GER Classes S46, D56 and H88

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GER S46, D56 and H88
"Claud Hamilton"
LNER Class D14/D15/D16
March Peterborough East to Cambridge stopping train geograph-2322148-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
D16/3 'Super Claud' 4-4-0 No. 62530 departs March in August 1958.
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
BuilderStratford Works
Build date1900-1923
Total produced121
 • Whyte4-4-0
 • UIC2′B n2, 2′B h2
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Leading dia.3 ft 9 in (1.14 m)
Driver dia.7 ft (2.1 m)
Length53 ft 4 34 in (16.275 m)
Loco weight52.2–55.9 long tons (53.0–56.8 t)
Fuel typeCoal
 • Firegrate area
21.3 sq ft (1.98 m2)
Boiler pressure180 psi (1,200 kPa)
CylindersTwo inside
Cylinder size19 in × 26 in (480 mm × 660 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort17,095 lbf (76,040 N)
Power classBR: 2P (3P for D16/3 from 1953)
Axle load classLNER/BR: RA 5
DispositionAll original locomotives scrapped.

The GER Classes S46, D56 and H88 (classified Classes D14, D15, and D16 by the London and North Eastern Railway) were three classes of similar 4-4-0 steam locomotive designed by James Holden (S46 and D56) and A. J. Hill (H88) for the Great Eastern Railway.

They were given the nickname Claud Hamilton after the pioneer engine of the class, named after Lord Claud Hamilton (1843–1925) the chairman of the Great Eastern Railway. The D56 class of 1903-4 evolved the design to include a square-topped Belpaire firebox. The H88 class of 1923 featured a larger superheated boiler, leading them to be known as Super Clauds. Many earlier members of the class were rebuilt during their working life.

During the Edwardian era, they were the flagship express locomotive on the Great Eastern Main Line, and although displaced on the heaviest express trains by the larger S69 class from 1911 (itself a 4-6-0 development of the Claud design), members of the class were used on passenger and goods services throughout the Eastern Region until 1960. No locomotives of the three classes survived to preservation.


GER Class D56 in original Great Eastern blue livery with decorative features as depicted in a 1910 colour plate by W.J. Stokoe (note the square Belpaire firebox).

The Claud Hamilton, particularly in its original GER blue livery, is widely considered one of the most elegant locomotive designs of the pre-grouping era.[1]

In his 1955 history of the Great Eastern Railway, Cecil J. Allen devotes a whole chapter to the class and noted that

Of all the locomotive designs that emerged from Stratford Works during the reign of James Holden, the one destined to achieve the greatest fame, beyond question, was his Claud Hamilton type 4-4-0, of which the pioneer example, No. 1900 Claud Hamilton, took the rails in 1900.[2]

Although credited to James Holden, the Locomotive Superintendent of the Great Eastern, Frederick Vernon Russell (Holden's Chief Designer) is thought to have contributed substantially to the design of the Claud Hamiltons; while researching his Some Classic Locomotives of 1949, C.H. Ellis was informed by Russell that during the process of designing the locomotive "Mr Holden, by then a valetudinarian was making a long recuperative stay in Egypt."[3]

The 4-4-0 inside cylinder locomotive included a number of features that were to appear on later Great Eastern locomotive classes, including a circular polished steel smokebox door surround (instead of the usual horizontal straps) and decorative splashers.[2] Class pioneer No 1900 Claud Hamilton featuring red lining and connecting rods, copper chimney cap and GER coat of arms was much admired when it was exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition.[4]

The original S46 boiler had 1,630 sq ft (151 m2) of heating surface, with a 21.3 sq ft (1.98 m2) grate. The cylinders were 19 x 26 in. with flat valves placed below, operated by Stephenson's motion. The coupled wheels were 7 ft (2.1 m) in diameter.

Allen reports that Claud Hamiltons in their original state were capable of taking around 350 tons from Liverpool Street to North Walsham in under the booked time. No. 1882 with round-top boiler ran the 130.2 miles (209.5 km) in 156 min 60 sec. Even heavier trains were managed in the up direction: No. 1809 (Belpaire boiler) took 400 tons up in 157 minutes 24 seconds.

The S46 design was substantially modified in later incarnations, particularly with the introduction of a larger superheated boiler on the H88 designed by Alfred John Hill. Most earlier members of the class were substantially modified by Hill or during the tenure of Sir Nigel Gresley as CME of the LNER from 1923.[5]

Two separate classes were also developed from the design of the Claud Hamilton; Holden's Class F48 (constructed between 1900 and 1903) was essentially an 0-6-0 goods version of the S46[6] and the Class S69 (built between 1911 and 1921) was a larger 4-6-0 version using many of the same design cues as the H88, built to replace the Clauds on the heaviest express trains.

Classification and numbering[edit]

Class D15 No. 62503 at Cambridge Shed in August 1949. Note the cut-out splashers and small 'water-cart' tender.

The classification of the Claud Hamiltons is complex but is summarised here:

  • GER Class S46 (LNER Class D14), 4 ft 9 in diameter boiler, round-top firebox[7]
  • GER Class D56 (LNER Class D15), 4 ft 9 in diameter boiler, Belpaire firebox[7]
    • LNER Class D15/1, D15 as built with short smokebox, some with superheater
    • LNER Class D15/2, D15 with superheater and long smokebox
  • GER Class H88 (LNER Class D16), "Super Claud" with superheater, larger boiler (5 ft ​1 18 in diameter) and Belpaire firebox[7]
    • LNER Class D16/1, D16 as built (with short smokebox)
    • LNER Class D16/2, as D16/1 but with extended smokebox
    • LNER Class D16/3, Gresley rebuild of D15 and D16 with round-top firebox, some with piston valves

The class pioneer was numbered 1900 (to coincide with the year the locomotive was built), with subsequent batches numbered backwards in tens as follows:

Table of orders and numbers[8][9]
Year Order Quantity GER Nos. LNER Nos. 1946 Nos. Notes
1900 S46 1 1900 8900 2500
1900 L47 10 1890–1899 8890–8899 2501–2510
1901 M51 10 1880–1889 8880–8889 2511–2520
1902 F53 10 1870–1879 8870–8879 2521–2530
1903 L55 10 1860–1869 8860–8869 2531–2540
1903–04 D56 10 1850–1859 8850–8859 2541–2550 Belpaire boiler
1906–07 G61 10 1840–1849 8840–8849 2551–2560
1908 A64 10 1830–1839 8830–8839 2561–2570
1909 B66 10 1820–1829 8820–8829 2571–2580
1910 D67 10 1810–1819 8810–8819 2581–2590
1910 P67 10 1800–1809– 8800–8809 2591–2600
1911 E69 10 1790–1799 8790–8799 2601–2610
1923 H88 10 1780–1789 8780–8789 2611–2620 Never carried GER numbers in service

The Railway Magazine of November 1923 includes the log of a run from Liverpool Street to Ipswich with 4-4-0 number 1780, so this loco at least must have carried a GER number.[10]


D16/2 'Super-Claud' No. 8813 in disguised wartime 'NE' black livery at March Locomotive Depot 14 July 1946.

Originally painted in GER blue with red lining and bronze highlights, following the 1923 grouping the GER became part of London North Eastern Railway, and were painted in the company's apple green with LNER on the tender and cab-side numbers. Side rods were polished steel. The appearance was altered when a larger boiler and Belpaire firebox was fitted, meaning a change in the cab window shape as well.[11]

8783 and 8787 were kept in immaculate condition as dedicated Royal locos for hauling the Royal Train from King's Cross to Wolferton (the nearest station for Sandringham House).[12] 8783 was also fitted with a copper-capped chimney. Later some locos carried numbers and London & North Eastern Railway on the tender. During the Second World War most were repainted into unlined black livery with the letters "N E" on the tender. "Royal Claud" 8783 retained its LNER apple green livery into British Railways days (after 1948), but with BRITISH RAILWAYS on the tender initially.

Others were painted black with BRITISH RAILWAYS on the tender. Later on they carried both lined and unlined black with the early BR crest and those which survived after 1956 lined and unlined black with the later crest. Many of the class retained steel smokebox door rings until withdrawal, except those rebuilt by Gresley with a larger boiler which also required a new smokebox. Many locos had their decorative valances removed in later years as well, though they still retained their distinctive character.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 1 January 1915, locomotive No. 1813 was hauling an express passenger train that overran signals and collided with a local passenger train at Ilford, Essex. Ten people were killed and more than 500 were injured.[13]
  • On 12 February 1927, locomotive No. 8808 was hauling an express passenger train that was in collision with a lorry on a level crossing at Tottenham, London. Due to foggy conditions, the train was not travelling at a high speed.[14]
  • On 17 January 1931, locomotive No. 8781 was running light engine at Great Holland, Essex when it was in a head-on collision with a newspaper train. Two people were killed and two were seriously injured. The newspaper train had departed from Thorpe-le-Soken station against signals.[15]
  • In November 1934, a Class D16/2 8783 locomotive was derailed at Wormley, Hertfordshire when it collided with a lorry on a level crossing. both engine crew were killed.[16]
  • On 1 June 1939, locomotive No. 8783 was hauling a passenger train that collided with a lorry on an occupation crossing at Hilgay, Norfolk and was derailed. [17]


Withdrawals of the class began in 1945, with the final member, a D16/3, scrapped in 1960 leaving no survivors of the class.

Table of withdrawals[18][9]
Year Quantity in
service at
start of year
Locomotive numbers Notes
1945 121 1 8866 Not renumbered
1946 120 2 2550, 2595
1947 118 1 2500 Name transferred to 2546
1948 117 6 2504/60/63/83, 2600/02
1949 111 1 2594
1950 110 3 62508/12/91
1951 107 7 62501/03/05/20/28/47, 62603
1952 100 8 62502/06/07/09/27/38/90/98
1953 92 2 62581, 62616
1955 90 15 62525/31/36/41/49/52/54/57/59/73/74/79/85, 62607/20
1956 75 8 62523/32/42/51/67/69/77/87
1957 67 28 62510/14/16/19/26/33/35/39/46/48/53/56/58/62/65/75/76/78/84/93/96, 62601/05/08/09/11/17/19
1958 39 23 62513/15/18/21/22/30/34/43/45/55/61/64/66/68/72/80/86/88/92/99, 62610/14/15
1959 16 12 62511/17/29/40/44/70/71/82/89, 62606/12/18
1960 4 4 62524/97, 62604/13

A group based at the Whitwell & Reepham railway plan to build a replica Claud Hamilton D16/2 No. 8783 to be named Phoenix.[19]

In fiction[edit]

The design was the basis of the character Molly in the children's TV series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.[20]


  1. ^ "The Holden 'Claud Hamilton' Class D14, D15, & D16 4-4-0 Locomotives". LNER Encyclopedia. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b Allen 1955, p. 127.
  3. ^ Ellis 1965, p. 61.
  4. ^ Allen 1955, p. 130.
  5. ^ Fry et al. 1981, pp. 1, 3, 18–21.
  6. ^ Aldrich 1969, p. 71.
  7. ^ a b c Fry et al. 1981, p. 20.
  8. ^ Fry et al. 1981, pp. 19, 53–55.
  9. ^ a b Baxter 2012, pp. 59–67, 105–106.
  10. ^ Allen 1923, p. 398.
  11. ^ Allen 1955, pp. 129-130.
  12. ^ Jenkinson, Edgington & Smart 1994, p. 78.
  13. ^ Earnshaw 1991, p. 16.
  14. ^ Earnshaw 1990, p. 16.
  15. ^ Vaughan 1989, pp. 69-73.
  16. ^ Trevena 1980, pp. 36-37.
  17. ^ Earnshaw 1990, p. 21.
  18. ^ Fry et al. 1981, pp. 53–55.
  19. ^ "Claud Hamilton Locomotive Group". Claud Hamilton Locomotive Group. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Molly - Character Profile & Bio". Thomas & Friends - Official Website. Retrieved 31 July 2019.


  • Aldrich, C. Langley (1969). The Locomotives of the Great Eastern Railway 1862–1962 (7th ed.). Wickford, Essex: C. Langley Aldrich. OCLC 30278831.
  • Allen, Cecil J. (November 1923). "British Locomotive Practice and Performance". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 53 no. 313. pp. 385–400.
  • Allen, Cecil J. (1955). The Great Eastern Railway. Shepperton: Ian Allen. ISBN 9780711006591.
  • Baxter, Bertram (2012). Baxter, David; Mitchell, Peter (eds.). British Locomotive Catalogue 1825–1923, Volume 6: Great Eastern Railway, North British Railway, Great North of Scotland Railway, Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway, remaining companies in the LNER group. Southampton: Kestrel Railway Books. ISBN 978-1-905505-26-5.
  • Earnshaw, Alan (1990). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 6. Penryn: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-37-0.
  • Earnshaw, Alan (1991). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 7. Penryn: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-50-8.
  • Ellis, C.H. (1942). "Famous locomotive engineers: No. 20 James Holden". Locomotive Carriage and Wagon Review. 47: 110–115.
  • Ellis, C.H. (1949). Some classic locomotives. London: George Allen & Unwin.
  • Ellis, C.H. (1965). The splendour of steam. London: George Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-385016-2.
  • Fry, E.V.; Hoole, Ken; Manners, F.; Neve, E.; Proud, P.; Yeadon, W.B. (August 1981). Fry, E.V. (ed.). Locomotives of the LNER. Part 3C. Tender engines—classes D13 to D24. Kenilworth: Railway Correspondence & Travel Society. ISBN 0-901115-52-5.
  • Jenkinson, David; Edgington, John; Smart, John (1994). The Big Four in Colour, 1935-50. Penryn: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-62-1.
  • Trevena, Arthur (1980). Trains in Trouble. Vol. 1. Redruth: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-01-X.
  • Vaughan, Adrian (1989). Obstruction Danger. Wellingborough: Patrick Stephens Limited. ISBN 1-85260-055-1.

External links[edit]