Period I (c1890 – c1898)

Francis Webb’s 4′ 6″ 2-4-2T radial tanks were a natural development of his famous 2-4-0T ‘Chopper’ tanks with an additional trailing radial axle supporting a larger capacity bunker. Indeed in the final order for 2-4-0Ts, a single 2-4-2T was built, and eventually 40 out of the 50 Chopper tanks were ‘renewed’ by being given an extended bunker with a trailing radial axle, and absorbed into the 2-4-2T class.

As with the Chopper Tanks, some batches of the 2-4-2Ts were fitted with condensing gear for work in the suburban districts of both Birmingham and London. Batch numbers E110, E33 and E36 of 1882, 1889 and 1890 respectively were chosen, and thus the locos working in the London area on the Outer Circle from Broad Street to Mansion House were quickly bestowed with their soubriquet.

Locos from batch E110 were fitted with full condensing equipment, but batches E33 and E36 were given a modified form of gear in what can be loosely described as semi-condensing, whereby exhaust steam was diverted from the blast pipe by a valve in the usual manner through a pipe on the side of the smokebox (although in this case pipes either side of the smokebox) into tops of the side tanks above the water level. Any steam remaining, rather than being fed to the opposite tank and then back to the smokebox as usual, passed through pipes inside the cab front weatherboard, along the eaves of the roof, down the outside of the rear weatherboard and into the U shaped water tank in the bunker, where what little remained was exhausted via a tall, thin breather pipe at the rear.

I’ll be using the recently introduced Mercian kit as the basis of the model, but have not yet decided which member of the class to build. I’ve only been able to locate three photos of the condensing tanks in the London area, numbers 781 and 785 of batch E33, and number 663 of batch E36, all of which are very atmospheric, but not particularly useful when attempting to create an accurate model.

Above, No.785 calls at Addison Road c1905. I’ve been told on several occasions that the LNWR took great pride and care over the condition of all its locos, and how white cotton-gloved shed foremen regularly checked their cleanliness, even between the frames – a view I’ve long held as deluded or erroneous at best, the product of rose-tinted hand-me down stories. No small degree of satisfaction on my part then to find No.785 looking not a little work-stained around the gills…


Prior to Stroudley’s appointment, the LB&SCR under Craven had few locomotives designed for shunting and trip work, these jobs usually going to locos awaiting repair or withdrawal. In the winter of 1874/5 Stroudley put an end to this unsatisfactory arrangement when the first six of his E tanks was released to traffic. The successful design was based very much along the lines of his A and D tanks, and construction continued, albeit with detail differences, beyond Stroudley’s death in 1889. The class eventually totalled 78 examples, with the final six released to traffic under Billinton in 1891 .

The locos were painted in the goods dark olive green with black lining and borders, and in contrast to Stroudley’s C class 0-6-0 goods locos, the class received names – most with a Continental flavour which caused some confusion among the Company’s signwriters judging by some of the reported spelling errors!

As a temporary measure due to the acute shortage of suburban passenger locos in the early 1880s, twenty new builds and nine existing members of the class were fitted with the Westinghouse brake, new balance weights, and Krupps long-life tyres on the leading wheels before being painted in the famous Stroudley passenger livery of yellow ochre. Although very successful on goods workings, the E1 tanks proved unpopular with passengers due to their penchant for surging and rough riding at passenger speeds. These duties were also unpopular with the crews who found it difficult enough to keep to their feet, let alone fire at speed. Nevertheless, no alterations were made to address these issues as another batch of D tanks was soon delivered in 1881-2. The twenty nine Westinghouse fitted E1s kept their brake equipment, but quickly returned to their goods and shunting duties. The yellow ochre livery on these locos was generally left untouched until the next visit to the Works, but many of the New Cross locos were repainted olive green long before overhaul.

Further examples of the class were fitted with the Westinghouse brake between 1890-3 for fitted goods workings, at which time both they and the earlier Westinghouse fitted tanks received a fine red line to their dark green either side of the broad black band. Despite their earlier problems on passenger turns, photographic evidence shows the class wasn’t exempt from such work even into the 1920s.

The LB&SCR had no part in goods workings over the East London Line via Wapping and Rotherhithe; those services were entirely under the jurisdiction of the Great Eastern which ran trains from and to the exchange sidings at New Cross. With the opening of the New Tunnel and a couple of small LB&SCR depots north of the river, E1 tanks ran limited goods services via that route on to the Extended Widened Lines.

New Cross had an allocation of twenty nine E1 tanks in the mid-1890s, and the one representing the class on Basilica Fields will be No.132 of 1878, which carried the wonderfully exotic name Epernay. The loco is seen here before the early 1890s when she was fitted with the Westinghouse brake, and the model will be built from an Albion Models kit.

This post concludes the précis of LB&SCR locos for Basilica Fields.

Kirtley’s A2 class satisfied requirements for suburban tanks on the Chatham during the 1880s, but increased demand at the end of the decade meant that in August 1890 Kirtley sent the A2 class specifications out to prospective manufacturers inviting them to tender on eighteen new builds. Sharp Stewart won the contract, but within a month Kirtley had changed his mind and sent considerably revised specifications labelled ‘A3 Class’. By November, with the withdrawal of the final member of the Ruby Class, the title of the plans for the new locos was amended to ‘R Class’.

The new locos, delivered from September 1891, had a slightly smaller boiler, both in terms of length and diameter, with a greater firebox heating surface and higher working pressure. The driving wheels were 1″ smaller than the A2s, and other differences included a smaller coupled wheelbase, and smaller square-topped side tanks with an additional well at the base of the bunker. The condensing pipes left the smokebox from the upper part of the smokebox into a point midway along the tops of the tanks, in the style of Johnson’s Midland 0-4-4Ts, and the increased steam travel in these longer exposed pipes assisted condensation.

On inner suburban working, the new R Class were found to be as good as, if not better than any loco of the period working in Town; the powerful tanks were capable of good acceleration, and were free from slipping, which was used to good advantage on the steeply graded lines. Their Achilles heel proved to be the longer outer suburban services with the attendant faster runs and longer distances to which they were not particularly well suited – an unfortunate revelation, as it was the 0-4-2WT ‘Scotchmen’ employed on these duties which Kirtley had hoped the new class would replace.

All eighteen members of the class were initially sent to Battersea, though a couple of locos were soon migrated to another local shed.As with most LC&DR locos and stock, these locos will need to be scratchbuilt. Number 199 stands at Longhedge, apparently soon after entering service. The handsome LC&DR paint livery was gloss black with a broad blue-grey band edged with fine vermilion on the outside and a fine yellow line on the inside.

This concludes the précis of LD&CR locos on Basilica Fields in the 1890-98 period.

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.

With the opening of Victoria in 1860, the Chatham was able to offer a comprehensive passenger service in and about London, but it would be another fourteen years before the trains were fully patronised, which in turn led to a demand for longer trains and a faster service. This upsurge in suburban travel coincided with the appointment of William Kirtley, nephew of Matthew Kirtley, who had died in harness at the Midland the previous year; William had been Matthew’s Works Manager at Derby for a decade. On his appointment, Kirtley found Longhedge drawing office preparing plans for an enlarged ‘Large Scotchman‘ to tackle the increasingly heavy suburban duties, but the new man had other ideas and began preparing drawings for a modern 0-4-4 with side tanks, not unlike Johnson’s latest design on the Midland, though the round-topped tanks were a definite doff of the cap in the direction of Stroudley’s contemporary designs on the rival LB&SCR. With the design approved, tenders were sought, culminating with both Neilson and Vulcan providing nine examples each.

The new locos were all based at Battersea, and immediately ousted the smaller Scotchmen class from through services to the GNR and Midland, as well as taking charge of Victoria to Moorgate Street services. Reaction from the crews was mixed; drivers appreciated the power of the A class, especially on heavy gradients, but firemen were less enthralled with the heat generated in the enclosed cabs, especially when working in the Widened Lines tunnels, nor were they keen on their greater demand on both coal and water. The build up of heat in the cabs was resolved by the fitting of opening look-out windows at the first general repair.

The success of the 1875 batch led to a new batch four years later. Kitson tendered and won the contract for twelve locos which had the driving wheel diameter increased by 4″ to 5’ 7″ and a host of minor detail differences, including raising the height of the condensing pipes exiting the smokebox up to the boiler centre line, and incorporating the front sandboxes in the leading driving wheel splashers. These twelve locos, classed A1, also went to Battersea, sharing duties with the earlier A class, and were also utilised on services terminating at Hendon and Wood Green. The new locos proved to be free-steaming and the crews preferred them to the original locos as they were easier to fire, and the cabs better ventilated.

Kirtley’s A series was completed in 1883-4 with the introduction of six locos classed A2. These were almost identical to the A1 batch, but again with some minor differences, and were built by Robert Stephenson & Co. Again, all six were sent to Battersea, working on all suburban services alongside the A and A1s as well as Martley’s 0-4-2Ts, but by the 1890s they were more likely to be seen on services to Wood Green.

All three classes were fitted with the Westinghouse brake between 1888-91 at which time steam sanding was incorporated. Coal bars on their bunkers were added in the 1890s

It’s very unlikely that I’ll build an example of all three in LC&DR livery – the Chatham service over the EWL isn’t going to be that intensive(!), and I think it likely that No.112, the final example from the Vulcan-built batch of 1875 (Class A) is the likely candidate.

By 1870 the LB&SCR was operating an increasingly intensive suburban service over lightly laid lines with shoddy sleepers, shallow gravel ballast and formidable gradients, and worked by unsuitable (and often ancient) tender locomotives built by Craven. On his appointment to office, William Stroudley immediately set about reorganising Brighton Works and began to tackle the even more urgent need for new locomotives in the express passenger and goods links. Although his first drawings for a suburban tank appeared in the middle of 1870, it wasn’t until two major revisions had occurred that the first half dozen were released to traffic in 1872.

The class proved to be a phenomenal success; fifty examples were built down to 1880, and all bar half a dozen of these were shedded in the London area at New Cross or Battersea for working predominantly the East London and South London lines. Eschewing injectors, Stroudley introduced his feedwater heating system with the Terriers (which was perpetuated with his D and E class tanks), whereby the water in the tanks was pre-heated by exhaust steam from the blast pipe operated by a crank via a rod from the cab. This crank cut off most of the exhaust steam from being directed up the chimney, instead sending it back into the left hand tank via a copper condensing pipe where the steam circulated, heating the water before penetrating the right hand tank. Any remaining uncondensed steam then travelled back to the smokebox via the right hand condensing pipe.

Until the Great Eastern, South Eastern, Metropolitan and Metropolitan & District railways commenced services over the ELR in the mid-1880s, New Cross was home to twenty three members of the class, but by this time suburban trains were becoming heavier, and Stroudley’s 0-4-2T D class began to oust the Terriers from many of their traditional services. In consequence, a number of London based Terriers were rusticated, so that by 1887 only fourteen remained at New Cross, some of which participated in the LB&SCR’s 36 trains each way over ELR every weekday. The opening of the New Thames Tunnel on the East London Railway Extension and the Extended Widened Lines did nothing to halt their slide from inner suburban workings, and from 1892, as the class began to enter Works for replacement cylinders, Billinton called time on almost all the Terrier’s activities over the ELR and ELRE by removing their feedwater pumps and condensing equipment. By 1895 only two examples of condenser fitted Terriers remained at New Cross – No.52 Surrey and No.59 Cheam, but the former was in such poor mechanical condition that it was relegated to shed pilot duties only.

Surprisingly Cheam continued to work on ELR and ELRE duties alongside the more powerful D1 tanks, and was involved in an accident at New Cross on a mid-afternoon service from Shoreditch in 1897, whereby it lost its bunker and a side tank in a collision with a Gladstone 0-4-2 Samuel Laing, which suffered even greater damage. Even more surprising is the fact that the loco was repaired and resumed its duties with it’s condensing equipment intact.

However, by the mid-1900s, the class that had been so for so long linked with the East London Railway and the Extension, no longer ran trains on those lines. Sale or scrapping awaited several members in the early years of the 1900s, until Billinton’s successor, D.E. Marsh, gave many a new lease of life on push-pull services in his new and handsome livery of umber.

There are currently only two kit options in 7mm for Terriers (leaving aside the scratchbuilt route, complicated somewhat by the Stroudley roof), viz; a whitemetal offering from Roxey, and a brass effort from Ace, neither of which fills me with great confidence that a satisfactory model can be built without recourse to a bin some changes. I suspect the Ace kit will be the way I choose to go (n.b. order those calming pills now), if only because whitemetal loco bodies in 7mm are a bit of an anathema. As to which loco it’ll be – I’m not too sure. Cheam (see previous post) is an ideal candidate, not only as she spent most of her life, except for a few years in the mid-1880s, at New Cross, but also due to the longevity of her condensing gear and ELR/ELRE duties. However, I wouldn’t mind one with a local name more appropriate to Basilica Fields such as Bishopsgate, Whitechapel, or Shoreditch, all of which were unfortunately denuded of their condensing gear in the early 1890s.

No.51 Rotherhithe, a New Cross engine from release to traffic in 1876 until the mid-1890s, is another candidate; she retained her condensers until withdrawal, but was transferred to Brighton in the mid-90s. In 1898 she was added to the surplus list, but didn’t receive the ‘6’ prefix that many of hers sisters were given, and was withdrawn in February 1901.

By the time James Stirling was pronounced Locomotive Superintendent of the South Eastern in 1878, the Locomotive Department was desperate for new motive power. Stirling’s attention was immediately focused on preparing designs for both express passenger and goods traffic, which meant that it wasn’t until 1880 that proposals for a new 0-4-4 tank were unveiled. The design was immediately passed by the Locomotive Committee, with twelve examples slated to be built at Ashford and a further ten ordered from Neilson. The design proved to be reasonably successful, and so, with modifications to successive batches, the class became the South Eastern’s standard suburban tank until the turn of the century, with 118 examples built down to 1897.

The twelve Ashford locos, delivered to Bricklayers Arms between June 1881 and May 1882, were fitted with condensing apparatus and slightly shorter chimneys than their normally aspirated sisters. Eight of these were sub-shedded at Woolwich Arsenal for workings from that station to Enfield, Muswell Hill and Alexandra Palace on the Great Northern via the Widened Lines, and the other four worked out of Bricklayers Arms on Addiscombe Road to Liverpool Street services via the East London Railway. This latter service was cut back to St. Mary’s as early as March 1884, and ceased six months later with the introduction of Metropolitan & District services to New Cross (LBSCR) from Hammersmith via Mansion House and Metropolitan services from Hammersmith to New Cross (SER) via Kings Cross. The loss of the ELR services and the increase in activity on the Widened Lines brought the allocation of the condensing members of the class under scrutiny, and Bricklayers Arms lost its four condensing locos – numbers 5 and 181 were stripped of their condensing gear, and the remaining two joined the eight at Woolwich Arsenal for Widened Lines duties. With the opening of both the Extended Widened Lines and New Thames Tunnel, a limited South Eastern passenger service once again passed under the river, as did a number of goods trains to the new SER depot on the northern shore, which led to numbers 5 and 181 being refitted with their condensing apparatus.

Number 182, seen here c1903 in SECR livery, will be the example appearing on Basilica Fields, albeit in pre-1896 SER black, lined red (anyone know of photos of condensing Qs in SER livery?).

Note that the exhaust pipe from the smokebox only entered the left-hand tank, steam entering the right-hand tank via a large pipe over the firebox, and the loco carries the Stirling family trait of a domeless boiler.

Dan Garrett has a kit of the Q class in preparation, which I’ll be making use of.

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