Beyer-Garratt (Transport Treasury)

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A comprehensive history of the distinctive Beyer-Garratt locomotive, unquestionably the most successful type of articulated steam locomotive ever built.

From the 1830s, there were hundreds of attempts to design articulated steam locomotives of which only a tiny percentage achieved commercial viability. The Garratt locomotive was a British invention, born of engineer Herbert Garratt’s extensive experience with overseas railways that operated in difficult terrain and under challenging circumstances.

Adoption by Beyer Peacock & Co Ltd, the highly regarded locomotive builder of Gorton Foundry, Manchester led to the type’s 1909 inauguration in Tasmania. By the First World War, thirty-one examples had been delivered or were under construction, embracing seven wheel arrangements and five gauges, with designs ranging from miniscule tramway engines to high speed double-Atlantics.

The 1920s saw progressive size increases culminating in eight-coupled giants that handled vast tonnages on five continents. With expiry of the original patent and product re-styling as the “Beyer-Garratt”, Gorton Foundry fought off challenges to its market leadership and during World War 2 played a pivotal role in military rail transportation.

Post-war, the type accounted for the majority of Beyer Peacock’s steam output. Production ceased in the late 1950s, but Beyer-Garratts continued to render sterling service in numerous countries. A century after introduction, there were still isolated examples at work in normal service.

Beyer-Garratt is a detailed account of this design success story that encompassed creativity, outstanding engineering, and application. 352 pages. Hardback.

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