Herbert Chambers was born in Derby in 1885 and died on 15 September
1937 aged 52 (date of death Loco.
Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1937, 43, 325). He was educated at the
Secondary School and Derby Municipal College. He was an apprentice at the
Midland Works in Derby (his brothe, G.G. Chambers was the Foreman of the
Brass Foundry when Bond was an apprentice, but was later promoted to the
management grades) and eventually joined the staff of the Locomotive Drawing
Office. In May 1911 he joined Beyer Peacock in Manchester and was employed
in their drawing office until August 1913 when he rejoined the Midland Railway
He was in charge of experimental work for a number of years (according to the obituary in J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1937, 27, 684-5). In February 1923 he was appointed Chief Locomotive Darughtsman at Derby and in January 1927 he was made Technical Assistant and Chief Locomotive Draughtsman for the LMS. In October 1934 carriage and wagon design were added to his responsibilities. In March 1935 he was appointed Locomotive and Personal Assistant to Stanier at Euston (the post at which he died).
Mr. Chambers was a member of the Council of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers from 1929 to 1935 and again in 1937. He was a member of the Papers Reading Committee for a number of years, and was also at one time on the Committee of the Birmingham Centre, being Vice-Chairman in 1934. He was a frequent contributor to the discussions on Papers and his remarks were always listened to with great attention.
H.A.V. Bulleid's Master builders of steam recorded that: The Chief Draughtsman was Herbert Chambers, an excellent and experienced designer, noted for his heroic and successful effort in coordinating (against time) the design work between Derby Loco Drawing Office and the North British Locomotive Co. on the Royal Scot, but a dyed-in-the-wool Midland man. He argued with Stanier about all those innovations which he could not readily accept. At one point during these difficult weeks, rather lonely among Midland doubts, Stanier tried to get S.O. Ell from the G.W.R. to come as an Assistant on experimental work; but Collett refused to release him. A good Chief and a good Assistant both know that a nice balance between querying orders and blindly following them is essential, but Stanier and Chambers were unable to find this balance with Chambers as Chief Draughtsman. Stanier, therefore, switched him to be Technical Assistant at Euston and appointed Tom Coleman to be Chief Draughtsman in charge of both Derby and Crewe Loco Drawing Offices, resident at Derby.
Cox (Locomotive Panorama Vol. 1) called Chambers "a really attractive personality". He also refers to him as a tiny man with "the heart of a lion" (perhaps aan unfortunate phrase as poor Chambers died suddenly in 1937). He was Chief Darughtsman at Derby. One of the last ventures abroad by Chambers must have been his trip to France with Cox to inspect a Velox boiler (page 121): this was part of a Stanier proposal to exploit a Lamont boiler in a turbine-electric locomotive. Cox clearly had a great respect for Chambers who had been responsible for much of the design work on the Royal Scot class and on the early Stanier designs. It is obvious from careful reading of Cook's Raising steam that Chambers was the architect of the sloping throat plate boiler: see Chamber's contribution to the seminal Wagner Paper 253 and James Clayton's respnse..
Rutherford suggests (Backtrack 16 515) that Chambers died at the age of 52 on 17 March 1937 due to the stress caused by design failings in the Royal Scot, Jubilee and Royal Scot classes.
Improvements in water pick-up gear for locomotives. J. Instn Loco.
Engrs, 1931, 21, 450-64. Disc. : 464-72; 787-93 + 3 folding plates.
7 illus., 9 diagrs. (Paper No. 277).
Improvements in the design to save water: invented by H. Chambers.
Fry, Lawford Some constructional details of a high-pressure locomotive. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1928, 18, 332
Williams, W.C.: Modern articulated steam locomotives. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1933, 23, 85-132. Disc.: 132-57. 51 illus., 7 diagrs., 4 tables. (Paper No.299).
Pp. 139-40 : Chambers gave details of the origin of the revolving coal bunkers.
Discussion on McDermid, The locomotive blast-pipe and chimney. J. Instn Loco. Engrs. 1933, 23, 162. (page 206)
where his favoured dimensions are set out which presumably related to the Royal Scot class.
Thompson, J.W. The taper boiler. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1936, 26, 763-4. (Paper 361)
Discussion: H. Chambers (763-4); . Lunt (764) and W.A. Stanier (764).
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