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SECR Pickersgill G class 4-4-0

photograph: Peter Smart collection.

Class G loco N°677 taken in 1900, probably when new

After the formation of the South Eastern and Chatham Railways Management Committee in 1899 it shortly became apparent that there was a serious lack of passenger locomotives that would be capable of running over the lightly laid lines, particularly, of the former London Chatham and Dover Railway.

Meanwhile in October 1898, William Pickersgill, the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Superintendent of the Great North of Scotland Railway had arranged for an order to be placed with Neilson Reid & Co for ten locomotives similar to their earlier Class T locomotives. Five were delivered in 1899 but the GNSR were forced to cancel the remainder of the order due to financial difficulties and falling traffic.

As a result, the remaining five locomotives came onto the market, and in October 1899, since the South Eastern and Chatham Railway had recently placed an order with Neilsons, they were able to offer these five locomotives to the SE&CR which was pleased to get them. It seems that the SE&CR paid a premium for these engines at £3,300 each, compared to GNSR's £2,975. In fact the SE&CR generously offered to buy the balance of the original order from the GNSR for £3,325 each. The GNSR declined the offer. The cost to the SE&CR had partly increased by a further £57 per engine and tender after Harry Wainwright, the SE&CR Locomotive Superintendent, requested modifications including the fitting of vacuum brake equipment.

On the SE&CR they were introduced as Class G, and entered service during January and February 1900. They were generally welcomed by the crews who, as a result of the cab having been designed forn the rigors of the weather in the North of Scotland, promptly christened them "Glass Houses". Note that in the later photographs it appears that the rearmost glazed lights in the cab seem to have been removed.

The numbering was 676 - 680 and when they passed to the Southern Railway in 1923 they became A676 - A680 with the excepton of N° 678.

These five engines spent most of their time working on the Chatham section of the system, towards the end of their lives from Gillingham shed.

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  • 676
    Beckenham Jn

    N°676, photographed at Beckenham Junction, also in 1900.
    Photograph: Peter Smart collection.
  • 678
    Sydenham Hill

    N°678, photographed at Sydenham Hill c 1905.
    Photograph: Peter Smart collection.
  • 679
    N°679 at Longhedge on 8th August 1922.
    Photograph: Peter Smart collection.

David Atkinson provided these images of "Gordon Highlander" which was withdrawn from service in July 1958. It was renumbered as GNSR N°49 and painted in the GNSR's pre-Heywood green livery before running a variety of steam specials and special workings. N°49 never actually carried the GNSR green livery in normal service, as it was built in 1920 which was after black livery had been introduced. It has now been preserved by the Glasgow Museum of Transport in non-running condition, and continues to be exhibited as GNSR N°49. the preserved GNSR Class V locomotive which subsequently became LNER Class D40 and was numbered N°62277.

  • Backplate
    Details of the backplate.
    Photograph by David Atkinson.
  • Cab
    More cab details.
    Photograph by David Atkinson.
  • Frame and
    Valve gear
    Frame and valve gear detail. This picture shows a joggle in the frame to allow for bogie swing.
    Photograph by David Atkinson.

Technical Details

Build date:
Introduced on SE&CR:
Driving Wheel:
Bogie Wheel:
Locomotive Weight:
Cylinders (2):
Water Capacity:
Valve Gear:
Boiler Pressure:
Tractive Effort:
BR Power Classification:
William Pickersgill
Neilson, Reid & Co
1898 - 1900
6 ft 1 ins
3 ft 9 ½ ins
53 ft 1 ½ ins
46 tons 7 cwt
18 in x 26 in
3,000 gals
Stephensons - slide valves
165 lb sq in
16,185 lb


The SECR was, if anything, the worst of the Southern Companies when it came to numbering locomotive classes out of consecutive order although the G Class was a notable exception:

SECR N° SR N° Built To SECR Reboilered Withdrawn
676 A676 1899 1900 1914 1927
677 A677 1899 1900 - 1926
678 - 1899 1900 - 1925
679 A679 1899 1900 - 1926
680 A680 1899 1900 1914 1927

This page was last updated 1 March 2021

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