Early Newcastle Locomotives

The steam locomotive was developed into an engine of public transport and became an industrial product in Newcastle. The site for Stephenson's Works (the world's first ,1823) and Hawthorn's was located between the River Tyne and what was to become the Central Station, here were created locomotives that would run on railways throughout the world. By the time the main line between London and Edinburgh was complete engines were a regular and valuable export from Newcastle. So much so that the practice of naming locomotives declined, which is a pity because the most famous of the Stephenson's engines were well named. "Locomotion" 1825 (Stockton & Darlington), "Rocket" 1829 (LIverpool & Manchester), "North Star" 1837 ( Great Western). Engineers were keen to produce machines that were good running and good looking, Brunel wrote of the North Star " We have a splendid engine of Stephenson's; it would have been a beautiful ornament in the most eligant drawing room." *( some drawing room! )

100 years of design evolution on the G.W.R., the "North Star" stands before Collett's "King George V"

To complement our Stephenson's Legacy Exhibition we illustrate some of the engines that could have been seen here in the 1850's.

No. 75 a small engine (21 tons) built by R.Stephenson & Co in 1845 for the Great North of England Railway was used north of Berwick until rebuilt in1863 and then ran on the lines from Newcastle to Tynemouth and Newcastle to Sunderland.


N.E.R. No. 147 was originally built for export to Italy to a pattern that was Stephenson's standard express engine design in 1847, it was sold to the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway. Its predecessor was the "Great A " built in 1845 and used in the gauge trials where it proved that it could safely haul 80 tons at 44 m.p.h. Unproven is Fireman John Paterson's recollection that "A" ran at 90 m.p.h. between Belford and Beal in Northumberland.

A similar locomotive No.77 was built as a three cylinder "patent" express engine and and is reported to have drawn the Queen's Train from Berwick to Newcastle at an average speed of 57 miles per hour in October 1850.

Built by Stephenson & Co in 1847 this advanced locomotive was designed for smooth running at high speeds and frequently ran at 60 miles per hour.

The driving wheels were 6'1", Two 15" Cylinders with a stroke of 22" and a Boiler pressure of 100lb p.s.i.

The six coupled goods engine with inside cylinders was a layout that entered mass production in the 1840's would become the most common and long lasting type on British railways. This drawing shows an engine built by Nasmyth & Co in Manchester in 1848 as rebuilt at Gateshead in 1869.


R.W. Hawthorn & Co's Locomotive works was alongside Stephenson's in Newcastle, this is their 7ft Single "Plews" named after a director of the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway. Best reported performance of this1848 design was 70 m.p.h. with 35 tons.


An unusual tank engine built by Hawthorn's in 1852 for local passenger trains.

Text and enhanced scans - Newcastle Arts Centre 2000

Source "The Locomotives of the North Eastern Railway" by John S. Maclean, printed in Newcastle, 1924.

* "Loco's of the Royal Road" G.W.R. 1936

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