George Whale (1842–1910)


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.