Beyer Peacocks still in steam…


… what a sight it might have been.

Metropolitan Railway, Beyer Peacock built ‘A’ class locomotive, photo Chris McKenna (click to see picture in original context and details of licensing)

First of all, not many people realise that the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first proper underground railway was once worked by steam locomotives. In fact, steam haulage on the Metropolitan Railway lasted from 1864 to 1906. Today, if you look carefully as you travel around the Circle Line, you can still see remnants of the once elaborate systems used to vent steam and smoke from the stations. Even fewer people know that after British Railways stopped using steam locomotives in 1968, London Transport continued using steam locomotives on its engineering trains until 1971! Apparently when working in the small hours with the electric current was switched off to facilitate track maintenance, the gangers preferred smoke and steam to diesel fumes!

The first locomotives supplied to the Metropolitan Railway were the Beyer Peacock built ‘A’ class 4-4-0Ts. In spite of the condensing pipe above the water tanks these were remarkably well proportioned engines, as the side view below shows.

Metropolitan Railway ‘A’ class locomotive.

(Click to see picture in original context on beyerpeacock website.)

Finally, only a handful of people know that a smaller version of these locomotives, built between 1872 and 1926 are still in active service on the Isle of Man Railway as Pete Murfet’s excellent video shows.

Footage from an afternoon by the lineside at Keristal near Port Soderick on the 3 foot gauge Isle of Man Steam Railway, Monday 23rd June 2008. The locomotives are Beyer, Peacock 0-4-2T’s No 4 ‘Loch’, & No 13 ‘Kissack’. Video Pete Murfet

Now if only the Isle of Man government hadn’t scrapped most of its railway system in 1967!

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One Response to “Beyer Peacocks still in steam…”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    “Now if only the Isle of Man government hadn’t scrapped most of its railway system in 1967!” — perhaps broadly-and-poetically applicable, but pedantically, not so. The Isle of Man Railway — totally broke — ceased operation in late 1965. Throughout 1966, nothing ran. Revival of IOMR, under the aegis of Lord Ailsa, spanned the years 1967 and 1968 (all three surviving lines running, except for, part of time, western segment of Douglas — Port Erin line, for “functional” reasons which I forget). The exercise found ruinously uneconomic — Lord A. withdrew as at late 1968. From then on, only Douglas — Port Erin line has run — rest of system abandoned. “If only’s” are lovely — but we live in the real world, worse luck.

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