Whiteleggs: son & father

Robert Harben Whitelegg

According to Marshall, Whitelegg was born in Garston, Liverpool in October 1871 and died in Chelsea, London on 9 March 1957 aged 85. He was Locomotive Superintendent of the LTSR, then Chief Mechanical Engineer of the G&SWR. He was educated at Stratford House School, Brewers Company School and City of London College and trained under his father Thomas at the Plaistow Works. In 1891 he was appointed inspector of new rolling stock and materials. The following year he was at Nasmyth Wilson's works, Manchester, supervising the construction of engines being built for the L.T .& S. and he followed this with a short period in Spain for the same firm. (Highet)

Returning to England in 1905 he became Works Manager at Plaistow and succeeded his father as Locomotive Superintendent in June 1910. Following an enlarged 4-4-2T in 1912 he produced a large 4-6-4T and some special coaches for the Ealing and Southend services. Before delivery of the 4-6-4Ts the LT&SR was amalgamated with the Midland Railway, in 1912. There are several pertinent refernces to the Baltic tanks (and whether the Great Eastern would have accepted them into Fenchurch Street) if the Midland had not taken over the line, but there was a lesser known artefact: the luxury saloon which is described at length in Loco. Mag., 1913, 19, 289..

Whitelegg felt unable to accept a subordinate position on the Midland Railway. He applied unsuccessfully for the post of CME on the GER, but A.J. Hill was appointed, so he sought what employment he could find, becoming partner in a small agricultural engineering firm at Towcester. In 1915 he became consulting engineer in London for the Canadian Locomotive Co, then supplying locomotives for the military in France. In 1917, at the invitation of the deputy controller of merchant shipbuilding he joined the Admiralty where he was chiefly engaged on standardisation of shipyard machinery and inspection of shipbuilding material for the construction of standard ships.

On 6 August 1918 he returned to railway work as Locomotive Superintendent of the G&SWR at Kilmarnock, and on 1 January 1919 his title became CME. He found the entire locomotive stock and the works badly run down after WWl. He had to order 10 Drummond 0-6-2Ts from North British Locomotive Co, built in 1919. He also had to send out boilers for overhaul. He rebuilt several existing locomotives and, in 1922, brought out another impressive-looking 4-6-4T for fast passenger trains between Glasgow and the coast. He also prepared designs for a 4-4-4T and a 4-6-6T.

On 1 January 1923 the G&SWR became part of the LMS and further developments were stopped, and Whitelegg left to become General Manager of Beyer, Peacock & Co, Manchester, in succession to the unhappy Watson who died shortly after appointment. Here Whitelegg patented several articulated locomotives of the Beyer-Garratt type. In 1929 he left to tour railways in Canada and USA. In 1930 he turned to consulting work in partnership with J.D. Rogers, former assistant superintendent of motive power, Virginian Railways. He retired in 1941.

Became MILE 1918, president 1922-3. Vice president of SLS.

Engineering 1957, 183  (5 April) 421;
Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1910, 16 (15 August) 158 (portrait).;
Rly Gaz., 1957 (15 and 22 March). (portrait);
Smith, D.L., Locomotives of the G & SWR. 1976;
Leech, K.H. Obituary: [R.H. Whitelegg]. J. Stephenson Loco. Soc., 1957, 33, 103-5.
[Obituary]. J.Instn Loco. Engrs, 1956, 46, 592.

Own papers

Presidential Address Institution of Locomotive Engineers. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1922, 12, 925.

The Garratt locomotive. Trans. Manchr Ass. Engrs, 1925/26, 287-306. Disc. : 306-13 + 2 folding plates. 4 illus.
A general paper, with some emphasis on the Ul design.

Glasgow and South Western Railway notes. J. Stephenson Loco. Soc., 1951, 27, 267-71; 257-8; 283. 5 illus.
Whitelegg justified his use of the 4-6-4T on the LT&SR.and asserted that the Hughes design was based upon his G&SWR design.


There appears to be three distinct periods of patenting: the period prior to his establishment at Beyer Peacock, the Beyer Peacock years (where he innovated on quite a large scale to make the Garratt workable) and the years of consultancy where his main interet appears to have been lubrication.

5278 Applied 3 March 1902, Published 26 February 1903. Improvements in railway couplings. with Joseph Lena and Frederick Nolan Baker
Neither Lena nor Baker seem to have been associated with any railway
26,870 Applied 9 December 1904. Published 9 January 1906. An improved variable blast pipe arrangement for locomotive engines

all within table are with  Beyer Peacock & Co. Ltd

Number Applied Published Title
230,511 11 October 1923 11 March 1925 Improvements in steam turbine locomotives.
230,888 23 November 1923 23 March 1925 Railway locomotive, steam, turbine of articulated construction, tanks
231,922 11 December 1923 14 April 1924 Improvements in and relating to steam locomotives and similar vehicles [turbine type]
241,758 31 December 1924 29 October 1925 Improvements in regulator valves
248,288 6 November 1925 4 March 1926 Improvements in regulator valves
258,305 17 April 1925 17 September 1926 Improvements in steam locomotives
290,137 29 December 1927 10 May 1928 Improvements in articulated locomotives
319,094 13 July 1928 Railway locomotive, steam: rotary bunker mechanism
319,095 13 July 1928 Railway locomotive, steam: rotary bunker mechanism
322,834 14 November 1928 Locomotive of compound or articulated construction

353,299 Applied 29 August 1930, Published 23 July 1931. Improvements in or relating to grease guns for use on locomotive engines and the like
374,279 Applied 12 June 1931, Published 9 June 1932. Improvements in or relating to grease pumps
419,464 Applied 20 June 1933, Published 13 November 1934. Improvements in or relating to the lubrication of railway and like axle-boxes
446,108 Applied 8 November 1934, Published 24 April 1936. Improvements in or relating to lubricating devices
481,696 Applied 17 April 1937, Published 16 March 1938. Improvements in or relating to grease guns. with Whitelegg & Rogers Ltd
494,270 Applied 24 April 1937, Published 24 October 1938. Improvements in or relating to coupling nozzles for grease guns with Whitelegg & Rogers Ltd

Group photograph at Swiss Locomotive Works, Winterthur on 2 June 1930. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1930, 20, Plate (between pp 466-7)

Thomas Whitelegg

Thomas Whitelegg may have been born in Manchester in about 1836-7 according to Marshall and died in Highgate, London on 30 March 1911, aged 74. He was Locomotive, Carriage & Wagon and Marine Superintendent, LT & SR. He began his career as an engineering pupil at Sharp, Stewart & Co, Manchester, later becoming a leading erector in that firm, erecting a locomotive exhibited at the Manchester Exhibition of 1862. He worked for Neilson Reid & Co, Glasgow; Hamilton Windsor Ironworks Co. Garston, Liverpool (where his son Robert Harben was born) and where he gained experience in marine engineering and design of pontoons and piers; and Ruston Proctor & Co, Lincoln. While there he worked on designs of locomotives being built for the GER. He then obtained employment in the drawing office of the GER Works at Stratford, where he remained until September 1879 when he was appointed Locomotive Carriage & Wagon and Marine Superintendent, LTSR, at Plaistow Works. He was the first LTSR locomotive superintendent, because from its opening in 1854 until 1875 the line was worked by the contractors Peto, Brassey & Betts, and from 1875 until Whitelegg's appointment rolling stock was hired from the GER. He introduced the highly successful outside cylinder 4-4-2T type which became the mainstay of the LTSR passenger services. He retired in July 1910..

Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1910, 16 (15 August) 158 (portrait).
Rly Gaz., 7.4.1911 p 354 (portrait); The Times 1.4.1911 p 1 col 1

Nature of Whitelegg household, including son, in West Ham, from 1881 Census: Backtrack 14, 637.


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