By the beginning of the Edwardian period the Great Eastern Railway was handling the largest number of individual passenger journeys in the world, yet the demand for increased suburban services continued unabated, and before long the close-coupled 15-carriage 4-wheeled suburban sets were bolstered by the addition of an extra carriage, catering for 108 extra seated and standing passengers.

During the morning peak, in the space of one hour, twenty four trains pulled into Liverpool Street’s West Side suburban platforms 1 – 4 made up of eight from Enfield, two from Chingford, ten from Walthamstow (on the Chingford Line) and two from Edmonton Lower Level by way of Angel Road (fast services via Clapton, and slow services via Lea Bridge and Stratford).

This is what it's all about! Buckjumpers at Bethnal Green from the Liverpool Street end of the station, Basilica Fields about a mile down the line away from the camera. Stage left an R24R in the Up platform of the 1872 suburban lines and stage right an S56 standing in the Up platform of the Local lines (ex-Main of 1840).  Curving round the back on the far right are the Thro' lines of 1891 and carriage sidings. The tall Type 8 West Junction signal box controls the forest of typical GE sky-arm LQ boards which are comprehensively stayed. the second box on the Up Local platform is in fact the Timekeeper's box.  The two trains are probably carrying about 2400 passenger between them. Photograph © Public Domain.

This is what it’s all about! Buckjumpers at Bethnal Green from the Liverpool Street end of the station, Basilica Fields is situated about a mile down the line away from the camera. Stage left an R24R in the Up platform of the 1872 Suburban lines and stage right an S56 standing in the Up platform of the Local lines (ex-Main line of 1840). Curving round the back on the far right are the Through lines of 1891 and carriage sidings. The tall Type 8 West Junction signal box controls the forest of typical GE sky-arm LQ boards which are comprehensively stayed. The second box on the Up Local platform is in fact the Timekeeper’s box. The two trains are probably carrying about 2400 passenger between them, all from the Chingford line. Photograph © Public Domain.

The 16-carriage trains were designed to carry 848 seated passengers (20,352 per hour), plus an extra six standing in each compartment  bringing the total weight of the train to around 280 tons gross. The little Holden 0-6-0 tanks, weighing just 40 tons, not only had to negotiate the 1 in 70 Bethnal Green bank outside the terminus but the tightly-timed and steeply-graded lines on the north flank of the Thames Valley. One contemporary writer recorded peak trains disgorging 1200 seated and standing passengers, and by the end of the Edwardian period the company was carrying over 200,000 suburban passengers a day – 73 million a year, a figure which eventually rose to over 107.5 million during ‘The Jazz’ in the 1920s.

When the rebuilding of the R24 class was at its peak in 1904, additional new passenger Bucks were required by the Running Department, so Holden took the R24R design and increased the coal capacity by 5cwt to 2 tons 10 cwt by widening the bunker and cab to match the 5 inch wide tank extensions. Mindful of the 180 lbs per square inch boiler extending a considerable distance into the cab he also altered the doorway to a symmetrical keyhole shape.

The locos were built in two batches to Orders S56 and P57, the former giving the engines their classification. The first batch were given the running numbers 51-60 and were handed over to the Running Department between 30 May and 30 June 1904, and the second batch numbered 81-90,  entering service between 2 September and 28 October of that year.

By the time the S56s were introduced most of the peripheral improvements had been made to the Bucks and in the couple of years to the end of the Basilica Fields timeframe there were no alterations of note to the class.

No. 85 from the P57 batch was released to traffic on 16 September 1904. The disc headcode on the bunker reveals the loco has recently brought a Down empty coaching stock (ECS) movement from Liverpool Street to the Stratford Carriage Sidings. Yet another filthy loco, though there's been a half-hearted attempt to buff up the shiny y bits.

No. 85 from the P57 batch was released to traffic on 16 September 1904. The disc headcode on the bunker reveals the loco has recently brought a Down empty coaching stock (ECS) movement from Liverpool Street to the Stratford Carriage Sidings. Oh dear, it’s yet another filthy loco; looks like I’m slowly bursting the mythical bubble modellers like to inhabit in which all pre-Grouping locos were pristine chocolate-box clean… Photograph © Public Domain

Services

The new engines featured prominently on  the peak suburban services, but as before, during the slack hours they were utilised in the goods and shunting links as well as on empty carriage stock movements out of Liverpool Street.

Modelling the S56 class

At one time there was a Connoisseur Models kit of the LNER J69, but the closely related  J68 (GER C72) kit introduced several years later is a huge improvement in terms of fidelity and detail. I’ll be building two S56 class locos by converting the J68 kit by means of milled tank, cab and bunker parts from Colin Dowling’s range.

Preservation

The only Buckjumper to survive is no.87 from the P57 series of the S56 class. It has been kept in GER lined blue livery since withdrawal in 1962 and is currently on display at Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk.  Here it is during its stay at the NRM.

Afterword: Beyond the S56 class

The twenty locos of the S56 class didn’t mark the end of the Buckjumper development and in 1912, under James Holden’s son Stephen Dewar who had, somewhat controversially, taken the position of Locomotive Superintendent in 1907, ten more shunting locos were required for increased traffic.  It made economic sense to build ten new passenger locos and demote the original R24 batch of passenger locos to shunting duties, stripping them of their 10-spoke balanced wheels, Westinghouse brakes, screw reverser, screw couplings and condensing apparatus (though they retained the condensing chambers and vent pipes), and their boilers were replaced or reduced to 160psi.

Too late for Basilica Fields, a passenger Buck of the C72 variety of 1912, with all the mod-cons.  Still couldn't keep the old girls clean... Photograph © Public Domain.

Too late for Basilica Fields; a passenger Buck of the C72 variety built in 1912 with all the mod-cons, and even Goliath would have trouble banging his head on the raised arc roof. Still couldn’t keep the old girls clean though… 10-spoke wheels, Westinghouse brakes, condensing gear (albeit new full-width chambers) and screw reverser are second-hand courtesy of the R24 batch of 1890! Photograph © Public Domain.

The new locos, classed C72 were virtually identical  to the S56 engines, albeit with cosmetic modifications to bring them in line with the then new GER image, so incorporated built-up rimmed chimneys, arched windows in not only the front and rear weatherboards but also the cab side-sheets, and a high single-arc roof.  The following year under new Locomotive Superintendent Alfred Hill, ten more engines to the shunting specification were built, and just before Grouping one further batch of the shunting series was ordered which were released to traffic at the end of the first year of the LNER, bringing to an end 37 years of development and a total of 260 Buckjumper tanks.

G75 no24_spitalfields

Standing outside the small engine shed at Spitalfields, the final development of the Buckjumper shunters, class C72 to Order G75, no.24 was released to traffic on 9th January 1914. It has all the latest mod-cons of the passenger design mixed with the typical flat-topped tanks, three-link couplings, 15-spoke unbalanced wheels and outside brake pull rods (by now anachronistic on new builds) with dropped sections in the path of the 11″ throw crank pins. The loco is finished in the goods and shunting plain black livery and sports the grime and stains of working hard in the East End. The final batch built under the LNER in 1923 were the penultimate  locos to be built at Stratford Works. Photo ©Public Domain.

Sources:

Document SX11702 – NRM, York.  Composition of wide suburban sets.

The Great Eastern 0-6-0Ts – Railway Observer 1954 & RCTS

Locomotives of the LNER Pt. 8A – RCTS

Yeadon’s Register Vol. 48 – Booklaw

Locomotives Illustrated 116 – The Great Eastern Railway ‘Jazz’ engines.

The Great Eastern Railway Society Journal Special no.3 – All Stations to Liverpool Street (articles by Lyn Brooks and Geoff Pember)

In Search of Buckjumpers – Iain Rice, Model Railway Journal issues 35 & 36.

Bradshaw Timetables 1889 and 1905

GER Appendices to the Working Timetables of 1891 and 1906.

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