The Fletcher NER '44' Class 0-6-0 Tank Engines

NER '44' Class No. 49 saddletank as built (M.Peirson)

During the late 1860s, Fletcher built the first of his Class '5' short-coupled long-boilered saddle tanks. These broke from North Eastern Railway (NER) tradition of small shunting engines. A number of design variations occurred, and culminated in the '44' Class saddle tanks. These were built between 1881 and 1883, and tended to use the newer parts of withdrawn small passenger and goods locomotives.

Only seven Class '44' locomotives were built. These had the long 24in stroke as used on a number of older NER goods engines. At least two of the engines re-used crank axles from withdrawn locomotives.

Neither T.W. Worsdell nor W. Worsdell liked saddletank designs, and they built large numbers of side tank shunting engines for the NER. These began with the J71 (NER Class E) in 1886.

The Class '44' boilers were in need of replacement by the late 1890s, so W. Worsdell decided to rebuild all of them as side tank locomotives. Previously, W. Worsdell had noted that he preferred to build new locomotives after his experience with the expensive rebuilds of the Class '964' engines. However, the Class '44's had a chassis that was virtually the same as the J71. So by replacing the superstructure and boiler, a rebuild could easily produce a locomotive that was virtually identical to the J71. All seven Class '44's were rebuilt with side tanks between 1898 and 1902.

NER '44' Class, No. 106 at Shildon. Note shunting pole.

The Class '44's received very few modifications after their rebuilds. Their coal bunkers had coal rails. These received plates before Grouping (1923).

Two '44's were withdrawn before Grouping (1923), leaving five to enter LNER ownership. Withdrawals were clearly due, and the LNER did not give the '44's a formal LNER classification. Four of the '44's were withdrawn by January 1926. No. 106 had received a new boiler in 1918, and was expected to last longer. Due to a shortage of boilers for the J71s, No. 106 was withdrawn in September 1926. No. 106's boiler was donated to J71 No. 399.

The Class '44's initially worked the Northern Division of the NER. By Grouping, they were allocated to East Hartlepool, Sunderland, Heaton, and Shildon. By this time, their work was mainly restricted to the shunting of wagons near their sheds.

Technical Details

Cylinders (x2): (inside) 16x24in.
Motion: Stephenson
Valves: Slide
Boiler: Diameter (max): 3ft 8in
Length: 10ft
Boiler Pressure: 140psi
Diagram No: 73
Heating Surface: Total: 731 sq.ft.
Firebox: 73 sq.ft.
Tubes: 658 sq.ft. (139x 1.75in dia.)
Grate Area: 11.3 sq.ft.
Wheels: 4ft 7.25in
Total Wheelbase: 13ft 7in
Tractive Effort: (at 85%) 13,233 lb
Length: 28ft 4.75in
Weight: 36t
Max. Axle Load: 13t 15cwt
Water Capacity: 690 gallons
Coal Capacity: 1t 5cwt


None of the NER '44' locomotives survived into preservation.


I am not aware of any models of the NER '44' locomotives in any scale.


Thank you to Malcolm Peirson for the photograph of No. 49 as originally built.