Herbert William Garratt

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group

Herbert William Garratt was patentee of the system of articulated steam locomotive used by the Welsh Highland Railway's NGG16 and K1 locomotives.

Early life[edit]

Garratt was born in London in 1864. After an apprenticeship at the Bow Works of the North London Railway between 1879 and 1882 he spent some time in marine engineering and as an inspector for civil engineering contactors before joining the Argentine Railway, in 1889, where he was appointed locomotive superintendent in 1892. Between 1900 and 1906 he moved between various railways in South America, Cuba and Africa before returning to England.

The Garratt locomotive[edit]

It is thought that it was while working as an inspector and observing some bogie, or articulated, vehicles used for the transport of heavy artillery that he conceived the idea of locomotives built upon the same principle: a tank locomotive with a deep low-slung frame in the middle, with ample room for boiler and firebox, between a pair of driving bogies (with or without pony wheels) carrying the fuel and water supplies.

Beyer Peacock[edit]

By 1907 he had developed the idea to the point where he was able to apply successfully for a patent (no. 17,165, June 11th 1908). After a fruitless bid to interest Kitson of Leeds in the design, Garratt developed a relationship with Beyer Peacock. That relationship explains why his locomotive type is often called Beyer-Garratt. Historian Richard Hills surmises that the firm may have been open to new designs at a time when it was seeking to diversify its product base, and he traces a working relationship between Garratt and Samuel Jackson of Beyer Peacock, who had prepared Mallet designs for Portugal and Chile, and who worked with Garratt on an initial proposed narrow gauge loco for New South Wales, and on the Complete Specification (1908) for the Garratt patent [1].

The Tasmanian K Class[edit]

The New South Wales design was developed into a prototype design in response to an enquiry from the Tasmanian Government Railways for a locomotive to run on the North-East Dundas Tramway; a parallel proposal was also drawn up for an 0-4-4-0 Mallet. The result was the K Class, a pair of 0-4-0 + 0-4-0 locos with cylinders at the inboard ends of the bogies and arranged for compound expansion (at the insistence of TGR), built in 1909. (In a compound expansion engine, the steam is used twice before exhausted, with the second cylinder or – as here – pair of cylinders larger in diameter to compensate for the lower pressure.)

Incidentally, the WHR(C) is home to both the first (K1) and the last (143) Garratt built by Beyer Peacock.

Death and posthumous success[edit]

Garratt died in Richmond, Surrey in 1913 at the age of forty-nine, long before his patent was used to develop some of the most successful articulated steam locomotives ever to run. Unlike the K Class, they had their cylinders at the coupler ends of the bogies and almost all were single expansion. They were used on all continents except North America, but came especially to the fore in Africa.

Planned memorial[edit]

It had been planned to commemorate Herbert William Garratt by placing nameplates with this legend on K1, but this was vetoed by FR Heritage Ltd on grounds of authenticity. The plates had been made, and are understood to be at Boston Lodge.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richard L. Hills, The Origins of the Garratt Locomotive, East Harling: Plateway Press, 2000, pp. 12-15