John Speller's Web Pages Highland "River" Class

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Highland "River" Class Untitled Untitled
When Peter Drummond left the Highland Railway in 1912 to become Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Glasgow & South Western Railway, his place was taken by his assistant, Fredrick George Smith (1872-1956) who came from Newcastle and had trained on the North Eastern Railway. On the Highland Railway he introduced the "River" Class, an advanced design of 4-6-0 locomotives, built by the North British Locomotive Works and partly based on a contemporary design for Indian Railways. The locomotive had 6 ft. 0 in. driving wheels, an elegantly designed Walschaerts' valve gear, but with a boiler pressure of only 160 psi had the relatively low tractive effort of only 23,324 lb. While Smith was aware that the 17 ton. 15 cwt. axle-loading of these new locomotives was slightly above the permitted maximum on the line, he was also aware that the balancing of the locomotives minimized the hammer-blow and made the axle-loading less destructive than it might have been. It also happened that the "Big Ben" 4-4-0s that had been designed by Peter Drummond actually had a heavier axle-load than Smith's "River" Class. It was probably Smith's own fault that his communication with the Chief Civil Engineer of the Highland Railway, Alexander Newlands, was poor, but at any rate Newlands refused to allow the "River" Class to run on the Highland and they were sold -- actually at a profit of 500 per locomotive -- to the Caledonian. The name, "River" Class was perhaps ill-fated, since Maunsell also had a difficult time with his. The fiasco over the "River" Class unfortunately coincided with the purchase of a new Cowans Sheldon turntable at Inverness which proved unsatisfactory, and as a result of this an the "River" Class debacle Smith was forced to resign. He took up a position with the Ministry of Munitions.

Smith is also said to have been largely responsible for two 4-4-0 locomotives of advanced design, "Durn" and "Snaigow," which came out under Smith's successor, Christopher Cumming.

The vindication of the "River" Class, however, was at hand. The LMS took over the Highland Railway at the Grouping of 1923, and the "River" Class was transferred back to the Highland Railway, where it did excellent work. Alexander Newlands (1870-1938) who had been the Chief Civil Engineer of the Highland Railway, became the Chief Mechanical Engineer (Scotland) of the LMS in 1927, and seems by then to have been reconciled to Smith's design.
"H" Class 4-6-0 locomotive built by the North British Locomotive Company for the Bombay, Baroda & Central India Railway in 1915; the Highland "River" Class appears partly to have been based on this design
Highland Railway "River" Class 4-6-0 as running on the Caledonian Railway in around 1920
Highland Railway 4-4-0 locomotive "Durn," one of two locomotives designed by Smith and constructed by his successor Cumming
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