Great Northern Railway, Ireland

click for 8K .jpg image of GNRI coat of arms GNRI Coat of Arms. Source: SRA696

History: Summary

Formed from an amalgamation of the Ulster [1839], Northern Railway [1875] (Dublin and Drogheda Railway [1844] and Dublin and Belfast Junction Railway [1848]) and the Irish North Western Railways [1862] (formerly Dundalk and Enniskillen Railway [1845] which rented the Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway [1847], which in turn had an independent existence until bought out in 1883) in 1876. Subsequent mergers, in 1879 with Newry and Armagh Railway [1857](previously Newry and Enniskillen Railway [1854]), in 1885 with Belfast Central Railway [1875], in 1886 with the Newry, Warrenpoint and Rostrevor Railway and in 1913 with the Castleblayney, Keady and Armagh Railway. Became the Great Northern Railway Board [1953], which began operations on 1/9/1953. On 1/10/1958 CIE and the UTA took over its operations in the 26 and 6 counties respectively. Rolling stock was apportioned between the two companies.

Rolling stock: Between 39 and 47 (sources differ) locomotives were constructed at the Dundalk works [1881-1958] while 230 were purchased elsewhere, Beyer Peacock being the favoured supplier (+/- 150). 12 carriages from Metropolitan in 1877
Works: Dundalk.
Livery: 1904 (RM 10/1904, p.282) Loco and tender - green, crimson frame, black and white lining; coaches teak varnish. After 1926 (Baker) Locos: 1916-28 black with red lining. Great Northern on tender and tank sides. Crest on splashers of tender engines. 1928 onwards black with no lining, initials GNR on tender and tank sides, no crest. Compounds from 1933 in black with double red lining. Great Northern with crest between on tender sides. In 1935 repainted in sky blue with blue and black lining, initials GN on tender with crest between and crest also above spashers. Similar livery borne by rebuilt S and S2s from 1938 also new VSs and Vs on delivery and eventually, after 1948, all 4-4-0s except smallest. Carriages varnished mahogany, until 1928 lined straw. Numbered and lettered in gold shaded blue. Crest on sides. Metal panelled stock orange-brown after brief period of imitation wood graining. Railcars blue lower and cream upper bands. Wagons grey. [WR: From 1934, the GNR began to make more lavish use of of coa on both engines and carriages, using a large version, much bigger than the small one which had been used at one time but discontinued for some years. Compounds were originally painted black with red lines. They were repainted blue in 1936 and this was extended to the 170 class in 1938].
Staff: Locomotive superintendents were W.Curry 1875 (northern Railway), J.Eaton, T.Callaghan, W.Curry, and C.Clifford 1876, J.C.Park and J.Eaton 1880, J.C.Park 1885, C.Clifford 1895, G.T.Glover 1912, G.B.Howden 1933, and H.R.McIntosh 1939, R.W.Meredith 1950, H.E.Wilson 1957-8. Secretaries were J.P.Culverwell 1876, H.Plews 1890, T.Morrison 1896, J.B.Stephens 1919, F.C.Wallace 1926 and [GNRB] P.K.M.Carey 1952. General Managers were T.Robertson 1890, H.Plews 1896, J.Bagwell 1911, J.B.Stephens 1926, G.B.Howden 1939-52. For officers of constituents see Appendix 2 The Great Northern Railway of Ireland E.M.Patterson.
Signalling: Watches provided to staff on Howth branch on 30/7/1846. Absolute block between Amiens St. and Raheny in 1877.On double line absolute block system - Harper's instruments. Exceptions were third line Belfast-Balmoral and Belfast Central - permissive block working (absolute block later for passenger workings). Single lines by electric train staff and in its later years Goraghwood-Markethill - single line staff. Howth tramway - bull's eye electric lights.
Other: Eight types of uniform in 1877: Stationmaster Grade 1, Grade 2, Guard, Ticket Collector, Goods' guard, Head porter, Porter, Pointsman.
Extensive publicity campaign in spring 1935 with posters and booklets. Best known poster was 1938 Boyne viaduct.

Further reading: K.A.Murray The GNR(I), E.M.Patterson The GNR of Ireland, R.M.Arnold The Golden Years of the GN railway, Volumes I and II, J.McQuillan The Railway Town, Michael C. Baker Irish Railways since 1916, W.Robb "Recollections of the GNR", JIRRS 672. Norman Johnston's authoritative Locomotives of the GNRI, published by Colourpoint, helped to clear up a perplexing problem for me. Of particular interest was Ch 12 of the book which covers GNR(I) tenders. Now, thanks to Norman's research, I know from which types my plates (one of which is illustrated on next page) come. Norman Johnston The Great Northern Railway (Ireland) in colour.
newWeb: Try a picture of Railway Signal Company Great Northern Railway of Ireland pattern frame. Also GNR buses has a useful treatment of that aspect of GNR operations.

Coat of Arms

click for 9K .jpg image of GNRB coat of arms GNRB Coat of Arms Source: SRA696

Comment: Two main varieties exist, the GNRI (shown at top of page) and the GNRB (shown above). Within these varieties there are differences in size and in the colour of the garter. As far as size is concerned, there seem basically to be a large (variously described in auction catalogues [no. of occurrences recorded] as loco [1GNRB, 1GNRI turquoise], tender [2GNRI], large [1GNRI,1GNRB] ) and small (described as such at auctions 5 [4GNRI, 1GNRB] times). Remaining appearances are either, not stated [11GNRI], or GNRI blue garter 30 cms [SRA 692]. The latter, if the diameter of the transfer rather than the board, would suggest that, in addition to the large [45.5] and the small [20.5], there is one somewhere in between. On the colour of the garter, there are dark blue and turquoise varieties, seemingly, of each. I have a dark blue 45cm GNRI (the mate of the turquoise loco?), a dark blue 20cm GNRB, and a turquoise 20cm GNRI. A tentative classification might be:
I20T: Small GNRI turquoise - quite common;
I20B: Small GNRI dark blue - to be proved;
B20T: Small GNRB turquoise - quite common;
B20B: Small GNRB dark blue - to be proved;
I30B: Medium GNRI dark blue - to be checked;
I45T: Large GNRI turquoise - exists;
I45B: Large GNRI dark blue - exists;
B45T: Large GNRB turquoise - to be proved;
B45B: Large GNRB dark blue - to be proved.

click for 9k GNRI monogram GNRI monogram. Source: © G. Hartley (scan RCJ)

Rolling Stock railwayana (see supplementary page on GNRI rolling stock railwayana for full details)

click for 6K .jpg image of GNR nameplateGNR nameplate. Source: SRA601

See supplementary GNRI rolling stock railwayana page for additional name and number plates

Works & tenderplates:
click for 10K .jpg image of GNR makers' plate GNR makers plate

click for 10K .jpg image of GNR makers' plate Makers' plate No. 115 Source: SRA900

BP6038, Works ex151, Tender GNRI, 2500gal, GNRI Ddk 1922, BP1914 ex199, 64B 1901 Tender, GNRI Ddk 1927, BP6734/32, Tender 63BMakers Ddk 1900, GNRI Ddk, GNRI Ddk 1921, BP1954, GNRI Ddk 1921, 123D2 1929 Ddk, BP 7244 Manchester 1947 (ex 201), BP 1921 Manchester (GNR or BCDR), Tender 132D2 1937 Ddk, BP 6735 Manchester (ex 87), GNRI Ddk 117B2 1923, Nasmyth Wilson (ex 115), BP6630 Manchester (ex 62), BP6963 Manchester 1949 (ex Lagan).

See supplementary GNRI rolling stock railwayana page for additional makers' plates

Carriage and wagon plates:
click for 6K .jpg image of GNR carriage plateGNR K11 carriage plate

click for 9K .jpg image of GNR axleboxGNR axlebox cover. Source: D.Cronin

See supplementary GNRI rolling stock railwayana page for additional items

Lineside and station railwayana (see supplementary page on GNRI lineside railwayana for full details)

Footbridge: SRA1296

Bridge Restriction: Full title enamel.
click for 10K .jpg image of GNRI enamel bridge GNR enamel bridge. Source: SRA698

See supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page for additional signs

Bridge Numbers:
So far 14 at auction. Those actually identified in catalogues, and others known to exist, are as follows:
No.8, No.14, No.17, No.27, No.38, No.59, No.66, No.69, No.86, No.87, No.151, No.153, No.200, No.274.

click for 2K .jpg image of GNR bridge nos. One GNRI bridge. Click for the other five.

Cast Iron Trespass:
click for 15K .jpg image of GNRI c.i. trespass Post mounted. Source: SRA600

TR1 Early post-mounted trespass - one auctioned (originally thought GNR)

See supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page for additional trespass signs
CT1 [23x30cm] (substitute railway/tramway in photo) - several exist, IRRS one;
CT2 [23x30cm] (tramway, photo) - IRRS one: 'tram' looks specially modified;
CT3 [28.4x56.4cm] (photo) - several exist;

CT3b similar Board version - at least one exists
CT4 [13.8x20.2cm] (small variety, photo) - quite a number;
SRA988, ORA390, SRA990, SRA491, SRA691, Full title enamel SRA1091, 28x56cm ORA392, small SRA692 (20x13cm), Enamel(battered!) ORA792, small SRA293, BRA693 (20x13cm), BRA294, 28x57cm 5 line welded BRA497.

Enamel Trespass:
GNR enamel ET1 (photo on supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page)

click for 11K .jpg image of GNRI enamel trespass GNR enamel ET2. Source: BRA

GNR enamel ET3 (photo on supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page)

ET1 (photo) - at least one exists;
ET2 [30.4x50.8] (photo) - at least two exist;
ET3 Simpler than ET1 or ET2, with few words, appeared at Kiddlington auction 7/92.

Enamel Billposters:
click for 6K .jpg image of GNRI enamel billposter GNR enamel EB1 EB1 [40.8x45.8cm] (see photo) - several exist.

click for 5K .jpg image of GNRI cast iron

GNR title arc (straight on supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page ), cast iron

click for 6K .jpg image of station sign Sutton (Donabate, Strabane and St. Johnston on supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page )
click for 4K .jpg image of station enamelGNR station enamel, blue/white

Station (seats from recollection): 'Donabate' 40x12cm rounded ends, 'Sutton', 'Strabane', 'St. Johnston' 54x11.4cm.
click for 5K .jpg image of station sign GNR?(BNCR) door sign (See supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page for additional signs)

Ladies waiting room - Fry, Others - private

click for 9K .jpg GNRI lamp GNRI headlamp. Source: BRA401. (See supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page for a second lamp, clock and bell)

Mileposts: '3/4', Set 20, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 mounted.
click for 5K .jpg image of GNR 1/4 mile GNR mileposts (See supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page for 1/2 and 3/4)
click for 4K .jpg image of GNR levelGNR gradient signs (See supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page for ramps up)

Railchair: BRA794

Signalling: Miniature SL 'Newtown Butler-Clones West', 2 ground signals, 4 aspect - copper, WT staff 'Castle Caldwell-Belleek', Miniature 'Nenagh-Birdhill', WT staffs 'Laytown-Mosney', 'Dundalk South-Dundalk Barrack St.' Handlamp

Cutlery, china, ashtrays etc.: Astrays, chrome from railcar, silver milk jug, china milk jug, ewer, 3 plates, soup dish, peanut dish, inkwell.

Miscellaneous: Strabane clock, hinge, Coach board Bundoran

click for 4K .jpg image of Enniskillen sealEnniskillen, Bundoran & Sligo copper seal. Source: SRA595
click for 7K .jpg image of GNR hingeGNR hinge (probably axlebox - DC) (See supplementary GNRI lineside railwayana page for spanner and ewer)

blue ball Return to index page, or go to GNRI subpage, GNRI rolling stock railwayana. blue ball

red ball Return to auction price data on original pages red ball

red ball For genealogy, go to my Lennan genealogy pages red ball

Page content posted 27/7/1997. Revised 11/12/08

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