SR 203

Deisel shunter SR 203. This shunting engine (or switcher in American usage) for the Southern Railway was manufactured by John Fowler and Co., Leeds, and dates from after 1923, when these little locomotives entered production. They were popular: "When infrequent shunting work was required it was not cost effective to have a steam engine crew on hand from the early hours of the morning to steam the engine. Fowler’s little shunters were ideal for a number of firms" ("A Brief History"). Although the shunters belong to the first half of the twentieth century, this well-known firm had been supplying to British India for years. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

SR 203

John Fowler, Jr., son of a prominent Quaker, was in the forefront of steam-powered agricultural machinery, producing it from 1850. The company was established as John Fowler and Co. in 1863; it continued after John himself died tragically in a hunting accident in the following year, with his brother Robert as a partner. Now known as John Fowler and Co. (Leeds), the company made steam traction engines from the 1880s, producing perhaps as many as 300 railway locomotives. It only ceased business in 1974 ("John Fowler & Co."). Although the shunter is post-Victorian, Fowler's had a long connection with India. It is known to have sent early armoured vehicles out to both South Africa and India in the late Victorian period, in South Africa for use in the Second Boer War. These armoured road trains were the forerunners of tanks (which the company made later) and "would haul four or five armoured wagons containing in effect a mobile armory with all manner of workshop equipment" ("A Brief History").

Photographs, formatting and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


"A Brief History of John Fowler and Co." Leeds Engine Builders. Web. 12 March 2014.

"John Fowler & Co." Grace's Guide: British Industrial History. Web. 12 March 2014.

"National Rail Museum, Delhi, India." Web. 12 March 2014.

Last modified 12 March 2014