Mention Furness to most people, and the response will doubtless be; “Where?”, or even perhaps; “What?” !! But to those who do know where, and readily associate it with a peninsula at the southernmost fringe of the Lake District, few I think will now associate the railways in this area as primarily intended for mineral traffic. Yet, that is in fact just exactly what the majority of the Cumbrian railways were constructed for, including the largest, the Furness Railway.

Strangely too, the Furness’s first purpose built designs, the Cleator Tank Class L1 0-6-2T, was constructed tor use on the West Cumberland mineral lines around Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont.

Furness Railway (UK) - FR 0-6-2T copy

Furness Railway Class L3 0-6-2T locomotive No. 110 was built in Glasgow in 1907 to North British Locomotive works No. 17812. In 1923 the LMS renumbered this loco as No. 11639, and withdrew the engine in 1931, after a mere 24 years service.
Photo Courtesy: Historical Railway Images

The Cleator Tanks owe their origin on Furness metals to the appointment in 1896 of W.F. Pettigrew as locomotive superintendent. Pettigrew had worked under Adams on both the Great Eastern and London & South Western Railways, and brought some of this influence to bear on ensuing Furness Railway locomotive policy. His first essay was born of a need to replace the locos. of the former Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway, where the considerable increase in freight traffic was outstripping the capacity of the motive power. Prior to this home produced design, the Furness had purchased the standard designs from Messrs. Sharp Stewart & Co., and others, including the celebrated “Coppernob”, alias F.R, No 3

It is worth noting that the locomotives that the Cleator tanks were, in the main, destined to replace, were in some cases thirty to forty years of age, and, perhaps as much due to the geographical isolation of the Furness area as any other consideration, the “Cleator Tanks” themselves lived to a fairly mature age. The last example was withdrawn in 1946 as LMS Class 3F 0-6-2T No.11628 had long survived that company’s purge on numerically small and “non-standard” classes of the early 1930s. Having said that however, six of Pettigrew’s tender locomotive designs of the same basic type actually survived into the British Railways era, the last was withdrawn in 1957.

The first three of the new ·tank locomotives, delivered by Sharp Stewart in 1898, proved much more powerful and economical in operation than their predecessors. It has been suggested though, by one source, that the design was not entirely proposed by Pettigrew, since locos of a similar construction were supplied by Sharp Stewart to the Barry Railway in South Wales. However, in a paper presented by Pettigrew to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1900, he states:

“…, and it was decided to design a powerful tank engine to replace those already shown in Fig.13, Plate7.”

(The reference being to a diagram of an ex-W.C.&.E. 0-6-0ST) Maybe the Barry Railway asked Sharp Stewart to build their locomotive to Pettigrew’s Furness design.

IMechE Paper 1901 - plate-9 2

An extract from WF Pettigrew’s 1901 paper to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. This plate shows at the top, a line diagram of an 1898 build 0-6-2T, pre-dating the “Cleator Tank” class by 3 years. Clearly the Cleator series precursor design.
A copy of the entire paper was held by the Barrow-in-Furness public library and record office, together with copies of the company’s magazines.

There were ultimately four classes of 0-6-2T on the railway, L1 to L4, with the L2’s being the most numerous. The last class to appear, the L4, were, due to detail differences in the boiler design amongst other features, known as ‘Improved Cleator Tanks”. Details are given of the leading characteristics of all four designs it should be noted though, that the Furness had no particular power classification or locomotive grouping system of its own, the notation adopted being used by an earlier railway historian and accepted in all references to F.R. locomotives since.

Cleator Tanks - Dimensions

Structural Details

As can be seen from the tables, the locomotives of Class L2 were numerically the largest, whilst the Class L3 were basically the same design, but with minor detail differences. Hence, the following notes will apply mainly to these two classes, with reference to variations in Classes L1 and L4.

L2 Class 0-6-2T at Barrow

Here, one of the North British built locos from Class L2 carrying LMS number 11632 (former Furness No. 105), clearly engaged on secondary passenger working alongside the platform at Barrow-in-Furness.
Photo: © Frank Dean

The boilers were of the saturated type (Some later classes of 0-6-0 tender engines were fitted with smokebox’ superheaters.), and made in two rings of ½” thick steel plate, housing 208 1 ¾” dia by 13 s.w.g. tubes. Total evaporative heating surface provided by the smoke tubes was 1029 sq. ft. The basic dimensions of this boiler were continued from the L1 Class, and only substantially altered in the four locomotives supplied by Kltson & Co. as the “Improved Cleator Tank”. The firebox was 6ft 9ins long over the outer steel plates, by 4ft 0 1/4” wide, with the plate thickness varying from ½” at the top and sides, to 9/16″ at the front and rear. The traditional copper plate was used for the inner firebox, all ½” thick, except where additional strength was required at the tubeplate, where the thickness was increased to ¾”. A fairly shallow cast iron grate of 20 ½ sq ft was provided and a brick arch, weighing some 6 cwt. Ramsbottom pattern safety valves were fitted, and mounted in the centre of the firebox lroof with the large steam dome housing a vertical slide type regulator valve fixed to the leading end of the second boiler ring.

For the first three classes, L1 to L3, a narrow “waisted in” smokebox was included, with the wrapper plate extended down between the frames. However, as can be seen from the table, although the boilers for the first three classes were virtually identical, those of the L4 class differed substantially. The first two of these were delivered in 1912, and had much shorter boilers, only 9’3” long, though an increase in diameter was made, from 4’4″ to 4’7″, but having the same number of smoke tubes. Two further L4’s, built in 1914, had a longer boiler, 10’6” overall, but to the same diameter, and including
 230 smoke tubes. These latter were standard with those of the D5 Class 0-6-0 tender locomotives built in 1913.

L3 Class 0-6-2T at Coniston

As LMS No. 11635 (formerly Furness No. 96), this view shows a member of Class L3 at the south-western end of Coniston Station.   The photo is taken after 1927, when this loco, along with L3 Class No. 97, and L2 locos Nos. 103 and 106 were fitted with new boilers from the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway designs.
Photo: © Frank Dean

An element of standardisation had been evolving with Pettigrew’s designs since the boilers of the L1, L2 and L3 0-6-2T’s were identical with the D3 and D4 0-6-0 (for Classes L2 and L3) tender engines. Having said that however, although the boi1ers of Nos. 94 and 95 of the 1912 L4 Class were “non-standard”, five more boilers were supplied by the builders to this design. In addition the smokeboxes of the locomotives supplied by Kitsons, were cylindrical drum type, and attached to the cast steel saddles on the locomotive’s mainframes. For the L2 and L3 designs, the whole assembly ~ boiler, smokebox and firebox weighed, in the order of just under 10 ½ tons.

The mainframes in each case were steel plates, 1 1/8” think and stayed at 4ft 0 1/4ins apart. Simple plain bearing axleboxes were provided, although there were some detail variations in design. For instance, although a virtually identical type, the coupled wheel axleboxes of the L2 and L3 locomotives built by North British varied from 7” x 7 ¼” to 7 ½” x 8″ respectively. Material was cast steel with separate “brasses”. The length of the radial truck axlebox was increased 11” to 12″ in the L3 locomotives, each box weighing over ½ ton, and with the wheels in place, the truck weight went up to nearly 2 tons.

The 18″ x 26″ cylinders was a steel casting of over 1 ¾ tons, bolted between the mainframes and set at a slight inclination to the driving wheels. The top of the slide valves, which were operated by Stephenson link motion, protruded slightly into the lower part of the smokebox. Outside coupling rods were fluted “I” section steel. The coupled wheels varied in diameter from 4ft 7 ½ ins on Class L1, to 5ft 1in for classes L2 and L3, reverting to the 4ft 7 ½ ins size with the’ “improved” Class L4. Tyres in the main, as new, were 5 ½ ins wide by 3ins thick. The radial truck wheels were maintained at 3ft 8 ½ ins in diameter for all four classes, with 3 ¼ ins x 5 ½ ins tyres. For Pettigrew’s designs for the Furness Railway, 14 spoke centres were the order of the day, with balance weights between five spokes on the driving wheels, and smaller weights over four spokes 
applied to leading and trailing coupled wheels. Rear truck wheels were a standard 10 spokes.

In the upper works there were a number of differences between the classes. Side tanks of 3/16″ ·thick mild steel ‘plate were constructed 14ft 7ins long by 1ft 10 ¼ ins wide in the L2, and shortened to 12ft exactly, by 1ft 4 ¼ ins in the L3 class. For these latter locomotives, the side tanks ended on the centre line of the driving axle. The earliest Cleator Tanka however, although having a water capacity of only 1400 gallons, had by far the longest side tanks, some 16ft long. And, at the other extreme, the 1150/1170 gallons capacity of the L4 class was provided in tanks of the same length as those on the L2 Class. The bunker capacity of 30cwt was of course much less in the latter, and, naturally, the water capacity of the 6ft 6ins x 7ft 6ins bunker tank was correspondingly less. First increase in the size o of the bunker and tank was made with the L3 Class, where the length was increased to 7ft 6ins and coal capacity up by ·a ton to 50 cwt, or 2 ½ tons.

The plate thickness of 3/16 ins for the side tanks and cab sides applied only to the tanks in front of the cab. The bunker tank sides and ends were ¼ in thick, with a 5/16 in bottom plate, whilst the tops were thicker still at 3/8 in. The tops would obviously need to be thicker to provide the increased strength in support for the weight of fuel carried. Interestingly it was perhaps the visual impact of the cut-out in the cab side sheets where the Adams influence could.be detected most strongly, where the gentle curve of the top of the opening was gradually radiused into the sides. The cab roofs themselves were a flattish arc profile.

Suspension was by means of underhung leaf springs, and all locomotives were fitted with the automatic vacuum brake, with steam brakes operating the loco’s brake rigging. Working pressure of the boilers was 150 p.s.i. in the L1, and increased to 160 p.s.i. in the L2 and L3 classes, and reached 170p.s.i. in the L4 “Improved Cleator Tanks”. The boilers were fed by means of two Gresham & Craven No. 8 Combination Injectors.

Cleator Tanks - Numbering & Construction

Livery & Lettering

In their Furness Railway days, the Company’s standard “Indian Red” was the order of the day. This was lined out in black, with a vermillion border, on cab, tank, and bunker sides, wheel splashers and boiler cleading bands. No lining was applied to the bunker rear. The letters “F” and “R” were applied to the tank sides were in gold, and shaded to the left and below in blue. Running numbers were painted on the buffer beams, in addition to the cast brass number plates carried on the bunker sides.

The company’s crest, or coat of arms presents an interesting study in itself, and was worn by the “Cleator Tanks” on the leading coupled wheel splasher. The L4 “Improved Cleator Tanks” had the crest positioned on the tank sides between the “F” the “R” for photographic purposes, although only the M1 Class 4-4-2Ts carried it in this position in service. The crest used a copy 
of the seal of Roger Pele, who was Abbot of Furness in 1532, as its centrepiece. This comprised the Virgin Mary holding a globe to represent the world
 in her right hand, and the infant Christ in her left. The arms of both Lancaster and England were also included, together with the mythical Wyvern. (Apparently part dragon, part bird, and part scorpion!) The inscription surrounding the seal was the motto of the Duke of Devonshire – “Cavendo Tutus” – “Secure by Caution”. Interestingly before its inclusion in the Furness company’s coat of arms, the seal was last used by Roger Pele when surrendering Furness Abbey to Henry VIII on the 5th April 1537.

IMG_3389 - Version 2

Furness Railway crest and motto on uniform buttons.
Photo: Rodger Bradley – 2017

On entering service with the LMSR, the “Cleator Tanks” colourful days were over. Being classified as 3F by their new owners, in later years they carried plain livery, with “LMS”. on the tank sides in yellow. It may be though, very doubtful as to whether all these locomotives received LMS livery, particularly the L1Class and some of the earlier withdrawals in Classes L3 and L4.

Construction and Operation

The L1 Class “Cleator Tanks” ordered in 1897 and delivered from Sharp Stewarts of Manchester in 1898, were numbered 112 – 114 by the Furness Railway. They replaced two ex Whitehaven, Cleator & Egremont Railway locos., and a Furness D1 Class 0-6-0 goods engine. This latter locomotive was then renumbered 115, to replace the engine lost in the Lindal subsidence of 1892. Of the two W.C.& E. locos. (both of which were·0-6-0 tank engines), one built by Andrew Barclay, the other by R & W Hawthorn in 1875 and 1857 respectively. The last mentioned locomotive, numbered 113 in Furness lists, was sold in 1898 upon the arrival of the 0-6-2Ts. A tender ·version of the new L1 Class 0-6-2Ts was also designed – being a virtual duplicate in all the principal areas as the tank locomotives, and supplied a year later in1899.

Development of the “Cleator Tanks” into a mixed traffic loco. intended for passenger workings on the main lines, in addition to banking· duties, was the next stage. This in fact is how the majority of these locos were seen, comprising the two classes L2 and L3, 16 locomotives in all.

Class L2 Cleator tanks - Nasmyth-Wilson Order

Original order details for Class L2 locomotives built by Nasmyth Wilson of Patricroft, Manchester. The 5 members of the class built here, were delivered in 1904, as works numbers 689 to 693, and carried Furness numbers 98 to 102. Later renumbered 11625 to 11629 by the LMS. Photo: Rodger Bradley

Of those ordered in 1903, five were supplied by the North British Loco. Co. (successors to Sharp Stewart) and five by Nasmyth-Wilson. The entire class L.3, a total of six locomotives, were built in 1907 by the North British Loco. Co. The first _pair of these, numbered 96 and 97, replaced two 0-4-0 saddle tanks of Class C1 delivered to :the Furness Co. for working the Barrow dock lines in
1874. The remainder of Class L3, and all Class L2, replaced locomotives of the Whitehaven, Cleator & Egremont Rly. The majority of ·these, classed in Furness lists as G2, were 0-6-0 saddle tanks, thirteen of which were built by Robert Stephenson & Co., ,and one by Fletcher Jennings. These were numbered 98-107 and 109-111. The missing number was carried by the final W.C.& E. loco. to be replaced, number 108, a. 2-4-0 side tank built in 1850 by Stothert & Slaughter tor the North London Railway. It was purchased secondhand by the W.C.& E. in 1870, before passing into F.R. ownership, and withdrawn for scrap in1898, long before the arrival of the 0-6-2T that was to carry its number. The W.C.& E. locos. carrying F.R. numbers 100/104-109/110/1 were transferred to the duplicate list on the arrival of the L2 and L3 Class 0-6-2Ts, although a number had already been scrapped, including numbers 98/9 and 101-103.

The Improved “Cleator Tanks”, built in 1912/14, replaced two more C1 Class 0-4-0STs (Transferred to the duplicate list in 1912 as Nos.. 94/5), and two D1 0.6.0 tender locomotives. The latter two, numbers 92 and 93, were rebuilt in 1897 and 1899 respectively, with new boilers, and subsequently renumbered 75 and 77 in 1914.

L2 Class 0-6-2T at Coniston

This was the second last of the engines built by Nasmyth Wilson, as Furness No. 692, and shown here at Coniston Station, sporting LMS number 11628. The loco was withdrawn in 1946, and was the longest surviving member of the class.  
Photo: © Frank Dean

All four classes of 0-6-2T survived to carry their LMS numbers, though they were all grouped together in the one block between 11622
and 11644. Four locomotives, numbers 103 and 106 of Class L2, and 96 and 97 of L3, were reboilered in 1927 with Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway pattern boilers. 
The first of these Furness locomotives to be withdrawn, was in fact the first
 to be built No. 112, as LMS number 11622 in 1927, though next on the list were the
other two locos of Class L1 – numbers 113 and 114, with one of the much younger Class L4, number 95, was withdrawn in 1929.

The main areas of’ operation of Classes L1
 and L4 were the mineral lines of West Cumberland, where they spent almost all their working life, with the L2 and.L3 Classes engaged on secondary passenger services throughout the entire system. As a final thought, it is interesting to note 
that on a purely tractive effort basis, at 21933 lbs, the four locomotives of
 the “Improved Cleator Tank” Class were the most powerful of’ the Furness Railway’s designs. More powerful even than the much larger, and perhaps better known ‘ Baltic Tanks’ of 1920, which incidentally, were also made by Kitsons of Leeds.

Useful Links:


Additional reading:

The Furness Railway R.W. Rush Oakwood Press 1973
The Furness Railway: Locomotives & Rolling Stock R.W. Rush Oakwood Press 1973
Early Railway History in Furness J. Melville & J.L. Hobbs Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, Tract Series, No. XIII 1951
The Furness Railway K.J. Norman Silver Link Publishing 1994
The Coniston Railway Cumbrian Railways Association Cumbrian Railways Association 1985
The Ulverstone & Lancaster Railway Leslie R. Gilpin Cumbrian Railways Association 2008
Dalton in Furness Rock Battye Cumbrian Railways Association 2006
The Furness Railway In and Around Barrow Michael Andrews Cumbrian Railways Association 2003