Ashford's legacy at the K&ESR today
SE&CR P Class 0-6-OT Side Tank. K&ESR No. 11
No. 11, (SE& CR No. 753, SR Nos. A556, 1556, BR No. 31556, Pride of Sussex)
In the early 1900s the SE&CR tried out steam railcars on a number of branch and local services but these had only limited success. No doubt with an eye towards the LB&SCR and its motortrain operations with A1s (Terriers), the SE&CR decided in 1908 to build some similar small but robust tank engines to augment the railcars. No. 753, the locomotive now on the K&ESR, was the first of these and left Ashford Works and entered traffic on 18 February 1909. It was soon employed on the Sevenoaks to Otford services, Tonbridge becoming its home shed.
From 24 April 1915 till 30 October 1916, No. 753 was engaged in military work, being shipped across the Channel for war service at Boulogne. Whilst there she was painted 'unvarnished' olive green and numbered ROD No 5753. On return, and after repairs to collision damage suffered on the Continent, No. 753 worked between Swanley and Gravesend West for a number of years but had became carriage pilot at Redhill by 1923. It was renumbered to 556 in December 1925, A556 in November 1926, and later to 1556 at a date after July 1931. In late 1928 it was employed on the construction of the Wimbledon - Sutton line
and some time afterwards, in common with other members of the class, gravitated to Dover and Folkestone to work around the harbours.
During 1936 and again in 1938 it was hired to the K&&BSR which was temporarily short of motive power. It returned to the Channel ports until 1940 when it was transferred to Gillingham, returning to Dover by June 1945. A further period of hire to the K&ESR occurred in 1947. Under British Railways ownership it became No. 31556. During the 1950s there was little work for these small locomotives and they were placed in store from time to time. By the end of 1953, 31556 was at Brighton where it was found employment as a shed pilot and at Shoreham harbour. Withdrawal from BR service eventually took place in April 1961, it being the longest serving P class locomotive.
No. 31556 was sold to James Hodson & Sons, millers of Northbridge Street, Robertsbridge. It arrived in June 1961 and was soon named Pride of Sussex, the brand name of the firm's products. For nearly ten years it worked around the mill and on that part of the K&ESR (by then a private siding) to Robertsbridge station yard. Change of ownership of the mill resulted in closure of the siding and the locomotive's acquisition for use on the K&ESR in 1970.
It was steamed a few times after arrival but was dismantled in 1973 for major boiler repairs and mechanical overhaul.
Nominally given the No.11 in the K&ESR fleet it spent 10 years in a stripped down state seeing very
little restoration work. During 1984 - 86 steady progress was made and the locomotive returned to service in Southern Railway livery as No. 1556. There followed ten years of hard work, particularly with the Railway's increasingly popular Vintage train. On three occasions the locomotive has revisited France, to take part in the K&ESR's twinning with the Baie de Somme Railway. Following the expiry of the boiler certificate in December 1997 she was withdrawn from traffic and returned to traffic in 2001 restored to the full glory of its original livery.
Class P - Weight 28 tons 10 cwt - Tractive effort 7,810 lbs - Cylinders (2) 12 in. dia x 18 in. stroke Boiler Pressure 160 lbs. - Tank capacity 550 gallons - Wheels 3 feet 9 ins. diameter.
Southern Railways USA Class 0-6-0 Side Tank
No. 22 Maunsell (WD No. 1968, SR No. 65, BR Nos. 30065, DS 237)
These American built shunting locomotives are two of 382 that were built for the United States Army Corps Engineers during World War 2 for service overseas. The class saw service in England, North Africa, the Middle East, Italy and Western Europe after D-Day. Post-war, survivors were employed in a number of countries including France, Austria, Greece, Egypt, Palestine Iraq and Yugoslavia.
After the war, the 42 members of the class which had been loaned to the War Department were placed in store at Newbury Racecourse station. Fifteen were purchased by the Southern Railway, at £2500 apiece, and 14 of them were put into service at Southampton Docks where their short wheelbase was well suited for working over the sharp curves around the dock lines. The SR found that several of the locomotives had not been steamed since their trial runs. The locomotives now on the K&ESR were War Department Nos. 1960 and 1968 and were put into service by the SR in April and November 1947 as Nos. 7O and 65 respectively.
They have been subject to various modifications for British conditions including ancillary equipment, bunker capacity and cab alterations for greater crew comfort. Despite these alterations locomotives still had the appearance of typical American 'switchers' with bar frames, no running plates, stove-pipe chimneys and sand domes. Outside valve gear and cylinders driving on to the rear axle are also distinctive features.
The USA tanks acquitted themselves well around Southampton Docks, their only major failing being a tendency to suffer hot bearings when running journeys of more than a few miles. Their dockside service lasted until 1962 when diesel shunters replaced them. The locomotives spent a while in store or were put on menial duties such as supplying steam to ships in dry-dock.
In August 1963, however, No. 30070 was transferred to departmental stock, renumbered DS238 and sent to Ashford Wagon Works. It was painted green and named Wainwright after the SE&CR's first locomotive superintendent. The journey from Eastleigh to Ashford took a month to complete because of the inevitable hot box trouble encountered en route. No. 30065 was similarly transferred to Ashford in November 1963 as DS237, also painted green and named Maunsell after the Southern Railway's first Chief Mechanical Engineer.
The pair were kept busy at Ashford until April 1967 when DS237 was laid aside followed two months later by DS238. In March 1968 they were sold to Woodham's scrapyard at Barry in South Wales but, as usual, ran hot whilst under tow and did not get further than Tonbridge. There they remained on the site of the former locomotive shed until resold to the K&ESR in August 1968, arriving at Rolvenden a month later. DS23 became K&ESR No. 21 and DS 237 No. 22.
No. 22 was the first large locomotive in service in 1974, proving itself very capable of hauling five coach trains up Tenterden bank. She was fitted with an extended bunker and a improved lubrication to overcome its bearing problems. In 1978 it exchanged boilers with No. 21 and after overhaul re-entered service in April 1981 in black livery lined out in red. Various mechanical problems occurred and were overcome before the boiler certificate again expired and the locomotive was taken out of traffic at the end of the 1990 season. Another extensive overhaul followed, the locomotive re-entering service as Southern Railway No. 65 in the summer of 1997. Its original post-war livery of black with sunshine lettering was now carried. However by 2002 a new firebox was required. This was fitted and a further overhaul undertaken, the engine returning to service in 2008.
After many years out of use, restoration work to No. 21 began in 1988. Wainwright entered traffic in 1994 as DS 238. Although finished in a correct malachite green livery, extensive modifications were made to the cab and bunker. In regular service she represented the railway at the 150th Anniversary of railways at the National Railway Museum, York in 2004, but was then withdrawn for a routine overhaul, which is currently pending.
Class: USA - 46 tons 10 cwt - Tractive effort: 21,600 lbs - Cylinders (2) 16 ½ ins. dia. x 24 ins. stroke Boiler pressure: 210 lbs. - Tank Capacity: 1000 gals - Wheels: 4ft. 6ins. dia.