One of the greatest stories ever told about the British railway is on Fowler’s Ghost. The story originates from Sir John Fowler, an exceptional railway engineer in Britain who tried to solve one of the most significant underground railway problems way back in 1861. Steam locomotive trains used to cruise along the Metropolitan Railway in London and would all the time choke their crew due to their smokes and fumes. As one of the most excellent railway engineers in Britain, Fowler was up to the task of solving this problem.

Credits to: Dave_S.

John Fowler Proposal on New Train

Sir John Fowler proposed a different type of steam train, which would resolve the smoke and fume problem. He came up with a locomotive that can be considered as the first steamless locomotive to be invented. Based on the revelation of Sir Benjamin Baker, Sir John’s Fowler locomotive, which came to be known as Fowler’s Ghost was a Robert Stephenson and company 2-4-0 design locomotive. It had a 15 x 24 inches and a 6- foot wheels. Its gauge was a bit bigger compared with the Great Western and was 7 feet and ¼ inch wide. The uniqueness of the Fowler’s Ghost was its jet condenser with an air pump that would maintain a good vacuum. It used heat in a massive array of bricks, which worked as the combustion chamber that linked the firebox and the boiler tubes.

Flower Locomotive Successive Failures

As everyone expected, the new locomotive was meant to achieve a lot in the British railway, but such expectations were short-lived within the first few trials. In October 1861 the first trial on the Great Western Railway turned out to be a failure. In particular, the condensing system leaked, which made the boilers run dry, causing the pressure to drop, which could lead to a boiler explosion. A second attempt was done along the Metropolitan British Railway in 1862 and turned to be a failure as well.

These two successive failures made Fowler angry to the point of publicly denying that the locomotive existed. Following John Fowler’s anger, the Metropolitan Railway announced that the Ghost was on sale, and in 1865 it was sold to Isaac Watt Boulton. Boulton operated a hire locomotive business and tried to remodel Fowler’s Ghost to a standard gauge locomotive model. However, the attempt was unsuccessful, which as a result made him cut the locomotive for scrap in 1895. Soon after Fowler passed on, the story of his failed locomotive was long forgotten.

Unexpected turn of Ghost Events

However, on the 50th anniversary of the first failed attempt of the locomotive, a crew onboard a locomotive heading home saw a luminous glow while in a tunnel. The glow grew bigger and brighter, and an unknown shape of a locomotive was seen heading towards them. The crew bailed out from their engine to avoid a collision only to realize that no train in the British railway was approaching them.

Another case was reported, when an alarm went off in an underground track where a locomotive with no crew on board was seen. However, the control crew never saw any train and were amazed by the turn of event. The events continued to happen for a few nights until the crew realized that the engine resembles Fowler’s steamless locomotive design. Eventually, some of Fowler’s associates revealed pictures of the initial design of the failed locomotive in the British railway and the pictures resembled the ghostly appearances. This led to the naming of the train as Fowler’s Ghost, as it is told in many stories.