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.

22nd March 1964

"Coffee Pot" No. 33027 is seen negotiating a facing crossover at the north end of Three Bridges station as it brings "The Sussex Downsman Rail Tour" into platform 5. This was a circular tour from London Waterloo to Victoria, via Guildford, Tunbridge Wells West, and Brighton, which used four different locomotives and was organised jointly by the "Locomotive Club of Great Britain" and the "Railway Correspondence and Travel Society". © David Glasspool Collection

22nd June 1966

It's the end of the line for No. 33006, which is pictured without wheel coupling rods at Nine Elms, behind Standard Tank No. 80144. No. 33006 had become somewhat of a celebrity Q1 in its final months, having received white-painted buffers and smokebox door brackets, in addition to hauling a couple of rail tours through Hampshire and Wiltshire. © David Glasspool Collection