George Jackson Churchward

George Jackson Churchward

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George Jackson Churchward

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George Jackson Churchward CBE (January 31, 1857 – December 19, 1933) was Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway (GWR) in the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1922.

Early career

Churchward was born in Stoke Gabriel, Devon and was educated at Totnes Grammar School. He apprenticed in the Newton Abbot works of the South Devon Railway and under Joseph Armstrong in the GWR's Swindon Works. At Swindon he rose from draughtsman through several positions, including Carriage Works Manager, and in 1897 was appointed Chief Assistant to William Dean. After 5 years as Chief Assistant, he succeeded Dean as Locomotive Superintendent.

In 1900 he became the first mayor of Swindon.

Chief Mechanical Engineer

In the 19th and early 20th century, railway companies were fiercely competitive. Speed meant revenue and speed was dependent on engineering. Churchward delivered to the GWR from Swindon a series of class-leading and innovative locomotives. Arguably, from the early 1900s to the 1920s the Great Western’s 2-cylinder and 4-cylinder 4-6-0 designs were substantially superior to any class of locomotive of the other British railway companies. On one occasion, the GWR's directors confronted Churchward, and demanded to know why the London and North Western Railway were able to build three 4-6-0 locomotives for the price of two of Churchward's "Stars". Churchward allegedly gave a terse response: "Because one...
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