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British Industrial History

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Robert Weatherburn

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Robert Weatherburn (c.1840-1919), Locomotive Superintendent of the London District of the Midland Railway

c.1840 Born in Coalville[1]. His father had taken part in the Rainhill Trials.

1851 Robert Weatherburn 39, inspector of railways (born Long Benton, Northumberland), lived in Hunslet, with Ann Weatherburn 37, William Weatherburn 15, Margret Weatherburn 13, Robert Weatherburn 11, Ann Weatherburn 10, Isabel Weatherburn 5, John Weatherburn 3, Henry Weatherburn 6 Mo[2]

Apprentice at the Airedale Foundry of Kitson, Thompson and Hewetsons (7 years)

1861 Fitter, boarding at Newton Heath, Manchester[3]

Superintended delivery of locomotives to Russia, Germany and Denmark for the firm. (5 years)

Locomotive engineer of Kitson and Co

In charge of Midland Railway's locomotive department at Liverpool (2 years)

In charge of Midland Railway's locomotive and hydraulics department at Leicester (2 years)

1884 An engineer; joined the Leicester lodge[4]

1886 At the Kentish Town Works of the Midland Railway; locomotive manager. Elected as a Member of I Mech E.

1907 London agent for A. Borsig; catalogue of locomotives for industrial purposes[5]

1911 Pensioned engineer, lived in Torquay with his stepson Leonard Millar 14 and his daughter Madge Weatherburn 11[6]


1919 Obituary[7]

MR ROBERT WEATHERBURN, whose death was announced a few weeks ago, belonged to one of the oldest engineering families in this country, a family associated with George Stephenson long before that great inventor made his mark as a locomotive builder; his father took part in the famous Rainhill Trials, and afterwards drove the first engine on the Leicester and Swannington Railway, the forerunner of the Midland Railway while one of his uncles married a niece of George Stephenson.

Mr. Weatherburn served his time as an engineer at the famous locomotive works of Kitson and Co., of Leeds. , and after varied experience in other firms, he returned to Messrs. Kitson and Co., in whose service he became known to nearly every railway in Britain as well as Russia, Denmark and Germany. His last experience abroad was in Metz during the years 1872 and 1873 in conjunction with the German Railway Corps in the Franco-German War, an association that convinced him of the necessity of England being prepared for war with Germany at some future date. To this end he worked consistently ever since both as a writer and lecturer, and also as a member of the Executive Committee of the Naval League, and principal promoter of the North West London branch, of which he was president. He was also, later on, a member of the Executive Committee of the Imperial Maritime League. Mr. Weatherburn was one of the few railway officials in this country who enjoyed the privilege conferred on him by the American Railway Commission of a free pass over 10,000 miles of railroad m the United States. Some ten years ago on his retirement from the position of Locomotive Superintendent for the London District of the Midland Railway Company, a company with which he had been associated for more than thirty years, Mr. Weatherburn retired to Torquay, but continued to take a lively interest in locomotive questions. It may be recalled that only a few years ago he wrote an instructive article on breakdowns, which was published in our columns. He belonged to the old school of locomotive engineers, a school which is fast disappearing, and his death is deeply regretted.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1911 census
  2. 1851 census
  3. 1861 census
  4. Freemason's records
  5. The Engineer 1907/12/13
  6. 1911 census
  7. The Engineer 1919
  • Mechanical engineer records