These range from the railway’s curvaceous “Atlantics” nicknamed “Jersey Lillies” after Mrs. Langtry, King Edward VIIth’s favourite “squeeze”, to a diminutive 0-6-0 shunting tank. This, for its type was unusual in having outside cylinders. Having exhausted its resources on the extension of the railway to London, despite a financial wizard (Sir Alexander Henderson, later ennobled as Lord Faringdon ) being chairman, the Great Central was always short of cash. Where the LNWR or the GWR having arrived at satisfactory designs for express passenger locos built scores of each class, the GCR had to content itself with handfuls, going on to an improved version when money was available. On other railways choices were being made between the 4-6-0 and 4-4-2 wheel arrangements, according to which suited their overall traffic requirements best. The NER and GNR settled upon 4-4-2s as front line expresses others like the GWR and LNWR chose 4-6-0s or very large 4-4-0s. Given the contrasting requirements of the London extension, with gentle ruling gradients and the hilly cross Pennine old main line between Manchester and Sheffield the GCR needed both.
Additionally, and almost uniquely at this time, the GCR needed fast express freight locos for working vacuum braked trains of fish from Grimsby to the south, the midlands and the north west.
Two different classes of “Atlantic” are illustrated and three classes of 4-6-0 for fish and freight traffic. “SIR ALEXANDER “ a 4-4-0 named after the chairman, light, heavy freight and shunting locos and a group photo of Gorton Locomotive Works staff complete the selection. A super collection of formal locomotive portraits suitable for framing.
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