GNR Locomotives

Locomotive Engineer: Archibald Sturrock

Archibald Sturrock (30 September 1816 – 1 January 1909) was a Scottish mechanical engineer who was born at Petruchie, Angus, Scotland. He was locomotive superintendent of the Great Northern Railway from 1850 until c. 1866, having from 1840 been Daniel Gooch’s assistant on the Great Western Railway.

Archibald Sturrock is often remembered for his unsuccessful experiment with steam tenders. However, his principal achievement was the opening of the Great Northern main line and the establishment of GNR’s reputation for a reliable and comfortable passenger service from London to York and beyond.

During his 16 years with the GNR, Sturrock designed over a dozen classes of both passenger and goods locomotives to meet the needs of the fast-growing railway, where the transport of coal and other minerals was as important to the profitability of the line as passenger traffic. Sturrock was accountable for around 40% of expenditure and he continually battled with the chairman and board to persuade them to purchase locomotives, wagons and carriages in time to meet the growing demands of the line. In 1850 when Sturrock joined the GNR, there were 340 employees in the Locomotive Department and the locomotive mileage was 609,092. When he retired in 1866, the employees numbered 3,834 and the mileage was 4,873,113.

Mr. Sturrock had previously gained upwards of ten years’ experience in the Great Western Works at Swindon under ‘Sir. Daniel Gooch, and there can be no doubt that the excellent training thus acquired fitted Mr. Sturrock in a most eminent degree to undertake the duties of his new appointment on a railway to which the qualities of speed and power in its locomotive stock were absolutely necessary for a continued and prosperous existence. From the start the new locomotive engineer kept two main ideas strongly to the front in providing engine-power for the railway, those two ideas being the vital influence of the firebox in determining the capability of an engine, and the need of a high boiler pressure to develop the full capacities of the machine.

Edited from Bird’s Locomotives of the Great Northern Railway, and Wikipedia