Kent Rail

Bulleid Q1 Class


The beginning of World War II highlighted a particular motive power weakness of the Southern Railway: the lack of powerful freight locomotives. The company's primary traffic was, naturally, that of passengers and this was reflected among the locomotive fleet, which was constituted by a mix of pre and post-Grouping types. A push to replace a number of the less powerful pre-Grouping era locomotives was made with the introduction of Richard Maunsell's 0-6-0 Q Class in 1938, but when Oliver Bulleid arrived on the scene as Maunsell's replacement in 1937 (the latter having retired before his own Q Class had been put into service), the emphasis was placed on reviewing the current locomotive fleet in view of augmenting and replacing it. With the war underway, Bulleid decreed that the SR required a new fleet of specialised freight locomotives to deal with the rapid increase in goods traffic to and from the English Channel ports. The Chief Mechanical Engineer did not favour the Q Class, viewing the fleet as an archaic design which lacked the necessary power for the traffic which required haulage. Had Bulleid's arrival to the SR been a short while earlier, production of this twenty-strong class would more than likely have been cancelled.


Bulleid, aided by his Chief Draftsmen, swiftly began designing another freight locomotive, which was required to conform with a strict set of given parameters: SR weight restrictions, which could severely reduce the effectiveness of large 0-8-0 and 0-10-0 wheel arrangement designs, and the presence of wartime economies, instructing the use of materials sparingly. What perhaps alleviated the effect of these criteria was the knowledge that the locomotive was intended only as a short-term measure to deal with the sudden influx of freight traffic, hence longevity of components was not crucial. Brighton and Ashford works shared the task of constructing a batch of forty  ''Q1'' Class engines, with interesting results. What emerged from the workshops in 1942 was a design which looked remarkably un-British and ungainly, reflective of the cost-cutting measures employed. Running boards and wheel splashers were non-existent, American-inspired ''boxpok'' wheels were incorporated (as used on the contemporary Bulleid Pacifics; these wheels were half the weight of traditional spoked equivalents), and boiler cladding came in the form of a light and delicate material which, unlike conventional metal cladding which is wrapped around the boiler, had to be propped up using a separate framework, hence the ''boxy'' appearance of the locomotive. To appropriately complete the image, a chimney akin to a sawn-in-half upside-down bucket was incorporated.


What the Q1 lacked in grace it made up for in usefulness: the engine was one and a half times as powerful as Maunsell's Q Class, but differed little in weight (51 tons 5 cwt locomotive weight opposed to the Q Class' 49 tons 10 cwt), making it the most powerful 0-6-0 in the country. This transpired to be a successful class during the war years, which guaranteed its longer than expected existence beyond Nationalisation, in the capacity of both heavy freight and passenger haulage. The majority of the class were based on the South Central Division - at Guildford and Feltham in particular - but a number of the type were deployed to the South Eastern Division in the early 1950s, long before Type 3 (Class 33) diesels began arriving in force. By 1959, four of the type had been allocated to Hither Green, with no less than ten examples being based at Tonbridge. The Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company had delivered all Type 3 diesels by 1962, all being Hither Green-allocated. This, coupled with the Kent Coast Electrification, saw South Eastern-based Q1 engines re-allocated to the South Central and Western Divisions, the last being withdrawn in January 1966 from the type's main stomping ground at Guildford.



''Coffee Pot'' at Tonbridge Shed

''Coffee Pot'' No. 33039 is seen on the entry lines of Tonbridge shed on 5th April 1960, sandwiched

in-between a ''King Arthur'' and an Ivatt ''Mickey Mouse'' Tank. In 1959 this engine was on the books

as being Hither Green-allocated. The South Eastern Railway opened Tonbridge shed with the station

in 1842, the layout comprising of three dead-end tracks. This was improved upon before amalgamation

with the London Chatham & Dover, the shed size subsequently doubling to accommodate a total of six

tracks, four of which were through lines, supplemented by a 55ft turntable. David Glasspool Collection



No. 33030 at Tonbridge Shed

Tonbridge shed again, this time with No. 33030 in the mid-1950s wearing the early ''cycling lion''

British Railways crest. David Glasspool Collection


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