Designed by T.W Worsdell, the GER Class Y14 (LNER Class J15) was his solution to the lack of suitable freight locomotives available on the Doncaster route. The first Y14s were built in July 1883, and they became the Great Eastern Railway’s most common locomotive type, with a total of 259 being built in 27 batches.
The secret of their success was their simple design and in 1891, the Great Eastern Railway set the world record for erecting a steam locomotive, No. 930 being assembled at Stratford in just 9 hours and 45 minutes. Hauling both freight and passenger stock and with a very low axle loading, they could run virtually anywhere on the Great Eastern’s network.
Withdrawals from service started to take place during the early 1920s, seventeen disappearing before Grouping in 1923.
As the numbers of locomotives reduced, the roles assigned to the J15s by the LNER changed, local freight and cross-country passenger services became typical. Rarely allocated outside East Anglia, scrapping of the class recommenced in 1947, just 71 engines making it through to Nationalisation, the last four being withdrawn from service on September 16, 1962.