For enthusiasts and researchers of the Great Eastern Railway

Holden 0-6-0 Tank Engines

Five classes of 0-6-0 tank engine were introduced to the Great Eastern Railway under James Holden and his son Stephen between 1886 and 1912. All were very similar, and shared a multiplicity of standard parts. This article briefly describes these five classes and their subsequent history.

T18 Class (LNER J-66)

Built 1886-88, these were the original James Holden design for shunting and trip goods work. They were produced to answer an urgent need for locomotives of this type upon the opening of the Great Northern & Great Eastern Joint Line, and the sudden increase in coal and mineral traffic. No. 281 was attached to Stratford Works as a service locomotive. Shortly after building in 1886 it was the first GER locomotive to be fitted with Holden's oil-burning equipment, and took part in various experiments until about 1900. It always remained at Stratford Works, latterly becoming BR Departmental Locomotive No. 32. The other engines in the class had all been withdrawn by 1955, but the service engine lasted until the end of steam on the GE section, in September 1962.

No. 294 took part in an experiment that was to have far-reaching consequences. In 1887 it was fitted with continuous Westinghouse brakes, screw reverse, balanced wheels and so on, and tried on the London Suburban services from Liverpool Street, with great success. It remained passenger fitted until 1930.


Built 1888, the final ten engines of the class were constructed for passenger work. These engines featured longer bunkers to increase their coal capacity, and shorter cabs in consequence. In 1890 they were converted to shunters when superseded by the R24 class.

E22 Class (LNER J-65)


Built 1889. A development of the T18 class for light branch duties, and thus fitted with Westinghouse brakes. The tanks were smaller, holding 600 gallons, and the frames were shorter at the rear, with consequently shorter cabs and bunkers. The cylinders were also smaller, but otherwise they shared the same boiler and other details as the T18s.


Built 1893. A further ten engines were built in 1893, with detail alterations. The tanks were wider and lower, and held 650 gallons.

Most of the class worked in the country areas, although some found a niche working the Fenchurch Street to Blackwall service, until it closed in 1926. On these and other services they often ran as 2-4-0Ts, with the front portion of the coupling rods removed. Scrapping began in the early 1930s, the last being withdrawn in 1956.

R24 Class (LNER J-67 and J-69)


Built 1890-92: The T18 class had been designed primarily for slow-speed shunting work, and experience with the passenger engines obviously showed that there was room for improvement. The result was the R24 class. In these, the rear wheelbase was increased six inches, the frames shortened at the rear by twelve inches, and the tanks moved further forward. These changes no doubt resulted in a steadier running engine at passenger speeds. In 1894 all forty engines were fitted with condensing gear, with rectangular condensing chambers on top of the side tanks, between the tank filler and the cab front.

160-169, 189-198, 265-274, 367-396:

Built 1894-1901: These were identical to the previous locomotives, but were fitted with condensing gear from the outset. The tank side sheets had a stepped top edge to mask the condensing chambers.

199-208, 255-264, 397-416:

Built 1890-91, 1899-1900: These engines were built as shunting locomotives, and had lever reverse, three-link couplings, 15-spoke cast iron unbalanced wheels etc. The first twenty, 397-416 had hand brakes only, whilst the remainder had steam brakes, these being added to the earlier engines in due course.

180lb Rebuilds, Class R24R, 1902-1921:

From 1901 a process of rebuilding the passenger engines with 180 lbs. boilers, with longer fireboxes was begun, thus exploiting the longer rear wheelbase of the R24 class. The first fourteen had the tanks widened by four inches ahead of the cab, increasing the water capacity to 1140 gallons. Naturally, the older engines were rebuilt first, and thus these initial fourteen were from the 1890-1892 series that had not been fitted with condensers originally. The plain tank sides and separate condensing chambers were retained upon rebuilding. Subsequent rebuilds had the tanks widened by five inches, and a water capacity of 1180 gallons. The original tank side sheets were retained in all cases, and thus the differences between the pre and post-1894 engines remained. The rebuilt engines were all known as class R24R.

Shunting conversions:

In 1912 the ten oldest R24 class engines 327-336 were rebuilt as shunters by removing the condensing gear, fitting unbalanced wheels, lever reverse etc. The ten engines consisted of two in unrebuilt condition, two R24R rebuilds with 4" tanks, and six R24R rebuilds with the wider tanks. The R24R engines were either fitted with 160 lb boilers or had the pressure reduced upon conversion to shunting.

S56 Class (LNER J-69)

51-60, 81-90:

Built 1904: When further passenger 0-6-0Ts were required in 1904 the basic R24 design was amended to take into account the R24R rebuilds with longer high-pressure boilers. These new engines were known as the S56 class, and differed in having wider cabs and bunkers to match the tanks, which held 1200 gallons of water. In addition, the cab doorway was altered to a symmetrical 'keyhole' shape, as the firebox extended further into the cab than on the original R24 class.

C72 Class (LNER J-68)


Built 1912: Additional shunting engines were needed in 1912. These were built under S.D. Holden, and by this time a number of external design alterations had been made to the newer GER classes. Thus, these new 0-6-0Ts had side-window cabs, with high, arched roofs, and rimmed chimneys. Otherwise they were identical to the S56 class. Before completion, it was reasoned that it would make more sense to build ten new passenger engines, and to convert the ten oldest R24s to shunters, as outlined above under the R24 Class.

21-30, 31E-40E:

Built 1913, 1923: In 1913 ten further shunters were needed. By this time, A.J. Hill had succeeded S.D. Holden as Locomotive Superintendent, and work was in hand for more modern suburban tank engines, the L77 class 0-6-2Ts (LNER class N-7). Thus, the ten engines were built as shunters, as were ten more that followed in 1923.

LNER Reclassification, 1923

The former GER E22 and T18 classes were reclassified J-65 and J-66 respectively. However, the LNER succeeded in confusing generations of railwaymen and enthusiasts in reclassifying the R24, R24R, S56 and C72 classes. At 1923 these types consisted of the following:

R24 class: 40 shunting engines, originally built as such, three unrebuilt passenger engines, plus two shunters rebuilt 1912 from passenger locomotives.

R24R class: 95 passenger engines rebuilt with 180 lbs. boilers with longer fireboxes. Of these, eight had been converted to shunting in 1912 and reduced to 160 lbs pressure. However, by 1923, two of these had reverted to the higher pressure.

S56 class: 20 engines based upon the R24R rebuilds, with wider cabs and bunkers.

C72 class: 30 engines, 10 passenger and 20 shunting, identical to the S56 class except for cosmetic alterations to the cab and chimney.

In its wisdom, the LNER decided that the C72 class should become class J-68, whilst the otherwise identical S56 class should be lumped-in with the R24 and R24R classes. Those with 160 lb boilers became class J-67, and the higher-pressure engines J-69. Thus, the J-67 and J-69 classes consisted of the following:

J-67 Class: 40 original R24 shunters, plus two conversions from unrebuilt passenger engines, plus six conversions from R24R rebuilt passenger engines. Also included were the three remaining unrebuilt passenger engines.

J-68 Class: 30 original C72 class, 10 of which were passenger engines, the remainder shunting.

J-69 Class: 87 R24R passenger rebuilds, plus two converted to shunting in 1912, since having reverted to 180 lbs pressure, plus 20 passenger-fitted S56 class.

Subsequent Developments

Classes J-67, J-68, J-69

In 1925 the LNER adopted the GER's L77 class 0-6-2T as a standard suburban engine for new construction, and these displaced the GER 0-6-0Ts from passenger work from the late 1920s. As they were relatively modern engines, it made sense to convert them for goods or carriage shunting, and the LNER was thus saved having to construct new engines for this type of work for some years.

From this time onwards, the number of variations in the J-67 and J-69 classes assumed a bewildering variety. Some ex-passenger engines became plain shunters, with steam brakes only, whilst some had vacuum ejectors added in addition, at the same time as conversion, or later on. Those retained for carriage shunting retained their Westinghouse brakes and were fitted with vacuum ejectors in addition, although the condensers were removed, and lever reversers were substituted for the screw type. A small number of engines retained their condensers for duties over the East London Line, some retaining screw reverse in addition. In later years some engines gained different boiler types, and thus J-67s became J-69s, and vice versa. Most bewildering of all, during the Second World War one J-68 acquired a 160lb boiler and was actually reclassified as a J-67 for the duration!