London in the 1870s was a period of great expansion for the suburban railway. Most of the LB&SCR suburban services were first worked by ancient Craven tender engines which were highly unsuitable and caused severe congestion at the London termini as they queued to be turned. Their replacements, Stroudley’s A class tanks, had proved to be successful on inner suburban services on both the South London and East London Railways, but they only had the capacity to carry half a ton of coal and 500 gallons water, and were therefore of limited use on outer suburban duties. Stroudley’s D class 0-4-2 tanks with 5′ 6″ driving wheels, introduced in 1873, were perfect for the task; they were more powerful than their 0-6-0T cousins, had greater coal and water capacities, were shown to be very economical in use and were very free running. Their success resulted the building of 125 examples down the years to 1887, thirty one of which in the 1890s were based at New Cross for servicing trains north across the river via the ELR and SLR lines.

As suburban traffic continued to increase in capacity and weight, so the D1s began to take over even the inner suburban turns traditionally associated with the Terriers, which by the mid 1890s were rapidly being stripped of their condensing equipment and rusticated. The introduction of Billinton’s radial and bogie tanks in the 1890s had no more than a little effect on the class in the London district, but further introductions in the early 1900s prompted their rapid decline on outer suburban services and heralded the first withdrawals. The D1s remained in use on services over the East London Railway until electrification in 1913, and on the East London Railway Extension until 1915.

The D1 0-4-2Ts are one of my favourite designs, and a couple of examples from Albion Models kits will share turns with a Terrier on LB&SCR services through Basilica Fields via the East London Railway Extension and Extended Widened Lines. Number 299 New Cross, of that shed, is a likely candidate and is seen here on a south London suburban service c1900. Due to the frequency of trains over the ELR and ELRE, it would make sense to incorporate at least another one of the 31 members of the class allocated to New Cross during the mid 1890s, and I’d really like to build number 281 Aldgate, but unfortunately it appears the loco was wedded to Battersea for the duration, and is therefore very unlikely to have serviced the ELR/ELRE. There were no other D1s at New Cross with suitable local names, so I’m currently undecided as to the identity of the second loco, though Ditchling is a possibility, and would be a bit of a doff of the cap in the direction of Gordon & Maggie Gravett who produce some fabulous models.

The reason for my interest in No.281? It was a painting of a Metropolitan 4-4-0T and Great Western Metro tank at Aldgate station which was the catalyst for the entire Basilica Fields project.