Richard Edward Lloyd Maunsell

In 1969 Jones stated that the Southern policy of suburban electrification reduced the amount of capita! available for steam development. Further, the Brighton electrification  of 1933 convinced the management that this form of traction could be extended to most of the system. In spite of this background Maunsell was able to produce several designs which may be regarded as significant in relation to total development.

Cocks' History of Southern locomotives to 1938 must be considered the definitive source, but this material is greatly augmented by Holcroft's books, and to the very extensive written contribution to Cocks' paper (perhaps Holcroft considered that  the paper should have been written by himself, but Cocks could be more objective). The prominence of Holcroft' as an authority on Maunsell may be gauged by following quotation from the preface of O.S. Nock's The locomotives of R.E.L. Maunsell, 1911-1937: "My most patent debt, however, is to Mr. Holcroft, who has not only made available to me the notes from his personal diaries extending over 23 years, but has written to me a volume of letters amplifying the various entries". Holcroft's books, based on his diary records add to the depth of our knowledge about Maunsell, and suffer only from a lack of balance, which is an inherent fault in diaries. Clayton's contribution should not be ignored: perhaps its most extraordinary and obvious feature was the failure to adopt the drumhead smokebox on the Schools class and the firm rejection of derived motion for three cylinder designs.

D.L. Bradley's The locomotives of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway surveys Maunsell's "Ashford" designs with usual RCTS thoroughness. O.S. Nock's The locomotives of R.E.L. Maunsell, 1911-1937 collates much data on performance and adds some details of Maunsell's Irish activity. Much of the above still stands, although there is a new biography by Chacksfield which suffers from a lack of bibliographical exactitude: sources are not really cited and the rather good book by Nock is not mentioned. Chacksfield is by far the best source for strictly biographical material, however. There is also a useful pictorial survey of Maunsell's work by Haresnape.

3778/1913. Improvements relating to steam superheaters. with George Victor Valentine Hutchinson. Applied 13 February 1913. Published 18 December 1913.
19,269/1914 Improvements relating to steam superheaters. with George Victor Valentine Hutchinson. Priority 13 February 1913. Applied 31 August 1914. Published 26 November 1914.
NB This patent was granted whilst Maunsell was still with the GS&WR in Dublin

192,985 Improvements in or relating to condensers for lubricators of the condensation type with James Clayton. Applied 1 July 1922. Published 15 February 1923.
202,523 A double-feed lubricator. with James Clayton. Applied 30 August 1922. Published 23 August 1923.

Maunsell's papers

Presidential Address. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1916, 6, 125-33.

A design may be theoretically correct, but for some local reason does not work out in practice, and the defect and its cause only become apparent when the engine is put into service. An alteration in the position of an oil-hole or the shape of an oil groove may sometimes make all the difference between an engine which is a source of trouble to a foreman and one which commands his confidence, and in like manner a slight alteration in the height or shape of a blast pipe or the length or shape of a brick arch may convert an engine, which a driver considers " shy for. steam," into a free steaming engine. As I have said, it is practically impossible to guard against such minor defects creeping into a completely new design, and in order to keep them within the narrowest possible limits, I am strongly in favour, when a new class of engine is called for, of only building one in the first instance and waiting until it has been thoroughly tested for some months on the road before proceeding with the construction of any more. An obvious objection to this practice is, of course, that it is more costly to build one engine than a batch of, say, six or eight. I freely. admit this, but I contend the additional expenditure so incurred is not only warranted, but may sometimes prove to be the means of saving considerable outlay in alterations to a larger number of engines.

During the trial period above referred to, any defects which become apparent can be noted and remedied, the engine can be indicated and the valve setting adjusted, and the whole machine " tuned up" to become a model for similar engines which are to follow. I also contend it is most important to disperse as quickly as possible any pre judices against a new class of engine which may arise among the running staff in consequence of the development of minor defects before referred to,. and these defects can be more quickly remedied in one engine than in a larger number. If the best work is to be obtained from a machine the operating staff must have absolute confidence in its reliability, as well as in its efficiency.

I now come to the objections that may be raised by the shed fitting staff in consequence of the inaccessibility of parts, which, in the ordinary period between shop repairs, must from time to time be removed for examination, repairs, or renewal. Defects in design of this nature are much more likely to occur in these days of big engines than they were in the days of comparatively small engines when plenty of space was available for the arrangement of details and present-day refinements with a view to economy were not a feature of the design. Road gauges, platform gauges and tunnel gauges remain practically as they were. Increased allowances in weights and wheel bases are grudgingly granted, or perhaps I should say extracted, while all the time the call for engines of greater hauling capacity is incessant and insatiable.

Not withstanding the difficulties nowadays occasioned by want of space, I hold that defects of inaccessibility should not occur, and if they do, they are a reproach on the supervision of the designer. Not only are such defects extremely annoying to the shed fitting staff by causing expenditure of 'unnecessary labour and loss of time, but their evil effects are still more far-reaching, as there is always a tendency to postpone repairs to a part which involves a vast amount of "stripping " before it can be removed, and delay in attending to it may result in an engine failure, accompanied perhaps by considerable damage.

It should therefore be laid down as an axiom of design that every part of an engine motion; or other part likely to require removal for repairs in the running shed, is so constructed that it can be taken down by itself and with a minimum amount of trouble. The attachments of such parts, if bolts or pins, should be so arranged that there is sufficient clearance to knock them out, and the position of nuts should be such that they can be conveniently manipulated with an ordinary spanner. Although it is not possible in all cases, it will be found generally advantageous to keep nuts in view, that is facing the operator. Nothing is more exasperating to the shed or shop fitter than trying, 'probably with a lamp in one hand, to slacken or tighten a nut which is hidden away in some dark corner, resulting very often in such ii'uts not being properly secured. Again, we find nuts placed in such positions that it is perfectly impossible to operate them by means of an ordinary spanner, or indeed any form of spanner; the only means of lightening them being with a hammer and chisel, which method is unreliable and destructive to the nut.

Another small point worth attention is to reduce to a minimum the number of the sizes of bolts and nuts, and very often the size selected for these depends more on the passing fancy of a draughtsman than the actual requirements of the part which they secure. The greater the variety in sizes of nuts the more spanners the shed fitter has to carry to the job and the less likely he is to have the one he actually requires.

Many illustrations could be given of inaccessible engine parts, but the following few will suffice to make my meaning clear:
Piston rod cotters are sometimes so placed that driving them in or out is a matter of considerable difficulty.
Piston rod and valve spindle cross heads are sometimes. designed without any provision being made for "starting" them on their respective rod ends.
Spring link pins or bolts are arranged with no clearance behind to permit their being driven back when the spring requires removal.
Spring arrangements are so designed that it is necessary to completely lift the engine to change a spring.
Small internal steam pipes are so arranged as to render their removal impossible without half stripping the boiler..
I have known cases where it was impossible to take- down parts of a cylinder cock gear without removing the. whole arrangement.

One most glaring case of ill-considered design came under my notice not long ago, and although it more particularly affected the shop fitting staff, I mention it to emphasise my point. In order to remove an engine brake shaft, it was necessary to take down with it the supporting brackets which were placed inside the frames. An arm on one end of the shaft which was shrunk on had to be heated and removed before one of the brackets could be disengaged from the shaft. When the shaft journals were turned ups. one bracket was placed in position and the arm shrunk on again and the whole arrangement had then to be lifted up bodily and the brackets bolted in position.

The remedy was, of course, to make the brackets with removable half bearings.

I feel I owe the members an apology for somewhat labouring this point, but I plead its importance as justification. I only wish it was a recognised part of the curriculum of every draughtsman engaged on locomotive design to spend about six months as a running shed fitter. [bold added by KPJ] He would at least learn by bitter experience how, some things should not be done.

The capability of a new engine to easily perform its appointed duty, and with a good margin of power to spare, is probably looked upon by the driver as the point of para— mount importance in a new engine, but this is a question of fundamental design. and altogether outside the scope of this paper. He will also proceed to criticise the engine from the point of view of general convenience, both on the footplate and elsewhere, and also as regards the accessibility of the parts in which he is specially interested.

Now I may say at once that I do not believe it is possible to be certain that any new arrangement of a foot-plate and boiler front will be satisfactory if decided by means of a drawing only. No matter how much care is expended in plotting the positions of various mountings, it will be found when the engine is built that slight alterations here and there would have made a much more convenient and practical foot-plate.

The shape of the regulator handle, the height and shape- of the cab windows,, the positions of injector steam valve handles, the brake application handle, the fire-hole door handle, etc., etc., are all points which considerably affect the convenience of the driver and are therefore worth a good deal of consideration.

In order to settle the best and most convenient position for these details, I suggest the advisability when a design for a new class of engine is being prepared, of constructing a full-size model of the cab and boiler front which can be- very cheaply built up of wood and canvas. All the various mountings, or if- these are not available, rough models of them can then be placed in position and moved about untir each is most conveniently located. When this method is- adopted, it is surprising to find how many slight alterations. are desirable, and even necessary, no matter how carefully the original drawing has been thought out. For instance, the movement backwards or forwards a few inches of the- reversing wheel and bracket, or lever and sector, as the case may mean all the difference between a driver having to stand comfortably or uncomfortably at his post on the footplate. In the case of a tank engine it is desirable to make a model of the boiler, side tanks and coal bunker in addition to the cab, to insure that the tanks do not unduly interfere with the outlook from the foot-plate. The model should, of course, be erected at the working height above ground level when it will be found not only useful for the- purposes above mentioned, but also for determining the- best position and shape of foot-steps, hand-rails, tool boxes, etc.

When such a model is completed, I make it a practice- to invite a few of the leading drivers to inspect it and freely criticise the arrangement of the details, and I have never yet failed to obtain from them some sound practioal suggestions as regards minor alterations.

In addition, the running staff feel that their convenience and comfort is being considered and their practical experience made use of.

The trend of modem steam locomotive design. Proc. Instn mech. Engrs, 1928, 114, 465-77.
Significantly the author favoured 3-cylinder designs, 4-6-0s and 4-4-0s: Lecture delivered before the graduates' section in London on 26th March 1928, and repeated in Birmingham on 13th April 1928.

Discussion on other's work

Armstrong, J.C.  Pulverised fuel locomotives. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1929, 19, 86-90. (Paper No. 239).
Maunsell added some Presidential comments on the SR purchase of AEG equipment for experimental use having observed that:
coal in pulverised form can be burnt in a locomotive without any extensive alteration being made to the boiler or firebox.
coal of a lower quality than possible to use for grate firing, can be used in pulverised form.
economy can be effected by the purchase of small coal and slack, which is really better adapted for pulverising purposes than the large coal that is necessarily used for grate firing.
when pulverised fuel is used, boiler pressure can be better maintained, and more finely adjusted to suit varying conditions of road and load than is possible in a grate fired boiler.
Throughout the run at which he was present, the niasiniuni variation in pressure was 71bs., which occurred when the train entered a gradient of 1 in 130, the weight of the train being 1,300 tons, and when the fuel feed was adjusted, full pressure was quickly obtained. Throughout the remainder of the run the finger of the pressure gauge practically remained steady on the point of maximum boiler pressure.
there is no spark throwing, and very little smoke when pulverised fuel is used.
the quantity of ashpan and smokebos refuse is negligible.

Gresley, H.N. High-pressure locomotives. Proc. Instn mech. Engrs., 1931, 120, 101-35. Disc.:135-206
Page 140 Maunsell commented on smoke deflection

Wagner, R.P. (Paper No. 253)
Some new developments of the Stephenson boiler. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1930, 20, 5-21. Disc.: 21-47.
Maunsell (22-4): "I have endeavoured to make a comparison between the ratios which Herr Wagner has recommended and those which have been adopted in the most recent engines I have built for the Southern Railway. Although the ratios are not quite what Herr Wagner advocated, 1: 400, I can only say that the engines steam well, they are reasonably economical in fuel, and the back pressure is low, but not so extraordinarily low as the figures obtained by Herr Wagner in the engines which he has recently designed. Perhaps the results I have obtained might prove, to a certain extent, the truth of the old saying, that there are more ways of killing a dog than by choking him with butter! There is, however, one point which has an important bearing on the velocity of gases through the boiler flues and back pressure, namely, the diameter of the exhaust pipe. I sould be glad if Herr Wagner would be good enough to tell us how that is considered, when calculating the areas of the ordinary smoke and superheater flues? We have also found from practice that the relationship between the position of the blast pipe nozzle and the horizontal central line of the tube plate, measured both longitudinally and vertically, has a very distinct bearing on the uniformity of the flow of gases through the tubes; and I would value Herr Wagner's opinion on that point also.

In the earlier part of his Paper Herr Wagner referred to steel and copper fireboxes. I can only say that steel fireboxes have not proved a success so far as I know in England, when applied to engines designed for main line service. There have been several cases of small shunting engines with steel fireboxes which. have given satisfactory results, but not with engines designed for main line serdce. I do not believe that the failure is due to the poor quality or the unsuitability of the material which is used. Some years ago I imported from America a number of steel firebox plates, and the results obtained with these were no better than the results obtained from plates made to a similar specification, but manufactured in England. My opinion is that the failure was due to the fact that the fireboxes of British engines are relatively small compared with American engines, due to weight and clearance restrictions, and the rate of combustion per square foot per grate area is relatively high; and, in addition to its higher conductivity, a copper firebox will stand up better to high temperatures and severe conditions of service than a steel firebox. I remember, when going through the Baldwin Locomotive Works, discussing the question of the steel and copper firebox with Mr. Sam Vauclain, the President, and asking him if he ever fitted 1ocomotives with copper fire boxes? Mr. Vauclain said, as far as he could remember that the only boilers to which he had fitted copper fireboxe were those which were intended for use in Cuba and, he added, with a twinkle in his eye, that he thought probably the reason for doing so was the very low mentality of th natives who would have to operate the engines in that island! I did not think that remark was exactly a flattering one to European engineers. We shall certainly watch with interest the performanc, of the corrugated box, which Herr Wagner has illustrated though I am not quite sure how that is going to get himout of the trouble experienced with tube plates. The corrugation of the side and crown plates may possibly tell him with regard to expansion; out I do not see how he is going to be relieved of the tube plate trouble.


The question of locomotive sheds : Report No. 1 (Great Britain, Northern Ireland, India, Dominions, Proctectorates and Colonies): Subject VI for discussion at the 10th Session of the International Railway Congress Association, London, 1926. Bull. int. Rly Congr. Ass., 1925, 7, 501-70 + 2 folding plates. 4 illus., 22 diagrs., 4 tables, 10 plans.

The question of locomotives of new types; in particular turbine locomotives and internal combustion motor locomotives: Report No. 2. (British Empire, China and Japan): Subject V for discussion at the 11th Session of the International Railway Congress Association. Bull. int. Rly Congr. Assn., 1929, 11, 1563-71. 3 diagrs. (s. &  f. els.). 2 tables.
Survey based on questionnaires.


According to Chacksfield Maunsell was born on 26 May 1868 in Raheny, County Dublin, Ireland and was educated at the Royal School in Armagh and at Trinity College, entered 1886. Day-Lewis noted that: "He was born a member of the British ascendancy in Dublin, the son of a leading solicitor in the Irish capital, and unlike Bulleid he always felt a strong vocation for railway work. His father wanted him to go in for the law, but said that he could join the railways if he still wanted to do so after taking his degree. Maunsell accordingly graduated at Trinity College and at once applied to become Ivatt's first pupil at Inchicore [in 1888]. After a three year course with the Great Southern and Western of Ireland he completed his training under the admirable J.A.F. Aspinall at the Horwich Works of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway – the course also adopted by Gresley and Henry Ivatt". He was latterly flocomotive foreman at Blackpool (Locomotive obituary) He went out to India in 1894, but his stay in the east was short and, having reached the post of district locomotive superintendent at Asansol (East Indian Railway) he returned to his old works at lnchicore manager, becoming locomotive superintendent of the Great Southern & Western Railway in 1911.  Some further biographical material has been published by Atkins in Backtrack, 11, 396.

In December 1913 he was selected to succeed the H. Wainwright as chief mechanical engineer of the South Eastern & Chatham Railway. When that line was incorporated in the new Southern Railway, Maunsell became Chief Mechanical Engineer (Locomotive Mag., 1923, 29, 220) of the latter [KPJ Note  tardines s in appointment], retiring in 1937. He was an excellent administrator, and appointed subordinates to whom he could delegate much of his work. Nock (The Southern King Arthur family) notes that he had sought the advice of Joynt on the valve gear for the L class. Later his designs owed much to H. Holcroft , J. Clayton , and G. H. Pearson, all admirers of Churchward. With these assistants, it is not surprising that Maunsell was the first to apply Churchward principles outside the Great Western Railway. His very successful N class mixed traffic 2-6-0 not only imitated a Great Western wheel arrangement but also incorporated the Churchward variation of the Belpaire firebox, tapered boiler, and long travel valves, together with the un-Churchward feature of high-temperature superheat. The success of this locomotive induced Maunsell progressively to introduce variations of the basic layout; some of his subsequent 2-6-0 types had three instead of two cylinders, or 6ft instead of 5ft 6in. driving wheels. His 'River' class 2-6-4T, to the same basic design, was less fortunate. Engines of this type had to be rebuilt as 2-6-0 tender machines after they had shown a dangerous tendency to derail at speed, although tests which Gresley carried out at the request of the SR management showed that it was Southern's tracks rather than Maunsell's locomotives which were at fault . See also references to WW1 activity in paper by L. Simpson...

For heavy passenger work Maunsell modified the draughting and increased the valve travel of an existing London & South Western two-cylinder 4-6-0, thereby creating the 'King Arthur' type, perhaps his most successful locomotive. For greater power output he also built sixteen units of his four-cylinder 'Lord Nelson' type 4-6-0. His famous 'Schools' class 4-4-0 had three cylinders and used the components of the 'Lord Nelson' and 'King Arthur' types. It was a fast-running, powerful machine, its lack of adhesion weight offset by a smoother torque (see Holcroft's 1918 paper on three cylinder designs). Maunsell having adopted for the Lord Nelson and Schools Holcroft's proposal for cranks set at 135 degrees, giving eight exhausts per revolution with four cylinders and six with three cylinders. Forty Schools were built ; this was a large number by Southern standards, for electrification was steadily reducing the number of busy steam routes. The SR being primarily a passenger railway, passenger and mixed traffic designs could take care of most requirements, but Maunsell did build a handful of freight tank locomotives: a three-cylinder 0-8-0T for shunting and a 2-6-4T for transfer work. His last design was an 0-6-0, the Q class.

Cocks noted that at the grouping, Maunsell laid down a set policy (these precepts had been established in his Presidential Address (above)) for the future design of locomotives, under the following headings:
(1) Ample power for all requirements to enable sectional timing to be maintained with a high degree of efficiency.
(2) Ease of maintenance.
(3) Suitable for operating on all three sections within the limits of bridge loading.
(4) Standard locomotives with as few types as possible to cover the whole of the requirements. Standard details to be as interchangeable as possible, such as boiler, cylinder, motion, tyres, axles, axleboxes, fittings and boiler mountings.
(5) Belpaire type firebox, with grate area and heating surface well proportioned.
(6) Long lap piston valves.
(7) Freer exhaust passages.
(8) Accessibility of all parts ("Make everything 'Get-at-able.' was Maunsell's remark).
(9) Footplate comfort and ease in handling. In this connection wooden models or mock-ups of the cab with the handles for operation in position were made for the enginemen's inspection and suggestions.
(10) Lubrication of all parts to be efficient and simple. To be under the control of the enginemen as far as possible without leaving the footplate.
(11) Large smokeboxes and capacious ashpans.

The relationship between Maunsell and the Locomotive Running Superintendent (A.D. Jones) has failed to receive adequate coverage, although it is mentioned by Nock.

On the carriage side Maunsell introduced the buckeye coupling for the mainline (non-electric stock). Only corridor stock was constructed for steam services: see Gould. Many of the later portraits of Maunsell show a very frail-looking person who clearly suffered from ill-health. Nock (Great locomotives of the Southern Railway) notes on page 93 that Maunsell was a fine cricketer. Locomotive Mag., 1935, 41, 51 notes that he was elected Chairman of the Railway Clearing House Chief Mechanical Engineers Committee for 1935...

Day Lewis summarised Maunsell's abilities: "Though a perfectly sound engineer he was a hustling administrator rather than a designer. He was always respected but his mercurial, irascible temperament gave him the reputation of a Tartar. Like Gresley he was happy to surround himself with talented subordinates, the sort of men who in pre-grouping days would have probably found a department of their own. But unlike Gresley he inherited no great tradition and was free to look around £or the best examples of locomotive practice then available. Thus his team had a strong flavour of the Midland, together with the Great Western, Swindon and Churchward."

See: J.E. Chacksfield: Richard Maunsell: an engineering biography.
Atkins, Philip. An Inchicore threesome. Backtrack, 1997, 11, 396-9.
S.C. Townroe, The Arthurs, Nelsons, and Schools of the Southern (1973);
O.S. Nock, Locomotives of R.E.L. Maunsell (1954);
H. Holcroft, Locomotive Adventure (n.d.);
Nock, O.S. Railway enthusuast's encyclopedia

Appointment as CME SECR in 1913: see Loco. Mag., 1913, 19, 274 with photographic portrait
Appointment as CME Southern Railway in 1923: see Loco. Mag., 1923, 29, 245 with photographic portrait reproduced above
The late Mr. R.E.L. Maunsell, C.B.E. Locomotive Mag., 1944, 50, 52

See Atkins, Philip.The fruitless quest. Rlys South East, 1992, 3, 62-7. (the quest for a larger "boat train" locomotive)

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