The pilot engine bears the name Sir Berkeley – I’d hazard a guess that Sir Berleley isn’t related to Bishop Berkeley, an 18th century cleric with some rather quirky notions about the existence of matter, or not, in his case.
The Sir Berkeley in the photograph was built by Manning Wardle, in Leeds, in 1890, and is photographed here, in Leeds, having just passed under the M1 motorway. The railway Sir Berkeley is running on first saw steam locomotion in 1809, and it was in commercial use by 1811 moving loads of up to 90 tons, a huge amount 203 years before this photo was taken. The train engine is named Matthew Murray, who, along with John Blenkinsop, was responsible for putting steam locomotives to work on the line 205 years ago. The line was Charles Brandling’s Colliery Railway, it conveyed coal from his mine to wharves on the river Aire, and the locomotives used a crude / early form of rack and pinion. Matthew Murray was a flax machinery engineer and Blenkinsop was the colliery manager and between them they cooked up something which was seen by the Czar of Russia and George Stephenson, the latter whilst in the process of constructing his first engine ‘Blucher’.
Leeds had quite a tradition of locomotive building from the very earliest days of the railway age and locomotives built in Leeds by the likes of Manning Wardle, and, of course, Hunslet were exported world wide.