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The Personalities

John RamsbottomJohn Ramsbottom (1814—1897)

Ramsbottom was appointed Locomotive Superintendent at Crewe Explain 'Crewe Works' in 1857, at the direct request of LNWR Chairman, Richard Moon Explain 'Moon, Sir Richard (1814—1899)'. In 1862 he was promoted to Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME Explain 'CME') for the entire system. His major achievement was the great expansion and development at Crewe, not only of the Locomotive Works but the town itself. He was responsible for two “World firsts”: In 1864 he opened the steelworks, the first to operate on a commercial scale, and designed the water troughs Explain 'Water Trough' 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 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) Francis W Webb

Ramsbottom was succeeded by Webb in 1871. A clergyman’s son - very much a designer, inventor and first-rate production engineer, he often got involved in trialling his developments himself. 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 for non-railway people, and chose the charming and varied names borne by LNW passenger locomotives.

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. A complex man, with very great capabilities, deep sensitivity and tolerance yet sometimes an unapproachable martinet, blind to the faults of his later compound locomotives.Story continues ...

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