Life story down on paper

PUBLISHED: 11:43 20 March 2007 | UPDATED: 10:15 31 May 2010

Tony Vernon

Tony Vernon

HAVING been inspired to write a book 60 years ago the relative of a pioneering railway engineer has just published a biography charting his life. Tony Vernon, the great great grandson of Archibald Sturrock, who has lived at Debden Green for 35 years, wrot

HAVING been inspired to write a book 60 years ago the relative of a pioneering railway engineer has just published a biography charting his life.

Tony Vernon, the great great grandson of Archibald Sturrock, who has lived at Debden Green for 35 years, wrote the book Pioneer Locomotive Engineer.

The author said: "My interest in Archibald Sturrock was inspired by my grandmother when she pointed out the railway works at Doncaster as we travelled on the east coast main line in the late 1940s.

"Sturrock designed the locomotives and carriages which were established.

"It was with her that I briefly met his daughter Georgina, who died at the age of 99 in December 1951."

The engineer, bornin 1816, worked for Daniel Gooch and Isambard Kingdom Brunel on the Great Western Railway in 1840, where he opened and managed Swindon's major railway works.

He went on to work on the east coast main line before founding the Yorkshire Engine Company, which survived until 1965.

"In 1863, he invented the steam tender, which was the predecessor of the locomotive booster, before his later life comprised a lengthy retirement, stretching some 43 years," said Mr Vernon.

"The timing of Sturrock's retirement, just as the failings of the steam tenders became apparent, has always been a matter of controversy and discussion amongst railway historians.

"I have tried to give an intimate insight into both his family and professional life in the biography."

Mr Vernon added the help and knowledge of Douglas Brown, and engineer who introduced him to another descendant of Sturrock's father, John, made the book possible.

"I have been greatly assisted in the research for the book by Douglas, who made available to me his own research into the Sturrock family," he said.

"He accompanied me on many field trips and his engineering expertise was invaluable."

Mr Vernon has had several articles published on his great-great-grandfather in the last few years in specialist journals and magazines, and is already planning his next book on the history of the Yorkshire Engine Company.

Archibald Sturrock: Pioneer Locomotive Engineer, is available from Harts Bookshop in Saffron Walden, priced at £14.99.

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