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, following the opening of the GN&GE joint line. The first Y14s were built in July 1883, and they would go on to become the most numerous of the Great Eastern Railway’s locomotive types, with a total of 259 being built in 27 batches. One of the reasons for the type’s 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, beating the previous record set at Crewe.
The boiler design of the Y14 was to become Holden’s standard, small engine boiler, the dome being placed well forward with a long stovepipe chimney. Hauling both freight and passenger stock and with a very low axle loading, they could run virtually anywhere on the Great Eastern’s network, a trait that saw 43 engines loaned to the Government for service on the Western Front in the First World War. Withdrawals from service started to take place during the early 1920s, seventeen disappearing before Grouping in 1923. The newly formed London North Eastern Railway re-designated the 272 remaining engines of the Y14 Class as J15 Class and as the numbers of locomotives reduced, the roles assigned to the J15s changed, local freight and cross-country passenger services being typical.
Rarely allocated outside East Anglia, scrapping of the class recommenced in 1947 and just 127 locomotives were handed over to British Rail, by the LNER, in 1948. Seventy one engines made it through to British Rail re-numbering in the 60,000 number series, the last four being withdrawn from service on September 16, 1962.
Locomotive 5444 was built at Stratford Works under Order X45 and entered traffic during July 1899 as NER No.644. Renumbered to LNER No.7644 following Grouping, in September 1946 the locomotive was renumbered to 5444. The locomotive spent its working life being allocated between Stratford and Colchester sheds and made it through to Nationalisation in 1948, taking the BR No.65444, finally being withdrawn in October 1958 and cut up in January 1959.