J15  65350 – 65479  0-6-0  GER  T W Worsdell, Holden & Hill 

j15 - 1

j15 - 2

 

Power Classification 2F
Introduced 1883– 1913
Designer T W Worsdell
Company GER
Weight – Loco 37t 2cwt
               Tender 30t 13cwt
Driving Wheels 4ft 11ins
Boiler Pressure 160psi
Cylinders Inside – 17½in x 24in
Tractive Effort 16,940lbf
Valve Gear Stephenson – (slide valves)

1882 saw the beginning of a friendly relationship with the neighbouring Great North Railway (GNR), and the opening of the GN&GE Joint Line. The new line provided the Great Eastern Railway (GER) with a direct route to Doncaster, and helped to secure the company’s finances. T.W. Worsdell designed the GER Class Y14 (LNER J15) to solve the resulting sudden shortage of suitable freight locomotives. The first J15s were built in July 1883, and they would go on to become the most numerous of GER locomotive types with a total of 259 built in 27 batches. During the 1890s, Holden attempted to standardise the J15 design with his J14 design. This was flawed and he restarted J15 construction in 1899. S.D. Holden and Hill both ordered further batches of J15s in 1906, 1912, and 1913. All of the batches were built at Stratford, except for a batch of nineteen locomotives built by Sharp, Stewart & Co. in 1884.

The J15s were fitted with what would become Holden’s standard small engine boiler, with the dome placed well forward, and a long stovepipe chimney, giving them an ancient, but quaint, appearance. They would retain the same basic boiler design throughout their lives, and superheaters were never fitted. There were some small variations though. Although the first locomotives had level grates, sloping grates were fitted after 1891. When the first re-boilerings started in 1893, the opportunity was taken to replace the old butt-jointed design with a newer telescopic design. From 1896, the telescopic boilers had their pressures increased to 160psi.

By Grouping (1923), the level grate version of the boiler had become unique to the J15s but the boilers fitted to them continued to be produced until 1928. From 1935 the J15 class locomotives were altered to take a standard boiler.

All of the J15s had steam brakes. Westinghouse pumps and vacuum brakes were fitted to some locomotives. J15s were initially built with unbalanced cast iron wheels, but from 1899 they were built with balanced cast steel wheels. GE-pattern stovepipe chimneys were initially fitted, but the LNER fitted NER-pattern cast-iron chimneys.

Between 1934 and 1935, five J15s had new cabs with single side windows fitted. These were to provide protection for the enginemen when operating on the Brightlingsea branch and the Colne Valley line which lacked turntables so running tender first was required. These locomotives also had vacuum ejectors, steam heating, and balanced wheels. Back cabs were also fitted to the tenders for running tender-first.

The J15s were a very successful class of locomotive. One of the reasons for this was their simple design which enabled easy maintenance. The simple design proved useful when the GER set the world record for erecting a steam engine in 1913. 930 was assembled in 9 hours and 47 minutes. After being steamed for the cameras, it went straight into revenue service with a coat of grey primere, not returning to Stratford for servicing for some 5,000 miles. It did not get its final coat of paint until it had run for 36,000 miles on Peterborough to London coal trains. It lasted 40 years and ran a total of 1,127,750 miles This record halved the previous British record of 25 hrs 30 mins (Webb 0-6-0 at Crewe), and stands to this day.

Another reason for the J15s success was that they were very versatile. With a very low axle loading (13½ tons), they could run virtually anywhere on the GER network. They were also capable locomotives. Even in their twilight years, a J15 was recorded rescuing a failed Thompson B1 and hauling the complete East Anglian service into Liverpool Street.

Allocations were initially to most of the GER’s freight duties. They were only relieved of the heaviest duties in 1900 when the larger J16 appeared. Later J15s with train brakes were frequently used on the growing excursion traffic, and could also haul secondary passenger trains. Even with the advent of larger, more powerful freight locomotives, J15s could still be seen hauling mainline freight trains in 1920.

During the First World War, 43 J15s were loaned to the Government for use in France and Belgium. These were eventually returned, but 513 was withdrawn in 1920 due to excessive damage. This was the first withdrawal, and a further sixteen were withdrawn in 1922.

As the J15s were slowly withdrawn, they tended to be confined to local pick-up services. Even so, they would often be seen further afield hauling cattle and other special trains. They continued to be used for excursion and troop trains until the LNER introduced the J39 to the GE section.

 j15 small J15 introduced by T W Worsdell on the GER in 1883.
 j39 small J39 introduced by Gresley on LNER in 1926.

Although withdrawals continued throughout the life of the LNER, 127 would survive into BR ownership (1948). At Nationalisation, the J15s were mainly allocated to Stratford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, and Cambridge; with small numbers allocated to Parkeston, Yarmouth, Lowestoft, King’s Lynn, March, and Melton Constable.

The last withdrawals occurred in September 1962, when the last four J15s were withdrawn. The last of the original Worsdell J15s, 7690 was sold in 1938 to Bairds and Scottish Steel Company in Lanarkshire. Re-numbered No. 1, it was eventually broken up in about 1960.

Number in Service – Construction

Built

No. in Service

1883

 10

       10

1884

 39

       49

1885

 15

       64

1886

 20

       84

1887

 20

     104

1888

 15

     119

1889

 40

     159

1890

 20

     179

1891

 36

     215

1892

 14

     229

1899

 30

     259

1906

 10

     269

1912

 10

     279

1913

 10

     289

All the engines were built at Stratford Works apart from 19 which were built by Sharp, Stewart & Co in 1884

Number in Service

Withdrawals

No. in Service

1914-19

289

1920

  1

288

1921

288

1922

16

272

1923

  6

266

1924-25

266

1926

11

255

1927

255

1928

10

245

1929

20

225

1930

  3

222

1931

  6

216

1932

  9

207

1933

  6

201

1934

11

190

1935

11

179

1936

26

153

1937

  5

148

1938

  11

137

1939

   7

130

1940-46

130

1947

  3

127

1948

13

114

1949

22

  92

1950

12

  80

1951

15

  65

1952

  3

  62

1953

  62

1954

  62

1955

  3

  59

1956

  6

  53

1957

  1

  52

1958

11

  41

1959

15

  26

1960

12

  14

1961

  3

  11

1962

11

    0

Of the 272 locomotives in service at the 1st January 1923 about a third were based at Stratford. The majority of the rest were based in East Anglia at Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough.

Locomotive allocations during British Railways operation

Depot as at 1st January

1948 1955 1960

1962

Bury St Edmonds

  3

  3

Cambridge

22

10   4

  3

Colchester

14

11

Hitchin   1

  1

Ipswich

13

  6

  2

Kings Lynn

  8

  1

Lowestoft

  7

  5

  2

March

  4

  2   2

  1

Norwich Thorpe

18

  6

  2

Parkeston

  4

  3

  3

Stratford

32

14 10

  7

Yarmouth Beach

  2

   127

62 26

11

Unusually in July 1957 a couple of the class (65390 and 65405) were allocated to Neasden and worked freight trains on the former Great Western Railway branch from Princes Risborough to Watlington before being withdrawn in 1958 (65390 in December and 65405 in August).

Accidents and Incidents

  • On 25 September 1900, a locomotive of the class was involved in a boiler explosion at Westerfield, Suffolk.
  • On 4 October 1929, locomotive 7938 was hauling a freight train that departed against a danger signal at Tottenham, London and was subsequently stopped foul of a junction. Both crew members abandoned the locomotive before an express passenger train was in collision with it.

Preservation

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