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James Stirling

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1917.
1890.
1894. Passenger tank locomotive for the South Eastern Railway.

James Stirling (1835-1917) of the South Eastern Railway

1835 October 2nd. Born the son of Robert Stirling at Galston, Ayrshire; brother of Patrick Stirling, and successor to him on the GSWR.

Spent two years with village millwright then apprenticed to his brother, following which he spent a year at Sharp, Stewart and Co in Manchester before returning to Kilmarnock where he had become Works Manager before his brother left for Doncaster.

In 1866 when Patrick Stirling left for Doncaster James was appointed as Locomotive Superintendent. Whilst retaining his brother's domeless boilers he did adopt the 4-4-0 type.

1878 He eventually left the GSWR for the South Eastern Railway at Ashford. At Ashford he retained the family liking for domeless boilers but introduced the A class 4-4-0, and later the F class 4-4-0. He also introduced the class O 0-6-0 and the Q class of 0-4-4Ts which dominated the suburban traffic of the SER. The R class of 0-6-0Ts survived well into Nationalization being responsible for the traffic on the steeply graded Folkestone Harbour branch: some even managed to retain the characteristic Stirling cab. But Stirling's successors fitted domed boilers.

1898 He retired

1917 January 12th. Died at Ashford


1917 Obituary [1]

JAMES STIRLING was born at Galston, Ayrshire, on 2nd October 1835.

He was educated privately and at the age of eighteen was sent to the village millwright, two years later commencing his apprenticeship under his brother, Patrick, then locomotive superintendent of the Glasgow and South Western Railway Co., Glasgow.

In the following year he was sent to Kilmarnock and passed through all the locomotive departments.

On the completion of his apprenticeship he was made a charge-man, and subsequently worked in the drawing-office.

With a view to varying his experience, he left Kilmarnock and went to Manchester, where he entered the service of Messrs. Sharp, Stewart and Co., as a working fitter.

A year later he returned to Kilmarnock and re-entered the drawing-office, subsequently becoming works manager, which position he held until 1866.

On his brother, Patrick, leaving to take up the position of locomotive superintendent of the Great Northern Railway, the directors of the Glasgow and South Western Railway appointed him as successor to his brother, which position he occupied until 1878.

During his service as locomotive, carriage and wagon superintendent, he introduced a more powerful class of passenger engines, with 6 feet 6-inch coupled wheels and 18-inch by 24-inch cylinders. When the proposal to run trains in direct connexion with the Midland Railway came up, he built a still more powerful class of engine with 7 feet coupled wheels, a leading bogie and inside cylinders, 18 inches by 26 inches, with the valves between. This type of engine was for many years the standard design for express passenger work in Great Britain. In 1874 he introduced a steam reversing-gear for locomotives, and he was the first engineer to provide cushioned seats for third-class compartments.

In 1878 he accepted an offer to become locomotive superintendent of the South Eastern Railway, and held this position until his retirement in 1898. During that period many improvements in the locomotive power on the railway were introduced by him, among which may be mentioned a special type of bogie, and the steam reversing-gear which had been so successful on the Glasgow and South Western Railway.

He was the first engineer to use 19-inch cylinders with the valves between them.

When in Kilmarnock he was Hon. Secretary to the Scottish Locomotive Railway Engineers' Association, and when he removed to England, on the formation of the Association of Locomotive Engineers of Great Britain and Ireland, he was appointed Hon. Secretary, a position which he held until his retirement from the South Eastern Railway.

His death took place at Ashford, Kent, on 12th January 1917, at the age of eighty-one.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1880; he was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and a Justice of the Peace for Kent.


1917 Obituary [2]

JAMES STIRLING, born at Galston, Ayrshire, 2nd October, 1835, died 12th January, 1917, at Ashford, Kent.

In 1855 he entered the service of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company, with whom he remained, with the exception of 1 year which he spent in Manchester, until 1878, occupying various positions. From draughtsman he became works manager, and in 1866 succeeded his brother as locomotive superintendent.

In 1878 he became locomotive engineer of the South-Eastern Railway, and retired in 1898. He introduced many improvements in locomotives and other rolling stock. He was honorary secretary of the Scotch Locomotive Railway Engineers’ Association and the Association of Locomotive Engineers of Great Britain and Ireland.

He was elected a Member of The Institution 7th December, 1886.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1917 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  2. 1917 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries