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Kerr, Stuart and Company


Kerr, Stuart and Company

Kerr, Stuart & Co.
Industry Railway
Fate Defunct
Founded 1881 in Glasgow, Scotland
Founder James Kerr
Defunct 1930 (1930)
Headquarters Stoke-on-Trent, England
Area served
Products Steam and diesel locomotives

Kerr, Stuart and Company Ltd was a locomotive manufacturer from Stoke-on-Trent, England.


  • History 1
  • Notable Kerr, Stuart Employees 2
  • Kerr, Stuart standard designs 3
    • Standard gauge designs 3.1
    • Narrow gauge designs 3.2
  • Steam railmotors 4
  • Custom-built designs 5
  • Diesel locomotives 6
  • The company in liquidation 7
  • In popular culture 8
  • Preservation 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


It was founded in 1881 by James Kerr as "James Kerr & Company", and became "Kerr, Stuart & Company" from 1883 when John Stuart was taken on as a partner. The business started in Glasgow, Scotland, but during this time they were only acting as agents ordering locomotives from established manufacturers, among them Falcon, John Fowler & Co. and Hartley, Arnoux and Fanning. They bought the last-named company in 1892 and moved into the California Works in Stoke to begin building all their own locomotives. Hartley, Arnoux and Fanning had also been building railway and tramway plant. This side of their business was sold to Dick, Kerr and Co. in Preston.

Notable Kerr, Stuart Employees

Kerr, Stuart standard designs

Kerr, Stuart Wren Class 0-4-0ST.
Kerr Stuart 0-6-0T N° 2451 of 1915.

Kerr, Stuart were known for producing a number of standard designs with many engines being built for stock and sold 'off the shelf' to customers. The names of these locomotive types were often derived from the purchaser of the first of that type or from the name it was given.

The Kerr, Stuart designs are typified by having a single trailing truck (allowing a large firebox to be placed behind the driving wheels) and/or having a saddle tank. Several designs of side tank locomotive were produced that shared a chassis and boiler with a saddle tank design and it is not unknown for a standard chassis from one design to used with a different design's standard boiler to produce a locomotive to suit a customers special requirements.

Standard gauge designs

Name Wheel Arrangement Weight Notes
Huxley 0-4-0ST 16 Tons
Witch 0-4-0ST 16 Tons
Moss Bay 0-4-0ST 29 Tons named after Moss Bay Haematite Iron & Steel Co Ltd, Workington
Rugeley 0-6-0ST 31 Tons
Priestley 0-4-0WT 25.5 Tons
Argentina 0-6-0T 34 Tons
Victory 0-6-0T
La Manada 4-4-0 Locomotive number 1327 of 1913 built by Kerr, Stuart and Co. Ltd. London & Stoke - Preserved in Ferro Club Villa Lynch (Argentina)

Narrow gauge designs

Name Gauge Wheel arrangement Weight Notes
Wren 0-4-0ST 3.5 tons Pixie one of 27 of the Wren class ordered for a sewer contract in Essex, sold to Devon County Council in 1929. Purchased by the Industrial Locomotive Society in 1957, it entered service at Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway in 1969.

Works number 3114 was part of the same batch of Wrens on the sewer contract. Its history beyond this is uncertain but it is believed that it worked on the dismantling of the Ashover Light Railway. After that it worked on the Bala Lake Railway as "Dryw Bach", and is now owned by the Vale of Rheidol Railway.

Peter Pan worked with Pixie in Devon. It was purchased in 1972 by Graham Hall who found the locomotive in a back garden in Bromsgrove and sometimes operates at the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway.

Lorna Doone is now preserved by the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery and is currently at the Amerton Railway, undergoing restoration.

Also at the Amerton Railway is new build Wren "Jennie", built by the Hunslet Engine Company in 2008.

In 2010, the Hunslet Engine Company completed the last Wren "Thomas Wicksteed" for the Kew Bridge Steam Museum in London.

Two worked on the Camber Railway in the Falkland Islands

Sirdar 0-4-0T 6.5 tons Two of three locomotives being built for Allan Alderson and Company of Cairo for use during the Nile Barrage construction in Egypt were diverted to the British War Office in November 1899, for use by the Royal Engineers in a siege park in the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek during the Second Freedom War.
Tattoo 0-4-2ST 6 Tons Three examples exist in the UK, all operational: Stanhope (1917) on the Apedale Valley Light Railway; Talyllyn Railway No.4 Edward Thomas (1921); and Corris Railway No.7 (2005); one or two survive out of service in Namtu, Burma at the Burma Mines Railway. The class was built with either outside frames (such as Stanhope) or inside frames (such as Edward Thomas).
Huxley 0-4-2T At least one survives in working order on the Burma Mines Railway. Joan on the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway has a Huxley boiler carried on a modified Matary/Barreto chassis.
Skylark 10 tons Formerly used on Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway and Snailbeach District Railways. A few survive at a sugar mill in Mauritius.
Joffre 0-6-0T 8.5 tons named after Joseph Joffre; the Joffre class of 70 locomotives was a French Decauville design built by KS under contract during the Great War. Six of the class are known to have survived, one in Africa and five re-imported into the UK; these include Axe on the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway and ones being restored for the Teifi Valley Railway, West Lancashire Light Railway, and the Apedale Valley Light Railway.
Haig named after Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig); the Haig class was developed from the Joffre as a result of parts being left unused at the end of the Great War. Two examples survive in New Zealand (one at Ocean Beach Railway in Dunedin [1]), the other at MOTAT in Auckland) and one - Sergeant Murphy - on the Teifi Valley Railway
Brazil 0-4-2ST 14.5 Tons Several examples survive, including Excelsior on the Great Whipsnade Railway and three locos (Premier, Leader & Melior) of the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway
Waterloo 15 Tons
Matary/Barreto (both names used) 0-6-2T 17.5 Tons At least one original example survives, Superior on the Great Whipsnade Railway. Joan on the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway has a modified Matary/Barreto chassis and a Huxley boiler.

Steam railmotors

Kerr, Stuart had a large joiners shop and a significant passenger coach construction business. They were therefore very well placed to build steam railmotors. Their first was a diminutive 2 ft (610 mm) gauge saloon for the Maharajah of Gwalior in 1904 followed by a batch of 11 standard gauge railcars in 1905, six for the Taff Vale Railway, two for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, two for the Great Western Railway and one for the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. The GWR gave a repeat order in 1906 for a further 12 slightly more powerful units. The largest rail motor order was for 15 from the Italian State Railways.

Custom-built designs

Locobreque with two coaches on a tourist trip in 1987. The engine is not one from the 1900 Kerr, Stuart ones but an almost identical Stephenson, builder's plate #4035, from 1931

In addition to the company's standard designs the company accepted many orders to build to the customers' own designs in all gauges. The most impressive example for this certainly are the legendary 0-4-0LB locobreaks from 1900, strong and heavy tank engines designed to secure the trains through a cable claw on SPR (São Paulo Railway) and later EFSJ (Estrada de Ferro Santos a Jundiaí)'s 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) gauge mountain cable incline between Paranapiacaba and Piaçagüera. Six of them are preserved.

An example of a narrow-gauge 0-4-0 tank engine, number 652 built in 1899, worked in the docks at Walvis Bay, Namibia, until the 1950s and is now preserved in a purpose-built glass-windowed display hut in the forecourt of Walvis Bay station.

The California works produced in 1903/4 a 4-6-0 design for several Irish 3 ft (914 mm) gauge lines including a 4-6-2T version for the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway. For Chile a very large 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge double six-coupled bogie Meyer followed in 1904 by five American style bar-framed 2-8-0 tender engines for the 3 ft (914 mm) gauge Interocianic and Mexican Eastern Railways. In May 1910 they built a 2 ft (610 mm) gauge "modified Fairlie" for service in Madras. This was not a Fairlie but just two 0-4-2T engines permanently coupled back to back, the only articulation being between the two complete engines. They received a repeat order for this combination.

A truly remarkable standard gauge build of 1910 was a class of four handsome 4-2-2 express passenger locomotives to the design of E. J. Dunstan for the Shanghai Nanking Railway. The order was received on 19 April 1910 and the novel design required the production of totally new drawings and patterns for all parts. Even so, the first engine was steamed just seven weeks later on 8 June 1910. In service these engines, probably the last, and the biggest, single driver engines ever built, proved to be fast (60 mph), smooth running, and very economical on fuel when compared with similar 4-4-0 engines on the same line.

Kerr Stuart works plate from GWR 57XX Class 0-6-0PT 7714 No.4449 of 1930

From the 2 ft (610 mm) gauge Gwalior Light Railway in India, the company received several orders for locomotives and a wide variety of rolling stock over the years, culminating in the construction of four large 2-8-2 tender engines in 1928. Six very powerful superheated 4-8-0 mixed traffic locomotives built in 1929 were the last of a series of 4-4-0 and 4-6-0 machines built for the Buenos Aires Central Railway of Argentina.

In common with most British locomotive builders, in the postwar era Kerr, Stuart received a number of large orders from the mainline companies who were seeking to replace obsolete inherited equipment with their own standard designs. In 1920 the Metropolitan Railway ordered eight superheated 4-4-4 passenger tank engines for the Aylesbury service. Between 1925 and 1927 the Stoke works built fifty standard class 4F 0-6-0 goods engines for the London Midland and Scottish Railway and in 1929 and 1930 a batch of 25 GWR 5700 Class 0-6-0PTs were built for the Great Western Railway.

Diesel locomotives

In the late 1920s a number of diesel locomotives were built. These were available with two or three axles for various track gauges. The engines were by McLaren-Benz in 2-cylinder (30 hp), 4-cylinder (60 hp) or 6-cylinder (90 hp) form. Transmission was mechanical and final drive was by roller chains.[2]

They were very successful even though technology moved on quickly. Further development was stopped when Kerr, Stuart's went into receivership, but the Hunslet range of diesel locomotives was based on these. At least 3 Kerr, Stuart diesel locomotives have survived into preservation but none is in original condition having been given different engines.

The company in liquidation

Class E n° 14 1028 used in the Buenos Aires Midland Railway, c. 1930.

On 17 April 1930 a petition calling for the company to be wound up compulsorily was presented in the High Court (Chancery Division) by the

  • Preserved locomotive database
  • Industrial Railway Record - Kerr Stuart "Wren" class

External links

  • L.T.C. Rolt, A Hunslet Hundred, David & Charles, 1964, (Kerr, Stuart & Company - pages 86–101).
  1. ^ Brell Ewart and Brian Radford "6233 Duchess of Sutherland and the Princess Coronation Class", Princess Royal Locomotive Trust Publication, 2002
  2. ^ Rolt, L.T.C. A Hunslet Hundred, David & Charles 1964, pp 98–100
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Times 9 May 1930
  5. ^ The Times 15 August 1930
  6. ^
  7. ^ The Times 1 April 1930
  8. ^ The Times 15 November 1930
  9. ^ Cartwright R.C., The Llanfair Railway Journal 105, October 1987
  10. ^ LTC Rolt "The Landscape Trilogy" (2001): combined volume of "Landscape with Machines" (1971), "Landscape with Canals" (1977) and "Landscape with Figures" (1992)
  11. ^
  12. ^


Apedale Valley Light Railway Tattoo Stanhope 2395 1917 0-4-2ST 2 ft (610 mm) ex-Penrhyn Quarry Railway
Amerton Railway Wren Lorna Doone 4205 1922 0-4-0ST 2 ft (610 mm) Purchased by RH Neal and sold to Devon County Council. Lorna Doone is currently being restored to working condition.
Jennie Hunslet 3905 2008 0-4-0ST Built by the Hunslet Engine Company in 2008 to the Kerr, Stuart Wren design, bought privately and housed at the Amerton Railway.
Bala Lake Railway Sirdar Diana 1158 0-4-0T ex Kerry Tramway
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre GWR 5700 0-6-0PT 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
90 hp Diesel Redland [11] K4428 1929 4wDM Heavily rebuilt
Cavan & Leitrim Railway Dromad 3024 1916 0-4-2T 3 ft (914 mm) Rebuilt using a hotel boiler and parts from several other Irish locomotives
Corris Railway Tattoo No. 7 2005 0-4-2ST 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) Design based on the railway's original Tattoo (KS 4047)
Foxfield Railway Witch 0-4-0ST 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
90 hp Diesel Rom River [12] 4421 1929 6wDM ex-R&ER, re-engined 1959
Great Whipsnade Railway Brazil Excelsior 1049 1908 0-4-2ST 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) ex-Bowaters Paper Railway
Barretto Superior 4034 0-6-2ST
Leighton Buzzard Railway Wren Pixie 4260 1922 0-4-0ST 2 ft (610 mm)
Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Joffre Axe 2451 1915 0-6-0ST ex-Gloddfa Ganol. Heavily rebuilt, but retaining many original parts, Axe Returned to Steam on 11 November 2008 at Woody Bay for a dedication ceremony to honour the fallen railwaymen of the First World War
Owned by Graham Morris Wren Peter Pan 4256 1922 0-4-0ST
West Lancashire Light Railway Joffre "Joffre" 2405 1915 0-6-0T ex-Carriers de la Valee-Meureuse et Haut Bain Hydrequent, Pas de Calais, France
Moseley Railway Trust Joffre 3014 0-6-0T 2 ft (610 mm) ex-Gloddfa Ganol
Narrow Gauge Railway Museum 721 0-4-0WT 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) ex-Dundee Gasworks
Ocean Beach Railway Dunedin, New Zealand Haig 4185 1929 0-6-0T 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Built for Kempthorne Prosser. Regularly operated on passenger trains
MOTAT Auckland, New Zealand Haig 4183 1929 0-6-0T 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) This locomotive spent its entire working life with Kempthorne Prosser Ltd. at their Westfield (Auckland, N.Z.) fertiliser works. Retired in 1966, it was donated to MOTAT and operated there for a short time until boiler repairs were required. After a period on static display, the locomotive was dismantled during the 1970s for restoration. Ultimately the dismantled locomotive was leased to McDonald's Restaurants, and following restoration was on static display at their Paraparaumu establishment from 1987 to 2008, before being returned to MOTAT where it remains in the locomotive shed awaiting restoration to working order.
Phyllis Rampton Trust Surrey, England 4408 1928 0-6-4T 2 ft 6 in (762 mm)
Red Cliffs Historical Steam Railway, Victoria, Australia Skylark Lukee 742 1901 0-4-2T 2 ft (610 mm) The Red Cliffs Historical Steam Railway was formed in 1994 under the auspices of the Red Cliffs Rotary Club to operate the restored 'Lukee', that had formerly operated between Red Cliffs railway station and the Red Cliffs pumping station. A two kilometre section of the former 1600mm gauge Red Cliffs - Morkalla branch line has been converted to 610mm gauge for tourist train operation. The train normally operates on the first Sunday of each month from 11am to 4.00pm and on Easter Saturday and the Sundays of the Labour Day and Queens Birthday long weekends. The Train does not operate in January or February because of the fire danger.
Sandstone Steam Railway, Ficksburg, South Africa Wren Little Bess 4031 1919 0-4-0ST 2 ft (610 mm)
4063 1924 0-4-2PT
1344 1913 4-6-2T
Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway Brazil Leader 926 1906 0-4-2ST 2 ft 6 in (762 mm)
Premier 886 1905
Melior 4219 1924
Severn Valley Railway GWR 5700 No. 7714 4449 1930 0-6-0PT 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) Under major overhaul in 2012
Statfold Barn Railway Brazil Trangkil No.4 3902 1971 0-4-2ST 2 ft (610 mm) The last industrial steam locomotive built in Britain, regauged from 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge.
Talyllyn Railway modified Tattoo Edward Thomas 4047 1921 0-4-2ST 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) ex Corris Railway No.4; carried same number under CR, GWR, BR & TR ownership
Teifi Valley Railway Haig Sgt. Murphy 0-6-2ST 2 ft (610 mm) ex-Penrhyn Quarry Railway, Heavily rebuilt
Teifi Valley Railway Joffre 0-6-0ST ex-Gloddfa Ganol
Vale of Rheidol Railway Wren 3114 1918 0-4-0ST Formerly carried names Brockamin or Dryw Bach
Welsh Highland Railway 60 hp Diesel 4115 6wDM One of the earliest diesel locomotives in existence
Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway modified Matary with Huxley boiler Joan 1927 0-6-2ST 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) Originally operated in Antigua, currently undergoing a major overhaul including a new boiler of revised design.
West Lancashire Light Railway Joffre Joffre 2405 0-6-0WTT 2 ft (610 mm) Major rebuild to original condition underway. Scheduled to return to steam during 2009.
unknown 3010 0-6-0T ex-Gloddfa Ganol, now stored at the Yaxham Light Railway
Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, SP (Brazil) Sinhá Moça (ex- Maceió) No. 1 928 July 1907 0-4-2T 3' 3⅜" (1,000 m) operational (weekend and holiday tourist services); most authors still believe her to be static at Usina Serra Grande in São José da Laje, AL
Usina Serra Grande in São José da Laje, AL (Brazil) No. 2 1244 January 1912 0-4-2T 3' 3⅜" (1,000 m) static
Usina Serra Grande in São José da Laje, AL (Brazil) Mestre Borges (ex- Nesita Forges) No. 4 4193 September 1927 0-6-2T 3' 3⅜" (1,000 m) operational (tourist services)
Fives Lille in Maceió, AL (Brazil) unknown 4389 march 1927 0-4-2T 1' 11½" (0,597 m) static (former Usina Cansanção do Sinimbu locomotive)
Usina Central Olho d'Água in Camutanga, PE (Brazil) unknown 4302 June 1926 0-4-2T 2' 5½" (0,750 m) static
Usina Catende in Catende, PE (Brazil) No. 1 1281 December 1912 0-4-2T 3' 3⅜" (1,000 m) static
Fazenda Guaritá in Rio das Flores, RJ (Brazil) Wren none 1248 said to be 1914 0-4-0ST 1' 11½" (0,597 m) operational
1st Railway Battalion of the Brazilian Army in Lages, SC (Brazil) Wren Jaguarizinho No. 3 1194 June 1912 0-4-0ST 1' 11½" (0,597 m) static
Fazenda Angélica in Dourado, SP (Brazil) No. 1 673 June 1912 0-6-2ST 1' 11½" (0,597 m) static
entrance of Paranapiacaba, SP (Brazil) No. 8 668 1900 0-4-0LB 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) static
Museu Ferroviário de Paranapiacaba, Paranapiacaba, Brazil Wren No. 1 1015 December 1907 0-4-0ST 1' 11½" (0,597 m) static (in operational condition)
none No. 7 671 1900 0-4-0LB 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) static (in operational condition)
Fazenda Vassoural in Pontal, Brazil Wren No. 1 1195 1912 0-4-0ST 1' 11½" (0,597 m) static
Locomotive Depot at Estação da Luz in São Paulo, Brazil No. 2 662 1900 0-4-0LB 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) static
ABPF - Regional São Paulo in São Paulo, Brazil none No. 4 664 1900 0-4-0LB 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) static (in operational condition)
No. 9 669 1900 0-4-0LB 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) awaiting restoration
No. 11 667 1900 0-4-0LB 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) awaiting restoration


Wilbert Awdry named the narrow gauge locomotive Stuart (later Peter Sam) in both The Railway Series and Thomas and Friends in reference to the company, as the engine is based on the Kerr, Stuart Tattoo class locomotive supplied to the Corris Railway, which later became Edward Thomas on the Talyllyn Railway.

In popular culture

The Corris Railway commissioned a new locomotive based on the "Tattoo" design of its original No.4 (KS 4047 of 1921) and this was privately built over a ten-year period and went into service in 2005 as No.7.

The last steam locomotive built in Britain for industrial use, was a Hunslet built Brazil class engine in 1971. This locomotive is now running on the private Statfold Barn Railway.

Some locomotives were built by W. G. Bagnall to Kerr, Stuart designs, a result of the chief Kerr, Stuart draughtsman, F. H. B. Harris, and a number of other Kerr, Stuart staff being employed by Bagnall's. These locomotives include examples of the Haig and Matary classes.

. Hunslet Engine Company The firm's goodwill (designs, spare parts, etc.) was bought by the [10] it is also alleged that the company secretary was discovered to have committed suicide in Kerr, Stuart's London offices, and a large quantity of papers was found to have been burnt in the fireplace."The Landscape Trilogy"'s autobiography LTC Rolt In [9] petition.Midland Bank Company funds had, apparently, been used to finance a company called Evos Sliding Doorways. This company's failure had triggered the [8] attributed the failure of the company to the locking up of capital in the Peninsular Locomotive Company, registered in India 1921 to build locomotives (Kerr, Stuart held 80% of the capital and loaned £78,000), the [April] winding-up petition, which had resulted in a loss of confidence in the company, and 'to liabilities incurred by the company in supporting other companies'.[7] At the creditors' meeting held on 14 November Herbert Langham Reed, the company's chairman and managing director,[6] Another winding-up petition was presented on 10 September 1930 and an order was made on 14 October.[5]

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