C1  62808 – 62885  4-4-2  GNR  Ivatt  Large Atlantic  

c1 1

c1 2


Power Classification 2P
Introduced 1902 – 1910
Designer Ivatt
Company GNR
Weight – Loco 69t 12cwt
               Tender 43t 2cwt
Driving Wheels 6ft 8ins
Boiler Pressure 170psi superheated

Stephenson-slide valve

Stephenson-piston valve


Outside – 19in x 24in

Outside – 20in x 24in

Tractive Effort

Stephenson-slide valve

Stephenson-piston valve




Valve Gear Stephenson (piston valve) and Stephenson (slide valve)


LNER 3292


LNER 3279

BR 62808


LNER 1300

Weight – Loco 69t 0cwt 73t 10cwt 70t 5cwt
               Tender 40t 18cwt 43t 2cwt 43t 2cwt
Boiler Pressure 200psi 170psi 200psi




13in x 20in

16in x 26in


15in x 26in

15in x 26in


20in x 26in


Tractive Effort 21,326lbf 21,128lbf 22,100lbf
Valve Gear Stephenson, Walschaerts (slide valve) Walschaert (piston valve) Walschaert (piston valve)
  • LNER 1300 was withdrawn in 1924 and LNER 3292 in 1928.
  • LNER 3279 was converted back to two 20in x 26in cylinders with a tractive effort of 18,785lbf in 1938.

Ivatt joined the GNR in 1896 when he joined from the Great Southern and Western Railway in Ireland. When he succeeded Stirling he was very concerned about the state of track which was highlighted in 1895 when a 8ft single hauling an express from Kings Cross was derailed at St Noets. The cause of the derailment was a fractured line which it was suggested in the report on the accident could have been caused by the weight on the single driving axle of the locomotive. Ivatt went to the extent of walking the 156 miles between Kings Cross and Doncaster which confirmed his view about the poor state of the track which further convinced him of the need to reduce the axle load on future engines which led to the design for first British 4-4-2 atlantic locomotive (990 Henry Oakley).

The first British atlantics (4-4-2 locomotives) were the twenty-two engines built between 1898 and 1903 for the GNR which became the C2 class. All of these were withdrawn between 1935 and 1946.

In 1905 Douglas Earle Marsh left Doncaster (where he had been working as assistant to Ivatt) to take up office with the London Brighton & South Coast Railway (LBSCR). He took with him a complete set of drawings for these locomotives and these were used as a basis for the Southern Railway H1 class engines.

 c2 small C2 class introduced on the GNR by Ivatt in 1898
 c1 small C1 class introduced on the GNR by Ivatt in 1902
 h1 small H1 class introduced on the LBSCR by Marsh in 1905.
 h2 H2 class introduced on the LBSCR by in 1911 which was a superheated development of the H1. One remained in service until 1958

Ivatt strongly believed that a locomotive’s success depended on its capacity to boil water, hence he gave the C1s a large (for the time) boiler and firebox. Although the boiler was large, there was not a corresponding increase in cylinder size and the C1 retained the 18¾n x 24in cylinders of the C2 class engines. 251 was built in 1902 and had the same springs as the earlier C2 class, but the heavier design resulted in an uncomfortable ride. Longer springs were quickly fitted.

Twenty more locomotives were built in 1904, but the initial performance was a disappointment. The wide firebox left no space for screw reversing gear, so a lever operated mechanism was used instead. Unfortunately, this was hard to operate, especially at speed. Also, drivers tended to handle the locomotives in a conservative manner due to restricting valve timings leading to a tendency to use a lot of water.

Between 1905 and 1908, sixty large-boilered C1s were built with simple expansion. These locomotives replaced the lever reversing gear with a screw reverse which was assisted by air pressure. The firebox had to be slightly re-designed so that there was enough room to fit the screw reverse. Ivatt took advantage of this needed re-design, and deepened the firebox at the front. The greater slope helped to shake coal to the front, aiding firing. Earlier locomotives needed their frames altering to take boilers with this deeper firebox. Alterations started in 1925 and were completed in 1933.

Ivatt’s last development was the fitting of piston valves and Schmidt superheaters to the last ten C1s built in 1910. The addition of a superheater was matched with an increase in cylinder size from 18¾in to 20in diameter. At the time, superheating was viewed as a method to decrease the boiler pressure. Hence, the working pressure was decreased from 175psi to 150psi.

Due to poor performance, Ivatt built a four-cylinder compound version (GNR 292) in 1905. The outside cylinders drove the trailing coupled axle, whilst the inside cylinders drove the leading coupled axle. Walschaerts valve gear was used on the outside cylinders, but the inside cylinders were fitted with Stephenson valve gear. A valve was fitted beneath the smokebox, which switched the locomotive from simple to compound working. This was controlled from the cab, enabling a driver to switch between simple and compound working. The boiler was built to operate at 225psi, but actually operated at 200psi. No evidence has been found to suggest that 225psi was ever used. Between 1910 and 1912, a standard 175psi atlantic boiler was fitted whilst repairs were being made to the original high pressure boiler. GNR 292 was never superheated, and was withdrawn from service in August 1928. The boiler was equipped with a 24-element Robinson superheater and fitted to the four-cylinder simple engine LNER 3279.

The GNR directors were also not satisfied with the performance of the engines and a second four-cylinder compound (GNR 1300) was built in July 1905. This was built by Vulcan Foundry after the GNR approached five companies with broad specifications. The layout was similar to GNR 292, with the high pressure cylinders on the outside, and a divided drive. The boiler had a working pressure of 200psi. Due to various troubles in the first few thousand miles, 1300 quickly acquired a bad reputation. Comparative trials between 1300, 292, and the simple 296, showed that 292 had the best coal consumption, but 296 had a lower oil consumption due to it having only two cylinders. In 1914, 1300 was fitted with a Robinson 22-element superheater, and the smokebox was lengthened by 9in. The working pressure is believed to have been reduced to 175psi, although the engine diagram continued to show a working pressure of 200psi. Performance was still unsatisfactory, so when 1300 suffered from a fractured cylinder in 1917, the opportunity was taken to rebuild it as a two-cylinder simple engine. New front-end frames were required, but the non-standard boiler was kept. 1300 continued to perform poorly and was withdrawn in October 1924 having only run 390,798 miles. This compares to C1 engines (1407-9) which all managed over 625,000 miles each over the same period.

1421 was the last of Ivatt’s C1 compound locomotives, and incorporated features from both 292 and 1300. 292’s layout of cylinders and valve gear was used, but the Stephenson valve gear on the inside was replaced with Walschaerts valve gear. The slide valves were positioned slightly differently, allowing the inside cylinders to be increased in diameter to 18in. The boiler pressure was 200psi. Although no tests are known about, 1421 had a reputation of being a better performer than 292 although it also suffered from various problems. Gresley was the first to modify 1421, by adding a 22-element Robinson superheater in 1914. It was rebuilt a second time in 1920, as a standard C1 atlantic with a 24-element Robinson superheater and piston valves.

Gresley succeeded Ivatt in 1911, and built no further atlantics. However, he continued to make improvements to the C1 class, and the fact that the original 1902 C2 class design was capable of so many improvements, delayed the need for the GN to invest in new express passenger locomotives until the early 1920s when Gresley introduced his acclaimed A1 pacific locomotives.

Between 1914 and 1915, five saturated locomotives had Schmidt superheaters fitted. In 1914, 1442 was fitted with a 24-element Robinson superheater, and shortly afterwards Gresley ordered that no further Schmidt superheaters should be obtained. Robinson superheaters were gradually fitted to saturated locomotives, with the last conversion occurring in 1926. Schmidt superheaters were replaced with the Robinson type, as they wore out. The last was converted in 1927. The LNER slowly replaced 24-element Robinson superheaters with the 32-element Robinson type. The last of these replacements occurred in 1934. It is generally acknowledged that the C1s performed their best work when fitted with the 32-element Robinson superheater.

In 1914, Gresley rebuilt 279 (LNER 3279 and later BR 62808)) with four 15in diameter cylinders using simple expansion. A new front end was fitted. All four cylinders drove the rear coupled axle. A second-hand boiler was fitted. This had a 24-element Robinson superheater fitted, and the boiler pressure was reduced from 175psi to 170psi. The boiler needed replacing in 1928, so the boiler from 3292 (withdrawn in January 1927) was fitted. A completely new boiler was fitted in 1932, with a deep firebox, 32-element superheater, and Ross pop safety valves. A final rebuilt occurred in 1937, when it was decided to convert 3279 as a two-cylinder locomotive with K2-pattern (20in x 26in) cylinders and modern steam passages. 3279 was involved in coal consumption tests alongside B1 class 8301 in 1944. On heavier loads, the B1 had a slight economy advantage over 3279.

After Grouping, trials were performed between 1447 and atlantics from the North Eastern Railway (NER) and the North British Railway (NBR). For these trials, 1447 had an arch-roofed cab fitted so that it would fit within the NBR loading gauge.

Four 3in diameter Ramsbottom safety valves were fitted as standard during GNR ownership. These were gradually replaced with two 3in diameter Ross pop safety valves after 1923. A couple of C1s would keep their Ramsbottom valves until withdrawal.

Ivatt’s standard bogie design was used. Due to recurring fractures, these were replaced with a strengthened type from 1909. In 1934, there was a plan to replace them with side control springs, as used on the Gresley Pacifics at that time. This plan was dropped due to cost, and the fact that the C1 bogies gave little trouble.

In 1923, GNR 1419 (BR 62849) was fitted with a booster to increase the tractive effort when starting a heavy load and on steep gradients. In theory, the booster could improve the tractive effort by about 50 percent. The booster was a small two-cylinder engine incorporated in the trailing pony truck, which could be engaged with gears when required. A Westinghouse pump was fitted to operate the gear engagement with compressed air. The cylinders were 10in x 12in and were connected to the axle with gears of total ratio 36:14. Tractive effort at 71.5 percent, was quoted as 8,500lb. The booster performed well during initial trials, although boiler pressure was observed to drop quickly when the booster was in operation. This was due to the booster exhaust choking the main exhaust, resulting in no sharp blast in the smokebox. Although the starting power was increased greatly, slipping would occur if full steam pressure was applied. Over the next five years, various changes were made. In August 1923, steam-operated sanding gear was added to the booster wheels to stop the slipping. In March 1924, a new blastpipe arrangement was fitted but with mixed results. In April 1924, a shorter chimney and low dome were fitted so that 4419 could run on NER and NBR track. After trials in the West Auckland area, the Westinghouse pump and booster were removed for seven months to allow for modifications. The booster was refitted in February 1925, and incorporated a new gear ratio of 36:24 to allow faster running with the booster engaged. This would also increase the adhesion and reduce slipping. The control system was changed for a steam system, and the Westinghouse pump was not refitted. Another new blastpipe arrangement was fitted. After these changes, 4419 performed much better in the tests. Steaming was much better with the new blastpipe arrangement, and the steam control mechanism meant the booster could be engaged in five seconds (compared to fifteen seconds for the air system).

With these successes, 4419 entered service in February 1926 pulling the Pullman service between Leeds and London. Although the booster functioned well, reports started to appear of bad riding. Brasses in the booster axleboxes frequently broke. Unfortunately, the original booster design had no allowance for spring suspension, and there was now no room for helical or leaf springs to be fitted. Concentric rubber springs between the booster casing and the engine cross strut, were fitted in November 1926. In 1927, tests were performed over the Waverley Route. Although the booster would be useful for starting trains anywhere on the route, it could not be used at the speeds required to keep to the current timetable. In June 1927, 4419 was back to the Leeds Pullman service, but reports of poor riding returned. Checks were made in August, and the rubber springs were found to have perished. Larger rubber springs were fitted, but these do not appear to have improved matters very much. The booster was dismantled in November 1935, and the steam sanding gear was removed. The booster cylinders were fitted to P1 2393 in February 1937.

The first C1s immediately began working the principal GNR expresses, displacing the Stirling Singles to other duties. By 1912, the C1s were divided between Kings Cross, New England, Grantham and Doncaster.

1442 was chosen as the GNR’s Royal engine in 1908, and was given replicas of the GNR’s coat of arms as well as burnished fittings. It hauled King Edward VII’s train from London to Leeds on 7th July 1908, and in 1909 was exhibited at the Imperial International Exhibition at White City, London.

During June 1909, a series of exchange trials took place between the C1s and the London North Western Railway’s (LNWR) Precursor class 4-4-0s. The C1s showed a small coal economy over the Precursors. Generally speaking, in their early days the C1s did not perform quite as well as expected, especially when hauling heavier trains. This became a greater concern from 1916 when war conditions caused train loads to increase to 500 tons. After a number of incidents of C1s stalling in the tunnels just north of Kings Cross, a 4-4-0 pilot was provided for trains over 450 tons in weight between Kings Cross and Potters Bar.

Shortly after Grouping, the LNER introduced the Harrogate Pullman from Kings Cross to Newcastle via Leeds, Harrogate, and Ripon. This started in June 1923, and Kings Cross C1s were used to haul the Kings Cross to Leeds section.

From 1932, a large effort was made to speed up the principal express services. Although the D11 class engines allocated to Copley Hill did well, they were unable to match the speeds achieved by the Kings Cross C1s, so C1s were allocated to Copley Hill to haul Pullman services.

With the advent of the A4 pacific hauled Silver Jubilee service in 1935, the West Riding Pullman terminated at Harrogate rather than Newcastle. Despite this, the train grew to nine coaches and the C1s began to have difficulty. From 1937, A4 pacifics were used instead, and C1s were only used when there was a shortage of A3 and A4 locomotives.

Many of the C1s were moved to Sheffield. These tended to be in a run-down condition and at first were not very popular. After overhauls at Doncaster, the C1s quickly became a favourite type with Sheffield crews. Sheffield C1s worked passenger services to Liverpool, Manchester, York, Leicester, and even Swindon via GWR track.

From 1928, Cambridge also received an allocation of C1s for passenger expresses. The C1s were restricted from running on most of the GE (Great Eastern) network, but the Cambridge C1s were allowed to haul race specials to Newmarket.

Even in the 1930s, the C1s were capable of feats despite their age. A notable run occurred in July 1936 when the C1 station pilot at Grantham (4404) was required to replace a failed A3 pacific on the north bound express of seventeen coaches. Although it had initial difficulty in starting from Grantham it hauled the train to York well enough to arrive at York over two minutes ahead of schedule.

During wartime, the C1s were seen more often north of York, and occasionally they were seen north of Newcastle. Wartime shortages of staff, materials, and spare parts took their toll on the C1s and their condition deteriorated quickly. Withdrawal of the standard C1s started in 1943, and speeded up with the post-war production of Thompson B1s

Seventeen C1s survived into BR ownership. Four of these seventeen (62870, 62871, 62875 and 62876) still had their original Stephenson slide valves.

The last engine in service was 62822 which hauled a train from Kings Cross to Doncaster to mark the end of the C1s in November 1950. Among the many on board was the son of H.A. Ivatt, Mr. H.G. Ivatt who received one of the builder’s plates. On display at Doncaster was pioneer sister ex GNR 251, already preserved, and a number of modern engines. The return trip to London was hauled by A1 pacific 60123 named, suitably enough, H.A. Ivatt. After the hauling the train to Doncaster 62822 was withdrawn from service and scrapped at Doncaster.

Locomotive allocations during British Railways operation

Depot as at 1st January

1948 1949



Copley Hill












Kings Cross


New England




Sheffield Darnall





The original engine GNR 251 was withdrawn before 1948 but renumbered 2800 in the LNER 1946 renumbering scheme has been preserved.

Accidents and Incidents

  • On 19 September 1906, locomotive 276 was hauling a sleeper train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh which was derailed at Grantham. The accident occurred in mysterious circumstances; the train ran right through Grantham station, where it was scheduled to stop, and derailed on a sharp junction curve at the end of the platform, which at the time had been set for the passing of a freight train; no definite cause was ever established as to why the train did not stop as scheduled or obey the signals at caution and danger. The locomotive rode the curve but on the reverse curve following it the long tender derailed and swept away the parapet of an underbridge for 65 yards, before falling off the edge of it. In doing so, it derailed the locomotive which was slung broadside across both tracks. The carriages ran down the embankment after the bridge, and only the last three remained undamaged. Fourteen people were killed and seventeen were injured.
  • On 13 February 1923, locomotive 298 was hauling an express passenger train that overran signals and was in a rear-end collision with a freight train at Retford, Nottinghamshire. Three people were killed.
  • On 15 June 1935, locomotive 4411 was hauling a passenger train from Kings Cross to Newcastle that was run into by an express passenger train from Kings Cross to Leeds at Welwyn Garden City. The accident was a rear collision caused by a signalman’s error. The signalman at Welwyn Garden City, who had been fairly recently appointed to the box, became confused and accepted two trains into the same block section. The Newcastle train, arriving first, received a signal check and was slowed down to 15‒20 mph; the Leeds train consisting of 11 coaches hauled by Class K3 2-6-0 No 4009 ran into it at approximately 65 mph. Fourteen people were killed and 29 were injured.


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