Designed by Crampton, these were the first six locomotives built for the Company. The ‘Sondes’ (named after one of the Directors), were delivered as 4-4-0STs in 1857, and were complete failures, suffering from a plethora of design and construction flaws. When William Martley became Locomotive Superintendent in 1860, he relegated the class to minor duties until they were unceremoniously shoved up a siding at Faversham and forgotten about until finally, in 1865, he gave in to a persistent Lord Sondes who had been regularly exhorting him to rebuild them at the monthly board meetings.
It is not on record just how much of the original locomotives were salvaged to be incorporated into the rebuilds; the Engine Register only mentions the boilers, but Bradley, in his RCTS book on the History of Chatham locomotives, suggests that ‘rebuild’ was hardly the correct terminology, and the Accountant’s Register names them ‘Second Sondes’ (some tertiary sources label them ‘New Sondes’), which insinuates that very little was reused.
Whatever the truth, the new double-framed 2-4-0Ts were a neat and very attractive class, and more to the point, became very successful on the suburban duties in which they were employed. Their styling was very similar to Martley’s three other 2-4-0T designs, the Rose, Ruby and Aeolus classes, and with the opening of the Metropolitan Extensions, were fitted with condensing apparatus and put into service alongside the Scotchmen, where they spent many years in service on City trains.
Reboilered in the 1870s, the six members of the class were given enclosed cabs and promptly resumed their duties between Victoria and Moorgate Street until the opening of the Extended Widened Lines, when services then terminated at Basilica Fields.
Number 63, formally named Faversham, will represent the class on Basilica Fields, and is seen here at the turn of the 20th Century at Victoria, under SECR ownership, but still wearing the LCDR livery. It was again reboilered in 1907 as SECR No.522, before being withdrawn in September 1909. Not much chance of a kit appearing on the market, so it’s going to be another scratchbuild.