Stanier, Sir William Arthur

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b. 27 May 1876 Swindon, England
d. 27 September 1965 London, England
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English Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London Midland \& Scottish Railway, the locomotive stock of which he modernized most effectively.
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Stanier's career started when he was Office Boy at the Great Western Railway's Swindon works. He was taken on as a pupil in 1892 and steady promotion elevated him to Works Manager in 1920, under Chief Mechanical Engineer George Churchward. In 1923 he became Principal Assistant to Churchward's successor, C.B.Collett. In 1932, at the age of 56 and after some forty years' service with the Great Western Railway (GWR), W.A.Stanier was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London Midland \& Scottish Railway (LMS). This, the largest British railway, had been formed by the amalgamation in 1923 of several long-established railways, including the London \& North Western and the Midland, that had strong and disparate traditions in locomotive design. A coherent and comprehensive policy had still to emerge; Stanier did, however, inherit a policy of reducing the number of types of locomotives, in the interest of economy, by the withdrawal and replacement of small classes, which had originated with constituent companies.
Initially as replacements, Stanier brought in to the LMS a series of highly successful standard locomotives; this practice may be considered a development of that of G.J.Churchward on the GWR. Notably, these new locomotives included: the class 5, mixed-traffic 4–6–0; the 8F heavy-freight 2–8–0; and the "Duchess" 4–6–2 for express passenger trains. Stanier also built, in 1935, a steam-turbine-driven 4–6–2, which became the only steam-turbine locomotive in Britain to have an extended career in regular service, although the economies it provided were insufficient for more of the type to be built. From 1932–3 onwards, and initially as part of a programme to economize on shunting costs by producing a single-manned locomotive, the LMS started to develop diesel shunting locomotives. Stanier delegated much of the responsibility for these to C.E.Fairburn. From 1939 diesel-electric shunting locomotives were being built in quantity for the LMS: this was the first instance of adoption of diesel power on a large scale by a British main-line railway. In a remarkably short time, Stanier transformed LMS locomotive stock, formerly the most backward of the principal British railways, to the point at which it was second to none. He was seconded to the Government as Scientific Advisor to the Ministry of Production in 1942, and retired two years later.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Knighted 1943. FRS 1944. President, Institution of Mechanical Engineers 1941.
Bibliography
1955, "George Jackson Churchward", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 30 (Stanier provides a unique view of the life and work of his former chief).
Further Reading
O.S.Nock, 1964, Sir William Stanier, An Engineering Biography, Shepperton: Ian Allan (a full-length biography).
John Bellwood and David Jenkinson, 1976, Oresley and Stanier. A Centenary Tribute, London: HMSO (a comparative account).
C.Hamilton Ellis, 1970, London Midland \& Scottish, Shepperton: Ian Allan.
PJGR

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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