A small team of steam enthusiasts have embarked on an ambitious project to recreate one of the classic steam engines of the 20th century.
Alex Sharphouse, of the Lake District, has bought John Fowler & Co (Leeds) Ltd, one of the leading manufacturers of steam engines throughout the 1800s and 1900s. The firm supplied its engines to the famous road haulage company Norman E Box, Manchester.
Alex has now set his sights on building a Fowler B6 Big Lion Road Locomotive from scratch. Talisman was built by John Fowler & Co and carried heavy haulage in excess of 100 tonnes across the world, including parts of the Titanic and huge Lancashire boilers.
And Alex, 34, has secured significant funding to get the project off the ground from leading oil blender, Morris Lubricants. The Shrewsbury-based company has pledged £10,000 over the next 18 months.
Alex said: “I have always been a steam engine enthusiast so I thought, why not try to build one from scratch.
“With a bit of research I discovered that I could buy the John Fowler & Co company name. I obtained the original drawings for the B6 Talisman and three of us are now working on the project.
“It is going to cost a substantial amount of money so we are delighted to receive the backing of Morris Lubricants.
“We want to work with relevant companies and the link-up with Morris is fantastic because they have been in business for over 100 years and produce high quality products.”
Also working on the project are Jack Dibner and Steve Faulkner, both 27. Alex said that the locomotive should be finished in two to five years, depending on funding.
Once complete, the steam engine will weigh about 20 tonnes and have a nominal 10 horse engine, the equivalent of a very large, modern lorry. The back wheels will be seven foot tall, the top speed will be 20mph on the road and the boiler pressure will be 200 PSI. Unusually for locomotives of the time, it will be fully sprung.
Alex added: “The finished project will exactly match the original engine, but we will be using modern technology to build it such as laser cutting and 3D moulding. It will be interesting to see a classic engine built using up-to-date techniques.”
Alex intends to display the part-built Talisman at the Shrewsbury Steam Rally in August.
Once complete, the team are hoping to demonstrate the steam engine’s capabilities by pulling a heavy load over a long distance – possibly even from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
Alex runs Old Hall Farm in Ulverston, Cumbria. The farm is worked using 19th century methods to grow crops and harvest the land and is open as a visitor attraction.
Morris Lubricants is a British company that has been manufacturing lubricants in Shrewsbury since 1869. Over 140 years of development has seen the company grow to become one of Europe’s leading oil blenders and marketers, with a reputation for quality and service.
The company offers an extensive range of performance lubricants covering a wide variety of application areas, from steam engines to modern-day commercial vehicles and industrial machinery.
This is backed by the highest level of quality control and technical support, together with an experienced customer service team.