Dublin & Blessington Steam Tramway 2-4-2 Locomotives in Ireland

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 2 (Locobase 20048)

Data from "Dublin & Blessington Steam Tramway.," Locomotive Magazine, Vol 18 (15 February 1912), pp. 28-29. See also Karl Whitney, "An Irishman's Diary, Sat, Jan 2, 2010, 00:00 On the trail of the Blessington Steam Tramway", the Irish Times website at [], last accessed 11 January 2015. See also Michael Corcoran, "Dublin's Trams", 10th Sir John T. Gilbert Commemorative Lecture at Dublin City Library and Archive on 23rd January 2007, archived in the Libraries and Archives Blog at [], last accessed 12 January 2015.

The D&BST opened a 15 1/2 mile tramway in 1887 between Terenure (3 1/4 miles from Dublin) to Blessington. It ran on "slightly raised track" on the side of the road on 50 lb/yard (25 kg/metre) rail. An 1890 extension linked Blessington with Poulaphouca Waterfall another 4 1/2 miles away.

This engine was the last new 2-4-2T bought for the line. It was a true double-ender. Not only were there two-wheel trucks at each end, but roofed operating controls as well. The rolling stock included double-decker tram cars that towered over the locomotives. The upper deck's seating consisted of folding chairs and open sides guarded by slender longitudinal bars.

Whitney's review of the D&BST's last day of operation on 31 December 1932 looked back at the original reasons for building the line: "...provide a service which would appeal to locals wishing to travel to and from Dublin, farmers wishing to transport cattle and produce to the city, and industries such as the numerous quarries which adjoined the tramway." Its extension to the waterfall sought to add tourist outings to the passenger list.

The D&BST soon gained a gory reputation as a killer that undoubtedly stemmed from its exposed operating environment. Fifteen deaths occurred in the first sixteen years of operation and sparks from the engines set off fourteen fires along the right of way. Several railway employees were killed as well as several young children.

Other deaths appeared to stem from a quirk of Irish law that forbade sale of alcoholic drinks on Sunday except for "bona-fide" travellers, which were defined as persons journeying more than three miles on the tramway. Whitney explains the law's relevance to the D&BST: "As many of the tramway's stations and waiting rooms were located in public houses, the tram provided both a loophole to the law and the perfect vehicle for a leisurely Sunday's drinking."

Relatives and loved ones began placing little crosses at the accident sites (as, much later, similarly bereaved relatives marked fatal automobile accident sites in countries such as the United States). As the number of markers grew, the railway became known as "The Longest Graveyard in Europe". At the Templeogue end of the line, the pub was so often used to lay out accident victims that it was nicknamed The Morgue.

Still, as the Irish Times commented in 1932, although the tram was "neither quiet nor beautiful ...people liked it, and will regret its passing." The line never turned a profit and over the decades, the taxpayers of Wicklow tired of underwriting a losing business and finally won legislative approval in the Dáil to close the tramway.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID20048
RailroadDublin & Blessington Steam Tramway
Number in Class1
Road Numbers2/10
Number Built1
BuilderT Green & Son
Valve GearStephenson
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)5 / 1.52
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)16 / 4.88
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.31
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)16 / 4.88
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)116,480 / 52,835
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)116,480 / 52,835
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)1800 / 6.82
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)36.38 / 924
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)160 / 11
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)12" x 18" / 305x457
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)9690 / 4395.32
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort)
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)92 - 1.75" / 44
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)
Flue/Tube length (ft / m) 8.19 / 2.50
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)36 / 3.34
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)373 / 34.65
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)373 / 34.65
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume158.31
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation
Same as above plus superheater percentage
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area5760
Power L12277
Power MT

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