Steam Locos of a Leisurely Era
1887- Johnson 4-2-2 – Midland Railway
S.W.Johnson’s magnificent single wheelers, considered by many to be the loveliest engines ever built. Their introduction in 1887 was something of a surprise, as the MR had built no single driving engines for many years, but the invention of the steam sanding blast made single wheelers once more a practical proposition at any rate for the moderate loads of the day. The appearance of the Midland engine gave the single a new lease of life, if only temporary, and inside cylindered 4-2-2s began to appear on the North Eastern, Great Western, Great Eastern, Great Northern and the Great Central Railways. It is doubtful whether the Great Northern of Ireland engines of 1885 or the Caledonian of 1886 had any influence on Johnson’s design.
No less than 95 of the Midland 4-2-2s appeared, of five variations, in which the dimensions were successively increased. The final ten, which came out in 1900, were considerably larger. The first of these was the well-known Princess of Wales, then numbered 2601 (later 685), and one of only two Midland engines ever to bear a name. This class had the dome placed on the third ring of the boiler directly over the driving wheel, whereas on the earlier engines it had a more forward position on the second ring – a minor detail perhaps, but one which rather spoiled the balance of the design.4-2-2 Midland 1865
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Looks apart, however, these were magnificent engines, and very economical in operation with a load within their capacity. They proved themselves capable of handling up to ten bogies – about 300 tons – unassisted over the Midland main line south of Leicester.
In later years they were used chiefly for piloting expresses and on local stopping trains. During the First World War they were to be seen on the somewhat unsuitable task of piloting 0-6-0s on freight trains, or even on occasions a pair of them handling a heavy goods train themselves. The first engine, No.25, later 600, was latterly fitted with a Deeley cab and kept exclusively for working the Directors’ saloon.
All remained in service until 1919, from which year scrapping proceeded steadily, but several lasted into LMS days. The last lot, the ‘Princesses’, fared the worst, and were amongst the first to go, most of them being laid off by 1920, and all had been broken up by 1922. The last engine in service was No.673, and on withdrawal in 1928 it was repainted in MR colours with its old No.118, and is now (1959) kept at Derby.
Numbers after 1907
600-7,610-619 – Driving wheels – 7’ 4½”, Cylinders – 18”X 26”, Pressure – 160 lb., Tractive effort – N/A, Power classification – 1
608, 609, 620-59 – Driving wheels – 7’ 6½”, Cylinders – 18½”X 26”, Pressure – 160 lb., Tractive effort – N/A, Power classification – 1
660-9 – Driving wheels – 7’ 6½”, Cylinders – 19”X 26”, Pressure – 160 lb., Tractive effort – N/A, Power classification – 1
670-84 – Driving wheels – 7’ 9½”, Cylinders – 19½”X 26”, Pressure – 170 lb., Tractive effort – N/A, Power classification – 1
685-94 – Driving wheels – 7’ 9½”, Cylinders – 19½”X 26”, Pressure – 180 lb., Tractive effort – 14803 lb., Power classification – 2 Midland 115 Class 4-2-2 ‘Spinner’ No. 673 in steam at Rainhill July 1980 Source Own work Author RuthAS
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