GNR Locomotives

Locomotive Engineer: Patrick Stirling

Portrait of Patrick Stirling

STURROCK’S successor on the line was Patrick Stirling, at that time forty-six years of age. Stirling was born at Kilmarnock in 1820, and at the age of seventeen began a five years’ apprenticeship at the Dundee Foundry. After serving his full period, he remained at the same works for a year as journeyman. In 1843 he left Dundee to enter into employment at the Vulcan Foundry, Warrington. After a short stay there he obtained the post of foreman at the works of Messrs. Neilson & Co., of Glasgow, where he undoubtedly received much valuable experience which stood him in good stead in later years.

In 1851 he became Locomotive Superintendent of the Bowling and Balloch Railway—a small concern perhaps, but another stepping-stone in his career. His next move was something in the nature of a divergence, for he left the railway to work for the shipbuilding firm of Laurance Hill, Port Glasgow before being employed as foreman to Messrs. R. & W. Hawthorn, returning to the world of railways.

After eighteen months’ employment with the Newcastle firm, in 1853 he once more took over the duties of a Locomotive Superintendent, this time on no less important a line than the Glasgow and South Western Railway and now he was able to show a direct contradiction to the usual application of the proverb about a “rolling stone.” He had, in fact, gathered sufficient ‘moss’ in the shape of a varied experience and sound judgment to occupy his new position with honour until 1866, when the vacancy on the G.N.R. was offered to him. He transferred his services from the Glasgow and South-Western, on which he had controlled the locomotive department for thirteen years, to the English line. As successor to Sturrock he held this, his last appointment, for almost twenty-nine years.

He died on November 11th, 1895, while he was virtually still in harness aged 76th years.

From Bird's Locomotives of the Great Northern Railway.