From 1935 to 1945 he worked for Short Brothers in Rochester as an aircraft engineer. In 1946, he established his own engineering firm, Baydon. In 1950 he married Barbara Willans, an actress. In 1951 he became Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Talyllyn Railway in Wales for its first year of preservation. At the end of the 1951 season, he returned to Devizes, Wiltshire where he went into partnership with A.E. Newbery to create Curwen and Newbery. He left the partnership in 1966 and established his own workshop at All Cannings, Wiltshire.
He published his autobiography entitled Rule of Thumb in 2006, and a review of his work was published as The Miniature Locomotives of David Curwen in 2008 by Dave Holdroyd.
Locomotives built by David Curwen include the following:
- Robin Hood, a 10 1⁄4 in (260 mm) gauge 4-6-2 built in 1946/47 for the Hilsea Miniature Railway on Portsea Island
- Waverley, a 10 1⁄4 in (260 mm) gauge 4-4-2 built in 1948. It was originally named Black Prince and used on a railway in Weymouth, Dorset. It was later in use at the Isle of Mull Railway, and is now based at Rudyard Lake Steam Railway, in Staffordshire.
- John H Gretton, another 10 1⁄4 in (260 mm) gauge 4-4-2 built in 1948, based at the Stapleford Miniature Railway in Leicestershire, rebuilt in 1969.
- No. 5, nicknamed The Lawnmower, a 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) gauge lightweight locomotive built in 1952 for the Talyllyn Railway using a Model T Ford engine and transmission from the narrowboat of L.T.C. Rolt and the wheels from a slate wagon. It worked the Fridays-only winter passenger service until 1953, when it was taken out of use with a failed gearbox. It was dismantled in 1954, and converted into a flat wagon. It is proposed to rebuild it as a memorial to David Curwen, using a replacement engine and bodywork.
- "David Curwen". This Is Wiltshire. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
- Rolt, L. T. C. (1971). Talyllyn Adventure. David and Charles. p. 56. ISBN 0 7153 5107 9.
- Scott, Peter. Thames Side Promenade Railways. Peter Scott. p. 27.
- "Steam Railway Locomotive Waverley". Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "751 'John H Gretton' (formerly 'John of Gaunt')". Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "Historic Talyllyn loco to be resurrected". The Railway Magazine. January 2013. p. 93.
- Bate, John (2001). The Chronicles of Pendre Sidings. RailRomances. p. 33. ISBN 1-900622-05-X.
- "Talyllyn Railway stock - Wagons". Talyllyn Railway. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- The Miniature Locomotives of David Curwen, 2008 by Lawson Little and Dave Holdroyd
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