V 4-4-0 SR Maunsell Schools 30900 – 30939

Schools

 

Power Classification 5P
Introduced 1930 – 1935
Designer Maunsell
Company SR
Weight – Loco 67t 2cwt
               Tender 42t 8cwt
Driving Wheels 6ft 7ins
Boiler Pressure 220psi superheated
Cylinders Three – 16.5in x 26in
Tractive Effort 25,135lbf
Valve Gear Walschaert (piston valve)

 

By 1928 the Southern Region was well served by large 4-6-0 express passenger locomotives, but there was an urgent need for a class to fulfil intermediate roles throughout the system. Maunsell’s previous attempt at developing his predecessor’s L class for this task had proven a disappointment, and the Drummond D15 and L12 classes were approaching the end of their useful lives on these services. An entirely new secondary express passenger locomotive was required to operate over the main lines throughout the system including those that had relatively short turntables.

 L L class introduced in 1914 by Maunsell based on a Wainwright design. The last ones in service were withdrawn in 1961.
 D15 D15 class introduced in 1912 by Drummond and rebuilt by Urie 1915-16. The last one in service was withdrawn in 1956.
 L12 L12 class introduced in 1904 by Drummond and rebuilt by Urie in 1915-22. Most were withdrawn in 1951 but one survived until 1955.

It is suggested that Maunsell’s original plan was to use large-wheeled 2-6-4 tank engines for this purpose, but the Sevenoaks railway accident made him have second thoughts. The Sevenoaks accident occurred when a River class tank engine on an express from Cannon Street to Deal seemed to roll excessively on fast curves and subsequently derailed when the cab of the locomotive struck a bridge resulting in the death of 13 people.  Following the accident, the Southern Railway withdrew all the remaining River class tank engines, which caused a public sensation at the time.

Maunsell therefore chose a relatively short wheelbase 4-4-0 three-cylinder design although by this period 4-6-0 was more usual for this type of work. At the time they were built the 4-4-0 type was almost universally regarded as obsolete, but Maunsell managed to produce one of the most outstanding designs to be built in this country as well as the most powerful of that type in Europe.

It was initially intended that the Schools class locomotives who have parts which were interchangeable with the Lord Nelson class engines by extending the charged parts to the Belpaire firebox and the same flanged plates for the boilers. The use of these parts would have resulted in the weight being too heavy so instead a shortened version of the King Arthur class boiler was used but the firebox and grate area was the same as used on the late King Arthurs and S15 class built from 1927 onwards. The use of the shortened boiler was very fortunate as they proved to be very good steamers with any grade of coal. An incidental use of the round-topped boiler, similar to the King Arthur class, was that the cabside could be pulled inwards to clear loading restrictions around the tunnels on the Hastings route.  Authorities disagree as to whether Maunsell had in mind the restricted loading gauge of the Tonbridge to Hastings line when he designed the class, or whether this was an “unexpected bonus”. The line between Tonbridge and Hastings had always presented problems. It’s twisting track and exceptionally narrow-bore tunnels ruled out larger express passenger locomotives that its train loading required. The Schools class managed to reconcile these differences and was undoubtedly Maunsell’s most immediately successful design, and the locomotives did some of their best work on the Hastings route.

The Schools class was the last design of 4-4-0 locomotive to appear in this country and on the basis of the nominal tractive effort they were the most powerful 4-4-0 locomotives to be built in Britain.

The whole class was named after public schools and the engines originally worked on the South Eastern section of the Southern Region. Where possible, the Southern sent the newly constructed locomotive to a station near the school after which it was named for its official naming ceremony, when pupils were allowed to view the cab of “their” engine. Extension of the class meant that names from “foreign” schools outside the Southern Railway catchment area were used, including Rugby and Malvern.

Permission was granted for the first batch of fifteen locomotives in March 1928, but this was reduced to ten when it became apparent that they would not immediately be able to operate on the Hastings route. The permanent way on the Hastings line had to be upgraded during 1929 and 1930 in order to accommodate the higher axle-loading of the 4-4-0 design of the Schools class. Production delays at Eastleigh Railway Works meant that they were not delivered until between March and July 1930. These early Schools class locomotives were initially allocated to duties away from the Hastings line until it was able to be used by them.

Once the original batch had proved their worth and had been well received by the crews a further twenty locomotives were ordered in March 1931 for delivery between December 1932 and March 1934. A third batch of twenty were ordered from Eastleigh in March 1932 for delivery after the completion of the previous order, but this was subsequently reduced to ten locomotives because of the continuing trade depression. The final locomotive in the class was delivered in July 1935.

The first ten were built without smoke deflectors, but these were added from August 1931, and the remaining thirty were fitted with them from new. Following the successful introduction of the Lemaitre multiple jet blastpipes on to the Lord Nelson class, Maunsell’s successor Bullied began to fit them to the Schools class but no discernible improvement to draughting was experienced, and only twenty examples were so modified.

30932 was fitted with a high-sided self trimming tender for a while before it was attached to 30905 in 1958.

For the initial trials with the ten first engines they were based at Nine Elms where under the watchful eye of Eastleigh works they were employed on the routes from Waterloo to Bournemouth and Salisbury. Once this was done the locomotives were allocated to the Eastern Section where they worked on the Hasting lines following completion of the improvements in late the summer of 1931, more than a year after the locomotives were completed. Four locomotives (904, 907, 908 and 909) were transferred to St Leonards from Eastbourne in 1931 to work on the Hastings line.

The first regular allocation of the Schools class engines was to Deal and Dover. At that time the services to Folkestone and Dover (other than those for Continental trains) terminated at Deal. The six locomotives allocated to Deal were transferred to Ramsgate in 1931.

As more locomotives became available later that year ten  (924-933) were based at Fratton for working on Portsmouth expresses. After the electrification of the London to Eastbourne and the London to Portsmouth routes in the late 1930s the class also began to be used from Bournemouth. Under British Railways they were also widely used on cross-country trains from Brighton to Cardiff and Exeter and on the Newhaven Boat Trains. 30912 and 30921 were later fitted with ex Lord Nelson bogie tenders for use on the longer runs on the Western Section of the Southern Region.

The class was frequently regarded by locomotive crews as the finest constructed by the Southern Railway up to 1930, and could turn in highly spectacular performances for its size. The fastest recorded speed for these locomotives was 95 mph, achieved near Wool railway station in 1938 by 928 Stowe pulling a four coach train from Dorchester to Wareham. However there was a drawback with such high power and relatively low weight; when starting the locomotive from a standstill, wheel slips frequently occurred, calling for skilled handling on the footplate.

The introduction of class 201 diesel-electric multiple units to the Hastings route after 1957.and the completion of the electrification of the South eastern main line in 1961 deprived the class of much of their work. Withdrawals began in January 1961 and the whole class had disappeared from service by December 1962.

Number in Service.

Built

Withdrawals No. in Service
BR Numbers Quantity
1930 30900-9

10

10

1932 30910-14

  5

15

1933 30915-24

10

25

1934 30925-30

  6

31

1935 30931-39

  9

40

1936-60

40

1961

15

25

1962

25

  0

 

Allocation of locomotives in service as at 1st of January.

Depot

1948 1955 1960
Ashford

  6

Basingstoke

  3

Bricklayers Arms

15

14

  8

Brighton

  6

Dover Marine

  4

  4

  2

Nine Elms

11

Ramsgate

10

  9

St Leonards

11

12

Stewarts Lane

  1

  4

40

40

40

Accidents & Incidents

On 11 May 1941, locomotive 934 St. Lawrence was severely damaged at Cannon Street Station in a Luftwaffe air raid.

Preservation

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