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British Industrial History

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James Cross and Co

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James Cross and Company of Sutton Engine Works, St. Helens

James Cross had been the locomotive engineer on the St Helens and Runcorn Railway. He had joined the company in 1854, age 25. When the company was taken over by the LNWR, Cross started his own locomotive manufacturing business. He was joined by Edward Borrows and Arthur Sinclair, both former St. Helens Railway employees. Borrows quit after a short time over the patent rights to a diaphragm pump which he'd invented. He established his own business, naming the factory 'Providence Works'[1] Cross had taken over the old St Helens workshops at Sutton shed.

1863 'In the first week of November, 1863, Mr. James Cross, locomotive engineer of the St. Helens Railway, completed a tank locomotive, supported on eight wheels, the leading and trailing pairs of which were fitted with the radial axle boxes patented by Mr. W. B. Adams; whilst the four coupled wheels were fitted with spring tyres, which were another invention of the same engineer....'[2]See James Cross and Co: White Raven. It is not clear whether this was undertaken before James Cross left the St Helens Railway and established his own company.

1864 Built a locomotive with Works No. 2, a bold venture for a fledging company - a Fell locomotive for the Mount Cenis Railway.

1865 Made a Fairlie 0-4-4-0 locomotive to the design of Robert Fairlie for the Neath and Brecon Railway. It was demonstrated working a train with a gross weight of ~350 tons from St. Helens Junction. 'Among the gentlemen who witnessed the trial were Sir W. Smith (chairman of the Venezuelan Railway), Mr. W. L. Banks, F.S.A. (chairman Brecon and Merthyr Railway), Captain C. M. Layton, Mr. J, Davis (chief Assistant engineer Bombay and Baroda Railway), Mr. Francis Fox, Mr. W. F. Good, Mr. Fairlie, C.E., Mr. V. Pendred, C.E., Mr. J. Hippel (engineer in chief Peruvian Railway), Mr. L. Colburn, Mr. Walker (locomotive superintendent of the Cambrian System), &c.'[3]

1866 Built a second Fairlie locomotives built, this for the Anglesey Central Railway. However 3 further Fairlie locomotives built for Queensland, Australia, were rejected because of defective construction and working.

1869 Ceased business. They had built around sixty locomotives. The final batch, of 30, was for the East Indian Railway.

Fairlie Locomotives

The following information is taken from 'The Fairlie Locomotive' by R. A. S. Abbott[4].

The first double-boiler locomotive with two power bogies to Fairlie's patent was the Progress, completed by J. Cross & Co in 1865 (see above). There was no water partition dividing the firebox into two, so there was a tendency for the blast from one chimney to draw air down the other! Another shortcoming was the method of conveying the steam from the boiler to the cylinders via a copper pipe coiled in the smokebox. The flanged joints tended to leak, and eventually the pipe would break. A different arrangement was later used. The locomotive had an unusual braking system, using separate friction wheels on the axles, the brake shoes worked by chains. In 1869 the Progress was sent to the Midland Railway and worked for several weeks between Kentish Town and Hendon. It was then thought to have been bought by George England and Co, who were associated with Robert Fairlie (Fairlie having married George England's daughter).

In 1866 Cross built the "Mountaineer", an 0-4-4-0 Fairlie locomotive for the Anglesey Central Railway. This had ball-and-socket joints for the steam pipes, and conventional brakes. It ran between Gaerwen Junction and Amlwch for just a few months, before being transferred to the Neath and Brecon Railway (Hanbury Miers being a Director of both companies). It worked there for 13 years, before being sold to the Briton Ferry Ironworks and dismantled, the boiler going to the Llantrisant Tinplate Works. Other parts were sold for use elsewhere (one cylinder and motion were mated with a crankshaft to drive machinery in the fitting shop at the company's Neath works until 1896).

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'Sutton Beauty and Heritage' website, Part 27
  2. [2] 'The Evolution of the Steam Locomotive (1803-1898)' by G. A. Sekon, 1899
  3. London Evening Standard, 18 December 1865
  4. 'The Fairlie Locomotive' by R. A. S. Abbott, David & Charles, 1970
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816