John Haswell (1812 – 97)

John Haswell was one of several nineteenth-century Scotsmen who established large scale industries in continental Europe. He was born in Glasgow, studied at the university in that city, and subsequently worked for a shipbuilder. In 1837 he went to Austria where his first task was to plan the workshops of the railway from Vienna to Raaber, a private concern built in 1840-46, which was later known as the Ostbahn and extended to Budapest. From 1840 until 1882 Haswell managed the Locomotivfabrik der StEG, which the previous year had produced the first steam locomotives in the Habsburg Empire. In 1855 it was taken over by state railway, Staats-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft, and he became concerned with supplying locomotives for the Semmering line amongst other railways. Haswell made many innovations in locomotive design. Farafeld in 1844 was the first six-coupled locomotive in the Austrian Empire and Wien-Raab in 1855, was Austria’s first eight-coupled locomotive, setting a pattern for freight locomotives followed by designers in other countries. Haswell contributed substantially to the development of steam brakes, and was one of the first engineers to build four-cylinder locomotives. His hydraulic forging press was very important in the history of mechanical engineering and the structural use of iron and steel. An example is displayed in the Technical Museum in Vienna. He remained in Vienna after resigning his post in 1882 and was buried in the city’s Döbling cemetery.