Charles J Bowen Cooke (1859–1920)


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.