The Parker F1 (GCR Class 3) 2-4-2T Locomotives

Parker F1 (GCR Class 3) 2-4-2T, LNER chimney and mechanical push-pull lever

During the 1880s, the local services of the Great Central Railway (GCR) in the Manchester area, were being operated by old 2-4-0 tender locomotives. These were quickly proving themselves to be inadequate due to much of the work requiring tender-first running, and the rapidly growing services. Therefore between 1889 and 1893, Parker built the GCR Class 3 2-4-2T (LNER Class F1) tank locomotives to replace the aging 2-4-0s. These had radial axleboxes, Joy valve gear, and a boiler resembling that of the GCR 4-4-0 '561' Class (LNER D7) and the 0-6-2T N4.

Two main variations were built. 24 "Class 3" locomotives were built between 1889 and 1891, and a batch of 12 "Class 3 Altered" locomotives were built in 1893. This altered design added six inches to the length of the bunker. Concurrent with this batch, three more of the unaltered design were built.

Between 1909 and 1929, all 39 members of the class had GC Standard No. 2 Belpaire boilers fitted.

In 1915, Robinson fitted superheaters to Nos. 577, 5582, and 5731. These were converted back to saturated boilers in 1928, 1934, and 1929 respectively. These superheated locomotives had extended upper frames at the front in order to accommodate a longer smokebox. The extension was kept after the saturated boilers were refitted.

At the end of 1922, Nos. 575, 586, and 594 were fitted to operate push-pull trains with a mechanical rod system. No. 5729 was also converted in 1931. This did not work very well, and was eventually removed from all four locomotives between 1936 and 1937. Instead of completely removing the mechanism from No. 5594 (GCR No. 594), the mechanical system was replaced with the LNER vacuum-operated push-pull system.

The F1s survived in service in the Manchester for a long time, with the last locomotives being withdrawn in 1949. This is indicative of their success at operating the services for which they were designed. Partial electrification of the shared Manchester lines in 1931 caused the gradual withdrawal of the F1s from 1930. Withdrawals continued through World War II, with five surviving at the end of 1945. The last two F1 locomotives were finally withdrawn in 1949.

Technical Details

The following technical details are for the original Class 3 locomotives with the saturated boilers. At Grouping in 1923, 5577, 5582 and 5731 had superheated boilers but were converted back to saturated boilers between 1928 and 1934. The superheated boilers had less tubes (554 sq.ft. area) with the result of having slightly less total heating area (993sq.ft.) than the saturated boilers had. The Class 3 Altered locomotives weighed 60 tons 12 cwt due to increased water and coal capacities.

Cylinders (x2): 18x24in.
Motion: Joy slide valves
Boiler: Max. Diameter: 4ft 4in
Pressure: 160psi
Diagram No.: 20
Heating Surface: Total: 1063 sq.ft.
Firebox: 99 sq.ft.
Tubes: 964 sq.ft. (190x 1.75in)
Grate Area: 18.3 sq.ft.
Wheels: Leading: 3ft 6in
Coupled: 5ft 7in
Trailing: 3ft 6in
Tractive Effort: 15,784lb (@ 85% boiler pressure)
Total Wheelbase: 23ft 5.5in
Engine Weight: 60 tons (full)
Max. Axle Load: 16 tons 10cwt
Coal Capacity: 3 tons 0cwt
Water Capacity: 1300 gallons


The last F1s were withdrawn in 1949, and none survived into preservation.


Both NuCast and Cotswold have produced kits of the F1 for OO gauge (4mm scale), but neither kit is currently available.

Gladiator sell a kit of the F1 for O gauge (7mm scale).