Locomotives


In my original plan, the time-frame for Basilica Fields was going to span the early 1900s to circa 1915,  but somewhere along the line I dialled both ends backwards which means that the four classes of engines featuring in this entry will no longer play a part as their presence in an 1890s/early 1900s setting is an anachronism too far, even for my pet cat, Schrödinger. However, one or two of them may make an appearance elsewhere down some diverse branch of the Basilica Fields multiverse (but enough of that wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff for now) so I’ve included them for completeness.

Upon James Holden’s retirement in December 1907, the position of Locomotive Superintendent was passed to his son Stephen Dewar, a decision which privately infuriated Frederick Russell, head of the Locomotive Design section at Stratford Works, who felt the position should have been offered to him. And not without good reason, for he was directly responsible for many of the designs attributed to James Holden such as the P43 4-2-2 Single, the famous Claud Hamilton 4-4-0 and the infamous Decapod 0-10 0T. However, nepotism won the day, and S.D. Holden took up the position in January 1908.  In the end it worked out for the good; Stephen Dewar’s tenure was short and his contribution to locomotive design fairly light (although he patented many inventions while at Stratford), much of the work under his reign can be attributed to  Chief Draughtsman E.S. Tiddeman, a long-term Stratfordian, who maintained continuity and ensured development of the Great Eastern style. Russell’s career took a different path – he was later promoted to  Superintendent of Operations by General Manager Henry W. Thornton, and was instrumental in devising and implementing the famous suburban Jazz services.

The Y65 Class

The last of James Holden’s revised version of the Worsdell M15 class was released to traffic on 18th June 1909, a full eighteen months after his retirement.  Holden Sr. had left the Great Eastern Locomotive Department in a tremendously strong condition, and it wasn’t until 20th July 1909 that the first locomotive built under Stephen Dewar’s tenure was put into revenue-earning service. The Y65 class 2-4-2Ts were intended to both replace the last of the pre-Worsdell o-4-4 tanks class and to free up for other duties the rusticated members of the E22 class which pottered up and down the lightest of GE branchlines.

Photo ©Public Domain

The prototype Y65 no.1300 posing in the photographic French grey (the ultramarine undercoat) livery with black borders and white lining. Most of the features mentioned in the main text can be seen; the brass-rimmed stovepipe, the dome on the back ring of the small boiler, the four-column Ramsbottom valves over the firebox, the large cab and huge quantity of glass – the tops of the front and rear windows following the profile of the high-arc roof, the brass ventilator, cab doors and coal rails on the bunker. Photo ©Public Domain

Letter Account Y65 consisted of two engines, and following on from the introduction of no.1300, no.1301 was released to traffic six days later on 26th July 1909. It’s certain that James Holden followed the career of his son, so must have looked on with amazement at the non-standard nature of this first locomotive which was an anathema to his legacy; a smorgasbord of old, new and seeming indecision. The uniquely sized 15” x 22” cylinders  were driven by Stephenson’s link valve-gear with slide valves in a geometry similar to the T18 class, the non-standard small diameter boiler measured just 3′ 11½” over the clothing and was pressed to a working pressure of 160p.s.i. With 3’6″ radial and 4′ 10″ driving wheels, the engines’ nominal tractive effort was 11607 lbs.

Stylistically the Y65s were a scaled-down M15 crossed with an E22 and topped-off with a capacious (some might say disproportionately large) high-roofed cab, mirroring the Great Eastern Railway’s express and goods locomotive policy of the new century, and set a precedent for future tank engine designs. These small radial tanks quickly became known as the ‘Crystal Palaces’ due to their not inconsiderable acreage of glass.

The water capacity of the small side tanks was 1000 gallons and the bunker held just two tons of coal.  The Worsdell-style dome was seated on the rear rather than the front ring of the boiler, and it’s difficult to understand the reason why four-column Ramsbottom safety valves were fitted when Stratford had always been – and would continue to be – satisfied that two-column valves were sufficient on boilers rated up to up to and including 160p.s.i. This anomaly was compounded by placing the valves over the firebox, in the manner of the two-column type, and implies that any safety concerns didn’t stretch as far as having the fireboxes stayed. The chimney was also unique, a kind of halfway-house comprising of a standard GE steel- fabricated stovepipe to Dia.1 with a brass rim of the type fitted to the contemporary large passenger engines. The Westinghouse pump and ancillary equipment, continuous handrails with integral Holden blower, cab controls, 1882 parallel-shank buffers, and whistle, et cetera, were all standard GER fittings.

Photo ©Public Domain

Having done the rounds on the lightly laid branch lines of East Anglia, many Y65s ended up back in the London District, several of which were converted for compressed air operated push-pull services. No.1304 was the second fitted with the equipment which was based on the LB&SCR auto gear. The converted Y65s had a second Westinghouse pump fitted to the front of the LHS tank along with extra Westinghouse hose connections and a couple of electrical connections on the rear bufferbeams, one of the latter can be seen running along the rear of the valance to the cab door. For the auto services increased coal capacity was needed, so an extra four rails have been added to the bunker. No.1304 stands at Seven Sisters in 1921 in a very tired and grubby blue livery. Most Great Eastern locomotives had by this time been repainted in the wartime grey livery after Stratford’s stock of blue paint had been requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1915. Curious to see the front RH buffer is of the 8-bolt tapered variety, while the LH buffer is still the old 1882 parallel type. The arch-topped front and rear windows of the A67 batch differentiate between the majority of the class and the two prototypes. Photo ©Public Domain

New features which would become standard on future GER tank engines included a  brass ventilator at the top of  the front weatherboard, and half-height coal bars to protect the large rear windows. Two coal rails were fitted from new to bring the coal capacity up to 2 tons, S56-style cab doors increased the comfort of the crew, and intriguingly, as the class clearly wasn’t intended for London District duties, destination brackets were fitted to the smokebox door and bunker rear.

As nos. 1300 and 1301 were being built, an order was put in for a further ten locos, and nos. 1302 – 1311 to Order A67 were released to traffic between 2nd November 1909 and 28th January 1910. This new batch of radial tanks were identical to their two predecessors with one exception; whereas the top of the front and rear windows on nos. 1300 and 1301 followed the contour of the roof, those on nos. 1302 – 1311 were the same shape as the windows on the cab side sheets.

The class were initially allocated across the GE system and sub-shedded at Buntingford, Saffron Walden, Ramsey, St Ives, Stoke Ferry, Aldeburgh, Hadleigh, Braintree and Maldon. Much has been written on the unpopularity of the class, but I believe the majority of this stems from rehashing the offhand nature of their entry in the RCTS Vol.7 (1964). Earlier histories such as Aldrich (1944) had nothing bad to say about them, simply remarking that they would have been improved if rebuilt with a larger boiler.

Photo ©Public Domain

On release to traffic at the end of 1909, no.1302 – the first of the A67 batch – was sent to Buntingford, replacing no.1301 which was allocated to Colchester for working to Walton. Locomotives shedded at Buntingford were fitted with a small steam-raising stop valve so that at night they could operate a pump to raise water from a nearby well to refill the supply tank. This might account for the small ladder on the side of the boiler. A conical re-railing jack rests on the tank top. Despite being in the suburban timetable, there were never any destination boards produced for Buntingford. Photo ©Public Domain

Indeed, at Buntingford, the only allocation within the Stratford district and which hosted no.1301 from its release to traffic in July 1909 until replaced by the newly-constructed no.1302 in December of that year, the class proved to be very popular. Aside from the crews’ appreciation of the covered footplate, their ability to haul eleven six-wheeled coaches over the relatively steep gradients of the tortuous 13½ mile long branch with ease earned them their approval. Neither was this feat unusual; in later years Frank E. Wilson witnessed one of the class haul a pair of Gresley Quint-Art sets from Palace Gates to Liverpool Street and the smartly-timed service to Enfield.

In April 1913, no.1302 was sent to Southend to trial two-carriage trains in the newly-expanding residential area of Southend, stopping at a number of proposed halts - a pre-courser to the auto-train trials the following year. The experiment was short-lived and no.1302 is seen here later the same year back in the East End on a Canning Town service with six-four-wheeled suburban carriages. The two green discs with white rims indicate the train originated at Victoria Park. Photo ©Public Domain

In April 1913, no.1302 was sent to Southend to trial two-carriage trains in the newly-expanding residential area of Southend, stopping at a number of proposed halts – a precursor to the auto-train trials the following year. The experiment was short-lived and no.1302 is seen here later the same year back in the East End on a Canning Town service with six-four-wheeled suburban carriages. The two green discs with white rims indicate the train originated at Victoria Park. Photo ©Public Domain

It’s also interesting to note that the three remaining pre-Worsdell 0-4-4T classes they were supposed to replace remained in service and continued to be withdrawn at a slow pace, the last of which survived until the end of 1913. Concurrently the Y65s began to appear on services in the Stratford District, some of which would later include the Great Eastern’s early push/pull services.

Modelling the Class

Connoisseur Models once produced a 7mm kit of the class (strictly speaking the A67 batch), and I was fortunate enough to buy the penultimate one before they all sold out. I was going to run it under the same excuse I have included the E22 class – i.e. occasional through trains from Buntingford, but my self-imposed temporal constraints have now put paid to that idea. There is, however, a strong possibility that No.1302 will eventually surface elsewhere in the Basilica Fields meta-universe.

I have to admit I’m rather fond of this class and its quirky style, and for me their introduction heralded the end of all that had gone before; La Belle Époque of the Great Eastern Railway had come to an end and nothing would be the same anymore. Stratford was entering a modern mechanised age where there was no place for the breathtaking, bewitching, beguiling, or beautiful; new locomotives appearing from the Works would now be big, bold, brash and brutish.

 

The G69 Class

Increased demand on the London outer suburban services by the end of the Edwardian period prompted the need for more frequent and heavier trains. With the exception of the single experimental 12-wheeled bogie suburban carriage set on the Enfield line, all suburban trains were still made up of close-coupled 4-wheeled carriages built between 1885 and 1905. During the first half of 1910, drawings of eight- and nine-coach sets of 48′ 3″, 50′ 0″ (reflecting the design of main line stock) and 54′ 0″ long (twice the length of the 4-wheelers) eight-wheel bogie carriages were prepared to determine the best way forward.

Photo ©Public Domain

One warm Sunday in June on Brentwood Bank, no.63, resplendent in photographic grey livery, poses with the first of the new suburban bogie sets for the Loughton – Epping service. The large cab looks well-proportioned on these larger 2-4-2Ts with their high tanks and busy boilers. The four-column safety valves in the forward position and the parallel brass-rimmed chimney are prominent. The carriages are as follows: Dia.542 bk3rd no.333, Dia.236 1st/3rd composite no.7, Dia.104 1st no.10, Dia.300 2nd no.92, Dia. 300 2nd no.94, Dia.300 2nd no.97, Dia.237 1st/2nd composite no.6, Dia.542 bk3rd no.334. The set was close-coupled with a break point between seconds nos.94 and 97. Photo ©Public Domain

By the end of the year Stratford had settled on eight-carriage 54’0″ sets to the same design as the contemporary 50’0″ main line stock. These were designed to carry 808 seated passengers with up to half as many again standing, and, crucially, weighed 50 tons more than the comparative 4-wheeler sets. Four sets were completed in 1911 and a further ten were in service by 1914, all performing duties on the Loughton – Epping – Ongar line. Of course, the increased weight of the trains required more powerful locomotives and Stephen Holden chose to dust off his father’s revision of Worsdell’s M15 design, which had proven to be both reliable and capable for many years, and develop it for modern requirements.

The first of two batches of ten, numbered 61-70, formed Order G69 and were released to traffic between 3rd May and 30th June 1911. They took their numbers from a Neilson & Co.-built batch of Adams’ London Suburban 0-4-4 tanks, the No.61 class, which had been delivered in 1875-6, the last of which had already been added to the duplicate list and prefixed with a cipher.

Photo ©Public Domain

No.61, the first of the class, poses newly shopped in ultramarine blue, the vermilion lining not visible due to the limitations of the orthochromatic emulsion. Three coal rails were fitted from new, and unlike similar photographs of new G69s posed in grey, the running number is not repeated on the lined-out toolbox. Photo ©Public Domain

The second batch of ten to order A71 and numbered 1-10 entered revenue-earning service later in the year between 17th and 29th November. The 2-4-2T was the second Great Eastern locomotive to carry the prestigious No.1 works plate, the previous bearer being the first of S.W. Johnson’s 2-4-0 ‘Little Sharpies’ built in 1867 and remarkably still in service (and, incidentally, the last to be withdrawn in 1913), having been put on the duplicate list on the 1st January 1911 and its running number prefixed with a zero.

The G69 class were fitted with a brand new type of boiler, the same size as the M15s, but pressed twenty pounds per square inch higher at 180p.s.i. They had a sloping rather than a flat grate and were fitted with four-column Ramsbottom valves placed over the back ring of the boiler. Visually the biggest impact was the addition of the high-arched Y65-style cab (or, strictly speaking, the A67 cab) which appeared rather handsome and well-proportioned on these larger engines. There was a 10cwt reduction in coal capacity to 3 tons, but slightly higher side tanks gave an increase of 250 gallons to 1,450 gallons.

The engines had parallel built-up chimneys (and as passenger engines were topped off with brass rims) of a visually similar design to the tender engines introduced from 1898, with the exception that the base was slightly shorter. However, internally the chimneys were very different; all the chimneys on the larger engines, with the exception of Decapod, were tapered inside the casing and had cast iron petticoats (designated Diagram 2), whereas those on all the tank engines from G69 onwards were parallel inside (designated Diagram 3).

Photo ©Public Domain

Eight days after entering service, no.61 is photographed on 21st May 1911 at Liverpool Street with the unique 12-wheel bogie suburban set (with eight wheel bogie brake thirds at each end) built in 1900 for the Enfield line and described in the entry on the R24R class. At least engineers standing on the running plate testing the performance of the boiler had tall timber shelters by this time, their predecessors twenty years earlier had no such luxury, just a low shelter to stop them from falling off. Photo ©Public Domain

All twenty of the Westinghouse-braked engines were fitted with condensing apparatus for the London suburban duties. However, unlike the M15s, the vent pipes were situated on the tank tops outside the cab, pre-empting their position on the future L77 class 0-6-2Ts. One other visible difference contributed to the busy nest of rods and pipes on top of the boilers; on the M15 160p.s.i. boilers, injector steam cocks were mounted on top of the boiler back inside the cab, but on the 180p.s.i. boilers the same cocks were mounted near the dome with control rods leading back to the cab.

Modelling the Class

Laurie Griffin’s F6 kit is the LNER classification for the GER G69. It’s an upgraded version of the old Shedmaster kit, and with care produces an accurate model.

 

The M15R Class

With the first ten G69s entering service, the opportunity was taken to up-rate a number of the 1903-1909 series of M15s with the sloping-grate G69 180p.s.i. boiler, and to differentiate these locomotives from the earlier 160p.s.i. flat-grate rebuilds they were assigned the classification M15R or M15Rblt.

Photo ©Public Domain

No.110 was rebuilt as an M15R in August 1913. The LH side injector valve is visible behind the dome, and the rimmed parallel chimney and four column safety valves in the forward position distinguish it from the M15 class engines. By the time of this photo, the old flat-dished smokebox door, which was prone to heat distortion, has been replaced with Alfred Hill’s heavier type. Eight-bolt tapered buffer housings have been fitted. Photo ©Public Domain

As noted above, the first G69, no.61 was released to traffic on 3rd May 1911, and one month later M15 no.104 entered Stratford Works for a General overhaul and to be rebuilt.  Four months later, on 9th October, both it and no.103 (which had come into Works two days after no.104) re-entered revenue-earning service as M15R class engines, the first of an eventual 30 members of the class. The vast majority of these rebuilds were completed over the next three years, and all bar one completed by 1916. No.188 finally re-entered service in June 1920 having languished in the sidings at Stratford since the end of the Great War.

Visibly there were few differences between the M15R and the 160p.s.i. M15s; the M15Rs had sloped instead of flat grates, G69-style parallel chimneys with brass rims instead of stovepipes, four-column safety valves seated on the back ring of the boiler instead of two column valves over the firebox, whistles mounted on the cab front instead of the valve seat, and the injector steam cocks mounted behind the dome instead of inside the cab.  The rebuilds retained their 1200 gallon side tanks and 3½ ton capacity bunkers.

Photo ©Public Domain

No.96 was converted to M15R in October 1911 and still carries the original smokebox door and 1882 parallel buffers. The RH injector steam cock on the boiler with the long control rod and pipe is is much more visible on this non-condensing member of the class. Somewhat intriguingly it has what appears to be a steam-raising stop valve in front of the dome, which suggests it may previously have been sub-sheded at Buntingford, though I have no record if it there.  Photo ©Public Domain

Twenty of the rebuilds were non-condensing engines, but six of these gained the apparatus during their rebuilding which indicated their anticipated duties. In his article ‘Improving Buckle’ Lyn Brooks suggests that the only mechanical difference between the M15R and G69 classes was the size of shim placed between the eccentric straps and rods in the link motion.

Visual differences between the M15 and M15R classes soon began to blur, a process which years later would eventually end with just the running number giving away the classification; in 1913 it was decided that engines and boilers were no longer paired for life, and the following year, once production of the 160p.s.i boilers ceased, G69 sloping-grate 180p.s.i. boilers began to be fitted to the 1903-1909 series of M15s with new four column valves de-rated to 160p.s.i. and placed in the forward position over the back ring. With the exception of No.798, which received a brand-new but de-rated 180p.s.i boiler in 1920, 160p.s.i boilers removed from the 1903-1909 series were set aside for surviving members of the three batches of M15s built during the 1880s – the first three of which had been withdrawn in 1913.

Photo ©Public Domain

With the imposing Skinner Street bridge behind, 2-4-2Ts contribute to the smog as they wait their turn at Liverpool Street station. At the back a C32 class, at front right an unidentified 1903-1909 series condensing M15 class and on the left no.76, a condensing M15 with a 180p.s.i. boiler with four-column safety valves in the forward position and de-rated to 160p.s.i.  Neither the East nor West Side signal boxes had a full view of the domain they controlled so each had an extra ‘observation box’  located at the ends of platforms 4/5 and 14/14 respectively. The driver of the unidentified M15 lets off a sharp whistle and is looks towards the East Side OB indicating he is ready to move onto the waiting carriages in platform 13 for the next down outer suburban service. Photo ©Public Domain

At 53t 19cwt the M15Rs weighed 2 tons 6cwt heavier than the M15 class but 2½ tons lighter than the G69 class, although the tractive effort was identical to the latter.

Modelling the Class

The LNER classification for the GER M15R was F5 and both Connoisseur Models and Laurie Griffin can supply kits for the class, though third party castings from Laurie, Ragstone or Alan Gibson would be needed to backdate the kit to the GER period.

 

M15 with G69 Boiler and Large Cabs

In 1912 a hybrid conversion resulted in this rather convoluted classification for two locomotives, nos. 789 and 790.  Post-rebuild they were to all intents and purposes members of the M15R class, retaining their original 1200 gallon side tanks and 3½ ton capacity bunkers, but were  fitted with G69 cabs. Both had been built as non-condensing M15s in 1904 under Order D58 (no.790 being the second member of the class to carry that number, the previous bearer being renumbered no.800 in 1892), and both received condensing apparatus on being rebuilt. One interesting facet of this hybrid class was that like the M15 and M15Rs the condensing vent pipes were located inside the cab so projected through the roof. However, whereas the other locomotives had a sizeable stub protruding from the shallow-arc roof with the top of the pipe cut away horizontally, the top of the vent pipes on nos.789 and 790 were almost flush with, and contoured to match, the profile of the G69 high-arc roof.

Photo ©Public Domain

Hybrid no.789 looking very down-at-heel rests at Stratford. As can be seen, it is, to all intents and purposes an M15R with the G69 high-arc cab. From this angle the top of the condensing vent pipe can be seen almost flush with, and profiled to the shape of the roof. There’s an interesting riveted patch on the smokebox which I’ve not seen elsewhere. Photo ©Public Domain

It’s not known why nos. 789 and 790 were converted in this hybrid manner, but they brought the total number of conversions to thirty two.

One final, and somewhat intriguing comment about the M15-M15R and G69 classes is that the side tanks and bunkers had 2”x 2” angle around the bottom edges, flush-riveted to the running plate. The feature was common on earlier tank locomotives, but these and the T18’s were the only tank engines built after 1885 to retain the feature.

Modelling the class

Jim at Connoisseur Models sells an add-on pack of etches to convert his F5 kit into the F5/6 hybrids.

Photo ©Public Domain

The other hybrid, no.790 also looking very scruffy, although apparently with a new or reconditioned smokebox and chimney. Although the GER classified these two engines separately, the LNER somewhat confused by their nature, lumped them in with the G69s and classed them F6. British Railways saw sense and later reclassified them both F5. Photo ©Public Domain

To round off the 2-4-2T saga, I suspect that no more than a handful of Great Eastern Railway locomotives were captured on film during the pre-Grouping period. However, In October 1920 M15R no.96 was fitted with the experimental Regan electro-mechanical train control system and underwent trials on the Fairlop Loop. In addition to the automatic stop device, the right hand side trailing radial wheel was fitted with a speed control. The Great Eastern had already trialled the Sykes (SYX) train control system on the Palace Gates and Ongar branches, fitting the control gear to G69 no.66, part of which was designed in-house and patented by E. S. Tiddeman. The Regan system didn’t find favour with the company and the trials progressed no further.

Fortuitously the rushes survive in the Pathé newsreel library, and an article on the trials was published in the November 1920 issue of The Railway Magazine, illustrated with photos, possibly stills from the film. The article notes that those present included the inventor Mr J. B. Regan, Mr J. H. Thomas M.P., various chief officers of the GER, signal engineers and experts from several railway companies, and representatives of the technical and general press.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/unknown-celebrities-at-inauguration-of-new-train-l

It’s a fascinating snippet for not only the railway element of seeing a Great Eastern locomotive at work on home turf in this period, but in terms of fashion, especially the wide range of hats, from the Bowler and Homburg, to the Fedora, down to the various styles of flat caps, which, intriguingly, had begun to transcend social status. It’s lucky for the very confident Mr. Cholmondley-Warner standing in the 4-foot the Great Eastern used the Westinghouse brake and could stop on a sixpence…an H&S apoplexy in more ways than one!

Finally, the F5 Trust is building a working replica of no. 789, details of which may be found here.

References:

  • GERS Journal no.6 – The Crystal Palace Tanks by Lyn Brooks
  • GERS Journal no.103 – An Introduction to the GER Carriage Part 2 by John Watling
  • GERS Journal no.129 – Updating Buckle Part 2 by Lyn Brooks
  • GERS Journal no.146 -Carriage Building in 1911 by John Watling
  • GERS Journal no.150 – The Locomotive Department in 1912 by Lyn Brooks
  • GERS Drawings by John Gardner
  • RCTS Locomotives of the LNER Part 7.
  • Yeadon’s Register Volume 39
  • Locomotives Illustrated  no.116
  • The Buntingford Branch by Peter Paye

 

 

In 1893 James Holden introduced a new 2-4-2T specifically designed for fast stopping trains on the increasingly heavy outer suburban services from Liverpool Street. Classified  C32 from the Stratford Works Letter Account of the first batch ordered, the new locos were a tank version of Holden’s earlier 5’8” ‘Intermediate’ (GER parlance for Mixed Traffic) 2-4-0s  which was in turn a lighter version of his 7’0” express T19 class, the ‘Standards’, which would also lead to the development of the D27 7’0” 2-2-2 ‘Singles’ in the late 1890s.

The C32 class was the epitome of Holden’s standardisation policy, sharing the boiler & firebox, and the arrangement of motion and cylinders with a number of other classes, the trailing and driving wheels with the T26, and of course incorporating the standard contemporary smokebox and Worsdell/Holden boiler fittings shared with all GE locos. As a passenger-rated class it was finished in the ultramarine, black and vermilion livery.

On 29th March 1893, two weeks after the final member of the E22 class 0-6-0Ts (Order B32) rolled off the production line at Stratford Works, the first of the C32s, no.1090, was completed and began trials, after which it was painted in what appears to be ultramarine with white lining rather than the usual French Grey livery used for official photographs.

The official photograph of no.1090 confirms one particularly valuable piece of information in that it was fitted with Holden’s short-lived (in terms of production) side-valve blower, operated via a rod and crank at a break-point at the smokebox in an otherwise continuous handrail. A photograph of no.1096 taken some time before its first rebuild in 1906 shows that loco fitted with Holden’s improved rotary valve blower. The two-ring boiler, pressed to 140 lbs per square inch has the dome on the front ring in Holden’s usual style with the clack valves directly underneath, and encased two-column Ramsbottom safety valves with the whistle on the valve seat. The Westinghouse pump is on the driver’s side tank front, exhausting into the smokebox and three coal rails were fitted from new.

The official photograph of no.1090 confirms one particularly valuable piece of information in that it was fitted with Holden’s short-lived (in terms of production) side-valve blower, operated via a rod and crank at a break-point on the smokebox in an otherwise continuous handrail. The two-ring boiler, pressed to 140 lbs per square inch has the dome on the front ring in Holden’s usual style with the clack valves directly underneath, and encased two-column Ramsbottom safety valves with the whistle on the valve seat positioned over the firebox. The Westinghouse pump, exhausting into the smokebox , was located on the driver’s side tank front, and three coal rails were fitted from new. Photograph ©Public Domain.

The usual practice in locomotive design was to incorporate the maximum axle loading on the coupled wheelbase, however, in common with the 2-4-0s it was instead over the leading axle, and why Holden chose to do this is not entirely clear. The overall length of the frames was 31’ 9” which was the maximum practically possible for Great Eastern tanks due to the dimensions of the end of platform engine docks at Liverpool Street. This constraint led to the one slight design difference between the C32 and T26 classes, and as we shall see, almost certainly contributed to the tanks’ Achilles heel. To maximise the bunker length and incorporate a coal capacity of 3t 5cwt for their intended duties, the tanks had a 3” shorter leading wheelbase of 7’ 6” with the frames in front of the smokebox correspondingly reduced.

Dispensing with the radial axleboxes favoured by Worsdell for the leading and trailing wheels of his M15 class 2-4-2Ts, Holden copied the double-frame design of the leading axle of his 2-4-0s and installed a similar axle for the trailing wheels,  the outer frames forming the valance over the coupled wheels. This feature, along with the 1460 gallon tanks and capacious bunker, contributed to the massive and distinctively brutish appearance of the class.

The carrying axles at each end were double-bearing, incorporating axleboxes fitted to both the inner and outer frames. The inner journals lacked collars which allowed 1” of lateral, uncontrolled sideplay, and in common with the T19 and T26 classes, Holden ensured there was some inbuilt flexibility of the outside frames which allowed them to absorb all of the imparted side forces when the axles reached their limit of travel.

No.1099, mentioned in the text above, is seen with a train of four-wheeled carriages at Romford Factory, the original Eastern Counties Railway Loco Works.The date is before its first rebuilding with a 160psi boiler in 1906. It might have been frowned upon as bad practice, but here's proof that putting discs on both ends of the loco at the same time actually happened. The discs indicate the service indicate the service runs between Liverpool Street and Romford, Brentwood, Shenfield or Chelmsford, running on the Through line into and out of Liverpool Street.  Up Chelmsford, Shenfield ot Chelmsford trains funning on the Through line from any point betweenRomford Junct. and Bow Junct. inclusive were required to carry no Distinguishing Dics by day and a white light only under the chimney at night. Engines running on the Local line between Bethnal Green and Liverpool Street were to carry white-edged green discs or green lights over the buffers only between those two points. Photograph ©Public Domain

No.1099 is seen with a train of four-wheeled carriages at Romford Factory, the original Eastern Counties Railway Loco Works.The date is before its first rebuilding with a 160psi boiler in 1906. It may have been frowned upon as bad practice, but here’s proof that putting discs on both ends of the loco at the same time actually happened. The discs indicate the service runs between Liverpool Street and Romford, Brentwood, Shenfield or Chelmsford, running on the Through line into and out of Liverpool Street. Up Chelmsford, Shenfield or Chelmsford trains running on the Through line from any point between Romford Junction and Bow Junction inclusive were required to carry “No Distinguishing Discs by day and a white light only under the chimney at night”. Engines running on the Local line between Bethnal Green and Liverpool Street were to carry white-edged green discs or green lights over the buffers only between those two points. Photograph ©Public Domain

Numbers 1090 – 1092, ex Works between 29 March and 17th April, were handed over to the running department between 20th April and 8th May, but within seven days of  no.1092 entering service all three were back in Works for what the Stratford Repair Register describes as ‘extra clearance’. Quite how this was achieved isn’t clear, but in practical terms an extra half-inch of sideplay was added to both carrying axles to allow the C32s to traverse the same minimum radius curves as the 2-4-0 classes because it was found that the limit of travel on the trailing axle in either direction was too restrictive.

Numbers 1093-98 were ex-Works 19th April -11th May but the Register notes they had the extra clearance added before they entered service between 15th May and 17th June.  Number 1099, ex-Works 16th May had the extra clearance built in during construction and was released to traffic on the same day as no.1098.

A second batch of ten locos, numbers 1070-9 to Stratford Order 033 were built and handed over to the running department between 27th November 1893 and 23rd January 1894.  These and all subsequent locos had the 1½” sideplay built in from new.

No. 1085 taken between April 1894 and January 1905. The large condensing pipes fitted to this batch added to their powerful appearance. As with the M15 class, the condensing vent pipes are inside the cab and protrude through the roof. The outside frames haven't yet suffered the ignominy of a fracture and are so far free of strengthening plates. The cupboard in the lower half of the bunker gives access to the trailing wheel springs. Yet again there's quite a haze of traffic grime on the paintwork. Photograph ©Public Domain.

No. 1085 taken between April 1894 and January 1905. The large condensing pipes fitted to this batch added to their powerful appearance. As with the M15 class, the condensing vent pipes are inside the cab and protrude through the roof. The outside frames haven’t yet suffered the ignominy of a fracture and are so far free of strengthening plates. The cupboard in the lower half of the bunker gives access to the trailing wheel springs. Yet again there’s quite a haze of traffic grime on the paintwork. Photograph ©Public Domain.

The ten locos to Order 033 were immediately followed by another ten to Order R33, numbered 1080-9, which entered traffic between 19th February and 18th April.  However this latest order was different from the previous twenty locos as they were fitted with condensing apparatus for running over the East London Railway to New Cross (though I’ve seen no evidence of them being used on this route) and the then new suburban lines out of Liverpool Street which burrowed under the Goods Station at Bishopsgate.  Although the condensing gear was deemed necessary in the Up direction on the suburban lines, due to trains often being held by signals in the tunnel for the roads into the terminus to clear – especially during peak hours – it wasn’t the easiest of locations to use the apparatus in the Down direction because the exhaust was directed into the side tanks at a time when it was imperative to have a roaring fire and full head of steam to haul several hundred tons of  fully-laden carriages out of the Bishopsgate Low level station up the 1:70 Bethnal Green Bank to the junction. Even with the blower turned on full, the lack of exhaust to aid combustion must have made that section of the journey especially difficult, and drivers suffered the additional problem that condensed steam routed into the side tanks raised the temperature of the water to the point where the injectors ceased to work – feed pumps not being a feature of GER suburban tank design. It’s interesting to note that any official instructions for the use of condensers in the suburban tunnel no longer exist and in later years, long after the LNER repealed the requirement in the 1930s, contemporary drivers later admitted they couldn’t actually remember ever using the equipment there in the GE period!

Number 1084 in the Stygian gloom at Liverpool Street prior to November 1904 when it entered Works for rebuilding with a 160psi boiler in 1904. The paintwork on the tank sides and boiler has been well looked after by the crew, but much of the paint on the smokebox and its door has been completely burnt off under heavy load. The loco displays the simple headcode for an ordinary passenger train. Photograph ©Public Domain

Number 1084 in the Stygian gloom at Liverpool Street prior to November 1904 when it entered Stratford Works for rebuilding with a 160psi boiler. The paintwork on the tank sides and boiler has been well looked after by the crew, but much of the paint on the smokebox and its door has been completely burnt off under heavy load. The loco displays the simple headcode for an ordinary passenger train. Photograph ©Public Domain

Between July and November 1894, the Repair Register notes that first batch of locos comprising nos.1070-9 were modified by having their frames recessed, but again what exactly is meant, or what it entailed is unclear. It has been suggested the Register implies the frames were somehow dished to clear the carrying wheels, and although it would be an easy modification around the trailing wheels, it’s a mystery as to how this was achieved at the front end due to the presence of the cylinder casting which lay directly behind the leading wheels. The Register is silent on the matter regarding the subsequent batches which suggests the modification had already been implemented during building, though why the first batch had to wait so long to be altered is another unknown.

In December 1894 no.1098 became the first of the class to have control springs fitted to the carrying axles and in January 1895 it was fitted with ‘stronger check springs’, though the Register is silent as to specifics.

Between 1st and 25th May 1895 a fourth batch to Order G35 and numbered 1060-9 were released to traffic. As with the first two batches, these ten locos were not fitted with condensing gear.

No.1060on a Liverpool Street to Chelmsford fast train leaving Brentwood in May 1908.  The first three carriages are fresh out of the carriage repair shops having lost their varnished teak finish and are now painted in the golden brown livery with yellow lining around the windowns and upper beading. Photograph ©Public Domain.

No.1060 on a Liverpool Street to Chelmsford fast train leaving Brentwood in May 1908. The first three carriages are fresh out of the carriage repair shops having lost their varnished teak finish and are now painted in the golden brown livery with yellow lining around the windows and upper beading. Photograph ©Public Domain.

During that month, nos.1071 1072 and 1077 were fitted with a ‘new controlling rubber spring arrangement’ although there is no official indication as to what form these control springs took,  it would seem the entire class was modified as photographic evidence shows the hornguides of the C32s were deeper than the General Arrangement drawings and the castings fitted to the T19, T26 and D27 classes.

After a gap of seven years a final batch of C32s to Letter Account D53 were ordered. These ten locomotives differed from the earlier forty members of the class by being fitted with a new type of boiler pressed to 160 lbs per square inch, and like the R33 batch, were given condensing apparatus. Numbers 1040-9 were released to traffic between 1st and 25th May 1902.

No.1044 was released to traffic on 16th June 1902 and is seen here at Stratford between 1912 (when the Harrison communication cords were superseded by the train alarm gear) and May 1914 when it entered Works to be rebuilt. The desitnation board reads Loughton and the headcode indicates the service originated at Fenchurch Street. Photograph ©Public Domain.

No.1044 was released to traffic on 16th June 1902 and is seen here at Stratford circa 1912 (the year Harrison communication cords were superseded by ‘butterfly’ train alarm gear on the carriage ends) but before May 1914 when it entered Works to be rebuilt. No.1044 has done well to survive thus far without fracturing the outside frames. The destination board reads Loughton and the headcode indicates the service originated at Fenchurch Street. A haze of traffic grime covers the paintwork and the smokebox is in a poor condition. Photograph ©Public Domain.

Beginning with no.1078 in September 1903 and ending with no.1061 in June 1909, the rest of the class were all rebuilt with the 160psi boilers.

A further batch of ten locos were considered and speculatively numbered 1050-9, but with the introduction of the revised M15 class in 1903 was not followed through.

Some years after their introduction, problems arose with stress fractures appearing near the top inboard corner of the carrying hornguides and riveted (later welded) strengthening plates were fitted. This must have come as a bit of a surprise as at this time neither the longer-serving T19 nor the T26 classes suffered from this malady, and although several years later a solitary T19, no.743,  rebuilt with a heavier Belpaire boiler (and a consequently higher tractive effort) and several of the T26 class did suffer stress fractures and were correspondingly fitted with strengthening plates. By Grouping all except one of the fifty C32s were given strengthening plates either side of all four axleboxes.

No.1080 at Southend after rebuilding with the 160psi boiler with a strengthening plate rivetted to the outside frame behind the front axlebox. The paintwork again has a haze of grime on it, and again the smokebox has been burnt away from being worked hard on the fast  outer suburban trains. The loco is showing the headcode for Shenfield and Southend local passenger trains, and the coaching stock behind is a mix of widened and six-a-side suburban 4-wheelers. Photograph © Public Domain.

No.1080 at Southend after rebuilding with the 160psi boiler with a strengthening plate riveted to the outside frame behind the front axlebox. The paintwork again has a haze of grime on it, and again the smokebox has been burnt away from being worked hard on the fast outer suburban trains. The loco is showing the headcode for Shenfield and Southend local passenger trains, and the coaching stock behind is a mix of widened and six-a-side suburban 4-wheelers. Photograph © Public Domain.

It may be pertinent to note that the original configuration T19 and D27 classes had a lower tractive effort than the T26 and C32 classes, but it’s likely that the heavy bunker and shorter overhang at the front of the C32s increased the lateral forces when starting away or pulling hard, leading to the high incidence of stress fractures. It’s also interesting to note that all of the photograph’s I’ve managed to locate of the class show the strengthening plates fitted only after the class had been rebuilt with the higher pressure 160lbs boiler, producing a higher tractive effort.

Services

On release to traffic the C32s were all put to work on the heavy outer-suburban fast stopping trains to destinations such as Bishop’s Stortford, Broxbourne, Hertford, Loughton, Southminster and Southend – services which some of the class remained on for many years.

No.1048 leaving Broxbourne for Liverpool Street with a typically eclectic mix of 6-wheel stock during the mid-Edwardian period. The covered footbridge linking the station platforms can be seen in the distance, a view which would be blocked from 1908 with the building of a new road overline bridge immediately south of the station.  The headcode indicates the service is between Hertford, Broxbourne, Cheshunt and Liverpool Street via either Clapton and the suburban lines (for which the condensing loco is equipped) or Stratford. Any Special using the latter route and taking the Through lines between Bethnal Green and Liverpool Street needed to be fitted with an extra two green discs added to the middle and left hand lamp irons between those stations. Photograph ©Public Domain.

One of my favourite railway photographs of all time! I love the imperfect, dreamy quality of this image taken on a rural stretch of the GE main line to Cambridge which I know so well. As a child I used to spend Thursday evenings after swimming watching trains from just about where those saplings were planted – what I’d give to have seen No.1048 leaving Broxbourne for Liverpool Street with a typically eclectic mix of Victorian 6-wheel stock during the mid-Edwardian period; the nearest carriages are a 32ft Dia.513 brake, a six compartment third to Dia.422, a five compartment first or second to either Dia.105 or 306 built specifically for the Hertford services, and another third after which it all gets a bit fuzzy! The covered footbridge linking the station platforms can be seen in the distance, a view which would be blocked from 1908 with the building of a new road overline bridge immediately south of the station. The headcode indicates the fast service from Hertford stops at Broxbourne, Cheshunt and then on to Liverpool Street via either Clapton to the suburban lines (for which the condensing-equipped loco is suited) or Stratford and the Through or Local lines (where it passes through Basilica Fields) to the terminus. Any loco hauling a Special service going via Stratford and taking the Through lines between Bethnal Green and Liverpool Street was required to show two more white-edged green discs on the middle and left-hand lamp irons between those stations. Photograph ©Public Domain.

Modelling the class

In 7mm no commercial kit exists or has ever existed, which is surprising considering the popularity of the T26.  However, that top man Colin Dowling has come to the rescue by making available highly accurate profile milled parts for the body and frames and I’ll be building one of the condensing series for Basilica Fields.

Sources

This entry would have been very poor indeed were it not for the following rich seams of information:

  • Locomotive Mysteries: Side Control Springs – Lyn D. Brooks, Great Eastern Society Journal #52
  • Side Control Springs: An addendum – Lyn D. Brooks, Great Eastern Society Journal #55
  • Great Eastern Locomotive Mysteries: Condensing Gear – Lyn D. Brooks, Great Eastern Society Journal #62
  • Locomotives of the LNER Part 7 – RCTS
  • Yeadon’s Register of LNER Locomotives Vol.39
  • Great Eastern Locomotives Past and Present – C Langley Aldrich
  • GER Appendix to the Working Timetable 19,  January 1906

By the time the curtain rises on Basilica Fields in 1890, the foundation for future outer-suburban passenger services is well in hand. Thomas Worsdell’s relatively short tenure at Stratford (January 1882 – July 1885) had brought much to the table in terms of both engineering and style, the best of which his successor, James Holden, was keen to retain or improve upon rather than discard, and the M15 class illustrates this policy well.

Flying in the face of a very long line of successful suburban and branch line 0-4-4T designs by Bromley, Adams and Johnson, in 1884 Worsdell designed the first Great Eastern 2-4-2Ts since Sinclair’s low-boilered ‘Scotchmen’ Well Tanks built in the early 1860s.  Stylistically the M15s set the standard for future tank engine design at Stratford,  incorporating many features which are now considered quintessentially Great Eastern, and between 30th June and 11th November 1884 ten locomotives to Letter Account M15, numbered 650-9, were released to traffic.

To specifics; the locos were 31’9″ long over the frames – the maximum length permissible due to the size of the loco docks at the platform ends of Liverpool Street, and to which all large tanks down to Grouping would conform – ten spoke radial wheels fore and aft, 5′ 8″ driving wheels, and 18″ cylinders with Joy’s radial motion. The boilers were in three-rings, butt-jointed and pressed to 140psi with Worsdell’s standard dome on the middle ring. The round-topped fireboxes were fitted with cased twin Ramsbottom safety valves and the whistle on the driver’s side of the valve seat. The smokebox was built up from angle iron, and faced with a wingplate, a dished smokebox door, and topped with Worsdell’s pattern of fabricated stovepipe chimney.

For many reasons this photo is an absolute gem. For a start it is the only one I'm aware of which shows one of the first ten M15s in Worsdell's as-built condition, and the early-style lamp sockets on the bufferbeam and brackets on the smokebox date the photo to not later than c1886. The cylinder covers below the smokebox door are prominent and reminiscent of the NER A Class. The Roscoe displacement lubricator on the smokebox side and separate boiler handrails with the Westinghouse exhaust pipe running over the top of the tank from cab to smokebox are features of the period. Only four of the eight possible bolt holes on the parallel buffer housings have been utilised - hollow spindle buffers are fitted as are under-hung Westinghouse hoses. The destination boards at this time were assigned to specific locomotives, evidenced by the running number on them. Worsdell's small 4" GER lettering on the tank side is noticeable. Fascinating to see that even at this early date there is considerable loss of paint from the front and sides of the smokebox and door due to working the engine hard.

For many reasons this photo is an absolute gem. For a start it is the only one I’m aware of which shows one of the first ten M15s in Worsdell’s as-built condition;  the early-style lamp sockets on the bufferbeam and brackets on the smokebox date the photo to not later than c1886. The cylinder covers below the smokebox door are prominent and reminiscent of the NER A Class. The Roscoe displacement lubricator on the smokebox side and separate boiler handrails with the Westinghouse exhaust pipe running over the top of the tank from cab to smokebox are features of the period. Only four of the eight possible bolt holes on the parallel buffer housings have been utilised – hollow spindle buffers are fitted as are under-hung Westinghouse hoses. The destination boards at this time were assigned to specific locomotives, evidenced by the running number on them. Worsdell’s small 4″ GER lettering on the tank side is noticeable. Fascinating to see that even at this early date there is considerable loss of paint from the front and sides of the smokebox and door due to working the engine hard. Photo ©Public Domain

Other fittings included Roscoe lubricators on the smokebox sides, clack valves on the front ring with straight feed pipes, a brass spherical blower valve on the driver’s side of the smokebox operated by a rod inside the handrail, a Westinghouse pump inside the cab on the fireman’s side exhausting into the smokebox via a pipe running above the tank top, parallel buffer casings with hollow-spindle buffers, under-hung Westinghouse pipes, a capacious cab with a wooden roof and round spectacles in both front and rear weatherboards. All the locos were turned out in Worsdell’s ultramarine blue livery, lined vermilion with black borders,  4″ high lettering and brass numberplates painted vermilion.

For nearly a century historians were universally scathing of Worsdell’s decision to fit Joy’s valve gear to three of his five GER  locomotive designs, and the M15s quickly gained the unfortunate epithet ‘Gobblers’ from their rather voracious appetite for both coal and water.  David Joy had been a colleague and friend at Crewe, and his radial motion had been used successfully there by Worsdell’s mentor, Francis Webb.  Joy’s gear is considered superior to Stephenson’s Link motion as the valves open and shut more quickly – an advantage when ‘notched up’ and the maximum opening of the valves is relatively small. However, in 1964 the RCTS pulled no punches in a rather rambling statement  saying that the M15s were ‘poor machines’ before conceding their problems probably stemmed to the difficulty fitters had in setting the valves on the radial motion.

The fact of the matter is that the ten locos performed sufficiently well enough on the outer suburban services they were tasked with that the Directors of the historically cautious Board (they having successfully lifted the Company out of Chancery in the previous decade by expediency) can’t have been overly concerned as a second batch of twenty locomotives to Order E16,  numbered 660-79, was given the all-clear and gradually released to traffic between 22 December 1884 and 3rd March 1886.

No.663 circa 1886.  One of a couple of photos I have of the E16 series in as-built condition.  Virtually identical to the M15 series, these twenty locos had radial wheels with 12 spokes instead of 10 and tank fillers on the tank tops rather than in the bunkers. Lamps were hung from the unusual brackets on the smokebox. Photo ©Public Domain

No.663 circa 1886. One of a couple of photos I have of the E16 series in as-built condition. Virtually identical to the M15 series, these twenty locos had radial wheels with 12 spokes instead of 10 and tank fillers on the tank tops rather than in the bunkers. Lamps were hung from the unusual brackets on the smokebox. Photo ©Public Domain

In May 1885, an article in The Engineer explained Worsdell’s somewhat unusual explanation for experimenting with and building the compounding G16 4-4-0 class which also used Joy’s gear; for no greater reason than to try and force the crews to drive expansively by notching up the motion rather than driving full on the regulator. Most senior drivers in the early 1880s had started their careers on engines fitted with primitive Gab gear which had two positions – full forward or full reverse – and the old habit of driving on the regulator was not only proving hard to break, but was being passed to their firemen who would be the next generation of drivers.

The complexities are far too involved to describe in detail here, but tenacious research by Lyn Brooks of the GER Society and his comparison between the contemporary Y14 Stephenson Link and M15 Joy motion by computer simulation concluded that there was little difference between Joy’s and Stephenson’s motion when driven expansively, but driven in full gear on the regulator Joy’s motion caused a reduction of pressure in the main pipe and made the engine sluggish which encouraged the driver to open the regulator wide, consuming more coal.

However, before he could satisfactorily address the issue of the coal and water consumption Worsdell handed in his resignation and taking the opportunity of a substantial pay rise (essentially doubling his income with the addition of a house thrown in) by moving to Gateshead, home of the North Eastern Railway. Soon afterwards the M15 design with a slightly larger driving wheel diameter was introduced as Class A on the NER – a company for which, due to its location, large coal consumption was not an issue.

Holden came to Stratford from Swindon in July as Nos. 670 and 671 were being built and was happy enough with the specification to see the order completed. However, the Works was also in the middle of constructing Order P17 – which comprised of ten Worsdell’s Y14 0-6-0s with Stephenson’s Link motion – and the following month Holden ordered one of the Y14s should exchange cylinders and motion with an M15 for comparative trials. M15 number 674 was the chosen loco, and very little work was needed to accommodate the Y14 cylinders and motion, it being released to traffic on the 23rd October. For Y14 no.696 it was a very different story;  to clear the valve chests positioned above the cylinders on the M15 Joy motion, the boiler needed to be pitched 7½” higher than normal, and it wasn’t until 30th December 1885 that the loco was released to traffic.

The results of the trial was as expected; Holden hadn’t tackled the issue of the driving style and thus fuel consumption of the hybrid Y14 was higher than average for the class and that of the hybrid M15 was lower. Holden had already ordered ten new members of the M15 class, and it’s debatable whether the change to Stephenson’s motion was due to the test results or was in fact pre-emptive.

No 797 from Holden's O18 series with Stephenson's Link motion - the small cylinder lid cover differentiates these from the previous thirty locos.  The three ring boiler with dome on the middle ring and 12 spoke radial wheels contradict RCTS pt.7.  Spike lamp irons and swan-necked Westinghouse standpipes were Holden's initial improvements as built, the Macallen blast pipe rod and crank on the smokebox is a recent addition and dates the photo to netween c1894 and late 1896 when the loco entered Stratford Works for rebuilding. The location is St. Pancras which the GER had gained access via the Tottenham and Hampstead Joint from 1868, choosing to exercise perpetual running powers for eight passenger trains daily in 1870 for the sum of £2000 per year. By 1893 the figure had risen to £4000 and services extended beyond Tottenham to Cambridge, Ely, Norwich and even Royal trains to Wolferton for Sandringham. Photo © Public Domain.

No 797 from Holden’s O18 series with Stephenson’s Link motion – the small cylinder lid cover differentiates these from the previous thirty locos. The three ring boiler with dome on the middle ring and 12 spoke radial wheels contradict RCTS pt.7. Spike lamp irons and swan-necked Westinghouse standpipes were Holden’s initial improvements as built, the Macallen blast pipe rod and crank on the smokebox is a recent addition and dates the photo to between c1894 and late 1896 when the loco entered Stratford Works for rebuilding. The location is St. Pancras which the GER had gained access via the Tottenham and Hampstead Joint from 1868, choosing to exercise perpetual running powers for eight passenger trains daily in 1870 for the sum of £2000 per year. By 1893 the figure had risen to £4000 and services extended beyond Tottenham to far-flung destinations including Cambridge, Ely, Norwich and even Royal trains to Wolferton for Sandringham. Photo © Public Domain.

Between 24th September 1886 and 17th January 1887 Order O18, numbered 790-9 were released to traffic with Y14-style 17½” cylinders and the valves set between them, Stephenson’s Link motion and, contrary to hitherto published information, with single-bar slidebars rather than the four-bar type fitted to the earlier batches. The RCTS Part 7 states that 140psi boilers with two butt-jointed rings and the dome in the forward position were fitted, but my photograph above clearly shows a three-ring boiler with the dome over the middle ring. For the first time spike lamp irons were fitted from new and Holden’s 6″ lettering was used on the tank sides, spaced a little wider than Worsdell’s lettering. Small cylinder cover lids were fitted at the base of the smokebox, and again 12-spoke radial wheels were used, but essentially the rest was as designed by Worsdell, and even the Westinghouse pumps remained inside the cabs.

For the next five years there is little to report: In July 1892 no 790 was renumbered 800 to clear a numerical block for an order of T19 2-4-0s and the following year, and with an increase in heavy passenger and outer suburban work Holden introduced a new design of 2-4-2T based on his T26 2-4-0s, the C32 class (the subject of the next entry).

Between August 1895 and January 1898 the thirty locomotives of the M15 and E16 batches were rebuilt with new 2-ring boilers and the dome seated on the front ring, The first twenty rebuilds down to August 1896 had boilers pressed to 140psi, but thereafter the new standard 160psi type was fitted. Holden took the opportunity to replace the Joy radial gear with Stephenson’s Link motion, single-bar slidebars and 17½” cylinders. To avoid the expense of a new crank axle the cylinders were spaced with 2’0″ centres and fitted with the T19 2-4-0 pattern of link motion with the valves beneath; their steep inclination resulted in a large, incongruous cylinder cover lid underneath the smokebox door.

No.652 again, but now after rebuilding in December 1896. Many changes are obvious; the two-ring 160psi boiler has the dome on the front ring, continuous handrails (with Holden's rotary blower on the far side), the clack valve now in line with the dome has the feed pipe cranked forwards to make the original connection beneath the running plate, high cylinder cover lids, the steep inclination of the T19 cylinders and motion given away by the bolts on the frame under the smokebox, it's gained 12 spoke radial wheels, condensing equipment (long pipes from smokebox to tank tops and vent pipes inside the cab exiting through the roof, the Westinghouse pump is now on the far tank front, spike lamp irons, a Westinghouse standpipe, and 4-bar coal rails. No.652 was a Stratford loco for all but the last couple of years of its existence, and the third to be withdrawn from service, as early as 1913. Photo © Public Domain

No.652 again, but now after rebuilding in December 1896. The very many changes are obvious and detailed in the accompanying text. The steep inclination of the T19-type cylinders and motion is given away by the bolts on the frame under the smokebox and the mountainous cylinder cover lid. Note the 12 spoke radial wheels and the condensing vent pipes projecting from the top of the roof. No.652 was a Stratford loco for all but the last couple of years of its existence, and was the third to be withdrawn from service which was as early as October 1913. Photo © Public Domain

Other contemporary improvements were made; narrow-waisted smokeboxes to a new flanged pattern were fitted, tank filler lids on nos. 650-9 were moved from the bunker to the tank tops, the Westinghouse pumps were moved to the tank front on the driver’s side and coal rails were fitted to the bunkers.  All thirty received continuous handrails with Holden’s rotary-pattern blower actuated via rod and crank inside the handrail, sight-feed lubricators in the cab replaced the displacement type on the smokebox sides, the clack valves were moved back to the dome centreline with the feed pipe cranked forwards. Swan-necked Westinghouse standpipes replaced the under-hung type on the front and rear bufferbeam, and some locos were fitted with tapered buffer housings. There must have been a policy of ‘grab the nearest wheelset’ during rebuilding as several were photographed with a mixture of 10 and 12 spokes on the radial wheels. No.674 returned the Y14 type of Stephenson’s Link motion to number 696 in January 1897 and later fitted with the T19 type to fall in line with the rest of the rebuilds.

No. 663 again, but after rebuilding. Although I have dozens of photos of M15s it's nice to be able to compare changes to specific machines during the course of their time in service. Taken from the driver's side, this fills in the blanks left over from the photo of no.652's rebuild.  No.663, rebuilt with a 140psi boiler in August 1895 has picked up two pairs of 10 spoke radial wheels and some 8-bolt tapered buffer housings. It remained a normally-aspirated loco until withdrawal in September 1925.  Photograph © Public Domain.

No. 663 again, but after rebuilding. Although I have dozens of photos of M15s it’s nice to be able to compare changes to specific machines during the course of their time in service. Taken from the driver’s side, this fills in the blanks left over from the photo of no.652’s rebuild and shows the new position of the Westinghouse pump. No.663, rebuilt with a 140psi boiler in August 1895 has picked up two pairs of 10 spoke radial wheels and some 8-bolt tapered buffer housings. It remained a normally-aspirated loco until withdrawal in September 1925. Photograph © Public Domain.

The main difference between the M15 and E16 rebuilds is that the original ten nos. 650-9 were all fitted with condensing apparatus during their rebuild, whereas the E16 series remained as normally aspirated engines.  The visual evidence of the condensing gear on these locomotives were two long pipes leading from the smokebox to tank tops and vent pipes inside(!) the front of the cab, the tops of which projected out from the roof.

During the rebuilding of the M15 and E16 batches, Holden’s O18 series also came up for reboilering, and between July 1896 and June 1899 all ten were fitted with two-ring boilers with a working pressure of 160psi. These locos retained their Y14 type Link motion and 17½” cylinders at 2′ 4″ centres with valves set between them and the correspondingly small cylinder cover lid.  As with the two earlier batches, all the contemporary improvements were made. None of the ten were fitted with condensing gear at this time.

No. 791 was rebuilt in February 1898 and is seen here in the Platform 6 engine dock at Liverpool Street in the Edwardian period after 1903, probably before its second rebuild with a 2-ring telescopic boiler in 1910.  Fewer outward changes than the first thirty locos, but it has received 10 spoke radial wheels and exhibits all the features future builds would be given from new. Photograph  © Public Domain.

No. 791 was rebuilt in February 1898 and is seen here in the Platform 6 engine dock at Liverpool Street in the Edwardian period after 1903, probably before its second rebuild with a 2-ring telescopic boiler in 1910. Fewer outward changes visible than the first thirty locos, but it has received 10 spoke radial wheels and despite the lack of condensing equipment, exhibits all the features future builds would be given from new. Photograph © Public Domain.

When the need for new outer-suburban engines came up in 1898 Holden turned back to the 0-4-4T type which had served the GER so well for many years and designed the S44 class based upon his ‘improved Y14’ 0-6-0, the N31 class. Unfortunately neither design turned out to be as successful as expected and for the first and only time Holden experienced the pitfalls of a standardisation too far. Therefore, in 1903 with the opening of the new suburban line between Woodford, Ilford and Seven Kings via Fairlop and Hainault, and with many of the early Bromley, Adams and Sinclair 0-4-4T classes becoming life-expired, Holden had the O18 drawings of 1886 dusted off, and down to 1909 a further 120 members of the 2-4-2T class were built in ten batches, somewhat incredibly retaining by-now archaic features such as outside brake rigging.

No.236 of series I60, built in 1906 - the 82nd  M15 to be built.  With new production in full flow, outwardly nothing has changed from the 1886 rebuilds. This was the second batch to have condensing equipment fitted from new, and only ten more locos would be built without the gear. Photo © Public Domain.

No.236 of series I60, built in 1906 – the 82nd M15 to be built. With new production in full flow, outwardly nothing has changed from the 1886 rebuilds. This was the second batch to have condensing equipment fitted from new, and only ten more locos would be built without the gear. Photo © Public Domain.

Telescopic two-ring boilers pressed to 160psi were fitted to new builds from 1907 onwards and fifteen earlier rebuilds gained this type from that year until a 180psi boiler came into service in 1911.

Eighty of the new builds were fitted with condensing apparatus from new, only the ten locos comprising series’ P55 of 1903 (nos.140-9), D58 of 1904 (nos. 781-90), R58 of 1905 (nos. 91-100) and  D63 of 1907 (nos. 582-91) were normally aspirated. Over time various engines either lost or were fitted with the gear, depending on whether they were transferred in to or out of the London District.

All the locos were Westinghouse braked, but nos. 216-20 from Order G63 built in 1907 were also fitted with a vacuum ejector from new for working the East London Railway, and many other members of the class were later dual-braked.

No. 577 from series A62 of 1907 passes Bishopsgate Low Level station on the 1.45pm Liverpool Street to Albert Dock on 12th May 1912. the train is comprised of an eclectic selection of types and vintages, and the loco is the 'wrong way around', usually chimney leading first out of the terminus. Photograph © Public Domain.

The exhaust from No. 577 of series A62 (released to traffic in 1907) diffuses the sunlight as it passes Bishopsgate Low Level station with the 1.45pm Liverpool Street to Albert Dock (via Basilica Fields!) on a warm 12th May 1912. The train is comprised of an eclectic selection of types and vintages, and the loco is the ‘wrong way around’; usual practice was chimney leading out of the terminus. No.577 had a short life, the LNER withdrawing it from service in January 1931. Photograph © Public Domain.

In Service

The first forty locos of the class were initially based in the London Division, working into and out of Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street on outer suburban duties. Most were based at Stratford with some out-stationed to suburban and rural depots in the area. With the advent of the larger C32 2-4-2T and S44 0-4-4T classes there was some movement to the country districts, but in the main, during the period covered by Basilica Fields, the majority worked into and out of London, and it wasn’t until the end of the Edwardian era that there was a general migration to the more rustic pastures.

No.664 on a Liverpool Street to Woolwich train at Stratford Market on the 6th September 1902.  Exhibiting a considerable amount of traffic grime the loco is obviously on a shuttle service as the crew have retained the white-edged green headcode disc on both the chimney and at the top of the bunker. The carriage is one of twenty designed by Worsdell to Dia.506 in 1885 and due to age has lost it's varnished teak livery, being repainted a golden brown with the upper and eave panels fine-lined in yellow. Photograph © Public Domain.

No.664 on a Liverpool Street to Woolwich train at Stratford Market on a changeable 6th September 1902. Exhibiting a considerable amount of traffic grime the loco is obviously on a shuttle service as the crew have retained the white-edged green headcode disc on both the chimney and at the top of the bunker. The carriage is a 4-wheel suburban brake third designed by Worsdell to Dia.507 in 1883, many of which Holden widened by 12″ between 1902 and 1904.  Photograph © Public Domain.

Modelling the Class

Fortunately the 7mm modeller is well served with kits from both Connoisseur Models and Laurie Griffin for the LNER versions of the class, and a range of detailing parts to backdate them to GER condition are available from Laurie Griffin, Ragstone Models and Alan Gibson Workshop.

It’s my intention to build at least four of the class; M15 no.652 as rebuilt in 1895 with condensing gear, E16 no.664 as rebuilt in the same year without condensing gear, O18 no.795 as built with a 3-ring boiler and one of the post-1903 batches with condensing apparatus. I’d also quite like one of the original thirty in pre-rebuilt condition, perhaps no.661 which wasn’t reboilered until November 1897, but we’ll see about that.

M15 under construction from a Connoisseur F5 kit.  I had intended to use this one to portray no.652 as rebuilt, but may now end up as one of the O18 batch of 1886 in original condition or possibly one from the early 1900s such as no.781 from series D58 in 1904 which was the 1000th locomotive built at Stratford under Holden. Photograph © Adrian Marks.

M15 under construction from a Connoisseur F5 kit. I had intended to use this one to portray no.652 as rebuilt, but may now end up as one of the O18 batch of 1886 in original condition or possibly one from the early 1900s such as no.781 from series D58 in 1904 which was the 1000th locomotive built at Stratford under Holden. Photograph © Adrian Marks.

This journal entry supersedes the earlier place-holder article titled ‘Gobblers’ published 10 March 2010, which has now been deleted.

Sources/Further Reading

  • Great Eastern Locomotives Past & Present 1862-1945 – C Langley Aldrich
  • GER Society Journal no.129 – Updating Buckle: The M15 Class ‘Gobbler’ 2-4-2Ts – Lyn Brooks
  • GER Society Journals nos. 14 and 18 – A Background to GER Locomotive Policy 1856-1923, parts 1 & 2 – Lyn Brooks & A. C. Sandwell
  • GER Society Journal no.87 – Personal Profile: T. W. Worsdell – Richard Joby
  • GER Society Journal no.87 – GER Locomotive Mysteries: Worsdell Gobblers – Did They? – Lyn Brooks
  • GER Society locomotive drawings – John Gardner
  • Locomotives of the LNER – RCTS Part 7
  • Yeadon’s Register Vol. 39

 

 

I hadn’t intended to include this entry here, but after a request for more information on the class (about which there really is precious little to say!) I’ve dredged it up from the bulging draft folder and packaged it up as the prequel to the series on the Buckjumpers.

As recounted in the entry on the T18s, when Holden took office at Stratford in 1885 there were, perhaps unusually for the period, only eighteen 0-6-0 tank engines on the Register of the Great Eastern Railway, all of the shunting variety. Most shunting duties were undertaken by older 0-4-4T types and unsuitable, ancient life-expired tender locomotives close to withdrawal. Ten of these eighteen tanks were of a type introduced by Bromley in 1881 and classed M12 under the Stratford alpha-numeric Letter Account system.

Unless a student of the Great Eastern Railway, one might be forgiven for never having heard the name Massey Bromley. Despite holding a BA from Oxford, Bromley, born in 1847, was a keen engineer and a Great Eastern man, having apprenticed himself to SW Johnson in 1869, rising to the post of Running Shed manager in 1871 (during which time he also found time to complete his MA), Works Manager in 1874 and finally in 1878 Locomotive Superintendent following the departure of William Adams for Nine Elms on the L&SWR.

The ten engines of the M12 Class were the fourth and penultimate class of locomotive introduced during Bromley’s tenure, an 0-6-0T version of the E10 0-4-4T class which had been designed and ordered by Adams, but built after Bromley took office.

m12_548_01

M12 no 548 was the seventh member of the class to be built, ex-Works and released to traffic on the same day – 12th July 1881, and after a short an uneventful sixteen years of shunting was withdrawn on 17th September 1898. One of only two photographs of the class I’m aware of,  wherever the photograph was taken – I have no details of class allocations, and I doubt any survive – the date is no later than c1886 as the early lamp hangers are extant. Snap-head rivets were a feature of the three classes built at Stratford under Bromley – the outside contractors continued to fit flush rivets in the period, and Stratford reverted to them after Bromley’s departure. Photograph © Public Domain.

 

The M12 class is one of three Stratford-built engines of the period for which there is no known GA drawing (the others being the very similar Adams K9 and the Adams/Bromley E10), but a GA for Bromley’s contractor-built 140 class (built by Hawthorn & Co.), which was essentially a shortened E10 with larger diameter driving wheels does exist, and many details can be extrapolated from it and applied to the M12. There are also two contemporary side-elevations  available, drawn by HT Buckle and published in The Locomotive Magazine in 1911,  and these may be considered accurate as Buckle at that time worked in the drawing office at Brighton Works and had previously held a similar position at Stratford.

So to details; released to traffic between 21st March and 1th August 1881 and measuring 27ft 4in over buffers with a 14ft 5in wheelbase, the ten engines had 1000 gallon tanks with unfastened filler lids, weighed 40T 5cwt, had 16-spoke 5ft 2in wheels (Aldrich erroneously states 4ft 10in) and 16 x 22in cylinders. Stephenson’s Link motion was fitted, the configuration was the same as fitted to the T18 Bucks which can be traced all the way back to Johnson’s 204 class in the 1860s.  The slidebars were almost certainly single-bar which would become standard on the GER. The coupling rods had square-finished end with a vertical pin through to prevent the bush turning in the boss.

The three-ring butt-jointed boiler was pressed to 140psi with the steam dome seated on the middle ring, and was the same pattern as those fitted to the K9 0-4-2Ts, ‘140’ Class 0-4-4Ts, E10 0-4-4Ts and the rebuilt  Johnson ‘204’ Class 0-6-0Ts.  A large wooden toolbox was placed between the dome and twin uncased Ramsbottom safety valves. These were spaced 2ft 6in from the cab weatherboard with the whistle mounted on the valve seat on the driver’s side.

An early pattern blower valve sat on the top of the first ring of the boiler and was operated by crank from a rod running inside the handrail on the driver’s side, the blower pipe entering the base of the deep-skirted chimney. Injectors were mounted in front of the side tanks with the steam cocks on the boiler next to the dome. Displacement lubricators were fitted to the side of, and fed directly into the smokebox with two more lubricators on the front of the cylinders.

The operation of the leading sands is worthy of comment; introduced by Adams on his 61 class 0-4-4T and fitted to his K9 0-4-2T, Bromley perpetuated the design on the E10, 140, and M12 tank engine designs. A horizontal shaft passed across the front of the boiler backplate with a vertical operating lever in the middle.  Bell cranks, arranged at each end, connected to pull-rods which in turn passed through the front weatherboard, running down both sides of the boiler. Passing through bearings bracketed to the smokebox sides, vertical spindles surmounted by bell cranks connected to the pull-rods and passed down to the bottom of the sandboxes where they operated a rotary ‘hit and miss’ valve. When the operating lever was pulled, the pull-rods moved backwards, turning the spindles and opening the sanders. Whether this arrangement was implemented to enable the driver to operate the sands from either side of the cab, or for the fireman to operate them is open to debate.

The cab was open at the rear, and the spectacles in the front weatherboard were of the rectangular Adams pattern. The reversing rod was operated by lever, and as-built the locos were hand-braked only. Rear sands were filled through pipes fitted inside bunker.

Bromley continued Adams’ black livery but increased the width of the vermilion lining and added incurved corners. Coupling rods and bufferbeams were vermilion on which the engine running number was hand painted in 8″ yellow letters in an Egyptian block serif style in the form No. [hook] 548.

Bromley introduced the elliptical numberplate to the GER, replacing Adams’ rectangular plate. Cast in iron these may have been painted black or vermilion (it’s not recorded) with the numerals painted white. The plates had axis of 24 and fifteen inches and a raised semi-circular beading 7/8in wide by 3/8in deep. The serif running number was placed on the horizontal centre line, 6 inches high and 3/16in deep with GER sans serif horizontally above and STRATFORD 1881 horizontally beneath. Mounted centrally on the tank sides they were surrounded by a vermilion line.

m12_549

Bit of a fortuitous find this one; sold as something quite different it doubles the number of photographs of the class I know to be in existence. No. 549 (not the highest numbered, but the final one released to traffic) in original condition (and very grubby…what…dirt in the 1880s?!), the date is no later than c1886 as the original lamp irons are still in place. Many of the features of the class are clearer in this photo than the one at the top of the entry, particularly the complex arrangement of rods and fittings to the blower, leading sands and injectors. Many of the 29 cattle wagons in the train appear to be the elusive diagram 3, the smallest of the GER cattle wagons classed as the ‘Medium’ type, 16ft 0in over headstocks and built between 1881 and 1893, with the longer 19ft 0in diagram 6 ‘Large’ cattle wagons mixed in. All the cattle wagons are sheeted which suggests a military train; except for officers’ cavalry and artillery horses which always travelled in horseboxes, the British Army regularly transported large numbers of horses in sheeted cattle wagons. The location is unknown to me (read that as I’ve not yet had the opportunity to find out!) but shows the typical condition of the Great Eastern Railway’s deep-ballasted permanent way of the period, and of course the simply glorious sky-arm bracket signal which appears to be of MacKenzie & Holland design with three stop boards and a fish-tailed auxiliary (distant) board below. The GER didn’t adopt the Coligny-Welch lamps on it’s distant signals until 1906, and of course they were painted the same red as the stop signals until much later. Pity the signalman who had to climb that to replace the lamps in a gale! Photograph ©Public Domain.

By the end of 1886 Holden’s new spike lamp irons had replaced the early ‘socket and swan-necked spoon’ type and rebuilding began the following year with numbers 542 and 543, and no. 544 in 1888.  These were fitted with new 140psi two-ring boilers with the dome on the front ring and the safety valves on the firebox moved back six and a half inches towards the cab. Other fittings included Worsdell’s stovepipe chimney, a Roscoe pattern displacement lubricator with a visible pipe feeding backwards directly to the steam chest.

The two rebuilt engines (and any other members of the class requiring repainting in the period 1883-1890) would have been finished in Worsdell’s original ultramarine livery for non-new locos.  The difference between this and the later Standard blue livery was that as older locos they were not given the GER lettering on the tank sides and nor did they receive Worsdell’s brass elliptical number plates, but retained their cast iron plates centrally mounted on the tank sides, the background painted vermilion and the raised portions scoured bright.

In 1890 Holden standardised the livery to only Westinghouse-fitted engines being painted in ultramarine, so all unfitted goods and shunting engines including the M12s requiring painting were turned out in plain unlined black. However, to offset this, all engines were now given the 6in high GER lettering on the tank sides and the Bromley numberplates were  moved to the bunker sides.

In 1895 the first of the class, no.547 was withdrawn from traffic and a further (but final) two of the class rebuilt – nos. 545 and 546. The specifications of the rebuilding was the same as the earlier three members of the class but with the addition of steam brakes, an enclosed cab – a flat rear weatherboard linking the bunker front and the cab roof – and three coal rails added to the top of the bunker. It’s not known for certain, but is likely that the rear weatherboards had spectacles of the by now standard round pattern, and it’s probable that the front weatherboards were fitted with them too.  Photographs show that the early E10 rebuilds in the 1880s retained their square windows, but, the rebuilds of the 1890s were given round spectacles fore and aft. Until a definitive photograph emerges, however, it’s pure speculation. As with any engine rebuilt by Holden they were also fitted with Worsdell pattern brass numberplates with a vermilion background which bore the rebuild date.

In 1896 the original three rebuilt locos nos. 542, 543 and 544 were withdrawn, followed by no.551 in 1897, no.548 in 1898, 549 and 550 in 1899 and the recently rebuilt no.545 in 1900. The class became extinct with the withdrawal of rebuilt no 546 on 22 February 1902.

Allocation

I haven’t a clue! If the location of the two photographs above can be ascertained then that will help. I’d suggest that some of the ten were in the London District, and the rest sent to the larger centres in the country districts, such as Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich, etc.

Modelling the M12 class

Obviously no commercial kits exist for such a niche engine, and so if I do – and I might! – then it will be a scratchbuild using the limited information given above.

Afterword

I think that’s it for GER 0-6-0 tanks for Basilica Fields – I don’t believe the remaining eight engines of various classes at the time of Holden’s taking office are applicable to this project.

Considering the dearth of information on the M12s which doesn’t amount to more than three or four sentences in all the references, I’m rather pleased that I’ve managed to squeeze out 2000 words on them (who at the back said ‘waffle’?) – not bad for an ugly duckling which Rice poetically called ‘The be-riveted Drudge’!

References

  • Great Eastern Locomotives Past & Present 1862-1945 – C Langley Aldrich
  • Great Eastern Railway Journal
  • Model Railway Journal preview issue – The be-rivetted Drudge, Iain Rice
  • A Background to GER Locomotive Policy 1856-1923, GER Society Journal no.14 – Lyn Brooks & A. C. Sandwell
  • Massey Bromley: Locomotive Superintendent 1878-1881, GER Society Journal no.27 – Roger Farrant
  • The Locomotive Magazine 1911
  • John Gardner of the GERS

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.

In the previous entry we left the London Suburban traffic growing at an exponential rate prompting the building of the final two batches of R24s with new boilers pressed to 160lbs per square inch, and the handing over to the running Department of the last of the class, no.169 on 6th December 1901.

However, even by the time no.169 had entered service, both the Chingford and Enfield lines had reached saturation point, and severe overcrowding was rife on the fifteen-carriage close-coupled 4-wheel sets during peak hours.

R24R no.372, rebuilt in January 1905, prepares to leave platform 10 at Liverpool Street with an ECS working to Temple Mills. No.372 was from the N33 batch of 1894 with integral condensing chambers, and the new widened chambers extending to the tank sides can be seen. Photograph © Public Domain.

R24R no.372, rebuilt in late 1904 but not released back to traffic until early 1905, prepares to leave platform 10 at Liverpool Street with an ECS working to Temple Mills. No.372 was from the N33 batch of 1894 with high side sheets covering the integral condensing chambers on the tank tops. The new widened chambers extending to the tank sides can be seen here. Four-column safety valves in the forward position on the back ring of the boiler. Not looking particularly clean is it? Also note the express in the background still has a 6-wheeled brake van; the GER was very slow to introduce bogie brakes, even to top link services. Photograph © Public Domain.

Holden’s answer was to design a 12″ wider set of four-wheeled carriages which could seat twelve passengers in each third-class compartment, and collectively these became known as the ‘six-a-side stock’.  At 9ft wide, the carriages, still only 27 feet long,  pushed the limits of the loading gauge and the doors had to be recessed 1¾” into the body to keep the handles from exceeding gauge. As before, each set consisted of 15 close-coupled carriages with a convenient break-point where the two carriages involved had standard buffing and draw-gear fitted so the set could be divided for slack-hour services. The sets were made up thus:

Brake 3rd / 3rd / 3rd / 2nd / 2nd / 2nd  – break point – 2nd / 2nd/ 1st / 1st / 1st / 3rd / 3rd / 3rd / Brake 3rd

The design was a success, and between 1898 and 1903 a total of 531 carriages entered service. Although none were built in 1904, a further 70 were built in 1905 bringing the total to 601 examples.

Poor quality postcard (I'm on the lookout for a replacement) but very appropriate subject matter. Number 386 was the last of the F36 series built in 1895, and the first of the class to receive the extra wide 5" tank extensions in early 1904 (see text below).  The photograph was taken within a year of rebuilding and is seen at Hackney Downs on an Up train from enfield Town to Liverpool Street. A new wide suburban sets of 1898 is in the down platform and the recessed doors are clearly visible. The round tops to the doors reflect the practice on not only the Metropolitan Railway, but the Great Western, where Holden was not only Chief Assistant to William Dean, but at the forefront of converting broad gauge carriage stock to standard gauge.  Photograph © Public Domain.

Poor quality postcard (I’m on the lookout for a replacement) but very appropriate subject matter. Number 386 was the last of the F36 series built in 1895, and the first of the class to receive the extra wide 5″ tank extensions in early 1904 (see text below). The photograph was taken within a year of rebuilding and is seen at Hackney Downs on an Up train from Enfield Town to Liverpool Street. A new wide suburban carriage set of 1898 is in the down platform and the recessed doors are clearly visible. The round tops to the doors reflect the practice on not only the Metropolitan Railway, but the Great Western, where Holden was Chief Assistant to William Dean and at the forefront of converting broad gauge carriage stock to standard gauge. And yes, some of the passengers have been inked in with Ye Olde Photoshoppe! Photograph © Public Domain.

Concurrently an unique suburban train was designed and built for the Enfield line comprising of six 12-wheeled 54ft bogie carriages bookended with a pair of eight-wheeled 46ft bogie brake thirds. Although the comparatively luxurious ride was a tremendous success with passengers, it was far heavier than a 15-carriage set of four-wheelers, and although (to the delight of the travelling public) it remained employed on the Enfield line for the next 48 years, the experiment was not repeated.

Holden instead turned his attention to the existing 8ft wide suburban stock built between 1882 and 1898, and rather ingeniously split the carriages down the middle and spliced in a 12″ wide insert. These widened carriages had the same capacity as the new six-a-side sets, but to the delight of the Directors of the Board, the exercise required only a very modest expenditure of £30 per carriage, effectively postponing the introduction of new suburban stock beyond the demand met by the new six-a-side carriages for many years to come. Cigars and champagne all round!  In consequence a total of  710 suburban four-wheel carriages were widened between 1902 and 1904.

No.358 of the R29 series built in 1892 was given 5" tanks at its second rebuild towards the end of 1904. The separate narrow condensing chambers are prominent on the tank tops and there's considerable blistering of paint from the tank side from scalding water and steam.  The location is Palace Gates and the destination is Liverpool Street. Not quite the regulation number of crew on the footplate...

No.358 of the R29 series built in 1892 was given 5″ tanks during its second rebuild towards the end of 1904. The separate narrow condensing chambers are prominent on the tank tops and there’s a considerable blistering of paint on the tank side from scalding water and steam. The location is Palace Gates and the destination is Liverpool Street. Ghostly faces peering through the spectacles show there’s not quite the regulation number of crew on the footplate…Photograph © Public Domain.

The new, heavier trains tested the R24 Buckjumpers to their limit on the steeply-graded, tightly timed suburban services. Although they shared the boiler type with the T18s, it was by fortune rather than design that the 6″ longer trailing wheelbase of the R24s could be exploited to fit a new boiler with a longer firebox and pressed to 180lbs per square inch.

In July 1902, no. 332 of the original R24 batch was passing through the Works and chosen as test subject for the new boiler. The longer firebox extended into the cab by an extra 8 inches, giving a corresponding  increase in the grate area by 2 square feet and increasing the tractive effort of the locos from 16,970lbs to 19,019lbs.  Four column Ramsbottom safety valves within a rectangular casing were fitted instead of the usual two-column valves in the usual position over the firebox.

The success of no.332, classed in the Great Eastern Loco Register as R24 Rblt or R24R was soon evident and in September three more locos, numbers 329, 341 and 342 passed through the Works and were similarly dealt with.

Following trials it was decided that an increase in the water capacity was desirable. In February 1903 no.334 was fitted with the new boiler and at the same time the side tanks widened by four inches, increasing the water capacity from 1000 to 1140 gallons. Down to January 1904 a further ten locos (some sources erroneously suggest nine) had their tanks widened thus, and all except no.379 were from the earliest batches, originally built without condensing apparatus. When rebuilt these locos retained the square-topped shape to their side tanks and the original narrow condensing chambers on top. No.379 of Order F36 had side sheets which extended upwards with an integral condensing chamber, and when rebuilt the chambers were also widened to the full width of the tanks.

From the original R24 series of 1890, no. 335 was one of the 1903 rebuilds with 4" tank extensions and the new four-column Ramsbotton safety valves still on the firebox. The condensing chambers are the ones it was fitted with in 1893 and are in the same position, so now lie inboard of the tank edge. The Macallen blastpipe and condensing cranks and operating rods are clearly seen on the smokebox, and the loco retains the separate handrails. The square diamonded board on the nearest lampiron indicates the loco is not to be moved. photo © Public Domain.

From the original R24 series of 1890, no. 335 was one of the 1903 rebuilds with 4″ tank extensions and the new four-column Ramsbottom safety valves still on the firebox. The condensing chambers are the ones it was fitted with in 1893 and are in the same position, so now lie inboard of the tank edge. The Macallen blastpipe and condensing cranks and operating rods are clearly seen on the smokebox, and the loco retains the separate handrails. The square diamonded board on the nearest lamp iron indicates the loco is not to be moved. Steam entering the tanks via the condensing pipes has distressed the paintwork and caused it to blister. With so many engines fitted with the apparatus it’s surprising that the GER didn’t fit a protective side sheet to the tanks as the Midland did to its own condensing locomotives. Photograph © Public Domain.

At least the first half-dozen or so rebuilds, and possibly all of those rebuilt in 1903 had their four-column safety valves fitted in the usual position over the firebox, but thereafter it was decided the firebox crown needed to be comprehensively stayed, and the valves were moved forward onto the back ring of the boiler. Later, as the R24Rs with valves over the firebox were rebuilt for a second time, the valves were moved to the forward position.  When the four-column valves were moved forward, a small kink was set into the condenser pipe linking the two chambers to clear the valve seat.

We're rather fortunate to have two shots of No.335 taken on the same day at Enfield and this one clearly shows the effect of the 4" tank extensions and how the livery was altered to accommodate them. The bunker is rather neatly stacked to capacity and you can bet that in practice there simply wasn't time between trains for such precision, coal being poured in from wicker baskets pre-filled on the timber coaling stages at either end of the line.  new brass plates were cast

We’re rather fortunate to have two shots of No.335 taken on the same day at Enfield, and this rear three-quarter aspect clearly shows the effect of the 4″ tank extensions and how the livery was altered to take them into account. The bunker is rather neatly stacked to capacity and I’ll wager a jar of jellied eels that in practice there simply wasn’t time between trains for such precision, coal being poured in from wicker baskets pre-filled on the timber coaling stages at either end of the line. How frequently did they have to replace the spectacle glass? Great Eastern practice was to cast new brass number plates each time a locomotive was rebuilt (i.e. fitted with a new boiler), and the plate on No.335 clearly states that it was rebuilt at Stratford Works in 1903. Photograph © Public Domain.

From February 1904 and starting with no.386, all R24s entering Works for rebuilding had their water capacity increased to 1180 gallons by receiving five inch tank extensions. None of those fitted with four inch tank extensions in 1903 ever received the larger 1180 gallon tanks, but the first four rebuilds from 1902 which still had their original 1000 gallon tanks were eventually given the five inch extensions.

The year 1904 turned out to be the most prolific year for rebuilding the R24 class with twenty four examples passing through Works. By the end of the period covered by Basilica Fields one half of the passenger R24s had been rebuilt, and by 1921 a final total of 95 out of 100 locos had been converted.

No 382 was in for Works at the same time as no.372 (above), between late 1904 and early 1905, but in this case the number plate records 1905 as the date.  It makes a nice comparrison with no.377 in the previous entry. Photograph © Public Domain.

No 382 was in the Works at the same time as no.372 (top), between late 1904 and early 1905, but in this case the number plate records 1905 as the rebuild date. The profile makes a nice comparison with no.377 in the previous entry. Suddenly the Bucks look like they mean business! Photograph © Public Domain.

Services

The rebuilding process didn’t alter the fact that a high proportion of the locos were only required during peak hours, and so the process of minor maintenance and goods trip/shunting duties during the slack hours and overnight continued as before.

Modelling the R24Rs

Although it might seem natural to follow the example of the Great Eastern and convert the Connoisseur J67 kits to R24Rs,  in fact that involves a considerable amount of work as not only will new parts be needed for the boiler, tank sides, fronts and tops of the tanks, wider condensing chambers (on the later builds) but a new, wider running plate/footplate too.

Far easier then to utilise the excellent Connoisseur J68 kit (Great Eastern class C72 which appeared too late for Basilica Fields) which has the correct boiler, running plate and condensing chamber, and simply use new milled tanks from Colin Dowling’s range of parts. I have sufficient kits and bits here to produce two examples, one with square-topped tanks and four-inch wide extensions and the four column safety valves over the firebox, and one with the higher tank side sheets, integral condensing chambers, five-inch wide tank extensions and the safety valves in the forward position over the rear ring of the boiler.

References

  • 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
  • The Locomotive Magazine
  • The Great Eastern Society Special #3 ‘All Stations to Liverpool Street’
  • Lyn Brooks of the GERS
  • John Gardner of the GERS
  • Suburban set composition SX11702 – NRM
  • Model Railway Constructor Annual 1984 – article by John Lewis on Dean’s GWR stock.

In 1890 James Holden introduced a new development of his T18 class which had originally been designed for shunting and trip goods turns, but fortuitously turned out to be very good on the burgeoning suburban passenger services too.

When the need arose for further suburban tanks, Holden improved the design to suit intensive passenger work by providing a more steady-riding engine. This was achieved by increasing the trailing coupled wheelbase by six inches and reducing the length of the frames at the rear by one foot. In addition the tanks were repositioned further forward and the length of the cab shortened.  Peripheral changes included moving the front steps from just ahead of the side tanks to in front of  the sandboxes, and, as on the E22 class, positioning the spectacles higher on the weatherboards just under the eaves.

The ten locos were fitted for passenger work with Westinghouse brakes, screw reverse, screw couplings, destination board brackets on the smokebox door and bunker, and steel 10-spoke balanced wheels with a 10″ crank throw and straight brake pull rods.

As usual the new locos were classified by the initial batch order number and designated R24. They were numbered 327 to 336, numerically following on from the last of the T18 class. The R24s were released to traffic between 18th March and 18th April and sent to relieve the final batch of T18s working passenger duties on the Enfield and Chingford lines. The T18s were demoted to shunting duties and stripped of their Westinghouse brake equipment which was immediately fitted to the second batch of ten R24s (Order S24 numbered 337 to 346), already close to completion and originally intended for shunting duties. This second batch of passenger locos were handed over to the Running Department between 28th April and 14th May.

With the loss of the S24 order to the passenger side, it fell to the next two batches to make up the required number of shunting and trip goods locomotives; as intimated above, Holden had already decided not to revisit the T18 design, and the R24 class became his new standard for both passenger and shunting tanks. Twenty new locos were ordered in two consecutive batches to order numbers A26 and B26 and given running numbers 397 to 416. These were virtually identical to the R24 and S24 passenger locos with 7′ 9 ¾” wide tanks, cabs and bunker, but in common with the T18 class were fitted with handbrakes, lever reverse, and unbalanced 15-spoke cast iron wheels with  an 11″ crank throw necessitating a reversion back to the 1½” drop sections in the brake rods underneath the path of the crankpin.

Following on from his steel firebox experiments with the E22 class, Holden fitted the ten locos to order A26 with copper inner fireboxes and those to order B26 with steel inner fireboxes from new, and the two batches provided a useful comparison. The twenty locos were released to traffic between 18th November 1890 and 24th January 1891 and  nos. 407 to 416 retained their steel fireboxes until rebuilt between November 1901 and June 1907, when the fireboxes were scrapped and replaced by newly constructed copper ones.

Contrary to what has been published about these early steel fireboxes to date (and that includes both Yeadon’s Register, the RCTS ‘Green Bible’ and articles in the GER Society Journal), I can state with absolute certainty that these locos had their safety valves in the same position over the steel firebox as locos with copper fireboxes, and not over the rear ring of the boiler as previously believed. That particular modification came much later.

No.407 from Order B26 of 1890 was ex-Works on 26 November 1890 and released to traffic on 15 December. As seen here it represents Holden’s improved shunting loco, based on the T18 with the changes noted in the text above. Here at last is proof that the early experiments with steel inner fireboxes didn’t force the safety valves off the firebox onto the back ring of the boiler – the details on the number plate proves the loco hasn’t been rebuilt and the shrouded Ramsbottom valves are firmly seated in their original position. The Worsdell blower has the operating rod separate to the handrail, passing over the top of the tank, and the 15 spoke unbalanced wheels with an 11” crank throw require the same 1½” drop sections in the brake pull rods as the T18 class. Worsdell’s parallel buffer casings of 1882 are fitted. The toolbox has been moved to the drivers side, and looks pretty filthy, and there’s a conical re-railing jack up on the tank top – de rigueur for shunters as some of the permanent way in the GER sidings could be ‘interesting’.  A nice mix of buffed paintwork and working grime. Photo © Public Domain.

No.407 from Order B26 of 1890 was ex-Works on 26 November 1890 and released to traffic on 15 December. As seen here it represents Holden’s improved shunting loco, based on the T18 with the changes noted in the text above. Here at last is proof that the early experiments with steel inner fireboxes didn’t force the safety valves off the firebox onto the back ring of the boiler – the details on the number plate proves the loco hasn’t yet been rebuilt and the shrouded Ramsbottom valves are firmly seated in their original position. The Worsdell blower has the operating rod separate to the handrail, passing over the top of the tank, and the 15 spoke unbalanced wheels with an 11” crank throw require the same 1½” drop sections in the brake pull rods as the T18 class. Worsdell’s parallel buffer casings of 1882 are fitted. The toolbox has been moved to the drivers side, and looks pretty filthy, and there’s a conical re-railing jack up on the tank top – de rigueur for shunters as some of the permanent way in the GER sidings could be ‘interesting’. A nice mix of buffed paintwork and working grime. Photo © Public Domain.

A further twenty passenger tanks numbered 347 to 366  to orders P29 and R29 were released to traffic between 25th February and 18th May 1892. Whereas previous batches had had Worsdell’s pattern of spherical blower mounted on the smokebox above the separate boiler handrail with the operating rod passing along the top of the tank to a handwheel the cab, those in batch R29 (and possibly P29) had the blower mounted at the end of the handrail with the operating rod inside, passing through the tank to a handle in the cab.

From 1892 all new builds and replacement smokeboxes were of the flanged design with radiused edges, as described in the entry on the T18 class.

In 1893 all forty passenger tanks of the R24 design were fitted with condensing apparatus. Visually this consisted of a 6″ deep rectangular chamber fixed on top of each tank stretching from the cab to just behind the filler lid. A  U-shaped pipe was bolted to the top of the left-hand chamber with a transverse pipe linking the two chambers across the top of the boiler, and venting pipes positioned behind on either side.  An operating crank on the rear of the left-hand side of the smokebox was linked by a rod to the cab.

All of the passenger and shunting R24s up to this time were fitted with separate boiler and smokebox handrails and Roscoe displacement lubricators fixed to the side of their smokeboxes.

No.359 of Order R29 was ex-Works on 15 March 1892 and released to traffic on the 11 April.  The similarities with the T18 design are obvious, but the relatively minor changes make it ‘just so’.  The maximum date range for the photograph is 1893-1904 between the fitting of the condensing apparatus and its first rebuild. It has all the usual accoutrements of the early passenger R24s; early square-corner smokebox from built-up angle iron, the Worsdell blower attached to the end of the separate handrail, destination brackets on the smokebox door (and bunker), Holden’s tank filler lids with leather seals, the condensing chamber on the tank top along with the U-shaped tapered casting, copper connecting and vent pipes, and no coal rails on the bunker. The crew have moved the toolbox forward of the condensing pipes. The passenger rated tanks had 10-spoke balanced wheels with a 10” crank throw which led to straight brake pull rods, the Westinghouse pump in the tank front exhausting into the smokebox, brake hoses and screw couplings, and finally the passenger livery of ultramarine blue, lined vermilion and bordered black.  Photo © Public Domain.

No.359 of Order R29 was ex-Works on 15 March 1892 and released to traffic on the 11 April. The similarities with the T18 design are obvious, but the relatively minor changes make it ‘just so’. The maximum date range for the photograph is 1893-1904 between the fitting of the condensing apparatus and its first rebuild. It has all the usual accoutrements of the early passenger R24s; early square-corner smokebox from built-up angle iron, the Worsdell blower attached to the end of the separate handrail, destination brackets on the smokebox door (and bunker), Holden’s tank filler lids with leather seals, the condensing chamber on the tank top along with the U-shaped tapered casting, copper connecting and vent pipes, and no coal rails on the bunker. The crew have moved the toolbox forward of the condensing pipes. Holden’s tapered buffer casings are fitted. The passenger rated tanks had 10-spoke balanced wheels with a 10” crank throw which led to straight brake pull rods, the Westinghouse pump in the tank front exhausting into the smokebox, brake hoses and screw couplings, and finally the passenger livery of ultramarine blue, lined vermilion and bordered black. Photo © Public Domain.

As a result of an exponential growth in suburban passenger traffic in the 1890s, between 1894 and 1896 the number of passenger rated R24s doubled; orders N33, F36, Y36 and C37, consisting of ten engines a-piece, were given running numbers 367 to 376, 377 to 386, 387 to 396 and 265 to 274, and these new batches exhibited visible modifications to the previous forty passenger locos, viz:

The condensing chambers were now built into the tank tops and the side sheets were extended upwards from the cab for about three quarters of the length of the tank to cover them, the design incorporated a sultry characteristic curve downwards at the front end by the filler lid.  Batch C37 received boilers with steel inner fireboxes from new, and as with the earlier B26 order retained safety valves on the firebox, but were the last to do so – all future experiments with steel fireboxes would incorporate the safety valves on the back ring of the boiler. Numbers 265 to 374 retained these experimental fireboxes until they were rebuilt which took place between January 1908 and June 1912, long after the period covered by Basilica Fields.

The locomotives to order N33 of 1894 were the first of the type to receive continuous handrails from new, and over an extended period of time, some (but by no means all) of the previous sixty examples had their separate handrails replaced.  The N33s were also the first to have Macallan blastpipes fitted from new, and all the earlier locos had them fitted as they came into Works. Sight-feed lubricators were another new modification and were fixed on the inner side sheet of the cab on the fireman’s side replacing the Roscoe displacement lubricators fitted to the smokebox. Again, earlier locos had them fitted as they passed through the Works.

The final modification made to the N33 batch was the fitting of Holden’s first design of blower valve, operated through a rod in the continuous handrail. The handrail was broken at the smokebox centreline and a crank attached to both the rod and a plunger which operated the side valve blower within the smokebox itself. Within a year Holden developed a new pattern of rotary blower which again was operated via a push-pull rod within the handrail attached. As before the rod was attached to a crank, but this time instead of a break in the handrail there was a slot in the back where the rod and crank joined. The rotary blower was first fitted to No.377 of Order F36 in 1895 and all subsequent engines.

Not the best of photographs, No.377 the first loco from Order F36 was ex-Works on 10 October 1895. The photo was almost certainly taken just prior to its release to traffic on 11 November of that year.  The loco represents the pinnacle of the passenger R24 design before rebuilding began. The new-style flanged smokebox, continuous handrails and rotary blower, condensing chambers built into the tank tops with side-sheets extending to the top (and that curve down to the filler lid), and three coal rails on the bunker. The toolbox has been lined out (and on the original it’s numbered). Photo © Public Domain.

Not the best of photographs, No.377 the first loco from Order F36 was ex-Works on 10 October 1895. The photo was almost certainly taken just prior to its release to traffic on 11 November of that year. The loco represents the pinnacle of the passenger R24 design before rebuilding began. The new-style flanged smokebox, continuous handrails and rotary blower, condensing chambers built into the tank tops with side-sheets extending to the top (and that curve down to the filler lid), and three coal rails on the bunker. Holden’s tapered buffer casings are fitted. The toolbox on the driver’s side has been lined out (and on the original photo you can see it’s been numbered). Photo © Public Domain.

Some of the earlier locos which eventually received continuous handrails were also fitted with the rotary blower, others gained continuous handrails but retained the earlier Worsdell blower. Of course many locos kept both the separate handrails and Worsdell’s spherical blower and there were even a handful of examples which retained the separate handrails but were fitted with the intermediate design of side valve blower in place of the Worsdell blower mounted above the handrail. So much for standardisation!

Between 1895 and 1899 the twenty shunting tanks from batches A26 and B26 passed through the Works to be fitted with the steam brake.  Coal rails were also fitted to the bunkers of most, but not all of the locos at this time.

Two more batches of shunting tanks were delivered between 1899 and 1900; numbers 255 to 264 and 199 to 208 formed orders H45 and G47 and were given boilers of a new design with two telescopic rings pressed to 160psi instead of the previous butt-jointed two ring boilers with a working pressure of 140psi. From here on, all new and replacement boilers would conform to this latest standard. These twenty shunters were fitted with the steam brake from new.

Photo: No.201 of Order G47 represents the final form of the R24 shunters. Ex-Works on 8 December 1899 and released to traffic ten days later it’s seen here in mid-1921 having been rebuilt in 1915, but in almost the same condition as when first built with continuous handrails, flat-topped tanks (no condensing apparatus) and the McAllan variable blastpipe crank and operating rod on the smokebox. The only ‘out-of-period’ differences being the heavy smokebox door (fitted 1915) and the bars over the rear spectacles (fitted from c1910). The livery is post-War grey with Train Control numbers on the tank sides. Who said pre-Group locos were all shiny? Photo © Public Domain.

Photo: No.201 of Order G47 represents the final form of the R24 shunters in the GE period. Ex-Works on 8 December 1899 and released to traffic ten days later it’s seen here in mid-1921 having been rebuilt in 1915, but in almost the same condition as when first built with continuous handrails, flat-topped tanks (no condensing apparatus) and the MacAllan variable blastpipe crank and operating rod on the smokebox. Worsdell’s parallel buffer casings are fitted. The only ‘out-of-period’ differences being the heavy smokebox door (fitted 1915) and the bars over the rear spectacles (fitted from c1910). The livery is post-War grey with Train Control numbers on the tank sides. Who said pre-Group locos were all shiny? Photo © Public Domain.

The final twenty passenger-rated R24s, nos.199 to 208 and 160 to 169 to orders S48 and R50 were identical to the four batches introduced between 1894-6 and were released to traffic between 1900 and 1901, the last entering service on 6th September 1901.

A total of one hundred and forty locos to the R24 design had entered traffic in the space of eleven years. Although no more locos were built to this particular classification it was far from the end, and most of the passenger locos were on the cusp of a very significant change.

Services

The majority of the frenetic London suburban services hauled by the R24s out of Liverpool Street were allocated to the three principal branch lines of Chingford, Enfield and Palace Gates (which in 1920 would collectively form the famous ‘Jazz’ service) and routed north at Bethnal Green Junction via the 1872 route to Hackney Downs avoiding  the Basilica Fields area which was situated about a mile east of the junction. In 1905 an astonishing twenty one trains an hour left Liverpool Street during the evening peak for these three branches alone, ten of which were diagrammed for the Chingford line. In contrast, during the period covered by this project there were always about a dozen or so trains in both directions each day to Chingford calling at Globe Road (Devonshire Street), Coborn Road and Basilica Fields on the Colchester line before turning north at Stratford, stopping at Lea Bridge before diverting onto the branch.

Many other suburban services on GER lines relied on the diminutive tanks and these included some interesting gems such as the three Woolwich services to Palace Gates, Chingford and Fenchurch Street – the latter running via either Stratford or exercising running rights over the Tilbury line via Bromley (-by-Bow). Other delights included Gospel Oak on the Tottenham & Hampstead Joint to both Chingford and Woolwich, and the East London Line services from Liverpool Street to the exotic destinations of New Cross and New Croydon on the Brighton Line via the Thames Tunnel and the East London Railway. Unfortunately none of these trains came within a mile or so of Basilica Fields, but there were a few services of interest which will be replicated including those from Liverpool Street to Woolwich, Gallions and the V&A Docks via Stratford Market. In addition the R24s occasionally took the slow outer suburban Hertford service via Stratford and Lea Bridge.

Although a number of locos were retained for passenger off-peak services (and night trains on the Chingford line for the artisan citizens of suburbia), many of the passenger-rated R24s were only required for the relentless morning and evening peak services. This meant that minor maintenance could be carried out during the day, freeing the locos up for night-time deployment on shunting turns and the vast number of trip goods workings serving the suburban goods yards between the hours of 10pm and 6am.

Modelling the R24s

The LNER J67 was one of Jim McGeown’s earliest Connoisseur Models kits, from c1991, and represent what later became of the GER shunting R24s. The kit has been unavailable as a stock item for many years and in modern terms it’s fairly basic, but is pretty good in all the essential dimensions,  builds well and is an excellent foundation for a decent model. I have nine of the breed in the pile ready for assembly and conversion back to Great Eastern condition which involves scratchbuilding the cab interior and roof, and making several changes to the platework and castings.

As the passenger variety was also used on goods turns I’ve decided to build four shunting and five passenger examples, and in time will write separate journal entries on each.

Here’s one of the B26 batch of shunting engines I built to commission a couple of years ago.

Photograph ©2012 Adrian Marks

Photograph ©2012 Adrian Marks

References

  • 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
  • The Locomotive Magazine
  • The Great Eastern Society Special #3 ‘All Stations to Liverpool Street’
  • Lyn Brooks of the GERS
  • John Gardner of the GERS

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