Wisbech & UpwellTramway 0-4-0 Locomotives in Great_Britain

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class G15/Y6 (Locobase 20655)

Data from "The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway", Locomotive Magazine, Volume XXIV [24] (15 November 1918), pp. 180-181. See also "The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway" on Richard Marsden's LNER Encyclopedia website at [], last accessed 16 October 2019. William Henry Cole, Light Railways at Home and Abroad (London: Charles Griffin & Company, Ltd, 1899), pp. 257-263.

This agricultural tramway started at the Great Eastern Railway's station at Wisbech, which lies approximately 100 miles (161 km) NNE of London in East Anglia. Building began in the 1880s and the tramway had reached Outwell Basin when opened on 20 August 1883. It reached its most distant southerly point on the line at Upwell--about six miles from Wisbech--on 8 September 1884.

LM's description of the railway's construction, which notes the 50 lb/lb (25 kg/metre) flat-bottomed rail, underscores a significant difference between the W&UT and most tramways. After commenting that the 1870 Act hadn't met the needs "of such light lines" because it didn't "satisfactorily provide for the carriage of goods", Cole's 1899 study pointed the three ways in which the W&U branch "practically removed such objections." It physically linked to the GER main line, its permanent way design "not only satisfied the road authorities, but wa ssuch also as permitted main-line goods stock to pass over the tramway", and the GER could incorporate accounting for revenue and costs on this branch within its overall system.

In all other respects, however, it was a tramway. It was single-tracked the entire way except for passing loops at each end and one "recognised intermediate crossing point ...at Boyce's Depot". Regulated under the Board of Trade as a tramway, it ran at speeds of up to 8 mph (12.9 kph) on most sections but only 4 mph (6.4 kph) through facing switch points. The original intention of operating along the main streets was mostly replaced by short sections of plated road and long segments of "high line" through rural areas.

The B&T also stipulated that motive power could utter neither stack talk nor the "clatter of machinery" at levels that constituted "any reasonable ground of complaint either to the passengers or the public." And no visible fire either. So Thomas W Worsdell designed this class of small locomotives that resembled guards vans but shrouded its running gear with plates that extended to within 4" (102 mm) of the road. The engine exhausted its cylinders' steam into the water tank, which helped extend operating range and reduced visible exhaust.

Goods shipments traveled in GER wagons, a typical load being 4-5 coal cars. Richard Marsden commented that "incoming traffic was principally coal, with outgoing traffic consisting of vegetables, fruit, and in later years flowers. It has been commented that it was the only railway in Britain to operate on the principle of 'coal in, potatoes out'!" (See W H Cole's detailed description of traffic levels and types on pp. 262-263 of Light Railways.)

Bespoke passenger carriages came in two sizes, one with four wheels, one with eight in two four-wheel bogies. Up to nine passenger cars could travel behind a G15 in scheduled service six times a day;the train stopped on demand. Mixed trains handled ten cars--six passenger and four coal.

Although satisfactory at first, the class eventually struggled with increasing train loads. As Holden, Worsdell's successor, turned out a new three-axle design (Locobase 7545), the older engines were retired. 131 went to the ferro-knacker in 1907, 130 followed,and 127-128 in 1913.

Marsden added that until the 1950s, when lorries (trucks) served the area too, the line "enjoyed a certain level of prosperity."

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID20655
RailroadWisbech & UpwellTramway
CountryGreat Britain
Number in Class8
Road Numbers130-132, 128-129, 125-127
Number Built8
BuilderStratford Works
Valve GearStephenson
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m) 6.50 / 1.98
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m) 6.50 / 1.98
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase1
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m) 4.92 / 1.50
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)46,928 / 21,286
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)46,928 / 21,286
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)400 / 1.52
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)39 / 19.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)36 / 914
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)120 / 8.30
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)11" x 15" / 279x381
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)5143 / 2332.83
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 9.12
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)82 - 1.75" / 44
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)
Flue/Tube length (ft / m) 8.12 / 2.47
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)43.24 / 4.02
Grate Area (sq ft / m2) 9.70 / 0.90
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)349 / 32.42
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)349 / 32.42
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume211.53
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation1164
Same as above plus superheater percentage1164
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area5189
Power L12467
Power MT231.79

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