Locomotive Encyclopaedia

The information in this locomotive encyclopædia has primarily been taken from sources that are in the public domain. Its backbone is “The Locomotives of The Great Northern Railway 1847-1910.” by George Frederick Bird; specifically the revised edition that was published in 1910. The information has been edited to fit with this website, which generally means that long paragraphs have been split.

Use has also been made of information in the Wikipedia website, and Grace’s Guide. Any information taken has been credited and links will take you to the original work. On all locomotive pages  you can click on any green link to get to more information.

We have integrated the photo collection into these pages, so if you are a logged in member, you will see all of the photos we have in the collection for each locomotive class and series.

The project is ongoing, and new locomotives will be added as time allows.

Project Progress

Cubitt, Bury and Sturrock
Patrick Stirling
Henry Ivatt
Nigel Gresley

Preface to The Locomotives of The Great Northern Railway 1847-1910.

In presenting a history of the various types of locomotives which have been constructed for the Great Northern Railway, the compiler is aware of many deficiencies in the work. So far from this being a history of the line, the following pages cannot claim to comprise anything more than a somewhat brief catalogue of locomotives, many of which have earned fame in the annals of railway development.

To have dealt with them as fully as might be is not in the power of the compiler, and equally beyond the limits of space allowable in a publication of this character. The utmost that can be urged is that, principally owing to the disinterested assistance of many kind friends, the writer has been enabled to produce what is, so far as he is aware, the first approximately complete list of the locomotives built for the Great Northern Railway from its opening as a small branch line in Lincolnshire until the present date.

It is largely due to the same kindly help that the “letterpress is so fully illustrated by outline drawings of engines, the particulars from which the drawings have been built up being obtained from a variety of sources, ranging from old note books to quite recent photographs. As regards the earlier engines, the main groundwork of fact was derived indirectly from that doyen of locomotive superintendents, the late Mr. Archibald Sturrock, but much valuable assistance has also been given by friends who have freely placed their storehouses of information at the writer’s disposal. Notable among these must be mentioned Mr. E. L. Ahrons, to whom the writer is indebted for a number of items of information, especially as regards the engines of twenty and thirty years ago, and whose firsthand knowledge of many of the engines extends back to 1876.

The writer is indebted to the late Mr. Patrick Stirling for some details as to the period covered by his efficient control of the G.N.R. locomotive department, but as regards details of dimensions and not a few photographs of that and the present time, thanks are especially due to Mr. H. A. Ivatt, the present chief of the Locomotive Department, who has most courteously acceded to every most tiresome appeal for information. It does not fall within the scope of the historical sketch to which this is a preface to dwell at length on the influence exercised on the Great Northern Railway by its three superintendents of the locomotive department.

The somewhat heterogeneous collection of locomotive stock introduced by Mr. Sturrock was in accordance with then existing conditions, and admirably fulfilled the requirements of the time. Mr. Stirling took over the command at a period when a change of policy was eminently desirable, and his complete scheme of standardisation, which was, moreover, capable of constant adjustment to more strenuous conditions of service, had a marked effect on the efficiency of the locomotive department.

Towards the close of his career, however, the remarkable and sudden increase in speed and weight of express trains became so exacting as to require a thorough departure from conservative traditions, and when Mr. Ivatt took charge in 1896 he was at once confronted with a serious problem in the task of bringing the locomotive department into closer touch with traffic requirements.

How he has grappled with the difficulty, by introducing from time to time new locomotives of quite modern capacity, which have shown him to be instinct with resource and originality, this history may serve to indicate. It is safe to prophesy that the future of the locomotive department of this line is assured so long as it remains under the control of one who has proved himself so eminently capable of adapting his methods to new and decidedly exacting circumstances.

It is to be recorded with regret that since the publication of the first edition of this little book Mr. Archibald Sturrock, the first locomotive superintendent of the Great Northern Railway, has passed away at the ripe age of 92. Though, with his retirement from that important position, Mr. Sturrock’s engineering career may be said to have ended, he took a great interest still in locomotive matters, and he was good enough to express kindly appreciation of the writer’s work in compiling this history.