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James Pearson was the engineer responsible for the daily operations of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's ill-fated atmospheric equipment on the South Devon Railway. Trains only ran in service from 13 September 1847 to 9 September 1848, but he was retained while the equipment was disposed of.
In May 1850 he became the Bristol and Exeter Railway's Locomotive Engineer. Under his control the railway set up new locomotive works at Bristol Temple Meads. These opened in 1851 and built most of the railway's new broad gauge locomotives from 1859.
The most significant locomotives designed by James Pearson were: