13th October 2020 · ‘A to Z of Great Central Locomotives’

Presenter: Bob Gellatly

Our first virtual meeting using Zoom took place on Tuesday, 13 October with 32 participants (and our cat) when Bob Gellatly, Journal Editor of the Great Central Railway gave a powerpoint presentation of his book Forward, an A to Z guide to Great Central locomotives.

Bob commenced his show by outlining the relevant Engineers of the MS & L Rly, starting with Charles Reboul Sacre whose locomotives were noted for being solidly built and a characteristic was his use of double framed locos for heavy work. The Penistone accident of 1884, when 24 people were killed, was thought to have been the reason Sacre shot himself in 1886 shortly after his retirement. Sacre was succeeded by Thos Parker as Loco Superintendent of the MS & L Rly and was memorable for introducing the Belpaire Boiler to Great Britain.

Parker resigned at the end of 1893 and was replaced by Harry Pollitt as Loco Engineer and its successor as the Great Central Rly on 1 August 1897. His father was Sir William Pollitt who served as General Manager from 1886 to 1902. Pollitt resigned in 1900 and married an Australian woman, moving abroad the same year and was succeeded as Locomotive and Marine Engineer by John George Robinson CBE from 1900 to 1922 then as CME of GCR. When the Great Central’s grouping into the LNER was formed, he refused the post of CME in favour of the younger Nigel Gresley. Robinson was awarded a CBE in 1920 and is largely remembered for the aesthetic beauty of his locomotives.

Bob then followed with a selection of 58 different classes, A5 – Y2, all wonderfully illustrated. Of particular interest were Sacre’s E8, 2-4-0T, Well Tank, of which only two survived into LNER ownership. Parker’s D7 4-4-0, No. 561, the first single frame loco built for the MS & L Rly which was exhibited in the Manchester Exhibition in 1887. His J8 0-6-0, the last to have double frames noted as being sturdy engines and deserved their nickname as ‘Bashers’!

Robinson’s J11 0-6-0 ‘Pom-Poms” so called because of their sharp bark exhaust noise similar to that of the Pom-Pom quick firing gun used in the South African war, his 4-4-2 Atlantic of classic Robinson looks, nicknamed “Jersey Lillies” after the famous music hall star. And of course, possibly, one of Robinson’s best designs 04 and sub classification 2-8-0s of which 63601 is still with us in preservation.

Yes, they were all there, all beautifully presented – Coronation Tanks, D10/11 Directors, Sir Sam Fay 4-6-0s, B3 Faringdon 4-6-0s, B4 Immingham 4-6-0s, C13 4-4-2 Atlantic Tanks, S1 0-8-4 T Wath Daisies. I could go on forever.

Thank you, Bob for a wonderful show, much enjoyed by ‘everyone present’ and despite the late finish, I didn’t miss my bus home.