C2  GNR 990 Henry Oakley  4-4-2  GNR  Ivatt  Small Atlantic Klondike


Power Classification
Introduced 1898 – 1903
Designer Ivatt
Company GNR
Weight – Loco 60t 2cwt
               Tender 43t 2cwt
Driving Wheels 6ft 8ins
Boiler Pressure 170psi superheated
Cylinders Outside – 20in x 24in
Tractive Effort 17,340lbf
Valve Gear Stephenson (piston valve)

Towards the end of the Nineteenth Century, the Great Northern Railway’s (GNR) passenger locomotive stock was having difficulties keeping up with traffic developments. The single-wheelers of the day could not cope with the faster speeds and heavier loads that were being seen. With this background, in November 1895 the GNR Board appointed Ivatt to replace Stirling. 75 years old, Stirling died ten days later. Although Ivatt’s first locomotives were merely modifications of Stirling types (E1 2-4-0 and D4 4-4-0), it appears that he was considering the Atlantic 4-4-2 wheel arrangement before his appointment with the GNR. He is reputed to have produced diagrams of a 4-4-2 locomotive whilst employed in Ireland on the Great Southern and Western Railway. The first 4-4-2 locomotives had been built in the USA in 1888 at the Hinkley Locomotive Works to a George Strong design. This engine was not a success and was scrapped soon afterwards.

A tank engine with a wheel arrangement had been built in Britain in 1880 for the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway. This was designed ostensibly by Thomas Whitelegg but documentation exists which suggests that the design was actually undertaken by William Adams who produced the design when at the Great Eastern Railway.

Ivatt joined the GNR in 1896 when he moved 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).

He was given permission to build an experimental 4-4-2 in February 1897, and one year later 990 was completed. This has been claimed to be the first 4-4-2 locomotive built in Britain and there has been speculation that construction of 990 was given higher priority as Aspinall on the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway was also planning to produce a 4-4-2 locomotive. The first 4-4-2 arrangement was actually a 4-4-2T built 18 years earlier for the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway.

They quickly acquired the nickname of Klondike after the 1896 Gold Rush in the Klondike region of the Yukon. In June 1900, 990 was named Henry Oakley after the general manager of the railway, but the Klondike name stuck and was used for the entire class of 22 locomotives throughout their existence.

990 had an unusual extension ring at the front of the boiler. This 1ft 11in ring was to allow the front of the boiler to be anchored to the cylinder castings. The overall effect was for the smoke box to be 1ft 11in longer than it appeared from the outside.

The C1 class proved to be fast, lively runners which caused Ivatt to caution drivers to reduce speeds on stretches of uneven track between London and Doncaster. Whilst the boilers were large and had a very good steam raising ability the cylinders were perhaps too small which resulted in the early Atlantic locomotives working at undesirable and uneconomic rates to achieve the expected performance.

Ten more engines of what was to become the C2 class were built in 1900, followed by a four-cylinder version (No. 271) in 1902. With small cylinders, 271 was not a great success and was rebuilt to match the other members of the class in 1911. Meanwhile, from 1901 the basic Klondike boiler design was being used on the new 0-8-0 goods engines (LNER Q1 & Q2), and from 1903 on the 0-8-2T (LNER R1).

The next development was 251 which featured a larger boiler. This would become the first of the LNER C1 class, but a further batch of ten to 990 design were built in 1903.

The fitting of superheaters started in 1909, with the fitting of a Schmidt superheater to 988. Dr. Schmidt also insisted on the fitting of piston valves at the same time. From 1914, the fitting of Robinson superheaters to the other class C2 engines started. This was completed by the LNER in 1925. In line with contemporary thinking, the fitting of superheaters was accompanied by a reduction in boiler pressure from 175psi to 160psi. This was compensated for, by increasing the cylinder diameter to 19in diameter. Piston valves would eventually be fitted to twelve of the class.

Gresley fitted his twin-tube superheater to one engine (950) in 1916, and another two (255 and 989) in 1919. This design had two headers: one at the top, and one at the bottom of the smokebox. These were fitted with the standard 18-element Robinson superheaters between 1927 and 1928.

In 1913, 252’s smokebox was extended by 1ft 2¾in to act as a simple spark arrestor. All but four of the C2s were similarly altered by Grouping in 1923. Two of these were converted, but LNER engines 3984 and 3985 kept their short smokeboxes until they were withdrawn.

Cracked frames were often repaired by replacing one side only. Over time, the frame design was modified slightly. From 1919, the frame depth near the cylinders was increased by 2½in, and an additional row of bolts was often added. It was not unusual for this modified design to be seen on one side of a locomotive but not the other. In fact, the preserved engine 990 has this deeper frame on the right-hand side, but keeps the older frame design on the left-hand side.

The C2 class were initially distributed between the GNR’s main line sheds. In 1905, they were allocated to Kings Cross, Peterborough, Grantham, and Doncaster sheds. Their early duties consisted of the heavier expresses on the GNR main line from London to York. These services were not very fast in the early 20th Century, and the C2s could keep up even if they tended to be slow when climbing uphill.

By 1913, all ninety-four engines of the C1s were in service, and the C2 class locomotives tended to be seen on the easier relief expresses. However, they were still called upon to pull some heavy trains during the First World War.

 990 C2 class introduced in 1898
 c1 small C1 class introduced in 1902

By 1920, the C1s had replaced many of the C2s at Grantham and Doncaster, with the displaced C2s joining the other main line sheds. By 1923, three were allocated to Cambridge to haul the London to Hitchin passenger services. In 1924, the ex-North Eastern Railway (NER) shed at Starbeck received a C2 to haul the Ripon to Doncaster leg of the Ripon to London service. In the following year, the NE area received more C2s for working between Leeds, Hull, Scarborough, and Newcastle. As well as pulling secondary passenger services, the C2s often hauled fish trains during the 1920s until these duties were taken over by K2s and K3s.

Some engines still had Stephenson slide valves, with 19 x 24in cylinders and a tractive effort of 15,649lbf.

At the time of Grouping in 1923, LNER. 3271 had two 18½ x 26in inside cylinders with Stephenson valve gear and 8in piston valves. Tractive effort was 16,071 lb, with an engine weight of 58 tons 13 cwt.

Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, the C2 class Klondikes would continue to pull secondary passenger services and deputise for C1s on faster services.

In 1935, the Klondikes were in need of new boilers, but were regarded as being too weak for the current traffic needs. Withdrawals commenced immediately, but five were still in service in 1939. Withdrawals were postponed for Second World War, but the last five engines were withdrawn in 1945.


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