John Speller's Web Pages Kirtley Locomotives

John Speller's Web Pages - SE&CR
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William Kirtley (1840-1919), was Locomotive Superintendent from of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway from 1874 to 1898, when he took early retirement on the creation of the SE&CR. Kirtley had trained at Derby under his uncle Matthew Kirtley, Locomotive Superintendent of the Midland Railway. Kirtley produced a number of sound and reliable designs. As E. L. Ahrons commented of the LC&DR, its "locomotives were excellent, but the carriages were always poverty-stricken rabbit hutches." The LC&DR did, however, fit its trains with the Westinghouse brake, and also made extensive use of the Sykes "Lock-and-Block" system of signalling, with the result that in spite of fairly poor track and somewhat excessive speeds the company maintained a remarkably good safety record. In Kirtley's time the locomotives were always polished and well turned out in their newly-adopted livery of gloss black lined out with a broad grayish-blue band with a thin vermillion stripe on the outside and a thin yellow stripe on the inside. The lining originally had concave corners, but this was replaced by rounded corners in 1892. 1920s footage of Kirtley "R" Class 0-4-4 tanks may be seen here.

Between the formation of the Hull & Barnsley Railway in 1880 and the appointment of Matthew Stirling as its Locomotive Superintendent in 1885, William Kirtley acted as the H&B's locomotive consultant, in which capacity he was he was responsible for 12 0-6-0 tanks, 20 0-6-0 tender locomotives and 10 2-4-0 tender engines.

At the time of the creation of the South Eastern & Chatham Railways Joint Management Committee, Robert Riddell Surtees (1855-1919), Kirtley's Chief Draughtsman, became Chief Draughtsman of the SECR. Apart from boiler design, in which he took a particular interest, though without achieving particularly stellar results, Wainwright delegated most of the locomotive design to Surtees. By 1913 the SE&CR faced a crisis of old-fashioned and inadequate locomotives, together with a surfeit of work at Ashford, due partly to the premature closing of Longhedge works. Wainwright was forced into retirement in November 1913, and Surtees completed the design for the "L" Class, enlarging the boiler, adding a Schmidt superheater, substituting piston valves, and he ordered the first batch of twelve locomotives shortly before the arrival of Maunsell on 1 January 1914. Maunsell found it necessary to make only a few minor modifications before ordering an additional ten locomotives to Surtees' design. Unfortunately, however, Surtees seems to have been in very poor health and resigned shortly after the arrival of Maunsell. He retired and died in Ashford five years later at the age of 64.
Kirtley Small 5' 6" 0-4-4T Class "R-1" at London Bridge Lower Level station. These engines were nicknamed "Bobtails," perhaps suggesting that they participated in the tendency of 0-4-4 tanks in general to wag their tails at speed. Image copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License
Kirtley Class "B-2" six-coupled goods locomotive No. 193, built by the Vulcan Foundry in 1891
Kirtley's final express passenger design, the "M-3" Class 4-4-0 completed in 1898. The locomotives had 6 ft. 6 in. driving wheels, cylinders 18 in. x 26 in., and 150 psi. boiler pressure
Kirtley 0-4-4 Class "A" suburban passenger tank No. 70, built by the Vulcan Foundry in 1875
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