Written by: TrainSim-James
The London & North Western Railway’s history with 0-8-0 steam locomotives dated back to the late 1800s, featuring designs such as the A Class, B Class and so on. Further upgrading their 0-8-0 line of locomotives was clearly paramount with the range reaching up to the G Class, each iteration sought to bring in improvements to the design and the LNWR succeeded in doing so.
The LNWR G2 Class was introduced in the 1920s by C. J. Bowen Cooke and would go onto become their ultimatum in 0-8-0 lineage. The G2 Class was derived from the earlier G1, featuring stronger frames, redesigned direct acting joy valve gear, larger axles & axle boxes and an increased boiler pressure of 175psi; an improvement on the G1’s lesser 160psi.
Boasting its own unique history, the G1 Class fleet was built out of existing and upgraded locomotives in the A, B, C, C2X, D, E, F and G classes. The rebuilds would not stop there, as many of the G1 Class themselves would eventually be seen as part of the G2A Class. While only a handful of the G1’s were built from new, the G2’s were wholly produced from scratch between 1921 and 1922 at Crewe Works, during which time a total of 60 new locomotives were built.
The LNWR Ramsbottom regulator was fitted to the G2 Class, while this regulator was balanced and always easy to move, it also liked to move of its own accord and unless fully open would constantly try to shut itself. The G2 was a backwards locomotive of sorts, both the regulator and the reverser operated in an opposite manner when compared to the industry standard. Wanted to go forwards? You had to turn the reverser to the left. Needed to reduce the power? Better move that regulator to the right.
After the G2 Class entered service, the total number of 0-8-0 locomotives operating under the soon-to-be LMS was exceeding 500. The amalgamated number of G’s made the class the 4th largest of the LMS (the Black Fives, 4F’s and 8F’s being the most numerous) and 6th largest in the UK. With such a large fleet, seeing an 0-8-0 at the helm of heavy freight services almost became the standard; not exactly favourable by those higher up in the railway company, but despite this the likes of William Stanier still strived to improve the classes.
Despite the LNWR 0-8-0 design originally being built for heavy freight, the G2’s could be found on a wide variety of services including; mineral, coal and goods trains, express goods, pickup goods, shunting, piloting, banking, snow plough duties, stopping and express passenger trains, excursions and even rail tour specials. The reason for their success, under both LMS and BR, was their lighter weight, overall smaller size and general efficiency made them ideal for doing jobs which larger engines either couldn’t do or would be to inefficient to do.
The G2’s saw a lot of upgrades over time; these included Belpaire fireboxes, wakefield fountain lubricators, Stanier pattern chimneys, tender cabs and rear steam sanding all just being amongst the array of changes made. All these upgrades meant that no two G2 locomotives were ever quite the same.
Much like many locomotives, the G2s were quick to earn themselves a variety of nicknames, the most common of which was Super D. This name started on the G Class and originated from the fact that the class in and of itself was essentially a Superheated D Class. The name, often shortened to just D, carried on through the G1, G2 and G2A locomotives, regardless of the ever-furthering disparity from the original D Class. Other, questionable nicknames were given to the class including Stupid D, Mourners, Choo Choos and even Fat Nancies.
Striving to continue the success of the G2, the LMS developed the 7F 0-8-0. Also known as the G3 and Austin 7’s, the 7F 0-8-0 essentially a direct upgrade of the G2, featuring an increased boiler pressure and the introduction of long travel Walscaherts valve gear. The LMS intended their 7F to eventually replace all the ex-LNWR 0-8-0 locomotives, while the new iteration gained a reputation of being excellent engines, they certainly did not get such a recognition for their reliability.
The 7F was essentially ruined by Derby’s involvement during production, the use of old Midland 4F axle boxes that were considered inadequate saw the new 7F fleet suffer greatly. Running costs were 50% higher and availability was less than half than the older LNWR motive power, which combined with the lack of vacuum brakes, the 7F’s didn’t stand a chance and were wholly withdrawn by 1959. It is ironic to think that the G2’s, which dated back to the 1920s, managed to outlive the locomotives that were designed to replace them. The G2’s continued onto the end of steam, themselves being withdrawn alongside every other locomotive to make way for modernisation.
The Class is survived only by a single preserved locomotive, No. 49395 is today a part of the national collection, a sole reminder of the success of the G’s. Soon, you will have the chance to take control of this quasi-LMS standard as the Super Detailed Super D will be coming soon to Train Simulator, courtesy of Partner Programme developer Meshtools ■