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London & North Western Railway Society
LNWR Engineering Personailities

George Whale (1842–1910)

An old photo of George Whale

In contrast to Webb, Whale was a “running man”, i.e. he belonged to those who operated the railway. The LNWR board specifically chose a running man as opposed to another engineer as some officers had a problem with Webb over his wide area of responsibilty and freedom from interference at less than board level. Perhaps more important, they were jealous of his large salary. The first priority for Whale appeared to be providing locomotives to pull heavier trains at higher speeds. He was successful in doing this the Precursor 4-4-0's although they were heavy in their use of coal. He did not immediately replace the existing compounds but continued with building some and modified others.
Many consider he did not continue Ramsbottom and Webb's strict discipline at the works and so productivity and quality decreased. He did allow Trevithick - his Works Manager to scrap Webb Compounds before sufficient replacements were available resulting in a temporary shortage of available engines. Unfortunately after an operation in 1907 his ill-health increased, he became more irritable and absences followed. He retired in 1909 but never recovered from a second operation.

Charles J Bowen Cooke (1859–1920)

An old photo of Charles J Bowen Cooke

A clergyman’s son (like Webb) and a “running man” (like Whale). A tall, well built man who was generally liked on and off the railway, he could nevertheless be reserved to outsiders. Although a running man in terms of his experience he was also interested in locomotive development - both here and overseas. His major acheivement was to introduce superheating to Crewe engines. His first class - George Vth 4-4-0's were excellent and efficient engines despite being basically modernised Precursors. He tested the value of superheating by building a number of engines that differed only in being super heated or not. The superheated ones were obviously superior so only that class was expanded and the non-superheated ones converted. In fact when the Precursors were ready for major overhaul they too were superheated.
He is probably more well known for his later engines - 4-6-0 Claughtons - which are often considered near-misses as brilliant. They were certainly excellent engines although did suffer from minor faults. They were originally intended to have larger boilers but the civil engineer insisted on weight reductions. He was aware of their faults and intended to rectify them but the war delayed anything other than priority work. Unfortunately he died not long after the end of the war so was not able to finish the task. After months of ill-health he died at Falmouth and is buried at St. Just-in-Roseland.

Captain H.P.M. Beames (1875–1948)

An old photo of Captain H.P.M. Beames

An Irishman, he was a pupil under Webb in 1898 but took leave two years later to fight in the Boer War. Returning to Crewe he progressed to Chief Mechanical Engineer after Bowen Cooke but when the LNW merged with the LYR, George Hughes, as the senior man in terms of years of experience was appointed overall CME in his place. Although he originated the ‘belts’ method of production-line building in Crewe his career under the LMS ran under similar bad luck as the LMS chairman insisted on an getting an outsider to force the employees from different companies to work together, a great disappointment, which he bore with good grace.
However as an assistant CME at Crewe he was able to improve production efficiency to nearer the level it attained during Webb's time as well as experiment with modifications to a number of the older LNWR locomotive classes (eg capprotti valve gear on Prince Of Wales, larger boiler Claughtons). Over the years he turned more to civic affairs being president of the Webb Orphanage, the Crewe Mechanics Institute and chairman of Cheshire County Council.