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Herbert William Garratt

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Herbert William Garratt (June 8, 1864 – September 25, 1913) was a mechanical engineer and the inventor of the Garratt system of articulated locomotives.

Garratt served an apprenticeship from 1879-1882 under J. C. Park at the Bow Works of the North London Railway followed by experience at Doxford's Marine Engineering Works in Sunderland. Following work as an inspector for Sir Charles Fox and Sir Alexander Rendel, Garratt went in 1889 to the Argentine Central Railway where he became Locomotive Superintendent in 1892. Between 1900 and 1906 he worked for railways in Cuba , Lagos and Lima (Peru) and for the New South Wales Government Railways. Garratt was elected to membership of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1902.

He returned to Britain in 1906 in order to inspect rail-mounted artillery on behalf of the New South Wales Government and this led him to Beyer, Peacock and Co to discuss methods of mounting heavy artillery on railway bogies. From this, his inventiveness led to his design for an articulated locomotive, which was rejected by Kitson and Co but taken up by Beyer-Peacock. Garratt patented his design on July 26, 1907 and this key patent was subsequently extended to January 26, 1928.

Garratt's basic invention was developed into a usable locomotive design by the drawing office staff at Beyer-Peacock's Gorton Works, which Garratt visited at that time for just a few hours each week. Beyer-Peacock's sales office secured an order for the first two Garratt engines from the Tasmanian Government Railways and these were delivered in 1909 (see TGR K Class). These were, at the customer's insistence, to a variant of the design in two respects but this was not repeated in subsequent orders. The third locomotive, like the first two also an 0-4-0 + 0-4-0, was built for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and conformed more closely to the basic Garratt design. The next six built in 1911 were 2-6-0 + 0-6-2 Garratts for the West Australian railways and these were the first to result in repeat orders.

Herbert Garratt died in 1913, when the potential of his design was still in the process of being recognised, and he therefore failed to see the great popularity that it achieved during the inter-war years.

1913 Obituary [1]

HERBERT WILLIAM GARRATT was born in London on 8th June 1864.

After being educated at various private schools in London, he served an apprenticeship from 1879 to 1882 in the locomotive works of the North London Railway at Bow.

On its completion, he went to the marine works of Messrs. W. Doxford, Sunderland, and remained there until 1885, when he became locomotive inspector for Sir Douglas Fox.

In the following year he transferred his services to Sir Alexander M. Rendel, for whom he acted as inspector of permanent-way materials for two years.

In May 1889 he was appointed head draughtsman on the Central Argentine Railway, having charge of the installation of the vacuum brake to the rolling-stock, and of Pintsch's system of gas lighting to the carriages and workship.

Three years later he became locomotive superintendent of the same railway, which post he held until 1900, when he was appointed locomotive, carriage, and wagon superintendent of the Cuban Central Railways, and in the following year he became locomotive superintendent of the Lagos Government Railways.

In 1904 he was appointed to a similar position on the Lima Railway in Peru, on which line he introduced a system of liquid-fuel burning for locomotives.

When this line was taken over by an electric company in 1906, he returned to England. Here he was engaged in the inspection of the building of locomotives.

Finally, he introduced the well-known type of engine bearing his name, an illustration of which was given in the Institution Proceedings for 1912 (Fig. 62, Plate 26).

His death took place at Richmond, Surrey, on 25th September 1913, at the age of forty-nine.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1902.

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