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London & North Western Railway Society
LNWR Mechanical Engineers

John Ramsbottom (1814—1897)

An old photo of John Ramsbottom


    18?? Worked in his father's 'Steam Works', a cotton mill in Todmorton.
    1839 Employed by Sharp Roberts and Co. Manchester
    1842 Locomotive Superintendent for Manchester and Birmingham Rly. Longsight works
    1846 Locomotive Superintendent for LNWR North Eastern Division
    1857 Locomotive Superintendent for LNWR Northern Division
    1862 Locomotive Superintendent for entire LNWR
    1871 Left the LNWR, moved to L&Y

Ramsbottom started as Locomotive Superintendent with one of the constituent companies of the LNWR and continued in the same position on its formation. As the other divisional superintendents 'retired' his area of responsibility increased until in 1862 he took charge of the entire system. His major achievement was the great expansion and development at Crewe, not only of the Locomotive Works but the town itself. However, not only did he exand the works but after Trevithic's fairy relaxed management style Ramsbottom established working methods and processes more suited to a major manufacturing facility, especially keen on the benefits of standardisation. He was responsible for two World firsts: In 1864 he opened the steelworks, the first railway to operate on a commercial scale, and designed the water troughs  first installed at Mochdre; they were latter moved to Aber, North Wales, to enable the ‘Irish Mail’ meet the average speed required by the GPO.
He originated the 18in narrow-gauge system servicing the Works and held many patents relating to Locomotives - such as the Safety valve but also in steel-making and fluids. His health failing, he retired in 1871 but lived a further twenty years being professionally active until he died.

Francis W Webb (1836–1906)

An old photo of Francis W Webb


    1851 Started as Crewe Apprentice under Trevithic
    1856 Taken on as permenent employee in drawing office
    1859 Promoted to Chief Draughtsman
    1861 Became Works Manager
    1866 Left LNWR to become manager of Bolton Iron and Steel co
    1871 Returned to Crewe as CME or Locomotive Superintendent
    1903 Retired from company

A clergyman’s son - very much a designer, inventor and first-rate production engineer. At the age of 2X he was in charge of the draughtsman department having much to do with locomotives that would later be rebuilt under his direction as CME. After a few years as works manager he left Crewe and the LNWR, with the blessing of the chairman, to the Bolton Steel Works a company that was mainly involved with mill engines. There he became an expert in the manufacture and use of steel, knowledge that was used on his return to Crewe. He continued developing Crewe Works, and was very interested in the civic affairs of the town of Crewe, becoming mayor in Queen Victoria’s Jubilee year, 1887. He not only took an interest in the company hospital but instituted a separate hospital in the town He fell ill and retired in 1903, dying all too early in Bournemouth. In his will he was generous in founding the Webb Orphanage at Crewe; remembering nursing, church and educational institutions. Gardening was a fond interest.
He was much maligned after retirement, both by the company and many later writers. More attention having been paid to the sagas of chain brakes and compound locomotives than his many achievements.
Anyone who wishes to read a description of his time at Crewe in the context of the period is advised to read the excellent articles by Michael Rutherford in Backtrack - especially the series "Handing on the Baton: From Frank to George", started November 2002, Volume 16 no.12.