Edward Bury & James Kennedy

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Locomotive engines of the London and Birmingham Railway. Proc. Instn Civ. Engrs, 1840, 1, 33

Competitor to the Stephensons ( See Skeat's George Stephenson which makes this abundantly clear (183 et seq), Edward Bury popularized the bar frame in America and, for a time, the 'haystack' firebox (D-shaped fireboxes with hemispherical casing and top) which led to stronger boilers (at that time). In 1831-7 he exported twenty of his engines to the USA. Bury was a partner in a locomotive building firm (Bury, Curtis, & Kennedy), and Locomotive Superintendent of the London & Birmingham Railway (1837-47) and later of the Great Northern (1848-50). He also designed a free-running steamboat engine. He is amongst the relatively few locomotive engineers to have produced an eponymous type of locomotive.


Harry Jack has produced an excellent biography of Bury which extends beyond his ties with the LNWR to include his association with the GNR and his other business interests. He also provides a portrait: Bury was born in Salford on 22 October 1794. He was an enthusiastic modelmaker whilst still a boy, and was educated in Chester. By the time he was thirty was well established in the locomotive business. His Dreadnought was not ready in time for the Rainhill trials of 1829, and was rebuilt into his Liverpool. This 0-4-0 anticipated by a few months Stephenson's Planet as the first locomotive to have inside horizontal cylinders, and also seems to have been the first locomotive to have 6ft wheels.

On the London & Birmingham Railway, he employed his own small four-wheel types, with bar frames and haystack fireboxes and.to counter the inherent unsteadmess of a four-wheel vehicle, locomotive and tender were tightly coupled These machines were too small and three or four locomotives were used on one train. On the other hand, Rutherford (Backtrack, 11, 205) made a strong justification for Bury's use of small locomotives. In 1841 he personally drove one of his engines up the Lickey Incline on the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway, in competition with an American-built (Norris) six wheeler; but the Americans came out well ahead. In 1847 Bury appears to have been the first to design and build a shunting locomotive: an 0-4-0 saddle tank for the Shrewsbury & Chester Railway.

Lowe records Bury's justification made to a Parliamentary Select Committee on Railways in defence of his four coupled locomotives. The reasons given were (a) they were cheaper than six wheeled types, (b) took up less space, (c) were lighter and therefore required less power to move up banks, leaving more available for hauling the trains, (d) safer as they adapted themselves better to the rails, being less likely to run off the rails at crossings and curves, (e) more economical in working with fewer parts in motion and consequently less friction, (f) parts more accessible, (g) buildings and turntables were not required to be on such a large scale, and (h) stoppages were not likely to take place on the journey. Sekon (p. 41) notes that Bury's innovations included horizontal inside cylinders below the smokebox, cranked driving axles and large (for the time) coupled driving wheels of 6ft diameter..

He succeeded Benjamin Cubitt as Locomotive Superintendent of the Great Northern Railway in 1848. Here he soon showed no attachment to small engines, ordering a 2-4-0 to his own design from Bury, Curtis, & Kennedy. It retained bar frames, but the Bury firebox was re-placed by a raised round-top design having the very large heating surface of 108 sq. ft. He was briefly General Manager of the GNR (a grand-nephew Oliver Bury was to be far longer in this postion) and retired to Windermere in 1853, but moved to Scarborough where he died in 1858 and was buried on 2 December. His later years were passed as a consulting engineer. One non-locomotive standard which he established was the 'teak' livery of the GNR. He was elected as an FRS in 1844, and is one of the few locomotive engineers to have received this great honour (Stanier was another).

Rutherford (Backtrack, 11, 205) considered that standardization at the Clarence Foundry was one of his key achievements.

Lowe gives an excellent account of Bury and his Clarence Foundry

See: E. L. Ahrons, The British Steam Railway Locomotive 1825-1925 (1927)
The Engineer, 2 Feb.1923;
F.A.S. Brown, Great Northern Locomotive Engineers, Vol. 1. (1966);
Dewhurst, P.C. "Norris" locomotives...Trans. Newcomen Soc. 1947, 26, 13..
Pp 25-6 tests of Bury locomotive on Lickey incline.
Drawing of Liverpool (locomotive). Locomotive Mag, 1917, 23, 76

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry by Robert Hunt, revised by Desmond King-Hele.
Nock, O.S. Railway enthusuast's encyclopedia
H.M. Le Fleming (Concise encyclopaedia)...

Kennedy, James

Born in Edinburgh on 13 January 1797 and died Liverpool on 25 September 1886. Apprenticed as a millwright and became involved in marine engineering. For a time he worked at Robert Stephenson's Newcastle works probably as a foreman or manager and then moved to join Bury in Liverpool in 1825 according to Ronald M. Birse (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography) His status within the Bury organization and the contribution he made to "Bury" design is assessed by. C.F. Dendy Marshall A history of railway locomotives who in turn looked towards earlier commentators: notably D.H. Clark (Railway machinery) and Zerah Colburn who seem to agree that Kennedy was the main designer of the Liverpool which established horizontal cylinders for locomotives. Strangely Kennedy did not join into partnership with Bury until 1842 shortly before Kennedy left to join Thomas Vernon, the Liverpool shipbuilder. According to Dendy Marshall James Kennedy was the brother of John Kennedy, a cotton-spinner who was one of the judges at the Rainhill trials. C.H. Lee has contributed an ODNB biography of John Kennedy, but the information given within the two ODNB entries does not appear to support any direct relationship between the two Kennedys. Also John Marshall.

Bury locomotives

The distinctive Bury-type with its two axles and bar frames dominated the early motive power on the London & Birmingham Railway, although ths type had originated on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. Thus, Harry Jack's Locomotives of the LNWR Southern Division: London & Birmingham Railway, London & North Western Railway and Wolverton Locomotive Works. (2001) is extremely significant and is covered extensively on the first LNWR "page". Brian Reed's British steam locomotives (1975) pp. 23-4 gives some information on the two supplied for use on, but not owned by, the Liverpol & Mnachester Railway. One was named Dreadnought (about which little is nown) and the other was Liverpool: an inside-cylinder crank axle 0-4-0 with 6ft wheels.

Output was not limited to Bury's own Clarence Foundry, for others were built at Fairbairn. Furthermore, the type was used quite widely, and secondhand locomotives increased the sphere of activity. Some reached the Stockton & Darlington Railway and details of these are included by the diligent Pearce (pp. 99-100)