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Blog- Basilica Fields - The Great Eastern 2-4-2Ts: Part 3, The Y65, M15R, G69 and the Hybrid Classes

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In my original plan, the time-frame for Basilica Fields was going to span the early 1900s to circa 1915, but somewhere along the line I dialled both ends backwards which means that the four classes of engines featuring in this entry will no longer play a part as their presence in an 1890s/early 1900s setting is an anachronism too far, even for my pet cat, Schrödinger.


However, one or two of them may make an appearance elsewhere down some diverse branch of the Basilica Fields multiverse (but enough of that wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff for now) so I’ve included them for completeness.


Upon James Holden’s retirement in December 1907, the position of Locomotive Superintendent was passed to his son Stephen Dewar, a decision which privately infuriated Frederick Russell, head of the Locomotive Design section at Stratford Works, who felt the position should have been offered to him. And not without good reason, for he was directly responsible for many of the designs attributed to James Holden such as the P43 4-2-2 Single, the famous Claud Hamilton 4-4-0 and the infamous Decapod 0-10 0T. However, nepotism won the day, and S.D. Holden took up the position in January 1908.


In the end it worked out for the good; Stephen Dewar’s tenure was short and his contribution to locomotive design fairly light (although he patented many inventions while at Stratford), much of the work under his reign can be attributed to Chief Draughtsman E.S. Tiddeman, a long-term Stratfordian, who maintained continuity and ensured development of the Great Eastern style. Russell’s career took a different path – he was later promoted to Superintendent of Operations by General Manager Henry W. Thornton, and was instrumental in devising and implementing the famous suburban Jazz services.


The Y65 Class


The last of James Holden’s revised version of the Worsdell M15 class was released to traffic on 18th June 1909, a full eighteen months after his retirement. Holden Sr. had left the Great Eastern Locomotive Department in a tremendously strong condition, and it wasn’t until 20th July 1909 that the first locomotive built under Stephen Dewar’s tenure was put into revenue-earning service. The Y65 class 2-4-2Ts were intended to both replace the last of the pre-Worsdell o-4-4 tanks class and to free up for other duties the rusticated members of the E22 class which pottered up and down the lightest of GE branchlines.



The prototype Y65 no.1300 posing in the photographic French grey (the ultramarine undercoat) livery with black borders and white lining. Most of the features mentioned in the main text can be seen; the brass-rimmed stovepipe, the dome on the back ring of the small boiler, the four-column Ramsbottom valves over the firebox, the large cab and huge quantity of glass – the tops of the front and rear windows following the profile of the high-arc roof, the brass ventilator, cab doors and coal rails on the bunker. Photo ©Public Domain


Letter Account Y65 consisted of two engines, and following on from the introduction of no.1300, no.1301 was released to traffic six days later on 26th July 1909. It’s certain that James Holden followed the career of his son, so must have looked on with amazement at the non-standard nature of this first locomotive which was an anathema to his legacy; a smorgasbord of old, new and seeming indecision.


The uniquely sized 15” x 22” cylinders were driven by Stephenson’s link valve-gear with slide valves in a geometry similar to the T18 class, the non-standard small diameter boiler measured just 3? 11½” over the clothing and was pressed to a working pressure of 160p.s.i. With 3’6? radial and 4? 10? driving wheels, the engines’ nominal tractive effort was 11607 lbs.


Stylistically the Y65s were a scaled-down M15 crossed with an E22 and topped-off with a capacious (some might say disproportionately large) high-roofed cab, mirroring the Great Eastern Railway’s express and goods locomotive policy of the new century, and set a precedent for future tank engine designs.


These small radial tanks quickly became known as the ‘Crystal Palaces’ due to their not inconsiderable acreage of glass...


Continued with lots of lovely photos in my Journal here.

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