Thomas Kirtley was born in Tanfield in 1810 and died from a brain tumour in Brighton on 16 November 1847 where he was locomotive superintendent (Marshall). he had previously been locomotive superintendent of the North Midland Railway, founder of Thomas Kirtley & Co., a locomotive building firm in Warrington building locomotives between 1837 and 1841 and an engine driver on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway with his brother Matthew. In the interim Thomas was Engineer of the Brandling Junction and the Newcastle & Darlington Railways in 1844 (the source for this being the report on an accident which took place at Boldon Lane, near Shields on 8 October 1844, which is contained in the Board of Trade Railway Dept reports for 1844-45, Appendices I and II, pp55-63 (copy at the NRM Search Engine) Neil Mackay).
Matthew Kirtley was born at Tanfield in County Durham on 6 February 1813, the son of a colliery viewer. After a brief spell of tailoring, he joined the S&DR as a fireman in 1826, joined the L&MR briefly and became a driver on the Hull & Selby from where he was dismissed. Nevertheless, he is reputed to have driven the first L&BR train into London. In 1839 he was appointed Locomotive Foreman at Hampton on the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway, and two years later was made Locomotive Superintendent. Following the formation of the MR by amalgamation Kirtley becames its Locomotive Superintendent, probably through the influence of the Stephensons. Hunt: Backtrack, 17, 191 See also Dewrance. Locomotive Mag., 1943, 49, 180
As first locomotive superintendent of the recently-formed Midland Railway, Matthew Kirtley's first task was to enlarge, improve, and standardize the ninety-odd locomotive stock handed down by the three constituent companies, while at the same time enlarging the facilities at Derby to enable the Company to become less dependent on outside enterprises both for the repair and the maintenance of its locomotives. His first locomotives followed previous patterns; for example, his first passenger machines were basically of the Jenny Lind type, but later in his career he built very sound locomotives of his own design; among these were his long lived 2-4-0 machines of the 800 class, and his double-framed 0-6-0, some of which survived until railway nationalization. In 1856, with C. Markham, Kirtley devised a firebox suitable for burning coal; this used the inclined brick-arch, later so well-known, with a deflector plate sloping downwards from the firedoor. By this means volatile matter escaping with the hot gases was combusted as it moved around the brick arch and mixed with air entering by the firedoor. Kirtley held office from 1844 to his death on 24 May 1873. Previously he had been locomotive superintendent of the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway, one of the constituents of the Midland. His brother Thomas Kirtley, who became locomotive superintendent of the LBSCR for a few months in 1847, was the last locomotive superintendent of another Midland constituent, the North Midland. There is a Matthew Kirtley Scholarship for the University of Manchester's School of Engineering: Sir Frederic Calland Williams won this in 1929. Obituary: Proc. Instn Mech. Engrs., 1874, 25, 16-..
Contributions to other's papers
Siemens, C. William. On Le Chatelier's plan of using counter-pressure steam as a break [sic] in locomotive engines. Proc. Instn Mech Engrs., 1870, 21, 21-36. Disc.: 47-9 + Plates 1-5.
A preliminary trial of the counter-pressure plan had been made a "short time ago" with a light tank engine on the Midland Railway, and they had been "much surprised" at the results: in consequence a larger tank engine had been fitted with the counter-pressure apparatus, and trials had been made on the Lickey incline of 1 in 37. The engine was a very heavy one, intended expressly for working that incline, its weight in working order being 36½ tons; it was a six-wheel coupled engine, with 4 feet wheels, and cylinders 16½ inches diameter by 24 inches stroke. Several experiments were made, the last of which may be regarded as a destructive test where the packings were burnt and one cylinder got "rather hot". On the previous experiment a train of six loaded coal wagons weighing 58.61 tons, and two incline brake wagons weighing 21.20 tons and at 16 miles/hour the water cock was opened nearly half a turn and kept open for 5 seconds; the speed was thereby reduced in ¾mile to about 3 miles/hour. Again at 20 miles/hour the water cock was opened a quarter turn for 6 or 8 seconds, which reduced the speed in about ¾ mile to a mere crawl. No water issued from the chimney top.
12210/1848 Railway-wheels. 11 July 1848
See: J. B. Radford, Derby Works
and Midland Locomotives (1971)
Nock, O.S. Railway enthusuast's encyclopedia
Nephew of Matthew Kirtley of the Midland Railway. Marshall states that he was born in Warrington on 14 October 1849 and died in Clapham, London on 7 October 1919. His father had owned a locomotive manufacturing business in Warrington, but this had failed prior to William's birth. William was a pupil at Derby under his uncle, from April 1854. He held several posts on the Midland, including that of foreman at the Midland depot in King's Cross and from January 1864 Workshops Superintendent at Derby until he was appointed Locomotive Carriage & Wagon Superintendent on the LCDR in succession to Martley. Bradley records that at the Board Meeting on 12 March 1874 four candidates had been considered: two (Appleby and Lindsley were rejected as lacking experience - the other was Sacré), and Kirtley was offered the post at £800 per annum. He designed a powerful 0-4-4T (R class) which Bradley considered to be the best suburban tank engines South of London. This very thorough engineer was a consultant to the Hull & Barnsley Railway between 1883 and 1885. He resigned when the LCDR was amalgamated with the South Eastern Rly in 1895. MICE. See also obituary Locomotive Mag., 1919, 25, 195...
Webb, Ben: Locomotive Engineers of
the Southern Railway. 1946.
Bradley, D.L.: The locomotive history of the London Chatham and Dover Railway. London: RCTS, 1979.
London Divisional Locomotive Superintendent: letter from David Hyde, Br. Rly., J., 1986, 2, 172-3.