Harry Smith Wainwright

According to Marshall Wainwright was born in Worcester on 16 November 1864 and died in Bexhill on 19 September 1925. His father, William was also a mechanical engineer and he tended to follow in his father's footsteps, eventually following him to the SER at Ashford.

The following was mainly extracted from Marx's Harry S. Wainwright. Rly Wld., 1981, 42, 526.: (not cited by Marshall). Wainwright belongs to the limited set of locomotive superintendants who were dismissed, but nevertheless produced several notable deigns with the assistance of the draughtsman Surtees: these included the C class 0-6-0, H class 0-4-4T and D class 4-4-0 (noted for its performance and elegance. Wainwright rose from the ranks of the railway engineering industry. He was the third son of William Wainwright. He was educated at the local Grammar School in Worcester and then at St Andrew's, Derby, and later at the Central Technical College in London where he studied mechanical engineering. At 14 he began at the Midland Railway's carriage shops under T.G. Clayton, serving his apprenticeship at fitting and turning, and the repair of engines and machinery. In 1882, he joined the South Eastern Railway and worked under his father, who was Carriage and Wagon Superintendent, as foreman in the different shops at Ashford. In the mid-1880s, he became a locomotive draughtsman under Thomas Whitelegg in the Locomotive Department of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway and sometime in this period served with the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway.

In 1889, he returned to the SER as an inspector of rolling stock and materials. The next year he became works manager of the Carriage and Wagon Department and in 1896 was appointed its superintendent, succeeding his father in that position. Following the working union of the SER with the London, Chatham & Dover Railway the two railways were to operate as one in all matters concerning traffic and engineering, but remained financially distinct. The forthcoming retirements of Kirtley from the LCDR and Stirling from the SER at the proposed fusion in 1899 left the way for the appointment of a new chief to co-ordinate the workings of the locomotive departments, a large enough enterprise in itself. At its second meeting on 27 December 1898, the Managing Committee of the SE and LCD Railways decided 'that the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Departments be placed under one management and that Mr H.S. Wainwright, the present Carriage and Wagon Superintendent of the SER, be appointed. Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Superintendent to the Managing Committee.'

It was a huge task to fuse two already mixed collections of locomotives and rolling stock, along with all the associated problems of administration and logistics. The rails were light, the bridges required strengthening and the loading gauge was limited. But in terms of his qualifications and experience the new directors believed that they had found their man. He was, after all, a known and proven quantity to many of them and worth his salt. His previous annual salary of £700 was raised to £1,250, rising by £100 increments in each of the succeeding three years.

Wainwright's lasting memorial was the enlarged Ashford Works and the extended New Town that grew up alongside. The policy of centralising the workshops at Ashford had been determined shortly after the amalgamation. The offices of Wainwright's gigantic combined department were centred on Ashford and here was conducted all correspondence regarding locomotive, carriage and wagon design and all general business connected with the department. The extension to the carriage and wagon works was under construction during 1901. It was obvious that complete closure of the works at Longhedge was envisaged, although new engines continued to be built there until 1904 and heavy repairs continued until the end of 1911.

Nevertheless, the move was under-financed and the closure of Longhedge led to a shortage of repair facilities making locomotive shopping protracted and the SECR soon ran short of serviceable motive power.  In the end, the upheaval led to the disruption of the whole railway. Another weakness, and one for which Wainwright alone can be held responsible, was the lack of direct supervision overplaying delegation. There was, for instance, the question of the two missing boilers of 'H' class 0-4-4Ts Nos 16 and 184 although, Wainwright was requested to resign before the case were brought into the open. A martinet of a new general manager (Francis Dent) arrived at a time of serious muddle, and held Wainwright responsible for the results of what were principally previous directorial errors.

Bradley observed that 'because of motive power inadequacies highlighted by the summer services, Wainwright's star was waning rapidly'. Finally, there was one additional factor, a personal one and known to few outside the family and his immediate circle of close friends. His living in the roof of high society may well have been encouraged by his wife who kept a lavish wardrobe of the latest fashions and an expensive array of fine jewellery. In the end even that degree of luxury was not good enough for her, and she went off with a millionaire and out of his life. This all blew to a head in 1911/12 and Wainwright duly divorced her, but it broke his life and accentuated his weak heart condition. It must obviously have affected his work and performance on the railway which culminated in the Board instructing their chairman to approach Wainwright privately and to suggest the latter's resignation on grounds of ill-health.  See Loco. Mag., 1913, 19, 250. It must have been a hard task for Cosmo Bonsor, but he was the correct and best man to undertake this since he had enjoyed excellent relations with Wainwright over the years, and the Wainwrights had often been invited over to the chairman's mansion at The Warren, Kingswood. Chairman of the SER

Bradley, D.L. The locomotive history of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. rev. ed. 1980.
Rly Mag, 1898, 3, 234. Account of Wainwright's reorganization of carriage & wagon works at Ashford

14262/1901 Improvements in locomotives. Applied 12 October 1901. Published 19 July 1902.
21554/1901 Improvements in and relating to blast pipes for locomotives. Applied 26 November 1901. Published 2 October 1902.
583/1902 Improvements in and pertaining to locomotive engine spark arresting appliances and arrangements.  Applied 8 January 1902. Published 7 February 1903.
584/1902 Improvements in and pertaining to locomotive engine spark arresting appliances and arrangements.  Applied 8 January 1902. Published 7 February 1903.
2710/1902 Improvements in and pertaining to locomotive engine spark arresting appliances and arrangements. Applied 3 February 1902. Published 3 February 1903.
20665/1903 Improved draught producing and spark arresting apparatus for locomotive engines. Applied 25 September 1903. Published 28 April 1904.
22276/1903 Improved draught producing and spark arresting apparatus for locomotive engines. Applied 15 October 1903. Published 28 April 1904.
17990/1907 Improvements in or connected with fall down doors of railway trucks, horse boxes, cattle trucks and other structures, with Walter Reuben Preston. Applied 7 August 1907. Published 6 August 1908.
18258/1907 Improvements in means for securing doors or flaps of railway trucks, horse boxes or the like. with Walter Reuben Preston. Applied 12 August 1907. Published 6 August 1908.
22304/1907 Improvements in connected with fall down doors of railway trucks, horse boxes, cattle trucks, and other structures. with Walter Reuben Preston. Applied 9 October 1907. Published 8 October 1908.

William Wainwright

Born in Leeds on 2 August 1833; died Ashford, Kent, 21 May 1895. Apprenticed at E.B. Wilson & Co in Leeds. In 1854 he began working on the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway where he rapidly rose to the position of foreman and in 1860 became locomotive & carriage superintendent. Following amalgamation with the GWR in 1863 he was appointed superintendent of the locomotive & carriage department of the Worcester division. In 1873 he left the GWR and for five years was manager of Worcester Carriage & Wagon Co. In 1877 he was appointed chief outdoor assistant of the carriage & wagon department of the Midland Railway at Derby, where he had charge of about 1,500 men. In April 1882 he was appointed chief carriage & wagon superintendent of the SER at Ashford and during the next thirteen he revolutionized SER coach design. Marshall.

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