|Designer||G H Wild|
|Company||Dublin and South Eastern Railway|
|Weight||Engine – 50t 1cwt Tender – 32t 10cwt|
|Driving Wheels||5ft 1ins|
|Cylinders||Inside – 19in x 26in|
This engine has its origins in a proposed design for a large 0-6-0 for goods use on the Dublin and South Eastern Railway (DSER) in the early 1920s. However, before any were built it was realised that the axle load would be too heavy for the DSER’s track. This had actually happened before in 1903, when seven new 0-6-0s had been plagued by constant derailments due to excessive weight on the leading axles. They then had to be retrospectively modified to become 2-6-0s.
This time, fortunately, there was time to alter the design before the engines were constructed. The size of the boiler was reduced to lower the total weight, as well as adding a pony truck in front to spread the weight over a greater number of wheels. This resulted in a 2-6-0 design.
Two locomotives were built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester and works number 6112 has subsequently been preserved.
The engines were delivered in 1922, when Ireland was in the grip of a civil war. The railways frequently came under attack and many locomotives and other rolling stock were destroyed. Rather than send their brand new engines into this danger the DSER negotiated with the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) to have them stored in the relatively peaceful North until the trouble was over, and so No.15 and No.16 spent some time at Adelaide shed in Belfast after arriving there in November 1922.
The DSER took the engines back at the end of May 1923 but did not keep them very long. In 1925 the new Irish Free State forced the amalgamation of all the railway companies that were completely within the state. The new company was called Great Southern Railways.
At first the only change was that in 1925, when No.15 was overhauled at Limerick, its number plates were somehow altered to remove the small letters DSER and replace them with GSR. The GSR later changed the
Number the locomotives carried from 15 and 16 to 461 and 462.
Although always intended as goods engines, the K2 class were found to be quite satisfactory for passenger work as well. Both engines led a double life, working local passenger trains by day and heavy goods by night.
Both engines had their boilers replaced at different times and there is some confusion as to which engine had which boiler. Original research carried out revealed that No.462 was rebuilt for the first time in 1940 when it was fitted with a standard GSR design.
In 1944 the two locomotives were rebuilt. 461 emerged with a new cylinder block and a standard GSR type boiler but 462 was fitted with the original type boiler that the locomotives had been equipped with. It would appear likely that the original DSER boiler that 462 had was scrapped and it was replaced with one from 461 whilst 461 was fitted with the GSR boiler that 462 had carried for four years.
In 1950 462 was fitted with an experimental automatic ash ejection system – the visible part being two long chutes descending from the smokebox to near ground level. This does not appear to have been a success and it is understood that footplate crews were convinced that they were spoiling the draught over the fire. It is suggested that crews would on occasion block up the chutes deliberately using sugar beets from the train they were pulling for the purpose as this was the right size for the purpose.
In 1950 Great Southern Railways was nationalised and merged with the Irish bus companies to become Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ).
The two locomotives continued to be employed on hauling goods trains until the early 1960s. In 1963.462 was scrapped along with the remaining DSER boiler. 461, with the GSR boiler (and DSER chimney) finally went out of use in 1965 after a brief career as a stationary boiler.
In 1967 CIÉ announced that – following an appeal from the Irish Railway Record Society – they would preserve three steam engines as static exhibits.
Only No.131 ever got to be displayed on a plinth although all three locomotives were acquired by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI).
The locomotive is the only DSER locomotive surviving, and the only main line inside cylinder 2-6-0 in these islands. It is also suspected that the engine is attached to its original tender which would also be unique among operational Irish engines.
No.461 was repainted and displayed at the Inchicore open day in 1968 although the locomotive could not be moved due to a seized piston. The issue was resolved by cutting through the piston road. After this the engine was diesel hauled from shed to shed although this did not stop the bearings on the locomotive running hot on a number of occasions.
In 1977 the locomotive along with No.184 were offered to the RPSI on permanent loan. They were subsequently bought by the RPSI from CIÉ along with No 131 in April 2005.
Initially 461 was taken to the RPSI facility at Mullingar but the facilities there were inadequate to restore the locomotive so it was moved to the base at Whitehead.
The engine finally returned to traffic in 1990 and ran until the boiler certificate expired in 2001.
Work on overhauling the locomotive started straight after it was taken out of service although it was ten years before it steamed again.
It operated in the Dublin area until 2018 when it was taken out of service again.