Green Arrow

Resource Type: Image | Posted on 25th November 2011 by Liam Physick

No. 4771 Green Arrow, seen here, belongs to the London and North Eastern Railway’s Class V2, a class of 2-6-2 locomotives built for express mixed-traffic work by Sir Nigel Gresley (the last Gresley locomotives to be built) between 1936 and 1942. They were the only major class of 2-6-2 tender locomotives ever used in Britain: 2-6-2T tank locomotives were common, but there were only three other such tender engines: the unsuccesful experimental Midland Railway Paget locomotive of 1908, and the two in Gresley’s LNER Class V4 in in 1941. The unusual wheel arrangement allowed the locomotive to have a large firebox, and the front pony truck allowed for increased stability at high speeds. Class V2 was based on Gresley’s Class A1/A3 Pacifics (the class to which Flying Scotsman belonged), but had smaller driving wheels and a shorter boiler. 184 V2s were built at Doncaster and Darlington in 14 batches, the first 129 were numbered 4771-4899, and the remaining 55 3641-3695: they proved so useful that construction continued through the Second World War, while four locomotives ordered as V2s were redesigned as Pacifics by Gresley’s successor as the LNER’s chief mechanical engineer, Edward Thompson, forming Thompson Class A2/1.Green Arrow, built at Doncaster Works, was the first V2 to be built, and was launched in June 1936 - it got its name from the express goods service which it and its classmates were designed to haul. V2s were capable of pulling fast services, both goods and passengers, could pull vacuum braked freights at up to 60 miles per hour and deputise for Pacifics on express passenger trains: a V2 in peak condition could nearly match a Pacific for sustained high speed. One V2 was timed at 93 miles per hour pulling the Yorkshire Pullman, and another managed to haul a test train at 101.5 miles per hour. Their greatest achievements came in the Second World War, when they pulled trains of more than 20 wagons loaded at 700 long tons: one V2 managed to pull 26 coaches from Peterborough to London. In 1946, the pony truck was modified in response to a series of accidents which exposed the sensitivity of Gresley’s design to poor track. In November 1946, the V2s were renumbered 800-983, with Green Arrow becoming No. 800: in February 1949, following nationalisation, their numbers were increased by 60000, from 60800 to 60983 - Green Arrow was now No. 60800. On British Railways, the V2s were seen on the East Coast Main Line, the Waverley Route between Carlisle and Edinburgh and the former Great Central Railway main line between London and Marylebone. In their final days they served on the Edinburgh-Aberdeen route alongside the last of the LNER’s Class A3 and A4 locomotives. But they could only cover 40 per cent of the LNER due to their 22-ton axle load: they were barred from the former Great Eastern Railway main lines. As a result, Gresley designed a lighter mixed-traffic locomotive, the V4, and the V2 was ultimately superseded as the LNER’s standard mixed-traffic engine by the more versatile LNER Thompson Class B1, though it never matched the power of the V2. The V2s were withdrawn from service between 1962 and 1966 as part of BR’s general phasing out of steam traction. The last to be withdrawn was No. 60831 on 6th December 1966: this was also the last of Gresley’s large locomotives in service. Only Green Arrow, withdrawn in August 1962, was preserved. It was restored at Doncaster, work being completed in April 1963. It moved from Doncaster to Hellifield in October 1964, and to Wigston near Leicester in 1967: it was intended that it would eventually become a permanent exhibit in the Leicester Municipal Museum. However, the Wigston depot was demolished before the Museum was ready, and so Green Arrow was transferred in September 1970 to the Preston Park shops of the Pullman Car Company. By this time, plans were afoot to build the National Railway Museum and in November 1971 Green Arrow was selected to become part of the National Collection. In January 1972, it was moved yet again, this time to Norwich depot, where it was restored to working order: on 28th March 1973 it made its first trial journey, to Ely. It then pulled a number of special trains before being moved to Steamtown on 2nd July 1973. It then ran several times on the main line until it was withdrawn on 21st April 2008, as its boiler certificate was about to expire. It then ran on a number of heritage railways, and was selected to take part in the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s LNER gala. However following the first weekend of the gala, its boiler was discovered to have two cracked superheater tubes. Temporary repairs were made, and Green Arrow was able to run on the second weekend before being withdrawn from service. It was then placed on static display in the Shildon Locomotion Museum, a branch of the National Railway Museum, before being moved to the NRM’s headquarters in York: however, the NRM is unwilling to meet the cost of replacing the cracked monobloc (single casting) cylinder casting, which must be repaired before the engine can return to steaming (in the 1940s and 1950s, 71 V2s were modified to incorporate separate cylinder blocks, but Green Arrow was not one of them, the imminent end of steam on BR being the reason why not all were modified)

Green Arrow

Tagged under: steam locomotives, tender locomotives, rocket 150, british rail, goods, passengers, freight, grand cavalcade, heritage railways, second world war

Categorised under: Landmarks, Landscapes & Locomotives

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