E4  62780 – 62797  2-4-0  GER  Holden  


Power Classification 1MT
Introduced 1891 – 1902
Designer Holden
Company GER
Weight – Loco 40t 6cwt
               Tender 30t 13cwt
Driving Wheels 5ft 8ins
Boiler Pressure 160psi
Cylinders Inside – 17½in x 24in
Tractive Effort 14,700lbf
Valve Gear Stephenson (slide valve)

Between 1891 and 1902 Holden built one hundred mixed traffic 2-4-0s were built at Stratford for the GER. Known as GER class T26 (LNER class E4), they were built to satisfy the GER need for engines to haul the increasing agricultural traffic and also be suitable for working the cross country trains and slow main line passenger services. As a successful mixed traffic locomotive, the class acquired the nickname of Intermediates.

The 100 engines were originally numbered 417-506 and 1250-59.  The last ten were renumbered 507-16 in 1920.  All had 7000 added to their numbers after the grouping. Those remaining in 1946 were renumbered 2780-97 1946, and duly became BR 62780-97 on Nationalisation in 1948.

The design was based on Holden’s class T19 2-4-0 introduced in 1886 (later rebuilt as LNER D13 4-4-0). The large 7ft wheels on the T19 were replaced with smaller 5ft 8in wheels. The steam passages were also re-arranged in order to reduce the length of the steam exhaust passages. These modifications resulted in a locomotive which was much more lively than the T19s which were already gaining a reputation for being sluggish.

The front axle had an unusually high loading, and was supported by four independently sprung axle boxes. As well as inside axle boxes, large bright gunmetal outside axle boxes were fitted.

Some of the engines were built with 17in and 18in diameter cylinders. These proved unsatisfactory, and it was decided to standardise on 17½in diameter cylinders. Conversions started in January 1896 when locomotives were shopped for general repairs. The boiler working pressure was also increased from 140psi to 160psi at the same time.

The first E4 boilers were built with a 3-ring butt jointed design. From 1892, a 2-ring butt jointed design was used. Re-boilering after 1899 used a 2-ring telescopic construction. These modifications resulted in a gradual decline in the number of tubes and heating surface. The final (circa 1940) variation had a 2-ring telescopic design with 219 tubes and a total heating surface of almost 1140 sq.ft.

Originally built with GER stovepipe chimneys, most of the survivors were fitted with lipped chimneys. 62780 retained its GER stovepipe chimney throughout its entire working life which ended when it was withdrawn in September 1955.

The engines were built with Roscoe displacement type lubricators for cylinder lubrication. One batch was built with De Limon cylinder lubricators. These German-built lubricators were only fitted on a trial basis, and they were removed at the time of the first general repair.

When introduced on the GER, the locomotives quickly proved to be a very useful locomotive. They could be found at all of the GER’s main depots, and performed a wide variety of work. Duties included main line haulage, branch duties from Norwich, fish trains to Peterborough, pilots for visiting excursions, through excursions for the Nottingham Goose Fair, and the Newmarket horse box traffic. As a result of these workings and also hauling troop trains and other special trains the locomotives travelled as far as Holyhead and Hastings. For all these special duties, more than half of the class were fitted with vacuum ejectors so as to be able to work rolling stock from any British railway company.

The locomotive allocations in 1922 just before Grouping is shown below.

Bishop’s Storford   2 Peterborough     4
Bury St Edmunds 10 Saffron Walden     1
Cambridge 14 Southend     2
Colchester   1 Stratford     8
Dereham   3 Sudbury     1
Kings Lynn 14 Wells     2
Huntingdon   1 Wickford     1
Ipswich   3 Wisbech     1
Lowestoft   1 Yarmouth Vauxhall     3
March   5
Norwich 23 100

In the early 1930s, the NE Area was experiencing problems finding suitable replacements for their D23 4-4-0s on the passenger services over the difficult Darlington to Tebay and Penrith line. J21 0-6-0s had been tried, but suffered motion trouble due to the drivers’ habit of descending long banks in full gear. These habits were eventually fixed, but in the intervening time D3 4-4-0s were tried on these services. The D3s proved unsatisfactory on the steep climbs, but in 1935 E4 class 7496 was tried with much greater success.

 e4 small E4 introduced by Holden in 1891. Side windows fitted for Darlington to Penrith route over Stainmore
 j21 J21 introduced on the NER by Worsdell in 1886
 d3 small D3 introduced on the GNR by Ivatt in 1896

A total of six (62781, 62784, 62788, 62793, 62795 and 62797) of the E4 locomotives were allocated to the NE Area in 1935, and they mainly worked the Stainmore stretch of the line between Darlington and Tebay. Winter weather was tough over Stainmore, and the six NE Area E4s all received new cab side-sheets with single windows at Doncaster before winter 1936.

The majority of the class (eighty-two engines) were withdrawn between 1926 and until January 1940, when this was stopped due to potential wartime shortages of motive power. Eighteen of the class survived at this point, and due to a shortage of suitable locomotives with a light axle loading in East Anglia, all eighteen continued in service until 1954.

The introduction of diesel railcars and BR Standard Class 2 2-6-0s finally took their toll, and withdrawals restarted in 1954 and the last one in service (the preserved 62785) was withdrawn in December 1959.


 std class 2 small Standard 2MT BR Standard class 2 introduced in 1952


Locomotive allocations during British Railways operation

Depot as of January

1948 1953 1955 1957 1958


Bury St Edmunds





  9   8  3  3


Hitchin   1


Lowestoft   1


Norwich Thorpe





18 16  5  3


Accidents and Incidents

  • On 12 July 1913, locomotive 471 was run into by an express passenger train at Colchester, Essex due to a signalman’s error. Three people were killed and fourteen were injured.
  • On 27 May 1931, locomotive 7486 was hauling a passenger train that overran signals and was in a head-on collision with a passenger train hauled by locomotive 7457 at Fakenham East station, Norfolk. One person was killed and fifteen were injured. Both engines were withdrawn from service due to the damage sustained.


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