Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid
|Biography||Papers||Patents||Son Henry||West Country in Far East
Bulleid was the last British innovator in steam locomotive engineering.
His designs departed radically from the norm and the principal changes are
listed below: see also Merchant
The innovator must be prepared for hostile criticism and to counter
this, Bulleid prepared a considerable number of technical papers and these
present a complete account of his theories. The press releases for his new
designs, as judged by the content in technical journals, did not contain
Sean Day-Lewis' Bulleid, last giant of steam is a comprehensive biography, which was written with the biographee's co-operation. It is of great importance in that it relates to both his domestic and working lives. It includes information, notably an account of the loss of their son, Hugh in a cycling accident on 21 April 1938 on holiday in Dorking whilst at school in Ampleforth (Day-Lewis reproduces the school's obituary notice). This terrible event is missing from his son's accounts H.A.V. Bulleid was also a trained locomotive engineer. The tragic loss may have affected his capacity for self-criticism - at least for a time. Cox is also interesting. Day-Lewis is especially important for describing his Irish activity.
547,180 Applied 6 February 1941, Published 17 August 1942.
Improvements in piston slide valves for engines
547,156. Applied 6 February 1942, Published 17 August 1942. Improvements in and relating to locomotive steam engine valve gear arrangements [valve operation by rocker in exhaust space]
584,858 24 January 1947. Improvements in load-bearing structures adapted for use as wagon or carriage underframes. [triangulated underframe] with Lionel Lynes
616,445 2 September 1946, Published 21 January 1949. Improvements relating to locomotive and like steam boilers [Leader type boiler]
766,917 Applied 23 August 1954, Published 30 January 1957. Improvements relating to railway wagon or carriage underframes with Triangulated Underframes Ltd
819,493 Applied 16 July 1956, Published 2 September 1959 Improvements relating to brake apparatus for railway vehicles
Bulleid's own papers
The booster. J. Instn Loco.
Engrs, 1928, 18, 239-74. Disc.: 274-91 (Paper No.228).
It is appropriate that Bulleid, the innovator, should have presented this paper on one of Gresley's more complex experimental modifications, but H.A.V. Bulleid in Master builders of steam states that both this, and the poppet valve project, were directly under Gresley's control.
Locomotive and rolling-stock developments in Great Britain. Mech. Engng., 1950, 72, 455-61. 14 illus, 2 diagrs., 2 tables.
This is based on a paper presented to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Railroad Division. It gives greater details of Bulleid's later developments than any other source.
Locomotives I have known. Proc. Instn mech. Engrs, 1945, 162, 341-52
An unusual paper in that it selects a number of locomotive types for detailed consideration. Three are obvious (Lord Nelson modifications, Merchant Navy and Q1 classes) in that they were his own designs. The others considered were the Gresley Al, A4, 01, 02 and P2 designs, the Ivatt Atlantics and a French design. From the choice of L.N.E.R. types it appear that Bulleid agreed with much of Gresley's design policy. See Turner's observations.
Poppet valves on locomotives. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1929, 19, 569-605. Disc.: 605-23 (Paper No. 248)
Possible developments of the steel tyre. Rly Steel Top., 1952, 1, 37-40.
Suggests welding instead of shrinking the tyre onto the wheel.
Presidentail Address. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1940, 30, 7-12.
Very dull: concerned arrangements made for mechanical and electrical engineering during WW2: Committee chaired by Sir Nigel Gresley and membership of Fairburn and Stanier from the LMS, Graff-Baker from the LPTB. Richards from the LNER, Collett from the GWR and Raworth from the Southern.
Presidential Address. Proc. Instn mech. Engrs, 1947, 156, 1-5
The SR's war effort, also the Leader class.
Presidential Address. Trans. Inst-Weld., 1949, 12, 135-8. 11 illus.
Welding on railways, with emphasis on SR and LNER developments. Longer extract below..
with other authors.
Railway power plant in Great Britain. Proc. Instn mech. Engrs, 1947, 235-9 + 4 plates. 12 illus., diagr. (s. & f. els.), 2 tables. (Centenary Lectures).
The other speakers were H.G. lvatt, A.H. Peppercorn and F.W. Hawksworth. Bulleid's own paper reviewed his Merchant Navy design and outlined the Leader class.
Present Position: (a) Steam Locomotives. A large proportion of the trafiic on the Southern Railway is suburban-passenger carried in electrically operated, multiple-unit stock; the company operates the largest electric service in the world. The density of the traffic around London is such that all freight and non-electrically operated passenger services have to be dovetailed into the electric services, this being the case even with the “boat trains” to Dover and other ports, and with the South-West and West of England expresses when inside the suburban area.
The past extensions of the electrified areas, and the probable future extensions, delayed the modernization of the steam-locomotive stock as each extension made some of the steam locomotives redundant; consequently locomotives of the constituent companies still form a large proportion of the stock. The inability of the existing steam locomotives to meet the increasing demands of the operating department had become obvious prior to the recent war, and steps were then taken to overcome it by the provision of new and more powerful locomotives. The old distinction between express passenger engines and others had been removed by developments in design, so that the need for driving wheels of large diameter no longer existed. The term “mixed traflic”, describing an engine able to operate all classes of trains, came into use.
As regards train engines, the traffic requirements could be covered by two classes of tender engines and two classes of tank engines-the former for longer distance services, the latter for all local and short distance workings. One of the tank-engine designs is shown in Fig. 10.
Whilst the benefit of standard parts was not overlooked this was not allowed to override the major need of meeting, in the most efficient manner possible, the operating requirements. The behaviour of the existing engines in service was investigated with a view to affecting such improvements as would reduce the attention required in the sheds, increase the reliability, and extend the availability of any future engines and make them more comfortable and easier to handle.
The first new design was the Merchant Navy class, to operate trains of 600 tons at an average speed of 70 m.p.h., and heavier trains at proportionately lower speeds.
These engines were the first steam locomotives built for use in England that mark a considerable breakaway from longaccepted practice.
The main new features incorporated in them are :-
(1) Boilers for 280 lb. per sq. in. pressure, with welded outer fireboxes and welded steel inner-fireboxes with two Nicholson syphons.
(2) Totally enclosed valve gears under continuous lubrication.
(3) Lightened wheels of improved design, giving continuous circumferential support to the tyres.
(4) Clasp brakes on the driving wheels and tender wheels. (5) Reciprocating weights not balanced, thereby obviating hammer blow.
The use of welded steel fireboxes enabled a very powerful boiler to be provided within the weight available.
These engines with their 21-ton driving-axle loads (a figure only allowed on the permanent way and bridges in consequence of the absence of hammer blow) were used on the main lines, but could not run over the secondary lines such as those west of Exeter.
The second design of tender engines is the West Country class which can operate over 88 per cent of the company’s lines.
These engines incorporate the innovations first introduced on the Merchant Navy engines. The reduction in weight has been obtained to some extent by the greater use of welding. The axlebox horns are welded directly into the main frames; the cross stays are fabricated; steel castings have been almost eliminated, and the foundation rings have been formed of plate bent to shape and welded.
The Southern will shortly have in service 120 of these two types of Pacific locomotives of high capacity and advanced design and construction.
Fig. 12, Plate 4, shows a modern design of goods engine (Q1 0-6-0), which, however, is not included among the standard designs selected for the future.
(b) Electric Multiple- Unit Stock. The lines electrified amount to one-third of the route miles, and the service provided requires 1,619 motor coaches and 1,598 trailer coaches.
The stock is of the compartment type in the case of the suburban lines and corridor vestibule vehicles in the case of the express stock used on the Brighton, Eastbourne, and Portsmouth services. The installed horse-power in the various types of units mainly in use is :-
Four-coach suburban (two motor coaches) . 1,100 h.p.
Four-coach main line (two motor coaches) . 900 h.p.
Six-coach main line (two motor coaches) . 1,800 h.p.
Trains are made up of one, two, or three of the four-coach sets and two of the six-coach sets.
(c) Electric Locomotives. There are in service two Co+Co mixed-traffic locomotives (Fig. 13, Plate 4) which have given excellent results in service. These engines are fitted with boosters and can run over long gaps in the conductor rail without difficulty. The engines are carried on bogies of a new design without bolster, the usual centre being replaced by four quadrants, two placed nearly over the outer axles and two over the bogie frames. Spring control-gear is provided to ensure that the bogies keep in line with the longitudinal centre-line of the locomotive. One additional locomotive of this type is in course of construction.
(d) Diesel-Electric Locomotives. Three 350 h.p. six-wheeled shunting engines have been in service since 1937 and have given a good account of themselves in yard shunting. Fifteen more of these locomotives are on order.
(a) Steam Locomotives. The requirements to be met by steam tender locomotives having been covered by the two classes referred to above, attention was next given to the types of tank engines needed.
A new type of heavy, mixed-traffic tank engine is under construction and these engines embody further developments of the innovations introduced in the tender engines, all with the object of developing a steam locomotive as easy to maintain and operate as possible. As the locomotive is carried on two six-wheeled bogies, the whole weight is available for adhesion and braking and the engine can run over 97 per cent of the company’s system.
Each six-wheeled bogie has a three-cylinder, simple-expansion engine driving the middle axle, which is coupled to the leading and trailing axles. A new design of engine has been adopted, completely eliminating all piston or valve glands subject to steam pressure. Roller-bearing axleboxes are fitted throughout and the usual horn guides suppressed.
A new design of boiler has been introduced without the usual water legs, so that stay trouble has been eliminated. The engines will carry water treatment equipment, so that there should be no longer any trouble resulting from the failure or absence of water treatment plants.
Automatic lubrication has been carried a stage farther so that it is nearly complete.
It is expected that the availability of the locomotives will reach a percentage comparable with that of any other form of traction, i.e. be determined by traffic conditions rather than by locomotive requirements.
(b) Electric Locomotives. High-speed electric locomotives are under consideration, the locomotives being designed to give performances comparable with those of the Merchant Navy and West Country steam locomotives.
(c) Diesel Locomotives. The design of three Diesel-electric locomotives each fitted with 1,600 h.p. Diesel engines is in hand. These locomotives will be of the “1 Co+Co 1” type, to operate up to speeds of 90 m.p.h. Each unit will be 62 ft. 3 in. long over buffers and weigh 126 tons. Two of the units coupled together will be used experimentally to work express trains to Exeter for comparative purposes.
One six-coupled Diesel-mechanical engine fitted with a 500 h.p. engine is being built, and will be suitable for hump shunting, yard shunting, and main-line, pick-up goods services, as well as for operating branch-line passenger service up to a speed of 45 m.p.h. Designs are in an advanced stage for a 1,600 h.p. Dieselmechanical locomotive suited for working passenger trains up to 90 m.p.h., fast freight, and heavy goods trains. The weight of the 1,600 h.p. unit will be 86 tons and its length 48 feet over buffers. The efficiency overall of the transmission will be 88 to 90 per cent.
(d) Gas-Turbine Locomotive. The Southern is following the development of a gas-turbine locomotive using coal instead of oil as fuel, and, as soon as the pioneer work has been completed, will arrange to carry out the necessary service trials as its contribution towards the application of our natural fuel, coal, to this highly efficient form of motive power
Railway rolling stock and tendencies in design. Engineering, 1949, 167, p71; 94-5; 60. 13 illus., 4 diagrs. (s. els.), 5 tables.
Lecture presented to British Association (Section G) meeting at Brighton (10/9/1948). The paper uses a number of designs to illustrate development from the time of H.A. Ivatt and Churchward until his own locomotives. A number of his contemporaries' designs were described to indicate their lack of development.
The "Silver Jubilee" trains of the London and North Eastern Railway. Bull. int. Rly Congr. Ass., 1935, 17, 1299-1325 + 2 folding plates. 17 illus., 7 diagrs., 3 tables, 2 plans.
Some notes on the "Merchant Navy" class locomotives of the Southern Railway. Proc. Instn mech. Engrs, 1946, 154, 316-33. Disc. 333-43.
Very extensive account of the justification for the design and observations on its performance in service.
Comments on other's papers
Like Stanier, Bulleid was a major contributor to papers by other engineers and these comments frequently air his own design philosophy.
Cox, E.S.: Balancing of locomotive
reciprocating parts. J. Instn Loco.
Engrs., 1943, 33, 218. (Paper No. 432).
Pp. 222-3: Bulleid noted how horizontal oscillations caused by the short cylinder stroke and lack of counter-balances on the Merchant Navy were prevented by being transmitted to the train by the use of rubber springs.
Cox, E.S.: Locomotive axleboxes. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1944, 34, 275. (Paper No. 447).
Pp. 325-7: Lubrication on the Merchant Navy class.
Holcroft, H. (Paper No. 430): Smoke deflectors for locomotives. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1941, 31, 462-89. Disc.: 490-509.
O.V.S. Bulleid (503-4) considered that long boilers accentuated the problem of drifting smoke and suggested that the problem was "amost insoluble".
McClean, H.G. (Paper 454)
The mechanical design of the latest class F high-speed electric locomotives of the Swedish State Railways. J. Instn Loco. Engrs,,336-65. Disc. 365-77.
H. Holcroft spoke on behalf of O.V.S. Bulleid (365-8) on the Southern Railway electric locomotives.
Robson, T.: The counter pressure method of testing locomotives. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1943, 33, 171. (Paper No. 441).
Pp. 206-7 : The P2 tests on the Vitry plant and other topics.
Sanford, D.W. The relationship between smokebox and boiler proportions. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1944, 34, 40-53. Disc. : 53-76. 5 diagrs., 2 tables(Paper 451).
O.V.S.B. (53-5) was highly critical of the use of a mercury U-tube for measuring smokebox vacuum and advocated the Cambridge Instrument developed with Gresley. Described his WW2 experiment of fitting a locomotive with two separate chimneys in an attempt to break-up the exhaust trail. He advocated larger chimneys with a 7 to 1 ratio rather than the more usual 3 to 1 ratio and cited work on Lord Nelson chimneys.
Shields, T.H.: The evolution of locomotive valve gears. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1943, 33, 368. (Paper No. 443).
Pp. 454-6: Musings on a variety of topics including the Cossart gear and his preference for engineering dimensions to be quoted as l/64ths instead of l/1000ths. A longer extract follows:
As a matter of interest, he had compared the valve events of the first "austerity" engine built on the Southern Railway with those of the second "austerity" locomotive, produced by the Ministry of Supply. The Southern Railway engine used the Stephenson gear; the Ministry of Supply used the Walschaerts.
When one looked at the figures, one had to admit that it was quite immaterial whether one used the one or the other; the events' were both good, both engines did the work for which they were designed, and both stood up to their job. The Stephenson gear did not cause any trouble with lubrication. It was piston ring trouble rather than gear trouble which was generally experienced.
Going through the Paper, he could not help thinking of the past. He could just remember the engine on the G.N.R. which was fitted with the Marshall gear. He had been a youngster then, and at Doncaster they were all very interested in the engine fitted with this new contraption. Why it was taken oft' he did not know; it was probably a case of " Here's a foreigner; kill it! " The next gem: which amused him was the Cossart gear on the Nord Railway of France, which was not-mentioned in the Paper.
On one occasion when he happened to be in the Nord railway offices, he asked why anyone ever invented that gear, and the answer was amusing. It appeared that the Nord never found it necessary to borrow ideas from other people, and. so M. Cossart was ordered, he believed by Baron Rothschild, to invent a valve gear. To maintain the tradition of not copying. anything used anywhere else, therefore, the Cossart valve gear was evolved, and it was a very good valve gear. On one occasion Sir Nigel Gresley, who at one time had an unfortunate reputation in France — they called him the " Jonah," because whenever he travelled by the boat train from Calais it was almost certain that something would happen between Calais and Paris, and they even went so far as to suggest that they would prefer him to travel via Le Havre — was on the train and the engine failed at Creil, and the train had to be taken on to Paris by an 8-coupled tank engine fitted with the Cossart gear. He was very surprised to run into Paris behind this suburban tank engine at about two minutes under the normal time with a Pacific, and after that he was very interested in the Cossart gear, its performance having been rather startling. - ..
Everyone was interested in the poppet gears, but they did not seem to have got as far as they should. They were certainly attractive, but there seemed to be something about them which prevented them making progress; what it was he did not pretend to know.
Bulleid, O.V.S. discussion on Spencer, B. The development of
L.N.E.R. locomotive design, 1923-1941.
J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1947,
37, 211-12. (Paper No. 465)
commented on (1) balancing and how there had been a dispute between himself and the Doncaster Drawing Office over the calculating that of the original Pacifics, but that Dalby had verified Bulleid's calculations. Bulleid considered that over-runing of the inside cylinder was due to inadequate stiffness of the support for the fulcrum. He described K3 No. 1003 as "a very nice engine", and the first to demonstrate the advantage of high average speed on the level and uphill. Bulleid partly spoiled the case for three-cylinder locomotives by stating that for goods engines the running men "given an equal tractive effort , had a weakness for a two-cylinder engine" as on adverse gradients with heavy loads that the "unequal turning" would enable a train to be started.
Bulleid described testing P2 No. 2001 Cock o' the North on the test plant at Vitry. It is interesting that he always refered to the locomotive as "she" as in she compared favourably with the French engines in coal consumption per rail-h.p., and, better still, per d.b.h.p. When tested on the open road between Orleans and Tours "she" developed a very high horse-power of the order of 2,800, and was again shown to be an efficient engine from the point of view of coal consumed per d.b.h.p. In service, however, it was an extravagant engine as it was not properly used: instead of working trains well within its capacity over long runs, it was employed on a service such as Edinburgh to Dundee on trains much under its capacity; it stood for a long time at Dundee, went to Aberdeen and hung about there, and did a very poor mileage per day, with the result that it showed a heavy coal consumption, most of the coal being burnt through misuse rather than in working trains.
The P1 class engine was interesting, and he had always regarded her as the best-looking engine Gresley ever built. She worked trains of 100 loaded wagons from Peterborough to Ferme Park, and the real reason for her withdrawal from that class of work was that the train occupied three block sections and it was necessary to divide it at Ferme Park on a running main line before it could be disposed of.
Bulleid recorded the Bugatti connection for Gresley's streamlining:
not only were the models tested in the wind tunnel, but Sir Nigel, who knew
Bugatti, followed his work in France with close interest, made it his business
to travel on the Bugatti rail-cars between Deauville and Paris, and was much
impressed by the efficiency with which the wedge form of the front of the
engine passed through the atmosphere with the minimum of disturbance. It
was really that which led to the type of front end adopted on the "Pacifics."
Wilson, A. Gordon. Trends in transmission design for self-propelled diesel railcars. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1960, 50, 217-18.(Paper No. 606)
Probably one of the earliest railcars was that built by the English Electric Company in 1905. It had two 40- horse power Daimler 4-cylinder engines and a gearbox with two speeds. The vehicle weighed 15 tons on four wheels, and it was soon found that adhesion on one pair of wheels was sufficient to absorb the horse power of the two Daimler engines. With regard to the Bugatti car, he recalled a memorable occasion when Sir Nigel Gresley and he travelled with Bugatti in his railcar from Deauville to Paris. It was a remarkable performance because it maintained a speed of 70 m.p.h. or over regardless of curves, and the effect on the passengers, especially at the leading end, was something that had to be seen to be imagined! Sir Nigel Gresley asked Mr. Bugatti how he dared put so many gallons of petrol in the vehicle, and did he not fear a fire. Bugatti replied that the vehicle travelled so fast that in the event of the tanks discharging their contents and thus catching fire on the line the railcar at speed would have left the fire well behind.
The manner in which Bugatti determined the streamlined form of his railcar was a splendid and pleasing piece of practical engineering. He, like Mr. Bulleid, was convinced that testing rolling stock in wind tunnels was not the way to solve the problem. He had fitted a nunber of bodies of different streamlined forms on some of his fast road chassis, and on the long, straight French roads he found the type of vehicle which went the fastest for a given fuel consumption. He found the wedge front and rear the best and adopted it for the railcar form. When travelling in it, it was noticeable that there was no side disturbance of the atmosphere at all, the air passing over the body and striking the track some distance behind the railcar.
Letter to The Telegraph in July 1963 (via Day Lewis pp. 286-7).
The correspondence in your columns reveals a growing doubt as to the wisdom of the dieselization of British Railways.
In the absence of reliable British statistics, the results of diesel operation cannot be ascertained. Reference to the experience elsewhere shows that the estimated economies are not obtained under service conditions.
Diesel traction is noisy and malodorous: in confined spaces the exhaust fumes can be dangerous to health. The exhaust fumes are decidedly unpleasant when they penetrate into the interior of carriages.
The ultimate solution of the traction problem lies in complete electrification, using multiple unit stock, rail cars, and locomotives. When the sections of railways which do not pay have been closed, and the new railway system is known, there will be no difficulty in justifying financially the electrification of the whole ot it.
Until such time as the lines are electrified, full use should be made of the existing steam locomotives.
No one with any desire to improve rail travel and with any feeling for the staff can wish to see coal-burning locomotives retained in service any longer than can be helped.
It is too often forgotten that it is not the steam engine of a steam locomotive that should be criticized, but the use of coal under unsuitable conditions. All the dirt and grime now thought to be inseparable from rail travel is entirely due to the use of coal resulting in the smoke and grit from its combustion.
Sir James Milne, when general manager of the Great Western Railway, demonstrated the very substantial savings to be effected by equipping the locomotives to use oil fuel in place of coal. Quite apart from the increased thermal efficiency the abolition of coaling plants, ash pits and ash disposal equipment with their inevitable dirt nuisance would save much labour. The locomotives would be able to develop greater sustained power, and the increased radius of action would allow longer runs between refuelling, and would enable intermediate depots to be closed.
Out of the coal supplied .10 per cent is discharged through the chimney unburnt. Taking into account the increased heat value and greater efficiency in use of oil fuel, 10 million tons of locomotive coal would be replaced by between 6¼ million and 6 million tons of fuel oil, costing at the refinery £8 per ton, of which £2 is tax. In addition there would be the expenditure on fitting the locomotives with burners and tanks, and on providing the oil storage plants at the refuelling points.
Yours faithfully, O. V. S. Bulleid, Exmouth, Devon.
Oliver Vaughan Snell was born in Invercargill, New Zealand on 19 September 1882 and died in Malta on 25 April 1970. He was brought up as an Anglican, but became a Roman Catholic, and died as a devout one. He started an apprenticeship under the equally devout H.A. Ivatt at Doncaster on the GNR in 1901. In 1908 he left to join Westinghouse in France. He married Ivatt's youngest daughter Marjorie on 18 November 1908. He then worked for the Board of Trade at the International exhibitions in Brussels in 1910 and Turin in 1911. This gave him a knowledge of European languages which enabled him to join several parties of senior engineers on their forays into Europe (see for instance his visit to Belgium with Gresley, Stanier and Hawksworth to see the demonstration of a bogie metre gauge locomotive for Colombia). In December 1912 he bacame Gresley's personal assistant, but left to become the CME of the Southern Railway in 1937. According to Winkworth (Br Rlys ill., 1994, 4, 78-87) his salary on the SR was £3,000 - a considerable reduction on that paid to Maunsell (£4,500). But the appointment occurred when the Board had decided not to electrify to Hastings via Tunbridge Wells and was querying electrification towards Oxted, thus reopening the need for steam motive power.
In 1949 he became the CME of CIE in Ireland and retired in 1958. John Marshall implies that he retired to Malta (but this was only after the dampness of Devon had become intolerable). Bulleid is excellently served by his main biographers, Sean Day-Lewis (better for personal information, such as the terrible death of his son Hugh) and his son (better for engineering): the latter refers to the former (Day-Lewis) in the end of his book.
Cox's Locomotive panorama v. 2.: (See pp. 15.19; 105; 144; 148)
Page 16: With Bulleid on the other hand, there was rather a different situation which merits some description because of its unusual nature. To an extent unknown on other railways, he had been supreme autocrat within his own department, and had been able to impose his will upon a management otherwise pre-occupied with electrification. In locomotive matters on the former S.R. it could be said of him, as of Joseph in the Egyptian prison, that 'Whatsoever was done therein, he was the doer thereof'. An individualist of the deepest dye, he had no sympathy at all with the painstaking improvement of the breed which I [Cox] have outlined, but wished with brilliant and dramatic improvisations to solve all the remaining problems of steam by quite other means. To him novelty was everything. If it would not work then this could not be the fault of the idea itself, but only of the incapacity of those who tried to carry it out or use it. The cross which he had to bear was that his developments with conventional practice were successful, sometimes brilliant, whereas his exercises in the bizarre, which he loved dearly as his brain children, often failed. A recent book [Sean Day-Lewis] has described in great detail the fascinating personality and the ideas, achievements and failures of this enigmatical man.' He knew in advance that we were bound to introduce practice which was alien to his own thought processes, and to divert the activities of his assistants from frantically trying to solve the impossible into more normal channels. I recollect my first official contact with him after my new appointment when he assembled all his principal technical staff for lunch at the Old Ship Hotel at Brighton to meet me. His charm and tact eased a confrontation which could have been difficult, and he offered then, and loyally upheld later, every assistance from his people in what we wanted to do. He did not disguise his attitude however, and expressed in an extremely gentlemanly way, that he had cast his pearls before swine, and that if we found nothing to learn from his 'Merchant Navy' and 'Leader', so much the worse for us.
Bond, Roland C.
A lifetime with locomotives. Cambridge: Goose, 1975. page
191 et seq
Oliver Bulleid and his brother-in-law George Ivatt, were the last of the Company C.M.E.s to go. It is perhaps difficult to imagine two men more diverse in temperament than were these two, subjected as they~ere to similar early influences, and both ultimately carrying very much the same responsibilities as Chief Mechanical Engineers. Both were indeed 'Master Builders of Steam' so well portrayed in the book of that name, written by the former's son, Anthony Bulleid. His father must often have been up in the clouds exercising his inventive mind on new and original ideas. His uncle was very much down on terra firma. See more from same source in section on Leader class.
Bulleid, H.A.V. Bulleid of the Southern. Ian Allan, 1977.
Includes an appendix by Author's mother: Ivatt's daughter which records death of Ivatt's eldest son in 1898 and observations on Gresley and the Fowlers.
Bulleid, H.A.V. Master builders of steam London, Ian Allan, 1963.
This book is of major importance as HAV Bulleid was a trained locomotive engineer (Cambridge University and Derby?), although most of his professional life was spent within the polymer industry (British Nylon Spinners at Pontypool). Further, until recently he was one of the few writers with access to the private proceedings of the Association of Railway Locomotive Engineers. His pantheon includes: Churchward, Gresley, Stanier and his father .
Carpenter, George W. biography in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Vol. 8 pp. 606-7.
Day-Lewis's Bulleid, last giant of steam. 1964.
Major source of biographical material
Duffy, M.C. Technomorphology and the Stephenson traction system. Trans. Newcomen Soc., 54, 55-74. Disc.: 74-8.
A note in this paper states that "apart from the Q1 'Austerity' locomotives, his [Bulleid's] steam engines were failures"
Excursionists on the footplate. Rly Gaz., 1939, 70, 715.4 illus.
Excursionists on the footplate. Rly Mag., 1939.84, 423. 4 illus.
Bulleid allowed organized footplate excursions to be run on the Bisley Branch during 1939. This unusual event perhaps indicates a certain puckish attitude on the part of the CME.
Glover's British locomotive design is an introductory account.
Holcroft, H. Locomotive adventure.
Holcroft was more closely associated with Maunsell than with Bulleid. He does, however, present another point of view. Bulleid appears to have been interested in the author's experimental work on condensing by compression.
MR. O.V.S. Bulleid. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1937, 43, 293. illus. (port.)
Appointment as C.M.E., Southern Railway: portrait is relatively unusual one.
Nock, O.S. British locomotives of the 20th century. Volume 2. 1930-1960.. 1984.
On page 121 emphasises Bulleid's contribution to welding, but states that his technical assistants were very often "kicked around".
Retirement of O.V.S. Bulleid from British Railways. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1949, 55, 142.
Rudd, E.T. Thoughts on the Bull in H.A. Vallance's The railway enthusiast's bedside book. (pp. 13-21: anecdotal material).
Shepherd, Ernie. Bulleid and the Turf Burner. Southampton: KRB Publications, 2004?.
A study of O.V. Bulleid's experiments with steam traction in Ireland after 1949 and in particular with his turf burning locomotive CCl.: "a fascinating read." (Archive 2004, (44), 41)
Tayler, A.T.H. 600/750V DC electric and electro-diesel locomotives of the Southern Railway and its successors. Trans. Newcomen Soc., 1996, 68, 231-65.
Involvement with Raworth in design of Southern Railway electric locomotives.
Taylor, A. No tears, says the man of steam. The Observer, 1967, July 9th, p. 5.
Miss Taylor reported Bulleid's observations on the withdrawal of his last locomotives when the Bournemouth line was electrified.
Thomas, D. St. J. Steam's indian summer in Thomas, G. and Thomas, D. St. J. Double headed two generations of railway enthusiasm. 1963.
Pp. 132-5 A brief, but vivid biographical sketch of Bulleid.
Webb, B. Locomotive engineers of the Southern Railway and its constituent companies. 1946.
Westwood, J.N. Locomotive Designers in the Age of Steam. 1977.
Considered Bulleid to be the most innovative of the last generation of British designers. and after he left Britain in 1949 to join the Irish State RaIlways he developed a turf-burning (peat-burning) prototype, which was not proceeded with .when dieselization, supervised by himself, seemed a better alternative.
Winkworth, D.W. Bulleid' s Pacifics
Highly critical work.
There is an article on Bulleid's bibliographical sources by Rutherford (Backtrack 11 445) which includes most of the references cited above plus some secondary sources (some of which are listed above), and some of the manuscript material which may add still more to this controversial figure held by the National Railway Museum.
Personal view (Kevin Jones)
It is strange that other than Aspinall and Stanier, we know more about Bulleid than any other leading British CME. We know about his marriage, the terrible loss of a child in a traffic accident (which may have blunted some his later judgements), and much about his design philosophy (this probably did not exist to the same extent in the case of Stanier, although the latter was highly aware of the contribution which light weight rolling stock could make to operating costs). As Rutherford notes at the end of his bibliographical survey the Southern Railway considered timekeeping to be extremely important, a factor which the LMS with its small locomotive policy did not appreciate (there was nothing unusual about trains arriving hours late at Euston, but this was unknown south of the Thames, it was far too near Parliament for that). Thus powerful locomotives were an important factor in maintaining schedules even if the work was not always available for them to perform. On an aesthetic level the original Pacifics were almost as magnificent as the Gresley A4s: they looked modern and could thus offer some visual comparison with the electrics which the Southern portrayed with its huge green "electric flash" as the ultimate in modernity.
Extract from Bulleid's Presidentail address
In this he stated: "Each year the
chief mechanical engineer of the Southern Railway Company, like his colleagues
on the other main line railways, is asked to sign a certificate worded as
I hereby certify that the whole of the Company's Plant, Engines, Tenders, Carriages, Wagons, Road Vehicles, Machinery and Tools, under my charge, have, during the past year, been maintained in good working condition and repair.
The form of words indicates that the responsibility for keeping the company's locomotives, carriages, wagons and road vehicles in good repair and in safe working condition is placed upon the chief mechanical engineer This certificate is a statutory requirement and must be signed before the accounts can be passed by the auditors. Professionally the implications of such a certificate are highly important. If, for reasons outside his control, the stock could not be maintained to the standard the chief mechanical engineer considered necessary, he could not sign a certificate in the form I have quoted. He should require an amended form of certificate to be prepared, worded in such a way as would meet his objections. This has been recognised during the war [and a reworded certificate issued]".
The CME has to provide the means whereby the passengers can be carried safely, comfortably, quickly, and punctually, and goods can be delivered expeditiously and in good order. The provision of rolling stock to satisfy these requirements involves constant progress in design and manufacturing processes to ensure that the stock is kept abreast of the times in respect of efficiency, reliability and suitability, and that the costs are commercially reasonable.
Whilst the CME must profit from all developments in other fields of mechanical engineering affecting rolling stock design he has to be convinced that all changes made will be of lasting value, for the life of rolling stock is long and his is the responsibility for looking after it in service. Further, complete reliability throughout each journey is demanded, in so far as it can be achieved, because the dislocation in traffic on our congested railways, resulting from breakdown, has consequences out of all perspective to the cost of repair.
These reasons explain an apparent tendency to conservatism in design and a comparative reluctance to adopt new ideas
That new design had become a relatively subordinate task was emphasised by Bulleid's general manager a couple of years later:
Railway management is not really interested in electrification as electrification. It is not interested in steam locomotion as steam locomotion or in diesel-electric traction as diesel-electric traction; it is interested only in movement, the movement of trains over its tracks, which is the essence of a good railway. Management, therefore, is interested only in what is the best method of shifting people or the freight".
Extract from Cook, K.J. Swindon steam. (page 33)
I [Cook] recall a discussion in the GN Hotel at Peterborough during an interval between dynamometer tests there. Weatherburn, a delightful self-made man in charge of testing on the North Eastern Railway asked me if we [the GWR] ever used the pressure we said we did. I told him emphatically "Yes", most running was done with the safety valve just tending to lift, definitely between 220 and 2251b; if the pressure could not be maintained well above 200 the engine was regarded as a bad steamer. O.V.S.Bulleid (later CME Southern Rly) was there and he confirmed, having had several runs on GW locomotives and said to Weatherburn "You have no idea how those engines really run".
Extract from Nock Southern steam
Shortly after the outbreak of war, Gilbert Szlumper was succeeded
as general manager of the Southern Railway by E.J. Missenden, and Bulleid
was fortunate in enlisting his sympathy and backing for his entire programme.
It is very important that the development of this pleasant relationship at
Waterloo should be fully appreciated, because otherwise it is very dilficult
to appreciate how Bulleid obtained authority for large-scale construction
of new steam locomotives after the end of the war, while Maunsell, in his
time, had been forced to exist on a shoestring for so many years.
Although Bulleid had a slight figure and a rather shy demeanour he had the heart of a lion. He had served in France in the Railway Operating Division dining the First World War, and he let it be known to all around him that he regarded the Second World War not so much. a tragedy as a challenge to his ingenuity and. resource, and to his department as a whole. Far from being overawed or disheartened by the restrictions placed upon him by war conditions, he actively sought out means of furthering the plans he had for development on the Southern Railway, despite the circumstances imposed by the war. Wartime austerity was made the excuse — if one may express it so — for the produetion of one of the most extraordinary-looking locomotives that has ever taken the toad in Great Britain
Day-Lewis quotes T. Henry Turner, the metallurgist, taking part in the discussion, on Bulleid's Address to the Mechanicals in 1945 said: 'There are in this country at the present time few men who could hope to put their name to a class of famous locomotives, and everyone will welcome the fact that the author has joined the select few. His paper was a model of precise and concise description, and it showed that the 'Merchant Navy' locomotives, bear features which distinguish them from all their predecessors. His design embraces many features which he no doubt learned in those years when he worked so hard in connection with international railway conferences and inquiries; he has probably obtained a wider knowledge of Continental, American and world-wide practice than most engineers, but he has not only adopted those things which he found to be the best – he has also stepped into the untrodden paths of real invention and inspiration.
'To judge any creation one must take note of the background, recall the preoccupations of his staff and the author's own heavy load from Dunkirk to D-Day. The 'Merchant Navy' locomotives stand out from their background, they stand out at the head of trains, and they stand out as leaders of thought. To railwaymen, Pacific main-line locomotives are more than engines; they resemble the banner, or the band, at the head of a procession; they give direction and pride and comradeship to the whole of the railway staff. The author has raised a new banner. There is still novelty in the steam locomotive. When one looks across the lecture theatre to the portrait of the author's old chief, Sir Nigel Gresley, who also designed and wrote papers about locomotives, one feels that Sir Nigel would have wished to join the members present in congratulating the author on an outstanding paper.
Extract from Bulleid: last giant of steam (Sean
Day-Lewis) page 105
The only thing he, could not do was to air any disagreement with the General Manager. Schemes had to be talked over beforehand and at the meeting itself the professional staff were required to present a united front. Unofficial scheming behind the General Manager's back was the most diabolical sin. The friendly and absent-minded Rob Holland-Martin sat in the Chair, but it was the short, taciturn yet amiable-looking tycoon, Dudley Docker, who really ruled. Once he had given his approval the rest of the Board usually followed suit and it is more than likely that this is what happened when Gilbert Szlumper urged Bulleid on Sir Herbert as the new CME in 1937.
For his part Bulleid soon made a good impression despite a reputation as 'a bit of a genius'. He mitigated his revolutionary zeal as an engineer with impeccable manners and a profound respect for authority. He was seen to talk with his hands and apparently wanted to invent an improvement for every trivial object which met his gaze, from cigarette lighters upwards. He may have been lucky that Sir Herbert retired with Maunsell in October, 1937, and left his seat of honour to Szlumper. Walker had been an enthusiast for electrification above everything; Szlumper shared this point of view to a large extent, but after much persuasion was able to appreciate the urgent need for improvements in the steam stock.
Bulleid's first action on taking over at Waterloo was in fact to write a report on the locomotive stock and to urge on John Elliot, then Assistant General Manager, that a new building programme must be instituted. Much of the present stock was elderly in the extreme and whatever directors might say the Southern was fast approaching the point at which further electrification would not be economical. Something must be done if there was not to be a breakdown in steam services, and if higher overall speeds and heavier trains were to be managed.
'If you replace half a cavalry regiment with tanks this does not make your horses any younger,' he wrote.
Elliot was won over to the principle and set about converting the less than wildly enthusiastic Board to the idea of new engines.
Also one of 93 "personalities" in Nock, O.S. Railway enthusuast's encyclopedia
Atkins, Philip Dear Mr Stanier,
you don't know me but...Steam Wld. 1999.(144), 21-4.
In 1965 the author wrote from his home address to several of the retired CMEs to ask them fairly specific questions about their design policy: Atkins was successful and some of his replies are reproduced as received, including a hand written response from Bulleid .
Bonavia, Michael R. The birth of British Rail. p. 56
Group photograph at opening of Rugby Locomotive Testing Station on 19 October 1948 with Peppercorn, Louis Armand, F.W. Hawksworth, Edward Thompson, Parmentier, Stanier and H.G. Ivatt
As President Institution of Locomotive Engineers: brief biography & portrait (fp.). J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1939, 29, 351.