Gooch, Daniel (DNB00)
GOOCH, Sir DANIEL (1816–1889), railway pioneer and inventor, born 24 Aug. 1816, was third son of John Gooch (1783–1833) of Bedlington, Northumberland, by his wife Anna, daughter of Thomas Longridge of Newcastle-on-Tyne. At Birkinshaw's ironworks in his native village of Bedlington, Gooch acquired as a child his first knowledge of engineering. He there met George Stephenson, who was well acquainted with Birkinshaw. His apprenticeship as a practical engineer was served in the Forth Street works of Stephenson and Pease in Newcastle. In 1837, when aged twenty-one, he was appointed locomotive superintendent of the Great Western Railway, on the recommendation of Marc Isambard Brunel [q. v.], the engineer. He held this post for twenty-seven years. Gooch took advantage of the space allowed by the broad gauge, adopted by Brunel, to design locomotives on boldly original lines. His engines attained a speed and safety not previously deemed possible, and not exceeded since. His ‘North Star’ engine, ‘a marvel of symmetry and compactness,’ constructed about 1839, is still at Swindon. His engine called the ‘North Briton,’ constructed in 1846, is the pattern from which all engines for broad-gauged express trains were afterwards designed. In 1843 he invented ‘the suspended link motion with the shifting radius link,’ first fitted to the engine called ‘Great Britain.’ He, with Mr. McNaught, also constructed the earliest indicator used on locomotives. His experiments on atmospheric resistance of trains and internal and rolling friction fully exhibited his inventive genius. For the purpose of his researches he constructed a dynamometer carriage, ‘in which all the results were registered (automatically) upon a large scale, opposite each other on the same roll of paper.’ He read an account of these experiments before the Institution of Civil Engineers on 18 April 1848, and a full report was printed in the ‘Morning Herald’ of the next day. Gooch, as a champion of the broad gauge, was severely criticised by the advocates of the narrow gauge, but the results of his experiments proved true.
In 1864 Gooch resigned his post as locomotive superintendent to inaugurate telegraphic communication between England and America. His efforts were successful, and he despatched the first cable message across the Atlantic in 1866. For his energy in conducting this enterprise he was made a baronet on 15 Nov. 1866. Until the end of his life he was chairman of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, and was long a director of the Anglo-American Company. In 1865 the Great Western Railway was in a critical situation. Its stock stood at 38½, and bankruptcy seemed imminent. Gooch re-entered its service as chairman of the board of directors, and his activity and financial skill rapidly placed the railway on a sound footing. He was deeply interested in the construction of the Severn Tunnel, which was opened in 1887. He remained chairman of the railway till his death, when Great Western stock was quoted at over 160. Gooch also supported the building of the Great Eastern steamship, and was one of her owners when she was purchased for laying the Atlantic cable.
Gooch was M.P. for Cricklade from 1865 to 1885, was a D.L. for Wiltshire, a J.P. for Berkshire, and a prominent freemason, being grand sword-bearer of England, and provincial grand-master of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. He died at his residence, Clewer Park, Berkshire, 15 Oct. 1889, and was buried, 19 Oct., in Clewer churchyard. He married, first, on 22 March 1838, Margaret, daughter of Henry Tanner, esq., of Bishopwearmouth, Durham; she died on 22 May 1868; and secondly, on 17 Sept. 1870, Emily (d. May 1901), youngest daughter of John Burder, esq., of Norwood, Surrey. By his first wife he had four sons and two daughters, the eldest son, Henry Daniel, succeeding as second baronet. A portrait is in the board room of the Great Western Railway, Paddington, and a bust in the shareholders' meeting-room.
[Times, 16 and 21 Oct. 1889; Foster's Baronetage; Men of the Time, 1887; Engineering, 20 Oct. 1889.]