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Dodger is a Gresley J50/J51/J23. But he was only one of the 102 J50s bult for West Riding on the Great Northern Railway.

History on Gresley

Sir Nigel Herbert Gresley is probably the most famous Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of both the Great North Railway (GNR) and London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). Gresley was born on June 19th, 1876, fifth child of Rev. Nigel Gresley. For design and drawing expirence he moved to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) in 1898. In 1905, he resigned from the L&YR, and became superintendent of the Great Northern Railway's Carriage and Wagon Department. In 1911, he was made CME of the GNR, and his first design was a larged boiler 3-cylinder K3 and later in 1920 the 'Pacific' A1. After Robinson (David's designer) turned down the offer for CME of the LNER in 1923, Gresley was left as a suggestion. He was quickly appointed and became LNER's first CME. Some of his most famous locomotives included the 'Pacifics' A1 and A3. He was knighted in 1936, and died whilst he was still in office, April 5th, 1941.

History on the J50s

Gresley degined the J23s for work on the steeply graded lines in the West Riding in 1913. They were to replace the J3, J4, and J7s. Since most of the work included shunting and short trips, he chose a tank engine design. Their sloped tanks to not obstruct the Driver's view earned them the nickname 'Submarine'. Thirty J51s were built between 1913 and 1919. The prototype J51 (No. 3167, Dodger) had a poor weight distribution which was solved by blanking off the front side of the tanks, then making a larger bunker to make up for the water lost. No. 3167 was also fitted with a 16-element Robinson superheater. No more J51s were fitted with superheaters and it was removed in 1930 when it was rebuilt into a J50. At Grouping (1923), two batches of ten J51s were built. A futher 52 more J51s were built between 1929 and 1939. All J51s were built at Doncaster except the last fourteen. In 1923, it was found that 31.2% of the locomotives ran hot! This was eventually solved. In December 1939, J51s were regrouped into J50/1, J50/2, J50/3, and J50/4. J50s were also reallocated to Ardsley, Bradford, and Copley Hill. They were used for shunting, coal workings, and banker duties. All J50s survived to Nationalization (1948) and allocations spread to other places like Stratford, Annesley, Sheffield, and Eastfield. With the arrival of diesel shunters, withdrawls began in 1958. In September 1965, Departmental No. 14 (ex-No. 68961) was withdrawn thus ending the J50 class.

Trivia on the Great Northern Railway

  • There were four members of the Cubitt family involved with the GNR. William, Civil engineer who performed the detailed survey of the London to Doncaster main line. Brother Benjamin was the first Locomotive Superintendent. Joseph, William's son, was the resident engineer especially involved with the Peterborough to Grantham section. Lewis, William's nephew designed King's Cross station.
  • Stirling preferred to use single-wheelers for express work. He likened locomotives with coupled wheels as like "a laddie runnin' wi' his breeks doon".
  • The Stirling 8 footers were built in pairs over a period of 24 years; each pair was identical but there were differences between each other pair.
  • In 1895, Uruguay issued a postage stamp depicting a Stirling 8 footer.
  • For years, during Stirling's period, the GNR ran the fastest trains in the world.
  • There were three members of the Stirling family who became Locomotive Superintendents. Patrick, who held the post on the Glasgow and South Western Railway (G&SWR) before joining the GNR. Brother James, who held the post on the G&SWR immediately after his brother and subsequently moved to the SER. Patrick's son Matthew held the post on the Hull & Barnsley Railway from 1885 to 1922.
  • In 1899, the GNR purchased 20 2-6-0s from Baldwins of the USA, the reason being that Doncaster and all British manufacturers were too busy.
  • Gresley was aged 31 at the time of his appointment in 1905.
  • When Ivatt retired, many people thought that the vacancy would be filled by Matthew Stirling.
  • No. 1470, "Great Northern" was the second British Pacific. The first was Churchward's "Great Bear".


  • Thanks to the LNER Encyclopedia for information on Sir Nigel Gresley and the J50 class.