Taken from the Mercian of September 1971
Steam Locomotives of a Leisurely Era
The Stirling Single
Wikipedia: GNR Stirling No.1 at Doncaster Works
Perhaps the outside cylinder 8ft single wheeler is the best known of Patrick Stirling’s locomotives.
When Stirling came to the Great Northern Railway in 1866, he found that many of the locomotives built by Sturrock were inadequate for the job and had put the railway in financial difficulties. So, faced with lack of funds, he started to rebuild many of the old Sturrock locomotives. How well he coped can be gauged by the earning of each engine. In 1866, when he joined the Great Northern, there were some 400 locomotives earning £4,600 per engine per annum; seven years later the same engines were earning £5,600 per engine per annum.lner.info At Doncaster for 150 years celebration
The first 4-2-2 8ft single, No.1 was put into service in April 1870. For a few months she was put under test to iron out any defects. By autumn, the testing was complete and it was decided to build further locomotives. These other locos were built one at a time, steadily improving the design. It was not until 1877 that Stirling decided that a batch of eight engines were to be built over an eighteen month period. Even then the design had not reached its peak and within two years of the batches starting, a new general arrangements drawing was required.
No.1 was far from satisfactory, the firebox casing was only 5ft 6ins long and the cylinders were 18 x 28 ins, there were relatively few boiler tubes numbering 175 and only 1⅝ ins in diameter. The total heated surface was 968 sq ft of which the firebox was 92½ sq ft and a tube area of 875½ sq ft. The bogie wheels for the front were 3ft 11 ins diameter and the trailing pair 4ft 1in in diameter. The engine wheelbase was 6ft 6ins x 7ft 9ins x 8ft 8ins = 22ft 11ins in all. The front bogie was of the rigid centre pin pattern and had no lateral movement, but the pin was placed just behind the centre line of the bogie, splitting it up into 3ft 6ins x 3ft. The trailing pair of wheels had the effect of following the curves better with less tendency for the main frame to pull the bogie back towards the outside. The pivot carried very little of the load which was carried on the two outside bearings.vintagegraphics.co.uk
In 1880, No.1 went into Doncaster for general repairs and it was here that many of the new modifications were made. The boiler diameter was increased from 4ft 0½ in to 4ft 2ins working at a slightly higher pressure. The tubes were increased to 180 and 1¾ ins diameter and 114 sq ft for the firebox giving a total of 1069.2 sq ft. With the larger boiler, it was necessary to increase the trailing end from 8ft 8ins to 9ft. The slots in the splashers were filled in and so subsequently were the other engines of the class. No.1 also had its mainframe reinforced just above the cylinders, this also applied to many of the early engines of this class. Later engines were equipped with deeper frames, thus eliminating this defect.No.667 at about the turn of the century 1900
In November 1895 Patrick Stirling died and was succeeded by Henry Alfred Ivatt. Ivatt set to work at once re-boilering the Single Wheelers with domed boilers. He also lengthened the cab roof to give the driver and fireman more protection. The Single Wheelers ran right up to 1916 when the last one, No.1006, was scrapped.
Although I am a Great Western man myself (A.J.Louch), I cannot help but admire Stirling for such a handsome locomotive, which ran for a number of years after the Great Western had scrapped all theirs. The simplicity of his design must make this one of the finest locomotives ever made. It must have been a sight to see one of these locomotives at speed. I only hope that perhaps one day No.1 which is now preserved at York, may steam again, so that we can all appreciate those fine lines.gcrailway.co.uk Passing Woodthorpe