John Speller's Web Pages Thomas Tunstall

John Speller's Web Pages - GWR Broad Gauge - SDR

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It is not always just the rich and famous who are worthy of mention. Thomas Tunstall (1822-1912) spent almost the whole of his working career on the broad gauge. Born at Seneley Green near St. Helens in Lancashire, he joined the Great Western Railway as an engine cleaner at Paddington in 1845 and rose through the ranks to be an engine driver. He later reminisced in the Great Western Railway Magazine of driving the Gooch "Bogie" Class 4-4-0 saddle tanks, and how rough these were with their vulcanized rubber springs.

Mr. Tunstall drove the first test train across the Royal Albert Bridge from Devon into Cornwall, and a few weeks later on 2 May 1859 he drove the Royal Train carrying Prince Albert at the official opening of the bridge.

In the later years of his career Mr. Tunstall was Foreman of the Running Shed at Newton Abbot. Here not the least of his accomplishments was to encourage the Rev. A. H. Malan and William M. Spriggs to take photographs of the railway locomotives, and he was thus more than anyone responsible for the taking of quite a high proportion of the photographs of the broad gauge that have survived into the twenty-first century. He retired in 1894, two years after the end of the broad gauge. There is a web page devoted to Thomas Tunstall on the Encyclopedia of Plymouth History website.
Thomas Tunstall standing next to "Convertible" 0-4-2ST No. 3547. This was built in September 1888 and converted to 0-4-4T in January 1891, so the photograph must have been taken sometime between those two dates. Photograph by W. M. Spriggs
Thomas Tunstall standing in front of "Rover" Class 4-2-2 "Emperor" at Newton Abbot on 17 July 1889. Photograph by the Rev. A. H. Malan
Gooch "Corsair" Class 4-4-0ST, "Horace." Thomas Tunstall's first regular engine at Plymouth was "Corsair," the first member of the class, completed at Swindon in August 1849
Mr. Tunstall in front of "Rover" Class 4-2-2 "Amazon" at Newton Abbot on 25 July 1883. Photograph by the Rev. A. H. Malan
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