Paxman and the Great Eastern Railway Co

The Great Eastern Railway Company (GER) was an important Paxman customer from the late 1880s up to the end of WW1. Paxman was also a customer of the GER, using the railway to bring materials to Colchester and to transport finished products to customers. Among Paxman products transported by the GER were locomotive-type boilers for which special wagons were built.

GER wagons for Paxman boilers
GER wagons specially designed for transporting Paxman locomotive-type boilers.

The GER was formed in 1862, being an amalgamation of the Eastern Counties Railway and five smaller railways. It mainly served what today we call the East Anglia region and commuter areas east of London, north of the Thames. The GER survived until the 'Grouping' of 1923 when it became part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER).

Below are details of some GER installations with Paxman equipment and relevant extracts from entries in the surviving Paxman copy order books and from minutes of meetings of GER Directors and of the GER Way and Works Committee.

The Paxman copy order books contain summary details only. All the original order books, except one which was kept as a sample, were lost or destroyed about 60 years ago due to their bulkiness or poor condition. In the extracts below, where no cylinder size, working pressure, register number, 'where sent' or 'date sent' is shown, the relevant space in the copy order books is blank. The 'Register Number' is the number which would have appeared on the maker's plate and is not related to the Order Number.


GER Laundry at Colchester

In 1887 the GER decided to build a laundry at Colchester to meet the growing laundry needs of its ships, hotels and refreshment rooms, etc. An article in the Ipswich Journal of 14th Jan 1888 reported that "the new steam laundry at the end of Bergholt Road has well-nigh reached completion", and had been erected at a cost of nearly £12,000. The article goes on to say that "The machinery will be driven by a magnificent sixteen-horse horizontal engine, supplied by Messrs. Davey, Paxman and Co, Colchester, who have also supplied the whole of the shafting". The engine may possibly have been a Paxman Class B. It is interesting to note the engine is not specifically mentioned in the Committee minute quoted below.

An extract from minutes of the GER Way and Works Committee reads:
 22nd June 1887
 Colchester laundry. Boilers etc. Contract to Davey, Paxman and Co. at £887.19.0.
 Recommended.

From this it can safely be assumed that an order for boilers for the new laundry was placed with Paxman in June or July 1887. Unfortunately the surviving Paxman copy order book for the period April 1874 to October 1889, for some unknown reason, does not show details of orders placed between 16 March 1887 and 18th July 1888

Later orders placed with Paxman for the GER's Colchester Laundry were Nos 7741, 7742, 12915 and 12916.


Oil Gas for Carriage Lighting

In the late 19th and early 20th century the most widely used method of lighting railway carriages at night was with Pintsch gas, invented by Julius Pintsch of Berlin. This gas gave a brighter light than coal gas and was more amenable to being compressed. It was produced by passing gas oil through heated cast-iron retorts to decompose it, in a process known as 'destructive distillation'. The resulting gas was then purified and compressed to a pressure of about 150 psi for storage. In 1890/91 Paxman made at least four high-pressure gas holders for the GER for such storage.
An article about the GER's arrangements for manufacturing this gas at its Stratford (East London) Works appeared in the February 1912 issue of the GER Magazine.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
336514 Sep
1889
Two H.P. Gas Holders 6' 9" x 23' 4½"  Liverpool Street Station3 Feb
1890

Notes:
 Dimensions are diameter and length.
 Repeat orders were Nos. 3732 and 3786.


Tug "S/S Resolute" at Lowestoft

The marine boiler listed below was for the GER's tug, S/S Resolute, based at Lowestoft. This must have been a replacement boiler as the vessel entered service in 1877. Built initially for the construction of Parkeston Quay, the 66 foot long, 22 tons net, 33 tons gross, 36 NHP screw tug later saw service as a harbour tug at Lowestoft for the GER's Way and Works Department. The September 1918 issue of the GER Magazine carried the obituary of a John Evans who spent part of his service with the GER as engineer of the tug "Resolute" which was withdrawn from service in 1936.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
33815 Oct
1889
8' 0" x 8' 6" Marine Boiler  G E Rly s/s "Resolute" 

Thorpe Station, Norwich

In 1890 Paxman supplied one of its well-known horizontal compound "Colchester" engines, together with a locomotive-type boiler, for Thorpe Station at Norwich. Made in a range of sizes, the "Colchester" engine remained in production for many years and sold in large numbers. The power output of the 8 NHP engine specified below, on normal load, was about 19 bhp at 155 rpm.
more >> on the "Colchester" and an illustration.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
35289 May
1890
8 HP Colchester Engine, Non-Condensing & 8 HP Loco Boiler5½" + 9" x 14"
120 lbs
5536Thorpe Station, Norwich24 Jul
1890

Some GER Minutes of a meeting held on 4th March 1890 carry an item "Norwich Thorpe Electric Lighting £990" from which it seems most likely that the above engine and boiler were required for driving a dynamo for electric lighting.


More Holders for Gas for Carriage Lighting

For background see Order No 3365 above.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
373224 Apr
1891
H.P. Gas Holder 6' 9" x 23' 4½"270 lbs Stratford E. 
378616 Jul
1891
H.P. Gas Holders 23' 4½" x 6' 9"200/270 lbs Stratford 

Note on Order No 3786:
In the 'Description' column of the order book, the word 'Holder?' appears to be in the plural but there is no other indication that the order was for more than one.


Stratford Market Printing Works (East London)

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
39089 Feb
1892
35 HP Coupled Simple Class B Girder Engine and 20' 10" Lancashire Boiler(s?)100/175 lbs6114
6115
6116
Stratford Printing Works9 Jul
1892

Notes:
The manuscript entry of the Description in the copy order book is not entirely legible and therefore the number of boilers and boiler length require confirmation. The three Register numbers indicate three items of plant. The GER committee minute below refers to 'boiler and engines'. The engine as described above was a 'coupled simple' so would actually comprise two engines, side by side with identical size cylinders (i.e. not compound) driving a common crankshaft, usually with the flywheel fixed between the two cranks. It is therefore possible/probable the engines were Nos 6114 and 6115 and that there was one boiler, No 6116.
more >> on the Class B Girder Engine and illustrations.

Relevant extract from minutes of the GER Way and Works Committee
 2nd February 1892
Stratford Market Printing Works. Boiler and engines, contract to Davey, Paxman & Co @ £955 including installation.


GER's Norton Folgate Power Station

In 1892 the GER decided to build an electric lighting generating station at Norton Folgate to illuminate its London Liverpool Street Station and associated buildings. This was one of the earliest power stations to be built by a railway company in the UK and Colonel R E B Crompton, the leading British electrical engineer of his day, was appointed electrical contractor. Col Crompton personally oversaw the electrical side of the installation and his company designed and manufactured the dynamos. Paxman supplied five "Windsor" steam engines and three "Economic" boilers, listed below, to drive the dynamos. The Norton Folgate power station, situated just north of Liverpool Street Station, on Shoreditch High Street, was brought into use during November 1893.

The Windsor engine was an inverted vertical type designed for driving dynamos. Developed by Paxman in 1884/5, one was installed in Windsor Castle in 1885 as part of the Castle's first electric light plant. Queen Victoria subsequently granted Paxman permission to use the "Windsor" name for this engine range.

In addition to the five engines and three boilers listed immediately below, a further boiler and two 200 IHP Windsor engines were ordered for Norton Folgate the following year - see Order Nos 4255, 4314 and 4319. Another "Economic" boiler was ordered in 1900 and alterations to a 200 IHP Windsor engine in 1903 - see Order Nos 6150 and 7079.

Further Reading: The Great Eastern Light, A history of the Great Eastern Railway's electric light generating station at 233 Shoreditch High Street, London, by J E Connor, published in 2000 by The London Railway Heritage Society.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
407115 Sep
1892
2. 200 IHP Compound Windsor Engines140 lbs6365
6365a
London 
407215 Sep
1892
3. 100 IHP Compound Windsor Engines12" + 18¾" x 15"6366-
6368
London 
407315 Sep
1892
3. 14' 6" x 7' 6" dia Economic Boilers140/240 lbs6369-
6371
LondonJune
1893

Note on Order No 4071:
The entry for Order No 4319 (see below) reveals that the 200 IHP Windsor engine had cylinders of 18" + 28½" bore x 18" stroke.

The contracts show that the 100 IHP engines were designed for a working steam pressure of 146 psi and a speed of 150 rpm, the 200 IHP engines for a pressure of 140 psi and a speed of 130 rpm.

Relevant extract from a minutes book of the GER Directors
 2nd August 1892
Chairman Mr. C.H. Parkes, 8 other Directors. Page 149
Electric lighting Liverpool Street Station and Hotel and other stations &c. Contract with Messrs. Crompton & Co., & Messrs. Davey Paxman & Co. for £22,379/15/6 agreed subject to certain conditions; £5000 for Buildings for Engines, Boilers, Dynamos agreed; lighting for new portions of Liverpool St. Station and Hotel to be considered later.

The Norton Folgate power station became a sub-station when the GER completed its Stratford Power House in 1907. Norton Folgate was finally closed in 1932.


Creosoting Cylinder for Lowestoft Sleeper Plant

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
421024 Apr
1893
Creosoting Cylinder 5' 11" diameter    

Notes:
No length specified for the cylinder.
Cylinder used for impregnating railway sleepers with creosote, under pressure, at the creosoting works which was part of the GER's sleeper manufacturing plant at Lowestoft. Interesting to note from the second minutes extract below that Paxman did not get the creosoting cylinder work for which it quoted in 1899.

Relevant extracts from minutes of the GER Way and Works Committee
 18th April 1893
Lowestoft, creosoting works, new cylinder. Order to Davey, Paxman @ £179.15.0.
 4th April 1899
Lowestoft creosoting plant, extension of cylinder. Quotes by Davey Paxman and T. Befley. Order to Befley at £114.


Norton Folgate Power Station – further orders

For background see Order Nos 4071 to 4073, of September 1892, above.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
425530 Jun
1893
14' 6" x 7' 6" dia Economic Boiler140/240 lbs6636London 
431421 Oct
1893
200 IHP Compound Windsor Engine140/240 lbs6723  
43191 Nov
1893
200 IHP Windsor Vertical Engine18" + 28½" x 18"6728  

Note:
Although the engine under Order No 4314 is described as a 'Compound Windsor', and that under Order No 4319 as a 'Windsor Vertical', they are the same: both are vertical compounds.

Relevant extract from a minutes book of the GER Directors
 7th November 1893
Chairman, Lord C.J. Hamilton, 7 other directors. Page 342.
Electric Lighting of Liverpool St. Stn., the Hotel, Bishopsgate Passenger Station, Bishopsgate Goods Station, Bishopsgate Goods Yard, Spitalfields Goods Yard and Bethnal Green Passenger Station. Original Estimate £22,379/15/6 did not include Bethnal Green Station; this to be added, cost £1600, Messrs. Crompton and Davey Paxman to do the work.

Relevant extract from minutes of the GER Way and Works Committee
 7th November 1893
Bishopsgate, electric lighting, boiler and engine to Davey, Paxman; generator to Crompton & Co. Water tank from Frazer & Son £93.15.0.


8 NHP Steam Engine for London

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
494430 Jul
1896
8 HP Single Cylinder Steam Engine9½" x 12"9137London25 Aug
1896

Notes:
As yet, it has not been possible to identify where in London this engine was despatched to or what it was required for.
It could possibly have been one of Paxman's Class A engines - a very simple, low cost, low power output type.
more >> about the Class A Engine and an illustration.


Parkeston Quay

The GER started building Parkeston Quay, near Harwich, in August 1879 because it had run out of space to expand its port facilities at Harwich. Parkeston was formally opened on Saturday March 17th, 1883, as reported in the Harwich and Dovercourt Free Press.

In May 1899 the GER ordered three Paxman "Peache Patent" steam engines, five "Economic" boilers and two condensers for a power generation facility at Parkeston Quay.

The Peache Patent engine was a high-speed, single-acting compound specifically designed for electrical power generation. The Fcc type was a condensing version with a 7" stroke and a standard output of 100 bhp at 460 rpm; maximum output 110 bhp at 500 rpm.

The Peache was designed by James Courthope Peache and manufactured solely by Paxman at Colchester between 1895 and 1913. For the history and a detailed description of this type of engine go to the Paxman "Peache Patent" page.

Superheaters for the five boilers were ordered in 1918 - see Order Nos 13727 to 13731.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
57536 May
1899
3. Fcc Peache Engines 10305-10307Parkeston Quay23 May
1900
57546 May
1899
5. 14' 0" x 8' 0" dia Economic Boilers 10308-
10312
Parkeston Quay1-18 May
1900
57556 May
1899
Independent Surface Condensers 10313
10314
Parkeston Quay16 Jun
1901

Relevant extract from minutes of the GER Way and Works Committee
 2nd May 1899
Parkeston Quay, boilers, engines hydraulics, electrics, etc. Contract to Davey, Paxman and Co. (Colchester) at £6333 less £178 for work deferred.


Norton Folgate Power Station – yet more orders

From the date and description of the following order, and the GER committee minute below, this boiler must have been for Norton Folgate.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
615030 Jul
1900
14' 6" x 7' 6" dia Economic Boiler140/240 lbs10835London8 Jun
1901

Relevant extract from minutes of the GER Way and Works Committee
 17th July 1900
Norton Folgate. Boiler Davey Paxman £588.10. Pump Crompton Co. £128. Copper strip 2 tons 3 cwts 30 lbs at 9¼d per lb.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
707926 Jun
1903
Alterations to 200 IHP Windsor Engine  Liverpool Street, Norton Folgate.20 Jan
1904

GER Laundry at Colchester – further orders

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
774125 Aug
1905
One 15" x 24" Horizontal Girder Steam Engine15" x 24" GER Laundry Colchester24 Nov
1905

Note:
Although a 1912 GER Magazine article states that the motive power of the Colchester laundry was obtained from a 35 horse-power Paxman horizontal steam engine, the bore and stroke above suggests it was probably a 20 NHP Class B engine with a power output under normal load of 45 bhp at 85 rpm with a steam pressure of 90 psi. As the Cornish boiler ordered at the same time, Order No 7742 below, was only rated 80 psi perhaps the engine was de-rated to around 35 bhp.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
774225 Aug
1905
One 21' 0" x 5' 3" dia Cornish Boiler80 lbs12703GER Laundry Colchester17 Nov
1905

Relevant extract from minutes of the GER Way and Works Committee:
 3rd October 1905
Stratford Power Station. Three steam turbine generators to C A Parsons at £18,459. Nine Galloway boilers to Galloways Ltd. for above scheme at £6705; Hunstanton. Footbridge extension. E Swingler at £104; Colchester Laundry. Two rotary washing machines, 59" diameter, two cast iron pulleys at £355.19.0. One hydro extractor 42" diameter at £91. One Great Western Decudon ironer, 42" by 120" at £398.8.0. Ladies finger guard £24.10.0. Manlove, Alliott & Co. Ltd., 41/42 Parliament St. SW. Horizontal steam engine and Cornish boiler £578.10.0. Davey, Paxman & Co. Ltd.


Cornish Boiler for Liverpool Street

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
1123022 Sep
1911
11' x 4' dia Cornish Boiler80 lbs17258Liverpool Street27 Nov
1911

Note:
It would be interesting to know what this boiler was for. The Cornish boiler was much less efficient and took up much more space than a Paxman Economic of equivalent steam output.


GER Laundry at Colchester – yet more orders

Two "Economic" boilers were ordered by the GER in January 1915. The index in the relevant Paxman copy order book indicates that these were for the GER Laundry at Colchester. Were they replacements for boilers supplied by Paxman in 1887 and/or November 1905 (Order 7742) or additions?

An article about the Colchester laundry published in a 1912 issue of the GER Magazine stated that the number of separate articles washed per annum had grown from 949,030 in 1890 to 3,473,121 in 1911. The laundry was run by a Mr and Mrs John Bellchambers who in 1912 had 'a staff of 59 girls and 12 men'.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
1291518 Jan
1915
14' 0" x 8' 0" dia Economic Boiler 18945Colchester4 Aug
1915
1291618 Jan
1915
14' 0" x 8' 0" dia Economic Boiler 18946Colchester10 Jan
1916

Superheaters for Boilers at Parkeston Quay

Five superheaters ordered in 1918 can only have been for the five Paxman "Economic" boilers supplied to Parkeston Quay under Order No 5754. The type of superheater supplied would be heated by the hot gases in the combustion chamber situated at the rear of an Economic boiler.

Order
No
Date
Ent'd
DescriptionCyl or WPReg NoWhere sentDate
Sent
137272 May
1918
Rear C. C. Superheater 19757Parkeston Quay13 Feb
1919
137282 May
1918
Rear C. C. Superheater 19758Parkeston Quay13 Feb
1919
137292 May
1918
Rear C. C. Superheater 19759Parkeston Quay13 Feb
1919
137302 May
1918
Rear C. C. Superheater 19760Parkeston Quay13 Feb
1919
137312 May
1918
Rear C. C. Superheater 19761Parkeston Quay13 Feb
1919

Note:
'C C' in the above entry is short for 'Combustion Chamber'.


Acknowledgement:
I am heavily indebted to Bill King, Secretary of the Great Eastern Railway Society, for the considerable amount of information he has provided including extracts from GER committee minutes and GER magazine articles. The Society's extensive website is at www.gersociety.org.uk
There are references above to the GER Magazine. Issued monthly from January 1911 to December 1926 (by which time the GER was part of the LNER), these magazines contain a wealth of interesting information about the Railway during the relevant period. The GER Society has had all the magazines digitised into text-searchable PDF files which can be purchased at reasonable cost from the Society as a set of DVDs. For details see www.gersociety.org.uk/GERM.pdf


© Richard Carr 2009

Page updated: 27 MAY 2014