Allen Knight’s McLaren Nil Desperandum

McLaren Road Locomotive belonging to Allen Knight (Boilers) Ltd of Huddersfield in 1941:

Allen Knight's McLaren Nil Desperandum

The engine was a very large locomotive built by McLaren in around 1909, I have seen it quoted as both 10 NHP and 12 NHP so one of the biggest engines they made for the UK market. The engine was fitted with a spoke flywheel, although in the picture a plate cover has been added and was named Nil Desperandum.

The blast pipe arrangement into the smokebox is unlike most McLaren road locomotives of the time, perhaps an experimental feature.

Allen Knight were boiler makers as well as engine dealers who had a large number of engines through their business. The engine is photographed at their works which is familiar as it was beneath the railway arches on Viaduct Street in the town. I have a list of engines that they owned as well as more pictures, I will try and post another item about them in due course.



Earle Warwick (owner of 957)
30/09/2013 - 01:31 #

I'd say this is 956, a photo of the opposite side appears in John Crawley's book Traction Engines In Focus. It's a 10hp engine, with 7" and 11" cylinders.The exhaust pipe going into the smokebox was a feature of this type of engine, and if it's the same as its two sister engines, 955 and 957 which both reside in NZ, it would have been made of copper.The engine is also fitted with rack steering, the worm of which is contained within a casting inside the front tank.

David Collidge
30/09/2013 - 19:44 #

Thanks Earle. I will try and dig out a copy of the photograph in John Crawley's book. I didn't know about these unusual features on the engine.

Nigel Ingham
23/10/2013 - 11:58 #

My Grandfather Harry Ingham worked as a labourer for company that installed and removed boilers in mills etc. he had an unusual saying "nil despairandum", as a child I had no Idea what this meant.Later in life I learnt that this was lattin for dont despair or dont give up.
researching further in to my families past I out that nil desperandum was the name of the steam engine that he worked with. Its wonderful that there is a picture of this machine, does it still exist to this day?

David Collidge
26/10/2013 - 21:18 #

Hi Nigel, thank you for your comment - what a great story. I bet your Grandfather could have told some very interesting tales. Sadly no, this engine does not survive, Nil Desperandum had been broken up by the early 1950's. It would be a much prized example had it made it into preservation.

Lyall Simpson
18/09/2014 - 14:19 #

Another similar Mclaren also exists in New Zealand No.771 also rack steer but of 1903. Just recently sold and in need of a full re-build

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