Thomas Russell Crampton

Last updated

Thomas Russell Crampton

Thomas Russell Crampton.jpg
Born(1816-08-06)6 August 1816
Broadstairs, Thanet, Kent
Died19 April 1888(1888-04-19) (aged 71)
OccupationRailway Engineer

Thomas Russell Crampton, MICE, MIMechE (6 August 1816 – 19 April 1888) was an English engineer born at Broadstairs, Kent, and trained on Brunel's Great Western Railway.

Institution of Civil Engineers independent professional association, headquartered in central London

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is an independent professional association for civil engineers and a charitable body in the United Kingdom. Based in London, ICE has over 92,000 members, of whom three quarters are located in the UK, while the rest are located in more than 150 other countries. The ICE aims to support the civil engineering profession by offering professional qualification, promoting education, maintaining professional ethics, and liaising with industry, academia and government. Under its commercial arm, it delivers training, recruitment, publishing and contract services. As a professional body, ICE aims to support and promote professional learning, managing professional ethics and safeguarding the status of engineers, and representing the interests of the profession in dealings with government, etc. It sets standards for membership of the body; works with industry and academia to progress engineering standards and advises on education and training curricula.

Broadstairs coastal town on the Isle of Thanet in the Thanet district of east Kent, England

Broadstairs is a coastal town on the Isle of Thanet in the Thanet district of east Kent, England, about 80 miles (130 km) east of London. It is part of the civil parish of Broadstairs and St Peter's, which includes St Peter's, and had a population in 2011 of about 25,000. Situated between Margate and Ramsgate, Broadstairs is one of Thanet's seaside resorts, known as the "jewel in Thanet's crown". The town's crest's Latin motto is Stella Maris. The name derives from a former flight of steps in the chalk cliff, which led from the sands up to the 11th-century shrine of St Mary on the cliff's summit.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel English mechanical and civil engineer

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was an English mechanical and civil engineer who is considered "one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history", "one of the 19th-century engineering giants", and "one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution, [who] changed the face of the English landscape with his groundbreaking designs and ingenious constructions". Brunel built dockyards, the Great Western Railway, a series of steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship, and numerous important bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering.


He is best known for designing the Crampton locomotive but had many engineering interests including the electric telegraph and the Channel Tunnel for which he designed a boring machine. His locomotives had much better success in France, Germany and Italy than they did in the UK.

Crampton locomotive

A Crampton locomotive is a type of steam locomotive designed by Thomas Russell Crampton and built by various firms from 1846. The main British builders were Tulk and Ley and Robert Stephenson and Company.

Channel Tunnel rail tunnel beneath the English Channel between France and Great Britain

The Channel Tunnel (French: Le tunnel sous la Manche; also nicknamed the Chunnel) is a 50.45-kilometre (31.35 mi) rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent, in England, with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais, near Calais in northern France, beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. It is the only fixed link between the island of Great Britain and the European mainland. At its lowest point, it is 75 m (250 ft) deep below the sea bed and 115 m (380 ft) below sea level. At 37.9 kilometres (23.5 mi), the tunnel has the longest underwater section of any tunnel in the world. The speed limit for trains through the tunnel is 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph).

Personal life

Born to John and Mary Crampton of Prospect Cottage (in what is now Dickens Walk), Broadstairs, on 6 August 1816, Crampton was the son of a plumber and architect. [1] He was educated privately. Crampton married Louisa Martha Hall, who was a singer and a friend of Jenny Lind, on 25 February 1841. [2] They had 8 children, six boys and two girls. The eldest girl, Ada Sarah, died aged 4 on 16 February 1857. [3] and Crampton gifted a stained glass window in St. Peter's church, Broadstairs in her memory. Their youngest daughter, Louisa, was to marry Sir Horace Rumbold, the Ambassador to the Netherlands. [1]

Jenny Lind 19th-century Swedish classical singer

Johanna Maria "Jenny" Lind was a Swedish opera singer, often called the "Swedish Nightingale". One of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century, she performed in soprano roles in opera in Sweden and across Europe, and undertook an extraordinarily popular concert tour of the United States beginning in 1850. She was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music from 1840.

Sir Horace Rumbold, 8th Baronet, was a British diplomat who was minister or ambassador to several countries. He succeeded his brother, Charles, as Baronet in 1877.

He died at his home, 19 Ashley Place, Westminster on 19 April 1888 and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery. [1]

Westminster area of central London, within the City of Westminster

Westminster is a government district and former capital of the Kingdom of England in Central London within the City of Westminster, part of the West End, on the north bank of the River Thames. Westminster's concentration of visitor attractions and historic landmarks, one of the highest in London, includes the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.

Kensal Green Cemetery cemetery in Kensal Green, in the west of London, England

Kensal Green Cemetery is a rural cemetery in the Kensal Green area of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. Inspired by Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, it was founded by the barrister George Frederick Carden. The cemetery opened in 1833 and comprises 72 acres of grounds, including two conservation areas, adjoining a canal. The cemetery is home to at least 33 species of bird and other wildlife. This distinctive cemetery has memorials ranging from large mausoleums housing the rich and famous to many distinctive smaller graves and includes special areas dedicated to the very young. It has three chapels, and serves all faiths. It is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London.


Crampton entered a career in engineering, initially with Marc Brunel and later with the Great Western Railway (GWR) in Swindon. [1] [4]

Great Western Railway former railway company in the United Kingdom

The Great Western Railway (GWR) was a British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west of England, the West Midlands, and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its enabling Act of Parliament on 31 August 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838. It was engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who chose a broad gauge of 7 ft —later slightly widened to 7 ft 14 in —but, from 1854, a series of amalgamations saw it also operate 4 ft 8 12 in standard-gauge trains; the last broad-gauge services were operated in 1892. The GWR was the only company to keep its identity through the Railways Act 1921, which amalgamated it with the remaining independent railways within its territory, and it was finally merged at the end of 1947 when it was nationalised and became the Western Region of British Railways.

Swindon town in Wiltshire, England

Swindon is a large town in the ceremonial county of Wiltshire, South West England, between Bristol, 35 miles to the west, and Reading, the same distance to the east; the town is 71 miles (114 km) west of London. At the 2011 census, it had a population of 182,441. The Town Development Act 1952 led to a major increase in its population.

Great Western Railway 1839-43

Crampton worked as assistant to Marc Brunel and on joining the GWR in 1839, [5] then Daniel Gooch. Crampton was involved in the design of the "Firefly" class of locomotives. [5] Gooch's aim was to produce broad gauge locomotives that were better than those on the standard gauge lines, thus proving the broad gauge system was the better technically. Crampton, unbeknown to the GWR, had the idea of improving standard gauge locomotives so that they could match those of the broad gauge. [4] In 1843, he left the GWR. [5]

Daniel Gooch British railway engineer

Sir Daniel Gooch, 1st Baronet was an English railway locomotive and transatlantic cable engineer and Conservative politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1865 to 1885. He was the first Superintendent of Locomotive Engines on the Great Western Railway from 1837 to 1864 and its chairman from 1865 to 1889.

GWR Firefly Class class of 62 British broad-gauge 2-2-2 locomotives

The Firefly was a class of broad gauge 2-2-2 steam locomotives used for passenger services on the Great Western Railway. The class was introduced into service between March 1840 and December 1842, and withdrawn between December 1863 and July 1879.

Development 1844-51

1846 Crampton locomotive 1846Cramptonloco.jpg
1846 Crampton locomotive

Crampton realised that the locomotives of the GWR were better than the standard gauge locomotives for a number of reasons. The broad gauge allowed a larger boiler diameter and higher centre of gravity for the same stability. Broad gauge also allowed a bigger firebox and heating area. Larger driving wheels gave a lower piston speed, which allowed a higher speed for the locomotive before exhaust problems occurred. [4]

In 1843, Crampton took out a patent for a new design of locomotive. It is for the physical appearance of his locomotives that Crampton is remembered for today, with the driving wheel placed behind the firebox. But there were technical improvements that he made, which laid the foundations for future locomotive design. The three most important improvements were:- wide steam passages, large heating surfaces and generous bearing surfaces on the wheels. [4]

From 1844 to 1848, Crampton was working for John and George Rennie.

In 1845, Crampton received his first order for a locomotive built to his patent. The Namur and Liege Railway in Belgium ordered three locomotives with 7 feet (2.13 m) diameter driving wheels and a 14.5 square feet (1.35 m2) grate. They were built by the firm of Tulk and Ley of Whitehaven. One of the locomotives was tested in 1847 on the London and North Western Railway, who then built a "Crampton Patent" locomotive at Crewe. Another two locomotives were bought by the LNWR, including a 6-2-0 Liverpool built by Bury, Curtis and Kennedy in 1848 with 8 feet (2.44 m) diameter driving wheels. A claim of 79 miles per hour (127 km/h) being achieved was made, with an average of 53 miles per hour (85 km/h) over 30 miles (48 km) with a 60-ton load. [4] Another claim was for a speed of hauling eight carriages over 16 miles (26 km) at an average speed of 74 miles per hour (119 km/h). [6]

One locomotive Crampton designed had an indirect drive arrangement, with a crankshaft between the driving wheels. This locomotive had a 2-2+2-2 wheel arrangement. [4] In 1847, Crampton became a founder member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and in 1848, Crampton set up in business as a Civil Engineer in London. [5] In 1850, a Crampton locomotive was exhibited at Birmingham which had balance weights on the driving wheels. This feature was commented upon by William Stroudley. [4] In 1851, Crampton started the Broadstairs Gasworks, overseeing the construction and financing much of the works. [1]

South Eastern Railway 1851-88

No. 136 Folkstone at The Great Exhibition, 1851 Great Exhibition, No 136 Folkstone by HF Talbot, 1851.jpg
No. 136 Folkstone at The Great Exhibition, 1851
Crampton's water tower, Broadstairs Crampton tower.jpg
Crampton's water tower, Broadstairs

By 1851, Crampton was working for the South Eastern Railway (SER). In that year, ten new Crampton locomotives were built, and one of these, No.136 Folkstone was exhibited at The Great Exhibition. [7] In 1854, Crampton became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and in 1855 he was responsible for the building of the Berlin waterworks. [8] In 1856, Crampton was appointed to the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle. [5] In 1859, Crampton formed the Broadstairs Water Company, building a water tower 80 feet (24.38 m) high which now forms the Crampton Tower Museum. The water tower could hold 83,000 imperial gallons (380,000 l) of water. Broadstairs Water Company was taken over by Broadstairs Urban District Council in 1901. In 1860, Crampton designed a tower for Holy Trinity church, Broadstairs, which Dickens had described as a "hideous temple of flint, a petrified haystack". Crampton donated a clock as a personal gift to the church. he also donated a wrought iron bridge which was built across Goodson Steps. This is the Louisa Gap bridge, named after his youngest daughter. [1] Crampton was elected Vice-President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1883. [5]

Peto, Betts and Crampton

Crampton entered a partnership with Sir Morton Peto and Edward Betts to undertake part of the construction of the London Chatham and Dover Railway. When the partnership became insolvent in 1867, Crampton was made personally bankrupt, [9] but, unlike Peto and Betts, managed to retain his good reputation and continue in business.

Railway lines constructed

Crampton was, wholly or partly, responsible for the railway lines built between Smyrna and Aidin; Varna and Rustchuk; Strood and Dover; Sevenoaks and Swanley; and Herne Bay and Faversham. The latter three lines being built by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR). [5] Crampton was also the contractor, and later chairman of the East and West Junction Railway. A Crampton locomotive was used to haul the first train from Kineton to Fenny Compton. [10] Crampton was a partner in the Mont Cenis Pass Railway [11]

Electric telegraph

Crampton was responsible for the laying of the first international submarine cable in the world. This was laid in the Strait of Dover in 1851. [4] The first messages were carried on 13 November 1851 and the cable was in use until 1859. [5]

The company behind the project was an Anglo-French undertaking, known as la Compagnie du télégraphe sous-marin in France and the Submarine Telegraph Company between France and England in Great Britain. Crampton was the engineer, and Charlton Wollaston was the electrician involved in laying the cable across the Channel. The SER were another early user of the electric telegraph, and it was by use of the SERs wires that messages were able to be transmitted between Paris and London, being relayed from Dover. [12]

Channel Tunnel

Crampton designed an automatic hydraulic tunnel boring machine, which was intended to be used in the construction of the Channel Tunnel. Modern drilling techniques were made possible by this invention. [5]


Crampton's first wife died on 16 March 1875 [2] and he married Elizabeth Werge on 25 August 1881. [13] He left six sons and one daughter, who married Sir Horace Rumbold, ambassador at Vienna. [14]

Related Research Articles

Locomotives of the Great Western Railway list of the railroad locomotive used by the Great Western Railway

The first Locomotives of the Great Western Railway (GWR) were specified by Isambard Kingdom Brunel but Daniel Gooch was soon appointed as the railway's Locomotive Superintendent. He designed several different 7 ft 14 in broad gauge types for the growing railway, such as the Firefly and later Iron Duke Class 2-2-2s. In 1864 Gooch was succeeded by Joseph Armstrong who brought his standard gauge experience to the workshops at Swindon. To replace some of the earlier locomotives, he put broad gauge wheels on his standard gauge locomotives and from this time on all locomotives were given numbers, including the broad gauge ones that had previously carried just names.

The Great Western Railway (GWR) Bogie Class 4-4-0ST were broad gauge steam locomotives for passenger train work. The first two locomotives of this class were introduced into service in August/September 1849, with the remainder following between June 1854 and March 1855. All but one were withdrawn between October 1871 and 1873, with the final locomotive being withdrawn in December 1880.

GWR Iron Duke Class class of 1+29 British broad-gauge 4-2-2 locomotives

The Great Western Railway Iron Duke Class 4-2-2 was a class of 7 ft 14 in broad gauge steam locomotives for express passenger train work.

Swindon Works railway workshops in Swindon, Wiltshire, England

Swindon railway works was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1843 in Swindon, Wiltshire, England. It served as the principal west England maintenance centre until closed in 1986.

Robert Stephenson and Company was a locomotive manufacturing company founded in 1823. It was the first company set up specifically to build railway engines.

R and W Hawthorn Ltd was a locomotive manufacturer in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, from 1817 until 1885.

Long Boiler locomotive

The long boiler locomotive was the object of a patent by Robert Stephenson and the name became synonymous with the pattern. Its defining feature is that the firebox is placed behind the rearmost driving axle. This gives a long boiler barrel, with long fire-tubes. There is thus a generous heating surface area, giving a boiler that is both powerful and efficient.

Bristol and Exeter Railway 4-2-4T locomotives

The 14 Bristol and Exeter Railway 4-2-4T locomotives were broad gauge 4-2-4T steam locomotives built to three different designs. The first entered service in 1853. The Bristol and Exeter Railway was amalgamated into the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1876, and the last of the 4-2-4Ts was withdrawn in 1885.

The Bristol and Exeter Railway Fairfield was an experimental broad gauge self-propelled steam carriage. In later use the carriage portion was removed and it was used as a small shunting locomotive.

The first 19 locomotives ordered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Railway included two unusual Haigh Foundry locomotives.

Thunderer was the first of a pair of steam locomotives built for the Great Western Railway (GWR), England, by R. & W. Hawthorn & Co. whose design was very different from other locomotives. In order to meet Isambard Kingdom Brunel's strict specifications, an 0-4-0 frame carried the 'engine', while the boiler was on a separate six-wheeled frame. The driving wheels were geared 10:27 in order to reduce the cylinder stroke speed while allowing high track speed, in line with the specifications.

LNWR 2-2-2 3020 Cornwall preserved British 2-2-2 locomotive

London & North Western Railway 2-2-2 No. 3020 Cornwall is a preserved steam locomotive. She was built at Crewe in 1847. She was originally a 4-2-2 in 1847, but was extensively rebuilt, and converted to a 2-2-2 in 1858.

Baulk road type of railway track

Baulk road is the name given to a type of railway track or 'rail road' that is formed using rails carried on continuous timber bearings, as opposed to the more familiar 'cross-sleeper' track that uses closely spaced sleepers or ties to give intermittent support to stronger rails.

The 3001 Class as constructed by William Dean at the Swindon Works of the Great Western Railway in 1891-2 was the culmination of the tradition of GWR 2-2-2 locomotives that had begun with Gooch's North Star over 50 years earlier. The 3001s, which had 7 ft 9 in (2.362 m) driving wheels, were built in two batches:

<i>Patentee</i> (locomotive)

The Patentee locomotive was a revolutionary 2-2-2 steam locomotive type introduced by Robert Stephenson and Company in 1833, as an enlargement of their 2-2-0 Planet type. The wheel arrangement of two leading wheels on one axle, two powered driving wheels on one axle, and two trailing wheels on one axle provided more stability and enabled a larger firebox than the earlier 0-2-2 and 2-2-0 types.

The LCDR Sondes class was a class of six steam locomotives of the 4-4-0ST wheel arrangement. They were designed by Thomas Russell Crampton for the East Kent Railway (EKR) to specifications prepared by Joseph Cubitt. An order was placed in March 1857 with R. & W. Hawthorn & Co. for six locomotives at £2,700 each; they were delivered to the EKR between November 1857 and March 1858. The first section of the EKR opened on 25 January 1858; and the EKR became the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) in 1859. The locomotives were prone to frequent failure: at one point, before the sixth had been received, the first five were all out of service simultaneously. The LCDR asked Daniel Gooch of the Great Western Railway to report on the condition of the locomotives; he found that there were a number of significant problems with the design. The Sondes class were all laid aside as unfit for use in mid-1863, and during 1865, all six were rebuilt by the LCDR as 2-4-0T, becoming the Second Sondes class.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "PRIVATE LIFE AND BROADSTAIRS". Crampton Tower Museum via Archived from the original on 20 November 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  2. 1 2 "Louisa Martha HALL". David Horton & Kerry Raymond. Retrieved 22 March 2008.[ dead link ]
  3. "Ada Sarah CRAMPTON". David Horton & Kerry Raymond. Archived from the original on 16 July 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Thomas Russell Crampton". Steam Index. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "LOCOMOTIVES". Crampton Tower Museum. Archived from the original on 4 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  6. "La locomotiva dell'impresa: la Crampton" (in Italian). Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  7. "The South Eastern and Chatham Railway and the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Amalgamated 1899 LOCOMOTIVES: Their Description, History, distinctive features and interest". The Percy Whitlock Trust. Archived from the original on 7 August 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  8. "Thomas Russell Crampton, English engineer, c 1860s". The Science Museum. Retrieved 22 March 2008. (a photo of Crampton is here)
  9. The Morning Post, 23 July 1868.
  10. "History of the line". Andy Thompson. Archived from the original on 7 June 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  11. P. J. G. Ransom (1999), The Mont Cenis Fell Railway, pp 30-32, Truro: Twelveheads Press
  12. "COMPETITORS AND ALLIES". Distant Writing. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  13. "Thomas Russell CRAMPTON". David Horton & Kerry Raymond. Archived from the original on 4 July 2005. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  14. Seccombe 1901.

Seccombe, Thomas (1901). "Crampton, Thomas Russell"  . Dictionary of National Biography (1st supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co.

Further reading