Robert Daglish

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Blenkinsop's rack locomotive

Robert Daglish (circa 1777 - 26 December 1865) was an English steam engineer. He was born in Northumberland but by 1804 had moved to Wigan, Lancashire as engineer and manager of the Haigh Ironworks of the Earl of Balcarres. During his time there, he designed a number of steam engines for pumping and winding work in local collieries, all of which were hailed as a radical improvement on existing designs, and led to greater safety and efficiency.[1]

Later career[edit]

Orrell collieries[edit]

In 1812, he left Haigh to work for coal owner John Clarke as manager of the Orrell collieries on the other side of Wigan. Here, a horse tramway was being used to haul coal three and a half miles from the collieries to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal quay at Crooke. Daglish, after obtaining the necessary patent licence, built the first steam powered locomotive in Lancashire to the design of John Blenkinsop, a Leeds engineer. The 'Blenkinsop pattern' locomotives possessed a fifth wheel, resembling a large cog wheel, the teeth of which engaged in slots on the outside of the rail as an aid to traction. Christened 'The Yorkshire Horse', Daglish's locomotive successfully replaced the use of horses on the tramway whilst George Stephenson was still developing "Blucher" at Killingworth colliery. Two more locomotives were built to the same pattern, each of which could haul a load of over thirty tons up a one in thirty six gradient, or a load of ninety tons on the level, at a speed of between three and five miles per hour. Previously fourteen draught horses were needed to perform similar work and it was estimated they cost the considerable sum of five hundred pounds per annum on stabling and fodder.[1]

Consultant engineer[edit]

In the years that followed, Daglish's reputation as an engineer led to him being appointed consultant engineer on many railway projects, both in England and on the American continent. In 1825, for instance, he commenced the surveying and engineering of the Bolton and Leigh Railway, Lancashire's first public railway.

St Helens Foundry[edit]

He also became a partner in 1818 in the St Helens Foundry, which traded as Robert Daglish & Co.[2] The company went on to build an international reputation for the casting and building of steam pumping and winding for the mining industry and was particularly successful at producing locomotives and bridges for the expanding railway network.[3] Among the many projects they undertook one was to supply the pistons for Stephenson's Rocket, They also cast the members for the Rory O'More Bridge in Dublin. The bridge was completed in 1859 and inscribed on the arch of the bridge is: "Robert Daglish Junr. St. Helens Foundry Lancashire". Robert Daglish junior was the son of Robert senior and was well known for his work on bridges.


He married Margaret Twizell in North Shields on 1 April 1802. They had at least four sons including Robert Jnr, all born in Wigan, as well as a daughter Elizabeth born in North Shields.


Robert Snr is buried in the churchyard of St Thomas the Martyr in nearby Upholland. His tomb is marked "In this vault lie the remains of Robert Daglish Esq, of Orrell Lodge who died December 26th 1865, Aged 88 years". His wife had died on 3 October 1849 aged 70 and is buried in the same grave.