Kerr Stuart "Joffre" No. 3014 of 1916

In early March a narrow gauge steam engine arrived discreetly (if eight and a half tons can ever be discreet) at the premises of D. R. Conservation in Whaley Bridge. This was one of the large number of engines disposed of from the comprehensive collection formerly at the Gloddfa Ganol slate mine in North Wales. Although most of the Gloddfa collection comprised internal combustion locomotives, there were a number of steam engines and no fewer than three representatives of the Kerr Stuart "Joffre" class.

The locomotive in question is Kerr Stuart Number 3014 of 1916. It has been purchased by a consortium of eight enthusiasts, including three members of the Moseley Tramway, whose intention is to restore the locomotive to original operating condition as soon as manpower and funds permit.

Realistic estimates are that the engine could be restored to working order within 5 years, although this is dependent on the findings of the mechanical assessment currently being undertaken. Some interesting anomalies have already come to light, including the discovery of some parts off sister locomotives 3010 and 3019. Another confusing aspect of the job is that although most motion parts are marked D(roite) and G(auche), some are marked L(eft) and R(ight)!

Above: 3014 as most people remember her, as gate guardian at Gloddfa Ganol.


Gauge 1 ft. 11 5/8 in. (600 mm.)
Cylinders 8 1/2 in. diam. x 11 in. stroke
Diameter of Wheels 1 ft. 11 5/8 in.
Wheel Base 4 ft. 7 1/8 in.
Tubes (Brass) 74 (1 9/16 in. diam.)
Working Boiler Pressure 178 lbs. per sq. in.
Boiler Feed 2 Davies & Metcalf's Injectors
Firebox Copper
Water Tanks (Side and Well) 264 gallons
Fuel Space 10 cwt. of Coal
Heating Surface - Tubes 165.55 sq. ft.
Heating Surface - Firebox 23.25 sq. ft.
Heating Surface - Total 188.80 sq. ft.
Grate Area 3.97 sq. ft.
Approximate Weight, empty 8 tons 4 cwt.
Approximate Weight, in working order 10 tons 8 cwt.
Tractive Power 3862 lbs.
Length 15 ft. 6 1/8 in.
Width 5 ft. 3 3/4 in.
Height 8 ft. 6 1/4 in.
Radius of Sharpest Recommended Curve 55 ft.

Why was the Joffre Class Produced?

The Joffre design was very different to Kerr Stuart's usual designs, which had many common parts and features. A key aspect of their manufacturing operation was that stocks of parts were available and locomotives could be assembled and delivered at short notice. The Joffre design arose solely due to a requirement of the French Government's Commission Internationale de Ravitaillement, also known as the Mission Hauser, for their Artillery Railways.

Unlike the British, the French achieved significant standardisation of locomotives for their tactical light railways. Between September 1914 and November 1918 they took delivery of 320 identical 8 ton Decauville 0-6-0 side tank locomotives. Nevertheless, supplies were limited, and thus assistance was sought from British manufacturers, resulting in an order with Kerr Stuart to the same specification as the Decauvilles. All the basic dimensions were identical, including the appearance of the cab and side tanks, and the layout of the boiler and sanding gear. The extent of the similarity appears to indicate that Kerr Stuarts were provided with working drawings by the French Government, or at least detailed specifications. The most obvious difference to the Decauville design was the addition of a distinctive spark-arresting chimney.

In total, seventy locos were supplied by Kerr Stuart in three batches:

Some sources indicate that the original order was for 100 locomotives and it appears that Kerr Stuarts, anticipating a further order, manufactured additional parts which were not eventually needed. The stock of surplus parts led to the design of an additional locomotive class, the Haig, which was externally very similar to the Joffre, but without the well tank. The Quarry locomotive "Sergeant Murphy" was a Haig, and dramatically exhibited the consequent stability problem at Penrhyn when it overturned, fatally wounding its driver in 1932.

Who were Joffre and Haig?

Marshal Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre (1852-1931) was the French Chief of General Staff, responsible for direction of the French war effort during the first two years of the Great War. It was Joffre and his British counterpart Sir Douglas Haig who masterminded the disastrous allied offensive along the banks of the Somme in July 1916. Joffre was relieved of command in December 1916 and appointed Marshal of France. He subsequently served a secondary role in the war as head of the French military mission to the United States.

What is the History of the Locomotive?

Locomotive 3014 was delivered new to Nantes in 1916 to the order of the French Commission, and used on their artillery railways. It was purchased at Verdun in June 1923 by dealers Brunner & Marchand of Bourray, Seine & Oise. They resold it in October 1930 to Société Anonyme des Carrières de la Valée Heureuse et du Haut Banc, Marquise Rinxent, Pas de Calais. This was a stone quarrying operation which employed at least four other similar locomotives.

3014 ran in service bearing the inscription "Association des Propriétaires du Nord d'Appareils à Vapeur, No. 4" (Northen Association of Steam Locomotive Owners No. 4) on an aluminium plate. It was noted derelict with the four other locos in August 1956. The engines were acquired by Rich Morris and Pete Nicholson in 1974 and were repatriated on 11th October, arriving at Dover on board "Free Enterprise VII."

The engine was moved shortly afterwards to Pen-yr-Orsedd slate quarry and subsequently to Gloddfa Ganol, where it became a gate guardian, being briefly named "Tal-y-Waenydd."

Above: In the early morning of 10th March, 3014 arrived from North Wales and was craned off a low loader onto its initial resting place at Whaley Bridge. Within a month the locomotive had been stripped down to frame and wheels, with the boiler and much of the motion having been removed for assessment. Initial indications are that much of the locomotive is in good condition considering the length of time it has been derelict.

Latest News (23/12/98)

3014 is now stripped down to bare frame and cylinders. The condition of cylinders and frames appears good. The wheels are currently being machined, including repair of one of the journals which is pitted. Some slight frost damage has occured to the cylinders, but this is not considered serious. All motion work is in good order. Much of the brake gear and nearly all of the suspension will require replacement. A full assessment of the boiler has yet to be carried out. The well tank top has been removed to allow shot blasting and assessment of the frames, and removal of the stone ballast. Repairs have been effected to the smokebox saddle and one of the cylinder end covers as a result of fractures in the castings.

Above: June 1998 status

Contact Info

This page was prepared by John Rowlands. Please email me if you want to know more about the project.