Testing & performance

Testing station (Rugby & Swindon)
Dynamometer cars
Counter pressure
Mobile testing units
Self-weighing tenders


Carling, D.R. Babbage and the dynamometer car. presented at Babbage-Faraday Bicentenary Conference - Cambridge, 5-7 July 1991. Trans. Newcomen Soc.,1990, 62,. 143-56. (Carling page 145)

Hyman, Anthony. Charles Babbage: pioneer of the computer. Oxford University Press, 1982. 287pp.
Babbage, better known for his early development of mechanical computing machinery, was also involved in two ways with the development of the broad gauge: firstly by demolishing Dionysius Lardner's absurd theories relating to Box Tunnel and secondly by developing the dynamometer car.


Andrews, H.I. The development of instruments for measuring the performance of steam locomotives with the mobile testing plant. Trans. Soc. Instrum. Technol., 1957, 9, 45-60. Disc. : 60-1. 16 illus., 10 diagrs., plan. Bibliog.
Andrews, H.I. The mobile testing plant of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Proc. Instn. mech. Engrs., 1948, 158, 450-63. Disc. 463-76 + 6 plates. 22 illus., 14 diagrs., 2 plans, table. Bibliog.
A dynamometer car plus a set of coaches which were equipped with electric generators. These generators acted as a variable 'load" for the locomotive being tested.
Brown, D.C. Demonstration run with dynamometer car and mobile test units - Manchester (Central) to Derby. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1949, 39, 361-5. diagr., table
Carling, D.R. Locomotive testing on.British Railways. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1950, 40, 496-530. Disc.: 530-91. (Paper No.497).
This is a superb paper which gives considerably more than celebrating the Rugby Locomotive Testing Station. It gives an excellent technical account of the Swindon testing plant with excellent photographs (it is a pity that the account lacked a diagram), all of the dynamometer cars inherited by British Railways including the new one under construction by the former LNER, the mobile testing unit inherited from the LMS, controlled road testing as developed at Swindon, the counter pressure locomotive, and the new testing plant at Rugby.
Collett, C.B. Testing locomotives on the Great Western Railway. Trans. 1st Wld Pwr Conf., London, 1924, 4, 882.94.8 diagrs.
Dynamometer car testing.
Ell, S.O. Developments in locomotive testing. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1953,43, 561-91. Disc.: 591-633, 729-34 + 4 folding plates. 2 illus., 19 diagrs. Bibliog. (Paper No.527).
Controlled road testing.
Ell, S.O. Locomotive testing in the fields of design and economic operation. Proc. br. Rlys. (West. Reg.) Lond. Lect.& Debating Soc., 1952/53, Paper No. 403. 16 p.4 illus., 5 diagrs.
Fore, J. Footplate impressions. J. Instn. Loco. Engrs, 1955, 45, 317-21. (Paper No. 546).
Footplate observations.
Frame, James. A investigation of tests of the locomotive steam engine at work. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1910, 16, 115-19;
Originally presented to the Glasgow Technical College Scientific Society on 5 March 1910.
Holcroft, H. Locomotive adventure. v.2. Running experiences. 1962.
Based on the author's notes made whilst observing S.R. locomotives from the footplate.
Jarvis, C.C. Dynamometer car working on the L.N.E.R., J. Instn. Loco. Engrs, 1933, 23, 2-33. Disc.: 344-6. 4 illus., 12 diagrs. (Paper No. 297).
Lewis-Dale, P. Some measurements by gas analysis of the locomotive furnace. J. Inst. Fuel, 1936, 10, 68-78. 7 illus., 11 diagrs., plan. Bibliog.
Locomotive testing at Swindon. Engineering, 1952, 174, 25-8. l6 diagrs. (REA 7431).
Controlled road testing.
Locomotive testing with a counter pressure brake. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1939, 45, 78-80. 3 diagrs.
LNER experiments.
L.M.S.dynamometer car. J. Instn. Loco. Engrs, 1938, 28, 577-81.3 illus.
L.M.S.R. dynamometer car. Rly Gaz., 1938, 68, 1117-18. 2 illus.
The old car (former L.&Y.R.vehicle)
L.M.S. loco. coal consumption and coal weighing tenders. Railways, 1947, 8, 71.
Morgan, R.E. The development of the Farnboro electric indicator and its application to the steam locomotive. J. lnstn Loco. Engrs, 1953,43,412-21. Disc.: 421-5. 6 diagrs. (Paper No.523).
Also reviews locomotive indicator development in general.
Nock, O.S. The mobile locomotive testing plant. Rly pict. 1950, 3, 142-5.5 illus.
Phillipson, E.A. Notes on locomotive running trials. J. Instn. Loco. Engrs, 1924, 14, 363-77. Disc.: 377-86 + 2 folding plates. 2 diagrs., table. 3 facsim.forms (Paper No. 161).
Footplate observations.
Robson, T. The counter pressure brake method of testing locomotives. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1943, 33, 171-98. Disc.: 198-217 + folding plate. 5 illus., 12 diagrs. (Paper No.441).
L.N.E.R. experiments.

Stanier, W.A.
The development and testing of locomotives. Engineering, 1936, 142, 305-8. illus., 9 diagrs., table.

Stationary testing

The Rugby testing plant was one of Gresley's most important projects and he did not live to see it fulfilled. Nearly all of Gresley's Papers promoted the project to some extent (q.v.). There was another test plant at Swindon which had been installed by Churchward and was upgraded by Collett: his spiteful invitation to the LMS and LNER to send delegates to view Swindon's improved toy is described in Chacksfield's biography of Collett (p. 130).

Allen, C.J. Testing a locomotive. Trains Ann., 1950, 73-9. 9 illus.
Armstrong, D. Rugby test plant. Trains ill., 1951, 4. 225-8. 3 illus.
British Railways Locomotive testing station, Rugby. London: Railway Executive, 1948. l6p. 11 illus.
A brochure produced for the opening ceremony.
British Railways Rugby locomotive testing station. [London], British Railways, [19  ]. 20 p.+ folding plate. 7 illus., 15 diagrs.
Technical brochure.
Carling, D.R.
Locomotive testing on.British Railways. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1950, 40, 496-530. Disc.: 530-91. (Paper No.497).
Dalby, W.E. Mechanical transport and some of its problems. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1923, 13, 466-72. Disc. : 472-8 (Paper No. 143).
 Includes a plea for a testing station.
Locomotive laboratory. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1948, 54, 165.
Editorial comment on the opening of the Rugby plant.
Locomotive testing at the Rugby plant, British Railways. Loco. Rly. Carr. Wagon Rev., 1957, 63, 154-6; 169-74; 228-34:1958, 64, 46-51; 122-5. 10 illus., 51 diagrs. Erratum:1957, 63,205
Summary of work undertaken.
A Locomotive testing station. Engineering, 1937, 144, 183.
Joint LNER/LMS decision to build the plant.
Locomotive testing station. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1938, 44, 63.
Rugby locomotive testing station. Engineering, 1948, 166, 462-5, 487-9; 492.8 illus., 9 diagrs. (REA 3347).
The Rugby locomotive testing station. Engineer, 1948, 186, 489-90, 524-6. 8 illus., 5 diagrs. (REA 3347).
Rugby locomotive testing station. Rly Gaz., 1948, 89, 490-4. 7 illus., 2 diagrs. (REA 3347).
Rugby locomotive testing station. Rly Mag., 1949, 95, 17-22. 3 illus.,diagr.
The Rugby test plant. Railways, 1948, 9, 188-90. 7 illus.
Rugby testing station. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1948, 54, 166-7. diagr.


Carling, D.R. Locomotive testing stations: Parts 1 and 2. Trans Newcomen Soc., 45, 105-44; 145-82.
Vital source of historical information.
Rich, Fred. "You'll go to jail, young man...". Part 1. Steam Wld, 2005 (215) 8-14.
Concerns Rugby Locomotive Testing Station. Access to the excellent diagram in Part 2 is necessary to fully understand Part 1. Rich started work at Rugby in 1957 when the plant was past its prime. Nevertheless, there are interesting illustrations and rewarding reminiscences about D.R. Carling, the Superintendent and about Horace Clarence Ockwell, his Deputy. Ockwell appears to have been mildly eccentric. Tommy Cadzow (1903-77), a Scot, was the chemist. These senior members of staff are portrayed in a group photograph (taken by J.M. Jarvis) with Robin Johnson, John McCann (a sometime contributor to Steam World) and George Podmore. Ron Pocklington was in charge of the Farnborough indicator. John Click (1926-88) was the footplate observer until 1956 when Rich tookover. Notes that Eric Nutty was Ell's footplate guru. Alleges that on road testing Derby "couldn't hold a candle to Sammy Ell" at Swindon, although Swindon lacked a Farnborough Indicator. and did not indicate every cylinder. Ockwell stated that "we will never outshine Sammy Ell because he doesn't set out to prove himself wrong!". Swindon was integrated and coherent. On 26 November 1957 Carling met Chapelon in London where Chapelon congratulated Carling concerning the tests of the Crosti boiler: "These tests of yours are the most accurate and consistent that I've ever seen". Chapelon had been called in to adjudicate between Crosti and British Railways over the savings which had been expected from the use of the Crosti boiler. The Heenen & Froude dynamometers were hydraulic. The article also describes the testing of the gas turbine locomotive GT3 and its designer J.O.P. Hughes and George Howe his test engineer.
Rich, Fred. "You'll go to jail, young man...". Part 2. Steam Wld, 2005 (216) 32-7.
Difficult to understand without access to Part 1 . Concerns Rugby Locomotive Testing Station and includes an excellent diagram of the plant (which must have been produced relatively late in its life as a standard class 5 is on the "rollers"). Includes very concise pen portraits of Tommy Cadzow (1903-1977), the pipe-smoking Scottish chemist, Ron Pocklington who modified the Farnborough indicator (originally developed at the Royal Aircraft Establishment thereat) for steam locomotive cylinders and John Click who had been an earlier footplate observer on the plant. An extended caption to Giesl ejector-fitted 9F No. 92250 being tested mentions that Dr Giesl was "courtesy itself", but that Ockwell lacked the courtesy to congratulate Giesl for halving the blastpipe pressure on test.
Rich, Fred. "You'll go to jail, young man...". Part 3. Steam Wld, 2005 (217) 42-6.
This part notes that Denys Twine was responsible for producing Willans lines (which plotted steam rate, as measured by water consumption, versus horsepower at a given speed) to ensure that stable steaming conditions were achieved before testing began in earnest. Considerable firing skill was required to maintain a steady steaming rate and the emission of excessive smoke was highly deprecated. The title of the series reflects Ockwell's comments to Rich when black smoke had been produced: the 1956 Clean Air Act was about to be implemented in 1958. Illus. 35022 Holland America Line: huge producer of black smoke and placed great demands on test plant fireman.
Rich, Fred. "You'll go to jail, young man...". Part 4. Steam Wld, 2005 (218) 36-43.
The final part of this interesting series states how Fred Rich gathered information through his footplate riding mainly on the WCML and the Great Central route on what might be termed the ergonomics of footplate design: this was eventually published as Paper 589 in the J. Instn Loco. Engrs. Carling was very supportive of this work, but Ockwell banned any further footplate journeys (by withdraweing access to the footplate pass). During these footplate journeys Rich found the B1 class to be extremely rough and a vast contrast from the smooth-running Hall class. Although he described a footplate journey on a down journey via High Wycombe with a V2, the only real observation was that the class tended to produce a lot of smoke, and in the case of this particular locomotive it was necesary to run with the firedoor open.  Illus.: group photograph to mark Tom Cadzow's departure for Stratford: also present: John Hicks, Garry Hibberd, Brian Hughes, Alan Betts, John Tierney, Charles Paterson, Denys Twine, Carling, Ockwell, Ron Pocklington (Farnborough indicator), Dick Grant, Dick Wilkinson, Bill Lucas, Norman Norton, Tom Potter, Driver Charlie Drouet and Fireman John Beck.

Swindon test plant

Rutherford, Michael. Great Western 4-6-0s at work. London: Promotional Reprint Co., 1995.
Originally published as two separate books: Castles & Kings. Part 2 contains a diagram of the original test plant (reproduced upside down) on page 237 and Arlington Court on the plant in 1935 (p. 236). In Chapter 7 gives a lucid account of the history of testing back to Babbage and Gooch.
Swindon Testing Station. British Railways Western Region. 27pp.
Ottley 15711

Dynamometer cars


Dynamometer car use on the Great Western Railway. Rly.Engr., 1923, 44, 466-72. 3 illus., 5 diagrs., 2 plans.
Dynamometer cars. Loco.Rly. Carr. Wagon Rev., 1952, 58, 52.
Historical survey.
NEW dynamometer car for British Railways. Rly. Mag., 1962, 107, 460-5. 4 illus., plan. diagr.
Western Region vehicle.
NEW L.M.R.dynamometer car. Rly Gaz., 1949, 90, 580-1. 3 illus. (REA 4144).
NEW L.M.R.dynamometer car. Rly Mag., 1949, 95, 317-18.3 illus.
NEW L.M.R.dynamometer car. Railways, 1949, 10,153. illus.
A NEW Western Region dynamometer car. Trains illus.,1961,l4, 498-9.3 illus., plan.


Rutherford, M. Railway Reflections No. 8. Measurements not mystification - the British dynamometer car. . Backtrack, 9, 436-44.
Scientific measurement of locomotive performance probably began with Charles Sylvester's measurement made on behalf of the Liverpool & Manchester Railroad Committee in 1824 when he made measdurements on the performance of locomotives at Hetton Colliery. Charles Babbage, one of the precursors of mechanized computation assisted in the development of a dynamometer carriage for the Great Western Railway at Brunel's behest. This vehicle was improved by Gooch and helped in the refutation of Dr Lardner's nonsense presented against the Railway. This early car was capable of measuring power at the drawbar and is described in Clark's Railway machinery. Aspinall made considerable advances in the design of dynamometer cars. The work of H.I. Andrews and "his" Mobile Testing Plant and Sam Ell's Controlled Road Testing is mentioned. A table summarizes details of all British cars.

Counter pressure

Carling, D.R. A brief history of the counter-pressure brake for steam locomotives. Trans Newcomen Soc., 1983/4, 55, 10-32.
Author was involved with fitting system to Beyer-Garratt locomotives supplied to Ecuador and to the Central Railway of Peru, and later was involved in testing the B17 and K3 classes on the LNER using the B13 (ex-NER 4-6-0) test locomotive. P.N.D. Porter noted a Railway Magazine article (incomplete citation: 1933 p. 43) by S.R. Yates: notes on Scottish locomotives and railway working wherein it was noted that Jones used the Chatelier system of counter-pressure water braking on his 4-4-0s. Paper includes biographies of several significant engineers not in Marshall.

No. 1699

Rimmer, A. Counter pressure locomotive testing. Rly Mag., 1951, 97, 687-8. illus.
Rimmer, Alan. Testing times at Derby: a 'privileged' view of steam. Oakwood, 2004.
Began as a series of articles in Locomotives Large and Small.
Rimmer, A. No. 1699 is retired. Trains ill., 1951, 4, 232 +. illus.
The L.N.E.R. B13 as modified for counter pressure testing.

Mobile testing units

L.M.S. mobile testing plant. Engineer, 1947, 184, 144-6.5 illus.,diagr. (REA 1821).
L.M.S.R. mobile testing plant. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1947, 53, 161-3. 3 illus., diagr.
L.M.S. mobile testing plant. Railways, 1947, 8, 171-2.2 illus.
L.M.S.R.technical developments: a mobile testing plant. Rly.pict., 1947, (3), 164-6.2 illus.
Testing locomotives on the line. Rly Gaz., 1947, 87, 264-5. 5 illus.
L.M.S. mobile testing unit.
Wind resistance tests on Eastern Region. Rly Mag., 1951, 97, 495. illus. p. 465.
Part of the mobile testing unit.

Self-weighing tenders

B.R. coal weighing tenders. Rly.Mag., 1950. 96, 65.
For continuous testing of coal consumption.
Coal weighing tenders, L.M.S. Railway. Loco. Rly. Carr. Wagon Rev., 1947, 53, 49-50. illus., diagr.
Coal weighing tenders on the L.M.S.R.. Rly Gaz., 1947, 86, 622, illus., diagr.
Self-weighing tenders in Eire. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1951, 55, 40.
Self-weighing tenders in Ireland. Rly Mag., 1951, 97, 348-9.


Performance differed from the above mentioned activities in that it was an amateur activity, usually consisting of speeds and other timing data recorded on the train. Some well-known personalities were also permitted to make occasional footplate journeys. C.J. Allen was the major recorder and compiler during the period. O.S. Nock is important for the post-1935 period.

Allen, C.J.
British locomotive practice and performance. Rly Mag., 1909-1958.
This series of monthly articles probably constitutes some journalistic record for longevity. In addition Allen contributed to Trains Illustrated and Railway World. The series in the Railway Magazine was continued by O.S. Neck from 1959.
Allen, C.J. Locomotive practice and performance in the twentieth century. Cambridge, Heffer, 2nd impression (revised), 1950. xvi, 302 p.+ front.+ 64 plates. 151 illus., 7 diagrs., 82 tables.
The performance section is in effect a review of what the author considers to be the major locomotive performance.
Allen, C.J. Locomotive running, past and present, No. 161. Mod. Rly., 1963, 18, 103-7.
Contains a table of maximum recorded speeds attained by steam traction.
Allen, C.J.   Notes on the influence of design on express locomotive performance. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1922, 12, 175-85. Disc. 185-97; 248-58; 516-22 (Paper No.117)
The Chairman (J.W. Smith) was hostile: "The author seems to have formed the opinion that locomotive engineers do not possess data obtained from actual tests to guide them on matters of design. They have quite a lot of information..."
Allen, C.J. Two million miles of train travel: the autobiography of Cecil J. Allen. London, Ian Allan, 1965. 232 p. + front. + 32 plates. 105 illus. (incl. 13 ports.)
Includes an honest assessment of the author's own work.
Nock, O.S. British locomotive working, 1934-9. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1941, 47, 4-8; 27-31; 55-8; 80-5; 101-5. 5 illus., 26 diagrs.
Nock, O.S. British locomotives at work. London, Greenlake Publications, 1947. 260p. incl. 58 plates. (incl. 1 col.) 86 illus., 30 diagrs. (incl. 22 s. els.), 13 maps.
Nock, O.S. British locomotives from the footplate. London, Ian Allan, 1950. [viii], 244 p. incl. 32 plates. 56 illus., 44 tables.
Nock, O.S. British Railways in action. London, Nelson, 1956. xii, 228 p. + col. front. + 48 plates. 93 illus., 2 diagrs., 73 tables.
Nock, O.S. British Railways in transition. London, Nelson, 1963 xiv, 193 p. + col. front + 51 plates. (mcI. 3 col.) 95 illus., tables, maps.
Nock, O.S.. British steam locomotives at work. London, Allen & Unwin, 1967. 276 p. + 48 plates. 94 illus., 14 tables.
Nock, O.S. Four thousand miles on the footplate. London, Ian Allan, 1952. viii, 223 p. incl. 32 plates. 62 illus., diagr., 55 tables.
Nock, O.S.. and Treacy, E. Main lines across the border. London, Nelson, 1960. xvi, 155 p.4- front. + 62 plates. 116 illus., 27 tables, 4 maps.
Ransome-Wallis, P. On engines in Britain and France. London, Ian Allan, 1957. x, 244 p. incl. 32 plates. 64 illus., 47 tables.
Tuplin, W.A. Comparing locomotive performances. Rly Gaz., 1942, 77, 219; 235. diagr.
A matrix to assist comparative studies.
Tuplin, W.A. Locomotive work evaluated. Rly Mag., 1952, 98, 348-9..
Tuplin, W.A. No more wizards? J. Stephenson Loco. Soc., 1965, 41, 164-5.
Tuplin, W.A. Significant figures. Rly Mag., 1958, 98, 12-14. diagr.
Tuplin could see little point in C.J. Allen's method of train recording and tended to criticise it and even parody it. C.J. Allen replied to this article in his usual series (Rly Mag., 1952, 98, 186-91) which resulted in Tuplin's "Locomotive work evaluated" (above)
Tuplin, W.A. Some railway speed records. Rly Mag., 1954, 100, 353-5.
An examination of some British records.
Vuillet, G. Railway reminiscences of three continents. London, Nelson, 1968. x, 357 p. + front.+ 48 plates. 92 illus., 110 tables.
Some British performance is included. Baron Vuillet was a French observer and the English is tortuous in places.