STEAM ENGINEERS: Robert Riddles – Britain’s last steam chief mechanical engineer – Heritage Railway
Robert Riddles was born in 1892 and joined the LNWR at Crewe works as a premium apprentice in 1909, completing his apprenticeship in 1913. While attending the Mechanics Institute classes he took a course in electrical engineering, feeling there would be a future for electric traction.
During the First World War he served with the Royal Engineers, mainly in France, during which time he was badly wounded.
He returned to the LNWR at Crewe, and in 1920 became the bricks and mortar assistant with responsibility for the new erecting shop. When work on this was stopped, Riddles was placed in charge of a small production progress department and was sent to Horwich to study the methods used by the L&Y.
This was to prove helpful in furthering Riddles’ career and he was to have significant influence in the reorganisation of Crewe works which took place between 1925 and 1927 after the Grouping. In 1923 the LNWR had become part of the LMS and on completion of the work at Crewe, Riddles was sent to the former Midland works at Derby to supervise a similar programme. He was supported in this process by Henry Ivatt who was the works manager at Derby. STEAM ENGINEERS: Robert Riddles – Britain’s last steam chief mechanical engineer – Heritage Railway