For enthusiasts and researchers of the Great Eastern Railway

Non-Stop to Cromer

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The Prince Regent, later King George IV, is often credited with making seaside holidays popular through his frequent visits to Brighton, but it was not until towards the end of the 19th Century, when there had been a long period of peace and prosperity, that many people could afford a week or more beside the sea. The GER was well aware of the attractions of Cromer as a seaside resort, with its fine sandy beaches and cliffs. The idea of Saturday to Saturday bookings at hotels had not been established, therefore it was necessary for the railway to run daily holiday trains. With competition from the M&GNR with its more convenient "Beach" station the aim was to run a train in less than three hours over the 139 miles from London Liverpool Street to Cromer.

The GER had locomotives capable of doing the job but they were not certain whether they could do so non-stop without picking up water en-route. To check this point it was arranged to run a non-stop train on 3rd November 1895. The train was a light one weighing some 140tons and the engine chosen was 1006 a D27 2-2-2 class. This class had been built between 1889 and 1893 as the single equivalent of the well-known T19 class of 2-4-0 locomotives, as there was still a school of thought that considered single engines to have some advantages over their coupled counterparts.

The locomotive driver was John Rufus Herwin who must have been on the GER what Bill Hoole was on the East Coast Main Line in the last years of steam, as he appears in several official photographs taken on special occasions. He had joined the railway as a cleaner at Norwich in 1874, being promoted to fireman in 1875 and to driver in 1879. By the use of the Wensum curve the usual stop and reverse was avoided at Norwich and Cromer was reached in 2 hours 55 minutes. The photograph was taken shortly after arrival and includes C.W.L Glaze whose bowler hat obscures the locomotive numberplate. He was probably Assistant District Locomotive Superintendent at Stratford then, as he became Superintendent in 1899 and succeeded A.J. Hill as Works Manager when Hill became C.M.E. in 1912.

As can be seen there was still plenty of coal left after the run, but it seams likely that Herwin had to nurse his engine over the last few miles to avoid running out of water. It was decided that it was too risky for a non-stop run every day without water troughs and these were installed the following year at Tivetshall, some 100 miles from Liverpool Street.

 

Caption text taken from an article by the late Geoff Pember in Journal 33 January 1983
Photograph: GERS Collection/courtesy Les Peters