Designed by Patrick Stirling, they are characterized by a single pair of large driving wheels which led to the nickname "eight-footer". Originally, the locomotive was designed to carry up to 26 passenger carriages at an average speed of 47 miles per hour.
About the Class Leader, No. 1 Edit
Number 1 was the first of its type built, in 1870, and carried three boilers over the course of her 37-year service life. She was withdrawn in 1907 and condemned at Doncaster Works, but was set a side for a year before being cosmetically restored, given a new tender (a Sturrock one with wooden brakes), and transported to London by rail for display at the Franco-British Exhibition with one of her replacements— newly-built GNR C1 Class Large Boilered "Atlantic" no. 1442— at the White City Exhibition Grounds in Shepherd's Bush.
After the exhibition, the Atlantic type engine entered service whilst the Single was taken to Kings Cross shed where she was left to deteriorate for the next 13 years. Over this period of time, all of her sisters were being scrapped, leaving her the only surviving example of the class. In 1921 she was brought out of the Shed, cleaned up and used in a photo shoot, followed with another in 1922. In 1924, she was sent to Doncaster for an overhaul where she was given her fourth boiler. The engine was mended in time for the Stockton and Darlington centenary celebrations and ran in a "parade" of myriad locomotives and rolling stock. When the celebrations were over, she was placed on display at the LNER's new Railway Museum in York. From time to time she had several outings until 1938. She never steamed for many years, but was stored in various sheds in the North East of England and the Scottish Borders, and back to York as a static display. Number 1 did venture out of the museum in 1975, for the Stockton and Darlington 150th anniversary celebrations at Shildon, now home to the NRM's Locomotion annex housed in the former wagon works. It was also at Shildon a couple of times while the York Railway Museum was being rebuilt.
However, in the late 1970's, it was decided that Number 1 be restored back to working order on the Great Central Railway. It was overhauled before it arrived there November the 11th, 1981. A few weeks later, on the 3rd of December a fire was lit in her boiler for the first time since 1938. Her first public steaming was two days later, and the Single pulled light passenger trains there. The only other visit to a heritage railway was in mid-1982, where she moved to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. After a couple of runs, her fire was dropped once again, and later she was moved back to the National Railway Museum.
Today, Number 1 is the only one of its class left in existence and resides at the National Railway Museum in York, England. Until very recently, in late 2014, the Single Stirling locomotive did not have its historically accurate tender. The locomotive used a much lower tender that exposed the cab mostly at the backhead of the locomotive; this restricted the Single Stirling to a much lower coal and water consumption than it had previously on its working life on the GNR. The historically inaccurate tender (as seen above) is actually a small Sturrock tender given to the engine after retirement in 1907 and prior to its first exhibition visit. In late 2014 as mentioned earlier, at NRM's Shildon museum No.1 was fitted back with a newly restored tender that was historically accurate to No.1's heydeys on the GNR including the increased height that reached further up the cab's backhead, the tender was renovated by the "Stirling Tender Project".
In 2016, after staying at Shildon for nearly a decade, Number 1 returned to York in time for the special "East Coast Main Line reunion" exhibition "Stunts, Speed and Style" and for Gresley A3 Pacific No. 60103 Flying Scotsman's first visit there after overhaul. She remains on display at the Great Hall.