Stockton Gas Works shunter ‘Northern Gas Board No. 1

These photographs are of the preserved former Stockton Gas Works shunter ‘Northern Gas Board No. 1’. They were taken to illustrate maximum detail and the small dimensions of the locomotive compared with railway and human surroundings. The locomotive is shown on the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway, Oxfordshire in May 2015

Photographs and details courtesy of Alan Boardman

8 thoughts on “Stockton Gas Works shunter ‘Northern Gas Board No. 1

  1. Could Mr Wright confirm that Stockton Gas works had a vertical retort of the Woodhall Duckham type and say something about the horizontal retorts. Where these the very old manual type or were they power assisted?

    Furthermore, I remember the new holder being built in Portrack. How was this supplied? And how integrated was the gas system on Teesside? I know that the coke ovens at Dorman Long were linked in to Middlesbrough, as there were arguments how the cost of the gas.

    Much appreciate any help. From Dr Fred Starr FIMMM, MI.MechE, C.Eng c/o Newcomen Society for Industrial History


  2. The Northern Gas Board No 1 was specially built with a short wheel base, one of its main task being to shunt 20 ton coal trucks to feed the horizontal retort plant. This meant pushing the trucks up a short ramp and over a short bridge where the track had a fairly tight curve in it. It was replaced with a Rolls Royce diesel locomotive built to the same wheel base specification as part of a major energy saving scheme for the whole of the works which I commissioned as Works Manager.

    J.M.Wright M.Sc.


  3. Could some knowledgeable “steam buff” out there tell me why the recently built “Flying Scotsman” has “blinkers” but the original L.N.E.R No.4472 loco did not?


  4. I worked at the gas board in the mid 60’s, and I can’t remember this particular one been used at Stockton, unless it was used before I worked there.


  5. At one time practically every medium or larhe factory, gasworks, colliery etc would possess a small shunting engine- like the one in the picture. for internal movement of traffic or for taking it to exchange sidings with the main railway network. Places like ICI or the steelworks had large fleets. Tank engines were handy, compact and well suited to the jobs they were called upon to do, with supplies of water and fuel easily to hand. ICI began to go over to diesel shunters in the mid 1950s. In certain places such as food or munitions factories fireless locos were employed on grounds of cleanliness and safety. The boiler was filled with steam from an outside source and this could be replenished as necessary. One such was employed by Paton & Baldwins at Darlington.


  6. I guess that the water tank is arranged in a half circle over the boiler. Would this have lasted a whole day of steaming?

    Was this type of tank design a specialty of one manufacturer? Wouldn’t it be more expensive to build than the normal side tank locos?

    Any idea of how many 25 ton coal trucks it could pull?


    • Known as Saddle Tanks Fred at ICI, the water in the tank over the boiler, the water in the tank warmed from the boiler which was reduced in size. They tended to be slow running as the weight of water could derail the engine at speed and often did, it also reduced the drivers sight line. They took on water and coal several times a day as they were never far from a supply.
      Purely local shunting engines moving trucks around the works site, as trucks were stuffed with fertilizer at the Packing sheds they would take them to the sidings and make up the trains for the night runs to the docks.
      ICI got rid of them and used diesel locomotives instead.


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