For enthusiasts and researchers of the Great Eastern Railway

The Stephen Holden Era


Y65 Class 2-4-2T 1909-1910

LNER Class F-7

1300-1311

These small 2-4-2 tank engines were produced under S.D. Holden for light branch duties, the first two being built to order Y65 in 1909, followed almost immediately by ten more in 1909-1910. In general layout, they were similar to the M15 class 2 4 2Ts, having radial axles at either end, but otherwise they were non-standard, although the motion appears to have been the same as that used on the 0-6-0Ts. Their most striking feature was the large cab, with large side and end windows, and a high, arched roof, a feature which earned them the nick-name ‘Crystal Palace Tanks’.

Initially these engines proved to be something of a 'white elephant'. They were tried on a number of branch lines, but the engine crews tended to prefer the E22 class 0-6-0Ts that they were intended to replace. In 1914 the GER decided to experiment with push-pull trains, and No. 1311 was fitted with the sophisticated compressed air-operated system that had been introduced on the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway two years earlier. This experiment proved successful and another engine was similarly equipped in 1915, followed by a further three in 1920-21, these later conversions being used on the Seven Sisters - Palace Gates branch in connection with the 'Jazz' suburban services.

At the grouping, the Y65 class became LNER class F-7 and, shortly afterwards, No. 8307 was transferred to the GC section to work the Quainton Road - Verney Junction push pull service. The GER push-pull gear was the most sophisticated in use at the time, but to work the carriages used on the GC service, No. 8307 acquired the primitive cable-and-pulley system used by its predecessor, an ancient outside-framed 2-4-0T!

In 1931-32 three F-7s were transferred to Scotland, where they were converted to steam brake and vacuum ejector, and had their weights adjusted to bring the maximum axle-loading below 12 tons. Withdrawal began at the same time, and by 1942 only six remained - three on the Palace Gates line, and the other three in Scotland. These six survivors were renumbered 7593-7598 to clear the 8300 series for new B-1 4-6-0s. By the end of 1943 only two of the Scottish engines remained in stock, although by this time they were mostly disused. They became 7093 and 7094 under the 1946 LNER renumbering scheme and subsequently passed to British Railways, but they were withdrawn in November 1948.


S69 Class 4-6-0 1911-1921, 1928

LNER Class B-12

1500-1570, 8571-8580

By the end of the first decade of the 1900s, the weight of express passenger trains increased relentlessly due to the wider use of bogie corridor carriages, with greater provision for lavatory and refreshment accommodation, all of which raised the ratio of train tare weight per passenger seat. At the same time, the introduction of steam heating also placed greater demands on the boilers of the locomotives. The GER began thinking in terms of a new 4-6-0 design in 1908, but it was not until 1911 that it saw the light of day as the S69 class.

The design was produced under the direction of S.D. Holden, who had succeeded his father in 1908, but the work was almost entirely due to E.S. Tiddeman of the Stratford Drawing Office. The constraints upon the design were many. Some moderate up-grading of the main lines continued to be made, but the new engines still had to be able to fit the small-diameter turntables in use at the majority of locomotive depots. Thus, any modest permitted increase in length had to be devoted entirely to the engine. When it was realised that the capacity of the original tenders of the Clauds needed to be increased, there was no room to make them longer, so the later tenders were as high and wide as the loading gauge would allow. The new 4-6-0s needed even greater water capacity, so the only solution was to reduce the already meagre five tons of coal to four, allowing an increase in the water capacity from 3450 to 3700 gallons.

The saving grace of the new design was undoubtedly the boiler. It was some four inches larger in diameter than that of the Clauds, and although the barrel length was only nine inches longer, the Belpaire firebox was no less than 8-ft. 6-ins. long. The driving wheels had to be reduced from 7-ft. to 6-ft. 6-ins. in diameter in order to keep the wheelbase as short as possible, as was the trailing frame overhang. The firebox was unusually mounted over the centre coupled axle, with a divided ashpan.

The inside cylinders were of 20 inches diameter by 28 inches stroke, and piston valves were used for the first time on the GER, mounted above the cylinders and driven by Stephensons motion. Schmidtt superheaters were fitted to the initial engines, but the Robinson pattern later became standard.

Stylistically, the S69s were similar to the Belpaire Clauds. Although a compromise design, and an excellent example of an attempt to fit a quart into a pint pot, the new engines were an immediate success, and are considered by many to have been the finest inside-cylinder 4-6-0s in Europe.

One engine, No. 1506, had one of the shortest careers in locomotive history, for it was damaged beyond repair in the Colchester collision of 20th February 1913, less than four months after it was built. It was replaced in due course by a new engine, but the number 1506 was not re-used. Thus, 71 S69s were actually built to GER orders between 1911 and 1921, and numbered 1500-1570. Twenty of these were built by Beardmore & Co. of Glasgow in 1920-21 due to lack of capacity at Stratford following the First World War. The original Erecting Shops were becoming inadequate for the increasing numbers of locomotives in stock, as well as their physical size, well before the outbreak of War, and work had started on a new Engine Repairing Shop in 1912. However, upon its completion it was immediately taken over for munitions work.

The S69 class became LNER class B-12 in 1923. Shortly afterwards, the new administration under Nigel Gresley began work on the design of a new LNER standard 4-6-0 for medium-distance express passenger work. However, like Stratford before them, there were great problems in producing a design that could work over the former GE system. Ultimately, these new engines were the B-17 class Sandringhams. In the meantime however, the urgent need for further express engines for the GE lines led to the building of another ten B-12s in 1928. These were numbers 8571-8580, and they were constructed by Beyer, Peacock & Co. These differed in having Lentz oscillating poppet valves, simplified outside framing and extended smokeboxes, and were classified B-12/2.

From 1927 a total of 53 of the original GE engines were fitted with ACFI feed water heaters, the apparatus consisting of a feed pump and two heat-exchanging drums on top of the boiler. It was the presence of these drums that led to the engines so treated being known popularly as 'hikers'.

Both the Lentz valves and the ACFI gear were initially successful fittings, However, in time they both proved to be expensive to maintain. The Lentz valves were removed from 1931, and the ACFI gear from 1937 onwards.

By this time, the introduction of the new B-17 4-6-0s enabled 25 B-12s to be transferred to the former Great North of Scotland Railway section, which suffered from similar weight restrictions as the GE line. Meanwhile, Edward Thompson, the District Mechanical Engineer at Stratford - and later Gresley's successor - proposed a scheme to alter one of the B-12s to give longer valve travel. The idea was approved, and the modified engine was very successful. Thompson then proposed a more comprehensive rebuilding of the class with new boilers of standard LNER round-topped firebox design, and No. 8579 was the first to be rebuilt, in 1932. The boiler was larger in diameter, and although the barrel was only 1½-ins. longer, the firebox was no less than 10-ft. long. Various other modifications were made, including the fitting of a shorter LNER-style cab, removal of the slotted valancing (where fitted), and extended smokeboxes with LNER Doncaster-style smokebox doors.

All but one of the B-12s on the GE section were similarly rebuilt down to 1944, the one remaining engine in original condition being scrapped the following year. The rebuilds were designated class B-12/3, and were highly-regarded by their crews. During the Second World War their wide route availability and high power resulted in a number being allocated to ambulance train duties for the US forces in the West Country.

The rebuilding of the B-12s to B-12/3 released serviceable Belpaire boilers which were re-used on the Scottish B-12s and the J-20 (ex-D81 class) 0-6-0s. However, by 1941 new boilers were required, and a new round-topped LNER type was produced. This was of similar size to the originals, and between 1943 and 1948 nine of the Scottish B-12s were reboilered with it, becoming class B-12/4. The only other alteration made to these rebuilds was the removal of the slotted valancing. These engines did not last long, for all were withdrawn by 1954. However, their boilers were sent to Stratford, where they were used to complete the rebuilding of the J-20 class 0-6-0s.

Under the LNER, the B-12s had become 8500-8505/7-8580. In the early 1940s it was intended to renumber them 7415-7494 so that their original numbers could be used on new B-1 4-6-0s, but only eleven were actually renumbered before the scheme was abandoned. Under the comprehensive 1946 renumbering the B-12s co-incidentally reverted to their former GER numbers as 1500-1505/7-80, the number 1506 again being left blank.

The last of the Scottish B-12s was scrapped in 1954, leaving only the B-12/3s on the GE Section, where most were employed on the Southend line services until they were electrified in 1957. Thereafter numbers declined rapidly, and only No. 61572 remained in traffic at the end of 1959, although it soldiered on alone until withdrawn two years later. It was purchased for preservation and in now restored to working order on the North Norfolk Railway.


E72 Class 0-6-0 1912-1913

LNER Class J-18

1240-1249

T77 Class 0-6-0 1916-1920

LNER Class J-19

1140-1149, 1250-1254, 1260-1269

Having produced a totally new locomotive design in the S69 class 4-6-0s, a goods version was not long to follow. However, it was a hybrid variety of the existing G58 0-6-0 with the S69 piston valves and motion arrangement, but retaining the Claud Hamilton Belpaire boiler type. Ten engines were built as class E72 in 1912-13 and numbered 1240-1249.

The G58 wheelbase was retained, but because the S69 motion arrangement was more compact, and the cylinder casting longer, the boiler had to be mounted six inches to the rear, and it also had to be pitched higher, as the firebox now overhung the rear coupled axle. The rear frame overhang was also longer, but the cab weatherboard remained in the same position relative to the rear axle, so that the cab itself was also longer. However, the most noticeable alteration was at the front where, due to the vogue for piston tail rods at the time, the front frame overhang was no less than 8-ft. 6-ins. This rather gave the engines the appearance of an inside-cylinder 2-6-0 with the pony truck missing. The boilers were of the current D56/G58 type, but fitted with Schmidtt superheaters, and thus these were the first GER superheated goods engines. Because of the large size of the cylinders - 20 x 28-ins. as in the S69s - the boiler pressure was reduced to 160 lbs. psi. to keep the tractive effort within the limits of adhesion.

Twenty-five more engines were built between 1916 and 1920 but, by this time, the use of piston tail rods had been found an unnecessary complication, and so the new engines had shorter front frame overhangs. Otherwise they were identical to the E72 class, except that Robinson superheaters were used, and vacuum ejectors were fitted. These new engines were the T77 class. Under the LNER the E72 and T77 classes became classes J-18 and J-19.

Following the rebuilding of the Claud Hamilton 4-4-0s to class D-16/3 with new round-topped boilers, between 1934 and 1939 the J-19s were similarly rebuilt, becoming class J-19/2, the unrebuilt engines being classified J-19/1. The boilers were pitched slightly higher than the originals, new LNER cabs were fitted, and the smokeboxes slightly extended. From 1935 the J-18s were rebuilt in the same manner, the piston tail rods being removed and the leading frame overhang shortened in addition. Thus, they became identical to the J 19/2s, and were reclassified accordingly. However, three of the initial rebuilds initially only had the tail rods removed and frames altered, and thus became J-19/1s for a short while.

To begin with, the J-18 and J-19 classes were used on the coal traffic between March and London. In the later LNER period they became more concentrated in the eastern side of the GE area, being preferred for cross-country goods traffic. Withdrawal took place between 1958 and 1962.