The Holden F3 (GER Class C32) 2-4-2T Locomotives

Holden F3 2-4-2T, GER Class C32

James Holden used a standard 4ft 4in boiler design with a sloping grate on his J14, J15, and E4 designs. When a locomotive for longer distance fast stopping trains was required, Holden adapted the E4 design into the F3 2-4-2T tank engine design. A total of fifty locomotives in five batches of ten were built between 1893 and 1902.

The boilers in the last batch of ten F3s had 160psi boilers with 250 tubes, compared to 140psi boilers with 254 tubes on the first forty. Between 1903 and 1910, the first forty were reboilered with the new 160psi boilers. Afterwards, the exact boiler specifications varied amongst the J14, J15, E4, and F3s; and boilers were frequently interchanged. Over time the number of tubes decreased, with only 219 tubes in the last boiler design of 1940.

As with the E4s, the leading (uncoupled) axle carried the greatest axle loading. With a lower axle loading on the coupled axles, both the E4s and F3s had a tendency to slip.

When built, many of the F3s had condensing gear fitted for working services out of Liverpool Street (London) and Southend. This was usually removed when the F3s were moved away from London. In 1913 most of the F3s moved from the suburban services to haul rural East Anglia trains, hence most had their condensing gear removed before Grouping in 1923. However, a few locomotives kept their condensing gear through to the end of the 1930s.

Withdrawals started in 1936, but 37 (out of the original 50) managed to survive into 1945. 22 of these were withdrawn in 1947. Of the fifteen which survived into BR ownership, withdrawals were quick and only three ever acquired BR numbers. The last F3 was withdrawn in 1953.

Technical Details

Cylinders (x2): 17.5x24in.
Motion: Stephenson slide valves
Boiler: Max. Diameter: 4ft 4in
Pressure: 160psi
Diagram No.: 32
Heating Surface: Total: 1164.7 sq.ft.
Firebox: 100.9 sq.ft.
Tubes: 1063.8 sq.ft. (242x 1.625in)
Grate Area: 18 sq.ft.
Wheels: Leading: 4ft
Coupled: 5ft 8in
Trailing: 4ft
Tractive Effort: 14,700lb (@ 85% boiler pressure)
Total Wheelbase: 23ft 3in
Engine Weight: 58 tons 12cwt (full)
Max. Axle Load: 15 tons 6cwt
Coal Capacity: 3 tons 5cwt
Water Capacity: 1460 gallons


The last F3 was withdrawn in 1953, and none survived into preservation. However, an F3 boiler survives in use on the preserved J15 0-6-0 No. 65462.


Coopercraft sell a 4mm scale (OO gauge) kit of the F3.