Sat 20 Jan 2018 17:19:01


British Railway Steam Locomotive

Please read this statement on the accuracy of the data shown below

Note: To Obtain Consistency in the Steam System, Shed Codes used are those Registered at Nationalisation on 1st January 1948
2nd Grouping Number
1st Grouping Numbersr 1150
2nd Pre Grouping Number
1st Pre Grouping Numbersecr 150
Works/Lot Number
Class CodeC
DesignerWainwright H
BuilderAshford Works (SR/British Railways)
1948 Shed74D Tonbridge
Last Shed70B Feltham
Disposal detailsEastleigh Works (B.R.)
DisposalCut Up
Disposal Date30/11/1961

Class Information

At the end of the 19th century, the two impecunious railways of the south-east decided to pool their resources and operate as one. Thus the South Eastern & Chatham Railway was created. Upon the appointment of Harry Wainwright as Locomotive and Carriage Superintendent steps were taken to replace the small and ageing locos of the two constituent lines with more powerful ones. From the team of draughtsmen drawn from primarily the LC&DR works at Longhedge came plans for 3 designs of locomotives: the D class 4-4-0s for express passenger work, the R1 class 0-4-4Ts for local passenger, and the C class 0-6-0s for goods work. Such was the success of the last design that all but 2 of the eventual 109 C class locomotives passed into BR ownership in 1948, and many lasted until the Kent Coast electrification took place in 1959 and 1960.

The South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR) C Class is a class of 0-6-0 steam locomotive, designed by Harry Wainwright and built between 1900 and 1908. They were designed for freight duties, although occasionally used for passenger trains. They operated over the lines of the railway in London and south-east England until the early 1960s. One example was rebuilt as an S Class' saddle tank

In most ways, the C class 0-6-0s owed their design heritage to LC&DR practice. They were robust, but of simple construction. They gave little trouble in traffic, had a good turn of speed, and had good riding qualities for an 0-6-0. They were at home equally on semi-fast passenger trains as well as all manner of goods trains. Through the years, representatives of the class were stationed at every depot on the SECR and Eastern Section of the SR. This was the largest of the 0-6-0 classes to be found on the Southern, with locos being allocated to many sheds for working on mixed traffic duties.

The SECR held trials in November 1898 to decide on a standard freight locomotive design. Two existing 0-6-0 locomotives were tested: former London, Chatham and Dover Railway B2 class No. 194 designed by William Kirtley; and former South Eastern Railway O class No. 436 designed by James Stirling. The Kirtley design proved superior and a new order for 40 locomotives based on it was placed. These new locomotives were designed by Harry Wainwright, the new Chief Mechanical Engineer of the railway, and formed the first of the C class.

The first two appeared simultaneously, both No. 255 from Ashford Works and No. 681 from Neilson, Reid and Company in June 1900. Between that date and June 1908, a further 107 appeared: from Ashford (70 examples 1900-1908), Longhedge (9 examples 1903-4), Neilson Reid & Co.(14) and Sharp, Stewart and Company (15), including the preserved No. 592, now running on the Bluebell Railway.

When new, they were painted in the Wainwright goods livery, not quite as ornate as his famous passenger locomotive livery, but a dark green with full and complex lining. They finished their days in plain BR black. No renumbering took place in the 60 years, other than the usual addition of 1000 to the numbers in Southern Railway days and the addition of 30000 in British Railways days

The locomotives were used on freight services and occasional passenger excursion trains (such as hop-picking specials), throughout the SER between Reading railway station and the Kent Coast. The last twelve locomotives were fitted with steam carriage heating equipment to enable them to be used to haul prepare empty stock for express trains. The remainder of the class were also so equipped by the Southern Railway after 1923.

No. 31272 became DS240 in 1965 and was used as a stationary boiler at Ashford and No. 31592 became DS239 in 1966, and was subsequently sold for preservation.


At 03:40 hrs on 5 May 1919, a goods train from Bricklayers Arms to Margate Sands overran signals and ran into the back of another goods train just to the west of Paddock Wood station. The Margate train was hauled by C class No. 721. It had 50 goods vehicles including three brake vans. The other train was hauled by C class No. 61. The fireman of this train was killed in the accident. Although the main cause of the accident was the driver of the Margate train failing to obey signals, the signalman at Tonbridge East signal box was also censured for failure to give the driver adequate warning that although the train had been accepted by the signalman at Paddock Wood, the line was not clear. The signalman at Paddock Wood had accepted the train under Regulation No 5 - "Section clear but station or junction blocked".

On 18 February 1948, locomotive 1225 was wrongly despatched into the north sidings at Goudhurst and derailed.


In common with other freight locomotives in Southern England, the class was very heavily used during the Second World War and repairs and maintenance deferred. As a result one locomotive had to be withdrawn in December 1947, but the remaining 107 examples entered service with British Railways in 1948. Withdrawals of the remainder of the class began in 1953, but accelerated after the Kent Coast electrification in 1959-1960, over 40 were still active in 1960. 31280 was used as a departmental engine until 1963. By 1964 however, the class had been reduced to two locos, 31271 and 31592 which remained as Departmental engines DS240 and DS239 at Ashford Works until 1966.

The last two locos 31271 and 31592 were withdrawn in December 1966 and May 1967 respectively, both from Ashford shed.

S class conversion

In 1917 one example, No. 685 was converted at Ashford by Maunsell, to a 'Special Tank Shunter', S class 0-6-0 saddle tank for use as a heavy-duty shunter at Richborough port which was then being used to ship locomotives and armoured equipment to the Western Front. After the War it was used as a shunter at Bricklayers' Arms until 1951.


One, 592 (Southern Railway 1592, BR 31592), has been preserved on the Bluebell Railway. It has recently returned to traffic after its most recent overhaul in 2007. In 1999, it featured as the Green Dragon locomotive in the a television film of The Railway Children.

Technical Details

Power type : Steam
Designer : Harry Wainwright
Builder : SECR Ashford Works (70), SECR Longhedge Works (9), Neilson, Reid & Co. (15), Sharp, Stewart & Co. (15)
Build date : 19001908
Total produced : 109
Configuration : 0-6-0
UIC classification : Cn
Gauge : 4 ft 8 in (1,435 mm)
Driver Wheel diameter : 5 ft 2 in (1.575 m)
Locomotive weight : 43 tons 16 cwt
Tend weight : 38 tons 5 cwt
Fuel type : Coal
Water Capacity : 3,300 galls
Boiler pressure : 160 lb sq in (1.10 MPa)
Superheater type : None
Cylinders : Two, inside
Cylinder size : 18 26 in (470660 mm)
Valve Gear : Stephenson (slide valves)
Tractive effort : 19,520 lbf (86.83 kN)
Class : C
Power class : 3F, BR: 2F
Disposition : One preserved, remainder scrapped

Books about Railway Sheds

Books about Railway Depots

Last Updated :

Back to Top

Primary Navigation


Steam Loco Search