Steam Locomotives of a Leisurely Era
The Great Central ‘Directors’
No. 5502 ‘Zeebrugge’ shortly after the grouping
In 1913 there emerged from Gorton Works the first of Mr. J.C.Robinson’s Class 11E 4-4-0s. This locomotive was numbered 429 and named Sir Alexander Henderson after a Director of the Company.
It was followed by nine others numbered 430-8, all of which were named after other Directors of the Great Central Railway Company – hence the name by which the class has always been known.
The locos were of sturdy design with 20 X 26 inch cylinders, 6’ 9” driving wheels, a Belpaire firebox with a grate area of 26 sq. ft. and 1963 sq. ft. of superheating area, and a working pressure of 180 lbs. per sq. in. Weight was 61 tons of which 39 tons 12 cwt. was carried on the coupled axles. The tender was of the graceful standard type introduced by Robinson, with a water capacity of 4,000 gallons and room for 6 tons of coal.
In 1919, a slightly enlarged version, Class 11F, appeared, the difference between these and the original batch was a reduction of the superheating area from 304 to 209 sq. ft., increase in weight of 3cwt., a difference in safety valves – from Ramsbottom to Poppet type – and a new style of cab incorporating a side window. In all, eleven of the new version appeared between 1919 and 1923; these being numbered 501-11 and again all were named after Directors of the Company, the Royal Family and various battles fought in World War 1. Two of the original batch – 429 and 437 – were also renamed Prince Henry and Prince George respectively.
In 1923, the class passed into the hands of the LNER and had 5,000 added to their numbers, becoming 5249-38 and 5501-11. Their appearance changed little under the new regime apart from the removal of the footplate valancing for ease of maintenance and the substitution of an ugly flower-pot type chimney for the original – later a more pleasing type similar to the original was fitted – and a squat dome cover.
The tasks set the ‘Directors’ were greater than those for any other 4-4-0s in Britain. Their hardest task was the 3.20pm from Marylebone to Manchester Central, 212 miles without changing locos. The 103 miles from London to Leicester were scheduled for 109 minutes, which included the steep climbs to Harrow and Amersham. 24 minutes were allowed for the 23 miles from Leicester to Nottingham which was followed by the steep climb to Pilsley and still worse the long grind from Sheffield up to Dunford Bridge which is about 1,000 feet above sea-level, including the long foul smelling Woodhead Tunnel (this before the new tunnel was opened for the electricification).The ‘Director’ working the 2.15pm from Manchester had the same task haulage in the opposite direction. The locos were allowed between 180 and 220 tons by the work required to keep time under the conditions described were little short of phenomenal.
In 1946 the whole series was renumbered 2650-70 and in 1948 was passed into the hands of British Railways becoming 62650-70. Between 1953 and 1955, all the older members were withdrawn from traffic, mostly from Trafford Park and Heaton Mersey Depots. Inroads into the second set began in 1960 and by 1962 the last were in store at Darnal Depot from where they had worked local services in their declining years. Thence they left for breaking up at Doncaster except for 62660 Butler, Henderson, which was despatched to Gorton Works to restoration in its original Great Central splendour. It re-appeared in 1961 when it was handed over to the Curator of Historical Relics to the British Transport Commission. After being on show at various places, it was transferred to the Transport Museum at Clapham.
To complete the record, principal dimensions were:-
Nos. 429-38 – Dr Wheels 6’ 9”, Cyls 20” x 26”, Pr 180lbs.
T.E. 19644lbs., Weight 61 tons.
GCR Class 11E. LNER Class D10
Names Prince Henry, Purdon Viccars, Edwin A. Beazley,
Sir Edward Frazier, Walter Burgh Gair, The Earl of Kerry, Sir Clement Royds, Sir Berkeley Sheffield,
Prince George, Worsley-Taylor.
Nos. 501-11 Dimensions as above except weight 61 tons 3 cwt.
GCR 11F, LNER D11
Names Butler-Henderson, Gerard Powys Dewshurst, Prince of Wales, Prince Albert, Princess Mary, Mons, Zeebrugge,
Somme, Jutland, Ypres, Marne.
Although they do not come within the scope of this article, a further 24 locos of Class D11 were built in 1924 for the North British section by Sir Nigel Gresley. These had cut down boiler mountings and were classified D11/2. This batch was numbered 6378-6401 and named after characters from the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Of these the first was taken out of traffic in 1960 and the last example, 62685 Malcolm Graeme in 1962.