated Alchemists of Sound, a television documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. In 2007, he was guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. He was also a guest on The Russell Brand Show on 19 January 2008 where he discussed the making of Bagpuss and his subsequent work in TV and Film. In 1987 the University of Kent at Canterbury awarded an honorary degree to Postgate, who stated that the degree was really intended for Bagpuss, who was subsequently displayed in academic dress. His autobiography, Seeing Things, was published in 2000.
Postgate had a huge influence and effect on British culture, and was held in great affection for the role his work had played in many people’s lives. His work was widely discussed in the UK media and many tributes were paid to him and his work across the internet. Charlie Brooker dedicated a portion of his Screenwipe show to Oliver Postgate, and the way he influenced his own childhood.
The Severn Valley Railway features in a new BBC1 television programme entitled, ‘River Walks’. It is presented by Actress Shobna Gulati, who is currently starring in the hit West End Musical ‘Everybody’s Talking about Jamie’, and has previously appeared in Coronation Street, Dinnerladies and Doctor Who and explores stories that are part of the stunning River Severn’s landscape.
Shobna spent 4 days filming along the footpaths alongside the Severn riverbanks between Bewdley and Bridgnorth during early November 2018 . Shobna then returns along the Severn Valley Railway from Bridgnorth to Bewdley riding on the footplate of Class 4 No. 43106. Amongst the many other highlights was sailing on Trimpley Reservoir with 85 year old Ray Drury from Stourbridge, a member of the Trimpley Sailing Club for 50 years who took Shobna out for her first ever sailing lesson. Shobna also met up with ex-miner, Trevor Jones, at the Severn Valley Country Park in Alveley, who recalled his memories of working down the Coal Mine at Alveley in the 1950s, before it was closed in 1969 and transformed into the country park
The program was made by Kidderminster based TV Production Company, GOSH! TV, for the BBC. The Creative Director and Producer, Paul Barnett, approached Shobna to present the programme, Prior to doing River Walks Paul, has also produced and directed many successful TV series for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, including Coast, Come Dine With Me and Embarrassing Bodies, and has travelled to many places including Scotland and Thailand. River Walks is broadcast on Monday 10th December at 7.30pm
The LNER Class A3 Pacific steam locomotive No. 4472 Flying Scotsman became the first Steam Locomotive to officially exceed 100mph on November 30 1934. The Flying Scotsman was built in 1923 for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at Doncaster Works to a design of H.Nigel Gresley. It was employed on long-distance express trains on the LNER and its successors, British Railways Eastern and North-Eastern Regions, notably on the 10am London to Edinburgh Flying Scotsman train service after which it was named.The locomotive is notable for having set two world records for steam traction; becoming the first steam locomotive to be officially authenticated at reaching 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h) on 30 November 1934,and then setting a record for the longest non-stop run by a steam locomotive when it ran 422 miles (679 km) on 8 August 1938. It was retired from regular service in 1963 after covering 2,076,000 miles (3,341,000 km),Flying Scotsman gained considerable fame in preservation under the ownership of Alan Pegler, William McAlpine, Tony Marchington and finally the National Railway Museum. As well as hauling enthusiast specials in the United Kingdom, the locomotive toured extensively in the United States (from 1969 to 1973) and Australia (from 1988 to 1989).Flying Scotsman has been described as the world’s most famous steam locomotive.
The locomotive was completed in 1923, construction having been started under the auspices of the Great Northern Railway (GNR). It was built as an A1, initially carrying the GNR number 1472, because the LNER had not yet decided on a system-wide numbering scheme’ Flying Scotsman was something of a flagship locomotive for the LNER. It represented the company at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924 and 1925. Before this event, in February 1924 it acquired its name and the new number of 4472. From then on it was commonly used for promotional purposes.With suitably modified valve gear, this locomotive was one of five Gresley Pacifics selected to haul the prestigious non-stop Flying Scotsman train service from London to Edinburgh, hauling the inaugural train on 1 May 1928. For this the locomotives ran with a new version of the large eight-wheel tender which held 9 tons of coal. This and the usual facility for water replenishment from the water trough system enabled them to travel the 392 miles (631 km) from London to Edinburgh in eight hours non-stop. The tender included a corridor connection and tunnel through the water tank giving access to the locomotive cab from the train to permit replacement of the driver and fireman without stopping the train. The following year the locomotive appeared in the film The Flying Scotsman. On 30 November 1934, running a light test train, 4472 became the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at 100 mph (160.9 km/h) and earned a place in the land speed record for railed vehicles; the publicity-conscious LNER made much of the fact.
On 22 August 1928, there appeared an improved version of this Pacific type classified A3; older A1 locomotives were later rebuilt to conform. On 25 April 1945, A1-class locomotives not yet rebuilt were reclassified A10 in order to make way for newer Thompson and Peppercorn Pacifics. Flying Scotsman emerged from Doncaster works on 4 January 1947 as an A3, having received a boiler with the long “banjo” dome of the type it carries today. By this time it had been renumbered twice: under Edward Thompson’scomprehensive renumbering scheme for the LNER, it became no. 502 in January 1946; but in May the same year, under an amendment to that plan, it become no. 103. Following nationalisation of the railways on 1 January 1948, almost all of the LNER locomotive numbers were increased by 60000, and no. 103 duly became 60103 in December 1948. Between 5 June 1950 and 4 July 1954, and between 26 December 1954 and 1 September 1957, under British Railways ownership, it was allocated to Leicester Central shed on the Great Central, running Nottingham Victoria to London Marylebone services via Leicester Central.All A3 Pacifics were subsequently fitted with a double Kylchap chimney to improve performance and economy. This caused soft exhaust and smoke drift that tended to obscure the driver’s forward vision; the remedy was found in the German-type smoke deflectors fitted from 1960, which somewhat changed the locomotives’ appearance but solved the problem
In 1963 Flying Scotsman Number 60103 finished working. A Proposal to save it was made by a group called “Save Our Scotsman”, they were unable to raise the required £3,000. Luckily Alan Pegler, Having first seen the locomotive at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924, bought Flying Scotsman using money he had received for his share holding when Northern Rubber was sold to Pegler’s Valves. He spent the next few years spending large amounts of money having the locomotive restored at Doncaster Works as closely as possible to its LNER condition: the smoke deflectors were removed; the double chimney was replaced by a single chimney; and the tender was replaced by one of the corridor type with which the locomotive had run between 1928 and 1936. It was also repainted into LNER livery, although the cylinder sides were painted green, whereas in LNER days they were always black. Peglar then persuaded the British Railways Board to let him run enthusiasts specials, And it worked a number of rail tours, including a non-stop London–Edinburgh run in 1968 – the year steam traction officially ended on BR. Then in September 1966 Pegler purchased a second corridor tender, and adapted as an auxiliary water tank; retaining its through gangway, this was coupled behind the normal tender.
Pegler had a contract permitting him to run his locomotive on BR until 1972, but following overhaul in the winter of 1968–69 then Prime Minister Wilson agreed to support Pegler running the locomotive in the United States and Canada to support British exports. To comply with local railway regulations, it was fitted with: acowcatcher; bell; buckeye couplings; American-style whistle air brakes; and high-intensity headlamp. the tour ran into immediate problems, with some states seeing the locomotive as a fire-hazard. However, the train ran from Boston to New York, Washington and Dallas in 1969; from Texas to Wisconsin and finishing in Montreal in 1970; and from Toronto to San Francisco in 1971 — a total of 15,400 miles (24,800 km).However, in 1970 Ted Heath’s Conservatives ousted Wilson’s Labour Party, and withdrew financial support from the tour; but Pegler decided to return for the 1970 season. By the end of that season’s tour, the money had run out and Pegler was £132,000 in debt, with the locomotive in storage at the U.S. ArmySharpe Depot to keep it away from unpaid creditors.Pegler worked his passage home from San Francisco to England on a P&O cruise ship in 1971, giving lectures about trains and travel; he was declared bankrupt in the High Court 1972.Fears then arose for the engine’s future, the speculation being that it could take up permanent residence in America or even be cut up. However in January 1973, William McAlpine stepped in and bought the locomotive for £25,000. After its return to the UK via the Panama Canal in February 1973 the locomotive Was restored at Derby Works. Trial runs took place on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway in summer 1973, after which it was transferred to Steamtown (Carnforth)
In October 1988 the locomotive arrived in Australia to take part Australia’s bicentenery celebrations as a central attraction in the Aus Steam ’88 festival. During the course of the next year it travelled more than 45,000 kilometres (28,000 mi) over Australian rails, concluding with a return transcontinental run from Sydney to Perth via Alice Springs. Other highlights included Flying Scotsman double-heading with NSWGRPacific locomotive 3801, a triple-parallel run alongside broad gauge Victorian Railways R class locomotives, parallel runs alongside South Australian Railways locomotives 520and 621, and a reunion with GWR 4073 Class Pendennis Castle in Perth. 8 August 1989 Flying Scotsman set another record en route to Alice Springs from Sydney, travelling 679 kilometres (422 mi) from Parkes to Broken Hill non-stop, the longest such run by a steam locomotive ever recorded. A plaque on the engine records the event. Returned to the UK, by 1995 it was in pieces at Southall Railway Centre in West London, owned by a consortium that included McAlpine as well as music guru and well-known railway enthusiast Pete Waterman. Facing an uncertain future owing to the cost of restoration and refurbishment , salvation came in 1996 when Dr Tony Marchington, bought the locomotive, and had it restored over three years to running condition at a cost of £1 million. Sadly in September 2003 Marchington was declared bankrupt and CEO Peter Butler stated that the company only had enough cash to trade until April 2004. The locomotive was bought in April 2004 by the National Railway Museum in York, and it is now part of the National Collection. it ran for a while to raise funds for its forthcoming 10-year major boiler recertificationn In January 2006, Flying Scotsman entered the Museum’s workshops for a major overhaul to return it to Gresley’s original specification and renew its boiler certificate. In 2013 The locomotive was moved to Bury work to return it to running condition by 2015. Sadly this took longer than expected because the repairs proved prohibitively expensive and at one time Flying Scotsman’s future looked uncertain. However The rebuilt LNER 4472 Flying Scotsman has visited a number of events since, including the Severn Valley Railway for the Pacific Power event alongside LNER A1 Pacific 60163 Tornado during 2016 and it continues to be a big crowdpleaser.
English civil engineer Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet KCMG LLD sadly died 20 November 1898. He was born 15 July 1817. in Wadsley, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, to land surveyor John Fowler and his wife Elizabeth (née Swann). He was educated privately at Whitley Hall near Ecclesfield. He trained under John Towlerton Leather, engineer of the Sheffield waterworks, and with Leather’s uncle, George Leather, on the Aire and Calder Navigation an railway surveys. From 1837 he worked for John Urpeth Rastrick on railway projects including the London and Brighton Railway and the unbuilt West Cumberland and Furness Railway. He then worked again for George Leather as resident engineer on the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway and was appointed engineer to the railway when it opened in 1841. Fowler initially established a practice as a consulting engineer in the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire area, but, a heavy workload led him to move to London in 1844. He became a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1847, the year the Institution was founded, and a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1849.
He specialised in the construction of railways and railway infrastructure . In 1853, he became chief engineer of the Metropolitan Railway in London, the world’s first underground railway, which opened between Paddington and Farringdon in 1863. Fowler was also engineer for the associated Metropolitan District Railway and the Hammersmith and City Railway. They were built by the “cut-and-cover” method under city streets. To avoid problems with smoke and steam overwhelming staff and passengers on the covered sections of the Metropolitan Railway, Fowler proposed a fireless locomotive. The locomotive was built by Robert Stephenson and Company and was a broad gauge 2-4-0 tender engine. The boiler had a normal firebox connected to a large combustion chamber containing fire bricks which were to act as a heat reservoir. The combustion chamber was linked to the smokebox through a set of very short firetubes. Exhaust steam was re-condensed instead of escaping and feed back to the boiler. The locomotive was intended to operate conventionally in the open, but in tunnels dampers would be closed and steam would be generated using the stored heat from the fire bricks.
The first trial on the Great Western Railway in October 1861 was a failure. The condensing system leaked, causing the boiler to run dry and pressure to drop, risking a boiler explosion. A second trial on the Metropolitan Railway in 1862 was also a failure, and the fireless engine was abandoned, becoming known as “Fowler’s Ghost”. The locomotive was sold to Isaac Watt Boulton in 1865; he intended to convert it into a standard engine but it was eventually scrapped. On opening, the Metropolitan Railway’s trains were provided by the Great Western Railway, but these were withdrawn in August 1863. After a period hiring trains from the Great Northern Railway, the Metropolitan Railway introduced its own Fowler designed, 4-4-0 tank engines in 1864. The design, known as the A class and, with minor updates, the B class, was so successful that the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railways eventually had 120 of the engines in use and they remained in operation until electrification of the lines in the 1900s. Today these railways form the majority of the London Underground’s Circle line
Fowler established a busy practice, working on many railway schemes across the country. He became chief engineer for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway and was engineer of the East Lincolnshire Railway, the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway and the Severn Valley Railway. Other railways that Fowler consulted for were the London Tilbury and Southend Railway, the Great Northern Railway, the Highland Railway and the Cheshire Lines Railway. Following the death of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1859, Fowler was retained by the Great Western Railway. His various appointments involved him in the design of Victoria station in London, Sheffield Victoria station, St Enoch station in Glasgow, Liverpool Central station and Manchester Central station.The latter station’s 210-foot (64 m) wide train shed roof was the second widest unsupported iron arch in Britain after the roof of St Pancras railway station. Fowler’s consulting work extended beyond Britain including railway and engineering projects in Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States. He travelled to Egypt for the first time in 1869 and worked on a number of, mostly unrealised, schemes for the Khedive, including a railway to Khartoum in Sudan which was planned in 1875 but not completed until after his death.
In 1870 he provided advice to an Indian Government inquiry on railway gauges where he recommended a narrow gauge of 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) for light railways.He visited Australia in 1886, where he made some remarks on the break of gauge difficulty. Later in his career, he was also a consultant with his partner Benjamin Baker and with James Henry Greathead on two of London’s first tube railways, the City and South London Railway and the Central London Railway. As part of his railway projects, Fowler also designed numerous bridges. In the 1860s, he designed Grosvenor Bridge, the first railway bridge over the River Thames,and the 13-arch Dollis Brook Viaduct for the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway. He is credited with the design of the Victoria Bridge at Upper Arley, Worcestershire, constructed between 1859 and 1861,and the near identical Albert Edward Bridge at Coalbrookdale, Shropshire built from 1863 to 1864. Both remain in use today carrying railway lines across the River Severn. In the 1880s, he was chief engineer for the Forth Railway Bridge, which opened in 1890 and Following the collapse of Sir Thomas Bouch’s Tay Bridge in 1879, Fowler, William Henry Barlow and Thomas Elliot Harrison were appointed in 1881 to a commission to review Bouch’s design for the Forth Railway Bridge. The commission recommended a steel cantilever bridge designed by Fowler and Benjamin Baker, which was constructed between 1883 and 1890
Fowler stood unsuccessfully for parliament as a Conservative candidate in 1880 and 1885. His standing within the engineering profession was very high, to the extent that he was elected president of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1865, its youngest president. Through his position in the Institution and through his own practice, he led the development of training for engineers. In 1857, he purchased a 57,000 acres (23,000 ha) estate at Braemore in Ross-shire, Scotland, where he spent frequent holidays and where he was a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant of the County.He listed his recreations in Who’s Who as yachting and deerstalking and was a member of the Carlton Club, St Stephen’s Club, the Conservative Club and the Royal Yacht Squadron. He was also President of the Egyptian Exploration Fund.In 1885 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George as thanks from the government for allowing the use of maps of the Upper Nile valley he had had made when working on the Khedive’s projects.
They were the most accurate survey of the area and were used in the British Relief of Khartoum. Following the successful completion of the Forth Railway Bridge in 1890, Fowler was created a baronet, taking the name of his Scottish estate as his territorial designation. Along with Benjamin Baker, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Edinburgh in 1890 for his engineering of the bridge. In 1892, the Poncelet Prize was doubled and awarded jointly to Baker and Fowler. Fowler died in Bournemouth, Dorset, 20 November at the age of 81 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son, Sir John Arthur Fowler, 2nd Baronet sadly he died 25 March 1899 and The baronetcy became extinct in 1933 on the death of Reverend Sir Montague Fowler, 4th Baronet, the first baronet’s third son.