Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era
1900 – ‘Claud Hamiltons’
Great Eastern Railway
The first engine of this famous class, ‘Claud Hamilton’, which appeared from Stratford in 1900, was numbered after the year of its birth, although GER numbers had not yet reached so high by several hundreds. Subsequent engines of the class were built in batches of ten, and numbered successively backwards, as 1890-9, 1880-9, and so on, until Nos. 1790-9 appeared in 1911. Ten more engines of larger dimensions, known as ‘Super Clauds’, appeared in 1923 after the amalgamation as LNER 1780E-1789E, the whole class eventually becoming LNER 8780-8900.
The ‘Claud Hamiltons’ as originally built are considered by many to be one of the most handsome designs ever built. With their well-proportioned outline embellished by the beautiful Great Eastern blue with its elaborate lining-out in red and yellow, they presented a sight which would be almost unbelievable in these drab days.
Not only in appearance, however, but in performance too, these engines soon showed themselves to be an exceedingly remarkable design, and many were the stupendous feats of haulage they were destined to perform over the GER main lines in their heyday. The GER went in fairly extensively for oil burning around the turn of the century, and many of the earlier Clauds were so fitted for a time.
Commencing with the 1850-9 batch, which appeared in 1904, Belpaire fireboxes were provided, and the final ten, Nos. 1780-9, mentioned above, which came out under Hill’s regime, were considerably enlarged.
The later history of the class is somewhat involved, and cannot be fully detailed here. Apart from the inevitable provision of superheaters, Gresley began rebuilding many of them from 1933 onwards. This involved, amongst other things, a much larger boiler, with a reversion to the round-topped firebox and, in some cases, provision for piston valves. Many, but not all, of the rebuilds lost the decorative framing and splashers, and had raised running plates to clear the coupling rods, which, together with the replacement of the handsome chimneys by one of Gresley’s pattern which somehow ill-suited these locomotives, completely ruined their appearance.
In 1946 the class was renumbered 2500-2620 in order of building (Nos.1780-9 becoming 2611-20) and on Nationalisation they were allocated in turn 62500-62620, although in few cases they never bore these numbers. In fact, the prototype, No. 2500 ‘Claud Hamilton’, had already been scrapped in 1947, when its nameplates were transferred to No. 2546. All of the rebuilt engines had gone by 1952, but a few Gresley rebuilds still remained in service in 1959.
Original – Driving wheels – 7’ 0”, Cylinders – 19”x 26”, Pressure – 185 lb., Weight – 50 tons 8 cwt., GER classification – S46 & S56 (Belpaire), LNER classification – D14 & D15 (Belpaire)
Super-Claud – Driving wheels – 7’ 0”, Cylinders – 19”x 26”, Pressure – 180 lb., Weight – 54 tons 18 cwt., GER classification – H88, LNER classification – D16
Gresley Rebuilds – Driving wheels – 7’ 0”, Cylinders – 19”x 26”, Pressure – 180 lb., Weight – 55 tons 18 cwt., GER classification –, LNER classification – D16/3, BR classification – 3P 1F