LNER Class P1

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LNER Class P1
LNER mikado 2-8-2, 2394 (CJ Allen, Steel Highway, 1928).jpg
No. 2394, circa. 1928, with booster engine and Westinghouse pump
Type and origin
Power type steam
Designer Sir Nigel Gresley
Builder Doncaster Works
Serial number 1619–1620
Build date June & November 1925
Total produced 2
Configuration 2-8-2
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Leading dia. 3 ft 2 in (0.965 m)
Driver dia. 5 ft 2 in (1.575 m)
Trailing dia. 3 ft 8 in (1.118 m)
Wheelbase 36 ft 2 in (11.02 m)
Axle load 18.65 long tons (18.95 t; 20.89 short tons)
Loco weight 100 long tons (102 t; 112 short tons)
Tender weight 51.4 long tons (52.2 t; 57.6 short tons)
Total weight 151.4 long tons (153.8 t; 169.6 short tons)
 • Firegrate area
41.25 sq ft (3.832 m2)
Boiler 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) max.
Boiler pressure 180 psi (1.2 MPa)
Heating surface 3,455 sq ft (321.0 m2)
 • Tubes 1,880 sq ft (175 m2)
 • Flues 835 sq ft (77.6 m2)
 • Firebox 215 sq ft (20.0 m2)
Superheater Robinson
Cylinders 3, with 2 more in a booster unit
Cylinder size 20 in × 26 in (508 mm × 660 mm)
10 in × 12 in (254 mm × 305 mm) booster
Valve gear Walschaerts & Gresley, with steam reversing gear
Valve type 8-inch (203 mm) piston valves
Performance figures
Tractive effort (85% boiler pressure) 38,500 lbf (171 kN)
8,500 lbf (38 kN) booster
Axle load class Route availability 7
Withdrawn July 1945
Disposition Both scrapped

The London and North Eastern Railway Class P1 Mineral 2-8-2 Mikado was a class of two steam locomotives designed by Nigel Gresley. They were two of the most powerful freight locomotives ever designed for a British railway. It was initially intended they be a more powerful 2-10-0 version of the earlier Class O2 2-8-0s. The design was submitted in August 1923, for use between Peterborough and London, and also between Immingham and Wath marshalling yard. The power was quoted as being 25% more than the O2.

Construction and into service[edit]

The first P1, No 2393, was completed by Doncaster in June 1925 and was shown at the Darlington Centenary celebrations in July, with its sister No 2394 following in November 1925. Both were externally rather similar, although 2393 had a 32-element superheater while 2394 had a larger 62-element 'E' type superheater.[1] They were the first 2-8-2 locomotives to be built in Britain for local use, although not the first designed. Both were allocated to New England shed after completion where they were subjected to regular testing.

In service, the P1s could handle 100-wagon coal trains, although these were an operational hazard due to their overhanging track circuits and being too long for many of the passing loops. They were also coal-hungry engines, with a 1926 Locomotive Inspectors Conference Report stating that the engines used 131 pounds per mile (37 kg/km) of coal.[2] However, they were still thought of highly enough in 1926 that it was proposed to build another four P1s to replace an equivalent number of 0-8-0s.

The boosters[edit]

The P1 class engines were initially equipped with two-cylinder boosters attached to the trailing axle. These were engaged using a Westinghouse pump mounted on the boiler to engage the cylinder clutch.[3] These had a tractive effort of 8,500 lbf (38 kN) when used, increasing the tractive effort of the locomotive from 38,500 to 47,000 lbf (171 to 209 kN). It was intended by Gresley these boosters would be used to assist the locomotive while starting and topping the banks over which they travelled.

The tenders equipped to the P1s had a specially-designed dragbox to accommodate this equipment. In practice, the boosters were troublesome; using them would fill the cab with steam, while the fireman's workload would be doubled. The steam pipes from the boiler to the booster were prone to fracture, particularly on the sharp curves of the turning triangle at New England shed. The boosters were removed from engines 2393 and 2394 in 1938 and 1937 respectively.[4]

Service and withdrawal[edit]

The two P1s were only ever used between New England and Ferme Park, the only route deemed suitable for them by the Operating Department. They were however largely uneconomic as they were hauling trains of less than the 1,000 long tons (1,020 t; 1,120 short tons) for which they were built. In 1934, No 2394 was experimentally tried on the 07.45 am semi-fast from New England to Kings Cross as part of the planning stage for P2 class locomotive 2001 Cock o' the North. Although the engine was able to reach a maximum speed of 65 mph (105 km/h), this put too much stress on the fireman who later commented that he was thankful not to have been going beyond Peterborough.[5]

In 1942, both engines were overhauled and their original boilers, then in very poor condition, were replaced with A3-type 220 lbf/in2 (1.52 MPa) boilers and their cylinder diameter was reduced to 19 inches (483 mm), leading to an increased tractive effort of 42,500 lbf (189 kN) The valve motion was retained in its original short-lap travel configuration. This rebuilding, which took place in November and January 1942 for engines 2393 and 2394 respectively, saw them reclassified as Class P1/2.

Due to the reduction of heavy freight trains after the Second World War, both engines were withdrawn by Edward Thompson in July 1945 and scrapped, the first Gresley locomotives to be withdrawn and scrapped by intention. The six-wheeled tenders were modified with standard dragboxes to run behind new Thompson Class B2 4-6-0s Nos 2815 and 1632, while the boilers were removed and fitted to Gresley A1s No 2557 Blair Atholl and 2565 Merry Hampton during their conversion from Class A1 to Class A3.


  • Boddy, M. G.; Brown, W. A.; Neve, E.; Yeadon, W. B. (November 1983). Fry, E. V., ed. Locomotives of the L.N.E.R., Part 6B: Tender Engines—Classes O1 to P2. Kenilworth: RCTS. pp. 153–163. ISBN 0-901115-54-1. 
  • Cliffe, J.; Clay, J. F. (1973). The LNER's 2-6-2 and 2-8-2 Classes. Ian Allan.