The Y6 (GER G15) 0-4-0 Tram Engines
T.W. Worsdell designed these distinctive 0-4-0 steam tram
locomotives for the
Wisbech & Upwell Tramway,
which opened in July 1883. Due to much of this line
running on public highways, the Board of Trade required all locomotives to be fitted with cowcatchers,
steel side aprons, a governor, and warning bell. All unusual for a British steam engine!
Originally, three Y6s were built for the
Wisbech & Upwell.
Two years later, two more were
built for the Yarmouth Union tramway. During the 1890s, traffic increased on the
Wisbech & Upwell,
and a further five Y6s were built between 1891 and 1897. Eventually, this increasing traffic required
more powerful locomotives, and in 1903 the similarly looking J70 trams
entered service. This led to the withdrawal of four Y6 engines (Nos. 127, 128, 130, 131) between 1909
and 1913. During Grouping, the LNER affixed a '7' to the GER numbers, with the exception of 0125, 0126,
and 0129, which became 07125, 07126, and 07129 respectively.
As well as working on the Wisbech & Upwell,
and the Yarmouth Tramways, No. 134 was at Ipswich at
the time of Grouping. In 1924/25, Nos. 0125 & 0129E worked at Neasden - probably for work related to
the Wembley Exhibition. No. 7133 took part in the 1925 Stockton & Darlington Centenary procession.
Passenger services stopped on the
Wisbech & Upwell Tramway in 1927. Also, the
Y10 "Super Sentinel" was introduced in 1930. Hence there was little work for
the Y6s and Nos. 7132 & 07129 were with drawn in 1931 and 1933 respectively. The remainder were
kept in storage and only came out to help with the busy fruit season.
In July 1941, 7133 and 7134 were loaned to the Wissington Light Railway which had recently reopened.
These had many derailment problems, and were replaced by two J70s. In
November 1942, No. 7134 was loaned to the U.S.Army Transportation Corps at Burton-on-Trent. In
July 1944 it was transferred to the War Department and worked at the Sinfin Lake Royal Ordnance Depot near Derby.
It was returned to the LNER in October 1944.
By the time of the 1943 renumbering, these were the only surviving Y6 engines. They were renumbered
as 8081 and 8082. The acquisition of the J94s in 1946 necessitated a further
renumbering, and these two engines became 8082 and 8083. Both survived into BR ownership and were
renumbered to 68082 and 68083, although 68082 never carried its new number. Both were withdrawn in 1
952. It was intended that 68083 would be kept for preservation, but only survived at the Stratford Paint
Shop for about a year before being cut up.
The Y6 boiler was fitted with safety valves that discharged into a receiver which led into the
well tank via a series of pipes. This was so that the noise of the valves going off, would not startle
horses and livestock on the roads. The Y6s also had controls on both the left and right sides.
Most of the Y6s had disc wheels, although the two 1897 examples had 8-spoked wheels. Original
boiler pressures were 120 psi, but this was increased to 140 psi for the 1897 engines. After 1929,
all of the remaining Y6s except for No. 7132, had J70 boilers fitted but
with their pressure reduced from 180 psi to 140 psi. The technical details below, refer to the
standard LNER dimensions at Grouping in 1923.
The original five Y6s had no continuous brakes. Westinghouse brakes were fitted in 1891. The
pipe connection was below the buffer beam, and protruded through the cowcatchers.
||2ft 9 5/8in
None of the Y6s survive. However, the distinctive engines of the
Wisbech & Upwell Tramway are
kept alive in the Rev. W. Awdry's Railway Stories (aka "Thomas the Tank Engine"). Awdry lived near the
Wisbech & Upwell Tramway
for a while, and he modelled Toby the Tram Engine on the
J70 class. Another Toby replica has
been built by the East Anglian Railway Museum, using a Fowler 0-4-0 diesel. This replica also has a matching
replica Henrietta GER coach.
There is an N Gauge whitemetal kit of the J70 in the Thameshead range,
sold by B.H.Enterprises. This includes instructions on how to adapt it into a Y6.
Finney and Smith produce a 3mm scale kit of the Y6.
D&S and Engineer's Emporium both sell kits of the
Y6 for 4mm scale (OO gauge).
Hielscher manufacture a live steam HO
model of the Y6.
Skytrex have sold an O gauge (7mm scale) ready-to-run model of the Y6 which is now out of production.
However, Connoisseur Models sell the Y6 in kit form for 7mm scale.
GRS (Prince Risborough, Bucks.) sell an electric-powered model
of the Y6 for Gauge 3 (G-64).
Awdry Family Web Page
Martin Clutt's page
about the inspiration behind Awdry's Toby and Henrietta
The LNER Encyclopedia also includes an article about the
Wisbech & Upwell Tramway.
Thank you to Peter Hayes (Kamloops, BC) on the LNER listserver who supplied much of the above
Thank you to Malcolm Peirson for the photograph of No. 0125.