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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 1326
2nd Pre Grouping Number
1st Pre Grouping Numbersec 326
Works/Lot Number
Class CodeH
DesignerWainwright H
BuilderAshford Works (SR/British Railways)
1948 Shed73B Bricklayers Arms
Last Shed70A Nine Elms
Disposal detailsEastleigh Works (B.R.)
DisposalCut Up
Disposal Date30/11/1961

Class Information

The South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR) H Class is a class of 0-4-4T steam locomotive originally designed for suburban passenger work, designed by Harry Wainwright in 1904. Most of the sixty-six members of the class were later equipped for push-pull working for use on rural branch lines.

With the continual growth in traffic around the beginning of the 20th century, particularly in the London suburban area, the newly amalgamated South Eastern and London, Chatham & Dover Railways had an urgent need for medium sized passenger tank locomotives. Although the drawing office at Ashford prepared drawings for both large sized and medium sized tank locomotives, Wainwright decided to build only the smaller machines. Between November 1904 and the end of 1915, 66 of these locomotives were constructed at Ashford Works, being designated Class 'H'. Somewhat uniquely, only 64 of the class were initially constructed out of 66 authorised, but on taking over as CME Maunsell discovered that the works had not erected the missing two, presumably keeping the components as spares. Maunsell ordered construction of the remaining two immediately in 1915, a gap of 6 years since the original 64 had been completed.

The two constituent railways of the SECR had both relied on 0-4-4T locomotives for London suburban, and semi-fast train services. The South Eastern Railway (SER) Q class was introduced in 1887, and the London Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) R class in 1891. Of these, the R was the most successful design, and was continued in production by Harry Wainwright after the amalgamation of the railways in 1899. However, as traffic continued to increase there was a need for a new powerful 0-4-4T design to take over from the SER Q class. Wainwright therefore based his new design on the LCDR A class.

The first seven locomotives were built by Ashford Works in November and December 1904. The design was soon found to be successful so that sixty-four were built at Ashford between 1904 and 1909. Following Wainwright's retirement Richard Maunsell discovered that sixty-six had been ordered and their components built, but had not been erected earlier. Therefore a further two were erected in 1915.

The H class boiler design was found to be so successful that it was later used as a standard replacement boiler on the SECR R1 class, LCDR B1 class, LCDR B2 class, LCDR R class, SER O1 class, SER Q1 class, and SER R1 class. All 66 locomotives were equipped with vacuum brakes as used on the former SER, but thirteen also had Westinghouse air brakes and were used on the former LCDR lines.

Some of the components of the locomotives as designed were common with the 'C' class goods locomotives. Whereas the SE&CR was primarily a line with vacuum braked stock, 16 of the class were fitted with Westinghouse brakes. All had the very unique pagoda-style cab roofs, and of course, the initial 64 appeared in Wainwright's elaborate, but very attractive, lined dark green livery. In due course they all appeared in Maunsell's initial plain dark green livery, to be followed by the wartime dull grey livery up until 1923. As the class was completed, at least the initial 64, they appeared at most former South Eastern depots and some of the former Chatham depots.

Upon formation of the Southern Railway, the locomotives of the class received the standard Southern passenger locomotive livery of a shade of olive green with lining, and had 1000 added to their numbers. With the spread of suburban electrification during the 1920s and 1930s, many of the usual duties for 'H' class tanks disappeared, but many were assigned to more rural routes on the South Eastern section of the SR and also drafted on to the former Brighton section. During WWII two of the class were drafted to the South Western section and even the LMS borrowed three for use in Scotland.

The majority of the class replaced Q class locomotives on the London suburban services of the SER and remained on these duties until after they entered Southern Railway stock in 1923. They began to be displaced by the electrification of these lines in 1925/6, when they began to be used on stopping trains further afield in the Eastern Section of Southern Railway in Kent. After 1929, they also began to be used on the Central Section (the former lines of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway) in East Sussex), where they replaced withdrawn D3 class locomotives. Between 1941 and 1952, two (and later three) examples were loaned to the Western Section and worked from Nine Elms on local shunting and empty stock. During 1943 and 1944 three examples were also loaned to the London Midland and Scottish Railway at Forfar.

Two members of the class were withdrawn during the Second World War, as a result of badly cracked frames, when it was more useful to use the components as spares for the rest of the class, rather than repair them. However, the remaining 64 entered British Railways stock in 1948, once again renumbered with 30000 added to their numbers. All but four of them received the BR standard lined black livery, used for light passenger locomotives. Forty five of the survivors were equipped for push-pull and motor-trains on rural branches, working between 1949 and 1960. With the completion of the Kent electrification scheme between 1959 and 1962, together with the loss of most of the branch lines both on the South Eastern and Central sections of BR(S) in the 1950s and 1960s, the need for these tank locomotives disappeared, especially as the area was well served by now with numbers of LMS designed and BR standard tank locomotives. Most of the surviving members of the class were then withdrawn, except for a few examples working the non-electrified lines between Tunbridge Wells and Three Bridges A few withdrawals had taken place in 1951 and 1953 but mass withdrawals started in 1959 and within a few years all had gone.

The first two withdrawals were SR 1264 in July 1944, closely followed by SR 1312 in August 1944.

The final member of the class, SECR No. 263 (SR 1263, BR 31263), was withdrawn from Three Bridges on 4 January 1964. Built in 1905, it had been working the Three Bridges to East Grinstead line right up to its closure in January 1964. It remained in store at the locomotive depot until the following November, when a group of preservationists formed the H Class Trust and purchased the locomotive from British Railways and moved to Robertsbridge. Later it was preserved at the South Eastern Steam Centre at Ashford, but in 1975 the Trustees decided that the locomotive would have more scope for running if based on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex. In 2008 ownership was transferred to the Bluebell Railway Trust, which is funding an overhaul which started in March 2009. It returned to service on 28 July 2012.

Number Series 31005/16/58/61/62/64/77/82/84/93, 31239/59/61/63/65/66/69/74/76/78/79/95, 31305-11/19-22/24/26-29, 31500/03/12/17-23/30-33/40-44/46/48/50-54. Some of the class had flat sided bunkers.

Technical Details

Designer: Harry S Wainwright
Builder : SECR Ashford Works
Build date : 19041909, 1915
Total produced : 66 - Total to BR 64
Configuration : 0-4-4T
UIC classification : B2'
Gauge : 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 in)
Driver wheel diameter : 5 ft 6 in (1.676 m)
Trailing wheel diameter : 3 ft 7 in (1.092 m)
Length : 32 ft 11 in (10.033 m)
Locomotive weight : 54 tons 8 cwt (121,900 lb / 55.27 tonnes)
Fuel type : Coal
Coal Capacity : 1 ton 10 cwt to 2 ton 10 cwt *
Water Capacity : 1,150 to 1,350 gals *
Boiler pressure : 160 lb sq in (1.10 MPa)
Cylinders : Two (inside)
Cylinder size: 18 26 in (457660 mm)
Tractive effort : 17,360 lbf (77.22 kN)
Valve Gear : Stephenson (slide valves)
Career : South Eastern and Chatham Railway (19041922), Southern Railway (19231947), British Railways (19481962)
Class : SECR & SR H, BR 1P
Retired : 19441964
Disposition : One preserved, remainder scrapped

* Capacities when built:-
1,350 gals, 1 ton 10 cwt :- 16, 158, 161, 162, 164, 177, 182, 184, 193, 239, 279, 295, 319, 322, 512, 517-523, 543, 548, 554
1,150 gals, 2 ton 10 cwt :- 540-542, 544, 546, 550-553
1,200 gals, 2 ton 5 cwt :- 5, 259, 261, 263-6, 269, 274, 276, 278, 305-310, 311-312, 320-321, 324, 326-327, 328-329, 500, 503, 530-533

(a) 31005/16/58/61/62/64/77/82/84/93, 31239/63/66/69/74/76/78/79/95, 31306/08/10/19/20/22/24/27/29, 31500/12/17-23/30/33/43/44/48/51/53/54 Fitted with push-pull control apparatus at intervals from 1949.

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