The Book of Samson

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By Paul Jarman

In 1874 a small foundry in Poole, Dorset, manufactured its first successful railway locomotive. There was no hunger for glamour, but instead a desire to produce an affordable and effective steam engine for use on industrial narrow gauge tramways as might be employed in mining or manufacturing. Named locally Samson, this engine was the subject of just a single photograph and within two decades the mine in the Durham dales where it worked had closed and it was eventually sold for scrap in 1904. It was not forgotten, however, and lived on in the local cultural memory. In 2013 construction of a new Samson began at Beamish Museum, and three years later this new steam locomotive, a close reproduction of the original, was completed. 

This is the story of the original locomotive and it’s fascinating context. It is also the story of the new Samson, how it was built and what some of the motivations for its recreation were for those who undertook to explore an obscure branch of railway history and locomotive engineering.

Paul Jarman has worked at Beamish Museum for over 11 years, responsible for the transport and industry collections and the staff and volunteers who restore, maintain and operate them. After cutting his teeth on narrow gauge railways, volunteering on the Moseley Industrial Tramway near Stockport where he grew up, it was probably inevitable that at some point a narrow gauge railway would be developed at Beamish. After a number of temporary lines were assembled for special events, a permanent line was built and continues to develop at the County Durham Museum; featuring as the fifth working railway on the 400 acre site and representative of the many dozens of narrow gauge railways that once operated across the north east.

Portrait format hardback, glazed boards, 144 heavyweight gloss art pages, 255 photographs, 14 drawings, 2 period engravings and 2 maps.


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