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Turton & Platt Buffers

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March 2002
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Ted Talbot & Mike Williams

The buffers used on LNWR engines are normally referred to as ‘Webb’, ‘Whale’, or ‘Cooke’ types, and these are convenient descriptions by which the various types can be readily identified. However, the ‘Webb’ type was actually introduced before Webb returned to the LNWR as head of Crewe, whilst both other types appear to have been standard commercial products bought in by the LNWR. Some Crewe General Arrangement drawings even have the name ‘Turton and Platt’ written beside the buffers.

The drawing reproduced here Move to the photographs page comes from a Turton and Platt advertisement in the February 1897 ‘Railway Engineer’, and shows what is called a ‘Whale’ buffer. The ‘Cooke’ type was similar, but had a longer parallel section at the front. To further emphasise the point, the LNWR started using the ‘Cooke’ type made by Turton and Platt on the back of tenders during the late Whale period, though their general adoption for engines took place during Cooke’s term of office.

The second drawing comes from the same advertisement and shows a type-of buffer used only rarely on the LNWR, on some wagons to D.10 (20 ton open merchandise or sand wagon), D.65 (20 ton steel Loco Coal wagon) and very few others.

A note at the PRO shows that in about 1933 new buffers were ordered by the LMS from George Turton, Platt & Company Ltd. of Sheffield to be fitted to ex-LNWR engines at a rate of 100 per annum, shunting engines to be dealt with first. The same firm supplied springs for the bogies of the Coronation Scot train built


by the LMS to go to the USA in 1939. So did they also supply springs generally to Wolverton? and perhaps to Earlestown? and to other companies?

The works of Turton and Platt was beside that of the Yorkshire Engine Co. Ltd at Meadow Hall, Sheffield, and was founded before 1860. It remained in business until only a year or two ago. They were one of the leading suppliers of railway springs – leaf and coil – for wheel sets, bogies and buffers, with buffer castings and assemblies, and delivered all over the world.

So why did the generally self-sufficient LNWR buy springs from an outside supplier? Possibly, springs, or at least certain types of springs, required special steel which was not produced in the steel works at Crewe, and so the company preferred to buy in its buffers, and the LMS followed suit (perhaps most railways did too). Perhaps the LNWR was self-sufficient when it paid to be so but things difficult and specialised to make were bought in. A known example is pressure gauges for locos.

One wonders how many other fittings used by the ‘self sufficient’ LNWR were actually standard commercial products. Our thanks to Mike Swift for his help in compiling these notes.

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