Worsdell, Thomas William

Worsdell, Thomas William
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b. 14 January 1838 Liverpool, England
d. 28 June 1916 Arnside, Westmorland, England
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English locomotive engineer, pioneer of the use of two-cylinder compound locomotives in Britain.
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T.W.Worsdell was the son of Nathaniel Worsdell. After varied training, which included some time in the drawing office of the London \& North Western Railway's Crewe Works, he moved to the Pennsylvania Railroad, USA, in 1865 and shortly became Master Mechanic in charge of its locomotive workshops in Altoona. In 1871, however, he accepted an invitation from F.W. Webb to return to Crewe as Works Manager: it was while he was there that Webb produced his first compound locomotive by rebuilding an earlier simple.
In 1881 T.W.Worsdell was appointed Locomotive Superintendent of the Great Eastern Railway. Working with August von Borries, who was Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Hannover Division of the Prussian State Railways, he developed a two-cylinder compound derived from the work of J.T.A. Mallet. Von Borries produced his compound 2–4–0 in 1880, Worsdell followed with a 4–4–0 in 1884; the restricted British loading gauge necessitated substitution of inside cylinders for the outside cylinders used by von Borries, particularly the large low-pressure one. T.W.Worsdell's compounds were on the whole successful and many were built, particularly on the North Eastern Railway, to which he moved as Locomotive Superintendent in 1885. There, in 1888, he started to build, uniquely, two-cylinder compound "single driver" 4–2–2s: one of them was recorded as reaching 86 mph (138 km/h). He also equipped his locomotives with a large side-window cab, which gave enginemen more protection from the elements than was usual in Britain at that time and was no doubt appreciated in the harsh winter climate of northeast England. The idea for the cab probably originated from his American experience. When T.W.Worsdell retired from the North Eastern Railway in 1890 he was succeeded by his younger brother, Wilson Worsdell, who in 1899 introduced the first 4– 6–0s intended for passenger trains in England.
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Further Reading
C.Hamilton Ellis, 1958, Twenty Locomotive Men, Shepperton: Ian Allan, Ch. 15 (biography).
E.L.Ahrons, 1927, The British Steam Railway Locomotive 1825–1925, London: The Locomotive Publishing Co., pp. 253–5 (describes his locomotives). C.Fryer, 1990, Experiments with Steam, Patrick Stephens, Ch. 7.
PJGR

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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