R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie & Co. Ltd., Catalogue Section, Steam Rail Motor Coaches [Leaflet]


Leaflet, 3pp., 11”x 8.5” nd. Three black & white half tone illustrations . Hawthorn built two steam rail motors for use in Great Britain, and at least one for abroad. All three are illustrated in this leaflet, which is perhaps an attempt to climb onto a bandwagon which had already left. By 1914, the Achillies Heel of these vehicles was revealed. If they were successful in stimulating new traffic, they did not have the capacity to carry it. Only the Great Western, which had built a large fleet persevered with them into the 1920s.


Hawthorn sold a typical car of the period, a small locomotive articulated to a carriage body seating 50 passengers, to a railway in the Isle of Wight in 1906, but it was taken out of service in 1912. In 1907, they built the largest rail motor ever to run in Britain for the Port Talbot Railways and Docks Co. Seating 70, it had a six-coupled locomotive section, with exterior paneling to match the passenger section, and it was claimed to be able to haul three trailer carriages at speeds of up to 40 mph. How control was carried out from a cab three coaches length from the engine portion is not clear. The photo shows festoons of cables under the passenger portion which may have something to do with this. Withdrawn in 1920, it was sold to the Port of London Authority.

The third rail motor, for the Estrada de Ferro Oeste de Minas in South America was a metre gauge vehicle, designed for wood burning, and had seats for 33. The railway opened in 1890 was actually 2ft.6in gauge, but following bankruptcy in 1903, was taken over by the Brazilian State Treasury. Government policy was that future railways would be metre gauge, so that feeder branch lines were to be constructed t this width. The last new imported rolling stock is said to have arrived in 1920, so the rail motor dates from between 1903 and 1920, with the probability that it was pre WWI.


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