Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 149,723 pages of information and 235,473 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Vincent Litchfield Raven

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1925. Sir Vincent Litchfield Raven KBE (1859–1934).
1914. No. 2143.
1922. Express Passenger Electric Locomotive

Sir Vincent Litchfield Raven KBE (1859–1934) was chief mechanical engineer of the North Eastern Railway from 1910 to 1922.

1851 His father (age 35 born Mddx.) M.A. Clergyman and Curate, is listed at Magdelen College, Cambridge and shown as unmarried [1]

1854 He had a sister born at Great Fransham [2]

1859 Q1. Born the son of the Rev. Vincent Raven, a clergyman at Great Fransham, Norfolk. Note: Birth registered in 1859 Q1 at Mitford, Norfolk but believed to have been born in the previous year 1858

1871 Living at the Grammar School, Aldenham (age 12 born Fransham).

In 1877 he began his career with the North Eastern Railway as a pupil of the then Locomotive Superintendent, Edward Fletcher.

1882 Married Gifford the daughter of J. W. Crichton of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and they had a son and two daughters. [3]

By 1893 he had achieved the post of Assistant Mechanical Engineer to Wilson Worsdell who was then the Locomotive Superintendent. In this post he was involved for the first time with an electrification project, as the N.E.R. was electrifying the North Tyneside suburban route in 1904. This was a third rail system at 600 volts DC.

In 1910 he became Chief Mechanical Engineer on Wilson Worsdell's retirement (The title of the post had changed from Locomotive Superintendent in 1902). Raven developed some of Worsdell's designs for steam locomotives, like the T2 0-8-0 freight locomotive, as well as introducing designs of his own. In particular he favoured a 3 cylinder design with the locomotives driving on the leading coupled axle. This was applied to a series of locomotives, class S3, a mixed traffic 4-6-0, class Y, a 4-6-2 tank engine for freight work, class D, a 4-4-4 tank engine for passenger work, class Z, a 4-4-2 'Atlantic' for express passenger work, and the LNER Class A2 4-6-2, a 'Pacific' for express passenger work. The most memorable of these was the class Z Atlantics which had a reputation for speed and good riding on East Coast Main Line expresses north of York.

The 3 cylinder principle was also applied to class X, a heavy freight 4-8-0 tank engine, but this had a divided drive with the inside cylinder driving the second axle and the outside cylinders driving the third axle. The class T3 was also three cylinder with all cylinders driving the second axle of this heavy freight 0-8-0.

Raven was a great advocate of electrification, and in 1915, a section of line was electrified between Shildon in the south west Durham coalfield and Newport, on Teesside, with the intention of improving performance on coal trains from Shildon to Middlesbrough. For this, he introduced electrification at 1500 volts DC with overhead wires. Ten centre cab electric locomotives of 1,100 horsepower were built at Darlington Works for this, numbered in a series from 3 to 12 (1 and 2 were a different design of 1902 for the Tyneside electrification at 600 volts DC).

Following the success of the Shildon-Newport scheme, Raven set about planning the electrification of the main line from York to Newcastle, also at 1,500 volts DC. Both third rail and overhead power supply systems were considered and some experiments were done with dummy collector shoes fitted to the bogie of a steam locomotive to assess the mechanical performance at speed. In the end, the overhead system was selected.

A prototype passenger loco was built in 1922 at Darlington for this, NER No. 13, which was a new design of 1,800 horsepower (1,300 kW) and a 2-Co-2 (4-6-4) wheel arrangement. Although successfully tested between Newport and Shildon using the overhead power supply, No. 13 was destined to be unlucky as it never did the job for which it was designed. The reorganisation of Britain's railways in 1923 led to the abandonment of the electrification plans by the successor company, the LNER.

After the grouping, the proposed electrification of the East Coast Main Line was quickly abandoned, although it was electrified by British Rail in the late 1980s. The Shildon - Newport electrification reverted to steam haulage in 1935. Falling traffic levels and the need to replace the overhead equipment were cited as the reasons.

The EF1 electric freight locomotives went into store, and lasted until 1950, when they were all scrapped except No 11. The EE1 express passenger locomotive No 13 was also scrapped in 1950, having spent most of its life in storage, but one of the ES1 shunting locomotives is preserved.

No 11 was rebuilt for use on the Woodhead route of the Manchester-Sheffield-Wath electric railway and re-classified EB1. It was never used on this scheme, but found work as a shunter at Ilford until 1964 when it was scrapped.

The steam classes fared better, most lasting into nationalisation in 1948. Class Z all were scrapped by the early 1950s. The S3s lasted well, some being rebuilt with different boilers and new cylinders. The class D tank engines were rebuilt by the LNER as 4-6-2 tank engines and lasted into the very early 1960s when they were replaced by diesel units. The freight classes also lasted well, the class Y tanks going before 1960 and the class X and T3 lasting a little longer. The rugged, reliable and simple T2s lasted until the end of steam locomotive use in North East England, in September 1967. they were, along with the Worsdell designed P3s, the last pre-grouping locomotives in use in Britain. Two Raven steam locomotives survive in preservation, a T2 No 2238 (currently in running order as No. 63395 in British Railways paintwork) and No. 901, the pioneer T3, the only surviving loco of Raven's 3 cylinder design.

During World War I, Raven was Superintendent at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich where he organised munitions production, for which he received a knighthood in 1917. The Grouping of the railways in 1923 gave the Chief Mechanical Engineer's post to Nigel Gresley of the Great Northern Railway and Raven became a Technical Adviser.

He resigned in 1924 and was appointed to the Royal Commission on New South Wales Government Railways, in company with Sir Sam Fay.

Raven served as President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1925.

1934 February 14th. Died at Felixstowe age 75 [4]

1934 Obituary [5]

Sir VINCENT LITCHFIELD RAVEN, K.B.E., was the last chief mechanical engineer of the North Eastern Railway, and held that position from 1910 until the merging of that railway with the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923, after which he acted as technical adviser to the latter company.

He will be remembered for his extensive adoption of the three-cylinder high-pressure locomotive, which he employed in many successful designs both of tender and tank engines. Two notable experimental steam locomotives for which he was responsible were a 4-6-0 with "Stumpf" cylinders, and a 4-4-2 with Unifiow cylinders of a modified design.

He also built in 1922 an electric express passenger locomotive, in anticipation of main line electrification, which he described in his paper, "Electric Locomotives," before the Institution at the Paris Summer Meeting in 1922. In addition he was responsible for electrification of railways in the Newcastle district some years previously.

He was born at Great Fransham Rectory, Norfolk, and in 1877 commenced a three years' apprenticeship under the late Mr. E. Fletcher, M.I.Mech.E., at the Gateshead works of the North Eastern Railway. In 1880 he entered the drawing office. He was then engaged for five years on firing and inspector's duties and in 1888 he became a divisional locomotive superintendent.

He was promoted to divisional superintendent in 1894 and chief assistant mechanical engineer in 1903, succeeding the late Mr. Wilson Worsdell, M.I.Mech.E., as chief mechanical engineer seven years later.

During the War he was appointed Chief Superintendent of the Royal Arsenal Factories, Woolwich, and in 1917 was created a Knight Bachelor and a K.B.E. for his services. In the same year he was appointed Controller of Armament Production for the Admiralty. At the close of the War he returned to the North Eastern Railway.

After his retirement in 1923 he went to New South Wales and New Zealand to investigate the working of the State railways and in 1925 he was appointed chairman of a committee of experts reporting on Indian railway workshop organization.

Sir Vincent's long connexion with the Institution dated back to 1893, when he was elected a Member. He served on the Council from 1915 to 1920, and was a Vice-President from 1921 to 1924. In 1925 he was elected President and continued to serve as Past-President from 1926 to 1930. He was elected an Honorary Life Member in 1932. He contributed several papers to the Institution on railways and allied subjects between 1904 and 1925.

In addition he was a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

His death occurred at Felixstowe on 14th February 1934 in his seventy-sixth year.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1871 Census
  2. The Standard, Monday, March 27, 1854
  3. The Times, Thursday, Feb 15, 1934
  4. The Times, Thursday, Feb 15, 1934
  5. 1934 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  • [1] Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  • [2] Wikipedia