The Robinson Class D11 (GCR Class 11F) 'Improved Directors' 4-4-0 Locomotives
D10 'Director (GCR Class 11E) locomotives quickly proved to be very successful, and a second
batch was ordered in March 1916. This order was cancelled with World War 1 on-going. In 1917,
Robinson built his
B3 'Lord Faringdon' 4-6-0 locomotives. Although these were
a significant improvement over his previous
B2 'Sir Sam Fay' 4-6-0 locomotives and further
B3s would be ordered, they were not an unqualified success.
Hence a further batch of five 4-4-0s similar to the D10s were ordered.
The new locomotives had a number of modifications and were would become known as 'Improved Directors'. They
were given the Great Central Railway (GCR) classification of 11F, and
the LNER classification of D11. The first batch was delivered between 1919 and 1920.
The most significant modification was the use of inside admission piston valves. Side windows were also fitted
to the cab.
The Improved Directors proved to be even more successful than the original D10s, and are
generally acknowledged as Robinson's most successful express
passenger design. A batch of six were ordered in 1922, when the GCR needed further express passenger locomotives.
At Grouping in 1923, the LNER found that the North British Railway (NBR) was in urgent need of new express
passenger locomotives. Gresley chose not to create a new
locomotive design, but instead ordered the construction of further D11 Improved Directors. This choice may have
been influenced by Robinson who was acting as a consultant
to the newly formed LNER. Twenty four D11s were ordered at the end of 1923, and built within a five month period
during 1924. Kitson & Co and Armstrong Whitworth & Co both built twelve. The NBR locomotives had
lower cabs and boiler mountings, enabling them to fit within the relatively restrictive NBR loading gauge.
Flatter domes and Gresley 'flowerpot' chimneys were fitted.
They also lacked the water pickup gear which the original GCR locomotives had.
The GCR locomotives were given the classification D11/1, whilst the NBR locomotives were given the classification D11/2.
The NBR and GCR D11s also had contrasting names. The GCR D11s were named after GCR Directors, Royalty, and
World War 1 battles. The NBR D11s continued a theme set by the D30s, and were named
after characters in Sir Walter Scott's novels and poems.
Some sources suggest that the NBR drivers took some adjusting to the 'foreign' Great Central design of the D11.
This appears to be likely, but it is also true that the D11/2s became very popular locomotives with the NBR
In common with the D10 'Directors', the 'Improved Directors' never experienced any
major rebuilding. The most significant modification was the fitting of long travel valves by
Gresley. No. 5505 was experimentally fitted with long travel
valves in 1937, using a cylinder pattern similar to that used on the
Extended trials on the Marylebone to Leicester services resulted in a 5% coal saving. This was considered sufficient
enough to order the modification of further D11s. Long travel valves were fitted to the D11s when their
cylinders were worn, or in some cases when they were in the workshops for unrelated repairs.
All but one (No. 5506) of the D11/1s were modified, and all but four of the D11/2s were modified.
Between 1933 and 1945, the Scottish D11/2 engines were fitted with drop grates. The first to be fitted were
the eight locomotives then allocated to Eastfield, which had just had a wet ashpit installed.
When built, the GCR D11/1s were run-in at Gorton and then allocated to Neasden, to haul express services on the
faster stretches of the GC main line south of Nottingham. By 1924, the
D10s and D11s were fairly evenly divided between the Neasden and Gorton sheds, and it
appears that the two classes were used interchangeably at this time.
From 1927, D11s were used on some of the Pullman services, including the Edinburgh Pullman between Harrogate and
Kings Cross. After the initial trials, D11s and C1 Atlantics
would operate the Kings Cross to Harrogate stretch on alternate days. Former NER locomotives would haul the
Pullman between Harrogate and Edinburgh. The D11s were allocated to Copley Hill.
Accelerating schedules in 1932 took their toll, and the C1s
were phased in on all of the Pullman services between Harrogate and Kings Cross.
By 1938, the D11/1s were allocated to Sheffield, Neasden, Gorton and Trafford Park.
By this time, the six-coupled Gresley types such as the
B17 4-6-0s, were taking over and the
D11s were rarely seen on first class express passenger services.
Wartime allocations included Retford, Lincoln, Immingham, and Langwith. The Langwith engines hauled heavy workmen's
trains to the Ranskill Royal Ordnance Factory. In summer 1945, the D11/1s were allocated to Neasden (4),
Mexborough (4), and Immingham (3). During the early 1950s, many of the D11s were allocated to Trafford Park
and Heaton Mersey to operate the Cheshire Lines alongside other former GCR 4-4-0 locomotives.
During the early 1950s, many of the Cheshire Lines 4-4-0s entered storage, as they were displaced by Midland Region
The Scottish D11/2s were initially allocated to Eastfield (6), Haymarket (6), St. Margaret's (5),
Dundee (5), and Perth (2). The NBR was noted for keeping its allocations relatively constant, and these
allocations remained unchanged during most of the 1920s. In 1928, a few of the D11s were swapped around, with the end
result that Perth lost two and Haymarket gained two.
Duties included express passenger services and special services, as well as the NBR legs of a number of Pullman
The D11s were only displaced from some of the better duties, when the first
D49s arrived in Scotland in 1928. Although the D49s took many of
the Edinburgh to Glasgow duties, it would not be until the advent of the
Thompson B1 4-6-0s after 1945, that the D11s would
be completely displaced.
Second World War saw more dramatic changes in allocation. For example, all of St. Margaret's allocation was
set to Haymarket in April 1943. However, the D11/2 duties did not change very much.
By the 1950s, many of the D11/s were being kept in storage. Although their allocations did not officially change,
in reality they were often stored at different sheds or sheds which were no longer being used for active locomotives.
Both groups of D11s continued to perform well on their secondary duties during the 1940s and 1950s, and
they were only displaced by the advent of
large numbers of the Thompson B1s.
With only smaller duties left for the D11s, many of them spent much of the decade in storage.
Withdrawals did not start until the end of 1958, but they proceeded quickly. The last of the original GCR D11/1 locomotives were withdrawn
in December 1960, and the last of the NBR D11/2s were withdrawn at the beginning of 1962. The first locomotive
to be built, No. 506 Butler-Henderson was preserved as a part of the National Collection.
||209 sq.ft. (24x1.06in)
||972 sq.ft. (157x 1.88in)
||416 sq.ft. (24x 5.25in)
||(@ 85% boiler pressure)
||109 tons 9cwt
||61 tons 3cwt
||48 tons 6cwt
|Max. Axle Load:
||19 tons 18cwt
The last D11 was withdrawn in 1962, but the prototype No. 506 "Butler-Henderson" was preserved.
The only surviving GCR passenger locomotive, No. 506 was withdrawn in 1960 and was restored to static GCR condition
for display at the British Transport Commission Museum at Clapham. With the demise of the British Transport Commission
in 1975, No. 506 entered the National Collection and was loaned to the
Great Central Railway. Restoration to running condition started in
1981, and No. 506 returned to steam in 1982.
No. 506 was moved to the National Railway Museum at York after its boiler certificate expired in 1992.
It is currently restored to static condition and is usually displayed in the National Railway Museum's main hall.
Gem have produced an N gauge kit of the D11. Current availability is unknown.
Both PDK and Little Engines sell 4mm scale (OO gauge) kits of the D11.
BEC and Perseverence have both produced 4mm scale kits that are no longer available.
Basset-Lowke sold an O gauge model of the D11 in the late 1940s.
Gladiator now sell kits for O gauge.
The first two D11s were named after the two remaining GCR Directors who had not had a D10 named
after them. The next three were named after the three eldest children of King George V and Queen Mary.
The 1922 D11s were named after First World War battles or engagements. The D11/2s were given names from the works
of Sir Walter Scott when they moved to the Scottish Area.
Thank you to the Mike Morant Collection for the photograph of D11/1 No. 62662 Prince of Wales.
Thank you to Peter Langsdale for the photograph of preserved D11/1 No. 506 Butler-Henderson at the
National Railway Museum.
Thank you to Malcolm Peirson for the photograph of GCR No. 502 Butler-Henderson at Gorton in 1920.
Thank you to Neil Ellison for the photograph of
LNER No. 6386 Lord Glenallan at Gorton Works in 1924, after painting but before naming.