GCR Class 1B

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GCR Class 1B
LNER Class L1 (later L3)
Northwich Locomotive Depot ex-GC 2-6-4T geograph-2879167-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
No. 5274 at Northwich Locomotive Depot 21 September 1947
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Designer John G. Robinson
Builder Gorton Works
Build date December 1914-May 1917
Total produced 20
 • Whyte 2-6-4T
 • UIC 1′C2′ h2t
Leading dia. 3 ft 0 in (0.914 m)
Driver dia. 5 ft 1 in (1.549 m)
Trailing dia. 3 ft 0 in (0.914 m)
Wheelbase 37 ft 6 in (11.43 m)
Length 46 ft 4.75 in (14.14 m)
Loco weight 97.45 long tons (99.01 t)
Fuel type Coal
Fuel capacity 4.5 long tons (4.6 t)
Water cap 3,000 imp gal (13,600 l; 3,600 US gal)
 • Firegrate area
26.5 sq ft (2.46 m2)
Boiler pressure 180 lbf/in2 (1.24 MPa)
Heating surface 1,543 sq ft (143.3 m2)
 • Type Robinson
 • Heating area 209 sq ft (19.4 m2)
Cylinders Two, inside
Cylinder size 21 in × 26 in (533 mm × 660 mm)
Valve gear Stephenson
Valve type 10-inch (254 mm) piston valves
Loco brake Steam
Train brakes Vacuum
Performance figures
Tractive effort 28,759 lbf (127.93 kN)
  • GCR: 1B
  • LNER: L1 (L3 from May 1945)
Power class LNER: 6; BR: 5F
Nicknames Crabs
Axle load class LNER/BR: Route Availability 7
Withdrawn July 1947 – July 1955
Disposition All scrapped

The GCR Class 1B was a class of 2-6-4T (tank) locomotives on the Great Central Railway. They were notable as the first locomotives of the 2-6-4T (or Adriatic) wheel arrangement to be used by a British standard-gauge railway; there had been two narrow-gauge examples on the Leek & Manifold Valley Light Railway since 1904.[1][2][3]


In 1906, the Great Central Railway (GCR) had inherited nine 0-6-4T locomotives from the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway (LD&EC), of class D (LNER class M1). These had been designed to the specifications of Robert A. Thom, the locomotive superintendent of the LD&EC, for hauling coal trains from northern Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to the docks at Grimsby. They were built by Kitson & Co in 1904 and 1906, and performed well.[4][5]

When further locomotives were required for similar duties, opportunity was taken to produce an updated design. The 1B class locomotives were designed by the GCR's locomotive superintendent John G. Robinson, with assistance from Thom,[1] who, after a period as assistant works manager at the GCR's Gorton locomotive works,[6] was now Robinson's assistant.[7] The chief design improvement was the fitment of a larger boiler incorporating a superheater;[1] it was similar to those fitted to the GCR Class 11E 4-4-0, and a number of other existing GCR components were also incorporated.[8] The LD&EC Class D bogie was retained, but the increased weight made it necessary to add a carrying axle at the front; thus, from an 0-6-4T, the 2-6-4T was derived.[1]

Unlike the LD&EC engines, the 1B class was built at Gorton, where twenty were built between 1914 and 1917.[9] They were described by an engineering journal as 'one of the handsomest tank engines to have made their appearance anywhere in recent years', although not everybody agreed.[8] Unfortunately, by the time that the first few were in service, the coal traffic for which they had been designed was dwindling; and so they found themselves on work for which they were not ideally suited.[10]


Their GCR numbers were 272–276, 336–345, and 366–370, which under the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) were increased by 5000 between 1924 and 1926.[11] Classified 1B by the GCR, the LNER assigned class L1, which was altered to L3 in May 1945, because the Thompson Class L1 were about to appear.[12] All were renumbered to 9050–9069 by the LNER during 1946;[13] and, of the 19 which passed to British Railways, eleven were renumbered into the 69050–69069 block between 1948 and 1950.[14] Withdrawal occurred between 1947 and 1955[14] and none have been preserved.


  1. ^ a b c d Boddy et al. 1977, p. 4.
  2. ^ Haresnape & Rowledge 1982, p. 106.
  3. ^ Jackson 1996, p. 173.
  4. ^ Boddy et al. 1977, p. 33.
  5. ^ Nock 1983, p. 120.
  6. ^ Dow 1965, p. 184.
  7. ^ Jackson 1996, p. 66.
  8. ^ a b Dow 1965, p. 327.
  9. ^ Boddy et al. 1977, p. 4,9.
  10. ^ Boddy et al. 1977, pp. 7.
  11. ^ Boddy et al. 1977, p. 9.
  12. ^ Boddy et al. 1977, pp. 4,13.
  13. ^ Boddy et al. 1977, p. 5.
  14. ^ a b Boddy et al. 1977, pp. 7,9.


  • Boddy, M. G.; Brown, W. A.; Fry, E. V.; Hennigan, W.; Hoole, Ken; Manners, F.; Neve, E.; Platt, E. N. T.; Proud, P.; Yeadon, W. B. (March 1977). Fry, E. V., ed. Locomotives of the L.N.E.R., Part 9A: Tank Engines—Classes L1 to N19. Kenilworth: RCTS. ISBN 0-901115-40-1. 
  • Dow, George (1965). Great Central, Volume Three: Fay Sets the Pace, 1900-1922. Shepperton: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0263-0. 
  • Haresnape, Brian; Rowledge, Peter (May 1982). Robinson Locomotives: A Pictorial History. Shepperton: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1151-6. DX/0582. 
  • Jackson, David (1996). J.G. Robinson: A Lifetime's Work. The Oakwood Library of Railway History. Headington: Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-497-0. OL98. 
  • Nock, O.S. (1983). British Locomotives of the 20th Century: Volume 1 1900-1930. London: Book Club Associates. CN5096.