By the late 1880s there was an urgent need to replace not only the surviving ECR and early GER tanks pottering up and down lightly laid rustic branch lines, but also the aged locomotives in charge of the quarter-hourly service on the Fenchurch Street – Blackwall line.
George England’s indigenous London & Blackwall 2-4-0Ts had been withdrawn from the line in 1882, and the positively ancient Jones & Potts 2-2-2WTs became extinct a year later. At that time, examples of Robert Sinclair’s V class 2-4-2WTs, the ‘Scotchmen’ had been allocated the services, but these were gradually withdrawn throughout the decade as their boilers expired, and a steady succession of Adams, Bromley and Worsdell tank engines temporarily took charge.
Classified under Stratford’s Letter Account as E22, nine of the first batch of ten 0-6-0Ts nos. 150 – 158 were delivered to the Running Department between 5th Feb and 18th March 1889 with no.159 following on June 24th. About half were immediately rusticated to various branch lines and the rest allocated to Millwall Junction, a sub-shed of Stratford, for working out of Fenchurch Street to Blackwall and North Woolwich.
The E22s were a development of the T18 class but of lighter construction. Their butt-jointed boilers pressed to 140 psi were shared with the T18 class and the wheelbase was identical, but the side tanks and cab were smaller and the frames 1ft shorter at the rear to help steady the ride at passenger speeds. The cylinders were smaller than the T18’s at 14″ diameter with a 20″ stroke, and the crank axles, crossheads, slidebars and connecting rods were also lighter than those used on the earlier class.
Instead of fitting the same cast iron 15-spoke unbalanced wheels as the T18s, Holden gave the E22s new 10-spoke balanced wheels with a 10″ crank throw which meant the outside brake pull rods didn’t require the characteristic 1½” drop sections in the path of the crankpin as did their predecessor. As a consequence of the lightly constructed motion and short cylinder stoke the E22s only required small balance weights; on the leading and trailing driving wheels the weights were formed by filling the adjacent spokes to the crankpin, and the inner wheels had half-width weights on the same side as the crankpin but extending over into the space between the adjoining spokes.
By the late 1880s most of the rest of the world was using steel for inner fireboxes, but in Great Britain copper was the preferred medium. Numbers 150 – 158 were released to traffic with the usual copper fireboxes, but no.159 was given an experimental steel one, and it’s almost certain that the delay in its release to traffic was due to comprehensive testing. No.159 kept the steel firebox until a General overhaul lasting between September 1909 and January 1910 when it was rebuilt with a new telescopic boiler (fitted to all the E22 rebuilds) and a conventional copper firebox. As with the T18 class, the clack boxes on the original boilers were positioned on the centre line of the dome.
The E22s were regaled with all the contemporary standard GER fittings; including a Worsdell pattern stovepipe, dome and shrouded twin Ramsbottom safety valves with the whistle seated on the raised valve base, the Westinghouse brake and screw reverse for passenger duties. The engines were finished in ultramarine which in the late 1880s was still applied to all new and rebuilt locomotives.
As built, boiler handrails were in three separate sections and the one on the driver’s side incorporated the Worsdell pattern spherical blower operated by a rod inside the rail. The tank filler lids were the same cast iron hinged type which had been fitted to the T18s. The tanks themselves extended into the cabs, and as with the T18s ended inside with a curved top. Due to the short cab the front plate of the bunker was flush with the cab door, and the brake standard was completely enclosed within the bunker with a long vertical slot in the plate for maintenance access. As released to traffic the E22s were fitted with Worsdell’s parallel buffer housings.
From 1892 all new and replacement Great Eastern smokeboxes were of a flanged construction with a radiused leading edge, replacing the previous smokebox design constructed from built-up angle iron, and the E22 class would have been fitted with them from the mid-late 1890s as their original ones wore out and further repair deemed not viable.
Between 20th February and 10th April 1893 ten more E22s to Letter Account B32 were released to traffic. Numbered 245 – 254, they were given slightly lower but wider tanks than the first batch, increasing the water capacity from 600 to 650 gallons, and the cabs and bunkers were widened to match. As with no.159, the ten B32 locos were given steel fireboxes and kept them until all were rebuilt between December 1908 and September 1912. Contrary to what has been published elsewhere and regurgitated ad infinitum, none of these eleven locos fitted with steel fireboxes had the safety valves moved from the firebox to the rear ring of the boiler – more on this in the next entry. As with the E22 batch, about half were sent to work on the Fenchurch Street line where they monopolised services, while the rest were sent to outlying districts.
Unlike the original batch, the ten B32 locos appear to have been fitted with an 8-bolt tapered buffer housing from new. Later, during overhaul, these would be swapped with whatever was to hand, some of the E22s receiving tapered housings and some B32s the parallel type.
Like the E22s, the B32s were all finished in the ultramarine blue livery which, by the early 1890s was only applied to passenger-rated Westinghouse-fitted locomotives.
All twenty locos were built with Roscoe displacement lubricators on the fireman’s side of the smokebox, but from 1894 they were gradually replaced with sight feed lubricators located in the cab.
From about 1894 (though the B32s may have had them from new) the locos were fitted with Macallen’s patent blastpipe, and from about the same date some of the class were given continuous handrails. Some of those with continuous handrails were also fitted with Holden’s Rotary pattern blower valve operated via a crank attached to a push-pull rod inside the handrail. Others received the handrail but retained the Worsdell blower but now fitted higher on the smokebox – the operating rod clearing the top of the tank. Some may even have been fitted with Holden’s short-lived slide-valve blower, but I’ve not yet seen any photographic evidence.
From 1895 the twenty locos were gradually fitted with coal rails as they passed through the Works, some gaining three rails, others four.
Between 1899 and 1912 the whole class was reboilered with 160psi telescopic boilers and copper fireboxes which were interchangeable with the T18 and R24 classes. These new boilers had the clack valves positioned closer to the smokebox.
Given their allocations and duties it would seem that the E22s are barely relevant to Basilica Fields. However, from 1901 the last Sunday Up train from Buntingford ran through to Liverpool Street. It’s possible that this working via Broxbourne, Lea Bridge and Stratford may occasionally (say, in the event of a failure on the Hertford branch) have been hauled by one of the resident Buntingford locos, which from 1889 to the mid-1890s were numbers 158 and 159. Tenuous, I know, but I’m going to stick my head in the sand and run with it! Other members of the class were allocated to Buntingford from about 1905.
Many examples of the class ran as 2-4-0Ts with the leading section of the coupling rods removed, all engines working the Blackwell line were altered in this way, as were a number of those allocated to country depots such as Braintree. No official reason for this has been given, though over the years suggestions have varied from enabling the locos to traverse sharper curves, to protecting both the flanges and rails. Neither explanation rings true as the practice generally ceased under the LNER except on the tight curves of Ipswich docks with no discernible difference. Whatever the reason their low tractive effort of 11,100lbs and high axle weight over the leading and trailing wheels would have made the locos quite free-running four-coupled machines, and with their relatively light loads of four to five four-wheeled coaches, were unlikely to experience the embarrassment of slipping. Under Fredrick V. Russell – James Holden’s brilliant young protégé – trials were also undertaken with the locos running as 0-4-2Ts, but the results must have proved less satisfactory as they stopped early on.
A couple of years ago I scratchbuilt an example in an LNER/British Railways transitional livery here, but have in my Basilica Fields pile of brass of one of the long-discontinued and much-missed J65 kits from Connoisseur Models, and will be using this as the basis for building one of the Buntingford locos, probably no.158, for the through service to Liverpool Street.
It’s perhaps not surprising that most of the sources for this article are the same as for the T18 class.
- Great Eastern Locomotives Past & Present 1862-1945 – C Langley Aldrich RCTS Locomotives of the LNER Part 8A
- Locomotives Illustrated #116
- Yeadon’s Register Volume 48
- Lyn Brooks of the GERS
- John Gardner of the GERS