Ajax Loquitur the Autobiography of an Old Locomotive Engine, by Robert Weatherburn, Crosby Lockwood and Son, London, 1899 [ebook]


Maroon cloth covered boards with gilt titles to spine and front board, 5” x7.5”, pp. 151, frontispiece portrait of George Stephenson, portrait of Robert Stephenson inside. Engravings of Stephenson’s and of Allen’s valve gear, cylinders and valves. Engravings of connecting rods and other parts of early locomotives, Engravings of AJAX, GORGON and ULYSSES locomotives etc.


Thomas the Tank engine (& friends) were not the first talking locomotives to appear in literature. Robert Weatherburn, senior, took part in the Rainhill trials, and afterwards drove the first engine on the Leicester and Swannington Railway, becoming regular driver of COMET. At one time he was inspector of new works at the Robert Stephenson factory Forth Bank, Newcastle, and also worked for Kitson and Co. In retirement came up with this whimsy about an old locomotive AJAX, reminiscing about his life, from building in the days when driving wheels were assembled from individually forged spokes which had to be hammer welded to the hub, then have sections of rim hammer welded in place.   AJAX recalls rebuilding with improved valve gear, encounters with George and Robert Stephenson, and other old locomotives he has known – GORGON and ULYSSES.

 I have not been able to identify positively the three locomotives illustrated, but they all exhibit characteristics of loco building firms in the late 1830’s and 1840’s.



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