For enthusiasts and researchers of the Great Eastern Railway

The Johnson Era

‘No. 1 Class’ 2-4-0 1867-1872

1-3, 26, 28, 29, 32, 35, 43, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 33, 34, 36, 42, 45, 50, 112, 113, 110, 114, 115, 31, 100, 104-106, 107, 160, 161, 173, 176, 119, 118, 5, 6, 7

© LCGB Ken Nunn Collection 252

© LCGB Ken Nunn Collection 252

These forty engines were the first to Johnson's design for the GER. They were inside cylinder 2-4-0s similar to the ‘No. 125 Class’, but with smaller driving wheels 5-ft. 7-ins. diameter for mixed traffic work. They were of typical Johnson appearance, with built up rimmed chimneys and open-topped domes with Salter safety valves. Thirty were built by Sharp, Stewart & Co. in 1867-1871, being known as ‘Little Sharpies’ as a result. Two batches of five were also built at Stratford Works in 1869-70, and 1871-72. The list above shows the engine numbers in order of building, and it appears that Johnson used them to 'mop up' some of the blank numbers in the locomotive list. As delivered, they were thus numbered 1 3/5/6/10, 26/8/9/31-6/42-50, 100/4-7/10/2-5/8/9, 160/1, and 173/6. Several locomotives were renumbered in later years so that, ultimately, the class occupied the slightly-tidier group of numbers 1-6, 27-36, 42-50, 103-108, 110/2-5/7/8 and 160/1.

All engines were equipped with Westinghouse brakes in the early 1880s, and in 1889-1893 the whole class were rebuilt with new, larger boilers of the same type as used on the Holden T18 class 0-6-0Ts. Withdrawal began in 1901, but at the same time, fourteen engines were rebuilt a second time, the new boilers being identical in size to those fitted previously, but with the increased working pressure of 160 lbs. psi. The ‘Little Sharpies’ were very popular with the enginemen, and by the early 1900s the survivors were increasingly concentrated around the Norwich area. The last engine to be scrapped in 1913 was co-incidentally the prototype, by then numbered 01.

‘No. 125 Class’ 2-4-0 1867


Notwithstanding the new locomotive types introduced under Robert Sinclair, when S.W. Johnson took over as Locomotive Superintendent, the GER was still chronically short of locomotives. As a stop-gap, Johnson managed to have five 2-4-0s that he had ordered from Neilson & Co. before he left the North British Railway diverted to the GER instead. These were inside cylinder engines with 6-ft. 0½-in. diameter driving wheels, and outside frames to the leading wheels, with domeless boilers. They were not rebuilt, and only minor modifications were made to them during their lives. They were scrapped in 1884-86.

‘No. 201 Class’ 0-6-0ST 1867


When Johnson took over from Sinclair, there was a need for two shunting engines, and two 0-6-0 saddle tanks of different designs were purchased ‘off the shelf’ from Hudswell, Clarke & Co. of Leeds. No. 201 was delivered in April 1867 and was an inside cylinder locomotive. It worked at Harwich, and was reboilered in 1883, only to be scrapped in 1888.

‘No. 202 Class’ 0-6-0ST 1867


When Johnson took over from Sinclair, there was a need for two shunting engines, and two 0-6-0 saddle tanks of different designs were purchased ‘off the shelf’ from Hudswell, Clarke & Co. of Leeds. The second of the two engines was larger than No. 201, and had outside cylinders. It was delivered in November 1867 and initially worked at Peterborough. It later went to the Whitechapel Coal Depot, from where it was withdrawn in June 1886.

‘No. 417 Class’ 0-6-0 1867-1869


GERS Collection 798 0125

GERS Collection 798 0125

These fifty 0-6-0s for goods work were the progenitors of those that Johnson was later to construct for the Midland Railway. They were built concurrently by Neilson & Co. and the Worcester Engine Co. There were some slight differences between the engines supplied by each of the builders. Between 1879 and 1888 twenty-three engines were reboilered with boilers of the same size as that used on the rebuilds of the ‘No. 477 Class’. The class was scrapped between 1888 and 1899.

‘No. 204 Class’ 0-6-0T, 0-6-0CT 1868

LNER Class Z-4, J-92


GERS Collection 798 0020

GERS Collection 798 0020

These five inside-cylinder 0-6-0Ts were purchased from Ruston, Proctor Ltd. of Lincoln in 1868 for shunting duties. Initially cab-less, half cabs were fitted during Adams's tenure as Locomotive Superintendent to all except No. 206.

No. 207 was withdrawn in 1889, but in 1891 No. 205 was rebuilt under James Holden as a crane engine for use at Stratford Works. A new boiler was fitted, larger in diameter, and with a longer firebox, of the type that was used to reboiler Bromley's E10 class 0-4-4Ts and other classes. The wheelbase and frames were lengthened at the rear, and a crane added in the bunker. No. 208 was scrapped in 1892, but in the following year the two remaining engines - 204 and 206 - were also rebuilt as crane tanks in the same manner as 205. All three engines then served at Stratford Works for the rest of their long careers. Here, they were used on stripping work, and moving components from one part of the works to another. The cranes themselves became redundant in the 1930s with the installation of a fixed overhead travelling crane for stripping work.

The three engines became Stratford Works property in 1894, when they were 'renumbered' as 'WORKS B', 'C' and 'D'. Under the LNER, they were initially reclassified as Z-4, but this was altered to J-92 in 1927. They continued to be identified as 'B', 'C' and 'D' until the 1946 renumbering scheme, when they became 8667-8669, and then 68667-68669 under British Railways in 1948. No. 68669 was withdrawn in 1950, and 68667 in May 1952. The remaining engine - 68668 - became 'Departmental No. 35' in September the same year, only to be withdrawn two months later.

‘No. 477 Class’ 0-6-0 1871-1873


These fifty engines were a slight enlargement upon Johnson's earlier ‘No. 417 Class’, having slightly enlarged cylinders and boilers, and smaller-diameter driving wheels, increasing the tractive effort from 12342 to 13531 lbs. They were urgently required, and thus they were constructed by five firms; Beyer Peacock & Co. (20 engines); Robert Stephenson & Co. (5); Dübs & Co. (5); Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. (5); and the Yorkshire Engine Co. (15). Sundry minor modifications were made to the engines in the Adams period, but between 1887 and 1895 the whole class was reboilered. The engines were withdrawn between 1897 and 1902.

T7 Class 0-4-2T 1871, 1873-1875

81-86, 13, 14, 11, 12, 15-19

The first three of these 0-4-2Ts were built at Stratford Works to Johnson's design in 1871 for light passenger duties. The remaining twelve followed in 1873-5, and differed from the earlier locomotives in having larger tanks, holding 750 gallons instead of 500. They had outside bearings to the trailing wheels, and all were originally cab-less. The boilers were similar to those of the ‘No. 204 Class’ 0-6-0Ts, but a variety of boiler mountings were originally fitted, partly due to the fact that the later engines were delivered under the auspices of William Adams. Thus, the first three had Johnson built-up rimmed chimneys, squat open-topped domes with Salter spring balance safety valves on the first ring of the boiler, and an enclosed Naylor valve on the firebox. Of the later engines, one at least had a short rimmed chimney for use on the Woolwich line, and two had short stovepipes, for the same reason. Others had tall stovepipe chimneys, whilst the last five to be built had Ramsbottom safety valves on the firebox and closed domes, although two had squat open-topped domes, but without the spring balance valves.

It is understood that some engines were later fitted with cabs, although no photographic evidence survives. All except two were later fitted with Westinghouse brakes. None were reboilered, and they were withdrawn in 1891-1894.

‘No. 134 Class’ 0-4-4T 1872-1873

134-139, 162-170, 185-199

To work the suburban services over the 'Metropolitan Extensions' associated with the opening of Liverpool Street, Johnson produced thirty 0-4-4 tank engines in 1872-1873. These are notable for being the first side tank engines of this wheel arrangement - in Britain at least - all previous locomotives of this type having been back tanks. Construction of the thirty engines was divided equally between Neilson & Co. and the Avonside Engine Co.

Like all of Johnson's tank engines, they originally only had a weatherboard for forward running, but half cabs and other modifications were made to the engines during the Adams/Bromley period, whilst Westinghouse brakes were added in the early 1880s. No. 189 is notable for having been the first GER locomotive to carry blue livery, in 1882. Between 1885 and 1892 all thirty engines were reboilered, whilst from around 1890 the cabs were fully-enclosed. Sixteen engines were reboilered a second time, with boilers working at 140 lbs. psi. instead of 160 lbs., between 1896 and 1902. From around 1900 the class were displaced from suburban work, and they migrated to the country districts, particularly around Lowestoft. Withdrawal took place between 1902 and 1912.

‘No. 200 Class’ 0-4-0ST 1872


This engine was purchased from Manning, Wardle & Co. in 1872 for shunting at Stratford Locomotive Works. It was purchased from stock, being one of Manning, Wardle's 'H' class outside-cylinder four-coupled saddle tanks. In 1876 the engine was given the name Chairman in painted lettering on the tank sides, and at about the same time it was fitted with an enclosed cab. In 1894 it became the property of the Works as 'WORKS A', and in the following year it was rebuilt with a new boiler and then, in 1897, the name was removed. Still later, it was fitted with steam brakes. It continued as Works shunting engine until replaced by B77 class 0-4-0T No. 210 in 1921. It was formally withdrawn the following year.

‘No. 209 Class’ 0-4-0ST 1874-76, 1897, 1903

LNER Class Y-5

209, 210, 226-231

For shunting work at depots such as wharves and other places that had weight restrictions or small-radius curves, two 0-4-0STs were purchased under William Adams from Nielson & Co. in 1874-75, followed by another two in 1876 for station pilot work at the newly-opened Liverpool Street terminus. These engines were to one of the contractor's standard designs, and were of low overall height with low framing, low pitched boilers and open cabs, although their tall chimneys belied this fact. In 1894-5, under James Holden, these four engines were rebuilt with new boilers, steam brakes and other modifications, including covered cabs. In 1897 two new engines were built at Stratford Works, identical to the rebuilds except that the bunker sides (in front of the cab) were higher, and thus they had only two coal rails instead of three. Another two engines followed in 1903.

Following the building of new and more powerful tram engines, the two 1897-built engines were withdrawn in 1911. At around the same time, No. 229 was selected as a shunter for the Stratford Carriage Works, and was fitted with a Westinghouse pump and vacuum ejector for carriage brake testing. It was joined shortly afterwards by No. 0228 (the engine having by then been placed on the 'duplicate list'), and then around 1916 No. 229 was sold to the National Shipyard at Chepstow, although it was not actually dispatched until 1919. No. 230 replaced it, and received its brake testing gear. One further engine was withdrawn prior to 1923, leaving four to become LNER property as class Y-5. No. 07228 lost its brake testing gear in the mid-1920s. By 1931 only No. 7230 remained, carriage shunting at Stratford Works, and it became something of a celebrity, being a popular exhibit at the regular exhibitions of LNER locomotives and rolling stock held in the 1930s.

The engine lost its brake testing gear in the Second World War, but continued as a shunter at Stratford, and became British Railways property in 1948, but was scrapped in April that year. However, the engine sold out of service - No. 229 - continued at work at Chepstow until the late 1950s at least, having passed through several owners at the site. It was finally privately-purchased for preservation in 1983, externally restored, and placed on display at the North Woolwich Old Station Museum.

C8 Class 4-4-0 1874


These two 4-4-0s were the last GER locomotives to be produced to the design of S.W. Johnson, and were built at Stratford in 1874, shortly after he resigned to become Locomotive Superintendent of the Midland Railway. Thus, they incorporated some of William Adams' details, such as the cab side sheets. Nevertheless, they were the first inside cylinder 4-4-0s in England, the type having appeared a few years earlier in Scotland. The elegant lines of the engines were however somewhat spoiled by coupling them to second-hand Sinclair tenders from his 'Z class' 2-4-0s. A little later, two second-hand tenders from Johnson's 'No. 477 Class' 0-6-0s were fitted, but any improvement in appearance was negated by the substitution of Adams' austere stovepipe chimneys for Johnson's original rimmed type. However, in 1888 they were rebuilt with new boilers under James Holden, together with other modifications. The tenders were again changed for two from the 'No. 527 Class' 2-6-0s and, painted in the blue livery, they became two of the most attractive engines possessed by the GER. In 1878 they had been renumbered 305 and 306, and they finished their careers as pilot engines - one at Liverpool Street, and the other at Tottenham, for the St. Pancras traffic. They were withdrawn in 1897-98.