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London & North Western Railway Society
LNWR Engineering Personailities

Ernest Frederic Crosbie Trench M.I.C.E. (1869—1960)

An old photo of Ernest Frederic Crosbie Trench

E F C Trench was born in Ardfert Abbey, County Kerry, in Ireland on 6th August 1869. He was educated in Monkton Combe School in Bath followed by two years in Lausanne, Switzerland. His formal education was completed at the School of Engineering at Trinity College, University of Dublin between 1888 and 1892, graduating with a BA and the engineering degree of BAI. He then became a pupil under E B Thornhill, who was at that time Principal Assistant for New Works on the LNWR and spent some time in the drawing office at Euston and as an assistant on various new works. Whilst still a pupil he started working on the Leeds—Huddersfield Spen Valley line under his cousin Louis Trench, the Resident Engineer, and later became an Assistant on the project.
He resigned in 1899 to take up a position of Resident Engineer on the Midland Railway, supervising a number of widening works, one of which was the second Alfreton Tunnel. On 1st January 1903 he was appointed Chief Engineer on North London Railway and in the same year was awarded an MA from Dublin. While on the North London he was responsible for various works upgrading the structures to meet increasing traffic loads.
The LNWR brought him back to Euston from 1st March 1906 as Principal Assistant for New Works. He was temporarily appointed as Chief Assistant Engineer on 1st March 1909, standing in for E B Thornhill until the latter retired fully on 30th September 1909. E F C Trench then took over as the Chief Engineer.
Additionally, from 1st February 1912 he became Signal Engineer for the LNWR and the North London, which was absorbed into the LNWR organisation from the beginning of 1909.
At some point Trench became a Colonel in the army but as yet no further details have been found. During his period as LNWR Chief Engineer, he carried out most of the construction of the electrified lines between Euston and Watford, started under his predecessor. These works included the burrowing junctions at Chalk Farm and the extension of electrification to Broad St, Earl’s Court, Kew Bridge and Richmond, and the Power Station at Stonebridge Park. The Holywell Branch and Coventry Loop were built in this period and the widening of the Trent Valley and Chester — Holyhead continued. Major improvements in the accommodation at Euston were made, the stations at Walsall and Nuneaton were reconstructed, and Mayfield Station in Manchester was opened. During the war additional junctions were built to provide alternative routes and extensive sorting sidings built in the Coventry area for munitions traffic.
He was scheduled to present a report on “The Construction of Roadbed and Track” to the 9th International Railway Congress in Berlin in 1915 but the war intervened. He finally presented his report on “Present Day Permanent Way” to the 1922 International Railway Association Congress. This report covered the practice of a number of British Railways and the results of a large questionnaire sent to British and Colonial railway companies.
Claughton No 2174, built in 1916, was named E C Trench. This seems to be the only locomotive named after an LNWR engineer, civil or mechanical, while they were still alive. It is odd that the initial ‘F’ was omitted from the engine name.
At the beginning of 1922, E F C Trench’s responsibilities expanded as Chief Engineer of the combined LNWR and L&YR organisations. This lasted just one year as he became Chief Engineer of the LMSR on 1st January 1923.
Apparently he was obstructive towards the introduction of a range of standard locomotives soon after the grouping, which was contributory to the resignation of George Hughes. He held the Chief Engineer position until 1st February 1927, when he became a consulting engineer to the LMS before retiring on 31st March 1930. Between 1927 and 1928 he held the Presidency of the Institution of Civil Engineer. He was also a Member of the Institution of Transport.
His last public engagement was the unveiling of the Centenary plaque mounted on Robert Stephenson’s Britannia Bridge over the Menai Straights on 3rd November 1950.
He died on 15th September 1960 near Marlborough in Wiltshire aged 91.
His cousin, Louis Trench, 23 years older, was Divisional Engineer for the South Wales Division between 1st December 1887 and 28th February 1891. He resigned to become Chief Engineer on GWR, returning to the LNWR in October 1892 as Resident Engineer on the Spen Valley works, as mentioned earlier. He was promoted to Principal Assistant New Works on 1st March 1909, replacing E F C Trench. Louis retired on 30th June 1911.