92 SQUADRON, Nº34081
Registered Charity Nº299140


Bulleid Coat of Arms
The Bulleid family Coat of Arms.

OLIVER VAUGHAN SNELL BULLEID, CBE was born in New Zealand at Invercargill on 19th September 1882 of British parents who had emigrated.

His father died in 1889 and the family returned to Britain, living in Llanfyllin, Wales. In 1901 Bulleid, after schooling, gained an apprenticeship at the Great Northern Railway Works at Doncaster under H. A. Ivatt. By 1907 he had progressed to assistant to the Works Manager. He then moved to France to become Chief Draughtsman of Westinghouse at their Freinville Works outside Paris.

His already outstanding career then found him as Mechanical Engineer for the Board of Trade, Exhibitions branch, dealing with the Brussels and Turin Exhibitions of 1910 & 1911 respectively. Following this he returned to England with his new family, becoming assistant to (Sir) Nigel Gresley. Bulleid stayed with Gresley and moved with him, when with grouping, the London and North Eastern Railway was formed in 1923. His office now being in London.

He was still with the LNER when, in May 1937, Sir Herbert Walker the Chairman of the Southern Railway, requested his presence as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern. He was to take over from R.E.L. Maunsell.

Bulleid immediately went to work evaluating the Southerns' fleet, quickly finding it inadequate he instructed his drawing office to design new locomotives. His work on the LNER had given him many ideas, this was his chance to prove them. And prove them he did! His first design, the Merchant Navy Class, was like nothing that had been seen before, superb engines looking totally alien, with many innovative parts.

His second successful design was the Q1 0-6-0 freight engine again with many unusual features, much use of the relatively new idea of welding was incorporated saving considerable weight. The Q1 was the most powerful locomotive of its wheel type in the country. The light pacifics came next including, of course, 92 SQUADRON.

O.V.S. Bulleid (left and right) and presenting [50 year] Long Service Awards
to members of his CME team in September 1947. (centre)
Photos: Unknown (left), Phil Marsh collection (centre) and Syd Carroll collection (right).
Bulleid was also a prolific designer of rolling stock both passenger carrying and freight with a unique wagon chassis design. In addition he designed both Electric and Diesel locomotives.

Not all his ideas were successful - his double deck electric stock just didn't work within the confines of the British loading gauge BUT His most infamous disaster was the 'Leader' class 0-6-6-0. Of the five started only one steamed prior to the whole project being assigned to the bin.

Bulleid left the Southern and went to Ireland where he again innovated with his 'Turf Burner' (which burnt Peat!) with similar looks to his 'Leader'. It ran successful trials but burnt so much peat that it needed re-stocking too often with new fuel. Also the policy in Ireland at the time was to dieselise as soon as possible so no further work could be done in this direction.

Bulleid retired to Malta where he eventually died.

Page updated on Monday, 21 January 2019

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