James Manson (& Hugh Smellie)
James Manson was born in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, in 1845, the son of a goods guard and later traffic inspector on the GSWR. In September 1861 he entered Kilmarnock Works and spent eight years in various departments. He served one year with Barclay, Curle & Co., shipbuilders of Govan and spent five years at sea with the Bibby Line, eventually becoming chief engineer. He returned to Kilmarnock in 1875 and in October 1883 he went to the GNoSR as Locomotive Superintendent, but returned to the Glasgow & South Western from 1891. These were small railways, and therefore his engines were not numerous and did not last long after the railway amalgamation. His more lasting contribution was his tablet exchange apparatus, which enabled trains to pick up and set down single-line tablets at up to 50 mile/h. He refused to patent this invention on the grounds that its benefit should be widely distributed, although as Christiansen states it was patented once manufacture started. Marshall records that he died in Kilmarnock on 5 June 1935.
On the GNoSR Manson produced several designs of inside-cylinder 4-4-0s mainly manufactured by Kitsons, but he did manage to constuct some of these classes at the extremely cramped Kittybrewster works. Manson was with the GNoSR long enough to be treated fairly briefly in the RCTS Locomotives of the LNER (Parts 1 and 4), and in Middlemass's The Scottish 4-4-0 as well as in the more obvious Locomotives of the Glasgow & South Western Railway by David L. Smith, where Manson enjoys two chapters and the adoration of the Author - subsequent tinkerings by Manson's successors are regarded as sacriligeous. Most of Manson'a 4-4-0 designs for the GSWR were developed from his GNoSR work and culminated in the Class 8 and one extraordinary exercise: a 4-cylinder 4-4-0 which according to Middlemass was "disappointing" and even Smith had to regard as not being a complete success. This locomotive was rebuily by Whitelegg. Manson also experimed with steam railcars and built a small number of 0-4-4Ts as well as a number of typical 0-6-o tender locomotives..
His 4-6-0 design, built by Sharp Stewart, has been analysed by C. P[hilip] Atkins in his The Scottish 4-6-0 classes and he showed that these locomotives probably showed more to Sharp Stewart design, than to that of Manson, and shared much in common with locomotives constructed by Sharp Stewart/North British Locomotive Company for service in India and to 4-6-0s constructed by/for the Great Central at that time. Unlike other Scottish 4-6-0s of that time they had Belpaire fireboxes and outside cylinders. They remained the premier motive power on the GSWR until the Grouping in spite of Manson's successors (Peter Drummond and Whitelegg) to produce something "better".
See : H.
Ellis, Twenty Locomotive Men (1958).
originally appeared in Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1942, 47, 126-31
Campbell Highet: Scottish locomotive history: 1831-1923. 1970
Mike Christensen: Tablet catching apparatus: Railway Archive
Nock, O.S. Railway enthusuast's encyclopedia
Carriage design on GNoSR: Fenwick: Backtrack 12-14
David L. Smith records that Hugh Smellie was born in Ayr on 3 March 1840 (Marshall), and was the son of an engine driver with the same name. He beame an apprentice at Kilmarnock works in August 1856. In January 1865 he joined the drawing office, and in 1866 he succeeded James Stirling as Foreman of the works. He became Locomotive Superintendent of the Maryport & Carlisle Railway in February 1870, but returned to the GSWR in 1878 as Locomotive Superintendent at a salary of £500 per annum. His period at Maryport is described by Lowe.
At Kilmarnock he produced good quality locomotives, typical of their time: 2-4-0s, 0-6-0s and eventually inside cylinder 4-4-0s. They belonged to the "Stirling" school being domeless with the safety valves fitted in the middle of the boiler. The cabs also followed the Stirling profile. He was succeeded at Kilmarnock by James Manson.
Campbell Highet notes that during the summer of 1889 Smellie's health had given cause for concern and he was advised to take an extended holiday on the sea. From the voyage he returned greatly benefited and when Drummond left St Rollox (Caledonian Railway) in search of greater things in the Antipodes Smellie was appointed in his place. He took office at St Rollox on September 1, 1890, and was shortly afterwards embroiled in the arduous struggle with the men involved in the Scottish railway strike which commenced a few days before Christmas of that year .The three southern companies were badly affected, and so far as the Caledonian was concerned Smellie did much to obtain a settlement. However before a satisfactory solution was reached his health again gave way. He died in a Bridge of Allan Hydropathic establishment suddenly on April 19, 1891, at the early age of 51 years. A strict disciplinarian, he was nevertheless a man of innate charm and kindly and courteous manner, besides being a most capable engineer. His profession was the poorer for his passing. During his twelve years at Ki1marnock the grim battle of continuous brakes had been fought and Smellie had done his part conceding neither one brake nor the other to be the better without adequate trial.
Nature of Smellie household in Kilmarnock from 1881 Census: Backtrack 14, 637.
See also John Hugh Smellie (born 15 February 1874: died 17 July 1931: son??)