A McConnell "Bloomer", 1851: One of the very celebrated 2-2-2 express locomotives of the London & North West Railway, Southern Division. [Compare this locomotive to the Highland Railway's 2-2-2 and an example in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, both of which resermble American engines in placing the cylinders outside the driving wheels.]

"For some years afier the amalgamation of 1847 the London and North Western Railway was organized in two separate divisions, each with its own locomotive superintendent, and works. The practice of the Southern Division, at Wolverton, under J. E. McConnell, was the very opposite of that of Trevithick and Allan, at Crewe. The latter used the very smallest engines that would do the job, whereas McConnell 'built big', and put machines on the road that were generally ahead of their time. Technically his various 2-2-2 express locomotives were characterized by large boilers, and great freedom in running; but externally they created interest by having all the bearings inside. It was a time when Mrs Amelia Bloomer was advocating certain rather startling changes in female attire that shocked Victorian society, and McConnell's new engines, with all their wheels exposed, were immediately nicknamed the 'Bloomers'. There were three varieties: the original 'large' class of 1851, which is illustrated; a smaller variety, introduced in 1854, and three engines of 1861, which were known as the 'Extra Large Bloomers'. No less striking was the livery of the Southern Division -- in its vivid scarlet. One has only to compare the Crampton engine London and one of ihe Bloomers, with the Allan 2-4-0 and the Lady of the Lake to appreciate the astonishing contrast between the contemporary styles of Wolverton and Crewe Works." [Nock, p. 120]


Nock, O. S. The Pocket Encylopaedia of British Steam Locomotives. Illustrations by Clifford and Wendy Meadway. Poole: Blandford Press, 1964.

Last modified 27 June 2003