Sir Daniel Gooch
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According to Marshall Daniel Gooch was born at Bedlington in Northumberland on 24 August 1816. His parents were cousins and Gooch was very proud that the "blood of Alfred the Great ran in their veins". His elder brother John Viret does not appear to have been close,

First locomotive superintendent of the Great Western Railway, Daniel Gooch developed the basic Stephenson locomotive into a broad gauge machine which, for the 1840s, could achieve astonishing performances. His Great Britain 8ft single-driver, for example, hauled a 100-ton train at over a fifty mile/h average for seventy-seven miles. He also initiated the new Swindon Works, was an effective proponent of the 7ft gauge in the 'Battle of the Gauges'. His dynamometer car for measuring locomotive performance is believed to have been the world's first and involved cooperation with Charles Babbage. The data on the resistance to railway trains at different velocities were presented at evening meetings of the Instiution of Mechanical Engineers on 18 April, 16 and 23 May and 6 June 1848.  Ellis notes that "he shared with George Stephenson a faith in the ultimate triumph of electric power". He laid the first successful Atlantic cable, for which he was made a baronet. In 1865, when the Great Western Railway's finances were at a low ebb Gooch was appointed Chairman, a position he retained until his death at his home Clewer Park on 15 October 1889. In 1865 he had been elected as an MP for Cricklade.

Rogers (Chapelon biography) summaries Gooch's contribution: Daniel Gooch of the Great Western was probably the first of the great railway company locomotive engineers. In the years 1840-2 105 six-wheeled tender engines were built for his company to his own designs, the first standardisation on an extensive scale for any railway. Of these, 62 were 2-2-2 express passenger locomotives with 7ft driving wheels, which were derived from the earlier Star class engines supplied by Stephenson. They put the Great Western ahead of any other company in Great Britain in locomotive power. In 1846 he produced the first of his famous 8ft singles which were the most powerful express passenger engines in the country and which hauled the most important express trains on the broad gauge until its abolition in 1892. When they were built Gooch's eight-foot single drivers were ahead of any other locomotives in the world and they put his company in the forefront of railway speed.

Le Fleming stated that Gooch was the first locomotive superintendent of the Great Western Rly. from 1837 to 1864 and chairman of the company from 1866 to 1889. He was a great protagonist of the broad gauge (7 ft), the famous 8-ft singles (4-2-2 type) first appeared in 1846, and by attaining speeds of 60 m.p.h. in the 1840'S, earned for their designer the sobriquet of "father of express trains". Lord of the Isles, of this class, was one of the star attractions of the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. The stationary link valve gear was brought out in 1843 and engines with condensing apparatus for underground work in 1862. Gooch was one of the earliest to insist upon interchangeability and standardization of engine parts and built the first dynamometer car for road testing in 1846. In 1865-66 he directed the laying of the first transatlantic cables in the great steamship Great Eastern. During this time the GWR ran into difficulties and the Board elected him chairman on his return.

Brian Reed noted Gooch's early adoption of templates to ensure consistency in manufacture using several suppliers.

It may be noted that R.B. Longridge of Bedlington developed expertise in constructing broad gauge locomotives.


Memoirs & diary; edited by Roger Burdett Wilson. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1972.
The memoirs to 1846; the memoirs 1847-65; The memoirs 1865-7, and diaries for the remainder of his life. All are interesting; some tell a tale of adventure, and some sections are highly pertinent in terms of early locomotive construction, early railway operations, and of the broad gauge affair.

Memoirs & Diary

Some commentators have been rather carping about Gooch's Memoirs and Diary, but it does provide an unusual glimpse into the life of a highly eminent engineer and business tycoon. The version put together by Roger Burdett Wilson was obviously a highly skilled operation and is greatly enhanced by its copious notes. Even the most superficial inspection shows that Gooch had a great breadth of vision which is surprising for someone associated as being a great engineer and railway manager. He also lived in a highly adventurous manner, and both of these aspects are present during the great cable laying venture in the 1860s. During his later life he used up what now be termed as his "airmiles" travelling mainly for pleasure when his observational powers remain, even if his views can sometimes seem somewhat prejudiced. Nevertheless, great buildings have the power to extract powerful responses from the great man. He was the GWR's first locomotive engineer and its Chairman for many years. He was responsible for using the Great Eastern to lay the trans-Atlantic cable and other long distance submarine telegraph cables. He was a Freemason and he suffered from the early loss of his wife. He was very proud of his ancestry.

In February 1831 my father left Bedlington to go to Tredegar iron works in Monmouthshire, and took his family with him. I remember well what a pleasant journey  it was. We had a kind of omnnibus built, with curtains round it, in which we all travelled, posting. I do not know bow many days it took us to make the journey, but I well remember it, and the beautiful view as we crossed the Malvern hills; it was a bright moon light evening.

When we were settled at Tredegar I began my professional career by working in the works. Mr Saml Homfray was the managing partner. I went first into the moulding dept. commencing work at 6 oclock in the morning. The first few months I was chiefly employed in making cores, but after that was entrusted to mould tram wheels. This was a very heavy job for me; the wheel pattern weighed 50 or 60 lbs, and I had nine boxes to mould twice a day, the first lot before 9 oclock in the morning, when the furnace was run off and they were cast. During this time I went to my breakfast for a couple of hours, when I returned and opened the boxes, tamped my sand and moulded the 2nd set. This was generally finished between 4 & 5 odock. I had an hour for dinner. As this work was done in the atmosphere of the furnace house and the work was very hard I began to feel the effects of it in my health, and was sent a voyage to sea for a few weeks.

The last observation shows how fortunate Daniel was to be within the care of the emrgent middle class rather than being a typical employee at the works. Whilst working at Tredegar he had many adventures, several of which could have been fatal: probably the two most serious  were when he was caught inside the blowing engine when lime had been applied to keep the leather bellows air-tight and the engine was started, but he managed to get out. A more needless adventure was when he challenged himself to be lowered into a 30 yards deep pit holding onto the end of the chain when he barely managed to hold on for the return. He has graphic deatils of being forced to participate in the riots at Rhymney and was fortunate in not being shot: earlier 21 had been killed when the troops opened fire.

19 July 1969

[whilst still at sea]: "but Sunday is a wretched day for travel and it will be a long journey by a Sunday train—but its end will be home.

15 August 1869.

reached Weymouth (from cable-laying across Atlantic)

"After landing I went to the station to see about the times of trains, and then had a walk on the beach until the train started at 10.30. It is a dreadful day, a Sunday, to travel on a long journey; this train did not reach Windsor until 6.30pm."

8520 29 May 1840 Wheels and locomotive engines to be used on railways. via Woodcroft

See : E. T. McDermot, History of the Great Western Railway (1927)
H. Ellis, Twenty Locomotive Men (1958)
E. L. Ahrons, The British Railway Steam Locomotive 1825-1925 (1927).
Williams: Stars of Steam
Geoffrey Channon excellent biography Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

extensive bibliography in Marshall.

John Viret Gooch

Marshall notes that John Viret Gooch was born in Bedlingon on 29 June 1812 and died in Bracknell on 8 June 1900. Elder brother of Daniel (above) and judging by lack of mention in Diaries not at all close. Second Locomotive Superintendent of the LSWR (see Bradley, Webb and Ellis) was appointed in 1841. He left for the Eastern Counties Railway in 1850 and was there until 1856. Whilst there he started locomotive copnstruction at Stratford with six 2-2-2WTs, some of which were constructed by Longridge of Bedlington. These were followed by a further ten plus five 0-6-0 tender locomotives.. On the LSWR he was followed by Beattie. On the London & Southampton the 2-2-2s for which he was responsible for purchasing were notable for their speed. Elk ran from Southampton to Nine Elms in 93 minutes. See Peter Howard Baker John Viret Gooch: civil engineer, locomotive superintendent and entrepreneur. Backtrack, 9, 271-4 for some irregular financial transactions in which he was involved on the ECR..

Thomas Longridge Gooch

Born in Brompton, Kensington on 1 November 1808. Family moved to Bedlington in 1816. In October 1826 Gooch started work for George Stephenson at Liverpool as Secretary and Draughtsman. In April 1829 he was appointed resident engineer of the Bolton & Leigh Railway. He assisted in surveying the London & Birmingham Railway and was resident engineer for the section between Kilsby Tunnel and Birmingham. He died in Gateshead on 23 November 1882, but was buried in Kensal Green Cemetry.

See Robbins. Trans. Newcomen Soc., 56, 59 et seq.
Bailey, Michael R. in Chrimes: includes list of works.
Carpenter, George W. biography Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

William Frederick Gooch

Born in Bedlington, Northumberland, on 19 April 1825; died St Leonards-on-Sea 6 August 1915 aged 90. Fifth son and tenthh and youngest child of John Gooch. Worked for a time on the South Devon Railway. Became works manager at Swindon, GWR, in 1857 under his brother Daniel who hoped William would succeed him as locomotive superintendent, but Joseph Armstrong was appointed and, in 1864, William Gooch left Swindon to become managing director of the Vulcan Foundry at Newton-le-Willows. He retired in 1892.

Updated: 2014-05-28