John Speller's Web Pages Hurricane

John Speller's Web Pages - GWR Broad Gauge Locomotives

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"Hurricane," built by R. & W. Hawthorn of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and delivered on 6 October 1838, was surely the most peculiar locomotive ever to run of the Great Western Railway. "Hurricane," like "Ajax," was built with 10 ft. driving wheels, but there the resemblance ended. In some ways anticipating the Beyer-Garratt style of locomotive, the engine was divided into three separate sections, with the boiler and cab on a different section from the cylinders, motion and driving wheels. The Patent for this arrangement was held by T. E. Harrison, but I fear that Mr. Harrison cannot have made much money from his invention. Its design enabled the locomotive to have a very slow cylinder speed and a very low axle weight, both of which Brunel had laid down as being his requirements. Provided that the locomotive was running light engine, or with a minimal train of, say, a single carriage, it would have been capable of very high speeds, and there are indeed rumors that it may actually have achieved a hundred miles an hour. But because of its low adhesive weight the engine would have been impossibly prone to slipping and incapable of pulling a train consisting of much more than itself. It was therefore a dismal failure and was withdrawn from traffic in December 1839, after only 14 months' service. In this respect, I suppose, it was at least more successful than Dean's 4-2-4T No. 9, which never even made it out of Swindon Works.

Perhaps this should be taken with a pinch of salt, but was "Hurricane" the first locomotive to travel at 100 m.p.h.? See G.A. Sekon (Nokes), "The Evolution of the Railway Locomotive," p. 79: "At the end of September, 1839, when the 31 miles of the line was open to Twyford, the driver of the " Hurricane," having obtained a promise from the directors that they would provide for his wife and family if an accident happened to him, undertook to drive the "Hurricane" to Twyford at the speed of 100 miles an hour; and, allowing three miles for getting up speed and stopping, it is stated that he successfully covered 28 miles at the rate of 100 miles an hour."

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