Stockton & Darlington Operations

When the Stockton & Darlington Railway began to operate the South Durham and Lancashire Union line in 1861 their core business was the haulage of coal and coke from the west Durham pits to the coast. It was a profitable and well managed concern. To work the traffic they had acquired increasingly sophisticated locomotives and during the 1840's 0-6-0 tender locomotives had begun to dominate freight working. By 1854 a 'long boilered' design by William Bouch had evolved which proved to be a model that would serve as a standard for more than 20 years. The wheelbase of these engines was short and the firebox was located behind the rear axle, rather than between the middle and rear axles which would later become the norm.
The detailed history of the evolution of these 'long boilered' locomotives is complex. They were built to varying standards by different contractors, with many improvements in general design over the years and several earlier models were later rebuilt. Engines built or rebuilt after 1868 were later designated as the '1001' class of the North Eastern Railway and one of these, No.1275, has survived to form a part of our National Railway Collection.
When heavy loads of coke and hæmatite iron began to be hauled over Stainmore these 'long boilered' locomotives were used as motive power with up to a dozen trains a day in each direction over the line. After the opening of the line from Penrith through to Cockermouth crews from West Auckland might expect to work twelve hour shifts over the summit to Cockermouth and back. With no proper cab and just that small weather plate to shelter behind when running fast downhill in winter blizzards, it is hard to imagine what life must have been like working on the footplate. But it is said that the engine crews actually relished their reputation as 'hard men'!


The limited passenger traffic handled by the Stockton and Darlington in the early 1850's ran mainly between Bishop Auckland, Darlington, Stockton and Middlesbrough and was not a significant part of their business model. Many of the branches operated only to serve collieries.This began to change in 1856 with the opening of the line between Darlington and Barnard Castle. With the completion of the Stainmore route and the eastward extension from Redcar to Saltburn in 1861 followed by the westward extension of the Eden Valley Railway in 1862, the company suddenly had to service a significant new network of passenger services which extended eighty miles across England.
To handle passenger trains William Bouch introduced two new 4-4-0 locomotives in 1860, No. 160 Broughham and No.161 Lowther. They were built by R. Stephenson & Co. and were the first 'true bogie' engines with this wheel arrangement in Britain. Amongst many technical innovations was a large cab for the crew, based on a design just completed by Stephensons for the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada and intended to protect the enginemen in bleak Pennine winters. However they proved to be deeply unpopular with the men perhaps because of their former reputation for toughness in all weathers. In time the locomotives were rebuilt by Edward Fletcher with more spartan and familiar footplate conditions.


Later Bouch developed two further classes of 4-4-0. In 1862 the four locomotives of the 'Saltburn' class entered traffic. They had 7' diameter driving wheels and no cab whatsoever, simply a small weatherboard to protect the crew. Ten years later Bouch's last passenger locomotive design were the ten engines of the '238' class soon nicknamed 'Ginx's Babies' by the men because of technical problems.
Back in the early 1860's passenger trains already ran the 51 miles from Darlington to Tebay in 2hrs 15 mins., an average speed of 23 mph inclusive of twelve intermediate stops. In practice this must have required downhill running of 50mph or more to keep such a schedule. 'Saltburn' class No.165 'Keswick' shown here must have made a wonderful sight bucketing down the bank from Rookby Scarth to Kirkby Stephen with those big wheels spinning and the crew with their greatcoat collars turned up and caps pulled down against the driving Westmorland rain!


William Bouch


William Bouch

William was the eldest of the three Bouch brothers, born at Thursby in Cumberland in 1813. At the age of 15 he was apprenticed to Robert Stephenson at the Forth Street Works in Newcastle.

In 1833 he was sent to Russia to supervise the installation of the first steam engine into a warship of the Black Sea Fleet and to train Russian engineers and technicians. He spent six years in the country, being eventually appointed Chief Engineer of the Black Sea Fleet and receiving a medal from Czar Alexander II

On his return to the UK he seems to have intended to go into active partnership with two friends from his apprentice days in Newcastle - John Cowans and Edward Sheldon. In time this business flourished as Cowans-Sheldon, suppliers of railway equipment and well known for items such as breakdown cranes and turntables, but not with Bouch as an active partner. He was offered a job at Timothy Hackworth's new Soho Works at Shildon and was quickly promoted in 1841 to be the Locomotive Superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

In 1849 William Bouch negotiated a deal with Oswald and Edgar Gilkes to set up a new locomotive works at Shildon, but by 1854 it was clear that the site was too small for requirements to build new engines. By 1857 the Stockton and Darlington had decided to build a large new locomotive works near North Road station at Darlington. Bouch was given responsibility for the project and the North Road works were opened in1863.

In July 1863 a merger took place between the North Eastern Railway - a company formed in 1854 by the merger of the three railways responsible for the operation of the trunk lines from Yorkshire to the Scottish Border - and the Stockton and Darlington. However a separate committee was to manage the operational affairs of the former S&D system for ten years. This ensured that the influence of Bouch continued to be important right up until his retirement. In 1875 he was responsible for organising the Fiftieth Jubilee celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington, and later that year he retired to Weymouth where he died the following year.

Stockton and Darlington 'Saltburn' Class 4-4-0 No. 165 'Keswick'
Stockton and Darlington 'long boilered' 0-6-0 No. 125 'Gazelle' built for mineral train service in 1858
Stockton and Darlington 4-4-0 No.160 'Broughham' built in 1861 for the opening of the Stainmore route
William Bouch 1813-1876