Roger Hill-Cottingham’s
IN 7.25” GAUGE

Back several decades ago a future editor of model engineering magazines was smitten by designs by J.G.S Clarke for the GWR Dean Single and Armstrong class locomotives from the turn of the century in 7.25” gauge. Eventually, drawings were bought and frames for the loco and tender completed. At that time John Clarke sold the design and castings to a well known purveyor of such things, the price of castings went into divorce territory. The frames were given their own cupboard where they remain, not having seen the light of day for 30-odd years. Back then, we never thought about fabricating, or using other alternatives to castings. Sadly, few of these have been built - probably due to the cost.

Today it is a different story. It was, therefore, a joy to see some serious fabrication going into the build of a much earlier GW Single of Daniel Gooch from the mid 19th century, under construction, at the Bristol Exhibition in 2016 by Roger Hill-Cottingham. The cylinder block in the Clarke design has the valves under the cylinders - à la LBSC. Roger’s cylinders for the Gooch engine are fabricated and have the valves between the cylinders as per the prototype.

Visitors will look forward to seeing progress on this engine.

Daniel Gooch was born in 1816 and was the ‘father’ of Swindon Works. Swindon’s first engine was a 2-2-2 designed by Gooch and called Great Western. A total of 505 of Gooch designed locos were built. None survive. However a replica of North Star can be seen at Swindon Railway Museum, and a working Firefly replica is being built at Didcot by the Great Western Society.

Gooch was still only 20 when he persuaded Brunel to put him in charge of all locomotive operations on the Great Western line. "I was very young to be entrusted with the management of the locomotive department of so large a railway," Gooch said, "but I felt no fear."

Gooch shared with Brunel a passion for broad gauge locomotives which, traveling on tracks seven feet apart, were considered to be "safer, swifter, cheaper to run, more comfortable for passengers and more commodious for goods". Unfortunately, Brunel and Gooch eventually had to come to terms with bitter defeat in ‘The War of the Gauges’.