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British Railway Steam Locomotive

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Note: To Obtain Consistency in the Steam System, Shed Codes used are those Registered at Nationalisation on 1st January 1948
Number30939 c
2nd Grouping Number
1st Grouping Numbersr 939
2nd Pre Grouping Number
1st Pre Grouping Number
Works/Lot Number
Class CodeV
DesignerMaunsell REL
BuilderEastleigh Works (LSWR/SR/British Railways)
1948 Shed73B Bricklayers Arms
Last Shed70A Nine Elms
Disposal detailsAshford Works (B.R.)
DisposalCut Up
Disposal Date30/09/1961

Class Information

The SR V class, more commonly known as the Schools class, is a class of steam locomotive designed by Richard Maunsell for the Southern Railway. Of all Richard Maunsell's designs for the Southern Railway his Schools Class V is without hesitation not only his most successful but without doubt one of the finest applications of British steam locomotive practice ever. With the new Lord Nelson class and King Arthur class engines maintaining the majority of express passenger services the operating department issued a requirement for an express passenger locomotive of intermediate power that would be able to operate on lines with severe restrictions such as the Tonbridge to Hastings and Chatham to Ramsgate lines. The initial reaction was to offer a cut down (3 cylindered 4 drivered) Lord Nelson. However this was not found to be practicable since the use of the Nelson's Belpaire firebox within a such a restricted loading gauge would severely impede the forward view from the cab. The solution was to use a shortened King Arthur pattern boiler but retaining the full late series N15/S15 firebox. Thus, the class was a cut down version of his Lord Nelson class but also incorporated components from Urie and Maunsell's LSWR/SR King Arthur class. The boiler operating pressure was 220 psi - 20 psi higher than a King Arthur. The end result more than exceeded expectations since the design proved to be extremely free steaming even with poor grades of coal and with remarkably low internal friction contributing to a tractive effort of 25120 lb - only 200 lb less than a King Arthur. With that power and only 42 tons adhesion weight the class required careful handling when starting from rest.

It was the last locomotive in Britain to be designed with a 4-4-0 wheel arrangement, and was the most powerful class of 4-4-0 ever produced in Europe. All 40 of the class were named after English public schools, and were designed to provide a powerful class of intermediate express passenger locomotive for lines which could cope with high axle loads but some of which had short turntables. Because of the use of a ‘’King Arthur’’ firebox, rather than the square-topped Belpaire firebox used on the Lord Nelsons, the class could be used on lines with a restricted loading gauge and some of the best performance by the class was on the heavily restricted Tonbridge to Hastings line. The locomotives performed well from the beginning but were subject to various minor modifications to improve their performance over the years. The class operated until 1961 when mass withdrawals took place and all had gone by December 1962. Three examples are now preserved on heritage railways in Britain.

By 1928 the Southern Railway was well served by large 4-6-0 express passenger locomotives, but there was an urgent need for a class to fulfill intermediate roles throughout the system. Maunsell’s previous attempt at developing his predecessor’s L class for this task had proven a disappointment, and the Drummond D15 and L12 classes were approaching the end of their useful lives on these services. An entirely new secondary express passenger locomotive was required to operate over the main lines throughout the system including those that had relatively short turntables.

Maunsell’s original plan was to use large-wheeled 2-6-4 tank engines for this purpose, but the Sevenoaks railway accident made him have second thoughts. He therefore chose a relatively short wheelbase 4-4-0 design although by this period 4-6-0 was more usual for this type of work. Authorities disagree as to whether Maunsell had in mind the restricted loading gauge of the Tonbridge to Hastings line when he designed the class, or whether this was an “unexpected bonus” when he was forced to substitute a “King Arthur” round-topped firebox to his planned Belpaire design to reduce the axle load on the driving wheels to acceptable limits. In either event the class was undoubtedly Maunsell’s most immediately successful design, and the locomotives did some of their best work on the Hastings route.

The basic layout of the class was influenced by the existing ‘’Lord Nelson’’ class 4-6-0 design, but the use of the round topped firebox enabled Maunsell to design the cab's curved profile to fit the gauge restrictions of the Hastings line while allowing adequate forward visibility. The short frame length of the 4-4-0 locomotive also meant very little overhang on the line's tight curves. To maintain the high power rating required for express passenger engines, Maunsell opted for a three-cylinder design. In terms of tractive effort, the class was the most powerful 4-4-0 ever built in Britain, and were the only 4-4-0 type to be given the power classification of 5P by British Railways. They were well liked by crews. They also had a higher tractive effort than the nominally more powerful King Arthur class 4-6-0s, but at the cost of high axle-loading: 21 long tons (21 t). The permanent way on the Hastings line therefore had to be upgraded during 1929 and 1930 to accept the new locomotive.

Permission was granted for the first batch of fifteen locomotives in March 1928, but this was reduced to ten when it became apparent that they would not immediately be able to operate on the Hastings route. Production delays at Eastleigh railway works meant that they were not delivered until between March and July 1930. Although intended for the eastern section the early locomotives were temporarily assigned to Nine Elms for testing on Waterloo to Salisbury and Bournemouth services. Remarkably no adjustments were found to be necessary during this testing and the qualities of the new design were rapidly becoming apparent. Once the original batch had proved their worth and had been well received by the crews a further twenty locomotives were ordered in March 1931 for delivery between December 1932 and March 1934. A third batch of twenty were ordered from Eastleigh in March 1932 for delivery after the completion of the previous order, but this was subsequently reduced to ten locomotives because of the continuing trade depression. The final locomotive in the class was delivered in July 1935.

The first batch of ten, 900-909, were completed at Eastleigh in 1930 and A batch of twenty 910-929 was built at Eastleigh between 1932 and 1934 and then a final ten 930-939 between 1934 and 1935, again at Eastleigh. In the batch of twenty the naming strayed from Public Schools within the Southern sphere but it firmly returned for the final ten.

Naming the locomotives : The first engine emerged from Eastleigh works in mid-March 1930 and was numbered 900. Reflecting the by-now successful public relations policy the class was to be named after Public boarding schools - a traffic flow with which at the start and end of school terms the railway had a long association. 900 was named Eton. It was displayed to the public at Waterloo on 26th March 1930 and not long after taken to Windsor for inspection by boys of that College. This practice was repeated with the relevant school with many of the new introductions.

The Southern Railway continued its 1923 naming policy for express passenger locomotives with this class. As several public schools were located on the Southern Railway network, the locomotives were named after them. This was another marketing success for both railway and schools concerned, continuing in the tradition of the N15 King Arthur and Lord Nelson classes'.

Where possible, the Southern sent the newly constructed locomotive to a station near the school after which it was named for its official naming ceremony, when pupils were allowed to view the cab of "their" engine. Extension of the class meant that names from "foreign" schools outside the Southern Railway catchment area were used, including Rugby and Malvern.

The class performed well from the outset, but there were a number of minor modifications over the years. The first ten were built without smoke deflectors, but these were added from August 1931, and the remaining thirty were fitted with them from new. Following the successful introduction of the Lemaître multiple jet blastpipes on to the Lord Nelson class, Maunsell's successor Oliver Bulleid began to fit them to the Schools class. However no discernible improvement to draughting was experienced, and only twenty examples were so modified.

The original ten locomotives were shared between Dover for use on the South Eastern Main Line and Eastbourne for London expresses. Several of the former later transferred to Ramsgate. By mid 1931 they began to be used on the Hastings services and as more locomotives became available later that year they also appeared on Portsmouth expresses. After the electrification of the London to Eastbourne and the London to Portsmouth routes in the late 1930s the class also began to be used from Bournemouth. Under British Railways they were also widely used on cross-country trains from Brighton to Cardiff and Exeter and on the Newhaven Boat Trains. Two locomotives (30902 and 30921) were briefly supplied with Lord Nelson tenders for use on the longer runs of the Western Section.

The class was frequently regarded by locomotive crews as the finest constructed by the Southern Railway up to 1930, and could turn in highly spectacular performances for its size. The fastest recorded speed for these locomotives was 95 mph (153 km/h), achieved near Wool railway station in 1938 by 928 Stowe pulling a four coach train from Dorchester to Wareham. However there was a drawback with such high power and relatively low weight; when starting the locomotive from a standstill, wheelslips frequently occurred, calling for skilled handling on the footplate.

The reception given by footplate crews was such that more of the class were constructed for other parts of the network, although the electrification of the Southern's Eastern Section meant that they were dispersed from their original stamping grounds.

As with all Maunsell passenger locos the whole class eventually gained smoke deflectors and being primarily an eastern section engine they mostly ran with six wheeled tenders, although in later life two (30912 and 30921) ran with Lord Nelson pattern bogie tenders on the western section. After Bulleid had succeeded Maunsell as CME of the Southern Railway, he modified three engines, Nos. 914, 931 and 937, with Lemaitre multiple-jey blast pipes. In 1939 he experimented further with No. 937 Epsom and fitted an extended smokebox and at one time a particularly large stovepipe chimney. Eventually a decision was taken in 1938 to modify twenty-one engines with Lemaitre multiple-jey blast pipes and large diameter chimneys, with the remainder retaining their original Maunsell single blast pipe and chimney. The modified locos appearance was drastically altered by the fitting of multiple jet blastpipes and large chimneys. In early BR days they gained mixed-traffic lined black livery which given their distinguished service was not a popular decision. They gained the passenger Brunswick green livery for their later BR days.

Although mostly associated with eastern section services ten were, until electrification, assigned to Fratton for use on Waterloo to Portsmouth services. On this winding and hilly route they provided excellent and spirited service. The introduction of British Rail Class 201 diesel-electric multiple units to the Hastings route after 1957 and the completion of the electrification of the South Eastern Main Line in 1961 deprived the class of much of their work. They were then transferred to Bournemouth Central depot and it is on Waterloo to Bournemouth runs they were able to show repeatedly what they were really capable of. The Schools class was both popular and legendary amongst their crews.

When built, the Schools Class were outshopped in Maunsell's darker version of the LSWR passenger sage green livery lined in black and white, with cabside numberplates and "Southern" and the loco number on the tender in yellow. Later adaptations of the Southern Railway livery following Bulleid's arrival as Chief Mechanical Engineer entailed Malachite Green livery, again with "Sunshine Yellow" picking out the numbers and "Southern" on the tender (during the Second World War the locomotives were painted black with yellow lettering and numbers.). The smoke deflectors – a later addition – were also treated with this livery. Numbers allocated to the locomotives were 900–939.
Post-1948 (nationalisation)

Initial livery after nationalisation in 1948 was modified Southern Railway malachite green and sunshine yellow with 'British Railways' on the tender, and the Southern numbering system was temporarily retained with an "S" prefix, e.g. S900. Following this the locomotives were repainted British Railways mixed traffic lined black and given the power classification 5P, as only the larger passenger locos were painted green. This choice of livery proved an unpopular decision considering the locomotives' duties, and they were subsequently outshopped in British Railways brunswick green livery with orange and black lining as they became due for overhaul. By this stage the class had been renumbered under standard British Railways procedure, from 30900 to 30939.

Withdrawals began in January 1961 and the whole class had been withdrawn by December 1962.

Three locomotives have been preserved:

925, Cheltenham, is part of the National Railway Collection. Currently at the Mid Hants having undergone overhaul by a team from the Mid Hants Railway (led by Chris Smith) at Eastleigh Works. On completion, the locomotive featured at Railfest in June 2012 and then returned to the Mid Hants (on 26/28 June) where she will be based on long term loan from the NRM. She joins fellow Maunsell Southern Railway engine Lord Nelson Class No. 850 Lord Nelson.

926, Repton, is owned by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It was completed in May 1934 and entered service on the Bournemouth route, with some time operating between Waterloo and Portsmouth before that line was electrified. It was one of the last of the class to be overhauled by British Railways in 1960, so was considered a good choice for preservation. In December 1962 the engine was withdrawn from service, and in 1966 it was purchased and overhauled at Eastleigh, before moving to the USA. It was donated by the purchaser to Steamtown, USA in Vermont, USA. Steamtown loaned the engine to the Cape Breton Steam Railway in Canada, where it operated a regular passenger service. In 1989 it was sold again, and returned to the UK to the NYMR, where it was again overhauled and found to be in good condition. It now runs on the NYMR and has recently been overhauled.

928 Stowe, was built in 1934 at a cost of £5,000 by the Eastleigh locomotive works of the Southern Railway. It recorded more than a million miles of passenger service operation during 28 years of Southern main line use. It was purchased from British Railways for Lord Montagu's National Motor Museum when it was withdrawn for scrapping in 1962. It was moved to the East Somerset Railway, and then to the Bluebell Railway where it was put into running order. It was purchased from the motor museum by the Maunsell Locomotive Society, which intends to comprehensively rebuild the locomotive in the near future. It is currently on static display at Sheffield Park. As of January 2013, The owners of Stowe have raised enough money to commence the overhaul of Stowe. Overhaul will start after the overhaul of the Maunsell Locomotive Society’s S15 class locomotive no. 847 is complete. Preparations for overhaul have already begun with the boiler tubes now removed.

Number Series 30900-30939.

Built at Eastleigh Works:

E900-E909 1930 total 10.
E910-E929 1932-1934 total 20.
E930-E939 1934-1935 total 10.

The first withdrawal was ??? in 1961 from ??? shed. The last loco was xxx withdrawn in 1962 from ??? shed.

Technical Details

Designer : Richard E L Maunsell
Builder : SR Eastleigh Works
Build date : 1930–1935
Total produced : 40 - Total to BR 40.
Configuration : 4-4-0
Gauge : 4 ft 8½ in (1,435 mm)
Leading wheel diameter : 3 ft 1 in (0.940 m)
Driver wheel diameter : 6 ft 7 in (2.007 m)
Length : 58 ft 9¾ in (17.93 m)
Width : 8 ft 6½ in (2.60 m)
Height : 13 ft 0 in (3.96 m)
Axle load : 21.0 long tons (21.3 t; 23.5 short tons)
Locomotive weight : 67.1 long tons (67 tons 2 cwt; 75.2 short tons)
Tender weight : 42.4 long tons (42 tons 8 cwt; 47.5 short tons)
Locomotive and tender combined weight : 109.5 long tons (111.3 t; 122.6 short tons)
Fuel type ; Coal
Fuel capacity : 5 long tons (5.1 t; 5.6 short tons)
Water capacity ; 4,000 imp gal (18,000 l; 4,800 US gal)
Boiler pressure ; 220 lb/sq in Su (1.52 MPa)
Firegrate area : 28.3 sq ft (2.63 m2)
Cylinders : Three
Cylinder size : 16½ × 26 in (419 × 660 mm)
Valve Gear : Walschaerts (piston valves)
Tractive effort : 25,130 lbf (111.8 kN)
Career : Southern Railway, Southern Region of British Railways
Class : V (Schools)
Power class : BR 5P
Retired ; 1961–1962
Disposition : Three preserved, remainder scrapped

Introduced March 1930. Maunsell 'Schools' design. Classification 5P.

(a) Modified 1938. Fitted by Bulleid with multiple-jet blastpipe and large diameter chimney.

(b) 30902-06/08/10-12/16/22-23/25-28/35-36 Fitted with high sided tender.

(c) 30900-01/07/09/13-15/17-21/24/29-31/33-34/37-39 Both (a) and (b)

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