Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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George Tosh

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George Tosh (1813–1900) was a Scottish engineer and metallurgist who pioneered the use of steel in certain aspects of steam locomotive design. He was the second Locomotive Superintendent of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway (M&CR), between 1854 and 1870.

His earlier career is not known, but he was apparently resident in Newcastle by 1839, in Parton, Cumberland, during 1843-1848, and in Maryport by 1852.

He was appointed Locomotive Superintendent of the M&CR about 1854, replacing a Mr Scott. His successor was Hugh Smellie, formerly works manager for the Glasgow and South Western Railway at Kilmarnock.

On leaving the Maryport & Carlisle Railway in 1870, his evident interest in metallurgy led Tosh to become an ironmaster in Lincolnshire, as manager of the North Lincolnshire Iron Works.

During his tenure at the Maryport & Carlisle Railway, Tosh was the first to use steel for construction of a locomotive boiler (in 1862), where previously wrought iron had been the material of choice. The boiler/firebox was constructed by an outside contractor. It was not the first such design in the world – that accolade belonging to a Canadian locomotive, two years earlier – but it was certainly a first in Britain, and pre-empted the London & North Western Railway's developments of the technology.

Tosh was also amongst the first railway engineers in the country to introduce coal-burning (rather than coke) fireboxes and fitted the first steel-tyred wheels to British locomotives. Most of his engines had domeless boilers. Nineteen locomotives of various wheel arrangements were provided during his superintentency.

He was married and had at least seven children; at least one of whom, Edmund George Tosh, followed his father's footsteps into the iron business.

George Tosh died in 1900, in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. His wife, Isabella, had died in 1868.

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