Locke, Joseph (DNB00)

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LOCKE, JOSEPH (1805–1860), civil engineer, fourth and youngest son of William Locke, colliery manager, was born at Attercliffe, near Sheffield, on 9 Aug. 1805. He was educated at Barnsley grammar school, and from 1818 to 1820 was a pupil of William Stobart of Pelaw, Durham, a colliery viewer. In 1823 he was articled to George Stephenson, civil engineer, Newcastle, and after the expiration of his time stayed on with his master, and aided him in the construction of the railway between Manchester and Liverpool, which was opened on 14 Sept. 1830. He took part in the experiments on motive power, and in 1829, conjointly with Stephenson, issued a pamphlet entitled 'Observations on the comparative merits of locomotive and fixed engines, being a Reply to the Report of Mr. James Walker,' which finally settled the question in favour of locomotive engines. Locke as a civil engineer, working on his own account, constructed the following lines: the Grand Junction, 1835-7, the London and Southampton, 1836-40, the Sheffield and Manchester, 1838-40, the Lancaster and Preston, 1837-40, the Greenock, Paisley, and Glasgow, 1837-41, the Paris and Rouen line, 1841-3, and the Rouen to Havre, 1843, when he received the decoration of the cross of the Legion of Honour from Louis-Philippe. He also designed and superintended the line between Barcelona and Mattaro in Spain, 1847-8, and the Dutch Rhenish railway, of which the final portion was completed in 1856. During the construction of the works on the continent Locke took into partnership in 1840 John Edward Errington [q. v.], and together they constructed the Lancaster and Carlisle line, 1843-6, the East Lancashire, the Scottish Central, 1845, the Caledonian, 1848, the Scottish Midland, the Aberdeen railways, the Greenock docks, and a line from Mantes to Caen and Cherbourg in 1852, for which Locke was created an officer of the Legion of Honour by Napoleon III. Despite the heavy work on the Caledonian line it cost, with the platforms and roadside stations, only 16,000l. a mile. This economy resulted from the adoption of steeper lines of gradient than had previously been thought suitable for the locomotive engine, and proved that dead levels were not absolutely necessary to prevent a loss of power. Locke was the designer of 'the Crewe engine,' in which the several parts were made with mathematical accuracy, and were capable of fitting indifferently any engine. Throughout his career Locke avoided undertaking very great and costly works, but he formed, with Robert Stephenson and Brunel, the triumvirate of the engineering world (Times, 21 Sept. 1860, p. 10). He joined the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1830, and held the position of president in 1858 and 1859. On 22 Feb. 1838 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1847 Locke purchased the manor of Honiton, Devonshire, and sat in parliament as a liberal for the borough of Honiton from that date to his death. He seldom spoke in the house except on matters within his special knowledge, but engaged in many parliamentary struggles, and took part in the battle of the gauges. To the town of Barnsley, Yorkshire, he presented the Locke Park, a recreation ground, and an endowment for the grammar school. While staying at Moffat, near Dumfries, for the purpose of shooting in Annandale, he was seized with internal inflammation, died on 18 Sept. 1860, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery. His statue by Marochetti was erected in the Locke park at Barnsley, and a window to his memory was placed in Westminster Abbey.

He married in 1834 Phœbe, daughter of John McCreery; she died at 23 Lowndes Square, London, on 15 Dec. 1866.

[Devey's Life of Joseph Locke, 1862, portrait; Minutes of Proc. of Institute of Civil Engineers, 1861, xx. 141-8; Gent. Mag. 1860, pt. ii. p. 434.]

G. C. B.