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Grantham Class O2 Locomotives

by Kevin Roche

Above: Class O2/3 No. 63987 at Grantham Loco on 13th July 1963, with side window cab and LNER group standard stepped tender. Alongside on the right is O2/2 No. 63941 with its distinctive GNR-type cab and GNR tender.
Photograph taken by C.J.B. Sanderson 

The O2 locomotives were powerful three-cylinder heavy mineral engines with a 2-8-0 wheel arrangement.  The first, a prototype, was completed in May 1918 by the Great Northern Railway (GNR).  Production commenced in 1921 and the last appeared in 1943, by which time 67 were in service.  They embodied innovative features patented by the company's Locomotive Engineer, Nigel Gresley, which he carried forward into his highly successful express passenger designs of the 1920s and 1930s.

The O2s were extensively modified and rebuilt over the years until four main variants existed, O2/1, O2/2, O2/3 and O2/4.  The differences betwen these sub-classes is explained in a history of the class on the LNER Encyclopedia website here.  The class became known as 'Tangos', continuing a dance-related theme alongside other GNR freight designs which were nicknamed 'Ragtimers' (K1 and K2) and 'Jazzers' (K3).  They received the power classification 8F, exceeded only by the British Railways 9F 2-10-0 design which entered service in 1954.  The last O2s were taken out of service in 1963, and Grantham was one of the final sheds to operate them.

Kevin has carefully compiled a table listing each of the Class O2 heavy freight locomotives which was based at Grantham Loco.  These locomotives were used mainly to work the ironstone traffic originating from the High Dyke branch.

BR NumberFinal Sub-ClassRebuildsFinal Cab TypeTender TypePeriod(s) at Grantham
First allocationSecond allocation
63922O2/1 Side WindowGN Tender 8/62 - 11/62
63923O2/1Side WindowGN Tender until 8/60; Group Stepped Tender ex-K3 after 8/6011/51 -9/63
63928O2/4Side WindowGroup Flush Tender11/61 - 9/63
63929O2/4Rebuilt from O2/1 (7/59) Side WindowGN Tender with Tablet Catcher8/50 - 6/62
63930O2/4Rebuilt from O2/1 (8/59) Side WindowGN Tender with Tablet Catcher8/50 - 12/62
63931O2/4Rebuilt from O2/1 (1/62)Side WindowGN Tender with Tablet Catcher8/50 - 9/63
63932O2/4Rebuilt from O2/2 (5/58) Side WindowGN Tender with Tablet Catcher8/50 - 9/63
63933O2/4Rebuilt from O2/2 (1/58)Side WindowGN Tender11/50 - 9/5111/51 - 12/62
63935O2/4Rebuilt from O2/2 (4/58)Side WindowGN Tender11/50 - 11/511/63 - 9/63
63936O2/2GN PlainGN Tender8/50 - 6/61
63938O2/4Rebuilt from O2/2 (7/58)Side WindowGN Tender8/50 - 9/63
63940O2/2GN PlainGN Tender with Tablet Catcher8/50 - 9/63
63941O2/2GN PlainGN Tender11/61 - 9/63
63942O2/2GN PlainGN Tender11/61 - 9/63
63943O2/2GN PlainGN Tender until 5/62; Group Stepped Tender ex-K3 after 5/6211/60 - 6/617/61 - 9/63
63946O2/2GN PlainGN Tender until 10/60; Group Stepped Tender ex-K3 after 10/604/53 - 7/61
63948O2/4Rebuilt from O2/3 (8/59) Side WindowGroup Stepped Tender ex-J38 1/51 - 11/62
63949O2/4Rebuilt from O2/3 (8/55)Side WindowGroup Stepped Tender ex-J38 11/60 - 9/63
63950O2/4Side WindowGroup Stepped Tender ex-J38 8/50 - 9/5111/51 - 10/60
63956O2/4Rebuilt from O2/3 (12/61)Side WindowGroup Stepped Tender ex-J38 11/60 - 9/63
63957O2/3Side WindowGroup Stepped Tender ex-J38 6/59 - 7/61
63960O2/3Side WindowGroup Flush Tender8/50 - 9/63
63962O2/4Side WindowGroup Flush Tender1/63 - 9/63
63963O2/4Side WindowGroup Flush Tender6/59 - 9/63
63965O2/3Side WindowGroup Stepped Tender ex-D498/50 - 11/51
63966O2/4Rebuilt from O2/3 (1/58) Side WindowGroup Stepped Tender ex-D498/50 - 6/61
63968O2/4Rebuilt from O2/3 (3/61) Side WindowGroup Flush Tender1/63 - 9/63
63974O2/3Side WindowGroup Flush Tender10/62 - 9/63
63981O2/3Side WindowGroup Stepped Tender ex-D4910/62 - 9/63
63982O2/4Rebuilt from O2/3 (8/57)Side WindowGroup Flush Tender11/60 - 11/62
63984O2/3Side WindowGroup Flush Tender1/63 - 9/63
63985O2/3Side WindowGroup Stepped Tender ex-D491/63 - 9/63
63987O2/3Side WindowGroup Stepped Tender ex-D491/62 - 9/63
Class O2/1 No. 63923 beside the Top Shed at Grantham Loco on 13th July 1963. It is standing beneath a hydraulically-powered lifting gantry known as 'the shears', a sllightly inaccurate reference to the more elaborate 'shearlegs' used for heavy lifts in shipyards and docks.  The shears could raise an end of a locomotive, allowing one or more axles to be removed for repair.  By this time in the shed's history, just weeks from closure, the shears had been out of action for many years as they were not capable of lifting the heavier 'pacific' and 2-8-0 locomotives.
Photograph taken by C.J.B. Sanderson
Class O2/4 No. 63938, seen in the locomotive yard at Grantham on 27th June 1963. Behind it is an 'Austerity' 2-8-0, a type which worked from depots such as Frodingham and shared the ironstone traffic with the O2s. A railcar stands near the footbridge steps at the Western platform, whose appearance has recently been freshened with a new coat of paint.
Photograph taken by I Falcus.

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