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#VE75 – Engines at War – Commemorating 75 Years since VE Day – Oliver Bulleid

Q1 0-6-0 Tender Locomotive.

As well as the 4-6-2 Pacific’s, both Merchant Navy and the lighter West Country (Battle of Britain) Pacific class, Bulleid also designed an 0-6-0 tender locomotive for the war effort. This was classed the Q1 and was primarily a freight engine introduced early in 1942.   The complete production of each class was as follows Merchant Navy class 40, Light Pacific’s 110, and the Q1’s 40.

Bulleid employed as many innovative ideas in this locomotive as he had in the two 4-6-2 Spam Can Pacific class designs. As in all these war time engines a lot of the design features were heavily influenced by the conditions at the time. Speed of build, ease of repair and above all economy in both construction and running costs.

The Q1 is a rather ungainly looking 0-6-0 Tender Engine, having no running plates and great chunky Box form ( Bulleid Firth Brown ) Wheels, shared with the Pacific’s, that to me seem to be more noticeable than on the Pacific engines. It is an Austerity Locomotive and was a development, or evolved if you like, from the Original British 0-6-0 Q class tender Freight Engine, which was, at the time, the most modern freight locomotive on the railways. The Q class was the last engine designed by Richard Maunsell (Oliver Bulleid’s predecessor at the SR ). Unfortunately, added to the Q1’s other ungainly assets, the arrangement of the boiler cladding is not a clean line and adds to the locomotive’s ungainliness. Over the years it has acquired a large number of rather unkind nicknames including “Ugly Duckling”, “Biscuit Tin”, “Biscuit Barrel”, “Clockworks”, “Coffee Pot” (I thought that name was reserved for engines with vertical boilers) and the final insult “Frankenstein’s”.

On the other hand, the great beauty of the Q1’s is that they were capable of hauling loads that would normally require a much larger engine. Bulleid developed this amazing locomotive because at the outbreak of war in 1939 the Southern Railway was pushed into the front line of the strategic war effort due to its proximity to Europe. The SR needed to offer high route availability and a much greater haulage capacity.

Bulleid designed the Q1 to require a minimum amount of raw material in the build, with all the superfluous features (frills) stripped away. Function was rated above appearance and style. Bulleid, in designing the Q1, was mindful of the Austerity regime that all war time engines need to conform to, and to this end he designed his locomotives to fit through the coach washers, so that at a time when man power was at a premium, the engines as well as the coaches could be washed automatically.

The boiler lagging was made of a glass fibre insulation material known as “Ida glass”, which was cheap and plentiful at the time, but could not support any weight so a separate casing had to be built and boiler rings adapted to lend the Ida glass support. Unlike his Pacific’s, a copper rather than a steel fire box, was utilized. The wheels were a smaller 5 ft 1” diameter adaption of the Bulleid Firth Brown (BFB) type used on the Pacific’s. The Q1 had only two cylinders unlike the Pacific’s three, with Stephenson link outside admission piston valves, having a travel in full gear of 6 ½”, and a steam lap of 1 5/8”. It was provided with a five-nozzle blast pipe. The boiler design was based on that of The Lord Nelson Class Locomotive and the fire box utilized the same throat plate as did its back plate. The boiler barrel measured 10ft 6 inches in length and a diameter of 5 ft at the front widening to 5ft 9 inches at the back. It sported a grate of 27sqft and a heating surface, consisting of 209 tubes with 21 flues, totalling 1,302sqft. That combined with the fire box of 170sqft gave a total evaporating heating surface of 1,472sqft. This all incorporated a superheating surface of 218sqft very Impressive!

In 1942 The first 20 of these impressive locomotives were built in the Brighton works followed by a further 20 constructed at Ashford. Powerful and exceptionally light the Q1’s formed the backbone of the Southern Railway heavy freight capability over a wide variety of routes. In totality the engine weighed just slightly over 90tons making it accessible to 97% of all the Southern Railway routes. Bulleid had designed the most powerful 0-6-0 Tender steam locomotive ever to run on Britain’s railways.

Sadly, only one Q1 has survived into preservation. The very first of its class the 33001 C1 has been preserved and can be seen at The National Railway Museum in York. It is presented in its original SR livery with its original number. Before the Q1 was installed in York in 2004, she worked on the Bluebell line in East Sussex. As a point of interest for our younger readers, The Locomotive “Neville” featured in the Thomas and Friends children’s television series is based on a Q1 Number 33010.  Video of Q1 on turntable at NRM.