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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 2557
2nd Pre Grouping Number
1st Pre Grouping Numberlbsc 557
Works/Lot Number
Class CodeE-4
DesignerBillinton RJ
BuilderBrighton Works (SR/British Railways)
1948 Shed75D Horsham
Last Shed70A Nine Elms
Disposal detailsEastleigh Works (B.R.)
DisposalCut Up
Disposal Date31/10/1963

Class Information

The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway E4 Class is a class of 0-6-2Tside tank steam locomotive designed by Robert Billinton. They were introduced in 1897 and were essentially a larger version of the E3 Class. Cylinder diameter was reduced from 18 to 17.5 inches (457 to 445 mm) by the Southern Railway.

One of RJ Billinton's early tasks during his tenure as Chief Locomotive Engineer was to finish the construction of Stroudley's "E Class Special" West Brighton 0-6-2T Goods, the first of 134 Brighton Radial Tanks, which led to sixteen more similar locomotives, all seventeen of which were designated Class E3. So successful were these locomotives when assigned to passenger duties rather than the goods duties for which they were intended that Billinton decided to build another version expressly for passenger train work. These, the E4 Class, started entering traffic in 1897 and were virtually the same as the earlier E3 Class but with driving wheels enlarged from 4' 6" to 5' and higher pitched 160lb pressure boilers.

Initially named and painted in Stroudley Goods Green, from loco No. 487 onwards they were turned out named and painted in Stroudley's Improved Engine Green, a yellow colour, with some of the older, green, locos subsequently being re-painted yellow, until 1906 when Marsh repainted them in dark umber and removed their names. Why they were at first painted in the Goods colour when they were expressly designed for passenger work is uncertain. One of the early locos, No. 469, was named "Beachy Head" and was the only one not to be named after a village or small town. This name was, of course, to be made famous in later years when applied by the Southern Railway to one of Marsh's H2 Class Atlantics.

The E4 class of "radial tanks" were powerful for their size and were stalwarts of local passenger, freight and branch work for more than fifty years. Seventy-five members of the class were built by Brighton Works between December 1897 and September 1903. All of the class survived the transfer to Southern Railway ownership in 1923. One example was however destroyed as a result of enemy action against Eastbourne motive power depot in 1942. The remainder continued in regular use following the nationalisation of the Southern Railway to become a part of British Railways in 1948. However, with the arrival of Diesel Multiple Units and the reduction in the number of branch lines after The Reshaping of British Railways in 1963, the locomotives gradually became surplus to operational requirements, and withdrawals commenced in 1955. Most of the class were withdrawn between 1958 and 1964.

Later in British Railways days, several examples were found new jobs as station pilots, most famously at London Waterloo, where they brought empty carriage rakes into the station from the yards at Clapham Junction. They were also used on services such as the locally famous Lancing Belle, which ran from Brighton to the Lancing Carriage Works of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, often double-headed with members of the same class or the larger E6 class.

As time progressed and the locos came in for heavy overhaul they were fitted with 17 in. cylinders in place of the original 18 in one. Then, in 1909, Marsh rebuilt three locos with new higher-pitched I2 pattern boilers of 170lb pressure, restored the 18 in cylinders (though not for long) and replacement smokeboxes mounted on a new saddle, to produce the E4x Class, with a fourth being so treated in 1911. Many other E4s were reboilered, as well as having other modifications, during their lives but not to the full E4x specification, which remained as a sub-class of just four.

In 1909, the four locomotives rebuilt by D. E. Marsh with larger boilers and designated E4X.

Originally sent to work the London suburban passenger trains, they found themselves relocated to country areas when displaced by the new electric services. Their last days were spent mainly on shunting duties until they were replaced by the inevitable diesels. All E4x locos were withdrawn by January 1959 whilst the E4s worked on in continually diminishing numbers until the last, No. 32479, was withdrawn in June 1963.

The E4 class were initially used on local passenger and freight services, and on branch lines. A number of these locos travelled over the water, twelve saw service in France between 1917 and 1919.

A very successful class (some members of which strayed away from the Brighton section to places such as Eastleigh, Waterloo and Tonbridge) of which all bar one (2483, scrapped in July 1944) survived into British Railways service. Under BR they were mainly painted plain black, although a few (such as all three BR-liveried locos on this page) received the lined black livery. One loco, 32473, continues to this day working on the Bluebell Railway as 473 "Birch Grove", wearing the Marsh umber livery and carrying her name on each side tank - a condition she was never seen in during her LBSC days when the umber liveried locos carried the letters 'L B S C' where previously there had been names.

In the dying days of the Southern Railway a shortage of locomotive power on the Isle of Wight led to a proposal to use some ex-LBSC E4s, and No. 2510 was sent over for trials during 1947, but was found to be too large for the island lines, so the plan was abandoned and the loco was repatriated to the mainland. In 1999 there was a "what might have been" fortnight when the Bluebell's E4 Birch Grove went to the Island to work trains there, some as sole train engine but several double-heading with the IoWSR's locomotives.

One of the last survivors in 1963 was no.32473. This was purchased by a group of preservationists and brought to the Bluebell Railway in East Sussex, where it has remained ever since, except for visits to other lines such as the Severn Valley Railway and Isle of Wight Steam Railway. The engine was withdrawn from traffic in 1971 and dismantled. Work however did not start in earnest until the 1980s and following a long overhaul, she returned to traffic in 1997 to celebrate her centenary in 1998. She was painted in the completely non-standard LBSC Marsh Umber livery with the name Birch Grove on the side tanks. In 2005 she was repainted into British Railways lined black passenger livery. Following withdrawal from service in May 2008, the locomotive was soon brought into the Bluebell workshops for a fast track overhaul, including a repaint into 1920s Southern Railway green to match much of the line's coaching stock. This was completed during January 2010, with the engine relaunched into traffic on 30 January 2010. 32473 is the only ex LB&SCR preserved locomotive not to be designed by William Stroudley (being designed by R.J. Billinton), as all the others are.

In August 1999 the Bluebell Railway's No. 473 (32473), "Birch Grove", paid a summer visit to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

All but one loco No. 2483 which was withdrawn in 1944, survived to be taken into British Railways stock.

32468 was the last loco to retain its original short smokebox, rebuilt in 1949 in conformity with the rest of the class.

The E4 British Railways numbers were 32463-32520, 32556-32566 and 32577-32582.
The E4X British Railways numbers were 32466, 32477, 32478 and 32489.

The first loco withdrawn was 2483 (32483) by the Southern Railway in 1944 from Fratton shed.
The first BR loco withdrawn was 32465 in March 1955 from Horsham shed.
The last loco withdrawn was 32479 in June 1963 from Brighton shed.

Loco 32473 is preserved on the Bluebell Railway in LBSCR livery as No. 473 and carries its original name 'Birch Grove'.

Designer : R. J. Billinton
Builder : Brighton Works
Introduced : 1897
Build date : 18971903
Total produced ; 75
Common Name Large Radials
Configuration : 0-6-2T
Gauge : 4 ft 8 in (1,435 mm)
Driver wheel diameter : 5 ft 0 in (1.524 m)
Locomotive weight : 57 tons 10 cwt or 56 tons 15 cwt
Fuel type : Coal
Boiler pressure : 170lb/sq in NS or 160lb/sq in NS
Cylinders : Two (inside)
Cylinder size : 17 in 26 in (445 mm 660 mm) - Initially 18 in x 26 in cylinders
Valve Gear : Stephenson (slide valves)
Tractive effort : 18,050 lb or 19,175 lb
Class : 2MT
Retired : 19441963
Disposition : One preserved, 74 scrapped

(a) Worked on Isle of Wight.

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