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Daniel Gooch

Sir Daniel Gooch by Leslie Ward, 1882
Personal information
Nationality United Kingdom
Birth date 24 August 1816(1816-08-24)
Birth place Bedlington, Northumberland
Date of death 15 October 1889 (aged 73)
Significant projects Great Western Railway
Transatlantic telegraph cable

Sir Daniel Gooch, 1st Baronet (24 August 1816 – 15 October 1889) was first chief mechanical engineer of the Great Western Railway from 1837 to 1864 and its Chairman from 1865 to 1889.

Born in Bedlington, Northumberland, the son of an ironfounder, he trained in engineering with a variety of companies, including a period with Robert Stephenson and Company, but was aged barely 21 when recruited by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Railway. His earliest days with the company were a struggle to keep the miscellaneous collection of 7 ft ¼ in (2,140 mm) broad gauge steam locomotives ordered by Brunel working. Taking the best of these, the GWR Star Class (on which he and Brunel had improved the blastpipe arrangement) as a model, he designed the GWR Firefly Class of 2-2-2 express passenger locomotives introduced in 1840. In comparative trials by the Gauge Commissioners, Ixion of this class proved capable of speeds greater than its standard gauge challenger. In 1843 Gooch introduced a new form of locomotive valve gear.

In 1840, Gooch was responsible for identifying the site of Swindon Works and in 1846 for designing the first complete locomotive to be constructed there, Great Western, prototype of the GWR Iron Duke Class of 4-2-2s which were able to achieve 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) and which, much renewed, saw out the broad gauge.

Recalled to the Great Western Railway Company as Chairman in 1865, he led it out of near-bankruptcy and took a particular interest in construction of the Severn Tunnel; however, final abandonment of the broad gauge did not take place until after his death.

He was also instrumental in laying the first successful Transatlantic telegraph cable, using the SS Great Eastern (1865/66), as chief engineer of the Telegraph Construction Company, of which he became Chairman after John Pender the first Chairman resigned in 1868.

He married Margaret Tanner in 1838. Following her death in 1868 he married Emily Burder in 1870; she died in 1901. He was Conservative MP for Cricklade from 1865 to 1885 and in 1866 was created a Baronet in recognition of his cable work. From 1859 he lived at Clewer Park in Windsor. His brothers John Viret Gooch, Thomas Longridge Gooch and William Frederick Gooch were also railway engineers.


  • Gooch, Daniel (1972). Memoirs & Diary. David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-5609-7.  
  • Griffiths, Derek (1987). Locomotive Engineers of the GWR. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 0-85059-819-2.  
  • (September 24, 2004), Sir Daniel Gooch. Retrieved February 9, 2005.
Business positions
Preceded by
Chief Mechanical Engineer
of the Great Western Railway

1837 – 1864
Succeeded by
Joseph Armstrong
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ambrose Lethbridge Goddard
Lord Ashley
Member of Parliament for Cricklade
1865 – 1885
With: Ambrose Lethbridge Goddard 1865–1868
Frederick William Cadogan 1868–1874
Ambrose Lethbridge Goddard 1874–1880
Nevil Story-Maskelyne 1880–1885
(representation reduced to one member 1885)
Succeeded by
Nevil Story-Maskelyne
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Clewer Park)
1866 – 1889
Succeeded by
Henry Daniel Gooch


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