1946: Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid

1946: Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid

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Biography Bulleid was born in 1882 in New Zealand but at the age of seven his mother was widowed and the family moved to England. He was educated at Spa College at the Bridge of Allan and then at Accrington Technical School. In 1901, he gained an apprenticeship at the Doncaster works of the Great Northern Railway. He combined his training with furthering his education at Leeds and Sheffield universities.

Bulleid’s apprenticeship led to a life-long interest in railway engineering. At the age of twenty-six, he took his new skills abroad, working for the French Westinghouse Company in Paris. However, it was with the Great Northern Railway that Bulleid made his mark, working as personal assistant to Sir Nigel Gresley. His aptitude led to involvement in the design of carriages and wagons.

During the First World War, Bulleid served in France and was a Major in the Royal Engineers. After the war, he followed Gresley to the London and North Eastern Railway and became involved in the work of the International Railway Congress Association. Bulleid’s opportunity to promote his design ideas came with an appointment as chief mechanical engineer for the Southern Railway. He introduced the ‘Merchant Navy’ Pacifics and the ‘Leader’ class of locomotives. He conceived the design of Britain’s only double-deck passenger trains, the 4DD class. Bulleid opposed the nationalization of the railways and was keen to produce steam locomotives that could rival electric or diesel locomotives.

He retired from Southern Railway in 1949 and in February 1950 joined the Coras Iompair Eireann, the Irish state transport system, first as a consulting mechanical engineer and then as chief mechanical engineer. He oversaw the introduction of diesel locomotives designed a steam locomotive which burned peat. He retired from Coras Iompair Eireann in 1958.

Bulleid served as President of the IMechE in 1956 and was also President of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers and the Institute of Welding. He was made a CBE in 1949 and received an honorary DSc from Bath University. He was a member of the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers, a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Goldsmith’s Company. He died in 1970.