The Fletcher NER '1440' 2-4-0 Locomotives

Fletcher NER Class '1440' No. 693 (M.Peirson)

By 1875, the North Eastern Railway (NER) found that it required a more powerful passenger locomotive for the Leeds Northern route from Leeds to West Hartlepool via Ripon and Stockton. Fletcher's '901' Class was already proving to be a success on the East Coast main line, so it was natural that this design would be adapted to meet the new requirement. The main difference between the '901' Class and Fletcher's new '1440' Class was that the new locomotives had smaller 6ft diameter wheels. The pioneer locomotive (No. 364) was built at Leeds in 1875. This was followed by a batch of ten built between 1876 and 1878, and a final batch of four in 1882. These later batches were both built at Gateshead, and the final batch was built with slightly larger 17.5in diameter cylinders.

The '1440's received fewer stages of rebuilding than their '901' cousins. They were untouched by McDonnell's standardisation plans, but W.Worsdell fitted replacement steel boilers to his own pattern. He also fitted chimneys and smokeboxes to his own pattern, and replaced the original Salter and Naylor safety valves with Ramsbottom valves. New 18in diameter cylinders were fitted from 1887, but two locomotives (Nos. 159 & 486) kept their 17in cylinders until they were withdrawn. There were also a number of situations when 17.5in cylinders were re-fitted.

The first locomotive, No. 364, was allocated to Leeds and appears to have stayed in the Leeds area for a long period of time. It has been conjectured that the Leeds shed kept it on a short leash because they did not want Gateshead to take their first large locomotive! With the exception of No. 1441 at York, the remainder of the class were allocated to Leeds and Newcastle. The Leeds locomotives performed the work for which they were designed - hauling passenger trains along the Leeds Northern line. They also worked some of the local trains to Scarborough, Hull, and Ilkley. The Newcastle locomotives were usually used on the main line to York and Edinburgh.

As more powerful locomotives were introduced, the '1440's were displaced to lesser duties. In the first few years of the 20th century, double-headed '1440' locomotives were trialled on the through Scottish expresses. Accounts suggest that they performed well, but they returned to lesser work when the trial was completed.

Withdrawals started in 1919, and nine survived into LNER ownership (1923). These were allocated to Sunderland (4), Alnmouth (1), Tweedmouth (1), York (1), Durham (1), and Kirkby Stephen (1). By this time, the '1440's were relegated to branch line work, and the LNER continued NER's withdrawal programme. The last '1440' locomotive was scrapped in February 1925.

Technical Details

Cylinders (x2): (inside) 18x24in.
Motion: Stephenson
Valves: slide
Boiler: Max. Diameter: 4ft 3in
Pressure: 160psi
Heating Surface: Total: 1093 sq.ft.
Firebox: 98 sq.ft.
Tubes: 995 sq.ft. (205x 1.75in)
Grate Area: 15.6 sq.ft.
Wheels: Leading: 4ft 6in
Coupled: 6ft
Tender: 3ft 8in
Tractive Effort: (@ 85% boiler pressure) 13,880lb
Wheelbase: Total: 37ft 1in
Engine: 16ft 1in
Tender: 12ft 3in
Weight (full): Total: 69 tons 12cwt
Engine: 39 tons 14cwt
Tender: 29 tons 18cwt
Max. Axle Load: 14 tons


None of the NER '1440' locomotives survived into preservation.


I am not aware of any models of the NER '1440' locomotives.


Thank you to Malcolm Peirson for the photograph of No. 693 in original condition.