For enthusiasts and researchers of the Great Eastern Railway

G16 Class 4-4-0 1884-1885

230, 700-709

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In the very earliest stages of the development of steam engines – as opposed to railway locomotives – it was realised that greater economy in working could be achieved by passing one charge of steam through two or three cylinders in succession to extract as much work as possible before passing it to exhaust. The first-ever attempt at a compound-expansion steam locomotive was in fact made by the Eastern Counties Railway in the 1850s, when one of the Stratford Works engineering staff, a man named Nicholson, persuaded the Locomotive Superintendent James Samuels to allow him to convert two locomotives to a system that he had contrived. Nicholson’s system was in reality a semi-compound arrangement, for each charge of steam was expanded first in one cylinder, then in both together, and finally in the second one only. There matters rested until the end of the 1870s when Anatole Mallett built a two-cylinder compound locomotive in France, and the idea was taken up in Britain by Francis Webb on the LNWR. Worsdell had of course been involved in these experiments, and in 1884 – now ensconced at Stratford – he decided to build a compound locomotive to a system of his own devising. By this time Webb was using a three cylinder system, but Worsdell decided to use only two. The detail design of the system turned out to be almost identical to that proposed by von Borries in Germany, and so it was patented jointly. Worsdell’s first compound locomotive was G16 class 4-4-0 No. 230, built at Stratford in 1884. It was identical in most respects to his G14 class 2-4-0s, but with a leading bogie to provide room for the low pressure cylinder, which was of 26 inches diameter. Having ironed-out the initial teething problems, Worsdell ordered another ten engines, numbered 700-709, but only the first of these had been completed before Worsdell departed for greener pastures on the North Eastern Railway, where he further developed his system. The photograph shows No. 707 in original condition. The bulge where the large low-pressure cylinder protruded through the frames can be seen between the bogie wheels on this side of the engine. Unusually, this engine does not have the Worsdell-von Borries licence plate, usually affixed to the coupling rod splasher beneath the running number plate.

7060 01Locomotive & General 6164/GERSHC 7060/01

It can be seen that James Holden inherited the Worsdell compounds in an early stage of their development. Indeed, only one of the ten ‘production’ series had been completed, and they were a complication that he no doubt have done without! They naturally had the Joy valve gear that Holden was suspicious of, and – like many compound engines of the period – they had a higher boiler pressure of 160 lbs. psi. Nevertheless they did good work, and although a little sluggish in accelerating, their fuel consumption was around 14% less than the 2-4-0s. However, when as an economy measure the boiler pressure was reduced to 150 lbs. – still ten pounds more than the G14s – this advantage dropped to around two percent. Accordingly, in 1892 Nos. 700-709 were placed on the ‘duplicate list’ as 0700-0709. This was usually the death sentence, but in the same year the prototype No. 230 was rebuilt with simple expansion cylinders of the G14 type, and Nos. 0700-0709 were similarly treated at the end of the same year. Two years later they were all provided with new boilers, and they thus generally spent longer on the duplicate list than they had in ‘capital’ stock, lasting until 1904.